As marketers, brand leaders and creative types many of us (I’ve been guilty too) are in a constant search for the next new thing, a burst of innovation, some concept or some story that’s never been heard or seen and is original.

Stop wasting your time.

The notion that if it’s not original or new, it’s not valuable or somehow it lowers your worth is just plain crazy.

There is nothing new left in the world. Every good idea has been thought of by someone, somewhere on someday in history.

Start using energy to add your unique approach to any idea and take action to capitalize on it.

This weekend I was reading The Wall Street Journal and was reminded of the huge potential and power of often mundane, old news ideas. They are everywhere, just waiting to be picked up by a smart entrepreneur.

Inspiration for anyone who has heard the voice, it’s just not that original.

Meet Marie Kondo, a Japanese bestselling author and global sensation on tidying up. If that term seems foreign, it’s her branded way to describe the solution to a mess, which is a nice way for an author to break into a crowded title category.


Her book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
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Last time I looked the idea of decluttering your life, office and home was not new. I’d bet even going back to Ancient Roman times there were a handful of clean, freak citizens keeping all of the togas organized.

So what did she do that transformed a not so original idea into a global success?
How did the almost dull idea of keeping tidy by folding your clothes (which could be told on an index card) sell over 2,000,000 books and make her a worldwide organizational guru?

Here are a few I picked up. Read the entire story in The Wall Street Journal for more.

1) A book is not just a book.
Marie’s written four books. Her first one happened after she could not service her long waiting list of clients. So to help them, she authored a self serve declutter manifesto. This instructional content with a defined purpose became her starting platform for endless other business opportunities.

2) Timing means a lot.
Marie first book came out in 2010 with moderate sales explained one of her editors in a New York Times Article. Then the 2011 earthquake and tsunami happened. “The Japanese people suddenly had to ask themselves what was important in their lives. What was the true value of sentimental items? What was the meaning of the items they’d lost? What was the meaning of life?” Sales exploded in the quake’s aftermath. “It was, unfortunately, a fortuitous event.” One and a half million copies have been sold to date in Japan.

3) The core idea is not the magic. How you approach it, from your unique point of view is.
From a young age Marie had an interest in orderly living spaces. She used to read lifestyle magazines for the latest tips and helped her mom keep things tidy. At 19 she started a home organization consultancy. Today at 30, she’s become a publisher’s dream with a cult-like following of fans that now even use her name as a verb referring to the act of eliminating unnecessary stuff from our lives. Her unique approach to keeping tidy is simple, rooted in her Japanese heritage with a touch of feng shui and all neatly packaged in a gentle and serene way. Her writing style is delicate and personal. She humanizes items like socks and purses and suggests they have a hard life, store them with care and be kind to them. She believes our lives, homes and offices are filled with too much stuff. Instead of keeping everything for sentimental reasons, ask yourself, does it spark joy? If not, eliminate it.

4) Don’t get discouraged by heavy competition in your category.
Organization and simplifying life is not a new topic. In fact, this year alone you will find hundreds of self-help books on the subject and many others scheduled for release. The decluttering trend has been gaining steam.

5) Make it scalable.
What’s next for Marie? Training consultants with the same passion for the art of decluttering so they too can spread the message and clean up the world too.

My point today is the next time you are beating yourself up about an idea because it does not feel quite original enough, think again. Add your original treatment, frame it with a distinct story and package it under your brand persona.

This story of a simple, not new idea by an expert has spread like wild fire. I just ordered my book and can’t wait to get it. I am surprised that someone, the author, the publisher or the promotional team has not set up more US channels to build and monetize her brand. I couldn’t find a website or a Twitter account and the Facebook page is very light.

Maybe it’s all on brand, strategic and less stuff means a whole lot more.