Turning your blank-slate enterprise concept into actuality.

Turning your blank-slate enterprise concept into actuality.

There’s one thing magical about taking a clean piece of paper and pen (or a laptop computer when you desire) and figuring out what you need in your life, how that intersects with what the world wants, then constructing it, from scratch. I’ve performed this many instances now—on Madison Avenue as an govt charged with beginning model new divisions and as a CEO/founding father of each a expertise startup and a philanthropic nonprofit.

Crucial factor when dealing with a clean slate is to carry your uniqueness to bear. As Melinda Gates said: “Treasure the issues that make you uniquely you. The world doesn’t want extra individuals who assume and act the identical—so resist the temptation to adapt to what’s round you.”

New enterprise concepts require out-of-the-box pondering. Right here’s how I navigated my blank-slate journey when launching my first expertise startup, Technique Farm, which I later offered to promoting big Havas.


It was 2008, which, very similar to immediately, was a time of worldwide financial uncertainty, monetary market gyrations, and seemingly limitless new ideas in expertise. I used to be an govt within the promoting trade and had simply transitioned from the Boston HQ to New York.

The distinction between these two places of work sparked one thing in my creativeness. This was the 12 months when millennials had been beginning to make their mark within the office, bringing new concepts and new methods of pondering. We’d by no means seen digital super-users like them earlier than. I may see the place the long run was heading for my trade when it comes to extra collaborative, multi-skilled groups driving the financial system.

As I typically do, I tracked my observations within the lined Moleskine pocket book I all the time carry with me. I like to recommend doing this; there’s an actual psychological benefit to the bodily act of writing when it comes to mind activation and reminiscence retrieval.

It’s additionally essential to have a spot to ideate that’s separate out of your common office, whether or not a standard or residence workplace. It could be a favourite espresso store, a quiet spot within the native park the place you gained’t be disturbed, or a snug nook in your house. At that time of time, for me, it was a completely new place, away from the town and my normal routine.


Each individual has a distinct idea of what artistic area appears to be like like. For me, it’s stunning chaos. I would like to have the ability to get messy. Throw my issues on the ground if I wish to, seize an enormous roll of craft paper to sketch out concepts on, a pinboard to rearrange notes on. That form of factor. For me, nothing is structured till it actually must be. I’m not afraid of the clean web page.

With any intense durations of focus, it’s essential to take breaks to let the concepts circulation. A few times per week, I’d drive upstate to a farm our household determined to buy in Northern Westchester. This turned the place the place I invested in dreaming a couple of totally different future for myself. As we had little or no furnishings, the home itself was a clean slate. I’d write and write and write.

Because the little city close to our farm was nonetheless new to me, it was stimulating to stroll round, try the shops, get a really feel for the realm, seize some contemporary produce, return residence, and get again to the duty at hand.

I don’t assume it’s a coincidence that my greatest pondering flourished there. It’s how Technique Farm got here to life. Our new residence impressed the identify, and its brand was an illustration of the barn on our property, long-established right into a barcode design.


Even after we launched Technique Farm, there have been nonetheless clean pages forward. Slowly however certainly, I began to rent individuals, discover companions, supply purchasers, and construct the enterprise. We arrange store at a cool architect’s area in Manhattan’s Flower District earlier than it turned a cool, agency-populated a part of city. We received artistic with our area, opening up all of the doorways, placing up big brainstorming boards proper as much as the excessive ceilings, and inspired collaboration and many water cooler moments.

When beginning out, keep away from shutting any concepts down, even when they sound naive or loopy. Dr. Amy Edmonson, Professor of Management and Administration at Harvard Enterprise College, has written extensively about psychological security. There’s no level of getting a multiplicity of viewpoints and a richly various crew if individuals are afraid to go in opposition to the grain. It’s a waste of intelligence. I wish to preserve issues mild and have fun enthusiasm with the intention to nurture creativity. Brainstorming alternatives and instruments shouldn’t be confined to a corporation’s “early days.”


I knew it was daring to start out a digital company in 2009, particularly one which was purpose-driven, and a brand new concept. I feel again on this time with nice delight. My methodology of blank-slate incubation, innovation, and relentless pursuit of recent concepts had delivered the optimistic change I used to be searching for. So, once I got here to start out my nonprofit group, Artistic Spirit US, I went by way of an identical course of, assured that I had the expertise to thrive amid uncertainty.

It’s thrilling to start out with a clean slate, to think about how the world could be higher in case your wildly imaginative and brilliantly collaborative concepts turned, you recognize, actual.

After I was rising up, it was all about becoming into the established order. Now, if I may inform my youthful self something, I’d say you’re way more resilient than you assume. Now, choose up that ballpoint pen, quiet down together with your laptop computer, and begin taking notes on what you wish to do together with your life.

Paul Valeud

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