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Does your organization encourage risk-taking? If not, how can you create a risk-friendly culture, especially in these tough times?
If you’re looking to accelerate growth and innovation, you need to encourage risk-taking. Risk-taking enables creativity, which drives innovation. As Edwin Land, the co-founder of Polaroid Corporation, once observed, “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Founded during the Great Depression on his belief that consumer markets should be created around scientific research, his company was once the world leader in instant photography – largely due to the commercial success of ground-breaking innovations like the Polaroid SX-70 camera, which was introduced in 1972. The camera was an instant success, garnering year-over-year sales growth of 20% within the first few years of its commercial launch.
If you’re looking to accelerate growth, you need to find ways to innovate – your products, your services and even your customer experience. Encourage the risk-taking needed to enable creativity in your organization. Let your employees know it’s ok to fail once in a while. After all, as The Chief Storyteller®, Ira Koretsky, once told me, “You’re not going to hit a home run every time.”
Here are some ways you can encourage a culture of risk-taking, creativity and innovation in your organization:
1. Embrace a perspective that views mistakes as opportunities for learning, rather than failures.
2. Encourage your employees to follow their passions and to think outside the box.
3. Tell your employees what you want, not how to do it…and recognize there are many “right” ways to achieve the desired result.
4. Encourage collaboration through the open sharing of others’ ideas.
5. Recognize and reward your employees for doing something right.
And finally, on a personal note, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the Polaroid SX-70 camera my dad had when I was growing up. That camera (and the big square case it came in) was an endearing presence during Bailey family holidays and vacations for many years. Thank you, Mr. Land, for providing us with an innovation that allowed us to preserve our fondest memories...in an instant.
I met Colin, the CEO of E Group at a regional government contractors conference. After a great conversation, we exchanged business cards. As per my norm, I looked at the card front and then back.
Lo and behold, I was compelled to read the back. I discovered Colin's personal statement (see images below).
I excitedly peppered him with all sorts of messaging-related questions. As the CEO, Colin shared everyone in the company has his/her own customized card (as a second example, see Frank's card below).
In all of my 25 plus years of professional networking and personal events attended...in meeting thousands and thousands of people, I can without hesitation say this is truly a unique card. The other unique card comes from Superhero cards (read Mere Mortal or Superhero? and I Love Being a Superhero).
What are you doing to stand out and be unforgettable?
I just stumbled upon Volkswagen's contest initiative called TheFunTheory.com, established around 2009. The "site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."
There are four videos available, including the winner, "Speed Camera Lottery."
The video I first found was called "Piano Stairs," filmed in Odenplan, Stockholm. Its theme is "Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?"
Talk about creative ideas!Additional Resources:
- FunTheory Website
From: SGT PERRY
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2009 10:23 AM
Cc: recipient list not shown:
I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name is Sgt Perry Rice. I am in the Engineering military unit here in Ba'qubah in Iraq,we have some amount of funds that we want to move out of the country.
My partners and I need a good partner someone we can trust. It is oil money and legal.Basically since we are working for the government we cannot keep these funds, but we want to transfer and move the funds to you, so that you can keep it for us in your safe account or an offshore account. But we are moving it through Diplomatic means, to send it to your house directly or a bank of your choice using Diplomatic Courier Service.
The most important thing is that can we trust you? Once the funds get to you, you take your 30% out and keep our own 70%. Your own part of this deal is to find a safe place where the funds can be sent to. Our own part is sending it to you.If you are interested i will furnish you with more details.
But the whole process is simple and we must keep a low profile at all times.
This business is risk free.
Sgt Perry Rice
I disagree with anyone and everyone that says do not use humor. The advice comes from well-intended people. And the advice is given because most people do not know how to incorporate humor.
I performed over 1,000 improvisational humor shows live on stage and have been publicly speaking for nearly 30 years. The key to successful humor is do your homework. Like all of your messages, stories, supporting points, etc. ensure that your humor translates. For example, use a quote that says something funny in its learning message–particularly one that is Peruvian. Or a personal story that has appropriate humor in it. Be sure to wait for the audience to "get it" — that's the pausing part.
You are not looking for a gigantic belly laugh. You are looking to entertain (that’s what keynoters do – smile)
I’m quite selective about who I accept into my LinkedIn connections. For me, LinkedIn should be a go-to source of people whom I know and trust. I receive the standard request much too often from people whom I have never met. I simply archive the request. Now, if I have never met you and you write a short, personal, and targeted invitation, I’m almost certainly sure to accept.
A recent invitation from Judy had me laughing, out loud. Here’s the email that I received. It is both personal and targeted AND it made me laugh. I immediately accepted her invite.
Our short-term memory is very short. Experts vary in their opinions from 20 to 30 seconds. To me, 10 seconds does not make any difference.
Anytime you have an idea, remove all judgment, desire to analyze, need to evaluate, etc. WRITE IT DOWN! Use a sticky, a napkin, a text message to yourself, email yourself the idea, call yourself and leave a message…you get the idea.
Confucius, a very famous Chinese philosopher (c. 551-c. 479 BC), said, "The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory." As such, "If you think it, write it."
I recently attended The National Speakers Association annual conference in New York City. I reconnected with some old friends including Christine from ComedySportz Richmond that I have not seen in over 10 years (Christine and I used to perform improvisational humor with the Washington, DC team in the mid 1990s. And of course I made some new friends (smile).
I wanted to share one sentence out of an email note from Diane (name changed). I met Diane through Christine. We chatted over the course of the few days about a variety of topics.
In her email back to me where we exchanged a follow up note, she wrote "It was great to meet you too. You have a great brain!" I laughed and smiled at the same time. What a nice thing to say. It was genuine, heartfelt, and different.
During my workshops and keynotes, I emphasize and re-emphasize the importance of tailoring and personalizing messages. In five short words, Diane made a difference in my life.
What kind of difference are you making in the lives of your staff, members, partners, prospects, clients, government agencies, etc.?
The article shares, "Tough economic times and the perpetual threat of layoffs are gnawing away at our collective funny bone. That on top of years of ballooning political correctness in workplaces have clamped down on laughter. And that’s bad news for productivity, creativity and the general well-being of workers, say HR and humor experts."
“It’s a natural tendency for some folks to tighten up during tough times, but we need to lighten up,” warns Joel Goodman, founder of The Humor Project Inc. (I subscribe to the newsletter).
Clearly, a good mood in the workplace translates into good news for a company. Scott Christopher, humor columnist for Workplace HR & Safety Magazine, says year after year the companies that have the highest propensity to succeed and outperform their competitors are those that encourage fun at work.
The article has some other good suggestions on having more fun at work.Additional Resources
- Light Humor In The Workplace Is A Good Thing
- Have a Funnier Day
Last year the festival goers exceeded 35,000 in honor of the 60th anniversary of the crash landing in 1947.
According to the festival website, "In early July, 1947, a mysterious object crashed on a ranch 30 miles north of Roswell. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issued a statement claiming to have recovered a crashed ‘flying disk. An article ran on the front page of the Roswell Daily Record and the next day, RAAF changed its statement to say that the object was a weather balloon, not a flying disk as they previously reported. This revised statement sparked immediate controversy and has continued to be a topic of debate more than 60 years later."
Events like these like comic book events, movie festivals (e.g., Rocky Horror Picture Show), game playing (e.g., Magic The Gathering, Chess, and Pokémon) create mini communities. No doubt, there is some serious bonding going on when people share their personal stories.
How are your fans? Level of loyalty, support, volunteering, etc.? How strong is your community?
Blendtec is using humor and creativity to promote its line of home and commercial blenders. On its site, Will-It-Blend?, BlendMaster Tom Dickson rips to pieces products in the Total Blender. For example, he recently "blended" an iPhone 3G, Mario Kart video game, can of pork & beans, and many more. Short video demonstrations show you the power of the Total Blender.
Each video starts with Tom saying, "Will it blend? That is the question." The music throws you back to the 1970s and 1980s. The ads garnered them awards including one for the best viral ads in 2007.
Humor and creativity as a competitive advantage…will it work for you?
Craig and Eric, my friends at Apex Home Loans, offered members of their newsletter list a free ice cream courtesy of National Ice Cream Day for Sunday July 20.
It was a smart move on two fronts: (1) Used national recognition to promote their brand locally, which made good business sense and (2) Increased their brand equity with clients, prospects, and partners.
What small things can you do to promote your brand and community good will?
I am a big fan of Dilbert. Scott Adams is clever, creative, and insightful. And somehow he got the idea of allowing visitors to change the text of the last panel in his cartoons.
If you want to try your creativity, visit Dilbert.com and then select .
Visitors can read and rate your creativity. Some of the recent postings are quite funny.
Here is another example of what using a little creativity and brainstorming can do. It can give you ideas for identifying new opportunities to change products and services, to add features, to identify new benefits, to attract new members, etc.
On my United Airlines flight to London, Heathrow on Saturday, I met Hope, one of the nicest flight attendants. I was leaving for my upcoming training workshops in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan with the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF) (future blog entries coming). As I was skimming the magazines, one of the flight attendants said "just one." I looked up, she smiled, and said, "just kidding, take what you want." She introduced herself as Hope.
For some reason I shared with her my on-going study of advertising in magazines–how advertisers use images and words to spur action by prospective consumers. After a few minutes, she asked "what do you do?" After hearing this, Hope insisted that I help her come up with a new answer for her response to what do you do. I asked quizzically, "why?"
Because when she tells people that she is a flight attendant one of three things generally occur: a) people share their most memorable unpleasant experience; b) offer unsolicited views on the airline industry; and c) share their complaints about the state of flying. To avoid this situation, Hope tells people that she is a teacher.
She said that she wasn’t very creative. After a few minutes of asking her a few questions, we brainstormed and came up with several new answers for her to try. With the right questions, encouragement, and state of mind, anyone can be at least a little bit creative.
Hope’s favorites were:
- I’m a 37,000 foot happiness consultant
- I’m a cloud rider
- I’m a turbulence terminator
So I clicked.
I then I found the plush toys page. On here, you will find a variety of internal organ-shaped plushies such as a heart, brain, pancreas, kidney, and liver.
I thought to myself, the wonders of the Internet. How serendipity can lead you to all sorts of interesting and fun places.
Wendy Bryan, a graphic designer for Editorial Emergency, founded I Heart Guts. I have no doubt that she has an interesting story to tell about how she came to start the business, what her first
products were, how she came to add more, etc.
And when it comes to building relationships, the more you know about people, the more specific and tailored your communications, your gifts, your ideas, suggestions, interactions, etc. become.
Perhaps someone in your personal or professional network would enjoy one of these plushies?
On Friday I attended the Washington Business Journal’s Best Places to Work 2008 event. This is the annual event where organizations are objectively evaluated along 10 categories.
Alex Orfinger, Publisher, challenged each winner to share with the audience a song title that best represents the company. No other topics, speaking opportunities, self-promotion, etc….just a song title.
Brilliant idea! Do the math–50 awardees sharing a few minutes about themselves would make for a very long event. With this presentation rule, the organizations had to merge business with creative and sprinkle a little humor. Let’s see what the journal does for 2009.
Here are a few memorable song titles:
- "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," Crucial Security, Inc.
- "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet," ViON Corporation
- "Another Brick in the Wall," BE&K Building Group
- "I like It, I Love It, I Want Some More of It" Aronson & Company
- "You Can’t Touch This," James G. Davis Construction Corporation
- "We Built This City," Gensler
- "Don’t Worry, Be Happy," Balfour Beatty Construction
- "Money, Money, Money," Howrey LLP
- "Shout," Price Waterhouse Coopers
- "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off," Turner Construction Co. & Tomkins Builders
- "Express Yourself," Kimpton Hotels (see earlier blog entry)
With the economy following a downturn, I have received lots of email asking about how to increase visibility, how to get more people introduced to a product or service, how to increase interest, etc.
- Go on the speaking circuit, locally and regionally
- Write articles for newspapers in your community, city, and regionally
- Write articles for magazines (niche and industry-leading)
- Attend networking events, meet people
- Offer an incentive on your website, something low cost or free, that has real value. Something like a try before you buy, an article, a one-time discount
- Self-publish a book
- Get a book published
- Purchase Internet search words such as with Google Adwords
Share some activities that are working for you...
She wants her business interactions to be short, high impact, and tasty (I added this one–it will make sense in five sentences).
How did I discover this you ask? We were discussing some of the services The Chief Storyteller offers. One in particular takes about three months to complete. She wanted it fast she said, just like a microwave.
Now I call her Ms. Microwave and she is okay with the new moniker…in fact, she likes it.
"The next time you dunk your favorite donut, thank The Salvation Army. While The Army may not have invented the first donut – that distinction is lost in history –it can certainly take credit for the popularity of donuts today," according to The Salvation Army (and several other sources).
Donut Day was established in 1938 as a means to raise much-needed operating funds for The Salvation Army, and also as a tribute to Army ‘lassies’ who made and served donuts to thousands of soldiers during World War I. While the spelling of doughnut has shortened to "donut" over the years, the popular donut has been the trademark of The Salvation Army ever since WWI. While Donut Day was observed fairly extensively, especially following WWII, by The Salvation Army throughout the United States, the Army in Chicago has the longest continuous and most successful tradition.
Check your local donut shop and see if they are offering free donuts today. Many Krispy Kreme stores are participating.
Articles & Information
- The Salvation Army, "Founders" of National Donut Day provides a nice quick history
- Lamar’s Donuts & Coffee, Quick quiz of trivia and interesting facts
- The Salvation Army Chicago Division
- Krispy Kreme, Press Release about National Donut Day
I have been chatting with Tim (name changed to protect the guilty) since the Financial Executives International (FEI) Conference where I presented (see blog)
Tim is a great writer and in another life should be one. He has a knack for looking at things and seeing the interesting and the funny. Perhaps that’s why we connected.
What follows is a description of the email/story exchange. So it reads a bit choppy…
a) During one of our conversations, he suggested a variation on one of my business exercises when I ask participants to partner up and tell their short business introductory story, their elevator speech, the answer to "What Do You Do?" He suggested that I do the exercise in a manner like speed dating and speed networking. I call it Speed Elevator Speech.
b) I tried Tim’s suggestion and it worked well. I emailed him the next day telling him about the experience of using his idea.
c) Tim emailed me: "I’m glad that the circle idea worked well. It has one big point in its favour, in that it gets everyone up and moving (rather than sitting in their chairs and simply swiveling to left or right) which should be a great ice breaker in your sessions. Just leave the money in the usual place, OK?"
d) In the PS Line of my response, I wrote, "I left the money in the usual place." I thought this was the appropriate spot in the email and should provide a nice chuckle.
e) Tim wrote back nearly immediately, "Do you know, so many people have used that line about leaving the money in the usual place – and it never once occurred to me to tell them that I had done just that. You haven’t ever done any improvisational comedy, have you?"
f) I wrote back, "Funny thing, I always respond to things like what you wrote. It truly is in my psyche…never think twice about it."
After dragging this ever quick email exchange into a long blog entry, my point is that you never know what resonates with people. I suggest that you tell people–tell them good and tell them not so good. Give them constructive and positive feedback when it is the latter. And when it is good, thank them with praise, gifts, or even money, "in the usual place."
Did you know that today is Worldwide Good Deed Day? I should say "not" because I made it up today (smile).
On my way to an appointment this morning, I found this note on my windshield under the wiper blade. I just recently moved and I know very few people in the neighborhood. My first thought, "what a nice thing someone did!" And based on the condition of the note, I’d guess that the person had to look under the seat for this crumpled and coffee-stained paper.
As such, I do hereby declare today, "Worldwide Good Deed Day."
While filling the tire up with air, I also thought about other nice things people did for me over the years. It was really a moment for reflection. How about you? Think about all of the nice things you have done for others and what others have done for you…
I stumbled across this second-life website when I followed a promotional link. I am fascinated about how and what companies do to tie-in the web with traditional brick and mortar advertising and promotion.
Meez is a 2nd life website whose "mission is to make digital interactions more expressive. More visual. And more fun. That’s why we created a website that enables you to create your own 3D avatar – your Meez."
I went through the whole process of creating my own 3D animated avatar. As you build your own avatar, you pick clothes, physical features, accessories, and backgrounds. Meez has cleverly connected the development process to hot trends and products such as music CDs, food and beverages, movies, sports.
After creating your personal avatar, you can export it to your a) mobile telephone, b) a social community website such as MySpace, Facebook, AIM, MSN Messenger, c) a communication site such as Skype, Xanga, LiveJournal, Microsoft Outlook, Google Talk, Yahoo! Mail, d) blog communities such as Angelfire, Blogger, and Tripod, and e) your email signature. Visit Meez to view the exhaustive list of options (you have to these days with all of the sites competing for our time and money).
One of the hardest parts about networking is the social interaction side. It is especially difficult when you realize that after a few minutes you did not make a meaningful connection with someone and it is time to move on.
At the heart of the challenge of networking is overcoming and dealing with human behavior issues. Here are some of the frequently asked about topics:
- how do I break the ice
- how do I leave a conversation, both for good and bad reasons
- when does trust feel right
- what do I do when the other person is inappropriately flirting ("hitting on me")
- how do I network when I’m one woman among a sea of men
- how do I break into a conversation when there is someone I really want to meet
- (there are many, many more questions and topics)
I find that a really good way of addressing many of these questions is to view networking like social dating. Use all of your well-earned skills of positively communicating verbally and non verbally, being a generous listener, giving respect without demanding any, and so on.
Shift your mindset a little and view networking as business dating. There is a time and place for socializing and networking. Socializing is all about relaxing with friends. Networking is all about finding new business friends.
Use the same social dating skills as your foundation and watch your interactions become more enjoyable, fun, and profitable.
Here are a few blog postings to spur some thought:
- Leave Your But’s Behind
- Stop Asking People for Their Business Cards
- Keep Your Idea Antennae Up–You Will Be Surprised What You Can Learn
- Sure-Fire Ways to Be in a Super Terrific Fantastic Awesome Mood