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

What's Your Creative Diet?

Posted: October 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

You consume something. Your body digests it. Then your body uses the energy from what you put in it to produce. This is true for food. And it’s true for ideas.

What you put into your body impacts what you get out of it.

If you put in food that your body is able to easily process and digest, you’ll get a lot out of it. If you put in junk, your system gets overloaded and you feel like shit.

HACKING YOUR DIET 
I’m fortunate to be a genetic freak. My body seems to have a metabolism that runs high and is able to process most things. Wendy’s Baconator? No problem. Raw fish? Hell’s yeah! Salad? Sure. It all seems to go through the same.

But recently, I began to learn how to hack my body. There are certain things that I can put in my body that jump starts the system if I’m feeling tired. There’s meals that I can eat to give me sustained energy before a big tournament. There are shakes I can consume to speed up recovery after workouts.

The same applies to creativity and ideas. What you put into your mind impacts what you get out of it. If you consume inspirational stories, interesting knowledge and actual learning, you produce great ideas and insights. If you’re reading gossip sites and watching Jersey Shore, you liable to end up producing the standard entitled teenager bullshit.

And when you’re in a crunch, you can hack your brain. You can consciously control the inputs to maximize creativity. Consume information that inspires. Learn things that provoke. Observe insights that spark ideas.

YOUR CREATIVE DIET
Consider your creative diet. What is it that you’re putting into your brain? Is it fine tuned to generate the creative output that you’re looking for?

Sometimes, simple awareness makes a big difference. By being conscious of what the type and quality of content that you’re consuming, you’ll become much more in tune to what your habits are. That awareness allows you to tweak them to your specific needs.

The simplest solution is to consume better content. Read a book. Avoid the standard internet distractions of Facebook, daily news and gossip websites. Look for intelligent content that will provide you with different perspectives. Look to uncover new information. Look for inspiration in the real world and online.

CONCLUSION
Content is brain food. The videos, books and articles that you consume impacts what your brain produces. You can hack your inputs to generates the results that you want. Be conscious of your creative diet. What are you consuming? How you could be putting in more of the right stuff to get the ideas you want?

- Christian


The Cue Card Brainstorming Strategy

Posted: May 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Brainstorming Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

You start with a problem. A problem that you want to solve. So then you try to brainstorm solutions. Think of creative ideas. Come up with cool things to do. But too often people get brought right down to the execution.

How would we do this? What could it look like? Do you think it would work in Brazil? Does it translate to Portuguese? It’s like picking the colour of your drapes before you even have the blueprints for your house. It’s stupid. It’s distracting. It’s a waste of time.

The goal of brainstorming is to come up with as many solutions to the problem as possible. Details are distracting. So is feasibility. Ignore the small details to create big ideas.

THE CUE CARD BRAINSTORMING STRATEGY
One of my favourite methods for tackling is problem is to use cue cards and big felt marker. The small size of the cards and the inability to write small with a big marker force you to think in concepts, not details. Here’s how you do it:

PART 1
Start with a well defined problem.
Take a stack of cue cards and a felt tip marker.
Set a time limit.
Write one idea per card.
If you can’t fit one idea per card, it’s too complicated.
Fire out as many ideas as possible.
Then stop.

PART 2
Take a break.
Get a coffee.
Take a nap.
Whatever floats your boat.

PART 3
The cards will be able to be grouped into idea buckets.
So group them.
Spread them across a table or the floor.
Throw out the ones that are horrible.
The ones that are stupid.
The ones that could never work.
Put them all into a pile.
Put that pile in the trash.

PART 4
Now go back to the groupings of ideas.
Build on the ones that have potential.
Add in more details.
Throw in stuff that would be cool.
Dream up expansions to the ideas.

PART 5
Now you have piles of different concepts.
Each of them has the potential to solve your problem.
Figure out which one you like the best.

AFTER THE IDEA
Once you’ve decided on the solution, you can start to fill in the details. You can get distracted by the many ways of bringing it to life. You can tackle the hardest part – actually making it happen. But not before you’ve decided on the idea.

- Christian


How To Fail – The Max Power Way

Posted: January 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration, On Ideation | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

We have been brainwashed into thinking that failure is a bad thing. It shows that you can’t do something. That you weren’t able to achieve your goals.

So people become afraid. The get paralyzed by fear. They don’t do anything, because they might do it wrong. It’s better to last in obscurity than to be humiliated failing in public, right?

That’s wrong.

Failure isn’t a result. It’s a beginning. It provides you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. To test things out. To course correct.

We all have a million and one ideas in our head of how to improve our lives. How to achieve our goals. How to create new products. But only a fraction of us actually act on those thoughts. Because the rest are afraid of failure.

It’s easy to remain stagnant. It’s easy to stay the same. It’s easy to be afraid and make excuses. It’s hard to risk failure.

A STORY OF TWO PEOPLE
I have two friends. One year ago, the same thing happened to both of them. They wanted to apply to medical school. They both ordered their applications. One of them worked on her application, submitted her MCATs and applied.

The other thought about it and figured that she wouldn’t get accepted, so she didn’t apply. She didn’t want to get the rejection letter, so she cut herself off before they could reject her!

They are of comparable intelligence. They have similar experience and passion for the medicine. But one of them is now in medical school and one of them isn’t.

THE MAX POWER PRINCIPLE
In failure, I like to apply the Max Power Principle. When failing, make sure that you fail fast. You don’t want to waste your time in trying to achieve something that’s not going to happen. Not all of your ideas are going to be winners. Just get as many out there as you possibly can and see if they work. If they crash and burn, be willing to walk away.

It doesn’t matter how much time or money you invested behind a concept. If it’s not right there’s no need to invest MORE time and money behind it.

There was a chance that Idea Drunk would be a failure. Three years and over 300 posts later, it would seem like a success. But there are tons of other blog and writing projects that have crashed and burned. Like this. Or this.

Do what Max Power does – fail quickly and fail often.

- Christian


What Would __________ Do?

Posted: December 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Brainstorming Techniques | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A Brainstorming Technique.

The easiest way to solve a problem is to have someone else solve it for you. Everyone has mentors, heroes and such. What would they do if they faces your problem? This brainstorming technique is designed to leverage your imagination to find just that.

Think of three people that you admire from different parts of your life. Pick at least one:
- Famous politician
- Childhood friend
- Celebrity
- Successful billionaire
- Person from one of those “top 100 ____ people of 2010″ lists

Now put yourselves in their shoes. How would they tackle your problem? What would their experience tell them? How would they use the resources that they have? (Whether it be fame, experience, money or connections.) What would they do? Why? Then figure out if you can apply it to your situation.

Sure, you may not have the same access to resources as the mentors you picked. But some lateral thinking may unlock ideas of how you can achieve the same on a smaller scale. And then you may find yourself looking at a solution rather than a problem.

- Christian

I know that these posts have become somewhat rare on Idea Drunk as the blog evolves, but I found a whole bunch of them in an old notebook and was thinking of bringing some of them back. Let me know what you think. Good? Or boring?


Top 5 Spots For Inspiration

Posted: April 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Me in my favourite spot to find inspiration.

To be creative, you can’t be confined to an office.
An office is for linear work.
It’s for completing tasks.
Not creative thinking.

To find that big idea you need stimulus.
You need to see things.
You need to interact with people.
You need to play.

So where do you go to find that stuff? Well, here’s my top five:

1. A Baseball Game
Sure, sometimes the game is boring, but that gives you plenty of time to do other stuff. Like people watch. Observe what moves the crowd. The leader and follower effect of some jerk heckling. People scrambling over a $2 fly ball because it’s more than a ball – it’s a trophy and a memory. Watch 20 year old students work the hustle in the 50/50 draw or the old guy selling overpriced beer and ice cream. It’s commerce in it’s finest.

2. A Bar
Of course I’m going to mention a bar on this list. Look at the name of this site. It’s Idea Drunk. What did you expect? But there is some truth to the notion that indulging in a libation or two can help get the creative juices flowing. Just ask Hemmingway. But a bar is also a great place to observe social interactions. Look around. See if you can see who is commanding respect in the room. Why are they able to do it? Do they have authority? Are they the boss? Are they attractive? Or is it just how they speak and carry themselves? How can you leverage that to solve your problem in a creative way?

3. The Country
Getting out of the city can help you gain perspective. The people are different. The culture is different. The pace of life is different. There are no sirens blaring past your apartment. There are no distractions. It allows you to get away from it all, unplug your BlackBerry and be alone with your thoughts. To focus solely on the problem that you are trying to solve.

4. A Magazine Rack
I love magazine racks. They let you stand back and take a quick snapshot of what people consider to be newsworthy for that week. You can peer into other people’s interests. You can look into the lives of celebrities. You can see the advice that people are receiving for “transforming their bodies for beach season.” It’s awesome. It’s inspirational. And it exposes you can hone into what your target market is reading to see what is influencing them.

5. Toys R Us
This one is my favourite. Obviously. There is so much to do. So much to see. So many toys to play with. Aside from the excessive stimulation, it does the best thing for your creative brain. It makes you think like a kid. Where the possibilities are endless, as long as you use your imagination.

So those are my top five. Can you think of any others?

- Christian


What Flip Cup Taught Me About Brainstorming

Posted: August 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

flipcup

The name of this site is Idea Drunk and yesterday, I proved it. Last night my agency had its summer party. As the kids say, it was the “shiznit.” Most people would go to a party with free alcohol, beautiful ladies and kickin’ tunes to let loose and have a good time. Not me. I was there learning. And being inspired. By flip cup.

When we arrived at the party, everyone was just milling around quietly in their little cliques. Then I was introduced to the Vanessa Costa School of Partying. The first lesson? How to start the party with flip cup. We coerced a group of semi-willing participants from various groups to come and play a couple of rounds. After the first round, everyone at the party was either watching or playing. It was awesome. It brought the energy of the party up to that next level and broke the ice so that people could really start to enjoy themselves.

After much reflection (and further drinking), I thought about how this could benefit a brainstorming session. The idea of a game at the beginning of a session is good for a couple of reasons:

- It gives everyone something to participate in
- It builds comradery between team members
- It creates friendly competition
- It gives you permission to be silly
- It raises the energy of the room

I’m not suggesting that every brainstorming session starts with a drinking game (a la Flip Cup). I have a feeling you might loose a little bit of productivity that way. But I definitely see the benefit of starting with a game. It puts people in the right mindset to think creatively and come up with great ideas.

- Christian


Lessons From Michael Jackson To Improve Your Creativity

Posted: July 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

MJ1

It’s undeniable. Michael Jackson was a creative genius. And the mark of a true genius is the ability to inspire other people through their work. To push boundaries and show everyone that the impossible is indeed achievable. The passing of the King of Pop has prompted me to reflect on how MJ can still inspire us and our creativity.

There’s a lot of things that we can learn from his example, but here are the top 5:

1. It All Starts With THE MAN IN THE MIRROR.
Whenever you have an idea, a goal or a project, you have to remember that it all starts with you. If you see something wrong with your world, don’t complain about it. Fix it. Think about how you could change things to make it better. And then do it. Some of the best ideas are born out of the fact that people decide to fix a problem.

2. It Doesn’t Matter If You’re BLACK OR WHITE.
Or a high school dropout. Or an investment banker. Good ideas can come from anywhere. Don’t get caught up in the prejudices put on by stereotypes. Just because someone wears a suit and a tie to work doesn’t mean that they don’t have an artistically brilliant mind. Always be open to hearing what insights people can offer. Everyone has different life experiences, which lead to different ideas. One of them might be the right one for your brand.

3. If You Hit A Creative Wall, Just BEAT IT.
Run! Get out of there. The best thing to do if you get writer’s block or hit the “wall” is to change your surroundings. Don’t be afraid to call it quits on a creative area. Because to be creative, you have to be inspired. And you get inspired by experiencing different things. Most of those things aren’t in a boardroom, or an office. So, beat it. Get out to a park or a coffee shop, and try it again.

4. Stay The Hell Away From DIRTY DIANA.
There are people in all creative industries aren’t here to create. They are in it for the image. They saw Mad Men and want to hang out in advertising for the daytime drinking, sexual harassment and cocaine. Or they got into film to rub shoulders with celebrities and drive a Porsche. What they don’t do is help you creatively. They distract your focus from the work and the thinking to all of the frivolous perks. So ignore the Dirty Diana’s and concentrate on developing great ideas.

5. Whenever You Feel Lost, Remember That YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
People are friendly. They like to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Often, the barrier between the success and failure of a pitch is that people are too nervous to ask for help. So whenever you are unsure of a strategy or looking for fresh perspectives, flex your network and involve as many smart people as possible.

And one final thought. Take the time to listen to these songs and hear the lyrics. They might be smarter than you may have originally thought.

Click here for The Man In The Mirror.
Click here for Black Or White.
Click here for Beat It.
Click here for Dirty Diana.
Click here for You Are Not Alone.

- Christian


TV Brainstorming – How To Do It

Posted: June 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brainstorming Techniques | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A couple of days ago, I posted an article that pointed out that you can find a hell of a lot more time to do productive things if you forgo some passive television watching. For the past week, I’ve been thinking about this.

On one hand, it’s easy to give up television right now. There are no good shows on. The NHL and NBA playoffs are almost over. What is there left to watch? Now is the perfect opportunity to kick the habit and do something more productive with your time.

On the other hand, I like the relaxed escape and imaginary environment that television creates. I can see the benefits in letting an alternate universe wash over you. It got me thinking – why not do both? Escape to TV-land, but remain productive.

And that’s how television brainstorming was born.

All you need is a problem, a notepad and a television. Here’s how to do it. As you are watching your program, pause during each of the commercial breaks to ask one of these three questions:

1. How would your favourite character on the show solve your problem?
2. How would your issue be different in their TV universe?
3. How would the bad guy on the show solve your problem?

By placing your problem in the universe that your television program has created, you bend your mind and look at the problems differently. You use your imagination to see potential solutions. You suspend the “rules” of your normal universe to take on those from an imaginary one. All of these things can lead to solutions in the real world.

The best thing about this technique is that it creates a time constraint. If you don’t think of anything during one commercial break, you’re back to your program. And in 5 minutes, you get another shot at brainstorming.

So, give it a shot. Let me know what you think.

- Christian


The Post-It (Brainstorming) Strategy

Posted: April 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brainstorming Techniques | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

When starting to think around a problem, sometimes you have so much information and no context. So many ideas and no strategy. A lot of muscle, but no skeleton. You are bogged down by information overload and need to focus on relevant ideas that solve your problem.

When this happens, I like to use what I call “The Post-It Method” to focus my thinking and generate new ideas. It’s a brainstorming strategy that one of my friends taught me while at was working on strategy and new business pitches at my old agency. It’s pretty simple.

How To Do It

1. Collect all the information you can
2. Distill it down to points you can fit on a post-it (8 words or less)
3. Place it so you can see everything
4. Start culling/reducing/organizing to build your idea

Why It Works

I really like this method because I’m a visual thinker. I like to see information and problems. By culling everything down to simple points on post-it notes, you can physically shift things around to build arguments. You can group like-minded ideas. You can toss stuff that doesn’t work into the recycling bin.

Give the post-it method a shot the next time you’re stuck on a project. You might find that by having all of the points spread out in front of you, you’ll see things differently. If nothing else, people will think you’re creative from seeing you stand before a wall of post-its and moving them around.

- Christian


Laughing Inspires Creativity

Posted: March 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

I was having a rough week. Until a certain book came in the mail. Now, this book is ludicrous. It’s sole purpose was to make me laugh. And suddenly, after having a couple of chuckles with this book, I found my work easier. The ideas flowed readily. I was getting people’s buy-in to ideas. I was being productive. It got me thinking.

So many artists and creative types claim to require a depressed state in order to create their best work. (Think Vincent Van Gogh.) And yet, I find that the best creatives that I’ve worked with have one thing in common – they laugh. A lot. They find the joy in life’s nuances. They find humour in things that would piss most people off. And they spread the laughter. They tell funny stories about their awkward social experiences. They send hilarious links around the office. They make you laugh.

Basic biology would indicate that laughter releases Endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced in the brain that reduce pain and have also been known to induce euphoria. Drugs such as morphine, heroine and cocain are classic endorphin-releasing entities. So, really, laughing is a cheap way of getting high. But I digress. Laughter doesn’t inspire creativity because it makes you high like a rock star. Laughter puts you in a positive and relaxed state. It keeps you positive and optimistic. All of these things are important in order to generate and recognize creative thoughts.

So the next time you are facing a creative roadblock, go find something that makes you laugh. It could be the talking to that friend who always gets into awkward social shenannigans. It could be an awesome movie about an Anchorman navigating the 70s. It could be watching a gorilla play the drums. Then have a chuckle, and bang out some awesome ideas.

- Christian

*I would like to apologize to my fellow Idea Drunks for going dark last week. Work has been keeping me so busy that I have barely had time to think. This is ironic, considering that I work in an industry where our main product is supposed to be “ideas” … which require some thinking to generate. But whatever. I’m back with a renewed commitment to Idea Drunk. And drinking.