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I’m not proud of this list of entrepreneurial frustrations, but that does not make them any less real. No matter the size of an organization, there are ample opportunities for things to not go as planned – whether that is unintentional or intentional on the part of someone else.

Strategic Thinking on Entrepreneurial Frustrations

1. Hitting your deadline when the other party couldn’t hit its own deadline.

2. People saying one thing and doing another.

3. Feeling like you are all by yourself at times.

4. Somebody not trying hard enough.

5. Not spending enough time on the right things.

6. Finding it easier to undercut rather than stand up for yourself.

7. Getting excluded for no apparent reason.

8. Accepting the exclusion rather than asking, “Why?”

9. Standing by as “the hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder.”

10. Denial.

11. Not doing the tough strategic thinking and taking the easy way out.

What entrepreneurial frustrations bedevil you?

Do you ever get to the point where any of them drop off your list? – Mike Brown

 

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Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks effective  ways to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented planning techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320  for a free consultation on how to get started.

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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I find it surprising when someone discusses the advantages of entrepreneurship and mentions, “You don’t have to work for somebody else.”

This sentiment seems incredibly naive.

Amid this second round of entrepreneurship in my career, it’s clear you certainly DO work for somebody else

In fact, if you serve multiple and varied clients, an entrepreneur works for more somebody elses than is ever typical in a corporate job.  That’s been the case for me without exception. Despite a variety of competing interests and priorities in the corporate world, it was easy to separate the one or two people I was working for versus all the other people who thought I was working for them.

Such clarity isn’t necessarily there as an entrepreneur.

Serving a B2B market, I’ll admit that it’s not always clear what is going on inside a client’s four walls. It’s easy to be on the outside and NOT looking in as internal politics, cumbersome processes, and questionable motivations slow down what should seem to go more smoothly and quickly.

I realized the other day, however, what people are really talking about as the “not working for someone else” advantage entrepreneurs have.

Talking with someone who works for a company that provides services in the B2B market, she was reflecting on a recent client interaction. The client hadn’t provided solid planning information upfront. As a result, there was confusion about how vital processes and decisions would proceed. Her sense was that she, as the client contact for a relationship her employer held, couldn’t set the client straight. She wound up biting her tongue on multiple important issues because it was a client. The best she felt she could do in challenging the situation was to offer two strong suggestions to attempt to correct the situation.

Having my own business, however, I’d have been in a different position to act. If pushing back to the client resulted in losing the business, I would be in the position to fully understand that impact and shoulder the full ramifications of it. As an employee, she wasn’t in a position to do that.

If you have someone paying you, you are working for somebody else whether as an entrepreneur or as an employee. Maybe what people really mean about not working for somebody else is that an entrepreneur can talk back and take action against the whoever is paying more effectively than an employee.

In that case, I’d have to agree with them. – 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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It never fails.

If I am creating a new presentation, I go through the same tortured creative thinking stages EVERY TIME.

As I pass the various STAGES, they always feel familiar based on past experiences.

Yet no matter how much creative thinking I do or how much I recognize the stages and WANT to skip over those that cause the most frustration and anxiety, I repeat them every time while creating a new presentation.

image

Creative Thinking Stages for a New Presentation

After seeing how my last new version of a presentation went, and in the midst of creating not one new presentation, but working on three new presentations this past week, I listed these twenty-five stages of creative thinking in the hopes of avoiding the most painful ones.

I am not sure that hope will ever come to fruition, but at least now, there is a road map to know where I am at in the twenty-fives stages of creating a new presentation.

  1. I’m tired of all the old presentations, so how about creating a new presentation?
  2. What have I gotten myself into here?
  3. This outline for the new presentation came together pretty easily.
  4. I have a lot of previous material I can reuse.
  5. There’s so much raw material here it’s tough to wade through and get it organized.
  6. I should perform some secondary research to test my ideas.
  7. There are a lot of other people already addressing this, and they’re probably smarter and have better experience than I do.
  8. I’ve got a mess on my hands and the original outline for the new presentation doesn’t make sense anymore.
  9. Maybe it would work to start over, do some more creative thinking, and develop a new outline in PowerPoint.
  10. The new presentation outline seems to work, of course, there isn’t a strong beginning or end, so now it’s just a matter of moving SOME of the big file of content into the new PowerPoint.
  11. I don’t have nearly enough material to fill the time.
  12. I’m going to have to develop a whole new handout, and who has time for that?
  13. I just got the attendee list, and EVERYBODY who’s coming to this session already knows WAY MORE than I do.
  14. This shorter version is finally starting to make some sense.
  15. With the beginning added, the new presentation feels good.
  16. Looking at it now, this new presentation is about 20% too long so I’m going to have to cut some slides.
  17. I really don’t have a lot of this content committed to memory, so I had better listen to recordings of similar content I’ve already presented.
  18. There are several stories from those recordings that should go into this presentation.
  19. The new presentation is close, but going back through the attendee list, I’m still not sure what they’re going to learn.
  20. I’ll work through the notes on the plane there.
  21. After hand writing my notes on the plane, this new presentation really clicks, especially after a few more tweaks.
  22. Sitting here the night before, it’s still way too long and the ideas aren’t meaty enough for these attendees.
  23. Going through the presentation last night, I fell asleep because it was so boring to me, so it’s going to be boring for the attendees.
  24. It’s time to give the new presentation, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.
  25. That went REALLY well.

With the new presentations I’ve been creating the last week, I’m at around stages ten through thirteen on all of them.

I have a long way and a short time to go until stage twenty-five.

Wish me the best! – Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation and strategic thinking success 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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Jennifer Spencer of The Spencer Group, a marketing recruiter in Kansas City shared her perspectives, insights, and engaging wit with the Freelance Exchange of Kansas City’s June meeting.

While Jennifer was specifically addressing Kansas City freelancers on ways to better position and sell themselves, her career lessons extended beyond geography and career path. Here are valuable career lessons, paraquotes, and audience reactions from Jennifer’s talk.

Jennifer-Spencer

Building Awareness about YOU

People won’t call or hire you if no one knows who you are. Always have a business card with you. It’s not THAT old school. Does anybody bump a phone . . . really? Work samples are important, however, THEY HAVE TO BE ONLINE (JENNIFER’S CAPS).

If you’re already in a full-time job and aren’t known within the senior levels of your company, you’re a sitting duck for a layoff. Make sure you’re building awareness of you and your contributions – no matter what.

Hang out around digital incubators because if these companies get funding, they will need to grow and support require from people outside the company.

Think Global, Behave Yourself Local

With the advent of online options, you could be competing for your job with people globally, especially if it’s an area employers see as a potential for outsourcing. Do you know what the global market for what you do looks like? Even though the market may be global, in the Midwest especially, you don’t want to get a bad reputation because it will spread.

Come in and Deliver

Companies want people to come in and quickly make their lives easier. Especially early in your career, be smart about how you introduce new ideas that could be perceived as scope creep. Unless you’re brought in as a turnaround person, your first day on the job isn’t the time to solve all the company’s ills. Solidly contribute and look for opportunities later to deliver more completely and creatively

Just Get ‘Er Done

Project management is the in vogue role currently. You may be expected to take ideas from concept to execution. You need a foot in both the offline AND online words. If you do and you’re further into your career, you can really use your experience to your advantage.

The Paraquotable Jennifer Spencer

  • “Find out what you’re good at and own it.”
  • “Own your awkwardness when you’re out there networking. Making fun of yourself is quite endearing.”
  • “You HAVE TO LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF.” (My CAPS)
  • “People find work in the darndest places.”
  • “Hold your best for last. Sacrifice a few ideas upfront that you are willing to see sacrificed.”

For What It’s Worth, Freelancers

Hourly rates are all over the board for creative freelancers; it really, really, really depends. You have to keep a sense of what the market and going rate is for your services.  Be prepared to negotiate when you’re going in as a freelancer to try to secure a project.  You have to be willing (and getting better) at negotiating.

The limbo of rate negotiations comes down to this question, “How low should you go?”  Go in with a higher rate early when they love you. Don’t go to the rock bottom ever, or even just too low when you start negotiating

You can’t be scared to negotiate. Believe in yourself and what you’re worth.  Raise your rates as you add experience and can deliver more value. Consider creating a menu of prices for basic vs. more conceptual, strategic work. Don’t work for people who come back at you with stupid, ridiculous rates. It won’t get any better later.

Prepare in Good Times for Challenging Times

You have to manage cash flow in good times to be ready for bad times. Try holding back 50% of your current income for challenging times.

You also need to stay relevant and on-trend to prepare for downturns in the economy. Staying relevant may push you out of your comfort zone; you’ll have to get out from behind the computer.  It’s vital to network out of your typical circles with people who are in the same careers as you are. You’ll stand out more effectively if you’re networking where people like you ain’t (my grammar there).

Career Lessons Galore!

As you can tell Jennifer Spencer shared so many fantastic career lessons. Her talk will be a hard one for the next presenter to follow! And that happens to be . . . me. I’ll be talking at the July lunch on a topic Jennifer chose after her talk: Digital Self-Promotion. Now to make THAT as funny and engaging as Jennifer was!

Now to make THAT as funny and engaging as Jennifer Spencer was!  – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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Idea-Magnets-TitleI think this is a first today. It’s an excerpt from another publication about Brainzooming creative thinking content.

Specifically, this recap of Monday’s “Idea Magnets – Creative Business Leadership” webcast I presented for the American Marketing Association is from “Inside the Executive Suite.” This newsletter is a weekly feature within the Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing System. We worked with Keith Prather, the publisher of the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief, for many years in the corporate world. Additionally, when we have a client engagement requiring a larger group of facilitators, Keith is my first call. He was at ground zero when we developed the techniques that later became the Brainzooming strategy methodology.

Beyond this Idea Magnets recap, you should sign up for a free 30-day trial of the Executive Intelligence Briefing System. It’s designed to keep executives current with both what’s going on in the world and what it’s going to mean for their businesses. Additionally, since Keith won’t listen to my pricing strategy advice, you can subscribe to the entire array of multi times per week publications for less than $100 a year. It SHOULD be a four or five-figure subscription, so like I said, subscribe now before I convince Keith to raise the prices!

Without delay, here’s the Armada take on the seven creative thinking characteristics of Idea Magnets. – Mike Brown

 

 7 Keys to How “Idea Magnets” Boost Creativity from “Inside the Executive Suite”

Know someone incredibly strong at generating new ideas and attracting team members who also excel at imagining creative ideas?

If so, you know an “idea magnet.”

Here is our recap and the take-aways from each (idea magnet) characteristic discussed.

Idea Magnets are . . .

1. Inspiring

Idea magnets generate interest and passion for the big objectives and dramatic visions they are trying to accomplish within their organizations. Unlike creative geniuses who may work in a more solitary basis, they want strong creative leaders surrounding them. The bigger team’s creativity helps identify the details behind making the vision a reality.

In sharing a big vision for an organization, whether it’s stated as a core purpose, vision, or mission statement isn’t critical. What’s important is the statement boldly challenges and stretches the organization.

Our take-away: Idea magnets ground creative ideas in strategies and objectives. They are NOT pursuing creativity for creativity’s sake.

2. Serving

Idea magnets are servant leaders. They participate in the challenging tasks they ask their teams to address. They also grow their team members into idea magnets themselves through strategic mentorship, sharing personal lessons with their teams, challenging the status quo, and cultivating team diversity.

Idea magnets surround themselves with smarter, more talented people and display patience while team members do their own explorations to imagine ways to turn the idea magnet’s vision into reality.

Our take-away: Idea magnets aren’t standoffish. They are in the middle of imagining ideas AND accomplishing results.

3. Attracting

Just as magnets attract metal, idea magnets attract great creative leaders and their big ideas. What makes idea magnets so attractive? They bring excitement to the workplace. They also display “abundance thinking. ” What others would consider as constraints, they see as opportunities to pursue more abundant resources and possibilities. They also provide what other leaders need to be abundantly creative, including physical space, time, resources, tools, and interactions with new (and new types of ) people.

Our take-away: The intangibles in business often support abundance thinking. Ideas, energy, passion, and learning aren’t limited, so identify ways to take greater advantage of them.

4. Connecting

Idea magnets connect people and situations to fuel creativity. They are great “and” thinkers. This means they embrace and easily work with both ends of what others might see as opposite perspectives. Idea magnets are strong at:

  • Generating and prioritizing ideas
  • Thinking creatively and implementing ideas
  • Exploiting tested ideas and unknown possibilities

Using creative formulas, idea magnets combine possibilities others would typically miss to create many more new ideas.

Our take-away: Idea magnets we’ve known in business are all strong at spotting relationships between apparently disconnected things. These connections help fuel ideas and anticipate future opportunities.

5. Encouraging

Idea magnets use multiple tools in multiple ways to motivate team members. For example, they might use time in contrasting ways. Sometimes idea magnets negotiate for MORE time so team members can finish necessary creative thinking and implementation. Other times, they may be maxing out the team’s capacity with more projects than they can handle. This LESSENS times for unnecessary creative thinking and encourages rapid progress.

Idea magnets routinely facilitate unique creative experiences, maximize fresh perspectives from new team members, and celebrate successes and the learnings from new ideas that fall short of intended impacts.

Our take-away: By adding one new or unusual variable, idea magnets facilitate once-in-a-lifetime creative experiences. This concept extends to personal relationships, so all you long-time married folks take note!

6. Deciding

Idea magnets imagine and attract many ideas. Processing those ideas so their teams aren’t overwhelmed is imperative. That’s why being strong at “deciding” is vital.

When a project or initiative launches, idea magnets identify upfront how decisions will be made as completion draws near. Sometimes the idea magnet makes the decision; other times, team members will be deciding how the team proceeds. Knowing upfront the freedom team members have in exploring ideas and the approach to setting priorities signals how much autonomy others have to shape strategies to move forward.

Our take-away: While they say in brainstorming sessions there are no bad ideas, there are. It’s vital to pick the right time to decide on good and bad ideas to sustain creative thinking.

7. Replenishing

Applying creative thinking to business issues is mentally stimulating. There’s still the need, however, for idea magnets to replenish creative energy along for the team. Idea magnets understand what encourages their creative passions and what will prepare team members to hit their creative peaks. Idea magnets have to know the people, places, situations, times, and techniques that most readily maximize creativity.

Our take-away: Managing a business team’s creativity is like a basketball coach managing the varied talents and personalities on the team. The idea magnet may have to try a variety of “player” combinations before the team scores creatively.

Is creative thinking and creative business leadership for everyone?

A question at the webcast’s conclusion asked whether creative business leadership is important if you don’t work in a creative field or company. The answer was it’s even more important then to bring fresh ideas to how an organization delivers customer value. – “Inside the Executive Suite”

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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Can-I-ask-questionThere’s one strategic thinking question that will make you a better marketer?

Yes there is ONE strategic thinking question you can ask (and, of course, answer) that all by itself will make you a better marketer.

Let me share how it works with you.

I was presenting a mini-workshop on branding and social media with a new client the other day. Before we wrapped up, one of the participants asked what I thought about paying to include something from their business in a welcome gift going to new residents in a community the business serves.

She probably wanted a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, but that wasn’t what she needed. I gave her a suggestion and a strategic thinking question.

The suggestion was to look at any type of marketing investment as a sponsorship. You’re investing a specific amount of money to associate your brand with something – whether it’s a sports team, a direct marketing piece, an advertisement, or even social media content. Thinking about it that way, you can see how your marketing investments are sponsorships, even if untraditional sponsorships.

And once you start looking at all your marketing investments through a sponsorship marketing model, you have to ask a fundamental sponsorship marketing question:

“What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?”

That’s the one question you can ask that will automatically make you a stronger strategic marketer.

It’s vital with any sponsorship to do the strategic thinking about how much you invest to link your brand in an effective and business-building way to the sponsorship asset you’re renting from the organization that owns it.

Answering that question from a strategic perspective makes you consider:

  • How do we integrate this with other things we do?
  • What can we do to make sure this supports our most important objectives?
  • What other things can we do to get more advantage from our investment?
  • What’s the right ratio to invest in marketing the sponsorship to get the greatest value from it?
  • How would we measure whether this works or not?

By looking at your marketing investments from a sponsorship marketing perspective and asking one strategic thinking question, you’re forced to address integrated marketing, metrics, ROI, and making sure you have tactics to support all of these.

In the case of the welcome packet, we covered, within a few short minutes, what would make this make sense for a non-primary market, A/B testing, negotiating contact information on who receives the packets, creating an offer for those receiving the information, and providing a landing page specific to this offer to track whether people take action on it.

See what I mean about being a stronger strategic marketer.

There you have it.

Be sure to add this strategic thinking question to your repertoire: “What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?” Mike Brown

 

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If you use a social media agency to create your brand’s social content, they won’t want you to read this, but who cares.

Your Social Media Agency Doesn’t Want You Reading This

Last week, I was getting my hair cut at the barber shop I’ve been going to for five years. I go there because the owner is focused on creating a cool, high service environment, there is reasonable stability among its employees, and it is close by.

Business seemed slow, and the conversation between the person who cuts my hair and another long-time employee turned to social media, in part, because they know I do “something with social media strategy.” Talking about the social media agency the owner hired to create social media content, they expressed their frustration over what was being posted on Facebook.

The big complaint was the posts either weren’t accurate (i.e., on how frequently to get a haircut) or seemed odd (a Jim Morrison quote about haircuts and mistakes).

I quickly started looking at the Facebook page. I subscribe to it, but hadn’t noticed ANY of the updates from the place’s page (I know, surprise, surprise).

The problem was clear in an instant.

On the surface, the content was VERY much in category. There was an Earth Day post of a guy whose hair and beard were green. There are quotes and pictures related to men’s’ haircuts and shaves.

Those all make sense.

Nothing on the Facebook page, however, related to the barber shop’s brand experience, personality, or people – all the things that set it apart and turn people into loyal customers.

It was if the new social media agency simply posted generic content on men’s haircuts without any other thought about how the brand related to the content. The social media agency has gone the easy route (creating external relevance) without doing the hard part of content marketing – appropriately integrating the brand so there’s a reason for current or prospective customers to care about the content in any meaningful way.

Great-Content

What Social Media Strategy Includes

This gap between content and a meaningful brand connection is common. It’s why we advocate developing a content strategy implementing the right mix of:

  • Your audience’s interests
  • Intriguing content
  • The appropriate level of brand presence.

There’s no one answer that works for all brands or even all content a brand creates.

It doesn’t work, however, to just see what your competitors are doing and launch into content marketing or simply start sharing content about what you do. If a social media agency advocates sharing content right way and figuring out the right mix later (if ever), you’ll just be wasting time/effort/money and probably making a BIG mistake that could cost your brand even more.

If this is the path you are one and want to see just how far your social media agency has led you astray, download our social media strategy diagnostics eBook and find out for yourself.

You’ll quickly realize the difference it would make to work with a partner who understands both brand strategy AND social media strategy.

That combination turns social sharing into business results. – 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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