31 Days of Ideas

One of the great ideas I’ve run across online is something called #VEDA. Twice each year Amy Schmittauer of SavvySexySocial.com takes ownership of an internet meme called #VEDA — which stands for Video Every Day in August (or April …hence the twice-each-year…).

While Amy didn’t personally create this month-long challenge to motivate individuals to commit to a habit of recording and publishing a daily video for 31 (or 30) days, she’s certainly stepped up to lead the tribe. under the adapted #SSSVEDA banner …er… hashtag.

The last time I participated in the #VEDA challenge was three years ago. I stuck mostly with Amy’s list of helpful prompts (which she conveniently provides as a month of daily scheduled tasks on a #VEDA Google Calendar which you can add to your own Google Calendar). My first attempt at #VEDA was a useful (and fun) experiment. I proved to myself that I could absolutely produce a daily video — I completed all 31 days in a row — if I wanted to. Which, as it turns out, I didn’t really want to do back then!

I certainly have other daily content creation challenges that I’ve committed to and haven’t missed a day yet — but video wasn’t a big priority for me back then.

With the increase in video consumption over the years that followed my #VEDA challenge, and the easy web and mobile-based video production tools which have only gotten improved over time, I decided to take another stab at doing the #VEDA challenge for August 2017.

This time I decided to forgo the simple suggested prompts and turn my #VEDA videos into a series 31 individual brainstorms.

The video I posted on Day 1 was an invitation to my social media friends and followers asking them to leave a comment with a topic, a problem, or a challenge they’d like me to apply little extra creative power toward solving. Even if they had an idea of their own that they simply wanted some advice on putting it into action — for the next 30 days I’d be happy to help them through these daily videos.

Just like that I had a list of topics that would easily carry me through my first week.

This offer is also open to you, my dear blog reader!

Just leave a comment below with a topic and some basic details of what you’d like me to apply my creativity to on your behalf, and I will do my best to cover it in one of the videos I produce this month.

Who knows? If I get enough topics submitted, perhaps I’ll continue recording daily videos into September (or beyond!) But I can’t do it without your help! Please leave your comment below (to make sure you get your topic on the list sooner!) and then use one of the social sharing buttons on this page to forward this post to just one or two people you know that might benefit from a little creative insight form Don The Idea Guy!

PS: I am embedding the #VEDA2017 video playlist below this post. This way you’ll have one place to go to catch up on every video I post (in case you miss a an individual daily link).

31 Days of Ideas Playlist


Cause, Effect, Squeaky Wheels, and Newspapers

I recently read couple of articles about the Newspaper industry and the online industry which, while not overtly interconnected, mesh together so well to relate a story-behind-the-story, I can’t help but think of a pithy spin on old cliche that my grandmother one said to me:

“The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but sometimes it just gets replaced with a wheel that doesn’t make so much noise.”

Every since the internet made it so incredibly easy to share things, the people who put effort and money into creating those things have been worried about getting paid. This concern really hit the fan when Napster let the genie out of the bottle with such a loud POP that it was heard in every corner of the inter-webs.

As more media companies published public feeds of their content online, more curation sites found ways to repackage and import that content into their sites in order to help them capture more eyeballs from the sweat of another platform’s brow. Those publishers put their content out there to be found — they just hadn’t counted on readers never having to come back to their own sites to continue their news grazing. Once the realization struck home, newspaper Pay Walls went up faster than Trump-promised border walls.

Newspapers have been hit especially hard because they have always had the best reputation for creating insightful, original, and well-researched articles. Even in this age of Presidentially-denounced Fake News, print news still keeps the firmest grasp on their original reputation. Television seems to have willingly given up any hope of holding onto (or restoring) this kind of reputation for themselves in their rush to break (provocative) news first.

But as advertising dollars flow out the exit doors of print publications, those same publishers boot the reporters out the door right after; sacrificing the one edge and indisputable value they possessed over every other media in an effort to plug financial holes in an ever-sinking ship — their original content creators.

As the Newspapers sacrifice local content and reporters in favor of less-expensive global news networks, partnerships, and affiliations, they produce less and less content in-house and their news begins to look more and more like the content which appears on everyone else’s website and in everyone else’s publication.

The local content producers and their unique perspectives were the most important (and profit-able) things those publications had going — and those were the first things they got rid of.

As the situation becomes more dire they grasp at straws hope to get permission to band together (those few that remain) and demand compensation from those who only seem to be making the content these organizations publish and post on the internet available to the audiences they’ve already lost.

Ironically, clutching at these straws may have become the last straw for sites like Facebook and Google as they explore the means for getting news content from their own sources.

As we learned in basic science classes back in school — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every cause, there is an effect.

Newspapers ask permission to confront Facebook and Google as a united front.


Google invests more money into technology to completely eliminate the need for reporters than it would have taken to buy pretty much every newspaper that’s still printing in America. 


Like the proverbial tree falling in the wood, if a Newspaper publishes content on their own website and on the printed page to which very few people subscribe — does it still have value if no one is there to read it?

If there are any innovative Newspaper publishers out there who want to hear ideas on how they can operate and compete more profitably without having to resort to the lemmings-like strategy of their industry associations — you know where to find me.


Neatly Delivering Value

Most salespeople turn off the value tap as soon as the transaction is complete. Successful sellers keep the relationship (and value) flowing.

A while ago I backed a Kickstarter campaign for a smartphone tripod mount called the Glif. Production took a little longer than the creators predicted, in the end they delivered a great finished product which I am very happy with.

For most transactions this would be the end, right?
They pitched a product, I paid them money, they delivered it. Thanks and have a nice day (please tell your friends). Boom. Done.

But Studio Neat is handling our transaction in a very non-transactional way.

Dan and Tom from Studio Neat are not only staying in touch, but I don’t feel like they are constantly pitching me to buy something else from them (though they do have other products, and they do tell me about them from time to time). Instead of sending me crappy marketing emails filled with their latest product pitch or a coupon to lure me back or begging me to tell 10 friends about them — they are helping me get more value out of the thing I already bought from them.

In today’s email newsletter (they send one out every week or so) among the expected 2 or 3 links the owners share about a favorite thing they found online, they also sent link to a web page titled “The Glif Accessory Guide“. This page listed a half dozen items that are compatible for use with the Glif product they sell. But, that’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part is that Studio Neat doesn’t sell any of the featured accessories.

If I click and buy one of these items (which I did, and I will) they don’t earn a dime from me. Technically, that’s not true. I’m pretty sure they used Amazon affiliate links and they’ll probably get exactly a dime when I buy something from their link.

One of my favorite creative thinkers once asked: “Now that you have this — new knowledge, a product, a new website, and new book, etc. — what else does this make possible?” In that original context the question was being asked in terms of one’s own success, development, and growth; but Studio Neat asked that same kind of question in terms of making their customers most successful and helping them get more value from the product they had purchased.

One of my mentor’s most quoted lines is “Give Value First”, but it is just as important is to give value often — first, last, and always.

Most salespeople and retail stores (and yes, even Kickstarter campaigns) abandon the delivery of value as soon as the sale is complete. Once my money is in their wallet and they hand me their product, I may not hear from them again. Ever. Unless they have something new they want to sell me.

On the other hand, businesses like Studio Neat keep the conversation (and the value) going.
They are helping me find new and better ways to use and talk about the original product I bought from them. And I am (this article is a direct result of the value they delivered to my email box today.)

Isn’t that neat?
It’s also smart.
…and profitable.

Fires and Flames

Who lights your fire?Who lights your fire?
Who fans your flames?
Some people can fire you up, but you also need people who can turn up the heat and help push you to get things done.

You likely have one or two people who inspire you to think big thoughts and explore big concepts. A lucky few of you have at least one person who motivates you to take action and put those big ideas into motion.

Sometimes those individuals are the same person.

Sometimes different people serve different purposes.

Some people are really good at firing you up

Their words, music, pictures inspire you to consider what could be. The raise a level of emotion and energy and adrenaline that revs your engines and gets you burning hot.

Other people are good at fanning the flames and focusing your energy

Lighting the fire isn’t enough. It can burn hot and then burn out. You need people who can fan the flames, feeding your passion while directing the energy toward a focused goal. They demonstrate through their own actions (not just words) that what you dream about can be made real. Because they’ve done it personally. Because they’ve helped others achieve their own goals, and those people serve as witness.

Who inspires you to think bigger?
Who shows you a path to accomplish your goals?

I have been very fortunate to have more than one person cross my path at different times in my life and help me think bigger and put bigger ideas into action.

Recently (within the last couple of years) that person has been Jason Zook of Buy My Future. I wrote about him last year and let my experience serve as a witness to the help and support he’s given me to bring bigger and better ideas into the world. This year, as Jason once again puts his future up for sale — all the products and software and services that he has ever created (and every will create!) are all for sale for a single flat rate.

This kind of thing was pretty impressive last year when he did it, but this year it’s even more so. Firstly, because there is another year of product releases which add value to the quickly amassing collection of success-building tools, and secondly because the futures involved have doubled. Jason got married this year to another creative soul and content maker named Caroline Kelso (now Caroline Zook) and they thought it was only fair that since their personal futures had been joined, so should their commercial ones. And so Buy My Future became Buy Our Future.

You can click here to see what the Buy Our Future offer contains (it expires in a few days, so I recommend clicking soon!) but more importantly, I wanted to chime in and say that things I have access to as a member of the Buy Our Future community have helped me put more of my own ideas into action. As The Idea Guy I have no problem generating ideas. What takes more focused effort is picking which ideas to put into action, and finding the best platforms from which to launch them.

Buy Our Future tools like the course platform Teachery, or the Course Workbook site ofCourseBooks, and (one of my favorites) BumpSale help me launch and sell new content more quickly. I’m actually using BumpSale right now on the recently relaunched FiveBuckBrainstorms.com website where I am inviting visitors to buy all the ideas.

These tools are in addition to advice and lessons and content in the form of how-to courses and case studies from Jason (and now Caroline) on how they’ve launched and profited from their own businesses. They’ve been down this path. They know the way. You’d be silly not to at least be on the look out for the trail markers they’ve left behind.

Probably one of the most valuable items included in this collection is access to the rest of the BOF community via a private Slack channel. Everyone is everyone else’s biggest fans. Everyone wants every other member of the community to succeed. I’ve never seen a more engaged or encouraging group of individuals. It’s a private club like no other. It actually inspired me (fanned the flames) toward the creation of my own private community which is currently in BETA (I have a small group already taking action and plan to add 3 or 4 more within the next couple of months).

The tools and advice Jason and Caroline have (and will) develop are helping me personally focus and take action on my own ideas. I know they can help you as well.

Click here to get more details.
If you decide BOF is right for you and decide to join, be sure to say hello to me in the Buy Our Future community. As my own personal way of welcoming you, I will give you access to all the ideas on FiveBuckBrainstorms.com — Just reach out to me in the BOF Slack channel and ask for access!

Buy Our Future, Jason Zook

BuyOurFuture is available for purchase from March 28 – April 11, 2017

Magazine Revenue Ideas

I recently participated in an hour-long brainstorm session with Ron McDaniel, leader of the Micro Mag Publishing community. We bounced around ideas for local publishers on the topics of non-traditional revenue generation, selling ideas (versus selling advertising), sponsorship opportunities, featured content ideas, how to stay motivated, and a myriad of other topics (until I ran out of coffee!)

Our brainstorm session was recorded as exclusive video content intended for his Micro Mag Publishing members-only area, but Ron has generously made the audio-only version available to the Idea Guy community for a limited time. Frankly, I think the advantage here goes to people who don’t have to stare at my ugly mug while I am coming up with ideas (and I’m not necessarily talking about my coffee mug.)

You don’t have to be a magazine publisher to consume or apply these ideas. There are TONS of concepts here which anyone can adapt and apply to their own business and projects, no matter your area of focus or business category.

Click this link to access the brainstorm audio or click on the image below.

And please leave a comment below to let Ron and me know if you enjoyed the brainstorm — if we get enough positive response (or suggestions for future topics) this could become a regular thing!

magazine brainstorm

Are You Building a Wall or a Bridge?

A Wall prevents progressThe conversation regarding the building of a certain wall (and who will pay for said wall) is certainly a hot topic in the news these days, but this article is about more building metaphorical walls (and bridges) rather than physical (or political) ones.

Rather than reading these words and thinking about national borders or politicians with tiny hands and big orange heads, think about the conversations you had yesterday. Think about how you responded to requests on the phone or in email from co-workers and clients and family members.

In every conversation you have, every decision you make, and every action you take, you have the choice to build a wall or build a bridge.

A Wall is literally a barrier to progress

  • Walls are a device to prevent advancement (they stop forward movement)
  • Walls are exclusive (you can’t come in here)
  • Walls are restrictive (you can’t leave here)
  • Walls are selfish (this is mine, you can’t have any)
  • Walls are inflexible (they are intended to be rigid and unyielding, but crumble over time)
  • Walls block exploration (you can’t see or interact with what’s on the other side)

Walls keep people apart.

A Bridge enables connections

  • Bridges fill gaps (between people and places)
  • Bridges create links (creating daisy chains of ideas and neighbors)
  • Bridges provide a path (to bring people together)
  • Bridges allow for exploration (and discovery)
  • Bridges are flexible and adapt to change (ever see a bridge adjust to heavy winds?)
  • Bridges solve problems (it’s a way to overcome challenges and barriers)

Bridges provide a place to meet in the middle.

While both options require the effort of “constructTION” — only one option is truly “construcTIVE”.

A bridge enables connections

Calling it quits

You have an idea and you fall in love with it.
Maybe a little too much.

But you struggle with the relationship and it doesn’t seem to love you as much as you love it.

It eventually becomes an extremely one-sided relationship.
You devote heart and soul to the idea, but there’s no reciprocation.
Your idea doesn’t love you back.

Soon you see your concept running around with someone new.
This new person is getting all the love and recognition from the idea, and as much as you’d like to shout from the rooftops that you loved the idea first, in your heart you know that it’s over.

Sometimes it’s just best to just to call it quits.
Break-up with an idea so that you can free yourself up and move on to better things.

Find an idea that will love you back.


My Three Words for 2017

When my friend Jon Gordon wrote a book about choosing “One Word” to help individual focus on improving their life, it appealed to me. I liked the purity and simplicity of choosing a single guiding word and used the practice myself to great effect. About a year or so later I was introduced to Chris Brogan’s variation on the concept in which he chooses not just one word, but three. I found it worked even better for me.

Ben Franklin even used a similar technique of focusing on multiple areas for improvement each year, specifically a list of “thirteen virtues”: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility. You can read more about Franklin’s process here.

Using Chris Brogan’s variation of three words allows me to sort of “triangulate in” on desired end results from multiple angles. I still find it helpful to use one word as a priority of focus, but the other two serve as a sort of funnel or directional arrows to keep me headed in the right direction. Like Franklin’s list of multiple virtues it also allows me a variety of focus to keeps things fresh and prevent the effort from stagnating. 

Though I’ve been choosing three words for about 3 or 4 years now, it was just last year when I decided to add a creative twist of my own — I use the number of the year to find the corresponding letter of the alphabet and I pick three words that begin with that letter. For example, in 2016 the corresponding 16th letter of the alphabet would have been “R” so I selected three focus words that began with that letter. For this new year of 2017 the 17th letter of the alphabet is “Q” so my three words begin with the letter Q.

Here are my three words

Quest: This word is my primary and cornerstone word of the year. It reminds me of a couple important points, first that life is an adventure and the best game ever, and second that I want to pursue projects that have a high risk of reward and are out of the ordinary, exciting… even noble. It appeals to my fantasy-book-reading nature and Arthurian fantasies. Plus, I don’t mind tilting at a few windmills or putting the “Don” in “Don Quixote”.

Quantity: In the back half of the year I slacked off on writing blog posts, but took a turn at creating a daily podcast which I felt justified the diminished written words. This year I want to set a personal-best record for content output. This includes adhering to a more reliable blog writing schedule, not just on this site but on a couple others I am launching/relaunching. I also have big plans for my website www.fivebuckbrainstorms.com. Rather than waiting for a topic to be suggested by a client or producing a brainstorm when the mood strikes me — I will adding a new brainstorm every single week in 2017. I will also likely produce a weekly podcast, an email course/30-Day Challenge type project, and I’m all-in on another full-year of daily posts at www.bigyellowsticky.com. I’m planning on a some big things for that site in the coming year as well. The response was really good on the daily podcast, so I’m thinking of doing a daily video series. Nothing too defined or organized, just me turning on one of the live video options (Facebook, Twitter, or Periscope — do you guys have a preference? Leave it in the comments below!) 

Quarterback: I the last quarter of 2016 I had the opportunity to work with some pretty bright thinkers who asked for my help and advice in making their own projects more successful. Several asked about options for ongoing sessions to further develop their projects and personal brands. The word Quarterback is to help me focus on helping them drive their project further down the field toward victory. To be in the game with them, act as their biggest cheerleader and provide direction and ideas by passing them a few ideas to help them reach their personal goal line.

Those are my three words. You can read about Chris Brogan’s three words for 2017 here, and you can read about my buddy Anthony Iannarino’s three words here.

What are your three words for 2017?

Gains and Losses

There is no denying that 2016 was a big year for losing some big names to the great beyond. We lost a Thin White Duke and a Prince. A man who floated like butterfly, a man who floated among the stars, and a woman who played soulmate to a super-powered “strange visitor from another planet”. We lost two TV cops from Barney Miller, a couple TV Dads and a few of TV Moms, along with the guy who created many of the classic TV shows that have crossed two or three generations so far (and countless more generations to come), and so many, many more individuals who’ve made an impact on so many lives.

But why lament on the individuals we’ve lost when many of us have had just as many (or perhaps many more) individuals who have been added to our lives and helped us gain more this year?

One new connection can be worth their weight in gold — or even better in my case if they are worth MY weight in gold! (I should really drop a couple extra pounds in 2017…)

Jim Keenan from A Sales Guy wrote a post about the one person who helped him the most in 2016 (Chris Brogan) and that article made me think about who had helped me the most this year and I had a hard time narrowing it down to a lone individual. As a matter of fact, I easily came up with a list of five people with whom I connected this year who not only contributed to my success and ideas in 2016, but will also impact my ideas and action for the coming year.

1. Jason Zook

I connected with Jason a couple years ago when he was still running a business called IWear YourShirt.com. When he launched Buy My Future last year I started trading more frequent emails with him, and once I invested in BMF his seemingly endless supply of energy for putting ideas into action really began to influence me. I launched a 50-episode daily podcast, a collection of Writers Worksheets, and an experimental “course/box” project — and I already know of two or three projects I’ll be launching in 2017 because I was in Jason’s orbit.

2. Nick Loper

Nick Loper was just a disembodied voice to me at the beginning of the year. He hosted one of my favorite podcasts and side-business communities, Side Hustle Nation. I was a fan of the show and contributed ideas to my fellow community members and Nick invited me on to the program to talk about generating ideas for side hustle businesses. Nick was open to doing something creative with that episode and we turned it into a live brainstorming session for his listeners. Nick says it was one of the most popular episodes of the year (I won’t rest until it’s the most popular of all time!!) and now we’re talking about working together to create ongoing content with future episodes or segments that provide the citizens of Side Hustle Nation with creative solutions to their toughest business challenges. Being on Nick’s podcast exposed me to a new audience and I’ve met another half dozen people who’ve made my 2016 a better year, and will postively impact the coming year.

3. Beck Power

Beck is a person I connected with this year because my new friend Nick Loper was scheduled to appear in a virtual Idea Summit Beck was producing. I didn’t know her, but I reached out and asked how I could become involved because I thought someone called “The Idea Guy” ought to be able to add some value to that event (fortunately, Beck agreed)! From there we continued the conversation on Facebook and I even participated in a mastermind group Beck and her “business bestie” (Hannah) hosted virtually from their house in Thailand. Last month Beck posed the concept of a 30-day email that provided a strongly-worded morning pep talk for creative minds. She said she’d create the content if at least 10 or 20 people would agree to signup and pay for it. I fell in love with the idea and immediately shared it with several of my friends who immediately signed-up and the “Daily Bitchslap” was born! Now I’ve introduced Beck to more of my friends and she can add the same positive impact to their year that she’s added to mine.

4. Hannah Dixon

When you connect with one cool person, you will soon connect with another. This is absolutely the case with Hannah Dixon. If it weren’t for becoming friends with Beck, I might never have crossed paths with Hannah (at the very least it could have taken a lot longer to meet her). After meeting Hannah by participating in the “Hustle House” mastermind session I mentioned above, she immediately sent me a friend request on Facebook (beat me to it by about three seconds!) and now I can keep up with all the awesome stuff Hannah is bringing into reality. The most recent project was a “5-Day VA Challenge” to help people find and monetize the unique value and services they can provide people as a Virtual Assistant. I’m just starting to learn all the cool things Hannah has planned, but her energy, enthusiasm, and quick path to idea implementation had a positive influence on me with just a short amount of time left in 2016 — I can only imagine how much of a difference knowing her will make on my success in the coming year.

5. Mr. Explainer

Lee is a new client who found me because of some of the new people I’ve met over the past year (including those mentioned above). Lee is a creative freelancer with a strong and interesting brand as Mr. Explainer which started as an animated video production company, but has the potential to expand in some really interesting directions. We’ve had a couple really productive and interesting and invigorating brainstorm sessions, and I know we’ll have some new projects to bring into reality in 2017. This is a guy to watch and add to your list of “cool people I should connect with in 2017”.

Choosing just these FIVE names was pretty limiting.

It was a no brainer to rattle off another five names to make it an even ten…

Ozeal: Smooth-talking host of the No Permission Needed podcast who shares the incredible stories of his guests and his a hardcore creative hustler himself. I am excited to see what he does with his course to help mobile bartenders, and to see if there’s a project we might collaborate on when he visits the Buckeye State sometime in the future.

Doug Farrick: We were introduced by way of my interview on the Side Hustle Nation podcast. Doug is the creator of many side hustle business initiatives , but my current favorite (which I’m twisting his arm to let me help with!) is a unique twist to selling original paintings from an online gallery called Pleinairly.

Steph Halligan: Creator of the ArtToSelf daily art project which had the same kind of vibe as my own daily project at BigYellowSticky.com, but she was much more successful at monetizing her content and reaching a wider audience. Even though her daily content production on that site has come to an end, I still look forward to the lessons I can apply to my own efforts.

Robin Miller: I met Robin because we both have a mutual crazy-awesome friend in Whitney Bishop. Robin struck-up a conversation online and when I heard she’d be in my city for an unrelated event, I had to invite her to meet-up in the real world. We had a blast bouncing around ideas over some tasty craft beers and have continued the conversation in regard to some interesting concepts for event-based brainstorming. I hope we get to work together more in 2017. You can connect with Robin at Nest Community Marketing (#seewhatshedidthere?)

Anthony Iannarino: I met this guy years ago when he was just a “baby blogger” getting started online (I take full credit for telling him it was perfectly acceptable to add the word “The” to the front of a domain name he liked but which had already been reserved by someone else.) I add his name to my 2016 list because his brand seemed to simply skyrocket — loads of speaking gigs all over the world, connections with the top gurus and influencers in every category, appearances on major media, and oh yeah… a best selling book titled The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. Talk about a guy who provides continual inspiration and keeps raising the bar!

But even these names still only scratch the surface and I know I’m leaving off interesting people. Here’s a question for you: Can you name five or ten people you’ve met this year that helped you achieve the biggest gains in your personal or professional life?

Here’s an even bigger question…
Will your name be on someone else’s list?



First came BEANstorming: generating business ideas and action plans with clients over coffee. Then came BEERstorms (same thing, just add beer!)

Now there’s a new location for idea generation (hey, that rhymes):


If you’re in Honolulu next week, a member of the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, and would like to bounce around a few revenue-generating ideas while sitting seaside, under a blue sky, while sipping a Mai Tai (what’s with all the rhymes??) you can get details for reserving a one-hour-one-to-one idea session at: Beachstorming.com.

This is the exact same process (albeit in a waaaay better environment!) I’ve used to help media companies earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in new revenue, maintained price integrity, increase profits, develop multiple streams of non-traditional revenue, and command the highest CPM rates on their websites — all while producing strategic and innovative award-winning marketing campaigns which delivered incredible results for new (and established!) local direct clients who raved about the response rates and qualified leads resulting from their investment.

Join Don The Idea Guy on the island of O’ahu for beachside brainstorming sessions designed to increase revenue for your station and results for your clients!

Visit www.beachstorming.com to request additional information.

Beachstorming with Don The Idea Guy