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"Idea People" Are Worthless

You've met them.

Enthusiastic and often intelligent, they approach you with their grand idea. Create a documentary to build a community, design the ultimate educational video game, construct a pyramid, release a four-album progressive rock masterpiece etc. But they can't get started just yet, they "need some help, man. You know, and some cash so, like, we can do this thing, you know?"

Or the guy at your office who is "totally gonna start his own business to get away from the boss, you know?" Or someone who says "I really want to eat healthier, I just don't have the time though..."

And they want you to do all of the work because they're too weak to do it themselves.

As you develop a reputation for actually accomplishing things, these self-identified "Idea People" begin to smell success. And they begin to circle, hoping to get some table scraps thrown their way. Waiting for someone else to do the work necessary to achieve their goals.

Listen: Anyone who identifies themselves as an "Idea Person" will not achieve their goals. They're too weak.

People define themselves through story (more on this in later blog posts). One of the ways we attempt to make sense of our identity is through the use of labels. I'm a mom. I'm a musician. I'm a politician. I'm an Idea Person. These labels help give us a means to interact and make sense with an endlessly complex world.

So let's look into the connotations of an Idea Person. This label emphasizes creative, innovative thought. Great, swell. But it also hints at helplessness. If you're an idea person, your only job is to "come up with a good idea". Then you have someone else do all the work because your job is done. 'Idea generated, my work is done." you rationalize, "Now someone else do something." And then you take credit because it was "your idea, as the resident idea person".

Do you see the passive-aggressive behavior? If the idea is a success, thank the Idea Person. If the idea fails, it was someone else's fault. That's not the job of an idea person, so they can't be held liable for failure.

Idea Person, Noun: Someone who wants all the credit for doing no work.

Famous artists are not idea people because they actually do something with their idea. If they sat around thinking about ideas all day but never did any work, they would not be an artist.

If you do not push, strive, hustle, and fight for your idea, you are the reason it failed. If you care about your child, you do everything you can to ensure their life is a success. If you care about getting in shape, you go to the gym and work out until you can't stand any more. If you care about your music, you practice until your fingers blister, promote until you can't talk, write, perform to an empty room, fail and keep trying because you care.



  1. Halle-freakin-lujah! Thank you, Derek, for putting together this "idea" (haha) so succinctly.

  2. I think to be truly successful you need to be a healthy mixture of a "doer" and a "thinker".

  3. Thanks Seantalia! I've been frustrated lately as I an endless stream of solid ideas that will never come to fruition to wussiness. This post is a little more negative than I usually go, but I feel it was an effective angle to take.

    Heirtomadness, I'm torn. While I agree that both sides of the issue are needed, "doers" are infinitely more valuable than "thinkers". If someone develops a reputation for doing great work, "thinkers" are easy to find. You don't develop a reputation as a "thinker" without actually doing hard, hard work. You can be the best scientist in the WORLD, but if all you ever do is sit in a basement you're a waste.

    In fact, the quality of an idea doesn't matter nearly as much as the IMPLEMENTATION of the idea. Facebook did NOTHING new from myspace. Photos, friends, messages, whatever. The only difference was the implementation and the work of the "doers". Myspace built a good platform and sat on it while it rotted, but facebook continuously tweaked the UI instead of saying "welp, we did our good idea. done." Sure, there have been mistakes they've made, but if you're not making mistakes then you're not getting better.

    Knowledge comes from experience. You can "think" about how to put on a great live show all day. But if you play 5 nights a week you'll learn how to put on a great show faster, and better.