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For those celebrating, it’s Christmas time! And if there’s a blogger on your Christmas list, here are 11 social media-related gift ideas in case you’re still wondering what to get them. Trust me, any blogger would be happy to receive any one of these great presents (hint, hint, hint).

What’s wonderful about the list too is that many of the gift ideas for bloggers extend beyond Christmas to provide joy and happiness throughout the coming year for your favorite writers! And most of the ideas don’t cost anything either!

And to make it even easier, there are links to many of the ideas in case Santa is wondering where to go or how to do them.

Hope this Christmas list helps you show your favorite bloggers how much you appreciate them all during the coming year!

Merry Christmas!

Mike

A Blogger Can Always Use More Readers

Sharing Your Perspectives

  • Comment on a post at least once a week during the coming year.
  • Pick a topic, set a date, and write a guest post.

Helping Spread the Message

  • Set up a Twitterfeed link to automatically tweet a link to the latest post published on the blog.
  • If you don’t want use Twitterfeed, retweet links to the blogger’s posts on Twitter. You can also share links to blog articles through other social sharing avenues (through all those little icons usually at the top or bottom of a post).

Connecting IRL

The Ultimate Support

  • Buy/use the services or products offered on their website.
  • Recommend their products or services to others who might benefit from them. – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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5
This Christmas reflection on God’s time is adapted from another blog I write called Aligning Your Life’s Work. The blog covers much of the same territory as Brainzooming, but from a decidedly spiritual perspective. I start nearly every business day at church because my faith is the most important thing in my life. It is truly an incredible way to start the business day. This year, it’s helped me better understand that in every circumstance, things have to all unfold in God’s time:


It can be difficult to understand when and how God is actively working in your life. As a result, I pray often to be open to participating in whatever divine plan should be guiding our lives. Despite the inherent challenges, something happened early in 2010 where the bigger picture was so clear, even I could see it.

Leaving a big corporate job in the fall of 2009 was a major test of faith. I firmly believe God created the situation and asked, “Are you willing to make the right decision for others and surrender your will?” Through prayer and consideration, the opportunity for my departure to allow several people to keep their jobs became clear. There was no choice but to leave if I wanted to be true to my life’s core purpose.

Since then, despite challenges, I’m at complete peace with the decision. In so many ways, God has placed signs along the way signaling, “I’m watching out for you. Believe.”

Early in 2010, even with the progress on the business at its start, it was clear we needed to secure a significant project. At that same time, Lent was approaching. During this period, we are called annually to a life of greater prayer, sacrifice, and giving to others. For part of our Lenten giving, I committed to donate a certain portion of a new project’s fee to EWTN, the Catholic television network, which has been a tremendous blessing in my spiritual life for years.
Sure enough a potential project in the works for months came to fruition as Lent started. True to the commitment, Cyndi and I made an online donation to EWTN of $500. While it would have been comforting to keep the money, it was a vital promise to fulfill.

One Thursday a couple of weeks later, we received an envelope from EWTN with a receipt and a note saying we’d be remembered in their prayers during the first week in April.

In the same mail was another envelope, this one was from our insurance company. It referenced a car accident we had in August 2004. Headed to an outdoor theater, our car was t-boned (and totaled) by a big, old pickup driven by a driver with no insurance, no license, no tags, and no apparent inclination to yield the right of way.Thankfully, no one was hurt, although we were stuck in a bad part of town with an inoperable car, a dying cell phone, and a need to find a ride home. Cyndi’s sister was traveling through town, however, and came to get us. As we waited, the Kansas City police officer stayed at the scene much longer than he would have had to, watching out for us. So beyond missing the show, having to find a new car, and covering the deductible because of the other driver’s lack of insurance, we were really none the worse for wear.

The insurance company’s letter let us know the pickup’s driver was now making payments. Because of his commitment to repay the debt, the letter contained a check for $500, refunding our deductible!

Okay, I may be tremendously dense, but even I could put all this together.

Think about it. We pray and expect God to answer immediately, not appreciating that God doesn’t (and doesn’t have to) act on our timing to provide for us according to His plan and His will.

In this case, an apparently random (and potentially tragic) event five and a half years previously (which was no more than a nuisance) had to occur to allow God to care for us at a time when $500 had taken on much greater importance.

This wasn’t t the first time something like that has happened since leaving my job. A number of times, just what we needed, whether financial or simply a word of encouragement, has arrived at exactly the right time.

The message?

Pray for the foresight to get out of God’s way and allow Him to direct you. Then be prepared and patient to allow the plan to unfold, even when it’s not clear what it all means. Because you know what? It doesn’t matter if you understand it; God understands it. And that’s what matters.

That’s a wrap on the “planned” Brainzooming blog posts for 2010. There may well posts next week, but I have to shift attention to a book proposal that’s been on my to-do list for WAY too long this year.

It’s also the time to put in some more thinking and planning about 2011 and where to place our priorities in the coming year. And yes, I use all the tools shared here on Brainzooming to do our own planning!

One last note though: this story I found last night about someone who received a gift this Christmas that also came at exactly the right time for them, and how they’ll look to pass on the same gift to someone else next year.

Best wishes from The Brainzooming Group to you and your families for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season! Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4

Back home over Thanksgiving, my mother and I talked about coming up with creative ideas for dealing with the collection of books I bought during high school that are still left at their house. The books include both great literature and big coffee table art books. Quite honestly, we have no room for them at our house or any interest in lugging them back to Kansas City.

Beyond my books, there are also hundreds of old books my dad bought to fill the newly installed shelves of the remodeled home when we first moved in years ago.

My best creative thinking was to sell all of them together and hope to get $15 for the whole lot. It’s sad, especially given how much money I spent on them originally, but they are, after all, simply old, used books.

Obviously though, I wasn’t being very creative with my idea.

A few days later, Cyndi and I visited C.S. Post, an intriguing store located in downtown Hays, KS that you wouldn’t be surprised to find in NYC. Started more than 10 years ago in conjunction with a restoration of downtown Hays, its owner designs furniture featured in popular design magazines and sold around the world. Go figure that this creative vision springs from a small Northwest Kansas town.

Nonetheless, it’s clear the C.S. Post folks are very creative when it comes to boosting the price point on used books.

We discovered this bin in the store. As close as we could tell, it looked as if they took old books, cut them from their covers, and soaked them in some type of liquid (maybe starch?) to get the pages to curl and stick together. Each had a ribbon tied around it and a $6 price tag since they were now “Rustic Books.”

With that kind of creative approach, my parent’s books collection could be worth thousands of dollars. Talk about using creativity to add value to an asset…or at least making a bold attempt to do so!

I personally can’t wait to hit C.S. Post over Christmas and see if the Rustic Books are selling at a brisk pace.

Whether the books are selling or not though, the folks at C.S. Post have more than earned my respect for taking something worthless and using creativity to build value and a new cache around it! 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6

As much as people (maybe even you) crave hard and fast rules about what to do and not do in social media, it’s kind of like the Wild West. When the rules aren’t defined, it comes down to whether you want to try and take the law into your own hands. That’s true even for things (such as blatant plagiarism) you’d think would have been clearly spelled out years ago.

One of those situations happened recently.

I wrote an article right before Thanksgiving on “16 Social Media Tactics for Building an Audience” which was republished on several websites, only two of which have my okay to share Brainzooming content.

When one my articles is republished (or there’s a new one written for another blog), I create a Tweetdeck search on the main words in the title. It allows me to track any mentions of the article since many such tweets won’t appear in a standard @mentions search.

The “social media audience” post search uncovered a guy who had begun tweeting the 16 tips, one-by-one, over a several day period, with no attribution or links back to me or the Brainzooming blog. In other words, plagiarism.

After looking at his Twitter profile (and seeing he worked for a prominent Christian ministry organization), it seemed clear he wasn’t into serial plagiarism.

The cursory investigative work prompted me to post a tweet to ask how others would suggest handling the situation. The range of responses was surprising, to say the least. From mildest to wildest, they included:

  • Be flattered and know that your Twitter credibility is higher than that and be satisfied.” @SaraSocialMedia
  • Be grateful. Anyone interested enough to search will find your post. It’s a list post, not literature.” @GrahamHill
  • “Send this to them…RT @Lotay Give credit where credit is due.” @MarkVanBaale
  • Call them out, perhaps? If they don’t respond, ask your followers to RT their posts with attribution to you?” @RoyGrubb
  • “Call ‘em out! That’s theft. Attribution is so easy, especially on Twitter.” @KatyWrites
  • Let us at him.” @EAlvarezGibson
  • Bust his balls on it with a blog post. I would call him out, and then tweet it at him.” @NateRiggs
  • Out them, block their ISP, tell them to stop publically, pull down the post, tweet your points w/ your post link, etc.” and “Want us to kick ‘em in the shins?” @TheGirlPie
  • Hire the Twittenator.” @A_Greenwood

Talk about a range of responsesfrom “take the high road” to down-in-the-dirt, post-modernist gun slinging.

What did I do?

I followed the guy on Twitter, he followed back, and I sent him a DM. I told him about seeing him tweeting the post and suggested some type of credit or link was in order.  He responded by saying he’d do that and thanking me for both the reminder and the original post.

What’s happened since?

Nothing. He stopped after the first five of the 16 ideas, and in tracking his Twitter stream, it doesn’t look like he’s ever gone back and tried to provide any credit.

In the end, this wasn’t a big deal.

In fact, the bigger lessons for me (and hopefully for you) are the benefits of setting up multiple searches to track mentions about your content, and the fact you can depend on loyal friends to readily form a cyber-posse and help you deal with lawlessness on the web!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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6

Whether creating social media content for yourself or for an organization you support, here’s an easy-to-use strategic thinking exercise for generating relevant topic ideas. Consider three vital areas:

  • What do you Think?
  • What do you Know?
  • What do you Do?

Consider your target audience’s needs and interests as a backdrop. Then use Think, Know, and Do as starters for three mind maps to help explore a range of social media content ideas.

Working with Nate Riggs at Social Business Strategies, we used this exercise with a business-to-business service client recently as part of developing content strategy for its collaborative blog. The organization’s new social media team generated nearly 140 separate topic ideas in just 15 minutes. We accomplished this by having small groups rotating among the mind maps and building on ideas already generated. We had the team use a variety of other exercises as well to quickly generate more than a year’s worth of blog topic ideas in a very short period of time.

Think, Know, Do.

What do those three words suggest for potential topics about you or your organization?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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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1

From our slightly twisted comedic friends at the Funny Eye for the Corporate Guy blog, here’s a cartoon analysis of reindeer and Christmas music from the Funny Eye resident economist. Venn diagrams, Rudolph, and Christmas music? Economic-based Christmas humor doesn’t get much better.

To see more economic cartoons and quotes full of holiday humor, you can check out the Funny Eye for the Corporate Guy blog.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

These life lessons certainly apply during the holiday season. But importantly, they’re life lessons which can help you embrace a more positive, successful perspective every day of 2011 and beyond.

  • Recognize your personal limitations and become successful despite them.

  • Your greatest challenges can be the seeds of your greatest successes.

  • Humility can never be overrated.

  • Serve first. Serve second. Serve third. Now, what do you want to do next?

  • Nice manners will make up for most (if not all) of your shortcomings.

  • Bad manners just make all the other marginal stuff you try to get away with seem all that much worse.

  • Sure you’re busy. Give yourself and the other people around you a break and take time to be pleasant. Don’t let “crazy busy” be your excuse…or your epitaph.

 

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other business and life lessons to your conference event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike Brown can get your audience members Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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