By LAURIE CREASY
Among more than a million mobile apps available today is one created by Patty Cara ‘85, inspired by long-forgotten notes and a new philosophy.
As Patty Cara ’85 emptied her desk after losing her job as an advertising agency vice president, she went through nearly 30 years of notes. They held her ideas, some of which she’d never put into practice.
“It was a now-or-never moment,” she says. She could do what she knew – which was safe – or she could branch out. “Because I was a creative director and came up with ideas for a living, I decided I would apply all my ideas to my life instead of creating things for clients. I decided from that moment forward to live that philosophy.”
Scary, yes, because her husband, who worked at the same agency, lost his job on the same day. But Cara felt excited, too, about what was next in her life.
“I wanted to get into the digital space, wanted to be involved in the app world. I was ready for something new,” she recalls. “And it did coalesce that way in my mind – kind of like a perfect storm.”
While working at the agency, she’d written down 10 of her own ideas every day. “I think what surprised me is that I began by visualizing it as the equivalent of a task manager. But then I realized that a task manager is a recipe for keeping life the way it is. I wanted to focus on ideas, rather than tasks. ‘To dos’ are tasks you’re accustomed to doing. An idea is a new way to do something.”
And what began as a list soon developed into an idea for an iTunes mobile app. She visualized a way to give users the resources to become better at generating their own ideas and, using the skills she’d developed at the agency, gathered a creative team. “I worked with graphic designers I knew, sourced the developers, and created the app, TENideas, from concept to launch in just under a year.”
The interface is simple, but requires users to explore the space. Once they do, they find direction on ways to generate more ideas, from doing research on a topic that interests them to thinking playfully to thinking deeply about what they might ask for if a genie granted them one wish.
“For younger users, the list may be filled with party ideas or ways to design their resumes,” Cara says.
“We also have some users who are entrepreneurs. They use the app to list things they want to invent or apps they want to develop. Lots of my friends are writers and artists and they use the app to capture and act on their creative ideas.”
Need proof that the app works? Just look at Cara. “I started my own business, did consulting and freelancing, launched a mobile app, have a second app – a game – in the works, a book proposal being shopped around on the TENideas system – so I’m doing all new things for me,” she says. “That change in philosophy and focus was a direct result of the job loss.”
During that first year, wasn’t she ever plagued by that voice that whispers – the internal editor – that voice that whispers that the idea isn’t good enough, it will never fly, that we’re not strong enough or smart enough or good enough or disciplined enough to make things work?
“I decided not to listen to the internal editor anymore,” she says. “I felt that the internal editor had kept me from doing things that I wanted
to accomplish.” •
TENideas is available on the iTunes App Store in the Productivity section.
Laurie Creasy is a freelance writer based in Bloomsburg.