“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? Or an intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea takes hold of the brain it is almost impossible to eradicate…”
Such says Cobb (Leonardo DeCaprio) in the movieInception (and a friend explaining her rash return to Israel this year). The notion of the omnipotence of an idea is rampant. But any experienced startup entrepreneur knows that while ideas can certainly be powerful (addictive even), they need to be taken in stride. Ideas are a dime a dozen…execution is the bottom line.
I love the quote though, because there is a power to ideas…a magic to them… ideas worth spreading is the tag line for TED.com and the premise of their experiment in brand extension called TEDx. TEDx are independently organized events using the TED model of talks in 18 minutes or less. I was fortunate to be involved in one of the TEDx events last week in Israel, called TEDxIDC. Dreamed up, initiated and executed by two IDC students and a cohort team of IDC student volunteers (including a Zellot), the focus of this TEDx event was social responsibility.
Coming literally days after the boisterous and lively festival of events that is DLD Tel Aviv, TEDxIDC managed to pack a punch with ideas on ventures, programs and initiatives young people have created, founded and brought to life to make Israel and the world a better place…and just to prove how contagious ideas are, two of my students from Technische Universitat Darmstadt, who came into town for the DLD events, stayed through the TEDxIDC event and were inspired to start planning a TEDxDarmstadt event!
In any event, with the Inception quote on ideas is how I started my talk on Cultivating Ideation at the Google for Entrepreneurs Trailblazers Summit, an event bringing together 100 partners of the Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) programs including accelerators, entrepreneurship programs and entrepreneurial outreach programs to share insights and best practices and learn about the incredible offering this powerhouse organ within Google Ventures offers the entrepreneurial community.
Trailblazers Summit…Now that is an Idea!
An experience in many senses, GFE went out of their way to create an atmosphere for sharing and learning. It was great hanging out with old friends, getting to know some newer friends and meetings tons of new friends of which I am sure much collaboration will be born of it. The lectures and workshops combined community driven talks about the incredible and diverse programs people are working onLemonade Day (entrepreneurship for kids through lemonade stands), Blackbox (a two week accelerator bring together entrepreneurs from all over the world to Palo Alto), Astia promoting women in entrepreneurship and P@sha (an entrepreneurial center in Pakistan); and great talks by Bill Marris of Google Ventures, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins and the amazing and inspiring Megan Smith of Google X.
The thing about ideas, like resilient, contagious parasites,…is their vitality and ability to change, grow and adapt. It is a mistake to get attached to them, because an idea is never the same day in and day out…its power is in its adaptation. Take for instance the Zellots of the Zell 13 class: Ideating away…some have changed ideas like a fashionista changes her wardrobe…but there is a link or tie between idea and idea…even if in a different space altogether, the process of ideation is a building process and once developed, can continue to grow. As they trudge through ideation frustration (which shortly gives way to a November crash ripe with team splits and idea changes)…To them I can say, be boldened by the fact that ideas are mutable and salient, be humbled by the fact that even when you find what you think is a great idea, that too will change and transform…