December 31, 2016
Two Dogs Dining

Break time. Stop saving the world (or your company) for the moment and simply enjoy this video. Laughing aloud allowed.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2016
Big Blues From the Viagra People

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In 1999, I conceived and co-founded (with Paul Kwicienski) the world's first interactive business blues band, Face the Music.

The concept was a simple one: help organizations increase teamwork and decrease complaint by getting employees to write and perform original blues songs.

The concept resonated with a lot of industries, especially Big Pharma.

Oh yeah, they had the blues, lots of blues, like the "Now We Gotta Compete with Generic Drugs from Canada Blues," and the "No One Trusts the Drug Companies Anymore Blues," and the always popular, "Our Pipeline Is Empty, But Our Inbox is Full Blues."

So we weren't all that surprised when Pfizer came calling...

They had a big conference coming up and wanted to do "something different" to engage participants -- all of whom were high ranking business leaders.

Though our approach seemed risky to them at first, our testimonials from other Fortune 500 companies were proof enough we were the real deal for them to sign on the dotted line.

And so they did.

Unlike most bands -- or business simulations, for that matter -- our service began long before we took the stage.

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For each client wanting the complete experience, we'd write a custom blues song weeks before -- a kind of musical caricature of their company that we'd perform to kick off our performance -- a modern day Greek Chorus routine that loosened up audiences while modeling the message of the evening -- to speak (or in our case, sing) the truth.

And though we always shared our lyrics with clients long before an event, rarely were we asked us to modify what we wrote.

Pfizer was a different story.

From their perspective, our lyrics were "incendiary, politically incorrect, and might be taken the wrong way."

Customer-focused as we were (and not wanting to blow a good pay day), we revised our lyrics overnight and submitted version 2.0 the first thing in the morning.

Pfizer didn't like our new version, either. Or version 3.0, 4.0, or 5.0.

After five failed attempts, we decided to drop the custom song and focus on the classic blues songs that made up the bulk of our play list.

But doubt had crept into our client's mind. He was now officially nervous and wanted to see the lyrics to all our songs.

"Piece of cake," we reasoned to ourselves. The lyrics we'd be sending him had been performed for more than a hundred years all over America and were a huge part of the DNA of the nation.

True. But they weren't part of Pfizer's DNA. Our client had major issues with every song we sent them.

So we emailed him the lyrics to another ten classic blues songs. He rejected those, too.

Now, we had the blues. Like the legendary Robert Johnson, we stood at the crossroads, Blackberries and guitars in hand.

"Gentlemen," I began the damage-control conference call in the most corporate voice I could muster, "with all due respect, you have just rejected the lyrics of the most popular 20 American blues songs from the past hundred years. Remember, you are engaging the services of a blues band, not a polka band. You've got to have more trust in us."

Ooooh... the "T" word!

They hemmed. They hawed. Them hemmed again. And then with a semi-shrug of their collective shoulders and the growing recognition that their event was just a few days away, they chose the seven tamest songs and gave us a tepid thumbs up.

"But remember!" they warned, "the show must end no later than 9:30 sharp. Not a minute more."

Show time!

When we got to the venue, I could tell we were in for an interesting night.

Though our client greeted us pleasantly enough, something was off. Outwardly, he was fine. Inwardly, he was anxious, uptight, constricted, nervous, sweating, and silently obsessing about how he was going to cover his ass should his worst nightmares about the evening come true.

The band picked up on his mood and immediately tightened up.

Knowing that good music doesn't issue forth from tight musicians, I sent the band backstage for a glass of wine and some small talk while I filibustered with the client -- the theater now rapidly filling with hundreds of people who made a lot more money than we did.

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"Remember," the client reminded me again before the lights went down, "the show must end at 9:30 sharp!"

The band's first two songs that night were lame. Very lame. Channeling the tension of our neck-on-the-line client, the band was playing it safe -- not exactly a formula for foot stomping blues.

By the third song, thank God, the band found its groove. The audience relaxed and the songs they wrote and performed were some of the funniest we'd heard in a while.

I looked at my watch. It was 9:27. Quickly, I signaled the band to wrap things up when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the client making his way to the stage.

Actually, "making his way" wasn't the right phrase to describe his approach. "Storming the stage" was more like it.

I looked at my watch again. Now it was 9:28 and the client was getting closer by the nanosecond. I spoke faster, much faster, doing my best to finish before the bewitching hour

Two sentences from closure, the man bounds up the stairs and lunges towards me.

"Keep playing!" he blurts. "Tell the band to keep playing! This is really going well! Forget the 9:30 deadline. Keep playing!"

I signal the band and they segue into BB King"s "Let the Good Times Roll" -- the 12-minute version. South Side Denny takes off on a blistering guitar solo.

South Side Slim is wailing at the top of his lungs. Screaming Sweet Pea Fradon is bringing down the house. Blind Lemon Pledge is on top of his game.

Everyone in the audience is singing and dancing and clapping and laughing.

The pharmaceutical blues? Gone. At least for the moment

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work

For more on Face the Music, click here or here.
Check out our Six Sigma Blues.
Go beyond the business blues keynotes

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2016
Why Train People to Become Masterful Brainstorm Facilitators

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What our clients say

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December 18, 2016
Tis the Season to Tell Your Stories

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'Tis the season to tell your stories, folks! Your families are gathering. Your friends are coming to visit. The tribe is reconvening, whether it's around the fire, the dining room table, or the turkey in the kitchen. Wherever you find yourself, you will have lots of opportunities to share with others -- not just the gifts you bought at the mall, but the stories of your life -- memorable moments of truth that have moved you and are likely to move others.

THIS is what people will remember, not the device you give them, not the card, not the pumpkin pie. So tell your stories! And when others tell theirs, stop what you're doing and listen. Stories, well-told and well-listened, are one of the best ways to connect with others and REMEMBER what's truly important in this life.

My new book on storytelling
My new storytelling blog
The storytelling and innovation workshop

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2016
How to Facilitate Breakthrough Brainstorming Sessions for Your Clients in Three Hours or Less

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Here's the deal: You are one of the creatives in a high flying PR, Marketing, or Communications company and have been asked by one of your clients to lead an upcoming brainstorming session. That's the good news. The-not-so-good news? Even though you're an idea-generating machine, facilitating sessions that bring out brilliance in others is not your forte. And to raise the stakes even higher, your client wants more than just "ideas". Your client wants remarkable, actionable ideas and wants the session to be highly engaging, energizing, and worth their precious time. Get it? The heat is on, big time.

Idea Champions can teach you how

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

December 16, 2016
TAKING YOUR ORGANIZATION'S PULSE: The Current Reality CheckUp

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Just like a GPS needs to know where you are in order to guide you to your destination, savvy business leaders need to know where their organization is in order to navigate its way forward. Enter Idea Champions' Current Reality Check-Up -- a highly engaging needs assessment process that provides movers and shakers with deep insight into the mindset, perspective, needs, and values of their workforce and customers.

If your organization has a big conference coming up, a company-wide initiative to launch, or simply wants to raise the bar for employee engagement, begin by understanding the current reality -- WHAT IS. Your ability to clarify what's next will then emerge organically with the least amount of wheel spinning, waffling, and wasted effort.

Put simply, if you want an accurate prognosis, begin with an accurate diagnosis.

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THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF A CURRENT REALITY CHECK UP

Idea Champions' Current Reality Check Up goes far beyond the scope of a traditional need assessment and includes six key components:

1. ONLINE POLLS
Customized surveys for your workforce and customers -- thought-provoking questions that provide a clear snapshot of what is going on in your organization. What's working. What's not. And where your opportunities for growth abide.

2. INTERVIEWS
Building on the insights we've gleaned from the online polls, we'll engage a cross-section of your workforce, executive team, and customers in a series of one-on-one or group interviews -- either in-person or via phone. We dive into the deep end. No wading.

3. TACIT KNOWLEDGE MINING
Here's where we identify a selection of your organization's best practices, success stories, and lessons learned -- the collective know-how of your workforce too rarely identified, shared, or celebrated. HINT: If you want to change your culture, begin by changing the stories that are told.

4. SENIOR LEADER REALITY CHECKS
If there is one thing all senior teams have in common, it's this: they don't always see eye to eye, especially when it comes to understanding the mindset of the workforce or how customers perceive their organization. That's why we give Senior Leaders a simple way to predict how their workforce and customers will respond to our poll. We then analyze the gaps, interpret the results, and engage your senior team in an exploration of the causative factors, as well as fertile areas for future improvement.

5. THE CURRENT REALITY CHECK-UP REPORT
An easy-to-read, no-nonsense summary of what we have learned from polling and interviewing your workforce and customers. We know your time is precious. That's why our Summary Reports cut to the chase, are clearly written, and are free of tiresome corporate-speak.

6. ONSITE PRESENTATION OF OUR FINDINGS
While we are perfectly fine with presenting our findings to you in a written report and/or virtual meeting, we prefer to do it LIVE, in person. Situation allowing, it's far more impactful, providing vital opportunities to explore the results of our findings and possible ways to ensure rapid progress.

THE BENEFITS OF A CURRENT REALITY CHECK-UP

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1. INCREASED SENIOR LEADER ALIGNMENT: Your key stakeholders get a golden opportunity to go beyond their collective assumptions and come to agreement about what is really going on within the organization.

2. INCREASED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: There's nothing quite like being asked "What do you think about X?" to increase people's level of participation -- especially if they know that Senior Leaders are committed to doing something different in response to what employees think and feel.

3. INCREASED CUSTOMER LOYALTY: If you include your customers in your Current Reality Check-Up process, they will experience, first hand, your organization's commitment to excellence and customer service-- two outcomes that will further solidify your relationship with them.

4. BIAS-FREE NEUTRALITY: Because Idea Champions has no axe to grind, no hidden agendas, and no turfs to protect, you can count on the results of our needs assessment being as free of bias as humanly possible. "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is our motto. We constantly check our own possible assumptions and blind spots in order to ensure that we're not going beyond what we actually KNOW. We're adding to your knowledge set upon which your decisions will be made, and we realize that those decisions have very real consequences. Our goal is to provide you with accurate information and useful insights that will help you make better decisions going forward.

Intrigued? Click here or call 845.679.1066

Idea Champions
Our clients

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2016
A Cool, New Way to Capture Ideas

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If you are reading this blog, I am 95 percent certain you value the power of BIG IDEAS. I'm also certain that you've experimented with various ways of capturing your big ideas: Notebooks. Voice memos. Post-its. Napkins. Whiteboards. Mind maps. And who knows how many other techniques. If so, you are likely to be intrigued by Chuck Frey's newly published guide about how to set up EVERNOTE as a way support a complete, end-to-end creative process. We like Chuck. You will, too.

Idea Champions
Brainstorm Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2016
100 Days of Rejection

Entertaining and inspiring 15 minute TED talk about a fascinating experiment launched by a young entrepreneur and what he learned about how to turn rejection into opportunities.

Idea Champions
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:56 PM | 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.

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
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.
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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.
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.
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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