August 30, 2021
What Drives Creativity?

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If you have 23 minutes to spare and want to get some insights into what drives creativity (and what gets in the way), I invite you to click this link and listen to Gil Hanson's interview of me on his BE YOUR BEST podcast (episode #33).

Gil is a master facilitator of the process that enables people to understand, embrace, and design their own personal brand, no matter what their profession.

The podcast will be especially interesting to you if you are thinking of enrolling in my two-month, online Year of Living Creatively course which begins on September 12th.

More about the course

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August 21, 2021
Saying YES to Your Weirdness

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August 20, 2021
15 Quotes on the Importance of Asking the Right Question

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As a facilitator of the creative process, I continue to be astounded by how few organizations have any kind of process is place to PAUSE, reflect, and make sure they are coming up with the right questions. Apparently, I'm not alone.

1. "It's not that they can't see the solution. They can't see the problem." - G.K. Chesterton

2. "There are no right answers to wrong questions." - Ursula K. Le Guin

3. "We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong." - Bono

4. "Ask the right questions if you're going to find the right answers." - Vanessa Redgrave

5. "Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers." - Robert Half

6. "What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question." - Jonas Salk

7. "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." - Werner Heisenberg

8. "The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions." - Antony Jay

9. "In school, we're rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question." - Richard Saul Wurman

10. "In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." - Bertrand Russell

11. "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." - Pablo Picasso

12. "Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." - Voltaire

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13. "We hear only those questions for which we are in a position to find answers." - Friedrich Nietszche

14. "My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions." - Peter Drucker

15. "He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever." - Chinese proverb

Idea Champions

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August 18, 2021
People's Three Biggest Concerns About Enrolling in THE YEAR OF LIVING CREATIVELY

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Here they are: 1) Time; 2) Money; 3) Identifying a specific project.

That's it, folks. Those are the three most common reasons why people hesitate to enroll in The Year of Living Creatively, even if they understand the value of the course and have been referred by a trusted friend.

Let's take a look at each of these concerns, one at a time, so you have all the info you need to decide whether to proceed or not:

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1. TIME: Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, I know you have a lot on your plate. And yes, I know you sometimes over-commit or underestimate how much time it will take to accomplish a worthy goal. Welcome to the human race.

Will participating in The Year of Living Creatively take some time? Of course it will. Just like it takes time to tend a garden if you want a harvest at the end of the growing season. (By the way, it took JRR Tolkien 16 years to write The Lord of the Rings). All things of value take time.

So lets get specific. How much time will The Year of Living Creatively take you? Here's the breakdown, ladies and gentlemen -- the discreet elements of the course and how much time each element will require.

ZOOM CALLS: Every other week for 75 minutes. A total of 5.

SELF-INQUIRY PAGES: 15-30 minutes per week

CREATIVE PROCESS CALLS with PARTNERS: 30-45 minutes per week

AUDIO STORIES: 10-15 minutes per week

COACHING CALL with MITCH: One 60-minute call, sometime during the eight weeks of the course

-- PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP: Maybe 1-5 minutes each time to you log on. Optional

So, if you add everything up, you're looking at an average of one and a half to two hours per week. That's it. About the time to watch one Netflix video or 1/5 of your binge-watching time.

Is worth it? According to past graduates, the answer is a resounding YES.

2. MONEY: The tuition for the course is $479. That works out to $8.55 per day for 56 days or about the cost of two cappuccinos per day (though the buzz of the course lasts a lot longer). The creator and facilitator of the course, Mitch Ditkoff, will earn approximately $5,000 every time he delivers the course (or $2,500 per month). Payment plans are available. Scholarships are also available.

3. IDENTIFYING A SPECIFIC PROJECT: Some people who want to enroll in The Year of Living Creatively know exactly what kind of project they want to focus on in the course -- an idea, vision, venture, aspiration, or goal they have identified as their "passion project." Other people who want to enroll are not yet clear about their project. Perhaps they have two or three projects that are calling them. Or perhaps committing to any one of them will push some buttons -- as in "what happens if I fail"?

This is all normal stuff. No big deal. Please don't let it get in your way. If you see the value of the course, but are not yet clear about which project to take on, relax. You will receive some self-inquiry pages before the course begins to help you get clear.

POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS:

-- If you already know you want to enroll in The Year of Living Creatively, there's no time like the present. As in RIGHT NOW. All you need to do is pay your $479 tuition via PayPal (projects@ideachampions.

-- If you know you want to enroll, but need to work out some kind of payment plan, contact Mitch (mitch@ideachampions.com)

-- If your enrollment in the course depends on you receiving a scholarship of some kind, click here to apply.

-- If you still have questions or concerns and want to set up a time to talk with Mitch, simple email him (mitch@ideachampions.com) and he will get back to you ASAP.

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." - Charles Buxton

50 awesome quotes on possibility

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August 12, 2021
The Year of Living Creatively Begins on April 17th

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If you are a reader of this blog, you most definitely are committed to becoming more innovative and creative. As the Founder and President of Idea Champions (and author of this blog), that has been my focus since 1987 -- providing innovation-sparking services to a wide range of forward thinking organizations around the world.

Covid-19, however, changed everything. My clients were no longer bringing in outside consultants or facilitators, as everything quickly went virtual. That's when I had the realization that the FORM of my work needed to change, as well as the AUDIENCE. Corporations were out. Individuals were in (even if those individuals worked in corporations).

And so I created The Year of Living Creatively -- a two-month online course -- a kind of greenhouse for grand possibilities... a GPS for the creative process... a chiropractic adjustment for creative mojo.

What follows are testimonials from recent graduates of the course.

If YOU want to enroll or would like more information before you decide, simply email me and I will respond ASAP (mitch@ideachampions.com)

"Mitch Ditkoff, the Founder of The Year of Living Creatively, has the ability to awaken the creative spark in others -- an ability he has honed and refined to a fine elixir over decades of teaching and writing. Be prepared to have your mind blown, your funny bone tickled, and your lights turned on. Mitch's insights, empathetic listening, and presence have had a profound effect on my life." - Michelle Cameron

"Mitch is part creativity shaman, Muse whisperer, writing coach, and mad poet. He employs all of these characters in the service of helping participants launch and bring to fruition their cherished projects." - Mira Rubenstein

"The Year of Living Creatively is a wonderful course. It's helped me clarify my vision of what I want to accomplish and create a roadmap to get it accomplished." - Mark Stephen Miller

"I am ever so grateful for the Year of Living Creatively experience and for the expansion that I perceive in my consciousness and in my everyday life! This is truly one of the most wonderful gifts I have received from the universe and have given myself in a long time, especially after this outrageous pandemic experience. This course has been like the opening of the clouds after a storm and the joy of letting the warm sun shine into my skin." - Mercedes Garcia

"The Year of Living Creatively program was a catalyst that provided the guidance, support, and structure I needed to transform my dream of starting a business into reality. It prompted breakthrough thinking on obstacles that anchored me from progress and motivated me to act using innovative ideas and new partnerships." - Doug Stuke

"Mitch has designed a course that has helped me confront my negative beliefs about my creativity and set me on a very positive course of making miracles happen. His theme of synchronicity and teamwork were real ground breakers for me. Thank you, Mitch, for all the love and care you heaped into the course, and into me." - Joan Apter

"Creativity, I've discovered, comes from a limitless space within me. When I fully open up to it, creativity flows through me. Mitch Ditkoff's Year of Living Creatively course has made it clear to me what a vital part of my life creativity can play. It helped me discover that it is a power that works for me to make my mission in life come true. Mitch has a wealth of inner strength and ability to evoke brilliance in others. Every time I attend his sessions I walk away full of renewed courage, energy, and trust that I am able to fulfill my very ambitious project. Obstacles are removed and I make progress right away." - Tina Lindgreen

"I received a lot of inspiration to continue with my project from The Year of Living Creatively program. Every time I read something new, it was always pointing to the strengtts and the many possibilities a project can have and the many possibilities I have to get to a successful end. I had lots of fun reading the stories. There is a lot of humor involved in the course. And one of the things I want in life right now is to laugh a lot." - Barbara Drausal

"Being part of the Year of Living Creatively provided me with the emotional support I needed to free my inner artist. I became less judgmental about my work and started to embrace and enjoy looking at my work. I feel like I took my work out of the dark and brought it to life again with fresh eyes and less criticism. I am learning to listen to myself and play with the process of giving myself permission to enjoy what I am expressing." - Tina Lipson

"The course is inspiring and practical enough that I am taking it again. During the course, I was able to write about a third part of my life, and design part of a self-sustainable cabin. I was humbled by experiencing my own humanity." - Gretel Rogers

"The Year of Living Creatively helped me take my project a step up -- maybe 3 steps up, making it feel beyond a dream to reality." - MaryJane Fahey

"The Year of Living Creatively is a unique program that helps unleash human potential in a full-fledged way. Before enrolling in the course, I didn't have the faintest idea of the power and enjoyment of writing. Now I have experienced it. The program has sparked a lot of hope in me." - Nim Lal Bhandari

"Mitch led us through a series of workshops, each thematically different but the goal was the same: to help us get clear and take action towards what really matters to us, bypassing all the usual resistances and excuses. He does this in a safe and fun meeting environment where there are no wrong answers, but perhaps better questions to ask ourselves. He has plenty of visual and video clips from other creative leaders/artists to stimulate us to ask more relevant questions and the courage to take new actions in new territories. Highly recommended." - Linda Hurst

"I want you to know how much I appreciated participating in The Year of Living Creatively. The entire process was very supportive. The self-inquiry pages helped me examine some of the things that were holding me back. Along with your feedback, they helped me go from thinking my biggest goal was just to boost my writing to realizing that my overarching desire is to let go of my Aspergian fear of being visible and to live big and bold as my own true self in all my autistic glory! This helped me choose a project that really sparked my passion and go after it in a big and bold way. I loved having a creative process partner and we plan to continue doing weekly support calls. The group Zoom calls were also helpful. It was good to see how other people were overcoming challenges and blocks to their creativity. I had a hunch when I signed up for the program that it would stretch me in some very positive ways, while forcing me to face some very old and deep fears. I'm glad I trusted my intuition, even though, at times, facing down those fears was terrifying! I had all the support I needed to 'face that fire and walk right through it.'" - Janet Cook

"I highly recommend The Year of Living Creatively. Before I started, I was stuck on a plateau in my venture of writing my memoirs. Very soon after taking the class, I got my mojo back and made huge amounts of progress in so many different ways related to my project. Mitch is an amazing coach who is an incredible listener and knows when to "kick your butt" and when to offer words of encouragement. Try it! You'll like it." - Maribeth Raullerson

"Travel within, face demons and overcome them with loving support of Mitch and team members. I not only enjoyed the course, I made major headway" - Tucker Robbins

"The Year of Living Creatively is a truly amazing learning experience. Mitch's explanations, stories, and examples were very helpful in opening up my creative channel while at the same time pushing me to focus on the details. Mitch is a caring mentor, motivator, and smart coach. I highly recommend the YOLC program to anyone who always wanted to succeed in a new and creative project." - Gilman Hanson

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August 09, 2021
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

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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.
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.
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.
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