Collaboration | The Brainzooming Group - Part 118 – page 118
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Trends are pushing brands into innovative channels to sell their products and services. These strategies include going through intermediaries who resell, repackage, aggregate, or creates marketplaces for multiple providers’ offerings. These arrangements have been the rise and ruin of many brands.

A specific challenge for parties in these intermediary relationships is that each brand visible to the end customer is bringing its individual brand promise to the sale. In turn, each becomes responsible for the aggregate brand promise, making it critical for various individual promises to fit together in a sensible way for customers. It’s also vital that each provider (and its employees) can and do carry out the aggregate promise of whatever’s being offered.

Our experience last week highlighted the challenges involved. Trying to get our driveway cleared of 9 inches of snow before returning from a trip, we used ServiceMagic.com. It promises to identify a short list of screened and approved professionals for home repair and contracting work, backed with a seal of approval and a guarantee.

We chose the first one to contact us (whose name can best be described as “Generic Subdivision Name Lawn and Garden” company).

Here’s the rub. Beyond whatever else ServiceMagic promises, its name implies something more. It’s not operating under a generic lawn and garden company name. Adding the name “Magic” into the collective brand promise implies an enhanced sense of delight and wonder with the service performed.

Unfortunately, we returned home to find the snow removal only partially completed. The porch, walk, and driveway were still half covered in snow – hardly a magic moment. A call to the snow removal company didn’t get someone back to do the work by the next morning. I wound up finishing the project, shooting a video before and after to substantiate what was and wasn’t done.

As of this posting, no one’s contacted us and we haven’t been invoiced by anyone. Maybe that’s the “magic” part of the service. If this is the case though, it would be a more magic strategy if someone called to say, “Hey, we screwed up, and it’s free!” Doing so would ensure our return for more performances! – 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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What’s your first reaction to a newWindow of Opportunity possibility? And importantly, what are typical reactions to new possibilities from the people who surround you?  Lately, I’m encountering more people whose first reaction is why something won’t work, how they know better than I do about it, or who simply react with a hostile tone.

For someone who espouses openness to ideas, I’m seeing detrimental impacts on my attitude. When you hear enough negatives, it can lead you to also start reacting negatively to new possibilities out of frustration, spite, or self-protection.

What to do in this type of situation? Overtly model positive behavior and hope they get it? Challenge them directly on how they dampen creativity? Leave the relationship for the sake of creative self-preservation?

No single answer works – each choice has its own advantages and peculiar stumbling blocks. Sounds like some type of combo is in order. We’ll see how that possibility works. 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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We don’t have kids, something we came to terms with relatively early in our marriage and have accepted as part of life. While it means missing out on a range of incredible experiences, we’ve been able to do things for others (particularly our niece and nephews) that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. The net of it is accepting what life hands you and making the best of it.

Last year, our niece Valerie called and asked to speak with me. This was unusual, but as I’ve written before, Valerie has lived an unusual life. That includes getting married initially in a group wedding ceremony on Valentine’s Day 2008 at Loveland Pass. This was an event the family first learned about when my mother-in-law saw it reported on the Weather Channel!

When Valerie began talking about a second wedding ceremony where friends and family could be present, I was hesitant since we’d have to play a big role in putting it on.

As the phone conversation began, I told her our ability to help was limited since her cousin was getting married about the same time and we might have to get Valerie’s grandma to it. While stating my case, Valerie interrupted to ask, “Would you walk me down the aisle?”

091212-MeAndValWalking a bride down the aisle was something I’d long ago come to accept as an “I’ll never get to do it” moment. Suddenly my tone changed and being able to do something I never thought I would do completely changed my perspective. I was all for wedding ceremony #2 and making it happen.

The life-changing lesson here is the important reminder to remain perpetually hopeful. Things you think can never happen can happen. If there are possibilities you’ve shut out of your life, maybe it’s time to open them back up.

And in true Valerie fashion, she followed her life-changing comment with another incredibly touching one. As we were getting ready to walk into the ceremony, she told me, “Who else would I have asked to give me away. With everything you guys have done for me, you’re like my father.”

That’s Valerie!

Wrap-up: Hope you enjoyed this series on life-changing words!  Have a great holiday and rest of 2009! Thanks for reading Brainzooming!  – 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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091212-HigherMoralGroundBob Nugent was a year behind me in grade school. We didn’t really have much contact until college where we were both involved in student government and wound up spending lots of time together as part of an interesting (at least to us), somewhat nerdy political clique.

At one point, several student organizations found themselves embroiled in what passed for college campus controversy in those days. Let’s just say, it was quite a bit less important than the anti-war protests of our predecessors on campus years earlier.

As various groups and individuals were angling for the upper hand in what might be the ultimate resolution of the issue, Bob talked about the necessity of “maintaining the higher moral ground.”

By this phrase, he meant the importance of displaying the upright conduct that allows you to deflect criticism potentially coming your way. The phrase “higher moral ground” resonated so strongly, I’ve used the idea repeatedly in reminding myself of the importance of not extending your own moral point of view beyond a standard against which you are willing to be judged.

Years later, I discovered the concept addressed in a New Testament passage from the letter to Titus:

“…show(ing) yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.” – Titus 2:7-8  

When I first heard it, I was clear this was a description of the “higher moral ground.” Bob’s words from college came full circle for me as a foundational life practice.

Maintaining the higher moral ground is a challenging standard for anyone, but in an age when there’s such interest in seeing people fall, it’s never been more important to be able to live it out successfully.

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. – 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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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” begins with its narrator, Nick Carraway, recounting his father’s admonition that not everyone in the world is provided the same advantages. The comment led to Nick’s inclination to “reserve all judgments,” a “habit that…opened up many curious natures” to him.

This opening passage of “Gatsby” has shaped me dramatically. Amid growing up in an environment of clear rights and wrongs, these words were a reminder to delay judgment in order to better understand people, even those who are objectively well outside my behavioral beliefs.

Given the importance of suspending judgment in the early stages of originating new ideas, this practice has been fundamental to helping businesses imagine new possibilities for potential opportunities. There’s a time for judgment, but initially, ideas have to emerge and “breathe” first.

It isn’t all glorious, however, when you reserve judgments. As Nick notes, it led to him being “the victim of not a few veteran bores.” I’ve certainly found that to be the case. It’s also led to having a diverse set of friends (really fun) who at times can’t stand one another (not so fun). Their distinct differences, which I tend to overlook, often make them incompatible.

In all, delaying judgments is a beneficial practice. So what do you think? Are there a few situations in your life right now where you’d be better off to suspend judgment and see how they play out first? The interesting things you’ll experience and learn will FAR outweigh any bores you might encounter. Just go with me on this – okay?

BTW – Want a little “fun” with “The Great Gatsby”? Watch this video of Andy Kaufman trying to read the book to a reluctant audience. You can skip ahead to 2:40 to hear the passage that inspired this post!

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. – 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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Early in college, I’d hit a major rut, dissatisfied with myself and an inability to effectively interact with people who were unfamiliar or encountered during casual situations. It was the first time the challenges many introverts face became overwhelming. After one particularly frustrating incident, I gave in to my father’s long-term urgings to embrace self-help books and agreed to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

The book changed my life by pointing out the value of focusing on other peoples’ interests, concerns, and motivations instead of my own as a fundamental principle in advancing ideas and accomplishing success. One of the most memorable suggestions was, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

While acting on the book’s ideas required working hard to become more outgoing in new interpersonal situations (something which has taken years, and is still an ongoing effort), Carnegie’s emphasis on listening to others played to an introvert’s strengths. All of a sudden a situation that seemed hopeless became very much in reach to start improving right away.

My recommendation to you? If you’ve never read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” get a copy and put it into action. Although it’s decades old, it’s a fundamental handbook for creating successful, important relationships. And for me, I’m going to review it as a refresher for both IRL interactions and to consider how I am doing in translating the ideas into the social media world. – 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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At a company-first sales conference, we’d scheduled Tommy Lasorda as a surprise second-day speaker. My boss (a very different boss than in yesterday’s post) was set to emcee the whole conference, yet at the end of day one, he said, “I have to spend the afternoon with Tommy Lasorda, so you emcee tomorrow afternoon.” Startled (and a little worried) by his comment considering there was no script and no rehearsal time, I took on the assignment the next day.

As it turned out, it was an incredible opportunity to be in front of the entire company’s sales team for a whole afternoon. With a pretty boring agenda of speakers, it created opportunities as the emcee to be interactive, funny, and get the entire audience to stand up and scream at the top of their lungs. That night, so many people came up to say they had no idea I was funny. In one afternoon, I went from being a quiet research guy to having a personality within the company and incredibly shaping the next decade of my career.

There are tremendous benefits for your team members (and for you) when you’re willing to create ridiculous challenges and great opportunities to make them grow in ways no one else would ever imagine.

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. – 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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