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Creative thinking exercises suited for an historically successful group was the topic last week when I spoke to the Johnson County Sertoma. Thanks to an invitation from Marty Fahncke, president of the non-profit group, it was an opportunity to speak with them about group creativity exercises as they consider a significant new service project and fund raising strategies to support it. The inspiration for the presentation came from “Words of Inspiration” on the Sertoma website. Five words in particular tie directly to important creative thinking concepts:

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm for ideas – lots of ideasis central to generating possibilities that create breakthrough results. The key isn’t about looking for a “big” idea though. Starting with looking for a “big idea” as your central objective results in people censoring potentially huge ideas. This happens when a person thinks their own idea doesn’t meet the “big idea” criteria. When looking for big results, it’s vital to display enthusiasm for lots of possible ideas to reach your objective.

Youth

Many Johnson County Sertoma projects involve children, especially a fantasy sports camp for hearing-impaired kids. I encouraged the organization members to look to children in their programs as a source for ideas. They can ask the kids for ideas about why they enjoy the activities, how they’d find people to help support a new project, and ways they would raise more money. Because they haven’t had creativity completely beaten out by the educational system and life experiences, kids are a wonderful source for ground-breaking possibilities.

Brain

The fact “brain” was one of the inspiration words was exciting for me! Yet for a successful organization, the knowledge members have about what’s worked and hasn’t can block considering new ideas more suitable for today’s challenges. I encouraged the group to critically examine past successes for ways to improve them and to set order of magnitude larger goals to stretch thinking on potential strategies to implement.

Helping Others

As a service-based organization, Johnson County Sertoma is all about helping others. An interesting twist is to think about how others can help them though. One way to do this is through a creative thinking exercise we call “Change Your Character.” In the exercise, you look for people who have experienced similar situations, consider how they’ve approached those situations, and then apply the techniques to your own opportunity. At the presentation, we picked Donald Trump to “help” given his knack for raising funds to implement new projects.

Fear

The words of inspiration mentioned fear as an inhibitor to progress. That’s certainly true when fears make people retreat from challenging ideas that would push them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable areas personally or organizationally. One way to get a group that gravitates toward comfortable ideas to consider something new is to specifically single out ideas viewed as having potential impact but which create discomfort. Isolating these ideas and talking about them individually can help figure out if concerns making these ideas seem uncomfortable are legitimate or whether they spring from reluctance to doing things in a very new ways.

It was a great group, and I look forward to spending some more time to help them in Brainzooming some more new ideas!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 brainzooming@gmail.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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Beginning this week, I’m launching a string of innovation training presentations and speaking appearances in the next six weeks, concentrated on two primary presentation topics from The Brainzooming Group: generating innovative business ideas and social media strategy.

Several presentations are around the Kansas City area plus I’ll also be in Milwaukee and Minneapolis for strategy presentations open to the public through the local Business Marketing Association chapters.

Here’s the current schedule along with links to registration and background information on the presentations. If you’re in the area, it would be great to see you!

Would your organization like to offer its employees or members greater understanding and actionable tools in business strategy, innovation, creativity, branding, and social media?

If so, call (816-509-5320) or email me (brainzooming@gmail.com) to see how we can bring the Brainzooming message and experience to your organization. – Mike Brown

When it comes to training, conferences, and high impact, actionable presentations, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can make your event more successful!

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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Yesterday’s video with innovation gurus Stone Payton and Todd Schnick was shot last Wednesday night at #InnobeerATL, a get together planned for the original #Innochat innovation guys along with friends from Atlanta and some of the AMA Marketing Research Conference and social media team.

#Innobeer is the moniker for in real life meetings among those participating in #Innochat. It was originally coined by some of the new innovators behind #Innochat, but when getting together with Stone and Todd, it seemed quite obvious that the descriptor was a great name for our event.

Among the great friends joining us was Lynn Keenum, a former sales VP at Yellow Transportation, where I worked for many years. Lynn, quite frankly, is not only one of the funniest people I know, in “retirement,” he is reaching out to combine his love of horses with providing therapy for young people with learning and developmental challenges. It’s truly a wonderful calling, and Lynn is the perfect person to be at the center of it.

While he was at #InnobeerATL, Lynn told one of my two favorite stories of his – recounting his take on Tom Peters speaking to the first Yellow Transportation customer conference in 2000. Peter’s speaking approach and atypical use of Powerpoint (big words, lots of color) prompted a big revision in my own Powerpoint presentation style.

Nonetheless, Lynn’s take on the presentation, recounted in this video, is the memorable image which most sticks with me from Tom Peters’ speech more than 10 years ago. Enjoy! – 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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When I decided to chair the American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference a second year, I was excited by the opportunity to get back to Atlanta for several days. It had been years since I’d spent any amount of time in Atlanta, and it was an opportunity to get together with a variety of folks I hadn’t seen for a while, or had never met.

In the latter category were Stone Payton and Todd Schnick, the founders of #Innochat on Twitter. #Innochat is a weekly innovation strategy discussion they started in early 2009. It’s since moved on to new curators, but it was great after all this time to finally meet Stone and Todd in person. Here’s a video recap of the origins of #Innochat and an update on what they are up to now.  – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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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What a week last week!

First of all, thanks to Barrett Sydnor for keeping the Brainzooming blog active with book reviews on some fundamental strategy books for marketers.

For most of the week, I was chairing the 2010 American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference in Atlanta for the second year in a row. There was tremendous strategic content on business, marketing, and market research from outstanding speakers. But since my focus for the marketing research conference was on emceeing the general sessions and helping produce the conference, I didn’t take the typical copious notes I usually would.

So as I pull my thoughts together into a future blog post, here’s a video recap of the American Marketing Association marketing research conference from Jeffrey Henning of Vovici. Jeffrey Henning has been on the AMA Marketing Research Conference social media team two years in a row, and this year, he wrote 13 blog posts across the marketing research conference which ran from September 26 to September 29, 2010.

Beyond Jeffrey’s take, we’ll have several other videos and reflections from in and around the conference this week. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make mart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.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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Are You in Atlanta? Let’s Meetup Wednesday, September 29!

If you’re an Atlanta-based reader, let’s get together Wednesday, September 29!

Atlanta is the birthplace of the innovation-oriented weekly Twitter chat #Innochat, and since I’ll be in Atlanta next week chairing the AMA Marketing Research Conference, it seemed the perfect opportunity to get together with @StonePayton and @ToddSchnick who were there at the start of #Innochat.  Here’s the online invitation for our get together Wednesday, September 29th at 5 p.m. at Yeah!Burger. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Living Life as an Experiment

If you haven’t seen it, check out Peter Bergman’s article from the Harvard Business Review website about living life as an experiment. The piece details his experience in returning something to a retail store and trying, through a passive approach, to see if he could get out of having the 20% restocking fee deducted from his refund. Sounds reasonable enough to me, but he got raked over the coals in the comments for being unethical! Wow, I don’t get that. Anyway, the experience prompted a similarly engaging post on how to deal with surprise criticism, something we can probably all improve upon.

A New Creativity Trigger

Here’s an online random word generator if it feels like randomness is what you need to get your creativity instigated in a hurry.

Custom Sharpie Markers

Turns out (probably not surprisingly) you can now order custom Sharpie markers with messages, fonts, and colors of your choosing. Since many of you know about my love for drawing with Sharpie markers, my first reaction was to get out my credit card and THEN click the link to see about ordering some. Much to my horror, orange isn’t available as a color! So it’s still a fun idea, but not nearly as fun as it could be if I could get some custom orange Brainzooming Sharpies!

Everything Seems New in the Morning

Morning is a glorious time to do things which seemed impossible (or too boring) to do the night before. Even with a too short night of sleep, the quiet and freshness of the morning so often prove to be just the creative instigator I need to be so much more productive.  – 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 brainzooming@gmail.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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In just a few weeks (September 26 through 29), the annual American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference will unfold in Atlanta. For the second year, I’ll be chairing the conference whose theme is “Unfiltered Perspectives. Unexpected Opportunities.”

We’ve once again designed an overall conference experience intended to challenge market researchers to look beyond our typical roles and responsibilities to really consider what it takes to contribute meaningfully to business – right now and in the future.

Among the exciting elements which make the AMA Marketing Research Conference unmatchable:

  • The conference committee, made up of research veterans, is personally involved in recruiting all the speakers. This ensures the 35 interactive educational sessions deliver meaningful content tied to the conference’s strategic theme.
  • There’s an incredible line up of smart, strategic business leaders speaking, including many who have been featured in Brainzooming before. These include Gary Singer of Buyology, Joe Batista of HP, and author Kelley Styring of Insight Farm.
  • Our conference-in-a-conference format allows attendees to target specific learning agendas, including advanced research techniques, case studies, research tools, and unconference sessions where attendees can actively shape the content.
  • An active social media team will document the entire conference to allow attendees to learn even from sessions they don’t attend. The team will be coordinated by Nate Riggs of Social Business Strategies (who has been working with The Brainzooming Group on various social media strategic implementations).

As one person described it, this is the marketing research conference that market researchers put on for themselves.

One of the best parts of last year’s conference was feedback from the audience that the event builds a true sense of community within the diverse group of market researchers who attended the event (including a researcher from Russia who decided to attend in the last few days before the conference). We’ll do the same this year, so if you’re involved in market research, you owe it to yourself to attend.

Download the most current, in-depth version of the conference brochure today and review more details on the conference at the American Marketing Association website.

As a Brainzooming reader, you’ll receive $100 off registration by calling 1-800-262-1150 and using the promo code “VIP” when you register.

Join us in Atlanta, September 26 through 29th. It will be an unparalleled experience in your career!Mike Brown


When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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