December 31, 2012
Mayan Calendar Prophecy Demystified

If you've been
wondering
why the world
didn't end in 2012
as many interpreters
of the Mayan calendar
thought it would,
here's why --
the full scoop
revealed
in my most recent
Huffington Post article --
an especially
timely piece
if you like Italian food.


Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2012
How to Facilitate Brainstorm Sessions: THE eBOOK

conducting genius .jpg

Idea Champions is
proud to announce
the launch of
a series of
new eBooks
on the art
and science
of facilitating
brainstorm sessions.
The first one
will be ready
in the Spring.
If you want us
to let you know
when it's ready.
shoot us an email:
info@ideachampions.

Sample content
Idea Champions

Cover art: Jesse Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2012
The 10 Most Popular Postings on the Heart of Innovation Blog in 2012

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Voila! For your reading pleasure, here are the 10 most popular postings on this blog for 2012.

Curiously, the most popular one had nothing to do with innovation -- it was about the death of my father.

The other most popular topics? Email, Appreciation, Regrets of the Dying, Motherhood, Humor, Technology, Public Speaking, Asking Why, and Being a Manager.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and hugely creative year to you and yours in 2013! With gratitude from the entire Idea Champions team!

THE 10 MOST POPULAR POSTINGS ON THIS BLOG IN 2012:

1. Out of the Box, In the Box
2. 14 Ways to Go Beyond the Email Blues
3. The Power of Appreciation
4. The Five Regrets of the Dying
5. Because I'm the Mom
6. 20 Awesome Quotes on Humor, Play, and Creativity
7. The Cool But Creepy Futuristic World of Ray Kurzweil
8. The Arc of a Good Presentation
9. Why You Need to Ask Why
10. Rethinking the Role of a Manager

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2012
Christmas 2.0

A fun peek into how the news would have gotten out differently 2,012 years ago if social media tools had been around. (Click full screen).

Thanks to David Passes for the heads up.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2012
How to Improve Your RFP Process

If you are
on either end
of the RFP process
(requesting or responding)
and think there's got to be
a better way, you are right.
There is.

The way it works now
doesn't work.
You know it. I know it
and if there are people
on other planets, they know it.
Here's my manifesto
about it,
just published in
the Huffington Post.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2012
Six Famous Failures

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Quotes on failure
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2012
Top 40 Innovation Bloggers Contest

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If you have enjoyed reading this blog and think I have added any value to your own exploration of innovation in 2012, I humbly ask for your vote in Innovation Excellence's annual TOP 40 INNOVATION BLOGGER contest.

All you need to do is click this link, scroll to the bottom, enter your contact info in the fields provided, then write my name (Mitch Ditkoff) in the comments box. Very simple.

Here's to a glorious, fun, energized, loving, grateful, graceful, successful year of innovation to you and everyone in your life.

Vote here or click the link above

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

December 15, 2012
I'm from Woodstock. I Am.

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I'm from Woodstock. Yes, that Woodstock, the famous Woodstock -- the most famous small town in the world, some people say.

Former home to Bob Dylan.

Jimi Hendrix lived here for a summer in the house right across the street from where I live now. John Sebastian still lives here, as do a ton of other musicians, artists, writers, healers, therapists, car mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and just about anyone else you'd expect to live in a small town.

Other than winter lasting six weeks too long, I love Woodstock. I've been a resident for 18 years and I'm proud to call it my home.

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That being said, in the early days of starting up my consulting business, I noticed a curious phenomenon about Woodstock, or at least my relationship to it, whenever a client or prospective client asked me where I was from.

Euphemism-itus.

If I declared myself to be resident of Woodstock, I ran the risk of not only being stereotyped as a counter culture whack job, but being in cahoots with an entire generation of freaks for whom the word "corporation" was second only to "military industrial complex" on the list of buzz kills -- a moment fully capable of leaving my inquisitor with the impression that I was either dangerous, highly unqualified to be of value to their company, or a candidate to be paid in 100 pound bags of chickpeas.

So, I decided to take the low road.

With a big mortgage and a family to support, I saw no reason to scare away potential clients -- especially potential clients who, when push came to shove, were asking where I lived just to break the ice.

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"Two hours north of Manhattan" was my standard response. "Upstate New York" was my backup, followed by "The Hudson Valley", "65 miles south of Albany", and the always dependable "Foothills of the Catskill Mountains".

So there I was in Munich at the International Headquarters of Allianz, one of the world's leading financial services institutions, with 142,000 employees and billions in sales.

My task? To lead a workshop, the next day, for the company's hard driving senior leadership team in an effort to jump start the launch of a company-wide effort to "gain a competitive edge through increased innovation".

Corporate speak? Of course it was. But it didn't matter to me. I didn't care what euphemisms my clients used to frame their business challenges. If I sensed even the smallest willingness on their part to become more innovative, I was there.

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There, in this case, was the well-appointed, pre-dinner reception for Allianz' Senior Team and a handful of outside, consultants, like me, who had been flown in from God knows where to help the company reach its ambitious business goals.

The dress code? Business casual. The bar? Open. The client? Dutifully introducing me to anyone he could collar.

And so it went, the small talk, the head nods, the firm handshakes -- me patiently waiting for the waiter with the pizza puffs and the inevitable moment when the "Where do you live?" question would head its ugly rear.

Somewhere, in between my first and second glass of chilled 1987 Riesling, standing next to three large German men I had just been introduced to -- Guenther, Heinrich, and Hans -- the question was asked.

I opened my mouth to say "Two hours north of Manhattan", but out came "Woodstock".

Maybe it was the wine or maybe it was the cumulative affect of the past ten years of mouthing geographical euphemisms. I don't know. But whatever it was, I knew this was going to be an interesting moment.

For three very long seconds, no one said a thing. The word just hovered in the air like some kind of Superbowl Blimp.

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Guenther was the first to speak.

"Wow!" he announced. "Did you actually go to the festival?"

Hans smiled broadly. "My older cousin went. Lucky bastard. I was too young."

Heinrich just stood there, expressionless, saying nothing. Then he raised his right hand and gave me a rousing high five.

"I love Joe Cocker!" he announced.

Somehow, I got the feeling that tomorrow's innovation workshop was going to be just fine.


Excerpted from my forthcoming book, WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.

Idea Champions
My keynotes
Innovation Kits

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:12 AM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2012
Santa's Cheerful Guide to Business Development

"Necessity," it is said, "is the mother of invention."

It is.

But it is also the father, aunt, uncle, grandmother, cousin, and in-laws. Indeed, for most of us, unless there is a proverbial fire under our proverbial butt, we remain victims of the status quo. Objects at rest. Bumps on a log.

Allow me to be more specific.

The year was 1998. Although the U.S economy was in good shape, my business was flabby. The pipeline was clogged. The marketing plan was a mess. And our cash flow wasn't.

Semi-fearless leader that I was, I bought some muffins and called a meeting. It took us all of 20 minutes to realize we had three choices if we wanted to survive: cut costs, find new clients, or reinvigorate old clients.

Cutting costs wasn't an option. Costs were already cut. Finding new clients sounded good, but it also sounded like a truck load of work. Reinvigorating old relationships, on the other hand, had a nice ring to it.

We decided to focus on local clients -- companies no more than two hours away. Singapore was out. New York City was in.

Being in the creativity business, we knew we'd have to walk the talk. Besides, Christmas was only two weeks away.

And so we decided to practice one of our own techniques and look at our challenge through the eyes of another, in this case -- Santa Claus. "How would he approach a major cash flow crunch?" we asked ourselves. "What would Santa do?"

The answer -- in an on-Dasher-on-Prancer-on-Vixen sort of way -- was obvious. Santa would take to the road. He'd visit people! He'd give out gifts!

The costume rentals cost us $300. I was Santa. Elizabeth was Mrs. Claus. Val was Rudolf. And Tiffany was the Chief Elf.

Our plan was simple.

We'd drive to Manhattan and pay surprise visits to three of our high flying ex-clients: MTV Networks, Met Life, and Pricewaterhouse. Once past security, we'd give away presents (that included our marketing materials) and get recipients to promise not to open them until Christmas morning.

Fast forward three hours...

There we are, the four of us in full Christmas regalia, standing in the tastefully appointed and very marble lobby of Pricewaterhouse. Behind the imposing front desk sat three very large security guards, none of them named Prancer.

"I'd... er... uh... like to speak to Donna Chandler," I announced, doing my best to channel my inner Santa.

Clearly, the security guard was not in the holiday spirit. His belly was not shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

"And who shall I say wants to see Ms. Chandler?" he replied with a scowl.

I just stood there, saying nothing, hoping my long white beard and general joviality would be enough to grant us access.

It wasn't.

"Don't you recognize me, my friend?" I exclaimed. "It's me, Santa!"

"I'll need your real name, sir," the guard replied.

"My real name? It's Santa. Santa Claus."

The guard, now mumbling something under his breath to the equally oversized guard sitting next to him, was not impressed. Scroogily, he paged his way through a company directory and dialed the phone.

"Hello," I heard him say. "This is lobby security. There's some guy here who wants to see you. He's dressed up like Santa Claus and won't give me his real name."

Other people came and went. Other people were given name badges. Other people walked merrily to the bank of elevators.

The four of us just stood there, lump of coal in our imagined Christmas stockings.

And then, unceremoniously, the very large security guard with no visions of sugar plums dancing in his head called us forward.

"OK, Santa," you and your little buddies can go up."

Deck the halls with boughs of holly! We went up!

The moment we got off the elevator, on the 27th floor, everyone flooded out of their offices. Everyone wanted to see us. These weren't auditors at a Big Six accounting firm. These weren't MBAs, number crunchers, or tax geeks. These were big kids in business clothes.

Three very cheerful women led us to their office. Boldly, they sat me down in an overpriced executive chair and, one by one, sat in my lap.

"Have you been good little girls," I asked.

"Oh YES, Santa!" they giggled.

"And what do you good little girls want for Christmas?" I said.

"Better cash flow, Santa! Promotions! Vacations! And a cappuccino machine in the lounge!"

I reached into my bag and pulled out a beautifully wrapped gift for each of them.

"Will you promise Santa not to open your presents until Christmas morning?"

"Oh yes, Santa!" they exclaimed.

And then, with a shake of some strategically placed jingle bells, we were off.

On Dasher! On Rudolf! On Cash Flow!

Out of the office, we turned right at the fire drill sign, took the elevator to the tastefully appointed lobby and skipped out the door to our next former client, spreading Christmas cheer and marketing materials, ho ho hoping like children the night before Christmas, dreaming of clients dreaming of first quarter results and calling us the first day back on the job after the holidays...

Guess what? They did.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
1. What can you do differently this week to get a huge result?
2. How can you infuse your marketing efforts with a little fun?
3. What bogus boundary are you willing to cross?
4. Who else is willing to join forces with you to take a risk?
5. What is your next step?

Excerpted from my forthcoming book: WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life

Idea Champions
Give the gift of innovation
Our adventures at Pfizer
Santa's genius cousin
Santa's keynotes
Image
Photo

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:19 AM | Comments (2)

December 13, 2012
What's Next After Twitter

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This just in! Twitter is dead.

Or if not dead, dying. Or if not dying, passe. It's time has come and gone.

Industry experts agree. There is now a way more streamlined option available to you. Find out here -- noted in my most recent Huffington Post article.

12/12 is the Pope's first day on Twitter.
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2012
The Breakthrough Bathroom Technique

During the past 25 years I have worked with some of the most analytical people in the world: tax auditors, engineers, polymer chemists, actuaries, and rocket scientists just to name a few.

In my effort to help these fine folks make the journey from caution to creativity, I've had to develop a number of non-tradtional learning strategies -- most of which worked well enough to get me invited to work with some extraordinary organizations.

Not a single one of the methods I used had anything to do with the bathroom.

At least not until one fateful day at GE, when I found myself teaching Innovation and Business Growth to an amphitheater full of GE's "best and brightest" -- all of whom would be listening, the next day, to the iconic Jack Welsh, standing on the very same stage that I was standing on today.

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My task? To move GE's leaders of the future from their left brain to their right -- to help them understand, from the inside out, what Einstein meant when he said "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts."

Having done this kind of work for the past 25 years, I had developed my own Swiss Army knife's worth of mindset-shifting approaches to get the job done -- approaches that included the right use of music, story telling, humor, movement, emergent design, creative thinking techniques, experiential challenges, and teaching people how to juggle.

Two hours into my GE session, things were going just fine. The 75 participants from 11 countries had given up their fear that I was going to make them sing Kumbaya and I had given up my fear that someone would soon discover my graduate school education was in poetry, not business.

At 10 am, my advanced facilitator skills kicked in and I began to notice that my bladder was full -- the kind of full that, If I didn't respond soon, would result in me hopping from one foot to the other.

Priorities newly clarified, I tweaked my agenda and taught the group a creative thinking technique that would keep them busy for at least another 10 minutes -- plenty of time to relieve myself.

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Technique taught, I made my way up the aisle, out the door, found the bathroom, and did what 95% of all men do when it's time to pee -- aim dead center for the round hockeypuck-shaped thingee in the middle of the urinal, mindful not to get any drops on my newly dry-cleaned pants when it was time to zip up.

The bathroom, also one of GE's best and brightest, was about the size of a New York City studio apartment, complete with shiny marble counter tops and a week's worth of neatly folded hand towels on the impeccable sink.

Mission accomplished, I flushed, checked my face in the mirror, and retraced my steps to the meeting room.

Upon entering, everyone turned around and looked at me. Half of them were laughing. The other half were smiling. And if there was another half lurking somewhere beyond the laws of earthly mathematics, they would have been madly texting the details of what they had just found so amusing.

I was tickled that GE's best and brightest were so happy to see me, but I was also perplexed. This was not the usual welcome I received upon returning from a bathroom.

Confused, I shot a glance in the direction of Ben, my business partner, in the back of the room. He was standing, wildly gesticulating, Marcel Marceau on steroids.

"Your mic is on", he seemed to be saying, pointing at his lapel.

"Hmmm", I thought to myself. "My mic is on... my MIC is on".

Oops. Double oops!

From what I could tell, I had just broadcasted my entire bathroom experience to 75 global, business leaders of the future.

I had to think fast

"Oh that?" I said, taking another step down the aisle to the podium. "All part of the day's design. Intentional. Totally intentional. My attempt to..."

The rest of my sentence was drowned out by laughter. A lot of laughter. They would have none of it. Of course, they wouldn't. What I was saying was completely ridiculous, but because the way I said it was entertaining and self-effacing, they were not only forgiving, but suddenly much lighter and much more engaged than before I left the room just minutes before.

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that in the three years of facilitating Innovation and Business Growth sessions at GE, I had never seen a group of people as focused, engaged, and happy to be in the room as this particular group was at this particular moment in time.

In some strange way, I had accomplished in three minutes, from a remote location -- the bathroom -- what usually took me at least a few hours -- bringing a room full of left-brained, curmudgeonly, bottom-line oriented business people to a collective state of mind that was fully present, relaxed, focused, and receptive to whatever was going to happen next.

Excerpted from my forthcoming book, WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.

If you want to be informed when the book is published, send me an email (mitch@ideachampions.com)

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2012
You Suck at Powerpoint!

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2012
The Syndrome Syndrome and the Rise of the New World Disorder(s)

If you don't have ADD or ADHD, you probably know someone who does -- and if they don't have ADD or ADHD, they probably have some other newly identified syndrome, disorder, or dysfunction.

It's a bull market, these days, for medical conditions, so I thought I'd provide a public service and alert you to 14 of the most recently discovered ones coming down the pike -- my newest article in the Huffington Post. Enjoy!

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2012
Digital Coolness from an 18-Year Old

The first photo below is a street in Tokyo. The second is my 18-year old son's (Photoshopped) vision of that same street after the Apocalypse.

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PS: If you need any Photoshop work, Jesse, is your guy. He's honest. He's creative, And he's looking for some work over the Christmas vacation. Check out his new website.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2012
Introducing: BLUE PEARL WOODSTOCK



More info

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

Staff Meetings in Less than 10 Minutes

Tired of boring, ineffective staff meetings? Here's what you do: Get your team together. Declare a challenge. Then play this song at full volume. Debrief. Vote. Commit to something. Go back to work.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:21 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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Idea Champions University
Webinars for online training If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
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.
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!
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

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