January 30, 2015
Networks 'R Us

Human beings' classic, overarching metaphor to explain the underlying structure of what's going on here on planet Earth (and inside a human being, too) is shifting from "Tree of Knowledge" to "Networks." Has big time implications for how an individual, team, department, company, or society organizes itself -- regardless of it's product or service. Lot of ground is covered in this wonderful RSA Animate presentation.

QUESTION: How can your organization shift from top down hierarchical to a self-organizing interactive network? How can people connect in new and elegant ways to share information, expertise, insight, and new ideas?

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:08 AM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2015
Why Videos Go Viral

This is a very useful 7-minute overview of why videos go viral by the TREND MANAGER at YouTube. Three main reasons: 1) Tastemakers; 2) Communities of Participation; 3) Unexpectedness.

PS: In the next few days, I will be launching my attempt at a viral YouTube video on this blog . HINT: It has something to do with Valentine's Day.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 AM | Comments (1)

January 24, 2015
Radio Woodstock in the House!


We just received this very nice piece of feedback from the President of Radio Woodstock, Gary Chetkof.

"Idea Champions was a true partner in helping us untangle some of the issues we were struggling with. They were very easy to work with and the processes used were fun and creative and they worked splendidly. We were able to find out what the major obstacles were and our entire team worked together to find solutions. Everyone participated fully, and everyone now has much more clarity about how to better work together. We even have our new mission statement that you can see on our Facebook page! I wholeheartedly recommend Idea Champions to any business that wants to problem solve, brainstorm, or get their employees to work more harmoniously together."

Our teambuilding offerings
Yes, Idea Champions is based in Woodstock!

And this just in from Richard Fusco, Radio Woodstock's General Manager:

"As a small company where everyone wears many hats, being organized and all pulling in the same direction is key. Strangely, as a communications company, our internal communications were off. Val Vadeboncoeur of Idea Champions helped us with all three. His sessions were focused and fun. We all came away with a new unified working spirit."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2015
21 Quotes on Appreciation


1. "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread." - Mother Theresa

2. "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart

3. "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - William James

4. "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward

5. "I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate." - Elbert Hubbard

6. "Celebrate what you want to see more of." - Tom Peters

7. "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." -- Cicero


8. "We have to move from the unbridled pursuit of self-gain at the expense of others to recovering appreciation for what we gain by caring and sharing with one another." - Gail Sheehy

9. "The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them." - G.K.Chesterton

10. "Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune." - Sam Walton

11. "Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." - Oprah Winfrey

12. "Encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least." - Anonymous

13. "Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart."-- Seneca

14. "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia

15. "I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement." - Charles Schwab

16. "You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." - G.K. Chesterton

17. "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." - Thornton Wilder

18. "In every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong." - John Ruskin

19. "There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." - Mary Kay Ash

20. "Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." - Margaret Cousins

21. "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." - Buddha

Big thanks and a flying chest bump to Val Vadeboncoeur for finding these great quotes.

Idea Champions
I appreciate Al Siraat College in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2015

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January 14, 2015
How to Improve Teamwork in the Next Five Minutes


Unless you've been in solitary confinement for the past few years, there's a good chance you are a member of some kind of team. There's also a good chance that the team you are a member of isn't always "high performing." Different issues come up from time to time that sabotage the team's effectiveness and trigger frustration, wheel spinning, and lost opportunities. Sound familiar?

If so, this is your lucky day.

Idea Champions (that's my company) is in the final stages of producing a deck of cards that will help teams get to the next level of connectedness, communication, and collaboration. Before we release the deck, we are offering you and the rest of the known universe a SNEAK ONLINE PEEK.

Here's how to view the cards:

1. Click this link
2. Scroll until you see the "We're All in This Together" icon in the sidebar.
3. Click the icon
4. Read the "Be a Club, Not a Team" card
5. Mouse over the card and click "next" for card #2 and so on.

There are total of 52 cards in the deck.

If you have any feedback for us, feel free to let us know. It's not too late for us to tweak the final content, so your input will be very valuable. If you want to be notified when deck is ready (online and hard copy), just send a note to info@ideachampions.com

Celebrate Successes.jpg

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Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2015
A New Technique for Capturing the Attention of Business Leaders


During the past 25 years I have worked with some of the most analytical people in the world: tax auditors, engineers, polymer chemists, actuaries, and rocket scientists just to name a few.

In my effort to help these fine folks make the journey from caution to creativity, I've developed quite a number of non-traditional learning strategies -- most of which have worked well enough to get me invited to work with some extraordinary organizations.

Not a single one of the methods I used had anything to do with the bathroom. At least not until one fateful day at GE, when I found myself teaching Innovation and Business Growth to an amphitheater full of GE's "best and brightest" -- all of whom would be listening, the next day, to the iconic Jack Welsh, standing on the very same stage that I was standing on today.

My task? To move GE's leaders of the future from their left brain to their right brain -- to help them understand, from the inside out, what Einstein meant when he said "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts."

Having done this kind of work for the past 25 years, I had developed my own Swiss Army knife's worth of mindset-shifting approaches -- approaches that included the right use of music, story telling, humor, movement, emergent design, creative thinking techniques, experiential challenges, appreciative inquiry, and teaching people how to juggle.

Two hours into my GE session, things were going just fine. The 75 participants from 11 countries had given up their fear that I was going to make them sing Kumbaya and I had given up my fear that someone would soon discover my graduate school education was in poetry, not business.

At 10 am, my advanced facilitator skills kicked in and I began to notice that my bladder was full -- the kind of full that, If I didn't respond soon, would result in me hopping from one foot to the other.


Priorities newly clarified, I tweaked my agenda and taught the group a creative thinking technique that would keep them busy for at least another 10 minutes -- plenty of time to relieve myself.

Technique taught, I made my way up the aisle, out the door, found the bathroom, and did what 95% of all men do when it's time to pee -- aim dead center for the round hockeypuck-shaped thingee in the middle of the urinal, mindful not to get any drops on my newly dry-cleaned pants when it was time to zip up.

The bathroom, also one of GE's best and brightest, was about the size of a New York City studio apartment, complete with shiny marble counter tops and a week's worth of neatly folded hand towels on the sink.

Mission accomplished, I flushed, checked my face in the mirror, and retraced my steps to the meeting room.

Upon entering, everyone turned around and looked at me. Half of them were laughing. The other half were smiling. And if there was another half lurking somewhere beyond the laws of earthly mathematics, they would have been madly texting the details of what they had just found so amusing.

I was tickled that GE's best and brightest were so happy to see me, but I was also perplexed. This was not the usual welcome I received upon returning from a bathroom.

Confused, I shot a glance in the direction of Ben, my business partner, in the back of the room. He was standing, wildly gesticulating, Marcel Marceau on steroids.

"Your mic is on", he seemed to be saying, pointing at his lapel.

"Hmmm", I thought to myself. "My mic is on... my MIC is on".

Oops. Double oops!

From what I could tell, I had just broadcasted my entire bathroom experience to 75 global, business leaders of the future. I had to think fast.


"Oh that?" I said, taking another step down the aisle to the podium. "All part of the day's design. Intentional. Totally intentional. My attempt to..."

The rest of my sentence was drowned out by laughter. A lot of laughter. They would have none of it. Of course, they wouldn't. What I was saying was completely ridiculous, but because the way I said it was entertaining and self-effacing, they were not only forgiving, but suddenly much lighter and much more engaged than before I had exited the room just minutes before.

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that in the three years of facilitating Innovation and Business Growth sessions at GE, I had never seen a group of people as focused, engaged, and happy to be in the room as this particular group was at this particular moment in time.

In some strange way, I had accomplished in three minutes, from a remote location -- the bathroom -- what usually took me at least a an hour or two -- bringing a room full of left-brained, curmudgeonly, bottom-line oriented business people to a collective state of mind that was fully present, relaxed, focused, and receptive to whatever was going to happen next.

How about you? The next time you find yourself making a presentation in front of a room full of people, what can you do -- other than broadcasting your bathroom experience -- to fully capture their attention?

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2015
VIDEO: Ideas Are Scary

50 quotes on the power of ideas
Let us scare you
Scare yourselves
That big beautiful idea of yours

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2015
If You Like This Blog, You Will Love Our Rejuvenated Website

butterfly head.jpg

If you enjoy reading this blog, please accept my invitation to check out the our new website -- newly renovated, rejuvenated, reorganized, clarified, and simplified. Here are some links, from the site, to whet your appetite:

SAMPLING OF IdeaChampions.com LINKS

About Us
Our clients
Workshops and Trainings
Client testimonials
The Innovation Journey
Video Clips
Brainstorm Facilitator Training

Suit man and lightbulg.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2015
The Relationship Between Storytelling, Humor, Innovation, and My French Mother-in-Law

We faciiltate brainstorming.jpg OK. I know you don't have 34 minutes to listen to this podcast. Of course you don't have 34 minutes. Do you know ANYONE not in traction or jail who has 34 minutes? But you might have three minutes, yes? Three minutes to listen to my stellar response to the interviewer's first question. Three minutes. That's like 180 seconds. Not much time at all. That's only about 128 seconds longer than the time you've spent reading this far. C'mon, click already. You got places to go, people to meet!

Wisdom at Work

Idea Champions
Catalytic Keynotes

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2015
Setting the Standard


A big thank you to guest blogger, Val Vadeboncoeur, Idea Champions Director of Training, for this inspiring post from the world of classical conducting.

In March, 2011, the editors of BBC Magazine asked 100 of the world's finest orchestra conductors to choose who they thought were the three best conductors of all time. From these 300 selections, the magazine compiled a Top 20 list. The conductor at the very top of that list was the eccentric genius, Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004.)

The choice was not entirely surprising; Kleiber had been highly regarded throughout his career, which began in 1954. What IS interesting is that Kleiber conducted less often than any comparably long-lived famous conductor in musical history; a grand total of 96 concerts and about 400 opera performances only, numbers that most full-time working conductors achieve every three years or so.

A notorious introvert and a perfectionist, Kleiber found the art of conducting brutally difficult, mostly because he set inhumanly impossible standards for himself, often despairing that despite eliciting great performances from the finest orchestras in the world, they were not as perfect and wonderful as he imagined the scores to be in his own imagination. He worked entirely as a free-lancer, never wanting to be the principle conductor of any orchestra, although he was often asked.

He was demanding, insisting on much more rehearsal time than any other conductor, and very expensive to hire, charging unheard of fees...and getting them. He was also unpredictable, often cancelling his conducting dates at the last minute, a classical music Sly Stone. He could speak about music and conducting with great insight and humor for hours on end with his closest friends, but gave only one five-minute public interview his entire life.

He combined the meticulous analysis of the German music tradition with a joy and spontaneity that seemed to come from his upbringing in Argentina, where his famous conductor father, Erich Kleiber, had taken his family to escape the Nazis.

Fortunately, his art has been captured in a number of fine recordings and concert videos of live performances. Here he is in action.

One of the lessons we can take from Kleiber's life and career is the vital importance of setting your own standards... and setting them as high as you possibly can. Instead of settling for competence, or being better than the next guy, why not try to be the very best at what you do... and not just the very best in the world at present but the very best EVER?

How much more would you have to love your work to set your bar at the highest level possible? How much more effort would you have to commit to? What would it take?

Kleiber's lifelong wrestling with the achievement of perfection might inspire us to look at our own standards, and those of our team and company. Where, in our work, could we be the best of all time? What is that one thing that we can do better than anyone else? And why wouldn't we want to try to do just that?

Idea Champions

Conducting Genius

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:23 AM | Comments (0)

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.

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
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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.
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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.
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Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
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