Hot Tip: On-demand epiphanies with The Brainstorming Hike

The Brainstorming Hike, how to effectively brainstorm alone

This is the first post in a new series of Hot Tips – short, actionable posts meant to be read quickly and easy to implement. Let us know if you like the new format in an email or the comments.

Picture this, the page is blank, you coworkers have left, and your deadline?


Problem is, you have no idea where to start. Enter the Brainstorming Hike.

Though the years I’ve had to brainstorm products, ideas, and solutions alone. I learned, by necessity, that if I paced a set path in an empty parking lot, quiet park, or other large open space that my creativity would flow.

How to do a brainstorming hike:

  1. Know what you’re trying to solve. This is far more effective when you know what you’re actually trying to accomplish.
  2. Find a large open area with few distractions. You need to get in a state of flow, so both visual distractions and auditory ones are a problem. Also, put your phone in airplane mode or do not disturb – otherwise one call will ruin your state and end the brainstorming hike prematurely.
  3. Pace and mull over the problem. Typically this will take about 20-45 minutes to have an epiphany. If you’re extraverted like me it helps to talk to yourself – hence the empty place.

And that’s it.

This works because it satiates your motor cortex, thereby calming your brain a bit and giving you more resources to focus on created energies. (In English, it gives you something to do instead of bouncing your knee and annoying everyone around you, freeing up brain space.)

About Garrett Dunham

Garrett Dunham is a Silicon Valley born-and-raised entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and startup advisor. His companies have been featured on the New York Times, NBC, TechCrunch, Fast Company, and Venture Beat, among others. He spends his days mentoring startups at Start-up Chile and Singularity University, building products, and blogging about entrepreneurial success and self optimization.