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Summer travel is a fascinating study in how little people think about the ways their bodies AND their clothes will be stretched beyond normal limits. It’s a great opportunity to practice keeping your eyes very focused on what you are doing and ignoring the “local scenery” . . . Being on the road during the summer is also a great opportunity to write a “Larry King-style” summer travel blogging update . . . I’d never smelled that “new airplane smell” until the first flight in the morning. Kinda wanted to go kick the tires.

Airport-Terminal

I appreciate how women like going to the bathroom together. For two woman headed to the bathroom together on this plane, however, things are going to get a little crowded. My point was made when they came scurrying back within a minute . . . For some reason, the antidote to a failed group girl trip to the airplane bathroom is to turn on ALL the lights in their row and talk at the top of their lungs. . . There is pretty much nothing in the world important enough to me that I need to watch it on TV on an airplane.

Airport-Plane

There is no reason why my iPad should keep falling down backward when I’m typing on the table tray on the airplane. I don’t type THAT hard . . . A woman in front of me on the flight sported a tattoo on the underside of her forearm that read, “The only thing that’s constant is change.” Yes, and also that tattoo . . . The guy next to me on the plane is going to an “Intensive Retreat.” How I so much want to open his notebook and see what it’s about . . . Someone sent me a message saying she wanted to tell me I had a great body. She realized later her talk-to-text had translated “voice” to “body.” She was red with embarrassment. I experience the agony of defeat.

Calling “gate checking” luggage “valet service” is an intriguing, albeit completely false customer experience ploy . . . I was on a late Southwest Airlines flight where I think they decided to just not do any drink service because the flight attendants didn’t want to work . . . When you have a drink named for you at a hotel bar in the city where your employer is headquartered, you may have a problem . . . Overheard on a plane: Child says, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy says, “I love you more.” Child says again, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy once again replies, “I love you more!” Child says a third time, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy fesses up, “If you keep saying that throughout this flight, I’ll abandon you when we get to O’Hare, so I guess you really do love me more than I love you.”

Travel-Curacao

The lady at the restaurant where I had dinner told me you usually miss a flight for a reason. I’ll work with that . . . I went into an airport store that carried various Dr. Seuss mini-books. I bought, “Oh the Ways You Beat Yourself Up.” That title fit with the day’s theme . . . I saw a flight crew that high-fived in lieu of chest bumping. The female flight attendant said she’d have knocked the male flight attendant over if they had chest bumped. Ouch! Not sure which one of us had the tougher day. – 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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We love many things in the United States that are failing us.

US-Flag-Half-Mast

We Love Lines

We love drawing lines. We seem so fascinated with celebrating differences that single ourselves out, we wind up drawing lines everywhere. The intent is to show why we are different from everyone else and our needs must be separately recognized, acknowledged, and accommodated.

The problem is that with every line we draw, someone else is on the other side of the line. And when we face people across lines, we accentuate what’s different. And we seem hell bent on attacking those that are different than we are.

We need fewer lines, and more standing together.

We Love Guns

We love fire power. Maybe it’s a fascination with the Old West and the strong guy (or the bad guy) shooting themselves out of problem situations. Maybe it is real fear and thinking we never want to be in a position where we don’t have as much ability to harm others as they have to harm us.

The problem is when we both have guns, we have shoot outs. Why else do we need guns in situations having nothing to do with anything other than harming someone else? We go right past all the ways we should have to interact with each other in the interests of being able to threaten each other more effectively.

We need fewer guns and more readiness to meet each other with listening, understanding, and kindness.

We Love Killing

Even more than loving guns, we generally love killing. Our laws and courts have spent the last forty-plus years making it easier to kill others and ourselves on both ends of life. We’ve established killing as an integral right as citizens. And since we can’t get enough real life killing, we also love killing spread throughout all types of entertainment.

The problem is we can’t immerse ourselves in a culture of real and imaginary killing and think we aren’t changed by it. Life seems casual. Life seems expendable. Life seems anything but sacred. In many cases, the lives of others are costs to society that we need to kill off to make sure we don’t have to sacrifice what we believe should rightfully be ours.

We need to remember all our lives originate and end in the same place. We can’t sit by as others are killed without opening doors to others killing us if we’re obstacles to their aspirations.

We Love Thinking We “Have” This

You see statistics showing fewer people believe in God. Fewer people practice organized religion. Yet, people are bowing down to idols of all types: money, fame, sex, self-determination, eternal youth, killing, sports. That’s just a start. We are better all the time at filling the place God would take in our lives with things we have created ourselves.

The problem is that we, as the human race, don’t have things covered. The more we’ve moved away from God to chart our own courses, the more we seem to be sinking into worsening cycles of failure and despair.

We need more belief and prayer in God, who can truly help us out of our mess. – 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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I mentioned in an earlier article how the Gas Can event on June 24, 2016 was “half empty” at best. After the event, I posted on Facebook about how difficult it is, once you’ve produced events, to sit in the audience and not re-produce an event with major production problems.

While writing an article poking holes in the Gas Can program would be easy, however, it wouldn’t have much value for you.

Instead, how about a list of 14 event marketing strategy questions you can use the next time you or your organization plan an event? It’s one way of passing along our conference production experience and lessons to all of you.

14 Event Marketing Strategy Questions You NEED to Ask Early

Gas-Can-Crowd

If you’re planning a conference, ask all of these questions in plenty of time to do something about them!

  1. Have you seen the speakers you’re putting on stage?
  2. If you haven’t seen all of the speakers, have you at least seen some of them to know where to place the strongest speakers?
  3. For the speakers you haven’t seen, do you have an idea of what they are planning to speak about so you can arrange them in a way that there is continuity (and not a violent and uncomfortable swing in tone and subject) between each segment?
  4. To boost networking, have you designed name tags so peoples’ names and companies are bigger than the event name (since people know where they are, but don’t necessarily know other people)?
  5. Have you planned to start the event with your second biggest moment?
  6. Have you planned to end the event with your biggest moment (especially if you’re planning a next event in this series of events)?
  7. Have you made it easy for attendees to create and share social media content about the event?
  8. If you’re attempting to create a legitimately curated event (meaning you are deliberately challenging the audience’s patience and tolerance for variety in disparate segments), have you figured out how to provide a few cues to tie the pieces together so attendees don’t walk away feeling as if the program was a random jumble?
  9. Have you scheduled a rehearsal and made sure you’re absolutely confident with what and how every speaker is going to do (and whether every presenter should still be on the agenda)?
  10. Have you made sure you have a monitor in the front of the stage so presenters don’t have to keep turning away from the audience to see what the current slide is?
  11. Have you satisfied yourself that presenters have strong enough diction, volume, and speaking styles so the audience will be able to understand what they are saying throughout their presentations?
  12. Have you tested the sound system well in advance and made sure it will work for all the elements of your program?
  13. Do you have someone knowledgeable about the sound system and the venue running the sound?
  14. Is the stage lit properly so the audience can see (and photograph for social sharing) both the presenter and the slides

Yes, you need to be able to answer “Yes” to all these event marketing strategy questions. – Mike Brown

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Last Friday’s Gas Can Creative Conference sponsored by AAF-KC (American Advertising Federation – Kansas City) was a half-empty gas can, at best. While there were a few presentations and ideas to stimulate our creative thinking skills, there were far too few for an all-day event. We’ll turn the event’s downsides into a positive later in the week.

3 Creative Thinking Skills Ideas from Gas Can 2016

Today, here are three valuable creative thinking skills ideas no matter where your creative community is located.

Gas-Can-Sign

Push for Absurd Ideas

Stefan Mumaw, Director of Creative Strategy at Hint, shared a creative thinking exercise in a morning break segment. He gave us three minutes to imagine what might be part of a Swiss Army knife designed especially for a pirate. After finishing the creative thinking exercise, he asked us who had more than 50% of ideas that were absurd. Stefan defined an absurd idea as something that would definitely not fit in a Swiss Army Knife. Perhaps 30-40% of the audience had raised their hands. His point was you have to get to absurd ideas to sufficiently stretch your creative thinking. Being able to pull back after going full-on absurd will reveal innovative ideas that are actually possible to do.

Creative Thinking Skills Idea:

Stefan used a different path to get to the extreme creativity approach we use: pushing beyond conventional boundaries to find new thinking with near-term possibilities. We typically start by picking the most conventional ideas, however, and blowing them out to extremes. I’ll be including a modification to our extreme creativity approach based on Stefan’s exercise, however, and suggesting we also grab already absurd ideas as a starting point for extreme creativity.

Icky Brand Pairings

Joe Cox, Engagement Director at Barkley, shared a creative thinking exercise comparable to Julie Cottineau’s Brand Twist exercise where you take two brands, put them together, and imagine new possibilities. Joe also recommended pairing your brand with various others brand to see what unique ideas emerge. Beyond simply using familiar, popular, or naturally aligned brands, however, Joe urged us to use extreme and challenging brands, too. What would new ideas emerge when your brand is paired with the NRA, a cigarette maker, or an extreme political candidate (since we have no shortage of those)?

Creative Thinking Skills Idea:

I love the idea of pushing the brand comparison beyond Nike, Apple, and Starbucks. Getting paired with an icky brand can lead to incredible ideas to offset all the negatives that would follow. Which of the powerful customer experience ideas to offset your brand’s affiliation would be great ideas even if you aren’t saddled with an icky brand partner?

Make Decisions Faster

Fast-decisions-Gunderson

Seth Gunderson, Creative Director at Sullivan Higdon and Sink, explored the way to cultivate better creativity and decision making. Seth’s presentation, titled “You’re either IN or you’re OUT or you’re MAYBE,” demonstrated how easy it is to make one-off decisions (Puppies – In or Out? Donald Trump – In or Out?) and how hard it is when there are multiple options. His advice was “we will create better work if we make decisions faster.” Seth suggested the way to better decisions is making them in the morning, after getting fresh air, and making sure to have a full stomach along with an empty bladder.

Creative Thinking Skills Idea:

There’s an early Brainzooming blog post on forcing decisions between one thing or another. Deliberately setting up decisions as “Yes” or “No” options is a good reminder. It’s very easy to get very complex and subtle in presenting options. While in/out decision making won’t always be appropriate, it’s probably appropriate in more situations than I ever think about using it.

Those weren’t all the valuable creative ideas. Each of these, though, is easy to overlook yet powerful in its impact! – Mike Brown

 

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One of my favorite things is when clients, blog readers, and Brainzooming workshop attendees use our strategic thinking exercises to explore new ideas. They often end up creating new formats and adapting tools in ways we hadn’t envisioned!

The most recent example came our way this weekend.

Diane Bleck of Discovery Doodles  and I were tweeting each other a couple of times in the past few weeks about innovation.

Early yesterday, she alerted me to expect a custom drawing heading my way via Twitter later in the day.

Imagine my surprise when Diane’s drawing turned out to be a representation of an innovation strategy formula we shared on the Brainzooming blog a year earlier. Diane took the simple 5-step innovation strategy formula and brought it to life via this infographic.

Diane-Bleck-5-Innovation-St

What’s particularly cool is step number five. The original step was “Revel and Repeat.” This was meant to encourage celebrating successes and incorporating new learning into future innovation strategy.

Diane modified “Revel” to become “Reveal,” which creates an additive impact to the formula since you definitely have to let the world know about your innovation!

Thanks, Diane, for expanding the range of Brainzooming tools with your creativity and skill! – Mike Brown

 

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This Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at 1 pm CDT (US) I’ll be appearing on Social Jack TV™ with host Dean DeLisle talking about Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.

Whether personally or organizationally, the desire to be more innovative can run straight into all kinds of barriers, brick walls, and booby traps. Using even just a few smart tools and techniques, however, you can eliminate these NO’s to a successful innovation strategy and move yourself and your organization to innovative ideas setting you apart from the competition. We’re planning to cover innovation strategy for both individuals and organizations., including

  • Some of the most common NO’s blocking creativity and innovation strategy
  • How to benefit from structures and exercises to spur creative ideas and innovation

  • New possibilities to improve innovation strategy successes amid challenges to new thinking and actions

You will be able to call in, chat, or tweet about the conversation before, during, and after the program.

Register here for Taking the NO Out of InNOvation on Social Jack TV!

Let’s have robust participation from the Brainzooming family to create a stimulating conversation on innovation strategy with Dean and me! – 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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We (and by “we” I mean “I”) would like to believe we’re strong at strategic thinking in business. And an appreciation of strategic thinking from a business perspective SHOULD extend over into ALL the decisions we make.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

With strategic thinking, it’s often so much easier to apply it to other organizations and people than to our own situation.

The-Thinker

Need a few examples to back that claim up?

Here you go.

The SMARTEST Thing I Could Do Would Be To . . .

  • Prioritize all the business development stuff I need to do, but I sit at the computer struggling to write a blog post for the next day.
  • Get on with writing a blog post for the next day if that’s what I’m going to insist on doing, but instead, I spend time chatting on Facebook Messenger.
  • Work on one thing at a time and finish it, yet my desk is strewn with 15 things that need attention by the end of the day.
  • Stop snacking, but I’m too busy walking to the kitchen to get cheese crackers as a way of getting exercise.
  • Appreciate the people that have reached out wondering why I seem so frazzled lately, but all the while I’m concerned about what I’m doing that’s making it so obvious how frazzled I’ve been lately.
  • Turn off the computer to clear the memory out and let it take a rest, but I refuse to shut it down and have to re-open all those Windows Explorer searches.
  • Go to sleep instead of staying up past midnight once again, KNOWING I have to get up by 4:30 to complete my weekly newsletter writing deadline.

See what I mean.

It’s easy, when it comes to strategic thinking, to KNOW better.

It’s not nearly as easy (it seems) to DO the better thing you know you should do.

Maybe that’s all part of being human.  – Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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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