Last month friend Anthony Volodkin wrote a post called “How I get excited about new ideas and companies” discussing the criteria he uses when deciding if something (in this case an idea or a company) is exciting for him. He asked others to circle back with their own own approach.
Since then I’ve been thinking about and it’s actually a much harder question then you might imagine. I mean, we all know if something is exciting for us or not, but how often do you think about why? Turns out I don’t think about it that much, I think because I have a really quick reflex to either dive in or ignore things, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about which of those to do. Something will either grab me or not. So thinking about why took a bit of digging. While I don’t think I actively ask myself these questions, positive answers to them will definitely jump out at me and get me focus on it a bit more:
- Have I seen this before?
A ‘yes’ answer to this doesn’t immediately fail this question, nor does a ‘no’ immediately make something interesting – but it’s a good frame of reference. If I’ve seen something similar before, the difference or improvement in this take on it should be incredibly obvious. If not, well…
- Does this solve a problem I have?
I like solutions to problems, especially problems I have personally. Solutions to problems completely out of my scope of understanding take a little more thinking so the more personal connection the better.
- Does this make life better?
For me or for other people. This doesn’t have to be a solution to a problem, can just be a general improvement. Life being better is always good.
I think those are probably the three main things I think about when deciding if something is interesting or not. Just to put that into practice I thought I’d check that against some things I’m thinking about (or not) recently:
- Google+: Yes I’ve seen the idea before, it might solve a problem, not sure if it’ll make my life better. Exciting? Verdict is still out, but I’m hopeful
- Turntable.fm: I’ve seen ways to play music for friends, but creating an environment to play with friends is new, it solves a problem of finding good music to listen to, it’s fun and fun things make life better. Exciting? Yes.
- Instagram: Yes I’ve seen the idea before, no it doesn’t solve a problem, doesn’t make my life any better. Exciting? Nope.
- Color (app): Yes I’ve seen the idea before, no it doesn’t solve a problem, doesn’t make my life any better. Exciting? Nope.