2

Creativity scares the s#!t out of lots of authority figures! Hand them some toilet paper and keep going!!!

Creative variation is more than okay. Creative variation is wondrous!!!

Explain something you’re familiar with to someone who has no idea about it. Use pictures. Or act it out. Or make it a song.

Find a few moments for creative silence today – think, pray, nap to give yourself a break.

Don’t email the same old memo. Do a diagram, mind map, or sketch of your points and use it instead.

When known for complete unconventionality, sometimes you have to be blatantly conventional to stay truly unconventional. Surprise somebody today.

Give your brain a break by thinking about something completely frivolous right this very instant.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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

This is it for TEDxKC reflections, I promise, but I’ve never been involved in any two hour event which offered so much innovative thinking! Thanks to Kansas City’s VML and the other sponsors for bringing such an incredibly-rich experience as TEDxKC to Kansas City!

  • My mother once said I have a look which says, “Don’t bug me. Don’t get near me.” If that’s true, it must have been on display at TEDxKC. In an oversold event, in a supposedly jam-packed auditorium to see the live presentations, I walked in 10 minutes before the start and found two seats on an aisle mid-way back. After sitting down, the row consolidated, freeing up another seat, so there were still two seats by me. In the following ten minutes, not one person came in and sat down by me. Sorry everybody for “the look.” I try not to make it!
  • Watching the opening TEDxKC performance by Quixotic Fusion, it struck me how true it is that whatever your talents, you can create “art.” That’s the case whether in the traditional view of art or the art of day-to-day work and life. The difference is a person’s willingness to experiment, to be innovative, and to put themselves in the vulnerable positions which make one an artist.
  • The recent CEO study where creativity was identified as a critical success attribute in business was referenced during one presentation. Every time it’s cited, I always wonder: Did the CEO respondents REALLY believe that? It was probably viewed as a “hip” answer so everybody said, “Sure, a person needs more creativity…after financial acumen, a strict operational orientation, and a ruthless managerial style. Then, we need us some creativity.”
  • In her video presentation, Jane McGonigal of the Institute for the Future suggested the key to solving the world’s problems would be people collectively spending 21 billion hours weekly in online gaming. My question is, “What would happen to improve the world if we spent 21 billion more hours weekly praying?”
  • After attending a recent conference with nearly no diversity among presenters based on race, gender, and age, I’m even more conscious about diversity at live events. So at TEDxKC, of the 5 individual presenters (including host Mike Lundgren from VML) to take the stage, 4 were men, and 3 of the men were named “Michael.” While I always love listening to Mikes (and one other presenter’s last name was “Brown”), this was both homogenous and quirky.
  • My thought for the evening at TEDxKC: “Take the ordinary and attach it to something of significance to you. Then it’s strategic.”

Additionally, here’s the embedded video for the full TEDxKC program. Enjoy!  – Mike Brown



When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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

After a recent Marketing Profs virtual event with content of varied quality (the Radian 6 presentation was surprisingly weak), I tweeted the question: Do you prefer to feel smarter than or not as smart as the speaker in a presentation?

The people responding said they preferred to NOT feel as smart as the presenter. There are certainly good reasons for that, since when a presenter is clearly smarter than you on the topic being discussed, it’s more likely you’ll be:

  • Learning new things
  • Stimulated mentally by the session
  • Able to see where you have learning gaps to work on
  • Aware of at least one new person to reach out to in shoring up expertise you don’t have

There can also be some downsides to attending a presentation where the speaker is markedly smarter than the audience. It may be more difficult for the speaker to genuinely connect with the audience because of difficulties in simplifying the message for those still learning. There can also be a self-defeating sense you should be smarter or stronger than you are on a topic. In that case, you can walk away feeling worse about yourself.

Alternatively, if you’re stuck in a presentation failing to live up to the learning objective and you can’t easily get out of it (i.e., by quitting a webinar or walking out to go to another session), is there value that can be taken away? I think there’s still value to be drived in two specific areas:

  • Use a too-basic presentation as a refresher on the fundamentals you may be overlooking when attempting to teach others on the topic.
  • This type of presentation can also be the basis for putting your knowledge in context relative to the presenter, and gaining greater confidence in sharing your expertise with others in new settings.

The bottom line – figure out how to learn from everyone, in every situation, even if it’s no more than better understanding what not to do. – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer.  Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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12

Last Wednesday, I attended the Kansas City Business Marketing Association lunch for a presentation by Ashley Kuhnmuench of Google on the “B2B Buyer at Zero Moment of Truth.” It’s a Google-defined characterization of what happens before a customer comes in direct contact with your brand. Since it’s Google doing defining ZMOT (as it’s acronymed), it’s pretty much seen as the online research a prospect does on your brand before interacting with you. This brief video from the presentation features a further description of the concept:

While it’s an intriguing characterization, the concept isn’t necessarily innovative (people have always been able to reach out to others for perspectives or do offline research on a brand – yes there was research before Google existed).

Ashley did offer some statistics, however, which support the increasing prevalence of pre-engagement searches among business decision makers. She reported:

  • 62% of B2B buyers are doing more online research because of the economic downturn and have become more likely to switch vendors.
  • Google is seeing a surge in B2B conversions, with conversion defined as an individual taking a desired action on a website.

In successfully dealing with the Zero Moment of Truth, Ashley suggested three strategies for brands to embrace:

  • Visibility – Business decision makers are using longer searches (4 to 7 words), seeking out specific information.  They’re also using time outside normal work hours for business-related searches: 40% of business decision makers spend non-9 to 5 time doing online searches for work. Increasingly mobile devices are also part of the search equation. Visibility implies online presences being legitimately active 24/7 (i.e., having someone available to respond to social-media based requests or crises for your brand in what used to be off-hours), easily findable (SEO, SEM), functioning across multiple platforms, and incorporating video (for richer and more personal explanations of features and benefits).
  • Persuasion – B2B searchers are increasingly looking for productivity, efficiency, and sustainability-related messages. So not only does the online presence you actively manage need to reflect searcher interests and your brand in a relevant way, you have to make sure you live up to customer expectations and your brand promise to best impact broader conversations taking place online. With the advent of social media and social networking, it’s become very challenging for brands to manage online messages and the sentiment about their brands when there’s every opportunity for the public to communicate completely contradictory messages. That means brands have to be active in relevant forums with believable, authentic messages and interactions to foster strong relationships.
  • Flexibility – Finally, flexibility implies a brand’s ability to anticipate and respond quickly to opportunities and challenges. It also demands a willingness to launch new ideas rapidly with less attachment to perfection, and great skill in iterating to arrive at increasingly better answers.

The most important point in the presentation centered on this: the presence of online information and dialogue about brands (and related topics) has already fundamentally changed and disrupted numerous industries, including travel, publishing, retail, and real estate. If you think it won’t affect your business-oriented market, you’re wrong, and you need to start anticipating the potential ramifications and responding immediately. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can 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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6

Following up yesterday’s personal strategic TEDxKC reflection, today’s TEDxKC review focuses on specific presentations at the August 12, 2010 strategic, innovation-rich event. In keeping with the brisk TED/TEDx format (no presentations are intended to be over 20 minutes), here are brief highlights from TEDxKC:

Francis Cholle – Intuitive Intelligence Is What the World Needs Now

Author Francis Cholle’s main premise is strategic business thinking typically ignores creativity and doesn’t recognize the importance of the unconscious in how we process information. His model for intuitive intelligence rests on 4 strategies:

  • Think Holistically – Look at situations from all possible perspectives.
  • Think Paradoxically – As you look from different perspectives, allow yourself to accept blatantly contradictory elements co-existing together.
  • Listen for the Unusual – Pay less attention to thinking and more attention to feelings our brands’ customers are having.
  • Lead by Influence – Surrender control and give people the autonomy to step off into the unknown.

Given this strategic approach is at the heart of what we’re trying to do with innovation at Brainzooming, his talk really resonated with me.

 

Jane McGonigal – More Online Gaming Is What the World Needs Now

From her innovative perspective as an online game designer, in the only video presentation at TEDxKC, Jane McGonigal shared her firm belief the world is spiraling to its imminent collapse and can only be saved by the types of epic wins taking place 24/7 in online gaming.

She shared how online gaming allows people to rapidly try, experiment, and learn effective innovative problem-solving in epic situations. Online games do this particularly well because they are built around epic stories requiring epic strategies, players are matched to challenges suiting their talents with tons of collaborators, and feedback is constantly provided to innovate, adjust, improve, and succeed.

In the past several years, she’s concentrated on developing online games focused on solving major world problems – energy (World without Oil), human extinction (Superstruct), and the crisis in Africa (Evoke).

Her global prescription is for the people of the world to spend 21 billion hours per week in online gaming to innovate and create the epic wins which will allow the world to survive. While my initial reaction was very much, “WTF,” I’m so thankful Jane McGonigal’s video was included at TEDxKC. She ultimately helped me see a previously unsuspected connection between online gaming, strategy, and rapid process improvement techniques and how they could work together to catalyze innovative global problem-solving strategies.

Dr. Michael Wesch – Meaning Makers Are What the World Needs Now

Kansas State University anthropology professor Michael Wesch, the YouTube star of the evening, spoke to the need for individuals to move from knowledgeable to knowledge able, with skills and critical thinking capabilities to successfully filter the blast of media we all receive daily. As he pointed out, technology has wrought absolutely revolutionary expansions in our capability to:

  • Connect
  • Organize
  • Share
  • Collect
  • Collaborate
  • Publish

Importantly though, Wesch’s point was while technology makes it easy to perform these six activities, they are tremendously hard to do well. The challenge then is using the technical tools to become compelling meaning makers and not just meaning seekers.

Mike McCamon – A Way to Deal with Waste Is What the World Needs Now

I have at least a passing knowledge of McCamon’s water.org organization through meeting Erin Swanson of water.org (@ExplodingSoul on Twitter) regularly at Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfasts. For whatever reason, McCamon’s TEDxKC presentation was incredibly brief. It provided staggering statistics about the amount of solid human waste that’s left untreated globally in a world where more people have access to mobile phones than toilets. His contention is the issue doesn’t get more attention because it’s a private one whose solutions are realized household-by-household and the very visual celebratory experience which exists with clean water solutions (i.e., kids playing in water) doesn’t exist with solid waste solutions.

At one point during TEDxKC, McCamon said, “Someone always lives downstream.”  While the comment was delivered most directly to water and sanitation issues, its much larger application is for all processes globally, big to small, where one group or individual tries to get the good stuff for themselves only to let the next person down the line deal with the negative aftermath.

Dr. Brené Brown – Vulnerability Is What the World Needs Now

At the core of Dr. Brown’s comments is the contention we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability. Rather than vulnerability being synonymous with weakness, Brown sees vulnerability as the birthplace of joy, creativity, faith, and many other very positive aspects of life. As the rejection of vulnerability has spread, we now find:

  • Joy has shifted to foreboding
  • Disappointment has developed as a lifestyle
  • Perfection (or the perception of perfection) is used as a false shield
  • Extremism surfaces as a defense mechanism
  • Medications, alcohol, drugs, credit, and all types of other things are used to numb the pain

She challenged the TEDxKC audience to regain joy in our lives by practicing gratitude and honoring the ordinary in life since filling emotional reservoirs with joy and love is critical to getting through bad things which may eventually happen.

Quixotic Fusion – Both a Skeptical and a Hopeful Eye Is What the World Needs Now

This intriguing performance art group Quixotic Fusion opened and closed TEDxKC. It’s important for me to say upfront, “I don’t get dance.” I so don’t understand dancing, I’ve threatened to make myself take a class about choreography to force at least some better strategic sense of it.

As a result of my cluelessness about dancing, let me just say the take-away for me of the Quixotic Fusion TEDxKC performance was a strategic reminder about illusion. You can put separate elements together (i.e. a dancer and pre-programmed light patterns), and with skill, you can create the appearance of a causal relationship that doesn’t really exist.  If you’re prone to seeing causality in everything, the strategic message is be careful about jumping to conclusions. If, however, you’re a literalist who thinks everything has to be exactly as it is, realize you have some creative room to play with, so take advantage of it.

That’s the presentation recap from TEDxKC, a tremendously content-rich strategic innovation event! Thanks to sponsors VML, Populous, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Harvest Productions for staging TEDxKC for the Kansas City community!  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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

Thanks to Brenda Bethman, I received a last minute ticket to TEDxKC last Thursday at The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Titled “What the World Needs Now,” five speakers (four live, one on video) and a visual/musical/performance art group presented rapid-fire perspectives not really answering the title question – since it wasn’t stated as a question – but more as persuasive speeches on innovative global strategies in a college communications class.

The Set-Up

That isn’t to say TEDxKC wasn’t thought-provoking; it was just never designed as an interactive dialogue on our collective future. Unless you call the audience mingling and getting to write on a big poster what we think the world needs now after the event (all over 1 free drink) an interactive experience.

TEDxKC was certainly much anticipated (although not necessarily well-publicized) in town, with the original 300 free tickets for the Nelson Gallery auditorium being claimed in an hour. Another 500-600 people were ultimately accommodated via video feed in a separate Nelson viewing gallery.

Personal Resonance

Because of a client meeting, I never had an opportunity to vie for a TEDxKC ticket. Having known people who have attended TED and TEDx events, however, TEDxKC certainly felt like an innovation-rich event to attend. Looking back in light of my personal experience and the relevance of the innovation messages, a TEDxKC ticket materializing Thursday afternoon couldn’t have been an accident.

The strategic, unifying thread for meat TEDxKC was the speakers articulating aspects of themes touched on and evolving within the Brainzooming and Aligning Your Life’s Work blogs over several years.

As I’ve said, writing a blog, absent all the other human interactions which are vital to surround it, is a pretty isolated experience. With my professional situation changing so much in the past year(moving from a corporation to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time), that’s been even truer. The original target persona for the blog was me: someone in a not particularly innovative or creatively-oriented organization wanting to grow, develop, and have a bigger positive strategic impact on those around them.

As my life has changed, I’ve wondered whether my new perspectives resonate with all of you who are so generous to share your time in following Brainzooming. While new innovation-oriented themes have emerged for me professionally and found their way into the blog (thus all the social media and here’s what The Brainzooming Group does content lately), it was tremendously helpful as TEDxKC put into a global context the core strategic themes which mean so much to me personally and professionally:

The strategic innovation messages at TEDxKC really resonated, serving as catalysts for my thinking right now. Tomorrow, we’ll recap the great TEDxKC speakers and the important innovation messages they shared.  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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’s the end of the week (sort of, but not really), and it’s time for a short post about a long-term problem I finally did something about this week.

When I proofread a blog, presentation, or strategic planning document, I typically start at the front and work backward.

No problem if I get through the entire blog, presentation, or strategic planning document EVERY time. When that doesn’t happen (which is very often), it creates a problem. By the time the whole thing is finished, I may have edited the front section 5 or 6 times more than the end.

I was about to make the same mistake again the other day when it became clear the end of the plan I was working on was nowhere near completion even though the front section was in pretty good shape, save for a little editing. Instead of giving the front of the plan yet another round of attention, I consciously moved to the end of the document to work on the fundamental writing needed to get the strategic planning document in decent shape.

If you’re guilty of the same habit of always starting at the front when proofreading, begin at the end next time with the fresh eyes and full attention the front of the document usually receives. It’s a great way to deliver a much more consistent effort reflecting your expertise all the way through.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can get your 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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