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Yesterday I spent an hour listening and watching a Warc webinar (yes, I used that word) given by Faris Yakob on the subject of what ideas are and how to have better ones.

I didn’t really log on to hear how to have ideas, although that was the main subject matter. I actually logged on to hear Faris because he’s not only an interesting person to listen to, he is madcap in a good way. He heads off on tangents and backfills your knowledge on the main subject as part of his presentation. Never does it feel like he’s patronising nor are his insights fillers. In short, he’s a walking über-brain.

I’m not about to tell you how the webinar went down. I want to talk about something Faris said, along the lines of:

“You need inspiration and outspiration; that is, things that are a close reference and things that are from far beyond your reference to come up with good ideas.”

The best thing on Wikipedia
It’s hard not to look at things you really like. I don’t know many people who go out of their way to read, watch or listen to books, music, films they dislike, or to read up about something just because they can. The people I do know who are like that are good planners and strategists. They’re hungry for anything and everything.

But it’s hard to carve out the time to do the things you love, let alone gen up on things way beyond your reference boundaries. Which is why I love this one particular link on Wikipedia. It says Random article.

Once or twice a day, I pop along to the website and I click that link. It’s an entrance to a rabbit hole of knowledge that makes it easy to go outside your reference point.

Sometimes it’s not great, so I click it again. Often, I’ve found myself deep in unknown knowledge territory, but I’m taking notes and searching on Google and learning about lots of things I hadn’t know before. It takes me to blog posts from interesting people; it shifts my bias like nothing else.

Bring knowledge to yourself
I wrote a week or so ago about email newsletters. These are other ways to bring different things into your life; points of view you may not agree with, or ideas you had never considered. It beats a Wired subscription (much as it has interesting things in it, I found it to be the single biggest creator of a filter bubble).

And Twitter. Stop only following people in your industry, or who share your ideas. Start following (at least) one random person. Stick with them, they may well bear fruit; if not you can unfollow them and go find someone else. There are several billion accounts to choose from. What you’ll start to find is that you get new points of view, new ideas, new perspectives on old shit you’d stopped considering. Your brain will thank you.

And, as Faris said yesterday, you’ll shift your thinking towards the awesome.