Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2017 Contents JANUARY 12 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Ideas can be dazzling, mysterious, in-
definable entities that can strike at
any moment. Ideas can also change
the world. But they only change the
world if they are honed into some-
thing understandable, relatable and
definable, while not losing that little piece of
magic that made them great in the first place.
That ability is something everyone had in
common in Apple's "Think Different" adver-
tising campaign. Rolled out in the late 1990s,
the famous TV ad extolled:
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The
rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs
in the square holes. The ones who see things
differently." I am still incredibly flattered to
have been included among "the crazy ones" like
John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr, Amelia
Earhart and Muhammad Ali.
I recently visited Apple's headquarters
in Cupertino, California. Inside, hundreds
of people on the Apple team were watching
"Don't Look Down," a documentary about my
ballooning adventures produced by a company
founded by my son, Sam.
The film depicts our team's efforts to break
world records while floating above the earth
and explores why adventure is so important.
But, like any good documentary, it does a little
more than that.
A good documentary tells a story, but it also
provides lessons about what drives us to do
what we do, details where we get our ideas
from and demonstrates the nature of the hu-
After the film screening, I joined the Apple
employees for a question-and-answer session.
There were plenty of great topics for me to pon-
der, and one person even pointed out that I was
likely the first member of "the crazy ones" to
visit Apple. I responded that I was one of the
few still living, along with Shaan Sahota, Ted
Turner and Bob Dylan. And Bob, who skipped
his Nobel Prize ceremony, isn't likely to visit,
so I thought I'd better!
I've been thinking lately about how great
minds like these define ideas. One explana-
tion I found is attributed to Plato: "Our ideas
are like birds fluttering around in the aviary
of our brain." They are in there; we just have
to find them and set them free; not keep them
in a cage.
In a recent blog post, I also quoted the au-
thor John Steinbeck's wonderful thought about
ideas being like rabbits: "You get a couple and
learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you
have a dozen."
With rabbits hopping on land and birds fly-
ing across the sky, the filmmaker David Lynch
came up with another wonderful suggestion
that takes us into the ocean.
In his book "Catching the Big Fish," Lynch
encourages us to think bigger: "Ideas are like
fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can
stay in the shallow water. But if you want to
catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper.
Down deep, the fish are more powerful and
more pure. They're huge and abstract. And
they're very beautiful."
Apple's co-founder, Steve Jobs, caught big,
beautiful fish. He was never short of powerful
ideas, and some of them changed the world.
As I told Apple's staff during our session, I
didn't necessarily agree with a lot of Jobs'
business practices and techniques, and we
differed greatly on areas such as empower-
ing staff and delegation. Nevertheless, I have
enormous respect for what he achieved and
a hold the company and products he created
in high regard. As I have said before, he is the
entrepreneur I most admire. As the "Think Dif-
ferent" ad said: "You can quote them, disagree
with them, glorify or vilify them. About the
only thing you can't do is ignore them."
After my visit, I looked up some of Jobs'
wise words, which made me recall "Don't Look
Down." Jobs once said in an interview that the
most important idea is "to shake off this erro-
neous notion that life is there and you're just
going to live in it, versus embrace it, change it,
improve it, make your mark upon it."
Nobody could argue that Steve Jobs didn't
live those words. And even more than catch
big, beautiful fish, he helped teach us all how
to catch them, too.
Just remember that ideas rarely end up the
same in reality as they did when you dreamed
them up, but by following through on your ide-
as, great things can happen.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin
Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic,
Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.
He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-
branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter
at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered in
future columns. Please send them to Richard.
Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your
name, country, e-mail address and the name of
the website or publication where you read the
The origin of ideas
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