The other way of following first

My friend Derek Sivers gave a short presentation at a TED conference (which, incidentally, is something I’d love to get to do one day).

It’s about how the lone guy up dancing in the video above is not the full story of leadership. The important bit is how the second guy turns it into a movement. Watch the video. It’s just a few minutes long. I’ll wait here.

Okay… so Derek rightly received a lot of praise and encouragement for the presentation and the insight. People said he should turn it into a book or something – it could become something of a phenomenon. But he’s one of those guys with a lot of different stuff on his plate all the time, an incredible surplus of good ideas – and the sense to know when something is not really his passion.

So he’s giving the idea away. If you want to write a bestseller, or do the talk circuit with it – it’s all yours. You don’t have to ask him, pay him or even credit him (though I suspect you would, if only to underline the point of the book and claim yourself as a first follower).

I could do that
It was really tempting to put my hand up and say ‘I’ll write that book.’ And I know that I could. In fact, I think I could do a reasonably good job of it.

So I gave it some thought and told Derek that I was going to sleep on it, but there was a chance I would take up the idea and turn it into my own thing. “You definitely should,” he said.

Having slept on it, I’ve decided I AM going to be Derek’s “second guy up dancing”. But perhaps not in a way that he might have anticipated.

Choosing what to follow
On reflection, there’s one or two things I think Derek may have missed in that example of dancing guy. Tiny things. For instance, the first follower chose what it was about the lone nut dancing that was worth following.

He looked at that guy and thought: “Dancing. I want to do that.”

He could just as easily have thought: “That guy has his shirt off. I’m hot too. I’m going to take my shirt off…” – thus perhaps starting a completely different kind of movement.

The first follower selects from a range of possibilities.

Leading by example
Derek started something at TED. He had a good insight into something, expressed it well, and planted the seed of an idea into the public mind. People suggested follow-up, he didn’t want to take that action, and so he gave the idea away on his website.

But I don’t want to do what people suggested that Derek should do next. I want to do what Derek’s doing.

Metaphorically speaking, I don’t want to start a club where people get up and dance like maniacs on the side of a hill each month because hillside dancing could turn out to be a hit phenomenon. I just want to get up and dance.

I’m not going to write a book based on an idea Derek had. That’s not my First Follower response. But I am going to be a First Follower…

My own First Follower response
The second guy dancing in the video had one thought: “What that guy is doing inspires me to do likewise.” And so he stood up, joined the lone nut – and danced.

I have ideas too. I have a lot on my plate. I like what Derek’s doing. So I’m going to do what Derek did and give my ideas away on my website.

In fact, I’m going to make a bit of a game of it. I’ve been doing 2010’s New Year’s resolutions in 30-day bite-sized pieces. This will be my next one.

30 ideas in 30 days
Starting Wednesday March 3rd, for 30 days, I’m going to put one idea per day up on this blog.

It could be any sort of idea: a business idea, an idea for a board game, a tv show, an observation about the world that could be turned into a book, an invention, a website idea – anything.

I’ll explain the idea in its most basic form – my humble equivalent of a 3-minute TED talk… and then I’ll walk away. Anyone who wants the idea is welcome to it, and can run with it under exactly the same terms and conditions of Derek’s idea.

I don’t guarantee that any of my ideas will be as good as any of Derek’s. That’s not what this is about. I don’t have to be as good at dancing as him, I just want to get up and dance too.

Table of contents for 30 Days of Ideas

  1. The other way of following first
  2. Now we’re up and dancing
  3. 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
  4. 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
  5. 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
  6. 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
  7. 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
  8. 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
  9. 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
  10. 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
  11. 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
  12. 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
  13. 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
  14. 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
  15. 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
  16. 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
  17. 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
  18. 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
  19. 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
  20. 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
  21. 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
  22. 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
  23. 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
  24. 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
  25. 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
  26. 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
  27. 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
  28. 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
  29. 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
  30. 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
  31. 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
  32. 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
  33. Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
  34. What can you do in 30 days?

6 Responses to “The other way of following first”

  1. Great lead & follow Andrew. I’ll be checking back on your ideas along with generating my own.

  2. Raymmmondo says:

    You can’t go wrong by following Derek Sivers!

  3. Andy says:

    Love the original post and look forward to the follow up.

  4. Hi Andrew. My name is Andrew too and I’m going to be your first follower on this take of yours. I am going to execute, and ship, one of your ideas within 30 days of your final idea being published. This means that by May 1st one of your ideas will be real in the world, executed by me and a crew of people I end up pulling together.

    You can read my take on this on my blog here: http://www.projectidealism.com/2010/02/dance-party.html

    I’m really looking forward to reading your ideas, and thanks for the inspiration.

    Andrew Wicklander
    Chicago, Illinois

  5. Sonny says:

    Fantastic! Will post the link on a German innovation blog site I am writing for this week.

  6. Robin says:

    Interesting.I am an idea-a-minute girl…. and I frequently say I wish someone would pay me for ideas! But what I really wish is also that someone would take my ideas and run with them and make them happen so I could or someone else could use them.

    I love the charity shop idea, if it was cheap. Also, what about a netflix-for-fancy-clothes or a clothing lending library for fancy or really nice clothes like business suits? and if you want to keep something, you buy it. And if you mess it up, you have to clean it adequately or replace it.

Leave a Reply