a blog by sam christie. former home of "12 Months of Stuff"

Category: October

Million Dollar Ideas That I Want You To Steal From Me

This could be you, stealing these ideas and cashing them in for a poorly drawn treasure chest.

At the beginning of 2015, I set out to “get to where I want to be”. At its core, this meant a few different things to me.

  • I wanted to pursue things I was interested in
  • I wanted to take action on the ideas I had
  • I wanted to learn things along the way

So far, all of those proverbial boxes have been checked and the year isn’t over yet, so I’m feeling good. At the same time, for the entire month of October 2015 I have been coming up with 5-10 ideas PER DAY (a process inspired by James Altucher). It almost feels counter-productive. Except it’s not. Before, I felt stuck. I felt like I simply couldn’t pursue these ideas no matter what I tried or how I tried it. This blog has given me a structure to pursue my idea backlog.

But now, I have so many ideas that I know I will never take action on all of them. This isn’t a problem—a lot of them I don’t even want to pursue because I know someone else would be better suited to do so. Coming up with them has strengthened my idea muscle which was the goal.

Here are some of the ideas I came up with that I believe are million dollar ideas. If you feel passionate about any of them, feel free to make them happen, and if you cash out one day and buy your own island, feel free to throw me some extra cash (or at least invite me to the island).

1. An app that lets you know exactly where to find your food in the grocery store

This would be almost priceless to me. The Paradox Of Choice is real. And it is laughing in my face every time I enter the grocery store. There’s too much going on—complete sensory overload. Did you know there’s at least 7 different places to buy cheese in my local grocery store? It’s called Jewel-Osco, and it’s not a jewelry store, it’s a grocery store. It is the worst grocery store I’ve ever been to in my life. The cheese is not all in one “cheese” section. It’s not even all in one “dairy” section. If I could hook my grocery list into an app that tells me the aisle of each item, I would pay handsomely for it. If this existed I might even shed tears of joy. Please for the love of groceries, someone steal this idea from me and become rich from it. Feel free to adapt to other stores if you, like me, abhor grocery stores enough that you can’t stand to think of owning a grocery store-centric app.

Charlie Chip

If you’re looking for Charlie Chip and friends in Jewel-Osco you may want to put on a podcast first. You might be looking for a while.

2. A way to order, buy, and handle deli meat that isn’t mind-numbing or disgusting

Are you sensing a theme to this post? It’s not my fault that the grocery industry is ripe for disruption. But it could be the solution you’ve been looking for to start your next million or billion dollar company. Every time I go to the deli aisle and order fine meats and cheeses* (usually pepper jack and pastrami), any number of dis-pleasantries can occur. If this process was fixed, maybe a machine would measure out my 1/4 pound of pastrami so that the person slicing didn’t think 1/4 pounds is equal to .44. Maybe a machine would be able to have standardized thickness so that a deli worker didn’t have to hold up slices of meat for me to inspect to see if it’s the right cut, and then awkwardly ask me if I want to eat it in front of everyone else in line. I don’t want these people working the deli aisle to lose their jobs, I simply want a more consumer friendly way of ordering my weekly lunch items. Do you know that some people who work in the deli aisle don’t know that “pepper jack” is a type of cheese? I know, I was confused too. I hate having to awkwardly decide what turkey to choose when I ask for “turkey” and they read me a list of brands and ways it was spiced, etc. I can feel the soccer moms judging my lack of deli knowledge. It doesn’t feel good. And lastly, I hate getting the meat out to make lunch the next day and feeling the weird slimy paper that they put in the sticky plastic bag. There has to be a better way.

3. Go back to the mid-eighties through the nineties, look at the most popular kids’ toys and games and remake them.

Imagine the Skip-It with a companion app that counts your steps and performance. Imagine getting 5-8 pop stars to cover the Skip-It theme song and up-selling the collection as an EP inside the app. Any game that was popular around this time can be new again. You could even completely rip the idea, make a few tweaks, and change the name. After all, isn’t Words With Friends simply digital Scrabble? As 90’s kids grow up and have kids, there’s going to be a nostalgia goldmine to be made in these apps and games.

4. Create an oven sensor that can tell when you add and remove food so that it turns off by itself (according to the weight before and after its empty).

We don’t own a microwave, so I frequently reheat leftovers in the oven. Why can’t my oven tell when I put in food and take it out so that it can turn off automatically after 20 seconds or so of reduced weight? Because you haven’t made the Weighted Oven Sensor, sold it to Sears, made your millions, and given me a cut yet!

I know, these are all the epitome of “first world problems”. But that’s okay. In generating these ideas, I wasn’t trying to have every idea be a game-changer, I just wanted to get better at generating ideas. And the more ideas I come up with, the more likely one is to be something that sparks me to take serious action. Keep this in mind if you want to flex your own idea muscle. Don’t worry about the quality so much as the quantity. I have ideas on my list that probably can’t physically exist yet. I have ideas that are simply names of things without any back story whatsoever. But for each random product name and batch of current impossibilities, I get a little closer to where I want to be. And it’s certainly not in the grocery store.

The only reason I'll set foot in a grocery store is if I need guac ingredients.

The only reason I’ll set foot in a grocery store is if I need guac ingredients.

So please, take these spare ideas and use them to print money. If they don’t work out for you, I’m sure I can scrape some more together that may be up your alley.

In love and stuff,

How To Generate Ideas and Revamp Your Routines

 Promotional consideration provided by Louis the Lightbulb.

Promotional consideration provided by Louis the Lightbulb.

Time to go the way of the ol’ twofer, which is like a gopher that has a siamese twin. Just kidding. This month I’m focusing on generating 5-10 ideas per day and revamping my routines.
What’s that mean?

The Idea Generation
If you don’t have ideas, it’s impossible to take action. It’s literally impossible to do anything without them. The more you come up with ideas, the easier it is generate them in the future. Each day this month I am sitting down and consciously thinking of ideas. These range from wild start ups, to website hacks, to life hacks, to physical products that I wish existed. The point of this exercise isn’t necessarily to go and build all of these things, it’s simply to come up with them. The more you flex your idea muscle, the stronger it becomes. That is the overall goal of October’s idea generation. Don’t take my word for it. There are people who are much smarter, richer, and more successful than me who believe this too and have dug into this subject at length (like James Altucher). Give it a shot! It feels good to come up with dope ideas!

Here are some ideas I came up with this month so far. It doesn’t matter that they are vague. It doesn’t matter that some of them are impossible without some technology breakthrough. I’m still working out my idea muscles.

  • A pen-pal type website where you pay to get nice mail. People sign up to write letters and sign up to get letters, and they can be as personal or general as you want. (Who doesn’t like getting actual mail vs. bills, ads, and other papers that go straight into the gaping mouth of Trashy? [“Trashy” is what I call my trash can.])
  • A service to improve websites – automatically insert Skitch comments or draw on a page and send it immediately to the designers/founders/people who can make the change.
  • Food button. A button with a pre-set Chipotle or other fast food order for you to pick up. You set up the button for an order on the app, press it to order. You can change the order in the app if you are craving something else. Objective is to make it easy for people to order/pick up the same thing if they do “taco tuesday” etc. Wave your phone up to it and use Apple Pay.
  • An e-ink display that you can write on and syncs with Evernote and/or your computer. Bluetooth keyboard enabled. Objective is to avoid blue light at night and to be able to write at night.
  • Sync pics of books or movies or things I want to buy to Evernote in a “books” notebook or future purchase notebook

Revamping Routines and Hacking Processes
I’ve been wanting to truly discover a meaningful and powerful routine for a while, and stick to it. I’m determined to crack the code. Some of the ideas I’m coming up with are smaller life hacks —like having a “Books” notebook in Evernote and taking pictures of books I see in the store that I want to read. I’ve already started using that one. In settings routines, I’m trying my best to hack my way to the life I want to live. Setting a routine allows me to give my idea-generating muscles a break instead of flex them. Namely, my brain. (This is why I paired the month of routines with the month of ideas.) When I wake up, I don’t want to have to waste time in deciding what to tackle on my to do list. My routines and processes will do that for me and allow me to focus simply on getting things done.

Here is what my routine used to look like before I started 12 Months of Stuff. 
Alarm goes off. Pick up phone. Scroll through Facebook. Scroll through Twitter. Scroll through Facebook. See friends who are way better off than me doing rad things with their life. Feel like garbage. Realize I really need to be getting on with my day. Rush to brush my teeth, shower, etc. Walk back and forth from the dining room to the bathroom forgetfully until I remember where my meds are and that I need to put in my contacts. Stumble out the door to start my day.

 Me after revamping my routines and dreaming big with dope ideas. Jk, it's just a cartoon music guy under the stars.

Me after revamping my routines and dreaming big with dope ideas. Jk, it’s just a cartoon music guy under the stars.

Here’s what it looks like now (for the most part):
In the morning

Wake up. Try to avoid looking at email/social networks. Brush teeth, shower, etc. Use 5 Minute Journal app to set goals for the day and be grateful. Open blinds to let in the sun. Make the bed. If something’s bugging me, write it down and write down solutions to get it off my plate. If there are no solutions, that’s okay because writing it down still gets it out of my head. Tackle to-do list.

Time varies
If I find my mind is too cluttered, or I start spiraling into un-productivity, I’ve been trying to meditate. It helps me re-focus my day and keeps me from getting too off track.
If I haven’t written down what’s bugging me I’ll do that when I notice it bugging me.

Here is what I want to improve upon and enact:
In the morning
Before doing anything else, meditate.
Write down any thoughts I have that may get in the way of me tackling my to-do list.
Define success for the day and rework my calendar apps to be more digestible and less janky. Maybe use Zenlist or Trello or something, but it has to be intuitive and not get in its own way.

Time varies
If something is bugging me in my daily processes or workflows, make a note of it. Set up a time once a week or so to fix that stuff. (Example: My folder structure on my computer is all out of whack because of a few misplaced “New Folders” when I started 12 Months of Stuff projects. It bugs me every day and I need to revisit it and fix it once and for all.)
Figure out a way to process and listen to new music.

In the evening
Read before bed. Use 5 Minute Journal app to recap the day. Stop looking at my phone at least 2-3 hours before bed. Make a list of tomorrow’s to-do’s.

In looking at where I’ve been and where I am now, I am more confident than ever to make my perfect routine dream a reality. The keys have been tackling small tweaks in routines instead of trying to attempt a complete 180, and hacking my way around the things I want/need to do. If I tried to completely switch up the way I do everything tomorrow, it wouldn’t work. It didn’t work. I relapsed into the never-ending notification spiral pretty quickly when I tried that. For now, it’s one tweak at a time. To get myself out of the Facebook spiral, I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone. What a glorious day that was. I still post things to my profile and pages on desktop, so I’m not missing any notifications. I still have Messenger installed in case people need to contact me. But I no longer have Facebook’s red badge of temptation calling me to endlessly, unproductively scroll through a news feed.

If you’re feeling “out of it” and want to tweak your own routines and get inspired here’s a few quick tips on where to start

  • For a few days, note the things that bug you the most. When you were feeling particularly “out of it” or “in a funk”, what were you doing and what would you rather have been doing?
  • Choose the one thing that has the most negative impact on you —the thing that makes you the least productive or the most unhappy. Try to replace that thing with something more on-track like meditating or goal setting, or simply something that will make you happier like your favorite hobby—knitting! (If knitting isn’t your favorite hobby, any non-thread based hobby will do as well.)
  • Designate a time every day when you dream up new ideas. These could be simple hacks like “Write a positive quote on the white board every day” or something crazy like “Umbrellas that turn rain into drinking water”.
 Umbrella that turns rain into drinking water diagram.

Umbrella that turns rain into drinking water diagram.

If you do this consistently, I’m confident you’ll be able to take steps to get to your perfect routine and inspire yourself out of any creative draught. Just keep one thing in mind: The goal isn’t hyper productivity. The goal isn’t turning your whole day into one routine. The goal is to empower yourself to do the things you love, and the things you need to do, while minimizing stress and frustration.

In love and stuff,

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