Ideate: Meaningful ideas


Is this idea or innovation more meaningful to the customer?

We really need to care about the people we are designing for, understand what their dreams and desires and priorities are, and then we have to use that understanding as the driving force of the work we put forward, because the second we know what questions are important to them, then all we have to do is answer them.

What companies and entrepreneurs sometimes forget is that the purpose of innovation is not simply to make new, improved products and services, it is to make things that are meaningful to the people who use them.

Success is not what you make, but the difference that it makes in people’s lives.

It is about impact, how impactful is our innovation?

Our job is not to simply obsess about the features and benefits of what we are making, it is to wonder and care about the difference it could make to, or the change it could bring about in, people.

Our job, as Steve Jobs put it, is to ‘Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.

You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.


Ideate: Don’t fear bad ideas


The thing about coming up with ideas is that you are going to have to throw a lot of them on the whiteboard.

You are going to have to work your way to a great idea but it means you have to be prepared to go through bad ideas as well.

Don’t fear bad ideas.

Don’t fear ideas that make us look stupid or waste time or money or create some sort of backlash.

The problem is that you cannot have good ideas unless you are willing to generate a lot of bad ones.

If you have no bad ideas, that’s a problem.

The more bad ideas you have, the closer you get to good ideas.


Book Review: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown


“You only are free when you realize you belong no place, you belong every place, no place at all.” ― Maya Angelou

This is my first Brene Brown book I have read and I kick myself why haven’t I read more of her work. I certainly hope it is not the last. I love her TED talk on The Power of  Vulnerability.

In this book Brene deals with something that we usually don’t think much about: Belonging vs. Standing out.

Do you belong, fit in or do you stand out, misfit, outlier?

We fit in because we want to belong, because we feel safe when we belong, we feel comforted when we are in the company of people we can trust.

What happens when you are rejected by the people you want to fit into?

What happens when you lose yourself while in the process of fitting in?

On the other side, Brene raises the question, of what happens when you decide to stand your ground, even when it means standing alone? Being in the wilderness?

What happens when speaking truth to power means being isolated? Being in the wilderness?

Throughout this book, Brene beautiful navigates the beauty and dangers of belonging, and the beauty and dangers of not belonging, of braving the wilderness?

Maya Angelou’s quote of belonging, forms a spine, the through-line of this book. Brene keeps coming back to this quote and she carefully weaves and crafts her arguments about true belonging and being in the wilderness.



I loved this book, I’m sure I will reread it again because there are many deep concepts that I will need to revisit.

Multiple times when reading this book I had to put it down, close my eyes and reflect.

Braving the Wilderness is an eye opener. It’s a powerful book.

If you are seeking true connection and the feeling you belong because of who you uniquely are, read this book.

Towards the end of the book, I got this quote that woke me up hard:

“If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.”

Favourite quotes:

  • “Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”
  • “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

  • “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.”
  • “Pain is unrelenting. It will get our attention. Despite our attempts to drown it in addiction, to physically beat it out of one another, to suffocate it with success and material trappings, or to strangle it with our hate, pain will find a way to make itself known.”
  • “Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night at Starbucks adds as many years to our lives as taking beta blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit.”
  • “Living with air pollution increases your odds of dying early by 5 percent. Living with obesity, 20 percent. Excessive drinking, 30 percent. And living with loneliness? It increases our odds of dying early by 45 percent.”

Ideate: Listening to customers


If you have an area you are working, talk to customers. Every day.

Talk to users of your product, active, inactive, new, and old.

Talk to people who don’t want to use your product.

Talk to people who are using a competitor’s product.

Talk to customers of products in adjacent markets.

Now, reread the above sentences and replace talk with listen.

Understand how customers see the world.

They don’t know the solutions, but they know the problems well.

If you have not talked to a customer today, you are doing it wrong.

The simple fact is that the majority of great startups today… required no technical insight to start, and you can always hire experts to help you scale.

The driver of innovations is an understanding of what the customer [aka humans] wants or how to deliver an understood solution in a better way.

Ideate: Purple cow…


Defined in the simplest terms, design thinking is a methodology for tackling complex problems using a solution-based approach.

The five basic steps of design thinking are:

  • Empathise: Understand how the problem you are addressing affects people.
  • Define: Use your learnings from the empathise stage to define the problem as a human-centered problem statement.
  • Ideate: Employ various idea-generating methods to identify possible solutions to the problem.

Bestselling author Seth Godin introduced the idea of the “purple cow.”

One day he was driving through the countryside with his family. They saw some cows grazing, and thought it was a beautiful sight. But as they continued to drive, they saw cow after cow, and the cows became ordinary, they lost their novelty.

That’s when Godin thought, “What if there was a purple cow?” A purple cow would grab their attention again, because it would be remarkable.

Purple cows are ideas that stands out and that are remarkable [worth making a remark about].

Purple cows are ideas that bring together two or more concepts that haven’t been linked before to create something remarkable.

For example, spare bedrooms and skyrocketing hotel prices were never linked by a business until Airbnb came along. Now Airbnb is at the forefront of the sharing economy.

Connect the dots, come up with a purple cow idea, something innovative and remarkable.

Ideating means come up with ideas. Not just cool ideas, but ideas that solve the customer’s pain.

Through ideas to the whiteboard, think about them, debate them, think them through etc.

Don’t be different for the sake of being different, be different because it matters.

Fundraising conundrum

Colorful  Solidarity Design Tree

A fundraiser asks for advice about how to get more access to people and institutions who give money to her NGO.

Our conversation goes the direction where I suggest that maybe she should not see her work as a series of transactions, but about building real relationships, about making connection, about building a network that you value and feed, that you give to first rather than ask for things.

Fundraising is about caring for a cause you are raising funds for, but it should also be about caring for the people or organizations you are raising funds from.

So our conversation runs long.

She takes lots of notes, nods a lot, seems excited.

And then you never hear from her again.

PS: There has to be a better way to fundraise than the smash and grab approach where you get what you want and then you are gone, the next time I will see you again is when you want funds from me for your NGO and there after you are gone again.