Monday, August 20, 2012

Big Idea Monday- Free to Good Home

As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life.
-Amy Poehler

We were visiting the Big Apple about six years ago when the idea struck to create a travel website for major tourist destinations called forfree.com. I got as far as securing a few domain names like chicagoforfree, newyorkforfree, laforfree and than let it fade. It still is a good idea, but there is a lot more competition now. Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and most major city newspapers and visitor’s bureaus have some component of free event/attractions listings, even if they are not as comprehensive as what I had in mind.

My immediate question at the time was how can you make money on a business model that is promoting something that is free? Several people have since answered that question through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Wikipedia. The Wikipedia story is an especially fascinating success story because founder Jimmy Wales lived in our little corner of the world. Since posting his first article in 2001, Wales' brilliant brainchild has grown to 22.6 million free usable articles in 285 languages. According to Alexa Internet, it is currently the sixth most popular website visited monthly by 14% of all internet users. This world altering collaboration is free because donors gave $20 million last year alone to keep it going.

I have been encouraging my 12-year old son to write down his ideas and share them with others or maybe share them on this site. His concern is someone will steal them. I used to think the worst idea is one you never tried than you discover it was a fabulously popular idea that someone else did. Now, I think the worst idea is one that NO ONE ever tries- period. Isn’t it better that you give an idea away to a good home, if you can't take care of it? To collaborate? 

 By the way, according to Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea for an on-line interactive encyclopedia. The first documented idea traces back to 1993, 8 years before Wales took action. The idea for the light bulb wasn't  Edison's either, he just perfected it.

I don't have a new original blockbuster to share today. But I am meeting with someone that I hope will become my writing partner. Someone to bounce ideas around with. I also found a new source of inspiration. Check out Tony Schwartz from The Energy Project. He is a former journalist, turned author, motivational speaker, corporate coach and blogger who has a lot of thoughts about maximizing your potential. Here is one of his helpful posts on How to Think Creatively.

Do you have a good idea? Are you going to do something about it? Are you going to share it?

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