Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 149 – page 149
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Many people in this series (and all of them this week) have shared too many gifts to list them all. That’s the case with both my parents.
While it took me a long time to catch up in understanding the many short cuts to life lessons my dad tried to give me, I’m hard-pressed now to point to one that isn’t true (although at 17, I’d have told you most were nonsense – which I guess is all part of growing up).

His lessons on generosity, focusing on what’s good for others, and approaching life with a positive attitude have shaped me profoundly.

So here’s a lesson that may seem small in comparison, but continues to provide tremendous value throughout my work life: understand and work the percentages when selling, no matter whether it’s selling a product, service, or concept.

Early on as my dad was making the transition from cutting hair in my grandfather’s barber shop to broadcasting, he sold life insurance part-time. A lesson he learned was 10:3:1, i.e. you had to make 10 calls to secure 3 appointments to close 1 sale.

If someone was willing to apply him or herself, work the equation, and stay motivated amid a 90% failure rate, they’d be successful. If they applied learnings and new techniques to improve the ratio, they could experience dramatic success. Get discouraged or shortcut the process by making too few calls, however, and they’d wind up washing out.

While the ratios may differ, the principle applies to so many facets of business and life. (Although, thank goodness I don’t have to generate 10 ideas to get 1 blog post!) Ask others or figure out the business building relationships on your own, but KNOW and apply them to make the ratios work for you in selling and persuading others to your point of view.

Thanks Dad for cluing me in early to both the life principles and the numbers behind success!

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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Our first week in Kansas City while unpacking boxes and listening to Mike Murphy’s radio show, I heard Bill McDonald talk about how his company, Kansas City Infobank, researched and identified market opportunities. While unsure about my career, I loved school, was good at it, and Infobank sounded like school. Thus began my “second MBA” – spending 2 ½ years at Infobank doing strategic projects for entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between.

Despite our financial challenges as a small business, Bill became an important strategic mentor. As mentioned before, the business instruction he gave me encompassed lessons too numerous to list. One in particular transformed my writing, helping create a personal business writing style.

Three months into the job, I was struggling with my first major report about the market for a laser printer add-on. Despite the report’s focus, I was writing pages on the personal computer market as an enabler for this technology.

Bill McDonald of Kansas City InfobankBill finally sat me down and said, “You need to understand you’re not in school anymore. You don’t need to write a long litany of facts to prove you’re qualified. You’re writing for business. The fact we have this assignment presumes we know what we’re doing. Get right to the point of our recommendations and the rationale behind them.

The discussion was a wake up call that business writing was different. Unlike school, where you’re required to demonstrate understanding to support getting a good grade, business writing needs to get right to the point. That’s even truer today. Bill’s direction has been a tremendously valuable career-long lesson that I’ve shared with many others to help improve their written communication.

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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Following up yesterday, sometimes when you’re working on a project, it’s hard to quit so that you can work in a creative mental refresh.

Doing live events leads to many short nights from getting ready and wrapping up results. Earlier this year due to delayed United Airlines flights, I didn’t walk into the hotel room until 2 a.m. and had to be up at 5 a.m. to prep for hosting a 7 hour session. While your situations may be different, chances are you also have times where you haven’t had enough sleep but have to be on top of your game. Here are some tips that work me:

Eat – There’s a lot to be said for refueling your body with healthy food. When producing a conference in Vegas once, I was among the walking dead. Friends forced me to sit down and eat a salad. Afterward, I was good for five more hours. Another person told me once that during long work sessions, he needed at least one “hot” (meal) per day. Single-serving, microwavable soup can be a quick answer there. You can heat them in most hotel rooms or at least in the lobby, and a quick shot of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup can do wonders for a creative mental refresh.

Caffeine and Water – Specifically for me, Diet Dr. Pepper. I know caffeine isn’t good for you, but pounding diet drinks can help sustain you over the course of a day, especially if you’re alternating it with water. Thus the inside joke among co-workers that my sessions never go more than 90 minutes without a bio break!

A Nap (on the floor) – This isn’t for everyone, but I’m blessed with the ability to fall asleep very easily. I started sleeping on the floor doing all nighters at my first job. Because the floor isn’t comfortable, you tend not to sleep for very long. Especially with lights and noise going, you’ll wake up soon, but usually with just enough rest to give you a burst of energy.

Exercise – Walk the hall, go up and down stairs, or run around the building. Anything to get your mind focused more on physical than mental exertion will do the trick.

Shower & Get Into Casual Clothes – If you don’t have time for sleep, a quick shower and change of clothes can give you a refreshing break and reset your perspective. For me, there’s something about throwing on jeans that simply helps me think better. And the shower will help you to smell better too, especially if you just ran around the building.

Pray – Remove yourself mentally for a moment and reflect spiritually. It can not only give you greater peace of mind, it can also provide a creativity boost.

There are my six tips for a quick mental re-charge. Please leave a comment to let everyone know what works 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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When you’re going crazy, feeling frazzled and overloaded, give yourself a break and just quit.

Take a pause, a rest, or a nap and allow your mind to shut down for a little bit. You’ll be better able to tackle your next set of tasks with a fresh perspective.

Personal Note: I don’t often (always?) follow my own advice. I’m writing this while sitting in bed forcing myself to meet a self-imposed weekly post quota.

At least I crashed on the couch earlier in the evening and slept for several hours. I guess what Andy Warhol said holds here, “It’s not that my philosophy fails me; I fail my philosophy. I breach what I preach more than I practice it.”

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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Back when I used to live at the library reference section, the high school kids working the magazine counter told me the Friday after Thanksgiving was their busiest day each year. It seemed the people not seeking gifts were out seeking knowledge.

In the same spirit, here are five links, with no particular theme, to check out if you get a chance!

“Summertime” by Gina Sicilia – An informal performance from a soulful singer at Caffe Vivaldi. And since I’m not a big fan of cold, a little more summer is always welcome! Plus you can play this while you visit the remaining four links.

Recession In’s and Out’s – Where to invest or place your attention during periods of economic challenge.

“Election Day Could be Become ‘Nightmare’” – An article from several weeks ago with doomsday election scenarios that never materialized. A good reminder that, unfortunately, a lot of media is intended to needlessly incite fears and trepidations about relatively remote possibilities.

Business Model Design & Innovation from Alex Osterwalder – Interesting work, albeit a little self-absorbed.

Muckety.com – Portraying the connections between news figures, celebrities, events, and the organizations behind them.

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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If you’re stuck with an uncreative attitude, exercise can be the perfect restart. Recently, I’d spent the entire day in our home office working on the computer – a sure thing to put me in a grumpy mood.

Before I’d started exercising, it would take quite some time to work through that mood.

Now, spending 30 or 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer triggers all those body chemicals that make me (or you) feel good.

Try it yourself to recharge your mental perspective and work off Thanksgiving dinner!

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’ve written before about “Real Simple” as a great magazine to use for ideation. There’s a column called “The Motivator” by Gail Blanke that unfortunately ended in the September 2008 issue.

From the ones I’ve seen, she does a great job of highlighting approaches to deal with a whole variety of personal and business challenges. Her final column addresses both how to give and how to take criticism – equally challenging issues for many people. Check it out along with another pertinent strategy and innovation topic – how to think on your feet.

And if you know any winning political candidates from yesterday, forward this post to them. They’d certainly benefit from reading up on these two topics as well!

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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