May 3 • 39M

Get bored, get brave: Tim Duggan on making ideas better

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News about news

Kia ora koutou,

In this week’s podcast I am speaking with journalist, entrepreneur and author Tim Duggan. Today just happens to be the day he is launching his new book, Killer Thinking.

Tim Duggan (photo Cybele Malinowski)

I won’t summarise the book’s thesis, but I will let you know that I enjoyed reading it, and that it is full of information to challenge you and help take your idea (which he defines as a solution to some problem) from ok to awesome. Or in Tim’s parlance, KILLER.

As an experiment, I am cutting and pasting below the questions that I planned out for Tim before the interview. I always make a list of questions, both for myself and to give the interviewee time to prepare themselves, and I never stick to it. It’s there for when I need to get the conversation back on track, or to remind myself of something I really wanted to know.

Showing your hand

Interestingly, when I wrote daily news years ago I rarely prepared questions, and certainly never shared them with interviewees beforehand. To do so would have forewarned and forearmed the subjects, a breach of news protocol. Like showing your copy to people before publishing, god forbid.

I have greater distance from that news culture now, and I recognise that treating people as “sacks of information” to be plundered is a limited and damaging worldview. Naturally, there are situations where you cannot show your hand. But a lot of times you can. You just have to remember that almost no one likes hearing their voice on tape, or seeing their spoken words as text. I think that’s because truth makes people vulnerable.

I empathise now. I always feel like I am walking a tightrope when I am interviewed by someone else.

Apologies for the delay between postings, I’ve been doing some fascinating work for a number of organisations. I’ll ask you to take that on trust for now!


Questions for Tim

  • Tim - could you say your name and introduce yourself?

  • You started with Cult Status, and now you've written Killer Thinking - how do the books differ? Are you advancing ideas?

  • Was this book easier to write or was it like your second album?

  • The book is about KILLER ideas - which means Kind, impactful, loved (the cult status part), lasting, easy, and repeatable.

  • I was particularly taken by the easy bit - you stress a couple of times that ideas should be simple and able to be explained to a kid. Why is it that good solutions are simple solutions?

  • I'd like to apply your eight-step framework to some of the problems that news faces globally and in Australia and NZ.

  • Say we are talking about the inability of commercial markets to meet the needs of public interest journalism in regional areas.

  • Your first step is to be your problem's therapist. I think my problem might be the worst client ever .... someone I don't want to treat ... where should I start?

  • Do you think "launching into a rising tide" might be the hardest thing with news? The tide seems to have been out for a long time. Is it every coming back in?

  • You're a very positive person - the book is energetic and useful. You've made it as useful as possible. There is one bit where you take down an idea - the idea of using brainstorm sessions at work. I came across the HIPPO idea - can you explain that?

  • Have you been a HIPPO? (I know I have)

  • I have noticed that ideas are thick on the ground, but well-executed ideas working in real life less so. Why is this?

  • What is is the number 1 mistake people make in trying to bring their ideas to life?

  • You recommend becoming bored. Tell me more about that.

  • Your background is as an entrepreneur, you co-founded, built up and then sold Junkee, and you started as a music journalist writing for Rolling Stone. In the book you mention that you had to write very short music reviews - what did that teach you?

  • You wrote the book in a campervan with Ben travelling around Australia - during COVID? (And made a beautiful 42 second video!)

  • So where are you heading? What's next for you? More ideas about ideas? Are you building a new business?