I’ve heard this too many times…
The last time was on the plane back to NYC this week. The time before that was Monday. And, before that, it was last Wednesday.
Here’s how it goes. Someone meets me, finds out I help entrepreneurs turn fuzzy ideas into businesses and careers then this is what unfolds…
Dude: So, I’ve got this incredible idea, nobody’s doing anything like it. It’ll blow everyone away, make a ton of money, change an industry (you get the point,).
Me: That sounds awesome, so what are you doing to bring it to life?
Dude: Well, nothing right now. Honestly, I’m freaked out, because as soon as I go public with it, it’s so revolutionary, everyone’s going to want to steal it, then what?
Me: You know, if the idea or the expression of the idea is truly as unique as you say, there are ways to protect them. It’s fairly easy and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Dude: Yeah, but people would still be knocking it off left and right and that would suck, because it’s my idea.
Me: Two things.
One, you’re right…
If it’s that good, people will try to knock it off the moment you gain any level of traction, notoriety or both. Maybe sooner. In fact, if they don’t, it just may speak to the fact that what you’ve got is either not nearly as cool as you think it is or you’re not able to communicate it’s coolness effectively.
Because if it was and you could, people would be staying up at night figuring out ways to make something just different enough to capitalize on your genius.
And, two…SO WHAT?!
If Madame Curie didn’t research x-rays because she was freaked out someone might steal the process, where would we be?
If Jonas Salk didn’t develop the polio vaccine out of fear it might be copied, where would we be?
If Alexander Fleming didn’t reveal his findings about penicillin, because he didn’t want other researchers to capitalize on it, where would we be?
If Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, didn’t create revolutionary technologies, because they were scared they might be copied, where would we be?
If Hemingway kept The Old Man And The Sea in drawer, da Vinci hid the Mona Lisa under his bed or Hugh MacLeod kept his epic How To Be Creative under his pillow, where would we be?
If Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Johann Sebastian Bach didn’t pen tunage, because they were scared their luscious riffs would be stolen, where would we be?
If Sylvester Graham never revealed his radical recipe for Graham crackers, an essential ingredient in the insanely over-processed, yet sinfully taunting Mallomar cookie, where would be?
And, if YOU never develop and release your secret dream product, service or creation, the one that just might be capable of liberating your spirit, your livelihood, your lifestyle and, hell, even changing the world…
Who’s really losing out?
YOU…and maybe the world!
Yes, it might be ripped off. And, you may end up fighting to make sure your creation stays yours or you keep credit. But, at the same time, you’ll be awash in the vibrance that comes with giving your creation life, releasing it into the world and finally knowing, for once, whether you were full of it…or destined for greatness.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s the real issue here.
So, if you really believe it’s as powerful as you say, protect it to the extent you can…then give it life.
So, what do you think?
What am I missing?
Have you ever been on either side of this discussion?
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