Brainzooming – All Posts | The Brainzooming Group - Part 161 – page 161
3

Do you need more than one Twitter account because of your job?

I was talking with a friend at the Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast who asked my thoughts about his need for another Twitter account because of a new governmental position he had accepted that, for a variety of reasons, could be public facing in both good, and potentially negative, situations. He asked a “Yes or No” version of the question, “Do I need a second Twitter account for my new job?”

How to Decide if You Need Another Twitter Account

I instead gave him a variety of strategic questions to answer in deciding whether he would need a second Twitter account. If you are in a similar situation where you are considering a different individually oriented Twitter account for your position, here are strategic questions you should be asking yourself:

  • What am I trying to accomplish with a work-focused Twitter account?
  • Who is my target audience on Twitter?
  • What will my target audience want to hear from me? From our organization?
  • What will my target audience want to communicate about both regularly and on an ad hoc basis?
  • Does what we are trying to accomplish suggest it is more important to be personally or organizationally visible to our target audience?
  • Will the need for any organizational communication via Twitter outlive my tenure with the organization?
  • Do we expect to broadcast information (using the account more as a news feed), or do we expect to interact with your target audience?
  • What types of customer service or problem resolution responsibilities might we have to handle through the account?
  • What emergencies might we have to address?
  • What is the target audience sentiment toward our organization and its purpose – will they be interested in the information we want to share? Will the information be a reminder of challenging or unpleasant situations for our target audience?
  • What are all the things that can go horribly wrong relative to our organization and its audience? When these things happen, is it better to respond individually or organizationally?

I am sure there are additional strategic questions to ask, but our time together ended with this list.

Take the Time to Answer Strategic Questions

The point is you can make a quick and unconsidered decision or you can make a slightly slower, decision through asking strategic questions to help you better protect against the inevitable situations where things go wrong. Depending on the complexity of the organization, the strategic questions may need to be applied to related social media presences too. But it’s not like answering these strategic questions has to take months. With a little consideration and an hour or two, you should be able to play through a variety of relevant scenarios.

So do you need a second Twitter account for your new job? What do you think? – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This 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 a 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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6

There’s a story I saw once (which, if you’ll notice, is how most apocryphal stories start) about Salvador Dali where an art patron inquired it were difficult for the famed surrealist painter to paint a picture. Salvador Dali answered, “No, it’s either easy or impossible.”

You can’t deny that it’s a great creativity quote.

Unfortunately, it’s a worthless perspective when you’re on the hook to deliver personal creativity on a consistent basis in a work or organizational situation. Suppose your work-oriented creative effort seems easy to you. If it does, it’s likely the creativity you are producing is ho-hum, at least to you. To the contrary, when your creative effort seems to be an insurmountable challenge to complete, you’re faced with the realization that it’s touch to get any credit for stunning creative thinking that can’t be brought to creative reality.

If the two creative extremes Salvador Dali offered aren’t very good answers, what can you do to move your creative reality somewhere in between? You want to have  strategies to turn both creative extremes into challenging, workable creative successes. Here are four strategies for each creative extreme.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Easy

1. Critique Your Creative Successes

Rather than resting on your creative laurels, push yourself to be dramatically stronger creatively. Use what seemed creatively strong from the past, look for small imperfections others would never see, and make creative masterpieces of them! Better integrate them with your strategy, discover more elegant creative simplicity, or find a way to express your extreme creativity in new ways. Pushing yourself to the heights of extreme creativity more than you ever have may be a creative challenge, but will yield creative dividends.

2. Put Yourself on the Extreme Creativity Hook Publicly

You (and by “you,” I probably mean “I”) could be prone to creative sandbagging through deliberately setting expectations at a relatively low, comfortable level you can easily meet without pushing yourself too hard creatively. Forget about taking the path of least creative resistance by sharing an extreme creativity goal – sort of your very own JFK and “Put a man on the moon.”  Sharing an extreme creativity goal with people who will hold you accountable to it clearly puts you on the creative hook. This will demand you embrace extreme creativity as a step toward creative success.

3. Put More Creative Risk into the Mix

Suppose you have all the resources and know everything that’s required to make your creative objective a reality. Decide to deliver your own creative stumbling block by forsaking a major chunk of your creative resources. Slash the time for your creative project by beginning later than expected or agreeing to finish it earlier. If you are part of a creative team working on a project, release one team member to work on another project, pushing the other team members to new extreme creative heights. Driving your effort to the creative extreme will make you develop alternative creative muscles to realize your creative objective.

4. Significantly Modify Your Creative Direction

Bruce Springsteen is a great example of this idea. Although successful with the E Street Band, he altered his  creative direction musically several times – an acoustic, home-recorded solo record, other “solo” records with different supporting musicians, and a completely new band to chronicle songs by Pete Seeger, a legendary folk musician. With every new creative direction, Bruce Springsteen continually avoided “easy” creativity in favor of using unfamiliarity to spur new creative directions.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Impossible

1. Lower Your Expectations

If your overall creative task seems daunting, lower your expectations. Look for what smaller parts of the project seems possible amid a total effort which seems impossible. Consider what is the real downside if the entire effort didn’t come to fruition. After identifying workarounds for whatever might be impossible on your project, go all out achieving what is achievable creatively.

2. Put a Creative Project on Hold

Being pressured to be immediately creative can stifle creative abilities. Instead of being pressured to advance directly to implementation, take a time out and actually THINK. Strategize. Brainstorm. Find someone who will add to the creative thinking you’ve done. Take some time to consider something entirely different. Take advantage of a creative pause to let your mind wander where it will, making unconscious creative connections to instigate a fresh creative strategy.

3. Find Implementation Assistance

Maybe your perception of creative impossibility arises  from weaknesses in your personal capabilities. If that’s the case, launch your creative effort by seeking out talents you need to turn the impossible into the possible. Put together the best team to start, generate, and bring what would have been previously daunting creativity to life.

4. Modify Your Creative Game

If the creative task you are facing seems impossible, go ahead and redefine it. Instead of thinking about what the creative activity is, look at what type of goal you’re trying to accomplish instead. Next, look at the whole variety of ways you can accomplish your objective in some other way. Redefining the creative game is often just what’s needed to get into another game you’re much more likely to win creatively.

Use these eight strategies as needed so you can depend on producing outstanding creativity on a daily basis! – Mike Brown

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Taking the No Out of Innovation eBook

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creative 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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2

I hadn’t planned to live tweet the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. As with many things Twitter and TV event-related, however, I couldn’t help myself. As a result, I live tweeted snark and observations about the trappings of the presidential debate.

Here are some thoughts about the evening’s festivities:

Somebody Didn’t Get a Nap

President Obama seemed off his game all night (and his grumpy face didn’t help), even stumbling into his closing comments. It was as if taking away a crowd reacting positively (and a teleprompter) made him a less compelling speaker than one would expect. Not having a positive and effusive crowd seemed more familiar ground for Romney.

Romney did keep telling stories early on about specific individuals he or his wife had met who wanted help. Before the debate was over, someone had already leaked the Romney debate story structure. You can’t get anything past the Internet, clearly.

It was an interesting TV juxtaposition with Romney on the left and Obama on the right. I’m not sure if that was that one of the things they drew for beforehand, or it was someone’s inside joke. Either way, with the higher altitude & thinner air in Denver, those two should have been able to drop kick each other 10 yards further than normal, but neither seemed up to the task. Clearly there was way too much smiling, handshaking, and arm patting between themselves and their families for it to get too down and dirty in the debate.

You Only Have 5 Seconds

Timing and sticking to the rules was a problem all night.

Part of it was the candidates. Both Obama and Romney treated the debate time limits just like they treat our tax dollars: no matter what anybody says, they act as if there’s always more to be used up. It really came down to the first rule of Presidential Debate Club, which is “You do not QUIT talking during Presidential Debate Club.”

The other part (and maybe most) of the timing and debate control problem was on the shoulders of moderator, Jim Lehrer. Lehrer, who suffers from a pre-existing condition (an inability to control a conversation between two big egos), was represented by grunts and stammering in his attempt to control the debate. While letting the candidates go created more opportunity for some snarky comments (both within the debate and on Twitter), he was completely at a loss to control the conversation.

Listening to Jim Lehrer talk, I kept waiting for the Jim Lehrer mask to be ripped off his face to reveal Ross Perot as a surprise moderator. It got so bad at one point, a rumor was circulating (and by “circulating,” I mean “I tweeted”) that Jim Lehrer had been doing a stint as a temporary NFL ref until last weekend given how little he seemed to understand about two-minute warnings.

Clearly, we needed a person standing next to each candidate to bonk them on the head when they went long or spoke out of turn.

The Twitter Crowd

Not surprisingly, the Obama campaign had a promoted tweet on the #Debate hashtag, but I was surprised it also showed up on the #DebateEXP hashtag. I had started using #DebateEXP for live tweets even though Mr. EXP, Jim Joseph, elected to skip live tweeting the debate. Since Obama had bought #DebateEXP, I also checked #Snoozefest for a promoted Obama tweet, but there wasn’t one, much to my disappointment.

When it came to other folks tweeting, there were a number of memorable laughs, including:

  • From Tim Dreyer ‏@Timbotown early in the debate: “If you are playing the Debate drinking game, you’re already drunk. Welcome wastoid,” and “They should have the podiums slowly move towards each other so they end up touching 5 minutes before the end.”
  • From Ramsey Moshen @rm: “At what point will they address how to fix the iOS Maps issue? ;)”
  • From @CarriBugbee: “How many swigs do you have to take when St. Reagan is invoked in the #debate drinking game?”
  • From Cheryl Harrison ‏@CherylHarrison: “DRINK EVERYTIME EITHER CANDIDATE SMIRKS. You are drunk. #debate  #debates #debate2012 #morehashtags #HiMom

Rope-a-Dope

Ultimately, the debate reminded me of a late career Muhammad Ali fight: it was all rope-a-dope, went 15 rounds, and didn’t result in a knock-out for either presidential candidate. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic 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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5

In some business circles, it isn’t hard to pass off research results from focus groups as “substantial,” IF you know how to present them.

7 Ways to Lie with Focus Groups

Here are 7 fundamental lessons to lie with your focus group results when you present them:

1. Make Little Things Big

When you have very few responses because you conducted focus groups to save money when you really needed quantitative analysis, put only one quote – in very big type – on each page of your report. Doing this makes a single statement from one person in the focus groups look like a movement.

2. Throw Some Numbers Around

Don’t let talking to only twenty-nine people in a few focus groups stand in the way of reporting quantitative research results. If ten people in your focus groups responded the same way, that means more than a third of the people you talked to share that perspective. Don’t hesitate to call it “34.5%” in the report. You worked hard for that number; you earned that number.

3. You Have to Have a Model

When you don’t have many insights, develop a very complex diagram and call it your “strategic model.” Shrink your strategic model to such a small size to fit on a page that it becomes illegible. This will minimize nearly any ability your audience has to ask (and your need to respond to) strategic questions about your complex diagram.

4. Make Details Small

Extend the illegible size strategy to any explanatory text. Other than the humongous quotes, make any other words a 6-point size so the explanatory text, along with your strategic model, are all illegible.

5. Consider Pictures to Be Worth a Thousand Words

Stock photos are underrated as rich sources of research insights. Make sure you use stock photos liberally (on the title page, to introduce new sections, to take the place of data) and in a large format to occupy space. Stock photos substitute for one thousand words of meaningful research results you weren’t able to deliver because you did the wrong type of research.

6. Symbolize the Results

When the conclusions you have derived from the research aren’t particularly meaningful, attach symbols to them in your report. The symbols make it seem as if your conclusions are so substantial they warranted the time investment to create a customized symbol for each one.

7. Don’t Show Everything or Say How Much “Everything” Is

Make repeated references to a boatload of material from the focus groups you didn’t include in the final report. It will make everyone feel good to believe there’s something more to the research without having to actually read anything with more detail.

I’m Kidding

Yes, I’m kidding about doing these things.

Don’t do them.

But don’t be surprised when you’re presented a research report that DOES do them. Some “researchers” lie with charts (affiliate link), but they also lie with pictures, fonts, and words as well. Be on the lookout, and start asking questions, even if what’s on the page is so small you can hardly read it. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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7

Having just completed an innovation session last week where The Brainzooming Group was leading a client in addressing its customer service experience innovation, this Brainzooming guest blog post from Woody Bendle was top of mind for me. Woody shares a robust approach to pursue if you are trying to address any opportunity to differentiate your organization relative to the customer experience you deliver:

 

Is customer service, or providing a great customer service experience at the core of your organization’s mission and strategy?

If so, I first want to congratulate you and encourage you to continue on this journey because it really can make all the difference in the world between success and failure!

Second, you also need to recognize that you are not alone.

Everybody Is Talking Excellent Customer Service

I did a quick Google search this morning on “excellent customer service mission.”  The search produced 46.2 million results!  Here are a few that came back:

  • We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible.  – Zappos
  • The mission of _____ is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.  – Southwest Airline
  • Exceed our customers’ expectations by being the leading provider of safe, responsive, value-added services in the student transportation industry.  –  Laidlaw International
  • At the heart of delivering any and all of our solutions is incredible customer service, which we feel sets us apart from our competition.  –  TerpSys.com
  • Our mission is to provide our customers with superior products and outstanding customer service  –  Yardi Systems
  • We place the customer experience at the core of all we do. Our customers are the reason for our existence…. Our goal is quality, service, cleanliness and value (QSC&V) for each and every customer, each and every time.  –  McDonald’s
  • Create experiences so great the customer says, “Wow.” –  Oracle
  • Our goal is to provide the best customer service in our industry.  –  HeinOnline.com
  • Our customer service sets the standard. – Delta Dental of Illinois

Not only are you not alone, I’d say you are at risk of being the norm!  And, therein is the problem.

With so many organizations focusing on customer service, you have to assume if you are providing really good customer service, resulting in a pretty good overall customer experience, you are likely close to providing what is expected by today’s consumer.  But, this probably only keeps you in the game; and it may not be setting you apart.

In order to set your organization apart from your competitors – in terms of customer service and experience – you have to innovate.  You need to develop and provide a customer service experience that is:

  • Truly unique (through the eyes of your customers), and
  • Highly valued.

Figuring out whether or not you are doing something truly unique is easy enough.  When you walk into an Apple Store you know you are experiencing something different. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being visited by The Geek Squad, you know you’ve experienced something different. It probably made a positive impression on you.

Recognizing something different after you’ve experienced it is pretty easy, but how do you come up with that idea in the first place?  Also, how do you determine whether or not it is something that will be highly valued by your current and potential customers?  And perhaps even more important, how do you determine if there is even a significant opportunity to differentiate your organization through customer service (or experience) innovation?

To answer these questions, you essentially need to do two things:

  • Thoroughly understand all of the things your customers want and expect from their engagements with your organization.
  • Determine the extent to which you have an opportunity to differentiate your organization from its competition in a way that is truly valued by the marketplace.

Thoroughly Understand Your Customer’s Needs, Wants, and Expectations

Yes, I heard you say “well….duh!” But this is always the foundation for creating a successful innovation.  So many new products and companies failing, you’ll be surprised to learn it is actually a lot simpler than people make it out to be.  You just have to do it!

To thoroughly understand your customers’ needs, wants and expectations, you need to ask and exhaustively answer the following questions:

  • Why is it that they are engaging with our organization at all – that is, what is it our organization is helping them do or accomplish?
  • What do they want to accomplish as a result of engaging with us?
  • Is their engagement with us a means to accomplishing something else?
  • How do they feel (or want to feel) while they are engaging with our company, our associates, or brand?
  • Why are they choosing our organization over another?
  • What contributed to their choosing us versus someone else?
  • What could possibly get in the way of them engaging with us?
  • How do they determine whether or not they had a successful experience that met or exceeded their expectations?

If you want to innovate, it is important to obtain as many answers to each of these questions as possible.  As you obtain one answer, go ahead and ask:

  • Why else?
  • What else?
  • How else?

Another oft referenced technique I absolutely love is “5 Whys.” By probing deeper and deeper with each and every question, and continuing to ask why, you will uncover many interesting and surprising insights.

As I mentioned earlier though, thoroughly understanding your customers’ needs is only the beginning.

Determine Your Opportunity to Innovate

Armed with a lot of really interesting answers to the above questions, you need to determine how important each of these things is to your customers, and how well they feel you and your competitors help them with what they want to accomplish.  A proven tool you can use to gauge the opportunity for innovation is called the “opportunity algorithm.”  After you’ve performed your opportunity analysis, you will be able to pinpoint you organization’s most significant areas for service and experience innovation.

At this point you know how differentiated your organization is from your competition, and whether or not you actually have an opportunity to deliver a knockout service and experience innovation.

There are several additional (and critical) steps you will need to take if you want to develop and get your service and experience innovation to market. These include:

  • Developing several possible innovation solutions
  • Determining the extent to which each possible solution meets and ideally exceeds customer expectations
  • Calculating if you can profitably implement the innovation, and
  • Assessing how unique and defensible your customer service innovation really is

In a forthcoming Brainzooming article, I will detail these next steps for customer service and experience innovation. Until then, you have the first steps to get started.

Since I’m an individual who loves and genuinely appreciates new and distinctive customer service experiences, I’m rooting for you to get started leaping out of this sea of sameness!  – Woody Bendle

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


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.

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1

A Brainzooming blog email subscriber contacted me Friday letting me know she appreciated that morning’s post with seven questions to ask if it seems you keep getting into the same negative situations again and again. She also mentioned there were several typos in the blog’s email distribution.

Ouch.

However, she was absolutely correct.

While my creative routine for blog writing and publishing  has some variation relative to when and how I write posts, the number of rounds of proofreading, and how far in advance everything is ready, I try to keep the variation to a minimum. Typically, I complete nearly everything for a post the weekend before it runs. Through forced experimentation, however, my creative routine will flex to writing a blog post closer to the publishing deadline than I would like, say the afternoon or evening before the blog post runs.

Abandoning My Creative Routine

Because of various factors, however, last Friday’s post did not come to life with a creative routine I ever care to repeat.

The previous weekend was consumed with finishing a new presentation for Tuesday and a two-day client session at week’s end. While several posts were ready to go, Friday’s blog post was a question mark. In fact, I had resolved potentially to skip a new Friday Brainzooming blog post if it meant compromising something else for the client session.

Thursday night on the road in Phoenix, I had a few blog topic ideas jotted down. After a late evening refining our approach for Friday’s client Brainzooming session, I returned to my hotel room deciding to write the most developed blog topic – the one on harsh questions to ask yourself. I sat in bed typing the post directly into WordPress (which I rarely do) and fell asleep, only to wake up at 1:30 am, with the computer still on and the blog post half-written.

Putting the computer to the side, I crashed until 4 a.m. Pacific time. I decided that even with missing the typical publishing time for the Brainzooming blog (just before 3 a.m. Pacific time), there was still time to finish the post for the email publishing deadline around 5 a.m. I thankfully discovered most of the blog post saved as a draft in WordPress. I finished the post in a hurry, gave it a quick glance, inserted a photo, tagged it, hit publish, and turned my attention to getting ready for the day’s strategy session.

Only after the email published did I re-read the post, finding a number of typos. I immediately fixed them in the online version, but by then it was too late to correct what our regular email subscribers received.

Arghhhhh!

The Lesson Learned

For as much as I advocate adapting your creative routine, being okay with mistakes, and learning from things that go wrong, Friday’s experience of abandoning my creative routine was not the way to do it.

I appreciated a reader taking the time to call me out on it, however, because it prompted me to write this post to let you know what happened and to say I’m sorry the reader experience I strive for dipped WAY too low last Friday. True, it is not the end of the world, but if a similar situation develops again where I’d have to move forward with completely abandoning my creative routine, I will likely decide simply to wait a day to publish and save us all some frustration. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This 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 a 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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3

If you find yourself getting into the same negative personal situations again and again, and it never turns out very well, it’s time to ask yourself:

  • Am I really learning from mistakes I’ve made?
  • For whatever reason, am I failing to see my personal role in creating challenges for others in working with me?
  • Have I failed to work on myself in a productive way that leads to changed outcomes in my career or life?
  • If I’m being honest, would I admit I’m more “talk” than “do”?
  • Am I failing to accurately see myself as others see me?
  • Is my sense of timing a problem in that it leads to hesitation when needing to act, spouting off when needing to keep my mouth shut, and passiveness when I should be leaving a situation?
  • Am I going back into similar unsuccessful situations again and again because they feel familiar?

I read these seven questions to someone, whose reaction was, “Wow, those are harsh questions!”

The seven questions may sound harsh, but if you see the same negative patterns repeating in your career, it’s about time to ask yourself some harsh questions. Or even better, ask these questions of someone who knows and can be objective about you and see what that person says. Big personal change is possible – it’s tough, but it is possible.

If you’re in a bad situation, are you ready to work on the real changes you need?  – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at  816-509-5320

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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