William Jenkins, my mentor since I was 17, taught me that “We learn not from our experiences, but from intelli-
gent reflection upon those experiences.” So when it comes to experiential knowledge, there are two categories
of speakers: Those who simply have experiences, and those who reflect on their experiences. Sadly, too many
speakers find themselves in the first category. Here are four ways you can make sure you’re not one of them:
• does this statement give me any insight about
• how can the basic concept be applied to different
• how does this fit into my theory of the universe?
• What did i learn from this experience?
• What went right/wrong about what just
• how can i teach this to others?
• if everyone did exactly what i said, what would
their world look like?
• Now that i’ve written about this, what else does
this make possible?
• through which medium can i best teach this idea
• What’s the Universal human emotion?
• how can i blog about this?
• how can i make writing a part of this?
• What are the various ways i can recycle this intellectual property?
• What journal/folder does this go into?
• What list can i immediately create from this?
Amazon to see if any books have been written specifically about your idea.
5. Gather. Take the facts, statistics, quotations and
related information that support your idea and add
them to your list. Keep the document in list format—don’t organize just yet!
6. Stop. Take a break. Go work on something
totally unrelated to your new idea.
7. Modify. When you return to your idea, re-read
your list. Edit, delete, add to, and clarify.
. Filter. Bring ideas from one field of knowledge
into another field of knowledge. Ask yourself:
How does this idea fit into my picture of the universe? What does this idea have to do with me? How
does this idea relate to my expertise?
. Stretch. Expand on specific points as they
relate to your expertise. Think about past experi-
ences that would make good supportive material.
10. Organize. Divide the list into logical groups.
Rearrange key ideas and points together.
• how can i make this last forever?
• how can i use this to add more value to myself?
• how can this mistake quickly be made into something good?
• how many different ways can i leverage this?
• What else can i use this for?
11. Edit. Repeat Step 7.
1 . Evaluate. Ask yourself if this is a good idea.
Decide if you want to move from “entertaining” to
1 . Leverage. Sell that idea for millions of dollars.
At a time when the phrase “thinking outside the
box” is rolling off everyone’s tongue, let’s revisit
the benefits of thinking inside the box. Sometimes,
the trick is just finding the right box that helps us
identify and focus our creative, money-making ideas
within tighter parameters.
Scott Ginsberg (aka“The Nametag Guy”) is
the author of eight books on the topic of
approachability. He is a board member of
NSA St. Louis and the creator of
Nametag TV.com, an Online Training
Network that teaches professionals how to get noticed, get
remembered and get business. You can reach Scott at