Describe your favorite “big idea” moment.
My favorite projects are elaborate pranks that contribute to the Army/Navy rivalry. Historically, students and alumni from my alma mater - West Point (the Army) - prank Annapolis (the Navy). With the help of technology, I've taken those pranks to a new level. One of my most favorite recent pranks was a book I wrote titled: "Discipline: The Annapolis Way - Lessons from the Nation's 4th Best Military Academy." - I 'gamed' the system so that the book is the number one search result for the Navy on Amazon - and it became the number 1 best selling military history book of 2017. Oh - and it's an entirely blank book.
Describe an idea that you loved, but didn’t work out in practice.
So many! But at least I knew that they didn't work by putting them out into the world and seeing if anyone else cared. I have at least 3 to 4 complete and total failure projects every year. It doesn't get any less discouraging. The one that haunts me - mostly because it's still such an annoying problem - Simple Socks. I was going to start a sock company that promised to only ever sell one style of socks so that your socks would always match. Turns out no one really cared as much about that problem as they claimed.
What is your process for capturing ideas?
I currently use Trello - there's plenty of systems out there - that's one that I've just found simple and convenient over the last year. I previously used Slack. No matter what the system - emails to yourself, notes someplace, etc... - I am constantly writing short notes in my 'personal inbox.' Part of my system was inspired by the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. Ideas have floated around in my system for years sometime before finally moving into action. Any time I have an intriguing thought about a potential project, I record it in my personal inbox (a terrifying collection of terrible ideas) and then I sort through them on an infrequent basis - monthly(ish) and decide if any of them are worth pursuing, keeping in the inbox, or completely discarding.
How do you decide which ideas to put into action?
Great question - I'm increasingly selective with which items I take action on. My test: Does this project/effort make other people's lives more enjoyable? I find the most satisfaction from creating entertaining projects that make other people smile. Work and life in general is tough enough - so I try to put my creative energy toward projects that deliver a laugh.
What idea were you working on at the "Ideation" event, and how is it progressing?
I'm working on a follow-up to a project I did a few years ago called 'Six Word War.' - I collected thousands of short six word stories from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans about their experiences. I'm interested in expanding the project to be more inclusive to all veterans, their families, and those affected by war. But it's a big undertaking so I'm realistic on how much I can accomplish alongside my other work.
Describe a meaningful, positive connection that has come from your first Magic Session.
I connected with Malu Marzarotto and I'm really excited about bringing a higher level of design and visualization to the stories that I'm collected for the Six Word War project.