October 31, 2008
Idea Champions' Creativity Tools Declared "Awesomest" Tools on the Web

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Many thanks to gottAquirk for acknowledging us for having the "awesomest" creativity tools on the web. Of the nine tools they cited, our Jump Start and Idea Lottery tools were ranked #1 and #2. (By the way, the Idea Lottery tool came to us in a dream.)

If you like these tools, you'll probably like our others. Like Free the Genie. And our book, Awake at the Wheel (which includes 35 creative thinking techniques).

You might also like our Innovation Kits, It's AHAppening guidebooks, free downloads, or our innovation-sparking kick asss. You might also like our homemade split pea soup, but we've not yet figured out how to deliver it over the web.

PS: If you want to license Free the Genie cards or our Teamwork Cards for your intranet, call us: 800-755-IDEA.

"If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2008
Idea Champions' Economic Bailout Package for U.S. Corporations

It's Fall in America, usually a very beautiful season, with leaves turning color and Thanksgiving just around the corner.

But there's something else in the air these days -- and that is a savage economic downturn. It's not just the leaves that are falling. It's also the stock market, housing prices, consumer confidence, and 401Ks. Ouch!

While Democrats and Republicans are both promising major fixes to the economy, no one knows exactly how long it will take. Some pundits are predicting YEARS. But your business can't afford to wait years. You need a quantum leap -- and you need it NOW -- innovation made real.

That's why IDEA CHAMPIONS has decided to offer one lucky company -- maybe YOURS -- our own economic bailout package...


HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:

1. You email us a description of your company, it's mission, and why we should donate one day of our time to help your company succeed.

2. We'll carefully review all submissions and select one company to offer our services to -- at no charge (other than expenses).

3. Which services? One of the three listed below.

Do More With Less
High Velocity Brainstorming
Team Innovation

THE FINE PRINT
1. Deadline to apply is December 1.
2. Your only cost is our expenses -- no cost for the session.
3. Existing Idea Champions clients (or prospects) are not eligible.

Whether or not you choose to respond to our offer, please remember to keep your perspective and your sense of humor. Life is STILL good, even if your cash flow is out the window. The DOW might be down, but you don't have to be.

Enter today: info@ideachampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2008
Song and Dance and Innovation Man

I once attended a talk by Mike Vance, Walt Disney's "head of idea and people development," way back in the day.

One of the many interesting points that Vance made back then, in his rapid-fire Midwestern twang, was "Ask a child to sing, and they'll sing something. Ask a child to dance, and they'll dance something. Ask a child to draw, they'll draw something. Ask an adult these same questions and he'll say 'I don't sing. I don't dance. I don't draw.'"

But he did when he was a child!

So, what changed? What happened to that spontaneity, that creative free reign, that spirit of play, exploration, and adventure?

What changes, of course, is that, over the years, we adults are taught what's right and wrong, what's good and bad, what's proper and improper and we've internalized all that training and education into our own private internal "critic" who often stops us from being creative even before we start. That's that little voice that says "that isn't good enough."

Sigmund Freud once lamented "What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the adult."

However, we know now that where there's life (and you ARE still breathing, aren't you?) there's always hope. For all of us.

What reminded me of Vance's talk was an online article I ran across today by musician/composer/sound engineer Brian Eno who has made some of my favorite musical recordings over the decades. In it, he encourages all of us to sing. He relates his own successful efforts to get together with friends to have fun singing "a capella," that is, without instrumental accompaniment...like choruses and doo wop groups do.

Besides the musical creativity and the fun involved in singing a capella with your friends, there are health and psychological benefits as well, plus a social learning component as you have to learn to blend your voice (tone, rhythm and breathing) with the other singers.

And, I'll go one further. I imagine that getting together regularly to sing with others (or play African hand drums with others, or go ballroom dancing, or picking up a brush and painting just for the sheer pleasure of it) helps us exercise the same creativity muscles that we exercised as a child before we forgot that we could sing, dance, draw and do all manner of enjoyable things.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by Val Vadeboncoeur at 02:25 AM | Comments (2)

October 24, 2008
TV or Not TV

The 2 minute video below is the first in a series of Idea Champions' public service announcements -- our small attempt at giving back to society. Feel free to forward the link to any TV-watching family members or neighbors of yours who may be technologically challenged re: the immiment shift from analog to digital...

Thanks to the amazing Cary Bayer for the link.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2008
Second Chance to Enter the First Annual Word of Mouth Praise Poll

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All human beings -- even the most cynical ones amongst us -- have had the experience of praising something at one time or another. For some of us, it may have been a restaurant, movie, or vacation spot. For others, a rock band, teacher, or TV show. Different strokes for different folks.

The purpose of this poll is to identify precisely what these "praise-worthy" catalysts are; in other words, what moves a person to spontaneously speak glowingly of something to another person. True word of mouth, you might say.

Interested? If so, go ahead and take the poll. The whole thing will take you less than seven minutes.

Poll closes on 11/15. (Results will be posted here by 11/30).

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2008
Keep It Simple, Genius!

When I was in my 20s, I worked at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Initially, I was impressed when I heard the interns and residents spicing their diagnostic conversations with impressive sounding Latin words. It made me feel like I was in the presence of experts -- people in the know -- professionals to whom I could entrust my life should I ever get really sick.

In time, it became clear to me that the Latin name dropping routine was just a game -- a way that insecure medical students could instantly feel better about themselves, somehow justifying all those long nights of studying while, at the same time, raising their perceived value in the eyes of their overwhelmed patients.

It is not just medical students who are enamored of complexity. We all are. Somehow, in our over-caffeinated, multi-tracking, digitally-assisted life, we have come to equate complexity with knowledge. Complexity is not knowledge. Complexity is complexity. Simplicity is where its at.

All savvy business leaders I meet these days have a knack for keeping things simple. They demystify. They speak in the language of the people. They cut to the chase in a way that cuts no one in the process. And if they write a book, you do not need a translator to understand it.

My invitation to you today? Keep it simple -- whatever business you are in. You will feel better at the end of the day -- and so will all the people you work with.


Everything should be as simple as possible -- but no simpler. Albert Einstein

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo DaVinci

Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify, simplify! Henry David Thoreau

Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art. Fredrich Chopin

There is no greatness where there is no simplicity. Leo Tolstoy

Nothing is true, but that which is simple. Goethe

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

It's Never Too Late to Be Creative

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Grandma Moses started painting at 64. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim museum at 91. Mary Baker Eddy began the Christian Science Monitor at 87. My wife, Evelyne Pouget, began painting at 40 -- and with absolutely no formal training.

One day she just sat down at the easel and began doing portraits and landscapes. Yes, she had been a graphic designer before then. And yes, she was always considered "artistic." But she had never done an oil painting until she turned 40.

The roots of all this? One day Evelyne mentioned to me that her teacher, Baba Muktananda, used to call her "The Painter." I found this quite intriguing and asked her if she had ever painted. When she said "no," I noted that his calling her "The Painter" may have been a clue about a hidden talent of hers -- and that she might want to explore it.

The first portrait Evelyne did (I will post it here later) was a mind blower -- one of those jaw-dropping Mozart/prodigy moments. Without a single lesson, she had created a likeness of her teacher that stunned both of us.

The painting above is a recent one of Evelyne's, -- one of 27 that will be featured at her upcoming opening at the Back Stage Productions Art Gallery in Kingston, New York.

The opening party is Saturday, November 1, 5:00 -- 9:00 pm. Please come if you can. You can preview her paintings here. The work of Scott Cronin, another late artistic bloomer (he started at 50), will also be featured.

The question for you?

What hidden talent of yours is aching to be released? What creative pursuit do YOU want to manifest, but have been too shy or doubtful to let rip? Now's the time! Take your next step. Have more faith in yourself and the power of creation.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:39 AM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2008
Your Second Chance to Enter the First Annual Multiple Uses of a Ping Pong Ball Contest

TA DA! It's time to win free stuff!

All you need to do is read the following starter list and submit your own ideas. Idea Champions will award prizes in the following categories: 1) Most creative; 2) Funniest; 3) Biggest positive impact on the world; 4) Most off-the-wall; 5) The one we wish we'd thought of; 6) Least likely to become a major motion picture; 7) Best way to save the U.S. economy; 8) Best party game; 9) Best use in a category we haven't yet thought of.

DEADLINE? October 31

1. Table Tennis
2. Beer Pong
3. Lottery selection
4. Cat toy
5. Child's room mobile

6. Door stop (crushed and stuck under door)
7. Model of the universe (with balls as planets)
8. Way to keep people awake at meetings (toss one)
9. Raft (by tying many balls together)
10. A fishing bob

11. Bathtub toy
12. Clown nose
13. Finger puppets
14. Kermit eyeballs
15. Xmas tree ornament

16. Child's playpen (fill large container with balls)
17. Jewelry (earrings, necklace, bracelet)
18. Comfy chair (fill seat cushions with balls)
19. Acoustical tool (affix balls to walls to deflect sound)
20. Abacus

21. Juggling balls
22. Mouth juggling (blowing balls in the air)
23. Sex toy
24. Child's game (run a race while holding one on a spoon)
25. Surgical tool (use in operations to keep organs in place)

26. Life jacket (fill container with balls and cling to it)
27. Catch people jumping from burning buildings (fill container with balls and have them jump into it.)
28. Anti-snake weapon (snakes will mistake balls for eggs and eat them which will eventually cause death)
29. Marketing tool (guess the number of ping pong balls in our new Honda Accord and win a free car)
30. Testing a long pipe or hose for obstructions

31. Air gun bullets
32. Create controlled avalanches with the balls and study the filmed results)
33. Xmas tree light enhancers (insert each Xmas tree light into a ping pong ball)
34. Votive candle holders (when cut in half)
35. Cut in half and use as tiny drinking cups

36. Hat for a puppet or hamster (when cut in half)
37. Packing material
38. Level tester
39. Barometric pressure gauge (based on how high a ball bounces)
40. Aid to develop hand muscular flexibility

41. Mouth gag
42. Trumpet mute
43. Control Google Map interface using "Atlas Gloves" software and lighted ping pong balls a la the film Minority Report
44. Create a painting by using colored ping pong balls as pixels
45. Raise a ship or other submerged items

46. Fill with napalm and use via aerial drop to create a controlled burnout in order to control a fire
47. LED diffuser
48. Model of a strand of DNA
49. Musical instrument (digitally record the sounds of ping pong balls until you have enough different tones, then use these tones to play music via a ping pong ball sound keyboard
50. Test strength and direction of wind by tossing ball in air

What kind of prizes will you win? One of the following:

Prize... prize... prize... prize... prize... prize

Special thanks to the very creative Val Vadeboncouer for the starter list of 50 uses.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:19 PM | Comments (6)

October 16, 2008
True Blue Sky Thinking

Where everyone else saw only buildings overhead, one innovator saw a new font.

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Lisa Reinermann, a University of Duisburg student, had this Aha! insight while exploring the narrow streets of Barcelona.

Suppose you were Lisa. How would you notice the font-ness of sky-shapes contained by rooflines? First, ignore size. Don't let the fact that fonts are small but these sky-shapes are building-sized distract you from the visual reality. (Lisa's camera probably helped her flatten, rescale and reframe her perception.) Second, reverse figure and ground. Make the usual background (the sky) the foreground and the usual foreground (the closer buildings) background. Role reversals are common in many innovations. Weaknesses (like inferior glue) often reframe as strengths and become the breakthroughs (Post-It Notes) of the future.

To Lisa's credit, once she had her breakthrough she stuck with it, searching, walking and neck-craning to find other locations to complete every letter in the alphabet. Her photo-typographic alphabet is now a font set published by German Type Foundry Slanted called Type The Sky. The collection comes as a type face and a photo book.

Posted by Tim Moore at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

October 13, 2008
14 Year Old Running for President!

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There are 25 days left before the Presidential election. Things are heating up, big time. You may have already decided who to cast your vote for. But before you go to the polls, I think it's worth two minutes of your time to view this video.

It was put together (adapted) by my 14-year old son, Jesse, who has decided to run for President. He knows he's not old enough to run for the highest office in the land, but he's going for it, anyway. More power to him!

And guess what? A grass roots movement has sprung up in the past few weeks to support his bold efforts to lead this country. Take a look.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
What's the Problem
Einstein once said that if he had 60 minutes to solve a problem, he'd spend the first 55 thinking about the problem, and the next 5 solving it. This is the workshop he would have invented if time wasn't so relative.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
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