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Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century Paperback – December 27, 2014
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The biggest issue I had were many of the exercises were clearly designed around the life of the author which worked much of the time but often felt very much like she was really stretching to find ideas to work with to thicken up the book. Exercises like "pick one historical figure and create ten questions you would ask them" are great but "ten new yoga poses created using animal names,and describe alignment, purpose and effects" are completely useless (and a little snobby) to someone like me who doesn't know the first thing about yoga.
Occasionally, you run into a string of dud exercises which you don't want to let discourage you and cause you to stop working. I just skipped past them and continue on until you find the next interesting one. There are nearly 100 two page exercises, most are good but they can't all be perfect.
Still, more good stuff than bad, so definitely worth a couple bucks. The absolute best thing about the book is when you have finished working through it, you have a significant amount of material which is all usable content.
2. Organize the first 10 days so that it doesn't include 2 airline questions: #6 is about making flying more comfortable. #10 is how to improve JetBlue. The slightest amount of editing would have corrected this.
3. She shares an (often shallow) idea or two just after the topic. Shift the suggestions to a separate page so that they don't unduly influence the thought process of creative thinking. I recommend reading just the title, cutting out the chaff and ignoring the sample she gives.
4. Acknowledge bias. By the 10th idea, she couldn't help but give a shameless plug for her husband's 'wealth' book. I don't mind a little shout out, but at least acknowledge that you have a plain bias and self-interest by promoting a spouse's book.
5. Spend another 6 weeks editing the book before publishing. So there are 180 separate ideas for each of the 180 days. It feels like the list she generated was a stream of consciousness with little organization or editing. She claims to have written the book in 6 weeks and it reads like it was.
6. Get better writing. This book feels like a hand-holding exercise with her and her uber-popular husband James. The idea of the book is solid, but the execution is poor.
7. Make the book permanently cost $0.99 and only sell the ebook version. The print version is really just a Price Anchor for the ebook. A $0.99 book alongside it's $14 print version seems like a screaming deal. This is a good example of how to worm your way to the top of the sales chart by having a great idea, poorly written, but priced so low ($0.99 for ebook) that it's reasonable to consider that the book worth the pocket change. The Martian followed a similar strategy.
8. The book could be easily improved by turning this into a case study: how to write a simple book, with a good idea, with little regard to the quality of execution and make a bundle of cash. THAT is the valuable story here.
9. Use examples for each of the ideas that aren't entirely focused on the author's narrow world experience. Most everything in her ideas list seems self-reflective. She fails to sufficiently consider the perspectives of a broader audience--not a concern if you only love cooking, flying, yoga, movies, and sleep.
10. One final way to improve the book...how about while reading the book you get to eat a nice warm cookie?
What are 10 things I want to do before I am 40?
Who are the 10 most influential people in my life; and what is one contribution they made in my life?
Ask 10 people to give me their best time management principles?
etc, etc, etc.
It is the daily task of thinking that begins to turn you into an Idea Machine. Now, perhaps this is more important to me because one of my StrengthFinder Top Five is "IDEATION." But Altucher makes the point that mental health depends on mental exercise. We all want to have active, alert, highly functioning brains as we age. So, every day - exercise your mind. Think about great ideas that matter. Practically, do top ten lists as one methodology. For leaders, this is even more vital, since ideas are the currency of success.
I was a little disappointed when I saw the bulk of the book was 180 exercises. I've gotten over that feeling. Even when I don't care for the topic in question, it stretches my idea muscle to apply it that way. In fact, it's probably better. My brain is doing double-duty coming up with ideas for yoga poses rather than any of the concepts I would have come up with.
Becoming an idea machine is a journey. I'm not there yet, but I am to the point where if I need an idea for something, I'm confident I can come up with something quickly. That's invaluable. I can't wait to see what I become after doing the next 140 exercises.