A January post highlighted the plan to broaden Brainzooming through social media. Specific tactics included Twitter, capturing story ideas with Flip video, and participating elsewhere online.

Since many readers have asked, here’s a progress update: the opportunities, connections, and possibilities from implementing the plan have been beyond my expectations. For those considering using social media in your personal brand efforts, here are some highlights:

One learning has been that taking a strategic approach to social media for me means concentrating efforts on only a few sites. That’s why there’s little presence from me on Facebook or Plaxo. I will be trying though to make a concerted attempt to get back to some high impact sites and explore new ones. One is Bulbstorm.com – a crowdsourcing beta site allowing individuals and businesses to solicit input on ideas while still protecting fundamental, proprietary elements of the ideas through varying access levels.

What a partial year so far of learning, meeting new people, and discovering new opportunities! Email or DM me with questions on your social media effort or suggestions for mine. - Mike Brown

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Someone told me about his new company where they do entrance interviews. In contrast to an exit interview, the objective is to get a download of potentially innovative ideas when someone starts a job, before there’s time to develop a point of view biased by the company’s culture.

What a great strategic thinking approach!

Given the current hiring market, entrance interviews may have limited applicability right now. It’s a wonderful idea though for increasing the diversity of an organization’s creative learning during the narrow window when a new employee is approaching things from a completely fresh perspective. - Mike Brown

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This week’s guest post is from Tracy Brown and Gordon Simmons are the co-creators of Happiness Inside – a social networking website offering articles, tools, tips, and encouragement. Its aim is to help each visitor develop a toolbox to build their own Happiness INSIDE. Gordon is a writer, musician, and online businessman. Tracy is a writer, a dreamer, and loves to engage and inspire others. You can follow them on Twitter at HappinessInside.

They’re sharing their perspective on making a strategic choice for happiness:

When we were invited by Brainzooming to do a blog on employing strategic thinking and choosing happiness, we jumped at the chance. You may wonder: Why “strategic thinking” when you are talking about being happy? Well, happiness is a choice – we’ll discuss that later in this post – but first let’s start with thinking strategically in order to choose happiness.

The mind is a funny creature. Undisciplined, it wanders from subject to subject, thought to thought, from imagined scenario to perceived situation. Sometimes, this is fine – it’s nothing more than benign musings. But the undisciplined mind by itself doesn’t always necessarily act in your best interests. When this happens, thinking strategically can help.

For a moment, picture the mind as river, water rushing along as you stand along the shore. The water in the river will follow the path of least resistance, especially when circumstances cause a surge in its volume. The water itself is not out to create a flood or breach the river banks; it’s just following the route it can flow in most easily without opposition.

The mind can behave in a similar way. When left unchecked (like the river’s water), the mind can wander into subjects and areas you do not want to think about or do not need to dwell upon. And it can certainly wander into areas that are simply not true and have a negative effect on how you feel, and ultimately believe and act.

Consider these examples. You are in school and fail a test. Or you are giving a presentation for work, and you totally bomb in front of your coworkers and maybe even your boss. It just doesn’t go well for you that day. An undisciplined mind might start to travel in “unruly” directions telling you things like:

  • “I’m so stupid.”
  • “I can’t get this.”
  • “I never do these things well.”

And on and on. Those thoughts are just not true and do not employ thinking strategically. Now, let’s apply strategic thinking to the two examples above.

Number one, you failed the test. Your deliberate thoughts can go in this direction:

  • “Ok, I really did not do well on that test.” [This is true.]
  • “Today was not my best day.” [This is true.]
  • “And I will work to do better in the future. I can do better.” [This is also true.]

This last thought is the beginning of thinking strategically. It opens the door and points your mind toward finding a way to create future positive experiences for yourself.

The bombed presentation?

  • “This was not my best presentation.” [That’s a fact.]
  • “I had the opportunity to learn what works for me when I’m talking to a group and what does not.” [That’s a fact.]
  • “My next presentation will be better because of what I’ve learned in this one.”

Again, this is thinking strategically.

So what does thinking strategically have to do with choosing happiness? The answer is simple: What you choose to think about will ultimately have a direct affect on how you feel. Choosing more positive thoughts will create an environment for your mind to be more apt to discover, develop, and experience happiness. Choosing to be happy will create more opportunities for feeling good.

The happier person is the one who is more strategic in his or her thinking – the one who chooses to think, “I bombed today, but I’ll rock tomorrow!” – Tracy and Gordon

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I’m a huge advocate of saving idea snippets for later refinement. Doing this has saved me so much creative time over the years.

Sometimes, though, this strategy leads to a creative dead end.

I have a nearly 100 page Word file of blog article starters along with several sketchbooks loaded with ideas. These have been great resources, serving as a safety net when ideas or time are tight.

Yet, the ease with which I used to write the blog has evaporated over the past several months.

This is likely due to a whole variety of legitimate tugs on my time and mental energy. But instead of my idea trove helping me, the chore of sifting through it and thinking about what and how to edit the ideas has been more daunting than invigorating.

So I tried a new approach this weekend. I began with a brand new Word file, a few ideas written down this week, and pounded out 5 new articles Saturday evening, just like the early days. Freed from the creative baggage of feeling compelled to rescue ideas, words and ideas started flowing naturally again.

It comes back to a fundamental strategy: be willing to walk away from what has worked for you when it isn’t working anymore. - Mike Brown

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Last Thursday, thanks to a heads up tweet from Todd Chandler, Cyndi and I attended our first Pecha Kucha night at Crosstown Station in downtown Kansas City. If you’ve not heard about it, Pecha Kucha is an innovative 20-slide PowerPoint presentation format with each slide on-screen for 20 seconds. Introduced in 2003, Pecha Kucha nights have been held in more than 200 cities globally.

Pecha Kucha emphasizes rapidly-paced, visually-oriented, creative slides. You’d think, by definition, it would be difficult to do a bad Pecha Kucha presentation since so many poor presentations emerge from slow pacing and too many words on a slide. While avoiding these downfalls helps improve presentations, it doesn’t fix everything.

As a result, here are 6 presentation reminders from Pecha Kucha night that apply to other presentations too:

Reminder 1: Boring presentations aren’t only caused by too much text on a slide. Despite agonizing about overly bullet pointed PowerPoint slides, an exclusively visual presentation can be deadly as well. One way to accomplish it? Read your presentation and don’t make eye contact with the audience.

Reminder 2: You can lose the handle on a presentation in less than 6 minutes. Even if you’re only presenting for a few moments, failing to have a solid presentation strategy and a well thought out flow will put you in the ditch quickly.
Reminder 3: Sometimes 20 seconds a slide is still too long. You wouldn’t imagine it, but 20 seconds can push the limits of how long a slide should be on screen if there’s no reason for it to be there or it’s not information rich.
Reminder 4: It’s a good thing corporate presentations don’t usually include beer and poetry. No matter what they are, distractions change a presentation. The beer break in the middle of the evening introduced an attractive distraction. Subsequent presentations became funnier or less tolerable (i.e. the poetry reading) because of it.
Reminder 5: Doing a visually-oriented presentation doesn’t mean you should treat it like a slide show. Really compelling pictures are worth a thousand words. Marginal images are worth about five. And if you’re not prepared to fill in some of the other necessary words to make a point, you’ve got a problem.
Reminder 6: Humor nearly always helps a presentation. Even in a brief presentation, smartly using humor makes a presenter more intellectually & emotionally approachable, bringing the audience into the experience. One of the funniest lines of the night? “These mouse turds were hand rolled by me.” How can you not be rooting for someone who’s willing to honestly share that?
Go to Pecha Kucha if you get a chance (as a teaser, here’s Todd’s fun presentation). I’ll be working on my 20 second presentation chops for evening #7 on October 22! – Mike Brown

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Beyond sharing creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking ideas here on the Brainzooming blog, I’ve had several opportunities recently to be involved with other channels to get ideas out. These are free and available for all of you to download!

“Fascination” – An Interview with Sally Hogshead

I recorded a webcast interview with Radical Careering author Sally Hogshead on Fascination and the triggers that make brands, ideas, and people fascinating. The webcast, in support of Sally’s keynote speaking appearance at the American Marketing Association Market Research Conference (which I’m chairing by the way) debuts Tuesday, July 21. It will be available on-demand for one year afterward.

Having known Sally for several years, it rocked to get the opportunity to talk with her about fascination since it’s the topic of her upcoming book. Her discussion on why Michael Jackson is fascinating is worth the listen alone!

And if you’re involved in market research, you should really attend the Market Research Conference. We have a tremendous lineup of speakers addressing how market researchers and intelligence-based marketers need to prepare for “What’s Next” to drive business success. Beyond traditional conference approaches, we’ll be incorporating social media heavily into the event to extend & deepen the learning experience. For updates, http://www.twitter.com/amamrc.

Hosting Eye on Small Business

Kelly Scanlon hosts the “Eye on Small Business” radio program on 1510 Hot Talk in Kansas City. I’ve been on Kelly’s show previously talking about “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” She asked me to substitute host for her on the topic of “What Can You Do When You Can’t Do What You’ve Done Before” with guests Jan Sokoloff Harness and Kate O’Neill Rauber. You can listen to the broadcast and grab the guerrilla marketing tools questions we discuss later in the show.

Some More Brainzooming Stuff

Here are a few more free Brainzooming download sources:

Hope you find these beneficial, and let me know if you have questions on any of them. – Mike Brown

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