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I don’t know that we have ever run a reader letter here, but the story in this email and the writer’s comments deserve a wider audience.

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The letter is from Barbara Lane at Telesystem in Northwood, OH. She wrote in response to Emma Alvarez Gibson’s post-election reflection. What Barbara relates is another helpful part of the reflection and need to move forward that is the air right now:

Mike and team,

First, I want to say thanks for your blog and plethora of articles on strategic planning.  I have used many of your techniques both at work and as I facilitate visioning and strategic planning at my church.

With regards to the email today, I am currently in the middle of leading a Bible study based on the book, “Fear of the Other” by Will Willimon.   In it, he puts forth many of the same ideas contained in Emma Gibson’s reminder. But one that particularly spoke to me was an exchange between Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.  Douglass was bemoaning the plight of black slaves and the country’s reluctance for – no, outright anger and indignation against – the proposition of freedom for them.  Truth, who was fully aware of Douglass’ Christian beliefs asked him, “Frederick, is God dead?”

I think this is very pertinent to what many people are feeling today, and we have to realize that there is a greater power out there who works all things according to his purpose.

BTW – if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

I greatly appreciate you and your efforts,

Barb

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 woke up this morning, and the first thing I saw on Facebook was this reflection by Emma Alvarez Gibson (from our West Coast Brainzooming outpost) as the election returns in the United States were coming in last night.

It says everything beautifully.

eag-election

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 came up with this list a few years ago when some friends were searching for high school reunion ideas that would help pass the time.

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It’s reunion time again. Here’s the list of fun questions in text and image form. Try them out, and see who fits each category at your high school reunion!

High School Reunion Ideas – 18 Fun Questions to Ask

  1. Most unrealized intellectual potential?
  2. Who has most over achieved?
  3. Most changed physically—male?
  4. Most changed physically—female?
  5. Least changed?
  6. Person I would most like to change places with?
  7. Would have taken better care of him/herself if he/she had thought he/she would make it to this reunion?
  8. Great news! __________ showed up.
  9. Great news! __________ didn’t show up.
  10. Too bad. ________ didn’t show up.
  11. Highest (unwarranted) opinion of themselves?
  12. Most changed?
  13. And I would know you from?
  14. When did you get so big?
  15. Boy…I’m glad I’m not __________.
  16. Over/under—plastic surgeries? 2
  17. Most interesting conversation?
  18. Most thought provoking conversation?

High School Reunion Ideas – 18 Fun Questions to Ask (image)

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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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Want to hang out with some of the Brainzooming crew in San Francisco next week and learn all kinds of valuable information on content marketing, social media, marketing strategy, and branding?

Yes, it’s possible to do a deep dive into all those areas, plus network with other smart marketers from across industries, all in one location.

You’re invited to join us at the Social Media Strategies Summit and The Marketing Conference, taking place concurrently at The Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco, September 27-29. Registrants for either conference can move back and forth between the two, targeting the workshops and presentations that will be most valuable to their business success.

Did I mention there’s a special conference discount registration for Brainzooming readers? Keep reading for the code!

marketing-conference

I’ll be doing workshops on content marketing and collaborative branding strategy. I’ll be co-presenting the content marketing workshop and a presentation on marrying data and creativity with Emma Alvarez Gibson.

Other presenters are from Charles Schwab, Gap, Intel, and Campbell Soup.

Want to learn more about the combined opportunity of two conferences in one?

Here is conference producer Breanna Jacobs sharing more on the presenters and benefits of having two conferences agendas to customize your experience.

Earlier I mentioned a special discount code for Brainzooming readers (I.e., you!). When you register for The Marketing Conference, use the code MKTG25 to score a 25% discount on your registration!

We’re looking forward to seeing all our Bay Area (and traveling) friends next week in San Francisco for this incredible marketing meet up! – Mike Brown

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Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand 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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This week’s “Inside the Executive Suite” from the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief newsletter highlighted two Wall Street Journal articles examining leadership strategy in light of how involved a teacher or coach should be in the details of teaching and learning. 

Leadership Strategy – How Much Teaching and Coaching Is Enough?

When it comes to your leadership strategy, what are the best techniques to develop your team? Should you be in the thick of things, understanding the details of what is going on with team members, and being an active resource for them? Or are they (and you) better off taking a hands-off approach and letting them handle the details relatively unencumbered?

In the Wall Street Journal this week, two articles addressed these questions from different angles.

An article by concert pianist and instructor, Byron Janis, addressed teacher-student relationships in music. Andrew Beaton addressed the topic of college football coaches forsaking their CEO-like management roles to create game plans, call plays, and behave like traditional coaches.

Learning to Play Music Pleasing to Another’s Ears

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Janis offers advice gleaned from his own teaching experiences and from his time as a student of piano great Vladimir Horowitz during the 1940s. He shares four pieces of advice for teachers (that can extend to leaders and managers):

  1. Don’t over-teach to a specific standard

Teachers must balance their knowledge and inclinations to instruct what THEY know with the students’ needs to find and develop their own styles. A student only develops a distinctive talent and style if a teacher remains open and refrains from over-instructing based on what the teacher believes and knows.

Leadership Questions: How much latitude do you give less experienced team members to chart their own directions? Are there areas where you dictate a course of action that would benefit from junior team members exerting greater independence?

  1. Let individuals own their problems and solutions

When a student failed to grasp a particular musical passage, Horowitz would tell the student that something was amiss without indicating what it was. He invited them to ponder it, address what they discover, and return the next week to share the correction. This technique puts students in charge of making mistakes, identifying them, and determining the appropriate fixes.

Leadership Questions: How readily do you dissect errors and problems in detail? What room do you have to point out potential issues while allowing your team an opportunity to diagnose and correct them to develop their mistake-making and fixing skills?

  1. Provide ample room to disagree and interpret your input

Teachers can further free students to self-diagnose and correct problems through realizing their own subjective interpretations of performance strategies can be mistaken. Student can have creative perspectives that are on the mark even though instructors don’t understand them. As Horowitz told students, “‘If any of my interpretive ideas don’t feel right, please disregard them.”

Leadership Questions: Are you providing team members enough creative freedom in subjective areas to listen to your viewpoint, while applying their own ideas for implementing strategies? What techniques do you employ to keep your mind open to creative perspectives different from your own?

  1. Encourage a unique, personal path

It is easy, especially for individuals that strive to be perfect, to take in a more senior person’s vision, trying to mimic it as closely as possible. Instead, Janis recommends teachers show students that inspiration and expression are not primarily the byproducts of learning and practicing. They develop from actively living a varied, diverse life. He points out, in closing the article, that life “is perhaps the most important teacher of all. Hard work alone is not the solution.”

Leadership Questions: When new team members (especially junior ones) join your organization, how much onboarding involves instruction? In contrast, how much onboarding involves getting them started experiencing their new environment and actively doing and trying things right away? What opportunities are you creating to provide room for them to bring personal life learnings to your team to increase diversity and your team’s performance?

Getting Back into Coaching

While Byron Janis’ article emphasizes student-driven and owned learning as a teacher uses a gentler hand, Andrew Beaton’s perspective how active college coaches are in actually coaching raises an intriguing counterpoint.

Beaton points to former University of Texas head football coach, Mack Brown, as a forerunner in the “CEO style of coaching.” With coaches at major programs finding themselves in charge of well over a hundred players and staff (plus a nearly comparable number of prospective students they are monitoring), the head coaching role in college football has changed dramatically. Dedicated coordinators build game plans and make play calls during games. A variety of other “middle managers” assume implementation roles for the team.

Put it all together, and the head coach can feel disconnected and limited during a Saturday game.

That’s why some coaches are reversing the trend. A group that includes new University of Miami coach, Mark Richt, is re-working the head coaching role. Richt is prioritizing working with the team’s quarterbacks, designing game plans, and calling plays during the game. Richt and other coaches are devoting more time toward the Xs and Os of football as a way to tackle the classic dilemma of managers that developed as workers: promotions into senior positions remove them from the strong expertise and performance that originally earned their promotions.

Leadership Questions: If you made the transition from worker to manager in your career, how much time do you spend still doing? Are you doing enough doing to keep your skills and perspectives relevant? Or have you long ago walked away from daily activities that generate the value and benefit your team delivers to internal and external audiences? If you see yourself as too removed from daily team activities, what are the best ways to get closer to what your organization does?

It’s about a Balance that Keeps Moving

As with most leadership topics, the only clear direction is that what you do depends on your situation. And in this case, it may vary by specific team member. All of us as leaders need to determine the right balance to guide and grow our teams, and only you may know the right answer! – via “Inside the Executive Suite” 

 

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Facing Innovation Barriers? Here Is Help!

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Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

 

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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The Larry King Post View

Keep moving. At all costs . . . Since my flight was cancelled, I was going to hang on to my rental car while I went in to the airport to figure out my options. Then my standard mental travel checklist kicked in (which says she’d all things that will slow you down), and I dropped it off. If I’d have kept it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten home. #ChecklistsRule . . . Songs for an airport: Husbands, don’t let you wives bend over and show butt cracks.

Candy-crush

There is more than one way to get home by 10:30 at night . . .  If I weren’t in shape, I wouldn’t have made that connecting flight . . . The food service areas at LaGuardia are incredible compared to how they used to be. Sorry I had to run by them on this trip . . . In a future life, I’m changing my last name to Gatechek. Our family crest will be a pink tag . . . I don’t wear headphones on planes. I like to make sure the engines are still running. Just in case.

Let me be clear: I don’t want a clear drink, and I’ll whine until I get the right one . . . I don’t think it’s possible to drink enough in first class to make up for the cost differential, in case you are keeping score . . . Candy Crush? I don’t know from Candy Crush . . . I write on planes the way some people play games. Or listen to music. Or watch videos. Or snore . . . You may need exactly the right conditions to be able to engage in a mundane activity. Or maybe you don’t . . . Apparently not everyone is familiar with the concept of time zones. Because if they were, the woman next to me on the plane wouldn’t have had to try to explain them to the person who kept calling her even after she hung up on them.

Drinks

All this, and I still have to drive home.

What Made the Delta Customer Experience Work

I was trying to get back to Kansas City from the East Coast late Tuesday afternoon. Right before arriving at the airport, I discovered Delta cancelled my flight through Atlanta. After running to the Delta ticket counter, they directed me to the Special Services Line designated for those of us on cancelled flights. Starting out ten deep, I decided to try and get somebody from Delta on the phone and take my chances. I Googled and found a local Atlanta customer service number and called. Surprisingly, in almost no time at all, Tina answered the phone.

Manhattan

Tina was in an INCREDIDBLY good mood (despite the Delta system melting down this week), and I let her know that multiple times. After detailing my situation, Tina diligently went to work on my Tuesday options (beyond catching a flight at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning). She found a flight through LaGuardia, with a tight connection to Kansas City. We discussed the likelihood of making the connection given a potential delay on my initial flight. I said I thought it was worth the risk to be able to get home at the exact same time I was expected. Tina replied so charmingly, “I’m with you! I’m feeling this is going to work!”

I said let’s go.

Tina booked me in first class for both legs and checked me in for the flight. All by the time I made it up to the counter.

We’ll see how well Delta social listens. Because if they reach out to me about my Delta customer experience, I’d be happy to supply my confirmation number so they can track down Tina and do something incredible for her.

Amid what could have been a completely crappy situation, Tina put the Delta brand on her shoulders and delivered an exceptional customer experience. – Mike Brown

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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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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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