3

Despite some good friends who can’t believe this is the case, it’s challenging for me to talk to new people, especially in a large group setting. After working to improve, it’s a little more natural than previously, but it can still make me very uncomfortable.

That’s why the Freelance Exchange of Kansas City Portfolio Showcase was a reach for me last week in more ways than one. Beyond having to stand in one spot and attempt to strike up conversations with people walking by our table, it also meant it was vital we further refined the Brainzooming elevator speech. Getting our message down to a few words has been a challenge since what we do can seem very intangible to people. This has been especially true for those who haven’t been exposed to how Brainzooming helps organizations  rapidly expand their strategic options and create innovative plans.

Interestingly though, it was actually easier to hone our business message among people less familiar with what we do. Approaching it with fewer preconceptions, we got the messaging down much more effectively than we had previously. One key difference was removing a constraint we all often cling to: sticking to the situations in which we’re the most comfortable. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

4

Working on a client project last week, an unusual constraint was placed on the project. The marketing lead for the multimedia presentation dictated there be no narration on the 3 to 5 minute piece. As each creative team member pointed out how narration would be such a help in getting the message across, he would reiterate his statement, “That’s great. And maybe narration will put it over the top, but it has to work without any narration at all.”

While it seemed to be a frustrating and potentially very unnecessary constraint, there was clearly a strategic rationale for his statement.  The narration would be the last element within an incredibly time-sensitive project. The voiceover itself would be a highly variable creative element where subjective opinions about its quality or tone could completely undermine the deliverable, i.e., if the CEO didn’t ultimately like the voiceover, the whole project could fall apart at the last hour.

By imposing what seemed like a ridiculous constraint, he forced stronger, more complete performance on other creative aspects of the production. He also left the possibility of a voice over as a bonus and not a possibly vulnerable critical element. What an interesting strategy, and one worth considering when you want to protect yourself from the potentially weakest variable in your equation. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

This week will focus on various types of constraints. At first, constraints seem to be big NO’s to innovation. Applied at particular times (i.e., after implementation has been started) that can be true. Early on in ideation, however, constraints can force considering radical and innovative alternatives which would have never been considered under more typical circumstances.

Some constraints are so insidious they absolutely blind us to simple and very obvious decisions we should be making to improve our situation. Other constraints are there to drive stronger performance from a narrower list of variables. Frequently, defining a certain business model strategy for your brand poses constraints which stand in the way of best serving customers.

The key, ultimately, is being able to be innovative and successful irrespective of the strategic constraints you face.

This week’s topic was inspired recently when thinking about how to fit more exercise into my day. Having a 9th floor office with the nearest ice machine 3 floors away, it was easy to walk 20 or 30 flights of stairs daily simply through bypassing the elevator several times. Now, in a first floor office, there’s no comparable opportunity, or so I thought.

I start nearly every weekday by attending mass. When traveling for business, this has created the opportunity to visit to some of the country’s great cathedrals and some pretty intimate little churches as well. Often with no rental car, I think nothing of walking two to three miles roundtrip to get to the nearest church with an early morning service.

Yet after going to daily mass at home for more than 11 years at a church that’s about a mile away from our house, I’d not walked to mass one time! For whatever reason, my perception of time limitations in the morning precluded me from even considering walking.

Recently, however, I saw a 70+ year old fellow parishioner walking home from church. She wouldn’t accept my offer of a ride as a major thunderstorm moved into the area. Her perseverance though opened my eyes to the meaningless constraint which had prevented me from walking.

The next day I tried it the first time. It was a prayerful 12 minute opportunity to start the day in a new way, along with registering two miles of exercise before 7:10 in the morning! All because of finally realizing how I was unnecessarily constraining myself. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

This commercial which debuted earlier this week from AT&T as part of its “Rethink Possible” campaign is a great visualization of an idea we’ve talked about before: a big part of creativity is being able to return to how you viewed the world as a child when everything was new to you.

Having seen it on the Talladega NASCAR race today (not sure how it fit with the demographic), I wanted to get it posted for both its message and visual treatment. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

We started the week talking about keeping a creative and innovative perspective going amid dramatic change. The seven lessons below, originally shared in an abbreviated form on Twitter, were written across several days of thinking strategically about how Brainzooming is progressing and how to move it ahead even more dramatically.

If you’re in a situation where you’re contemplating making a dramatic change, consider these ideas and how you can get a head start now, before the change takes place:

  • Flexibility is freeing. Design your life strategically to create future options for yourself. You never know when you’ll need them.
  • Create situations where you can make as many of your learning mistakes as possible before it really matters. While the intensity will naturally be less, you’ll be that much more ready when everything counts.
  • It’s one thing to build a network. It’s quite another to effectively use it to benefit others and yourself. Beyond simply helping others in your network, work on how you can and will ask others for their mutual assistance as well.
  • Never depend on any one thing as a “sure” thing. Always be prepared for what you’ll do “just in case.”
  • You may not have your elevator speech down pat the first time you get on the elevator. It may take a lot of elevator rides to refine it. Start the process now.
  • Borrow liberally and tweak ideas. But be sure to extend credit even MORE liberally than you’re borrowing!
  • Don’t be crippled by someone telling you, “It’s the worst time in the world,” to do what your attempting to do. In reality, it’s the worst time in the world to tell someone it’s the “worst time in the world” to pursue their dreams. – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

We had two Brainzooming articles and great comments last week on personal branding strategy. The subject reminded me of a recent exchange underscoring the memorability a great personal brand can create.

Last month, Cyndi and I were having her second free birthday dinner at Houlihan’s (and BTW, although they messed up the first dinner, Houlihan’s performed outstanding service recovery, really overcompensating for the servce failures taking place initially). Both nights, the same two women were eating nearby. One looked so familiar, I was sure I knew her.

At the end of the second dinner, my curiosity took over. I approached the table and asked if she were Evelyn Young. Yes, she replied, wondering why I asked. I told her I’d bought several pieces of jewelry from her years before. She asked with a twinkle in her eye if they’d been for my wife or a mistress. I assured her they’d been for my wife, as Cyndi showed her one of the rings, which Evelyn examined, commenting on its beauty.

She then asked if she made me spend more money than I’d wanted. I told her she had; Evelyn smiled and noted I had looked familiar to her as well. A variety of pleasantries and stories ensured, including one about getting a husband planning to spend a total of $100 on a 25th anniversary chain to spend $100 PER YEAR (or $2500) instead.

Evelyn reminded us that she is now 86 years old and gave me a business card, which she admitted wasn’t any good since the jewelry store where she worked had closed and the mall torn down.

She may not have ever heard of the term “personal branding,” yet Evelyn is a great example of everything you want to do in terms of personality and engagement to create incredible memorability and loyalty.  I always returned to Evelyn for jewelry purchases when she was working, and if I needed to buy something now, she’d get a call to see if she’d go shopping with me. And since she told us she and her friend eat at the neighborhood Houlihan’s every Sunday night, we’ll even try to schedule our return visits to coincide with seeing Evelyn.

Beyond how-to’s on personal brand strategy, what matters is the positive impact you make on others. Boy, has Evelyn done that! The question for all of us: are we doing as well as Evelyn? - 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

Here’s an idea that works well when you’re trying to uncover how to be more creative: force yourself (or your business brand) into completely new strategic situations.

The Brainzooming Group will be doing that this Thursday. Barrett Sydnor and I will be participating in the Freelance Exchange of Kansas City’s 2010 Portfolio Showcase, along with a talented group of creative talent – designers, writers, web developers, and artists. We’ll be there showcasing how Brainzooming helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement.

Barrett identified this opportunity, and while it may seem a stretch for Brainzooming to hang with the creative Freelance Exchange organization, the preparation alone has had a strategic and creative  impact. The opportunity to meet prospective Brainzooming clients in a very different situation (i.e., event marketing) forced positive refinements in our marketing message and creative delivery.

This event has made us think strategically beyond the one-page capabilities piece we’ve been using. In this venue, we need to provide visually eye-catching creative material to capture attention during a quick walk by our table. This new situation led to more case study-oriented pieces, such as those shown here.

Thinking about our strategic messaging from the perspective of the solutions and benefits Brainzooming provides, selecting images can be a challenge. Typically, our tangible output is a concise, actionable plan that’s tremendously valuable, but not all that visually intriguing. Changing our messaging focus to a potential client’s business challenges offered many more creative opportunities to place images with our message. It’s been much easier to depict business people challenged by too much data (without relevant insights), too few strategic options, or being left out of conversations about their brands in social media.

The point is this: presenting at the Freelance Exchange 2010 Portfolio Showcase was so different, it forced both a new look at our marketing and moved an important to-do higher up on our list. Whether you’re on your own or inside a company, look for brand experiments to force re-examining and innovatively approaching what you do from a new strategic perspective.

If you’re in Kansas City Thursday afternoon, April 22 from 3 to 6 p.m., stop by the Terrace on Grand (1520 Grand St., KCMO). We’d be eager to talk with you about how the proven Brainzooming process can help address your strategic challenges and catalyze innovative success for your organization! – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading