Best Ever Team Brainstorming Tip

Five years ago and exactly 100 tips back, I wrote about a lesson I learned about brainstorming that is absolutely essential if you work with people, whether it’s running a furniture business or an auto repair shop.

I’m dusting it off to tell the story again.

Drawers with words for brainstorming

When I was a young aspiring writer in Hollywood, I took a comedy-writing course from the brother of the famous playwright Neil. Danny Simon was Neil’s big brother and a talented writer himself.

The class was geared toward situation-comedy wannabes. I always loved and admired Rose Marie from The Dick Van Dyke Show and thought she had the dream girl-job as a comedy writer — even if she had to do the typing.

I don’t remember anything about Danny Simon’s class except one lesson. I was tasked to pretend I was a Head Writer and my classmates pretended they were my staffers who were to pitch story ideas to me.

As my classmates began giving me ideas, I said, “No, no, and … no.”

Danny stopped me cold. “Don’t do that! Never say ‘no’ to any idea when you’re brainstorming.”

I was taken aback. Many of the ideas really had been pretty lame.

Then the maestro explained, “If you say no to people, they will stop giving you ideas. And no matter how lousy one idea might be, that person’s next idea may be brilliant. If you shut them down, you’ll never get that brilliant idea.”

He also explained that it was important to let fresh ideas sit in your brain awhile. An idea that seemed stupid at first hearing may not sound so stupid after it’s simmered awhile.

What a wonderful lesson to apply both to business and everyday life. Listening to the ideas of your colleagues and support staff and truly giving them a chance to incubate can grow your business in ways you never dreamed.

And listening to the ideas of our friends and families and truly giving them a chance to incubate can grow our relationships in ways we never dreamed.

Though I’ve often failed in applying the above lesson, I’ve never forgotten it.

Easy Web Tip #228: When someone gives you an idea for your website, listen, take notes, and give the idea a chance.


  1. Katherine Andes

    One further point I should have written in my tip. When you are listening to ideas, write them down. It gives respect to the person who is giving the idea and shows that you take him or her seriously. It also helps you not to lose the idea.

  2. karen lamb

    wow, Kathy. I loved the anecdote and never knew you were so close to Neil Simon! And a great idea. Especially the writing down part. I hope to do this from now on.

  3. Katherine Andes

    Thanks, Karen. It’s amazing how getting just one important idea from a class or a book can stick with you and help you in both business and life.

  4. Thanks for the reminder, Kathy. Some pieces of wisdom are really fundamental and universal, and this one is a good example. It can also be seen as another angle on “do unto others….”

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