Eat with your Left Hand

Last night I was taking a late train home from the city, reading the May issue of Women’s Health Magazine to unwind. I had just finished a really stimulating Expert Panel at ?WhatIf! on Skinny Innovation so my brain was still a bit in overdrive.

In between the articles on flatter abs and firmer buns, I came across an article about will power that really struck a chord.

The secret it seems to mastering the previously insurmountable task of controlling mind and body is ….drum roll please…eating with your left hand.

The article said if you are normally right-handed, but make an effort to break out of this pattern and eat with your left hand you will have more control over what you eat. After repeated forced use of your “less dominant” side, not only does will power improve but overall complex task mastery as well.

I found this really thought provoking with a potentially interesting twist for innovation.

I started to think about activities I take for granted and wondered if a little conscious detour could actually help me become more aware, more focused and perhaps more creative.

Here’s a few “left-handed” ideas:

Re-arrange the furniture in your office, cube, or just the layout of the stuff on your desk. (At ?WhatIf! they have open seating and everyone chooses a different location every day depending on their mood).

Take a different route to work. If you take the subway try the bus, if you walk try a different street, if you drive take a detour (or better yet…ride your bike!).

Switch from coffee to tea for the day.

Let someone else lead the meeting you usually chair.

Boxers to briefs?

You get the idea. Go out of your way to change a “second nature” behavior and see what develops.

That’s my point of View. What’s your twist?

What’s your “left-handed” trick?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Why is it that many of us get our best ideas in the shower?

Often in the morning, in my semi-wakeful state I get into the shower, not really thinking about anything other than “lather, rinse, repeat” and suddenly a brilliant idea pops into my head.
I stumble and slide across the floor into my bedroom dripping wet and frantically search for a pen and a piece of paper to capture my soon to be fleeting thought.

Usually I bang my knee on my bedside table and have to stop thinking and start searching for band-aids. When I do revisit my scribble after drying off, the note is either too soggy or too quickly written to make any sense of it.

What’s the magic behind the morning shower moment and how can we replicate that hyper-productive thinking in an “drip free” environment where we can properly capture ideas?

This “shower power” may come from the fact we’re in a dream-like state between sleep and wakefulness. But I think that it’s really the fact that we’re engaging in a daily ritual that doesn’t require a lot of conscious thought. This allows for ideas to bubble to the surface without our “critique reflex” kicking in – a mechanism which prematurely shuts off a lot of good ideas.

Showering at work for most of us probably isn’t an option. Instead, how about trying other similar kinds of repetitive actions: strumming a guitar, knitting, doodling, bouncing a ball etc.

Stop deliberately trying to think of something, try shifting gears- and engaging in an activity that helps you essentially…think of nothing.

It might be just the trick to getting those brilliant ideas pouring out.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What “routine” activities help you get in the groove?

Improve with Improv

Think SNL or Second City. Do these silly skits have anything serious to teach us about building better brands?

Quite possibly yes, if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone.

My friend Marcy was recently telling me about a class she’s taking at The People’s Improv Theater in NYC . Marcy is an Internet marketer by day. This is just a hobby. She loves the class, it’s a great stress buster and she’s learning something important about human relationships…namely LETTING GO!

Since I (like many of you) view brands as relationships my ears pricked up. Was she onto something here that could help build better brands?

It turns out, one of the fundamental rules for successful improv is to immediately accept and build on the scenario that is launched by your partner.

If your partner starts the scene by pointing at you and saying “why, look you are a big green martian”, the best course of action is to build on this: “Why yes, I am a martian- the very greenest of them all.” Any attempt to resist or re-direct results in a short and not very successful scene.

You need to abandon your secret desire to do a scene about something else. A brain surgeon…or an Arctic explorer. And go with the flow created by your improv partner.

Letting go sound easy? Not necessarily so.

Think about the many brainstorm sessions where you pretend to be open to new ideas, but in reality you are just biding your time until you can get your brilliant idea out on the table.

Next time, resist the urge to re-direct and instead embrace your inner martian. Run with it. Revel in it. Play it out to it’s fullest potential. Later, when it’s your turn to start the scene you can launch your vision of an Arctic world, and since you have set a good example chances are others will be happy to trek across the ice floes with you.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How have you used improv to improve?

Back to the Future

The current recession has cast a trance of pervasive doom and gloom – making it hard for even the most inspired among us to come up with new ideas.

Well, don’t let the recession get you down. Just skip it. Press the fast forward button to a time in the future and create (don’t wait) for a brighter tomorrow.

Here’s a specific technique called “message from the future”. It was inspired by a birthday party game my daughter and I created. In this game your future self (e.g. brand) sends you a message from the future.

Something like “Hi, It’s me, you’ll never guess what I’m up to these days. My straight A’ s in social studies really paid off. I was just sworn in as the first female president. Boy, is the White House cool! I just re-decorated the Oval Office in zebra stripes and hot pink.”

In the brand version of this game, send yourself a message (multiple messages) from the future.

Be outrageous. Take some unexpected twists and turns. Get a group of open minded people in a room together. Write one message per piece of paper. Place them in a hat. Then take turns reading them. Encourage open thinking. Then take your top 3 and sit down to write an action plan about how you could get there.

Embrace a bright brand future, this recession is a blip on the radar. It too shall pass.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What’s in your brand’s future?

Jai Ho!

In case you missed the academy awards in January, Slum Dog Millionaire swept the little golden guys including an Oscar for best song with Jai Ho (which literally translates to Victory).

I believe that India will replace Africa as the new nation célèbre and this will have an impact on everything from food to fashion to home furnishings.

Witness the enduring popularity of Anoop (Dawg) Desai on this season 8 of American Idol. Despite a few near eliminations, he keeps rising above the odds (much like the lead character Jamal in Slum Dog).

Hottest colors for spring? Pink, orange, yellow – all the hues of a Mumbai sunset.

Consider how your brand can leverage the Mumbai Mania to spice things up…and perhaps Victory is within reach.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How do you see the impact of India for brands?