How To Keep Ideas Alive

At Ideas To Go, we always have something new going on—whether it's rolling out new features and capabilities for iCoN® panels, or coming up with new tools to use during our ideation process. Many times the ideas for these new initiatives spring out of conferences and high-energy company meetings.

That said, we’re all familiar with the Seminar Effect. You come out of a great meeting with tons of energy and exciting ideas, ready to make things happen—and then you hit the wall that is regular life: expense reports, political maneuvering, and energy-sucking meetings. Before you know it, those ideas you were so excited about get lost in the shuffle.

How do you prevent the death of these ideas? I’m going to let you in on some of the tricks I use to combat the Seminar Effect and maintain momentum when inspiration hits.

Have a bottle ready for the lightning.

I always have my Evernote app close at hand. I find that if I immediately capture exciting ideas, I am much more likely to come back to them and put in the work they deserve. How you capture them is up to you, but two of the reasons I love Evernote are 1) it syncs to all of my devices right away, and 2) I can share my brilliant flashes of inspiration with my co-conspirator(s) immediately.

Convert people to the cause.

I often hear that when you have a goal, you should tell a bunch of people so they keep you accountable. What I am suggesting is a bit different: right away, tell one or two people who can help you execute your idea. When I have a blog post or article idea, I write up a two-sentence description and send it off to our writers Liza and Katie. When I have an iCoN® panel-related brain buzz, I send Christine a note. The idea is to get people involved who will also get excited—and not only bug me to work on the idea, but also contribute to the effort.


Whenever possible, I work on my ideas in more than one physical space. When I start to feel the excitement wearing off or the task really starts dragging, I put it down for a bit, go to a coffee shop, sit in a park, or relocate within the office, and pick it up again. I don't know why changing the environment works, but it does.

Make your effort visible.

Since I work almost entirely in Evernote (I really do, and I promise Evernote isn’t paying me), this manifests as really long note files with pictures, links and blocks of quotes pasted in. I write and keep my final notes at the top of the document, but I keep all of my research and previous drafts below it. When I start to feel frustrated, I scroll down. It is kind of like turning around halfway up a mountain. You still have a lot of work to do, but wow—look how high up you are. So keep your drafts, snap pictures, and be a bit messy as you work through the process.

Build in a social reward.

Whether it is likes on Facebook, Linkedin profile views, comments on our blog, or just emails from my colleagues recognizing my effort, I make sure that the final output of my idea gets in front of people in a way that I know they saw it. This motivates me to finish my projects so I can get them out into the world and see what kind of impact they have. Whenever I see a like, or someone says, "Hey, I just read that article you wrote," I get a burst of motivation to dig through Evernote and find something else to polish up and put out there.

These are the things that help keep me excited and working on all those shiny, new ideas. What are some things that work for you? 

©2013 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Greg Cobb

Greg Cobb is a Creative Process Designer and Facilitator as well as the creator of Ideas To Go’s Inspire® visual survey platform. Greg has a BA in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to joining Ideas To Go in 2011, Greg led the US consumer division at a leading global market research firm.  Facilitating innovation sessions and moderating consumer interviews and groups since 2007, Greg has worked extensively in most consumer categories as well as pharma, B2B, and automotive.