Why can’t you settle on just one career or life-path?

The greatest of the greatest in many areas spent years on end practising their skill, harvesting their talent and, eventually, getting recognised for THAT thing they do best. I’m talking of the Michael Jordan, the Valentino Rossi, the Mozart, the Einstein and the Zuckerberg. But also of those less famous people who concentrated all their life’s efforts into a single area/industry/skill. Well, you’ve got the idea. The Malcolm Gladwell 10000ers, or even 5000ers.

And then you’ve got us, who have got five or five thousands passions and interests. And want to pursue all them. Badly. We are passionate about Psychology and Asian history. And travels. And startups. And fiction writing. And so on.
I believe having many passions is natural for everybody. But whether it’s the lack of one main ‘obsession’ or the will to grow each of our interest into a career or life-path, things can get a bit frustrating. So, what’s the answer to the question, why can’t we settle on just one thing?

The answer is the book I am writing. Or at least an attempt to an answer.

If you ever found yourself frustrated or stuck, like a Buridan’s ass in the middle of too many passions, undecided on which one to choose, then stay tuned. Or, even better, you can help me by filling this short survey!


What about people with too many passions/life paths?

EDIT: news on my book on Why some of us can’t settle on just one career/life-path

It took years, many years. Too many. Finally, though, we’re starting to accept introverts for who they are. Without cringing or feeling sorry for them. I know this well. This post, however, is not about introversion.

Flashback to 2012. Between sessions at a conference. I am asked why I am reading a book. I reply saying “I don’t know. Maybe I am an introvert?”. My interlocutor looks at me as you would look at someone who has just failed a driving test. Then she says: “Maybe you should read a book on how to become an extrovert”. With an apologetic smile.

Susan Cain (author of Quiet) is just the top of an iceberg of authors who legitimized introversion on a large scale. The first page of Amazon results for the word ‘introvert’ shows  books explaining why we should accept and recognise introversion as a personality trait, not threat. [continues below]


Now, I wonder why society still doesn’t accept the possibility that having too many passions [when I refer to passions I mean more than just hobbies, almost life paths] is not a disease. I used the word ‘possibility’ as psychology hasn’t tackled this personality trait, assuming it is. I used the word disease more as a joke than anything. Yet, people with too many passions get often labelled as anxious (career anxiety?), uncertain, ADD (without the hyperactivity) and “he starts a thousand things, never finishes anything. Ha!” Has it be so bad, though? I finish (almost) everything I begin, I don’t have huge issues with attention and I am not particularly anxious. And so are many more people I know, I have spoken to, I have heard talking. What is wrong then in having many passions/life paths?

An Amazon search for ‘Find your passions’ (plural) prompted only books featuring ‘passion’ (singular) in the title. Just to be clear, I am not arguing that having more passions makes you a better person or a more successful individual. I just don’t understand this emphasis in finding your ONE passion. Having more than one isn’t even contemplated. I am not even getting into the ‘success masturbation’ guru talk that tells you to solely focus on the ‘one’ thing so you can learn/master it and become rich. With beautiful eyes. Driving a Ferrari. Well, if you feel you have one life path and this works for you (not sure about the eyes) it’s fair enough. What, though, if you’re attracted by health-monitoring startups as much as Turkish cuisine as much as guitar playing as much as cricket as much as writing gonzo stories, each to a full extent? You can’t give up everything and just choose one – if you are a person with many passions you know what I am talking about. Polymath you said? Nah, you’d need to paint Mona Lisa first. Of course. [continues below]


One of the reasons why multipassionates aren’t considered by pop-culture (which, like it or not, is a social index) might be careers. Assuming you don’t use a time machine and sleep about eight hours per night, you can only have one full-time job. Or two part-times. However, we are talking about passions, which may not necessarily lead to specific careers. Are we, then, too obsessed with careers? Is it that recessions drive the urge to get a (better) job so that demand for such ‘how to’ books raise? I am not sure. What I am sure about, though, is that a small spark, coming from research or non-fiction authors, could raise awareness on the subject. Bloggers would start writing about it, psychologists would start investigating it. People would start acknowledging it. Then, maybe, one day you won’t get told any more that: “you need to find a single passion, just like I did” by your friend who dedicated his whole life to following his favourite soccer team. Really?

3 Things I’ve Learned from ‘The Year Without Pants’ by Scott Berkun

notes year without_Fotor

Scott Berkun is a former Microsoft project manager who turned author and professional speaker. And then decided to ‘go back to work’ again. The circumstance was quite unique. Scott was hired as a lead in one of the mini teams at Automattic (the company behind WordPress dot org and dot com, brainchildren of Matt Mullenweg). He agreed to Matt’s offer as long as he could write a book at the end of the experience. And what happens when you mix an avantgarde company with a brilliant author? The Year Without Pants…

The book [UK; US] is a log on how Automattic works and Scott’s reflections on his role, his experience and life in general. There are three things that I took from the book:

1. The Humble Expert: Scott questions the role of experts (including himself) giving advice. “Here’s why famous experts who write books never go back to regular jobs: regular jobs are hard. Regular jobs mean you answer to others. Regular jobs mean you do regular, and often repetitive, things. Regular jobs mean you are not the center of attention and have to follow rules made by other people. Anyone who’s an expert, guru, executive, or coach has likely lost any real sense of what real work is. We assume that because we can give advice on something, we are superior to those who take the advice, but that’s not true.” In the book, Scott also questions himself whether he’s able to apply management advice he often gave to companies\wrote about. Apart from being honest, it makes you reconsider a lot of guru’s talk and ‘listen to my advice’ hype. [spoiler: Scott walks the talk]

2. Automattic’s employees work remotely. There are no meetings as we know it. I guess anyone who’s ever worked in a company at some point considered the usefulness of meetings. Scott offers a general rule of thumb. Of course the context is always fundamental, yet “if the people in a meeting think it’s a waste of time, then either they’re the wrong people or what’s being discussed is not important enough to justify a meeting.” This thought doesn’t dismiss the concept of meetings, but it is a good ‘checklist’ to run before scheduling the next one.

3. The advantage of being (slightly) understaffed. Working in small teams can turn out to be more fruitful than having larger teams. Why? Because being somewhat understaffed triggers a couple of behaviours: everyone is accountable for the work (there is more sense of responsibility as it is impossible to ‘hide’); there is no ‘job-title’ pretense: at busy times everyone has to work hard, no matter if they are specialized in something different. “Like remodeling an entire house with a friend, pretense drops. Everyone is expected to grab a paintbrush or haul some trash”.

Of course there is much more to take away from the book and from Automattic in general. To have a general idea on why this company is actually ‘different’, take a look at their Work With Us page. To know more about Scott Berkun, you can follow him on Twitter.

The 4 Hour Work Week: 8 years later, still relevant? 4 case studies told me…

8 years ago Tim Ferriss released his first book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ (4HWW) [UK; US] that became almost instantly a bestseller and was translated in over 30 languages. The book had a message: start a venture that will allow you to free some of your time (and mental energy) to enjoy life more. As “marketing gurus” warn us, when you start a project or sell a product, there is going to be part of the public that will love you. And another part that, no matters what, will hate you. 4HWW’s haters challenged the fact that people can build a side-project while 9-5ers. [I am not going into the 4 hrs debate, as Tim explained over the course of the years that it is the CONCEPT of getting more done in shorter times that matters, whether it takes 3, 4 or 9 hrs]. I found the book valuable , so I tracked down few of the ventures that were featured on Tim’s blog shortly after the book came out, to see how life is going after +8 years of the 4HWW boom. Here’s what I found out…Christopher Odell founded Datsusara in 2007, producing high quality hemp gear for 21st century ninjas (his story on Tim’s blog). I asked him how’s it going after the 4HWW boom and his reply is straightforward: “Pretty good, I think we started with good practices and it set us on the right path, business is smoother now than it ever has been.”



I wanted to know also which were the most useful tool he got from reading Tim’s book: “Much of 4HWW was preaching to the choir for myself in that I have never wanted to sacrifice all of my time to a job and I value working smart over working hard. Certain simple things like using auto-responders, getting rid of difficult clients, identifying the 20% of your efforts that yield 80% of your results, etc.. these things help every day. Also his suggestions outside of the book like using Shopify and order Fulfillment warehouses were very useful as well and I wish I would have implemented those sooner along with hiring a customer service person that has the authority to take care of any problems that cost under a few hundred dollars to fix (which isolates me from the stress of dealing with returns and small things that don’t need my personal attention)” Christopher has been active since he started his (ad)venture and has had a good success. To do so, he added his own ingredients to the mix: “I have made it somewhat difficult for people to contact us via phone or facebook. On our phone systems we state clearly that we don’t always pick up and it can take up to 24 hours to respond and that we prefer email. If they need urgent attention they can text the same number (we use Google Voice for this which gives you a free number forwards to any phone we like, it has it’s own voicemail, a VOIP website call widget and more all for free) for urgent issues, otherwise we basically batch our calls with our batch emails, this saves us from being interrupted all the time or having a paid 24hr customers service line that just goes to some call center. We also killed the ability to email Datsusara through our FB fan page so that we don’t have to check that email box each day as well. Using these techniques keeps our customer service to 1-2 hours per day and we handle around 250 high value orders per month.” That’s not bad at all!Impressed with Christopher’s success, I tried to contact someone else who was featured among Tim’s ”4HWWers” case studies. Gary Misner, who probably is the best example of combining ventures with a nomadic lifestyle. Hello Gary, how is it going after the 4HWW boom? [I am creative with my questions…] “Things are going great! For me the 4HWW was always more of a philosophy and a way of life than anything else. I believe I was living my life this way long before the 4HWW so for me it was more of a validation of the way I was living. It helped me get over needing a validation for the way I was living. I’m currently living in Rome and working for a student Travel company called Bus2alps.com which allows me to live the life I want to while traveling and leaving enough time for side projects.” What about strategies, principles and tools you grasped from Tim’s book? “The best things I got out of the 4HWW were definitely the resources and the go ahead to keep doing what I was doing. I found a community of people just like me which made me feel as though I wasn’t entirely alone with this crazy life style.” Is there anything you felt to add to customise this life style? “Yes, for me it was never about less work but more life. The biggest thing I added myself was commitment. I strongly believe in committing to everything I think of fully but then “quitting” when I feel it’s not as fulfilling as it was in the beginning. So now I’m not caught up with decision making, I make a decision on my gut and thoughts and I run with it. I’m also a firm believer in “some will laugh many will follow”, my philosophy for life.”Gary’s words are quite inspiring and it is clear that Tim’s ideas are still actual. The strange thing is that while I was reflecting on his words, I saw an advertisment on my screen. I made a mental note because something about that ad struck me. I had already seen that logo and I definitely remembered that name. Of course I did. And, of course, it was the Four Hour Work Week’s fault again: GoChime was another business that was founded following the book fame. logo   Austin, GoChime’s creator, confirmed it to me: “ I started the company (GoChime) a little while after that boom. For the last 4 years I’ve been doing much more than 4 hrs per week [which is not bad, when you are doing something you love]. I think the biggest things I took from that “era” was productivity and setting boundaries around when I’m available and when I’m not. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few trips too.”Amazed by finding similar patterns in Christopher, Gary and Austin, I decided to get in touch with one more person who was inspired by the 4HWW: Vincent, founder of iFlipWallet.   logo iFlip     Hi Vincent, is the 4HWW momentum still going after these years? “I’d say the boom is still going, more and more people know about the 4HWW.  I personally use the opportunity to develop other businesses.  They started off like small muses but the one I’m posting on now has grown into a major brand. As for iFlip, it is still going great.  I’m actually in the process of transferring over the business to someone that wanted to purchase it” Vincent added that thanks to the book he learned to “streamline work with the 80/20 principle rule. And realized that working smarter is the most important thing”. These four chats confirmed something I already knew. Although a few years have now passed, principles and lifestyle-design ideas from the Four Hour Work Week are still here, stronger than ever. Well done Tim, well done guys. Check out what Tim’s up to here, listen to his podcast or watch his TV show


My gluten-free brain: an upgraded slow-carbs diet

Does it make sense to follow a gluten-free diet without having been diagnosed celiac?

Yes definitely.


A couple of years ago I started experimenting with different diets after reading Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body and his Slow-carb diet. My weight has always been around 135-140 lbs (60-65kgs) and, being quite short, I didn’t “need” to lose weight nor, being quite lazy, gain extra-muscles. I was instead interested on what effects limiting carbs could have on the brain, as I had read that carbs ‘disrupt’ focus\learning and other mind activities.

After two years of slow-carbs (mixed with some ‘faster-carbs’ moments), I noticed a few changes:

  • more calmness (and when I say ‘more’ I mean something noticeable)
  • more focused reading
  • no lack-of-energy sessions after work
  • clearer thoughts




Then I read a book by Dr. Perlmutter (Grain Brain) and saw a new challenge\experiment: in the book there are examples and scientific proofs of people affected by brain-disease who benefited by a gluten-free diet. The most shocking thing is that they were never tested for gluten intolerance. Apparently people can be sensitive to gluten even if their stomachs don’t react like celiac’s.

So I started following a gluten free diet to see what would be the effect on my mind (I am not celiac…apparently).

I completely eliminated gluten from my diet and the only carb-rich ingredient I am still having is certified gluten-free oats. My total daily intake of carbs never exceed 30grams. Being Italian, this is a massive achievement (pizza? pasta??)! I replaced milk with this:

almond milk

which is super fine, both on ingredients and taste. Other nice companions are: organic eggs, organic beef\chicken (when possible), plenty of vegetables… a list of food and examples of recipes can be found in Grain Brain as well as in The Four Hour Body.
I haven’t felt tempted often by sweets and similar, but in the rare occasions I used Stevia (as recommended by Dr. Perlmutter) and organic Cocoa powder.


The first couple of days after going gluten-free and no carbs I wasn’t sure if I was feeling real effects, apart from weak legs and noticing how expensive gluten-free oats are. Then I realized that I was sleeping better. This means three things: I could go to bed at a decent time without taking hours to fall asleep; I would sleep without waking up throughout the night; I wouldn’t feel dead tired at 7 in the morning.

I have also noticed that I can increase my workload and still feel fresh enough to read for pleasure for hours and go for a run\do some activity; being in a good mood all throughout. Also, I am more regular in following plans and executing something at the time I planned to. I find it easier to block one hour for a certain activity, start it without getting distracted and have the energy to do something else straight afterwards.  Furthermore, it seems that I am able to retain more info (few people told me the same).
I was glad to find out that Digg’s founder, Kevin Rose, is trying a similar regime!

After several weeks I have lost some fat (although I was quite lean already) with a BMI of 18.6 and body muscle 77.1%. I guess it isn’t bad.

In 30 days I will visit Italy, where my no-carbs diet will be laughing (I will still stick to it, apart from pizza al taglio which I can’t not have!). In the meantime I’ll keep tracking results and effects…updated will follow.



Creativity, Job-hunting, Adventure and…


honest business card

Honest Business Card


I was honoured to interview such an inspiring person as Shed Simove. Talking with him provided me with invaluable insights about creativity, thinking out of the box – and life in general. I ‘stole’ quite a few strategies and techniques from Shed, and here’s a quick wrap-up of ways of looking at the world I’ve absorbed from his words of wisdom:

FAILING: “The only pure failing, I believe, is not trying” [read here]
EASY TIPS TO BE CREATIVE: Shed uses many techniques to generate ideas: Twist Something Already Existing – Break A Rule – Look At Other Industries And See What They Are Doing Well [read here]
GET ANY JOB: How to hack your job-search [Shed’s techniques]
WHAT’S IMPORTANT IN LIFE? The importance of Adventure: living a fulfilled life [on life’s metrics]
It’s no surprise that Shed has been chosen to present his theories and techniques on creativity and innovation to top businesses around the world. Have a look at his Professional Motivational Speaker website:


Shed says:

I get invited to present to companies – and I teach them about how to achieve great creativity and innovation. Sometimes I hold a workshop afterwards, in which we generate ideas for the company. And some of the ideas I’ve generated have resulted in amazing profits for those firms.

When I present my talks, I’m always trying to make every single person it the audience realise that they have huge unique potential, because their individual past experience, which NO ONE ELSE WILL HAVE, means that they look at the world – and therefore that they tackle challenges – in a completely unique way. This means that the way they solve these challenges or the way they create something new will be totally and utterly unique to them. And this gives each of us a huge and exciting power.

When I was young, I read books that inspired me. So, I wrote some of my own too, to hopefully help others achieve success. In my latest book, ‘Success Or Your Money Back’ [US; UK], I outline how EVERYONE, no matter how successful, is just a charlatan. Everybody is simply winging it. So, anyone reading this should know that a) No one knows all the answers, and that everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are simply signposts on the way to success. And b) If you start something new (an idea, product, service or way of working), I pretty much guarantee you’ll have a great adventure, and it will enhance your life.



Executing Ideas – and an useful Metric to measure life: interview with Shed Simove pt. 4


Ideas Man

We all have ideas. Sometimes we even think we may have had a *great* idea…but how do we make it come to life? In this post Shed Simove, the Ideas Man, shows us how!

Also, how do you measure your life? Ever thought about using ‘adventure’ as a benchmark for how successful you are…?

Stefano: Shed, you’ve launched many ideas in industries that were outside your realm of expertise at that time. How would you recommend someone with a good idea – but absolutely no contacts or experience in that business area – should approach such situations?

Shed: Yes, you’re right, Stef. People are often surprised that I’ve dived into a new business area, completely cold, many times. This is because my ideas are varied – and frequently fit into different business sectors from eachother. One day, I may have an idea for a web business, another day, a book and the next, a new food range. And even in the arena of novelty gifts, which I’m pretty experienced in now, nearly every time I launch a new product, I have to find a new factory. Unfortunately, there’s not just one MegaFactory in China that makes everything – although that’d be cool! In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of different factories, each specialising in making a certain product, be it chopping boards, lip balm, balloons or USB sticks.

I believe our generation is the most fortunate in the human continuum so far, because we have the internet. And the web allows us to find an expert who can help us in about 20 seconds, maybe 10 seconds. So whether you’re searching for a factory in China, a third-party that looks after the whole manufacturing process for you – or a graphic designer who can bring your idea to life, all these people and places are now incredibly easily found.

So, whether you’re a film producer, an architect, a poet or even a novelty gift creator—there are people who can help bring your ideas to life – and they’re both discoverable and accessible now. Many times when I need to approach someone new to partner with, I’ll need a graphic designer – and you can find one in 10 to 20 seconds on the Net. Then, I’ll use these 2D designs to pitch to someone (or a company) who is an expert in that business area and can potentially bring them to life – if there’s some benefit for them to do so, of course. And the value you offer doesn’t always have to be ‘hard cash’, it can sometimes be potential PR value for the people you’re working with, a new direction for their company or sometimes even just ‘fun’.

So I don’t believe you need lots of money or lots of contacts. Contacts are great, and when you meet somebody, it is good to work with them well and be nice to work with. But actually, I start from scratch all the time and I believe you can always start something off very cheaply, and bring it to a simple visual stage, a small scale case study or even full prototype – that will allow you to pitch to someone who will perhaps back you, invest in you, or partner with you.


Stefano: Sounds good. Bringing value is fundamental. Get other people interested. If you bring them value they will listen.

Shed: Yes. Bringing value and making it as easy as possible for them to bring your idea to life (if they like it) lets you have the biggest chance of getting your idea off the ground when you’re relying on tapping into someone else’s area of expertise and contacts. The more work you’ve done to bring your idea to life, the less that person whom you’re trying to persuade to work with you has to do, and the more value you are bringing them.

Stefano: Totally agree Shed! Now I wanted to ask you something bit different, not about ideas…

I read a book by Scott Adams [US; UK], the creator of the Dilbert comics. He said that he does not measure his life by happiness or by money or by any sort of relationships whatever. The metric he uses is energy. If he feels energy, he deems it a success.

Do you have your own special success metrics. How do you keep going?

Shed: My metric is adventure.

Stefano: Really?

Shed: I believe that these day, most of us in ‘The West’ are very fortunate to be able to get food pretty easily, and also, most of us can find a mate too (the internet can help here too!). Therefore we don’t need to spend too much time on those activities now – and certainly not like we needed to when we were evolving as hunter-gatherers. So now, we can use our amazing problem-solving brain that used to tackle problems like food, shelter and mating to come up with lots of ideas, businesses and ways to interestingly fill our lives instead.

And actually, we have a lot of time now. Because we’ve got food in the fridge, and many of have a partner, we’ve got a lot of time. For me, spending that time in an exciting, fulfilling, fun way is the most important thing. And what encapsulates all those things for me is the word ‘adventure’. My metric of success is being mentally stimulated, meeting new people and learning new things through having exciting adventures.

Stefano: That’s cool. This is something I never really thought about before reading Scott Adams’ book, so ‘adventure’ sounds like a good metric. I guess once you realize what your metric is, everything starts to make more sense in your life, and it’s easier to concentrate on things that would ultimately make you happier.

Shed: Yes. And I think another metric that I believe is really important is: having opportunities presented to you.

As a human, every single one of us will have to spend a good part of our lives persuading others in some shape or form. And what’s wonderful is that when you achieve a certain level of success, people start coming to you to ask you to do things, rather than you having to persuade them to let you do those things. Now that, for me, is another massive metric for success. I call these opportunities ‘pull opportunities’ because they are pulling you in, as opposed to you pushing or persuading to land a certain goal, which I call a ‘push opportunity’.

Thus, the two types of opportunity are ‘push’ and ‘pull’. I love it when someone comes to me and says, “Shed, I’ve seen what you do, we’d like you to do such-and-such,” or “How about doing this project with us, Shed?” That to me is a major success, because then I’m not spending any energy or time pitching or persuading. They’re coming to me and offering me thrilling adventures. Incredible!

So, for me, being in the position where your life is full of wonderful adventures and you’re also constantly being offered more – that’s my ultimate measure of success.


This is end of part 4 of Shed Simove’s interview on creativity…

Shed shows us how things can be done in the creative world – in the novelty gifts industry and in any other area.

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To know more about Shed, his books and what he’s up to, follow him:

The Shedsite: www.IdeasMan.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShedSimove

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shed.simove

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/shedsimove

Shed’s comedy show site: www.TroubleShow.com

Shed’s motivational corporate speaking site: www.motivationalukspeaker.com

Shed’s Latest Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Success-Your-Money-Back-Simove/dp/184850974X

Shed’s First Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ideas-Man-Sheridan-Simove/dp/0552155500/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y



How to learn from the past…and easily get your dream job

One of Shed's ingenious creature

One of Shed’s ingenious creature


Shed Simove is the “Ideas Man”. Inventor, author, entrepreneur, speaker…everything he does is about Ideas. Ever bought a gift from a novelty shop or gift store? You’re likely to have bought something created by Shed.

In the previous post Shed shared his secrets on how to get Ideas. Here he discusses themes such as creativity, the problem with our school system and more… also, as a bonus, a cool hack to get an advantage when looking for a job!

Stefano: Shed, in your career, you’ve developed ideas in many different areas. If you could start all over, what are the things that you would do differently, if any?

Shed: It’s funny: I don’t let my mind think about that. When you’re being creative, or striving for success, it’s definitely best you never look back, apart from taking lessons you learnt from past adventures into your future projects. You should only ever look back so that it helps you going forward.

If you’re asking me what I look back on that helps me to power forwards, then, I’ll tell you what helps me: all of the times I have failed, and I’ve come out the other end — even when I’ve had a problem, a disaster, or lost money— it then makes me start another project where I do make money or I do have success.

So, no regrets. Regrets are a waste of time. Regrets are not helpful. The only helpful part of raking over what you did in the past is to make sure you don’t keep repeating any actions that led to problems. There’s an old saying about madness that it’s doing the same thing over and over again and then expecting a different result. So, we all don’t want to be mad, at least not totally, so we must learn from our past challenges and then succeed going forwards.

Stefano: Right!

Shed: Here’s what I do wish, though: I wish that when I was at school, the education system and my teachers would have attempted to unlock latent abilities in myself and all the other young people. Now, of course, I firmly believe that you can develop any ability if you love the area you’re working in enough; if the idea of achieving something excites you from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. But also, I do believe that some of us have latent abilities. And these should be teased out, explored, identified and developed – especially if the person who has them, gets a kick out of using them.

Take you for example, Stef – to me, you seem to be a very measured person. I’ve only known you during this interview, and even from that short interaction, you seem an interesting person, a structured person. You’re a planner. You told me that you created a bespoke cereal box to land yourself a job after reading the section in my book ‘Ideas Man’ where I explain how I got a job by sending a pizza to the boss of a huge TV company. Now, if someone had found your latent abilities out at school, they might have said to you, “Stefano, you’re great with people, you’re really good with structured thinking processes. You’re also creative. So these three traits might make you a CEO of your own company. Or perhaps a great interior designer. Or perhaps such-and-such.” And then maybe they could have placed you into those jobs for a day or a week just to see if you liked them. What I believe we must try to banish, is the incredible – and common – situation where we all pop out of school and university, and we still haven’t got a clue what may be good for us to do in life, what we may be naturally good at doing, or even what areas of life we utterly adore – and thus, should gravitate to.

Stefano: Yes!

Shed: If someone had said to me, “Shed, you’re a bit of a funny old fish, and you’ve got a latent creativity in you, maybe because your Mum is very creative, so therefore you may well get great joy from bringing ideas to life, plus you like the ‘showbiz’ arena, entertaining people, being in the limelight, therefore, you should focus on these areas…”, this may have saved me a lot of time and made me have an exciting, fulfilling and happy existence even sooner.

It took me about twenty years to work those things out on my own! I wish someone had told me these things back when I was a young person.

Stefano: Yes, that makes sense unfortunately. I’ve been in school in Italy for 13 years, and it is always the same thing. Really, it’s a school of facts and recall, it’s not a school of life.

Shed: Stef, I believe that in a 100 years’ time, the school system will be very different. Today’s education system will be seen as ‘medieval’. And I think that at present, the way we treat young people is pretty criminal, it’s a form of abuse. We don’t prepare our young generations for real life, we don’t teach them about how to be an entrepreneur, we don’t teach them how to do their taxes, we don’t teach them about how to be a good parent, we don’t teach them about how to attract the opposite sex and we don’t teach them about how to be a great lover. All these things are so important in order to live a fulfilling, productive and joyful life.

Stefano: I know…!

Shed: Yet we teach young people how to remember facts. OK, some knowledge is important, and helps in creativity. But knowledge is now easily accessible through the web. So, more and more, people should be taught how creatively solve challenges, how to pitch, how to present, and how to be a good “inter-personal” human.

Stefano: Yes!

Shed: Its madness, and I believe it will change.

Stefano: When I see school uniforms, it tells you, “This is the way. Go straight. Don’t even think about being creative. It is a shame, really, because if you lock someone at that age, then their thinking for the rest of their life will follow that direction, inside the box, but it shouldn’t be.

Shed: Totally agree.
Of course, as mentioned in your earlier interview, when you hear “This is the way you should do it,” your brain SHOULD say “What if I do it differently – then I’ll suddenly have a market advantage”.

Stefano: It’s too easy to say “This is the way you should think,” to younger people. People are scared to take responsibilities.

Shed: Nobody really tells young people that doing things differently gets you noticed. It’s like when you made the cereal box to get a company to focus on you. None of the other candidates made a cereal box, so instantly you stood out as someone they should consider more closely. Of course, once they noticed you still had to show them proof that you could also do the job, but the important point is that they were considering you over everyone else at that point. Your cereal box probably took you a while, but actually, it wasn’t so hard to do. And it brought you amazing results – you got the job!

Stefano: I had fun!

Shed: Yes, you had fun and that small extra act brought you above everyone else.

Stefano: Yes. I did something else as well. Years ago, I added ‘Obama’ on my CV as one of my references. I received two phone calls from companies right away: the first guy was angry at me, as he thought I was mocking the hiring system. The second phone call was from a company that then hired me.  They liked my ‘idea’ as it showed I was able to take responsibilities.


[ if you want to know more useful hacks to land your dream-job, send me an email!]

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Shed: Brilliant, Stefano! Love it! Really creative, funny, and daring. We should all try to break – or challenge – rules. As long as we’re not hurting others, either mentally or physically, pretty much anything goes. And when you break – or challenge – a rule, or even if you simply question the ‘usual’ way of doing something, you often come up with exciting solutions that bring enormous success.


This is the end of part 3 of the interview. Click here for part 4!

To know more about Shed, his books and what he’s up to, follow him:

The Shedsite: www.IdeasMan.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShedSimove 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shed.simove

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/shedsimove

Shed’s comedy show site: www.TroubleShow.com

Shed’s motivational corporate speaking site: www.motivationalukspeaker.com

Shed’s Latest Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Success-Your-Money-Back-Simove/dp/184850974X

Shed’s First Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ideas-Man-Sheridan-Simove/dp/0552155500/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y


How to get new Ideas: Shed Simove reveals his system – PT2

You're old

You’re old

Shed Simove is the “Ideas Man”. Inventor, author, entrepreneur, speaker…everything he does is about Ideas. Ever bought a gift from a novelty shop or gift store? You’re likely to have bought something created by Shed.

In the first part of the interview Shed talked about ‘Ideas vs. Execution’. Now it’s time to concentrate on Ideas…how do we get them? Is there a system?


Stefano: Everyone knows you’re the “Ideas man.” I’m sure a lot of people must ask you, “Where do you get your ideas?”. Do you have a system?

Shed: I do have a system… When I go and present to companies—to their teams—about how to come up with great ideas, I give them three simple techniques that I use myself:

1) Twist Something that’s already existing, and just make a slight change to it

2) Break A Rule

3) Look At An Industry Outside Of Yours and find something they’re doing that is successful, new or inspiring – then apply it to your industry. (The business area you look at should be a completely different industry – the more different, the better.)

Let’s take a look at these three methods:

Twist something…

I saw some novelty ‘letter’ candles in ‘Marks & Spencer’ [UK retailer] that spelled ‘Happy Birthday’. I took this idea and just twisted it slightly. All I did was make funnier slogans. So I created some birthday candles that spelt ‘You’re Old’ and they sold a quarter of a million units around the world.

Now, this method of idea creation is not some magic process where you sit back and wait for a divine light to hit you, and suddenly you have an idea. It’s a physical, Machiavellian, simple process: You look around at something, and say, “How can I alter it very slightly to get a new, or better, idea?” You don’t want to copy someone’s idea exactly. You want to improve on it in some way. But often you don’t have to do much to improve on it. You can just take it in a slightly different direction.

Many, many ideas that seem new concepts are actually only twists on old ideas. So keep your eyes peeled at all times and get in the habit of internally noticing what you like (or you don’t like). Twist those products, businesses or concepts to get new ideas, and you’re away.

The second method for creating ideas is ‘break a rule’. Now, many rules and laws in our society will be different in a hundred years’ time. It’s incredibly important to remind ourselves of this fact, because sometimes we assume that many of the ways ‘society’ – and humans –operate, are fixed. But actually, the only rules in our society are the ones made by people. We’re all people, so we can challenge or change them.

When you examine something that perhaps people think ‘can’t be done’, and especially when people say ‘it’s not usually done like that’ or even ‘it shouldn’t be done like that’, that’s a massive opportunity. A massive, massive opportunity. So when someone told me, “Shed, you can’t print your own money,” I saw that as a chance to challenge that view – and create something potentially exciting. Of course, you can’t print someone else’s money, as that’s counterfeiting! But, it turns out that you can print your own currency. A banknote or coin is only worth something if we all believe it’s worth something. So, I printed my own currency—I call it the ‘EGO’—and now, currently the EGO sells every week on eBay for about £1.52, which is a better exchange rate than the Dollar and the Euro.

Stefano: That’s brilliant!

Shed: So, it’s good to look at rules and conventions – then break them. When people say “it’s always been done that way” or “it has to be done like that”, these should trigger a little ligh in your head that says ‘opportunity’.

OK, the third way of having a phenomenal idea is ‘look outside of your business, and be inspired by successes in other companies from unrelated industries’.

For example, when I saw the iPad in the tech industry, I found a factory in China and produced a notepad in the same dimensions as the original tablet. It was the same thickness as well and you could use it in different orientations too, because I put the lines on the notepad horizontally and vertically. So, I was inspired by a really different industry and I took that inspiration to the novelty gift industry and I sold around 90,000 of those notepads.

montage ipad inotepad shed simove.img_assist_custom-800x292

You can always be inspired from what other successful people or companies are doing. This doesn’t have to only be with products. It could be a marketing strategy, a way that a business operates or how it’s structured. Maybe a newsletter that comes from a different sector might inspire you to make your newsletter even better. So, look at what other industries and businesses are doing well. A great place to do this is at networking events and trade fairs.

I’m utterly certain that if you go to a trade fair that is completely outside your realm of expertise, something will inspire you that relates to your own realm of expertise. I guarantee it.

Stefano: That’s quite true. I remember last year I attended an agriculture and gardening trade fair. These are not really my interest areas, but even though it was out of my personal zone, I still attended and it made my mind think in different directions.

Shed: Great! And now, because you went to that trade fair, maybe one day, when you’re looking for a marketing strategy in you business, you’ll think, “perhaps I should carve my logo into a huge garden, so that it shows up on Google Earth! Ha ha!”.

The experience of going to a trade fair that was outside of your area of expertise will inform your future creativity. I’m absolutely sure it will not be wasted.

Stefano: Yes, definitely: That’s a good approach—I like it!


This is the end of part 2 of the interview. In part 3 Shed will explain what, how and why we should learn from the past.

To know more about Shed, his books and what he’s up to, follow him:

The Shedsite: www.IdeasMan.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShedSimove

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shed.simove

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/shedsimove

Shed’s comedy show site: www.TroubleShow.com

Shed’s motivational corporate speaking site: www.motivationalukspeaker.com

Shed’s Latest Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Success-Your-Money-Back-Simove/dp/184850974X

Shed’s First Book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ideas-Man-Sheridan-Simove/dp/0552155500/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y