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Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy & Leadership

Douglas Adams, British author and musician, is best known for his series of books and plays revolving around The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s also well known for concluding that the meaning of life is exactly “42.”

Adams wrote over 10 books, worked on a number of radio plays, and was a loud voice in wildlife preservation circles. Yet, none of it came easy for Adams. He wasn’t exactly a master of getting work done.

As he once said, “I love deadline. I like the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” Getting things done was clearly a problem for Douglas Adams. Still, he managed to struggle out of the idle grip of procrastination for brief moments of productivity.

In Adams’ early days he was living at his parents’ house writing a radio teleplay that would eventually turn into the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy story. He writes in his notes that it was “six months of baths and peanut butter sandwiches.” He eventually managed to produce a final product, but after long bouts of inactivity and part-time jobs.

Adams’ work woes didn’t end there. After the success of his teleplays and his first novels, Adams had to be locked in hotel rooms by publishers in order to meet deadlines and produce fresh work. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, the 4th book in the Hitchhiker “trilogy” was written in three weeks under the roof of a hotel in England.

While Adams struggled to write, his passion to shape his stories into lucrative opportunities never dried up. Adams successfully spun the Hitchhiker story into a bestselling video game, comic book, towel line, television series, and movie. Not only that, but he helped design the video game and adapt his stories into scripts for the small and big screens. He worked hard to preserve the quality of his work and ideas, even though he wasn’t good at consistently producing new material.

Adams’ biography can teach us a few things about implanting ideas and visions. While Adams wasn’t adept at churning out new material, he was certainly dedicated to making sure his work was always presented and executed with the highest standards. Adams ensured that his stories would flourish in new mediums by using new technologies that would grab new audiences.

Adams’ quality control, dedication, and follow through illustrate that ideas don’t need to come in by the dozen. Sometimes they just need to be molded and presented with consistent strength in order to succeed.

Picture Credit: Patrick Hoesly



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