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I’m a stickler about the word leverage. I can’t stand it when people use leverage when they could just as well use use. Using leverage doesn’t make you sound like an Idea Magnet; it just makes you sound like a jargon fiend.

I’ll admit, though, that in the past few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about leverage. That ties to a conversation at a networking event with a serial investor. He told me that when he looks at businesses as possible investments, he ALWAYS looks for ones that have a leverage-related opportunity. For him, that means something is present in the business model allowing the brand to scale dramatically with disproportionately fewer resources – be they dollars, time, or something else.

6 Strategic Thinking Questions to Leverage Leverage

We most often apply a comparable version of this idea when working with clients that have started a lot of things and are wrestling with how all the things fit together. At that point, leverage looks like taking the best advantage of things that they can do once and use successfully, with little change or adaptation, many times over.

If you want to push a group to focus on these types of opportunities, here are ELSE-oriented strategic thinking questions that do the trick to get the thinking started:

  1. Who else can take advantage of this?
  2. What else can we (or someone else) do with this idea?
  3. Where else can we apply this concept?
  4. When else would this be relevant (or important)?
  5. Why else might this matter to someone?
  6. How else can we adapt and extend the advantage of this idea?

Running through this set of strategic thinking questions (along with whatever else you can think of) is a strong start to finding points of leverage and taking full advantage of them!  – Mike Brown

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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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Today, Monday, July 23, we’re launching the new Brainzooming book,  Idea Magnets: 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders. As part of the launch activities, you’re invited to a Facebook Live presentation I’m deliver on the seven Idea Magnets creative leadership strategies during the Leadership Institute conference. You can watch the presentation at 11:00 am Central Daylight time in the US (4 pm UCT). Please join us for the Facebook live event from the Idea Magnets Facebook page.

My objective in writing this new book was to help individuals cultivate their personal strengths as Idea Magnets, attracting other Idea Magnets through their creative energy. The key point is that achieving tremendous creative success doesn’t have to be rare or depend on some magical combination of things you can’t ever recreate. Idea Magnets, and those around them, experience these types of moments all the time. And there is no magic involved.

So, what exactly is an Idea Magnet, you ask?

Idea Magnets inspire creative ideas and encourage extreme creativity in those around them. Idea Magnets make life more exciting, fulfilling, and successful in everything they touch—from their work, to their personal lives to chance encounters—by applying surprising connections to deliver intriguingly powerful results. Idea Magnets serve and lead with boldness and humility. They imagine bold visions and attract other Idea Magnets to help implement them. And they do it all with amazing ease.

Idea Magnets teaches seven creative leadership strategies for becoming a more dynamic leader who inspires extreme creativity and innovative success by naturally incorporating these strategies into work and personal life:

  1. Generating Inspiration
  2. Embodying Servant Leadership
  3. Attracting Opposites
  4. Making Unexpected Connections
  5. Encouraging People and Ideas
  6. Implementing for Impact
  7. Recharging Creative Energy

With the Idea Magnets strategies, you’ll learn to envision new creative paths that deliver powerful impact, attract new ideas and people, and strengthen your leadership, leading to greater fulfillment for you and everyone around you!

Don’t forget: if you buy a copy of the Idea Magnets, available in both print and e-book versions on Amazon, you can also get The Idea Magnets Creative Recharge for free. This companion e-book shares creative leadership strategies that build on the principles of Idea Magnets and offers fun approaches for recharging your own creative energy. To download it, go to IdeaMagnets.com/recharge and enter your information, including your Amazon order number from your Idea Magnets print or e-book purchase.

Order Your Copy of Idea Magnets TODAY!

For more details on Idea Magnets, visit the Idea Magnets website or join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. – Mike Brown

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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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I was chatting with someone about what to do when someone asks you a question in a meeting. If you are fine with where everything is heading or you’re not sure what to ask, should you simply say you don’t have any questions?

That may seem like the natural answer.

I suggested another one: Go ahead and ask a great strategic thinking question.

It is always better to respond to a request for questions with a question versus saying you are completely set (whether you are or not) and have no need for more information.

In these situations, asking a positive, open-ended question:

  • Suggests that you’ve been listening very closely
  • Puts the attention back on the other person
  • Provides an opportunity for the other person to clarify

The next natural question in our conversation was about what types of strategic thinking questions to ask.

While I think there’s a Brainzooming blog post for this, it was almost faster to write a new, updated list of questions than to find the post. (That’s why having a book of Brainzooming creative leadership ideas all in one place will be so handy!)

21 Strategic Thinking Questions When You Have Nothing to Ask

via Shutterstick

Here are 21 updated strategic thinking questions with varied purposes you can use when someone asks you if you have any questions:

Create More Room to Elaborate

  • Can you talk about that more?
  • How will it work?
  • What is most intriguing to you about the idea?

Seek Additional Background

  • Is that a typical approach that you take?
  • What brought you to that conclusion?
  • What other ideas did you consider before arriving at that?

Explore Potential Impact

  • What are some upsides to this approach?
  • What types of impacts should / can we expect?
  • Did you look at this idea relative to others and their expected impacts?

Identify Opportunities

  • Are there other areas in which we can apply this?
  • What other initiatives could branch off from doing this?
  • What other initiatives could get new life when we introduce this initiative?

Identify Success Factors

  • What do we need to pave the way for success?
  • Who will need to be involved to make this successful?
  • Can we depend on existing capabilities or will we need new ones to make this work?

Understand Previous Experience

  • What does your experience tell you about how this will work in our situation?
  • How have you used this idea in other situations?
  • How does that differ from other things you’ve tried?

Push for More Innovation

  • Is that a new idea / approach?
  • What are other alternatives you considered (or are under consideration)?
  • How does this approach improve on what’s been done before?

Given all that, do you have any questions? – Mike Brown

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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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As a Brainzooming reader, it’s a foregone conclusion that you are an Idea Magnet! That’s why we wanted to give you this exclusive update.

Idea Magnets Is Available Now!

Idea Magnets: 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders, my new Brainzooming book on daily innovation, is now available on Amazon.com.

Idea Magnets shares seven strategies for becoming a more dynamic leader who inspires extreme creativity and innovative success by naturally incorporating these strategies into work and personal life.

Using Idea Magnets strategies, you’ll be able to envision new creative paths that deliver powerful impact, attract new ideas and people, and strengthen your leadership. This leads to greater fulfillment for you and everyone around you!

Order Your Copy of Idea Magnets TODAY!

The Idea Magnets Launch

We’ll be officially celebrating the book’s launch on Monday, July 23 with a live presentation at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time (US). We’re planning to stream it live on the book’s Facebook page.

An Exclusive Free Offer for Brainzooming Readers!

If you purchase your Idea Magnets print or Kindle version right now on Amazon, you can also get a copy of The Idea Magnets Creative Recharge for free. This companion eBook shares strategies that build on the seven strategies in Idea Magnets. It offers fun approaches for recharging your creative energy. To grab your copy, go to IdeaMagnets.com/recharge and enter your contact information and the Amazon order number from your Idea Magnets print or e-book purchase.

For more details on Idea Magnets, visit IdeaMagnets.com and start following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

We’re excited that you are part of Brainzooming family and look forward to benefiting you in new ways with the helpful strategies in Idea Magnets!  – 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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Do your organization’s strategic planning meetings turn into annual snoozefests?

That happens when strategic planning becomes too complex, gets detached from real business issues, or the whole process focuses on trying to complete cumbersome strategy templates. Then people start dozing off. Later you discover that your strategic planning was more successful at producing ZZZZZZZZZZs than $$$$$$$$$s.

Yes, strategic planning processes are commonly snoozefests, but they needn’t be!

To avoid it, it’s vital to break out of the typical strategic planning process formula where it’s all about the same old people, the same old strategy exercises, and the same old expectations to just get a plan done so it can sit on the shelf with other strategies while the organization keeps doing the same old things.

If you’ve been frustrated in your efforts to challenge the strategic planning status quo, we have good news: There’s hope, and you can change all the bad things about how a boring strategic planning process! There are actually many fun strategic planning ideas that you can start implementing for next year’s planning!

Step one in the process is to download 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning! This eBook has become a go-to guide for thousands of executives globally to explore fun strategic planning ideas. You can use this eBook to enliven strategy meetings through a focus on important business issues, productive strategy exercises, and enough fun to keep EVERYONE engaged in creating a plan that creates success and all those other things that more $$$$$$$$$$s create.

If you don’t have 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning, get your copy today!

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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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I’m heading a team at church with responsibility for evangelization and conversion. Our responsibilities include ensuring our church creates an inviting and welcoming experience for both parishioners and visitors.

Our team gathered before the last Sunday mass this weekend to conduct a visual and experience audit. We used a worksheet supplied by our local archdiocese to perform what they called a visual hospitality audit. We informally extended the audit to include the entire experience, not just the visual cues.

The worksheet was tremendously helpful. It kept our team aligned AND provided a way to see our parish experience with fresh eyes.

Even before we successfully used the worksheet to conduct the audit, we planned to adapt the idea to develop a new Brainzooming branding exercise. It will help brands effectively and efficiently look at their in-person customer experiences.

If you want to adapt the concept to your brand’s in-person customer experience, here are the steps we’re taking to modify it:

To set up our team’s exercise, I prepared a cover sheet advising people to be as much in the background as possible (to minimize the impact of our presence on the observations). It also suggested trying, as best possible, to take on the eyes of specific audiences that need accommodation beyond the typical experience.

Our next step is compiling all the results. It is clear already that the audit form led all of us to new insights. One team member noticed a massive mosaic on the front of the church for the first time, even though he’s been in and around the church for fifty years! That shows the value of this type of customer experience audit approach to allow you to find fresh eyes, even if you have decade of exposure to a customer experience situation. – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



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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The idea of personal branding seems like it’s been around forever. Many people credit author Tom Peters for popularizing the concept of personal branding strategies in a late ‘90s Fast Company article. If you are unfamiliar with the term, personal branding simply means building awareness and a reputation for your business self through strategies used to develop and market product or service brands.

I talk to many senior business people who think the idea of developing personal branding strategies is nonsense. That opinion tends to soften, though, once they are trying to change careers or reinvent themselves. Then, they suddenly get the personal branding religion and reach out for ideas and advice on how to successfully (and uber-quickly) develop their personal brands.

6 Personal Branding Strategies for Senior Executives

Someone in my LinkedIn network reached out recently with news that he has left the corporate world and looking for ideas on personal brand strategies to increase his online presence. To start answering his question, and get you thinking about the concept now, before you need it, here are six personal branding strategies we suggest for senior executives in career transitions. These are fundamental and important steps to build a personal brand online (and offline) as quickly as possible:

#1 Get Started by Repackaging Content

If you have ever created any content about your chosen profession that’s still relatively current, track it down. Your potential content stash could include non-proprietary presentations, articles, reports, and industry overviews. Edit these into a 300-to-500-word format. Review the pieces for tone, grammar, punctuation, and spelling (one more time never hurts), and then publish your article on LinkedIn. Two weeks later, publish another one, and keep on doing it.

#2 Share Content Online Regularly and Frequently

As you publish articles in your professional area, share links to all of them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Yes, if you don’t already have presences on these social networks, you’ll need to create them and start growing your network on each one.

Besides links to the articles you publish, you should also share ideas and engaging tidbits about things going on in your professional life. Potential topics include your business experiences, travel updates, info on intriguing people that you meet, new information you learn, and insights you recently gained. All these social media posts help in creating the perception that you are active and in-demand. You will be amazed at how even a handful of regular posts prompt people you meet in real life to remark about how they see you doing things. That’s all positive for building your personal brand.

#3 Adapt What You Share Online

As you create and share content online, continue to refine your strategy. You can do this based on how people engage with your content and the reactions they share. Rethink what you want people to know about you. What do you want them to tell someone that they are referring you to in a professional setting? As you home in on this vision, share more of the content that corresponds with it. While we would ordinarily make that a first step before creating and sharing content, at this stage it is more important to get started than to waste weeks or months figuring out exactly what you should share.

#4 Reach Out to People Regularly without Asking for Anything

Begin emailing people with ideas, tips, insights, and other content that will be helpful to them. Don’t email someone you haven’t talked to forever with a request to help you. Email them multiple times with beneficial ideas before you ever ask for anything, especially networking help. If your first outreach is to interrupt a valuable contact to help you, you know you aren’t starting out well.

#5 Upgrade Your Personal Presence

If you don’t have one already, hire a professional photographer to take great photos of you. Make sure the pictures are natural and highlight what you look like at your best. Now replace all the bad, amateurish photos of you on your social presences with these new, great photos.

Also, make an investment in Moo business cards. I’m continually surprised by how many people (even ones I’d consider business hip), don’t know about Moo cards. They are pricier, but they’re of a heavier card stock; they come in striking shapes, and they can showcase multiple bold messages. Since I began using Moo cards, people repeatedly remark about them to me. They will set you apart, too, when you hand out your business card to someone.

#6 Get Out There and Meet People

Aggressively attend networking events. The key, again, is to not wait until you must network to find a new opportunity. Network when you can view it as a pure numbers game, one in which you aren’t under pressure to turn every meeting or event into a major win. When you aren’t desperately needing to network, outreaches that fall through won’t hurt nearly as badly — psychologically or career-wise. If you take the big networking meeting route, bring along a friend as your wing person. Two people networking together doubles the chances that you’ll know people there. You can also encourage one another when your reserves run low.

Start Now!

The challenge is to start and keep going on all these personal branding strategies. Don’t stop doing them once you land the next opportunity you’re seeking. That’s the time to increase your outreach, not retreat from it. – Edited from Inside the Executive Suite

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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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