April 15, 2024
What Problem Does "Free the Genie for Teams" Actually Solve?

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Some team leaders, when they first hear about Free the Genie, assume it is a "nice to have" service -- intriguing and unique -- but not necessarily essential. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Free the Genie is an antidote for a wide range of problems most forward-thinking teams regularly encounter.

1. Difficulty getting to the root causes of problems in order to frame the kind of powerful questions that lead to game-changing ideas, initiatives, and measurable results.

2. Lack of team alignment re: identifying core issues that require the application of collective brainpower.

3. No process in place to unlock and unleash the creativity of team members.

4. Inability to facilitate productive brainstorming sessions that lead to actionable ideas and quantifiable results.

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5. Group Think: Conforming to peer pressure and the opinions of the majority.

6. Over-reliance on the Team Leader: ceding individual responsibility by assuming that the highest-ranking member of the team is going to work miracles.

7. Inability to capture, organize, and evaluate the output of team brainstorming sessions.

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Introducing Free the Genie
Metaphors Be With You
How Teams Can Successfully Brainstorm Online
Frequently asked questions about Free the Genie
A sampling of testimonials from our corporate clients

Illustrations: gapingvoid.com

CONTACT: genie@ideachampions.com

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
April 13, 2024
FREE THE GENIE for TEAMS FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

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1. How many online sessions are included in a Free the Genie engagement? Two.

2. How long is each session? 75-90 minutes.

3. How many members of our team can participate? Four.

4. Our team is bigger than four people. Can we still use Free the Genie? Yes, but only four people can participate at one time. Why only four? Because we want to increase the odds of people actively participating in the creative thinking process. When more than four people participate, there is a tendency for some people just to observe.

5. Do the participants have to be an intact team, or part of an intact team, or can any four people in our organization participate? Participants do not need to be an intact team. They can be an ad hoc group from your organization who have been invited to explore a new challenge, goal, or opportunity. The basic criteria for inclusion in a Free the Genie session is people's commitment to the topic being explored and their availability to follow up.

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6. What type of work teams are ideal for Free the Genie? Any work team that has a compelling goal, challenge or opportunity and the commitment to explore it in creative ways.

7. If one of our team members cannot participate in the second session, can he/she/they be replaced by another team member?
Yes, as long as the replacement team member has read the Insight & Ideation Report from session #1 and has a clear understanding of what has preceded session #2.

8. Is there a price difference for having two, three, or four participants? No.

9. How much time is there between the first FTG session and the second? Is this flexible? Yes, this is flexible. We recommend a two-week interval between Free the Genie sessions. This provides enough time for your team to process the output from their first session. It also increases focus, motivation, and positive momentum.

10. Do our members have to be in the same room, or can they be in different locations? Participants do not need to be in the same room. They can be anywhere.

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11. Can our members participate via their mobile phones?
No. Free the Genie requires a laptop or desktop computer. It is not designed for mobile at this time.

12. What pre-session work will be required by the team members? Each team member will be required to respond to our "Frame Your Real Question?" self-inquiry page prior to the first session. If your Team Leader finds value in our "Culture of Innovation" survey, each team member will also be required to respond to this survey. Total time for pre-work: 15-30 minutes.

13. What kinds of "How can we?" questions suit this process the best? Suitable questions meet the following criteria:

-- Inspires participants
-- Describes a compelling team goal, challenge or opportunity
-- Relates to a project that participants have some control over
-- Represents only one topic, not several
-- Includes a "by when" date

Highly technical challenges that require deep analysis, research and debate are not suitable.

14. Our business is highly technical. Will your app and facilitator be able to handle highly technical problems?
We have worked with many companies engaged in highly technical pursuits. That being said, highly technical problems are not suitable for a Free the Genie session.

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15. What else is required of our organization before a session?
-- Clarity about the Free the Genie process
-- Sign our Letter of Engagement
-- 50% deposit
-- Select and invite the appropriate people to participate
-- Identify of a Point Person to liaison with Idea Champions
-- Each member of your team responds to our pre-work

16. What will be required from our members or organization between sessions? Read the Insight & Ideation Report (summary of output from session #1).

17. Is there any kind of follow-up? Yes. Follow up includes:
-- Review two Insight & Ideation Reports
-- Two Reality Check Debrief calls (for the Team Leader)
-- Coaching and consultation with your team's Point Person
-- Project champions do their due diligence

18. How many total work hours will we be spending on Free the Genie as an organization if four of our people participate?

The total works hours required for each FTG participant is 3.5 hours (two 90-minute FTG brainstorming sessions and 30 minutes of pre-work). There is additional time requirements for the Team Leader, Point Person, and Project Champion.

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19. What can we expect from Free the Genie as an outcome?
-- A variety of compelling insights and ideas for further development
-- Commitment to at least one game-changing idea
-- A comprehensive summary of the output from each FTG session
-- Increased team alignment, commitment, and morale
-- Improvement of your team's culture of innovation
-- An increase in your team's ability to brainstorm successfully
-- Meaningful follow up to the ideas generated in both sessions
-- Clarification of roles and responsibilities re: idea development
-- Team commitment to meaningful follow-up
-- Increased motivation and ability to think out of the box

20. Is there a volume discount on Free the Genie sessions? Maybe. Let's talk.

21. Can we speak to other clients of yours who have done this process? Yes

Introducing Free the Genie
How teams can successfully brainstorm online
Metaphors be with you
What people are saying about Free the Genie
Testimonials from our corporate clients

Fabulous illustrations above: gapingvoid.com


CONTACT: genie@ideachampions.com

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)
April 11, 2024
A Sampling of Testimonials from Idea Champions Clients

Since 1987, Idea Champions has been designing and facilitating a wide range of brainstorming sessions, creative thinking trainings, and innovation workshops for more than 130 organizations in 11 different countries. During that time, we have worked with just about every industry on planet earth and every kind of mindset. What follows is a sampling of testimonials from our satisfied clients.

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"Through your brainstorm facilitation, we gained more than 100 original ideas of high quality. The best of these will guide AT&T's development for years to come." - Robert Rubin, CCS Product Development, AT&T

"As a result of Idea Champions' efforts we have implemented more than 250 value-added Big Idea projects." - Joe Belinsky, Professional Development Manager, Goodyear Rubber and Tire

"Several of the ideas we came up with in the Idea Champions session are being developed into concrete projects that are looking like very profitable opportunities." - Rudy Villa, VP, GE/RCA Licensing

"Extremely engaging and enlightening brainstorming sessions." - Karen Lazan, Marketing Director, Pfizer

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"The brainstorming session you facilitated helped us generate lots of great ideas to activate our positioning around the world." - Charlotte Oades, Director, Brand Marketing, The Coca Cola Company

"Idea Champions' virtual Ideation Jump Start session has been a cost effective and efficient tool that gets our teams right into the thick of idea generation and collaboration." - Jon Bidwell, Director of Innovation, Chubb Insurance

"Superb! Everyone was impressed with your ability to spark and harness the collective ingenuity of our group." - Craig Harden, Global Risk Manager, Scotia Capital

"I want to note how impressed we all were with Idea Champions' insight and understanding of our business and creative needs, as well as the varied and constructive techniques you used to take us through the creative process." - Gabrielle Del Sesto, VP, MTV Networks

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"Several ideas generated in the Chubb Business School sessions facilitated by Idea Champions have been pitched to our Venture Fund Team and received funding for development and implementation. Definitely solid ROI!" - Mary Ann Heenehan, Corporate Groups Development Manager, Chubb Insurance

"Idea Champions helped us generate powerful new ideas and engage with such energy that six months later their impact still hasn't worn off." - Candida G. Brush, Chair: Entrepreneurship Division, Babson College

"The Idea Champions team brings a creative, energetic and fun approach to idea generation. The tools and techniques they have brought to Atlanticare are enabling us to build a true culture of innovation." - Terri Schieder, VP, Clinical Development and Integration, Atlanticare

"Your techniques and style left our people with a better understanding and working knowledge of the most valuable tool we all possess - the creative mind." - Tom Gowan, VP Communications, Emmis Broadcasting

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"Idea Champions is the firm I recommend for anything to do with innovation." - Melody Mahoney, Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence, GE Capital

"Idea Champions helped us harness our naturally innovative spirit and significantly improve the way we execute our ideation process." - Jody Johnson, Chief People Officer, MBooth & Associates

"We were looking for a miracle and then we found Idea Champions." - Paulette Esposito, Manager, Training and Development, Champion International

"I continue to find that the takeaways from a single day with Idea Champions have proved to be much more valuable to me than some of the more extensive consulting inputs I have received from large brand name consultants my company interacts with." - Harry Kiskaddon, Vice President, Alcoa

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"Idea Champions is creative in their approach, experienced, willing to share their expertise readily, easy to work with, and delivers exactly what they promise." - Peter Clist, Head of Management Institute, Allianz

"Idea Champions offers pragmatic tools and insights that enable innovation. Their approach is engaging, encouraging and creates an impetus for participants to apply the learning immediately." - Michael Serino, Senior Director, Merck

"Idea Champions' process and practical tools helps people experience innovation in the moment, and more importantly, enables them to apply the learning back home with their own teams." - Mike Canning, Managing Director, Duke Corporate Education

"Idea Champions helped us unlock an even greater level of thinking for our clients across the board. Now it is more innovative, more strategic and reached more efficiently." - Andrew Rossi, Creative Director, MBooth & Associates

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"The Idea Champions process not only worked, it exceeded our every expectation. Our CEO has already received over 100 emails from employees thanking her for the process." - Melinda McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, A&E Television Networks

"Idea Champions brings an infectious enthusiasm that will win over even the most cynical person in your organization!" - Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Universal

"As a result of your efforts, I now have the most highly motivated, self-driven, creative and fun team this division has seen in recent history." - Karen Buczek, Marketing Manager, General Mills

Idea Champions has the unique quality to combine zany out-of-box thinking with a pragmatic approach that appealed to every participant. Even those who relish the status quo couldn't help but relax, laugh, and lean into their untapped creativity." - Maureen Toshner, Director, Organizational Development & Learning, Charter Manufacturing

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"Talk about out of the box thinking, it was out of this world!" - Eric Birnbaum, Sr. Packaging Engineer, Kraft Foods

"Idea Champions' ability to teach my colleagues and me how to facilitate brainstorming sessions changed the future of our business. We went from being viewed by our clients as their agency to being respected as essential teammates that help them arrive at big ideas." - Mandy Kalajian, Vice President, Mirrorball

"Spending a day with Idea Champions completely changed the way I think about brainstorming. They provided the insights and tools to conduct far more productive meetings, and reframed what it really means to "think creatively." - Mike Petite, Art Director, MWW

"The Idea Champions session was custom-built to fit the specific needs of our company. The outputs were realistic, tangible solutions that can be implemented immediately." - Jennie Liang, Senior Brand Planner, MWW

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"The Idea Champions training gave us the tools to better unleash the full potential of our employees and clients. And we had fun while doing it!" - Natalie Giordano, Director, Purple Strategies

"My coworkers and I spent eight hours with Idea Champions. The learnings from that session instantly changed the way we run our ideation sessions -- both internally and externally with our clients. The techniques and processes we learned were beyond enlightening and have already garnered exponential returns." - Steve Papageorge, Creative Director, Mirrorball

"Idea Champions brainstorm facilitation training was, by far, the most fun, useful, productive, and engaging training I've ever attended." - M.K. Blue State Digital, Account Executive

"After the Idea Champions brainstorm facilitation training I felt energized, empowered, ready to lead a brainstorm session, and infuse my work with more creativity. Idea Champions are magicians and they passed some of that magic on to us." - T.W. Blue State Digital, Marketing Manager

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CONTACT: genie@ideachampions.com

Introducing Free the Genie
Metaphors Be With You
How teams can brainstorm online
What's included in a Free the Genie for Teams engagement

Fabulous illustrations: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
April 09, 2024
What's Included in a Free the Genie for Teams Engagement

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Free the Genie for Teams is a simple, online, collaborative process that enables teams to unleash their collective genius and generate breakthrough ideas in service to a compelling goal, challenge or opportunity.

The service we provide is the distillation of what we've learned, since 1987, designing and facilitating more 1,500 creative thinking sessions for 130 organizations in 11 countries.

Bottom line, we know how to open the floodgates of creativity. It is not a magic pill, but it does work magic and it does so in a very intentional and organized way.

What follows is a menu of the services and products included in a Free the Genie engagement.

Continue reading "What's Included in a Free the Genie for Teams Engagement"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
25 Reasons Why Brainstorming Sessions Fail in Your Company

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Whenever I ask my clients to tell me about the quality of their company's brainstorming sessions, they usually roll their eyes and grumble, noting several of the phenomena below.

Recognize any of them in your organization?

1. Lame facilitation
2. Wrong problem statement
3. Unmotivated participants
4. Hidden (or competing) agendas
5. Insufficient diversity of participants

6. Addiction to the status quo
7. Lack of clear ground rules
8. Insufficient trust in the facilitator
9. No transition from "business as usual"
10. Lack of robust participation

Continue reading "25 Reasons Why Brainstorming Sessions Fail in Your Company"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:45 AM | Comments (5)
March 28, 2024
FREE THE GENIE Testimonials

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Free the Genie is a lightly facilitated online brainstorming session that enables anyone with a need, goal, or aspiration to make a quantum leap of thought and action. Bottom line, it's a GPS for the creative process -- a highly engaging way to close the gap between dream and reality. Ideal for committed individuals and small teams.

A Sampling of Testimonials

"Priceless. A way to dream big, edit your dream, and then do!" -- MaryJane Fahey, Founder, Glorious Broads

"Free the Genie is like a fan blowing fog out of a room so you can see clearly. Highly recommended." - Douglas Robinson, Composer/Musician

"A user-friendly way to think creatively, originate bold ideas, and turn theory into action." -- Mohammed Azim, Head of English Department, Al Siraat College

"An exceptional experience. The atmosphere cultivated was one of collaboration, encouragement, and creativity. By the end of the session, not only had we generated innovative ideas, but we also had a clear roadmap for implementation. Mitch's expertise in unlocking creativity and fostering collaboration played a pivotal role in the success of our session." -- Paul Kwiecinski, Managing Partner, Face the Music

"This is precious. It's a treasure. I never would have thought of these ideas if I hadn't had this help -- not in a million years. I'm going to implement these ideas right away. Everyone could benefit from this. Two thumbs up!" -- Annick Baud, Artist

"Free the Genie puts you in touch with your intuition and gut feel. Provides clarity about what you really want and need." - Prentiss Uchida, Serial Entrepreneur and Business Coach

"I emerged from my Free the Genie session refreshed and refocused on the many possible futures that lay ahead for me." - Doug Stuke, Career Changer and Aspiring Author

"I am a very stubborn person. In the past, I have taken many art classes and knew that when I no longer worked full-time, I would try to devote some time to my art. I tried working with other people to get motivated and inspired, but nothing much really happened. When I heard about the creators of Free the Genie and the way they help people get their projects off the ground, I reached out to them. The experience has helped me tap into my own source of inspiration and motivation and to work once again at my art with a renewed sense of yearning to create something unique that will bring me much joy and satisfaction. Simply put, Free the Genie helped me on a very deep level. Highly recommended."-- Tina Lipson, Mixed Media Artist

"The process revealed all the different colors of my project and then, responsively, yet systematically, synthesized them into a singular beam I could focus on to achieve my desired outcome." -- Chris Mac Vittie, Singer/Songwriter

"Free the Genie anchored my idea to the ground and provided me with a pragmatic pathway and plan to follow." - Sitki Esenyel, Student Support Services, Al Siraat College.

"I was so inspired at the end of my hour Free the Genie session that I committed to restarting my memoir writing project -- one that had been in the closet for years." - Gretel Rogers, Travel Agent and Writer

"Lots of fun, interactive, and surprising." - Barbara Drausel, Artist

"As a result of our Free the Genie session, we have gained great clarity and motivation in setting a vision we are passionate about." - Shanaka Jakakody and Areeba Reusch

"Free the Genie helped me see my situation in a new light. I was empowered from within." -- Ellen Goldberg, Therapist, Author, Mystic

"An enriching experience of connection and deep exchanges." -- Rosa Morelli, Acting Coach, Artist

"I so appreciate you taking the time to assist me in clarifying my issues. Your method is a wonderful tool that will help many people achieve their goals." -- Michael Sudheer, Artist/Photographer

"I am so grateful for the generous spirit, astute perceptions, clear vision, and authenticity of my Free the Genie facilitator. Thanks for sharing your gifts with me, and inspiring me to open my own." - Joyce Gerber, Health Practitioner

Continue reading "FREE THE GENIE Testimonials"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:27 AM | Comments (1)
March 22, 2024
The World's Best Collection of Awesome, Memorable Quotes

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If you're on the prowl for inspiring quotes you can use for work, your book, speech, website, love letter, kidnap letter, slide show, blog post, business proposal, graffiti, or time capsule, look no further. PS: We are all in this together!

Continue reading "The World's Best Collection of Awesome, Memorable Quotes"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:07 PM | Comments (4)
March 15, 2024
Your Free the Genie Facilitator

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Mitch Ditkoff is the creator of Free the Genie and the Co-Founder of three consulting companies dedicated to unlocking and unleashing brilliance in the world -- Idea Champions, SageCatalysts and FaceTheMusic.

Since 1987, he has worked with more than 130 organizations in 11 different countries to help thousands of aspiring innovators discover how to tap into their innate creativity and transform bold possibilities into bottom line results.

In addition to his corporate consulting work, Mitch is also an accomplished storyteller, keynote speaker, poet, and author of seven books.

Continue reading "Your Free the Genie Facilitator"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)
March 09, 2024
A Unique Offer for Members of "Being a Creator on Planet Earth" and graduates of "The Year of Living Creatively"

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If you are a member of Mitch Ditkoff's Being a Creator on Planet Earth Facebook group or a graduate of The Year of Living Creativity and can use a jiggle, jolt or jump start to get your most compelling idea or project off the ground, keep reading.

Mitch and his Idea Champions partners have developed a unique online brainstorming service (Free the Genie) that enables aspiring innovators to not only get out of the lamp, but make significant progress on a passionate project of theirs.

Time required? 60 - 90 minutes.

Our usual fee for a Free the Genie session is $250, but we have decided to offer it to members of "Being a Creator on Planet Earth" and graduates of "The Year of Living Creatively" for jus t$99 -- an offer that is good until March 25.

Why? Because we want to and because we can.

And because time is passing and we want to do everything in our power to help entrepreneurs, artists, writers, musicians, visionaries, mavericks, teachers, peace activists and other "cultural creatives" radically increase their odds of working their magic in the world.

The facilitator of these discounted sessions will be Val Vadeboncoeur, Co-Author of Conducting Genius and a Senior Consultant at Idea Champions since 1990. Our clients.

Intrigued? Simply shoot us an email with "FREE THE GENIE 99" in the subject line and we'll get back to you with next steps.

CONTACT: genie@ideachampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)
March 08, 2024
How Creative Improv Can Improve a Brainstorm Session

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It can be said that a brainstorm facilitator plays many roles during the course of a session. Conductor, diamond cutter, and traffic cop are three of them.

But the most obvious role is that of actor, and not just any kind of actor, because there really isn't a set script... but an improv actor making theater magic out of a specific "situation" or "set-up."

Continue reading "How Creative Improv Can Improve a Brainstorm Session "

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)
February 29, 2024
Reimagining Discipline

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Soon after launching my new online course on the creative process, I began talking with the people who enrolled. I was curious to discover what kind of obstacles they were facing -- the "stuff" that got in the way of manifesting their own creativity.

No matter how different the people I spoke to, how unique their background, experience, accomplishments,gender, world view, or astrological signs,they all said the same thing -- what I later came to refer to as the "D" word.

"DISCIPLINE."

That's what they all believed was missing from their lives. The lack of discipline was their Achilles heel, they confessed to me -- their problem, their weak spot, their #1 concern.

For the first few weeks of listening to their lament, I agreed. After all, discipline was important, right? I mean, who could write a book or start a business, or launch a product without discipline? Plus, I was disciplined, and if I, the creator of the course, was disciplined, then discipline must be important, eh?

Well, sort of. In the end, it all depends on WHERE this so-called "discipline" is coming from.

Continue reading "Reimagining Discipline"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)
February 27, 2024
FREE THE GENIE: How It Works

genie62.gifKnowing how precious your time is, Idea Champions has designed a simple way to ensure that you get the best possible results from your online Free the Genie brainstorming session.

Having designed and facilitated more than 600 creative thinking sessions for 100+ organizations in 11 countries since 1987, we know what it takes to unlock and unleash collective brilliance.

What makes Free the Genie unique is how quickly it opens the creative floodgates -- sparking insights, ahas, and breakthrough ideas.

Here's the process -- what happens before, during and after a Free the Genie session:

1. Free Discovery Call: This is your chance to "kick the tires," ask your questions, and determine if Free the Genie is a good fit for your needs. If you decide to go for it, we will send you a Letter of Engagement for your signature.

2. Frame Your Most Powerful Question: As Jonas Salk once said, "What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question." Towards that end, we will send you a simple "fill in the blanks" exercise so you can clearly define the challenge, opportunity or project you want to explore. Time required? 15-20 minutes.

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3. Identify Your Braintrust: Your Free the Genie session can be a one-on-one session with you and your Free the Genie facilitator OR it can include as many as three other people -- teammates, colleagues, friends, family, or clients of yours.

4. Invite Participants: At least one week before your FTG session, your Braintrust will be invited -- so they understand the purpose of the session, why you've invited them, and what (if anything) they need to do to prepare.

5. Experience Your Free the Genie Session: Show time! Simply put, FTG is a highly engaging 60-90 minute creative thinking jam session that sparks brilliance, insights, bold ideas, and positive momentum. (Gluten free, but potentially addictive).

6. Follow Up: Within 24 hours after your FTG session, you will receive the following from Idea Champions:

-- Zoom recording of your Free the Genie session
-- Written summary of the ideas and insights generated
-- Free the Genie card prompts (jpgs)
-- Action Plan template

7. Reality Check Debrief Call: One week after your session (assuming your interest), you will reconvene with your Free the Genie facilitator for 30-45 minutes to assess your forward progress, review your most compelling ideas, clarify your "go-forward" strategy, identify obstacles, and explore engaging ways for you to proceed with clarity, confidence, and renewed commitment.

The Value of Free the Genie
What people are saying about Free the Genie
Idea Champions clients

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
February 26, 2024
How to Spark Brilliance, Breakthrough and Bold New Possibilities the Easy Way

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If you are an entrepreneur, business leader, change agent, writer, artist, musician, team leader, or project manager in need of a breakthrough, Idea Champions' online Free the Genie brainstorming service may be just what you're looking for.

Bottom line, it's an elegant, engaging, time-efficient way to think creatively and radically increase your odds of getting breakthrough results. What follows are seven reasons why the time might be right for you to give it a go.

1. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE: No matter how creative you are, having the right people to brainstorm with, at the right time and in the right way, can often be the difference between success and failure.

Human beings are social animals. We need to express ourselves. We need to be heard. We need connection, feedback, encouragement, fresh perspectives, and new ideas. This is not the time to be a lone wolf.

2. YOU HAVE SOMETHING WONDERFUL TO CREATE: Yes, it's true! You are onto something. You are being called! You feel it in your bones and have known it for a while. Simply put, you have a gift to share with the world or at least your family and friends -- a service to provide.

Now is the time to get it out of you head and into the marketplace! Free the Genie can help facilitate that process.

3. ALL OF US GET STUCK FROM TIME TO TIME: This just in! All people with compelling projects and great ideas eventually run into walls. It comes with the territory of creating something new.

But here's the thing: those walls are often no more solid than a thought, assumption or belief. Free the Genie is designed to help you go over, under, around, or through those walls -- and, on a good day, prevent you from building those walls in the first place.

Continue reading "How to Spark Brilliance, Breakthrough and Bold New Possibilities the Easy Way"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)
January 23, 2024
Your Free the Genie Creative Process Coach

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Stevie Ray McHugh, Co-Founder of Idea Champions, is a seasoned expert in strategic planning, balanced scorecards, team building, lean manufacturing, and innovation.

By simultaneously focusing on leadership coaching,large-scale collaborative planning, building effective teams, process improvement, and tracking results, he helps companies align and enroll the entire organization in strategic change.

For over 30 years, Stevie Ray has worked with companies of all sizes -- coaching executives, intrapreneurs, small business owners, entrepreneurs, non-profit directors, and change agents to grow to their full leadership potential.

His BizLife Coaching process is designed to help people grow both personally and professionally, leading to increased retention, improved teamwork, better work-life balance, and increased profits.

Through perceptive questioning, deep listening, insightful conversation, and creative brainstorming, he inspires clients to replace fear with the courage to create the most powerful future they dare imagine.

His corporate clients include high-tech, banking, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare, and telecommunications companies, such as AT&T, Met Life, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Life Care Centers of America, MTV, Olin Chlor-Alkali Corporation, Zurich US Insurance, BJC Hospital Group, Blue-Cross Blue Shield, and many others.

In addition to his corporate work, Stevie Ray also dedicates time to pro bono projects with various non-profit organizations, including humane societies, health organizations, and environmental associations across the United States.

Steven lives in Colorado and loves hiking, river rafting, and playing with his dogs.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)
January 20, 2024
Your Free the Genie Facilitator

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Val Vadeboncoeur is a Senior Consultant with Idea Champions, an innovation consulting and training company that has provided innovation and team building services to more than 100 organizations in 11 different countries for the past 34 years.

Since 1990, Val has been designing, co-designing and facilitating a wide variety of creative thinking trainings, workshops and brainstorming sessions for the following Idea Champions' clients: MTV, Nickelodeon, VH-1, General Electric, Lucent Technologies, AT&T, FOX Sports, TV Guide, Navigant, Purple Strategies, Olin Corporation, Champion International, Met Life, Astrazeneca, Blue States Digital, Radio Woodstock and many others.

Additionally, he is the co-author of Conducting Genius, one of the few Brainstorm Facilitation Manuals available on the market today.

Continue reading "Your Free the Genie Facilitator"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)
January 10, 2024
32 Inspiring Quotes on Mastery

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"Mastery" is a fascinating phenomenon -- one that many people speak about, but few attain. Is it possible? Yes, it is. But what is it really? Ah... now that's the question, isn't it? The dictionary defines mastery as "possession or display of great skill or technique." OK. Good start. If you're fluent in French, for example, you have a mastery of the language. If you win every game of chess, you show a mastery of the game. Skill is necessary, of course, in order to be a Master, but it not sufficient. Something else, beyond skill, is also needed. What might that be?

"One can have no smaller or greater mastery then mastery of oneself." - Leonardo DaVinci

"It's easy to get on the path of mastery. The real challenge lies in staying on it." - George Leonard

"If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all." - Michelangelo

"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person." - Albert Einstein

Continue reading "32 Inspiring Quotes on Mastery"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
December 16, 2023
Have a Very Mitchie Christmas!

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If you are looking for easy-to-buy, inspiring, heart-warming holiday gifts to buy your loved ones, you are in the right place -- books written by Mitch Ditkoff. All of them are all available on Amazon. If you buy them today, they should arrive in time for you to wrap them and give to people to open on Christmas morning.

BOOKS
Unspoken Word: $4.33
Storytelling for the Revolution: $16.36
Storytelling at Work: $15.12
Full Moon at Sunrise: $5.47
Awake at the Wheel: $13.95

Mitch red2.jpg Here's to a joyful holiday season to everyone! May this be a time of giving and receiving, gratitude, relaxation, renewal, celebration, health and happiness. Count your blessings, then lose count. And know that all of the powers of love are with you every step of the way. Breathe deep and open the gift that you are.

MitchDitkoff.com
SageCatalysts
Idea Champions

PHOTO: Kraken Images

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)
November 09, 2023
Conference Keynote Testimonials

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If you are looking for a dynamic keynote speaker who knows how to jump start conferences with style, wisdom, and positive energy, Mitch Ditkoff is your man. Easy to work with, customer-focused, and highly experienced, he knows how to engage even the most curmudgeonly of audiences. Take a look at what a sampling of his clients, from a wide range of industries, have to say about the impact he's had on their conferences."

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"Mitch Ditkoff's keynote presentation was both entertaining and informative. Over 1,030 Merck employees attended and rated the session a 4.8 out of 5.0. In just two hours, Mitch not only got participants out of the box, he also helped us understand what it takes to establish a sustainable culture of innovation." - Jim Aubele, Associate Director of Organizational Learning, Merck

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"Idea Champions made our annual conference on innovation a huge success. They not only expertly facilitated the process, but ensured that our company developed a culture that will foster innovation from here on in." - Rick Yockelson, SVP of People and Administration, Hudson Group

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"Mitch Ditkoff's innovation keynote at our Developer's Conference was an energetic and engaging opening to our event. Thanks to the pre-work Mitch did with us, his themes were perfectly synchronized with the objectives of the conference -- increase innovative problem-solving and global knowledge sharing. Mitch's comments got our people thinking and prepared to tackle the interactive objectives of the meeting. After Mitch, it was 'Game on!'" - Andy Billings, VP, Profitable Creativity, Electronic Arts

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"As the conference organizer for our annual innovation summit, I was looking for a dynamic speaker who could deliver an impactful message on fostering a culture of innovation. What I found surpassed my greatest expectations. Mitch Ditkoff was outstanding in every way.He captivated our audience by engaging them in his interactive keynote and workshop and provided attendees with useful tools to apply in their workplaces. They discovered new and helpful ways to unleash creativity. I lost count of people coming up to me after the event who were raving about Mitch." - Ben Quintana, Chairman, IdaVation

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"Mitch Ditkoff's keynote at our annual conference was informative, inspiring, and entertaining. I know that keeping 128 executives, managers, and engineers engaged for five hours is a challenging task, but he pulled it off extremely well." - Gordon Thomas, VP, Hydrosystems

Ten tips for giving a great keynote

atlanticare_logo.gif"Mitch Ditkoff brings a creative, energetic, and fun approach to creative thinking. The tools and techniques he has brought to Atlanticare are enabling us to build a true Garden of Innovation." - Terri Schieder, VP, Clinical Development and Integration, Atlanticare

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"Mitch Ditkoff is a wonderful ambassador of the power of storytelling to transmit wisdom and has the rare talent to keep an audience riveted. His message is inspiring and authoritative, and his presentation, entirely entertaining. For a keynote or workshop that will leave your audience smiling and diving deeper, long after the talk, and in love with the speaker, don't miss this seasoned, skilled presenter." - Susan Page, Executive Director, San Miguel Writer's Conference

GE2.png"Mitch Ditkoff's highly engaging approach, combining creative energy and business practicality, is a real winner. His process and practical tools helps people experience innovation in the moment and, more importantly, enables them to apply the learning back home with their own teams." - Mike Canning, Managing Director, General Electric

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"I had the privilege of attending Mitch Ditkoff's speaking session at the Private Care Association's 46th Annual Conference, and it was truly inspiring. Mitch's insights on leadership and creativity were not only engaging, but also immensely practical. His ability to blend storytelling, humor, and actionable advice made his session a standout at the conference."

"Thank you for a wonderful presentation and taking the time to share your gift." - Maria Keesling, Dupont

"Your interactive keynote presentation was not only the best session at this year's meeting, I think it is the best one we ever had." - Tom Gowan, Emmis Broadcasting

"What a fabulous session! Your contribution to making the 10th Anniversary Sales Conference a success was superb. I have heard nothing but rave reviews." - Anne Bendalin, Radio Ad Bureau

"Your keynote was very engaging and helped participants derive significant understanding about how to solve the 'innovation conundrum' and how game changing practices need to be adopted in order to grow." - Krishna Nacha, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, EXL

Keynote speaking demystified

"Your presentation was received with the highest of ratings. I especially appreciate how your services, methods and products clearly reflect your understanding of adult learning and practice." - Carole Weinstein, Associate Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers

"Great job! Well-planned. High energy. Outstanding value." - Samuel Bruce, Assistant Dean, Fuqua School of Business

"You helped transform our meeting into a truly dynamic and worthwhile experience." - Abbe Raven, CEO, A&E Television Networks

CONTACT: Mitch Ditkoff, mitch@ideachampions.com

Idea Champions
My clients
My most recent keynote

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
November 08, 2023
FREE THE GENIE KEYNOTE: The Art & Science of Going Beyond Limiting Assumptions

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If you are looking for a kickoff conference keynote that will energize, inspire and establish the kind of mindset conducive to real learning, engagement and commitment, keep reading...

As an internationally acclaimed thought leader in the field of innovation, I know how to spark breakthrough in even the most curmudgeonly conference attendee.

My Free the Genie keynote is a time-tested way to help audiences unlock and unleash their innate brilliance.

Since 1987, I have been working closely with more than 100 organizations in 11 different countries to help them go beyond the status quo and achieve extraordinary results. My keynotes go well beyond mere pep talks or inspired public speaking.

Yes, attendees become better informed about what it takes to innovate, but more than that they begin to transform -- navigating their way forward into new realms of possibility and solution-finding. I don't talk at people. Instead, I provide the kind of experience that enables people to participate in meaningful ways that translate into actionable business insights.

Each keynote includes the following elements:

- Establishing a culture of listening to ensure full engagement
- Building a solid case for the need to go beyond the status quo
- Topic-specific storytelling that makes it easy for attendees to remember key learning points
- Identification of individual limiting assumptions interfering with breakthrough results
- Identification of compelling questions that jump start insight
- Ideation and small group brainstorming
- The practice of at least one powerful creative thinking technique
- A 16-page guidebook to support the keynote learning process
- A sampling of Free the Genie cards to spark original thinking
- Cross-fertilization of best practices and newly articulated ideas
- Action planning and identification of next steps

What my clients say
Idea Champions
Ten Tips for Giving a Great Keynote

CONTACT: Mitch Ditkoff (mitch@ideachampions.com) -- 845.389.9096

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
November 07, 2023
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 totally 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 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

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)
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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.

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
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Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

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