How To Be More Inventive: Take A Vacation

Vacations Can Lead To Innovations

I was asked the other day about how I invent – how I generate new ideas. Well, among other things I read a ton – and not just in the areas in which I’m looking to invent in, but all sorts of things – everything from business to tech to cultural to social. Even hit up the fiction and especially the science fiction sections on Amazon – if you were to look at my Kindle I’m sure you’d think it was an eclectic mess – or that I’m a serious case of multiple personality disorder. Same goes for paper books – sometimes I need the tactile look and feel of a real book – especially in my pre-sleep, no screen time. I usually have about 3-7 books going at one time, sometimes reading one for a bit, sometimes rotating through a few.

Outside of that – I try to have as many varied experiences as I can – of course within reason – but sometimes I move from place to place during the day, see new people and new things. Sometimes just standing in the right place at the right time can trigger some connection – some new juxtaposition that I’ve never heard before, some realization which I was totally ignorant of a moment before, is now blindingly obvious.

I also, typically, start off with no notion that this idea is doable, or legal, or safe, or even something that anyone might want. But that’s another story.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think a lot of innovation comes out of serendipity, those happy accidents where two or more things bump into each other (either literally or in your mind). And how do you get those moments of serendipity? First of all, you don’t sit at your desk all day.

But I’ve already talked about that. There is only so much innovation that you can trigger just by circling your local area.

If you really want to open your mind, leave. Go on vacation. You won’t only rest, which will help your idea generating muscles, but it will open you up to whole new experiences and people, which you can then plug into your innovation mindset, either explicitly or implicitly.

It doesn’t matter where you go, it doesn’t really matter what you do. What matters is that you place yourself in new places, around new people and new things. You could go to Vegas and play craps until 2am, then glance across the room and see something that, when combined with your current product offering in a new way, doubles your sales. You could be in a bar in London, having a pint with the locals and over hear something. Weeks or months later, when you are in a completely different space and time, that utterance could simply resurface in your brain, leading you to come up a whole new product line. You could be on a beach in Hawaii, reading a trashy novel, look up and see someone asking someone to borrow some money, and have a revelation which leads you to design a completely new financial product.

My point is: serendipity works. And the more serendipity you can push yourself into, the better. And you get the most serendipity, the most interesting juxtapositions when you not only travel in your mind but also physically travel.

In fact, there are whole businesses based on taking a trend in country A and launching nearly the same business in country B. If you never made it to country A, you may never even know about it.

So my advice – you want to be more inventive, hit the beach 😉