This is my ‘Become an Idea Machine‘ review, by Claudia Altucher (James Altucher’s wife). The book is approximately 50% reading, with the latter 50% being completely dedicated to the daily practise of curating ideas, creativing and ‘becoming an idea machine’.
I’ve been following the ‘Idea Machine‘ method as part of my morning routine, which you can read about here.
Does it work? Is it easy to do? What has it changed in your life? Find out below…
Become an Idea Machine Premise
The premise of ‘Become an Idea Machine‘ is that; you have an ‘idea muscle’, which can be trained and strengthened with practice, but will atrophy and weaken if it is not used on a regular basis.
I think this is easily observable. Look at how kids are always coming up with wild, hairbrained ideas. While, as we go through the education system and eventually in to the work force all creativity is beaten out of us and replaced with good little factory style, worker-bee conformity.
Now, there is nothing that says any of these ideas are good ideas. Kids don’t have enough knowledge and experience of life to be able to come up with realistic, good ideas very often. The unfortunate thing is, as we get older, live more, and with it gain more knowledge of life; we all but stop coming up with ideas. Our creativity and ‘idea muscle’ has been beaten in to quiet submission.
Except of course for the few geniuses, the outliers, who manage to survive the conformity conditioning and come out the other end; creativity and dreams in tact. Think of a Richard Branson, how many ideas – good, bad and everything in between – must one have on a daily basis, to wind up owning over 400 successful companies.
Indeed, if you read Richard Branson’s books he will readily tell you that he is not especially intelligent or talented. He simply lets his imagination run wild, and then executes on his ideas by surrounding himself with people who are experts in whatever venture he is partaking.
Most people would assume the execution part is where he differs from average entrepreneurs, but you can argue that without having decent ideas to execute on, then there is no work to be actioned.
How Do You Become an Idea Machine?
If you’ve read any of James Altucher’s books or blog you will have seen him mention it repeatedly. Write down 10 ideas per day. That’s really all there is to it.
What Claudia does in this book, is creates a structure – she tells you what 10 ideas to write each day.
Day 2: List 10 Apps That You’d Like To Use.
It doesn’t matter whether they already exist or not, think of what would be helpful for you in particular
Day 83: IDEA SEX: Look at the 10 people you know but have not been in touch with lately from a previous list and match them with the qualities that you admire from people you listed in another idea day; on which you mentioned “what they are all about.”
Writing 10 ideas a day, if you have not been thinking of ideas, is something of an abstract concept. How do you start? What ideas? The book gives you structure for the first 180 days, telling you what ideas to write. To train the idea muscle and build the habit. From there, you will know how to create ideas and go off and freestyle.
Idea sex is combining two different ideas to create one new, better idea.
That is basically how anything is invented, how any company/industry is started and how innovation happens.
I’m actually reading James’ new book ‘The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth‘ (Amazon) right now. In it he says that he is not and never will be a master at anything. Neither will most people. However, you can become very good at multiple things, and combine those things to become very successful at something new.
An example he gives is; he was a successful (but not master) trader, and a successful (but not master) writer. He combined the two by writing a newsletter for investors and created a multi-million dollar business.
This is where the magic really happens.
I don’t know whether it is attributable to this practice, but in the last 6 months I have come to realise that nothing I have done in the past was a waste. No business, study or experience that I had previously thought of as a failure or waste of time does not have value.
Perhaps it is just a function of age and experience, but I feel like multiple, diverse experiences have now all knitted together and created exponential knowledge and growth for me.
I suddenly have 3/5/10 times as much value as I did just a year ago, because all of these different ideas and experiences have come together.
My experiences using ‘Become an Idea Machine‘
How long have I been doing it?
I’m currently on day 82.
I do it most days, unless I am travelling or otherwise occupied away from my normal routine. I’d guess I’ve been at it for around 100 days.
Is it difficult (at first)?
Apart from the occasional day which has stumped me, I haven’t found it hard. The most important thing to remember is to not be invested in trying to have 10 good ideas. Most of the ideas are going to be dumb or stupid, and that is ok. You don’t have to do anything with any of these ideas, it is just the act of training the idea muscle. Think of it as practice, not the ‘real thing’.
While it was never hard, it is definitely much easier now. Ideas flow out much quicker and with less conscious thought. Initially I might come up with 4 or 5 and then have to really think and stretch. Now I can bang out 8 pretty much instantly.
Coming up with ideas has become easier with practice.
Have I kept the daily rhythm?
Most of the time, yes. It recommends doing 5 days per week minimum and up to 7 if you wish. I have definitely done 5 days per week and aim for 7, though I don’t always make it due to irregular routine for whatever reason.
Has it changed me/in what ways?
I am definitely more creative and full of ideas. My subconscious is throwing stuff out at me all of the time. I have endless notes jotted down for ideas I come up with.
Obviously you can’t action everything and a lot of the ideas are not going to be good ideas when thought through properly.
I tend to know what is a good idea, because I feel compelled to action it straight away, or tell someone about it.
It has definitely helped my business, writing and general creativity.
Have I been doing it long enough to become an idea machine?
I feel like an idea machine, so yes. Will I get even better at coming up with ideas? Probably, but I have seen great progress already.
Is it easy to find good ideas on the spot?
Not all ideas will be good ideas, but having ideas is better than being clueless. Doing nothing is the worst possible (lack of) idea.
Money is attracted to speed and it is better to do stuff quickly, which turns out to be a bad idea – and then move on, than it is to not do anything at all.
Curating the habit of taking action will be a net positive, no matter how many things fail along the way.
What is it like to be an idea machine?
I feel creative, and creativity creates flow states and happiness. It feels good.
Is becoming an ‘idea machine’ actually useful for me?
At some point you will need to use your creativity to come up with a clever marketing campaign, get inspiration to blog about, or start a new business.
Sometimes shit will hit the fan and you will need ideas to pull yourself out of a situation.
Ideas are always useful if you have a growth mindset.
Would I recommend doing the ‘Idea Machine’ exercises?
Yes I would.
As ever, don’t bother reading it if you aren’t going to take action on the exercises. It’s a waste of time. If you do action the exercises, you will become more creative and have more ideas. This will undoubtedly help you in business, in writing and other arts, and in untold other ways.
If you want to check out ‘Become an Idea Machine’ by Claudia Altucher you can buy it on Amazon (click here).
Day 84’s task was very relevant, so I thought I’d post up my 10 ideas.
List 10 things that you have learned, or gained, or re-directed, or thought deeply about, because you have been working on your idea muscle this long.
- Crazy amount of business ideas
- Hugely re-invigorated passion for business & creative endeavors
- Finding flow state very easily/regularly (I assume an outcome of number 2)
- Better/more idea when I actually need to come up with something. More creative thinking
- Connecting disparate things, especially when reading. Seeing more application and synergy
- Having lots of ideas for other people, not just myself, without trying to
- Huge determination to get my own businesses working enough that I don’t need to do ANY client work
- Increased clarity on business stuff. Fast decision making
- Increased desire to learn (I assume related to increased focus on goals)
- Greater understanding of other people’s potential thinking patterns