How Many Ideas Are Good Ideas?

"Cuba imports its cigars from him." For every line the Most Interesting Man In The World records, his writing team write thirteen.

“Cuba imports its cigars from him.” For every line the Most Interesting Man In The World records, his writing team write thirteen.

A session at last year’s SXSW looked for common themes from people at the top of their game in different creative fields – designers, musicians and venture capitalists.  The most pointed question for the panel was “what proportion of your ideas come to fruition?”  That’s a life-blood question for VCs, who weigh up investor pitches from start-ups every day.  But’s it’s just as relevant for musicians working out whether to expand a riff into a track, or writers getting lines and sketches into a show.

Here’s what we heard at the event:

Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins hears 200 pitches a year and makes two investments.  That’s an idea ratio of 1:100.

Aileen Lee of Kleiner Perkins hears 16 pitches a week and makes one investment a month.  That’s an idea ratio of 1:69.

Damian Kulash of OK Go takes 50-100 scraps into 15-30 projects that he refines into one album.  There are ten tracks on the band’s forthcoming album, which makes for an idea ratio of 1:10.

As a comparison from the world of advertising, the writing team behind the Most Interesting Man In The World campaign for Dos Equis write 400 one-liners in order to create the 30 lines that make it into the campaign every year: an idea ratio of 1:13.

What does this tell us?  Creative people have to let go of most of their ideas. Most ideas don’t make it from concept to fruition. And, if you want to have better ideas, have more ideas.

(Full disclosure: I attended the event at SXSW, and have worked on the Dos Equis advertising campaign in the past.)

 

 

 

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Just How Popular Is The World Cup In The USA?

Clint Dempsey: 24.7 million people saw the ball hit the back of the net.

Clint Dempsey: 24.7 million people saw the ball hit the back of the net.

Despite the best efforts of Ann Coulter, the American public has been getting into the World Cup.  The group stage game between the USMNT and Portugal was the most watched soccer game in US history, attracting some 25 million viewers on ESPN and Univision’s broadcast and online platforms.  That’s more than any previous soccer game, but how does it compare with the most popular events and shows on US TV.  The Superbowl is still the daddy of American sport and TV viewing.  This year’s game attracted 111.5 million viewers, making it the most watched TV broadcast in US history.  The Oscars was watched by 43 million viewers, while the Grammys drew 28.5 million viewers.   But the game against Portugal bested some of the other highlights of the US sporting calendar: this year’s NBA finals pulled 15.5 million viewers, just ahead of the 14.9 million people who watched last year’s World Series finals.  Sorry, Ann, the world cup is a big deal.  We’ll update this story when Nielsen and ESPN publish the viewing figures for the final group game against Germany.

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So What Is The Data Of Cool?

Tyler Brule (calculator presumably out of shot.)  What would happen if trend spotters got together with data nerds?

Tyler Brule (calculator presumably out of shot.) What would happen if trend spotters got together with data nerds?

We live in a culture of The Next Big Thing, where trend spotters are quick to call out what’s hot.  We also live in a culture of Big Data, where statistics wonks are quick to build stories from numbers, and data visualizers are on hand to make stats accessible.  So what happens when the two cultures come together?  What would happen if Scooter Braun and Tyler Brule went for a beer with Nate Silver and Edward Tufte?  The Data Of Cool hopes to find out.  Here we dig out the data points and the evidence behind what’s hot, what’s popular and what’s trending.  We’ll post links to sources and share the calculations behind the claims wherever possible, and we’ll always engage in a conversation around the topic.  (Keep us honest, keep yourself nice.)  We don’t expect to reduce cool to a science, or claim to predict popularity, but we’ll all be smarter for seeing the numbers and spotting the correlations behind the hoopla.  We’re always open to new data points and new topics to investigate, so do reach out to us: thedataofcool@gmail.com, and do follow us on Twitter at @TheDataOfCool.  Thank you.

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