From Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur's Soul

Monster Ideas

Don’t let anybody tell you how long you should take a shower, because you can change the world in a thirty-minute shower.

There’s something about the hot water flowing over your head that makes what I call the “good part” and the “absent part” of your brain talk to each other. This is immediately apparent when you break out into song, even though you know you’re one of the world’s worst singers. It also means that when you stand there with the soap in your hands (maybe a bad visual, but go with me here), you begin to try to reinvent the soap. You think, I can put this clear soap together with this cream soap . . . I can make a better soap than what’s out there today! Then you think about the packaging, then you look over and you say to yourself, The shampoo doesn’t have very good packaging. The next thing you know, you imagine walking down the grocery store aisle, reinventing cereal boxes and soups. In your mind, you’ve become a grocery tycoon overnight while standing in the shower.

From that point, you dream up a cool business idea. Your mind very quickly goes to rapid development—you have a product and you have customers! You turn off the shower and step one foot out onto the bath mat, then suddenly, you can’t remember anything you were just thinking about. It’s almost as if the window closed and whatever genius you created in the shower can never be duplicated, because you can’t open that session back up. Many times you can’t even remember what you were trying to figure out in the first place.

Some of you are skeptical, so I have a test for you: Have you ever been halfway through your shower and you ask yourself, Did I wash my hair? If you’re like me, you bring your fingers up to hair and rub to see if your hair is squeaky clean. Unsure, you dump some more shampoo on your hand and do the process over again, even though if you think about the amount of effort it takes to wash your hair, there’s absolutely no way you should forget whether you washed your hair or not.

This is an active example that your mind, body and spirit are all moving into your subconscious where you not only invent new things, but you solve problems and potentially create opportunities or big ideas. My point is that you have to pay attention to your subconscious. Learn to focus on your idea and maintain that idea long enough so when you “get out of the shower,” you’re able to capture your idea on a nearby pad of paper.

I have another test for you. Do you ever head home from work when, all of a sudden, you realize you’re in your driveway? You remember leaving your office, maybe you remember getting into your car, but you completely lost a thirty-five-minute commute. This is another example of learning to pay attention to your subconscious. I suggest keeping a pad of paper in your car, also—here again, immediately write down your daydreaming and thinking so you don’t lose it.

For me, another example of listening to my subconscious occurs when I’m reading nonfiction; I find my mind aggressively solving problems in the background while reading an inspirational story. When I’m reading that book, I write ideas—for example, solving business problems—right in the gutter of the book. After making my notation, I turn the page down. As soon as I’ve finished with the book, I go back and copy the ideas I have written down.

And the last place my subconscious is working overtime is when I’m sleeping. And yes, I do keep yet another pad of paper next to my bed, ready to catch my dreams and ideas. This leads me to a small, but important, life story:

Going back to’s humble beginnings, which began in 1994, I had an ad agency, Adion, which specialized in human resource communications, specifically recruiting and retaining of talent. Our success was built around the concept of creating “big ideas” for our clients. The idea was to come up with a big idea (many times with our client), and everything else was just the support to get that big idea done. One day, a client said, “No more big ideas. I want a monster idea.” Hence, the beginning of our “monster” concept was born.

I’ve always loved technology, anything that would make our business more efficient. When the monster idea was requested by our client, I was just learning about bulletin board systems—BBSs—a precursor to the World Wide Web as we know it today.

I actually had a dream about a monster idea, a BBS (bulletin board) for jobs. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and with a combination of these concepts, my dream was that I created a monster bulletin board, calling it the “Monster Board.” Paying attention to my subconscious, I went to a coffee shop and wrote down much of the interface and the concepts that are still used at Monster today. But by April 1994, we recognized it wasn’t going to be a BBS that we were going to build—it was going to be a “mosaic site” (now known as a Web site).

After we had been in business about four months, and business was really a relative term in this instance, we were selling just a few job postings for twenty-five dollars each. Business got to the point that we needed to do something dramatic, so we sent out a press release to about a thousand different media outlets. The response was tremendous. This extra marketing effort was the turning point and the real beginning of our Monster brand.

People always ask me about the name “Monster.” I think it’s probably the single most important decision made in the life of this company, because by calling ourselves “Monster,” people can remember it. This was key. The idea that the word “Monster” equals jobs or careers is something that’s evolved over time. But the fact that when you sit down at your PC and you can’t think about where to go, and into your mind pops, Hey, I’m going to go check out Monster. This one-word trigger is probably the single most important driver of Monster’s success.

The next real big event in the company’s history was in 1995. I entered into an agreement to sell Monster to TMP Worldwide, a Yellow Pages and recruitment company. Andy McKelvey, founder and CEO of TMP, and I came up with the concept of bringing my ad agency into the TMP fold and creating a new division with the Monster Board as the centerpiece. The new division was called “TMP Interactive.”

The next big moment for Monster—kind of a defining moment—was when we decided in January 1999 to rename the division “” and to advertise on the Super Bowl. Our “When I Grow Up” commercial, which was not that popular during the game, ended up being one of the most popular commercials of the entire year. is now in twenty-five countries, and millions upon millions of job seekers use the site. There are over a million job postings and over 300,000 employers. Through the years, has become the largest and the most popular job search and career management site on the Internet.

If I can leave you with one good piece of entrepreneurial advice, it’s this: listen to your subconscious, learn to capture its power, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the one to come up with the world’s next monster idea!

Jeff Taylor

EPILOGUE: As founder of, Jeff Taylor is now focusing his efforts on helping millions of baby boomers via his next big idea—“Eons.”

It is predicted that upwards of 77 million baby boomers will retire from their official occupations over the next few years, leaving their world open to new possibilities and second careers. Recognizing this emerging demographic, Taylor created Eons, a Web business targeted at the fifty- to one-hundred-plus age group. A combination of megatrends and the perfect storm, Eons is a new revolution of the baby boomer generation and the Internet, all converging around a big idea.

“My idea was to create a challenge-brand that puts Eons in the center of activity and excitement, to challenge and help people live to be one hundred, or to die trying,” shared Taylor.

To learn more about Taylor and Eons, please visit

Dahlynn McKowen

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