To Trigger New Ideas, Find a Liquid Network

PHOTO BY Yogendra174

PHOTO BY Yogendra174

Want to swim in a liquid network teeming with fresh ideas and insights? I recommend Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in Minneapolis. But go with the right people.

In his book Where Good Ideas Come From, science writer Steven Johnson cites the importance of a liquid network for causing new possibilities to take root. Life is thought to have come from some primordial soup, where carbon atoms were able to collide with “ammonia, phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity,” (according to a letter by Charles Darwin to another botanist).  

Yes, liquid is the stuff. Solid networks are too rigid for leaps of possibility, and gaseous networks are too chaotic. Well, I’m a big believer in the value of liquid networks. My head is humming with weak signals about what might be possible, and only by colliding with others in my field do these signals make new, unexpected connections.

Last week I spent some time in Minneapolis making connections. A colleague and I had off-the-record exchanges with big healthcare firms, small digital agencies, a giant food company, a million-selling author pushing the envelope of human purpose… and mixed drinks at Psycho Suzi’s Tiki Bar. A gang from UnitedHealth Group and others in their orbit gathered at Psycho Suzi’s on the banks of the Mississippi to toast the beginning of summer.  

Here are a few of the ideas my mind collided with that afternoon:

  • “Simple may be brave, but subtle is prescient; it knows us better than we know ourselves. Subtle surprises us and gives back to us.”
  • “Read your book aloud to someone – I guarantee it will improve your book, it will make it more human. And it will get shorter.”
  • “Corporate philanthropy used to mean adventure travel, working at the base of the pyramid. But next year we’re bringing people to the U.S., to do service projects at the base of the pyramid in our own backyard.”
  •  “I wanted to get you something very Minneapolis to mark your visit.  Like maybe a tattoo.”

Where do you find a liquid network to collide with?  I’d love to collect some favorite spots and share them in a future post.  Better yet, just meet me at Psycho Suzi’s.