3

I found this picture while cleaning off my iPad. The notepad with the message, “Leave a Trail of Genius,” was from a meeting at a Marriott in Jackson, MS.

Leave-Trail-Genius-Pic

When it comes to creating strategic impact, what CAN you do to leave a trail of genius?

That doesn’t have to mean you have to be a genius, however. It simply means you have been creating strategic impact by bringing out the genius in others.

26 Ways to Leave a Trail of Genius

So what are you doing to leave a trail of genius wherever you interact?

  1. Encouraging people to use their distinctive talents to express their ideas.
  2. Teaching people things that took you a long time to learn.
  3. Asking questions of others that lead them to discover new ideas.
  4. Being able to listen to others with as much skill as you display when doling out advice to them.
  5. Encouraging others by reminding them of past successes.
  6. Seeing potential in others they don’t even realize.
  7. Knowing exactly when to push and when to let up.
  8. Introducing big possibilities without specifying all the answers for how to accomplish them.
  9. Bringing excitement to unexciting situations.
  10. Seeing new possibilities where others only see the status quo.
  11. Assembling the right team for the moment.
  12. Challenging what’s expected and expecting the challenges you’ll receive in return.
  13. Not worrying about being understood.
  14. Painting a compelling vision that stretches everyone.
  15. Creating things people haven’t even imagined before.
  16. Getting everyone focused on what matters.
  17. Experimenting all the time.
  18. Cultivating enough mystery to keep everyone intrigued and guessing.
  19. Borrowing ideas from other places that are new to what you do.
  20. Knowing how long to repeat what is working before you suddenly change it.
  21. Giving others the time and preparation to come along and be ready to perform when they need to perform.
  22. Laughing at authority figures that believe they matter much more than they really do.
  23. Trying for something bigger every time.
  24. Never learning anything from your mistakes that would make you fearful of making future mistakes.
  25. Always letting other people shine by giving them the opportunities and stages on which to perform.
  26. Cultivating just enough of the myth behind all the genius moments you leave on the trail.

That’s a start at a list for creating strategic impact. What do you do to leave a trail of genius behind you? – Mike Brown

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The creative inspiration behind today’s “few words and more pictures” post relates to how, in one way or another, we have to make daily decisions about how we handle the events and situations we face in life.

These moments of creative inspiration are all from walking the streets of San Francisco going to mass at Notre Dame des Victoires Church or coming back from dinner and walking up Nob Hill. It was my first time back in San Francisco in years. It was fun to see places that are the same, and others that have changed names, but were still recognizable from what surrounded them.

Think about clarity, perspective, and message you are sharing with the world – today, tomorrow, and all the days after that!

Be the Author of Your Own Signs

Daily-Signs

Keep Climbing, It’s Worth It

Steepest-Hills

 

Keep Clear in All Ways Possible

Keep-Clear

 

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Every now and then, we’ll run a post that recaps Facebook and Twitter updates, blog post scraps, and other random creative thinking, all smushed together, Larry King-style. If you enjoy those, today’s your day!

Creative Thinking on Love and Nastiness

If we’re willing to self-talk at the top of our lungs, we can tell ourselves anything without hearing the blatant truth swirling all around us. . . In the film about the band Kansas called “Miracles out of Nowhere,” Rolling Stone writer, David Wild, remarked on the band’s humble origins in my home state, “It’s hard to get your ass kissed in Kansas.” So true, so true. . . An honest to goodness Walmart moment: A woman (in a car in the parking lot with the windows rolled down) delivering what sounded like a church sermon while talking on the phone to someone obviously more interested in sexual exploits than God, as she stated ever so bluntly, “It doesn’t matter if she’ll let you [FILL IN EXPLICIT SEXUAL ACT]. God don’t care about that.”

Perhaps the most dangerous thing I’ve ever said to my wife is, “When you’re done trying to stubborn that to death, let me know, and I’ll help you do it” . . . I survived that remark to realize that love is figuring out all those little things you can say and do you KNOW will get under the skin of your partner, and then removing them from your personality and vowing to never ever ‘go there’ with any of them . . . Business wisdom from Mother Angelica on one of her TV shows, “If you took ‘but’ out of the dictionary, you’d be forced to tell the truth.”

Pencil-Med

When someone says they don’t believe in dogma or want to have any part of it, watch out, because there is a high likelihood they are about to introduce their OWN dogma, which is of course very acceptable to them . . . A school anxiety dream (i.e., having chemistry and accounting quizzes today that seemed far off at one point and I knew I’d study in advance, but never did and now it’s too late) woke me up at 4 in the morning. Guess those type of dreams never go away, no matter how long you’ve been away from school . . . If you’d have told me 15 years ago I’d hate a week where there was no time to exercise and would LOVE getting an hour of cardio exercise wedged into a busy schedule, I’d have told you that you were crazy. See, you CAN change, too.

One day, someone typed the search term “sleeping with my sociopath boss” and reached the Brainzooming blog. We’re happy to help in any way we can. . . A scary “closed blog” test for content creators: Give a blogger a list of his/her own post titles that include numbered lists and see how many of the lists they could reproduce from memory . . . When your alarm goes off and you haven’t been to bed yet, that’s a bad sign. And eating sushi at 2 a.m. isn’t an exactly a good sign, either . . . Producing events and meetings will make you either a yeller or someone who hardly ever yells. You get to pick which side of that fence you want to live. My advice? Pick wisely, because your reputation will be based on your pick. . . Why do people reply “Maybe” to an invitation? Perhaps the spirit is willing, but the event is weak?

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Bill Mullins followed-up last Friday’s article on “when” you trust a creative genius with a related “how” strategic thinking question. As I read (and answered) Bill’s email, it focused on how you build trust with (or as) a creative genius sharing a vision for broader community issues.

Inside a company, it took two instances of my creative genius boss proving the big vision was completely on target despite my initial doubts. Those two instances prompted me to trust his instincts all the other years we worked together.

How, though, does one build trust such as this?

His strategic thinking question is intriguing because there is more to building trust than proving others’ doubts wrong then expecting their blind allegiance to your vision going forward.

How do you build trust with a creative genius?

At the heart of building trust in a strategic relationship with someone espousing a big, challenging vision is a question (at least for me) of whether the apparent creative genius can deliver results.

What-Make-Happen

This doesn’t mean the creative genius has to be the one delivering the results. Carrying out the big vision may be beyond the creative genius’ ability because of the vision’s size or the absence of the skill set necessary to make it a reality. If the vision is compelling enough and attainable, at least in part, the question is whether the visionary creative genius can attract others to make the big vision a reality.

Another key to building trust is internal and external integration between the creative genus’ beliefs, words, and actions. If a creative genius or visionary hopes to build trust, all the pieces need to fit together. Even if the vision cannot be quantitatively proven as the right vision beforehand, it is vital to demonstrate a strong strategic logic and consistency in all that the creative genius says or does.

My insistence on integrated thinking, words, and actions is why I am skeptical of so many creative geniuses one sees making big claims online. There is no shortage of people of jumping up and down and pointing at themselves for attention. The pieces do not fit together to make their claims credible, however, in many (most?) instances.

My initial thought from Bill’s email was a local community visionary / agitator in the Kansas City community. After pushing Kansas City to act on multiple visionary initiatives the past two decades, he had made a name for himself here. In all that time pushing for visionary initiatives, though, almost nothing has happened. He MAY have an incredible vision of what should be, but he has never been able to bring it to reality. While he may have characteristics of a creative genius, the lack of integrity in all the pieces and his inability to do something productive make me doubt anything he says and does.

That is how I think about this strategic thinking question; what about you? – Mike Brown

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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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“At what point do you trust a creative genius who comes in as your new boss?”

That was a fantastic, completely new question at a recent creative thinking workshop.

What prompted it was discussing Greg Reid when he joined Yellow Corporation as our new CMO during my Fortune 500 days. With a consumer marketing background, Greg arrived at our business-to-business transportation company during a major turnaround. Everything was already topsy-turvy, and he added to it with a completely different mode of extreme creative than any of us had previously encountered.

He was the archetypical creative genius. I was the person who “got” his creative ideas and turned many of them into reality, and we started working well together in a short time.

Trust Me on This?

I will admit being skeptical of some of Greg’s extreme creativity.

GAR-Balance-the-world

About six months after arriving, he wanted to fly the entire corporate and field marketing and sales team to Phoenix for a kickoff meeting and retreat at a golf resort. As part of the event, he decided to bring in Earl Monroe, the former New York Knicks great, to speak and do a meet and greet with our internal team.

The whole thing smelled like a boondoggle WAY beyond the boundaries of acceptability at our extremely cost conscious company. I KNEW it might go okay, but figured the field VPs and our senior management would be in an uproar when they discovered the meeting retreat.

I was COMPLETELY wrong.

The event was fantastic, the field people were very excited to be involved and share their perspectives, and it created a strong bond among all the attendees. And no one in senior management said a word about the cost. The fact we held it in Phoenix in June when the temperatures were higher than the room rates likely helped.

Greg pretty much had my complete trust in his creative genius at that point.

Trust My Extreme Creativity?

I will admit, however, being a vocal naysayer of one other early extreme creativity idea from Greg’s early days.

The next year after our overwhelmingly successful inaugural company-wide meeting, Greg proposed another completely outlandish idea. He wanted to open the next company-wide meeting with a film of our entire senior leadership team meeting when they were kids. The video would feature a doppelganger kid for each executive. The kids would behave like the executives did as adults, with the addition of child-like bickering, poking, and hitting one another.

I proclaimed the idea as crazy and too much of an inside joke; I was certain the comedy would fall flat with the audience of twelve hundred sales operations people from the field. I even refused to be onsite for shooting it, although I did help with the script, the casting, and coaching several kids on their executive imitations.

When the moment occurred to debut the video at the next meeting, I positioned myself behind our president and the senior leaders to gauge the reactions. As it became apparent Greg was about to introduce a big surprise, our president turned and said, “Danger. Danger, Will Robinson.”

WDZ-Kids-Video

The kids video was a HUGE hit with the audience. They roared with laughter, and people talked about it for years.

Trust My New Behavior?

My answer to the original question about trusting a creative genius was it took two times for me to believe in my boss’ creative genius.

In each instance, he painted a big vision of extreme creativity I thought would fail. Ultimately, each unfolded exactly as HE predicted.

After that, he had me; I was compelled to suspend any doubts about his future ideas for extreme creativity that didn’t square with my sensibilities.

In a subsequent Facebook conversation, a friend whose father has not been great during her life has suddenly changed; he has started being “GREAT” recently. She was grappling with how to trust the change.

I compared it to the situation with my creative genius.

There is probably a hurdle to clear in any situation where someone surprises you with different, positive behavior that is unfamiliar to you.

The guideline I offered her?

If the change is extreme (and from previously harmful behavior), the number of times they have to prove themselves is likely much greater than two. Ultimately, you must place someone’s previous track record against what they’re doing now, add a healthy dose of forgiveness and charity, and determine a realistic and reasonable hurdle is.

That’s my advice.

So what do you think…do you trust me on this? – Mike Brown

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It seems, at least based on our interactions, that it’s been a busy week already for people, with a fair amount of hair pulling and general business craziness.

That’s why it’s the right time for fewer words, and some creative inspiration for busting creativity barriers, no matter where they are coming from or how they are showing up at your door!

Use All the Keys to Creative Inspiration

1504-Keys

Stop OR Go Creativity

1504-Stop-Go

Creativity Barriers that Inspire You

1504-Graffitti-Wall

Creative Inspiration in an Idea Train Wreck

1504-Train-Wrecks

Red and Green Light Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Murphy

Looking for Value-Added Innovations to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


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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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This weekend, I didn’t have the right crayons to get nearly as much work done as anticipated and hoped for before the weekend started.

Crayola-Label

Creative Skills and Crayons

What does it mean to not have the right crayons?

Remember as a kid how if you had a smaller box of crayons you might be missing the right color to make the picture you wanted to color?

Or maybe how the crayon color you wanted was broken and worn down? Or the coloring book wasn’t fun or the big piece of paper to color wasn’t right somehow?

That’s what this weekend was like.

Now, in my now adult world, the creative skills and tools available to me weren’t what the ones necessary to generate the creative ideas that could turn into creative output.

Too few connections, accomplishment, fresh creative tools, inspiration. Too little exercise, fun, prayer, spirituality, intimacy, motivation, peacefulness. Too much disappointment, fatigue, responsibility, indifference, anger, frustration, apprehension, anxiety, Word and PowerPoint. Too much stuck in one place with no opportunity to do something new.

But now, it’s time to create an opportunity to apply my own creative skills formulas to me.

To call time out and count on the creativity being there when I need it later. To prioritize what really needs to be done, and what can slide into this week. It’s time to see how to put the right crayons together from the broken pieces of crayons I have and move forward creatively. It’s time to move on creatively and look for fulfillment in new ways.

That’s what creative skills are all about in the adult world. – Mike Brown

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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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