Has this ever happened to you? You are out shopping or something and and idea comes to you. Something you think is marketable and that people can use. The next thing you know, someone has magically invented it.  That’s how the universe works, more than one person will get an idea for a solution to a proble, a product or system or service that can make life easier for others. But not everyone will do something with the idea. Its the ones that actually take action that become famous, rich and heros. 

Perhaps you have been out somewhere and had a brilliant idea and didn’t want to trust your mind to remember it later? If you are like most people you grabbed the first thing that you could write on.  And if you were having drinks or eating out, that thing was likely a napkin.

Many people have had ideas they jotted down on the back of a napkin, stuck in their pocket or purse and then even forgot about it.  Maybe you were even so excited, you wrote on more than one napkin.

Brainstorms have been conducted on napkins. Business ideas have been written down on napkins to later be incredible successes. 

Inventions have been designed on napkins. Read about Terry Campbell’s million dollar idea for a seatbelt adjuster for short drivers, and how he wrote it down on a napkin after pulling off to the side of the road here: http://www.businessedge.ca/article.cfm/newsID/17243.cfm

Fashions have been designed on napkins. Take designer Missy DeGroots high-end handbags  In an interview with Cincy Chic, Missy shares how she comes up with her designs. She says,  “The brain takes in a lot of subconscious items on a daily basis and then it does something (sometimes at crazy hours of the day and night) where it decides to pop out visions and ideas, that come out when they’re ready, then I have to sketch. Some of the best ideas have made their way from sketches on cocktail napkins and airplane boarding passes to my Sample Makers table!” 

Book ideas have been written down on napkins to later become best-sellers.  In fact there have even been books written about the topic of writing down ideas on napkins. Check out The Million-Dollar Idea in Everyone: Easy New Ways to Make Money from Your Interests, Insights, and Inventions by Mike Collins at http://www.amazon.com/Million-Dollar-Idea-Everyone-Interests-Inventions/dp/0470193360

In fact, I am sure napkins have been used for ideas since napkins were first invented.

Napkins are perfect for writing down ideas because they have limited space. Which means you have to be succinct in describing your thoughts. Some people write a few words, others draw and still others mind map.  You may do a combination of all 3.  With a napkin, your drawing or words don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be an artist, you just need include enough information to trigger your thought processes when you go back to read it.

In fact, Esquire magazine sought to raise napkin writing to an art so they asked writers around the country to be creative and write a story on a cocktail napkin. They received nearly 100 responses and shared them with Weekend America.   You can read about it here: http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/03/10/napkin_fiction/

Some really wacked out ideas end up on napkins. The kind of ideas that may not make it to market in our lifetime, but somewhere beyond may become a reality.  Gizmodo asked readers to send in their napkin sketch ideas. They showcased 3 “winners” including the creator of the Pizza Fax. Read the story, “Napkin Sketches Prove There’s a Little Inventor in All of Us” at http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2008/07/30_napkin_sketches_prove_theres_a_little_inventor_in_all_of_us-2.html

Here’s a great eguide called Napkin Sketches 101 to check out http://www.steelcase.com/Files/eef28f3f464146199441e14c1ed69111.pdf

If you do your best work on the back (or front of) a napkin, you might want to view this great new product called the Napkin Notebook at: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2007/11/napkin_notebook_an_idea_so_goo.html
So, next time you get an idea, don’t just shrug it off or decide that you will do something with the idea later. Grab a napkin and write it down. Then let it simmer a while, allow your creative mind to find ways to act on the idea, to develop it.  Then grab another napkin and GET TO WORK!