Thinking in the shower

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first ever BirdBrain10 unconference in Tel Aviv. Mel Rosenberg, a microbologist by trade, put together a day of interesting people to talk about creativity and invention. There were a lot of inspirational people there, but the person that  I found most inspirational of all was Jeff Pulver. I have been following him on Twitter (@JeffPulver) and often found his tweets inspirational, but I didn’t realize that he actually lives his life the way that he tweets. I find that so cool.

Here are some of my favorite take aways from Jeff’s talk:

  • You can’t outsource fun – There are so many things that can be outsourced so that we can truly live our lives. Fun is not one of them. Why would it be? Don’t take fun for granted and make sure that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Fun is a very important part of life.
  • You can’t compete with fun – And why would you try? If there is something that is fun to do or something that is mind numbingly boring, fun will always win.
  • People are more creative when they are having fun – When you’re having fun, you let your guard down and open yourself up for new ideas. Being creative is a natural by-product.
  • Getting fired can save your life – Jeff was fired from a job in the World Trade Center shortly before the 9-11 disaster. It literally saved his life. Although that is true, I also believe that working at an unsatisfying job is also the recipe for a quick demise. If not physically, than emotionally. We spend most of our waking hours at work. Shouldn’t it be fun and inspiring?
  • Experiment with niceness – Jeff practices anonymous acts of kinds all the time. I really believe that doing nice things and not expecting anything in return makes people happy. And when I say people, I’m talking about the giver, not the receiver (although, I’m sure it’s nice to be the receiver as well!) By doing these kind acts, we are able to self actualize ourselves as good and nice people. Trust me, it works.
  • Don’t be discouraged by the person next to you if they don’t get it – There are so many people out there that have a lot of great ideas, but are discouraged by people around them who just don’t get it. I know that when I started The Pet Wiki, I really believed in creating a great place for pet lovers to share information, but most of my friends thought that I was daft. I didn’t listen to them, and I’m in the process of creating something great, and having a lot of fun in the process.
  • Hire people who don’t have experience; they don’t know what can’t be done – I really like this one. It’s very true. In the past when I hired, I was fortunate to work with a wonderful group of junior programmers who were inventive and enthusiastic. They did not have the trauma of past mistakes and they were able to let their imaginations fly to what could be. Allowing them to follow these ideas freed them to do great things.
  • Great thoughts often come in the shower – Did you ever have an a-ha moment when you were in the shower? You’re not alone. Showering relaxes us and lets our minds wander freely. It strips away the distractions of life and lets our creative natures come to life. When Jeff told this in a speech to people at Texas Instruments, one of the executives, seeing the truth in what he said, asked Jeff how long should his people shower. Gotta love it.

I started thinking about writing this post when I was in the shower. Think about how much better it would have been if I were able to write it in there. It was much more interesting – I came up with some very clever stuff. Maybe one day they will make a computer that is waterproof for people like us. I think that I finally figured out a potential use for iPad 2.o.