Let me tell ya,
I used to walk through Central Park several mornings a week to get to work. I’d walk from 90th all the way down to 59th street many days.
That meant that in the summer of 2010, my walk took me past the Delacorte Theatre. People would line up at the box office in the morning to snag free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. (Tickets were always free, but first come first served).
Anyway, that summer I realized that this process of waiting in line for Shakespeare tickets would soon migrate 100% online and this whole ritual would be lost to time.
So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to chat with the first person in line each day, and ask them the same set of three or four questions, and post those answers online with their picture?”
I was LIT UP by this idea. I wanted to do it. I could see the finished project in my mind.
But, I was embarrassed and shy to ask people to talk to me each day.
… Plus I was almost always late for work. I didn’t feel like I had the time.
… And what if the chats sucked and I was no good at getting people to say something interesting? Seemed like a lot of work for no guaranteed reward.
So I never did it.
Boy, did I feel a pang when Humans of New York broke big. I mean, sure, HONY is not the exact same idea. But the whole picture-next-to-the-person’s-story thing is pretty darn close.
Okay. OK! Time out.
Do I sound silly? A bit ridiculous? Like your uncle, or cousin, or that guy in that sitcom whose name my brain is not quite placing, who was always claiming credit for the great ideas he would have made millions from if only somebody else hadn’t gotten there first?
Good. GOOD. I do sound silly. Because it is silly. I had the idea for something like Humans of New York, and that is nice!
But that and $4.85 will get me a double iced capp at Starbucks.
Because what I didn’t have was
A plan for executing the idea
A willingness to try and fail. (See: commitment.)
Basically I was scared of doing it wrong, so I didn’t do it at all. …
But I think about my idea that never was whenever I hear my clients tell me that they had a great idea, but XYZ famous person already does it better.
I get it. Top 5 worst feelings in the world:
5. You have an idea for something, maybe an idea you cart around for years, and then one day you’re scrolling Instagram or flipping past the local news or walking through a bookstore (remember those?) and you SEE your idea, alive and produced and encased.
It’s what you tell yourself after you have that feeling that helps you get through it.
What do you tell yourself when you see your idea in front of you as a finished project?
Do you tell yourself a stranger got there first? Do you beat yourself up?
Or do you tell yourself… “Well, they did it their way. But I can still say it.”
You can still say it.
It’s obviously a good idea. That’s why it made it “to market.” But it’s never exactly your idea, because it’s not the way you would execute it. Your process will be different, which means your product will be different.
Even on HONY’s Wikipedia page, it says, “Hundreds of ‘Humans of’ blogs have since been developed by people in different cities around the world influenced by HONY.”
Which is great! Because Humans of New York is a great idea! But Brandon Stanton is just one person and New York is just one city.
When it comes to a good idea, there is always room for more. More participation, more feedback, more evolution.