Can an Idea come from a vacuum? 


Great mathematician of all times, Srinivasa Ramanujam has been quoted to have attributed his genius intellectual spark to the super-human power, the God. I wonder what do the successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates attribute their genius sparks to. How did they get to their game-changing mouse-traps? Did these ideas just appear from a vacuum?

I think not. I have not had a chance to work with any of these celebrities, but I certainly have had good fortune to work with and to learn from some very talented entrepreneurs. And one thing I have learned for sure … 

… Though great ideas outwardly appear to arise from a vacuum, they are, in fact, always born from an alchemy between fundamental elements. Ideas, much like the life itself, originate from a mysterious transformation caused by combination of five elements. These five elements are – Passion, Focus, Observation, Belief, and Association!

The First Element – The procreation journey of every game changing idea begins with PASSION. I have never met an entrepreneur who has built a successful business and who was not passionate about what he or she was doing! No one yet, at least in my knowledge, has been blessed with a winning idea in a domain about which he or she was not passionate.

The Second Element – having passion is great but one may feel passionate about great many things. The winning idea is born only when the person decides to FOCUS his or her attention to one of these interests. Scattered passion do not produce eureka moments. This focus may appear to the world as insanity or paranoia and could be overwhelming to the people around the entrepreneur. But that concentrated attention does generate disruptive mousetraps that conquer the word!

The Third Element – once one has a focused passion for a subject, OBSERVATION provides the “seed” of an idea. Every successful entrepreneur I have met has had keen eye for the opportunity – an opportunity create value by improving the ecosystem around him or her. Without an entrepreneur’s ability to scan the surroundings quickly to identify a chance to innovate, no idea can be born. An entrepreneur’s brain should be in a state of constant alertness to locate gaps that can be plugged through a new perspective … to come up with a new equation to prove some age-old unsolved theorem!

The Fourth Element – one of the biggest factors behind keeping an idea alive beyond its nascent stage is an undying BELIEF in it by its proponent. A number of times this belief arises out of the confidence generated by confirmation and re-confirmation of the seed concept during the exploration and the testing by the entrepreneur. Belief should not be blind. But it should also not get shattered simply because some industry veterans or pundits reject the idea as absurd. Many a times, the so-called industry experts tend have tunnel vision and their rejections could point to an opportunity!

Fifth Element – Another nutrient that is required to nurture the seed concept into a robust idea is the ASSOCIATION.   Successful entrepreneurs seek to prop up their nascent ideas with the assistance of a strong support group in form of co-founders, partners, early investors, and/ or anchor customers. Many a times, people emphasize the need for a team. But it is not just the C-suite team that converts a nascent thought into a blockbuster entrepreneurial idea. It is the association with a multi-faceted support system that matters. You, of course, need early investors who share your belief in the seed concept but you also need partners who would help  validate the concept. These associations would help you give a healthy body to the newborn idea that will help it survive the rigors of the real world.

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