One of the things I love most about sharing books I'm reading on places like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, is that inevitably people will comment with others that I should add to my list. Most recently, I shared a list of books I read last year and mentioned that I tend to read a lot of books concurrently.
I do that because I'm interested in a lot of subjects, but also because I find when I read a little of one book and then some from a few others, the insights from all of them come together to inspire a whole new idea. One that I wouldn't have thought of if I'd just read the one book all the way through.
Take, for example, a billboard we put up in San Francisco last year during an industry event that utilized a sales representative's tweet to showcase the power of my company. That idea was inspired by a few books I consistently talk about: Ogilvy on Advertising, Behind the Cloud and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It combined smart copy, getting maximum impact during an event and the power of social proof.
The idea of reading multiple books at the same time, and the resulting billboard idea, got me thinking about cross-pollination. It's made possible only because bees and other insect pollinators go to another flower or plant and create something new.
This is important to consider in your business as well. Think about it. In the tech industry, everyone tends to go to the same events, hire the same coaches, listen to the same podcasts, and read the same books. But by doing that, you're going to have the same source of ideas, facts, and behaviors as your competitors. Chances are, you're not going to come up with breakthrough ideas by doing all the same things.
My challenge to you is to cross-pollinate. Instead of continuing to go to the same events, attend different ones, whether it's in the film industry, the construction business, or any other. It doesn't matter how far out of your domain it is, as long as you're confident the best people in that industry are going to be there. When you go to those events, ask yourself what you can learn to provide a better experience for your events or customers? And when you see things working well, try to understand why. In doing so, you'll get the best ideas to cross-pollinate with others in your industry.
Personally, I've been trying to attend more music events in order to really understand not only how the artists can bring a great experience every time, across different venues, audiences and contexts. I'm also interested in how, as musicians, they are able to work together to become much more powerful as a unit than individually.
And while I'm obviously not in the sports world, I listen to Michael Gervais, a sports psychologist -- a lot. Listening to him and guests, like Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, has taught me the smallest mindset shift can make all the difference. I also learned it's not just about winning, it's about having the passion to do your best. It's that type of wisdom that gives me ideas on how better to lead our team.
I recognize that going to events, reading books, and finding inspiration elsewhere can take time and money. But if you get just one idea from it, it's worth it. So if you want to get an edge over competitors, remember: cross-pollinate.