April 30, 2012
Jesse Has Made His Choice!

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Teen Manifesto
A message for dads who travel
The genie is a leprechaun today
14 year old running for President
Sticky idea

PS: Jesse is going to pay for part of his education by outsourcing his many talents as a Photoshop maestro. Leave a message here if you want to engage his services.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2012
Don't Let This Happen to You!

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This is a digitized photo
of a Director of Innovation
from a very large
insurance company
who decided to
go with one of our competitors.
I told him he was making a big mistake,
but when you're a
consulting company
sometimes prospective clients
think you're just trying to
win more business when you speak the truth. Not so.
We believe in karma and integrity
and doing everything possible to help our clients succeed.
Don't end up like this guy.

Idea Champions
Our new webinar series
Who we are
Our values

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2012
The List of Lists

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Of the 460 postings on this blog, the most popular ones have been our lists. Many have "gone viral" (which, I guess, is better than "going postal.")

Anyway, just in case you want to see what all the fuss is about, here is a list of our lists -- something for everybody -- even a list about WHY lists are so compelling.

1. 26 Reasons Why Most Brainstorming Sessions Suck

2. 50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation

3. 20 Reasons Why Many People Get Their Best Ideas in the Shower

4. 56 Reasons Why Most Innovation Initiatives Fail

5. 100 Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

6. The 10 Top Reasons Why the 10 Top Reasons Don't Matter

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7. 100 Reasons Why You Won't Read This Blog Posting

8. 41 Ways Business Leaders Can Foster a Culture of Innovation

9. 100 Awesome Quotes on What It Really Takes to Innovate

10. 50 Awesome Quotes on Risk Taking

11. The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating

12. 23 Reasons Why Nothing Happens After a Brainstorming Session

13. 14 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas

14. The Top 18 High Tech Excuses

15. 20 Qualities of an Innovator

16. The 10 Personas of a Good Brainstorm Facilitator

17. 20 Quotes on the Relationship Between Humor, Play, and Creativity

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18. 20 Ways to See the Invisible

19. 101 Creativiteas for the Knew Age

20. 10 Ways to Help Left Brainers Tap Into the Best of their Creativity

21. The Top 100 Learning Tools of 2009


22. The Top 10 Reasons Your CEO Sabotages Innovation

23. 15 Awesome Quotes on Creative Collaboration

24. 6 Ways to Go Beyond Your Assumptions

25. 17 Reasons Why We Love Lists

26. The 4 Currents of a Culture of Innovation

27. The 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun

Who We Are
Our FAQ list
Franz Liszt
Listverse
Wikipedia's rap on lists
History of David Letterman's Top Ten List

Photo Of Franz Liszt
Photo
Photo
Photo

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:41 PM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2012
The 8 Dimensions of a Brainstorm Session

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Most people think brainstorming sessions are all about ideas -- much in the same way Wall Street bankers think life is all about money.

While ideas are certainly a big part of brainstorming, they are only a part.

People who rush into a brainstorming session starving for new ideas will miss the boat (and the train, car, and unicycle) completely unless they tune into the some other important dynamics that are also at play:

1. INVESTIGATION: If you want your brainstorming sessions to be effective, you'll need to do some investigating before hand. Get curious. Ask questions. Dig deeper. The more you find out what the real issues are, the greater your chances of framing powerful questions to brainstorm and choosing the best techniques to use.

2. IMMERSION: While good ideas can surface at any time, their chances radically increase the more that brainstorm participants are immersed. Translation? No coming and going during a session. No distractions. No interruptions. And don't forget to put a "do not disturb" sign on the door.

3. INTERACTION: Ideas come to people at all times of day and under all kinds of circumstances. But in a brainstorming session, it's the quality of interaction that makes the difference -- how people connect with each other, how they listen, and build on ideas. Your job, as facilitator, is to increase the quality of interaction.

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4. INSPIRATION: Creative output is often a function of mindset. Bored, disengaged people rarely originate good ideas. Inspired people do. This is one of your main tasks, as a brainstorm facilitator -- to do everything in your power to keep participants inspired. The more you do, the less techniques you will need.

5. IDEATION: Look around. Everything you see began as an idea in someone's mind. Simply put, ideas are the seeds of innovation -- the first shape a new possibility takes. As a facilitator of the creative process, your job is to foster the conditions that amplify the odds of new ideas being conceived, developed, and articulated.

6. ILLUMINATION: Ideas are great. Ideas are cool. But they are also a dime a dozen unless they lead to an insight or aha. Until then, ideas are only two dimensional. But when the light goes on inside the minds of the people in your session, the ideas are activated and the odds radically increase of them manifesting.

7. INTEGRATION: Well-run brainstorming sessions have a way of intoxicating people. Doors open. Energy soars. Possibilities emerge. But unless participants have a chance to make sense of what they've conceived, the ideas are less likely to manifest. Opening the doors of the imagination is a good thing, but so is closure.

8. IMPLEMENTATION: Perhaps the biggest reason why most brainstorming sessions fail is what happens after -- or, shall I say, what doesn't happen after. Implementation is the name of the game. Before you let people go, clarify next steps, who's doing what (and by when), and what outside support is needed.

Idea Champions webinars

Virtual Brainstorm Facilitation Training

Live Brainstorm Training
Cartoon

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:17 AM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2012
First WHY, Then HOW, Then WHAT

For decades, people have wondered how Apple has reached such heightened levels of success. But it only took Simon Sinek 18 minutes to explain it. According to him, it's all about the why, not the how, or what. Most computer companies start with claims that they make great products. Apple, on the other hand, tells you why they build computers.

Innovation from the inside out

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2012
Why Blog? Here's Why!

Big thank you to Seth Godin and Tom Peters for this crystal clear articulation on why blogging is so powerful.

It's not about the money

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 PM

The Power of Appreciation

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Do you know what the #1 reason why people quit their jobs (according to the US Department of Labor)? Not being appreciated by their managers. Of course, it all begins with each of us being thankful -- but it always helps to have others express their thankfulness for a job well done (or at least an effort well done). Who will you thank today?

21 awesome quotes on appreciation

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2012
Caine's Arcade

Got a new idea? Some passion? Determination? Patience? Youthful optimism? Belief in yourself? A cool dad and one committed customer? That's all you need...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2012
100 Simple Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

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1. Ask the most creative people at work for their ideas.

2. Brainstorm with a co-worker.

3. Tape record your ideas on your commute to and from work.

4. Present your challenge to a child.

5. Take your team off-site for a day.

6. Listen to your inner muse.

7. Play music in your office.

8. Go for a daily brainstorming walk.

9. Ask someone to collaborate with you on your favorite project.

10. Exercise during your lunch break.

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11. Turn on a radio at random times and listen for a message.

12. Invite your customers to brainstorming sessions.

13. Think of new ways to define your challenge.

14. Remember your dreams.

15. Reward yourself for small successes.

16. Introduce odd catalysts into your daily routine.

17. Get out of the office more regularly.

18. Give yourself an unreasonable deadline.

19. Take more naps.

20. Jot down as many ideas as possible in five minutes

21. Work in cafes.

22. Transform your assumptions into "How can I?" questions.

23. Conjure up a meaningful goal that inspires you.

24. Redesign your office.

25. Take regular daydreaming breaks.

26. Dissolve turf boundaries.

27. Initiate cross-functional brainstorming sessions.

28. Arrive earlier to the office than anyone else.

29. Turn a conference room into an upbeat think tank room.

30. Read odd books -- having nothing to do with your work.

31. Block off time on your calendar for creative thinking.

32. Take a shower in the middle of the day.

33. Keep an idea notebook at your desk.

34. Decorate your office with inspiring quotes and images.

35. Create a headline of the future and the story behind it.

36. Choose to be more creative.

37. Recall a time in your life when you were very creative.

38. Wander around a bookstore while thinking about your challenge.

39. Trust your instincts more.

40. Immerse yourself in your most exciting project.

41. Open a magazine and free associate off of a word or image.

42. Write down your ideas when you first wake up in the morning.

43. Ask yourself what the simplest solution is.

44. Get fast feedback from people you trust.

45. Conduct more experiments.

45. Ask yourself what the market wants or needs.

46. Ask "What's the worst thing that could happen if I fail?"

47. Pilot your idea, even if it's not ready.

48. Work "in the cracks" -- small bursts of creative energy.

49. Incubate (sleep on it).

50. Test existing boundaries -- and then test them again.

51. Schedule time with the smartest people at work.

52. Visit your customers more frequently.

53. Benchmark your competitors -- then adapt their successes.

54. Enroll your boss or peers into your most fascinating project.

55. Imagine you already know the answer. What would it be?

56. Create ground rules with your team that foster new thinking.

57. Ask stupid questions. Then ask some more.

58. Challenge everything you do.

59. Give yourself a deadline -- and stick to it.

60. Look for three alternatives to every solution you originate.

61. Write your ideas in a notebook and review them regularly.

62. Make connections between seemingly disconnected things.

63. Use creative thinking techniques.

64. Play with the Free the Genie cards.

65 Use similes and metaphors when describing your ideas.

66. Have more fun. Be sillier than usual.

67. Ask "How can I accomplish my goal in half the time?"

68. Take a break when you are stuck on a problem.

69. Think how your biggest hero might approach your challenge.

70. Declare Friday afternoons a "no-email zone."

71. Ask three people how they would improve your idea.

72. Create a wall of images that inspires you.

73. Do more of what already helps you be creative off the job.

74. Laugh more, worry less.

75. Remember your dreams -- then write them down.

76. Ask impossible questions.

77. Eliminate all unnecessary bureaucracy and admin tasks.

78. Create a compelling vision of what you want to accomplish.

79. Work on hottest project every day, even if only 5 minutes.

80. Do whatever is necessary to create a sense of urgency.

81. Go for a walk anytime you're stuck.

82. Meditate or do relaxation exercises.

83. Take more breaks.

84. Go out for lunch with your team more often.

85. Eat lunch with a different person each day.

86. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

87. Invite an outside facilitator to lead a brainstorming session.

88. Take more risks outside of the office (i.e. surf, ski, box etc.)

89. Ask for help when you need it.

90. Know that it is possible to make a difference.

91. Find a mentor.

92. Acknowledge all your successes at the end of each day.

93. Create an "idea piggy bank" and make deposits daily.

94. Have shorter meetings.

95. Try the techniques in Awake at the Wheel

96. Don't listen to or watch the news for 24 hours.

97. Make drawings of your ideas.

98. Bring your project or challenge to mind before going to bed.

99. Divide your idea into component parts. Then rethink each part.

100. Post this list near your desk and read it daily.

Interactive keynotes
Our website
Creativity in a box
Idea sparking webinars
Online creative thinking tool
Innovation Kits
Free the Genie decks
What our clients say
Creative thinking guidebooks

KIND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TO: Anne Howe, David Beath, Jim Aubele, Gary Kvistad, Howard Moody, Farrell Reynolds, Hector Cruz Rosa, Jill Peckinpaugh, and Marcy Turkington for their wonderful suggestions.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:16 AM | Comments (8)

April 13, 2012
Ask the Right Questions!

This is the first of several Heart of Innovation postings from the World Business Forum, which we recently attended in NYC. The conference was very inspiring. Great speakers. Timely content. And lots of food for thought (and feeling).

One theme that several presenters noted was the importance of asking the right question.
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Tal Ben Shahar: "How do you get others to focus on what works? By asking the right questions."

Tal implored the audience to change the questions they are asking, noting that if we only ask "What's wrong?" (as many business leaders are wont to do), the answers will be unnecessarily skewed in response to that particular filter.

The most serious mistakes being made in business these days, according to Ben Shahar?

Asking the wrong question.

ben-zander.jpgBen Zander spoke passionately about this theme, as well.

The "rhythm of transformation", he explained, is totally dependent on creating new frameworks -- and creating new frameworks is often a function of being willing to ask powerful, new questions. (Ben, by the way, is the answer to the question: "How do you deliver the most powerfully compelling presentation to 4,000 people sitting on plastic seats at the Jacob Javits Convention Center?"

bill_clinton.jpgBill Clinton was all over this "question asking' theme, as well.

"If we spend all our time asking the wrong questions, we're going to get the wrong answers. If we ask the right question, we still may get the wrong answer, but at least we'll have a chance."

"We're all in the future business", Clinton declared.

Amen. Clearly, if we want to create a future worth living, we will all need to start asking much more powerful questions than ever before -- questions that reflect our growing interdependency and collective need for conscious leadership.

jack-welch-a.jpgAnd finally, Jack Welsh weighed in on the topic.

When asked by the interviewer how a business leader can accurately assess an employee's passion, he replied "By the intensity of their questions."

In other words, if you are trying to figure out which person to hire or which employee to assign to a particularly challenging project, make sure you tune into the kinds of questions candidates are asking.

If their questions are flabby or non-existent, it's a dead giveaway that your candidate is ill-equipped to take on the assignment.

If their questions are thoughtful, penetrating, and full of mojo, it's a clue that you are talking to the right person for the job.

SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

1. What are you passionate about?
2. How can you make a profound difference on the planet?
3. What do you need to do differently in order to make this difference?
4. Who is your tribe?
5. How can you stay inspired?

6. How can you foster a culture of innovation?
7. What legacy do you want to leave behind?
8. What risk are you willing to take this week?
9. What is your vision?
10. What are your instincts telling you about your hottest, new idea?

Get the right question to brainstorm
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2012
Manifest Your Big Idea By Friday

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On April 11th (double April Fool's Day?), I will be delivering a 60-minute webinar to any earthling with an internet connection and a pressing need to manifest one of their BIG IDEAS.

I am offering a 50% discount to dyslexics, Buddhists, vegetarians, Republicans, Democrats, fans of James Taylor, or anyone who has ever wondered what kind of companies hire Idea Champions.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

The Human Side of Innovation

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During this morning's Idea Champions team meeting, I had a Homer Simpson moment. You know, one of those classic head slapping, no brainer, high-five, DOH! moments.

And because the aforementioned moment may very well impact YOU, oh savvy reader of this blog, I am going to share it with you now.

Ready? Here it is:

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The book on innovation I starting writing last year is already written. Well, at least 50% of it is -- not by some slick consultant who got the jump on me, but by me.

The book, like some kind of buried treasure in my own back yard, is hidden in the more than 450 postings on this blog -- impassioned rants, essays, and wake up calls that address the human side of the innovation equation.

As I've said a thousand time before, organizations don't innovate -- people innovate. Inspired people. Fascinated people. Committed people. People on fire with possibility, mojo, and an almost cellular need to make a difference.

That's what this blog is about. That's what my life is about. That's what your life is about. And that's what my next book is about.

So, I'm rearranging my schedule, redistributing my workload, giving up ESPN highlights, and asking readers of this blog to tell me WHAT they want to see in the book.

What would make it compelling? What would differentiate it from the competition? What would move you to buy it for a friend, your boss, or a client?

HINT: A big chunk of my message is going to be delivered as story -- real-world moments of truth I've encountered "out there" in the corporate workplace. Moments when the veil lifted... a Red Sea parted... and I saw deeply into the heart of innovation.

Like how my company got a huge contract from AT&T by teaching the Director of Training at AT&T how to juggle in 5 minutes.

Like using the martial arts to create a breakthrough at GE.

Like guerilla marketing at Pricewaterhouse, dressed like Santa Claus

If you are a fan of this blog and want to throw your hat or your head in the ring to spread the word, shoot me an email (mitch@ideachampions.com). I'm going create a "MasterMind" group ("MasterHeart"?) to explore cool ways of getting the word out to the rest of the known universe.

If you are an agent or publisher who resonates with all of this, let me hear from you. The door is open.

My first, award winning, book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2012
Be a Student of Life

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2012
The Best Kind of Customer Testimonial

Usually, we collect written testimonials from our satisfied clients and post them on this page -- but today, we decided to post a different kind of expression. Apparently, our client really liked the Idea Champions webinar they just experienced.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2012
Two Wolves

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One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

"One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

April 06, 2012
Punchline of the Day

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"Everyone
has
a
plan
until
he's
punched
in
the
face."

- Mike Tyson

Idea Champions
Innovation webinars
Free the Genie

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

The Biggest Room in the World

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It is sometimes said that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. And while this may be true, the aforementioned "biggest room" was also once furnished with all kinds of cool stuff, then, before you could say "double frappucino", was impeccably stashed in a temperature controlled storage unit and through some worm hole time warp of nature, made available here -- on your favorite innovation blog. Hey, we'll even throw in a Free the Genie deck, at no extra charge, with every purchase.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2012
Miles Davis on Mistakes

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Rethinking Failure
Our new webinars
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:09 AM | Comments (1)

April 01, 2012
Our World Wide Webinatrix Speaks!

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The writers of this blog are excited, thrilled, and tickled to announce the launching of a entirely new service to the known universe: Webinars powered by Idea Champions University.

Having spent the past 25 years delivering a wide variety of innovation-sparking workshops, trainings, meetings, conferences, and consulting interventions to forward thinking organizations everywhere, we've decided to let go of our addiction to Frequent Flyer miles and go virtual.

Our new venture began with a simple question: "How can we have the biggest impact on the most amount of people in a cost-effective, highly engaging, low carbon footprint way?"

The answer? Build a webinar curriculum and deliver our services online.

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Which is exactly what we've done and will continue to do as long as the need in the marketplace exists.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a better way to build the core competency of innovation, you've come to the right place.

No airfare required. No cabs. No sending your people to overpriced hotels and wondering whose gonna cover for them while they're eating muffins and collecting one more three-ring binder they will never read.

Operators are not standing by. But our website is. And so is our integrity -- the collective mojo we've built for the past 25 years with some of the finest organizations in the world.

So visit us online to learn more about what we're offering. And while you're at it, feel free to register for one of our upcoming open-enrollment webinars -- a great way to kick our virtual tires.

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If you are one of the first 50 people to register, you'll receive a 50% discount and a free annual subscription to our highly regarded online Free the Genie app.

If you'd rather schedule a group webinar (for up to 100 people), contact Sarah Jacob, our World Wide Webinatrix.

She means business.

More about Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

When Failure Is Not an Option

NOTE: The following article is a guest post by Ron Brent, co-Founder of Heroic Leadership and one of the most conscious human beings I know.

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For much of this past year, my business partner and I have had almost daily discussions about the state of the economy, our country, and the general condition of the world we live in.

Our conclusion? The good old "American Spirit" of yesterday seems to be a no-show these days.

It wasn't long ago when opportunities were abundant and there was a genuine sense of enthusiasm and innovation throughout the country -- a feeling that we could accomplish just about anything we set our minds to -- either in our personal lives, our businesses, or in the companies entrusted to our care.

It's what made America the great "Land of Opportunity" and brought our families here from distant corners of the world.

These days, many people in the business community feel that opportunity and success are luxuries they have to wait for. The're waiting for new government regulations, someone to present a plan, or a seismic shift in the economy.

This kind of thinking is outdated and out of tune. Opportunity and success are not luxuries to be waited for. On the contrary, they're waiting for us!

Opportunities are always present, and in most cases they're right in front of our eyes. The problem is: we rarely know what they look like, and so we fail to recognize them.

This phenomenon raises several questions worth considering.

How can we proactively spot the opportunities right in front of us? Once identified, how can we gather the resources we need to turn these opportunities into successful ventures? And finally, where can we look for direction and guidance?

Although these questions are all "forward looking", the answers to them may actually be waiting for us in the distant past -- answers that will help us meet the increasingly difficult challenges before us.

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Looking back in time, we can find many examples of individuals who were also facing difficult challenge -- seemingly impossible challenges -- and yet these individuals were able to achieve great success against extraordinary odds.

One such group were the warrior sages (warriors in possession of wisdom). Most notable of these were the Samurai.

In response to the difficult challenges they faced, the Samurai developed powerful training techniques to give themselves the ultimate competitive advantage.

They designed strategies, methods, and tactics that allowed them to outsmart and outmaneuver their opponents -- opponents who often outnumbered them and had many more resources at their disposal.

Additionally, the Samurai also developed teachable systems for training others. As a result, they produced teams of empowered individuals armed with the skills and tools to succeed under conditions where failure was not an option.

Yes, the Samurai possessed extraordinary battlefield acumen, but they were not one-dimensional killing machines. On the contrary, they were equally known for their profound poetry, fine calligraphy, exquisitely delicate painting, melodious music, and many other forms of artistic expression.

How can people in today's world benefit from the legacy of the Samurai? What can we learn from their extraordinary example of grace under fire?

Can we take their ancient tools and techniques and apply them to our modern day challenges? Absolutely!

The Samurai blueprint for achieving success can easily be adapted to any and all of life's situations. Wisdom is wisdom regardless of time and place. The Samurai approach to achieving results is as effective in today's workplace as it was on the battlefields of a thousand years ago.

Whether in combat, sales, security, management, or executive leadership -- all of us can learn from this Samurai code of conduct: failure is not an option. Not just in theory, but in practice.

Because the Samurai didn't just leave behind a legacy of courage, strength, and wisdom -- they left behind a system for translating their mastery in ways that others could learn from, practice, and imbibe.

About Heroic Leadership
Samurai Code of Conduct

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:49 AM | Comments (5)

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.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
See Mitch's keynote address Enjoy a 7-minute interview with Mitch at the Ethical Sourcing Forum in NYC: 3/28/11
Featured in Alltop Guy Kawasaki's Alltop "online magazine rack" has recognized Idea Champions' blog as one of the leading innovation blogs on the web. Check out The Heart of Innovation, and subscribe!
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Breakthrough Cafe.
A totally unique brainstorming salon. Great food. Great food for thought. Great people. Collaborate, have fun, get out of the box.

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