Seth Godin had an April Fools post where he said he’s out of ideas and totally tapped.
Cooking, as an analogy, can have 2 types of ideas. One where you mix up the ingredients creatively, and something new comes out. This is creativity, but what happened when someone discovered pasta. The amount of variables in a recipe increased when pasta got added to the mix.
Consider the invention of a car. Then companies creatively create new makes and models of cars. And then someone creates an autonomous car. Autonomous cars are not just creativity, it’s a fundamental push. The variables available increase. Will Seth crank out an idea a day until he’s dead, but none of them actually pushed us further? Do all the pushes come from deep fundamentals jumping into other fields – like self driving cars came from optics / cameras / computer AI, and not from mechanical engineers. It’s like the fundamentals between multiple fields get mixed.
When you discover high fructose corn syrup, that idea likely came from a chemist instead of a cook.
Seth had an article where he says to fill out the “to” field in an email last (to keep you from accidentally sending an incomplete email to that person). This is a good idea, but it feels more like a recipe than an advancement. To me the advancement here is the underlying truth of it, which is “Consider the biggest likely mistake, and eliminate that possibility.” With that push, you can crank out a million blog posts / recipes that are all great (like filling out an email intelligently).
You start to notice most consultants have a few ideas and rehash those in a million different ways. I listened to a 6 hour course from Dan Kennedy (arguably the best direct marketer) that’s 15 years old, and listening to all his new interviews as of late are just rehashes of things he’s already said. Same thing happens for everyone, the question is how much. Tim Ferris has a few great ideas and the rest is him rehashing them mostly.
Restated, if you listen to 5 interviews of Tim Ferris, the 6th interview will give you very little additional useful knowledge.
Some recipes are still worth discovering, but we’ve got to focus on whether we’re pushing and creating something new, or recombining existing things. I think recombining things sometimes creates the new variable though. Flour and water, just a combination of things we’ve already discovered, creates something new – dough. What’s very interesting is that Dan Kennedy and Seth Godin probably get their best ideas sitting around thinking to themselves about stuff, and NOT listening to others. They’ve got enough ideas in their heads from other people that they can start to do amazing things on their own.
The way to go it seems is to fill your mind as much as possible, then allow yourself to keep recombining ideas to either get the new recipe or new ingredient altogether.