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I caught up with Misty Stocksdale last fall at a Kansas City tweetup hosted by Shelly Kramer and Laura Lake at Manifesto – a very cool, very dark setting. We exchanged business cards, but her attention-commanding title at Total Home was only visible the next morning: Multi-Skilled Genius.  

After checking the company’s website and seeing that everyone had equally cool titles, I tweeted Misty, asking her to share the rationale and impact behind them. In the first guest Brainzooming post of 2010, here’s Misty’s take on creative job titles:

The Kansas City home remodeling industry is home to thousands of contractors, business owners, project managers and installers. Attend an industry function and you’ll collect an array of business cards: different sizes, shapes and colors; identical titles, labels and monikers.

Peer-to-peer networking and executive-to-prospect interactions should be memorable and distinguishing. Anything less makes the connection insignificant and possibly forgettable. A name, for the most part, cannot be altered. But a job title, on the other hand, leaves room for creative flexibility and long-term impact.

My small business decided to do away with the traditional title syndrome two years back.  We no longer hire Painters, Accountants and Marketing Managers. Instead, we recruit Artists, Number Crunchers and Multi-Skilled Geniuses. We showcase these distinct titles on our email signatures, business cards and website contact pages.

A creative job title sparks ice-breaking curiosity. It removes standard barriers and it allows an individual to be instantaneously expressive of who they are and what type of work they do. The creative combination of a few words can make for an interesting calling card that will inevitably set the Head Chef of a home remodeling company apart from every other Owner/Manager in the room.

Our titles evoke friendly responses from clients and professionals, alike. The obvious creativity and flair behind such a title is inspiring to a person who will potentially be working with us.  The titles offer a window to our attitude and make us just a little more memorable in comparison to our peers.  In an industry that values the skillfulness of reformation, the innovativeness of renovation and the resourcefulness of imagination, the last thing we would want to do is get lost in the crowd. – Misty Stocksdale

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Next time you’re stymied when trying to get a creative project done, try this: get up very early when it’s quiet and your mind’s clear and devote the extra time to getting the project done.

Using potentially your most creative perspective of the day (even if you’re not a morning person) is an appropriate strategy when a project requires your freshest innovative thinking. – Mike Brown

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It’s a challenge to objectively examine your own website as if a prospect or customer seeking information would. There’s a strategic thinking approach you can follow to get ideas flowing though: Look at a direct competitor’s online presence, trying to shoot holes in it based on how a customer might view it.

You should really be able to get into it by answering a few questions:

  • What misleading or out-of-date information is presented?
  • What’s not compelling about the website?
  • What’s confusing about the navigation?
  • How much unnecessary detail do I have to supply to get a copy of the “free” download?
  • What questions do I have that the website doesn’t answer?
  • Do I know where to get my other questions answered?
  • In what ways did I get smarter by browsing this website?
  • In what ways were my information needs left wanting?

After doing this, go back and see how your own online presence compares. Looking at yourself from a customer perspective should now be much easier! – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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How do you cultivate relationships initiated and largely conducted online via social networking? And how does it work with thousands of people following you?

The answer to the first question is, pretty much like you do offline relationships. And the answer to the second question is…the same.

For me, “shared experiences” are at the heart of successful relationships. The extent of peoples’ common experiences strengthen and sustain relationships, even when contact levels may be minimal at times. The degree of emotional intensity in the experiences also drives memorability.

While social networking allows for many more “shared” experiences, it doesn’t facilitate a comparable expansion in emotional capacity. Thinking about Twitter, it’s clear an RT or a brief DM exchange provides little emotional impact. That makes it tough to remember some people you may have engaged with even a few months ago.

For those with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s no different than an offline star: emotional intensity isn’t always bi-directional , i.e., fans have intensely emotional experiences with (Twitter rock) stars who have no emotional connection in return.

Beyond simply managing numbers, it’s important to manage how you create opportunities for shared experiences online and offline, (i.e., participate in tweetups) and emotional connections within your network over time. By actively, acting on these variables, you can introduce new shared experiences to help keep a waning relationship going within an expanding network. – Mike Brown

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A senior market research executive at a well-known CPG company asked about getting brand managers to narrow the number of questions they want answered in research studies. They specialize in manufacturing long lists of “highest priority” questions because with no ownership of the necessary research resources, it’s easy to deem everything important.

One key we’ve found is ensuring there’s some “pain” involved in prioritization. This means when asking someone to prioritize, we set up the task to ensure that in picking something they want, they’re forced to identify other alternatives as less attractive.

We do this by introducing cost, resource, or time constraints into strategic prioritization. This may be through incorporating actual data or simply creating an artificially constrained resource (i.e., think colored dots for voting).

We also frequently add text descriptions to more typical A/B/C or 1/2/3 prioritization scales. It can be challenging to get the scale descriptions written properly. When it’s done properly, however, it’s much more effective to pick between A and B priorities when everyone has the same understanding of what that means.

These creative approaches go a long way toward quickening and improving the effectiveness of any strategic prioritization effort. – Mike Brown

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Find yourself mired in an organization (and feel free to substitute relationship, school, whatever outside entity you want here) that isn’t working for you?

No matter what you do, you’re not able to advance ideas, get things done, or maybe even feel like you’re being heard. Worse yet, you can’t afford to walk away even though your frustration feels like it’s eating you up inside.

Sound familiar?

Wonder what you can do?

Here’s an idea – quit complaining and channel your energy into being smarter and more innovative than the system in which you’re stuck!  Possible approaches:

Take the weekend, plan your strategy, be positive, and come in as a new person this Monday! – Mike Brown

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I was in my first meeting the other day of a group expected to help shape strategy  for an organization with domestic and international reach to a mainly young audience. Of the eleven people present, ten were Caucasian males (mostly baby boomers), and the other was a Caucasian female baby boomer.

Ok, big problem looming!

Next time you’re on an input-giving or decision making group, look around at the participants. If you’re lacking diversity on any important dimension relevant to your target audience, voice a concern.

In this case, after challenging ourselves on the group’s composition, one member offered to have his wife take his place. Nice sentiment, but hardly a fix for the underlying problem.

Leaders need to aggressively look out for diversity and ensure it’s taken into consideration, even when it means reaching far outside their traditional networks to include different people. Beyond being an issue of propriety, it’s critical for innovation and sound strategic decision making. – Mike Brown

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