The Alexander Graham Bell Guide to Changing the World

The Alexander Graham Bell Guide to Changing the World

Reader Comments (105)

  1. I am undoubtedly an idea junkie. I too have that file full of ideas. Some I know don’t have any legs and some I know are really really good. I don’t have a problem with going for it. I’m entrepreneurial and have already launched a few businesses of my own. One thing to remember though, before you run out and tell everyone your secret big idea, is to protect yourself first. Believe me, there are a lot of of scavengers out there who don’t have an original idea in their head and are just waiting to grab someone else’s. If you can patent it, trademark it or copyright it, then you should explore that route first before disclosing too much too soon. Great ideas are very valuable especially to those who will never have any of their own…

  2. Jon,

    Great blog, as ever.

    To distil to the essence of my experience in taking ideas to market… there’s no such thing as an original idea, just one a) whose time has come, and b) you can find a way to deliver to customers that want it.

    As your example of Alexander Graham Bell noted, it is the follow through / delivery / commercialisation that is key (says he, waiting on a conference call for a commercialisation team of a University spin out !), the first idea I noted is vital to grasp.

    Far too many people are always looking for the next new thing, but what is far more valuable in marketing strategy/brainstorming meetings is to have people in there who have both a vast experience of real world experience AND the ability to subconciously pull the relevant insights from the memory banks at the right time.

    Instead of looking for new ideas, look to insights on ideas new and old that may be right for the current needs, time and customers.

    Oh, btw, happy to do a guest blog for you anytime 🙂

  3. I like the idea of who can spread the idea the furthest. In a favourite book of mine Rich Dad Poor Dad I remember the author stating that he wasn’t necessarily the best writer around, but he was the author of a “best-seller”.

    I don’t think quality has to be comprimised, but quality alone isn’t enough, you have to sell and promote your quality goods!

  4. Amen!

    I could of, would of should of needs to be put to rest for good!

    I think we are all guilty of having ideas for products and posts that get neglected and stored for the ‘perfect’ moment.

    Being a perfectionist at times can be the biggest stumbling block for simply just doing it.

    And I think fear (of success?) also plays a big role.

    Thanks for the clear reality check! 🙂

  5. You are spot on. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could take things one step further. Thank you so much for this great advice.

  6. Jon,

    Has anyone reading here had great ideas about posts to write, jotted down a synopsis to expand later, and then found out someone else has written on that same topic in the interim?

    That’s the thing about general ideas as well – they can’t be patented. Moral of the story: when lightning strikes, build the fire right then and there!

  7. Interesting post. It matches my own experience in that when I started off posting blogs and articles it seemed to me I was throwing out ideas at random with very little feedback. However, with perseverance we’re starting to get great feedback from our content – and even some interested clients. The key has been to devote as much time to promoting the content as to actually writing it and being very focused in the type of content we’re creating.

  8. Being an idea pack rat is something about myself that I’ve been trying to change for the last few months. It’s ironic that being overprotective of our ideas leads to their demise, while being free and open with them actually grants us more security.

  9. Great reminder that it is the Application of knowledge that makes a difference and not just knowledge itself.

    First you need to make knowledge useful to someone which then can be taken higher by spreading the word – otherwise known as marketing in business circles.

    I am reminded of another great inventor – Les Paul (who recently passed on…), known as one of the first inventors of the electric guitar – but why did HIS version take off? Because he went out and sold it…talked about it…and even played it becoming a master musician himself.

    Had he just invented the guitar, surely someone else would have come in and really taken it to market giving them all of the glory.


  10. I really liked the story. That’s open my imagination of how the struggle in the blog and how to become a true warrior in pouring the contents of the writing. Alexander Bell can be the icon of spirit in writing!

  11. I too am definitely an idea “pack rat.” I am always jotting down ideas for blog posts, plans for books, business strategies, but I usually forget about them. The good thing is that since I store them in places, I eventually find them and do a little more, and the cycle continues. I will check out all my ideas and move ahead. Thanks.

  12. “On my computer, I have folders stacked inside of folders, all of them stuffed with notes on ideas that I plan to pursue. I have outlines for unwritten books, marketing plans for products I never got around to creating, and half-written posts that I can’t seem to finish writing.”

    Uh yeah… not only have I been there, I’ve bought a lot of land.

    Thanks for an awesome post, Jon. I’m feeling more comfortable sharing my ideas every day, but it’s still nice to see you lay it out so well.

    This goes hand in hand with Partnering Profits as well. We can’t nurture all our ideas, but having people to collaborate with can help our ideas spread.

  13. My aunt was a patent attorney’s secretary for 25 years. My father has a patent. I applied for one and someone beat me to it by one week. I can assure you the “patent world” is a vile place. Don’t go anywhere near it.

    It’s run by crooks, and crooks from all countries flock there to “lift” new ideas that just received approval. “We can steal this…we can get around that,” is what you’d hear all the time in broad daylight. They didn’t care who heard them plotting to steal someone else’s hard work.

    Attorneys would squeeze “claims” out of poor unsuspecting dreamers because attorneys knew each claim cost $500. Who cares if you only needed one claim to adequatly protect your idea. You’re getting 10.

    I feel bad for this one patent holder that paid a patent attorney for 20 claims for his 10-foot-high duck-shaped duck blind. Imagine for a moment you’re a duck and you see a 10-foot-high duck in the water(with hidden hunter inside). Are you going to land next to that? The patent attorney though this was funny too I’m sure.

    Think of an idea, partner with other bright people, and get your idea out there…screw the patents.

  14. I love the post. Success comes from ideas, willingness to fail, hard work and marketing. It boils down to the fact that Alexander Bell was a better marketer. When you’re a better marketer, being first to an idea isn’t always necessary.

    However, it’s also incredibly important to weed through the many ideas you produce to carefully choose the great ones. If you’re not selective you’ll never have the follow through to create something earth-shattering. Great companies are built with focus, hard work and marketing. You hit on hard work and marketing above. I think it’s a dire mistake to forget about focus.

    I’m tempted to do the exact opposite all the time. Like you, I generate ideas every day that I want to pursue. We even launched an offshoot investment company to pursue some of these ideas. However, I have to continuously remind myself that great companies are built with focus. If I went chasing every idea, none of my ideas would develop into anything worthwhile. Chasing too many ideas will detract from your ability to effectively market any of them.

    Developing one great idea is better than chasing ten mediocre ideas.

  15. @shanearthur – Patents can add not only protection but tremendous value to a truly unique idea. Try getting backers to invest in a product idea that isn’t protected. True, some things are not worth protecting because they are not unique enough, but some things absolutely are – it’s in the knowing the difference. To suggest that people go out and get their ideas out there without any protection at all is setting them up for thievery. I have been in the product business, had a very successful product that grew very fast, and there are numerous companies that have tried to knock it off, but have been stopped because of the patent protection that we were able to get. My husband is a product designer and holds many patents, some for himself and some from when he worked in house for major brands. To make a suggestion that all lawyers are going to “squeeze” “unsuspecting dreamers” out of their money is an insult to respectable lawyers and to smart inventors. Not all lawyers are evil and money grubbing and not all inventors are naive.

  16. I was going to post about EXACTLY the same thing. I have the notes to prove it. It was even written in my daytimer: Write blog post about being an idea hoarder.


    P.S. Love the “genius” vs. “evangelist” notion.

  17. @Cherly
    I would hope you know a “rant” when you see it. View my rant(ie, not a freakin’ affidavit) with a “results may vary for you” text message at the bottom of the screen.

    One person’s “insult” is another man’s public service message. I take nothing back.

  18. There are great ideas in folders stuffed in drawers all over the world. But if you really want an idea to become something, you need to expose it to the world. And before you do, you better file for protection. The best offense is defense and without legal protection you have neither. If the idea is truly great and has value and not protected it will be copied faster than you can imagine, if your idea is truly unique and patentable having it protected gives you every legal recourse if the idea is stolen. Also, protection prevents others from trying something “like it” and getting too close. This gives you TIME to sell the idea, launch the product and grow the idea into a marketable item or company. ALSO…VERY IMPORTANT…try to get funding on an unprotected idea. THE IP IS THE VALUE of any idea. It is a critical investment. EVEN if it has not yet been marketed IP gives VALUE to the idea. I have been down this road as an inventor, designer, patent holder and entrepreneur. There is nothing worse than having your ideas stolen…your hard work stolen…and then not being able to do anything about it. IP is an asset that works for the inventor.

  19. Great post! I identify with the ‘idea pack rat’. Love the guest blog tip! You can’t get to your destination if you don’t get moving in the right direction. AND if you move to slow, someone else will likely beat you to it. Thanks for the fire!

  20. Excellent post! A timely reminder for all – to not just incubate ideas and feel they’ll hatch something great, but to take inspired action & make great things happen!

  21. Okay, everybody play nice. 🙂

    I can see how this post would come off as snubbing patents, and that wasn’t my intent. My point is that the best way to protect your ideas is to spread them. If you don’t do that, then you’ll get beaten by the company that does, no matter how much legal protection you have.

    If I had to choose between having a patent and no marketshare or being the market leader and having no patent, I would choose to be the market leader every time.

  22. Excellent post, Jon!

    When you wrote, “The secret to changing the world isn’t you having good ideas. It’s getting those ideas into the heads of other people.” … it reminded me of the many times I’ve had people say to me, “That’s a great idea, Cat!” … and my reply has been and continues to be, “I’m paid to have great ideas, but I just keep giving them away.”

    It’s my nature to be generous. Innately I am a teacher at heart, a gardener who plants seeds of ideas and inspiration, a fisherwoman who chums the waters to attract more fish, and a creator of cyclic processes which build momentum and evolve into energetic and wondrous results — known and unknown to me.

    Jon, your writing nourishes the souls of us all who write, whether we are craftsmen or artists or a mixture of both. I thank you, too, for your generosity and guidance.

  23. This is an excellent post! Your reference to Alexander Bell reminds me of the little known quote by Thomas Edison, “Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.”

    Contrary to what many of us have read, Thomas Edison didn’t invent the electric light bulb, or hold the first patent. In reality, light bulbs existed a half century before his 1879 patent date! But more people were listening to Edison’s ideas just as Alexander Bell’s! And who knows today the first patent or inventor of the light bulb?

  24. Great inspirational article Jon.

    I am half way on my road and you reminded me that I need to stop planning and start taking action. Get my ideas out there and let everyone know what I am thinking.

    Thanks for that.

    Excellent article!

  25. And here I am thinking that I’m the only one who’s been through all this thing. Thanks for the article! It really pumps me up!

  26. Jon ~ thank you for that awesome article. So inspirational!
    I’m sharing this line in particular with my audience.

    “The secret to changing the world isn’t you having good ideas. It’s getting those ideas into the heads of other people.”

    Fabulous ~ thanks again!!! PS. Of course, I’ll give you props for it!

  27. @Slimeface (!), that’s a great quote. “Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.” That’s a great core principle for any creative person (which means businesspeople, too, of course) to work from.

  28. What you say is true, scary and a little disturbing. Yes, we should go after our ideas. We should do our best to get it out there, not mind the rejections, work hard and find people who will make it go further. Fine. I agree.

    But seriously when? Yes, I am full of ideas, I jot them down, put it out there and learn new ways to improve the material and improve my marketing skills. I am doing my best to catch up with the goals I set up for myself but I am running behind. Not because I am not taking action, but because I am doing everything on my own. While I appreciate the truth of the article, it is just a very hard thing to achieve. I am not saying it is not possible and kudos to Bell and all that, but it is a tad bit more difficult when you live in an age where everyone pretty much has the same, if not better resources. Having a million competitors should be a little more difficult than 2, surely?

    To avoid any confusion, it is a good article. It just hits a chord.

  29. Excellent Blog! Just what I need to get the muse going. It’s uplifting and warming to the soul. Thanks for giving me the much needed boost for the New Year! Underdog away…

  30. I needed this post today. I’ve taken action on my idea – writing Apostle John’s story with Jesus in tweets. You can follow him on Twitter @john1Jesusloves. The project only lasts 3 months so that’s not much time to get the word out. I’ve told lots of people. So far, the word hasn’t spread very far. Most of the people I’ve emailed haven’t responded. It can be discouraging, but I need to keep looking for that “10th” person who will help spread the word.

  31. Ouch! and Amen! (at the same time).

    Your blog never ceases to inspire and speak to my entrepreneurial spirit!

    I’m doing just what you wrote about, (creating “Garden TV” online since their is lack of quality programming on “real television”).

    I already started a weekly show (on the fly) that has been well received but I need to take it to the next level- sponsorships!

    I’m getting out the directory today and making calls!

    Shirley Bovshow
    “Garden World Report” Show

  32. Thanks for the inspiring post. You’re right, you could have a brilliant idea but if you never get out there and spread the word, it will only remain that, a brilliant idea. You’ve inspired me to dust off some ideas of my own!

  33. I come with ideas at the same rate Wilt Chamberlain slept w/ women. Problem is my rate of taking action is the same rate that Steve Urkel got laid. So your point is taken.

  34. Wow, what a great slap in the face. Too much of this is true for me. I sit and wait for the opportune moment to launch anything. I realize I’m just wasting time while I’m trying to find the best time to post a new article or re-design of a site. No better time than now I guess. Thanks for the wake up call Jonathan.

  35. Ouch- I though I was alone in my guily little pleasure of creating product files full of pages of notes that never seem to go anywhere. I didn’t know that I had a full-blown diagnosed disease.

    Thanks Jon, I really needed that kick in the drawers today, as I fiddled with my latest post instead of doing the painful, but necessary work on the next product.

    Sometimes you just have to have one of your own kind point it out to you and then you can come back down from the clouds and into production mode. This is going to be a good year for all of us. I can tell already.

  36. @Jon ps. Didn’t mean to go on anti-patent rant (especially when I deem “utility” patents worthy of all the time and money required). Your main point was… get an idea, let it go tribal, then watch it go viral. And I couldn’t agree more.

  37. Great post, and inspiring as well. I am always carrying around some sort of notebook jotting down any idea I think is relevant. I think the reason why I have become a pack rat and many others have as well is due to the competition in the industry. I really liked your point about taking the idea farther instead of just hiding it. This is something I am guilty of and need to start doing. Thanks again for the post!

  38. @Pinar, it can get really overwhelming, can’t it? But I truly have found that the tortoise and the hare is applicable. Keep making steady progress, whether it’s slow or fast, and you will get somewhere worthwhile.

    I’m a huge idea pack-rat, and I don’t even mind. 🙂 I call it my compost pile, there’s good stuff cooking in there. But I try to make sure that when good stuff shows up, I get it out and go with it. But like many here, I probably have 1000 ideas stuffed into my hard drive or Backpack account in some half-baked form.

  39. Evangelists > Inventors

    Making something new is worthless if you don’t know how to sell it.

  40. Aloha!
    My Hawaii Blog, Comfort Spiral,
    (Your daily Hawaii Vacation) is building a community of readers/commentors.

    Your tips help me to look forward to sharing my ideas more broadly, and to more readers of my novel “Aloha Where You Like Go?”

    Thanks for all the tips and encouragement. Priceless.

  41. This is true on so many levels. Hiding one’s light under a bushel is frustrating for the hider, and unfair to all those who want or need to see that light. Go for it!

  42. I hat to admit I’m guilty of this. I have files all over my computer too, notepads full of ideas, and unfinished posts overflowing on my wordpress dashboard. Hell, I’ve been holding on to the idea of starting my outdoor/camping/survival blog for a while and finally just got started about a month ago. Thanks for the inspiration. Now I’m gonna go get to work finishing these ideas.


  43. This is very inspiring. I’m with you Jonathan.

    In order to change the world we need to take action now.

    Thanks to Alexander G. Bell and your advice now i know what to do.


  44. Very powerful thought.

    It reminds me of Habit # 1 from the book “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”. Be proactive.

    Meaning, stop trying to come up with the winning idea as oppose to actually taking it and run with it.

  45. This article is certainly inspiring. I think the best part about the story of Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone was that his mother and wife were both deaf.

    Aside from the interesting story of AGB, this article makes me want to spend the rest of the week digging through ever dusty file on my computer desktop, to complete unfinished blog posts, memoirs, marketing ideas, etc. Though I doubt I’ll actually get around to it, you have made me feel guilty about it. This is gnaw at me for the next few months until I actually get a short break to go through a few of the files. Thank you.

  46. Speaking of stealing thoughts, did you just take mine? How did you know I already composed an outline for a new book? Or that I have a marketing plan with NO notes? Thankfully, it’s still considered the New Year and I can turn this ship around. Thanks for the push.

  47. @Sonia: Thanks for understanding my rant : ) I like even the marketing aspect, don’t get me wrong. Hell, I even have an Advertising degree. But marketing ideas/posts/articles/work is the most challenging thing ever, especially when I multi-task like crazy and need at least 24 more hours in my day. : )
    How did you go about making your progress?

    @Shane: “”get an idea, let it go tribal, then watch it go viral. ” Loved this line. Is it yours? If it isn’t, who does the credit belong to? If it is, you might want to go about getting copyrights : ): ) And why does it make me think of Seth Godin? : )

  48. It has been estimated that more than 90% of people that buy information products on how to do something, or have an idea that they want to pursue (their dreams) do not actually take ACTION. They think of so many negatives out of every situation and it stops them dead in their tracks.

    “One day though, you’ll get to that 10th time, where the person you tell will be so impressed that they’ll tell someone else, and they’ll tell someone else, and they’ll tell someone else, and your idea spreads around the world. That’s how change happens.”

    Great point, for those of you that have never read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, it basically talks about that paragraph in detail with many case studies.

  49. Great message Jon! It all comes down to, you can know all this stuff or have all these amazing ideas but if you don’t do anything with ’em or take any action, somebody else will and/or you won’t achieve as much in life.

  50. One of the most inspiring posts I have read, and at such a good time. The world needs as many ideas as possible. I for one think more people to should talk about the coming climate change affects on humans and other species.

  51. Reminds me of Apple in the early days. They kept their operating system to themselves and didn’t allow other manufacturers to use it.

    The result: Despite creating a superior product, they lost out to IBM, who allowed others to share and spread their system around the globe.

    And that’s why Apple’s share of the computer market has never exceeded 5 or 6 percent.

  52. People matter in your public success. While creating a creation has its own kick but if you want to build upon that you need to sing loud.

    People do listen if you them.

    Nice post. Enjoyed very much

  53. Only Few people are thinking about how to change the world and most people only think to be a great man but what he thought superficial. What was thought by graham bell can be an example to change the world and become a great man

  54. i should really read this post or others on the same them or probably just my own first page of 2010 journal – which says “just do it” and “no fear”
    i am the queen of great ideas

  55. Hi Jon,

    Great article! Like many here, I can attest to being an idea “pack rat”.

    It’s generally accepted however that Alexander Graham Bell bribed/convinced someone in the patent office to date his patent application prior to Elisha Gray. In fact in a letter from Bell to Gray, Bell admitted that he had learned several technical details about the telephone transmitter from patent examiner Zenas Fisk Wilber. Wilber was an alcoholic and was deeply in debt to Bell’s lawyer who filed the application.

    I doubt that Bell would have been such an ardent marketer had he been unable to secure the patent. In the end, Bell was credited with the invention by having a better lawyer and being better connected.

    Your message doesn’t fall on deaf ears though. Gray was awarded nearly 70 other patents, including one for a primitive fax machine. While he was an ardent, and some may argue successful inventor, only Bell’s name lives on.

  56. Jon IS an idea pack rat; I have worked with him before and I can tell you that his computer has more folders than my college administrator had on me. With that being said, he’s got a great point. Let’s all make the resolution to get our ideas out there!

  57. Ha, he’s right. I probably have over 200 folders, spanning more than 10 years of ideas. “King of idea pack rats” might be an understatement.

    Nice to see you here, Nate.

  58. Very inspirational. Thank you so much for the reminder that that falling into the victim mentality and saying oh that guy ripped off my idea is so much easier than moving forward with passion and determination, but that the latter is much more rewarding in the long run.

  59. You really are a very clever person, you know.

    Your blog posts are all keepers. I hate reading one when I’m about to go to bed, because I toss and turn for a long while thinking about it.

    Nice job.

  60. You are so right, Jonathan, that great ideas go nowhere unless we spread the word just like Bell did. Alexander Graham Bell had a remarkable impact in so many ways. I commend to you the article “Alexander Graham Bell: Inventing the Future”:

  61. one of the best post what i have read this time, i totally agree with you. There are so many inventor who invented something before other, but what matters if he can’t publish his invention?t

  62. Yes,

    AGB was good at getting the word out, Edison is another great example of a Clever Marketer when it came to his inventions.

  63. There certainly is a method to post blogs and make them effective. A very good Analogy you have written and hope I can use your thoughts to put to better use.

  64. Jon: Hmm. I see you’re driving traffic back to your prior blog posts via twitter! LOVE IT! I’m an idea pack rat, too! It’s one of the things I want to tell you about me as you’re choosing who to mentor for 10-10-10. I’d like to send you some of my background/accomplishments/ideas/goals to ponder before we have our phone interview. I think you’ll be intrigued by the variety of my interests and accomplishments! I think my “slant” and target audience may be a little different than what you usually work with. I’d like to send you info about my “real goals.” The two blogs I have now are just for fun. I’ve been testing my audience, and entertaining friends, but have about 1,000 readers a month already, they engage with me via e-mail and facebook, but don’t all comment or subscribe. I started a blog because I was having a story published, and wanted to put a website in my bio! I KNOW you’re a marketing genius–you’re all over the place. I can tell we’re kindred spirits! Please have your assistant send me an e-mail address that I can use to send you some information to ponder before we talk (you can deduct the time from my allotment!) I am SO looking forward to a conversation with you! Thank you!
    Jamie Wyatt

This article's comments are closed.