Justin Brown

Founder of Ideapod

Justin Brown is the founder of Ideapod, a personal development platform for bringing ideas to life. Ideapod has an 80,000-strong community and has a focus on bringing the “self” out of “self-development”. Justin created Ideapod while undertaking doctoral research in international political economy. He quit the PhD to run Ideapod seven years and ago and hasn’t looked back.

Where did the idea for Ideapod come from?

I originally created Ideapod as a social network for ideas. The insight was that the world needed a social media platform that stimulated meaningful conversations around the ideas that would change the world.

Over time, it became clear to me that we didn’t need another social media platform for sharing ideas. Rather, it was more important to help people break through groupthink and collective hypnosis. The media had become a battleground for ideas. Independent and critical thinking had become qualities in short supply.

Now Ideapod is a personal growth platform supporting people to find their authenticity in a world that tries to turn us into machines. We help people to find a genuine connection with their creativity so that the ideas they share are deeply authentic, coming from their personal power.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Ideapod is a hybrid of a media and education platform. My day usually involves managing writers and overseeing our technical development. I may also be creating videos or catching up with some of our Tribe members.

My productivity increases when my daily routines support our broader strategy. Therefore, I like to do the same thing each day — when possible.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s important to understand your deeper purpose! Many people align their purpose with their goals and values. It comes from within.

Our insight is that purpose can be understood by connecting personal values with serving others.

When we do things for others — as opposed for ourselves — we bring ideas to life more effectively.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited by the emergence of plant-based meats. I think in the future when we look back to the current era, we’ll be shocked at the way animals are treated in so many of the industrial farms bringing the meat to our plates.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’ve managed to acquire the habit of consistently not worrying about perfection. I used to be my own worst enemy, always wanting my finished product to be as close to perfect as possible. I now live by the mantra that “perfection is the enemy of progress” and it enables me to be much more productive.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I doubt my younger self would listen to advice, just as I find it difficult to do so today. My main advice would be to “go your own way”.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

No-one is special. I think we live in a culture that encourages us to believe that we are all unique. However, I believe that giving up on trying to be special opens us up to the idea that we share many common challenges. These challenges may be at a personal and psychological level. They may be at a societal or global level. Giving up on being special brings more solidarity and I think this creates a better world.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Every day I exercise. I think we can all exercise daily, no matter what our physical condition is. In my case I alternate between running and the gym. I also do breathwork everyday. My life wouldn’t be the same without regular exercise.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

We shifted from hosting user-generated content to having an editorial approach to publishing. It has resulted in better-quality content on the platform. This has helped us grow our audience to over 1 million monthly readers, and our community is far more engaged than it used to be.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The first version of Ideapod was privately funded and didn’t have a business model. We were at the end of our runway, were struggling to find a viable business model and were close to shutting down. We overcame this by shifting from focusing on our grand vision to instead doing small things that helped our users. In our case, it meant simply creating a blog and writing about turning ideas into reality. It took a few years, but by thinking small and working to routines we ended up coming out of a very big rut and now have a profitable and growing business.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Now would be a good time to create a business with informational content on survival skills. It could span practical survival skills through to how to survive the breakdown of civilization. The content could be free with premium offerings to implement various skills. Survival skills will only grow in popularity and may become incredibly important in the future.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I hired a video editor for my latest YouTube video. He did a much better job than I can do and saved me a lot of time!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I love using Trello for project management. I use it to manage my writing and web development projects. It has been designed to give me a big picture overview of everything happening, and I can also dive deep into the details of specific tasks.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I just finished “The Courage to be Disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi. It’s a brilliant book in personal development, arguing that we don’t need to be defined by our experiences and traumas. It’s all about liberating ourselves from the expectations of others so we can live a life of true freedom.

What is your favorite quote?

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.” – Viktor Frankl

Key Learnings:

  • The best ideas come when you are aligned with your purpose; the most meaningful life purposes come from helping others.
  • Design your habits and routines so that success comes without needing to think about it.
  • Perfection is the enemy of progress.
  • Give up on trying to be special. This will help bring about solidarity with your friends, community and all of humanity.