Posted by Mark Hedengren on

Everything is accomplished with ideas, communicating those ideas, and team building. I work in a number of different fields; art, journalism, film, writing, food, and technology to name a few. The thing that surprises me is how similar it is to work in all of those fields. I think it’s because everything reduces down to having ideas, communicating those ideas and team building. The great variable is how good your ideas are and good of a team you can build. To me I’ve always rated my career on quality of people I’ve been able to work with on various projects. I am happy to say that I’m always kind astonished what wonderful people I’ve been able to work with. I’ve often felt that after I had finished building the team that I was the least qualified person on the project. I’m going to write some observations I have about each stage of ideas, communicating and team building.


This is of course where it all begins. An idea…I’ve heard many authors be asked “where do your ideas come from.” Apparently it’s one of their most commonly asked questions. The best response I’ve heard was giving by Phillip Pullman author of the Golden Compass. “I don’t know where the ideas come from but I know they don’t come out unless I’m sitting at desk writing.” The head writer of ABBA said a similar thing “writing a song is like waiting for a rabbit to come out of hole. You can’t force it but unless you are sitting at the piano it won’t come out.”

               There is a great debate in the philosophy world weather or not knowledge is inborn (Kant) or comes from experience (Locke). I’m not going to try to add to that discussion here. But I have noticed that people who come up with a lot of ideas generally are well read and thoughtful people. It seems like they are always thinking about something.

Communicating those ideas-

I think the communication stage of a project happens basically all the times. I feel it’s important to get all of your ideas clearly and succinctly as possible when you are trying to communicate them to people. Ideally that’s one sentience. Why is one sentence the ideal you ask? One sentence is important because anyone in the world will give anyone else one sentence. I don’t care if it’s the CEO of General Electric, Steven Spielberg, or President Obama. They will give you one sentence and if it’s a good idea they may give you two or a meeting. But if that sentence is “well I have this idea and it’s like an airplane but has long tail that runs in circles and then at the end of the film there’s a huge big explosion that really gets everyone out of their seat.” You most defiantly are not going to get a second sentence.

Building a Team-

The quality of team you are able to build has a lot to do with your past record, the quality of the project and how well you can communicate what you want to do. When I’m building a team I look for smart and hard working. I good way to see this is by looking at the persons past work. No one ever does something like publishing a book without working very hard. The problem is when you budget is low enough that you can’t really hire someone with a lot of experience. There are plenty of people who are smart and hardworking who are 22 but it’s much harder for them to prove it. If it’s a college student I ask them about their education if they say “well I was kicked out of the English major then psychology…so I then ended up photography.” That is a big red flag.  But beyond things like that to me it’s difficult to say…You just have to have a good feeling about them. If you don’t have a good feeling than don’t do hire put them on the project.

The funny thing about all three of these thing ideas, communication, and team building is that they are all undefinable in away. It’s just something you have to get a feel for I guess. I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes in all of these categories, bad ideas, bad communication and bad teams. Maybe you learn through trial and error. 

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