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Stealing Ideas, Showing Up and Trust

We have all heard it when we are struggling with something or we are impatient or fearful. "Trust the process," they say...and in my head, I'm thinking...

"Why is there process and why should I trust it?"​

Maybe that is just me, I tend to question everything.

Ever since I sprinted with the brilliant people in altMBA two new questions also accompany any struggle or new idea.

What is it for? and Who is it for?

Which makes me stop and wonder and be curious about motives and values and the idea of trust.

In the altMBA we sprinted for 4 weeks with a cohort of approximately 120 other ruckus makers (think focus workgroup). For the most part, no one had ever met prior to the 4-week session, yet we all seemed to inherently trust one another with our goals, dreams and unrealized desires almost instantaneously. This instant trust was absolutely mind-boggling to me but also graciously welcomed. I thought to myself "how can I barely know someone and yet within a period of 48hrs trust them with my ideas and dreams and I can't even trust the people I've been working with for 3+ years?" To add even more fuel to this unbelievable fire, we changed groups every week during the sprint and the trust continued for all 4-weeks and even beyond the end of the session.

How is this possible?​

Was it the altMBA bubble environment?

Was it the team of people I was working with?

Was it me?

(I told you I ask lots of questions)

I think it's how the class and the work was framed. We had coaches to act as guides but there was no hierarchy, no titles, everyone showing up and putting their best foot forward. Everyone was generous and kind and there was an expectation that we are here to do work. You get out what you put in. No one was going to ask you for your homework assignment you either submitted it on time or you didn't. There was no judgment and everyone trusted that we were all in this thing together.

In most workplaces or committees this is not the case. There is a hierarchy or titles and everyone wants to you to know who they are and what they've done and most of all they want all the credit for the good stuff. There are queen bees and worker bees. This is my opinion and worldview of how things work outside the bubble.

Post altMBA we are all invited to join an altMBA Alumni group where we can continue to share and ship our work with other amazing altMBA graduates as we see fit. Another altMBA'r had posted an idea to form a group to participate in the NIKE Challenge. Having a background in fitness I thought it might be fun and I responded that I was interested in the idea along with about 7-8 other people.

I had zero expectation going into our first meeting and imagined that I would be a background participant listening in and getting exposure to the "process" of ideation. I showed up along with the initiator and that was it!


So I am no longer just a bystander lurking in the background. I am front and center and locked in a zoom room with this person.

(there is something to be said for video conferencing. You can't really hide when you are the only other participant)

Anyway, the initiator lets call him Doug, didn't even bat an eye at the fact that it was just the two of us and proceeded to start the "process" of getting to know each other and building trust. The first 30mins of the call was just talking and sharing. Doug proceeded to walk me through the presentation he prepared albeit for all 10 people as if it was no big deal that I was his only partner in this endeavor.

Is this guy for real?

But in true altMBA style, I roll with it and think to myself "why the process". The whole idea behind the NIKE CIRCULAR INNOVATION CHALLENGE: DESIGN WITH GRIND is we are trying to come up with business ideas that would incorporate using the materials Nike "captures" during the shoemaking process, or from the "grind" material created from recycling running shoes.

We finish the first round and chat about the process and the ideas and begin the second round of ideation. At this point, I think we are about 2hrs into a scheduled 3hr call, a third person has popped into our zoom room and joined us.

WHAT? dude you are waaaaay late

Doug appears to know this guy and jumps right into the process and I really have no choice except to move forward. New guy, let's call him Ted, rolls with the process like he has been with us the whole time. We end the call and decide to meet again in two days with a prototype idea and I have the task to send an email to a potential partner in our project. I let the lizard brain freak me out for about 30 secs after I'm off the call and then I reach back out to my new partners in crime and first Thank them for going on the journey and then fess up to my fear. They again don't even blink and draft up the email for me and all I have to do is send. I ship it before the end of the night and begin dreaming of prototypes.

Ok, so what does this have to do with anything?

I'm not sure I can capture it in words but I will try here.

Doug and Ted have definitely been through this "process" before and not once did they ever make me feel like I didn't have anything to contribute. They are completely committed to this "process" and they truly are open to just about any idea. Even the risk that someone could "steal" the idea.

It's this last idea that caused a shift to happen for me. Going through the "process" of ideation and building the prototype and the business plan there was a moment when I literally asked, "What stops the potential partner from just taking the idea and doing it himself". I felt Doug and Ted both pause and then just shrug it off. They both concurred that it is a risk but we just had to trust it.

The second thing that really caused a big shift is Doug wanted to make sure our idea and Trello boards are available to everyone that initially signed up for the group. In my head, I was screaming...

WHYYYYYYYY? Someone will steal it!​

I quickly realized that this isn't how it works. We need real feedback from real people not just ourselves. Sharing the ideas is ultimately the best way to go. From Seth's blog "When your idea's get stolen."

So having this experience has changed me and I am understanding the "process" and why it's important. I don't know how our experiment will turn out but I have already won the prize of wisdom that "trusting the process" has awarded me. Prizes below.


It is better to show up than to not show up.

It is better to trust and act as if everyone is trustworthy.

It's better to have your ideas stolen than for no one to take notice.