I was in Boulder, CO last week for the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. As more than one person asked me, “Why were you at an early childhood education conference?”

Fair question.


The short answer was the school’s founder, Dr. Ellen Hall, and I serve together on the board of another non-profit, Nature Explore. Ellen Hall paved the way for the invitation to speak and attend both days of the conference.

The longer answer is, beyond speaking on creative thinking, it was a welcome change to be surrounded by people and an environment fostering in children the same types of creative thinking we try to instigate among adults in the business world.

And as expected, it was an incredible learning experience.

I’ll share various creative thinking insights and images from the Boulder Journey School Summer conference this week; they are all related to the adult world of strategy, creativity, and innovation we cover.

Today, here are creative thinking quotes and comments that resonated and pushed my own thinking:

Creative Thinking Quotes Mentioned During Presentations

“You can’t do a good job unless you’re keen on it yourself.” – quoting David Hawkins


“To be in dialogue means to accept transformation.” – quoting Carlina Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children


“If you have no bloody owies, you’re being too careful. If you have more than three bloody owies, you’re probably not being careful enough.” – quoting Teacher Tom

  • This does a lot better job of conveying the whole “you have to fail to succeed” perspective than anything else I’ve seen on the topic.


“To listen is not to fit what we hear into what we already know, but rather to be poised for the possibilities of what we are about to come to know.” – quoting Davies


Live Creative Thinking Quotes from Speakers

“I have a lot of learning to do, that’s why I’m up here presenting today.” – Jen Selbitschka, Studio Teacher


“You can’t bring seventy-five people together and make a decision.” – Andrea Sisbarro, School Director at Boulder Journey School


“You could look at turning over 41 interns every year as a disaster, or you can see it as a great opportunity to bring new learning into the school.” – Alison Maher, Education Director at Boulder Journey School


“The best thing about dandelions is nobody cares if you pull them up.” Another Teacher at the Boulder Journey School


“What are we working on together?” – Mary Jane Moran

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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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When you’re on the road, lots of things are going on, and you’re up at 4:30 a.m. trying to write, you get very creative about what you can share in that day’s blog post.

At least that’s what happened with these strategic thinking quotes for today!

These strategic thinking quotes all came from some of the earliest, pre-Brainzooming strategy sessions we were doing in the Fortune 500 world. Some are serious; some were meant to take friendly jabs at our economist; some (specifically the last one from me) were made up to get a laugh when one was needed in the middle of the afternoon.


16 Strategic Thinking Quotes on Ideas

“Most people don’t take the time to think. I made an international reputation for myself by deciding to think twice a week.”  – George Bernard Shaw

“No brain is stronger than its weakest think.” – Thomas L. Masson

“The man who gets the most satisfactory results is not always the man with the most brilliant single mind, but rather the man who can best coordinate the brains and talents of his associates.” – W. Alton Jones

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Our best thoughts come from others.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  – Dr. Seuss

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to look after them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

“The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.” – Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance

“To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains.” –Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg

“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” – Thomas Dewar

“I dwell in possibilities.” – Emily Dickinson

“If you have to forecast, forecast often. “ – Edgar R. Fiedler

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” – Laurence J. Peter

“For a successful strategy session, keep the food light, the lights bright, and drink caffeine all night.”– Mike Brown

“Generating exciting new ideas burns 325 calories per hour and has no carbs. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. Rambling aimlessly about a point that someone has already made burns only 3 calories per hour.” – Mike Brown (Definitely don’t quote me on this one!)


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It’s always fantastic when a blog post inspires a reader to take action on an idea. An email I received from reader John Bennett, a University of Connecticut Emeritus Professor and scholar of learning, contained a fantastic example of this. John is a great proponent and sharer of Brainzooming content, and you can find him on Twitter at @jcbjr.

In the email, John shared his personal strategic tapestry list, picking up on an idea suggested in a couple of Brainzooming posts. The idea is we should all be continually adding to our strategic influences and lessons in a way that makes the whole collection not only unique to each of us, but resistant to being thrown over by a new idea in the latest new business book. I was incredibly honored to be included on John’s list, but even if I hadn’t, I’d want to share it with all of you as further inspiration to reflect on your personal strategic tapestry. John agreed to share his list with all of you, so here it is!

My Personal Strategic Tapestry by Professor John Bennett

John-Bennett-PhotoAfter being introduced to the notion of a personal strategic tapestry, I organized my own with regard to Effective Learning.  It’s quite exciting that as I assembled the quotations, I understood more deeply my strategic position on effective learning which just sort of bubbled to the surface during the process:

  • “In short, you can control us, or you can engage us. But you have to choose which you want, because you can never have both.” (Ted Coiné, Switch and Shift)
  • “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.” (Stephen Covey)
  • “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” (Stephen Covey)
  • “Learn from the mistakes of others; you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” (Seth Godin)
  • “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a we model that makes the existing model obsolete.” (Buckminster Fuller)
  • “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” (Alexandra K. Trenfor)
  • “It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” (Roy E. Disney)
  • “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “Learning never exhausts the mind.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” (Stephen Hawking)
  • “Don’t let school interfere with your education.” (Mark Twain)
  • “You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing about the bird. So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts.” (Richard P. Feynman)
  • “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “You cannot teach a [person] anything; you can only help [her/him] find it within themself.” (Galileo Galilei)
  • “One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson)
  • “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” (Henry Ford)
  • “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” (Aristotle)
  • “You can’t TRY to do things, you must simply DO them.” (Ray Bradbury)
  • “If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.” (Neil Gaiman)
  • “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” (Socrates)
  • “Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” (Roger Lewin)
  • “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the ardor I work, the more I have do it.” (Thomas Jefferson)
  • “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” (John Quincy Adams)
  • “Constant testing will no more address the problems with our education system than constantly putting an overweight person on the scale will cure obesity.” (Anna Quindlen)
  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the works. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
  • “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” (Henry Ford)
  • “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” (Maya Angelou)
  • “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” (Steve Jobs)
  • “Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” (Sir Ken Robinson)
  • “If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” (Henry Ford)
  • “A leader should say what he or she thinks only after the people who work for the leader share what they think.” (Greg Reid)
  • “Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.” (Mike Brown, Brainzoomimg)
  • “Don’t decide for another person why you think they will say, ‘No.'” (Bernie Brown)

I plan to further organize and expand the tapestry with more quotations after further consideration.  But in creating it, I must say, first impressions are that indeed my strategic thinking is very much influenced / aligned with this tapestry. – John Bennett 


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There’s clearly a sub-theme running through social media content I track (now that the brainstorming doesn’t work theme has died down a bit) saying if you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not innovating or doing anything remarkable. And there are certainly social media stars who have built public personalities around the concept that the strongest differentiation comes from the lone wolf visionary innovating in ways status quo lovers will hate.

While I get the social media attraction of the message that pissing off status quo-oriented people represents innovation, I am never going to be there strategically. It is just not in my DNA, or if it ever were, it has been consciously unwound and left by the wayside somewhere along my business career.

Instead, the foundation shaping my personal view of business brainstorming and innovation success is at the other end of the strategy spectrum. In fact, the saying that best sums it up is actually a Bible verse (which has probably never appeared in popular social media channels) that is on my mind particularly today.

Innovation Based on Participation, Brainstorming, and Sound Strategy

I have lectored at 6:30 a.m. mass nearly every Tuesday for perhaps twelve years. Every two years on this Tuesday (during the 32nd week of the liturgical year), my favorite business-oriented bible verse is part of the first reading at mass. It is from the letter to Titus (Chapter 2: 7-8):

“Show(ing) yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.”

As I said before, basing your approach to innovating on this Bible verse from the letter to Titus is definitely the opposite of demonstrating your innovative nature by telling social media followers to forget brainstorming and concentrate on pissing piss off people!

Innovation Success through Creating Attraction

For me, the height of innovation success comes through demonstrating a sound strategy, making a compelling logic-based case, or successfully appealing to another’s emotions. When you create such an attractive strategic alternative that even those who initially disagreed with your innovative perspective (perhaps out of fear of innovation) have no choice but to embrace it.

This isn’t about people pleasing.

It’s about creating something that people WANT to be a part of because they see the connection between where they are now and the opportunity of the new innovation – even if the connection pulls them far away from where they are right now.

The possibility of creating innovation that is clearly different than the status quo, developed through brainstorming and ideas from a variety of people, and makes all the sense in the world for people to embrace?

That is what the innovation The Brainzooming Group helps organizations achieve is all about.

Maybe that point of view doesn’t generate as much social media buzz, but if THAT innovative approach sounds attractive to you, let’s work together to make it happen. – Mike Brown


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If you’re struggling to create or sustain innovation success, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our  strategic thinking, brainstorming, and implementation tools to help you create greater innovation success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around innovation and implementation challenges.

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 fundamental part of effectively building a social media network is positively and beneficially interacting with other social media users. Another part is being able to successfully  ask members of your social media network for assistance and participation – either collectively or individually. Doing this successfully directly relates to the social media etiquette you display when you’re making a big social media “ask” of your audience.

There are clearly better and worse ways to ask your social media network for action. And based on requests we have received lately, there are a variety of basic social media etiquette practices social media users (even prominent ones) don’t know, selectively follow, or choose to blatantly ignore.

11 Keys to Seeking Social Media Network Help

When it comes to seeking help from your social media network . . .

  • If you solicit people in your social media network to leave comments on your new blog post, be prepared to check for pending comments throughout the day and APPROVE them as they are made.
  • When asking your social media network to “Like” or “Follow” your new social media presence, start sharing content in advance so your social media presence looks like an active one.
  • If you’re going to direct message someone to prompt them to retweet your important new social media content, make sure the link you include works – every time.
  • When you request guest blog posts, offer some direction on who your audience target is and provide activation support within your social media network after the guest post appears.
  • If you want to become a guest author on a blog, first show up and participate on the blog (or other social networks where the blogger is active) instead of simply making a request out of the blue.
  • When writing a guest post for someone else’s blog, don’t send the same post to multiple bloggers.
  • If you ask for a review of your book, webinar, or speech, be willing to adapt to a blogger’s writing approach (and actually supply the discount code you promise will be available to the blog’s readers).
  • When throwing out a question on Twitter or Facebook to other social media users, be ready to interact with members of your social media network who respond.
  • If you insist on sending an auto-direct message to someone who newly follows you on Twitter and include a question in the tweet, follow them back beforehand so they can respond to you with a direct message.
  • When asking someone within your social network to do something for you, do something for them first.
  • Use “please” and “thank you” liberally – even if it means sending someone another message (or two) to say them.

There are certainly more than these eleven social media etiquette tips, but these provide a solid foundation for cultivating greater social media network success.

What other social media etiquette tips would you add?

What social media etiquette miscues do you see when people make requests via social media? And what successful social media etiquette practices do you appreciate within your social media network?  – Mike Brown


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Okay, first, this has to be said: the Business Communicators Summit sponsored by the Kansas City IABC was INCREDIBLE!

While I leave many conferences feeling like, “Oh crap, I’m so far behind and won’t ever figure out the cool things other people are doing,” nothing could be further from the truth after yesterday’s conference.

Leaving Kansas City’s Uptown Theatre at day’s end after hearing Steve Crescenzo, Chris Brogan, and other great presenters, my brain was zooming with pages of ideas including some breakthrough ones which only seem to emerge during a highly-creative day removed from the regular routine.

Rather than writing presentation summaries, here’s a sampling of innovation instigators from throughout the day.

  • If you’re in B2B, continually watch the consumer world for ideas to co-opt. People make every B2B buying decision. Appeal to what motivates people as individuals, not as businesses. And people care about people, so put actual people with genuine stories in communications.
  • Great refresh of the tired old “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” quote from Steve Crescenzo: “Proceed until apprehended.”
  • If you’ve got customers who are spending time on social networks, then there’s got to be a customer service dimension to whatever your company’s considering in social media.
  • A pivotal mashup idea from the mouths of Steve Crescenzo and Chris Brogan: Communicators need to be talent scouts. That implies looking for people inside the company who are passionate and ooze the brand. These are your communicators in social media channels, regardless of what department they live and work in. Time-saving tip: when you start your talent hunt, begin in customer service.
  • Deliver people an artifact as quickly as you can, even if it’s a rough version of a concept. People unfamiliar with new concepts will say “no” until they’re presented with something tangible. That means you start big ideas before you get permission, and share tangible stuff before you get perfection.
  • Customers don’t give a crap about the mechanics of what you do. They’re interested in recommendations, and most importantly, the results. Go there first and fast!
  • Just like “-ista,” adding “-ati” to the end of a word makes it sound like a bigger, cool deal.
  • Great presentations are example and story-based. Are you (and by “Are you, I mean “Am I”) taking dramatic steps to make sure your presentations reflect that? Now I’m completely rethinking a blogging presentation scheduled for next Thursday.

This is simply a smattering of ideas triggered by the innovative content on social media and broader communication strategy.

If you attended the BCS (and there were a few Brainzooming readers I talked with), please share what big revelations you had in the comments section.

If you weren’t in Kansas City or were and didn’t make it to the Business Communications Summit (go ahead and kick yourself – no need to wait for permission from me), check out the live tweet stream, while it’s still available. Or as another cheat, here’s a link to notes from Chris Brogan’s presentation the day before.

Thank you KC IABC. What a day! So glad I attended. – 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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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” begins with its narrator, Nick Carraway, recounting his father’s admonition that not everyone in the world is provided the same advantages. The comment led to Nick’s inclination to “reserve all judgments,” a “habit that…opened up many curious natures” to him.

This opening passage of “Gatsby” has shaped me dramatically. Amid growing up in an environment of clear rights and wrongs, these words were a reminder to delay judgment in order to better understand people, even those who are objectively well outside my behavioral beliefs.

Given the importance of suspending judgment in the early stages of originating new ideas, this practice has been fundamental to helping businesses imagine new possibilities for potential opportunities. There’s a time for judgment, but initially, ideas have to emerge and “breathe” first.

It isn’t all glorious, however, when you reserve judgments. As Nick notes, it led to him being “the victim of not a few veteran bores.” I’ve certainly found that to be the case. It’s also led to having a diverse set of friends (really fun) who at times can’t stand one another (not so fun). Their distinct differences, which I tend to overlook, often make them incompatible.

In all, delaying judgments is a beneficial practice. So what do you think? Are there a few situations in your life right now where you’d be better off to suspend judgment and see how they play out first? The interesting things you’ll experience and learn will FAR outweigh any bores you might encounter. Just go with me on this – okay?

BTW – Want a little “fun” with “The Great Gatsby”? Watch this video of Andy Kaufman trying to read the book to a reluctant audience. You can skip ahead to 2:40 to hear the passage that inspired this post!

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. – 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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