Good Idea. Now What? — An Interview with Charles Lee

Last week, I had a phone conversation with Charles Lee. Charles is the founder of Ideation, a creative consulting agency, and author of the book Good Idea. Now What? (which just came out this week).

As we talked about creativity and work, I realized this was really good stuff. Especially for writers, creatives, and others who read this blog. So I asked him some questions, and he agreed to give away a few copies of his book (scroll down to find out more about the giveaway.)

Charles Lee
Photo credit: charlestlee.com

Here’s my interview with Charles:

About the book

Jeff: What’s your new book about?

Good Idea, Now What?Charles: My book is entitled, Good Idea. Now What?. It’s a practical guide designed to help people implement their ideas better.

Divided into bite-sized chapters for busy entrepreneurs, Good Idea. Now What? covers the process for successfully building and launching a concept.

This book enables readers to move freely among subjects, from sparking inspiration, to making an effective plan, to collaborating, to branding, and more.

My hope is that people will read this and discover proven insights that will help their ideas become reality.

Jeff: There are a lot of books about the creative process that have come out recently; what makes this one unique?

Charles: There are definitely a growing number of idea books out there. Many of them dive deeply into one area of idea-making.

This book is unique in that it provides a grand aerial view of the overall process while providing bite-size actions steps in each section for implementing concepts well.

I see this book complimenting all the other idea books that are out there by providing a good grasp of the overall process while not sacrificing the “how to”s.

Furthermore, I wrote this for the on-the-go idea-maker in mind. It’s written in short, principle-driven chapters that are meant to be understood and evoke action. If you don’t need 10 stories to get the point, this book is for you! It’s designed to keep you moving.

Jeff: Why did you write it? What’s the story or inspiration behind it? What do you hope people will get out of it?

Charles: I wrote this book because I was getting tired of seeing far too many people who had great intention and passion that just didn’t have the process or skill-set to implement their ideas well.

My hope is that people will see that their ideas can become reality. It’s definitely hard work, but it’s work that can be done, especially if one truly believes that their idea is of value. I really want to limit the number of people who will ultimately take their “good idea” to the grave.

Breaking down the creative process

Jeff: Let’s talk process. How do you turn your own ideas into action?

Charles: I think it begins by creating a discipline of documentation. It’s important to document the development of a concept. It will provide a reference point to go back to as you continue in your idea-making journey.

Writing things down like vision, objectives, and plan will often result in refinement and much needed clarity. Furthermore, it will allow others to engage your ideas at a deeper level than just talk.

Secondly, a big part of idea-making is being aware of your own personal work rhythm. Recognizing and leveraging the most creative and productive moments of your day are keys to implementation.

If possible, work on your passions when you’re most focused. Don’t lose those precious moments of productivity by filling it with other distractions.

Thirdly, work on creating a process for refinement, evaluation, and experimentation. The idea you start with will rarely be the idea you end up with. In other words, it will evolve.

Think infrastructure and systems that allow for growth as much as you think specific steps for a creative process. Architecting a great environment will often go longer than blind allegiance to steps.

Fourthly, find others to partner with in your endeavor. Most great ideas can’t be implemented alone. Who will you work with and how? Working through collaborative opportunities is vital to your success.

Be clear, upfront, and honest in your engagements with others. Fear of hurting the other person’s feeling during conflict will ultimately be detrimental to the idea. Set clear expectations (in writing) and work on communicating regularly.

Lastly, stay agile and don’t loose sight of your overall goal. Remember what matters most to you at the end of the day. Is the idea you’re engaging consistent with what matters most to you? How will you know if you’ve been successful? Do you have this written down anywhere?

The book itself will go into far more detail about some of these points.

What the creative world needs

Jeff: As a creativity consultant, what’s the #1 need you see in the creative professional world? What’s lacking? What should creatives and those who work with them be aware of?

Charles: As a creative myself, I think we too often use our “creativity” as a scapegoat for our lack of organization and process-making. Statements like, “I’m just not that organized!” or, “Organization will sacrifice my creative integrity.” is not going to help you get any closer to actualizing your works of passion.

This kind of unnecessary dichotomy is often a great hindrance to idea-making. We really need to work on both our ideas and the processes needed to help our ideas come alive.

Jeff: Who inspires you to be more creative?

Charles: I love being with people that are not familiar to me. I’ve found that these are great moments for sparking and incubating unexpected creativity. Seeing the world through a different lens often fuels my creative process. I have learned to intentionally make time for these spontaneous opportunities of inspired learning.

Quite honesty, I think I can be inspired by anyone that I come across in life. It’s more about my posture to learn and be open to new insights than it is who I meet.

To find out more about Good Idea. Now What?, you can visit the website.

Win a free copy!

Charles has graciously agreed to give away copies of his book to three, lucky winners. Here’s how you can get a copy:

  1. Leave a comment, answering the question below (include your email address).
  2. Tweet the link, or share it on Facebook. (Use the hashtag #GoodIdeaBook.)
  3. Wait patiently. I’ll randomly choose three winners in a week and email them. If I don’t hear back from you in 24 hours, I’ll choose someone else.

What do you do with your good ideas? Share in the comments.

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links. (Really, it’s just the one Amazon link to the book.)