Thursdays are turning into Guest Blogger Day. There continues to be some really cool innovation and strategy experts from Twitter stepping forward to share their perspectives.

Today’s guest author is advertising consultant Gary Unger, author of “How to Be a Creative Genius (In Five Minutes or Less).” Gary’s bio highlights 3 things that make him a natural to share his perspectives on Brainzooming:

  1. He’s done work for Chick-Fil-A, which would be the official restaurant of Brainzooming if there were one.
  2. Gary’s creative work has earned him a place in the Levi Strauss T-Shirt Hall of Fame, which sounds pretty darn cool.
  3. He has a great personal message which fits with Brainzooming’s tone: Be yourself and have fun doing it!

Gary’s sharing his take today on Thought Rivers:

When you talk to me, my mind instantly goes in a million directions with the words you use. Some call it Parallel Thinking. I call it Thought Rivers because there is nothing really parallel about the paths that will be taken. It’s more of a twisting, double back, speed up, slow down, gets deep, then shallow, turns left, then right, and so on – just like a river.

You may say something like, “It’s not very square,” and my mind will instantly relate square to a geeky person, and then to a pair of black thick rimmed glasses, then to black and white image of Roy Orbison singing on stage, which will make me think of the other man in black, Johnny Cash, who I think is an earlier version of Bruce Springsteen who is kind of the everyman who is not really top of the class “cool” but also not “very square.” And that’s just one Thought River stemming from the original comment. Yes, sometimes it is difficult having a conversation with me.

If you want to see an explosion in your creative thinking skills, practice with Thought Rivers. If it’s difficult to do in your mind, write it out on paper. Do your best to not take the word, words, word term, or whatever subject you are working on literally; start looking for what can be rather than for what is. Ask yourself, “What else does this remind me of?” Make the leap from literal interpretation of the subject to every conceivable use of the word and its derivatives. Instead of stopping with the first dictionary term or literal translation, consider other uses of the word in your Thought River. For instance, the word “die” can mean or suggest the act of death, the singular of dice, to color something, a tool used to shape other materials, and even “to desire.”

As you practice, you’ll eventually find your mind will do it automatically, and you won’t need paper to map out your thoughts. That’s the ultimate goal: to be able to do it in your head. And when you can do it all in your head, your creativity will have a genius quality you never imagined possible.

And, as a bonus you’ll have the admiration of your peers for being so brilliant. – Gary Unger

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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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5 Responses to “Thought Rivers – Guest Post from Gary Unger”

  1. Leslie says:

    I seem to do this fairly often–my kids think I’m “random.” Now I’ll just have to tell them I’m brilliant!

  2. Darren Sproat says:

    Thought rivers is what I called random tangents… mind wondering… etc. Often accused of not paying attention when really I am devising a plan to solve the world’s problems. Thanks,
    @DarrenSproat on Twitter

  3. Braden Kelley says:

    Thanks for the post Gary and Mike.

    I probably don’t dip often enough into the creativity side, being more focused on the business model and culture of continuous innovation side of the innovation house, but it always brings some of the grey matter back to life when I do.

    Thank you for that.

    Is there such a thing as a round, geeky person?

    Braden (@innovate on Twitter)

  4. Jam Nelson says:

    I “suffer” at times from having a whole set of thought river systems going on simultaneously.

    But when I want to put it to good use and “tangible” output, I force myself to slow down and put the originating idea in the middle of a paper (in a circle). I then create radiants of associations out from it. One can build off of another radiating further our, or you can go back to the center (original thought) to start another stream. The result – Idea Spiders.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tried this today during a staff meeting. Little blonde boss wasn’t too happy with me! But, it was fun and sure did make the meeting go faster!