“At what point do you trust a creative genius who comes in as your new boss?”

That was a fantastic, completely new question at a recent creative thinking workshop.

What prompted it was discussing Greg Reid when he joined Yellow Corporation as our new CMO during my Fortune 500 days. With a consumer marketing background, Greg arrived at our business-to-business transportation company during a major turnaround. Everything was already topsy-turvy, and he added to it with a completely different mode of extreme creative than any of us had previously encountered.

He was the archetypical creative genius. I was the person who “got” his creative ideas and turned many of them into reality, and we started working well together in a short time.

Trust Me on This?

I will admit being skeptical of some of Greg’s extreme creativity.


About six months after arriving, he wanted to fly the entire corporate and field marketing and sales team to Phoenix for a kickoff meeting and retreat at a golf resort. As part of the event, he decided to bring in Earl Monroe, the former New York Knicks great, to speak and do a meet and greet with our internal team.

The whole thing smelled like a boondoggle WAY beyond the boundaries of acceptability at our extremely cost conscious company. I KNEW it might go okay, but figured the field VPs and our senior management would be in an uproar when they discovered the meeting retreat.

I was COMPLETELY wrong.

The event was fantastic, the field people were very excited to be involved and share their perspectives, and it created a strong bond among all the attendees. And no one in senior management said a word about the cost. The fact we held it in Phoenix in June when the temperatures were higher than the room rates likely helped.

Greg pretty much had my complete trust in his creative genius at that point.

Trust My Extreme Creativity?

I will admit, however, being a vocal naysayer of one other early extreme creativity idea from Greg’s early days.

The next year after our overwhelmingly successful inaugural company-wide meeting, Greg proposed another completely outlandish idea. He wanted to open the next company-wide meeting with a film of our entire senior leadership team meeting when they were kids. The video would feature a doppelganger kid for each executive. The kids would behave like the executives did as adults, with the addition of child-like bickering, poking, and hitting one another.

I proclaimed the idea as crazy and too much of an inside joke; I was certain the comedy would fall flat with the audience of twelve hundred sales operations people from the field. I even refused to be onsite for shooting it, although I did help with the script, the casting, and coaching several kids on their executive imitations.

When the moment occurred to debut the video at the next meeting, I positioned myself behind our president and the senior leaders to gauge the reactions. As it became apparent Greg was about to introduce a big surprise, our president turned and said, “Danger. Danger, Will Robinson.”


The kids video was a HUGE hit with the audience. They roared with laughter, and people talked about it for years.

Trust My New Behavior?

My answer to the original question about trusting a creative genius was it took two times for me to believe in my boss’ creative genius.

In each instance, he painted a big vision of extreme creativity I thought would fail. Ultimately, each unfolded exactly as HE predicted.

After that, he had me; I was compelled to suspend any doubts about his future ideas for extreme creativity that didn’t square with my sensibilities.

In a subsequent Facebook conversation, a friend whose father has not been great during her life has suddenly changed; he has started being “GREAT” recently. She was grappling with how to trust the change.

I compared it to the situation with my creative genius.

There is probably a hurdle to clear in any situation where someone surprises you with different, positive behavior that is unfamiliar to you.

The guideline I offered her?

If the change is extreme (and from previously harmful behavior), the number of times they have to prove themselves is likely much greater than two. Ultimately, you must place someone’s previous track record against what they’re doing now, add a healthy dose of forgiveness and charity, and determine a realistic and reasonable hurdle is.

That’s my advice.

So what do you think…do you trust me on this? – Mike Brown

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Extreme creativity can scare some people, but . . .

The people saying you and your bold ideas are “crazy” generally have way too many problems of their own. That’s why they have energy to waste “fixing” you.


Don’t let people who have no idea what they are talking about tell you your bold ideas are crazy. Celebrate your extreme creativity.

And if you need help with getting yourself ready for the extreme creativity that leads to bold ideas, take advantage of all these Brainzooming creative thinking resources.

Mike Brown


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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.


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imageWhen it comes to creative thinking exercises, I’m typically a proponent of introducing people to incremental creative thinking before trying to dunk them into extreme creativity.

That preference is predicated on getting people more familiar and comfortable with smaller creative steps. In that way, the first creative step you ask them to take isn’t such a doozie.

Sometimes, however, when it comes to creative thinking exercises, starting small is not the best strategy to follow.

We were using a combo creative thinking exercise recently. We had asked creative thinking session participants for three progressive creative leaps. For the first step, it was okay for their response to be a conventional idea. We wanted to stretch the creative thinking, however, for steps two and three, with the third answer being a strong example of extreme creativity.

While that was the plan, the mindset we first set was too incremental creatively and too lasting.

Our initial question got them too stuck on what’s happening today.

Subsequently, absent very strong and clear extreme creativity inducing questions for steps two and three, we had to work extra hard to move everyone toward more outrageous ideas. We eventually pushed toward extreme creativity in their responses, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

The lesson?

While it’s not always the case, sometimes you do need to go big creatively right from the start before you are forced to go home with overly familiar ideas. – Mike Brown


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Extreme-CreativitySuppose you have an opposite strategic situation relative to the one described in yesterday’s article: you have too many extreme ideas you need to determine how to implement.

In cases where you have more extreme creativity than you can begin to implement, you want to be able to turn a really big creative idea into something that can actually move forward.

If you’re trying to create strategic impact, you don’t want to have to abandon a big creative idea because of failing to figure out how to turn it into something you can make happen.

5 Creative Thinking Questions to Harness Extreme Creativity

If you’re facing this issue, try these five questions to re-shape and re-shift extreme ideas back to reality:

  1. If it’s too big or risky to do, how can you break off a small piece and pursue that?
  2. If it’s too dangerous to do, how can you take away the least amount of danger while keeping as much extreme as possible?
  3. If it’s too ridiculous to do, how can you make it just realistic enough to get started implementing it?
  4. If it’s too radical, how can you make it seem not as overtly threatening?
  5. If it goes off in the wrong direction, how can you take a seed of the idea and nurture it so it develops in a valuable way?

Having worked for several creative geniuses during my career, these types of questions were de rigueur for turning their extreme creativity into reality. – Mike Brown


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Christmas-RanchWe feature a variety of reality-TV based extreme creativity ideas on the Brainzooming blog. I have been able to eat at a few Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives restaurants, but other than that, I don’t have many in real life connections to these extreme creativity examples. Today’s extreme creativity example is different!

Extreme Creativity at The Christmas Ranch

While on the elliptical trainer at our gym one December, an extreme Christmas lights show  extreme reality show ( HGTV’s Outta Control Christmas) was on throughout the bank of TVs. During the program, I saw my cousin’s incredible display of Christmas lights, toy trains, and just about everything else celebratory, seasonal, and over-the-top extreme creativity for the holiday.

Since then, my cousin, Dr. Mike Fuchs, and his family have moved the Christmas display to The Christmas Ranch, featuring more than 350,000 animated Christmas lights across its ten acres, with an animated light forest and seven themed Christmas shops! Check out this quick video of what extreme creativity for the holiday looks like around Morrow, OH!

Mike Brown


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There’s been a great reaction to the Brainzooming article on 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Food Network celebration of off-beat restaurants hosted by Guy Fieri.

Since becoming a fan of this Food Network show, I’ve made it to three featured restaurants. The most recent was RJ’s Bob-Be-Que in Mission, KS earlier this week for Buck-a-Bone Tuesday, which means $1 per rib. That’s good eating!

But in the interest of turning my fascination with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy Fieri into something other than extra pounds, it’s time for more reality TV-driven extreme creativity! To the earlier 10 brainstorming questions, let’s add these 6 extreme creativity lessons gleaned from a recent Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon:

1. Go be a fish out of water

Maybe extreme creativity is tough for you. If it is, one way to turn yourself into an extreme creativity force is taking your talents and applying them in a completely unexpected and new environment. There are a variety of “Triple D” stories where a chef radically changed geographic location or work environment to trigger extreme creativity. Put a Louisiana-influenced Cajun cook in Minnesota, and you have a fish out of water recipe for extreme creativity. Where can you be a fish out of water?

2. Fuse unrelated creativity channels together

It seems like there have been several stops lately on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives involving a parked food truck supplying the kitchen facilities for a bar or restaurant. There’s an idea for you. How can you fuse two or more apparently unrelated creativity channels together to create something people don’t expect?

3. Do your extreme creativity old style

Despite modern innovations available to cooks, many manifest extreme creativity by foregoing new ways of doing things. For instance, despite the availability of incredible industrial food mixers, there are many instances where cooks are mixing things by hand because it provides closeness to the work and an awareness of quality variations. Do you have a similar opportunity to apply old style techniques to your creativity to turn it into extreme creativity?

4. Figure out the equivalent of deep frying in your area of extreme creativity

Watching any episode of “Triple D,” it’s clear you can deep fry any food, and it has a high probability of being very good. The more outlandish the food, the more outrageous the success. There’s got to be something to this. What’s the equivalent of deep frying in your focus area? What’s the one thing you can do to make your creativity extremely crispy, crunchy, and incredibly tasty? Whatever it is in your field, pursue your own version of deep fried extreme creativity!

5. Smash different parts into one

Most meals are served in separate courses: appetizer, entrée, side dishes, dessert. It’s not surprising to see all those courses smashed together into one menu item at restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. How can you employ the same idea? How can you take what would normally be separate creative pursuits and smash them together into one colossal creative feast?

6. Don’t clean up after you’ve gotten all creative

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of places on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives aren’t all that clean. Some of the chefs even take pride in how the flavor of the cooking builds up over time on utensils and cooking surfaces. While that’s a little disconcerting, there can definitely be something to it creatively. Having the afterglow of past creative highlights on your tools might be just what you need to inspire some extreme creativity. – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.



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To commemorate World Creativity and Innovation Week, here are some of the top viewed extreme creativity-oriented articles on the Brainzooming blog since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation Week.

5 More Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss” – Sharing lessons from Buddy the Cake Boss is like creating a magnet for great innovation. This follow-up from the original Cake Boss post actually takes off into space!

9 Extreme Creativity Questions from Peter’s Laws – A fun set of questions you can use to prompt more extreme creativity and innovation.

Protecting Your Creativity in a Culture that Doesn’t Value It – If you’re trying to create a more creative culture, you’ve got to protect yourself while you’re at it.

Diet Coke Can Redesign – Branding and Creativity Lessons – Coca-Cola made some big packaging changes to iconic brands this past year. The white Coke can didn’t work, but the Diet Coke change worked.

4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour” – I’ve had second thoughts about this post, especially since the video that inspired it disappeared from YouTube. Even though I disagree with a lot of what she puts forward as awakened thinking, these four lessons hold up.

14 Ideas for Creativity Boost this Work Week – This is a solid list to return to when the work week is sapping your innovative spirit and you need a creativity boost.

Focused Daydreaming – A Practical Tool from Chris Griffiths – One of a couple of guest posts on this list, Chris Griffiths provides a creative rationale for letting our minds wander!

10 Lessons to Integrate Creativity in Business – #BMAUnleash Panel – A panel discussion recap from the 2011 Business Marketing Association conference, there are some true creative gems in here, especially from Randall Rozin at Dow Corning.

Create an Extreme Creativity Makeover Project Team – Why not have a really fun, creative job title, especially if it helps counteract your boring traditional job title?

Space and Creativity – Woody Bendle weighs in on 3 different types of space that enhance your creative pursuits.

Extreme Creativity – 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives – I love watching reality TV shows that yield great lessons, especially extreme creativity lessons. Here are 10 brainstorming questions from sitting through lots of great looking food on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

2012 TED – 8 Takeaways on Extreme Creativity and Amazing Innovation – The 2012 TED simulcast was uneven at best, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some great extreme creativity lessons to take away!

5 Lessons from the Guy behind the Facebook Like Button – One of my favorite things to read each week is the creativity column in the Saturday Wall Street Journal. This one in particular contained very valuable lessons from a key Facebook designer.

Pictures (of Creativity) Are Worth a 1,000 Words – Despite repeated vows to do more with images on the blog, images still take center stage too infrequently. These creativity pictures were a great substitute for writing a bunch of words, though.

Creativity, Innovation and the Intrepid Radio Podcast – Whether online, in-person, or via podcast, Todd Schnick always prompts a great creative discussion. Here’s our talk about creativity vs. innovation and what the differences are.

I hope you’ll enjoy clicking back to a few of these posts since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation week. If everything goes as planned, we’ll be announcing a new eBook soon that’s part of a bigger effort to encourage and energize organizations to embrace new thinking from within their workforces. Stay tuned! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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