The best ideas are free, says Ben Young

by Lee Hopkins on January 5, 2010 · 4 comments

in reviews

the best ideas are free book cover B is for Ben; in this case, Ben Young who is a very smart bloke. I know that from two personal experiences.

Firstly, I met him back in early 2009 when I was in Auckland at a digital media conference, and I was impressed with his ideas.

Secondly, and right now, because he has referenced Charles Handy, one of my favourite thinkers, in his own book, the best ideas are free. Anyone of Ben’s generation who has even heard of Handy gets my vote – the fact that Ben actually has read him astounds and delights me.

Incidentally, I actually met Charles once. I was on a plane from London to Montreal, to attend and present at a psychology congress, when I fainted on the plane. Charles turned out to be sitting in front of me and was one of the very kind folks who helped me whilst the airline stewardess rushed and got the oxygen bottle. Okay, gratuitous name-drop over.

Ben’s book is a compendium of 63 easily digestible ideas on which to chew; the sort of ideas that you skim read, go “oh yeah, that’s a good idea”, do nothing about, then find them becoming more and more persistent in their tugging on your raincoat as time skims by.

As Ben wrote to me in the flyleaf of my copy, “perseverance is genius” – yet another point on which I agree.

None of these 63 ideas are long-winded. At most each will take two minutes to read, but the value of the ideas comes not from their brevity (or perhaps it does). The ideas are not new, but some are startling in how they make your head ‘snap’ in recognition of their ‘rightness’.

When the pupil is ready the teacher will come, goes the ancient saying. Ben therefore can be quite rightly viewed a teacher of men (and women), a shining light in a wilderness dark with wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Ben Young - author of the excellent book, "the best ideas are free" I have very kindly been given an extra copy of the book by Ben. The first person to tell me how many ideas are in the book wins an autographed copy (I’d laugh if you’re from New Zealand – your copy would then have flown from New Zealand to Australia and back to New Zealand!)

  • Ben Hamilton

    I'm thinking there would be 63 ideas in Ben Young's book.

    From what I've read about it it sure looks interesting. I've actually come to realise over the last few years that ideas are worth very little, UNLESS the required effort in applied to implementing the idea.

  • Lee Hopkins

    G'day Ben;

    Indeed that is true – ideas are (almost) worthless unless you do something about them. I'm sure I'm not alone in having had a 'brilliant' idea, failed to follow up on it, then see someone else come up with the same idea and run to the success line with it (grrr…)

  • Lee Hopkins

    Oh, I forgot to mention, Stephen from New York was first across the line and so will get a New Zealand-authored book with Australian postal stamps on the post bag :-)

    Of course, you can read the entire book online at

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