“M&Ms! Incense! Black soap! Shea butter!”
I had no idea that these four things went together until today, when one of New York City’s finest subway merchants launched into a loud pitch on my train.
And he made a sale.
James Altucher often suggests that creators look for ways to combine ideas in new ways: it’s the combination of distinct ideas that are generative, not single ideas alone. In one of his latest articles, Altucher writes about combining old interests and seeing what new possibilities emerge from reinterpreting them through the lenses of maturity and time.
For new perspectives, we might also explore ideas at a different scale—scaled way up for greater complexity, or scaled way down for the simple components at their core. We might consider how they look in a new context: each new environment changes ideas and idea execution. These changes are substantive, even if the ideas’ core logics remain the same.
I also have no idea how today’s salesman arrived at his four commodities. My guess is he went with whatever people might buy at the prices he was offering. Sometimes what works will be as good an evaluative lens as any other: it’s too wearying to drag a roller bag of goods around the NYC metro system without a hope of turning travelers into customers.
And a good combination might pleasantly surprise everyone.