Why You Should Talk About Your Ideas

“Can you please help me figure out how to prove my idea with Lean?”

“Sure, what are you working on.”

“Oh, I can’t tell you. It’s confidential.”

I’ve had this conversation at least 10 times in the past year with an aspiring entrepreneur. They wanted advice and guidance on how to use lean with their idea, then refused to share what they were working on. One person wanted me to sign an NDA before we chatted… at a bar… at midnight. What??

People who do not talk about their ideas are at a sore disadvantage. Now I’m not talking about broadcasting your grand plan to a million people, but picking a few connections that you trust and respect can yield helpful advice and feedback.

I am currently validating an idea with my team here at Techpeaks. I’ve reached out to a few people back in NYC to receive their feedback and do a few interviews. Their insights have been inspiring and helpful.

Tim introduced me to the Jobs to Be Done framework and to help me align my idea around it.

Tohm shared his experience at his company and helped me think through the challenges and benefits of our current idea for selling to the potential customers.

Adam helped us streamline our goals and tests so we could focus on the technical feasibility of the project and not get bogged down by going too broad, too fast.

Jon and Pamela gave us a great way to test our idea very lean so we can begin starting experiments this week.

Some of my assumptions have been squashed. Some of them have been validated (so far!). It feels good to get the feedback, “Oh that’s a good idea”, but it’s been more helpful and constructive when people say, “Stop. The first part of that sounds interesting. The rest is crap. Focus on the beginning.” I find myself eagerly waiting for those moments to come up in the conversation.

So to those of you out there saying, “I can’t tell you what I’m working on, but it’s going to be awesome”… is it? Who is going to buy it? Have you asked your potential customers what they think? My advice to you is:

  • Do interviews.
  • Ask for advice.
  • Don’t broadcast your idea to the entire world, but tell someone.
  • Once you ask for advice, shut up.
  • Listen to what the person has to say.
  • Don’t get defensive, just explain your thoughts.
  • Expect criticism, it can only help you.

I’m overwhelmed by just how smart the people I know are. Thank you to everyone who has helped me, guided me, and have been truly interested in what I’m doing. I can’t wait to return the favor one day.

How to get a Permesso di Soggiorno in Trento

  1. Get told at 12pm that you need to pick up papers and go to the office in North Trento before it closes at 3pm.
  2. Panic.
  3. Grab said papers and figure out how to get there. Look up bus route. Decide to take bus.
  4. Get talked out of bus decision by two friends who say that it’s faster if we bike.
  5. Agree to take said bike even though you haven’t ridden one in 10 years. Convince yourself that it will be a piece of cake.
  6. Get on bike. Panic.
  7. Wobble a lot and get scared of cars.
  8. After 10 minutes, acknowledge this was a terrible idea and you’ll never bike again.
  9. Follow one friend the wrong way onto a big ass hill. Say “Are you serious, we have to go up that thing?” Get laughed at.
  10. Get off bike and walk it up hill.
  11. Start to go down one way street as mercedes benzes start flying up the other way. Run into a few buildings. Straighten up. Finish down the hill.
  12. You start to feel a little sunburnt. Take your hand off the handlebars to check. Almost fall. Grab onto handle bars like your life depends on it… because it does.
  13. After 35 minutes of hell in 95 degree heat, end up on street somewhere near the office. Check google maps for address. Have google maps tell you it doesn’t exist.
  14. Ask a stranger for directions in Italian. Feel proud of yourself for not screwing up that many words. Find out the street has 2 names. Wonder who the fuck named the streets in Italy.
  15. Arrive at office. Get into elevator that more closely resembles a death trap.
  16. End up at front desk at 1:45pm. Find no one there. Go ask someone if they can help you. They say no and that everyone else is at lunch. Wonder if they are going to come back before 3pm.
  17. Someone finally shows up in office. Get a piece of paper and told you need to wait for the person to get back from lunch. Wander over to the vending machine. Admire all the flavors of croissants it carries.
  18. Get called into get your papers. Have lady look at your papers once and then not talk to you again. Sign your life away. Get your papers and realize they put your first name as your last name. Have her draw a diagram and tell you in Italian “well we’ll see if they accept it or not…”
  19. Bang head against wall.
  20. Figure out you need to mail these things somewhere else. Get confused because you were told this was a final document. Curse all of bureaucracy.
  21. Wait for friends.
  22. Get back on bike and take different route.
  23. Route is completely flat and you get home in 15 minutes, quick enough to get a kebab and admire your sunburn. Figure you might give this bike thing a shot another time.

I promise to write things more relevant soon. I could have also title this “Why Melissa should not bike ever”