Being introspective is a vital perspective that’s part of your personal innovation strategy and your innovative character. You have to know what your most creative talents are (and aren’t) along with being able to understand the natural perspectives you bring to any creative process.

Feel like you could know yourself better to improve your creative skills?

Here’s a creative approach to shed light on what might be your most effective personal innovation strategy:

  • List your 5 favorite movies (okay, if you’re like me and don’t see many movies, you can throw in a TV series or two).
  • Step back and ask, “What do these five movies have in common? What’s similar about the characters and their situations?”

The professional actor who shared this technique said it’s used by actors to help identify what types of characters and roles they should be seeking.

When I did the exercise originally, the common thread through my then favorite movies (including “Broadway Danny Rose,” “The Truman Show,” “The Sting,” and “Dead Poets Society”) was an underdog story with an outsider or someone overlooked trying to get on top against big odds.

This came up the other day talking with Alex Greenwood about careers.  I told him the underdog theme has characterized much of my life and career, and certainly infuses the perspectives in “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” Having to work hard to overcome situations where an innovative strategy wasn’t appreciated has led to my preference to have a diverse creative team around me. The team not only challenges and stimulates my creative juices, it adds impact to challenging the thinking of those who prefer the status quo without innovation.

So what do your favorite movies say about your creative perspective? And how can you use the insight to improve your innovation efforts? – Mike Brown

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South by Southwest is in full swing. If you’re on Twitter and following even a few people, you’re already seeing frequent updates from friends hitting all the cool presentations, concerts, parties, and other events in Austin.

In an attempt to deal with the left-out feeling for those not there, I started using the Twitter hashtag #NWxNW for “Nowhere by Nowhere.” The basic idea is that if you’re not at #SxSW, then in the world of social media, you’re nowhere.

Yet, there are more people not in Austin than there are there, and it’s an opportunity for people in the next few weeks to be sharing what cool, strategic work they are doing back at home, wherever home is, by tagging it with #NWxNW.

Amid promoting #NWxNW, I came across the more active hashtag #FakeSxSW, which was started in 2009 to tweet about cool FICTIONAL presentations, events, and meetups at an event that isn’t really happening. It’s a funny and creative tweetstream for those of us salving the wounds of not getting to be in the thick of South by Southwest.

To keep up to date on the coolest creativity throughout the rest of South by Southwest, check back on the Twitter widgets in today’s post to monitor both the coolness at #SxSW and the creativity at #FakeSxSw and #NWxNW.

And in either case, if there’s something that strikes your interest, how about doing a guest Brainzooming blog on it? That would be creative! – Mike Brown

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This quick Brainzooming video guest post interview with Alex Greenwood focuses on the impact on creativity of working in public, particularly as Alex was writing his ebook, “Pilate’s Cross.” – Mike Brown

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Someone on the team side in NASCAR racing had asked me what business people look for in racing sponsorship proposals. The list below highlights characteristics that would set a sponsorship pitch apart as warranting attention beyond its move to the physical or virtual recycle bin:

  • You MUST GET THIS! You have a brand, just as a potential sponsor does. Be ready to explain how the brands fit with one another. You want your brand and the sponsor’s brand to enter an extended relationship. For the relationship’s success, your brand must be supportive and complementary to the sponsor’s brand. Clearly show you’ve thought about a strategy and share what you do to actively manage your brand to maximize audience awareness and ensure a strong reputation.
  • Do homework on the potential sponsor and its BUSINESS objectives. Don’t start with sports talk. Show right away you’ve made an effort to understand what’s important in the sponsor’s business. Connect the assets you have to how the sponsor can create more happy customers, revenue, and profits from doing business with you.
  • Focus on what the sponsor’s trying to achieve in its primary business activities and how the sponsorship contributes – not the other way around. I’ve actually had drivers start with how important a sponsorship is…in helping them achieve their racing ambitions. Frankly, the sponsorship pitch isn’t about making your dreams come true. Enough said.
  • Talk about how your sponsorship assets can help attract attention. Pretty pictures of sponsorship assets (i.e., racing cars) are in everybody’s presentation. What’s rarely seen is a creative treatment of how these assets can be strategically and innovatively used to grow revenue and profit for the sponsor. Don’t simply say how many tickets are available. Share the innovative ways you’ve considered to maximize the value and reach of those tickets.
  • Your audience may not be fans – but they do want to know what you can do to make their fans feel special. It’s dangerous to assume a potential sponsor is a fan of your sponsorship category. Certainly though, they’re big fans of their own businesses, brands, and customers.  Focus your appeal on how you can make the sponsor’s fans feel special with insider and exclusive experiences.
  • Demonstrate you’re legitimately metrics-driven. While this includes background on your sponsorship performance, it’s really important to show how many of your target sponsor’s customers you can reach along with numbers on how effective other sponsors who’ve partnered with you have been at growing their businesses. Provide real ROI metrics, or at least important components in the ROI equation.

There you have it from my perspective. In reality, the specifics work for preparing other sports, entertainment, or charitable sponsorships. The list can also help marketers determine whether a sponsorship proposal is worth considering for a next step. So how about it marketers – what else would you add to the list of requirements you have for groups seeking sponsorships?

If you’re pitching sponsorships, adopt these principles, and you may have a shot at a second phone call. – Mike Brown

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This post has been too long in coming, dating to an outstanding presentation at the American Marketing Association Market Research Conference I chaired. In one of the fastest paced 90 minute presentations I’ve ever seen, Robert Adams, CEO and Founder of Infact Insight, delivered tremendous content (and lots of it) on “Supercharging Presentations – Charts Worth 1000 Words.” As I rapidly tried to live tweet, the session certainly lived up to its supercharged billing!

Here are sixteen creative ideas Robert Adams shared to help rethink how you’re creating and delivering presentations:

General Presentation Reminders

  • While public speaking is among the worst fears, communication skills are important factors in personal financial success. It’s a very worthwhile skill to force yourself to develop, even if it seems uncomfortable.
  • Great presentations take multiple talents, so you’ll likely need collaboration in preparing and delivering one. If you’re presenting regularly, make sure you have a creative team to reach out to for help.
  • Break presentations into three steps: preparation (doing upfront analysis and strategic thinking), creation (distilling the information you need to convey), and delivery (putting everything together and sharing it with the audience).
  • Want to get exposure to lots of powerful presentations? Go to the TED conference website and watch the great presenters showcased there.

Audience Analysis

  • Audience analysis is a fundamental early step in presentation prep. Think through the audience’s composition, personality, and relevant problem definition. Use mind mapping for this last element, starting an issue tree with the primary audience problem, and branching into its components.
  • Determine what it will take to get key audience members to act. What are their wants and needs? What are they for or against, and what’s required to move them effectively?
  • Storyboard your presentation before going to the computer. Sketch an outline in words (and ideally pictures), put it away, and return to review it later. This process takes time, but it pays off in a well-structured, holistic presentation.

Refining Presentation Look and Feel

  • Struggling to think through the right visuals for a presentation? Robert Adams recommends visiting Chart Chooser to help identify appropriate visuals based on your intended message.
  • Since your audience will likely have a mix of big picture and detail-oriented thinkers, look for ways to represent both elements in one graphic to accommodate each type of audience member. Consider how you can use pictures to present quantitative data.
  • Adams recommended using older fonts with historical information – an innovative take I’d never considered.
  • Force yourself to get a presentation to as few pages as possible. The effort to accomplish this will both benefit the presentation and force you to get all the relevant points into your head, avoiding the need to memorize it.

Delivering Presentations

  • Two of the most important moments in any successful presentation are the opening and close. Make sure you have strong, high impact content and staging. Take advantage of the roles primacy and recency play in what your audience will remember.
  • Be open and friendly when delivering a presentation. It’s important to smile, use deliberate gestures, and avoid unnecessary distractions (i.e., poor posture, putting your hands in your pockets, grooming yourself, etc.).
  • Always have a presentation parachute, just in case one or more things go wrong as you’re presenting.
  • When handling questions near the end of a presentation, be mindful of time. Don’t end on questions – instead move into a pre-planned wrap-up in your remaining moments.


  • Step outside of the typical presentation and be different in a positive and distinctive way. Invest the time in preparation and creation to be able to do different things with charts, graphs, and the ways you’ll ultimately deliver a well-rehearsed presentation.

You can check out additional strategic and creative tips on improving your presentations from the Brainzooming archives. And while you’re thinking about it, what’s working for you on the presentations you’re doing?  – Mike Brown

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

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There are many books on improving your memory.

Yet one key to greater creativity and innovation is the ability to temporarily forget what you know. Doing so allows you to consider creative possibilities you’d otherwise quickly rule out because you know, from experience and knowledge, WHY they won’t work.

This video clip from the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation covers the important innovation perspective of forgetfulness and why’s it’s vital to being more innovative. To learn more about the other innovation perspectives, download the free “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” ebook. – Mike Brown

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We worked Saturday with a great company (and management team), collaborating on better defining their strategy initiatives.

One topic was how they finish projects for customers. While this step could be treated as an afterthought, it’s actually a critical stage on multiple dimensions. If it’s done thoroughly and promptly, it leads to greater success and satisfaction for clients and stronger profitability for the company. Done poorly (i.e., dragging on too long), it can trigger client dissatisfaction on an otherwise successful project and deteriorate profitability as project managers rack up uncompensated hours and can’t move to other projects.

Thinking about it later, finalizing a project is an important phase to have end really well for any project-based business, whether you’re serving external or internal clients.

From working with our client and thinking about this strategic, final step, here are questions we’re considering for Brainzooming™ that apply broadly:

  • Near project’s end, are we revisiting the deliverables and to-do lists, updating and aggressively managing open issues?
  • Are there clear cues signaling we’re done with the project?
  • Does the client fully understand its role in working with the output and implementing it successfully after the project is handed over?
  • What specific questions are we asking to gauge how well we delivered? Are we addressing any points of concern promptly and satisfactorily?
  • Are we asking for referrals?

These are just some questions any project-based professional needs to be answering. What items would you add to the list from your experience?Mike Brown

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