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