How to Take an Idea & Make it Real

This is a feature called Good Thoughts from Good Folks (GTGF) where I ask a few good folks for their good thoughts on a question I'm thinking about. This week's good folks: Jessica Johnston & Briana Ferrigno, Scott Warren, Carolyn Delaney, Khalil Fuller.

This week's question: How do you take an idea and make it real?

Jessica Johnston and Briana Ferrigno are the Co-Founders of Changemaker Chats, a talk series for women advancing positive change in their organizations and around the world.

Don't procrastinate. Go back and do something on the idea ASAP.

For Changemaker Chats, we came up with the idea over drinks on Wednesday, wrote the speaker invite on Thursday, and sent the invite on Friday of that same week. We knew if we didn't move quickly, we might never have acted on the idea. Two other things:

1) Use spare time wisely. 2) Don’t let perfect be the enemy good. Get it down first, and then iterate.

Scott Warren is the Co-founder/Executive Director of Generation Citizen, which empowers young people to become engaged and active citizens in our democracy.

I don't think there's anything that replaces just trying ideas out. Some people advocate for being patient and doing research and making sure every single duck is in a line. I'm not necessarily opposed to that, but when I have an idea, I want to get it out there, see if it resonates, and see if it works. So the most important thing to take an idea and make it real is just to try stuff out.

The second most important part is to get other people to actually believe in that idea too. An idea is only as good as the people associated with it.

Carolyn Delaney is a technologist & the founder of Our Craft, an online art gallery that connects buyers with artists and provides artists with technological support.

First, I talk over the idea with others to get perspective. My experience is so limited that getting feedback is absolutely necessary, and I try to talk with people who will be straight up and honest with me about their thoughts.

Next, identify what’s needed to bring that idea to fruition – (technology, people, processes, market, etc.) figure out where the gaps are between what’s needed and what’s readily available and then create a plan to either acquire new skills or find people to help fill the gaps.

Finally, hold the outcome lightly – I just never know how the reality of my idea will unfold or how many course corrections will come about. I really believe the magic is in the process - people met and lessons learned along the way – more than the end result being exactly what I thought it would be.

Khalil Fuller is the CEO of Learn Fresh, a nonprofit that improves student engagement and achievement through the creation of innovative, fun, and effective educational tools, including NBA Math Hoops.

Start. Start somewhere. Start on the smallest, most concrete, testable little slice of the idea, and then do that again and again. They say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, but of equal importance is the truth that you cannot walk faster than 1 step (or bound!) at a time.

In the last year my company has grown 3x, and I've grappled with finding time to do everything I'd like to. Having to prioritize and break large tasks into small challenges that don't seem insurmountable has done wonders for both my mental health and my productivity.

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Courage BoostsCaitie Whelan