“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” – Charles Dickens

I began writing an essay this morning tentatively titled “Early Warning Signs You’re Writing a Bad Essay.” Then this afternoon, I came across an essay I had saved by Jessica Wildfire on basically the same subject. (Jessica is a smart and funny contributor to Medium.com whom I follow.)

“Even geniuses have terrible ideas,” she says in the essay. “They’re just good at spotting them. They know what a good ideal feels like…. I’m coming off fresh from a stupid idea, with firsthand knowledge of what it feels like from start to finish.”

She then lists the following:

“10 Signs You’ve Got a Stupid Idea” by Jessica Wildfire 

  1. You feel like it’s utterly brilliant 

“The idea feels like a masterpiece waiting to happen. You haven’t even started working on it, and yet you just know somehow.”

  1. You’re obsessed with its originality 

“Nobody has ever thought of this before, right? You’ll be the first. In truth, nobody’s ever the first to come up with an idea. Not anymore. Humans have lived too long. Every idea just adds a little something.”

  1. You focus on the bells and whistles 

“The idea should be enough. It doesn’t need special features or gimmicks.”

  1. You can’t wait to show it to someone 

“That’s because you feel insecure about your brilliant idea, and you want external validation right away.”

  1. It forms out of desperation 

“You’re probably deep in the swamp of failure. You’re not feeling great about yourself. You’re looking for any reason to feel better. This means you’re more likely to overestimate the quality of your ideas.”

  1. You feel an urge to get it done now 

“Part of you sees what’s going on, and it tries to get you to slow down and think. Your better self doesn’t want you throwing away ten hours on an idea with no merit. Ironically, this puts the rest of your brain into overdrive.”

  1. It’s completely unfeasible 

“That’s the part that tantalizes you. It looks really hard, perhaps even impossible, and right now you want the distraction of a challenge.”

  1. You care more about the idea than anything 

“The best ideas add value to other people’s lives. When you skip over this part, that’s a red hot sign that you should stop and relax.”

  1. You start fearing that it will fail 

“A good idea will get better through criticism. A stupid idea completely falls apart.”

  1. It’s actually torturing you 

“A good idea should feel good…. You should be approaching it with a calm, patient attitude. It’s hard, but the good kind of hard – not the kind that makes you agitated, swinging back and forth between euphoria and panic attacks.”

To Jessica’s observations, I might add… well, frankly, I can’t think of anything else.

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animadversion (noun) 

Animadversion (an-uh-mad-VER-zhun) is an unfavorable or critical remark. Example from Pencil Sketches by Eliza Leslie: “Albina soon perceived herself to be an object of remark and animadversion, and she was sadly at a loss to divine the cause.”

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Asians represent about 5% of public high school students, but constitute 22.9% of Harvard’s freshman class. If admission to Harvard were based solely on academic performance, it would be 43%.

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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

The story of the now well-known Silicon Valley scam. Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the story and pursued it till the end, the book is a page-turner and an inside look at the sort of moral depravity that exists in all industries but is sort of protected and even incubated in the high-tech world these days – the world where wealth is created not by creating profits that stem from selling desired products and services, but by creating stories about future profits that are sold to the media and to investors.

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