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On Saturday, Jonah Lehrer published an article in the Wall Street Journal called “Bother Me, I’m Thinking.” The article’s premise, based on a couple of university research studies, suggests a caffeine-fueled, laser focus, is not the proper road to creativity. Instead, the piece claims people who are inattentive and easily distracted are more creative. There’s some truth in the article, but it brought to mind three dirty little secrets about what creativity is, how to release your creativity, and solid research:

1. Everybody’s creative.

Yes, you’re creative, even if you think you aren’t. Want proof? What’s something you REALLY LOVE to do? Maybe something that would never be considered a creative pursuit….like fishing, cleaning the house, or exercising. In those areas, I bet you have all kinds of hacks, personal strategies, and ways of going about it that nobody else does, right? See, you’re creative! What is the definition of creativity? Creativity is simply going outside the bounds of what or how everybody else does things. It doesn’t have to be painting, music, or writing. With this definition of creativity, it can apply to everything.

2. What you should do to release your creativity depends on you and your situation.

The WSJ article addresses a couple of recent university studies pointing to the creative advantages of daydreaming, attention-deficit disorder, and getting distracted by objects – shiny or not. The central point was difficulty in focusing on specific details allows an individual to wade through a much wider range of creative stimuli. Absolutely true, and part of the reason I’m always writing about the importance of diversity. But you know what? There are people (and times) where focus and time along are essential as well. The dirty little secret is the creativity exercises and techniques to release your creativity are HIGHLY dependent on how you’re trying to be creative RIGHT NOW. Don’t get locked into just a few creativity exercises. Have a bunch of creativity exercises you can use until you find the one working for you this instant.

3. Just because it’s called “research” doesn’t mean it tells you anything of value.

The university research efforts in the article were based on studying 60 and 86 undergraduate students, respectively.  60 and 86 undergraduate students? In the business world, we wouldn’t have reported with much confidence how pickup and delivery drivers in a 5 state area were doing at their jobs based on fewer than 100 randomly selected customer interviews. There is so much “research” coming out of universities which purports to help us understand the world. In reality, these projects barely help us understand students at that university. These provide, at best, interesting observations. They don’t predict what will happen in the world.

Today’s Creativity Wrap-up

You are creative and whatever creativity exercises work for you to release your creativity are great, so don’t let any researcher tell you differently! – Mike Brown

For an additional creative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Airport Observations

Published on February 18, 2011 by in Brainzooming - All Posts

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If people thought their faces would freeze in the position they’re in at that moment, would they ever make some of the faces they make walking down an airport concourse?

It’s really hard to remember Midway Airport and how it used to be configured when it seemed like that one hot dog stand was the ONLY place to eat.

I’m not proud of the fact people I used to work with didn’t like to travel with me because I walk too fast in airports. I did appreciate that they did like to travel with me because I always had a back-up plan (or would put one together quickly) when something didn’t go right.

So much information about learning suggests we learn better when we actually practice or do something, rather than just listening to how to do it. If that’s the case, don’t you think they should let airplane passengers practice pulling on the oxygen mask? I’m liable to pull too hard and yank that little plastic tube right out, if and when I’d ever have to use it.

After the Southwest plane skidded off a runway at Midway a few years ago, the flight attendant didn’t appreciate it when I told her in the event of a landing like that, I’d take responsibility and direct traffic.

Surprisingly, not everyone wants to sit in the exit row when it’s open seating. At least not the first 62 passengers! – 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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Here’s another compilation piece, this time highlighting articles about creativity from the Brainzooming blog during the past year. Beyond the post on 26 ways to defeat a creative block (one of the most popular Brainzooming posts ever), this list provides a whole array of thoughts to get your creativity zooming whether individually or with your team.

Being More Creative on Your Own

 

Creativity Boosts from Others

Creativity with a Group

Creativity in the Marketplace

Brainzooming and Creative Instigation

For an additional creative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Nonprofit volunteers were the focus of a tweet last week from a friend involved in the Social Media Club of Kansas City who works in the nonprofit sector. The tweet was about the challenge of managing an influx of nonprofit volunteers who want to contribute time and expertise to an organization. Handling monetary contributions is relatively easy – send a check, fill out an online credit card form, establish an electronic funds transfer. But with nonprofit volunteers seeking to offer their effort, someone in the nonprofit organization has to allocate time to coordinate, train, and supervise these volunteers. Despite the typical need for help, this can create a real choke point leading to both nonprofit volunteers and staff  becoming frustrated and dissatisfied.

We’ll be addressing this potential issue as an opportunity today as The Brainzooming Group facilitates a communications strategy session today for the Jackson County CASA. Long-time blog reader and former co-worker Terry Kincheloe is heading up the CASA marketing committee, and our session objective is tied to creating stronger messaging strategy and connections with key CASA audiences, including volunteers for the nonprofit organization.

My tweeted suggestion back to my friend, and something we’ll explore in more depth today for CASA, is to create job descriptions for nonprofit volunteer positions.

By taking time upfront to craft job descriptions of roles volunteers can play in a nonprofit organization, they can help match themselves to appropriate roles, identify training needs (and potentially self-train if resources are available), and be more successful with greater self-management of their volunteering effort.

This approach, however, isn’t limited to nonprofits.

When I was directing our company’s NASCAR sponsorship marketing strategy, we both needed broad organizational help to make the program work and had a lot of people (usually big NASCAR fans) who wanted to be involved with the sponsorship marketing effort. The mismatch came from people not understanding what help we needed and being able to determine whether they were still interested. Through finally coming up with several job descriptions, it became easier to let people know what we needed and get them started contributing time with less supervision from our department’s NASCAR sponsorship team.

Look at your own efforts. No matter the size of your organization, are you doing things to help “volunteer” supporters (and in turn yourself) act on their interest in your cause and be more successful at it? If you are doing a great job at this, what strategies are you using to make it happen? – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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How many pages is your resume? Probably no more than three pages if you’re mid-career with years of experience. So much experience, in fact, all the business social networking platforms available to add depth, breadth, and diversity to your business network didn’t exist when your career started. Heck, online business social networking options probably weren’t available even half-way into your career. While that’s reality, being left out of the advantages business social networking 2.0 can provide when your age is closer to 25 times 2.0 doesn’t have to be.

With opportunities social networks provide in putting your name in front of new people, increasing visibility to your skills, and connecting to others who can help advance your career goals, social media channels shouldn’t be ignored by anyone who suspects they’re not in the last job they expect to have!

This is top of mind because I’m talking on behalf of SMCKC with a group of mid-career professionals this morning on “11 Steps and 11 Weeks to Create a Mid-Career Business Social Network.” This video is a post-presentation review of the flip charts I used for the session (another in those social media-oriented presentations where I couldn’t use a computer).

I’d love to say my business social networking immersion started several years ago with a coordinated plan, but it didn’t. It began with a need to build an identity outside the major corporation where I’d spent all but the first years of my career. That critical career need, a proclivity for creating work-related content over the years, a perfectly-timed presentation from a corporate blogger, and instigation from my career coach, Kathryn Lorenzen, were the vital ingredients in launching a business social networking presence well into my career. The effort included:

The result of this effort has been my two-page resume has effectively grown to tens of thousands of pages, with elements of it seen by more than a hundred thousand people in the past year. It’s comprised of expertise-related content and references widely available on many websites. This impact has come from slow progress over a number of years; progress which, quite frankly, is so slow it regularly stretches my patience level. But that’s what diving in and learning as you go feels like. Plus there’s been so much more learning and progress than if I were still crafting an elegant plan which never got implemented.

If you’re really serious about building greater diversity and depth in your network and letting a bigger audience in the business world know about what you know, I’m hard pressed to come up with a higher yielding approach than adding a social media presence to your career plans!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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Writer’s block is miserable. What situations cause writer’s block?

1.  When you don’t care about a topic.

2.  When you don’t think anybody else cares about the topic either.

3.  When writing feels too much like solving a math formula.

4.  When you’ve had too much to drink.

5.  When you haven’t had enough to drink.

6.  When you’re too tired.

7.  When you’re too frustrated.

8.  When you’re too self-satisfied.

9.  When you’d rather be doing anything else but writing.

10. When someone’s expecting you to write.

11. When someone’s depending on you to write.

12. When you’re distracted.

13. When you’re too focused on another chore.

14. When your inspirations aren’t inspiring you.

15. When you’re too obstinate to force yourself to simply start writing something.

After a week away from writing daily on the blog, when I got to reason 15, I finally started writing this post.

What situations cause writer’s block for you? How do you break your creative blocks? – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you. Mike Brown

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This giant snowman, reported in the Kansas City Star this week, was built in front of a house in Overland Park, KS, just down the street from where I work out at 24 Hour Fitness.

This ginormous snowman is a kick in the ass reminder that when you want to make an impact, think BIG.

Think EXTRAORDINARY!!

THINK LARGER than anyone would ever IMAGINE THINKING!!!

And after you’ve imagined it, go out and accomplish it in a completely HUMONGOUS, NEWSWORTHY WAY!

For a personal creativity boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” as a gift for your creative perspective! 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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