“Making Ideas Happen”

Here is a bit of a different post, one of productivity.  I know it may not be as sexy as the latest marketing tactic, but productivity will allow you to accomplish more and help get you focused.  If you are like me and I suspect like plenty of other internet marketers, you suffer from the “shiny object” syndrome.  You have tons of great ideas and spread yourself too thin chasing the next shiny object.

Genius is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.  Thomas Edison

Bernard Ablola

Last night I stayed up for hours reading a book that I couldn’t put down.  I woke up this morning excited to dive right back into it.  The book is called Making Ideas Happen.  The author Scott Belsky, the CEO of Behance.net, studied the habits of tons of creative teams and individuals and shared the successful techniques of these top players.

The numbers refer to the mind map above and here are my accompanying notes (paraphrased) so that I could quickly digest the information and take action on its powerful concepts.


Figure #1:

Categorize incoming (emails, requests, etc.) into three categories Action Steps, Backburner Items and Reference Material.  Whether you are using a project management software, Evernote or good ole fashioned notebook, place the incoming information in these categories.

Action Steps

  1. Make items specific with deadlines
  2. Use verbs (hire programmer, call affiliate manger, etc…)
  3. Break down the action items into details and assign a owner to each one
  4. Even if you delegate the action step to someone else you own it until it is accomplished
  5. If you can do the request in 2 minutes just complete it.  You will waste more time trying to file it

Backburner Items

  1. Place items that you want to tackle later here
  2. Set a schedule time each month to review this (i.e. last Sunday of each month)
  3. Keep your main focus, your main focus until they are completed.  You can refer to the backburner items after your main action steps are done.


  1. This category is used for for your information (FYI) material (swipe files, sample auto-responders, etc…)
  2. Most emails are just FYI and keeping them in your inbox causes clutter, so move them to this folder
  3. Minimize this folder as much as possible.  Studies have shown that this folder seldom gets read again.

Figure #2:

Next, prioritize your action items by using an energy line.  Place your projects along this graph according to how important and how much energy they should receive.  If you work in a team environment, use Post It notes and a wall chart to easily move items around the energy line.

Extreme items are urgent and important issues.

Tip: If you are a small business your focus should be on sales.  Team MBB’s “Extreme” for this month is promotions for our upcoming August and October event.

Low tasks action items that need to be accomplished but should not take precedence over more important items.  Our low is an office redesign.  Although it may be nice, it doesn’t bring in sales.

Figure #3:

Learn to create an organization based on execution.  This is one of my favorite concepts.  The equation (paraphrased) is this:

Ideas x Execution = Results.

If you have an idea worth 100 points but no execution, you will have zero results.
(100 x 0 = 0)


If you have a so-so idea, let’s say worth 50 points, and have an execution worth 2 points, you will have a result of 100.

(50 x 2 = 100)

Little execution is worth more than tons of ideas and no action.

Figure #4

This quote inspired me to take action when I was stuck on a project.

I don’t believe the muse visits you, you visit the muse.

Wikipedia defines muse as “The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts.” As marketers your muse is creating a product, testing new ads, writing content, or testing something new.

In other words, don’t just wait for creativity or inspiration to strike.  Go out and find it.  Sometimes we don’t know what to do or where to start.  So we just end up waiting.  You end up checking Facebook, reading blogs, playing Words With Friends, or watching television and waiting for ideas to fall into your lap.

Don’t just wait for that perfect idea or inspiration to hit you, because it seldom does.  Find ideas, take action and just do something towards the project.  Any action is better than nothing.  It will at least produce a result that you can refine and optimize.  Be persistent and you will succeed.

Now go out there, kick some butt and execute.

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6 Responses to “Making Ideas Happen”

  1. Love this. Excellent post.

  2. “I don’t believe the muse visits you, you visit the muse.”

    This is great. Thank you for the post!

    • Thanks Thu. Also check out Stephen Pressfield’s book the War of Art. It is one of my favorites on the subject of fighting through creativity and inspiration.

  3. Great post BA I’m going to try and implament this in our next meeting. Even though it feels like we are at a stand still becuse of the home owners thing i know we are still pushing though the little things to get to that next big step. Thanks for the new chart I cant wait to see how it increses our performance.

    • Great to hear you are making progress Nathan. Every (any) step towards your goal is the right direction. Keep us updated.

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