The Importance of Writing Ideas Down

I like the story of Johnny Appleseed. Sometimes I feel a bit like him,
planting seeds (starting companies) and watching them grow.

As I told a good and wealthy friend yesterday, I think I will be
tempted in the future, if my harvest ever comes, to stop doing startup
companies myself, but instead, to just teach and write and blog about
all the ideas that I think should happen.

I currently have a list of about 50 ideas that I believe could turn
into viable companies. I often wake up in the middle of the night (Brock Blake calls this \”The Curse\”) with a new idea, or first thing in the morning a new thought will strike me.

There is no way that I\’ll ever be able to do them all. It might be best
to just scatter the seeds for these ideas as widely as possible in
hopes that they will find good soil somewhere and grow. We\’ll see.

I used to carry 3×5 index cards around with me so that I could capture
new ideas whenever they struck. Now I use my Blackberry memo feature. I
have several memos marked \”Ideas\” that each contain many of my best
ideas. I always write down the date and the idea.

The amazing thing to me is how short my memory is. When I occasionally
review my idea memos, I often come across great ideas that I have already forgotten about. I think, \”Wow, that is a great idea!\”, as if it were a completely new thought!

Writing down great ideas makes them permanent (\”the faintest pencil is
keener than the sharpest mind\”) and if you think good ideas come from a
Higher Intelligence than your own and you value them enough to write
them down and act on them, from my experience, you\’ll find that it
leads to having more of them.

Joseph Smith, Jr., born 200 years ago this December, said this about inspiration:

\”A person may profit by noticing the
first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you
feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes
of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same
day or soon;

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Writing Ideas Down

  1. I think that your idea of scattering seeds is a good idea. In fact, in the near future, we would like to add the “Idea looking for a team” feature to so that investors can post ideas for aspiring entrepreneurs to execute.

  2. I have missed the boat for years for not doing this simply yet overlooked exercise. This is my first visit to this website but will not be my last. I have the drive and ability for a venture of my own but cannot find the right vehicle. Your website and insight may be the starting point for a 47 year young person to finally find a mentor and the right ship to sail/sell. Thanks a million.

  3. I totally agree with writing down ideas. I’ve been practicing this since my teen years when I was writing novels. Ideas come in a flurry and leave just as ubruptly. Good post and thanks for contributing!

  4. Hey Paul,
    Thanks for your great insights. I also have been blessed/cursed with the middle of the night flow, and when I first heard that quote from Joseph Smith, Jr. I related to it immediately. I googled “flow” and “sudden strokes” to try to find that quote today, and as a reward for coming to your site I now also take away the gem: “The faintest pencil is keener than the sharpest mind.” Thanks a million for your efforts!

Leave a Reply


More Posts Logo Design

Some of you know that my partners and I are launching a new company that aims to help a billion or more people soar with

Cold Showers Can Benefit Your Health

I hated what I read in the Harvard Business Review last Friday: Cold showers have health benefits. I’ve always ignored people who advocate taking cold

People Like Me Need People Like You

“People Like Me Need People Like You” Someday I’ll write a book about I’ll highlight the people who built Ancestry from the ground up–unsung

The Team Coaching Zone Podcast

To listen to this podcast, click HERE. Announcer: Welcome to the Team Coaching Zone podcast. Join your host Dr. Krister Lowe and today’s leading organizational

My Favorite Artist

Artists, poets, and prophets can help us make sense of the craziness that we experience in the world. My favorite artist is Regina Spektor. When

The Coach You Need

When you need a helping hand in life or at work you might decide to hire a coach. There are many amazing executive, career, leadership,

Beware of Taking Advice

Next Friday I get to deliver a keynote at Phoenix’s biggest startup event. But beware of taking advice from me–or anyone else. Startup events are

An Entrepreneurial Superpower

One of my entrepreneurial superpowers is asking questions at scale. Before I started Ancestry I went to libraries and conferences and asked questions. I learned

Paul hopes to bring the strengths message to all 50 states and to 50 countries by 2025.
Contact him so he can help you spark a strengths movement in your area, company, or industry.