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Good Ideas

Good idea
Good idea

A lot of the books I’ve read lately talk about the concept of “good ideas”. When I think of the concept of good ideas, I think about creativity. The concept of creativity is interesting. Absolutely everyone is capable of creativity and therefore capable of good ideas, and I’d like to talk a bit about that. I’ll be referencing some good reads that I’ll outline at the end of this post.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is objective. Not everyone will see the same idea as creative, but the concept can be explained rather simply. Allen Gannett lays it out really well in his book The Creative Curve, where he simply states that “creativity is the combination of familiarity and novelty.” When you’re able to successfully marry the two opposing forces, you’ve got a creative new idea.

An Example

Consider food trends, and let’s use plant-based food as an example. Food producers take very familiar meat products and create plant-based alternatives in the form of them. If the latest vegan patty wasn’t marketed as a burger substitute, there’s a good chance that it wouldn’t be as successful.

You Can Brainstorm Good Ideas

You can spend hours trying to whiteboard new ideas, matching up familiar and novel concepts. This exercise can be fun, and who knows, it could also be rewarding. Off the top of my head…here are a few concepts that are familiar with a novel approach.

  • Eyewear that can play music
  • A vending machine that dispenses smoothies
  • Luggage that charges devices inside it
  • Socks with a stash pocket (Yea, I don’t know…)

I’m sure that all of these ideas exist, whether they’re good or bad, I’m sure someone may think that they’re creative. The point is that you can use the simple formula of Familiar + Novel to come up with your own. For this, I recommend you pick up The Creative Curve to build on this concept (Link below).

Good Ideas Can Arrive When You Least Expect Them

In the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about the two parts of the brain, the passive and the deliberate areas (Kahneman refers to them as System 1 & 2). Kahneman touches on the point that when we deliberately try to think of good ideas, our mind gets cluttered (I’m paraphrasing here) and it’s often difficult to force those good ideas, whereas when our mind is clear, our automatic thoughts have room to breathe and we have those “ah-ha!” moments, you know “shower thoughts” as some people say. This concept assumes that we have great ideas buried in our mind and when our mind is clear, they finally surface. Experts say that the best way to inspire this type of thought is through meditation or simply by taking a vacation, where you literally take a break from thinking too much.

Good Ideas Can be Deliberate or Passive

So you can effectively brainstorm good ideas or let them come naturally. The key is to write them down as soon as possible! When it comes to good ideas, the worst feeling is forgetting what they were. Have a notepad handy or use an app to scribble down your good ideas whenever you get them. Always be ready for a good idea.

Collaboration

You can’t always do it on your own. Coming from a classic read from 2009 by John C. Maxwell, How Successful People Think, it’s even better when you collaborate with others. This can turn a good idea into a great one. Create your own personal network of thinkers and always be prepared for great ideas to come about. The really cool thing about collaborating is that the next big idea can come from anyone. It could be a friend, a colleague, a customer or even a stranger.

Asking For Your Help

With this all in mind, I’d love to collaborate with you! I’ve created a questionnaire that asks you a few questions so that I can come up with new ideas. Your input is extremely appreciated and your information will be kept to myself. The survey should only take a few minutes and it means a lot to better understand my readers and customers.

A Reward to My Etsy Shoppers

For everyone who has purchased something from my Etsy shop that has completed my survey, they will be entered into a draw for a chance to win their Etsy purchase. The instructions are outlined in the survey to qualify.

Please Click This Link to Find my Quick Questionnaire

Lastly, as promised…

Here are links to the books I mentioned above. If you want to spark up great ideas and learn more about good ideas and creativity in general, these are a great start!

The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell

My Sweet New Drawing Pads

Personalized Left Handed Drawing Pads
Personalized Left Handed Drawing Pads

Okay, so I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, oops. The good news is, summer is here and I’ve got some crafting adventures in the works!

In the meantime, I’m super pumped to share my sweet new drawing pads that I had made just for me!

At face value, they’re just sketch pads, but I made sure the basics were covered to give me everything that I wanted in a drawing pad.

What Makes These Drawing Pads So Special?

I’m glad you asked. These sweet lil drawing pads are perfect, here’s why:

My sweet new drawing pads
My sweet new drawing pads
  1. 5×7″ landscape oriented – perfect for quick sketches and large enough for enough detail to capture and digitize.
  2. High-quality drawing paper – ideal for pencil sketches and heavy enough to handle ink illustrations
  3. Thick cardstock cover – so they’re sturdy enough to toss in my bag or into my motorcycle saddlebag.
  4. They’re backwards – Because I’m a lefty.

Now I can draw anywhere, because I made enough to have one with me wherever I go.

So simple, yet so awesome. Am I weird for being into these so much? Likely.

Improvement

Reading
Reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

3 Key Ways To Improve Anything (I Think)

I run Mattmade and everything that goes with it out of my home, and shipping the items that I sell is obviously a huge part of it, which again, is out of my home. With that in mind, I was recently selected to participate in a program for Canada Post to help improve their shipping services. The program was downtown and while getting ready this morning, I decided that it made more sense to take the subway rather than drive (Between Toronto morning traffic, parking downtown and all that stuff, I wasn’t into it).

With about an hour and a half of commute time, I could either bring my Nintendo Switch or my tablet (So either games or reading). I haven’t soaked up a lot of reading aside from a few pages each night, so I grabbed my tablet.

I’m currently reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a fascinating dive into the two systems of thought and it helps shed light on why we think the way we do in both the intuitive system and then the more logical system. Books like these don’t spell out obvious life lessons for you, but they help give you the tools to better understand why things the way they are and then you can go ahead and apply them to your life. I dig that stuff.

So between reading on the subway and assisting in a program to improve shipping services, I wanted to share 3 fundamental (and different) ways that I like to improve that maybe you can apply to something in your life, whether it’s a skill, a habit or routine, or something in your business. I hope it’s helpful.

Improve by Learning

It’s 2019, knowledge is basically up for grabs. Here are 5 ways that I learn something new:

  • The internet. Start with Google and YouTube. There are free courses and resources on mostly everything. Simply start by googling what you want to learn and subscribe to tutorial YouTube channels.
  • Books. Libraries aren’t just for kids. The Toronto Library (for example) shares all of its combined resources for anyone in the city. So if you need a book, ebook or audiobook, it’s available, you just may have to put a hold on it. I use Libby to listen to free audiobooks available in our library network for free.
  • Communities of expertise. Whether it’s a club in real life or simply a Facebook group. There are people who want to teach and others that want to learn. Tag along for the experience and when you know enough, pay it forward.
  • Friends. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve got friends better than you at something. If that isn’t true, make a few new friends.
  • Go to the store. Whatever you want to learn, there’s a shop that specializes in it, and they usually have experts there. Want to get into nutrition? Visit a nutritional shop. They’re into it too. Want to learn about painting? Visit a craft store. You get the point.

Improving starts with wanting to do something better, so the list above is a good start. With all of the knowledge in the world, it’s no good if you don’t practice it though…

Improve by Doing

With little or no knowledge, you’ve got to try. If you don’t give something a shot, you’ll never get better. It’s like a fresh grad student thinking that they’re super good at business, but everything is theory until the rubber hits the road.

This is where you make mistakes, turn back to your notes and actually get better. Malcolm Gladwell references a theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert on something in his book The Outliers, and Allen Gannett takes that a step further in his book The Creative Curve by noting it can take 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to be good at something. Gannett explains that when you work on something, you should mindfully improve and get better in perfecting your craft. These two books are both great reads by the way.

Improve by Getting Feedback

As you continuously try to better yourself, accept any and all feedback. Not all of it will be what you want to hear, and not all of it will be true but average out your feedback and take it into consideration as you are on the path to improving, learning something new or offering a new product or service into your business. After that, rinse and repeat.

Circling back to the Canada Post study that I was involved in today. As much as I complain about service or shipping costs, Canada Post is doing something right by asking their users for honest feedback on the tools that they’re offering. I can imagine the folks at Canada Post went through a similar process in improving their systems.

Now ask yourself…

How are you making changes and improving aspects of your life and business or side hustle?

Self-promo? Sort of.

Mattmade Skull on Wall
Mattmade Skull on Wall

I’ve made myself quite a few Mattmade branded garments, and the typical responses I get are…

  • “Woah, your name is Matt, and that says Mattmade…Crazy coincidence!”
  • “Do you just like make your own shirts?”
  • “What is that like your own company or something?”

Although they’re all sort of accurate, I’d like to explain. Someone actually thought that all I did was sell shirts with my name on it, and that’s all that I sold (Some people have purchased Mattmade branded stuff, and thank you!). If you’ve been following along, that’s not all that I print. Some folks don’t realize that I made custom shirts for other people.

I do make a lot of different Mattmade shirts for myself, and it’s not because I want to self-promote myself. When I see a new garment that I feel buyers would be interested in, I order in a sample of it for myself and test out the print first. I found that the easiest (and least wasteful) way to test new apparel is to make myself a new shirt! So I designed a “cooler” version of my logo for my testing. For simple prints, I use this guy here…

Mattmade Skulls logo

I’ve tossed that on hoodies, tanks, tees and even die cut vinyls, all things I’d test for production.

Recently, I’ve expanded my print capabilities (more on that another day), so I’ve created a more detailed design to not only test new garments but how detailed logos hold up on these garments.

New Distressed Halftone Mattmade Skulls Logo

When I create something for someone, I want the confidence in knowing that I’m providing a decent product, and making something that I’ll wear, is a fun way to do it.

Although these logos don’t represent Mattmade as a brand (I sell a lot of fun baby clothes), these skulls resemble something that I’d wear, so it makes testing new garments and techniques more enjoyable. And yes, it does create a conversation that leads to self-promo and that’s cool too.