8

Today is my parents’ 58th wedding anniversary. Congratulations Mom and Dad for making a commitment to each other and living it out in your marriage during an era when society as a whole seems to have less respect for commitment by the day.

Growing up with such a stable family life and living in a unique small town with many of the trappings of a much larger city provided tremendous advantages. I am so blessed to have had that upbringing.

I have started writing posts on lessons learned from my mom and dad individually. On their wedding anniversary, however, here are six personal relationship lessons they have demonstrated as a married couple which have tremendously shaped my views on marriage specifically, and personal relationships in general:

  • Not only do opposites attract, opposites make a stronger team. My parents are very different from one another, which strengthened them as a couple. I have some of both their diverse characteristics. While that can frustrate me about myself, I also see where it importantly helps in considering diverse viewpoints.
  • Talk about stuff with each other. Discuss what is in front of you, consider your options, and make the best decision you can.
  • Don’t get caught up in yourself. Be humble and appreciative of everything you receive because it’s all a gift.
  • You may not have an obligation to do so, but when somebody who is trying hard needs help, provide the help without any expectations about what you’re going to get out of it.
  • There’s always going to be something in the future to provide the gratification you may be seeking today. As a result, waiting until you can afford the gratification won’t kill you or even harm you very much at all.
  • It’s important to tell people you love them – daily.
Thanks for the personal relationship lessons, Mom and Dad, and for doing everything you have for me. I love you both! – 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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2

We are closing in on four years of the Brainzooming blog, with more than 300,000 words written. Coupled with original business-oriented guest posts on various websites, two other personal blogs with nearly 560 other posts, and 25,000-plus tweets along the way, that is a lot of social media content.

It’s content I would never have thought was possible to create in the four years BEFORE I started Brainzooming.

I will be sharing some lessons learned in creating all that social media content in two social media presentations this week. Today, it’s a live presentation in Kansas City and a business blogging webinar Friday, October 28 you can all attend (Click on the link to get to the sign up. It is for an association, but it is open to non-members. The sign-up is a bit cumbersome, but I would love to have you join the business blogging webinar!) Our objective is to help attendees do a better job of creating fantastic social media content.

In updating my social media content strategy material for these two social media presentations, I uncovered a variety of blogging lessons never shared here. While these social media content lessons are oriented toward bloggers, for those of you not blogging, each lesson includes a special spin for how it applies to you as well:

  • The order you write a post doesn’t have to be its final order. The original end might be the beginning. Or vice versa. Play with rearranging a list post for the best flow after it’s written. (If you don’t blog: No matter what you’re creating, if you hit a dead end, start working on a different part. Things don’t have to be created in the same way they’re presented.)
  • Similarly, when writing a list blog post, do not get stuck thinking you have to start with the list’s topic. You can start with scrap bullet points and figure out the connections among them. From there, create a list topic encompassing all the items which originally looked disconnected. (If you don’t blog: This concept applies to any set of items or ideas. Find a creative, strategic connection among whatever you have.)
  • Don’t use pronouns if you can insert the actual word or phrase you are referencing. This will help with a stronger keyword-based post. (If you don’t blog: If you’re not writing for online currently, take advantage of it to learn basics on search engine optimization and keywords, because you WILL be writing for online publishing some day.)
  • You can benefit from printing what you’re writing and reading a hard copy. (If you don’t blog: Same thing applies. You’ll see what you’re writing differently on a page than on-screen.)
  • Run your post through the grammar checker in Microsoft Word to gain a sense of the grade level, reading ease, and prominence of passive sentences in your writing. I’ve discovered people don’t know about this buried feature. Turn it on by clicking the Windows logo in the upper left of Word and select “Word Options.” Click proofing and under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word,” check “Show readability statistics.” Now whenever you run the grammar checker, you’ll get the real story on your writing. (If you don’t blog: We all benefit from coldly analytical perspective on our writing.)
  • Because of the grammar checker, write in Word then paste copy into your blogging platform. If you do modify things after they are in the blogging platform, paste your post back into Word to double check typos you might have introduced. (If you don’t blog: Don’t be too beholden to applications you typically use. Explore other applications which might help you better convey messages.)
  • A blog is never done – you can tinker forever. If you are inclined to tinker, make rules for yourself so you’ll leave a post alone at some point. (If you don’t blog: Knowing when to close down options and when allow them to remain open is critical in managing any project.)
  • If you use WordPress, take advantage of  the editorial calendar and SEO Scribe plugins. They make a difference in effectiveness, efficiency, and insights about your blogging. (If you don’t blog: Go get some grounding in WordPress. WordPress is the content management system behind some big websites, so it’s not just for blogs.)
  • If you’re guest posting for another blog, create your own brief persona for who you’re writing to on the blog, even if the blog owner doesn’t provide one. (If you don’t blog: The idea of thinking about and describing your target audience member is beneficial no matter what the writing application.)  – Mike Brown

 

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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2

Here’s another intriguing Blogapalooza guest post, this one from Chris Gregory. Chris is the vice president of marketing for a high-growth transportation engineering products company. In past roles, he worked in marketing capacities in the aviation, publishing, and commercial finance industries. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in strategic communications from the University of Kansas and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in marketing communications from the same school. Here’s Chris Gregory with his take on the latest Seth Godin book, “We Are All Weird”:

You and I are growing apart. We just don’t have as much in common as we once did. Or, at least that is what Seth Godin and I think.

Seth Godin recently released a new book titled We Are All Weird. Of course, he is right. But it didn’t take his new book to get me thinking about this idea that everyone is unusual.

I gathered with several fellow graduate students. The topic was AMC Theater seating options. The chain of movie houses tested several concepts in our area including reserved seating and a full-blown quick-service restaurant menu served by waiters before and during the movie.

What was remarkable was that the group of us – by nearly all demographic measures very similar – voiced very different opinions. As a marketer, this caught my attention. All of us live in the same area, work in the same field and share a common education level. We share similar income levels and family structures.

But yet we feel completely different about the seating options. I argued in favor of reserved seating, which is ordered online in advance. That way my wife and I enjoy dinner before the show without rushing to get a good seat. Some people agreed. Other people argued their assigned seats are in bad locations, because they wait until they arrive at the theater to buy tickets.

The second option, food service in the theater, drew a similar divide among the group. For me, dinner and a movie is a night out, not dinner at a movie. Other people liked the convenience.

What struck me was there is no way AMC marketers could tell us apart. Which of us should they market to? If we were in a focus group, which of us would they listen to? Even though we look so similar, we are very different.

This is where Godin’s new book comes in. He took this abstract concept that flitted through my head and turned it into yet another of his insightful works. The world is changing – take heed marketers – because each of us is now comfortable living and buying as part of a sub-niche of society. One size doesn’t fit all; it just fits one.

Why did the world change? Sure, the Internet. But also transportation and population growth. The Internet enables us to know about more available products, services, peer groups, potential lifestyles, etc. Improvements in transportation help us get those things we want. People and goods can easily go places they could not reach a hundred years ago. It is now easy to try a new restaurant or spend two weeks at a role playing game camp.  The Internet helps you find obscure items, and improvements in shipping gets the snail cookbook to your house. As the population grows, the small markets for such goods and services are large enough to support their respective economies.

The weirdification of the world is a good thing. We can explore and embrace those interests that make us really unique. As marketers, we realize that obscure doesn’t mean worthless. The long tail of a market contains plenty of opportunity. – 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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3

Last Friday, I covered the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation with the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) fall conference. The KanSPRA group was fantastic, and the venue at the new Kansas City, KS School District Central Office and Training Center was full of student artwork and creative ideas. I captured video from the creativity-filled facility tour David A. Smith, Chief of Staff with the school district, gave me, and after some editing work, I hope to share it with you soon.

One attendee asked two questions I don’t remember ever receiving before during the “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” presentation:

What are the best and worst creative ideas I’ve been involved with using the creativity techniques we discussed?

I tend not to track or think about “best” and “worst” creative ideas, but hey, when an audience member asks you a question, you try to answer it!

The Worst Idea?

The worst idea I talked about was a NASCAR-related idea to create a citywide racing event for our corporate racing program tied to our Sprint Cup and race sponsorship in Kansas several years ago.

The idea came from the most comprehensive and dynamic brainstorming session we ever conducted. The citywide racing event idea was full of innovative possibilities, and one of the scheduled events was a NASCAR racing festival on the upscale Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. We wanted to bring NASCAR excitement to a new part of the community. Without rehashing the details, the NASCAR racing festival was incredibly poorly attended, created a good deal of acrimony among the people involved, and (as I only recently learned) led to a corporate myth about one staff member having a catatonic trance because of a frustrated comment from me (I was emceeing the event).

Clearly an example where an idea full of innovative possibilities can still result in a complete debacle.

The Best Idea?

The “best” idea was an even tougher question. My quick answer was a lesson I’ve realized over the past few years:

Be open to moving forward with possibilities, even when what will come about isn’t clear.

I shared a story of heading to Hays, KS for less than 24 hours a few weeks ago to attend a university advisory council meeting. While the planned advisory council meeting prompted the roadtrip, I discovered later that two encounters with people I hadn’t talked to since grade school were the REAL reasons I was compelled to head home.

One long conversation with a woman I hadn’t talked to since we were in 6th grade taught me some incredible insights about the joy of being a selfless caregiver. I also reconnected with a fellow grade school religion class student I’d only talked with briefly several years ago when my dad was hospitalized. At the same time she was telling me about her brother’s job, Max Utsler was telling Barrett Sydnor he’d recommended to her brother he talk to me about doing some social media work for his organization. Through Facebook, he saw I’d had lunch with his sister and reached out to me. We’re meeting this week.

Did I have a great idea to go to Hays, KS for the weekend or what?

Actually, it wasn’t really my great idea. Being open to whatever might happen, even though I didn’t understand it beforehand, was central to both of these unexpected experiences.

Trust me, it’s taken me years to learn this lesson. They say, “God helps those who help themselves.” I think it might really be, “God helps those who stop trying to get in the way of what he’s doing for them.”

And you?

What about you? Do you categorize your best and worst creative ideas? If you do, would you care to share your stories about them?  – 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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If you are in Kansas City and not attending Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) breakfasts, you’re missing outstanding social media-related speakers and content monthly. The September presentation from Scott Monty at Union Station was fantastic, and October’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast (back at the Kansas City Cafe) was equally strong, featuring Mike McCamon, Chief Community Officer from Water.org.

I’ve been struck by the organization’s compelling online strategy since meeting Erin Swanson from Water.org at one of the first breakfasts I attended. Talking informally with Erin several times in the last few years, it’s been clear water.org is all over inventive social media strategy.

Social Media Automation

At last Friday’s SMCKC breakfast, Mike McCamon provided a “Social Media 700-level” course on how Water.org uses social media automation, under the banner “Donate Your Voice,” so Water.org Twitter and Facebook fans can share their social network feeds with the organization. Beyond “one-to-many,” Mike characterizes the strategy as enabling “none- to-many,” since fans don’t have to do anything once authorizing Water.org to use their social media broadcasting capabilities.

This video from the presentation features the strategic thinking behind Donate Your Voice and the social media automation strategy. I told Mike afterward that being a strategy guy, he had me right away by starting with not one, but two X-Y charts.

How Extendable is Donate Your Voice?

Does Donate Your Voice have a fit beyond non-profits? Mike discussed Water.org considering sharing the technology with non-competitive non-profits and licensing it to for-profits in exchange for a financial commitment to Water.org. Even if it does (or others develop similar capabilities), the Donate Your Voice concept will likely need an option for more user intervention.

When you care about what you share in your social network channels, I can’t imagine surrendering my “voice” to any organization without an option to say yes or no on a particular message.

Would you want that type of message-specific approval, or are you okay with donating your online voice unchecked?

I’ll be covering Donate Your Voice in greater depth for the December issue of The Social Media Monthly magazine. I’ve been writing monthly articles since the magazine’s introduction earlier this year. If you’re in a Barnes and Noble in the next few days, you still have an opportunity to pick up the October issue of The Social Media Monthly where I wrote a cover story on the Google+ vs. Facebook battle.  – Mike Brown

 

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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8

It has now been about 2 years since I left corporate life to make The Brainzooming Group a full-time effort. Last year on this date, I shared 25 lessons learned and reconfirmed during the first year of The Brainzooming Group. Here are 25 more lessons from year two away from corporate life, although it’s hard to say some of them didn’t originate in year one!

  • Peoples’ priorities, especially in corporations, change quickly. Things can go from hypercritical to off the list in what seems like minutes. Inside the corporation, you may not even notice. As a vendor, it can be crushing.
  • A lot of corporate life was filled with meetings. The absence of so many needless meetings creates a lot of time in your day.
  • Keep experimenting with pricing and other parts of the marketing mix ALL the time.
  • Taking a “friends and family” approach to business development is a good start, but it is hardly sufficient.
  • Get out of the office and see people.
  • I’d underestimated the business potential of Facebook. Now, I’m playing catch-up.
  • Go for unique, higher-risk opportunities than predictable, lower-risk opportunities that promise they’ll get better.
  • R.E.M. did things in their own way, at their own pace, in their own style. That’s a pretty solid long-term business strategy.
  • I’m not sure if absence makes the heart grow fonder, but 24/7 togetherness doesn’t.
  • If you’re willing to surrender your will to God, he’ll put you in the places you need to be.
  • When you’re in a big corporation, the last thing you may want is dealing with more people. When you’re an entrepreneur, that changes.
  • Frugality, frugality, frugality.
  • A one-tier cost structure is a recipe for failure at worst or stagnation at best.
  • At some point, you have to stop thinking you’re average at everything you do while still maintaining a strong sense of overall humility.
  • There were things I could afford to stay out of or not do in the corporate world that I can’t afford to avoid anymore.
  • You can’t over-estimate the impact of being able to stay calm during challenging times.
  • As difficult as it might be, you have to let go of previously strong professional relationships that turn non-reciprocal. Really cultivate the ones that do remain vibrant, though.
  • Go out of your way to meet new people you would never have expected to meet. Go out of your way to re-meet people who pass through after long absences. You never know how your life will be changed by it.
  • Don’t wait for someone to join you. Go ahead and try it yourself.
  • As important as a tight team is, go to unfamiliar people for reactions, because you’ll get a much more accurate perspective.
  • It’s okay to take the risk that something you walk away from will hit really big for someone else. You can’t pursue everything.
  • Life is really incredible if you allow it to be incredible. Many times “incredible” materializes because you haven’t directly intervened in mucking up the ordinary.
  • It’s easy to slide backward – really easy. If you’re going to slide backward, do it consciously, not accidentally.
  • You need a business model, not just an idea. A business model can sustain you for an extended period of time. Ideas have to be continually replenished. Continually replenishing ideas for an extended period of time can drain you beyond recovery.
  • Wait for it.

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand 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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Photo by: codswollop | Source: photocase.com

A really easy Thursday read. Here are eight potential career challenges, along with tips for:

1. Creating memorable brand experiences (personal or organizational): Meet consumer interests with emotional intensity & just enough mention of your brand so they know who made it happen.

2. Shooting better informal videos: When you are using one Flip or phone camera to shoot video of a speaker, don’t go for b-roll. You’re not making an epic. Just video the speaker & don’t shake.

3. Being effective online: Work on being pleasant, professional, and engaging at offline behaviors.

4. Achieving notoriety: Never claim to be an expert. Let OTHERS decide when they label you an expert.

5. Being well spoken: Write your own heartfelt words, even if they aren’t as eloquent as you like. Share those instead of pithy quotes.

6. Moderating a meeting: Ask the questions already on the audience members’ minds.

7. Protecting your data: Really back it up routinely. Having versions of files on multiple USB drives in a very random fashion isn’t a data recovery plan.

8. Growing your personal value: When asked to share your intellectual capital free of charge because there are many business opportunities with a particular audience, ask what percent of audience members bought from previous speakers. – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, 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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