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Who says you can’t have meaningful conversations on Twitter? Recent Twitter direct message (DM) discussions were good for generating  this and another article this week.

Several weeks ago, I was DMing with someone struggling with how recent Twitter interactions were playing out negatively. A clear pattern had developed where people were able to relatively easily goad him into exchanges where his frustrations were quite apparent to important followers in his Twitter network. We’d DM’d and talked live about the pattern several times, and while the topics changed, the pattern remained the same.

In the course of the dialog, he asked if I’d read the book “Who’s Pushing Your Buttons” by John Townsend. He described the book as about how to handle people in your life who push your buttons to agitate you.

My recommendation to him was to instead read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Carnegie’s classic helped me to ultimately “disable” my buttons. The book’s formula of focusing on others and paying attention to their motivations and interests helped diffuse the “angry young man” syndrome of my early years. As a result, my buttons aren’t sitting there for someone to try and push them. While disabling your buttons is sometimes hard to do, it’s a lot more successful long-term than constantly trying to defend them from being pushed.

If you also struggle with a short fuse, and a proclivity to respond negatively and aggressively when provoked by others, do yourself a favor and read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It can make a huge difference in your life and the lives of those around you – whether in real like or in your virtual network. – 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 worked with Scott Frederick for several years and was excited to see him tweeting recently about his business tenets. The ideas seemed like a natural for a guest post. I think you’ll enjoy them and find, as I have, that Scott has a variety of talents and interests. Some are obvious (marketing professional), but as he notes in today’s guest post, you have to dig to find out about some of the others (Hollywood Dad/video producer, sports enthusiast), because he won’t hit you over the head talking about them!

As a humble marketing professional and Hollywood dad, it’s not my nature to be overtly outspoken regarding my values or beliefs. Growing up in Michigan, I admired Detroit sports icons Al Kaline, Barry Sanders and Steve Yzerman. The trait shared by these three successful competitors is that, although they spoke softly, their actions resounded loudly.

Much like Al, Barry and Steve, I prefer not to overtly proselytize others to my professional and personal (and religious) beliefs. Normally I prefer leading by example and letting my actions speak on my behalf. The past couple weeks though, I have tweeted twelve of Scott’s Business Tenets representing opinions formed across a 20-plus year career as a participant in corporate America. These tenets represent the good, the bad and the ugly of my professional experiences.

I was humbled when Mike asked me to provide a guest article based on the tenets for Brainzooming.  On the other hand, it’s absolutely fitting since I would probably not have forced myself to write down my business philosophies had it not been for Mike’s inspiration and accomplishments with Brainzooming.

Let me start by underlining that these are my own personal opinions and don’t necessarily reflect those of the organization for which I work. This caveat is appropriately reinforced by a simple review of the word “tenet” itself:

ten·et n. An opinion, doctrine, or principle held as being true by a person or organization.

I submit these twelve tenets for your consideration as you think about your own experiences, philosophies and values.

  • There is no “I” in “SUCCESS” (but there is in EGOTIST). I learned this tenet early (from a family member no less). Nothing’s more annoying than to have someone talk about the miraculous feats THEY accomplished for their company. Name any successful corporate project, and there’s more than one individual who made it happen (even though corporate compensation doesn’t always reflect this).
  • Create a vision of the end result and you will sell the means to get there. My experience has been it’s very difficult to get executive endorsement on projects they can’t “visualize.” However, if you can create a clear vision of what the project will provide (e.g., pictures, facts, financials, etc.), obtaining executive approval becomes much easier.
  • A great attitude is more important than great aptitude. Show me someone with a great attitude, and I can teach them to do anything. Show me a disgruntled employee with all the skill in the world, and I’ll show you an empty office (eventually).
  • The personal brand must not supersede the company brand. This one is tricky because everyone should work on improving their personal brand. This is particularly important when the company doesn’t seem committed to its own brand. However, I have observed cases where an individual’s personal brand seems to take precedence over the company brand. Ultimately, this sends the wrong signal to employees working very hard to build the company brand.
  • The most effective marketing managers are multi-dimensional professionals – not narrow specialists. This tenet stems from working for a company that often had very few marketing resources compared to its industry peers. Even if I were running my own company, however, I would much prefer to have marketing professionals who can perform a variety of tasks, rather than one-trick-ponies who are only good at shuffling work back and forth.
  • Working hard and working smart are the best combination. I value a strong work ethic almost as much as integrity and attitude. But working hard is not a substitute for working smart – rather it’s the perfect complement.
  • Democracy is good, but responsibility without authority is not. When employees are given a tremendous amount of responsibility but no authority to get the work done, it leads to frustration and wasted time and resources. Differing opinions, ideas, and perspectives are always welcomed. At the end of the day, though, people must be empowered to make final decisions individually. 
  • Repeat, repeat, and repeat your message, and people will finally get it. This is perhaps the most self-evident of the tenets. But experience suggests time and time again that repetition really does work.
  • Dry humor is better than no humor at all. This tenet is a little narcissistic since my humor is as dry as it comes. But in all seriousness, working in an environment lacking any humor at all is never fun for anyone.   
  • Every employee should end the work day feeling as if they made a contribution to the success of the organization. This is a very obvious tenet. The hard part is actually making it so. Organizations and managers that don’t believe this tenet are really missing out on the power of their people (or they need to recruit Brainzooming to help them define success and prioritize their goals).
  • Nothing and no one is perfect, but that’s no reason not to attempt it. Ask anyone that’s ever worked for me and they’ll probably tell you I’m too much of a perfectionist. The funny thing is I am as imperfect as they come. However, I try not to use this as an excuse for not trying to make all of my work as perfect as it can be. That is the only expectation I have of others as well. Don’t be perfect – just try.
  • Reality Therapy: What do you want? Is what you’re doing getting what you want? What should you be doing to get what you want? Saved the best for last. I actually learned this from one of the most capable training professionals I have ever known. If you are ever faced with a conflict, these are three of the most powerful questions you can possibly ask. And that’s not fiction, its reality!

With new experiences and learnings, I am sure there will be more tenets along the way – and some may even change with new perspective. My humble advice is you consider reflecting on your own experiences and attempt to write down lessons you have learned. Who knows – someone you know might ask you to be their guest blogger for the day!  – Scott G. Frederick

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You may have heard about the Kansas City blizzard last weekend. So much for the first day of Spring! Shoveling the wet, heavy snow on Sunday prompted building a snowman for the first time in years. And of course, the experience turned into a quick video creativity lesson. – 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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At the invitation of Brainzooming email subscriber Terry Kincheloe, I attended the second 2010 meeting of KairosAnalytics, a Kansas City-based web analytics strategy forum last Thursday. Tony Fortner, Consumer Experience Strategist at Sprint, presented on “Social Engagement Strategy.”

In the course of laying out his perspective, Tony covered culture, values, economic theory, World of Warcraft, strategy creation, the challenges of measuring social community business impacts, plus a few anecdotes on the internal politics at Sprint. Needless to say, it was an evening full of stimulating strategy ideas!

Rather than trying to play back notes from all of Tony’s presentation, here are a few takeaways:

  • So much of creating a vibrant online community strategy goes back to culture, values, and much of what we were taught as children: decency, helping one another, the golden rule, keeping your “hands clean”, loyalty, trust, etc.
  • Tony commented about feeling ethically bound to “say something” when a decision was being considered which would harm a customer. This creates a clear distinction for me. I’d place the emphasis on being bound to protect customers by actually stopping a harmful action. “Saying something” can be a self-serving exercise (esp. when you walk away in frustration), when what’s really needed is creating a positive result from the discussion.
  • For many (most?) companies, embracing the idea of a real community goes beyond innovation and is a radical strategy. If you’re trying to introduce a new, visionary strategy such as this inside a company, be sure to match up with someone who excels at the steps it will take to make it happen. And if implementation is your strong suit, go out of your way to align with someone who can communicate the strong vision necessary for the organization to make strategic changes necessary to be successful with a community.
  • Despite all the discussion on best practices, real learnings often come from the ends of the spectrum, not the middle. To understand where things are headed, look toward the people and companies pushing the limits.
  • Not every brand is going to win with a social community strategy. Some pre-existing business models simply aren’t going to fit with the innovation imperatives a community-based strategy implies. It’s clear some businesses are going to lose because of social networking-driven strategic change.

It was a great session. In July, I’m speaking to KAIROS on what could ostensibly be seen as the same topic Tony addressed – social media and strategy. Because there are so many ways to address the topic, it was reassuring to see our angles will be complementary, but different enough to have new things to say. – 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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Often, the challenge isn’t getting good, new ideas. It’s hanging on to them long enough to do something about them! Today’s guest article from Franis Engel addresses that very challenge.

Franis (@learncreativity on Twitter) thinks everyone is talented. She specializes in making complexities simple, innovating about how the Alexander Technique can be taught faster to groups. A high idea-producer, she can Twitter and tele-host simultaneously, and is planning a podcast series featuring the interesting secret geniuses she’s collected as friends. You can find out more about her multi-talented adventures from the Big Island of HI and beyond at http://www.franis.org.

So here are five of Franis’ great strategies for capturing more cool ideas before they simply disappear:

Why don’t more people preserve their ideas and do something with them? Turns out expressions of futility are many.

One reason is there’s a part of the brain that actively disregards what doesn’t match expectations. Another part of the brain deletes the anomalies, since they don’t match. What if these brain parts happen to be particularly active? Well, let’s just say most people have an average of 45 seconds to get a good idea down before it goes “poof.” That’s an average. Some people are on to the next thought much faster. So for them, it’s not particularly possible to catch these fleeting possibilities.

That’s where you come in. Someone who already knows the advantages of capturing great ideas can encourage a beginner at innovation to do the same for themselves by showing them how easy it is. For example:

  • To get ideas down more quickly, learn speed writing. EasyScript has only five rules, making it easy to learn and remember. Using it, I’m able to write, with pencil in hand, about as fast as someone can type. It’s so much less intimidating when you’re scribbling something while someone is talking. This means in a living room conversation, suddenly the person who’s eloquent (but gets “microphone fever”) has the evidence you wrote down that makes it so.
  • Often, there’s writing already going on; all that’s needed is compiling it. What about those chats with such interesting links you trade back and forth? Skype collects these chats in its history. Just copy and compile them into a blog. We know that blogging isn’t hard, but many people don’t. Make it a private blog and invite them to share the editing.
  • Every answering machine has a “memo” feature. Learn to use it and transcribe later. Google Voice also has this feature; it spits out WAV file that gets sent to you by email.
  • What about collecting words that you hear people use in new ways or words that you’ve never heard before? A friend of mine started keeping a book thirty years ago of quotes from the interesting, funny, and notable things people he knew personally were saying. It’s still amusing today. How much cooler it would be to tweet what your friends say than already published quotes! There are even services that compile your Twitter stream in various ways. You can start a #hashtag and Twapperkeeper will save them for you.
  • From a time when I rented a place from a misogynist landlord who used to regularly threaten me over the phone, I hit on the idea of collecting his insults. As I did, customer service departments found that collecting a list of complaints/excuses and celebrating the originals took the sting out of them, making them irreverently funny.

So, while you’re writing down your own brilliant ideas, take some time to sing the praises of others. Even if they drop the baton you’re passing, at least you’ve got another interesting collection to blog. – Franis Engel

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Ranking among opportunities can be tricky during strategy and innovation planning. Rigorous metrics may take too long to gather. A simple A/B/C or 1/2/3 ranking strategy, though, ignores underlying assumptions about how beneficial or costly an option may be. Absent some kind of description, your “1” ranking may be very different than someone else’s “1” ranking.

This video clip from the “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” presentation discusses a beneficial ranking strategy which includes giving descriptions to each ranking point. Using this prioritization strategy, participants are forced to pick a descriptive ranking for each opportunity. This important step stimulates strategic discussion since each person has to weigh in with a choice others are able to interpret. It sets the stage for a clear opportunity to agree or disagree and use strategic discussion to move toward a stronger overall prioritization decision. – 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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South by Southwest is in full swing. If you’re on Twitter and following even a few people, you’re already seeing frequent updates from friends hitting all the cool presentations, concerts, parties, and other events in Austin.

In an attempt to deal with the left-out feeling for those not there, I started using the Twitter hashtag #NWxNW for “Nowhere by Nowhere.” The basic idea is that if you’re not at #SxSW, then in the world of social media, you’re nowhere.

Yet, there are more people not in Austin than there are there, and it’s an opportunity for people in the next few weeks to be sharing what cool, strategic work they are doing back at home, wherever home is, by tagging it with #NWxNW.

Amid promoting #NWxNW, I came across the more active hashtag #FakeSxSW, which was started in 2009 to tweet about cool FICTIONAL presentations, events, and meetups at an event that isn’t really happening. It’s a funny and creative tweetstream for those of us salving the wounds of not getting to be in the thick of South by Southwest.

To keep up to date on the coolest creativity throughout the rest of South by Southwest, check back on the Twitter widgets in today’s post to monitor both the coolness at #SxSW and the creativity at #FakeSxSw and #NWxNW.

And in either case, if there’s something that strikes your interest, how about doing a guest Brainzooming blog on it? That would be creative! – 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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