092: Pat Flynn: Validate Your Idea Before You Leap

When a new idea strikes, many of us are tempted to withdraw for months to work on it in solitude. But creating anything in a vacuum is the best way to ensure no one notices it.

Validating Your Big Idea Before You Leap: Interview with Pat Flynn

Creatives have no shortage of ideas. We get them in the shower, during a workout, washing dishes, or driving. But not every idea is a good idea. People have wasted years on an idea that sounded good at the time but ultimately flopped.

Where do good ideas come from? How does innovation happen? When do you decide what new project to start and how? I asked Pat Flynn these questions, and he shared his whole idea validation process with me. It was fascinating.

The way great ideas come in to the world is not the way we would expect.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Pat and I talk about practical thought experiments that help frame the actions you’ll take to carry your idea forward. Listen in as we discuss the origin story of Pat’s astronomical success, and why getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to his career.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

Look before you launch

Creating anything, whether it’s a blog post, a book, or a WordPress plugin, isn’t just about the quality of the thing itself. It’s also about who it’s for. You have to serve your audience before you serve yourself.

Nobody knows how to serve an audience better than my friend Pat Flynn. Pat has built a very profitable online business and huge personal brand in just a few years. And how has he done it? Where does he get his incredible ideas from? Simple: from the people he serves.

Pat is one of the nicest guys I know who defies the idea that nice guys finish last. His entire seven-figure business is based on one idea: helping people. Turns out, that old adage — what goes around, comes around — is true.

Show highlights

In this episode, Pat and I discuss:

  • What entrepreneurs can learn from toddlers and paper airplanes
  • Determining if a new idea is worth your time and energy
  • Why a measure of indifference helps you survive failure
  • One question that disarms the dark clouds of fear
  • How desperate times can serve as a competitive advantage
  • What to do if an idea doesn’t compliment your strengths
  • The dangers of ignoring how a business fits into your life
  • A foundational flaw in the traditional 5-year plan
  • Why you can’t afford to ignore your history when planning your future
  • The iterative process of idea validation for writers
  • Exercises to micro-test an idea with your audience

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Once you understand the why behind what you do, what you should do becomes more clear.” —Pat Flynn
  • ”Failure can be playful.” —Pat Flynn
  • “The only way to see if something works is to try it. Real failure is when you give up.” —Pat Flynn
  • “If no one cares, you’ve got more work to do before you can move forward.” —Pat Flynn
  • If you’re afraid it means you’re about to do something good. It means there’s something of value at stake.
  • Success isn’t when everything goes your way.


Who are you talking to about your big idea? What are you going to do differently to help it fly instead of flop? Share in the comments