Discover Great Ideas Or Co-Founders With “Yes and…” Principle

Written by Jason Agcaoili, a member of SG Los Angeles community.

During last week’s Startup Grind, the guest interviewee was Christian Jacobs, the founder of Yo Gabba Gabba and The Aquabats. It’s always awesome listening to successful entrepreneurs and hearing about their struggles, advice and insight for fellow entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter which industry they’re in. It’s about the struggle and beating it.

During the interview, Christian discussed what allowed him to succeed was finding the right people to collaborate and work with. He discussed how using the “Yes and” Principle is a good tool for this. He explained that it’s a brainstorming tool primarily used by actors and writers to collaborate and expand on ideas.

At first I didn’t understand it and thought it was more for actors. Then I had my “Aha moment!” when I was having a conversation with someone and questioning if a potential business partner truly believed in their startup concept or was just saying they were.

As in every startup, finding the right business partners is key. Nothing new here. This is Business 101, right? But the key is finding the “right” business partners who truly believe in your idea and vision, whether they’re co-founders, investors or as part of your hit squad.

The principle is simple and works like this– Person A brings up an idea to Person B. The idea can be as vague as possible. In fact, I think it works better if the idea is as vague as possible. If Person B agrees to the idea, he enthusiastically agrees to the idea And adds to the original idea expanding it. In response, Person A then expands on Person B’s thoughts and so forth. If both are in sync, you have this domino effect and the original idea multiplies on its own. Once this occurs, this is when you know Person B truly believes in your vision and would probably be a good partner to start with.

Example of a good “Yes and…” conversation:

A:  “I’m thinking about setting up a website to sell my old comic books…”

B:  “Awesome! And other geeks can also use the site to sell their comic books!”

A:  “Yeah, and they can sell and trade with other comic book geeks!”

B:  “Then ‘we’ can expand the site for baseball card collectors and sell other stuff!”

A:  “Then we can expand it into a social network for this community. Let’s do this! Now what are we going to name it?”

If the “Yes and…” conversation stops immediately and you find yourself trying to explain the idea more in depth, then you have to question if Person B  would even be a good starting point as a partner or has an entrepreneurial mindset. The thing I’ve learned so far in my discussions with other entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurs automatically feel the energy of other entrepreneurs, whether they’re competitors or not, and they always give their input. If they like the idea, they’ll always tell you and give you other suggestions. (For the naysayers, we can sniff out their kind also and disregard them anyway.)

Keep in mind that we, entrepreneurs, are in a breed of our own. We constantly have visions of ideas. We have the domino effect of the “Yes and…” conversation going on in our head 24/7.  The difficulty and key is finding partners who do too.

Try this out with your partners and others and let me know what you think. Keep up the hustle.