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Your Wake Up Pad

It’s time for another WUP upside the head. I’ve written about this here before, and, of course, in The Radical Edge. Given the challenges many (most?) of us are facing today, I thought it an opportune time to fire up our natural, built in, idea-generation instincts.

The Wake Up Pad (WUP) method is a powerful re-thinking and new application of an ancient, incredibly simple, and decidedly low-tech tool: the notebook.

First, go get yourself one. You can use an electronic version if you’d like, but I prefer a good old paper-and-pen setup. Get in the habit of carrying it with you at all times, and if you use it in the way I’m going to describe in the next few posts, it’ll transform before your eyes from a “notebook” into a virtual shape-shifter for your brain, your business and your life.

The first thing you’ll do (even though there’s really no set, linear order to this, for the sake of clarity, let’s discuss it as if there were) is…

SCAN–just like you were a computer scanner. Your scanner just copies; it doesn’t comment, it doesn’t offer an opinion, it doesn’t tell you you look like an idiot in that photo from last weekend’s drunken tailgate party.

Like that, just scan your environment and record what you see. Scan the bestseller lists and notice what people are reading; scan the magazine racks and pick up publications that don’t interest you; scan the weekly TV-show rankings; scan the headlines of your on-line newsfeeds and actual print-and-ink newspapers from 20 different cities; scan the room that you’re sitting in right now; scan the crowds as you’re walking down the street during your lunch break.

Then, as often as is practical, write down what you’re seeing in your WUP. Write down your observations of subcultures that are entirely alien to you and trends in the tastes of popular culture. Capture little idea-snapshots of natural, political, and social phenomena.

Scan, scan, scan.

Look at everything going on around you and write your observations in the Pad without comment or judgement.

That’s step one, and I suggest that you give it a try right away. That’ll get you started and prepared for Step Two, which we’ll get to next week.

In the meantime, why not record some of your scanning work in the comment section below?

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  1. Kimberly Williams says:

    I took Steve’s advice and began scanning right away.  My techinque so far is just observance and being aware of my surroundings, paying attention to what I am actually doing as much as possible.  I took advantage of a slow moving commute to work due to a car accident on the road this morning, by scanning in what I saw as I creeped along the highway I usually fly down.  There is actually some pretty scenary, trees, mountains etc., that I’ve never appreciated before.  Also got to look into other folk’s cars, and observe their equally painful faces as we crawled along together, anticipating the point where we could break through and drive our normal pace again.  I observed how for the most part we were able to move as one mindset without verbal communication, to merge, cutover, let in, etc., being gentle with one another’s nerves.  This was very interesting, seeing as this is not the way we treat one another on the road under normal circumstances.  It restored my faith in mankind a little.

  2. elbiddulph says:

    Bought a journal/notebook/WUP pad today. And, actually wrote an observation in it. Following Friday’s suggestions!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bought a journal/notebook/WUP pad today. And, actually wrote an observation in it. Following Friday’s suggestions!!


  1. Steve Farber says:

    […] now that you’ve taken notes from your scanning (see step #1) and eavesdropping (see step #2), it’s time to make it […]

  2. Steve Farber says:

    […] in your WUP. Between what you’re taking in with your ears (eavesdropping) and your eyes (scanning–see the previous post), you’ll have lots of ammo in your WUP to use in the next step of the […]