Archive for March, 2010

The Discipline of Word Choice in Social Media

March 31, 2010 2 comments


A recent post on PoynterOnline shows how the use of just 73 carefully chosen words in several powerful historic texts have been so impactful over time.

When Words Are Worth a Thousand Pictures …. 73 Razor Sharp Words

There certainly is an implication for bloggers.  It also brought to mind the discipline that using Twitter brings – how do you craft something meaningful  in just 140 characters or less?  How do you do it in such a way that others will be interested in it, too (because it’s so important – see Value of Social Media)?  Just today, I shortened my twitter name by a couple of characters to help address this character limitation issue (just for you, my RT friends, keep ’em coming!).

This leads me to think about storytelling and how Steve Denning‘s storytelling books speak both to the power of business narrative (aka stories) and to the discipline in using them effectively.  Different story formats work best for different purposes (The Leaders Guide to Storytelling) … and it takes discipline to craft stories in this way!  Even the most gifted storyteller probably isn’t gifted in all ways of telling stories for a purposeful outcome.

So, as I write this post, initially, it was WELL over 500 words (now just 250) and really included three different topics.  Result of applying this learning?  Break it up into 3 separate posts (set to publish at different times, of course) and help my social media / network friends to absorb these thoughts in smaller, more meaningful chunks.


Value of Social Media

March 31, 2010 2 comments


A couple of recent reads, along with my own “head-first-dive” back into the realm of social media, cause me to consider its power.  My first toe in the water was to experience FaceBook and, like many, I found it to be an exhilarating initial experience to reconnect with so many people from every different phase (and location) in my life.  The initial thrill wore off and I fell into a pattern of following and caring about a core group and casually surfing amongst the rest.  Of most value is the ability for this tool to help me “do life” a little bit more with dear friends and family who I don’t get to see or talk to nearly enough (best friends, siblings, cousins, …).

To Tweet or not to Tweet?  That is the Question!

For a long time, I didn’t understand why I would want to use Twitter.  I would say:

All I know is that if my daughter were to Tweet, I would want to follow her.

At 12, she most certainly does not…yet.

My friend and colleague Mike Brevoort made the case for me about how this tool can be a great way to engage others in ideating, connecting with SMEs / experts / people who I might not otherwise have access to, and begin to build a public brand.  Seth Godin recently offered a simple blog post with more context on the value of online friends.  DigitalTonto also posted an example of ROI of using social media.

Ok, Mike, you made the case, now here I Tweet … and blog!

With that said, I still haven’t successfully figured out how to add the “retweet” feature to my blog…HELP, anybody?

Categories: Idea Spread Tags: ,

The Mirror – Help Me See What I’m Not Seeing


I have a friend who is already extremely accomplished and someone I admire greatly.  We are both busy and just can’t get together often enough.  When we do,  it’s an intense flurry of conversation between both of our lives.  I heard recently that the year of zero (2010) is the year of new beginnings and that is a great way to look at this year for both of us.

“she used the word “draining” to describe it”

In our latest conversation, she was drawing on my little notepad and describing her latest work.  Her first box represented the current work she’s doing that is very easy and lucrative.  The second box represented something she’s been approached to do.  In describing box #2, her body hunched, she used the word “draining” to describe it, and indicated that it wouldn’t really do anything for her. THEN, she drew the third box, representing her next idea of what she wants to do.  It was an “AHA” for her to move in this direction.  Her body straightened up, she looked up, her eyes were bright, and there was a distinct change in her voice and word choice to describe the work.

“her body straightened up [and] her eyes were bright”

This third body of work would harness her background expertise, become a source of income, and feed her soul, too.  She recognized that this work would harness her strong N and J (MBTI).  She already knew this part.  The fact that she is picking a direction and will do the work to get there is a reflection of her strong J.  When I pointed out the polar differences between how she described box #2 & #3, it was shocking for her and provided immediate insight into pursuing #3 and whether or not to go forward with #2 at all.

Even when we are already self-aware-savvy, having a friend or colleague who is also aware can help point out things that you didn’t see yourself – acting like a mirror.  As much as we may want to achieve knowing ourselves clearly (in black & white), we are complex beings and ever evolving.  It’s a beautiful reflection of the life-long journey we are on.  What you do with this information makes all the difference.  Will you take action?  Will you turn the dial (even just a little bit) in a different direction?

Why would you not?

Categories: You in B&W Tags: , ,

Learning to be a Better Idea Generator – Anybody Can?

March 25, 2010 1 comment


Found a great blog from The Creative Leadership Center via a RT from someone I follow. One post breaks down how Anybody Can Learn to Become A Better Idea Generator.

Let’s walk through and consider each of the four steps:

Improving knowledge improves results

“…creating ideas means that a person processes memorized information and combines it in new ways.”  The more knowledge you have, the more facets / angles you can leverage to recombine and connect other things to in order to create new ideas.

Quantity improves quality

I took a Break-Through Strategic Planning course a few years back and the facilitator took us through this exercise where we started to write down everything we could think of in the topic of “weapon”.  She gave us lots of times to do this and what we found was the items we listed later in the activity were the most interesting and creative.  The longer we participated in this activity, the better we were able to migrate from left-brain thinking to right-brain / creative thinking. The following image depicts this transition from left (blue) brain thinking to right (green). The vertical represents time.

Since first being exposed to this activity, I’ve used it as a way to unlock creativity in a group that needs to really thinking differently about a topic.  I usually use “tools” as a topic since “weapons” might be offensive to some.

Studying idea-creation methods pays back

Yes, techniques are important, just like the one I shared above.  Which ones do you know and use?

On the point about creating prototypes, in my own thoughts about approach to ideation, I’ve gone on to think about once again using mind-mapping tools to help organize and facilitate ideation.  Partly because connecting is a big part of the way I go about idea-creation.  Not only would it possible foster additional thoughts, but would also provide a tangible tool for sharing the process with others or recalling the journey to an eventual idea.

One has to tolerate uncertainty

People with an ideation strength or who like to engage in idea-creation / brainstorming, etc. are more naturally tolerant of the uncertainty that this process induces.  I’ve worked with futurists and other strength-types whose minds immediately dive to a future state and work backwards and this kind of activity really drives them crazy.  I don’t believe that just because something isn’t your strength that you shouldn’t be involved in it (because you really have something valuable to contribute). I do believe that we should seek people who really enjoy and are great at doing this to involve in our process.  Draw on the strengths of people and be sensitive to the fact that just because we enjoy it doesn’t mean everybody does and it can be extremely uncomfortable for others.  If one must be able to tolerate uncertainty, then no wonder people with a futurists talent theme tend not to enjoy this!

Interesting, not all that eye-opening, but helpful to consider purposeful ways to improve idea-generation capability.  I subscribe to the philosophy that time spent developing your areas of talent / strength is time much better spent than just developing your weaknesses.  It may just be better to recognize the value of certain activities and engage people with strengths to bolster your own weaknesses.

Categories: Idea Spread, You in B&W Tags: ,

Personal Brand – Maintaining a True Reflection of Ourself


With the rise of the Personal Brand (whether or intended or not) via our online activity / presence, it is important to consider if your visible brand is an authentic brand.

Consider this excellent article from FastCompany:

BRAND OR DIE: The Downfall of the Institution and the Rise of the Personal Brand

The more we explicitly know about how we are wired, the more we should then be purposeful about how this is reflected in our brand, how others see & perceive us.  This came to question for me a few weeks back while having coffee with a personal branding expert (amongst other things), Lida Citroen @lida360.  She shared with me the word a mutual acquaintance used to describe me to her and I was truly baffled.  Sweet?  Really?  I know I’m a nice person, but wouldn’t consider “sweet” amongst the top 10 or 20 that anyone who knows me would use.  Lida shared this with me to point out the power of branding and the mis-perceptions that can be left when it’s ignored.  By not paying attention to it, I left someone with the word “sweet” in their mind.  It could mean that if I were to work with her in the future, what she would get from the experience of working with me would be different than what her perception of me was after our first meeting.  There would be an inconsistency that could cause problems.  Instead, she needed to be left with “engaging”, “full of ideas”, “inspiring”, “knowledgeable” –  something more consistent.

Personal brand is NOT false advertising, it’s all about leaving an authentic reflection of who you are in the minds of others.  The better you understand what it is like for others to be and work with you, the better you are able to ensure that people’s initial perceptions are consistent with what this experience will be like.  It can mean you are more likely to get a return call, email, text, or tweet for a blooming friendship, date, interview, contract, etc.

Categories: You in B&W Tags: , ,

Approach for Idea Processing

March 22, 2010 4 comments


Have you ever found a key stuck “on” on your cell phone or some other electronic device?  What happens?  It drains your battery very quickly because it’s constantly on.  Lately, this is exactly how I feel.  My mind is processing so much thought, so many ideas for so much of the day that I’m exhausted at the end of the day (not very good for being an attentive mother and wife at home) and I’m not sure that it produces the best quality ideas in the end, either.

Following are some approaches I’m employing to address this new current state:

Approach A – Write it Down:

I started this blog.  This was my first approach to addressing the craziness of ideas in my mind.  It serves as an outlet to capture and organize thoughts & ideas (drafts are awesome to use) and then to invite others to contribute to formulating those ideas further.  Specifically, I’m working on these two ideas:

Idea #1: How Do Ideas Spread Virally?

Idea #2 – Making the Most of How You Are Wired

Approach B – Focus:

I believe this thought came to me in the middle of the night last night (thus the need for approach A).  Try to pick ONE idea each morning and just focus on that one idea for the day.  It will morph throughout the day as connections are made, but allow the mind to chew one idea.  I haven’t tried this yet, but hope that it will help to produce better quality idea-formation by allowing the time for each idea.

I read somewhere (wish I could find the reference and will add it once I do find it again) that successful CEOs / leaders only focus on one or two things per day.  More and more evidence has been shared that “multi-tasking” isn’t really productive at all, it’s draining.  This seems like something worth exploring more.

Approach C – Quiet the Mind:

Sometimes, you just need to turn it off!  This approach came in a conversation with my friend Tony Elliott – Meditation.  I should find a process for meditating and use that at an appropriate time each evening to Quiet the Mind and enable me to be more “present” at home.  I still like this idea and plan to find a process, but it needs to be quick if it will be realistic for me to use it daily.

As I begin to focus on finding innovative / start-up organizations as an initial learning partner, I think it will be especially important to develop good tactics for improving the quality of ideation, speed to results, and ability to stay sane!  It’s an exciting direction and consistent with what I know about myself and believe it will provide an opportunity to put the brightest of me into action.  I am thankful for living in one of the most entrepreneurial areas in the US and innovative city in the world!  (Denver/Boulder 19 of 25 world’s most inventive cities – home to inventors producing substantial number of quality patents.)

Categories: Idea Spread Tags:

Do Your Worst Task First


Article from FastCompany:

Work Smart: Do Your Worst Task First (Or, Eat a Live Frog Every Morning)

Refers to doing the task that is most important for the day first thing in the morning (also lovingly referred to as “eating your live frog”).

This reminds me of the principles in Marcus Buckingham’s (@mwbuckingham) book Go Put Your Strengths to Work.  This book focuses 0n identifying your strengths, then taking steps to spend more of your day living in your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses.  In particular, he speaks of the tasks that you HAVE to do that are weaknesses – do those first thing in the morning and get them out of the way so they don’t hang over your head.  These tasks are draining and weigh upon a person.

Imagine if more people really understood how they are wired, even just a little bit better, AND they took purposeful steps to do something with that information.  How much more engaged, fulfilled, and productive would we all be?  How would something like this impact the outcomes of an organization, the economy of a country, or even the global economy?  Big questions, but powerful ones!