Your Money or Your Life
For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the financial services company that left me an urgent voice mail message asking that I call them back immediately about my availability to lead their annual leadership retreat on a island off the coast of Florida.
All I can recall was how generic sounding their name was -- something like National Investment Services... or Consolidated Financial Brokers.... or The American Banking Alliance -- kind of like the corporate equivalent of John Doe.
Somehow, they had heard of me and, with their big company pow wow coming up, were looking for someone, with a track record, to help them "become more innovative."
Never having heard of them before, I googled their name and, 1.73 seconds later, found myself on their website, slickly designed, I imagined, by someone with a special fondness for iStock photos of earnest looking models impersonating business people -- models who must have just moved to L.A. to pursue acting careers, but found themselves, at 24 or 35, working part-time as waiters and jumping at the chance to pick up some easy money wearing a suit and a smile for a day.
Easy for me to say -- me being the proverbial pot calling the proverbial kettle black with my big ass mortgage, family to feed and young entrepreneur's dream of making it big so I'd actually have enough moolah, one day, to invest with a financial services firm. Not to mention all the time in the world to write my best-selling book.
My first meeting with the client was pleasant enough. They talked. I listened, choosing not to interrupt them every time they made their point with an acronym I probably should have known if I only I hadn't spent my formative years living as a hippie, poet and monk.
OK, so they weren't a solar energy company. So they weren't asking me to help them end AIDS. I got it. This was business. The money business. The big money business -- and I was in it, no matter how much Rilke and Rumi I read on the side. Money. This was about money. Money and the VP of something or other inviting me to meet with him and his team the following week on the 57th floor of a building on Wall Street. There would be a badge waiting for me at the security desk, he explained. All I needed to do was show my ID.
Thrilled? Was I thrilled? Not exactly. But this was a possible gig and I needed the bread, so I went.
The VP and his team on the 57th floor looked nothing like the iStock photos on their company's homepage, though they did have a real nice view of Manhattan and a large mahogany conference table.
Our conversation went well enough. I asked all the right questions. They gave all the right answers. They sprinkled the conversation with football metaphors. I nodded. They gave me their business cards. I gave them mine. But on the way home, I began to feel a creeping sense of dislocation and dread -- like I was auditioning for a movie I wasn't quite sure I wanted to be in -- a movie being produced by a very fat man, sitting poolside, cell phone and martini in hand.
So when they called me back for a third meeting, I was betwixt and between. Do I simply trust my instincts and tell them I'm not their man? Or do I let go of my all-too-obvious self-righteous judgments and focus on the possibility that I might actually be able to help them get to higher ground?
Eternally the optimist, I chose the latter and decided to meet with them a third time -- a meeting, sad to say, which only confirmed the fact that I didn't like them very much and didn't like myself for sitting in a room with them and enabling their collective hallucination of themselves as a service organization when all they really wanted to do was make more money. Lots more money.
More chit chat. More coffee. More "run it up the flagpole" platitudes that littered our conversation like hidden charges on a credit card bill.
This was the moment of truth.
My client-to-be, apparently satisfied with what was about to become his decision to engage my services, cut to the chase and asked me to quote him a fee.
The honorable thing to have done, at the time, would have sounded like "John, I wish you the best of luck at your offsite, but after deep consideration, I don't think I'm the best possible fit for your company's needs."
But since I hadn't yet mastered the art of speaking my truth I took the easy way out and doubled my fees, thinking that they would now be so ridiculously high it would be the client's decision to end the relationship, not mine.
"That sounds about right," the client exclaimed, extending his right hand to seal the deal.
Fast forward six weeks later.
It's 8:30 a.m. and I'm on stage, in the Oakwood Room, on a beautiful island off the coast of Florida. Looking out at the audience, I notice that four of the gathered troops are sleeping, heads on the table. Someone in the front row explains to me that last night had been a "late one" and they'd all stayed up, drinking, until 4:00 a.m.
I tap the mic and begin speaking, trusting that the sound of my amplified voice would be enough to wake the dead.
Two of them snap to attention. The other two don't, still lightly snoring.
I signal the people sitting next to their sleep-deprived peers to poke them, which they do, shooting glances at me as if I am a substitute algebra teacher.
This is, as far I could tell, not a leadership offsite at all, but a college fraternity weekend -- big men on campus with stock options, golf shirts and a very high opinion of themselves. The collective attention span in the room is somewhere between a tse tse fly and a lizard. Nothing I say lands. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Only one thing is clear -- I am the highly paid warm up act before another night of drinking -- a small typographic box they can check off next quarter to prove they have done "the innovation thing."
I may have missed the moment of truth back at my client's office six weeks ago, but I wasn't going to miss it today.
"Gentlemen and ladies," I announce. "It's obvious that some of you don't want to be here. It seems you'd rather be golfing, napping or checking your email. I have no problem with that. So... we're going to take a 20-minute break. Only return if you really want to be here. Otherwise, you'll just be dead weight, screwing it up for the rest of us. Kapish?"
Twenty minutes pass. Everyone returns. Every single one of them.
And while the rest of the day didn't exactly qualify as one of the great moments in the history of innovative leadership off sites, at least it wasn't a total loss. Some good stuff actually happened. People woke up. People shaped up. People stepped up. And I learned a valuable lesson that would serve me for the rest of my life: Follow my feeling, not the money trail.
February 22, 2014
This story excerpted from my forthcoming book: WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.
What's Next After Twitter
Ever since Twitter made its appearance on the scene in 2006, millions of people have become enamored with the prospect of delivering a message in 140 characters or less.
Short and sweet has become the name of the game. Brevity rules.
And why not? In a world ruled at least as much by ADD as by maniacal despots, who's got time for anything else?
These days, we don't have time. Time has us.
But according to industry sources, Twitter has become passe. Like the SONY Walkman. Like your father's Oldsmobile. Like the last two sentences of this paragraph.
That's why I've invented TWI -- the next, new super hip, low carbon footprint, social networking platform.
It's quicker. It's faster. And by the end of this post, the company will have already issued an IPO.
140 characters? Please! That's an eternity!
With TWI all you get is 20 characters. That's an 86% improvement in productivity over Twitter. 86%!
If you can't deliver your message in 20 characters, you're obviously a slacker and we don't want your business. Why would we? You'd probably end up calling our customer service bots and wasting their time with your long-winded complaints.
TWI. Think about how much more efficient you will be -- leaving you so much more time to drink coffee and get more things done.February 04, 2014
Big Blues From the Viagra People
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.
And so they did.
Unlike most bands -- or business simulations, for that matter -- our service began long before we took the stage.
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."
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.
"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 momentJanuary 04, 2014
100 Reasons Why You Won't Read This Blog Posting
I know you have no time. YOU know you have no time.
I know you're not gonna do anything you don't wanna do. YOU know you're not gonna do anything you don't wanna do.
We both know you're not going to read this blog post. It's too long and you have more important things to do.
What follows are 100 other reasons why you won't read it.
1. You don't want to.
2. You're late for a very important date.
3. You can't think of a way to monetize the experience.
4. You don't like blog postings with clever, little titles.
5. You don't know how to read.
6. You have to go to your health club to work off last night's two margaritas.
7. Someone stole your identity and you don't know who you are.
8. You've got to walk the dog.
9. You are wary of any list longer than ten.
10. Something is beeping just a few feet away from you, but you can't seem to find it.
11. It's none of my business.
12. You have to get to the airport (bathroom... meeting... dry cleaners... grocery store... movie theater).
13. You just had three shots of tequila and when you read the title you thought it said, "50 Seasons You Won't Seed the Post Toastie."
14. You're obsessing about cash flow.
15. You've got to check your kid's Facebook messages again -- especially after reading last night's really rude ones from those 497 FB friends you've never met.
16. You're out of range.
17. You're out of time.
18. You're out of money.
19. You're out of your mind.
20. You're out of excuses.
21. Anytime anybody comes off as seeming to know what you will do or won't do, you immediately do the opposite, (but you're wise to me and realize that you'd be playing into my hands by doing the opposite, so you are not reading this, which, by the way, was exactly what I predicted.)
22. You associate lists like this with superficial feature stories in Vogue or Redbook.
23. You realize that the entire universe is an illusion.
24. You need a break.
25. You took a break and now you're broke.
26. You have ADD or the latest medical condition invented by the pharmaceutical industry to sell you more drugs your health plan won't cover.
27. You have an acute case of blogitis.
28. You'd rather tweet.
29. You're late for your session with your therapist.
30. Your therapist would rather tweet.
31. You've got to check your Match.com page to see if anyone wants to go for a long walk with you on the beach.
32. You've got to change your e-Harmony profile. You haven't gotten an email from anyone in weeks.
33. You're thinking of starting your own business.
34. You're thinking of starting your own blog.
35. It's time to meditate.
36. You have an undeniable need to eat chocolate, but can't find anything in the house. Wait a minute! What about that Baker's Chocolate on the back shelf?
37. The oil spill has reached your front door.
38. You're too busy complaining to anyone who will listen about Facebook's privacy policies or lack thereof.
39. You're trying to find out how you can get a free 15-day trial to my new, online creative thinking tool.
40. These two bloggers walk into a bar.
41. Anyone here from Cleveland?
42. You're waiting for this posting to come out as a YouTube video.
43. You've only got two minutes left of battery life and if you don't book a cheap flight to Chicago, you're screwed.
44. You're certain it's all part of a vast right wing conspiracy.
45. Your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/mother/father/kids are on your case for spending too much time on the computer.
46. You're in the Federal Witness Protection Program and are convinced someone will track you down for reading this.
47. The tea kettle is whistling.
48. You're trying to figure out if the Isle of Langerhans is in the Carrribean or your pancreas.
49. You're waiting for your assistant to bring you the Executive Overview.
50. You're waiting to be important enough to have an assistant.
51. You're waiting for Godot.
52. You're a waiter and your shift starts in ten minutes.
53. The BIG GAME is on.
54. You're suspicious of anything that can't be reduced to 140 characters.
55. You're still counting hanging chads.
56. You live in New York City and have to move your car to the other side of the street.
57. It's not part of your 12-Step program.
58. Even though you had that fabulous laser surgery on both your eyes, you can't seem to find your new, inexpensive reading glasses.
59. You've just figured out how much it's going to cost to send your kids to college.
60. The Ambien's kicking in.
61. A Jehovah's Witness is at your door.
62. The pizza guy is at your door.
63. You suddenly realize you didn't order pizza.
64. Maybe it's a serial killer at your door -- not exactly the perfect time to be reading 100 reasons why you won't read this.
65. The moon is in Aquarius.
66. Your mind is in the gutter.
67. You're downloading free iPhone apps you will never use.
68. You're trying to figure out what Apple's next product that begins with "I" will be (I-Give-Up?, I-Matey?, I-Coulda-Been-A-Contenda?).
69. It's been five minutes since you've logged onto Facebook.
71. You think blogging is a fad.
72. Nostradamus didn't predict it.
73. It's not in the Bible.
74. Just because.
75. You're a big fan of Sarah Palin.
77. You're not as open to possibility as you think you are.
78. See # 61.
79. You just got pulled over by a state trooper who saw you about to read my blog while doing 55 mph in a hospital zone.
80. You weren't breast fed.
81. You were thinking about the need your company has to establish a sustainable culture of innovation -- the kind that would make it much easier for everyone to bring the best of their innate creativity to the table on a daily basis.
82. There's something about blogs that put you off. I mean, don't these people have anything better to do?
83. Your boss is standing in the doorway, arms folded, frowning, as if to say, "Back to work, slacker. We've got a business to run!"
84. You're feeling a compelling need to find someone who can teach you how to run kick-ass brainstorming sessions.
85. Someone's on Line 2.
86. You think there must be some kind of marketing campaign behind this and I'm probably gearing up to sell you something you don't need -- and even if you did need it, clicking this link would end up getting you a whole bunch of emails that have nothing to do with your real interest (which is to read the next item on this fabulous list of 100 reasons why you won't read this fabulous list). I rest my case.
87. You've just been acquired by Google.
88. You figure that anyone who would bother writing a list of 100 reasons why you wouldn't read the list he wrote is either insane, unemployed, or your brother-in-law.
89. BTW, if you know of a good publisher who would be interested in publishing my next book, Wisdom at Work, contact me in the next 11 seconds.
90. You live on an asteroid.
91. Your hemorrhoids are acting up.
92. You've heard it said that reading long blog postings written by total strangers leads to the "harder stuff."
93. You're afraid of commitment. Always have been.
94. You haven't read my book yet.
95. You have more important things to do. (Then again, you always say that.)
96. You really need to get back to writing your screenplay.
97. Someone just mentioned you look a lot like Johnny Depp and you've got to find an agent fast.
98. You majored in economics.
99. Bottles of beer on the wall.
100. You're waiting for the results of the focus group.December 10, 2013
When Oversleeping Before a Big Keynote Presentation is the Perfect Thing to Do
One thing I do for a living is speak -- as in delivering keynote presentations to large groups of business people. Usually, I am very well-prepared -- but even when I'm well-prepared, part of my service includes waking up on time in order to deliver the keynote.
Here's a brief story, newly published in the Huffington Post, about the one time I overslept -- and what the silver lining of that experience was for me -- what I learned about the existential choice I have, every single second of the day -- the choice between fear and presence.November 30, 2013
THE SECOND ANNUAL "Cartesian Spinoff Tagline" CONTEST
Rene Descartes, the famous 17th century philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, is best known for having distilled his world view down to five words: "I think, therefore I am." Very pithy of him.
And so, in honor of The Father of Western Philosophy, I am pleased to announce the launching of the Second Annual Cartesian Spinoff Tagline Contest -- one that YOU could easily win with just a few minutes of creative effort.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
Read the list of taglines below and let us know WHO you think that tagline should be attributed to. If you want your contest replies to be private, email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, just post a comment below.
WHO (or what organization) SHOULD BE USING THE FOLLOWING TAGLINES?
1. "I sink therefore I am."
2. "I stink therefore I am."
3. "I drink, therefore I am."
4. "I wink, therefore I am."
5. "I link, therefore I am."
6. "I ink, therefore I am."
7. "I slink, therefore I am."
8. "I rink, therefore I am."
9. "I zinc, therefore I am."
10. "I blink, therefore I am."
11. "I kink, therefore I am."
12. "I clink, therefore I am."
13. "I pink, therefore I am."
14. "I tink, therefore I am."
15. "I plink, therefore I am."
16. "I shrink, therefore I am."
Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
1. Most Obvious
2. Least Obvious
3. Hugely Creative
Winners will receive absolutely nothing other than our virtual acknowledgment. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.January 28, 2013
Two Dogs Dining
Break time. Stop saving the world (or your company) for the moment and simply enjoy this video. Laughing aloud allowed.December 24, 2012
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.November 17, 2012
How 13-Year Old Girls Can Wipe Out Terrrorism
This just in! World Peace is just around the corner -- or, at the very least, terrorism will soon be a thing of the past. It's official! And the Huffington Post has just validated my unique stance on this very important issue.
Click here to find out how 13-year old girls can help wipe out terrorism and restore this great planet of ours to a more peaceful way of life. I know my take on the matter may seem a bit radical, but it's likely to work a whole lot better than the TSA and all those goofy airport scanner machines.November 15, 2012
Because I'm the Mom
This is so funny and so true -- I think I just peed in my pants. For all you moms out there, enjoy this 2:55 second paean to parenting.
Big thanks to Paul Alexander for the heads up.October 30, 2012
The True Definition of Comedy
October 11, 2012
Social Media Without Electricity
August 18, 2012
Rene Descartes Had It Backwards
Rene Descartes, the famous French philosopher, mathematician, and writer is remembered by many as the author of the famous phrase, "I think therefore I am."
With all due respect to the probably-way-smarter-than-me Mr.Descartes, I don't buy it.
Based on my non-Aristotelian, late night sojourns into the flip side of thinking, it's become very clear to me that a more accurate statement would be "I am therefore I think."
Then again, since we all know Werner Heisenberg irrefutably proved that the experimenter affects the experiment, it is likely that the truest philosophical statement of being would probably take on the shape of the person who said it.
And so, in a highly non-caffeinated fit of blogospheric bravado, I present to you 15 alternate statements of epistemological coolitude that give Descartes' tired phrase (and mine) a run for their money.
1. "I wink, therefore I am." - Sarah Palin
2. "I blink, therefore I am." - Malcolm Gladwell
3. "I link, therefore I am." - Larry Page and Sergey Brin
4. "I sink therefore I am." - Davey Jones and his Locker
5. "I stink therefore I am." - Pepe LePew
6. "I drink, therefore I am." - WC Fields
7. "I ink, therefore I am." - Kinkos
8. "I slink, therefore I am." - Marilyn Monroe
9. "I rink, therefore I am." - Wayne Gretzky
10. "I kink, therefore I am." - Ray Davies
11. "I clink, therefore I am." - Moet Chandon
12. "I fink, therefore I am." - Vinny "The Rat" Scalucci
13. "I pink, therefore I am." - Mary Kay
14. "I tink, therefore I am." - Bob Marley
15. "I plink, therefore I am." - Ernest Kaai
Got others? Lay them on me.
A big thank you to Cary Bayer and Barney Stacher for a bunch of the aforementioned pearls of wisdomJuly 06, 2012
Weather Report from the Future?
Thanks to Scott Cronin for the heads up.May 28, 2012
Shrinking the Blues May 06, 2012
I have a confession to make. Actually, it's more like a revelation than a confession.
You know all those fabulous quotes and articles you've read over the years with no attribution other than "anonymous"? It was me.
It's true. I have written thousands of things I've never signed my name to. I couldn't. I mean -- the writing just came through me. Like a storm. In fact, I was in such a state of presence as these pearls of wisdom appeared, there wasn't even a "me" involved, so how could I sign my name?
So I did the only thing I could do -- and that was to sign what I wrote with the now all-too-familiar word "anonymous".
The vast majority of what I've written? All "anonymous". Bottom line, I've never really gotten my due.
How could I when millions of my readers never knew that "anonymous" was my pseudonym?
Please don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, nor do I have any regrets about my decision. It felt right at the time. But now -- with one kid about to go to college and the other not far behind -- it's starting to make sense that I claim what is rightfully mine.
After countless hours of consultations with pundits, epistemological savants, numerologists, and intellectual property lawyers, I've arrived at an approach that is not only honorable and fair, but flawless and timely with absolutely no carbon footprint. Nor were any animals harmed in the writing of this paragraph.
I am pleased to announce that YOU, dear reader, get to play a key role going forward -- one that will take you less time than it will to read this anonymous pearl of mine -- or order a take-out pizza.
Since I am claiming no royalties whatsoever from my past writings (many of which, by the way, went on to become blockbuster movies, novels, bumper stickers, and refrigerator magnets), I think it is only fair to request that every time, from now on in, you encounter anything attributed to "anonymous" you link it to my website or any of the following cyberpalatial residences of mine.
The goal? To model what it is like to claim one's true inheritance and take the risk that this post will go viral and I will have to answer a lot of questions from slick talk show hosts more interested in their own TV ratings than my no longer anonymous success.January 07, 2012
Go Beyond the Business Blues
For years I was trying to figure out what all my clients had in common. Opposable thumbs? Yes. The Isle of Langerhans. That, too. Big, fat opinions about everything. For sure.
But even more than the aforementioned stuff in the preceding paragraph which you just read and probably haven't yet forgotten even though your short-term memory is getting shorter by the nanosecond and you're probably wondering, by now, why I'm rambling on and on when most blog postings are supposed to be short and sweet, it dawned on me one fine day as I was scraping marinara sauce off my shirt that the main thing all my clients had in common was the blues.
Yes, indeed. The blues. The same blues Muddy Waters had. And Robert Johnson. And BB King. Those blues.
Unlike the blues greats, however, my clients didn't have a way to express their blues. And, in the absence of this opportunity, their God given right to get right was lost.
But no more, brothers and sisters! No more!
Now, even the most buttoned down, white collared, bow-tied creators of spreadsheets at midnight have a chance to get those business blues off their chest and move towards a better future -- not to mention have fun, collaborate, and learn what it takes to innovate on the fly.
Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to the world's first business blues band -- Face the Music!.
PS: Should you decide to contact them, be sure to mention that it was Idea Champions who sent you. (We give 5% of our referral fees to TPRF, one of the most well-run and inspired humanitarian organizations in the world).
The Six Sigma Blues
My blues encounter at Pfizer
The Email Blues
The Gotta Have a Process Blues
Wrapper of the Year!
If you have to pee, pee now. Pee before watching this video. I take no responsibility for your wardrobe, dry cleaning bills, or anti-social behavior. Consider yourself forewarned.December 12, 2011
Shining Eyes and Open Hearts
Ben Zander is the most extraordinary speaker/presenter/catalyst I've ever had the good fortune to experience other than my teacher, Prem Rawat. I first heard Ben at HSM's World Business Forum, in NYC. He entranced 4,000 business people for two hours and ended his enchantment by getting everyone to sing Ode to Joy in German. Ben is a masterful conductor, not just of orchestras, but of the human spirit of what's possible every single minute of the day.December 05, 2011
Keeping Your Promises?
November 27, 2011
Business As Usual? October 28, 2011
This Just In! The Turbo Encabulator!
There's a reason why the expression "ideas are a dime a dozen" is so popular. Because it's true. Everyone and their mother has ideas. Where the rubber meets the road is HOW those ideas are communicated. When it's done well, magic happens. When it's not...
How can your organization improve it's idea pitching process?October 21, 2011
Who Says Miss America Candidates Don't Know Their Stuff?
This is a spoof on the goofy ways in which Miss America candidates have answered serious questions in the past. Very funny.October 15, 2011
How 13-Year Olds Can Wipe Out Terrorism
OK. I know this headline seems bold. Even presumptuous. But bear with me. I'm inspired. And even more than that -- on the brink of a breakthrough
But first, some back story...
A year and a half ago, my awesomely cool, smart, and creative daughter, Mimi (in the orange glasses above), turned 13 and invited 12 of her girlfriends to our house for a celebrational sleepover.
The first 30 minutes were great as each girl, gift in hand, was dropped off by a parent, who, upon surveying the room, offered my wife and I a glance of great compassion as if to say "Better you than me."
The girls? Don't ask...
They talked. They texted. They talked. They texted. Ate chocolate. Brushed hair. Played music. Painted fingernails. Laughed. Texted. Called friends. Finished not a single sentence, rolling their eyes every time a parent entered the room.
Mindful of my daughter's need for space and my own weird tendency to be a little too present when her friends were around, I retreated to my bedroom like some kind of mid-western chicken farmer looking for a storm shelter.
I tried reading. I tried napping. I tried meditating.
My attention was completely subsumed -- taken over by an invisible vortex of swirling social networking energy being channeled by a roomful of partying 13-year old girls -- the next generation of, like, whatever.
And then, with absolutely no warning, everything became suddenly clear. In a flash, I understood exactly how to end terrorism once and for all.
For starters, the government flies a squadron of 13 year-old girls to Guantanamo -- or wherever high profile terrorists are being interrogated these days.
The girls, impeccably guarded by the highest qualified soldiers available, are walked into a prison waiting room where the shackled terrorists are already sitting.
Immediately, the girls begin texting, eating chocolate, talking, painting fingernails, and exponentially interrupting each other with a steady stream of "OMG's" and other, esoteric internet acronyms none of their parents have a clue about.
The prisoners, at first, find the whole thing amusing -- a delightful break from their dreadful prison routine. They smile. They wink. They remember their youth.
But the girls, wired to the max (sugar and wi-fi), radically pick up the pace of their texting and talking like some kind of futuristic teenage particle accelerator.
After five minutes, the prisoners stop smiling. After ten, they become silent. After twenty, they start twitching. A lot.
They try covering their ears with their shackled hands, but the chains are too short. They start looking madly around the room, hoping to catch the eyes of their jailers -- but their jailers sit motionless, miming the movements of the twelve texting teenagers.
A few of the terrorists start crying. A few go catatonic. And then, the roughest looking of the bunch -- a tall man with a long, jagged scar on his left cheek -- calls out in his native language.
"STOP! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I'll TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW."
The guards nod and switch on the nearest tape recorder. But it's totally unnecessary.
The girls, totally tuned into the terrorists' confessions as if watching the finals of American Idol, are texting everything they hear to a roomful of Pentagon heavyweights in an undisclosed location.
The information proves vital to our national defense.
Within three days, a record number of terrorist cells are taken down. Word gets out to the global terrorist community and, in only a matter of weeks, it becomes impossible for the Jihadist movement to recruit.
Yes, of course, the ACLU raises a stink about this "new strain of American torture," but a thorough investigation by a bi-partisan task force of international peacekeepers proves to be inconclusive. No long-term damage to the prisoners can be detected.
On a roll, my daughter and her rock-the-world friends create a Facebook Group that teaches other 13-year old girls how to help the cause. A movement is born.
Soon, hundreds of teenage girl "patriots" are dispatched to war zones around the world -- radically decreasing the incidence of terrorism on all seven continents.
Subsequent interviews with former Jihadists reveal that merely the threat of being in a room with 12 texting 13-year old girls was enough to get them to lay down their homemade bombs and return to farming.
Peace comes to the Middle East. Pakistan and India make up. (Make up, girls!) The Golden Age begins.
As you might guess, HBO and Hollywood come calling.
Big time producers want to do a reality show and a major motion picture, but the girls -- newly inspired by the impact they've had on the world -- refuse to become a commodity as they prepare (OMG!) for summer camp and 8th grade and the September launch of that next, cool cell phone with the incredible keyboard.October 11, 2011
IPhone, IPod, IPad, IPaid
June 11, 2011
Live Elevator Music
Take a few minutes now to think of a new way to deliver your services -- a platform most people have assumed was not worth the effort. I'm convinced that if a band actually started playing live elevator music, they'd be featured on CNN in no time (or at least have a few laughs.)April 29, 2011
If Only He Had Come to Us Sooner!
March 13, 2011
Funny and All Too True
December 22, 2010
The 25 Most Popular Sexual Positions of American Business Consultants
OK. So maybe the title of this blog post is a bit of a stretch. I'll grant you that.
But hey, I'm piloting a new idea of mine -- fun ways to cut through the media clutter of daily life and connect with cool people like yourself who have the chutzpah and mojo to follow a hunch.
The exact reason why you clicked? I'm not sure, but I'd venture to say it's one (or more) of the following:
1. You're a business consultant
2. You live with a business consultant
3. You're suddenly thinking about becoming a business consultant
4. You're an aspiring porn star
5. You're "curious"
6. You're a friend of mine
7. You're a client of mine
8. You're an unemployed blogger
9. You're a big fan of the kama sutra
10. You click on anything with the word "sex" in it.
Anyway, as long as you're here, I invite you to check out the 25 most popular postings on my blog since 2007.
There's some good stuff here. About innovation. About creativity. About what it takes to make corporate cultures more humane.
Oh, I almost forgot. You can read these brief postings in any position you desire.
The 25 Most Popular Heart of Innovation Blog Postings
10.0 Rethinking Failure
October 13, 2010
Does This Blog Posting Belong Here?
I'm not sure what this pie graph has to do with this blog, but so what. YOU might make the connection. Of course, it's always possible that there is no connection. Oh well, at least you might get a chuckle or two out of it -- and we all know there is definitely a relationship between humor, play, and creativity, eh?
Hey, if nothing else, it's a way you can find out about Free the Genie, our newly launched, online brainstorming tool.
Results of Our Innovation Study*
Idea Champions is pleased to announce the results of our 10 year, longitudinal research project. More than 750,000 people were surveyed. Or maybe it was 7. We're not totally sure.
50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation
The Four Currents of a Culture of Innovation
The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating on the Job
20 Awesome Quotes on Humor and Creativity
Americans' obsession with numbers
*Ummm.... this is a parody, folks! I had to add this postscript as soon as I saw readers quoting the results of this poll on Twitter. Bad coffee? Stranger than fiction.October 10, 2010
Why Car Alarms Don't Work
Ever hear a car alarm go off and had the same reaction as the "green people" below? Well... now's your chance to think of a better solution. The person who submits the coolest idea to Idea Champions by October 31st will receive a lifetime subscription to our new online, Free the Genie brainstorming tool. Go for it!
PS: If you're stuck for an idea, click here.
The New Chairmen of Microsoft Europe
Bill Gates recently advertised for a new chairman of Microsoft Europe.
Five thousand candidates respond and assemble in a large room. One of them is Isaac Ginsberg, a little Jewish man from Israel.
Bill Gates thanks the candidates for coming, but asks all those not familiar with the JAVA program language to leave.
Two thousand people stand up and leave the room.
Isaac Ginsberg says to himself: "I do not know this language, but what have I got to lose if I stay? I might as well give it a try!"
Bill Gates then asks all those who have no experience managing teams of more than a hundred people to leave.
Another two thousand people stand up and go.
Isaac Ginsberg says to himself: "I have never managed anybody but myself, but what have I got to lose if I stay? What can possibly happen to me?"
Then Bill Gates asks all candidates who do not have outstanding academic qualifications to please exit the room.
Five hundred more people stand up and go.
Isaac Ginsberg smiles and says to himself, "Oy... I left school at 15, but what's the big deal if I stay?"
So he stays in the room.
Finally, Bill Gates asks everyone remaining who does not speak the Serbo-Croatian language to rise and leave. Four hundred and ninety-eight people get up and leave the room.
Issac Ginsberg chuckles and says himself, "So.. I don't speak Serbo-Croatian, but what the hell! I got nothing to lose!"
He finds himself alone in the room with only one other candidate. Everyone else has gone.
Curious, Bill Gates gets down from the stage, joins them, and says: "Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serbo-Croatian. I'd like to hear you converse with each other in Serbo-Croatian right now."
Calmly, Issac turns to the other candidate, clears his throat, and says: "Baruch atah Adonai."
The other candidate smiles, bows his head, and replies: "Eloheinu melech ha'olam."
Thanks to my sister, Phyllis Rosen, for this fine story.