Thursday, February 23, 2012

Six Degrees of Your Great Ideas

I drive my wife nuts. 

I know none of you are surprised by this. Perhaps its better for me to say I drive my wife nuts in many, many ways! The one that matters today might just help you find your next great idea - so I'll see if I can focus on that for you.

A common question my wife asks is "What are thinking?" Dangerous, of course, to ask any man this question, but even moreso for me. Because we might be eating dinner, and she's expecting me to say "I'm thinking how wonderful your spaghetti is...", but what actually comes out of my mouth is "Dwight D. Eisenhower". 

The next question, of course, is WHY? Simple, actually. I start out thinking about the meal, then the noodles make me remember Patch Adams, when the doctor set up a pool of noodles for a terminal patient to wade in. Patch was played by Robin Williams, who used to be Mork, in Mork & Mindy. But first he was on Happy Days. Then I think about Fonzie, and how he used to wear a grey jacket, not a black leather jacket, and I remember the episode where they are campaigning for, drumroll please, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This thought process takes all of 5-10 seconds, for me. It's just the way I think.

It's Six Degrees of Separation on steroids - free association for the terminal daydreamer. At the dinner table, it can have its downsides. But as a speechwriter, it can be a salvation.

The process can be harnessed to help you find incidents from your past to bring into your speeches, whether they are events in your life, or stories you've read or heard. It can help you create new ideas and draw new conclusions. You can trigger it just by staring at something and letting your mind wander a bit - linking one thing to another, and seeing where it brings you. Sure, you'll hit some dead ends, but at least it'll be a lot more fun getting there than staring at a blank page.

The ideas you reach may help you immediately, or they can be held for future consideration, just like those epiphanies you have as you fall to sleep or take a shower. Write them down, get them in a story file.

If you don't see yourself thinking this way, no problem. There was probably a time you didn't see yourself on stage, either. Give it a shot anyway. Pick an object by your computer. What does it remind you of? Where you got it? Who gave it to you? Where were you when you used it? What does it look like. Get to the next thought, and then link to another.

There's a 'Jack' bobblehead on my desk. Got it at a Jack in the Box grand opening. I used to drive my preacher, 20 years ago, to get Jack in the Box tacos, two for 99 cents. I remember when I used to work at Taco Bell, and sold tacos 3 for a buck. Boom Boom Boom - two, if not three anecdotes that might come in useful.

And heck, even if not, the process itself helped me write a blog post!

Let your mind wander so your mouth can Speak....and Deliver.


  1. Thanks Rich, we are kindred spirits! I thought there was something wrong with me.



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