FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

Inspiring thoughts on innovation, growth, leadership, creativity, transformation, and disruption. Quick reads, powerful results.

The Weekly Roundup – May 7, 2010

The Power of Lego to Inspire If you didn’t play with Legos as a child you missed out. The good news is that it’s never too late. Lego – and any tactile construction-type child game like it – can help adults jump-start their creativity no matter how old or uninspired. This short moving will get […]

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Urban Farming

Detroit, Michigan is in trouble. What was once a vibrant city is now overrun with crime, unemployment, and despair. In its hay-day, it was one of the top five cities in the U.S., and had over two million residents. Today, the landscape is marked by abandoned buildings, burned down houses, and vacant factories. The population […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 30, 2010

Your mind has hidden superpowers! What does the power of placebo pills have to do with realizing your dreams? Both depend on your mind. Your mind can take a sugar pill and cure cancer. And it can take an idea – say, a personal computer in everyone’s home – and make it a reality. It […]

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Flood the House to Catch the Mouse

Imagine you had the challenge of inventing a better mousetrap. Literally. A typical brainstorm session may yield incremental improvements in the spring on a mousetrap, or the bait, or the construction materials. The whole essence of igniting your curiosity is to question and challenge everything. Why does a mousetrap need to use a spring at […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 23, 2010

Overcoming your fears – 7 secrets from the ages All of us must deal with our fears, and often they are what stand between us and greatness – or at least making the attempt. Clink on this link to see what the experts have been saying for 2,000 years are the best ways to overcome […]

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Heads Up vs. Heads Down

We’ve all heard people in the business world proclaim that they are “heads down” on a project. Or that they are unable to explore new opportunities since they are “heads down in execution mode.” Consider, for a moment, the advantages of being “heads up” instead. Let’s compare the two states of being: Heads Down Focused […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 16, 2010

Creative Intelligence – sometimes it is life or death Creative approaches to tough problems show up in unexpected places. When the US Special Forces first parachuted into Afghanistan after 9/11, they found themselves adopting some unusual martial techniques to manage the terrain and gain respect in the eyes of the local people. They succeeded because […]

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The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

Remember the old TV spots: “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! Delicious!” Two great tastes brought together to create something remarkable, as the slogan goes. Combining two distinct concepts in order to form an entirely new one is the root of The Reese’s Peanut […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 9, 2010

1. Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple, on Innovation: How did Wozniak and Jobs do it? How did they create the engineering and design juggernaut that is Apple? Check out the interview with Steve – he considered himself an artist. He saw himself as part of a team, he focused on what to leave out, and […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 6 of 6

There are so many powerful business lessons we can learn from the world of jazz. This fluid, improvisation art form is all about taking risks and trying new things. Going out on limb can be scary, but it is where the magic happens. Extending yourself outside your comfort zone is where the best rewards will […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 5 of 6

Earlier this week, I launched a six-part blog series on techniques from the jazz world that can be easily translated to driving business creativity. Jazz music is all about spontaneous creativity and improvisation – skills that are critically important in the business world. We’ve covered a number of powerful concepts already (to read the full […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 4 of 6

Earlier this week, I launched a six-part blog series on techniques from the jazz world that can be easily translated to driving business creativity. Jazz music is all about spontaneous creativity and improvisation – skills that are critically important in the business world. The first post covered a technique called Trading Fours. The second post […]

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The Weekly Roundup

Beginning today, I’m going to post a weekly summary of some of the coolest creativity ideas, tests, blogs, products, thoughts, and guidelines that I see each week. Enjoy! How creative are you? Are you as creative as you need to be? And what about your workplace? Is that one that fosters original thinking or does […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 3 of 6

Earlier this week, I launched a six-part blog series on techniques from the jazz world that can be easily translated to driving business creativity. Jazz music is all about spontaneous creativity and improvisation – skills that are critically important in the business world. The first posted covered a technique called Trading Fours. The second post […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 2 of 6

Yesterday, I launched a six-part blog series on techniques from the jazz world that can be easily translated to driving business creativity. Jazz music is all about spontaneous creativity and improvisation – skills that are critically important in the business world. The first post covered a technique called Trading Fours. Now let’s look at the […]

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Creative Sparks from the World of Jazz – Part 1 of 6

If there was a PhD for creative sparking, jazz musicians would graduate with high distinction. Smoke-filled, late night jazz clubs are hotbeds of spontaneous creativity. I’m going to post a six-part blog series on techniques from the jazz world that can be easily translated to driving business creativity. Having studied jazz improvisation for nearly 30 […]

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The Creative Leap

Back in the early 1980’s, Maurice Starr invented the modern Boy Band with New Edition and New Kids on the Block. His Creative Leap generated tens of millions in profits and delighted the world of pre-teen girls. After the success of these groups, however, dozens of others followed suite in a formulaic manner (one was […]

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Beware The GroupThink!

We all like agreement. It feels nice when a group of people are all aligned and everyone has the chance to contribute. It is a warm, hugging, campfire-song kind of feeling. It can also kill your creative potency. Imagine you and your team were working to develop a new flavor of ice cream. One person […]

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The Meatloaf

At my company, ePrize, we often tell the “Meatloaf Story”: A mother is making meatloaf with her teenage daughter; a ritual they’ve been doing together for years. As part of the tradition, the two chefs cut the ends of each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven. One day, the teen asks, […]

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Inside the Artist’s Studio

We’ve all seen the inside of an artist studio – either in person or in the movies. They are never neatly organized with paints all in a row and tables that are clutter-free. In fact, they are just the opposite. They are messy, and appear completely disorganized at first glance. They studio may have half-finished […]

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Your Creativity Muscle

All humans have muscle mass. If any of us hit the gym and started pumping iron, our muscle mass would increase. This is a simple fact. We also each also have a natural genetic predisposition of how much muscle we can grow. I, for example, would never end up on the cover of a muscle […]

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Fail More, Win More

The single biggest blocker for creativity and original thought is fear. In our society, we are so focused on success and afraid of making mistakes that we don’t pursue our dreams. Don’t live life to our fullest potential. Don’t let our creativity shine. In school, we have classes on all sorts on functional skills such […]

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“My Hands Are Tied”

“I’m sorry sir, my hands are tied.” These were the appalling words I heard twice in the last week – one from a large mobile phone network, and one from a health insurance carrier. Both were from customer service reps that were clearly un-empowered, bitter, and really didn’t care much about helping me (so much […]

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The Top 7 Creativity Myths

Mention the word Creativity, and people begin to squirm in their chairs. The very thought can prompt anxiety, fear, and doubt – even in the most accomplished professionals. Let’s explore some common myths, and uncover the truth behind this “fuzzy” topic: MYTH 1: Creativity is only needed at the top TRUTH : In today’s business […]

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Have You Been Zappos’d?

Buying a pair of shoes used to involve going to a local store, selecting a pair from about 250 choices, and walking out with a box in hand. That was the model for shoe sales for the last 200 years. The shoe store owner was happy. You were happy. Everyone was happy. Until that model […]

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Your Company, Version 4.13

The software world enjoys many gifts. Smart people. Lots of capital. High leverage. But one that should probably be celebrated more… the idea of “versions”. That’s’ right, versions. Software companies are in a constant state of reinvention. As soon as one version of their product is out, they start imagining the next. The goal each […]

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Going Out of Business

I bet that subject got your attention! I recently read that Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape) sent a memo to the whole company around 1994 (at the height of their success) called “The Top 10 Reasons we’re going out of business”. It showcased where they needed to improve, and highlighted their biggest threats. This, of […]

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The Pumpkin Cut

Each Halloween we all rush to the pumpkin patch, pick out the best one we can find, and eagerly carve that beauty as soon as we can. And we always do it the same way. We cut the lid off the top, scoop out the filling (making a huge mess), and burn ourselves as we […]

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Playforce

As kids, we go out to “play”. Later in life, we “play” sports, or “play” music. But then, in sharp contrast, we leave our homes each day and go to “work”. The term implies doing uninspired, often boring and generally yucky things. Parallels of going to the dentist, waiting in line at the DMV, or […]

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Flying the Plane

We use complex models, historical data, and buzzwords such as “Key Performance Indicators” or “Balanced Scorecards”. Like dashboard instruments these tools are great, but not the one-and-only factor in creating success. We hire team members for their judgment and creativity, but often relegate them to merely following systems mechanically. How often as a consumer have […]

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