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Friday, July 30, 2004

News, Views, and Reviews
Producing the Perfect Press Release
Markus Allen provides a few quick (but vital) pieces of advice for creating a press release that captures the attention of the media -- and gets you in print.
How to Write a Press Release


Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Ministry of Creativity
Report 103 Proposes Solution to 9/11 Oversight
The latest Report 103 newsletter suggests a new government agency so that we'll never again be forced to admit -- "we never saw it coming."
When you think about it, it's not so wild a suggestion.  I've read elsewhere that authors and screenwriters were recruited (or are being considered for recruitment, depending on the report you've read) by the goverment in order to create alternate terrorist scenarios for the government to use in their counter-terrorism efforts.
I've posted an abridged version of the Report 103 article below.  The full version will be posted
in their archives within a few days.  If you can't wait, sign-up for the newsletter and drop them a line asking for the latest issue to be emailed to you.

Failure of Imagination
As you have probably read elsewhere, the USA's September 11 Commission concluded that a “failure of imagination” prevented America from anticipating and preventing Al Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

My proposal is to create a ministry of creativity that would promote imagination, creativity and innovation in government. It would be staffed by a variety of incorrigible creative thinkers from all kinds of backgrounds. They would have three areas of responsibility.

Firstly, ministry of creativity would form a communications centre for government. All bodies of government would communicate their ideas, activities and knowledge to the ministry. Likewise, the ministry would monitor these bodies, review what it learns and look for synergies.

Secondly, the ministry would provide creative suggestions based [on] ideas submitted, knowledge gained and synergies discovered. They might suggest combining dissimilar government services, removing services or offering all new services. They may even suggest completely changing the way services are delivered.

Thirdly, they would promote creativity and imagination across all services. Moreover, they would have the power to reward people who offer good ideas; ideas that cut costs or help government serve their constituency better.

Finally, I would suggest that an idea management system is implemented across all government agencies and managed by the ministry of creativity.  This would ensure that civil servants with good ideas would be able to communicate the ideas to an office that would appreciate the ideas, reward the idea contributors and be able to implement the ideas.

I'd go further and say that the ideas for improvement not be restricted to civil servants.  Joe and Jane America always have an opinion on the way government 'ought' to be run -- why not give them a forum to play armchair-quarterback... er... armchair-president?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Brand Boosters
FastCo Contest Trades Consulting for Insight
The August edition of Fast Company Magazine carries an invitation to participate in a contest to refocus, refresh, and revitalize few familiar brands that could use a little image dusting.  The rules are here.
From Barbie and Martha Stewart, to Brooks Brothers and Old Navy -- there are several brands to choose from -- pick one or share your input on all fifteen.  Winners (as chosen by Fast Company) receive a 3-hour telephone consultation with the Branding Diva herself, Karen Post.
Karen is the author of Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers' Minds, winners will also receive a signed copy of the book.
Whether you enter the contest or not, go to Karen's website and sign-up for her FREE BrandBites newsletter.  I personally subscribe to over 50 newsletters, and it's absolutely one of my favorites, if only for the fact that she continues to distill great content into two bite-sized morsels per issue. BrandBites is the fastest and most informative piece of mail in my inbox.
Note: To their credit, Fast Company included their own name among the field of fifteen.  Also among them, Starbucks
Here's my brand-boosting tip for Starbucks:  Stop your employees from spewing Venti-sized portions of lingo-filled babble everytime a customer orders a cup of your coffee.  Some of us don't know (or care!) if your lattes are 'dryer' than other coffehouses, we just want a cup of coffee in a friendly environment -- without the lesson in beans and baristing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Idea Evaluation
Can You tell a Good Idea from a Bad One?
Report 103 is a weekly email from the big-thinkers at the JPB Company.

This past week they shared
a formula for evaluating ideas they've described as "5x5."

"We determine five criteria and rate the idea against each criteria on a scale of zero to five.

Zero points means the idea does not meet the criteria at all, while five points means the idea completely meets the criteria.

Multiply the total number of points the idea receives by four and the result is a score out of 100 possible points, which is easy to analyse."

According to their clients, the result has been lightning fast (yet accurate) evaluations of ideas.

You can play with a free version of their evaluation tool by visiting: http://www.jpb.com/creative/evaluator.php.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Once Upon A Time...
Brilliant Blog Boasts Business Bedtime Stories
I've long been a fan of using parables to help probable purchasers identify their needs with those of the people in my story.

Lessons and advice presented as stories are more easily understood.  There's no finger-pointing or dire warnings that a prospect need to follow your advice or their business is doomed -- you simply tell them a story about someone who was in a similar situation, and here is how they solved their problem.  It's one of the reasons books like Selling the Wheel, Who Moved My Cheese?, and Zapp! continue to sell well and remain popular long after their publication.
A great new site called StoryBlog is bringing the best of short business stories to the web -- perfect for a formal presentation, closing a sale, or a quick idea pitch. 
I asked StoryBlog creator, Jon Stande, how came up with the idea for the his new site:
To be honest, it was a water idea -- I came up with it while I was in the shower! I had recent presentation that didn't go so well and I'd been playing it back in my head over and over.
One thing that would have improved it would have been some anecdote or story to give some theme to it, so I started to create a word doc with stories one morning before work, got in the shower.... and... it hit me. Ah, I could create this online in the form of a blog! Other people could use it and contribute... how cool.

Cool indeed.  Links to StoryBlog have quickly spread to all the best sites, like [non]billable hour (where I originally learned of it) and InnovationTools. (who beat me to the punch in posting about it.)

I'm looking forward to reading more great stories, like the one recently posted about Complexity vs. Simplicity.  I also hope Jon adds the story that appeared in Good Morning Thinkers earlier this month -- it's one of my favorites on the theme of creative thinking.

The StoryBlog is a great idea, Jon!  I'm sure it will bring many a happy-ending to my future presentations.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Studio 7
What if "Survivor" and "Weakest Link" had a baby?
Seven dynamic 18-25 year olds from across the country move into a posh New York City loft for one week overloaded with newspapers, magazines, and numerous other study materials in preparation for a cutthroat current events trivia challenge taking place at the end of the week in which one contestant goes home with $77,000.

Over the course of the week, alliances, friendships, romances, and rivalries are formed between the loft mates, and the contestants hone their respective game strategies all under the constant gaze of cameras. By the time the game show portion of the show is taped, the loft mates have really contemplated their strategies, which often include voting off potential threats -- whose abilities they were able to judge over the week -- in order to win the $77,000.

At the end of the season, the winners from each episode compete against each other for an additional $777,000.

The show is called "
STUDIO 7" and it premieres this (tonight!) Thursday, July 22nd, at 9pm on the WB.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Trying to Ketchup
Say Something Ketchuppy II
Heinz is holding its second contest to add your pithy sayings to their ketchup labels.

Last year's winners are posted on their site and the rules are available on their promotions page. The ketchup contest started in May ends November 30th.

A contest concept this devine is ripe with possibilities!

Dina's Lessons in Delight
Creative Chaos blog serves up insight into delighting clients via RSS 
Dina Mehta seems to be inside my head again as she picks up on a conversation my friend Chuck and I were having on using RSS to provide value and service to clients.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Five Balls
Juggling Balls of Rubber and Glass
WorthwhileMag.com shares a valuable insight into setting life's priorities.
“Each of us is given five balls.
One is rubber and four are glass.
The rubber ball is work.
If you drop it, it will always bounce back.
The other four glass balls are family, friends, health and integrity.
If you drop them, they are shattered.
They won't bounce back."

Monday, July 19, 2004

He's a right-wing nutjob...
He's a liberal wiener (but he's won 3 Purple Hearts)
This Land will surely vote for me.

This so-funny-it's-true animation has been featured on several news programs. It's free to watch online, and you can download your own copy for $2.99 via PayPal.

If you're one of the three people left who don't have a PayPal account, you can sign-up here.

...And I suppose this would be a good time to tell you about W Ketchup -- perfect for spreading a liberal dose across your favorite liberal wiener.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Learn from Walt's Wrongs 
Disney demonstrates domination despite defeat
Found a great list of Walt Disney's failures on the EarthTimes.org website.

Walt Disney has been a hero of mine since a report I did on him in 2nd grade. During my "research" (I read two books on him at the school library) I found weird parallels between my life and his, two of which -- paper routes and the fact I came into this world just as he was leaving it -- allow me to feel close to what I know was a kindred spirit. Whenever I receive that vital dose of inspiration just when I need it, I recognize it frequently comes from 'Uncle Walt.'

While I haven't had the same scale of failures/challenges in my life that he had -- neither have I had the same scale of victories. 

Few of us have.
Walt is a perfect example of great risk equaling great reward.

Oh, and don't forget to Save Disney.


PS: My new friend Douglas Eby picked up on the lessons in this post and included it on his page dedicated to those who have failed their way to success

Check it out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Perfectly Practical Piratical Paraphernalia
My buddy Ryan from GoateeStyle.com has a limited supply of some sharp-looking items bearing his original skull-and-crossbones design.

Although Ryan is a whiz kid with the design, I must take credit (blame?) for two of the terrible pirate puns you see on the items -- The backside of the shorties say Pirate Booty and the boxers say Shiver Me Timber.
Thenk-you... thenk you veddy much.

I was really hoping to he'd use Treasure Chest on the ladies tank tops, but alas... it was not to be!

Crossbone Tees, tanks, thongs, shorties, and boxers (oh my!)
Supplies are limited, so set sail for The Skull Store today!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Alternative to Work

An Office-Meeting Survival Guide
My buddies at The Nub feature a link to a great article by Jared Sandberg at CareerJournal.com.

I'd link directly to the Sandberg article, but then you'd miss the hilarious graphic accompanying The Nub entry.

Subscribe to the WSJ through Amazon.com and receive $25 off your next Amazon purchase.

Monday, July 12, 2004

This is wrong on SO many levels
Barbie's a bad girl now
Since my last post included a link to Legos, Amazon now has me in their database-sights as someone interested in toys, so imagine my surprise when the new S&M Barbie doll appeared in my inbox this morning!

Okay... so it's not *actually* called S&M Barbie, but one look at the pic below and I think it's obvious why I've chosen to rename their collectible Catwoman Barbie.

You have to keep in mind that Mattel is the company that (unsuccessfully) tried to sue a guy for damaging sweet little Barbie's reputation. Tom Forsythe incorporated nekkid Barbie dolls into his artwork, parodying the doll and the values he feels she represents.
I just hope Ken remembers his safety word.

The only thing that could possibly be more frightening than this, would be Ken as Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Zoinks!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

With Great Animation Comes
Great Responsibility

This stop-action actually contains lots of action
This Lego-animated Spider-man is really amazing!
Start here if you'd like to make your own. I'd love to see a sequel!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Five-Buck BrainStorms
Twelve ideas for $5 -- that's less than 42 cents per idea!

For a limited time EconoStorms are available for the ridiculously low price of FIVE DOLLARS. This offer may end at any time, and EconoStorms will be processed on a first-come/first-served basis.
Want a FREE sample?
Download a free EconoStorm on marketing with postcards -- Twelve free ideas on using postcards to creatively promote your products and services while staying in touch with clients and prospects.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ideas Are A Dime-A-Dozen (almost)
Adjusting for inflation, I figure it's now a ROLL of dimes.
Stumped? Stuck? Stymied? It's been said that the best way to come up with one great idea is to come up with a LOT of different ideas. Buying an online brainstorm may hold the key to unleashing your own creative tsunami.

When you bought your last car, did you begin noticing them everywhere? Seems like you never really noticed that vehicle before, but as soon as you owned one -- BANG! -- they began popping-up everywhere.

Ideas work the same way.
Ideas will begin popping out of thin air if you already have a few in your possession.
Trying to find a new domain name, but all the good ones seem taken?
... Need to write an article for publication, but can't find that perfect 'hook?'
... In charge of a committee and need ideas involving your audience?
... Looking for ways to stay in contact with your customers?
... How about a few ideas on getting YOUR candidate to win this year's election???
All the ideas above are perfect topics for DON The IDEA GUY's new EconoStorm service.

For just five dollars -- a roll of dimes -- I'll provide you with a list of TWELVE IDEAS that you can use any way you please. (That's less than 42 cents per idea!!) Use them as-is or simply employ them as stepping stones to bigger and better ideas.

If one or two of the ideas truly capture your imagination, you might consider buying one of the more advanced Basic or Focused brainstorms to further explore the concept and elaborate on the idea -- but there's no obligation. Five bucks nets you twelve ideas!
"It's very simple. Stop reading this and GO spend $5.00, that's right, just $5.00 and Don will send you a list of TWELVE ideas!! It's the most fun you'll ever have with your clothes on. :)"
Laura Allen
15 Second Pitch
EconoStorms aren't very elaborate -- each idea is simply a line or two in length. It might be a suggested direction to investigate on your topic, it might be a website link that pertains to your theme, or I may be inspired to write an entire paragraph on one of the concepts. One thing I can promise is that you'll get more than your money's worth!
Don is the "Whole Enchilada" when it comes to ideas. Give him your product, marketing plan, or topic with which you need creative help, and he'll add his "Creativity Hot Sauce" -- BAM! You'll have the hottest ideas around. I have purchased two EconoStorms and found them to be worth 100x the price.
Brian Monahan
Prestige Audio Visual

EconoStorms are available for a limited time at the ridiculous price of $5. Visit the IDEAS page at DonTheIdeaGuy.com for additional details. This offer may end at any time and EconoStorms will be processed on a first-come/first-served basis.
Want a FREE sample?
Download a free EconoStorm on marketing with postcards -- Twelve free ideas on using postcards to creatively promote your products and services while staying in touch with clients and prospects.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Uncommon Cards
Ice Breaker Card Deck is a sure cure for frozen creativity
Although the Uncommon Goods' Ice Breaker Card Deck seems intended for warming up a party, the questions posed on the 40-piece deck can also be used for adding a little heat to your brainstorming process.

The questions are very similiar (in some cases identical) to the ones I authored several years ago in my book, "100-WHATS of Creativity." Although the printed verison of 100-WHATS is currently unavailable, you can get a FREE ebook version by signing up for the IDEAS 4U newsletter. You also receive a copy (and other valuable bonus material) when you purchase Robert Middleton's InfoGuru Marketing Manual.

Friday, July 02, 2004

It's a Columbus-thing
An inside (the city limits) joke
If you're not from Columbus, Ohio (and a fan of public access cable channels) you might not get this, but trust me...
It's hilarious.

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