Insight Out by Dr. Tina Seelig was a fast-paced ride that kept the reader engaged and entertained all the way through. This might be expected when you see the Seelig is an instructor at Stanford with a degree in Neuroscience, and teaches classes on creativity. What some people may now know though, is that Insight Out is actually the third part of a trilogy from Selig. The first two being, What I wish I knew when I was 20: A Crash course on Making Your Place in The World, and Ingenious.
Currently, the majority of my professional time is taken up by entrepreneurial efforts. So picking up a book on getting your wonderful ideas out into the world filled me with adrenaline. Seelig’s subtitle for this book is, Getting Ideas Out Of Your Head And Into Life. I think she certainly gets the award for best subtitle, and even possible the award for best cover! The picture of the popcorn kernel transforming into something delicious illustrates the powerful potential we all have within our own ideas and our own heads if we could just get them out. I think this was a brilliant marketing move because everyone feels they have wonderful “the next iPod” level idea inside themselves that just needs the right bit of discovery for it to burst forth. It was so inspiring that I found myself even getting frustrated at times because I was becoming aware of imaginative and creative I could and should be. Seelig’s substance of the book came when she laid out a four-step process for getting your ideas out. She clarifies that she did not invent this four-step cycle, but rather she discovered it from working with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years. Her process involves the following four steps:
- envision what doesn’t exist.
- This is applying imagination. Use it address a challenge. These Ideas are new to you
- This is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. These are ideas that are new to the world.
- Inspiring others to join your cause. Inspiring them to be a team member, to be a customer, to be an investor etc. etc.
A lot of times people use these four steps and word synonymously, but the distinction is critical.
Many people fail to get to entrepreneurship because they try to jump right to start a new business without taking time to play safely in imagination and try small experiments with creativity. Also its crucial to remember that Tina calls this the cycle. You keep processing through these four steps over and over again even when you are working in the same industry, job or problem, and one innovation will beget another innovation, and one new entrepreneurial job will beget another new job. Seelig says in her former book, Ingenius, “We are each inventor of our own future and creativity is at the heart of invention.”
Entrepreneurially, I benefited the most from Tina’s insistence on being in love with the problem. This requires an honest assessment. If you’re not in love with the problem, you may not have the persistence to finish when it gets too complicated. Furthermore, when someone is just in love with the solution, they can often miss other solutions to solve the problem because their baby has become their idea, and they would never throw it out.
One thing that I’ve struggled with my current ministry is communicating what we do. We do so much. With have 5 different main branches of our ministry that someone can come in and get involved and get trained. I have wrestled around, maybe I should do less. But each of these things hits a target demographic that is essential. If we are becoming the one stop shop for ministry development where you can get training, education, credentialing, etc. etc., then I need all these elements, and I am stuck with how to communicate everything we do.
Seelig presented the idea of communicated your idea/industry/product through how people generally thing, which is through stories. Seelig lays out a 5 step process of storytelling for marketing.
- Once upon a time, in everyday life…
- Until one day,
- Because of that… because of that… because of that…
- Until finally
- Ever since then.
If I can get better at my 60 second and 15 second pitch for Pathway, especially the pitch for those who want to get trained this would be extremely helpful. I feel I do a pretty good job with pitching my idea to the churches and the senior pastors, but not a great job at pitching it to people who would join as a student or intern.
There were a handful of other golden nuggets I took from this place. I could tell Tina Seelig was a professor, because she had all of those classroom activity type and, critical thinking type homework assignments throughout the book. One example was when Seelig assigned her students to come up with a 100 ideas of how to solve a problem. The students all assumed this must have been a typo! This exercise illustrates that students and leaders alike too often stop short before they have really thought through every side of the program. It also helps students find their way around the problem, and that the problem may not have been exactly the problem they thought it was. In an interview for the website 2000 books, Seelig references a quote from Einstein saying that if he had 20 minutes to solve a life and death problem, he would spend 18 minutes understanding the problem. I think this could be applicable to many ministries if they just took some extra time to brainstorm how to solve a problem or a unique way to serve their corner of Sacramento.
Another exercise that I can see myself using in ministry, is the observing practice. Students are assigned a painting to observe for 60 minutes and write down all of their observations at each minute mark. They start to realize that all though they had look at the image, they had not really seen it. And they also realized that their most astute and meaningful observations came later in their study. This makes me wonder where have I stopped short in observing and really seeing my ministry and all of its complexities. I have a tendency of moving way too fact and missing depth. The flurry of activity gives the façade of importance. I could see myself assigning students to do this but for a single bible verse.
This book, perhaps more than any other, has been immediately applicable to my work and ministry and I am very grateful for it.
Update! After reading this book, I picked up “StoryBrand” by Donald Miller and it further helped me learn how to communicate the one thing my ministry does.
 I blame everyone for not telling me about this book when I was 20. Or maybe they did and I didn’t listen. I was 20 after all.