Take Note: Tips on Having (and Keeping) Your Ideas

Do you know someone who always has an idea for something? When you talk to them, it seems like their mind is going a mile a minute, while you have maybe half an idea a day, wondering how this person can be “on” all the time. I’m generally cyclic, going through periodic idea spells and no-idea spells, which seems to be the norm. In the no-idea spells, I tend to notice the idea people more, and find myself wondering how they do what they do. As it turns out, it’s partially a gift, and partially a practice.

You might have heard of James Altucher’s “10 Ideas a Day” exercise. It’s similar to a gratitude journal, where you sit down every morning and write down ten ideas, if not more. The theory is the “idea muscle” is one that can atrophy, like any other muscle, when it’s not used. Although the explanation felt a bit aggressive for my taste, I’m all for becoming an idea person. Ten ideas a day, how hard can that be? (I tried it this morning, and similar to this article explaining the experience, I “started sweating” around number 4).

Altucher’s idea exercise is great for carving out some time to get your brain moving, but realistically, our brains aren’t going to limit idea-generation to this small piece of the day. Whenever I have a brilliant idea for something, it arrives at a super inconvenient time, and I fall into the trap of “Oh, I’ll totally remember this later- it’s so amazing, how could I forget it?” But…then I do.

Those of us who have been burned by this experience enough times will find ways to avoid this happening again. Others might be blessed with being idea machines, so the loss of one idea doesn’t feel as tragic. Here are some of the best tips I’ve had for jotting down these ideas (with and without technology):

  1. ALWAYS write it down. Whatever your idea is, make sure you get it out of your head to a more tangible place (paper, phone, etc). I’d say 87% of the time, unless I write it down, I only remember having an awesome idea, but not the idea itself. It’s pretty frustrating. To avoid this, there are a few things you can do, depending on your personal preferences. If you are a pen and paper person, one idea is to always keep a notepad close by. If you’re more of a phone person, there are all kinds of apps you can use to keep track of ideas. If you just want to jot down the idea and nothing else, the Notes app that comes with most phones is an easy way to jot things down and have them saved for later. But, if you want to get into some high-end note taking, apps like Papyrus, Evernote, and more let you dictate, add pictures, and share your notes with others. And, most of them are free!
  2. Be Consistent. One of my issues is being super inconsistent about where I put them. Then, when I need to find something again, I’m scrambling around because “it could be in one of six places.” Whatever time you might have saved writing down your idea gets lost trying to track it down again. This article recommends not only keeping your notes in a consistent place, but separating them by types for a higher level of efficiency. This might mean having an app on your phone totally dedicated to business related notes/ideas, while jotting down notes for a screenplay in a notebook you carry around. No matter what system you choose, the key is to be consistent across the board.
  3. Make sure it’s decipherable. Not your handwriting, although it’s a good first step. Sometimes, if we’re in a huge rush, we jot down a few words and carry on our way. Later, when we revisit them, it looks like complete gibberish. Losing an idea this way is arguably more heartbreaking, because you’ve actually put some effort into saving the idea. Avoiding this type of heartbreak involves finding the line between writing too much and too little. Allow yourself the time to write down as much as you think you’ll need to jog your memory.
It really only has to make sense to you...

It really only has to make sense to you…

4. Revisit. Don’t leave your ideas to sit around collecting dust. At the end of the week/month/whatever interval you choose, go back and look over what you’ve written down. More on organizing notes will come in a later blog post, but in revisiting your notes you’re sorting out ideas you might actually want to take action on at some point later on. After all, what’s the point of writing all these ideas down if you aren’t going to see one or two of them through?

Whether you consider yourself an idea person or not, writing down your ideas when you have them, be consistent and clear, and go back and look them over every now and then. What are some ways that you’ve found to get notes from in your head onto paper?

This month’s theme is all about notes, stay tuned for future posts throughout the month!

How Accessibility Has Changed Marketing

I was recently chatting with a friend about required reading for English Majors, namely Dickens. “I don’t think Dickens was that great,” he said. “Well…he’s not fun to read” I conceded (this from the girl who read A Tale of Two Cities for fun in 8th grade). “What if his stuff only became so popular because like 10% of the population was literate back then?” And I had to admit, I’d never really considered it before.

This conversation, combined with a recent post from Seth Godin discussing the recent increase in people/businesses using video in their marketing, has made me think a lot about changes made possible by resource accessibility.

We have more formats.

Once education and literacy were available to a larger population, there was a wider variety of published material. Just look at what we have today: tabloids, magazines, novellas, newspapers. Then the internet happened, which was a great equalizer in terms of marketing. People were eventually able to publish their work online once blogging platforms like Wordpress came around. And as social media sites became popular, people didn’t have to necessarily write anything of length anymore to be heard. A sentence now can literally be seen by millions, or at least has that potential.

We have more equality.

The act of marketing and selling goods online has become easier for small businesses. For instance, Google offers tools like Google+, maps, and analytics to anyone with a website. These are great resources for smaller businesses who don’t have a team of people dedicated to market research and analyzing web metrics. We’ve written more about Google+ for small businesses and Google analytics for anyone who wants to delve deeper into those areas. (And if you want someone like us to ‘just do it’, we do that too.)

We need less skills.

You no longer have to be technologically savvy to put your “stuff” out there. As Seth’s article points out, you also don’t have to be a skilled photographer anymore to get Instagram accolades. You don’t need to be able to code to have a website, or get a television contract to have people watch your videos. With the help of a smartphones in particular, all of these activities are accessible to the greater public.

When copy exploded across the web, the professional copywriter felt threatened. Anyone could write, and anyone did. When photography was added to the mix, the professional photographer felt threatened. Everyone had a camera, after all. –Seth Godin

First accessibility happened to text, then it was links and photos, now it’s video.

More recently, video has become the newly accessible medium for all. According to this article written last year, people don’t expect high production value on videos shared via social media. These videos can get away with having a home-video level of production quality. Some ideas for live video (the kind that can be streamed as you record and get published as-is) include product demonstrations, “Ask Me Anything” sessions, and more.  If you do want to add a bit of production, there are some relatively cheap options out there like iMovie or WeVideo. You may have to pay a little, but it’s significantly cheaper than outsourcing to a different company entirely to do your editing.

Distributing video is also easier, since you don’t have to haggle over advertising space or air time on t.v. YouTube, Periscope, Facebook, and all of the other social media sites make it easy to upload videos (for free!). Again, people aren’t necessarily expecting anything cutting edge in terms of production in these places. People are consuming as quickly as you’re producing.

As the world of online marketing becomes more accessible, the better it is for small businesses. Although many of these things (video, analytics, general website maintenance) require some time and training to be done well, it’s worth the investment. Accessibility means we’re all learning together and that’s pretty cool.

Non-Profits And Live Video

This month’s upcoming email newsletter is going to be all about live video. Click here to subscribe if you want to learn more!

As non-profits increasingly use video to tell their story (or have individuals try to tell another story as in the Planned Parenthood controversy), live video is going to play an increasingly important role.

Live videos have a couple things going for them:

  1. They are not expected to be highly edited or scripted, meaning production takes less time.
  2. They are transparent, as the people in live videos are not only off the cuff but responding to online or real life commenters as the comments are made.

Live Video For Donors

So I’ll admit it, I couldn’t find any non-profits using Periscope to solicit donations. There are certainly ideas out there of how it could work but no compelling example.

Sometimes though, innovation starts in the business world. And while you may be thinking that you could broadcast a live event or founder question and answer or someone/something your donations have helped, you may be thinking “Building goodwill makes sense, but where does the money come in?”



Since people are watching from their phone, they are also paying from their phone. Services like were the missing link for me to ‘get it’ in terms of how people can make actual money on Periscope. So why couldn’t someone, live watching you rescue a whale or give a child a pair of shoes, send you money while watching your non-profit doing real work in real time?

Live Video For Colleagues

It’s, of course, easy for non-profits to go right to the donors as a first audience. As a money grubbing capitalist (something I say mostly jokingly), it is certainly where my mind goes first!

But lots of non-profits work with other organizations or have an occasion to get colleagues together. It made me think of how the City of Vancouver, despite being large, can have citizens involved in it’s initiatives via live video on Periscope. They used Twitter to talk about it:


They used Instagram to talk about it:


And I’m sure they used other social media to talk about it. If you missed talking about it and wanted to, I dare say it was your fault. 🙂 So Periscope could be used to get all your colleagues in the ‘same room’ in a way that’s both easier for everyone.

Live Video For Who You Serve

As a non-profit, you also have a group of people who benefit from your work. And while we saved this important group for last, I am sure you can also see opportunities with educating those you serve about the work you’re doing with them so you can do it better.

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of informational videos (I missed the live #colonoscopy- ‘bum’mer). They get major points for educational content and hashtag usage.


Interestingly, they videotape their radio show as well, showing how you can have the same content be in multiple formats to ensure it reaches a large audience.

(In putting out these blog posts, I don’t want you to read this and think “Sigh, one more thing we have to do.” Instead, this is meant to inspire you to think “Oh, this would help us solve X issue” or “We’d do Y better with Periscope”.) Like everything online, Periscope is a tool in the giant hardware store that is the internet. And with that in mind, we’re working on a series of these posts about live video so stay tuned! In the meantime, are you brave enough for live video? Let us know!

This month’s latest email newsletter will be all about live video. Click here to subscribe to it!

Five Things I’ve Learned From Podcasting So Far

mydesertislandpodcastWhen I was cleaning out Google Drive the other day, I found a three year old document called ‘Bar Harborcast’. It was an outline for a local podcast I wanted to produce with a list of guests, a general outline for 30 minute format show, and the start of a mission statement.

(Aside: Yes, I always have a crappy working title when I have big ideas. Name of Anchorspace had a working title BHCowork in my first business plan draft. Everyone who read my plan agreed on one thing: they hated that name, despite me reminding them that I just needed to put something in there as a stand in title so I could finish the document.)

Anyway, I’ve been talking to a few people about the podcast idea as the years went on. Listening to a podcast of someone by themselves I’ve always thought is kind of boring so I was on the lookout for a cohost who could 1) commit to a weekly recording 2) who I had a good rapport with and 3) who could make the idea even better with what they brought to the table.

Nina St. Germain, my Anchorspace landlord and friend, fits all these criteria.

We launched the My Desert Island Podcast a few weeks ago. It’s not a long time to be podcasting, clearly, but I have learned a few things so far.

Idea #1: Just do it.

The second I released this, about ten people came forward. “I’ve been wanting to do this kind of podcast forever!”

My point is not to say the idea isn’t exactly unique. The difference is, we just did it.

Do I think I’m some Terry Gross protege who can do this better than anyone else? Not really, as a matter of fact, my recorded voice bugs the crap out of me. But we put it out there and week to week, we’ve been getting better. (If you want to get a quick idea of this, listen to episode 1 and then the latest episode back to back.)

Idea #2: Echo is a problem.

When I’ve heard really crappy audio, I always assumed it was lack of a good microphone. So I bought a pretty good one ($40 and highly recommended by a podcasting friend).

Only after I was editing the intro of our first episode that I realized how echo-y things could be. We tried foam board. We tried talking closer to the microphone. We tried building sound proofing panels to hang from the ceiling. In the end, the little tent Nina brought covered in blankets not only solved the issue in a cheap way but gave us our signature blanket fort/audio yurt.

Turns out editing can get rid of voice ticks (you never realize how many times you say ‘like’ until you are editing yourself), background noise, and awkward pauses. What it can’t get rid of is echo. So test that before you invest major time recording! (Listening to things in headphones after will give you a real idea of it is a problem or not.)

Idea #3: You need the tech setup. If that intimidates you, just pay someone.

So iTunes and other websites that automatically download your lastest episodes need a feed to draw from. If you don’t know what an RSS feed is, I’m going to link to an article on this website that can help explain.

I will admit it, the amount of time I spent figuring out the tech of all this was stupid. And yes, I do tech stuff all day so I feel like I am starting from a place of more knowledge than the average person!

You basically need a website with audio feed capabilities for your podcast to be distributed via the most popular podcast apps but it takes awhile to get it right. If you aren’t confident, just hire someone to set it up for you. Seriously. And yes, that person can be me. If you have a domain name/web hosting, I can get you set up in about three hours versus the ten plus hours you’ll spend on it. Seriously, this is not something I would DIY again. I would instead spend my limited time learning about editing with Audacity and monetizing (making money with the podcast).

Idea #4: The lack of built in stats kind of stinks.

So I installed Google Analytics on our podcasting website and kept procrastinating on getting real stats related to the podcast itself for about three weeks. But when I finally did (they cost $5/month), it was like a whole new world was opened up to me. People listen to us in Romania? Most people are on iPhones? New York is second after Maine of the state with the most listeners?

Sure we had some idea of who was listening from the website stats but this other information, deeper and audio-specific information, is great.

Another fun thing I learned: iTunes won’t tell you as a podcaster about your subscriber data. They seem to be concerned about making things easy on the user end, not on the producer end. This is where installing audio feed stats is worth it. (Meanwhile Stitcher tells you lots, go Stitcher!)

Idea #5: The money comes later.

Is version 1.0 of anything impressive? When you’re working on it, yes. When you have a bit of distance though, you can agree that of course it wasn’t fantastic.

Nina and I have decided to wait until episode 10 to officially monetize. Currently though, we have two 30 second ad spots for our respective businesses. This illustrates to potential advertisers that there are spots.

As we approach this arbitrary, self imposed deadline, we’re collecting mad stats to be able to put together advertising packages. (More about monetizing podcasts here.) We’re also getting to know our listener demographic, another great way to not only court advertisers but to have better content for listeners.

We went into this knowing we wanted to make money on it, but we weren’t in a hurry to do it until we got in a good grove.

Do I know everything? If you know me, you’ll know of course not. But I know enough now. Podcasting is actually kind of fun. It doesn’t seem to intimidate people the way video does but it’s also a very efficient way for people to get information. I look forward to learning more and, if in the meantime you want help getting set up, contact us as we can either set up the tech for you or we can add you to the list for our upcoming podcast workshop.

Our Podcast website:
Listen on Stitcher:
Listen on iTunes:


Our Phones Are Listening

Feeling watched? You might be being listened to instead.

Feeling watched? You might be being listened to instead.

When I log into Gmail, answer some correspondence, then browse the internet, I am never surprised that I am being pitched social media reports or task management software… because all that is what I’ve been writing about in my emails. This is the same reason that, if you browsed my email while I was logged in, I wouldn’t freak out about you seeing anything in particular. Passwords and other information that is sensitive are typically sent via encrypted messages or other means and what remains is a ‘Hey did you do this?’ ‘Yes, I did that’ back and forth of a typical work correspondence.

I’ve often teased that my friends know to call me if they want the dirt; in my online life, I am an open book.

Listening to the Note To Self podcast recently, I heard the story of a guy who was singing to his dog before work (the song was ‘Every time I say goodbye, I cry a little…’ something that I could have done myself if I was still living alone with my dog and watching her sad face as I got ready for work). He puts his iPhone on shuffle and out of the thousands of songs that could be playing, guess which one does.

The interview went in depth with Walter Kirn who wrote a recent article in The Atlantic called ‘If you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy’.

The summary: our phones are listening to us. Our web cams are recording us. We are being watched, even when we think we have logged out for the day.

Now, my life has always been if I am on my computer, I get how I’m being watched. But the fact that my phone could sit charging while listening to my husband and I argue or my friend and I have a heart to heart… that’s where it crosses the line for me.

The article I’ve linked above discusses a tech person who throws parties and insists everyone leave their phones in their locked cars, ideally with the batteries taken out. There’s a lot in there if you take the time to read it.

All of it makes me ask myself, do the people in this article know something I don’t? And if so, why am I not listening?

In all the user agreements that none of us read, apparently it doesn’t mention that we aren’t being recorded. Plus, why does every new app seem to want access to our microphone?

It makes me wonder what tasks I can do with my phone off that I have been a little lazy about:

  1. Bringing my digital camera with me for photo opps.
  2. Sending out correspondence via handwritten notes.
  3. Scanning my receipts and other documents to file away with my Doxie scanner.
  4. Buying stuff from local merchants with cash.
  5. Trying to hang out with people in person.
  6. Wearing a watch again so I can leave my phone places. (I often bring it with me just for the time keeping purposes!)

In any case, I am happy to know this is happening and think of ways I can go ‘offline’ a little more often, not just for the good of my body but to avoid being spied on.

Podcast discussing this is approximately 30 mins: Educate yourself… and as I educate myself, I am happy to share what I learn with you.

Tech Thursday: Terrible or Not Terrible (Website Edition)

We turn our opinions about website behavior into a game show like extravaganza. There’s singing, laughing, knowledge-dropping, but we couldn’t get a creepy game-show host…

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