Do you allow yourself to get on a roll, even when it seems like it’s more prudent to take a break?

A couple of years ago, Keith Prather and I had an incredible opportunity to do collaborative strategy sessions on 18 different topics in 10 business days. We split up and ran 2 simultaneous sessions some days. Others, we’d do two 1/2 day sessions.

It was mentally and physically fatiguing, but the opportunity to innovate the emerging Brainzooming approach  so frequently in a very compressed time created tremendous learnings about what worked and didn’t. It allowed us to modify and test new strategy exercises the very next day. By the end of two weeks, we were completely on top of our game despite being exhausted.

A similar situation happened recently.

When it comes to exercise, I take the easy way out, telling myself it’s important to rest in between workout days and to not go too hard on the elliptical trainer, especially if I’ve got a training session afterward.

At the start of the year though, Seth Simonds put out a Primal Stride Challenge to attain weekly fitness and health goals. The first included doing a daily 5K for 7 days straight. New Year’s Day, I did my typical hard, but not too hard, run on the elliptical trainer and posted an average 5k time. Having a goal to work against and doing it on a daily basis, however, I reduced my 5k time by 6.6% at week’s end.  That was with only one off day! A remarkable improvement based on where I am in my physical fitness journey.

Reflecting on this, it reminded me of the earlier experience with Keith. Both cases involved doing something way more than I thought made sense given the likelihood of the effort leading to fatigue – and an expectation of lower performance. Yet in both cases, getting on a roll and not letting up actually led to tremendous performance improvements.

My take away?

Your strategy should be to keep going and not worry about pacing yourself if you truly want to dramatically improve.

How about you? How do you train to reach your peak mental or physical performance, and what works best for you to get on a roll and keep it going? – Mike Brown

Continue Reading


Since Super Bowl XLIV is a great opportunity to review how successfully other marketers are linking strategy and creativity, Brainzooming will feature a live Super Bowl XLIV Twitter stream and before, during, and after game ad and social media analysis.

We’ll use the #BZBowl hashtag, and invite all of you to participate on Twitter with your opinions on the Super Bowl ads before, during, and after the game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.

Here are some cool, innovative tweeters who’ve said they’ll participate:

  • @ealvarezgibson – Whip-smart wordsmith. Media maven. Bon viveur.
  • @Reaburn – fulltime husbandfatherfriend, servicemarketer, studentobserver, sarcasmoblaster
  • @prather45 – Corporate Troubleshooter, Opportunist, Futurist, Editor Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing
  • @barrettsydnor – Strategic Contributor at Brainzooming
  • @JohnDigles – Category-Creating CMO. NYSE:IPG Agency SVP/GM. Award-Winning Indie Filmmaker. DePaul Univ MBA Adviser. Social Entrepreneur.
  • @a_greenwood – Public Relations pro extraordinaire, writer, indie novelist, raconteur & man about town. Author of thriller ebook Pilate’s Cross
  • @DebDobson – Social media, Technology Consultant. Former Law Firm Assistant IS Director. Love tennis, cycling, music, football. Love people & business.
  • @AlexisCeule – Social Media Mamapreneur: Making your brand social, by word of mouse. Let’s get snarky! (I love me some @Train music too!)
  • @melrp – Market researcher (qual.), photographer, tomato grower, appreciator of most things.
  • @FunnyEye – Immortalizing Corporate Screw-Ups, Stupidity, & Jargon
  • @BizDriveTime – Marketplace news hub for leadership, innovation and new products. A service of NeuVision Group and Dave E. Anderson
  • @ariegoldshlager – Customer Management, Information-Based Marketing, and Innovation expert.
  • @MeghanMBiro – Founder/Entrepreneur + Career Strategist + Mentor + Idea Incubator + Blogger + Culture (people, green, innovation, new media, arts) Enthusiast @TalentCulture
  • @Brainzooming – me

Join us on Twitter and share your perspectives! All you have to do is include “#BZBowl” in your Super Bowl ad tweets. (Click here to learn more about hashtags and what they do.)

We’ll also be assessing Super Bowl ads, using the “Made to Stick” formula that make up the great book by Chip and Dan Heath. They spell out 6 characteristics for ideas with staying power:

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credibility
  • Emotion
  • Stories

Grab a listing below of expected ads for the SuperBowl to keep track at home.

View more presentations from Mike Brown.

Brainzooming will also feature our picks for the best and worst Super Bowl ads based on these criteria. We’ll see how the formula and strategy match up with other best/worst ad lists.

Check the Brainzooming update page to view the tweet stream, updated commentary, and the “Made to Stick” recap.

Other Articles

Continue Reading


What are the two biggest mistakes in social media marketing?

1. Believing everyone sees your content.

2. Believing no one sees your content.

In the first instance, thinking you can simply dabble in social media and get lots of people to see what you’re saying doesn’t work. For nearly any traditional brand (and @shitmydadsays isn’t a typical brand) wanting to talk about itself, audiences don’t spontaneously emerge. It takes time to create an effective fan/follower base. Simply picking a fast-approaching date and saying “implement Twitter (or Facebook) by such-and-such date to get our message out” is asking for disappointing results.

The second mistake rests on the assumption you can ease your way in, make some mistakes, and find your social media footing. Maaaaaaaaaaaybe. But there are too many counter examples of brands that screwed up and got burned because of not knowing, understanding, or working within the evolving conventions of social media. If you’ve got a brand worth anything, you need to be ready for prime time the instant you step on the social media stage.

How do you avoid this terrible two?

Focus first on developing a solid social media strategy and ignore the ridiculous peer pressure you may feel to create a social media presence ASAP. This is a game made for deliberate, smart followers – not fast, unprepared, first-movers – to win.  – 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 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Continue Reading


The move away from the mikebrownspeaks and Brainzooming™ blogspot sites to Brainzooming.com, triggered questions about the Brainzooming name’s origin. The story has both personal branding and creative inspiration dimensions, so I figured it was worth sharing.

With a common name such as ‘Mike Brown,” it’s nearly impossible to “own” it online as personal branding expert Dan Schawbel recommends. So when speaking more and launching a blog in November 2007, I used “mikebrownspeaks” to own some version of my name. I never really liked the name, however, for a variety of reasons:

  • MikeBrownSpeaks implies only one-way communication.
  • It shares the limitations inherent in anything named after one person.
  • The name didn’t reflect the strategy expertise, innovation capabilities, and real business benefit (helping executives get smart strategic thinking in a hurry) I anticipated would be at the heart of a business some day.

Despite my frustration, I simply couldn’t come up with a name to describe what I was developing and since it worked for the immediate need, this blog was born under that name.

Fast forward to March 2008, and I was creating a collaborative innovation and planning session for students in John Pepper’s marketing class at nearby Baker University. John had asked for the students to work with three brainstorming exercises and a prioritization strategy in 50 minutes.

Putting the session together the Saturday afternoon before, it seemed daunting to do so much in so little time. Suddenly the thought popped in my head, “At that point, it’s not even brainstorming. It’s brainzooming.” I stopped typing, played it back to myself and looking up, said silently, “Thank you God!” My next stop was Google, which revealed 8 hits for “brainzoom” and none for “brainzooming.” Checking the URL, it was unclaimed. I said, “Thank you God,” again, grabbed the URL, and first used the name the following Monday in class. I filed for a trademark, which was finalized in December 2009.

It took longer than I wanted  to come up with the name, but Brainzooming reflects the heart of what we help executives wrestling with strategy do – rapidly think through a smarter set of possibilities, turn the best ideas into solid strategies, and implement them for better results and success. – Mike Brown

Continue Reading


Being in the transportation industry (as I was) meant a lot of time spent thinking about balance, and not being too heavy inbound or outbound. In moving things (or people), the ideal state is the same number arriving and departing. If you’re too heavy outbound, it means you have lots of things going out, but very few coming in. Heavy inbound is the opposite – many things arriving, but few leaving. Within the economy, there are distinct geographic and industrial patterns in the movement of goods and people. As a result, transportation providers are constantly trying to achieve balance within their networks.

All of this has a direct tie to creativity. It’s not difficult to find yourself in creative imbalance, with a disconnect between the amount of creativity you’re producing and the creative elements you’re taking in to fuel your own pursuits.

Typically, I run heavy on the outbound side of creativity. Part of it is my personality; part of it is a strategy to provide real-life testing of the various creativity-instigating exercises and tools I share. If I’m creatively spent and a particular approach helps spur my creativity, chances are it will work for you as well.

Right now though, I’m so heavy outbound, it’s a little ridiculous. Beyond blogging and tweeting, I’ve been doing a lot of proposal writing (which is a wonderful situation to have), building messaging for the business side of Brainzooming, and trying to do more commenting and guest blogging, too.

One problem of being too heavy outbound in transportation is you wind up with all the equipment you need to function located somewhere else. You have problems making commitments because you lack necessary resources.

What that means for me in the creativity world is trying to force myself to schedule an all inbound day – no blog writing, no tweeting, no thinking about what I should be communicating. Simply a day to read, absorb, replenish, and learn, unencumbered by the need to say something.

Quite a goal, and I’ll let you know when it’s achieved! In the meantime, how’s your creative balance? – Mike Brown

Continue Reading


It’s a blast seeking out people to be Brainzooming guest authors because it leads to finding so many creative people working on fascinating projects. This week is no exception.

As with most of the guest bloggers, I first met Alex Wolf on Twitter. I soon found my way to her website where she describes herself as a blogger, photographer, traveller, software trainer, booklover and “positivity central.” Beyond that, she details how she’s 1 girl taking on 101 goals in 1001 days. Her 101 goals adventure began on January 1, 2009 and will end September 29, 2011. So far, it’s taken her all over the world, led to two tattoos, working at a film festival, made her a vegetarian, introduced her to many new friends and made her a very Can Do kind of girl. 2010 is going to be the busiest year in her 101 goals plan and includes climbing a mountain (April), white water rafting (May) and starting to work towards a parachuting qualification (July or August), among other things.

Given how innovative Alex’s undertaking is, I asked her to share her perspectives on goal setting strategy with all of you:

If you started a New Year’s Resolution (NYR for short) this year, you’ve probably abandoned it already. Most of them don’t survive the third week of January. But hey, don’t feel down. It’s a good thing when one fails. It gives you a chance to go back to the basics and make proper goals.

According to most studies, including this recent one in The Guardian, NYRs are doomed to failure because of the way they’re made. In short, they’re all about end destination and rarely focus on how to actually get there. Lose weight, get promoted, fall in love. They’re dreams. They’re wishes. But that’s all they usually are, and that’s why they usually fail.

Here are some key differences between NYRs and good goals:

  • An NYR is impersonal, cookie cutter dreaming. A good goal is personal and something you can get enthusiastic about.
  • An NYR is a one-line throw away. A good goal is defined, specific and holds you accountable.
  • AN NYR has no end date or target. A good goal has a time frame/conclusion built in.

Let me give you a practical example:

NYR: “Get fit”

Analysis: Hard to analyze something so ill-defined! It’s completely generic, has no connection to the person making it, and has no time frame. There’s also no accountability to it – you can hardly ask someone if they ‘got fit’ over the weekend in the same way you can ask them if they went to the gym three times last week.

Good goal: “Complete enough training between January and the end of March to compete in my local half marathon in April”

Analysis: It’s specific and personal to the goal maker. They’ve set a timeframe and criteria for how they’ll know the goal is complete. It’s flexible enough to fit in with their real life. It’s also accountable – people will know if they don’t do the training and can’t compete.

This is all very obvious stuff, of course, but it can be hard to focus on the basics of good goal setting during resolution silly season. Now that the 2010 NYR silly season is over though, and no one’s watching, how about quietly turning some of your dreams into real, solid goals?

It’s easy and you can do it in three steps.

1. Set Goals, Not Dreams

Go right back to the goal setting basics, make your goals SMART. Make sure the goals you end up with are goals you can get excited about.

2. Make Realistic And Ongoing Commitments

Commit to working on your goals when you can; try and define when those times are. Carry a list of goals with you and read it occasionally. Stay focused on why you want to achieve these things and what you need to do next to move forward.

3. Start Moving

Get started then keep going. It’s that simple. A pragmatic goal being worked on when you can is so much better than your voice singing in the annual NYR failure chorus. And you deserve better! Alex Wolf

Continue Reading


Incorporating social media (via Twitter, blogging, video, community sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) is a growing phenomenon for live and virtual events. Last week included a swing through Chicago for strategy development on two conferences where I produced social media in 2009. I’ll be heavily involved in growing the social media presence for both events (the national Business Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association Market Research Conferences) again in 2010.

According to attendees and event industry observers, we introduced more innovative social media experiences than even many tech-oriented events. This impact at the front end of producing event-based social media comes from the fact the activity merges several areas of expertise for Brainzooming, including:

  • Strategy development
  • Customer experience design
  • Social media
  • Event production

Based on first-hand experience, beyond creating a buzz or “newness” for an event, strategically incorporating event-based social media delivers a variety of real benefits:

  • We created additional layers of content beyond capturing speaker talking points. We produced additional commentary, links to relevant information, and video interviews, among other educational assets.
  • We extended the conference impact to audiences outside the event through conference websites and the liberal use of hashtags.
  • It’s possible to motivate favorable behaviors through incorporating promotional offers to drive trade show traffic.
  • It provides another way for attendees to become actively engaged in an event.
  • We gained an understanding of audience reactions to presenters on a real-time basis.
  • It’s a way to solicit and address on-site customer service issues.
  • Our efforts provided additional educational value by introducing a large percentage of attendees to social media applications.
  • The social media team’s presence prompted new interaction opportunities among those engaged in tweeting at each event.

What experiences have you discovered with event-based social media? We’ve found that realizing the full range of benefits requires a well-planned strategy and “producing” an event’s social media effort, not simply leaving it solely to organic development. (Check out the deck below for a sense of the range of interactivity we built into the AMA Marketing Research Conference.)

View more presentations from Mike Brown.

Through both producing major events and taking a lead on organic social media in a number of smaller events, we’ve developed many fundamental approaches and look forward to sharing the benefits of these learnings in events this year. And if you’re doing event planning, let us know if you’re interested in finding out more about how social media can deliver new value for your event.  – Mike Brown

Continue Reading