Storytelling at Work
May 18, 2022
Evelyne Pouget's Next Series of San Miguel Mosaic Workshops

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Hello and thank you for your interest in my upcoming glass mosaic workshops.

In May, June, and July, I will be teaching a series of 3-day workshops in San Miguel, focusing on small art pieces (i.e. mirrors, frames, small paintings, boxes or other objects).

We will meet around an enormous table on my shaded outdoor patio, with as much social distancing possible.

You will learn simple techniques to make very creative objects of art out of glass mosaic. No previous experience is necessary.

Continue reading "Evelyne Pouget's Next Series of San Miguel Mosaic Workshops"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2022
The Art and Soul of Scott Cronin

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CELL 1, 48x48, Sold

Scott Cronin began creating art at the age of 50. Self-taught and joyfully obsessed with communicating the intricate beauty of life that exists far beyond words, his work is mind-boggling, soulful, and deeply insightful -- almost as if he was looking through an electron microscope into another world. Scott doesn't only walk to the beat of a different drummer, the music that moves him seems to originate from another world -- one he is intimately familiar with and committed to decoding for the rest of us.

The 14 pieces featured below are just a small sampling of the 186 pieces Scott has created in the past 18 years. All of them are for sale, ranging in prices from $650 to $6,500. If you want to learn more about Scott's approach to art and how to buy his work, simply scroll to the bottom of this post for his responses to some of the questions he is most frequently asked.

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MILES AHEAD, 19x24, $650 print, $2,500 original

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LOOKING CLOSER, 19x24, $650 print, $2,500 original

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FACING THE MUSIC, 36x16, $2,400

Continue reading "The Art and Soul of Scott Cronin"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2022
The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas

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A priest, a penguin, and a newspaper reporter walk into a bar. The penguin orders a shot of Red Eye. The priest starts juggling three flaming chain saws. The newspaper reporter turns to the bartender, smiles and says: "I know there's a story here somewhere."

And yes, there is. There are stories everywhere. As the poet, Muriel Ruykeser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories."

Almost everyone in business these days -- at least the people responsible for selling big, hairy ideas -- knows that the difference between success and failure often depends on what kind of story is told -- and how well. Content may be King. But it is Story that built the kingdom. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller."

Continue reading "The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2022
What I Learned From Listening to Ravel's Bolero for 14 Hours

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During the course of a lifetime a human being goes through many rites of passage. Birth, for example. First love. The death of a loved one and enduring a Republican primary debate. For me, one of the most memorable rites of passage happened in college during my "pledge weekend" -- the weekend I was initiated into a fraternity.

I realize, of course -- especially in these politically correct times -- that college fraternities are rarely associated with anything remotely smacking of insight, awareness, or transformation. But for me it most certainly was -- at least on the rite of passage night I was initiated into Pi Lambda Phi -- an experience now permanently etched into whatever remains of my mind.

The initiation? To sit blindfolded in a pitch black room, next to 21 of my sweating classmates, all of us holding 17 marbles in our left hands while listening to Ravel's Bolero for 14 hours.

Continue reading "What I Learned From Listening to Ravel's Bolero for 14 Hours "

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2022
ANNOUNCING: Evelyne Pouget's San Miguel Mosaic Workshops

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Hello and thank you for your interest in my upcoming mosaic workshops.

I will be teaching a series of 3-day workshops in my garden, in April and May, focusing on different glass mosaic art pieces for each workshop. For the first workshop, we will be making framed mirrors.

We will meet around an enormous table on my shaded outdoor patio, with as much social distancing possible.

You will learn some simple techniques to make very creative and beautiful mirrors out of glass mosaic. No previous experience necessary.

Continue reading "ANNOUNCING: Evelyne Pouget's San Miguel Mosaic Workshops"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2022
On Seeing Clearly

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Once there was a powerful, wise, and benevolent King who knew his time was coming to an end. Wanting to ensure that his Kingdom continued to thrive after his death, he called his three sons to his side.

"Blood of my blood," he began, "I know my loyal subjects are expecting me to pass my crown on to my first born -- and that is perfectly understandable, but I do not want my legacy ruled by assumptions and so I am inviting the three of you to enter into a contest to determine who the next King will be. I have designed the contest not to test your strength because I already know you are strong. Nor have I designed it to test your loyalty. I already know that, too. I have designed the contest to test your ability to see that which is not immediately apparent, since seeing clearly will be one of the most important skills you will need to rule wisely."

And with that he had his Grand Vizier escort the three boys down several long hallways and through a hidden doorway none of them had ever seen before.

Continue reading "On Seeing Clearly"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2022
Harvest Moon

Songs are an incredibly powerful way to tell a story. Here is a great example from Neil Young. He says so much in just three minutes and it stays with you...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2022
What a Story Is Not

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For the past three years, I've been facilitating Wisdom Circles in the US, Mexico, and Australia. They have been an absolute delight -- wonderful gatherings of open-minded people who intuitively understand the power and glory of storytelling. And yet, during that time, I've noticed a curious phenomenon: Even though the word "story" is well-known to everyone, not everyone understands how to tell a story with impact.

Continue reading "What a Story Is Not"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2022
The Information Overload Phenomenon

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One of the biggest obstacles facing all of us, these days, is information overload -- the all-too-familiar phenomenon of too much input coming our way, 24/7. Unable to process the overwhelming amount of information delivered to us by the nanosecond, we get distracted, fragmented, stressed, and mentally fatigued. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Click here for a newly published article of mine on this phenomenon -- the first in a series of articles like this I will be writing for PremRawat.com in 2022.

If you find value in it, please consider posting it on social media and/or emailing the link to friends and family. Thanks.

PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2021
A Thousand Muslims and a Jew

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At last count, there were 7.7 billion people on planet Earth. The odds of any two people meeting, I believe, is something like 7.7 billion to one. And the odds of any two of those 7.7 billion people deciding to collaborate on a complicated, culture-changing project -- especially if one of them is an Australian Muslim born in Pakistan and the other is an American Jew born in New York -- is in the slim-to none-zone. But that's exactly what happened to me three years ago, a collaboration that took seven years to manifest, seven being a classic span of years noted 700 times in the Bible and God knows how many times in the Quran.

Like any story, the one I am about to tell has a very juicy back story which, technically speaking, is part of the story, depending, of course, on how far back I decide to rewind the karmic tape -- the seemingly invisible, below-the-surface prelude to what I would only later discover to be one of the most fascinating collaborations of my life.

Ready? Here goes:

Continue reading "A Thousand Muslims and a Jew"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:14 AM | Comments (2)

December 18, 2021
Ten Reasons Why People Don't Share Their Stories

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I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" -- a question whose roots go back to an old Carl Sandburg poem. The same question holds true for the storytelling revolution. I can flap my mouth about the power of personal storytelling until the cows come home, but unless you and a critical mass of others step up, nothing much will happen. This is a volunteer army I'm talking about, a self-appointed crew of courageous people willing to make their way to the front lines of their own life and tell it like it is -- to share stories that will spark reflection, insight, wisdom, and love in others.

Are there obstacles on this storytelling battlefield? Of course there are. But the biggest ones are invisible -- old thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs that stop us from speaking up. What follows are the ten most common of these obstacles:

Continue reading "Ten Reasons Why People Don't Share Their Stories"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2021
Mr. Tomato Head!

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What is Mr. Tomato Head doing on my storytelling blog? Whatever he wants!

Mr. Tomato Head and his good friend, Mr. Watermelon Head, were two of my kids' favorite stuffed animals growing up. I just rediscovered them yesterday and am thrilled beyond belief. Whoo hoo!

Stories, you see, are often triggered by a single word, memory, or image. In my case, seeing Mr. Tomato Head transported me back to the days when my kids were young (they are now 27 and 24).

Childhood! Imagination! No responsiblities! The time when anything was possible -- the time when just seeing Mr. Tomato Head on a shelf, pillow, or floor was enough to realize that everything was absolutely perfect -- that life was not only GOOD, but chock full of love, sweetness, delight, cuddles, bedtime stories, cookies, snow days, cartoons, birthday cake, and endless innocence (which, by the way, it still is, even if it is 20 years later -- as long as I allow the heart of a child to beat deep within me. And it does...

All hail Mr. Tomato Head!

And here is a story about his cousin, Wolfie.
And one about the time I save my mother's sterling silver
And the only hit I got one baseball season
And my favorite book of the year

PS: The older I get, the younger I get

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:25 PM | Comments (1)

December 02, 2021
The Cornstalks Are Too Small

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When I was 21, a Senior in college, I had my first psychedelic experience. My "guide" for the day was my good friend, George, a philosophy major deeply immersed in the study of Nietzche and "alternate realities".

Knowing this was my "first time," George kindly volunteered to look out for me that memorable day -- to "be there" for me if I needed any help or support. Plus, he had a car and some time, so could drive me to a cornfield ten miles outside of town where I would be free from the prying eyes of others to have whatever experiences were in store for me.

The day, as you might imagine, was very off-the-grid, me having several mind-blowing realizations about the nature of life, God, the universe, gnats, and what I had previously come to know as my "self".

Anyway, towards the end of the day, I had a moment that taught me the true meaning of friendship and how important it is to have a friend.

As the sun went down and I realized it was the perfect time to exit that cosmic corn field, I began walking back to the car, the place where George was patiently waiting for me. As I made my way, I found myself, progressively, as if I was following some kind of universal algorithm, walking slower and slower until I came to a complete stop. That was it. I just stopped. There was no way, in the world, I could take another step. I just stood there, motionless, frozen.

Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that the SPEED of my walking was irreversibly connected to the SIZE of the cornstalks and since the cornstalks were getting smaller and smaller towards the edge of the field, so did the length of the steps I was taking until I stopped walking altogether. I just stood there, unable to proceed, cosmically certain that whatever it was that had stopped my forward movement was an indisputable message from the beyond to stop moving.

I was stuck.

It was at that precise moment that George, patiently waiting by his car beyond the edge of the cornfield, called out to me.

"Ditty, come on, let's go!"

"I can't!" I replied.

"Why not?" George responded.

"THE CORNSTALKS ARE TOO SMALL!"

That's when George jumped down from the hood of his car, walked into the cornfield, took my hand, and gave me a tug.

"Come on, Ditty, let's go!"

That's when my trance broke. That's when the conclusion I had conjured up -- that it was impossible to go anywhere because the cornstalks were too small -- completely fell away. That's all I needed to get on with my life -- just having someone not buy into my oddball reality, make their way towards me, and take my hand.

George's simple gesture -- his perfect reading of the moment -- his commitment to my well-being -- snapped me out of my bogus belief that kept me frozen in place -- the story I believed with every fiber of my being, but one that was, shall we say, highly questionable.

It was at that moment that I understood the value and the meaning of a FRIEND -- someone with the presence of mind to see through the fable I had invented, approach me, take my hand and tug.

Who of us doesn't get stuck, sometimes, in this grand adventure of life? Who of us doesn't fall prey to bogus beliefs, conclusions, and made up stories? Who of us doesn't fabricate "realities" that are not only strangely subjective, but are not, at all, in our best interest? And so, enter stage left, a friend. That's what friends do. They cross the chasm. They reach across the "divide", lovingly take our hand, and help us wake up from our trance.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: What friend of yours could use a hand these days -- perhaps someone who is a bit stuck in the cornfield of their life?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2021
The Relationship Between Revolution and Revelation

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We, as a human species, are standing at a crossroads. The name of this crossroads doesn't really matter. Different people will describe it differently, no matter what the signposts say. What DOES matter is the fact that each and everyone of us, now more than ever, is facing a monumental choice -- and that choice has a lot to do with the kind of lives we want to lead.

Some people call the crossroads the intersection of Light and Dark. Some call it the crossroads of Right and Wrong. Others, call it Life and Death or any other pair of words that give shape to the polarity of our lives. But no matter what words we use to describe where we stand, a choice is definitely before us and a choice needs to be made.

Continue reading "The Relationship Between Revolution and Revelation"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2021
WALL? WHAT WALL?

Sometimes, and I don't know how, life seems to conspire in curious ways to help me experience something I need to experience -- something not to include in a book I will never write, but because the experience, itself, in all its full glory, will serve me for the rest of my life and however many in the future are coming to me, in case you believe in that sort of thing.

But let's get back to business, shall we? The following story about the better part of a day in my life is a kind of radioactive isotope of longing implanted deep within me years ago and still radiating out -- not just for my own healing and delight, but for anyone in my general vicinity who might be open to what it is I am about to share with you.

I can't quite remember when I decided, out of the blue, to call the very Australian Ray Belcher, who, at that time in his life, was living in LA and full-time engaged as the head of Prem Rawat's production services. Ray, God bless him, always seemed, to me, to be hanging ten on the great wave of life -- some one, over the years, who I had collaborated with here and there and I thought (as I sometimes do), that it would be fun for the two of us to meet for lunch.

"Yo Ray," I said, dialing his number. "It's Mitch here, bro. I'm in LA. How about we find some time to go to lunch today?"

"Perfect timing, mate. This is your lucky day. Prem is scheduled to come to the office today for a meeting. Why don't you stop by? We can go to lunch before and then I can see if I can get you in."

What the meeting was about didn't matter in the least to me. After 45 years of bathing in the vibe around this man, he could read the phone book for all I cared. In Swahili. It really didn't matter to me what the content of the meeting was about. Just like it doesn't matter if it's robins, starlings, or sparrows in the trees overhead when I go for a walk. Birdsong, baby, birdsong and wings!

I got there as fast as I could and had the tuna on rye. Ray had the Turkey and Swiss. Both of us had celebrational cappuccinos and some buoyancy. At moments like this, however, food doesn't really matter all tha much, so we paid the bill and hightailed it back to the office.

"Hey Mitch," exclaimed Ray, "go ahead and put your jacket on a chair in the meeting room, then take a seat in the room just on the other side of the wall. All I have to do is put your name on the list. That's it. Then I'll come back and get you when it's time."

Cool. Super cool. Beyond Celsius and Fahernheit versions of cool. Happy day. Most happy, happy, Red Sea parting day. So I took a seat, as requested, and sat. There was one other person in the room, a woman about my age who was also waiting for Ray to come and tell her it was time to take her seat in the other room.

This wasn't the time for small talk. Neither of us really cared where the other one lived, what we did for a living, or what we thought of LA. None of it mattered here in the room next to the room where Prem would soon be speaking.

"How fortunate am I!" I thought. "I travel 3,000 miles across the country, randomly call Ray for lunch, and now, any minute now I'm going to find myself in a room with my favorite person in the whole world."

Can I get a witness, brothers and sisters? Can I get an amen?

And then, the door opens. It's Ray. I can tell by the way he approached me that the news wasn't good.

"Hey Mitch," Ray began, with as much compassion as he could muster. "I put your name on the list, but I just found out this is a meeting only for the people on the production team. Sorry mate. Just sit tight. I'll come and get you when the meeting's over.

In the Jewish tradition, there's a phrase for this kind of phenomenon: "Oy vey!"

In the Buddhist tradition, if you listed just right, you could have heard the sound of one hand clapping.

And so it was. And so I sat. Me and the woman of approximately the same age, sitting next to the room where Prem would be speaking. Yes, we could hear, through the wall, the rise and fall of his voice, and a lot of laughter, but not his words -- and yet, somehow, someway, even in this moment when disappointment could have easily had its way with me, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time -- the poet in me penless, the dancer without shoes.

There was nothing to do but BE and listen as carefully as I could through the wall, hoping to catch a word or two or three.

Was there a party I hadn't been invited to? No. Absolutely not. The party I wanted to attend was attending to me, castle as it was of a thousand rooms and me in one of them. Yes, there was a wall. Yes, I could see it. And yes, there were other people not more than 20 feet away with a seemingly a better seat than mine, but I had exactly what I needed -- the welling up of longing in my soul, the aspiration of my heart, the invisible quivering of love.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2021
30 Great Quotes on Aging

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"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old." - Franz Kafka

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age." - Sophia Loren

"My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?" - Diane Von Furstenberg

"If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn't exist. Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been." - David Bowie

Continue reading "30 Great Quotes on Aging"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2021
Why Human Beings Tell Stories

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Mention the word "storytelling" to most people and they will immediately think fairy tale, CNN spin doctor, or teenager explaining why they haven't done their homework. Good for entertainment and distraction, perhaps, but not much more. Guess what? Not true. Storytelling is the most powerful communication tool the human race has ever conceived. Why? Because it delivers the goods in at least nine different ways:

Continue reading "Why Human Beings Tell Stories"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2021
PIECE WE NEED: The Joel Metzger Story (and YOU!)

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I have had the great honor, in the past few months, to have worked closely with a most remarkable man -- one of the most courageous, resilient, tenacious, and committed people I have ever met -- Joel Metzger.

Some years ago, Joel was involved in a horrific car accident -- one that turned his life completely upside down (see his deeply moving story below). No one thought Joel would survive the accident and, if he did, that he would spend the rest of his life as a vegetable.

Against all odds, Joel proved them wrong. Summoning deep powers of will, intention, and healing, Joel was not only able to make it through this terrible trauma, but came out the other side with a gift for humanity -- his Peace We Need series of videos -- a heartfelt, creative expression of what it takes for human beings to access their own inner strength.

Continue reading "PIECE WE NEED: The Joel Metzger Story (and YOU!)"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2021
The Sanctuary Within

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There are three kinds of storytelling in the world: oral, written, and visual. Of the three, oral storytelling is the most common, having been around since the beginning of time. That's how our ancestors ensured their survival and passed on their wisdom to the next generation. In time, oral storytelling morphed into written storytelling -- not exclusively, of course, but as simply another way to convey vital information and wisdom that needed to be shared.

In the 1800's, for example, two brothers, in Germany, collected more than 200 folk tales from their homeland and published them in a book we now know as "Grimm's Fairy Tales." In the process, however, the two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, edited the stories quite a bit, according to their own values, and the stories changed.

Continue reading "The Sanctuary Within"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2021
Learning to Face Your Opponent

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Sometimes, in life, a single word or a single sentence can make a huge difference -- an unexpected communication that penetrates to the core of your being and then radiates from the inside out for the rest of your life. I had one such moment 35 years ago when I was a novice Aikido student in Los Angeles.

Here's what happened: In the dojo, while practicing a new technique with my partner, my teacher walks over to me, observes briefly, looks at me, and utters these eight words: "You have to learn to face your opponent."

I had no idea what she was talking about and just looked at her blankly. Then she stepped forward and gently rearranged the way I was standing, noting that I was standing a bit too obliquely from my partner -- a posture I had taken that was eventually going to require me to OVERCOMPENSATE in order to complete the move, an action that had the potential, she explained, to injure my partner and myself due to all of the unnecessary twisting and turning likely to happen.

Continue reading "Learning to Face Your Opponent"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

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ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
FAQ
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.
© IDEA CHAMPIONS