Blog | The Brainzooming Group - Part 190 – page 190

Last Friday, I covered the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation with the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) fall conference. The KanSPRA group was fantastic, and the venue at the new Kansas City, KS School District Central Office and Training Center was full of student artwork and creative ideas. I captured video from the creativity-filled facility tour David A. Smith, Chief of Staff with the school district, gave me, and after some editing work, I hope to share it with you soon.

One attendee asked two questions I don’t remember ever receiving before during the “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” presentation:

What are the best and worst creative ideas I’ve been involved with using the creativity techniques we discussed?

I tend not to track or think about “best” and “worst” creative ideas, but hey, when an audience member asks you a question, you try to answer it!

The Worst Idea?

The worst idea I talked about was a NASCAR-related idea to create a citywide racing event for our corporate racing program tied to our Sprint Cup and race sponsorship in Kansas several years ago.

The idea came from the most comprehensive and dynamic brainstorming session we ever conducted. The citywide racing event idea was full of innovative possibilities, and one of the scheduled events was a NASCAR racing festival on the upscale Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. We wanted to bring NASCAR excitement to a new part of the community. Without rehashing the details, the NASCAR racing festival was incredibly poorly attended, created a good deal of acrimony among the people involved, and (as I only recently learned) led to a corporate myth about one staff member having a catatonic trance because of a frustrated comment from me (I was emceeing the event).

Clearly an example where an idea full of innovative possibilities can still result in a complete debacle.

The Best Idea?

The “best” idea was an even tougher question. My quick answer was a lesson I’ve realized over the past few years:

Be open to moving forward with possibilities, even when what will come about isn’t clear.

I shared a story of heading to Hays, KS for less than 24 hours a few weeks ago to attend a university advisory council meeting. While the planned advisory council meeting prompted the roadtrip, I discovered later that two encounters with people I hadn’t talked to since grade school were the REAL reasons I was compelled to head home.

One long conversation with a woman I hadn’t talked to since we were in 6th grade taught me some incredible insights about the joy of being a selfless caregiver. I also reconnected with a fellow grade school religion class student I’d only talked with briefly several years ago when my dad was hospitalized. At the same time she was telling me about her brother’s job, Max Utsler was telling Barrett Sydnor he’d recommended to her brother he talk to me about doing some social media work for his organization. Through Facebook, he saw I’d had lunch with his sister and reached out to me. We’re meeting this week.

Did I have a great idea to go to Hays, KS for the weekend or what?

Actually, it wasn’t really my great idea. Being open to whatever might happen, even though I didn’t understand it beforehand, was central to both of these unexpected experiences.

Trust me, it’s taken me years to learn this lesson. They say, “God helps those who help themselves.” I think it might really be, “God helps those who stop trying to get in the way of what he’s doing for them.”

And you?

What about you? Do you categorize your best and worst creative ideas? If you do, would you care to share your stories about them?  – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity 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 or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Continue Reading


If you are in Kansas City and not attending Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) breakfasts, you’re missing outstanding social media-related speakers and content monthly. The September presentation from Scott Monty at Union Station was fantastic, and October’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast (back at the Kansas City Cafe) was equally strong, featuring Mike McCamon, Chief Community Officer from

I’ve been struck by the organization’s compelling online strategy since meeting Erin Swanson from at one of the first breakfasts I attended. Talking informally with Erin several times in the last few years, it’s been clear is all over inventive social media strategy.

Social Media Automation

At last Friday’s SMCKC breakfast, Mike McCamon provided a “Social Media 700-level” course on how uses social media automation, under the banner “Donate Your Voice,” so Twitter and Facebook fans can share their social network feeds with the organization. Beyond “one-to-many,” Mike characterizes the strategy as enabling “none- to-many,” since fans don’t have to do anything once authorizing to use their social media broadcasting capabilities.

This video from the presentation features the strategic thinking behind Donate Your Voice and the social media automation strategy. I told Mike afterward that being a strategy guy, he had me right away by starting with not one, but two X-Y charts.

How Extendable is Donate Your Voice?

Does Donate Your Voice have a fit beyond non-profits? Mike discussed considering sharing the technology with non-competitive non-profits and licensing it to for-profits in exchange for a financial commitment to Even if it does (or others develop similar capabilities), the Donate Your Voice concept will likely need an option for more user intervention.

When you care about what you share in your social network channels, I can’t imagine surrendering my “voice” to any organization without an option to say yes or no on a particular message.

Would you want that type of message-specific approval, or are you okay with donating your online voice unchecked?

I’ll be covering Donate Your Voice in greater depth for the December issue of The Social Media Monthly magazine. I’ve been writing monthly articles since the magazine’s introduction earlier this year. If you’re in a Barnes and Noble in the next few days, you still have an opportunity to pick up the October issue of The Social Media Monthly where I wrote a cover story on the Google+ vs. Facebook battle.  – Mike Brown


If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”



Continue Reading


It has now been about 2 years since I left corporate life to make The Brainzooming Group a full-time effort. Last year on this date, I shared 25 lessons learned and reconfirmed during the first year of The Brainzooming Group. Here are 25 more lessons from year two away from corporate life, although it’s hard to say some of them didn’t originate in year one!

  • Peoples’ priorities, especially in corporations, change quickly. Things can go from hypercritical to off the list in what seems like minutes. Inside the corporation, you may not even notice. As a vendor, it can be crushing.
  • A lot of corporate life was filled with meetings. The absence of so many needless meetings creates a lot of time in your day.
  • Keep experimenting with pricing and other parts of the marketing mix ALL the time.
  • Taking a “friends and family” approach to business development is a good start, but it is hardly sufficient.
  • Get out of the office and see people.
  • I’d underestimated the business potential of Facebook. Now, I’m playing catch-up.
  • Go for unique, higher-risk opportunities than predictable, lower-risk opportunities that promise they’ll get better.
  • R.E.M. did things in their own way, at their own pace, in their own style. That’s a pretty solid long-term business strategy.
  • I’m not sure if absence makes the heart grow fonder, but 24/7 togetherness doesn’t.
  • If you’re willing to surrender your will to God, he’ll put you in the places you need to be.
  • When you’re in a big corporation, the last thing you may want is dealing with more people. When you’re an entrepreneur, that changes.
  • Frugality, frugality, frugality.
  • A one-tier cost structure is a recipe for failure at worst or stagnation at best.
  • At some point, you have to stop thinking you’re average at everything you do while still maintaining a strong sense of overall humility.
  • There were things I could afford to stay out of or not do in the corporate world that I can’t afford to avoid anymore.
  • You can’t over-estimate the impact of being able to stay calm during challenging times.
  • As difficult as it might be, you have to let go of previously strong professional relationships that turn non-reciprocal. Really cultivate the ones that do remain vibrant, though.
  • Go out of your way to meet new people you would never have expected to meet. Go out of your way to re-meet people who pass through after long absences. You never know how your life will be changed by it.
  • Don’t wait for someone to join you. Go ahead and try it yourself.
  • As important as a tight team is, go to unfamiliar people for reactions, because you’ll get a much more accurate perspective.
  • It’s okay to take the risk that something you walk away from will hit really big for someone else. You can’t pursue everything.
  • Life is really incredible if you allow it to be incredible. Many times “incredible” materializes because you haven’t directly intervened in mucking up the ordinary.
  • It’s easy to slide backward – really easy. If you’re going to slide backward, do it consciously, not accidentally.
  • You need a business model, not just an idea. A business model can sustain you for an extended period of time. Ideas have to be continually replenished. Continually replenishing ideas for an extended period of time can drain you beyond recovery.
  • Wait for 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 or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

Continue Reading


Photo by: codswollop | Source:

A really easy Thursday read. Here are eight potential career challenges, along with tips for:

1. Creating memorable brand experiences (personal or organizational): Meet consumer interests with emotional intensity & just enough mention of your brand so they know who made it happen.

2. Shooting better informal videos: When you are using one Flip or phone camera to shoot video of a speaker, don’t go for b-roll. You’re not making an epic. Just video the speaker & don’t shake.

3. Being effective online: Work on being pleasant, professional, and engaging at offline behaviors.

4. Achieving notoriety: Never claim to be an expert. Let OTHERS decide when they label you an expert.

5. Being well spoken: Write your own heartfelt words, even if they aren’t as eloquent as you like. Share those instead of pithy quotes.

6. Moderating a meeting: Ask the questions already on the audience members’ minds.

7. Protecting your data: Really back it up routinely. Having versions of files on multiple USB drives in a very random fashion isn’t a data recovery plan.

8. Growing your personal value: When asked to share your intellectual capital free of charge because there are many business opportunities with a particular audience, ask what percent of audience members bought from previous speakers. – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at or call us at 816-509-5320.

Continue Reading


I “met” Chris Griffiths on Twitter through chatting about audience-building strategies in social media. Chris is CEO of Think Buzan, the folks behind Mind Mapping. Today, Chris Griffiths is releasing his new book, “GRASP The Solution,” a pragmatic guide to making decisions and solving problems creatively. From my tweeted request, Chris shared this guest post for Brainzooming readers on the value of focused daydreaming, a practical tool for creativity:

Imagine going into a meeting with the Board of Directors and suggesting that employees should spend some of their time in work daydreaming. How would they react?

My guess is that it wouldn’t be a popular idea!

Most people think of daydreaming as a waste of time – something you might do during lazy moments in between actually working. But I’m a firm believer that daydreaming can enhance creativity to a massive degree. Think about it. How many times do great ideas come to you when you’re in the shower, taking a walk or while driving? Well, you’re not alone. This happens to all of us. Many of the world’s greatest minds reached moments of true brilliance through the simple act of daydreaming. Here’s just a few:

  • Sir Isaac Newton and his discovery of gravity
  • Thomas Edison and his countless inventions
  • Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity

In fact, Einstein was very outspoken about his love of daydreaming – or what he called his ‘thought experiments’. He even credited these ‘experiments’ for giving him the ideas that led to his greatest works.

Though I don’t claim to possess the genius of Einstein, I can definitely vouch for the benefits of daydreaming when searching for creative solutions and insights. There’ve been more than a few occasions when I’ve struggled for hours – and days even! – to solve a problem without any success. That’s when I know I need to stop aggressively forcing myself to find a solution, and instead just relax and let my mind wander. Sure enough, the solution soon comes to me, seemingly out of nowhere.

How can we make daydreaming work for us?

You may be thinking by this point: “If daydreaming is so effective, why aren’t I coming up with brilliant ideas all the time?” It’s a fair question – after all, daydreaming is something we do every day. But we usually do it without any preparation and without a goal in mind. The key to using daydreaming as a creativity technique is to make it focused and deliberate, and to hold an awareness of what you want to achieve.

Focused daydreaming requires some simple preparation to get the desired results. We need to first think about the problem and put all the groundwork in, getting to grips with the information and consciously exploring solutions. This helps to brief the deeper parts of the mind so the unconscious has lots to ponder. Then it’s just a case of switching off and letting your mind wander.

I like to do a lot of ‘mind wandering’ when I’m out travelling, whether I’m on a train, a plane or a car. But, and this is really important, I always pay close attention to any ideas that come up and note them down in a Mind Map or notepad. It’s no good having a brilliant idea and then immediately forgetting it!

There are loads of ways to get into the right state of mind for daydreaming, including:

  • Taking a walk in the park
  • Having a bath or shower
  • Riding a bicycle or driving
  • Lying awake in the morning or night

It’s well worth experimenting to find what works best for you.

The great Austrian composer Mozart would have his most creative moments when lying awake in the still of the night, warm and relaxed in bed. In a letter to his father he once wrote, “When I am completely myself, entirely alone or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on these occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these come I know not and nor can I force them.”

A good trick for creating the right mental climate for ideas to spring forth is to use Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of paying careful attention to the details of the present moment, without judgement. A simple way to do this is to take a leaf out of Leonardo da Vinci’s book and cultivate your senses. Learn to see through the eyes of an artist, to hear through the ears of a musician, to feel with the sense of a lover, to smell with the nose of a perfumist and taste with the palate of a chef. This exercise heightens your awareness in just 20 seconds and brings you into focus to look at your situation with lots more clarity.

What does the future hold for daydreaming?

Unfortunately, daydreaming doesn’t hold the same status in business as rational thinking. For most of us it’s simply out of bounds – our workplaces see it as a frivolous and time-wasting activity. But the tide is changing, and support for daydreaming as a tool for creativity is growing all the time. Even scientists have begun to swing in favour of it, with more and more studies proving that our brains are more active when we’re daydreaming than when we’re engaged in vigorous, conscious thought!

I could write a whole book on the benefits of focused daydreaming – but the best way to learn is to try it yourself. Next time you have a problem that needs a creative solution, or you just need some fresh ideas, stop forcing the issue and instead let your mind wander. You might just be surprised by the results. – Chris Griffiths


Continue Reading


Several events (handling online community management for a new organization, returning to a bar where I was a DJ in college, creating a cross-school Facebook group for kids of my era in Hays, KS after a high school reunion) have all put me back in the heart of thinking about and handling start-up online community management.

Online community management means creating a content strategy, delivering intriguing social media content (be it created, shared, or repurposed), interacting with and building an audience, and doing it all on a consistent basis to keep people coming back and bringing friends with them.

You might think you are not doing community management, but if you are on Facebook or Twitter, community management is either what you are, or should be, doing.

Thinking back on my DJ years, organizing intriguing content has fascinated me for a long time. The successful practices for being a DJ or an online community manager are very comparable. In both cases, you are bringing together and arranging the best mix of content from various sources to create an intriguing content stream. The content can predominantly originate with others, but has to include self-generated content, too.

Approaching Online Community Management as a DJ Would Do It

I’d been thinking about the online community manager as DJ model before Angela Dunn’s great post on the topic of “thought leader as DJ” last year, so these recent events prompted me to put my personal spin on the topic (that’s only a pun for those older than 30, btw).

Here are 10 ways a DJ would approach online community management:

1. Create a signature style for your content

Decide what content topics you’ll feature, how you want to intrigue your audience, and the actions and reactions you want audience members to display.

2. Develop a source list

Continually cultivate websites, RSS feeds, and people that offer intriguing content in your focus areas. It’s okay to share content from popular sources, but there’s distinct value to sharing information off the beaten path. (As a side note, launching a community outside our industry has demonstrated a value for those stupid online newspapers: when very topic-focused, newspapers can be a decent source of industry content to share.)

3. Have an adaptable content approach

Know what you plan to program (using even a loose editorial calendar), but be willing to share more of the content that’s working right now.

4. Listen for new material all the time

Use all kinds of searches, tools, interacting with others, etc. to listen for and find new pockets of great material to share and promote. Watch the reactions to content and new trends developing. Alter your content stream to take best advantage of what you’re observing.

5. Participate and learn from other successful online community managers

I “got” Twitter initially by observing how others we’re using it. I’m back to doing that with Google+ now. Continually pick up new ideas based on how others are using social media well.

6. Be an engaging personality

Be enthusiastic, inviting, interested in your community, and “smiling” in an online kind of way. Doing these things attracts and grows a follower base.

7. Use and share content properly

Make sure you include proper credit for the original sources. Go ahead and paraphrase and paraquote, but don’t lift copy someone else created. Link to original sources and credit where you’re finding compelling content.

8. Solicit audience feedback

Ask easy-to-answer questions and continually check on what people think about your content and community. Also, find out what they enjoy in other online communities where they spend time.

9. Pace your content sharing for the right mood and type of community

Don’t just blast content with no time for people to enjoy it. At the same time, don’t begin with lots of material, and then disappear for extended breaks. Match what you’re sharing to where the community’s mood is and where you want to move it.

10. Bring variety to what you share

Mix in your own material in the midst of sharing compelling items from others. Whether on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., create an intriguing social media content stream that’s distinctive and special. That means being anchored in what you do well while also incorporating new areas to stretch yourself and your audience.

What guides your community management?

Those are 10 areas I’ve been pulling from in my DJ experience to manage new online communities. What guidelines from your experience guide you as your build and cultivate an online community?  – Mike Brown


If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

Continue Reading


There’s not a lot to add to this great Dilbert cartoon about Dilbert’s boss making a toxic attempt to instigate creativity in his team. I wrote a post for Talentculture last year on how to make your team more creative as a leader. The answer was just as depicted in the Dilbert cartoon: non-existent team creativity almost always indicates a problem with the boss and not a problem with the team’s innate creativity. – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you be a better leader in cultivating creativity in your team!  For an organizational creativity 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 or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Continue Reading