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Ideation 101: Investor Toby Carrodus Explains How to Come Up with New Ideas

Global investor and quantitative analyst Toby Carrodus recently hiked in the Austrian and Italian Alps for fun. He also loves to surf. From hobbies that are physical pursuits, he has learned that, beyond enjoyment, they sometimes birth ideas.

“One thing that has tremendously boosted my productivity has been a disciplined exercise routine where I exercise at the same time each day, Monday to Friday – no excuses,” he says. “I have found that some of my best thoughts, strategies and ideas come to me either during or immediately after exercise.”

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An expert in quantitative analysis, Carrodus achieved a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts. in political science from the Australian National University and a Master of Science in Economics from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He employs ideation, the process of forming and communicating ideas.

The ideation process can take different forms, like visual or non-representational, and relies on collaboration. After the team selects an idea, they implement a plan to bring it to fruition.

Exercise Gives Toby Carrodus Many Benefits

As a youth, Carrodus’s first job was at an ice cream parlor in small-town Australia, where he grew up. Today, he is a multimillionaire and uses quantitative analysis methods to help companies make business and financial decisions. He does not believe the ‘hustle and grind’ approach is helpful to his type of work, in which one has to think clearly, so he takes time off to exercise daily.

“Modern entrepreneurship has been associated with ‘hustling and grinding’ 24/7 and no days off,” he says. “But this is not sustainable and also not going to foster the mental clarity needed to make sensible decisions in a pressured environment.”

Toby Carrodus believes exercise generates ideas for two reasons. First, it’s healthy to remove oneself from the work environment that can influence your decision-making.

“This gives you some space by not consciously thinking about a topic,” he says.”

Second, exercise gets the blood pumping. Carrodus says this positively affects one’s state of being.

“It’s often a better state to be in for idea generation than sitting at a desk staring at a screen full of distractions,” he says. “Going at the same time every day also offers some structure to your day,” he says. “It also allows you to maintain your momentum, as colleagues generally know you will be unavailable at that time each day.”

Toby Carrodus Stresses the Importance of Recording Ideas and Being Inclusive

Ideas hit Toby Carrodus at random. He also has ways to drum up creative inspiration, including escaping from phones and computers. Flights, libraries and hikes often generate ideas, too.

“Generally, ideas come to me when I’m not thinking about them,” he says. “This often happens when I’m at the gym, going for a run, floating on my surfboard in the ocean, driving on the freeway or even getting out of the shower!”

Toby Carrodus always has a pencil and paper for when an idea pops into his head. When the idea arrives, if he doesn’t have writing materials, he will make a mental note of it until I can write it down.

“I think it is important to write your ideas down so you have a record of them,” he says. “Also, it forces you to articulate your thoughts succinctly.”

After meditating on the idea for some time, Carrodus shares it with others. If he’s at work, he might make a presentation to coworkers to solicit constructive criticism. Then, the team will take the information gathered at the meeting and start scheduling project deadlines.

“I think it is good to present the idea to a mix of people with and without domain knowledge,” Carrodus says. “People without domain knowledge tend to ask what subject matter experts might consider the ‘dumb questions,’ but these are often exceptionally insightful questions.’

In an interview with the Principal Post, Carrodus says he rejects the widely held belief that the person who talks the most in group settings is more suitable to become the leader.

“In fact, we won’t understand the views of the group until we’ve invited the quieter voices into the discussion,” he says.

This also appears to be backed up by current research. Companies that include various races, ethnicities, and abilities tend to hear the quieter voices in the discussion, which can bring valuable insights. For example, the April 2021 Deloitte Global Marketing Trends Executive Survey, which utilizes data on more than 11,500 global consumers and 1,000 global executives, indicates that it is beneficial for organizations to bring diverse voices into their sphere to bolster their reach and make better decisions. Toby Carrodus seems to agree.

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