How To Have Brilliant Ideas
Did you ever asked yourself the question, "How many brilliant ideas have I had lately? When was the last time I had a really brilliant idea? What is the most brilliant idea I have ever come up with?" I'm sure you ask yourself these questions all the time, right? I'm serious here! Don't I look serious? OK, Here's what we're going to do:
Pop up and editor and create a file called BRILL.IDA, (for those of you who are reading this on paper, get a pen and turn over the last page and write on the back "BRILLIANT IDEAS".)
Now, in the upper left hand corner put the number "1. " Then type in (write down) the most brilliant idea you ever had in your life. Now, skip a line and put a "2. " down and type in the second most brilliant idea you've ever had. Continue this process and list the 10 most brilliant ideas you ever had in your life.
Now, scroll down the screen a few lines (move down the page a few lines) and write down what you did to bring these ideas out into the real world. Did you try the idea? Did you sell the idea? Did you give the idea away? Did you write down the idea? Did you tell anyone about the idea? Did the idea benefit you in any way? Interesting exercise isn't it?
I feel like I come up with ideas all the time. My problem is bringing them into reality. I find that it really isn't that hard to come up with brilliant ideas once you get your mind in a brilliant ideas mode. It's very similar to learning how to tell jokes. For those of you who are good at telling jokes, you know that there's more to a joke than just telling it. My wife is really struggling to learn how to tell jokes. She's standing with a group of people and she tells a pretty good joke, nobody laughs. I say, "wait a minute", I repeat the same joke, after they have heard my wife tell it, and it's hilarious! She hates me for that.
Steve Martin once said on Saturday Night Live, "People come up to me all the time and say, 'Steve, what makes you so damn funny?' And I tell them, 'When I get up in the morning, I put a piece of baloney in each shoe. And when I stand up, I feel funny!'". It's a state of mind. You can't just say something funny, you have to BE funny.
Now, for those of you who haven't quite got the concept on how to BE funny, I'm here to tell you that Steve Martins technique actually works! No kidding! If you go to the refrigerator in the morning and get some baloney and put a slice in each shoe, you will become funny.
You can start out gradually. Just do it on Saturdays, when you're not at work, and you're not in Church. And don't fool around with that low fat Turkey baloney, we're talking pork here! Slowly you work your way up to 2 to three times a week. After you gain some confidence in what you're doing, tell your friends about it and share with them what you're going through. This not only builds self confidence but by that time you are ready to start talking about it the magic will have already begun to take effect and people will begin to realize that there is something funny about you. Before long, people will be laughing as soon as you walk into the room. When this happens, you won't even need to use the baloney anymore.
Having brilliant ideas is the same sort of thing. You have to get yourself in a brilliant frame of mind. A brilliant idea frame of mind is kind of like the way you feel during a "Flying Dream" and it is developed, like anything else, from practice. You need to want to be brilliant and to practice having brilliant ideas on a regular basis. You start out by having good ideas and you work your way up.
Brilliant Idea Example
Here's an example of how a brilliant idea is formed on a step by step basis. About three weeks ago I was sitting on a plane on the runway in Denver on my way back from a week long software developers conference in Salt Lake City. The plane was taxying out to the runway and the flight crew was giving instructions about what to do in case the plane crashes. Over the last year or so I started noticing a new instruction dealing with the kind of people they would like to have sitting next to emergency exit doors.
The idea is that if the person next to the exit door doesn't have it together enough to open the exit door and help people evacuate the plane, that the odds of survival drop off some. The flight crew suggests that if someone feels that they can't deal with exit doors they would be happy to re-seat these people. Not once have I seen anyone move.
So what have we here? We have a problem. Brilliant ideas come as a result of solving a problem. No problems, no brilliant ideas. So therefore, the first thing to realize about wanting to have brilliant ideas is that problems are our friend.
So there I am and I'm realizing that a problem exists. The question arises in my mind, "How are we going to get the best and most well trained people to sit by exit doors on airplanes?" At this point I have:
To solve this problem of having qualified people sit next to exit doors, we first need for there to be a method of identifying the type of people who we would want to sit by exit doors. There needs to be a reliable method for classifying individuals who are the exit door type of people. The method needs to be so simple that ordinary airport personnel can look at an individual and quickly tell, with a good degree of accuracy, if a person is or is not exit door material.
Well, the easiest way for airport personnel to identify a person as being exit door material would be if they carried some kind of ID card and was in a computer database of prime exit door people. But how do we go about creating this database and passing out these cards? How are we going to separate and identify emergency exit door people?
Well we could train people in evacuation procedures and after they go through the training course and pass it they get an ID card and a pin. Their names go into a computer database and when they book a flight the computer automatically assigns them a seat number next to an exit door.
So where's this training going to come from? Who going to pay for it? Why would someone want to take this course? These are questions you have to ask yourself in forming the brilliant idea. People want to know, "Yea but how ya gonna make it work?".
They could do training once a year at some designated airport where the weather was nice. The class would be sponsored by the commercial airlines, insurance companies, and the military. Perhaps people would also pay a fee to attend. The training would be 5 days long where hands on emergency evacuation techniques are practiced. The evenings would be free for speakers who are nationally known airline safety experts and for parties and socializing. Besides training, it would be like a club or a social event.
So why would someone want to go through this kind of training? Well there's several reasons. First of all, ego. You've got a pin making you a certified hero. Something to be proud of, brag about. To help one feel like their life has meaning. To feel safer about flying. Such and event would be a good place to meet people if you are single. To advance one's career. And perhaps to get discounts on air fairs and seating on overbooked flights. Airlines could compete with discounts offered to Evac people so as to attract more of them to their airline so that they can say they are safer than their competitor. And if these discounts are substantial, then people who fly often are going to take the course just to get the discounts.
So why would the airlines want to do it? To have less people die. People dieing is not only unpleasant, but it's bad for business. First of all you lose customers. Dead people don't fly on airplanes very often. Their lawyers want to make sure the family is well compensated for their loss. A dead person is usually worth a million bucks at least.
It's bad advertising when a crash occurs. But it's good advertising when the public knows that there are trained Evac people on board. The Evac people are running around wearing their little pins or photo badges creating the air of confidence and security. It creates the same kind of feeling that Boy Scouts helping little old ladies across the street creates. The airlines advertise how proud they are to be a sponsor of the safety training to help make sure the plane doesn't crash and burn with you having to trample some old lady to get to the exit door.
The insurance companies benefit because the less people who die, the less they have to pay. Safety is something that insurance companies tend to invest in especially if it can be shown that it will save them money.
The military will be interested in it because it gives them something to do that's useful now that the cold war is over. Since we taxpayers have spent billions educating these guys to fly planes perhaps we can put some of that training to good use. This way we can start recycling the military.
By creating this environment of safety, the airlines can grow the market. There are people out there that drive because they have never flown in one of those "damn things". People say that they are afraid of flying. I'm just the opposite myself. As long as the plane is flying I have no problems. It's when the plane stops flying that scares me.
So here I am putting together these ideas and all these little ideas start fitting together to make this brilliant idea. I realized that this idea would actually work. So where are we at now in the development of the brilliant idea?
Now that we have come up with the brilliant idea the question now becomes, how do I get it out into reality? How do I make it actually happen. Well, I might get lucky. Someone in the right position to make it happen may read this article and implement it. I can't do it myself so what I want to do is to get this idea into the hands of the right people. I have at least written it down on a computer. I can print it out and mail it. I can fax it. Or I can send it by electronic mail to the right person. I'm still trying to find the right person. But it does bring me face to face with the last step:
You might ask yourself, "Am I smart enough to come up with a brilliant idea?". The answer to that is, yes you are. Any time you see a situation where you say to yourself, "Isn't that stupid!", you are in a situation where you have the opportunity to say something about it. What you have to do is cross that line into attempting to take action. Action might be as simple as writing a letter. "Dear Sirs, You could save a lot of money on your utility bill if you didn't run you heating and air conditioning at the same time and closed your windows in the winter."
You have to get past the idea of "fear of rejection". You will be rejected, so what!? Some people don't want to hear the obvious. But you make up for it when someone says, "That makes sense. I never thought of that." If you score 1 out of 10 you're doing real well.
It's Tough Being Smart
Another hindrance to coming up with brilliant ideas is that it is tough to be smart. In American culture, people get real uncomfortable when they are around people who are a lot smarter than they are. It's OK in this culture to be a great athlete, but to be smart is something you have to be ashamed of. You just can't get up in front of a crowd and talk about being an intelligent individual.
For instance, since I started Thinking Magazine I have gotten several letters from people who were offended because I consider myself to be a sharp person. I am a sharp person. Why should I hide it? One individual is so offended that he started his own magazine who's main theme is trashing my magazine. The way I see it, he is smart enough to write and to create his own publication. I would rather read what he believes in and what his visions are rather than see him put his efforts into kicking over someone else's sand castle. My attitude about Thinking Magazine is, this is what I think. If you don't like it, don't read it. And if you get pissed off because I think I'm sharp, then screw you.
Another problem with being smart is that there isn't much on TV to watch the appeals to the intelligent viewer. You have Star Trek TNG and PBS and Ted Koppel on ABC NightLine and that's about it. As the public in general gets dumber and dumber, TV is targeting it's shows to fit a changing audience. The news is the worst. You sit there and you wonder how in the world can people be so damn dumb. Someone must have made a mistake. How did I end up in this reality.
I've been struggling with the problems of being smart for as long as I can remember. My grandmother started teaching me math when I was three. By the time I was four I was able to do multiplication and division of large numbers. I wanted a computer so bad I could taste it. But in 1959 there weren't very many four year olds who had computers.
Just before my fifth birthday I entered kindergarten. I realized that I was going to have to put up with this for 13 years and then I'm out. I held that attitude for the next 13 years.
During the years I was in school I was considered a behavior problem. I didn't do homework. I considered it a waste of time. I had better things to do. I took apart everything I laid my hands on. I had to know how everything worked. When I was in the fourth grade I became useful to the teacher who had trouble making a flaky TV set work so that we could watch some educational show. I found the idea of watching TV in school to be very interesting.
The first show we watched was on the Vietnam War. In this show they explained the Domino Theory. The main point being was that if Vietnam fell to the Communists that it would cause a chain reaction and one by one all the rest of the world would fall and we would all be Communists. And that being a Communist was worse than being a slave and that life would be somewhat akin to being in Hell.
So after this show was over and the teacher told us about Communism I asked the teacher a question. I said, "If we are the most powerful nation on Earth and loosing in Vietnam would lead to the Communists taking over the world, why don't we just go in and blow them away?" The teacher couldn't answer that one and after 4 more years of not getting that question answered, I decided that I was against the Vietnam war.
By the time I hit seventh grade I met a retired math teacher whom I struck a relationship with. Mr. J.C. Brown loved to solve math puzzles and so did I. We would spend hours talking on the phone solving math problems together. At the age of 13 I was grasping concepts like the idea that all infinities were not equal. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. I understood the fundamentals of Calculus and the ideas behind Integrals and Differentials.
By that time I started wondering what kind of a job I could get working brain teasers the rest of my life. Did I want to become a math teacher? Hell no! Electronics, that's the field for me. I figured that as long as I knew how to fix a TV set I would be employed. That's when I started designing and building my first computer.
Back in 1969 you didn't go out and buy a microprocessor chip and start building a computer. Especially since money was not a resource I had. But there was a vending machine company that let me strip relays out of old pinball machines. Some of my hauls were quite sizable and it often to some persuasion to get the city bus drivers to let me haul this stuff on the city busses.
My first computer was designed to calculate the day of the week of any date. It had buttons on the top of it where you entered the month, day, year, and century of the desired date and it would determine the day of the week. It even adjusted for the leap centuries and the conversion from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.
It took me three years to get it finished. I entered it in a regional science fair in my senior year of high school. I was hoping to win the grand prize but I didn't. I was told later by one of the judges that several of the judges didn't believe that a kid my age was capable of building such a device and that I had to have had someone build it for me. I had already been frustrated that none of the judges were capable of understanding any of the concepts of how it worked.
I see situations on a daily basis that are absolutely obvious and simple to me and am completely incapable of explaining it to anyone else. It is so frustrating. It's like, "Look people, this is obvious! I can't believe that I'm even having to explain it to you let alone that you can seem to understand it." I'm wanting to move on to the complex part and I can't even get past the basics.
It's like when Ronald Reagan was being elected President the first time I was saying, "Look people, this guy is an ACTOR. Can't you tell he's acting? Look at him. It's a script! He doesn't believe a word of what he's saying. Can't you tell? It's so obvious!" And here it is 12 years later and America is 4 trillion bucks in the hole and I say "Told ja so!" and these fools still believe him. It just makes me want to throw up.
But being smart has it's advantages. It is easier to get a job if you're smart. Most employers would rather hire someone who is smart than someone who went to college. It come in handy when you want to figure something out, fix things, or understand how things work.
Girls like smart guys because a lot of girls have figured out that smart guys have figured out what girls like. If you're a smart girl it's slim pickings out there. Guy's don't like girls who are smarter than they are. Makes them feel real insecure. I really feel sorry for women like Hilliary Clinton who are highly intelligent and accomplished. I'm sure she's more frustrated than I am.
You Are What You Think
What is it that makes you what you are? There is a saying that, "You are what you eat.", and I suppose on a molecular level this is somewhat true. But people and rats will eat about the same things, and for the most part, people and rats are quite different. So the idea that you are what you eat really doesn't describe the whole picture.
So what is it that makes me me, and what makes you you? I'd say that it is the sum of our thoughts, or what we do with our minds. It is our mental processes that identify who and what we are and how we fit into the rest of reality.
Everyone is born into a specific situation and from that point on they start relating to external reality. During life we are exposed to experiences and as we grow older we choose how to relate to these experiences and control what experiences we have. These experiences become our reality and affect our thought processes and mold our identity. I am who I am and everything I have seen, heard, read, and thought are the pieces that make up my identity.
I, for instance, make a living writing software. I have 11 computers on line at the office and 3 computers at home. I have a total of 9 phone lines, 4 of which are used primarily for data transmissions. I would estimate that 90% of the people I relate to on a daily basis are in the top 5% of people intellectually. I spend as much time communicating by EMail as I do by voice. Most of the time I spend with people is with my family and a hand full of friends, all of whom own computers. This is what I do and who I am. It is the life I have chosen.
Every experience that I have adds to the sum of what I am and that includes what I watch on TV. For instance, if I'm watching a show where a person is being cut up with a chain saw, my mind absorbs that experience into who I am. It becomes part of me and affects me.
We all know who Freddy Kruger is (Nightmare on Elm Street). Freddy is part of our collective experience. Not only is Freddy part of me and part of you, but he is part of us as a collective being known as humanity and he defines part of what we are as a species.
So, one asks oneself while flipping on the tube, what experiences to I want to add to who I am today? What do I want to do with my conscience, my awareness? How do I want to affect who I am? Do I want to add to my being the experience of 10 more murders today? Do I want to watch people getting eaten by sharks and imagine what it would be like to be eaten by sharks? Or would I rather spend my time reading something inspiring like Thinking Magazine and imagine what it would be like to come up with brilliant ideas and affect reality in a positive way. During the time you spend reading this issue, you will have missed watching 10 people being butchered alive on TV.
I've never had much in the way of psychological problems. I've always been a basically happy and positive kind of individual in spite of problems along the road of life. I have a theory as to why I am the way I am. And if I'm right it can be used as a tool to change the way you are if you want to be positive and happy too.
Each person has several thought processes that are going on at the same time. The main process is the process that is experiencing the moment. It is the voice in your head that is reading these words right now. In you mind there is a voice that is talking to you as you read and you are imagining that this voice is the voice of Marc Perkel talking to you. I can talk to you in a high squeaky voice and the tone of my voice in your mind becomes high and squeaky. Or I can talk to you in a low base voice and tone of my voice in your mind becomes a low base voice. As you read these words, my thoughts are mixing with your thoughts and adding to the total experience of who you are.
Now at the same time your thought process is absorbing these words into your mind, in what you imagine is my voice, there is another voice that is talking at the same time. It's saying, "What's going on here? This guy is screwing with my head! I don't know if I like that. What is he up to anyhow?" Do you hear this voice too? This voice is your voice talking to yourself. This is your on-line critic that is filtering what you are reading.
So you have my voice talking to you as you read these words, and you have your voice talking to you adding critical commentary to my words. Who is the listener? Who are these voices talking to? You have my voice is in your mind, and your voice in your mind is arguing with my voice in your mind in an attempt you convince a third thought process as to who is right. Now this third thought process is an emotional entity who is trying to feel and see which ideas "feel right". This is your emotional identity which doesn't have a voice but is the part of you that when you watch people on TV being eaten by sharks feels the experience and adds this to your emotional self.
So if you were to ask yourself if you are a happy person, the answer would be based on how the emotional person inside you feels. You are happy if you feel happy. So if your not happy, then why are you not happy? The emotional person gets it's input from the other mental processes that are feeding it experiences. This includes real experiences, your analysis of real experiences, and your imagination and dreams. Your emotional self is the accumulation of your emotional experiences. So, it would seem that if you want to change your emotional self, then change your emotional experiences.
You as an individual have free will. You decide what you are going to do, what you are going to think, what information you mind is going to dwell on. Here's where we bring in a fourth thread of awareness. You hear my voice talking to you, you hear your voice adding commentary to my voice, that's two. You have your emotional awareness thats feeling these two voices trying to sort out what information feels right, that's three. In your mind you are watching these three levels of awareness happening at the same time, are you with me so far? OK, what is it that is watching these three levels? It is a forth thread of awareness which can be described as "the will" or ones "higher self". It is the part of you who makes the ultimate decisions. What will I do? It has the power to override what you feel you must do in order to decide what you must do. It is the part that initiates change. The part of the mind that says, "NO!".
It is from this level that watches the other three levels (or perhaps three of the other levels) where you decide if you are satisfied with who you are and the course your life is taking. This is the level that makes you quit your job when your emotional awareness is scared shitless. It is the level that give you control of your life.
So now you are aware of four distinct thought processes that are occurring in your mind:
So, getting back to the original problem. How do I become happier? My theory is to make decisions using the intellectual self to alter the habits of the emotional self so as to create a new thread of experiences that helps the emotional self feel better. In other words, you need to decide to feed the emotional self experiences that are more positive than the experiences you are now feeding it. By being more positive and doing more positive things, over time you will feel more positive.
For instance, the next time you sit down in front of the tube to watch sharks eat people, ask yourself, "Do I really want to feed this to my emotional self? Will this make me feel better?" Perhaps you might want to decide to read a book or play some Beach Boys music instead. In other words, you have to make an intellectual decision that you want to change the experiences you feed your emotional self so that over time your emotional self will change because you are feeding yourself better experiences. Your emotional self is addictive and doesn't want change. Your intellectual self has to override this by deciding that you aren't where you want to be and initiating change in spite of what you feel.
So here's how to deal with change in a real time scenario. Your emotional self, out of habit sets you down in front of the boob tube. You start experiencing the scenes in front of you the same way your hear my voice talking to you right now as you read this line. But this time is different because your intellectual self, convinced by what you are reading here has made a deal with your on-line critic self which is also watching sharks eat people and it poses the question, "Is this what I really should be doing right now? Is this a positive experience to feed my emotional self? Is this the type of experience I want my emotional self to get hooked on? Do I want the experience of being eaten by sharks to be part of what defines who I am?"
So now the critic has blown the whistle and the intellect, which has been lulled into oblivion, now wakes up and says, "What's going on here. I'm watching sharks eat people again!" Does GOD really want me to let my emotional self indulge in this experience? Now the emotional self says, "Oh no, I hate guilt. Besides what else is there to do? I'm bored!"
Which gets me to the next step. If you are going to create better experiences for yourself, you need to start surrounding yourself with positive things you like to do and getting rid of things that are negative emotional experiences. If you want to watch TV, go rent a good comedy. Get a Steve Martin film movie or Gallager or George Carlin. Or rent the three "Back to the Future" series. Or there's PBS and the Discovery Channel.
Or, take a walk. Drive through the country. Listen to good music. Build a bird house. There's plenty of things you can do. The test for anything you do is, is this a positive experience. And it is my theory that if you significantly alter the experiences you are feeding yourself that these experiences will become part of your total identity and affect you you are and your relationship to reality.
Ross Perot has yet to formally enter the race for President and I haven't yet gone to the trouble to find out much about him. But I did come across a little tidbit of interesting information as to who he might help or hurt getting elected. The tidbit comes from article 12 of the Constitution of the United States:
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
But, if the House of Representatives fail to get a majority of votes (50%) for any one of the three candidates, then on March 4th of 1993 Dan Quayle would automatically become president. Wouldn't that be exciting?!
Traditional American Values
The only Traditional American Value that America has is that the government does not determine what Traditional American Values are.
New Toy, Netware MHS Software
Got me a new toy two weeks ago, NetWare MHS. MHS stands for Message Handling System which allows me to link my electronic mail system into the electronic mail systems in major companies all around the world.
The way it works is, I pop up my EMail, I'm using ExpressIT and send a message to RNOORDA @ NOVELL. The MHS system, which is a dedicated computer running on the network, picks up the message and recognizes it as an external message. It then uses a modem to call up Compuserve and uploads it to MHSXPORT. While it is connected it picks up any incoming mail addressed to CTYME (that's us).
The message to NOVELL is then routed to NHUB in San Jose which picks up the message and looks to see who it's addressed to. It then goes over a T1 link to Provo Utah where it is routed through the network right to Ray Noorda's computer. When he logs in the computer says, "You have mail waiting." and he reads my message.
This system is more fun than CB radio! I have also been able to link through CIS into the INTERNET and sent a message to the president of Intel about a brilliant idea I had to make computers run hundreds of times faster than the do today by creating Object Memory Controller chips. And I got a response.
Anyhow, if any of you have an MHS gateway you can contact me by addressing your message to MARC @ CTYME. Or, if you're on the Internet you can send mail to MARC @ CTYME.MHS.COMPUSERVE.COM.
Letting My Hair Down
So in this issue of Thinking Magazine I'm letting my hair down a little more than I have in the past, and not holding ideas back that I feel might be offensive or too complex for the reader to deal with. This is an experiment to see how this goes over. If you like it I am capable of writing stuff significantly wilder than this.