I meet startup founders who have this fear sometimes. They start to tell me, with sparkling eyes and enthusiasm, about their startup idea. And I ask questions — I want to hear about it! I want to share their excitement! I want to engage with this concept! Maybe something I know that they don’t know will be helpful for them! And then at some point… they shut down. They look at me shiftily… start speaking in vague terms, hide behind a wall of vagueness and generalisations — and the conversation is over. They’re suspicious of my enthusiasm, and anyone else’s. They want to keep this to themselves, lest someone steal their idea.
Sadly, this is the moment I know it: their big idea will never come to life.
I wish I could tell them something I know, through experience: The more I talk about my crazy ideas, the closer to reality those ideas get.
To lock away an idea in your own brain, away from the light and sustenance of others’ creativity, is to starve it of the water it needs to grow.
I’ve noticed this pattern over and over again. When I talk about my ideas or my projects, they move forwards. If I’m stagnating on something, all I need to do is talk to someone about it — and voila — it gets moving again.
To share is to grow. To hide is to wither.
There’s no one reason why. Humans, and therefore conversations with humans, are complex, multicoloured, unpredictable. Maybe my idea gets moving again after a conversation because the person gave me a new avenue to investigate. Maybe they mentioned a book, a podcast, or a documentary I should watch. Maybe they introduced me to someone. Often it’s simply because through talking about the idea, my enthusiasm was sparked anew.
So I share what I’m working on with other people as much as I can. Whether they’re strangers, friends, or colleagues. People who know a lot about the industry or people entirely outside the industry. People who I think could have useful knowledge, and people who had useful knowledge I would never have guessed in a million years. (Those are actually the most important ones, and you have no way of guessing who they are. Uber drivers are great for this.)