Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Fast Could You Innovate if Your Business Survival Depended On It?

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to work at a company that's innovating on almost a daily basis? Mary Foley knows. She lived it, as she describes in my next podcast interview.

Mary Foley had a meteoric career at AOL in the 1990s, rising from a customer service rep to the head of training for the 12,000 person company. She describes working at AOL at that time as like building the airplane you're riding in at 40,000 feet. Technology was changing at an unprecedented pace. You had to innovate or die.


She describes her years at AOL as a decade of pure adrenalin. It was a melting pot with an eclectic group of smart people who were constantly coming up with fresh ideas and new ways of thinking. When new ideas failed, employees recognized that failure quickly, learned from it and then moved on.

She retired in 1999 at the ripe age of 33 and then began an introspective process of journaling (a fabulous way to stimulate creativity), which ultimately led to her writing her first book. Little did she know at the time, but her book would pave the way to her radio show and the launch of her speaking career. Mary's books include:
Mary's message is designed to help women have more sanity, confidence and fun. She has kindly offered readers of the blog a free ebook and more that can be downloaded here. You can find her books at her website and at Amazon. Enjoy the podcast!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick - Write Down Five Things That You Believe to be True. . .

. . .that are actually false. All of us labor under false beliefs. These self-limiting beliefs prevent us from achieving all that we can. But lateral thinking can help you challenge those beliefs.

Have you ever met anyone who had written 20 books on the same topic? Other than author Paul Sloane, I haven't either. So I was excited when Paul agreed to share some of his thoughts on thinking and decision-making with me for this next podcast interview. 

Paul's books include such titles as:
When he's not writing, Paul teaches workshops, gives keynote addresses, and consults with businesses on creativity and innovation. Listeners on the other side of the pond can contact him in England by visiting his website, Destination Innovation.

Disciples of Edward de Bono will find much to like in Paul's books. His emphasis is on business, and there are many fresh examples from this area and from politics that business leaders and teachers can use when explaining these concepts to others. Paul also shares new, practical tools that make some of the theoretical concepts easier to grasp.

One of the techniques discussed is the "lotus blossom technique," which is an extraordinary problem analysis technique. As Paul explains, we as thinkers want to get results so we look for solutions almost immediately. If we spent more time on problem analysis, however, before beginning the search for solutions, we would have much better results.

When you listen to the interview, pay particular attention to the story about McGeorge Bundy, President Lyndon Johnson's National Security Adviser. It's a great example of confirmation bias, a topic that I wrote two chapters about in The Naked Portfolio Manager. The example shows that policy-making at the highest level of government is sometimes flawed because of cognitive biases, producing disastrous results.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Plan Your Work and Work Your Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Have you ever had the experience of rummaging through your desk and coming across a paper that you wrote several months or even years ago where you wrote down things you intended to do? I have. I'm embarrassed to say that many of the items on the list were never even attempted.

Here's another stumper. . . Do you know what chocolate chip cookies have to do with the above question? No? Then read (or listen) on. . .

Our next podcast is with Steve Levinson, Ph.D., who along with Pete Greider, M.Ed., has written a book called Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start. In it, Levinson explains why humans are so poor at follow-through and what we should do about it. As he explains it, we have two separate systems in our brain. Our intelligent guidance system says, "I should lose weight and exercise more, so I am going to stop snacking after dinner and go on a strict diet."  But then a family member bakes some fresh cookies and with the smell wafting from the kitchen the primitive guidance system says, "Oh my God those cookies smell great. Well, just a few won't hurt and can start my diet tomorrow." As Levinson explains, "We are not hardwired to do the things our intelligent guidance system tells us to do.


Listening to the interview, you can tell that Levinson is absolutely passionate about the topic. In the medical field alone, poor follow-through is costing our nation billions to treat medical crises that could be mitigated or avoided if people simply took their medication and followed through on their doctors guidance.

Here are three points from the interview that you can use right now to improve follow-through:
  • Limit the number of items that you commit to and make certain you can complete them.
  • Never make a commitment unless you fully intend to complete it.
  • Never make a commitment without developing a follow-through strategy.
On the third item, Levinson says that making a commitment without a follow-through strategy is like saying you're going to get up at 5AM tomorrow without setting your alarm. 

Please enjoy the interview and share it on Facebook, Twitter, chocolatechipcookie.com. 

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Use Creativity to Design IntELEGANT Solutions for Your Clients

Today's interview is with a woman of "international intrigue," you could say. Sam Horn is the owner of The Intrigue Agency and she has a PhD in popology (Fischer's "International Dictionary" defines "popology" as "the art and science of crafting words so they POP in the mind of your prospect and get them to pay attention"). Horn has written seven books, including POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd and has delivered scores of keynote speeches to companies like eBay, Intel, Cisco, and Genentech as well as other prestigious groups like The National Press Club and TEDx. In a world filled with INFObesity, she has helped hundreds of companies, non-profits, and writers to craft marketing messages that get their prospects "eyebrows up" and paying attention.

In this podcast, Horn relates a story that was an epiphany for her which occurred at the Maui Writers Conference in 1991. A young woman came to her in tears. She had spent a year crafting a novel, and may have lost the book deal of a lifetime because she couldn't explain in a few succinct sentences why anyone would want to read her story. The lesson she learned was that we only have about sixty seconds to get people interested in our story.



In her book POP!:Create the Perfect Pitch,Title and Tagline for Anything, Horn offers 25 ways to create your own titles and taglines. POP! is a tools-based approach that's simple yet effective. You can put it to use immediately with almost no practice. I used her alphabetizing technique to create the title of this post. I thought the titles she created like Tongue Fu! for a book about disarming people who attack you verbally or ConZentrate for a book about avoiding distractions were simple but elegant. So I tried to use the technique to change the word "elegant."

So I said to myself, "belligant, celligant, delligant, felligant. . ." and finally I got to "intELEGANT." Intelegant reminded me of intelligent and I had an idea that I could use.

Fans of de Bono's lateral thinking will understand POP! as an extension of random entry. POP! is not just a mere book to read - it's a book to USE, and if you listen to this interview, you'll find some great ideas that you can use right away.
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