Organize For Ideas

This is the fourth in a series of posts about rethinking your personal brand.Just because ideas are ephemeral doesn’t mean you can’t apply the same kind of rigorous management attention to idea generation that you apply to everything else you do. Viewing yourself with new frame of reference is a great way to see if you’re presenting the right image.

Most successful entrepreneurs have adopted some form of process to capture ideas that (randomly) come to them on a daily basis and from the people that matter (usually their customers or employees).

Here’s what I do:

  1. I carry a Moleskine notebook around on a daily basis and keep my favorite Parker pen (with gel insert, of course) to capture my ideas immediately.
  2. On a monthly basis, I email 5 people (usually a mix of recent contacts and previous clients) asking them what they think of me. Here’s what you can do today: Email your friends, trusted customers and advisors (you have those, right?) and simply ask them, “When you think of me, what words come to mind?” Input from those who know (and love) you best is invaluable when it comes time to build a personal brand that is uniquely you.

As Tom Peters said, “take a lesson from the big brands.” Most businesses will survey their customers by simply picking up the phone and calling them. If email is more your style, shoot them a quick note asking what comes to mind when they hear your name. The comments you gather can help determine if their vision of you is how you want to be seen. If they weren’t able to capture your personal brand in a sentence or two, or if they stumbled through their response, your personal brand isn’t clear enough.

Remember, new ideas are all around you. Make sure you’re organized enough to capture them when they start falling in your lap. Bonus: Having all of your ideas captured in one notebook will make it easy to go back and see patterns. (Still don’t believe me? Tim Ferriss has an eight-foot stretch of shelves in my house containing nothing but full notebooks.)