What is an Idea Worth?

Ideas are a multiplier of execution.

I could listen to my audiobook of Anything You Want by Derek Sivers a 100 times over. I believe I’ve got to 3 times so far, and I’m happy to have 97 times in front of me.

The chapter “Ideas Are Just a Multiplier of Execution” is just one of many revelations in the book.

Here’s how to figure out how much your idea might be worth, before you execute on it:


  • Awful = -1
  • Weak = 1
  • So-so = 5
  • Good = 10
  • Great = 15
  • Brilliant = 20


  • None = $1
  • Weak = $1000
  • So-so = $10,000
  • Good = $100,000
  • Great = $1,000,000
  • Brilliant = $10,000,000

“The most brilliant idea with no execution is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.

“That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m not interested until I see their execution.”

I would even suggest that he’s being generous with his execution values. I know that when I’ve executed weakly on good ideas, I would end up with far less than $10,000. Still, this principle is one that millions — maybe billions — of people desperately need to hear and believe.

On Busyness

In Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss picks out some great gems from his interview with Derek:

Every time people contact me, they say, ‘Look, I know you must be incredibly busy…’ and I always think, ‘No, I’m not.’ Because I’m in control of my time. I’m on top of it. ‘Busy,’ to me, seems to imply ‘out of control.’ Like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so busy. I don’t have any time for this shit!’ To me, that sounds like a person who’s got no control over their life.

Tim adds:

Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to “How are you?” with “Busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

Again, this is something millions of us need to hear. Our culture, particularly the sub-cultures that attract achievers such as the entrepreneurial space, love to use busyness as a bragging right. In truth, if you’re spread thin, you are wasting your talents just as thoroughly as if you were lazy.


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