Blogging | The Brainzooming Group - Part 33 – page 33
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Perusing other blogs, one featured an annual favorite articles icon where the blog author shared a retrospective of stories throughout the year.

Since many readers started following Brainzooming during the year, it seemed like a fun idea to adopt. Here are my 10 favorites from the past 12 months:

December 26, 2007 – Aunt Ollie’s Strategy – A wonderful demonstration that great strategy shouldn’t be complicated or confusing. This real-life story about going to visit my aunt during the Christmas holiday is a favorite because it’s become the closing piece for my strategic thinking presentations.

January 11, 2008 – How Fast? vs. Half-Assed – This relationship was drawn several years ago amid frustration over an unrealistic deadline coupled with an expectation for outstanding quality. The idea actually sprang from someone asking, “How fast?” but it hitting my ears as, “Half Assed.” The sketch sat in a folder as a “good idea” with no outlet until starting the blog.

January 14, 2008 – Why Do You Persist in Playing the Organ Weakly? – I took a little heat over this article about how bad the organist is at our Church. The article came about after personally snapping due to her inability to play even common Christmas songs. Imagining myself in her place, I considered options available to improve. It hasn’t worked, because she’s gotten worse during the year. Now, I’m offering it up.

February 29, 2008 – What Would You Do with an Extra Day? – I hate it when great people leave. But often it’s the right thing for them, even though it’s painful. This column’s theme came about because a great co-worker and friend picked “Leap Day” as her last on the job. I wanted to express my appreciation of her growth, my hopes for her future, and cause a few tears. Several people said it delivered on all three!

March 28, 2008 – Periodic Table of Corporate Behavior – This came from a conversation about “periodically” exercising. Somehow, that spawned contemplating if you could label behavioral compositions at work as we do chemical compositions in the periodic table. It seemed hilarious to me and is among the blog’s most frequently viewed pages. It just never generated much activity with people submitting behavioral formulas for co-workers or famous business people. Just figured out the March 28, 2009 column!

May 30, 2008 – Fixing the “Hail Mary” – This is a fave because it involves spirituality and is the most farfetched piece this year: imagine improving something 450 years old because someone with completely fresh ears misunderstood what everyone else was saying. A great testament to actively soliciting fresh perspectives and not always doing things the same way every time.

June 20, 2008 – “The Starry Night” – A story I’d been telling people informally for several years about a truly wonderful, creativity-enriching teacher. Once again, the blog provided the opportunity to finally share it with the broader audience that Matt Barr’s creativity deserves.

August 29, 2008 – “It’s a Masterpiece!” – Another real life occurrence. A parent, who could have been gruff, impatient, or indifferent, excited his child beyond belief and reaffirmed the young guy’s creativity by giving him the best possible answer to a question about his drawing. The young man was so full of creativity, he inspired another post with his fun questions during our flight to Washington, D.C.

September 22, 2008 – Giving the Bride Away – Attending our niece’s wedding inspired a variety of posts about expertise, branding, and seeing things from different perspectives (i.e., backwards at 65 mph). This post started the week, touching on the unconventional life Valerie’s created for herself and the learning opportunities it provided her uncle, who was able to do something he never thought he’d do: walk the bride down the aisle!

November 17, 2008 – Pumpkin Carving Squirrels – Number ten is probably my favorite because of its surprising ending and my sense of utter stupidity. I’m very willing to admit when someone is more creative than me, even if they are only seven inches tall!

Enjoy the look back! Thanks for your readership and here’s to a 2009 full of innovation and great successes!

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 met David Harkleroad at an October 2005 branding conference in New York where I spoke on internal branding.

During the conference, I received an email invitation from him to join his LinkedIn network. I wasn’t familiar with it but thought it was cool that he invited me, especially after hearing him explain to someone that we was selective in extending invitations.

Since then, LinkedIn has proven to be a very valuable business tool to connect with and keep track of former co-workers and individuals I’ve met at conferences. It’s great to be able to easily learn more about people’s jobs and interests. And with the Q&A, groups, and applications that have been added (check out my profile where this blog is now available), it’s given even more options for growing a personal network, contributing ideas to others’ questions, and building awareness for the blog.

Based on that early encounter, I’m still relatively selective in expanding my network, periodically reviewing contacts and testing myself on how well I know or remember them. Yet, I have a great friend, Amy Hoppenrath, a well-known LinkedIn Trainer, who is an advocate for very open networking.

Either way, if you’re a reader and on LinkedIn, let’s connect networks. I’m closing in on 500 connections, and you could be it! Thanks to David Harkleroad for being connection #1!

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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Brother Mike Suchnicki O.F.M. Cap. was my 7th grade catechism teacher. He was the first member of the clergy I really knew on a personal basis since he was with our class 5 days per week throughout the school year.

From Br. Mike (now Fr. Mike), I learned the role that humor, especially self-deprecating humor, can play in making an apparent authority figure approachable. He always told jokes on himself, frequently related to his Eastern European ethnic heritage. (For example, see his t-shirt from a yearbook picture of an intramural volleyball game.)

By readily using humor, the class became more comfortable and receptive to him and the serious religious messages he was sharing. Seeing a religious figure who was actually a real person also awakened in me an early interest in discerning whether I had a religious vocation.

The approachability Br. Mike created through humor led me to embrace a similar style – being willing to poke fun at myself to introduce people to more serious or complex subject matter.

His gift of humor is still a part of my work style, writing, and interpersonal approach. In fact, if you look across my websites, they represent three deep personal themes – strategy, humor, and spirituality. Within the latter two, Br. Mike was a strong early influence, for which I’ll eternally be grateful.

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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After blogging for some time, here are six blogging tips and lessons learned for anyone seriously considering starting a new blog. There’s no shortage of web articles on blogging tips, but these lessons have been learned directly from my own blogging experience:

1. Know why you’re doing this

Before starting your new blog, determine your reasons for blogging. Knowing that blogging is for the discipline of creating content to write a book sustains me while building a blogging audience.

2. Establish blogging guidelines for yourself

Guiding principles simplify blogging decisions and your effort. I knew early I’d cover general work-related topics without mentioning my employer specifically. Additional blogging guidelines include the number of words (generally under 300), how often to publish (daily except holidays), and blog topic categories (limiting content to 20 topic areas).

3. Write for a month before publishing your new blog

After deciding how often to publish, write a month’s worth of blog posts before publishing something online. This blog publishing strategy provides three advantages:

  • You’ll discover how much effort blogging will take and can adjust your blog publishing frequency to ensure you’ll sustain it.
  • It will help refine your blog writing skills.
  • You’ll have a backlog of blog posts for when you hit a creative block.

4. Create a blog editorial calendar

Get a big desk calendar, some small post-it notes, and plan out a few months worth of blog topics. Knowing where you’re headed with your new blog is helpful and the flexibility of modifying where you’re headed (by moving the post-its around) is essential. Another hint – after 6 months, throw out any still-unwritten topic to freshen future content.

5. Capture potential blog topic ideas all the time

Always have something to write down potential blog topic ideas. Never lose a potentially viable blog idea. Ask yourself daily what happened that might have potential. It’s a great relief later to thumb through a notebook of starter blog idea fragments.

6. Keep a hidden blog for experimenting

After setting up your new blog, establish a hidden blog for experimenting where you can test graphics, pre-publish posts to see how they’ll look, and work out bugs as you experiment with your new blog. – 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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This year was an unusual one to begin blogging. Amid challenging business and economic conditions (which provide a lot of potential material), my typical creative times (on planes) and stimuli (travel and exposure to new, external ideas) have been in short supply while creating five posts weekly on strategy and innovation.

That’s why I’ve relished opportunities to interact and learn from other marketers and business people at the various events I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at this year. They’ve provided a wonderful source of material, and the current conference is no exception.

Yesterday included two sessions at the marcus evans Customer Segmentation conference in Miami – one on Brainzooming and the other an interactive exchange where the group shared segmentation best practices in an exercise called, “90 Second Solutions.” There were a number of interesting presentations from a variety of companies that I’ll recap next week.

As we wrap up Anniversary Week, thanks for reading the blog and remember – let me know what you’re thinking and what you’d like to see here in the coming year!

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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Today’s blogging learnings relate to interaction. The lessons are best characterized as being similar to a magnet – there’s an attractive force, with both positive and negative elements.

Attractive Force

Blogging has revealed personal interests that have attracted learning opportunities, even from people who already knew me pretty well. Through people sharing information prompted by blogging, I’ve learned about:

And that’s simply a sample of the varied and very cool stuff others have shared because of blogging.

Positive

I’ve received much positive feedback about blogging via email, comments here, and personal conversation. Through Google Analytics, I can see hits worldwide – audiences I’d never reach. One regular reader commented recently that there are “some very good posts” here; I asked him to let me know which ones since it’s tough for me to pick them out! The most intriguing comment was from a Chicago reader reminding me the blog earns me one minute of his time every day and that “counts for a lot.” It certainly does, and I sincerely appreciate it!

Negative

The negative is we still haven’t uncovered how to get more of you participating in dialogue and sharing the blog with others, especially via posts or other web references. As a group, you seem fairly quiet online, at least around here.

Blogging how-to’s suggest regular, strong, original content as a growth key. We have regularity, but if you see modifications to content or style that would compel more of your own participation, getting your thoughts would be great. In one comment, Chris Reaburn pointed out similarities between indie bands and bloggers in this regard. You are the “small initial audience” and through the level of interaction you create, you can directly impact the work.

Feel free to exercise your influence by sharing thoughts on three questions to help shape the blog in the next year:

  • What topics have been most beneficial to you either professionally or personally?
  • What do you think about featuring shorter posts – do they still offer enough worthwhile information? (Results to the recent poll suggest that brevity is still preferred; Creative Quickies were at the top of the preference list.)
  • What are your suggestions for continuing to grow readership?

Thanks in advance for any comments you provide. And here’s to another year’s worth of sharing strategy and innovation ideas!

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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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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Follow Me:
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