One of the best ideas I’ve found in Mind Performance Hacks is the idea of memetic sex. The first time I read about this is kind of blew my mind. But after experimenting with this idea in the workplace, I’ve found that it definitely produces a better product. I am fortunate in that I get to work with a talented group of Creatives (graphic designers, developers, interaction designers and video-storytellers) and when we actually took the time to get together and let our ideas combine, and reproduce other ideas, the project that we created together ended up winning a CASE Circle of Excellence Gold Medal.

The basic ideas is that the conversations we have with each other can be a type of cerebral/mental sex that produces ideas (instead of offspring). The term “meme” comes from an analogy to the gene, because just as genes are created in the biosphere during sexual intercourse, memes are created in the ideosphere during social intercourse.  And the result is better solutions, better ideas and better innovations.

Memetic sex is beneficial not only in the workplace (where collaborating with your colleagues produces better solutions), but it’s also valuable in our personal lives (where an exchange of ideas with friends can produce deeper insight into our relationships and ourselves). After experimenting with this idea for a couple years, here are some tips that I’ve found helpful in producing the best interactions and environments for memetic sex (both professionally and personally).

1. Create safe environments – This is huge. Whether the idea generation is happening with a team of colleagues or just between you and a friend, the best memetic sex happens when everyone feels safe enough to throw out their wildest ideas without fear of being judged or ridiculed. I’ve also found that food always helps (eating lunch together or a pan of double-dark-chocolate espresso-brownies at the team brainstorming session).

2. Avoid inbreeding – It’s actually natural to gravitate toward other people who think like you do, but the best ideas comes from an idea exchange with people of different backgrounds, perspectives, values, and expertise.  Professionally, exchanging ideas with people outside your expertise often create a larger spark (or a broader insight). Personally, conversations with people who think differently, actually stretch our own view of the world and cause us to grow.

3. Safe (memetic) sex – Just like we have STDs in the biological realm, there is such a thing as memetic viruses–ideas that replicate that are not true – or are just bad ideas (like most movie sequels). To practice good memetic hygiene, always be willing to exercise critical thinking and be intuitive about who you engage with (avoid people who have a toxic/unhealthy energy about them).

4. Respect boundaries – We’ve all been in situations where someone has crossed a boundary and shared way too much (usually its followed by the response “oh… TMI”). Or there is also that person who is always pushing their point of view/agenda in the conversation. In both cases, its kinda of like being violated (memetically).  People have different comfort levels regarding how much information to share so its healthier to use some intuition (even communication) to set and respect each other’s boundaries.

5. Be promiscuous (memetically, that is).  Here’s where the gene/meme analogy doesn’t quick work because memetic promiscuity is actually very healthy and benefits (instead of betrays) your other memetic partners. The more ideas generation happening from a wide variations of places, the better.  And this happens not only during conversations with other people, it can happen with books, movies, music, etc. So have as many “kids” and “a-ha moments” as you can. It’s not only productive…  it’s fun.

For more information, check out Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain and How to Think Like Einstein: Simple Ways to Break the Rules and Discover Your Hidden Genius.



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