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It’s always a good time to assess your personal success strategies and perform a tune-up if it’s needed. Here are seven personal success strategies to evaluate over the next few weeks and make moves to tune-up your performance if you find it lacking.

1. Understand your Distinctive Talents

Evaluate your talents, paying particular attention to make sure you understand your distinctive talents. Your distinctive talents are those at which you excel and continually improve. They bring you the most energy and clearly benefit others. After identifying your distinctive talents, use them in as many work and personal situations as possible to maximize your positive impact and personal success.

2. Tune Out Negative News

I used to wake up to talk radio with all its negative news and listen to it until arriving at work. That was until seeing Ed Foreman who asked why anyone would fill themselves full of negative news to start the day. After hearing this advice from Ed Foreman, I awake to upbeat music, avoid the newspaper in favor of uplifting reading, do quick creative tasks, go to Church, and listen to energizing music or positive spiritual messages in the car. The result is a more positive attitude overall.

3. Create a Mental Break

Maybe you are feeling greater pressure to achieve goals. You can compensate for greater pressure by figuring out what mind-filling tasks you can eliminate to create a mental break. Get up earlier and start the day so you aren’t running behind. Stop reading a redundant industry magazine. Set a slightly earlier time to leave work. Consciously live below your means. These and other ideas can help reduce self-induced pressure and create a mental break for yourself.

4. Stop Thinking so Much about Yourself

Go out of your way to serve others – at work and in personal life. Instead of turning inward, stop thinking so much about yourself and increasingly reach out to others. Apply your distinctive talents to help others be more successful in their challenges. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I’d rather be known for contributing to a lot of other peoples’ successes than simply focusing on my own.

5. Be a Joy to Be Around

Smile, laugh, cheer people up. As tempting as it may be to go into a cocoon when things seem challenging, don’t do it. Be a joy to be around. Offer a reliable source of calm and enjoyment, bringing comfort and light-hearted moments to others. Find whatever works with your personality. For me that’s wearing orange socks (that have become my trademark), even when I don’t feel like bright colors and seeking out humor and fun to share with others.

6. Be Visible

Use your talents to be visible outside your company. If your talent is speaking, develop content and present to local organizations and universities. If it’s writing, submit articles to publications looking for content or start a blog on your expertise. If you’re good at building, cooking, or other essential skills, volunteer in your community. Make sure you’re using talents to help others and expand your network.

7. Work Out

Exercise and I were never good friends until my wife signed us up at a nearby health club and arranged for me to work with a trainer. I’d done cardio before, lost a little weight, but it never had a major impact. Working with a trainer brought new focus, helped relieve stress through exercise, and resulted in losing 30 pounds.

Also check out this great Harvard Business Review article on bringing more value to your job. And best wishes for successfully incorporating these personal success strategies in the days and weeks ahead! – 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 keynote presentations I do, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What exactly does The Brainzooming Group do?” In the hope of inviting further conversations about how we can be of assistance to all of youin delivering results that are quick and on-strategy, today’s Brainzooming post is the answer to this frequently asked question.

What The Brainzooming Group Does

While it can be challenging to classify what The Brainzooming Group does in a neat category, we describe it as helping smart organizations improve their success by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. What’s that mean? We work with organizations who understand the value and importance of looking at their markets and customers in new ways, but struggle with how to do it. Often that’s because they’re almost “too smart” about what they do.

With organizational experience comes a strong understanding of customers and processes. Unfortunately, organizational experience can also create a sense that “everything workable has been tried, and there’s nothing we haven’t thought of previously.”

That’s when it gets dangerous for organizations.

We DON’T take the very typical consulting view, however, that the way around organizational resistance to change is ignoring what employees think and developing strategy largely outside the organization only to sell it back in afterward.

Where and How We Deliver Results

The Brainzooming Group uses our tested methodology, incorporating strategy, creativity, and insights-oriented tools, to deeply involve the organization, its people, and their knowledge to develop very implementable strategies.

Some of the typical engagements where we work with clients using our technique include:

  • Cutting through too much data to arrive at focused insights.
  • Identifying the best branding moves or account targets to drive growth and profits in your business.
  • Shortening the thinking time needed to prioritize ideas so you can begin implementing immediately.
  • Determining the best strategic options when your market is moving away from your business model.
  • Quickly creating the plan to get a stalled initiative moving.
  • Jumpstarting your strategic or creative thinking with loads of new possibilities in a 60-minute phone call.
  • Providing additional marketing horsepower when you have too many deliverables to deliver.
  • Unlocking how social media can really deliver on your business objectives.

We’re adept at delivering results that are quick and on-strategy in these varied situations through techniques allowing individuals with varying perspectives to see the future and its possibilities in dramatically new ways. It’s an intense process, but it’s also intellectually stimulating and, in contrast to most strategy discussions, quick and fun!

Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Drudgery Really!

As we’ve discovered, people enjoy thinking strategically about their organization and customers when it’s productive, efficient, and stretches the organization in positive ways.

That’s the experience we’ve delivered hundreds of times for organizations across a wide variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods, business-to-business, professional service organizations, education, and not-for-profits. Sometimes our work is on a large scale (as with the nearly hundred participants for the Google Fiber in Kansas City brainstorming effort we created). In other cases, it might only involve a few executives.

We tailor the end product to the organization’s needs, but it usually involves an understandable roadmap and detailed implementation plan to guide our client as it moves forward. Increasingly, we’re also involved in supporting the plan’s implementation as well.

Let’s Discuss What Your Needs Are and See If We Can Help!

Thanks for letting me share what’s tough to squeeze into a 15-second elevator speech!

If you’d like to ask questions, talk, or explore how we might be able to aid your organization in your planning and strategy efforts, we’d be honored to learn more about the opportunities and challenges you’re facing.

Give us a call at 816-509-5320 or email at info@brainzooming.com to explore how we can get your organization’s brains (and results) zooming! – 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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0

The Kauffman Foundation is hosting a series of speakers in Kansas City to provide ideas, inspiration, and innovation lessons for how Kansas City can best take advantage of innovation opportunities with the The Google Fiber project. The latest Google Fiber project innovation talk was from Nick Donofrio, former executive vice president for innovation and technology at IBM. You can watch the presentation here.

My top 7 innovation lesson takeaways from the Nick Donofrio speech include:

1. Innovation isn’t about starting with the solution. Make sure you start with understanding the problem.

Donofrio stresses that starting with the solution often occurs because that is where our experience, specialization, and biases are. He stressed over and over that Kansas City can’t view Google Fiber as a solution, but rather as a tool or an enabler for solving significant problems.

2. Understand this century’s recipe for innovation.

The recipe for innovation in the 21st century is an environment that is collaborative, open, multi-disciplinary, and global.

3. It is just as important (and sometimes more) to innovate in process and in business model as it is to innovate in product or service.

Donofrio detailed examples from Sweden and India. In Sweden, the deputy mayor of Stockholm changed the process for dealing with a large project, from bidding it out one piece at a time, to bidding it as a whole. In India, Bharti Airtel moved away from a business model in telecommunications that called for owning everything to one that just owns the client interface. Vendors and suppliers own/run the network, the back office, etc. Oh, and the phones are really free.

4. Count on it being an instrumented, interconnected world, so innovation must work in those areas.

There are now 250 billion devices connected to the Internet. The trend is on its way to one trillion devices connected to the Internet.

5. In education beware of the “flop on top” when it comes to technology.

Too often in the U.S., we impose technology on education (our solution) without an understanding of what problem we are trying to solve.

6. There is a huge opportunity for innovation using big data sets.

The cost of calculation has decreased by a magnitude of 16 in the last 100 years (10 to the 16 power). In the next 20 years, the cost of calculation is expected to decrease another magnitude of 8. This dramatic reduction in the cost of calculation allows modeling and simulation of almost anything.

7. You never know who has the last piece of the puzzle when solving significant problems.

The innovation lesson is that it is vital innovation efforts be inclusive. For societies, this creates both an opportunity and a responsibility for those at that top of the socio-economic pyramid to make sure that those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid are included and have genuine opportunity.  – Barrett Sydnor


How can ultra high-speed Internet speeds drive economic development? 
“Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming the Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive report on the Google Fiber project by The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed Internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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Being a Winner or Being a Loser

Photo by: kallejipp | Source: photocase.com

Don’t ever assume your job is “safe.” In baseball, you only hear you’re “safe” after a play’s over. Be playing all the time.

Being ahead in the score only matters at the end of the game. You don’t HAVE to be the winner at half time.

Besides, you can’t make a second half comeback until the second half.

Sometimes you just have to refuse to jump through hoops when they don’t make sense.

It’s better to learn from the successes of being a winner, but at least learning from mistakes makes mistakes valuable.

“What would have happened if?” discussions are for TV reporters. Real players make things happen no matter what.

As much as you may like being a winner, sometimes it’s best to step up and be the first person to give in when everybody’s being stupid and proud.

When you have lost something, it’s always in the last place you look for it.

How a Winner Leads

And as a final note, here’s a compelling article from the Kansas City Star about former University of Kansas basketball coach Larry Brown’s relationship with current coach Bill Self, and his involvement with the team this past season. Larry Brown certainly has both fans and detractors for his style, but I was really struck by how, as much as the national championship game meant to him, he departed before the game to avoid the possibility of compromising any confidences he held about Kentucky, KU’s opponent in last Monday’s national championship basketball game. What a wonderful example of someone acting for the greater good even though it wasn’t what he would have wanted. And that behavior is a lot about what defines a winner. – 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 info@brainzooming.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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2

At a recent presentation, an audience member recommended talking in the future about what has helped create my personal career accomplishments.  I don’t recall ever being asked that intriguing question before, and the answer isn’t covered in any one place on the Brainzooming blog. That’s more than enough reason to take a run at sharing the most important 6 gifts behind personal career accomplishments in my life so far:

1. My Parents

Beyond supplying the DNA, growing up with my parents absolutely shaped how I think about hard work, accomplishments, and the right ways to achieve success. Plus, the fact they’re so different from each other provided a wide variety of personality characteristics to wind up adopting. That’s why I describe myself as an introvert (much more like my mom), but lots of people who know me think I’m very outgoing (like my dad). It’s been wonderful to have such a wide field to play on throughout my life.

2. Cyndi

As high school seniors, our instructor, Fr. Mike Scully, O.F.M. Cap, told us two things: Wait until you’re 25 to get married and marry your best friend. Being one to take solid advice, I got married when I was 24 years and 11 months to my best friend in the world, Cyndi. For all my tendencies to be contemplative about decisions, Cyndi is the one who pushes us to act, even if she has to trick me into doing it. When I was wandering spiritually, she was integral in me receiving the greatest gift ever – the rekindling of my faith (see the next point).

3. Spirituality

It wasn’t until I truly returned to the Catholic Church after a more than 10 year absence that I realized how influential spirituality had been in my life. Going to mass every day for many years now, you get exposed to a lot of the Bible, and I’ve been continually amazed at how many of the lessons that have shaped me are right there. This is especially surprising since I’d never gone to daily mass other than for a few months earlier in my life. Somehow the messages got to me through family, school, and a weekly dose on Sundays, however, and I wouldn’t be me without it.

4. Strategic Mentors

I’ve written about the three individuals who have been my most important strategic mentors on previous occasions. Each of them was (and in two cases, still are) important influences in how I think about, plan for, and conduct myself in business.

5. Gifts from God

At heart, it is hard not to be influenced by the talents we were blessed enough to receive. I was truly blessed to receive an eclectic mix of talents across a wide variety of areas. This has led to wide diversity of interests and a huge benefit of being able to adapt and change my focus throughout my career (i.e., ranging from being a left-brained researcher at the start of my career to a right-brained marketing communications leader). Every positive has its downside, and while having a breadth of interests, I do not have the gift of a deep and focused expertise in any one area.

6. Opportunities to be on Stage

For somebody who is a self-described introvert in new one-on-one interactions, I love to be up in front of a group of people. This is especially true if I am using gifts I have been given to share learnings with an audience. Because people who know me interpersonally are always surprised when the quiet guy gets up in front of a group and seems to have a different personality, being on stage has been a regular opportunity to surprise people, create expanded perceptions, and open new career opportunities. Certainly in my corporate career, the ability to get up in front of a group and improvise content led to a whole host of new opportunities.

Enough About Me – What About You?

Turning this great question around to you, what have been the gifts behind your personal career accomplishments?

No Blog Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Good Friday, so in keeping with tradition around here, there won’t be a new blog post published. See you back here Monday! – Mike Brown

Download the free Brainzooming eBook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas for any other area of your life! For an organizational creativity 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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2

I was in a brief planning conversation about the strategy for an upcoming program. Someone had decided an element of the program had to be “big” to attract customer attention. The challenge was the budget and time necessary to arrange something “big” to attract customer attention would not permit meeting other important planning deadlines. All in all, there was a need to resolve contradictory assumptions within the constraints being faced.

Suppose you’re faced with a similar strategy problem where a variety of apparently necessary strategic variables are not all going to fit together successfully into a strategy. What is a strategic thinking exercise you can use to resolve the contradictions?

A fantastic technique in these situations is to use a two-question strategic thinking exercise to clarify the objective and challenge assumptions.

  • Step 1 of the strategic thinking exercise is to clarify what the objective really is by asking, “What are we trying to achieve?” Pushing for an honest answer to this question can get you to a much needed strategic foundation on which to continue the conversation.
  • Step 2 is to then challenge assumptions individually about what’s required and what isn’t by asking, “What if we eliminated that strategic assumption?”

In this example, the objective wasn’t really having a “big” element. The objective was getting customers to attend the event. With that clarification to the objectives, it was then easier to challenge the assumption that a big attraction was the only way to get customers to attend.

With that strategic foundation in place, we explored a whole variety of other strategies that could be used to attract people based on surprise, intrigue, and affiliation. In working through these possibilities, we identified missing information we needed to gather to make a decision. We also identified an alternative strategy for inviting people that allowed us to meet planning deadlines and incorporate suspense to engage potential attendees in new ways.

The short question-based discussion allowed us to resume making positive forward steps.

Try this two-question strategic thinking exercise (clarifying the objective, then trying to eliminate contradictory assumptions) whenever you feel like you’re in an unsolvable situation. Most likely, you’ll get to a workable solution that the original strategic assumptions would have blocked. – 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your 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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As long as Dilbert keeps touching on new ideas and creativity, we’ve got to feature and talk about it on Brainzooming. Do you ever feel as Dilbert does here that the odds are stacked against you in trying to come up with a great new idea?

I know I feel like Dilbert, at least in one area.

Seeing all the books already out there on the variety of topics I might write about has been a real factor in why I haven’t written a Brainzooming book yet (although there’s a book in the offing – which I’m working on right now – so stay tuned).

Dilbert.com

But since it’s usually more fun to work on someone else’s challenges, problems, and anxieties than your own challenges, problems, and anxieties, the big question is, “What is a great new idea Dilbert can do with his me-too app to make it stand out from the crowd?”

24 Ideas for Dilbert

We’ve covered multiple times the benefit of mining ideas already out there for new value. So taking Dilbert’s challenge of coming up with a great new idea for an app that can stand our from the crowd, here is my mind mapping to generate ideas for Dilbert:

  • Pick 1 function of the app and focus on doing it better (Focused)
  • Figure out what a suite of focused apps would look like and do (Complementary)
  • Move the app into a completely new context (Shift)
  • Design the app so it would work for the last person you’d ever expect to use it (Off Target)
  • Create the app for use in a completely different industry (Repurpose)
  • Combine features from across multiple apps in a new way (Aggregate)
  • Grab functions from unrelated apps and make them work together (Integrate)
  • Partner with the app creator to find new markets for what’s already developed (Re-market)
  • Bundle multiple apps into one interface (Combine)
  • Design an app users can modify to better suit their needs (User involvement)
  • Create a customizable app (Variability)
  • Do to the opposite of all the apps in your category (Contrary)
  • Introduce nostalgia into the app (Historical)
  • Make the app work on a less popular platform (Niche)
  • Incredibly simplify the app (Simplify)
  • Remove options from the app to make it more streamlined (Streamline)
  • Use the most important feature and develop multiple ways for the app to handle it (Diversity)
  • Make the app more complex through richer functionality and features (Robust)
  • Create a more sophisticated version of the app (Sophistication)
  • Deliver the benefits the app offers in a better way (Improve)
  • Add more benefits in speed, thoroughness, versatility to the app (Broaden)
  • Leapfrog 2 or 3 generations of the app (Leapfrog)
  • Deliver the most outrageous benefit possible through the app (Extreme)
  • Specifically design the app to destabilize an industry you’re not in right now (Destabilize)

Who knows if all these are stellar ideas? Most likely they aren’t all stellar ideas. But all these ideas have the possibility for more exploration if Dilbert is up to really coming up with a great new idea that is really something different.

24 Ideas for You

If you’re working on something other than an app where these twenty-four ideas might not quite fit, you can still use the twenty-four transformers in parentheses to play around with your run of the mill ideas to put some new life into them:

Focused, Complementary, Shift, Off Target, Repurpose, Aggregate, Integrate, Re-market, Combine, User involvement, Variability, Contrary, Historical, Niche, Simplify, Streamline, Diversity, Robust, Sophistication, Improve, Broaden, Leapfrog, Extreme, Destabilize

24 Ideas for Me?

Now to see how these twenty-four transformers work on coming up with a great new idea for a book! – Mike Brown

Download the free Brainzooming eBook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas for any other area of your life! For an organizational creativity 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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