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Need original ideas? Read this.

Think. Write. Lead.
Need original ideas? Read this.
By Diego Pineda • Issue #32 • View online
Welcome back to Think.Write.Lead. This week I talk about the struggle writers have to top their previous good ideas with better ones, a simple process to come up with new ideas, and how to improve your thought leadership arsenal.

How many original ideas can you have in your life?
One? Ten? A hundred? As many as you want?
In principle, there should not be a limit to your ideas.
The problem comes when you succumb to the pressure of coming up with new ideas on a regular basis. 
And when you have a particular good one that resonates with people, there’s a self imposed duty of outdoing yourself, forever raising the bar on your own creativity.
For instance, an author writes a bestseller and wins a prize.
Naturally, it’s expected that the next book is as good or even better than the previous one.
But that’s not always the case. Sequels oftentimes flop.
I’m thinking about this as I’m doing research for my new book. My previous one, The Solo Thought Leader, has been more successful than I thought it would be. Readers seem to love it.
So this next one has the pressure of living up to the expectations of his older brother.
The thing is that with The Solo Thought Leader, I didn’t have anything to compare it with. So I wrote without concerns or pressure.
But now…
You may or may not be writing a book, but it’s the same with your writing every day.
As a thought leader you have two options:
  1. Come up with one great idea and repeat it ad nauseam.
  2. Or aim for new big ideas on a regular basis.
The first option is boring. Makes me think of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books — one successful idea recycled a thousand times.
The second option is a bit harder. It feels safer to stay with what you know people like.
That’s why even Hollywood bets on remakes of old box office hits. Look at Top Gun.
So what can you do?
Glad you asked.
You need a process to:
  • Come up with ideas
  • Test your ideas
  • Execute on your ideas
In this issue, I’ll talk about coming up with new ideas.
I’ll cover the other two in the following weeks.
To come up with new ideas, you need FAQS.
No, not those ones you’re thinking about.
Here, FAQS stands for:
  • Feed. As in feed your mind. Read broadly and without prejudice. You want to expose your brain to new knowledge.
  • Associate. Make associations of concepts you find in your reading with problems in your field.
  • Question. What is a new angle or lesson I can draw from this association?
  • Simplify. Explain your learnings with as few words as possible, forming your new big idea.
Let me give you an example.
  • Feed. The other day I was listening to an audiobook about American politics, Why we’re Polarized by Ezra Klein.
  • Associate. Klein explains that political parties take polarizing views so voters can differentiate between them and not be confused about who to vote for.
  • Question. How does this relate to Thought Leadership? Thought leaders take a stand on hot issues in their area of expertise.
  • Simplify. Thought leaders must be polarizing to gain true followers and build a tribe.
Now it’s your turn.
  • What books, articles, or essays are you reading outside your area of expertise?
  • Are you thinking about new ideas, making associations and questioning assumptions?
If not, choose a couple of books or a series of articles that sound interesting but that you would not normally read, and give them a try.
This week, write (simplify) at least one new idea from your readings following the FAQS model.
Writing like a thought leader is not a one-time show.
You must show up again and again.
But don’t fall for the trap of easy lazy content that doesn’t challenge anything.
Follow the process above or whatever works for you, to come up with original ideas.
Then just trust the process.
If I can do it, you can do it!
Recommended Resources
Did you enjoy this issue?
Diego Pineda

Write like a thought leader: tight, sexy, and elegant copy that stirs emotions and changes minds.

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