Ideas matter. In this essay Ideas Brad Beck explains that ideas comes from the source of all wealth, our minds. He shares examples of ideas as observation plus opportunity equals outcomes. Beck shares the recipe for Ideas to become reality.
Kim Monson Featured Articles
Kim Monson Featured Articles

“The world makes way for a man with an idea” – Orison Swett Marden

Ideas. Where do they come from? A spark of inspiration? Perhaps. Yet I would suggest Ideas come from the source of all wealth, your mind. What then is the definition of an idea? The Oxford Dictionary defines ideas as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action. I define ideas as observation plus opportunity equals outcome. As an example, the other day I was driving on the interstate in the number one lane. I came upon a car in front of me driving much slower than the posted speed. I checked my rear-view mirror, then my side mirror. This was the observation. The car in front of me was moving slower than the posted speed. I checked my mirrors again looking for the opportunity to change lanes once it was safe to do so. Once changing lanes, I accelerated around the vehicle that once was in front of me and then passed him by. This resulted in the outcome I wanted; driving the posted speed and moving around an obstacle in front of me thereby completing my action.

Ideas like balloons float away if you don’t act on them. I recently coordinated an event for the Leadership Program of the Rockies called PLUGin. This networking event provides alumni of the program and current class members with a platform to observe a need or problem and then give a three-minute presentation. This occurs in front of fellow alumni on how they can engage in public policy or an idea to address that problem. Contestants then compete with peers for the most compelling presentation, the outcome of which is a cash prize for the winner.

This year’s PLUGin ideas included education, parent’s advocacy, health care, women’s issues, the arts, media, and even comedy. Each presentation had something in common, an idea that came out of observation, plus opportunity, and provided an outcome. The winner was a colleague who was so fearful she almost dropped out of the competition, yet she faced her fear and shared her idea and won the competition. It takes courage to share an idea.

Crossing ideas can cross pollenate and create something new. Think about the last time you took a road trip. Most gas station’s bathrooms resemble nuclear waste sites. However, there is Buc-ees, a chain of convenience stores and gas stations with locations in the South. Their slogan is “Potty like a Rock Star” and they mean it. Buc-ees has the cleanest public restrooms in America. In 2012, Cintas ran a nationwide restroom contest and made it official for any roadside warrior. This private company took a commonsense idea, clean bathrooms and a convenience store on steroids, and made it into the preferred pit stop location to do your business. It took observation of customers’ needs to solve a problem.

My cousin has a property management company near a university. One of her biggest maintenance expenses was paying for a plumber in the middle of the night when a renter clogged their toilet. Her renters are often students living on their own for the first time and not knowing what to do when the usual substance clogs the commode. My cousin came up with a brilliant idea through observation and took the opportunity to stop making her plumber rich.

She purchased dozens of toilet plungers and knocked on the doors of her renters. She explained what other renters had experienced on her properties and gave each renter a plunger and asked them to use it if their commode clogged. She reduced her maintenance expenses significantly and damage to her property was reduced because she met face to face with the people who rented from her and gave them an outcome that was practical. She even topped the plunger with a roll of toilet paper as the cherry on top. Her idea created an opportunity for a better outcome for her renters and herself.

I once had a customer who was under time constraints and never available to see me when I worked in her town. I had conducted good business with her in the past, and I knew she liked to frequent the French bakery that shared the parking lot with her business. I found out when the fresh French bread was baked and had created a sticker beforehand that I placed below the bakery’s name with a corny note that read, “I just want a little slice of your time today.” As I walked into the corporate office the aroma of freshly baked bread filled the room. I handed one loaf to receptionist and said this is for you. And then I asked her to deliver the other loaf to the buyer I wanted to see. She did and 30 seconds later the buyer came around the corner laughing at the simple, yet effective, way of getting her attention. She invited me back to her office, made me a cup of coffee, and we conducted a transaction that made us both successful. I observed an opportunity at one of her store locations, shared it with her, and offered a better outcome than what she was currently experiencing.

Each of these ideas provides examples of people who observed a need, studied the opportunity, and took action to create a solution to a problem. In doing so they flipped the narrative that there are no new ideas under the sun. However, if you are observant and study what’s around you, cross pollinating ideas can create new outcomes. Don’t pop your idea balloon with negative self-talk or the phrase, “one of these days I’ll take action on that idea.” My suggestion is to take action now. Study it. Read about it. Write your idea out. Concentrate on it. Create connections with it. Work hard on it. Make your idea come true. As the great Orison Swett Marden, the founder of Success Magazine wrote more than a century ago, “The world makes way for a man with an idea.”



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