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Last Christmas, I did a spur of the moment post about Christmas gifts blog readers could give their favorite bloggers. This holiday, I thought I’d turn the tables and share a list of Christmas gifts bloggers can give blog readers. Stay tuned at the end though, for a special request you can help me with this holiday season!

8 Christmas Gifts for Blog Readers

1. Keep your posts tightly edited and brief – unless there are really compelling reasons for a longer blog post.

Everybody’s “crazy busy,” massive amounts of information are inundating us, and blog readers have to prioritize where they’re investing time and reading content. Give them a break and keep your content short: a few hundred words and less than 90 seconds in reading time.

2. Add variety to your blog posts.

How much do you enjoy reading the same thing over and over? Not so much? Neither do your readers. You want predictability in the types of blog posts you write, but if you’re writing identically structured posts daily, make adding variety to your blogging a priority in the coming year.

3. Write about your readers and let them know.

One way to strengthen your social media connections is writing about readers (and potential readers) to share what they’re doing. When you do it though, make sure you include links to the person’s social media presence and give them a heads up you’re featuring them in your blog post.

4. Share blog posts multiple times on multiple social media channels.

Many readers likely use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks as substitutes for RSS feeds. If your new blog post doesn’t show up on social media channels, how will these readers know you’ve published fresh content? As interested blog readers, we want to make sure we’re updated when you have created new content.

5. Publish regularly and consistently.

Don’t make your blog readers guess when you’ll have something new to say. Make it clear what your publishing schedule is and stick to it. Consistent publishing creates consistent fans.

6. Don’t make someone do a rewrite when they share your social media content.

Use social media sharing plugins that allow you to customize and create a productive tweet or status update for blog readers. It’s a pain when the pre-populated tweet doesn’t include your Twitter name or a shortened-link to make it convenient to add hashtags, a comment, and share your social media content with others.

7. Make it easy to leave blog comments.

I hate when it takes longer to supply information to get a blog comment accepted than it does to write the original comment. And if the comment disappears because it can’t get authenticated . . . watch out! Install a reader-friendly commenting system and make life easier for everyone.

8. Approve comments quickly and carry on the conversation.

Nothing is more frustrating than leaving a blog comment then waiting DAYS before it is approved and appears on the website. One reason why that should also be frustrating for bloggers? Once my comment is published, I’ll share the whole post on Twitter. The longer you delay, the more likely you’ll miss out on potential new fans checking out your social media content.

Have a great holiday! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6

I attended the final mass this past summer of Fr. Gilmary Tallman, the pastor of my home parish back in Hays, KS before he took a new assignment in Denver, CO. Interestingly enough, he didn’t give the sermon during the mass, another priest did. As Fr. Gilmary pointed out later, the constitution of the Capuchin Friars, the order of priests to which he belongs, forbids a priest who is leaving a particular parish from making a farewell sermon.

For months now, I’ve been thinking about the humility and the focus away from oneself this rule of the Capuchin Friars imposes.

Staying Too Long

One reason it can be hard to leave a place (whether geographic, situational, or mental) you’ve stayed too long is because you become too focused on yourself. Maybe things have gone well, you’ve been successful, and people continue to respond in very positive ways where you are now.  It makes you feel important and really needed. It blinds you to how things could go on without you. It can leave you intoxicated with feeling good right now, but ultimately stunting your development and the development of those around you.

It’s easy to get lazy about challenging yourself to start over and creating success again in a very new situation.

This has been on my mind while reflecting on this year and how it seems way too static in way too many ways. While I can honestly see progress in some important areas, there are far too many others where it feels like I still have a very firm foot planted because it’s more comfortable and easy not to be really challenging myself to start over and see what happens.

What Should I Leave this Coming Year?

This coming year is going to have to be a year of leaving the comfortable behind and starting afresh instead of simply getting by in less challenging situations. Next year needs to be a year of seeing how much I can stop doing in order to grow in areas where my experience is limited or non-existent.

It’s scary, but it absolutely can’t be put off any longer.

How about you? Are there things you need to leave this coming year that you have been putting off too long? Are you ready to stop putting them off and dive into something new?

Let’s get started and see what happens! – Mike Brown

 

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

photo by: vandalay | source: photocase.com

I say every year about this time that this is the last post for the year, but invariably something strikes me over the holidays and another blog post appears. But in keeping with tradition, I’ll say it again: This is the last blog post for the year!

As with so much of like right now, 2011 seems on one hand as if it were about 4 weeks long, yet on the other hand, last December seems like 10 years ago.

I don’t know that I’ve seen a scientific explanation for why that’s the case. I suspect it’s because of the increase in the speed and number of inputs that fly at us all the time. The speed of it all makes time seem to fly by while we still process the 10 years worth of stuff now going past us in a single year as feeling as if it were 10 years. That’s my unscientific theory, at least.

2011?

The first half of 2011 was defined by a large social media strategy project for a client that seemed to be in a routine state of flux regarding what we needed to deliver. The second part of the year was consumed with the Google Fiber / Gigabit City project. And the last month has been a time where I’ve been saying to myself, “What just happened here with 2011?”

Amid that disorienting period of reflection, here’s my quick review of 20 business and personal lessons from 2011, along with 12 goals for the new year of 2012. It’s all subject to change, but it’s a starting point for a year that is tough for me to describe or pin down with one defining statement.

20 Lessons from This Year

1. When you get what you want, it may not look or feel like anything you expected. If things don’t feel right, first make sure it’s not simply the unexpected parts of what you wanted before you try to fix it.

2. On the other hand, quit putting off fixing what clearly is leading you off the path you need to be on with your life and career.

3. There are people who either can’t or don’t want to be helped. It’s okay to quit wasting time for both of you in trying to help these people.

4. If you can imagine what you have before it’s gone, it will change what you think is important right now, even if its importance isn’t matched by present day fulfillment.

5. More risk. More smart risks. More smart, high potential risks. More smart, high potential, challenging risks. Start a risk list – risks you need to take and the proof points the risks you took paid off, even if they didn’t seem to at the time.

6. Just showing up somewhere often isn’t going to get results. How much you’re willing to put yourself through productive pain and what you’re doing when you’re not physically there are huge factors in your success.

7. We can love distractions too much. That’s why it’s so hard to eliminate them.

8. My dad stopped working in my grandfather’s barbershop pretty early in life because he realized he was only making money when he was showing up and cutting hair. The downsides to the barbershop model extend to other businesses that may seem attractive, but are just as limiting.

9. If you don’t watch out, the craziest person in a team or organization will control the agenda.

10. There are a whole slew of things where other people are better than you in very profound ways. That doesn’t make it wrong to admit that in a few situations the tables are turned, and you should act accordingly.

11. A long time ago, I wrote a song with the line, “What have I done to ease the suffering of the stranger who you will later meet?” Of anything I’ve ever written, that line sticks with me. I don’t have a good answer to the question.

12. In time-based sports, great teams use time outs wisely. There’s no shame in calling a time-out.

13. There’s creative value in being good at selectively turning off your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. There’s also value in being good at selectively turning on the WTF switch in your brain.

14. Some life and career seeds take a LONG time to sprout. Plant a lot of seeds, but not more than you can pay attention to and cultivate.

15. When you re-consider possibilities you didn’t pursue and still believe you’re in the right place even with the challenges you do have, it’s reassuring.

16. It’s incredibly rewarding to see your former “business kids” move to really imaginative places in their careers, even if you do miss them a lot.

17. It’s challenging, but in the game of life, you may have to dramatically change the type of player you are well into the game. You have to surround yourself with the right influences in your life to force the necessary changes to happen.

18. There are some incredible people in my past. For as much as I tried to resist spending personal time on Facebook, it’s put several of these incredible people back into my life to teach me important lessons.

19. Once you go all in, not many people are willing to follow. It can be worth doing it, however, to simply see which hangers on will drop out of the game.

20. Sometimes you just need to accept the ebbs of life because they’re there for a reason, even if you don’t appreciate the reason.

12 Goals for the New Year – 2012

1. Say “no” to more things, but not the same ones I’d have typically said “no” to in the past.

2. Ask for something fair in return.

3. Be more deliberate about periods of divergent and convergent thinking.

4. Do for ourselves what we suggest others do for themselves.

5. Learn from and hold myself to really changing based on last year’s lessons.

6. Provide you more value here, but also be more specific and determined in asking for value in return.

7. Don’t just wander into the next stage of life.

8. Care less about things that aren’t contributing to moving forward.

9. Don’t hang on so tightly.

10. Get better at having short versions of tough conversations.

11. Being deliberate about where “Mike” and “Brainzooming” begin, end, and overlap in the most beneficial ways.

12. Have more fun, do more cool stuff, worry less.

So what was 2011 about for you? I’d love to hear what you’re taking away from the past 12 months! Have a great holiday season, and I look forward to meeting back up here with you in a few weeks! Be safe! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4

Ever since the marcus evans B2B Summit in Colorado Springs in early November, I have been carrying around the list of all my tweets from the B2B Summit in my blogging notebook. Beyond the 20 strategic planning questions post the tweets prompted, there were a variety of brand experience, customer, and content marketing challenges issued worth sharing as we all think through what is ahead for 2012. The marketing challenges came from B2B Summit speakers:

Here are 10 marketing challenges to review where you stand now and where you want to prioritize your efforts for 2012.

Brand Experience

  • Great brands put every single employee through brand training. They build an almost religious fervor over the delivering the brand experience flawlessly. (Atul Vohra)
  • The brand should be the filter for every decision an organization makes. You have to invest enough time on your brand, because with advances in every other part of the world, branding is the only advantage Western countries still have. (Atul Vohra)
  • You have to rethink the purchase experience for your brand in light of Amazon setting the bar with its one-fee, unlimited two-day shipping and no-hassle product return policy. Amazon has made every purchase an impulse buy, with ripple implications you can’t ignore. (Mitch Joel)

Customer Targeting

  • If you’re in B2B, you have to make sure you’re paying attention to the fact human beings are at the heart of B2B. A warm body signs the contract. (Atul Vohra)
  • Target your messages to the right audience. Wasting your message on people who don’t care simply damages your credibility. (Michael P. Guillory)
  • In a world with young children growing up without keyboards and mice, you have to re-imagine the entire use experience for the youngest consumers. (Mitch Joel)

Content Marketing

  • Re-think every page of your website as if it were your homepage, because since Google is where people are going to find you, that’s exactly what every website page effectively is. (Mitch Joel)
  • Content marketing can’t be an afterthought if it’s going to be effective in growing your business. It has to be process-based, include clear next steps on every piece of content, and include metrics throughout. (Curt Porritt)
  • Don’t satisfy yourself with generalized content for your audiences. The best content marketers are using personas and creating content for each one – or even creating content platforms targeted at each persona. (Joe Pulizzi)
  • For each piece of content you create, look for 10 ways to repackage and market it. Start with individual blog posts and grow them into a book. (Joe Pulizzi)
There are several of those marketing challenges we’re thinking about how we’re addressing in 2012, especially on content marketing.  We’re looking at website changes and more effective delivery of content from The Brainzooming Group to you and other new audiences.
What are the top marketing challenges you’re facing for 2012? There’s a comment space below to share them, if you’d like some input on them! – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This innovative article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating an innovative 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Several readers have shared challenges with surviving and thriving in a corporate career this year. A recent conversation began with a direct message on Twitter asking how I’d survived in corporate world for so long.

The Corporate World Is a Game

Photo by: kallejipp | Source: photocase.com

My advice was that a corporate career is like a multi-player, OFFline game. When you’re able to detach enough to view the corporate world as a game, your challenge becomes aligning with the right players, trying to stop as many bad guys as you can, and scoring as many points as possible for the organization and its customers.

The most important advice, though, is to do all that without losing yourself in the game. You need to be able to walk in the door each morning and leave each night as the same person you’ve always been. Over time, as you advance levels, you’ll start to see many of the same behaviors repeated, which is when things really get fun: you can use the repetitiveness to know where to take short cuts, increase your level of experimentation, and deliver stronger results.

Another thing to remember in a corporation is that anytime you throw that many people together, you’re going to have big pockets of really smart, cool people to work with and learn from – along with a healthy dose of co-workers who are incompetent, mean-spirited, checked out, and/or just in it for themselves. While the bad people are clearly a drag, there are ways to minimize their negative impacts as well.

Don’t Think Your Corporation Is Unique

As the conversation continued, I assured the reader his situation wasn’t unique. In fact, for nearly every issue he raised with corporate life, I recalled Brainzooming blog posts with advice and ideas on how to deal with it successfully. Going back through the Brainzooming blog, there were more than 40 posts addressing personal leadership, not losing your personal guiding principles, working successfully with others, confronting a negative environment, and actively managing your career success in a corporate environment.

There were so many articles on surviving and thriving in a corporate career, in fact, look for an eBook on the topic from Brainzooming in 2012.

In the meantime, do you have questions you want answered about thriving and surviving in a corporate career? – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help in better using creative thinking exercises! For an organizational boost toward Taking the NO Out of Innovation, 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.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6

I love questions to help you both expand innovative possibilities and prioritize ideas, and today’s Blogapalooza offers five questions fitting that description. This is second Blogapalooza post from Chris Gregory, vice president of marketing for a high-growth transportation engineering products company here in Kansas City.  Chris is sharing the five questions he uses to gauge whether an innovative idea is really what it purports to be:

Is Everything Really Innovative these Days?

Every couple of years a new catch phrase rises to prominence in the management lexicon. Today the word is “innovation.” As touted as innovation is as an asset, it introduces a challenge: how do you know it when you see it?

Because innovation is the buzzword, it permeates management’s direction to its teams and companies. “Be innovative!” New product launches now require a press release with the word “innovative” in the headline.

  • What are customers looking for? Innovative products.
  • How will we sell more? Innovative products and innovative marketing.
  • How will we solve internal challenges? Innovative processes and culture.
  • How will we build our brand? Innovative communications and service.
  • How will we staff our teams? Innovative recruiting and structures.
  • How will we beat the competition? Be more innovative.
  • How will we attract outside investment? Be known for innovation.

So if innovation is so critical to…everything…then how does one know when an idea is a valuable innovation? An idea labeled new, creative, progressive, insightful, clever, or even inventive may not be innovative. To reach that distinction, an idea is all those things and more.

5 Questions to Test for Innovation Potential

I scrutinize ideas using these five questions to determine their degree of valuable innovation:

1. Is it viable?

Sounds like a simple question. Unfortunately, most would-be innovators fail to analyze all the angles of their new idea. Focusing on the positives of an idea often overshadows the inherent challenges. For an idea to reach reality, it must have powerful benefits and nearly no downside. A new process that will quadruple productivity at only twice the cost has little chance of adoption. If you can double productivity at the same cost, then you really have something.

2. Does it meet a market’s need or want to an extent they never dreamed possible?

Good products can meet market needs. However, innovative products do it in such a way or to such an extent no one thought was possible. Because it took so long to get a message from one US coast to the other, the Pony Express was established. It was a faster version of the existing method for delivering mail. However, the telegraph solved the same problem in both a profoundly new way and to a far greater extent.

3. Is there a definable group that needs your innovation?

A better mousetrap is only useful to people who have rodent problems, can afford to solve them and are dissatisfied (whether they know it or not) with their current extermination method. Ask yourself if there are people who will jump at your new idea as soon they know it exists. Can you identify and find them? How will they become aware of your innovation?

4. If your innovation is a product, are your marketing and sales people excited about it?

An innovative product is so clearly valuable that your go-to-market teams cannot wait to get their hands on it. They see the opportunity to sell more and help their customers.

5. Are you changing the game?

Such a cliché, but a useful question. Does your innovation so fundamentally and obviously improve on or replace the previously available alternative that in a short amount of time no one will want the alternative?

How innovative is your idea?

If you answered yes to each of these questions, be assured your idea is innovative. If you answered yes to more than half, you have something valuable. If you said yes to three or fewer, your idea needs some work before deeming it to be an innovation. It may be a great idea, just not yet innovative. Chris Gregory

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Twitter Notes

Sometimes things are done simply because you simply declared them done.

With all due respect to all of us, most of the time, we have no clue what’s going to happen in the future. If hindsight is 20/20, foresight must be about 20/500.

I talked with a blog reader who asked where I came from. I said, “Well my mommy & daddy loved each other very much…” Apparently, that was too far back.

TV Quotes

“A great artist is willing to fail flamboyantly.” – Jerry Saltz, “Work of Art”

“They say you have to spend money to make money. I don’t know where we went wrong. We spent all of our money.” – Tom Haverford, “Parks and Recreation”

“I might read more if they put fire behind the words.” – Beavis

“As humans we want to categorize and organize things in our head, and it’s kind of hard to pin this piece down.” Bill Powers, “Work of Art”

Plus Some Creativity Quotes to Check Out!

Previous guest writer and creativity cheerleader Tanner Christensen is launching a set of iPhone lock screen wallpapers today featuring creativity quotes from some of the greatest minds in history on blog.aspindle.com. Tanner sent me a preview look Sunday night, and if you’re an iPhone user, I think you’ll enjoy them. I particularly like the Jack London quote. Can you guess why? – 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 info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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