May 28, 2018
NEW PODCAST: The Stories We Tell and Their Impact

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Click here for Mitch Ditkoff's 5/25 appearance on VoiceAmerica -- Wanda Wallace's Out of the Comfort Zone interview. All about the power of storytelling.

Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2018
The Real Value of Confusion

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Are you confused about how to proceed with your hottest project? Baffled? Bamboozled? If so, take heart! Confusion is not always a bad thing. In fact, it's often a necessary part of the creative process.

The weirdness enters when you start judging yourself for being confused. Then, instead of benefiting from this normal stage of "not knowing" you end up in endless rounds of self-talk, procrastination, and worry.

What is confusion, really? Technically speaking, it's a state of mind in which the elements you are dealing with appear to be indiscriminately mixed, out of whack, or unable to be interpreted to your satisfaction.

Everyone from Einstein to Mickey Mouse has had this experience. It comes with the territory of trying to innovate. Most of us, unfortunately, have a hard time acknowledging it.

"Not knowing" has become a euphemism for "ignorance". And so begins our curious routine of appearing to know and giving bogus answers -- to ourselves and others -- in a pitiful attempt to mask our confusion and maintain a sense of control, brilliance, and selfhood.

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Our discomfort with not knowing prevents us from mining the value of this potentially fertile time of dislocation.

Picasso understood. "The act of creation," he said, "is first of all an act of destruction."

Indeed, great breakthroughs often emerge after times of dissolution, chaos, and confusion. Wasn't the universe itself created out of chaos?

llya Prigogine, a leading brain researcher, describes this phenomenon as the "Theory of Dissipative Structures". Simply put, when things fall apart, they eventually reorganize themselves on a higher level (if they don't first become extinct).

There is no need to fight confusion. Let it be. It's a stage we must pass through on the road to creation. Fighting confusion only makes it worse -- like trying to clean a dirty pond by poking at it with a stick.

And, besides, even while our conscious mind is telling us we're confused, our subconscious mind is processing a mile a minute to come up with some amazing solutions. In the shower. While we're exercising. Even in our dreams.

Look at it this way...

First, we refuse (to have our status quo threatened). Then, we get confused (trying to sort out all the new input). Then, we try to diffuse the process (by regressing or denying.) Eventually, we get infused (inundated by new insights). And, finally, we get fused (connecting with previously unrelated elements to form a new and unified whole).

Your next step? Allow confusion to be what it is -- the catalyst for more elegant outcomes. And if you really can't stand the confusion, here are seven simple things you can do to go beyond it:

1. Take a break from the problem at hand
2. Identify what's confusing you. Name it
3. Talk about your confusion with friends
4. Seek out missing information
5. Reframe your problem, starting with the words "How can I?"
6. Pay attention to your dreams and other clues bubbling up from your subconscious
7. Maintain a longer term perspective ("this too shall pass")

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:44 AM | Comments (10)

May 23, 2018
Why It's Almost Impossible to Juggle 15 Balls

VIDEO: It All Began with Balls
ARTICLE: It All Began with Balls
MitchDitkoff.com
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2018
WHAT IS YOUR WOW PROJECT?

Here's the only creative thinking technique you will ever need. Three minutes worth. Ready? Answer this question: "What is one thing you want to manifest in this world before you die -- something that will stretch you to the limits and be of service to others?

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MitchDitkoff.com

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May 15, 2018
VIDEO: Nine Steps to Creating a Culture of Innovation

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Big thanks to Jon Peters, of Athena Online (the Micro-Learning Gods) for getting the word out about my culture of innovation work. Click here to watch the video. And here's Idea Champions' Micro-Learning offering to help you raise the bar for innovation. Simple. Self-paced. Cost-effective. Interested? info@ideachampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2018
The Kindness-At-Work Manifesto

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It has recently come to my attention that some of the most loving, passionate, well-intentioned people in the world have a tendency to treat their co-workers unkindly -- especially during times of stress or on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

Consumed by their need to do something extraordinary for humanity, they forget the people they work with are human.

And so, in an effort to restore a Culture of Caring to organizations everywhere. it is my honor to present to you the Kindness-At-Work Manifesto -- 40 daily opportunities to go beyond the imperfections of your co-workers and rise to a place of uncommon goodness.

Where does it begin? With your intention to maintain your commitment to kindness any time one of your co-workers does not.

CHOOSE KINDNESS WHEN YOUR CO-WORKERS...

1. Forget to acknowledge you for a job well done

2. Take credit for something they had little to do with

3. Don't reply to your emails

4. Talk behind your back

5. Eat the last cookie

6. Withhold vital information

7. Expect you to work on the weekends

8. Forget to send you the agenda

9. Make an impossible request on you at the end of the day

10. Criticize you for not responding to their email when the item they wanted you to read was the 93rd item on the list

11. Don't let you finish a sentence

12. See the glass not as half empty, or half full, but cracked

13. Have no clue how to listen

14. Preface their regular attempts to criticize you with "Do you have a moment? I'd like to share some feedback with you."

15. Arrive late to every meeting

16. Talk to the boss about your shortcomings before airing it out with you, one-on-one

17. Expect you to cover for them every time they do a half-assed job

18. Start humming Bee Gee songs with no warning

19. Expect you to "do the math" every time your team goes out for lunch, then proceed to forget to calculate the tip and the tax when they leave too little cash for their part of the meal

20. Seek competition instead of collaboration

21. CC you on more emails than the US Tax Code has corporate loopholes

22. Think you're an idiot

23. Forget to ask how you are after your operation

24. Rarely look you in the eye

25. Make up phony excuses why they didn't return your phone call

26. Start talking about their new ringtone as if it was the Holy Grail

27. Think they know more than you do

28. Worship data

29. Talk about their old LSD experiences every time you say the word "watermelon".

30. Only express kindness when they want something from you

31. Forget to forgive you for an old mistake you made

32. Ask you to help them start a blog at 5:30 pm

33. Give you bad information regularly, then wonder why you're late with whatever it is they expect from you

34. Think they are closer to God than you because they went to a yoga class last February

35. Invite you to brainstorming sessions that are nothing more than their veiled attempts to get you to praise their pet ideas

36. Send you emails with emoticons

37. Think they're your friend because they friended you on Facebook

38. Enter into every conversation with you as if they were late for a meeting with a more important person

39. Never return the books they borrow

40. Think you're not committed because you don't work 90 hours a week

Of course, the above 40 items don't tell you how to be kind -- they only name the occasions where kindness is missing. But guess what? No one needs to teach how to be kind. You already know how to be kind.

Your next step? Choose one of the 40 opportunities above and be conscious of it all next week. Then, when one of your co-workers manifests that behavior, choose kindness.

Also in the Huffington Post
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:38 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2018
An Alternative to Launching Yet Another Innovation Initiative

Superman and sky.jpg Many organizations committed to raising the bar for innovation, end up launching some kind of internally branded "innovation initiative". Logically speaking, this makes sense, but logic is not the most powerful driver of innovation. Most employees cringe at the thought of yet another "initiative" being foisted on them.

So... instead of launching an initiative, help people take initiative by becoming more committed to fostering innovation in every conversation they have on the job -- something you can learn more about, in then next three minutes, by watching this newly produced 3-minute video of me addressing this topic.

Innovation from the inside out
Idea Champions
My new book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2018
Perfect Advice for Anyone In Your Organization Resistant to Change

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Idea Champions
My new book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

Breaking the Unbreakable Barrier

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As the story goes, several years ago the CEO of Dow Corning walked into his company's R&D lab and spoke two sentences: "Glass breaks," was the first. "Why don't you do something about it?" was the second. That's it. Just two sentences. Then he turned and left the room.

The R&D team, a brilliant group of inventors, was curious, but they were also skeptical. After all, at that time, one of the properties of glass was breakable, just like one of the properties of water was wet. Unbreakable glass? What? Huh? A paradox. A condundrum. A seeming impossibility. Nevertheless, the R&D team got busy and ended up creating 18 different unbreakable glass products. Three of them became commercially viable and one, the now famous Corelle line of dinnerware, became a multi-million dollar line of revenue.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What powerful question can YOU ask your team, department, or entire organization today? What seemingly impossible breakthrough can you spark by getting people curious enough to go beyond the status quo?

The power of asking the right question
Idea Champions
My breakthrough book on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2018
27 Best Practices of High Performing Volunteer Organizations

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Unless you've been in a coma your entire life, chances are good that, at some time in your life (maybe now?) you've been a volunteer for a non-profit organization.

That's the good news.

The not-so-good news is that many volunteer organizations, without even knowing it, sabotage the value their volunteers bring to the table and you, as a result, may have backed off, gone south, or found yourself grumbling to the other volunteers.

I've recently done some informal research on the subject and have identified 27 "best practices" high performing volunteer organizations abide by. Take a peek. Then, volunteer to share the list with the leaders of whatever volunteer organizations you would like to see succeed at a higher level. Can do?

1. Clearly (and often) communicate the vision.

2. Provide clearly written job descriptions.

3. Take the time to authentically welcome volunteers and orient them to their new role.

4. Ensure that volunteers know exactly what's expected of them.

5. Start new volunteers off small. Don't scare them off with too huge of a commitment too soon.

6. Keep the workloads manageable.

7. Communicate progress being made on a regular basis. Volunteers need to see that their efforts are having impact.

8. When there are setbacks or breakdowns, learn from them -- and share your learnings with others.

9. Be prepared so you don't waste people's time.

10. Create a trusting environment that ensures open communication, teamwork, and respect for diversity.

11. Keep everyone on your team informed of the inevitable changes (i.e. direction, policy, timelines, goals, personnel etc.)

12. Provide opportunities for volunteers to switch to different roles they might find more enjoyable.

13. Give and receive feedback (both formally and informally).

14. Provide opportunities for volunteers to learn and grow.

15. Honor your commitments (and if, for any reason, you cannot -- renegotiate them with volunteers).

16. Give volunteers the opportunity to take breaks from the project.

17. Make sure volunteers know they can say "no" if they are overextended or overwhelmed.

18. Enthusiastically acknowledge successes, especially "small wins").

19. Be kind and respectful in all your interactions.

20. Do your best to make sure everyone is enjoying the process of participating.

21. Respond to input, questions, and feedback as soon as possible. Don't leave people hanging.

22. Build some interpersonal "chat time" into your meetings and conference calls.

23. Teach volunteers, in leadership positions, how to delegate.

24. Even when you are stressed or behind deadline, take the time to make sure your emails have a feeling of warmth to them.

25. Fill out Project Briefs on all projects you are inviting volunteer participation -- and share them with volunteers.

25. Conduct exit interviews whenever a volunteer ends their participation or is asked to step aside.

26. Share your learnings from the exit interviews with other managers.

27. Follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:01 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2018
These Eight Forward Thinking Executives Walk Into a Bar

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"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay

Here's how. A highly engaging, productive, enjoyable two-day offsite for Senior Teams committed to co-creating a compelling, unified vision of the future for their team, department, or entire organization. Not for the faint of heart...

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What they say

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2018
34 Quotes on Leadership

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1. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." - Peter F. Drucker

2. "If you don't understand that you work for your mislabeled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny." - Dee Hock

3. "A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say 'we did it ourselves.'" - Lao Tzu

4. "The led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their own leader." - Albert Einstein

5. "The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why." - Warren Bennis

6. "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you." - Max DePree

7. "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

8. "The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist." - Eric Hoffer

9. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

10. "Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead." - Ross Perot

11. "Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob." - Oscar Wilde

12. "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." - John Kenneth Galbraith

13. "Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions." - Harold S. Geneen

14. "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them." - John Maxwell

15. "The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision."-Theodore Hesburgh

16. "The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority." - Kenneth Blanchard

17. "Leaders conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts." - John Gardner

18. "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

19. "The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense
stress lies at the heart of effective leadership." - Jim Loehr

20. "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they
will surprise you with their ingenuity." - General George Patton

21. As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." - Bill Gates

22. "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy." - Norman Schwarzkopf

23. I'm sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control." - Margaret Wheatley

24. "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." - Harvey S. Firestone

25. "One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency." - Arnold Glasow

26. "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." - Ralph Nader

27. "You don't lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

28. "Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out." - Stephen Covey

29. "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." - Peter Drucker

30. "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

31. "A leader is a dealer in hope." - Napoleon Bonaparte

32. "To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone." - Harry Truman

33. "Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing." - Albert Schweitzer

34. "People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert." - Theodore Roosevelt

Big thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for locating most of these quotes.

Idea Champions
Ingenious Leadership
How Leaders Foster a Culture of Innovation

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:06 AM | Comments (2)

May 02, 2018
One Quality of a Good Executive

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38 quotes on leadership
Al Siraat college making a difference in the world
Idea Champions

Photo: Evelyne Pouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2018
Visioning and Strategic Planning Sessions for Executive Teams

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"The best way to predict the future is to create it." -- Alan Kay

Face it. Most corporate strategic planning processes are boring, tedious, and highly ineffective -- a day or two of smart, highly paid executives sitting in a hotel meeting room and wishing it was over. Bad muffins. Bad lighting. And plastic ferns. The outcomes? Some new ideas, a rarely-read report, and the vague recollection that the same thing happened last year. Bottom line, a lost opportunity.

The reason why? The process used to go beyond the status quo was either lame, incomplete, or poorly facilitated. Sound familiar?

Enter Seize the Future, Idea Champions' highly engaging, two-day offsite that gets Senior Teams out of their ruts and into the kind of mindset and rigor required to create an inspired vision and strategy for their company's future.

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Designed and facilitated by Idea Champions' co-founder, Steven McHugh, Seize the Future, has been used with dozens of top teams at a wide range of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies. It works every time and will work for you, as well, no matter what your industry.

The deliverable? A consciously-conceived, inspired, and actionable vision/strategy that has been signed in blood (i.e. indelible magic marker) by the very movers and shakers whose job it is to help their organization craft a bold new, profitable future.

Intrigued? Want to speak with Steven and find out more? He is just an email away. A 15-minute call is all that's needed for you and Steven to determine if Seize the Future is right for you. Steven@ideachampions.com -- or leave a message for us at 845.679.1066.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:26 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.

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Storytelling at Work
Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace.
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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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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.
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