I have been told many times that ideas are cheap...
I get it! I know of at least three people who “created Facebook” before Zuck did. I know of two people who had an idea to use technology to rent out their bedrooms. I can think of more than a dozen people who have had clever ideas for apps that someone else brought into the world before they did. Inarticulated and under-developed ideas are cheap. For me, ideas for products and businesses are a framework for thinking about society and culture. For example, I’ve recently become obsessed over a type of customer relationship management system that could be utilized by the hosts at our current campsite. The company through which we had booked our dwelling manages accommodations within campsites throughout Europe. Everything is managed centrally, and the hosts—the people who actually know the site—have virtually no ability to manage a reservation. The end result is them having to apologize for not being able to do something for disgruntled guests far too often. However, I’ve imagined a whole new process, system, and implementation that would reduce the dependence on a central booking system, empower the hosts to do more, and cause us guests to have a better experience.
You’d be well within your right to suggest that I do something about this; why don’t I build it and solve the problem? What’s more interesting to me is that this company, and many others like it, are happy enough to hobble along with their current systems and processes. Why? Ideas are birthed from a belief about the world and the way it should, or could,be. Someone had the idea to run the company as it is; when you look across the hospitality and travel industry in general you’ll find so many (oh. so. many!) businesses running with the sort of processes and technologies that suggest a belief about their world, and the people they’re intending to serve. In trying to solve this problem with a new solution, we can explore the potential differences in ideology, and that’s what is most interesting to me.
Some ideas are dismissed or ignored simply because they haven’t gone through the process to become more valuable. Something like a diamond in the rough...it’s still a diamond but its value is not clearly understood until it has been cut and polished. Just because an idea remains an idea, doesn’t make it inherently worthless!
Last year, after realizing that all these ideas weren’t really leading to me launching any products, my wife wisely encouraged me to explore where I could put ideas to use. Step 1, enroll in a masters program that would facilitate the exploration of technology’s impact on society (a group of ideas that I’m deeply interested in). Step 2, find an output (such as a podcast which, with any good fortune, could draw people into those ideas and result in at least someone doing something with them). Step 3, teach!
Step 1 is underway; I’ve completed the first half of my masters in cybercrime and digital investigations, and am scheduled to finish it by 2020. After that, I look forward to pursuing a PhD.
Step 3 comes in waves and various iterations. Professionally, I look forward to teaching at a university one day, but for now I am becoming more intentional about taking a Socratic teaching approach in as many appropriate places in my life as possible.
Step 2 is what this post is about; starting a podcast that explores ideas and finds a space in this world to unpack them.
Last year I launched a six series test podcast called ‘The Natecast’. It was a fun project which combined some storytelling, interviewing, and observation to create a sometimes long, sometimes short podcast. I’m now working on Season 2, which will bring the test podcast into something more refined and consistent.
People say they are an ideas person too often, I think. It’s the person who sits in a meeting, constantly throwing out ideas like it’s Halloween and their ideas are the cheap candy bought from the grocery store, who give ‘ideas’ a cheapened place in the world. But, if I were to be honest, I’ve been that person far too many times. I have ideas coming out of my wazoo (perhaps you do too), but I haven’t done anything with them...I haven’t developed them into real ideas, they’ve just sat as kernels of an idea.
So, here’s my big idea to unpack ideas, I’m creating a podcast which explores big thoughts (otherwise known as ideas) and unpacks them from the perspective of a wandering quasi-academic (I’ll be a full-on academic one day) who has the privilege of being connected to some brilliant people, and the advantage of calling anywhere his family and books are home. The podcast is currently in production and will go live this fall. But it won’t be just this podcast, there’s another super-duper-top-secret podcast I will be producing in the works, and this crazy idea of hosting “Ideas Nights” in local cafes (to be captured for The Natecast, of course).
I think ideas matter but have become cheap. I want to change that. There are many brilliant minds who have already been using books, podcasts, blogs, and video to share their deep, important ideas—I am joining their ranks to help weed out the bad ideas, find the good ones, and refine them so they shine!
This blog series will capture the process and share what I’m learning about podcasting. If you find this blog and want to connect, please get in touch!