They say ideas are a dime a dozen, and that may be true, though that sentence was probably first uttered more than a hundred years ago, so with inflation factored in ideas would now be close to three dollars a dozen.

Actually, if you are an “idea person” and can come up with hundreds of ideas a day, you could make a living by just selling your ideas. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be much of a living, and I suppose hundreds of ideas a day is pretty unrealistic. I have been called an idea person, but even on a good day six is about my upper limit.

Besides, the whole point of that “dime a dozen” expression is that it’s not the idea that’s the big deal, but what you do with it. Talk is cheap, though a question is, How cheap? If ideas are a dime a dozen, how much does talk cost? A penny a word? How in heaven’s name is anyone supposed to make any money with that?


Oh, I get it, what these expressions mean is that ideas and talking about ideas aren’t where success lies. It lies in following through. What a pain!

Over the years, many, many people have shared their ideas (wow, that word comes up a lot) on how to translate an idea into something that actually gets somewhere. So I see no reason why I shouldn’t do the same. Whenever I complain to people about how unsuccessful my life has been, they always say, “That’s ridiculous. You’ve accomplished a lot.”

So if that’s true, why not share with the world my secrets of accomplishment?

Now I do have to offer the usual disclaimer. Following my suggestions will not guarantee success. I can’t promise that what worked for me will work for you. But if you are so desperate that you are actually reading this in an attempt to improve your life, maybe it won’t hurt. But, hey, if it does, don’t sue me. I am not a professional life coach. And even if I were, still you wouldn’t win a lawsuit. Coaches, therapists, psychics, and consultants can’t promise you anything, except that you will be out some money when you avail yourselves of their services. The advantage of listening to me is that it won’t cost you a penny.

If you want to succeed, here is what I suggest. It’s what I’ve done, and my success is legendary, even if I don’t see myself that way.

1. Take out a blank piece of paper and start free associating. I call this “solitary brainstorming.” Maybe no ideas come. Just stay with it. Maybe only two or three ideas will come in an hour of sitting there. I call this a brain drizzle.

2. If you do this several times, at different times of day, and virtually no ideas come, I’m sorry. You are not going to be successful. You are an idiot, and you might as well accept it.

3. If the ideas do start to flow, stay with it. Keep writing. Don’t censor. It doesn’t matter how crazy a given idea sounds, write it down. I know that when you write “Combine peanut butter and tuna fish with pomegranates in a candy,” it may seem silly, but don’t worry about that. No one else is going to see your list. If they do, you’re cooked.

4. After you’ve sat for an hour, you may have a list of 50 ideas. Now, you have three choices. You can sell them for $1.50 on eBay, you can pick one of them to pursue, or you can brainstorm (or drizzle) at another time.

5. Let’s say you have come up with what you think is a really good idea. You will be very excited and want to tell your spouse about it. Unfortunately, the chances are that she or he will think it’s a ridiculous idea and will, in fact, laugh at you.

Now again you have three choices. You can stay with the idea anyhow, you can drop the idea, or you can drop your spouse. But I must caution you here. It’s much easier to have a good idea than to find a good spouse. If you feel that your spouse does not appreciate your brilliance, join the crowd. What do you think Thomas Edison’s wife said when he said he had an idea that would eliminate the need for candles at night? Do you think it was, “Oh, Tom, you’re unbelievably brilliant!”? More likely it was, “Oh, Tom, you big silly, stop it. Blow out the candles and come to bed.”

6. Okay, you’ve had a good idea, and, no matter what your spouse says, you are going to develop it. This is a big decision. It can take years of hard work to translate even a brilliant idea into something workable. But what else are you going to do with your life? Approximately 100 billion people have inhabited the planet since human life began and how many of them have you heard of? Maybe a hundred? Okay, perhaps even 200. And believe me, after you have developed your idea, the chances are that no one, outside of your family and a few friends, will know your name or this ferkakta idea you worked on for five years.

But there is something so satisfying about seeing something to fruition. You may not be another Edison, but perhaps you will be the next Glingstein.