Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 149 – page 149
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Dive into your music collection or an online music source to create mixes tailored to all the creative situations you may be facing. Some possibilities include:

  • High energy music to create energy
  • Classical to stimulate strategic thinking
  • Quiet music to relax your brain
  • Electronic to allow your mind to roam

Whatever suits you and your typical creative needs, have a CD or mp3 player all ready to go to establish the mood for the work day or the evening at home on the commute to/from work!

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 invent your own instrument, you’re automatically one of the top three musicians in the world on that instrument.” – Matt Goldman, Co-Founder of the Blue Man Group (August 2008 “Inc.”)

That quote is how we started the week working through creating a personal category to set yourself apart. And if you’ve been playing along at home all week, you should have a wide variety of potential possibilities as input into your category.

So what are some steps to dramatically narrow the list of ideas? Here’s a flashback to some previous posts you can use to narrow your possibilities:

Try to narrow to 10-15% of your original ideas, and then begin looking for elements that you can put together to create a new category with which to describe your talents. Ideally the category should be distinctive and defined in a way that you become the only answer to, “Who are the best people who can do this?”

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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Yet another way to ideate on a strong “personal” category is to use your current personal strengths and deliberately transform them to identify new and distinctive possibilities. Here’s a relatively quick approach:

  1. State your objective as “Building a distinct personal category to define and differentiate my value to others.”
  2. List 8-10 of your distinctive talents (Tuesday) and areas of incredible value (Wednesday) as Attributes in the left column in the grid below.
  3. Using the objective from Step 1, take each talent and value area in Step 2 and transform them in the various ways suggested below, always asking: “To create a new personal category how can I (INSERT TRANSFORMER FROM BELOW) to / of (INSERT STRENGTH OR TALENT)?

Potential Transformers include Make It Bigger / Do More of It, Make It Smaller / Do Less of It, Replace It, Turn It Around, Remove It, Standardize It, Customize It, Make It More Complex, Simplify It, Eliminate It

Run through as many combinations as you can, trying to generate 2 or 3 new ideas form each pairing. Don’t settle for fewer than 60 possibilities that could fit into the category definition we’ve been working on all week.
Next, we’ll narrow all the possibilities to get close to defining your category.

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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A 360 degree survey can be scary, but it’s a great tool to get a sense of how others perceive you. It can be tremendously instructive and beneficial. I did one through a leadership class several years ago that really helped me redefine some of my behaviors. There are various ones available online.

Another fast way to get some sense of potential areas you can use to define “your category” is to ask yourself and others three value-related questions:

  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD INCREDIBLE VALUE for others?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that DON’T DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE for others because we can’t/don’t focus enough time, attention, and/or resources on them?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD LITTLE OR NO VALUE for others?

Look for themes among the answers and consider using areas of incredible value as potential category definers. Areas where you could deliver value but don’t are potential opportunities for more concentrated effort. Areas where you’re delivering little value could be areas to attempt to eliminate from your routine.

Soliciting reactions about yourself from others may feel intimidating, but assessing and using the responses wisely gives you an advantage most people are unwilling to pursue.

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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Distinctive talents are skills closely associated with you where you continually improve as you do them, you benefit others, and you create a spark that attracts people to be a part of the energy you’re radiating. Building your list of distinctive talents begins with answering these questions openly & honestly:

  • What things motivate you to get up every morning?
  • How are you of the greatest service to others?
  • What activities bring you the most happiness and contentment?
  • What functions, talents, and skills do you (or have you) used that give you the most fulfillment in your professional life, family relationships / duties, spiritual life, and personal interests / hobbies?
  • How would you spend your time, talents, and attention if you didn’t have to work?

Hint – Stumped for answers in some areas? Ask a few acquaintances what they think your distinctive talents are.

After answering all the questions, go back and circle the 5 or 10 or 15 answers that truly fit the distinctive talents definition. Since these areas are likely to be the most intuitive for you, you think less about the mechanics of doing them and simply perform them really well. This makes them ideal to incorporate into creating a new “category” where you’ll be the best in the world.

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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This is a non-traditional approach shared by motivational speaker Ed Foreman: when you have a big goal that you tell others about, many of them will try to explain why you shouldn’t have a goal that big or how come you’ll never achieve it.

His answer? Keep your big goals to yourself and don’t share them with others. In that way, you avoid all the negative advice and can move toward your big creative goal mentally unfettered.

I dismissed the approach when I first heard about it, but my wife of 21 years (as of today) has used it to cross numerous projects off her list without having to listen to me explain why we shouldn’t be doing them!

Happy Anniversary Cyndi!!!

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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On my Labor Day road trip, I listened to “Live at the BBC,” a 2-cd set of recordings The Beatles made on BBC Radio from March 1962 to June 1965. It made me think about an old book definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in the musical creative process.

“The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono” is a transcript of interviews the pair did with writer David Sheff right before Lennon’s death in 1980. In one section, Lennon walked through the entire Beatles catalog, discussing the creative origin of each song with Paul McCartney. Sometimes it was true collaboration; at times it was the other person adding a small, yet critical element that made the song. Many times, particularly in later years, it was primarily individual creation. Yet because of publishing agreements, and perhaps a recognition that their creative styles were inexorably shaped by each other, all of their songs were jointly credited as Lennon-McCartney.

R.E.M. in its original line-up also credited every song to all members – Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe – irrespective of how it was composed, acknowledging that through the recording process, each band member had shaped the final creation.

I’ve always loved that creative team approach. In the best creative work in which I’ve participated, I enjoy the phenomenon that once it’s done, it’s very difficult to actually recall which person contributed which theme, idea, line, or edit.

That truly reflects a collaborative creative team.

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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