April 29, 2021
VAL VADEBONCOEUR: Your Free the Genie Facilitator


Val Vadeboncoeur, Idea Champions' Director of Training, is a highly accomplished brainstorm facilitator, creative thinking catalyst, innovation workshop leader, and co-author of Conducting Genius.

Since 1987, Val has been helping organizations in just about every industry on planet Earth get out of the box and generate bold new ideas to grow their business. Additionally, he's helped a wide range of forward-thinking companies establish innovation practices and protocols in order to tap the collective brainpower of their employees.

Now, in response to the disruptions caused by Covid-19, Val is focusing his innovation-sparking efforts on individuals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and people-in-transition.

Response to this new service has been overwhelmingly positive.

If YOU have a project, opportunity, or venture that could use a major infusion of creativity, clarity, and collaboration, Val is available to facilitate a Free the Genie session for you -- either one-on-one or with a small group of your peers.

Utilizing Idea Champions' highly acclaimed Free the Genie tool and building on more than 30 years of brainstorm facilitation experience, Val will provide you with the kind of committed support you need to make a quantum leap of thought and action.


Click here to identify the project you'd like to brainstorm with Val.

Click here to schedule an appointment with Val.

-- VAL'S CLIENTS: General Electric, GE Capital, AT&T, MTV Networks, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Kraton, Inroads, Shift Communications, Navigant Consulting, Roland Berger, Blue State Digital, Purple Strategies, Just Marketing, Atlanticare, Universal Sports, Catholic Health Initiatives, Astrazeneca, FOX Espanol, ITOCHU, Merck, MBooth, Olin, Scotia Capital, Depository Trust, NBC Universal, Project Management Institute, Allied Signal, ARC, Morgan Stanley, Chubb Insurance, The Chicago Board of Trade, The Woodstock Film Festival, Radio Woodstock, and many more.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2021

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Well, let's start at the beginning. There is something calling you -- a deep impulse to create, express, or manifest. This something has been calling you for quite a while and you know it, even if you have delayed, denied, or deflected it.

Maybe you thought you were too busy, or didn't have the skills, resources, or credentials. Maybe you thought it would be indulgent of you to take on this project or had other responsibilities you needed to attend to. Or maybe you feel none of the above and simply understand, NOW, that it's time to go for it and you want as much support as humanly possible to increase your odds of succeeding.

That's precisely why The Year of Living Creatively was created. It's an online learning (and doing) experience for anyone with a big idea, dream, vision, wish, aspiration, project, goal, or desire -- people who want to enter into a conscious process of transforming what's calling them into reality. With intention, enjoyment, and love.

If you are a fan of bullet points, here you go -- ten descriptions of the kinds of people The Year of Living Creatively has been designed for.

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-- Dreamers
-- Visionaries
-- Entrepreneurs
-- Creative thinkers
-- Social activists
-- Aspiring authors
-- Artists, composers, musicians, actors, and dancers
-- Forward-thinking educators
-- Anyone with a juicy idea, calling, or aspiration
-- Anyone stuck, procrastinating, or spinning their wheels

If you are still not sure if The Year of Living Creatively is right for you, click this link or email the creator of the course, Mitch Ditkoff, and he will get back to you.

What is the real value of The Year of Living Creatively?
How to identify the project you want to work on
An invitation for you to dive deeper into your creative process

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2021
How to Identify Your YEAR OF LIVING CREATIVELY Project

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The Year of Living Creatively is a project-driven course. Each participant, before the course begins, identifies a meaningful goal, opportunity, or vision they want to breathe life into for the two months of the program. We're talking "skin in the game," "stake in the ground," and "chips on the table" -- a project you are committed to -- or, at the very least, a project you want to be committed to.

The project you will be saying YES to for the two months of The Year of Living Creatively program might be one you have recently conjured up or, perhaps, it's one you've been thinking about for many years, but have been, shall we say, "spinning your wheels".

To help you tune further into the project you want address in the course, please be mindful of the following five criteria:

1. PASSION: The project you will be focusing on in The Year of Living Creatively needs to be one you have great enthusiasm for -- a venture you are psyched about -- one you will likely end up dreaming about or, at the very least, be thinking about in the shower. We're talking major intrinsic motivation.

2. STRETCH: The Year of Living Creatively project you take on needs to be one that is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h for you -- not something necessarily easy to accomplish. By "stretch", however, I am not referring to stress, struggle, or drama. I am referring to an inspired goal or vision of yours that will require stepping outside your comfort zone.


3. SHAREABLE: The project you choose to develop in The Year of Living Creatively needs to be one you are willing to explore, from time to time, with other people in the course. You get to decide what specific aspects of your project to share, but you will need to share something. Two heads are not only better than one, it will help you get out of your own head.

4. COMMITMENT: Your Year of Living Creatively project will be more like a marriage than a fling. In other words, it needs to be something you're willing to be in an ongoing, intimate relationship with -- not something you will avoid the first time you experience discomfort, doubt, or difficulty.

5. TIMELINESS: In the best of all worlds, the project you choose to work on in The Year of Living Creatively will be the right project at the right time -- something for you to get your arms around, specifically, at this time in your life -- a project that is calling you. No more procrastinating. No more self-denial. No more chicken-shittedness. And, by the way, The Year of Living Creatively is designed to help you succeed with this project AND enjoy the process. Whoo hoo!

Interested in identifying your Year of Living Creatively project? If so, click the two self-inquiry pages below. All you need to do is reflect on the questions and fill in the blanks.

Follow Your Calling
Discover Your Real Question

Want to enroll? $449. PayPal: products@ideachampions.com

What is the real value of The Year of Living Creatively?

An invitation to dive deeper into your creative process
Who created The Year of Living Creatively?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2021

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There are two kinds of benefits you will receive from participating in The Year of Living Creatively. First, you'll make major progress on a passionate project of yours that needs a benevolent jolt. And second, you'll develop the kind of skills, mindset, and mojo you'll need to succeed with any creative project of yours in the future.

What follows are the ten qualities you will develop during your two-month participation in The Year of Living Creatively.

1. CURIOSITY: Curiosity is the driving force behind all human development. When a person is on fire with a desire to learn, discover, and explore, whole new worlds open up to them -- especially the inner world of creativity. Simply put, The Year of Living Creatively has been designed to fan the flames of curiosity -- providing participants with the kind of wake up call that animates the deep-seated quest for knowledge, know how, and understanding.

2. CLARITY: The creative process is often an unsettling experience. Doubt, ambiguity, and confusion come with the territory and often, in such degrees, that aspiring innovators can easily lose their way. The Year of Living Creatively program not only helps participants see the light at the end of their tunnel, it illuminates the path that leads to the end of the tunnel. Eyes open. Minds open. Hearts open.

3. COURAGE: It's what the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz needed and it's what all aspiring innovators need, as well -- the inner strength to venture, persevere, and go beyond fear. The root of the word courage comes from the Latin "cor", which translates as "heart". Year of Living Creatively participants are encouraged, in many different ways, to not only come from the heart, but also get to "the heart of the matter" -- the essence of who they are and why they want to create in the first place.

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4. CONFIDENCE: One of Big Bad Wolves on the path of creative expression is doubt -- the feeling of uncertainty and lack of conviction that robs a person of their precious life force. Everyone, at some time in their life, feels doubt. Everyone. But doubt increases a thousandfold when we attempt to go beyond the status quo and create something extraordinary. That's when confidence is especially needed -- the recognition that not only do we have the potential to succeed, we have the right. The Year of Living Creatively is designed to radically increase confidence -- not by pep talks, hype, and hustle, but by helping participants access the part of themselves that knows that anything is possible.

5. CREATIVITY: If you google "definitions of creativity" you will get 49,900,000 references. Here are 15 of them in case you're interested. But it really doesn't matter how you define creativity. What matters is that you live it -- that your thoughts, actions, and intentions are infused with it. The Year of Living Creatively is all about what it takes to create. Every process, exercise, conversation, Facebook post, Zoom call, brainstorm, and reading is designed to unleash creativity. We don't teach it. We don't need to. You already have it. We just make it infinitely more accessible to you.

6. COMMITMENT: Michelangelo may have said it best when he uttered these four words: "Genius is infinite painstaking." It took this extraordinary artist four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It took J.K Rowling seven years to go from her idea of Harry Potter to the published book. It took Tolkien 16 years to write the Lord of the Rings. What did all these people have in common? Commitment. Major Commitment. And this is one of great gifts of The Year of Living Creatively. It increases commitment.

7. COMMUNITY: The creative process is full of paradoxes, contradictions, and polarities. For example, on one end of the spectrum, creative people need lots of solitude. On the other end, especially during these isolating days of the Coronavirus, they need community -- opportunities to connect with other like-minded souls for encouragement, feedback, comradery, and fresh perspectives. The Year of Living Creatively is designed with this in mind -- establishing a community of practice that is welcoming, authentic, and inspiring.

8. CONNECTION: Here's one of the little-known secrets of creativity. It is often a function of how human beings connect seemingly unrelated elements -- their willingness and ability to synthesize new combinations between this, that, and the other thing. When we are "in the box", constrained by old assumptions and beliefs, we don't always see the inter-relatedness of things. When we are "out of the box", whole new worlds open up. Bottom line, The Year of Living Creatively increases the odds of people making new connections -- not just with each other, but to the many seemingly unrelated elements of their life.

Jobs had Wozniak. Lennon had McCartney. Crick had Watson. And Laurel had Hardy. Yes, it's true that the creative process is sometimes a solitary pursuit, but it is also a collaborative pursuit. Which is precisely why The Year of Living Creatively is designed to spark collaboration -- two or more people joining forces, in a soulful way, to radically increase the odds of magic happening.

10. CONTINUITY: The creative process, like bowling balls, bicycles, and skateboards, is subject to Newton's First Law of Motion -- what most of us have come to know as "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion." For anyone trying to create something new in their life, maintaining positive momentum is essential. Flow, forward movement, and continuity matter, big time. The Year of Living Creatively is designed with Newton's First Law of Motion in mind -- doing everything it can to poke, jiggle, jolt, jog, prod, tickle, goose, and nudge people beyond inertia into the state of "its' getting better all the time."

An invitation to deep deeper in your creative process
Who created the Year of Living Creatively?
YOLC's previously unknown back story

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2021
An Invitation to Dive Deeper Into Your Own Creative Process

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"The creative process is a process of surrender, not control." -- Julia Cameron

The creative process -- the experience a human being enters into in service to their passion to manifest something from nothing -- is a mysterious one, even though it has been studied for decades by psychologists, neuroscientists, and researchers.

Consider this: everything you are seeing right now began as an idea in someone's mind -- the laptop, the cell phone, the chair you are sitting on, paper, paint, your desk lamp, picture frame, credit cards, books, halvah, and a whole lot more.

At one point, none of these things existed. And then they did. Somebody, somehow, someway conjured them up and successfully navigated their way through the twists and turns of the creative process until what they saw in their mind's eye became a reality.

The yoyo. The Sistine Chapel. The internet. Cheese. Dental floss. Cartoons. Beethoven's Fifth. Poetry. Gardens. Socks. Noodles. Earplugs. The Mona Lisa.

What do you think the originators of these manifestations went through? What journey did they travel to transform their inspired visions into reality?


For the moment, let's call their experience "the creative process."

Perhaps the most dramatic example of this phenomenon can be distilled down to four words: "Let there be light" -- supposedly the words of the prime Mover and Shaker, better known as.... drum roll please... THE CREATOR -- the one who, at the very beginning, created everything out of the nothing. Nebulae. Swirling gases. Galaxies. Black holes. White light. Space. Atoms. Molecules. Peacocks. Cockroaches. And, eventually, human beings.

All of this came into being via the primal expression of intention and declaration. Somehow, someway, somewhere there was a power that had the knack for CREATING simply by declaring it.

Of course, none of us were there at that alpha and omega moment to verify any of this. Not CNN. Not Fox News. Not Edward Snowden. And even though all we have are creation myths to go by, there is something about this "in the beginning" stuff that resonates with us -- an inkling that it is possible for something to be created out of nothing.

Can I get an AMEN?

Our version of this something out of nothing business is a tad less dramatic than what went down at the beginning. Our version is more like Let There Be Lite Beer.

And yet, we too, imperfect as we might be, also have the ability to create something out of nothing -- or COULD, if we only we....

Ah... if only we could WHAT?

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What is it that enables a human being to go from an idea in their imagination -- the concept of something -- to its realization? And, on the flip side, what gets in the way?

Is there a formula, map, or algorithm to follow? No, there isn't. But there IS a path -- the path that's made by walking on it. And the more we walk this path, the more it opens up, and the more it opens up, the more we discover what we need to experience in order to continue on that path -- much of which has been described in many beautiful ways, for centuries, by those who have gone before us and lived to tell the tale.

DaVinci. Michelangelo. Helen Keller. Einstein. John Lennon. Georgia O'Keefe. Nicola Tesla. Frank Zappa. Joseph Campbell. And a whole lot of other people -- lesser known -- with stars in their eyes and dirt under their fingernails.

Fascinated with the creative process, I have studied many of these people and whatever "maps" they may have left behind -- all of them indicating, in their own way, there IS a treasure buried somewhere.

Of these maps, the one that makes the most sense to me is the one drawn by Joseph Campbell, maestro of the "Hero's Journey" -- a blueprint of the human journey he discovered after deconstructing the stories of just about every culture on planet Earth, realizing, along the way, that ALL of the stories followed the same basic arc -- that, indeed, there is a universal, archetypal plot that weaves its way through our lives -- and that being mindful of this arc has extraordinary value, a kind of GPS for the soul's journey.

The value of this GPS? It positions us in time and space. It provides reference points. And it radically increases the odds of us being in the driver's seat, instead of the trunk.

For now, let's take a brief look at the five stages of the Hero's Journey (a distillation of Campbell's 17-step process elegantly crafted by Dr. Beverly Nelson and Joseph Dispenza) and how it relates to YOU, someone about to embark on their own creative journey -- one with at least a few Minotaurs, sirens, and Big Bad Wolves lurking in the shadows.

1. THE CALL TO JOURNEY: Have you ever felt called -- like the universe itself, was tapping you on the shoulder to get your attention -- that there was something for you to DO that absolutely HAD to be done and that if you DIDN'T do it you would end up feeling like you had chickened out? This calling is always preceded, according to Campbell, by some kind of disruption -- the end of the status quo and the recognition, as Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ so memorably stated that, "Toto, we're not in Kansas any more."

This disruption can take many forms. It can show up as a traumatic event, like a near death experience, the end of a marriage, the loss of a job, your home burning down, or Covid-19. Or, it might show up in a more intoxicating way -- like a dream, epiphany, or visitation from your muse.

Most commonly, human beings resist The Call to Journey. Where letting go would, ultimately, be the right move, we hold on. We tighten, clench, dig in our heels, cling to the past, and procrastinate.

If YOU are thinking of enrolling in The Year of Living Creatively (or have already enrolled) it is likely that you are feeling called -- that something deep within you has gotten your attention and you are now at the intersection of "Life As I Know It" and "I Have No Fucking Clue." Welcome to the fun house. Let the games begin!

2. THE PREPARATION: In order to transform nothing into something, you will need to prepare for the transformation. You will. There is no way around it. Farmers do this every season. Committed to having a harvest, they roll up their sleeves, plough their fields, fertilize the soil, and do whatever is needed to help nature take her course. You, too, will need to roll up your sleeves. You, too, will need to prepare for your creative journey. What, specifically, this preparation looks like is completely up to you. By the way, The Year of Living Creatively can help.

3. THE ENCOUNTER: Every aspiring creator eventually runs into obstacles. Every fairy tale has its Big Bad Wolf. Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader. Cinderella had evil stepsisters. And Jesus had Judas. That's just the way it is. Or as the Buddhists like to say, "No mud, no lotus."

The obstacle is not the problem. The problem is how you relate to the obstacle. Do you freeze, procrastinate, stick your head in the sand, and eat another quart of ice cream -- or do you summon your courage and proceed?

The good news? In the Hero's Journey, allies and mentors show up all along the way to offer their help, bearing all kinds of gifts -- winged sandals, mirrored shields, magic beans, and maybe a foot massage. For the moment, think of The Year of Living Creatively as an ally of yours -- the assistance you need to help you navigate the creative process with as much power, resilience, and confidence as possible.

4. THE HOMECOMING: All major rites of passage have some kind of "honeymoon period" associated with them -- the intoxication phase when everything is new and our lives are animated by the energy of "anything is possible." That's a good thing. It keeps us in the game. It provides the fuel we need to keep on trucking. Eventually, however, this phase comes to an end. The buzz wears off. Holy Grail having been discovered, head of the Minotaur having been decapitated, we need to integrate what we've learned. We need to sustain the effort on a daily basis -- the "chopping wood and carrying water" phase of life when we practice what we've preached (or what's been preached to us).

In Joseph Campbell's taxonomy of life, this is known as the Homecoming -- the part of the process when the hero, after all kinds of adventures, gets the chance to LIVE their wisdom. The mountain has been climbed. Now it's time to do the laundry with the same consciousness that received the Ten Commandments the week before.

5. THE TELLING OF THE TALE: Storytelling is our species' most powerful way of sharing what it knows -- a form of communication that has been going on forever. Indeed, neuroscientists tell us that human beings are hard-wired for storytelling. It's what we do and how we do it -- translating our life experiences into a form that not only attracts attention, but delivers our message in the most memorable way possible -- the message of what we've learned... and what we know... and what will be useful for other people to consider as they continue on their journey -- or, perhaps, return from one.

The Telling of the Tale is the final stage of the Hero's Journey and, for those of us attempting to unleash our creativity -- a way to clarify our wisdom and be of service to others at the same time. YOU, as someone on the journey will not only be on the receiving end of many tales, you will also be the teller of tales -- the deep expression of what you've learned along the way. Your insights. Your moments of truth. And, ultimately, your wisdom.

And all in service to the greater good.

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." - Joseph Campbell

More about The Year of Living Creatively
Some of the topics we cover
The back story
The creator of The Year of Living Creatively

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2021

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Here at the International Headquarters of The Year of Living Creatively -- my living room -- we believe that every one on planet Earth is never more than a few seconds away from a breakthrough. Or, at the very least, a big idea, insight, or inspiration. Newton had his under an apple tree. Archimedes' moment was in the bathtub. YOURS? Well... that's still-to-be determined.

To increase the odds of this happening, we invite you to give our Breakthrough Buddy service a shot -- an optional component of The Year of Living Creatively.

The concept is a simple one: Instead of you only receiving support from two other people in the course -- your virtual "Creative Project Partners" -- we enroll a friend of yours who is NOT in the course to play a real-time support role for you. Assuming their interest, Mitch will coach them to be your Breakthrough Buddy -- surprising you in various mind-opening ways for the duration of the course. And all for one purpose: to help you generate, develop, and implement bold new approaches to your Year of Living Creatively project



1. You give Mitch the name and contact info of a friend of yours who lives within ten miles of you -- someone you trust and have good chemistry with.

2. You let this person know that you're enrolled in The Year of Living Creatively course and that -- with their permission -- Mitch will call them to explain how they can play a "creative catalyst" role for you.

3. Assuming your friend is open to the possibilities, Mitch will call them, explain how the Year of Living Creatively program works and what their Brainstorm Buddy role is all about. HINT: It's fun, stress free, and inspiring.

4. If your nominated Breakthrough Buddy says YES to our invitation, Mitch he will mail them a care package of innovation-sparking goodies. He will also email them simple guidelines, prompts, tips, tools, and techniques to help them play their catalytic role. Plus, he will be available to them 24/7 if they have any questions or need support.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:38 AM | 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.

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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