Helping Creative People Create

5 Questions with Scott Belsky, the Guy that Makes Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky, author of the book Making Ideas Happen

Scott leads us fearlessly into the Promised Land of idea completion.

So, if you’ve been reading for a while, you already know that I’m a big fan of Scott Belsky. For starters, he wrote a book that I constantly reference. He also has a fantastic network for creatives, and he’s a pretty nice guy to boot.

What I really love about Scott is that he’s truly a student of the creative process. He knows what makes creative people tick, and more importantly, he knows what it takes to actually be successful as “a creative”.

Scott has graciously allowed me to pick his brain on various topics, like how he organizes himself and some of examples of how creative people finish ideas.

1. Making Ideas Happen has a lot to do about being selective with ideas. A massive part of entrepreneurial success comes down to knowing when to pursue an idea and when to let go of it. What’s a good “metric” for deciding which ideas to pursue or drop?

Scott: Here’s one way to decide: Does your community care? Everyone has a “community” of constituents – customers, users, readers, clients, etc…

Share your ideas liberally. If your community engages with them (either for or against them), then you know you’re onto something. If they don’t look twice you know that you either need to reconsider the idea or rethink how you communicate it.

2. Sharing ownership of ideas is crucial to the idea’s success, yet it’s something creators have a hard time grasping. How do you guys share ownership of ideas at Behance?

scott belsky of behance

Scott: Yes, “sharing ownership” of ideas is easy to say, hard to do. Why? Because we are creative perfectionists with a very distinct vision for what we are trying to creative / achieve with our ideas. The more passionate you are, the more challenging it is.

At Behance, each member of our team has a specific area of expertise. We try to empower the right person for each decision, depending on the expertise required. However, we debate a lot and go through an extensive “concepting” phase where ownership truly becomes shared. We discuss stuff so much that we lose track over who had which idea. Projects evolve so quickly and mutate into a co-conceived outcome.

3. Your organizational system and software Action Method Online is incredible. How many open projects do you typically have in your AMO setup?

Scott: I currently have about 36 open “projects” with Action Steps in my ActionMethod.
Most of these projects fall under 4 groups, one of which is called “Personal,” and the other three related to Behance.

4. You’ve done tons of research and interviews with successful creative people over the years with Behance. What is the biggest factor that they attribute to their successes? Is there anything that they all share in common?

Scott: The most accomplished creative people I have met over the years share three common attributes: (1) they spend a lot of energy on HOW they organize, (2) they’re very focused on how to engage their community (and various groups of constituents) with their ideas, and (3) they posses a high level of leadership capability when it comes to managing creative pursuits.

If there was one big competitive advantage among all others, it would be organization and living/working with a “bias towards action.”

5. If there’s one theme you’d want people to take away from Making Ideas Happen, what would it be?

Scott: Focus a little less on inspiration and generating ideas, and focus a lot more on execution and developing the capacity to push ideas to fruition!

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Thanks again Scott. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you can get your hands on Scott’s book Making Ideas Happen, you won’t be disappointed.

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  • I really like Scott’s comment about successful creatives having a “bias towards action.” It’s such fun to come up with great ideas — even mapping out plans, but that final action step is always the kicker.

    It seems obvious that action is needed, but most of us need constant reminders that there is no success without it.

    Great post, thanks!

  • Hi Glen, thanks for the intro, I got to read that booka:) I like the takeaway of being organised. A lot of creative people aren’t but you have to be if you want to succeed. Being organised helps free up my time for more creativity (hooray!) so it’s well worth it!

  • Wow, thanks for introducing me to this new character! I always hear entrepreneurs in interviews talk about sharing ownership, and it makes so much sense to me.

    Haha, I love the quote “Bias towards action”. :) Thanks for sharing.

  • Focus with the end in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  • This guy is very inspirational. He has a network that’s amazing. Definitely someone to admire!!

  • that was a concise and sweet interview,Glen.

    I agree on the eternal creative dilemma – having cool ideas is easy, executing them is a whole different game.

    Testing your ideas and then just going on with them. See what what works, and then go on. Say next. and next.

    Thanks for reminding the magic to me ;)

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