July 28, 2017
Service Beyond the Call of Duty

Superman service.jpg

Most companies trying to get a "competitive advantage" eventually realize that the key is customer service -- the ability to differentiate themselves from the competition by delivering their product or service in unforgettable ways. Here's a memorable example:

Some years ago, my company came together for a two-day team building offsite -- an "all hands on deck" outdoor ropes course experience in Colorado. All 14 of us met at a deli in Boulder to buy sandwiches for lunch later that day -- so when we got to our destination, two hours away, we could all chow down before the team building began.

Great concept. Great planning. Lots of turkey, tuna, and tofu. The only problem? I left all 14 sandwiches on the deli counter. None of them made it to my car -- something I only realized 30 minutes later. Too far down the road to turn back and with no time to buy a replacement lunch, we continued on our sandwich-less way.

Fast forward 90 minutes.

Surprise of surprises! When we checked in at the front desk, the 14 sandwiches were waiting for us! Huh? What? Really? The front desk guy then proceeded to explain that the owner of the deli, way back in Boulder, upon realizing we had left our sandwiches on his front counter, got in his car five minutes after we left and drove TWO HOURS to our destination, getting there before us! Un-blanking-believable! Amazing!

Guess who had a customer for life? Guess how many people I've told this story to? Guess how many new customers the deli owner got as a result of his outrageous, beyond-the-call-of-duty expression of customer service? The short answer: MANY.

This is as simple as it gets, folks. I seriously doubt that the deli owner ever attended a class on customer service. I seriously doubt he was reading books on customer service the night before or googling it. Not necessary. He knew, in his heart of hearts, that my leaving the bag of sandwiches on his counter was an opportunity to be extraordinary and he went for it.

YOU have that same choice every day. So do I. The question isn't whether or not we have the opportunity to go beyond the call of duty. The question is whether or not we CHOOSE to go beyond the call of duty.

Next time the opportunity arises, remember the deli guy.

Idea Champions
Like Einstein, take some time to think about it
Storytelling as a way to spark innovation

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2017
FOLLOW YOUR MUSE: One-On-One Support for People with Big Ideas

Follow Your Muse.jpg

If you are in the process of conjuring up a new product, service, or better way of doing business and want some help turning your big ideas into reality, I can help. For the past 28 years, I have been an innovation catalyst to some of the most forward-thinking organizations in the world -- helping thousands of people go beyond their assumptions, doubts, and obstacles in service to bringing something wonderful into existence. And now I am offering this service to individuals.


Who am I? I am a life long student of the creative process and a lifelong catalyst of genius.

I know how thrilling it is to conceive and develop bold, new ideas. I also know how challenging it is. Manifesting your brilliance, as an entrepreneur, intrepreneur, manager, team leader, maverick, or lone wolf is not easy. Support is needed. Lots of it. Unfortunately, that support is all-too-often not forthcoming.

That's why I am launching FOLLOW YOUR MUSE -- a one-on-one coaching and mentoring service for aspiring innovators with BIG IDEAS, big commitment, and the recognition that they would benefit from having a skilled creative process ally by their side.

Here's what Thomas Wolfe said about the phenomenon. Here's what my clients say about the value I add. Here's 100 quotes on what it really takes to innovate. And if you're anxious about starting something new, read this.

Intrigued? Want more info? The next step takes 20 seconds. Just shoot me an email (mitch@ideachampions.com) and I will get back to you with more details. Then, if you're still interested, we can schedule a time to talk. Like tomorrow, for instance. Or maybe the day after.

The innovation consultancy I co-founded
The corporate blues band I co-founded
The deck of creativity cards I invented
My award-winning book on the creative process
My award-winning book on storytelling
Some comic relief
My website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2017
Take Your Brainstorming Sessions to the Next Level of Wow


If your company is like most companies we have worked with, its brainstorming sessions leave something to be desired. Yes, ideas are bandied about and, yes, coffee is consumed and jokes are made. And, yes, people incessantly check their email under the table. THIS JUST IN! Brainstorming sessions can be a lot more powerful than that.

To goose you on your way, here are four brief blog posts and a video of ours on the art and science of brainstorming. If you could use some more help in this arena, we are available. Our Conducting Genius training is top of the line. Click here if you want to get the ball rolling. Or leave a message for us: 845.679.1066

The DNA of Brainstorming and the Power of Three
Why Nothing Happens After a Brainstorming Session
Why Leaders Shouldn't Lead Brainstorming Sessions
The 10 Personas of an Effective Brainstorm Facilitator
VIDEO: Preparing the Ground

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2017


Every brainstorm session you will ever facilitate or attend, like any good movie you will ever see, can be divided into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. No matter what the topic, who's in the room, or how stale the muffins, you will cycle through the same three phases again and again. How well you will cycle through these phases is another story.

Three. Not two. Not four. Not one. Three. The more attuned you are to threeness, the more likely it will be that the sessions you facilitate will be successful. Here's a quickie overview:


1. THE BEGINNING: This is the "foreplay" stage of brainstorming -- the mood and context setting effort that will either make or break the session.

While the specific "look and feel" to the beginning may vary from session to session, the outcomes you are aiming for will not: 1) Establishing a sense of relaxation and rapport; 2) Agreeing on ground rules for participation; 3) Clarifying the history and current reality of the topic to be brainstormed; 4) Framing the challenge in the most powerful way; 5) Establishing yourself as the facilitator of the creative thinking process.

2. THE MIDDLE ("Divergence"): This is the heart of the matter -- why people were invited to the session in the first place -- to think outside the box and generate compelling ideas.

What you actually do in the middle phase of your brainstorming session is up to you. I recommend the right mix of "group geometry" (solo, dyad, triad, or full group), creative thinking triggers, and the skillful application of facilitation savvy.

Remember, the goal of this phase is an abundance of ideas -- not just discussion, debate, philosophizing, or long-form storytelling.

3. THE END ("Convergence"): Just like most people would prefer to plant a garden than weed it, the end game of a brainstorm session requires more "roll-up-the-sleeves" effort than most facilitators want to deal with -- the application of some left-brain mojo after the right brain has had its say.

The end game of creative thinking is all about jump starting the process of making order out of chaos and clearing the way forward.

Depending on the amount of time you have, this order making stage might include: idea review, idea evaluation, idea selection, identifying idea champions, clarifying next steps, and deciding who's going to generate a brainstorm report -- and by when.

There's no need to make people cranky by trying to do too much convergence during this closure phase, but it's definitely good to get things grounded as a prelude to whatever follow up effort will be made.

Three phases to a brainstorming session. Three.

Brainstorm Facilitation Training
Have Problem, Will Travel
The Innovation Accelerator
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2017
12 Ways to See What's Not Immediately Obvious


The above image is a good metaphor for business. There's something hidden in it that most people don't see at first glance. Looking at it the same way you always look at things won't help. If you can't see what's hidden, you've got to find a way to adjust the way you look...

Still can't see it? It says: "I CAN'T SLEEP." Look again.


1. Soften your focus
2. Sneak up on it
3. Look at things from a different angle
4. Don't try so hard
5. Notice new patterns
6. Stop staring
7. Ask someone else to look on your behalf
8. Look away, then look back
9. Shrink or expand the image
10.Change the lighting
11.Take a break, then look again
12.Breathe more slowly


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2017
A Simple Way to Get the Word Out


My HuffPost articles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:42 AM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2017
Happiness Is It's Own ROI


Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2017
Time to Let It Rip!


Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:28 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
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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