How to Steal Your Next Big Idea (Without Feeling Guilty)

“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.” 
― Austin KleonSteal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Warren Buffett, the multi-billionaire investor, gives credit to his mentor Benjamin Graham for developing the concept of value investing. A concept Buffett used to make a fortune as a Wall Street investor.

Perhaps Buffett might never have gotten out from behind the counter at his grandfather’s grocery store, if Graham hadn’t done the hard work before Buffett came along.

Not only that, what if Graham kept his knowledge to himself and never taught a course on it at Columbia University in NYC – where Buffett attended?

Who knows.

The point is: It is easy to become brilliant at what you do when you stand on the shoulders of a giant – the trick is picking the right giant(s).

Find Who You Want to Steal From

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

I believe that we are – or we become – the type of person we surround ourselves with. And that if you want to change who you are – then change the people around you.

One of the greatest gifts of the internet age is that we have the ability to connect with and learn from people all over the world. We can go beyond our family, our churches, even our friends – to find people that we admire and that we can aspire to be.

When a friend of mine at work sent me a link to the Humans of New York (HONY) website, I was immediately captivated by Brandon Stanton’s project. It was so powerful, and moving, and I wanted more and more of it.

Later that night, I was thinking about all the portraits and the stories I’d seen on the HONY site, and I had the idea that maybe I could do a similar project in my small town in British Columbia. But I dismissed the thought – thinking that I would be stealing and that I wouldn’t be an “original.”

But I couldn’t shake the idea. It seemed to fit exactly the type of project I was ready for in my photography.

So I did some googling – and found out that not only were there MANY different “Humans of…” spin-offs, but Brandon had said in an interview that he thought it was wonderful that other photographers were bringing the HONY concept to their own cities.

With this blessing, of sorts, I registered the Humans of Nelson Facebook page and hit the streets with my camera.

5,211 page likes and 192 portraits later, and I couldn’t be more pleased to steal Brandons idea.

I Want You to Steal From Me

I spend my evenings and weekends writing blog posts, putting together tutorials, telling my story — to help you to achieve your dreams, transform yourself into who you want to be, and to do all that in a way that makes your life easier and more fulfilling.

So don’t be ashamed for taking the good parts of stuff you love.

In fact, I encourage it.

Comments

  1. Ryan, nice blogpost. Also, I have admired the Humans of Nelson page, and it strikes me as original because it captures your town, your characters, and your style of photography. So though you may have borrowed the concept, your personal uniqueness makes it your own. Thanks.

  2. I love photography. And in photography, it is important to learn to see great shots everywhere. To develop a good eye and inspiration, I like to watch the work of others. I generally like to watch the feed on http://www.500px.com for that kind of inspiration and learning. It is amazing how much better I am at seeing shots anywhere, and a constant exposition to the work of others. Now I just need to develop the habit of bringing more often my camera with me…

    • I remember reading about how Steven King is an avid reader – constantly getting ideas from others. So yeah – even the greats are constantly looking at the creations of their peers.

      As for developing the habit of bringing your camera out with you more often — that’ll have to be another blog post (stay tuned Michel!)

  3. Thanks for the invitation. I’ll be stealing your Udemy ideas. Great post, thoughtful stuff.

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