December 30, 2011
How Do You Get Teenagers to Clean Up Their Room?


While it is true that this blog is the third most popular innovation blog in the world, and while it is also true that, last year, I was voted the #1 innovation blogger in the world, both of these factoids pale in comparison to what I am about to present to you in the next paragraph.

Today, I finally realized what all of my blogging has been about for the past four years. Not to monetize my efforts. Not to build the brand of my company. Not to win friends and influence people. No way.


All of that stuff, of course, is nice, but none of it comes within a light year to the question I'm going to lay on you in the next paragraph -- the answer to which may just change the axis upon which the earth rotates or, at the very least, provide millions of parents with the answer to a question they have long since stopped asking.

How do you get teenagers to clean up their room?

As the proud father of a 14-year old girl and 17-year old boy, I now understand that all my efforts to help organizations establish robust, sustainable cultures of innovation is a piece of cake compared to the Olympian task of getting my two teenagers to clean their rooms.

Zen Masters cry when I ask them for advice on this subject. Grandparents laugh. Psychologists look wistfully into the distance and mumble very long German words.

I was beginning to think that no one knows the answer, but then I remembered there are thousands of really smart, creative, entrepreneurial innovators reading this blog -- some of whom are actually parents, and some of whom are actually in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

And so, ladies and gentleman, without further ado (adieu?), if you want to join in the crowd sourced, existential fun, all you need to do is write your answer to my question in the comments section below. (If you can't figure out how to do that, simply shoot me an email me (

messy room.jpg

To make it worth your while, I will be awarding fabulous prizes to the three people who submit the most insightful and actionable ideas (according to my big, fat highly subjective opinion).

FIRST PRIZE: A lifetime subscription to Free the Genie
SECOND PRIZE: Free the Genie deck
THIRD PRIZE: Awake at the Wheel

But wait, there's more!

I will present all of your suggestions to Jesse (17) and Mimi (14) -- assuming they will come out of their rooms to talk to me. I will then ask for their feedback and post their replies on this blog, along with an announcement of the three winners, in mid-January.

Multiple submissions are perfectly acceptable, even if the submissions, themselves, (like the rooms of teenagers and the parents of teenagers) are not perfect.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:26 PM | Comments (5)

December 27, 2011
The Selective Attention Test

Idea Champions
Free the Genie

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2011
Intro to Divergent Thinking

Sir Kenneth Robinson makes a lucid, three-minute case for the power of divergent thinking and offers a surprising factoid (which intuitively you already know).

Thanks to Scott "Divergent" Cronin for the heads up.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

Merry i-Christmas from the Heart of Innovation!

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:05 AM | Comments (1)

December 23, 2011
Treat Crazy Ideas With Respect

The next time somebody approaches you with a "crazy" idea, pause before putting them down. Instead of looking for what's wrong, look for what's right.

See if you can find a hidden jewel in the idea, a principle, an essence that is promising -- even if the idea itself is rough, raw, or imperfect.

The fact is: most great inventions, products, or services begin as a crazy idea. Maybe 99 out of 100 times, the so-called crazy idea will go nowhere, but the 100th time it just may be a winner.

One more thing -- if you make a habit of trashing other people's "crazy" ideas too quickly, people will stop approaching you with any idea. Then all you'll be left with are your own.

Idea Champions
Free the Genie

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2011
Water the Seed of Fascination

The reason why many of us do not get inspired ideas is because we are not inspired. The reason we are not inspired is because we do not follow our fascinations. The reason we do not follow our fascinations is because we judge them as impractical, irrelevant, or impossible.

And so it goes -- sometimes for an entire life.

The good news? This cycle can be reversed.

It begins by suspending judgment. It's followed by entertaining what fascinates you. It continues by getting inspired and then acting on the fruit of your inspiration.

1. On a piece of paper, create three parallel headlines -- the first, "What Fascinates Me," the second, "People I Admire," and the third, "What I Would Do If I Had More Time."

2. Jot down at least five responses under each headline.

3. Look for connections between your various responses.

4. Write down your inspired ideas. Then circle your favorite.

Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world).

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:19 PM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2011
The Atlassian FedEx Day Goes Global


Atlassian is a very successful Australia-based software company founded in 2002. It has 400+ employees, with 125 of them in San Francisco.

It also has more than 17,000 satisfied clients including Google, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, Pixar, Adobe, Hulu, Salesforce, UPS, Nike, and Coca-Cola.

Atlassian's software helps companies organize their data, track it, collaborate about it, and detect/fix bugs in their software.

Yeah, I know... I had never heard of them before either.

But those days may soon be over. Atlassian is fast becoming famous not only for their popular software development tools, but also for their rapidly-spreading innovation creation playfully named "FedEx Day".

Very simply, FedEx Day is a 24-hour innovation immersion event that enables employees to brainstorm, prototype, and pitch their emerging innovations.

Why is it called "FedEx Day"? Because the goal of the 24-hour blitz is for participants to originate, develop, and deliver new products, new services, or business process improvements overnight.

FedEx Days typically begin on a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm and end with a spirited round of presentations delivered exactly 24 hours later.

The experience is energizing, empowering, and exciting -- with the company supplying pizza and beer (this DID originate in Australia, after all) for everyone on Thursday night.

The end result? Lots of useful and successful innovations that would not have materialized had employees been required to stick with their "day jobs."

Atlassian has been, internally, conducting FedEx Days (now done quarterly) since 2005. But this program is now spreading like a Charlie Sheen Twitter meme. Many other organizations, like Yahoo, Symantec, Flickr, Hasbro Toy, and the Mayo Clinic have all begun conducting their own versions of FedEx Day.

And, NOW, for the first time ever, Atlassian is offering to send their own FedExperts to one deserving company in order to help them conduct their own FedEx Day.

Explains Jonathan Nolen, one of Atlassian's FedExperts, "It's so exciting. The possibilities are endless. Everyone has great ideas and this gives them a way to unleash the power of those ideas. And it happens all over the organization. It's incredibly inspiring to see this happen in real time."

Atlassian's Annelise Reynolds agrees. "This is part of a new trend in business where companies are understanding the importance of engaging and energizing their employees. It works wonders for both the companies and their employees. The employees have fun and the companies get some great innovations."

atlassian fedex day 10 champ.jpg

Interested? Want to enter the contest? Click here. Or here to find out what Dan Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind has to say about it.

Entering is simple. All you need to do is fill out this entry form and make a convincing case for why YOUR company or department could use a 24-hour innovation blitz.

Deadline is December 21st, 10:00 PM Pacific Time! Good luck! And good on ya, mate!

- Val Vadeboncoeur
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

The Fork in the Road

When you come to a fork in the road, how do you know which way to go? How do you decide? Do you have a way to tune in? To yourself? To your team? To your customers?

If you don't, its time to find out how to navigate the expontentially increasing number of options available to you without hurting yourself or anyone else. The good news? It doesn't require Six Sigma or overpriced consultants telling you what time it is with your own watch.

Picture this. You're walking down a road, moving into a bright future, eyes on fire. And then, suddenly, standing there in front of you, is a fork -- a surprisingly bigger than-Godzilla fork. Whaddya do? How do you decide? Which way do you go?

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2011
The Ten Most Popular Postings on This Blog in 2011

Here's a fascinating factoid:

The 10 most popular postings on this blog in 2011 all had numbers in their headline. Hmmm...

Seems like people are looking for lists and distilled down wisdom -- portals to understanding that somehow quantify the human need to know. Oh, and compilations of quotes.

So here you go, Heart of Innovation's TOP TEN postings as quantified on an scale of 1-10 by our favorite blog analytics service Postrank.


10.0 The 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating on the Job

10.0 20 Reasons Why Creative People Like to Work in Cafes

10.0 41 Ways Business Leaders Can Foster a Culture of Innovation

10.0 35 Awesome Quotes from Einstein

9.9 14 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas

9.4 The 8 Dimensions of a Brainstorm Session

8.7 5 Ways to Jump Start a Culture of Innovation

8.6 50 Awesome Quotes on Vision

8.5 100 Awesome Quotes on What It Really Takes to Innovate

8.5 100 Simple Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2011
The Best Practice of Love

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had a huge fight. A doozy. The Superbowl of all fights. If you're married -- or ever were -- I'm sure you've had at least one of these. Probably more.

You think you're right. They think they're right. You attack, they deflect. They attack, you deflect. You get hopeless and weird. They get hopeless and weird.

And both of you -- self-appointed judges in a supreme court of your own creation -- feel diminished, abused, blamed, hurt, ignored, dissed, damaged, and demonized.

The love? Out the window. And the window? Stuck in a half-closed position.

Whenever I'm embroiled in this kind of dynamic and (hallelujah!) manage to make it out the other side, I get majorly humbled -- all concepts of myself as a conscious, loving, evolved human being completely blown to smithereens.

And yet... no matter how painful the experience, something good always comes out of it. A phoenix rises from the ashes. Like the list below, for example -- my wishes for my dear wife, Evelyne, (the day after) and, by extension, you, me, and all the other 8 billion people on planet Earth.


1. Gratitude every day
2. Deep inner peace, especially during tough times
3. Kindness
4. Patience
5. Forgiveness

6. The courage to be yourself
7. Rest and renewal
8. The vision to see God in everyone
9. Letting go of self-righteousness
10. Simplicity and ease

11. The willingess to let go of worry and doubt
12. Allowing yourself to be nurtured
13. More fun
14. Plenty of time to do nothing
15. Spaciousness

16. Heartfelt self-expression
17. Health and vitality
18. Moving through the tasks of your life as if you were a dancer
19. Relating to each person you talk to as if they were the only person on earth at that moment

20. Laughter from your core
21. Appreciation of your family
22. A "live and let live" mindset
23. Waking up each day with gladness
24. Humility
25. The experience of community

26. Full responsibility for your own projections
27. Trust
28. Honoring all of the teachers in your life, past and present
29. Slowing down, going deeper
30. The ability to order a very rich dessert in your favorite restaurant without enrolling someone to share it with you

31. A wi-fi connection whenever you want
32. The end of lower back pain
33. Living the St. Francis Prayer without making a big deal of it
34. Knowing you are loved
35. Good sushi within a five-mile radius

36. Appreciation of other people's "spiritual path" -- with absolutely no judgment
37. Foot massages
38. Fresh air
39. Understanding what Krishna meant when he said: "The world is an illusion, but you have to act as if it's real."
40. Random acts of kindness

41. Nights on the town
42. The ability to be alone, but not lonely
43. Accepting the aging process with dignity and delight
44. Fabulous dinners with friends

45. Nights in front of the fire
46. Having no regrets
47. Cranking up the music
48. Not judging your kids for texting or being on Facebook
49. Seeing the blessing in every challenge that comes your way
50. Loving yourself when you look in the mirror

51. Not having to look in the mirror to love yourself
52. New adventures
53. Endless learning
54. Giving up complaint
55. A dependable plumber

56. Snow angels!
57. Working smarter, not harder
58. Looking up at the stars
59. Never going to bed angry
60. Being happy for other people's successes

61. Realizing you are everything and nothing both at the same time
62. Unconditional love

63. Reframing aging as "becoming an elder" instead of "getting old"
64. Weekends in exotic places
65. Someone else to wash the dishes

66. Enjoying the poetry of Rumi, Kabir, and Hafiz
67. Did I mention foot massages?
68. The commitment to immerse in the projects that most fascinate you
69. Deep listening
70. Longer vacations

71. Reaching out to those less fortunate than you
72. Holding hands with someone you love
73. Taking on an impossible project -- and making it happen
74. Really good chocolate
75. Unforgettable celebrations

76. Going beyond your limiting assumptions
77. The discipline that comes from love, not duty
78. Spontaneous generosity
79. One remote for all your electronics
80. A hot bath on a cold night

81. Wonderful surprises

82. The laughter of children
83. Realizing you have enough
84. Timelessness
85. Understanding this quote: "When you're on the path it's a mile wide, when you're off it, it's razor thin."
86. Giving flowers to absolute strangers

87. A wardrobe you love
88. Resilience
88. Making a clear distinction between longing and desire
89. No fear of death
90. Dancing around the living room for no particular reason
91. Howling at the moon
92. Knowing how to say "no" without being negative

93. Completing what you came here to do
94. Experiencing life as a beautiful play
95. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
96. Forgiving everyone who has ever wronged you
97. Passion

98. Compassion
99. The peace that passes all understanding
100. Sweet watermelon on a summer day


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

The 64 Qualities of an Innovator Poll

Ever wonder what it really takes to innovate -- what specific, inner qualities a human being needs to be in touch with in order to actually create something new and wonderful in this world?

Well, we have, too, which is why we are asking you and thousands of other movers, shakers, and slackers to respond to our newly launched poll.

All you need is 5 minutes, use of one finger, and some curiosity. Click here to join in the fun. We'll publish the results on New Year's Day.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2011
Before Decision, Get a Vision!

2012 is right around the corner.
Have you envisioned
what you want to create yet?
Have you unplugged
from your short-term focus
to consider the long-term?
If not, what can you do, this week,
to imagine and conceive
bold new possibilities?
Who do you need to jam with?
What prep can you do?
Where will you meet?
When will you go offline?
And above all,
why is this important to you?

Idea Champions

50 quotes on vision
20 ways to see the invisible

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2011
Be An Innovation Samurai!

If you expect to innovate in 2012, you will need to be more like a Samurai and less like a Slacker. Towards that end, here are the seven classic virtues of a Samurai. Food for thought... and action!

1. Rectitude
2. Courage
3. Benevolence
4. Respect
5. Honesty
6. Honor
7. Loyalty

Idea Champions
Heroic Leadership

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2011
Give the Gift of Creativity

If you want to avoid the Holiday shopping hassle and are looking for some non-traditional gifts that will get your loved ones' creative juices flowing, you're in the right place.

This place. Here. Now.

All you need to do is click and order. Nancy (5th bio down) will do the rest.

Awake at the Wheel ($11.12)
Free the Genie app ($29)
It's AHAppening (pdf) $39.95
Free the Genie cards ($49)
It's AHAppening! ($59)
Silver Innovation Kit ($199)
Platinum Innovation Kit ($299)


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

Free Your Genie Before 4:00 Today


Here is Idea Champions pre-Christmas, post Thanksgiving gift to you -- a two week free trial of our very cool, online Free the Genie app -- a simple, user-friendly, low-calorie, high bandwidth, fun, engaging, gluten-free way to stir your creative juices, tease out brilliance, generate breakthrough ideas, and jump start innovation.

The only thing it doesn't do, as far as we know, is make cappuccino or prove the existence of extraterrestrials. All you need is 7 minutes and a question that begins with "HOW CAN I?"

Read the review
Buy the deck
Stare at sushi

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

December 07, 2011
The Movement With No Name

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2011
The Healing Power of Music and Creativity

Inspiring 12-minute video about the power of music and creativity in the lives of teens with HIV. We need more of this approach to life!

Thanks to Eric Booth for the heads up.
His book.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2011
Product Development Technique #14


Conventional wisdom has it that the best time to name a new product is after you create it. Unconventional wisdom has it the other way around: first you give your product a name, then you create it.

With this approach, the name -- instead of being the description of your creation -- becomes the catalyst for its existence.

The key is to come up with a compelling name -- one that intrigues, delights, and has embedded within it the kind of multiple meanings that stimulate you enough to decode them.

Let's use the topic of my book -- creativity -- as an example. If I was looking to invent new products to hawk in the back of the book, but had no clue what they were, I might start by generating some creativity-themed names -- and then work backwards.

CreativiTeas: Exotic teas that boost brainpower.

CreativiTees: T-shirts featuring photos of creative geniuses on the front and their inspiring quotes on the back.

CreativiTease: A strip poker card game in which players match famous quotes on creativity with the people who said them.

Invent some products that are sparked by these names:

Shower Power?
Chakra Chip Cookies?
Cheeses of Nazareth?
Sing Kong?


1. Make up a compelling name for something -- even if you don't know what that "something" is. HINT: Humor, double entendre, and spelling variations are good catalysts.

2. Now that you have a compelling name for an imaginary product, brainstorm what this something might be.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2011
Buy Local, Bye Bye Wal-Mart

Another innovative approach

Idea Champions

Thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for the heads up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)

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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