"We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom." - William Bell

7 Ways to Boost Creativity

Posted: November 30th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration, On Ideation | No Comments »

1. Listen to Lupe Fiasco. His lyrics are sick. If Lupe doesn’t inspire you, we are obviously from different generations.

2. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly write it down.

3. If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You’d be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.

4. Define your problem. Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail. You’ll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you’ve done this.

5. If you can’t think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells. My favourite walk is from my car to the gondola at Whistler.

6. Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.

7. Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by talking to smart people and disagreeing with people – arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout. If you don’t have any friends, read the Economist.

- Christian

Social Networking … Retail Version?

Posted: November 27th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | No Comments »

Ladies, this short article mostly applies to you. Although, in today’s day and age, it probably applies to some of the guys too. You know the feeling. You try on a something at the store and think you look pretty awesome, but (of course) you need a second opinion. I mean, we are a generation that is much more likely to rely on our friend’s opinions than expert advice.

With Social Retailing, developed by IconNicholson, you can send a video to your friends’ cell phones and instantly get their vote. You can also try on outfits virtually using a mirror that shows how good they might look.

Awesome idea. And imagine how cool it would be if while you were waiting to go into the change room, you took a quick personality/style test and the results shaped “suggested” items that would go with the piece that you are trying on. If the price of installing these units is cost-prohibitive to some retailers, perhaps they could partner with other companies to provide them in turn for an opportunity to communicate with customers. (Eg. MasterCard could chip in to get these into Macy’s and in exchange get a Priceless line to run on the bottom right. The perfect jacket/skirt/pants: priceless)

The first batch of these bad boys are going up in Bloomingdale’s in March 2008.

- Christian

Cost/Benefit Analysis of Washers

Posted: November 22nd, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Ideas | No Comments »

This post is courtesy of an email that Hamid sent me. Apparently Tom Parker, author of Rules of Thumb, created a washer out of a penny instead of spending a lot of pennies to buy a washer.

Very cool idea. I also heard a rumour that the value of a penny is less than the cost of materials/manufacturing. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it probably explains some of the cost discrepancy. That and the natural abundance of pennies.

- Christian

Droga's Big Idea: The Million

Posted: November 20th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Ideas | No Comments »

Heard of the Tap Project for UNICEF? Of course you have. It changed the way that people think of executing a simple idea. Check it out here.

The brains behind the operation? An Aussie named David Droga. Now Droga is tackling a problem facing the New York Department of Education is having motivating students to stay in school and study. And his solution is based on a simple insights: kids love cell phones.

Check out this except from AdAge’s report on the Idea Conference:

“The old way is to throw money at celebrities who tell you what to do,” Mr. Droga said as he explained the program during Advertising Age’s Idea Conference last Thursday in New York. Rejecting that approach, Mr. Droga — a self-professed “advertising man” — looked beyond his field. “We went back to [the Department of Education] with a technology idea wrapped around advertising.”

The result is The Million program. Referring to the amount of students in the New York City public school system, the program involves giving away free mobile phones packed with learning tools such as a thesaurus, spell checks and an extra-help tip line to each student. The more a student uses these learning applications, the more rewards — discounts for movies, sneakers, clothes and music downloads, as well as air-time minutes and text messages — are unlocked. Additional incentives for achievement and attendance, including congratulatory voice-mail messages from, say, Derek Jeter or a wake-up call from Jay-Z, are also planned.

“What’s cooler than the iPhone is something that has almost as many applications but is free,” Mr. Droga said. In addition, the phone’s exclusive nature — only public-school students will be able to reap the benefits of it — may drive up the “badge factor,” adding to its appeal.

Naturally, there’ll be room for brands to latch onto the cause. The hardware provider, based on the video Mr. Droga showed at the conference, appears to be Motorola, though he wouldn’t confirm it. He also declined to name the service provider that’s been chosen. There’ll also be some room for advertising on the phone. After all, the phones, while provided for free to the students, won’t be completely without cost. As such, marketers will be able to infiltrate the students’ world through “responsible” sponsorships.

- Christian

Humour and Creativity

Posted: November 15th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | No Comments »

I was on Fast Company’s site yesterday and noticed this article called “Why You Should Include a Joker in Every Brainstorming Session.” Finally, some validation! Some expert has given me a legitimate business argument that explains how my sometimes effervescent behaviour improves creativity. That’s right. And that person is John Morreall, a professor at the College of William and Mary.

Excepts from an interview with Professor Morreall.

You say that humor increases productivity, reduces conflict, and fosters change. Is this a joke?

“Humor is healthy, especially the way it reduces stress. Humor is the opposite of fight-or-flight emotions — especially fear and anger. I can’t be laughing with you and angry or afraid of you at the same time.”

How does it encourage creativity?

“Humor makes us think more flexibly. People who think funny do better on creativity studies. To put it really simply, humor loosens up your brain to think of more possibilities and be more open to the wild and wacky ones.

There is a guy at the State University of New York at Buffalo named Roger Firestien who has a center for the study of creativity. When he teaches brainstorming, he says you should put a joker in the group — somebody who will come up with preposterous ideas. Very often that will stimulate people to come up with ideas that will work.

Let me give you an example. A bunch of paint engineers were moaning and bitching about how hard it is to get paint off a house. One guy says, “Why don’t we just put gunpowder in the paint and blow it off the house?” That led people to think, “What could we do that would be the equivalent of gunpowder?”

They came up with a chemical they added to the paint and when you wanted to remove the paint you did a light wash with a second chemical over the first one. That didn’t blow it off the house, but it allowed it to drop off.”

I definitely agree with Morreall’s logic. Humour has the power to relax a more static environment. And the more relaxed you are, the better you are able to tap into your natural creativity.

- Christian

Make Beer, Not War

Posted: November 7th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Ideas | No Comments »

So Miller Lite is apparently trying to start another beer war with Budweiser. They released an ad that made fun of the Bud superbowl spot (click here).

They’re talking claims about how their product has “More Taste, Less Carbs” etc. To be honest, I wouldn’t drink Miller Lite or Bud Light. Light beer is for Americans. Anywho … I digress.


What I really like about Anheuser-Bush (the company that owns the Bud brand) is how they responded. They took the proverbial high road.

They took out a full-page ad, with a large-type heading: “Keep up the bad work, Miller Beer. It’s getting a lot of good things done.”

The text: “Apparently, Miller Beer believes they have to say negative things about our brands to sell their beer. At Budweiser, we’re positive there’s a better way of doing things. In fact, we’re committed to creating something positive out of their recent negative advertising.

“Their latest attack? Our wagon-riding dalmatian. Our response? A donation to a number of animal rescue groups across America.

“For over 130 years, Budweiser has believed in doing things right. We’re not going to stop now.”

The foot of the page features a cuddly puppy, the Budweiser logo and a tagline: “Doing things the right way.”

Man, I love puppies. And beer. I’m sorry … I get distracted when I write about beer. Anyways, I love this response. It’s like when you’re at a party and chatting up some people and some drunk guy drops into the conversation and tries to impress everyone by insulting you. Sure, you could fire one back, but that’s dropping you down to his level. Or you could talk about the monks’ protests in Myanmar.

When you insult someone back, consumers have to pick a side. When you take the moral high road, there is no choice for the consumer to make. They’re going with you. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to admit that they’re friends with the drunk a-hole at the party.

- Christian