Aug 16, 2020

3 min read

Are you both a creator of and a student of ideas?

What makes people choose not to spread it

The simple act of engaging with the world through a nametag has fundamentally changed my life in multiple ways.

From communication to business to relationships to creativity to identity to spirituality, there are very few parts of my daily experience that have not been touched by this simple little experiments.

Nametags really do stick, in every sense of the word.

One subject that’s been deeply compelling to explore is the study of ideas. Not only where they come from and how we create them, but also how they spread and why. And over the past twenty years, several patterns have emerged.

Let’s explore them through the filter of questions.

Are you constantly sharing your idea with more and more people to make it more and more real? Wearing a nametag is a public act. It never comes off. Stays on my shirt all day, every day. Even in situations when it might be socially risky or inappropriate. This apparatus of constant exposure, while sometimes uncomfortable, has become the engine of legitimacy that has enabled my idea to sustain for two decades.

Is your idea not only interesting, but also easy and fun to spread? What’s ideal about nametags is, they’re shareable. Not just the idea, but the actual thing itself. That’s why I never leave the house without ten blank nametags in my wallet. Because people ask for them. And the simple act of somebody using one of them helps spread my idea.

Are you giving your idea enough light and air so it doesn’t starve to death? It just breaks my heart when people have great ideas that stay trapped in idea form. They put their ideas in a box so they never spoil. But the irony is, in their effort to protect themselves, those ideas eventually get forsaken, forgotten or famished. That’s why my mantras is, ideas are free, execution is priceless. We have to share our ideas with the world.

Does it the story of your idea grow in value with every new person that it touches? People who meet me once will probably never think about nametags the same way again. Now, this was not the initial goal of my experiment, but it has become one of the intentional results. Mindshare is a byproduct of passion, consistency and commitment. Those things are the force multipliers of ideas.

Is there something about your idea that makes people choose not to spread it? Imagine how many brilliant concepts you’ve come across in your life, but hesitated to share because of the social cost to doing so. Perhaps you were afraid of how it positioned you, or whom you might offend. Nametags are harmless. They’re easy to wear, and easy to share. There is little friction of introducing that story into a conversation.

Whatever idea you’re hoping to spread, keep these questions in mind.

Keep experimenting. And you find your nametag.

Are you both a creator of and a student of ideas?