January 29, 2020
How to Go Beyond the Team Leader Overload Syndrome

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Most people who are in a leadership position often find themselves overloaded and overwhelmed. "Too much to do and not enough time," is their mantra. And here's why:

1. They haven't established clear expectations with their team
2. They don't trust the people they lead
3. There are insufficient standards of excellence
4. They want everyone to like them
5. They don't know how to delegate
6. They have unclear boundaries
7. They are addicted to rescuing people
8. They think their way is always the best way
9. They are impatient for results
10. They don't know how to empower others

Not good for business. Not good for the team. And not good for the health of the leader. But it doesn't have to be that way. And the "fix" is way simpler than you think.

Next time a member or your team tries to dump a problem at your feet, shirks responsibility, or wants you to "save the day," STOP and ask yourself any of the following questions:

1. "Who's problem is this, really?"
2. "How can this issue be framed as a HOW CAN I question?"
3. "Does this person understand what I expect of them?"
4. "Is this person clear about their roles and responsibilities?"
5. "Do I have the time and interest to take on this project?"
6. "If I do have time, what support can I offer?"
7. "Who else, on the team, might be able to help with this?"
8. "How can I empower this person to own the project?"
9. "How can I let the person do it their way?"
10."What's the simplest thing I can do to lend support?"

PS: Leadership doesn't mean doing everything yourself. Leadership means helping other people lead -- and take ownership for results.

Idea Champions
WORKSHOP: Launching Project Teams
The two-hour, online brainstorm facilitation training

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January 28, 2020
What Idea Champions Clients Have to Say About Us

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January 23, 2020
ANYONE HERE FROM CLEVELAND?

If so, you are invited to register for my storytelling workshop, sponsored by the Institute for Management Studies, in your fair city, on June 10th. Click here for the particulars.

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My bio
Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution

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January 22, 2020
How Einstein Would Solve a Problem If He Only Had an Hour

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Other Einstein quotes
Our half-day workshop on this
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January 19, 2020
13 Awesome Quotes on Planning

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"A goal without a plan is just a wish." -- Antoine de Saint Exupery

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." -- Abraham Lincoln

"Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential." -- Winston Churchill

"No matter what the work you are doing, be always ready to drop it. And plan it, so as to be able to leave it." -- Leo Tolstoy

"Pray to Allah, but tie your camel." -- The Prophet Muhammed

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." -- Benjamin Franklin

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." -- Yogi Berra

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." -- John F. Kennedy

"It's takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small." -- Sun Tzu

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." -- George S. Patton

"Many people spend more time in planning the wedding than the do the marriage." -- Zig Ziglar

"All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Idea Champions

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January 17, 2020
25 Quotes on the Power of Story

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Looking for some inspiring quotes on why storytelling is such a powerful way to communicate your message, cut through the clutter, and awaken people's need for meaning? Here you go...

1. "The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." - Muriel Ruykeser

2. "A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way." - Flannery O'Connor

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3. "Telling someone about your experience breathes new life into it, moving it out of the inchoate swirl of unconsciousness into reality. It takes on form and allows us to examine it from all angles." - Mandy Aftel

4. "The most important question anyone can ask is: What myth am I living?" - Carl Jung

5. "Those who do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts." - Salman Rushdie

6. "Inside each of us is a natural born storyteller just waiting to be released." - Robin Moore

7. "A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story." - Anthony De Mello

8. "We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom." - Marni Gillard

9. "Although setbacks of all kinds may discourage us, the grand, old process of storytelling puts us in touch with strengths we may have forgotten, with wisdom that has faded or disappeared, and with hopes that have fallen into darkness." - Nancy Mellon

10. "In my life, the stories I have heard from my family, my friends, my community, and from willing strangers all over the world have been the true source of my education." - Holly Near

11. "The role of the storyteller is to awaken the storyteller in others." - Jack Zipes

12. "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl Menninger

13. "Everybody likes to tell a story. Little children do it effortlessly. Great artists do it with talent and years of practice. Somewhere in between stand you and I." - Sylvia Ziskind

14. "Become aware of what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

15. "Every story you tell is your own story." - Joseph Campbell

16. "From my perspective as a depth psychologist, I see that those who have a connection with story are in better shape and have better prognosis than those to whom story must be introduced." - James Hillman

17. "The real difference between telling what happened and telling a story about what happened is that instead of being a victim of our past, we become master of it." - Donald Davis

18. "As a storyteller, as a human being, each one of us is one of a kind. And until we learn to celebrate our own unique style, culture, and gifts, we cannot appreciate the wealth of diversity around us." - Doug Lipman

19. "To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men -- that is genius.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

20. "A coherent life experience is not simply given. The thing must be made, a story-like production." - Stephen Crites

21. "When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others, too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

22. "A life becomes meaningful when one sees himself as an actor within the context of story." - George Howard

23. "All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them." - Isak Dinesen

24. "You could say that telling a story is the pretext for getting together in a personal way." - Nancy Rambusch

25. "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself." - Henry Miller

Storytelling at Work

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How storytelling can spark innovation
Useful storytelling links
Storytelling helps create the innovation mindset

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)

The Three Keys to Becoming a Masterful Brainstorm Facilitator

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As a former student of the martial arts, I have noticed a curious phenomenon in corporate America that is becoming increasingly troubling to me -- especially among "creatives" who aspire to become masterful brainstorm facilitators. I call it the "Bruce Lee Syndrome" or perhaps more correctly, the "I-Took-a-Karate-Lesson-at-My-Local-Shopping-Mall- and-How-Come-I-Still-Can't-Break-a-Brick-Yet" syndrome?

Well-meaning business movers and shakers expect that learning a new creative thinking technique is all they need to spark brilliance in a roomful of people. Not true. Not even close to being true.

While learning a technique is a good beginning, it is only a beginning. What's needed to leverage the power of any creative thinking technique -- no matter how cool the technique might be -- is practice.

A Karate Master can explain to you how he breaks a brick with a single punch. He can even demonstrate it to you. But that doesn't mean you will be breaking bricks in the next minute or two. Or even the next year or two. For that to happen, you will need to practice.

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Practice is the key. Learning from experience. Trial and error. And, more than occasionally, feeling like you have taken on an impossible task.

What I have noticed in the people I have trained to become skillful brainstorm facilitators is that they fully expect to be getting great results the first time they use a technique. Not a good idea. First of all, it's totally unrealistic. Second of all, it puts too much pressure on the student to perform at a high level too quickly. And third of all, it increases the likelihood that the aspiring brainstorm facilitator will prematurely dismiss the technique as faulty when, in fact, it's not the technique that is faulty, but the application of the technique by the novice student.

All of this, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that everyone in the business world is so time-crunched these days that unless results show up immediately, they're on to the next technique... or next consultant... or next magic pill.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are committed to eliciting brilliance in others and want to master the art of facilitating highly effective brainstorm sessions, you will need to practice. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's the deal. We're not talking Trump University, folks, or learning how to make a fortune by watching a late night infomercial. We're talking walking the long and often unglamorous path of practice, practice, practice.

Which brings up an interesting question: how best to practice?

Know this: there is no one right way to practice. There are many ways to practice. The best way is the way that works for you. But to get the party started, here are ten choices for your consideration.

1. Pick some low risk situations for you to try out the new techniques you are learning. At home? With friends? With other students of the technique?

2. Take a few minutes after each time you use a technique to reflect on how it went. Ask yourself what you LIKED about it's application, what CONCERNED you, and what SUGGESTIONS come to mind for how you might improve your use of the technique the next time you do it.

3. Watch other people facilitate the technique and see what you can learn from their approach.

4. Ask the people who participate in your brainstorm sessions to give you feedback. Find out what worked for them and what didn't.

5. If you have a coach, teacher, or mentor (assuming you didn't just google "brainstorm techniques"), check in with him/her from time to time and continue exploring the nuances of the techniques. A single word, phrase, or suggested tweak can make all the difference.

6. Deconstruct the technique. Notice the beginning, the middle, and the end of it and see if there are ways you might improve your execution of any of those.

7. Invent your own techniques -- especially ones that fascinate you. If you are the inventor of the technique, your ownership of it will skyrocket and you will be far more likely to make the effort required to perfect it.

8. Debrief with other brainstorm facilitators in your company. Get together from time to time and share your experiences. Getting a new perspective is one of the simplest ways of developing mastery.

9. Offer your services for free, outside of work, to a non-profit, group of friends, or community organization. They get the benefit of your facilitation. You get the benefit of practice!

10. Make your practice fun! If it feels like drudgery, you will bail out way too soon. Remember the words of hockey great, Wayne Gretzky: "The only way a kid is going to practice is if it's total fun for him... and it was for me."

Oh, wait, I just remembered the name of this blog post was the THREE KEYS to becoming a masterful brainstorm facilitator and I have only given you ONE. My bad. Sorry. Please accept my apologies. Here are the other two:

2. Practice
3. Practice

Online brainstorm facilitation training
Idea Champions
Brainstorm Champions

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15 Quotes on Collaboration

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1. "It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." - Charles Darwin

2. "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

3. "If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless." - Darryl F. Zanuck

4. "If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford

5. "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

6. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

7. "It takes two to speak the truth -- one to speak, and another to hear." - Henry David Thoreau

8. "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." - George Bernard Shaw

9. "Politeness is the poison of collaboration." - Edwin Land

10. "I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively." - Golda Meir

11. "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." - Napoleon Hill

12. "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you." - Althea Gibson

13. "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

14. "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." - Henry Ford

15. "The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind." -- Thomas Carlyle

Got others? Lay them on me!


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January 13, 2020
The Two-Hour Online Brainstorm Facilitation Training

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Let's start with a few assumptions: 1) You are a "change agent," facilitator, or team leader; 2) Your organization's brainstorm sessions are lame: 3) You want to upgrade your brainstorm facilitation skills; 4) Your budget is tight; 5) You cringe at the thought of taking 1-3 days off to attend a training.

If this describes you, keep reading.

Idea Champions, a recognized world leader in the field of brainstorm facilitation training, is now offering a two-hour online training -- a distillation of the very best of what we've learned, since 1987, leading creative thinking sessions for these organizations.

What can happen in 120 minutes? Enough for you get to the next level of brainstorm facilitation mastery, especially since the design for your minute training will be customized, based on your current skill set, experience, and learning needs.

Client testimonials
What PR and Marketing Firms Say About Our Training

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE TRAINING:

1. Our 142-page workbook
2. An online subscription to Free the Genie
3. A deck of our Free the Genie Cards
4. Micro-Learning for Innovators
5. One hour of post-training coaching

Your next step? A 20-minute phone call with the Founder and President of Idea Champions, Mitch Ditkoff, in order for you to determine if our two-hour, online training is a good fit for you.

CONTACT: info@ideachampions.com

What to send decision-makers who doubt the value of brainstorming

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January 07, 2020
GUY KAWASAKI on The Top Ten Mistakes of Entrepreneurs

This is absolutely brilliant! Fantastic content, authentic delivery, entertaining, and provocative. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, this is required viewing. But even if you're not trying to raise venture capital, you can still learn a lot from Guy simply by tuning into the way he makes his pitch. And his Art of the Start is a treasure.

Idea Champions

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Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

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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.
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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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Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
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High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
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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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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.
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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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