September 29, 2013


There's a lot of different kinds of innovation going on in the world today -- business model innovation, product innovation, process innovation, disruptive innovation, and so forth. But there's another kind of innovation that most of us are ignoring --peace innovation -- what it takes for each and every one of us to be in a state of well-being, regardless of the number of innovations entering our lives.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post published an article of mine on this topic -- one that includes a compelling 28-minute video of a conversation between peace activist, Jeremy Gilley, and Prem Rawat, an extraordinary man who has been a peace advocate for more than 40 years.

Enjoy it -- and, if you do, think about who you might forward it to. We're all this together...

Words of Peace
Peace One Day

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2013
Miles Davis on Mistakes


Idea Champions
50 quotes on failure
50 quotes on risk taking

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September 27, 2013
It All Began With Balls


Most companies begin on a shoe-string -- under-funded, under the gun, and under the radar. The company I co-founded in 1986, Idea Champions, was no exception.

When my business partner and I began, we had almost nothing -- just an idea, some chutzpah, and a deep desire to succeed.

While we both were likable, smart, and skillful schmoozers, we had zippo in the way of a marketing plan.

Racking what was left of our over-caffeinated brains, it soon became abundantly clear that we needed some kind of showcase, some kind of "window to the world" -- a place to strut our entrepreneurial stuff and get in front of the people who were the likely buyers of our service...

Back in those days, this meant one thing -- renting a booth at the ASTD convention -- the annual meet market in the training and development field.

The thought of this made the two of us slightly nauseous, since we had "cased the joint" a year before and come away with three impressions:

1. We didn't have enough money to get in the door
2. We didn't have the right marketing materials
3. We probably should have gone into our father's business.

Man with bulb in hand.jpg

Clearly, we'd have to do something different if we were going to distinguish ourselves from the 600 other companies vying for the same customers.

Giving out slick brochures was out of the question. (We didn't have any). Giving out our client list was also out of the question. (You could count the number of our clients on one hand -- the hand of Vinny "Three Finger" Scalucci).

In a flash of entrepreneurial mania, it became obvious that we would need a lot of balls to pull this off. Yes, the kind you're thinking of, but also another kind -- juggling balls.

The AHA? We'd create an "anti-booth" and teach people how to juggle. Our booth would be a rest stop, a haven, a place for thousands of convention-weary people to recuperate from all the other booths with their endless supply of Hershey's kisses, business jargon, and fishbowls full of business cards.

OK. So we didn't have a marketing plan, but we did have inspiration. And even more than that, a very specific idea of how to get the attention of the marketplace.

Our plan was simple.

We'd bring a posse of our juggling-savvy friends and teach thousands of convention-goers how to do something they'd secretly wanted to learn for years -- juggle. No hard sell. No corporate speak. No used-car salesman smiles -- just the experience of having a breakthrough.

And our message would be delivered in 30 seconds or less.

Here's how it worked: As aspiring jugglers dropped their balls, we'd drop in a few well-timed comments to help them make the link between what it took to learn to juggle and what it took to innovate.

Our booth was wildly popular. People loved it. People loved us. And we always had a crowd.

But "having a crowd" doesn't necessarily translate into sales -- and sales is what we were after. Were we pumped? Yes. Were we optimistic? That, too. But still we had nothing to show for our efforts.

That is, until the afternoon of the third day.

That's when we spied the proverbial big fish walking in our direction. DIRECTOR OF TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT, AT&T his name tag screamed.

This was the moment -- the moment of truth.

The impeccably dressed Mr. Big approached. He stopped, tried to look through me, and spoke:

"What's this?" he asked.

"Um.... what does it look like?" I replied.

"Juggling?" he responded.

"That's right!" I said. "Would you like to learn?"

Ah.... the existential moment of truth! Dare he lay down his plastic bags of information to try something new? Dare he stop being in charge and become a student for a change? Dare he run the risk of failing.

He looked at me. I looked at him. Then he cleared his throat.

"I've been trying to learn to juggle for 25 years," he confessed, looking at his watch. "OK. Teach me... but... all I have is five minutes."

By the grace of the juggling Gods, we taught the man. In five minutes. His mind was blown. Borderline ecstatic, he reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card.

"I don't know what you guys do," he laughed, "but I know you're not a juggling company. Call me on Monday and let's talk."

We did. He took our call -- and spent the next 20 minutes telling us about his weekend juggling adventures. How he couldn't stop. How he taught his son. How he had a ton of fun.

Then he started grilling us about our work. Apparently, he liked what he heard, because the next thing we know he's inviting us to pilot our creative thinking training at AT&T.

Which we did.

The training was a big hit -- so much so, that our now juggling-savvy client invited us back two more times the next month to do it again, (just to make sure the glowing feedback wasn't a "false positive.")

It wasn't.

Those sessions were also a success. So much so, that Mr. New-Juggler-After-25-Years-of-Frustration pulled the corporate trigger and licensed our training.

During the next three months we taught nine AT&T trainers how to facilitate it. Then, when Lucent split off from AT&T, we taught their trainers and enjoyed five years of great results and even greater passive income.

How did it all begin?

By doing something different. By going with our strengths. By differentiating ourselves from the competition. By translating theory into practice. By giving people an experience, not just words. By skillfully responding to a moment of truth. By having fun. translating all of the above into a service that delivered on it's promise.

Balls got us started, but it was execution that sealed the deal.

1. What risk are you willing to take to grow your business?
2. What strengths of yours do you need to leverage?
3. What moment of truth is fast approaching for you?

The above story is excerpted from STORYTELLING AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.

Idea Champions
The training we licensed to AT&T
My first book


"If not you, who? If not now, when?"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:57 AM | Comments (5)

September 21, 2013
Two Men Talking About Peace

Here's a powerful 28-minute video about a great innovation taking place in the field of peace. Jeremy Gilley and Prem Rawat talk about what needs to happen (and what they are doing) to help make peace a reality in the world. Highly recommended viewing!

Words of Peace Global
Peace One Day
Prem Rawat videos

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2013
The Top 10 Reasons Why The 10 Top Reasons Don't Matter

1. If you need more data to prove your point, you'll never have enough data to prove your point.

2. Being unreasonable is often an innovator's biggest advantage.

3. Analysis paralysis.

4. You already know what to do.

5. You're going to follow your gut, anyway.

6. "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts." (Einstein)

7. By the time you put your business plan together, the market has already passed you by.

8. "Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives." (Carlos Casteneda)

9. The scientific method came to Rene Descartes in a dream!

10. "Reason" is your clever little strategy for explaining the decisions you've already made with your gut. Not that there's anything wrong with "reason," mind you -- it's just highly overrated. Like Six Sigma, for example. Or having been afraid of doing something risky in high school because others kept telling you it was going to end up on your "permanent record."

Idea Champions
Catalyzing the Creative Mind
Free the Genie


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:01 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2013
The Upturn Is Upon Us!

If you are having one of those days where you are obsessing about the economy, your cash flow, and the general state of the world, take three minutes and watch this video. (HINT: It all depends what you focus on).

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2013
Here's to the Crazy Ones!

Find the "crazy ones" in your organization. The mavericks. The fools. The flakes. Start listening to them. Give them room to move. They are the future -- even if they make you feel uncomfortable.

Free the Genie
Idea Champions
Awake at the Wheel

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:02 AM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2013
True Grassroots Learning!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

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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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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.
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"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
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