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Thursdays are turning into Guest Blogger Day. There continues to be some really cool innovation and strategy experts from Twitter stepping forward to share their perspectives.

Today’s guest author is advertising consultant Gary Unger, author of “How to Be a Creative Genius (In Five Minutes or Less).” Gary’s bio highlights 3 things that make him a natural to share his perspectives on Brainzooming:

  1. He’s done work for Chick-Fil-A, which would be the official restaurant of Brainzooming if there were one.
  2. Gary’s creative work has earned him a place in the Levi Strauss T-Shirt Hall of Fame, which sounds pretty darn cool.
  3. He has a great personal message which fits with Brainzooming’s tone: Be yourself and have fun doing it!

Gary’s sharing his take today on Thought Rivers:

When you talk to me, my mind instantly goes in a million directions with the words you use. Some call it Parallel Thinking. I call it Thought Rivers because there is nothing really parallel about the paths that will be taken. It’s more of a twisting, double back, speed up, slow down, gets deep, then shallow, turns left, then right, and so on – just like a river.

You may say something like, “It’s not very square,” and my mind will instantly relate square to a geeky person, and then to a pair of black thick rimmed glasses, then to black and white image of Roy Orbison singing on stage, which will make me think of the other man in black, Johnny Cash, who I think is an earlier version of Bruce Springsteen who is kind of the everyman who is not really top of the class “cool” but also not “very square.” And that’s just one Thought River stemming from the original comment. Yes, sometimes it is difficult having a conversation with me.

If you want to see an explosion in your creative thinking skills, practice with Thought Rivers. If it’s difficult to do in your mind, write it out on paper. Do your best to not take the word, words, word term, or whatever subject you are working on literally; start looking for what can be rather than for what is. Ask yourself, “What else does this remind me of?” Make the leap from literal interpretation of the subject to every conceivable use of the word and its derivatives. Instead of stopping with the first dictionary term or literal translation, consider other uses of the word in your Thought River. For instance, the word “die” can mean or suggest the act of death, the singular of dice, to color something, a tool used to shape other materials, and even “to desire.”

As you practice, you’ll eventually find your mind will do it automatically, and you won’t need paper to map out your thoughts. That’s the ultimate goal: to be able to do it in your head. And when you can do it all in your head, your creativity will have a genius quality you never imagined possible.

And, as a bonus you’ll have the admiration of your peers for being so brilliant. - Gary Unger

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We all name drop at times since it can be useful in getting attention and pushing someone to do what you want them to do. There’s just one problem. Name dropping makes you appear weak.

It says to the other party that you realize you don’t have the clout, logic, or savvy to convince them why they should work with you and address your request. It also says you realize this too – why else would you have to name drop? And based on a recent example where someone dropped my name without consulting me, it can also result in cutting off your support if the person whose name you dropped gets surprised by it.

Here’s a better alternative: Talk with the person whose name you might drop upfront and ask him or her for their suggestions on how to get cooperation. They might be able to:

  • Suggest an alternative way to manage the situation.
  • Personally intervene on behalf of the request.
  • Provide some other way to show their support.

This approach means a little more work, but it’s an investment in YOUR effectiveness in building relationships.

 

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Today’s video was instigated by realizing how many cars were parked pretty haphazardly at the hospital when I was visiting my father and thinking about what people were going through as they rushed to the hospital.

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This is a screen grab from my Tweetdeck this morning. The first three tweets of the day themed up nicely, so I wanted to share them, including the live link for the Brainzooming post on “Shooting for the Moon.” Have a great weekend!

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Many conversations recently have addressed the misperception that creativity, by definition, takes time, money, and effort that can’t be afforded right now because of the economy. A couple of examples:

  • Someone showed me a meeting announcement for an “ideation” session to which they’d been invited. It referenced the range of ideas under consideration as “creative and practical and everything in between.”
  • A tweet in recent weeks said that while the sender wouldn’t reject innovation, he would “say no to unique creative thinking.”
  • Another forwarded email suggested a group shouldn’t “over think” a topic “out of respect for time & resources. We can do that later when we can be more creative.”

Arghhhhhhh!!!

Since when is practical the opposite of creative? And what types of pre-conceived ideas and misperceptions obscure the role creativity plays in contributing to business results?

The image below of three Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors is another exhibit in showing the fallacy of the “creativity only in selected instances” point of view. Ben & Jerry’s demonstrates the myriad benefits of strategic creativity with ice cream flavor names that:

  • Play on and twist the familiar (to help initial recognition and retention)
  • Are funny (introducing emotion, another element in improved idea stickiness)
  • On brand (completely consistent with something you’d expect from Ben & Jerry’s)

These flavors had to be named something. It probably took little if any additional time to come up with names that clearly work for the brand’s benefit vs. generic names that wouldn’t.

The point isn’t to go out and name everything and call it good. The point is that no matter what the economic environment, being strategic and creative doesn’t decline in importance. It’s MORE important.

Strong branding companies know this and act accordingly, while also-rans wait around for economic signals to suggest it’s time to turn creativity back on. Their challenge is they probably won’t make it until their creativity stop light flashes green again. And maybe that’s just fine!

TweetIt from HubSpot

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This week’s guest post is from Joan Koerber-Walker, MBA. Joan is Chairman of both CorePurpose, Inc and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation. She’s become a wonderful new member of the Brainzooming creative team via Twitter where she provides great insights under even more names than I do!

Based on the 140 character start to our interactions, I’m excited to have her share her perspectives today on what we can all learn about innovation from little kids (BTW, the photo of the cute little boy is her son Nicholas who is now 6′ 6″!):

As leaders in the adult world, we are often expected to have all the answers, such as knowing “innovation” is doing something in a new way to make life better. But when it comes to actually being innovative, anyone who has spent time with a two-year old can tell you toddlers are the real masters of innovation.

The reasons are apparent, since two-year olds:

  • Ask “Why?” – It’s the ubiquitous word in any two-year old’s vocabulary. Why do I have to do that? Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I have this? Why do I have to do it this way? Why, Why, Why….
  • Aren’t afraid of messiness – They have yet to learn you’re supposed to color within the lines or get all the food into your mouth. They think building with blocks is exciting and are rarely concerned with following the rules.
  • Find their own answers – Have you ever seen a toddler reading the manual or following instructions to solve a problem? Of course not. Unless they’re prodigies, they can’t read. Instead, they use their brains and figure out how to solve their own problems. And if they can’t do it alone, they don’t see anything wrong with asking for help.
  • Are willing to embrace new ways of doing things – Even though they have done the same thing the same way their whole life, their whole life is two years, not decades. With some coaching and lots of encouragement, they’ll readily learn and adopt new and innovative ways of doing things. And when they do, everyone benefits. Need an example? Think diapers!

So if you’re trying to be more innovative, don’t go to school on how executives in tall business buildings create strategies. Instead, find a preschooler on the floor who’s playing with building blocks and creating fun!

TweetIt from HubSpot

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If you have to create a written report in PowerPoint, here’s a good discipline to enforce on yourself for clarity and flow:

Write the headlines on each page in such a way that if they were the only things read, your audience would get the report’s main messages.

Since many readers will do little more than a quick scan of the document, this approach creates a greater likelihood you’ll get your points across to both skimmers and those who do spend more time with the report.

TweetIt from HubSpot

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