I’m an Ideas Guy!


How many times have you heard someone use this phrase? Mostly people say it about themselves. What they’re really saying is, I just come up with ideas for other people to actually do. “Ideas” people who actually do things are more likely to call themselves inventors and entrepreneurs, not ideas guys.


Sometimes people use this phrase to talk about others, as in, “He’s an Ideas Guy.” On the surface this sounds like a compliment. He’s creative! He’s a thinker! Actually, it’s a bit of a slap. In the South if someone is an idiot or does something foolish, we’ll cover by saying, “Bless his heart.” Sounds like a sweet, matronly kind of thing to say. Actually, you’re being called out. Usually by a sweet and/or matronly person! Saying someone is an ideas guy is a nice way to say someone is good at running their mouth, but not so good at actually making things happen.


DO leaders, people who own it, fixers…these are all people who get things done through their actions rather than words. They don’t wait for others to act on their idea. Their ownership leads them to take action, and keep acting when things don’t work out at first. So what should you do to shepherd your ideas from thought to action?


  1. Write your ideas down. The first step to getting past just being an ideas guy, is to remember what you’re thinking about. There are lots of distractions these days. Find a way to record your ideas and then make a habit of going back and looking at them.
  2. Be quick to wind-up, slow to pitch. As you review the day’s ideas think about what you meant. Write notes. Expand the idea. Give it time to grow and develop. Use your wind-up time to do research. Talk to people about your idea. Read articles. Find data.
  3. Rate the idea. Is it a good idea? Will it help others or just you? Is it urgent? How quick could you implement it? Do you have the skills to act on it? Do you have the resources? Mature ideas can be implemented quickly. All of these things will aid implementation.
  4. Be a giver. When it comes time to act on your idea involve others by saying, “I need your help to…” rather than, “I think you should…” If you own the idea, you will need to own its implementation. That means rolling up your sleeves and leading through action, not waiting on the action of others. Givers know that if you’re gonna say stuff, you better DO stuff!


Most students enter our college as “ideas guys.” If they have an idea about what they want to do, it’s usually fairly generic. They want to get a job in a management development program. They want to get promoted at work. They want to start their own business.


Some are a little more developed. They want to be an accountant or a human resources professional. They want to be a director. They want to own a food truck or a brewery.


Some need to be more focused. They want to travel the world. They want to help others. They want to be successful.


But all of our students have the opportunity to get past the ideas stage and get to the hard work of “doing.” They can become Auditors with Grant Thornton and help international companies operate their businesses more efficiently. They can get promoted to head of their current business unit and help lead the team to greater performance. They can launch their business and bring joy and happiness to thousands through the food they create with love and care.


But none of them will succeed if they just “think” about what they’ll do. The brilliant ones know that if you’re gonna talk “stuff,” ya better DO stuff!