James Altucher’s Ideas Machine for 7 days. Here’s 55 ideas!

Ideas Machine
(Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash)

In his book Choose Yourself, James Altucher suggests that you become an Ideas Machine. Here’s an article by Inc magazine that outlines the process: How to Become an Idea Machine.

It’s supposed to be 10 ideas a day but this is hard! Over 7 days, I should have generated 70 ideas but here’s 55 ideas:


  1. Pret needs to update itself to stay on top in 5 years time. It could easily go the way of Costa and Cafe Nero’s. I think it needs to freshen up its visual brand assets, and increase the range of vegan food offerings. Its coffee also needs to improve. There’s so many artisanal coffee shops out there now serving up delicious next-level single origin-based coffee.
  2. Veganism is a fast-growing trend. Start a local vegan cafe serving only vegan coffees and food.
  3. Can we live on a much-reduced food budget? eg £50 a week. Look at Jack Monroe’s site for ideas.
  4. Could mentorship be one of the solutions to reduced social mobility? Could the right mentors help and guide kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and circumstances to fulfil their potential? What if I started a website with videos of mentors advising, coaching?
  5. Just watched a few episodes of the new Queer Eye series. I LOVE this show. The transformation they go through is incredible. How would the Fab 5 transform our lives? Could we recreate it in our own lives?
  6. Crossfit gyms are super expensive eg £200 per month. What is it about Crossfit that makes it so expensive. Could someone recreate the experience for less money?


  1. I’ve started using the app Chip, which claims to use AI to analyse your bank account transactions to see what you can actually afford to additionally save and tuck that away. I’ve been using it for 4 days now and it’s saved and taken £6.79. As a user, I’d like to know what the £6.79 was based on ie how it was calculated? Where is the £6.79 held once it’s left my bank account? Are my deposits protected by FSCS? Maybe these should be communicated better to the user.
  2. Pubs will sell fewer drinks as due to social distancing, fewer patrons will be able to enter their pubs. This will hit overall revenue. To make this up, pubs can’t really raise their prices to compensate as people’s spending power will be smaller overall. So how about in busy times, the pub offers a smaller menu of drinks? This would mean that drinks could be poured in bulk and stored up for a line of waiting customers, and there would be a time-saving in serving each customer, meaning that more customers could be served.
  3. What if Apple had an inbuilt feature that meant photos could be easily exported and the photos were then printed and sent to your house? (Angelique said this already exists!) Looking at the App Store, there’s quite a few apps that do this. One that stands out is Photobox’s free printing service – apparently you get 50 free prints a month – you just pay for delivery. Pretty good deal! I’ll check it out and report back.
  4. Sonos is a pretty good product. The app could be better for searching for and discovering new music but one thing I’d love it to do is play from my phone via bluetooth. Add bluetooth please Sonos!
  5. Apple photo file formats are now in HEIC which makes it hard to upload to apps like Moonpig which only accept JPGs and PNGs. Couldn’t Apple just give an option to save/export photo files as JPGs or PNGs? (Joint idea with Angelique)
  6. Pulses and grains tend to come in plastic that you have to tear. How about putting them in a tetra pack so that you don’t spill grains out every time you open and then reseal them.
  7. What about having food labeling that as well as highlighted calories and nutritional make-up such as protein, carbs and fats, we also could see how nutritious and good for us (or not) that this food item was?
  8. What about some kind of organisation designed to tackle loneliness in the UK, especially the elderly who live on their own? Our local nursery organises trips to local care homes for the kids to spend time with the residents.
  9. If vitamin D is beneficial in Northern European countries, then could we put it in the water similar to how we put fluoride in water to help protect teeth?
  10. Why can’t we provide laptops for all kids whose families can’t afford them? Say there’s a million kids this affects, then couldn’t the public and private sector join together to fill this need? Chromebooks can retail for around £200 each. Even at this RRP, that’s £200m to equip kids with a necessity.
  11. Could utility companies be persuaded to give free fast internet to the most disadvantaged homes? Could they give free internet to libraries?


  1. Why does painting walls need an undercoat? Can’t they just make the paint thick enough?!
  2. Is there a way to make baby food purees that are 100% nutritious, in recyclable jars, and that are cheap?
  3. Why does toothpaste come in such small containers? Surely bigger sizes of package would be better in terms of packaging waste?
  4. Could Apple give old phones that still work well to developing nations? This would connect millions of people (assuming the internet is good) and would also mean that Apple has lots more people in its ecosystem?


  1. Watching Inside Bill’s Brain, a Netflix documentary on Bill Gates, and he needed $6bn to try and eradicate polio. Why wouldn’t governments give him that? That’s a drop in the ocean compared to what we spend for bailouts. For such a momentous goal, shouldn’t governments have lined up to give him that?
  2. In the current Covid social-distancing world, there are queues to get into places. You never know when there’ll be a queue outside the supermarket. You’ve just got to turn up and hope that there isn’t one when you get there. What if the Google Map entry for the supermarket had a current status of how big the queue is?
  3. To grow your email list, do it one by one. Ask people to share it.
  4. What if there was a question that you could ask and be asked when meeting someone for the first time that would accelerate the building of rapport?
  5. What if we built hostels for homeless people and they didn’t have to pay anything to access them? The hostels could help them with health, education/training, being on the system with bank accounts and an address. Come to think of it, why doesn’t the government underwrite funded bank accounts for the unbanked?
  6. Is it possible to make pans with non-stick that never comes off?
  7. Can tissues come in smaller sizes as generally one blow of the nose doesn’t fill it, and throwing it away is a real waste?
  8. Bill Gates has a week called Think Week where he goes off and just reads and thinks. What if we implemented something similar in our own lives?
  9. What if aggression isn’t a bad thing? What if we taught healthy, channelled aggression to kids?
  10. What if we made opera and ballet free in the same way that art galleries are generally free? You’d get much more exposure to what is a public good?
  11. What if we made a week of social work mandatory for schoolkids in the same way that they have to do work experience. It might reduce loneliness and also increase kids’ awareness of the lives of others in the community.


I forgot!


  1. Instead of a tweed suit, how about a hemp suit? Sustainable?
  2. What about a legal version of Money Saving Expert, a resource aimed at the normal person in the street? Written by lawyers. Questions such as Do I need a will? What makes a will legal?
  3. What about an easy way of buying and holding other currencies such as CHF, HKD, AUD which might appreciate against GBP?
  4. Can we double the number of trees in inner cities to reduce pollution and increase residents’ well-being?
  5. What about a National Poetry Day? (Doh it exists!) National Poetry Competitions?
  6. What about bring Spelling Bees to the UK?
  7. Public speaking for 6 year olds?
  8. What about opening up a lot more space for allotments so that town people can grow more food?
  9. More urban farms to bring nature to the cities?
  10. Outdoor Film Festivals during summer in London parks
  11. Opera Festival during summer in London parks


  1. What about sofas and chairs made for short people? So that we can put our feet firmly square on the ground!
  2. There’s a shop for big and tall – what about a shop for small and short?
  3. What about some kind of tag put in each of a pair of socks so that neither would get lost?
  4. What about a free or subsidised compost maker for every household?
  5. What if meditation was taught in schools at an early age?
  6. What if we fully funded fact-checking charities to help deal with fake news and questionable statements in the public domain?
  7. What if it became government advice to walk 10,000 steps a day, in much the same way as 5-a-day fruit/veg advice?
  8. What if we found a good value way to offer people solar panels to put on their roofs to reduce reliance on normal electricity?
  9. If companies are the biggest emittors of greenhouse gases, what if we offered tax credits to those companies who hit certain green targets?
  10. What if cows wore something on their backsides to capture the methane and stop it going into the atmosphere?

Things I’ve found

Sometimes the ideas flow, other times they’re hard to come by. Sitting at my laptop and trying to think of ideas isn’t always easy. It really is like a muscle. You’ve got to strain and flex and keep going when it’s uncomfortable, just like doing weights.

You feel really ‘on it’ once you’ve done 10 mins of thinking and idea-generating. When you’re making connections, it’s like you’re fitting a idea onto other potential candidates. For example, with the toothpaste coming in bigger packages, that was because of a gadget I saw which was an ice cube mould that made big icecubes. I’d never seen that before and I immediatlely wondered why they weren’t the gold standard of icecube moulds! Easier to balance in a home freezer and they last longer. What else could this idea fit? Toothpaste packaging? Shower gel packaging?

Got any other ideas?! Let me know in the comments below!

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