Some Monday quick thinking on strategy, creativity, and several other frequently touched upon topics on the Brainzooming blog:

Strategy – Do the things people don’t expect. Don’t do the things people do expect. When that quits working, switch.

Creativity – When you spend too much time with something, you’re always in danger of losing any objectivity about it, which will compromise your creativity too.

Perspective – If you start the day looking to be pissed off, you will not be disappointed. Guaranteed.

Inspiration – It’s interesting how many people who tweet about having a creative block have fewer than 50 people they’re following. Inspiration comes from many more than 50 places.

Performance – The disturbing thing about someone selling you a standard success formula is everyone they truly reach is using the same formula. At least make the effort to modify the formula to fit you.

Social Media – If you’re going to get into Twitter, don’t be coy about it. Don’t tweet and delete. Tweet without retreat. Say something and stand behind what you say. – 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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Search engine optimization strategy is a big topic, yet you may have noticed among the 50 social media strategy articles from 2010 in a post last month, there weren’t any on search engine optimization (SEO) strategy specifically.


Search engine optimization isn’t an area of deep personal expertise, and I write about topics I know really, really well. That’s why I invested time and dollars in 2010 to get a better handle on SEO, both for contributing more strongly to strategy efforts, and for understanding how it could better benefit the Brainzooming blog, particularly after moving to the WordPress blogging platform.

Beyond reading articles shared on Twitter and soliciting input from online friends well-versed in SEO, I took a 2-day class last summer at a local community college. While it shed more light on search engine optimization, by the second day, the teacher had ME doing a blogging overview for the class! I’d attended the class looking for objective criteria on how to approach search engine optimization keyword strategies, but it just wasn’t there.

As a result, I was still searching for economical, time-efficient alternatives to continue to learn about SEO.

A great opportunity presented itself in December via a three-part webinar series on the essentials of SEO for business sponsored by good friend Kelly Scanlon’s Thinking Bigger Business Media based here in Kansas City. The webinar series was spearheaded by Shelly Kramer, Founder and Chief Imagination Officer of V3 Integrated Marketing. Other webinar series contributors included Mike Belasco, President of seOverflow and Erika Napoletano of Redhead Writing. The webinar series delivered a number of outstanding benefits:

  • It covered a lot of ground on search engine optimization strategy very time efficiently.
  • The webinar series was presented by people who are not only deep in the topic, but whose expertise comes from using SEO strategies to produce business results for real clients.
  • While each session was strong, as a blogger, part three led by Shelly and Erika was tremendously helpful with its focus on blogging and WordPress. They addressed the uses and value of various WordPress plug-ins available to assist bloggers in making smart SEO decisions as they write.
  • When you talk SEO results it’s about generating more website traffic. Since taking the course and beginning to apply its recommendations, weekly keyword-related activity on the Brainzooming blog has nearly doubled!

What’s also great about the webinar series is it’s still available for purchase on a pre-recorded basis. You can listen to the presentation plus download the accompanying slides. There’s also the benefit of knowing somebody (me – a paying customer) is vouching for the end product, not just hyping it in advance. On my search for search engine optimization learning, at $77 for all three sessions, it’s the best dollar and time investment I’ve made!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.comor call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help enhance your marketing strategy and implementation efforts.

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Creating social media and collaborative blogging strategies for organizations has become a significant focus for The Brainzooming Group. In these projects, we’ve been working in very close collaboration with Nate Riggs from Social Business Strategies out of Columbus, OH. Through his work, Nate has been instrumental in developing social media and collaborative blogging strategy for manufacturing, services, and educational organizations.

I’ve known Nate since 2007 when we first met at the Transportation Marketing Communications Association conference. We became reacquainted at the 2009 conference where Nate spoke on SEO strategy and implementation. When The Brainzooming Group began taking on a steady stream of social media-related engagements, Nate was the first call I made to incorporate his expertise as an important strategic contributor to our efforts.

Since Nate Riggs has been getting a lot more mentions here and on my Twitter account, you may be curious about him and want to find out more. If so, there are two recent opportunities to do so rather conveniently

In 2011, look for more from the ongoing collaboration between Nate Riggs and The Brainzooming Group! – 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.

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Building on Theresa Antell’s very well-received post from yesterday about the challenges of Twitter engagement, I view Twitter as a place to experiment, see how people react (or don’t) to a variety of content, and look for creativity-inducing connections among the array of random tweets. Saturday morning I was tweeting a few things, including items from the web (about an interesting Twitter analogy) and TV (a snarky video-related tweet):

The Connection

Shortly afterward, Michael Weber tweeted his reaction, prompting me to respond, referencing the Edie Brickell tweet (with typo included below).

Michael later answered he’d been referring to the Twitter/water analogy tweet, not the one about Edie Brickell. I found it interesting, though, his comment applied to both tweets (or at least when Edie Brickell first recorded). Michael’s reply pointed to our need to always place ideas in some context.

The point is well taken and relates to something I’d been thinking about writing about this week: always asking how any random input we’re presented with could spur a connection to a situation we’re currently facing.

This came up earlier last week talking about why I wear orange socks. It became a daily activity for me in the corporate world based on how people reacted to a chance reference in a Fast Company article which mentioned I wore orange socks. Making the transition to my own business, it was a relatively random connection between orange and creativity that allowed me to continue doing it (and save the money of repurchasing not only my clothes, but all the other orange stuff in my life).

The Creativity

A big part of creativity is making connections others don’t, won’t, or can’t. Part of that ability is having creativity exercises you can readily use. Another important part though, is being open to how random connections can lead you to creativity and new possibilities you would never have even considered otherwise.

It all starts with asking, “How could this fit?” to make a creativity-instigating connection when something surprising, unexpected, or random comes your way! – 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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I’ve been direct messaging a lot recently with Theresa Antell as she makes her initial exploration of Twitter and the peculiarities of trying to create engagement. She was nice enough to provide some advice and a bit of a “pep tweet” for me the other day when I was bemoaning a frustrated acquaintance who’d emailed me complaining about a blog post.

In the midst of our DM discussion, Theresa mentioned she’d put together some thoughts on what it’s like for new Twitter users. As she described her experience, I assured her that even experienced users get frustrated by the absence of listening, engagement, and real dialogue on Twitter. Theresa’s insights on engagement are a great reminder for all of us…on Twitter, or in real life as well:

As a relatively new member of the Twitter family, I tread lightly with my opinion as so not offend the Twitter Veterans.

But I must say that I think my Twitter doesn’t fit.

I don’t know what I expected, really. So I can’t say what part of it doesn’t feel like it fits. I did all the things I was “supposed” to do as a new Twitter-er.

I searched my interests, I followed, I read, I learned, I helped, I retweeted, I recommended, I replied, I shared…all the standard pleasantries one would, and should, expect a new Twitter user to do.

But the ENGAGEMENT part of Twitter is, for me, less than stellar. When someone asks for help with something – whether it be a simple retweet, an answer to a question, a sample of something they can’t find online, a recommendation of a local hotel, etc. I help. It’s just what I feel is the right thing to do.

But when I asked for help. <Cue the crickets>

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

I experimented a few times with asking for help from some designers I follow about how THEY project manage. No replies.

I asked some others about how I can get the “buy in” from the more “seasoned” employees at work with regard to using Social Media. Nothing.

I asked anyone to explain what Twitter Chat was. Nada.

I asked some Excel “experts” for help with a spreadsheet I was working with. Crickets.

I have since deleted most of my requests for assistance since it was (in a weird way) embarrassing to have them “out there” as unanswered lonely “tweets to nowhere.”

Twitter is great if you like being talked TO. But if you (like I mistakenly did) expect to talk WITH someone or have any kind of engagement, then it isn’t the right forum perhaps. (Of course there are some exceptions – like you, Mike. And another user – Nate, that I follow.)

Like I said, I don’t know what I really expected from it, or if my expectations were even reasonable, but I guess I thought of Twitter more as a forum to discuss and share: “A Community of Experts” if you will – all willing to discuss ideas and keep the information flowing.

And while there is some really great information launched at you (well, me) I find it impossible to engage in a discussion or Q&A with anyone about it.

It’s sad for me, because I really liked that part about Social Media.

You know… the SOCIAL part of it.

So, while I think my Twitter doesn’t fit the way I thought it was intended to, just like my favorite pair of jeans from college – I guess I’ll keep it around for the heck of it and try it on for size every now and again. Theresa Antell

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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


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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