I have a secret: There are little projects I'm always working on. Most will never see the light of day. Some are ambitious and wide, while others are simple and subtle.

If you are a creative, particularly if you fashion yourself an entrepreneur, then you should always be in R&D mode. There is always something interesting you should be exploring - or, to paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, something you should be curious about. And it should have nothing to do with anyone else.

Here's why:

Your ego isn't involved: The minute we expect a new idea to become a public reality, our ego will want a piece of the action. A lighthearted concept that you're exploring suddenly has to work. Unfortunately, that very pressure can prevent a simple, yet fragile idea from growing into something truly great.

You let it grow naturally: Keep your new ideas as low-maintenance as possible, whether they are scribbled on little pieces of paper (as I explained in my last TED Talk) or some jotted notes on your smartphone. The more disposable the medium, the more honest you will be about the idea's worth. Have you ever spent hours, if not days on a PowerPoint or massive document, then felt like you had to make a new concept work because of the time you already put in? Don't do that to yourself. And, if the idea ends up not coming to anything, you can just privately scrap it.

You do not need to make it profitable right away: My startup Cuddlr started as a conversation between my two co-founders. I joined them, and we quietly figured out if it would work or not. When it was ready, we announced it with a splash - enough for it to grab the top Apple iPhone app spot and be sold in less than a year. Your main focus should be on experimenting - honestly and privately. Ironically, if you explore the viability of an idea rather than the forced execution of an idea, then the ideas you actually execute will shine even brighter.

Published on: Nov 28, 2016
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