"" bshawise: Tadpole to Frog (part 2)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tadpole to Frog (part 2)

Thought #2: Tadpoles need legs.

For me, once the initial idea starts growing legs I look to my network to help pull them out. A creative's network is as valuable as their creativity. There are different types of people I think you need to have in your network. The first and most crucial (in my opinion) is having a Red.

Reds are people who can get their hands on things. They know people who know people who know people. I have a couple Reds in my network. One of them is Donna. She is usually my first call once I kind of start figuring out what my idea is. I called her when I decided I wanted a female Brit to read the Wind poem. I also emailed, called, txt'd other people with applicable networks (a colleague in ireland, a colleague at the other large church in town, Sean Murphy). I've learned that on time-sensitive, big asks you need to have multiple irons in the fire.

Awhile back we had a project where I needed over 2,000 bricks and had zero dollars to spend. I called Donna who called her husband (a builder). He gave me the name of a company. It didn't pan out so I called Donna back to brainstorm other options. She made more calls and in a day a few tons of bricks showed up at our doorstep. A good Red cares enough about you and your projects that they keep working their networks until they find you your bricks, brits and balloons. (I had to think of another B that someone helped me find, and Sean found me a 16ft weather balloon once).

Another type of person(s) you need in your network are Masters. These are folks who are experts at certain things. Luckily, I have lots of these. Sometimes the legs of an idea are formed by the Masters you know. When I started writing both A Cat Named Bruce and The {RE} Gifter I knew I needed a rotating stage for the former and a giant screen for the latter. So right from the beginning I called Greg. He can make anything and I needed his go-ahead before I could proceed much further than a few pages of writing. On the Saturday morning I walked down my stairs and had the idea for The {RE} Gifter I called Steve . I knew there would be a junk sculpture aspect to the story and so I knew I needed a Master sculptor to help me figure out what that would look like. Masters are most effective when brought in as soon as you know you need them. They know things you don't and can share their knowledge even before they share their actual skill.

Another key person(s) in your network are Bouncers. Not the beefy doorkeepers, but someone you can bounce your idea off of and expect honest, good feedback. After the Wind video idea grew some legs I bounced it off Isaac. He gave me key feedback that helped mold and shape the idea into something better. I have folks on IM who I constantly send graphics to and say, "What do you think?" I have friends who I can email tadpole ideas and know that they'll tell me if I have something that deserves development or death. It's key that your Bouncers aren't scared by ideas. They need to be folks who know you and trust that you can actually figure out ways to pull stuff off. Bouncers typically can get excited about ideas without having to see much beyond the tadpole stage. They will even say things like, "You know what'd be cool is if you did this..."

Bouncers are important throughout the entire creative process. Perhaps you have different Bouncers for different stages. For example, if you have a Bouncer who helped you throughout then they probably aren't the Bouncer you need AFTER it's finished. They're too invested. So find uninvested, unbiased folks who can be your post Bouncers to critique the end product. You also may have folks who are unable to see or understand infant ideas but can give great feedback in the refining stage.

Ideas can breed community and collaboration. The good ones always do. Start identifying the Reds, Masters and Bouncers in your network. They're the folks who will help give your idea legs. And without legs your idea is just bar talk. So think of it this way: Your network is what helps turn bar talk into bar celebration. Both are good. One is better.


Anonymous said...

For the sake of the marketplace of ideas, it's a good thing that you are much better at cultivating thought tadpoles than you were at growing real tadpoles into frogs.

bshawise said...

one could argue that i saved them from being burned alive as adults.

Steve Fuller said...

This is good stuff, Bradley.

Dan Kalbach said...

Valuable information for the creative individual... I've got open ears.

bww said...

it's funny that you said all this, now i'm trying to identify who those roles are for 224. I can agree with using music and images as food though. good stuff.