A Key To Sparking New Ideas And Thinking Outside The Box

I just got back from an awesome trip to Las Vegas for Blog World New Media Expo 2009.  I learned a lot and enjoyed connecting with many of my online buddies that I had never met in person (eg. Sean Platt, Maya, Michael Martine, and a few others who I hadn’t connected with until this trip like Charlie Gilkey, Naomi and Jamie Dunford, and Chris Brogan).  There were certainly more awesome bloggers and online entrepreneurs that I connected with, beyond the few mentioned above.

My point for this post…

OK, so I’m crazy busy right now, trying to catch up from being gone for the past 5 days, so here’s my point.  Changing our location and scenery for even a short amount of time is often all we need to spark new ideas and think outside the box.

I was on the plane from Charlotte, NC to Las Vegas, staring out the window, thinking about how easy it is to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.  Even when we go on vacation it’s usually to a destination that we see each and every year.  But it’s only when we try new places and meet new people that certain parts of our personalities come out to play.

Everything from the flights and the people on them, to the new climate in Las Vegas (sunny and 85 to 90 the whole time…NICE!!) to the totally unique feel of the city to the many great people I met at the conference to the hotel, etc…  All these things played a part in resetting my thought process a bit and giving me a fresh perspective.

When we go to a conference and return with new ideas we usually credit the speakers and the ideas being passed around the stage for these fresh thoughts in our minds.  Yet we miss the fact that much of these ideas were already stirring around our heads, only waiting for the right kind of stimulation to bring them out.  And often, it’s everything ELSE that does this, not necessarily the scheduled event.

Think about it.  Think about an event you went to that took you away from your home and usual routine that had a noticeable impact on your ideas.  Now imagine if that event had been held in your hometown.  Would it have had the same effect on you?  Probably not.  And why?  Because you wouldn’t have been forced out of your comfort zone and your usual routine.

So in short, if you want to spark some new ideas and truly stimulate your thought process, take some time away from your normal habits and location.  While your mind is coping with the new situation, being forced to strain where it’s used to being on auto-pilot, you’ll free the intelligence that has been waiting to escape your sub-conscious.

So what were my thoughts?

I’m not going to get into specifics right now, but I can say that I had many new ideas, stemming from business to family to technology and even our society.  No new inventions came out of the experience, but improvements on what I’ve been working so hard on (both business and personal) certainly took place.



I just HAD to share this latest picture of Tyson with you all.  It really shows his character and his increasing cuteness.  I’m mean come on!  Who pulls off red tipped socks better than this guy?! :)

Eric Hamm


  1. says

    Hey Eric.

    This is a good reminder of what we get out of trying something new. It invigorates a part of us to launch into action, that for some reason did not launch into action prior to taking part in the new activity. I can read about one activity or another, but reading will not provide the environmental pressures or cues that being in that new environment or predicament does provide.

    I might have ideas in my head, but until I go do some new activity, or something with others that has unpredictable portions to it, those ideas will remain unmoved in my head, and not implemented. The only reason for my latest hiking series was the new thoughts I had during that hike about worry about getting back to the bottom of the mountain in the darkness.

    I like how you said that the intelligence is freed through those activities. That gives me more impetus to add in new activities. Thanks for this.

    • says

      Hey Armen, this is all so true! I remember thinking that even the smell of Las Vegas seemed different. It had a kind of sweet smell that I can’t explain, but that constant new scent seemed to trigger new thoughts on its own.

      Sounds like you know exactly what I’m talking about with your hiking series. You obviously learned a lot from the trip and no one can’t with some quality time outdoors. :-) Eric

  2. says

    Hi Eric, there’s a lot of truth to this, and it’s good reason to bring a journal or a simple voice recorder just to make note of the impressions and ideas that fly around when we have such an experience. And it reminds me, that it’s been too long since I’ve been that far out of my *usual* element… I think it’s time to plan a new adventure. Thanks!

    Miche :)

    • says

      Hey Miche, you make a great point! I really should have written some of this down. To be honest, much of my ‘light bulb *DING*’ moments are kind of fuzzy now. I guess we could call this ‘taking life notes’.

      Thanks for sharing this. :-) Eric

    • says

      You really do need to go Dayne! Sean Platt (the other guy in the picture) and I were saying the same thing last year. We almost didn’t go this year, but decided it was a must and were really glad we did it.

      And thanks about the picture of Tyson. I can’t help but smile when I look at it. :-) Eric

  3. says

    Long time no see, Eric!
    I’m glad you managed to make it to Blog Expo World. I think because of my lack of travel in the past couple of years, I’ve become a bit stale creatively. Next year, I’m moving back to New Zealand. I hope that will set off some creativity for business ideas. Thanks.

    • says

      Hey Gordie, I wasn’t going to miss Blog World this year for anything! New Zealand sounds great though. I’m sure that’s the kind of place to get your creative juices flowing for sure. :-) Eric

  4. says

    This is really true, Eric. I think one of the biggest benefits of travel (to a conference or elsewhere) is all the ideas that come from being in a new environment. Of course, at Blog World the sessions were excellent – but probably 75% of my ideas didn’t come from the speakers.

    Anyway, great post, and it was nice meeting you there!

  5. says

    I was reading this, going “yes,” “yes,” the whole time! I had a similar experience this year when I went to Seattle for the first time. I came away with so many ideas and thoughts, that I at first gave credit to Seattle for them. But after reading your article, I realized that most of what I “learned” was actually stuff I already knew, it’s just that the new venue sort of validated my thoughts for some reason.

    That’s fantastic that you and Sean got to meet. But I must ask—are the ladies real or wax?

    Great picture of Tyson! I just wanna pick him up and kiss those cheeks!

    • says

      Hey Randi, I’m really glad you were able to get so much out of the post.

      The ladies are real, though I totally see what you’re saying.

      And Tyson’s cheeks are no doubt the kissing kind. Liz and I are sure to give him his share throughout the day. :-) Eric

  6. says

    Interesting post as always Eric, I really enjoy your blog. I love travelling, but often find it hard to let go and relax. I do agree though, creativity comes from taking a break from the norm and living a little. Meeting new people and seeing new places can only mean a different perspectives and fresh ideas.

    • says

      Thanks! :-) I totally understand about not being able to relax. I’m such a home body that being out of my home town comfort zone can really be hard. Yet, like you just mentioned, it’s often the changes that stir our imaginations. Eric

  7. says

    The ability to think outside the box, really does open opportunities, people, and resources to you. It really just comes down to trusting that flow and that inner knowing that being in a more nonlinear style of thinking brings these amazing rewards to you.

  8. says

    Eric Hamm 😉 Great post matey

    I took in a Author workshop back in 2007 in Los Angeles and what a great time it was, it was only 1 day but I stayed on for a few more days to take in the sights and the ideas that came to me in that time were dynamite

  9. says

    Eric, I also recently got back from a conference held out of town and came back with a lot of new ideas. You’re right, just getting out of familiar environments helps us gain a new perspective. Maybe that’s why people who force themselves out of their comfort zone are better able to come up with new perspectives. BTW, while on my trip to that conference, I read your post on how to stop pleasing other people. It made a greater impact on me not only because it was a great post but because I was out of my comfort zone in an unfamiliar environment. Thanks for your great insights, Marguerite

  10. says

    I completely agree! Changing our environment is a fantastic way to get ourselves in a different mindset. Often I find that when I am traveling I feel much more creative too.

    Adorable picture by the way!

  11. says

    “While your mind is coping with the new situation, being forced to strain where it’s used to being on auto-pilot, you’ll free the intelligence that has been waiting to escape your sub-conscious.”

    Eric I found out about your blog through Sid Savara who I recently interviewed for my up and coming bloggers podcast. When I read this post I couldn’t help but think of something that I experience daily. As an avid surfer, I’m not dealing with a new situation, but unplugged from everything else and forced to only focus on what I’m doing in the moment I come out of the water with about a dozen new ideas for blog posts, business ideas, and find my subconscious does all the work. So I definitely think that a bit of unplugging from day to day routines can propel you into the stratosphere.

  12. says

    When I’m in a bookstore, I try to read magazines that I have absolutely no interest in. It’s amazing how you’ll pick up ideas from other disciplines that you can use in your own. Nice article!

    • says

      I do the same thing. Sometimes I get bored, but more often than not I end up finding a new interest. Great minds…right?! :-)

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Eric


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