Insights On Idea Execution From The 99% Conference 2011

Just over a week ago, 400+ creative minds came together at the Times Center in New York City to focus NOT on inspiration or idea generation, but rather on the mechanics of making ideas happen.

The 99% Conference


Just over a week ago, 400+ creative minds came together at the Times Center in New York City to focus NOT on inspiration or idea generation, but rather on the mechanics of making ideas happen. The event was Behance’s third annual 99% Conference, presented by GE. With tickets sold out over five months in advance, anticipation was high, and the audience arrived buzzing with energy–ready to soak up actionable insights from speakers at leading creative companies like Pixar, Google Ideas, and FuseProject.

Making ideas happen is a unique process for everyone, and the speakers tackled the topic from a variety of fascinating angles. Here’s a shortlist of our favorite insights from the 2011 99% Conference:

1. “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.” These tenets of trust and group dynamics are as important in business as they are in our personal lives. As Simon Sinek says, “100% of customers are people. 100% of clients are people.”

– Simon Sinek /// Leadership Expert & Author, Start With Why

2. Be a sprinter, not a marathon runner. The key to productivity, Tony Schwartz says, is to “recognize the power of renewal, and have a finish line.” He claims that “we’ve lost our finish lines.”

– Tony Schwartz /// President & CEO, The Energy Project

3. “People in business don’t often rely on their natural gifts. They try to innovate like someone else does.” Learn how you will be most effective, rather than replicating what’s worked for someone else.

– Patrician McCarthy /// Founder, The Mien Shiang Institute

4. “Avoid the false narrative of pro-risk and anti-risk.” Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but almost everyone wants to create freedom and independence. For those of us who don’t want to risk it all, what steps can we take to create more stability and confidence?

– Chris Guillebeau /// Author, The Art of Non-Conformity


5. “One third of our movies have taken about 7 years to make.” Rigorous persistence and uncompromising creative standards are perhaps the most notable features of Pixar’s creative process. As one of the company’s founders put it: “Quality is the best business plan.”

– Dr. Michael B. Johnson /// R&D Lead, Pixar

6. “If you’re not creating waves, then you’re not pushing enough.” Jared Cohen urges us to “be controversial.” Pursing ideas with obvious conclusions won’t create the change we need to see in the world.

– Jared Cohen /// Director, Google Ideas

7. On deadlines: “I recommend scaring yourself. Fear is a great motivator.” Starlee Kine admitted to committing to projects far more ambitious than she thought she could handle – the sheer fear of not living up to these promises was enough to ensure that she reached her goal.

– Starlee Kine /// Radio Producer & Writer

8. “Make heros out of the failures. Pay attention to the learnings.” Re-framing key failures as “discoveries” will help foster an environment of risk-taking.

– Beth Comstock /// SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, GE

9. “When fear and doubt come into play, you have to lead with possibility.” Laura Guido-Clark spoke of a trying period a few years ago, after which she re-emerged with a new outlook on her life and work (and a new business plan). Don’t retreat in fearful moments, seize them as an opportunity for self-examination.

– Laura Guido-Clark /// Principal, Laura Guido-Clark Design

10. Anything can be transformed into a game… if: the activity can be learned, the player’s performance measured, and the feedback delivered. These rules apply to everything – even email can be turned into a game!

– Aaron Dignan /// Author, Game Frame


11. Be there all the way. Béhar attributes much of his own – and his designs’ – success to being involved in the process of creating a product at every level: Whether it’s analyzing a product’s manufacturing on the factory floor, putting together a packaging approach that fully syncs with the product’s ethos, or mapping the business model for a new product launch.

– Yves Béhar /// Founder & Chief Designer, FuseProject

12. “The ‘Ok Plateau’ is the point when we turn on autopilot and stop getting better at a certain thing.”
It is possible to continue to improve at most tasks, but not if we expect it to happen automatically. Always be engaged in what you’re doing, and push yourself to improve.

– Joshua Foer /// Author, Moonwalking with Einstein

13. Take a beta approach to social media. As new platforms come online, we should be willing to experiment with the ones that seem relevant to us. If the platform works for you, keep using it. If it doesn’t feel authentic and/or useful, it’s okay to cut your losses, and move on.

– Soraya Darabi /// Co-Founder, Foodspotting + Digital Strategist

14. If you’re not being told you’re crazy, you’re not thinking big enough. Crazy is a compliment. If you’re thinking big, it’s natural for the idea to sound extreme, since you’ll be changing the status quo.

– Linda Rottenberg /// Co-Founder & CEO, Endeavor

15. “What gets projects done for me is not inspiration. It’s curiosity and rigor.”
Being interested and inspired is never going to be enough to propel a project to completion. Being thorough and exhaustive isn’t the most glamorous part of a project, but it’s necessary.

– Andrew Zuckerman /// Photographer & Filmmaker

[Photo by Julian Mackler / MACKME.COM]


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