Social media | The Brainzooming Group - Part 81 – page 81
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I’m a contemplator and planner by nature, trying to figure out all potential angles first. It’s who I am.

When starting the blog, however, Kathryn Lorenzen, a wonderful career coach (trust me – contact her), suggested diving in more aggressively before understanding everything about blogging. Great advice, and much of Brainzooming is about approaches to do that more.

One way I’ve become comfortable with the idea is being more open to noticing and following “hints” placed in front of me and acting on them.

An example last week was participating in the Twitter-based IDEF140 contest devised by Stone Payton. The week was full of “hints”:

Follow that Tweet@stonepayton tweeted Saturday, January 17 on a contest to define “innovation” in less than 140 characters with a $100 prize. Sounded cool, so I wrote one (Innovation = A fundamental, valuable improvement relative to the status quo) and tweeted it Saturday, thinking that was it.

Reach Out – I considered lifting the contest idea since $100 is cheap for diverse input on Twitter to help expand understanding on a topic (i.e. “creative instigation”). That was until Stone raised the potential prize to $1000. Suddenly stealing the cheap idea involved a higher prize expectation. After tweeting Stone (jokingly) about pricing “idea thieves” out of the market, it created a tweet and email conversation about alternatives. That led to visiting each others’ blogs, LinkedIn networking, and finding Chuck Dymer as a common connection.

Keeping Up with @Macker – Throughout the week, definitions were added to IDEF140 (as it became known). @Macker seemed to have an unlimited number of definitions. Seeing that forced me to write others, including a more mathematically oriented one and another (my personal favorite) tied to “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”

Mounting a Campaign – When voting started Thursday, I wasn’t planning much campaigning. Then two hints surfaced – Sally Hogshead voted for entry #2, and the organizers said a modest get out of the vote campaign could mean a win. That prompted a more aggressive Twitter, blog, and email effort (including a cut and paste tweet) for votes. My dad and Jan Harness signed up for Twitter and some infrequent tweeters returned to Twitter!

What Matters Is Helping Others – Trying to win wasn’t about the eventual $200 prize. It was about learning of possibilities from new online endeavors. After discovering I won (thanks everybody that voted!), I saw Stone supports the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta which helps recently homeless people and others in challenging situations secure basic furniture items (i.e., bedding, sofa, etc.). That seemed like a lot more appropriate recipient for the prize money, so it went to @FBMA.

That was last week. Diving in and following hints led to “meeting” intriguing people, challenging myself to think more about innovation, introducing friends to social media, identifying a potential opportunity to work with Sally Hogshead, and helping people financially who really need it!

Thanks for the “diving in” advice Kathryn. As always, it’s been a huge help!!!

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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From Business Week magazine, here’s a video overview of Design Thinking by Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management.

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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Following up yesterday’s post about expectations for this year, I get bored doing the same thing over and over. So give me a little bit of thinking time, and I’ll start tinkering. Based on some messing around over the holiday, here are the work-in-process changes to my online strategy for 2009.

Twitter

I’ve been resisting Twitter because it just hasn’t made that much sense to me. My POV has been I’m not always that interested in what I’m doing, let alone anyone else being interested in it!

Then over the holidays, I started following Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, Guy Kawasaki, David Harkleroad at The Hay Group, and Peter Shankman of HARO fame.

Rather than boring stuff about going to the grocery store, they use Twitter in innovative ways to point followers to information and people that they find intriguing. That’s not boring, so with that, I’m in! We’ll see what happens when the holidays give way to regular work life. For right now though, go here to find me on Twitter – @brainzooming.

Flip Video

Early in December, I bought a Flip Video Camera, which I recommend highly. In this case, going simple with fewer features has been the right move. It’s provided quick alternative creative input for several posts already with a poster, an onsite guerrilla marketing report, and a silly video.

The Flip will enable a lot more of this variety, flexibility, and quicker turnaround on creative content.

Get Out There More

I don’t want the blog to be too inwardly focused, but several factors work against that objective:

  • Usually my strategy is sharing ideas from personal experience. I prefer letting you know what works and doesn’t based on what I’ve personally found, rather than reporting innovations somebody else implemented.
  • 2008 was a very heavy year for output, writing more than ever before. This constrained time to visit other websites, blogs, and publications, commenting and bringing ideas back to Brainzooming.
  • From a work demand standpoint, 2008 was intense; 2009 will be more so. Available time is very precious; fortunately, I can get by on little sleep.

With the positive response to case study updates from 2008 conferences and some less formal posts, in 2009, I’ll try and shift the strategy to more variety and less formal content:

  • More Surf’s Up type posts based on links to Brainzooming-oriented content on other websites
  • More commenting on other sites and LinkedIn
  • Using Tweets as a creative source of new Brainzooming posts (look to the top left on the blog for the most recent updates)
  • Greater frequency in video updates and shorter posts

We’ll See

That’s the early plan. I wanted to share it to help keep me on the program and so that as you see changes in the blog you have a better sense of what’s going on. Your thoughts and reactions will be important as we see what works and what other innovation is necessary. – 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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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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