9

The other day, I described a conference call I’d been on as “interesting.”

By “interesting,” I really meant “completely whacked out that the client didn’t understand why we were doing what we were doing which was exactly what they had asked us to do.”

It struck me just how versatile a word “interesting” really is. I use it a lot in situations where I’ve really meant something or someone is:

  • Off strategy
  • Full of possibilities
  • Ugly
  • Hot
  • Boring
  • Intriguing
  • Completely unclear
  • A great solution
  • Inappropriate
  • Banal
  • Exciting
  • Pathetic
  • Interesting

I’ve also used “interesting” when really thinking:

  • “That’s exactly what you told me yesterday.”
  • “I wasn’t listening to what you just said.”
  • “Huh?”
  • “I don’t think I would have said that.”
  • “I have no idea, but maybe saying ‘interesting’ will buy me time to think of something to say.”

No way around it: “interesting” has to be one of the best multi-use words out there. Maybe it’s just behind the “F” word, which I gave up using (except for the occasional slip-up) a dozen years ago.

How about you – what’s your favorite all-purpose word?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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

If you’re blogging, are you getting together with your readers in person?

If you’re reading a blog, are you reaching out to the author to share ideas?

If you’re on either side of these questions and answered “no,” here are five reasons why a strategy of bloggers and readers meeting in person makes sense:

  • You learn what messages have registered with people – I’ve often said I’m singularly unable to predict what material people will respond to most strongly. Talking with actual live blog readers helps better understand how they’ve reacted to material – even if it doesn’t help in predicting what they’ll like in the future!
  • New blog ideas get triggered by the conversation – Talking recently with a reader led to discussion about his job, his role and title, and business development strategies. All aspects of the conversation were rich with future topic possibilities, including the inspiration for this post! For readers, it’s a great opportunity to shape and participate in content creation.
  • You can find out how people are reading the blog – I’ll admit….I don’t always look at the Brainzooming email or RSS blog feeds; I go to the website directly. Not everyone does that though. Talking with readers helps develop a better idea of the varied ways people are taking in the material, including getting a sense of how current readers are sharing it with new readers.
  • Guest post opportunities get considered – I haven’t been soliciting guest posts as aggressively as in the past, but I should be. Guest posts add variety to the blog, provide additional visibility for cool strategic thinkers, and help to extend the blog’s reach. While Twitter has been a fairly effective means to reach out to potential guest bloggers, asking a reader for a guest post (or shooting a video post) in person has much more impact.
  • You re-think what you’ve written lately – I used to write weeks in advance. Now it’s usually a week ahead. Even so, between client work for The Brainzooming Group, articles for the Brainzooming blog, and guest posts at other websites, it’s challenging to remember what’s being published where. Answering questions and discussing current (and past) blog posts about strategy, creativity, and innovation makes it come alive for me as well as for the reader.

So if you’re a Brainzooming blog reader in KC, get in touch, and let’s meetup! – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

I was in a recent meeting where a junior person challenged a senior leader over something the executive had supposedly said. The executive was now experiencing, at least in the view of the junior person, corporate amnesia and denied ever making the statement.

Last week, someone told me about a meeting where a junior person thought he had tripped up a senior leader.  The executive had neglected an expected duty, at least in the view of the junior person, so the junior manager challenged the executive for being negligent.

Maybe both these mini-attacks happened because its summer, it’s hot, and moods are agitated. No matter the reason, here’s some career strategy advice for junior people:

You won’t get ahead in your career trying to embarrass senior leaders in group settings.

I hope that isn’t news to anyone, but having heard two instances of it in quick succession, it just needed to be said. If you think a senior executive has wronged you or screwed up, there are much better ways to deal with the situation than a “gotcha” style, direct confrontation in a group setting!

How about trying any of these strategies?

  • Note the potential issue (if it’s absolutely necessary to) non-confrontationally so you can come back and discuss it privately at a later time.
  • Offer your differing point of view in a way that acknowledges you MIGHT have it wrong (even if you KNOW you don’t).
  • Turn your challenge into a much softer question that allows the executive to talk, potentially admit a mistake, and still save face.
  • Simply drop the issue and move on if it doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things.

These strategies let you register the appropriate level of concern in the immediate group setting without putting a senior executive in a position where the only face saving move is to turn around and publically question your performance or point of view (which happened in both of these instances).

Remember, quite frankly, a senior executive has more corporate standing and firepower than you do (that’s one of those cool perks of being a big wig). You have to win your point through finesse and savvy interpersonal skills, so get to work on those. Got that? – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

I’m a big advocate for the strategy of asking great questions to understand points of view before you launch into something. It’s better to get as much info as possible at the start so you can do something once instead of having to change direction repeatedly because nobody knows what the real direction is.

Having said that, here are two situations where it’s better to act first and ask questions later:

  • When you get ambiguous direction from a boss or client who is inaccessible – mentally, physically, or virtually. In these instances, take what you do know, and get started (or keep moving). Often the best thing you can do is help fill in and shape the thinking that either isn’t taking place or isn’t available from your boss/client.
  • When there’s been lots of discussion and not much progress on resolution. Within group settings, it’s not unusual for certain issues to bog a team down right from the start. They’re usually difficult, complicated issues that you’d ideally like to solve in one move, but you realistically know you can’t. Instead, stop the discussion and questions; simply start doing something small. Creating even minor progress gives people something to react to rather than simply speculating what might be over and over.

In both cases, having something concrete (an artifact) for others to look at and consider can catalyze your efforts in a way that trying to get every question answered before you begin won’t. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

Thanks to an invitation from Seth Simonds, I’ve started contributing to Stepcase Lifehack, a top 100 Technorati blog featuring pieces on productivity, personal improvement, and other life “hacks” to improve yourself.

My first submission based on the creative and innovation strategy written about here at Brainzooming is “8 Ways to Bring Your Creative Passions to Work.” The response to the piece has been quite gratifying and demonstrates the benefit of getting articles in front of a very large audience. Look for new bi-weekly posts from Brainzooming over at Stepcase Lifehack.

This photo illustrates a great example of someone carrying out a strategy to be more creative at work. Shopping the deli case at our local Hen House Market for dinner, I came upon this ham salad, shaped and decorated as a pig. While I don’t usually want to dwell on what my food originally looked like, this represents a wonderful way to bring a passion for art to a deli counter job.

Yes, you truly can insert creativity into any job. You simply have to be creative in how you do it. Check out the piece on “8 Ways to Bring Your Creative Passions to Work” for ideas on how to get started!

And speaking of a taking a creative approach to an age-old experience, here’s a link to my advice on getting more creative pop out of your Fourth of July fireworks this year! Be safe!  – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

There’s something in my immediate family’s genetics which precludes anyone from ever being party to a quick windfall.

For example, my dad’s funny but not particularly cantankerous. Plus it would never be in the cards for me to come up with @ShitMyDadSays. It’s just not in the DNA. We’ve never had any make or break moments. Just reasonable progress highly correlated with the level of effort, persistence, and determination.

And that’s probably pretty typical, although you’d never suspect this from what gets talked about in the media.

Overnight successes often labor a long time to improve and refine what they do, but that’s rarely mentioned. If it is a true overnight success story, the incredible rise usually averages out with a comparably rapid fall. As much as I wish the best for the guy who sold “Shit My Dad Says,” barely 100 tweets (most of which can’t be used on TV) feels like a TV show with a 13-week run, not one with a big finale several years from now that the whole country is watching.

We’d all like things to be faster and more lucrative than our relatively humble lives. That’s why “get whatever (riches, fame, book deals, etc.) quickly” ads, emails, and tweets drag people in like crazy. Despite the hype and glitz though, I guess I’m genetically pre-disposed to adopt a strategy of patience, characterized by longer term results and less drama in my life.

But how about you…are you working a quick or a patient strategy?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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

Regularly walking outside is great exercise and a wonderful start toward living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight.

Walking around a gym (even with all the available tools), hanging out, and talking with people, however, doesn’t do a lot for one’s health or weight loss.

Yet it’s pretty common to see people who desperately need aggressive exercise simply putting in their time with minimal effort in using the tools available for them to accomplish a significant objective.

The same principle applies to work.

You can embrace the activities and resources necessary to progress significantly on the opportunities in front of you. Or are you can simply hang out, wander around, and avoid doing the hard stuff you know you need to be doing.

So what’s your strategy for approaching your career?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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading