October 30, 2011
Act As If!

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Do you know what the opposite of a "professional" is?

A "con-fessional."

And, at the risk of being unprofessional, here's mine:

One of the great secrets to manifesting anything on planet Earth is to act as if -- to proceed in the spirit of already having succeeded -- or what Steven Covey refers to as "beginning with the end in mind."

Why is this important?

Because you already are what you profess to be, even if it's not apparent yet.

This state of mind, which is the polar opposite of doubt, could easily be construed to be some kind of con game. But it's not.

In a con game, the intention is to deceive -- to manipulate others by pretending to be something you're not.

When you act as if, you are simply being that which you already are, but hasn't manifested yet.

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You are, as described in the introduction to Awake at the Wheel, the IDEA of something not yet fully embodied.

The intention, always, in the game of creation, is never to deceive, but to CONCEIVE -- to bring into being a positive, life-affirming outcome.

When you, with integrity, act CONFIDENTLY (from the Latin "con-fide" -- meaning "with faith"), you are not playing a "confidence game" -- you are jump starting the creative process.

Got it? Good.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Suspend all doubt.
2. See your BIG IDEA as already manifested.
3. Fully express yourself from that place -- with authenticity, style, and a good sense of humor.

Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world).

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October 28, 2011
This Just In! The Turbo Encabulator!

There's a reason why the expression "ideas are a dime a dozen" is so popular. Because it's true. Everyone and their mother has ideas. Where the rubber meets the road is HOW those ideas are communicated. When it's done well, magic happens. When it's not...

How can your organization improve it's idea pitching process?

Big thanks to Brigitta Rubin for the heads up!

Idea Champions

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October 24, 2011
Innovating Is Just Like Dancing

Whatever your innovation goals are for 2012 -- take a cue from the Nicholas Brothers. If you can innovate as well as they can dance, you are home free. Check out their timing, synchronicity, flexibility, creativity, and style -- all clues about to how to deliver an extraordinary outcome.



Talking the Dance

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October 21, 2011
Who Says Miss America Candidates Don't Know Their Stuff?

This is a spoof on the goofy ways in which Miss America candidates have answered serious questions in the past. Very funny.

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October 20, 2011
Drive Fear Out of the Workplace!

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As I understand it, Peter Drucker (world class management guru) was totally committed to driving fear out of the workplace.

He knew (as you do, on a good day) that you cannot have a successful business if fear is running the show.

Fear constricts. Fear depresses. Fear limits the amount of options you have because survival rules the day -- and when survival rules the day, we end up operating like Neanderthals -- perceiving everything as a threat to our well-being.

What's fascinating about this is that all of us, at some level, are afraid -- and we end up bringing our fear into the workplace.

What kind of fear?

Fear of change. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of failure. Fear of being dominated. Fear of being judged. Fear of feedback. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of being overwhelmed. Fear of commitment. Fear of being manipulated. Fear of working hard and having nothing to show for it. Fear of losing your job. Fear of being penniless. Fear of other people. And on and on and on...

Well, then... what to do with all this fear business?

First off, recognize that you (and everyone else around you) is human and, as such, is subject to fear (and fear's second cousins -- anxiety, worry, discomfort, nervousness, agitation, and projection).

Secondly, realize that fear ("False Evidence Appearing Real") is not who you are and not what you want and that it is definitely possible to go beyond it.

And thirdly, do what you can to find the place inside yourself that is free of fear -- the place of faith, confidence, relaxation, clarity, innovation, trust, and resilience.

If you can't find it (and some days it ain't easy), connect with a co-worker, friend, or teammate and air it out. Don't keep your fear bottled up. It will eat you alive from the inside.

Remember, if you are feeling fear, acknowledge it. As Fritz Perls once put it, "Awareness cures." Just being aware of the fact that you are feeling fear, is the first step towards it dissipating.

And remember this: Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It can also serve you.

Indeed, it was very useful for our Neanderthalic ancestors to feel fear from time to time. Why? Because it alerted them to real danger that needed to be dealt with. It got their adrenelin pumping enough to run from the saber-toothed tiger.

The fact that you are feeling some fear today may simply be due to the fact that you are actually sensing danger (i.e. funky business systems, bad accounting, lack of budgets, poor teamwork, old mindsets) that will eventually bring your business down unless something useful is done. So, that's a good thing.

But it's only a good thing if you let the fear you are feeling translate into intelligent action. Otherwise, you run the risk of being gobbled up by your fear which only leads to crappy feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelm -- not exactly the drivers of innovation and success.

Of course, if there is no saber-toothed tiger (down the hallway, around the corner, in the next office), then there's really no reason to be afraid, is there? If the saber-toothed tiger is only in your mind, you have the option to dismiss it. "Down boy!"

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A QUICK GUIDE TO GOING BEYOND FEAR:

1. Acknowledge it.

2. Write down what you are afraid of (or anxious about).

3. Tell someone (a friend, teammate, your boss, your FB friends).

4. Item by item, come up with a game plan for what you (and your company) can do to address the root causes of what it is that is sparking fear in you.

5. Acknowledge your successes each time your fear subsides and is supplanted by relaxation, ease, insight, breakthrough, and success.

6. Read this aloud

OK, oh brave readers of this blog, what else can you do to transmute your fear into breakthrough? Tell us. Leave a comment. Share your wisdom with us.

If we get enough juicy suggestions, we'll publish something like "50 Awesome Things You Can Do to Go Beyond Fear."

Who We Are
Companies that have not been afraid to hire us

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October 19, 2011
Stocks Are Not the Only Thing That Appreciate

I have been an innovation consultant since 1986 and have worked with hundreds of organizations in more than 15 industries. The products and services of my clients have all been different -- as have their acronyms, mission statements, and cafeteria food.

But they all have one thing in common -- and that is a pronounced tendency to undervalue the power of appreciation.

Sure, they give out gold watches and Employee of the Month awards, but the simple act of acknowledging and appreciating each other on a daily basis is in woeful short supply.

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The reasons are many.

Too many managers have come to believe that the expression of appreciation will be counterproductive, leading to a self-satisfied workforce -- a workforce that will be entitled and unmotivated.

The perceived lack of time is another reason.

Most people's plates are so full these days that the time and attention it takes to acknowledge another for their efforts is considered a luxury that cannot be afforded.

A third reason?

The majority of people who work in an organization do not know how to appreciate others. It is not, shall we say, their default condition.

Why should this matter to your organization?

Because there is a direct correlation between appreciation and success. The more appreciation, the more morale improves and the more moral improves, the more willing people are to go the extra yard.

Indeed, recent U.S. Department of Labor data shows that the number one reason people leave their jobs is that they do not feel appreciated. When you quantify the cost of recruiting, orienting, and training people, that adds up. Big time.

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Further research has revealed that companies that effectively value and appreciate their employees enjoy more than triple returns on equity and assets and achieve higher operating margins than companies that do not.

Time and again it has been proven: money is not the key driver of employee satisfaction. It is the experience of being appreciated.

"Celebrate what you want to see more," advises management consultant, Tom Peters.

"Appreciate everything your associates do for the business," advised Sam Walton, former CEO of Walmart. "Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise."

Mother Teresa agrees: "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."

The paradox?

Business leaders want their stocks to appreciate, but they don't see the relationship between rising stock prices and the rise in employee performance that comes from employees being genuinely appreciated.

In what ways can YOU lead the charge by authentically expressing your appreciation to someone with whom you work?


GOOD NEWS: I will be giving two keynotes, this week, at Mitre, on this very subject. Contact me if you'd like to get the ball rolling in your organization.

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October 18, 2011
100 Reasons to Go Within

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Since the beginning of time, and even last Thursday, there have always been inner-directed people living on planet Earth -- sincere seekers of truth who realized that the business of life wasn't necessarily a life of business.

They wanted more out of life than stock options, a corner office, and a 401K.

Some of these people radically turned away from the marketplace and ended up in caves, forests, or spiritual retreats. Some sought the guidance of Great Masters. Others, stayed closer to home and simply checked out their nearest yoga class.

Have you ever wondered why people make this choice -- what moves a person to go beyond business as usual and turn within? Well, I have -- and here they are -- 100 of the most common reasons.

Yours may be on it. If it isn't, just let me know and I will add it to the next edition.

100 Reasons to Go Within

1. You just lost your job.

2. Oprah told you to.

3. Your 401K is now a 101K.

4. The world always seems to let you down.

5. You're not getting any younger.

6. You've always been curious about this "going within" business.

7. Someone you love just died.

8. You think the Dalai Lama is cool.

9. You read it in a book.

10. Your girlfriend ran away with your therapist.

11. Your house just burned down.

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12. Watching Dancing With the Stars no longer does it for you.

13. You're an unhappy atheist.

14. You've recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

15. You're about to have a root canal.

16. Your three-year plan has revealed itself to be a total charade.

17. It's free.

18. You have a living Master who keeps reminding you to go within.

19. Your wife, husband, kids, and hair have all left you.

20. You like what Jesus had to say about it.

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21. There's no time like the present.

22. You had a near death experience a while ago, but could never figure out how to stay in that blissful place.

23. Your team just lost the Big Game and you realize that everything you give yourself to in this world eventually disappoints.

24. You're stuck in traffic
25. You're on your death bed
26. You're on vacation

27. Inner space is a lot more interesting than outer space.

28. Space is curved. If you looked long enough through a powerful enough telescope, you'd end up seeing your own butt.

29. You've always been fascinated by the lives of sages, saints, and monks.

30. Nothing else seems to be working for you.

31. You want to build your house of bricks.

32. You've seen Avatar twice.

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33. You always knew that going within was important.

34. You finally figured out that the entire world is your projection and the flickering images on the screen aren't the only thing to focus on.

35. There's nothing good on TV.

36. You lost the remote.

37. You lost your way.

38. You read Siddhartha.

39. You'd rather have your own experience than read about someone else's.

40. You love George Harrison.

41. You want to lower your stress.

42. Googling it didn't get you anywhere.

43. You don't believe your own story anymore. (And you're tired of telling it).

44. You realize that your personality is a complete fabrication and you want to find out who (or what) exists behind the mask you call your "self."

45. Your best friend suggested it.

46. You're the reincarnation of Shiva.

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47. You're the reincarnation of Shiva's chiropractor.

48. You keep wondering why the spelling of "Shiva" and "Yeshiva" are so similar.

49. You've always favored silence and simplicity.

50. When you go to a video store, it takes you a long time to find anything you want to rent.

51. You once heard Prem Rawat talk about it and it sounded really good.

52. You went on a retreat last month and, even though the people there seemed to be completely full of themselves, smiled too much, and didn't have a sense of humor, you liked the way you felt when you weren't busy judging them.

53. It's good for your blood pressure.

54. You'd rather be on the inside than the outside.

55. The Dow is down (but not the Tao).

56. Your server is down.

57. All roads lead to Om.

58. You don't want to end up like the musk deer who wanders forever in search of the intoxicating fragrance that emanates from its own navel.

59. You prefer Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir to Lady Gaga.

60. For thousands of lifetimes this is what you've done.

61. Your moon is in the House of Pies.

62. You want to find out what Prem Rawat meant when he said that "there are a lot of people who know there is a drop in the ocean, but only a few who know there is an ocean in the drop."

63. You want your mojo back.

64. Face it. You're just not that happy with your current state of affairs (even though you always tell people you are "fine" when they ask you how you are). It's kind of like you have a low grade virus or know there is a party going on nearby that you haven't been invited to and can't figure out why.

65. The happiest moments of your life have been listening to your Master speak about the beauty of going within.

66. You want shelter from the storm.

67. You've always sensed there was something universal inside of everyone -- far beyond religion or philosophy -- and you want to know what it is.

68. You read Be Here Now many years ago.

69. You're tired of waiting for Christmas, retirement, or a positive cash flow.

70. You've heard there's is at least one living Teacher who can show you how.

71. You'd rather know the "I" than the iPhone.

72. Three magi from Jersey City just showed up at your door. They are each holding a large pepperoni pizza and telling you that you better go within or they're gonna break your kneecaps.

73. Hey, if it doesn't work out, you can always get back into that network marketing thing.

74. Your favorite part of every meal is grace.

75. You don't need any credentials.

76. It's sugar free.

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77. Some time ago, for no apparent reason, you experienced a profound sense of gratitude, expansiveness, and joy. Everything made perfect sense. Alas...that feeling came and went. Now you want to get it back.

78. Rush Limbaugh has nothing to do with it.

79. It's non-caloric.

80. Every time you go to a bookstore, you find yourself wandering around the spiritual section.

81. When you were a little kid you alternated between feeling like an orphan and a visitor from another planet. You always wanted to "go home." Now you understand that home is not a geographical place, but a state of consciousness and "going within" has something to do with it.

82. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll took you only so far.

83. You realize that Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, and Lao Tzu can't all be wrong.

84. Your most favorite people on planet Earth have all committed to this journey.

85. You understand that to "go within" you don't need to give up bowling, poker, steak, sex, baseball, beer, crossword puzzles, scrabble, sushi, cappuccino, square dancing, break dancing, blogging, basketball, William Burroughs, designer jeans, Otis Redding, jello, science fiction, bonsai trees, tweeting, fruit loops, weightlifting, jazz, bargain hunting, coin collecting, the Kabaalah, dirty jokes, making fun of politicians, arm wrestling, Bruce Lee, Lee Marvin, Marvin Gardens, toasted marshmallows, and googling your own name when no one is watching.

86. You don't want anything else.

87. You realize that if you can't be happy in your own skin, nothing else is ever going to matter.

88. Your favorite songs are all love songs.

89. You feel a deep thirst within that cannot be quenched by anything else.

90. You want to.
91. You have to.
92. It's time.

93. You know that God is within and you would like to make his/her/its acquaintance.

94. Did I mention that you're not getting any younger?

95. Tick tock tick tock.

96. You're tired of the rat race.

97. You've been looking for love in all the wrong places.

98. You're almost coming to the end of this list.

99. You're almost coming to the end of your life.

100. Rush Limbaugh has nothing to do with it.

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October 16, 2011
We Want Your Big Fat Opinions!

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There are a few things that readers of this blog have in spades: curiosity, passion, a fascination for innovation, and a good sense of humor.

There is one thing they don't have (or, at least, not much of -- and that is time).

Which is why we (Idea Champions) have decided to translate a number of our highly regarded workshops and trainings into online webinars. Which ones? Well, that's for YOU to decide.

Based on the feedback we receive, we'll pick the five most popular and kick our development process into ultra high gear.

And don't worry, you don't have to work in a big organization to sign up. We'll also be offering a series of open enrollment webinars -- priced just right for these financially meltdowny times.

Your next step? Let us know what you think. That's it.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2011
How 13-Year Olds Can Wipe Out Terrorism

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OK. I know this headline seems bold. Even presumptuous. But bear with me. I'm inspired. And even more than that -- on the brink of a breakthrough

But first, some back story...

A year and a half ago, my awesomely cool, smart, and creative daughter, Mimi (in the orange glasses above), turned 13 and invited 12 of her girlfriends to our house for a celebrational sleepover.

The first 30 minutes were great as each girl, gift in hand, was dropped off by a parent, who, upon surveying the room, offered my wife and I a glance of great compassion as if to say "Better you than me."

The girls? Don't ask...

They talked. They texted. They talked. They texted. Ate chocolate. Brushed hair. Played music. Painted fingernails. Laughed. Texted. Called friends. Finished not a single sentence, rolling their eyes every time a parent entered the room.

Mindful of my daughter's need for space and my own weird tendency to be a little too present when her friends were around, I retreated to my bedroom like some kind of mid-western chicken farmer looking for a storm shelter.

I tried reading. I tried napping. I tried meditating.

Nothing worked.

My attention was completely subsumed -- taken over by an invisible vortex of swirling social networking energy being channeled by a roomful of partying 13-year old girls -- the next generation of, like, whatever.

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And then, with absolutely no warning, everything became suddenly clear. In a flash, I understood exactly how to end terrorism once and for all.

THE PLAN:

For starters, the government flies a squadron of 13 year-old girls to Guantanamo -- or wherever high profile terrorists are being interrogated these days.

The girls, impeccably guarded by the highest qualified soldiers available, are walked into a prison waiting room where the shackled terrorists are already sitting.

Immediately, the girls begin texting, eating chocolate, talking, painting fingernails, and exponentially interrupting each other with a steady stream of "OMG's" and other, esoteric internet acronyms none of their parents have a clue about.

The prisoners, at first, find the whole thing amusing -- a delightful break from their dreadful prison routine. They smile. They wink. They remember their youth.

But the girls, wired to the max (sugar and wi-fi), radically pick up the pace of their texting and talking like some kind of futuristic teenage particle accelerator.

After five minutes, the prisoners stop smiling. After ten, they become silent. After twenty, they start twitching. A lot.

They try covering their ears with their shackled hands, but the chains are too short. They start looking madly around the room, hoping to catch the eyes of their jailers -- but their jailers sit motionless, miming the movements of the twelve texting teenagers.

A few of the terrorists start crying. A few go catatonic. And then, the roughest looking of the bunch -- a tall man with a long, jagged scar on his left cheek -- calls out in his native language.

"STOP! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I'll TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW."

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The guards nod and switch on the nearest tape recorder. But it's totally unnecessary.

The girls, totally tuned into the terrorists' confessions as if watching the finals of American Idol, are texting everything they hear to a roomful of Pentagon heavyweights in an undisclosed location.

The information proves vital to our national defense.

Within three days, a record number of terrorist cells are taken down. Word gets out to the global terrorist community and, in only a matter of weeks, it becomes impossible for the Jihadist movement to recruit.

Yes, of course, the ACLU raises a stink about this "new strain of American torture," but a thorough investigation by a bi-partisan task force of international peacekeepers proves to be inconclusive. No long-term damage to the prisoners can be detected.

On a roll, my daughter and her rock-the-world friends create a Facebook Group that teaches other 13-year old girls how to help the cause. A movement is born.

Soon, hundreds of teenage girl "patriots" are dispatched to war zones around the world -- radically decreasing the incidence of terrorism on all seven continents.

Subsequent interviews with former Jihadists reveal that merely the threat of being in a room with 12 texting 13-year old girls was enough to get them to lay down their homemade bombs and return to farming.

Peace comes to the Middle East. Pakistan and India make up. (Make up, girls!) The Golden Age begins.

As you might guess, HBO and Hollywood come calling.

Big time producers want to do a reality show and a major motion picture, but the girls -- newly inspired by the impact they've had on the world -- refuse to become a commodity as they prepare (OMG!) for summer camp and 8th grade and the September launch of that next, cool cell phone with the incredible keyboard.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:37 PM | Comments (3)

October 13, 2011
John Lennon on Life

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Innovators: You may be conjuring up an unbelievably cool future product or service, but please remember that THIS MOMENT is precious. Be present with your wife, husband, children, friends, neighbors, customers, clients, and self. Smell the flowers!

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October 12, 2011
The Power of Positive Feedback

Most high level executives do not expect a lot of recognition from others. Nor do they give a lot of recognition to others.

Many managers are like the guy who, when his wife complains that he doesn't tell her he loves her any more, responds that he told her he loved her when he married her -- and he would have let her know if anything had changed.

Similarly, most managers act as if the act of hiring an employee is recognition enough -- and they would have let them know if anything changed.

This in spite of the fact that every one of these managers wants to be valued and appreciated by their superiors, and is regularly disappointed by the lack of appreciation coming their way.

There is a great fear that only the most extraordinary achievements warrant recognition and that all "just good" or superior performance is merely what should be expected and does not require any special recognition...

The fear is that "excessive" recognition will dilute the praise, cheapen it, and reduce future motivation for outstanding performance.

The data, of course, indicates otherwise.

Mere acknowledgment of good performance increases the probability of more good performance. And specificity of feedback -- telling the person exactly what you liked about what they did and why you liked it -- dramatically increases the likelihood of that performance occurring again.

Giving people clear targets increases the likelihood that those targets will be hit, even if no incremental reward is associated with success. Hitting a valued target is rewarding in itself.

If we can get to a place where we are more generous and specific in our positive feedback, we will notice a dramatic increase in the quality of performance and overall satisfaction with work.

- Barry Gruenberg

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October 11, 2011
IPhone, IPod, IPad, IPaid

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October 06, 2011
Steve Jobs on Life, Death, and Love

All of us at Idea Champions are deeply saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs, a man who has made an extraordinary contribution to planet Earth. Here's one of his pearls of wisdom: "Your time is limited, do don't waste it living someone else's life... Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." Thank you, Steve. God bless!

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:42 PM | Comments (2)

October 04, 2011
Meet Me at the World Business Forum

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Hey everyone... I'm going to be at the World Business Forum, in NYC, this Wednesday and Thursday (October 5-6) as a "guest blogger."

If you are attending and want to connect, seek me out. I'll be sitting in the "Guest Bloggers" section.

I'm kind of a cross between Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney.

Or maybe Ben Kingsley, George Carlin, and your Uncle Normie.

Hope to see you there!
Mitch Ditkoff
Idea Champions

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October 03, 2011
Mozart on Genius

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Idea Champions

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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.

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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.
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