How do you test the power of social media? Vote today for my friend, Paul Lawrence Vann!


I have often wondered, just as you have, whether my time is well invested whenever I develop content for my various social media platforms. Today we are going to put social media and social networking to the test.

My friend, Paul Lawrence Vann, is in a contest to win the opportunity to be a professional blogger for a famous speaker. They came up with an incredibly creative and innovative way to accomplish this.

When you watch and listen to Paul Lawrence Vann on his YouTube video, he shares all the details about the contest. Then they set up a special page where you can vote. Now Paul is contacting all his friends and colleagues on all of his networks. He contacted me and I agreed to let my colleagues and followers know about this endeavor.

Now here is a chance for you to participate. Even if you do not know him, you know me. Therefore, I can reassure you that he is an exceptional person grounded in strong personal values. He is the author of Living on Higher Ground – How to live with passion, motivation, and joy. This is a salute to the military life. This is a story for friends, family, and the military.

I need your help. Vote for my friend, Paul Lawrence Vann. This will be a test of the power of using social networking to vote for someone within our network. I just voted and left a comment.

It only takes two minutes to vote. Be sure to leave a brief comment as well. Tell him I sent you. Click here to vote for Paul Lawrence Vann to win the Big Money Speaker Blog Contest!

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How do you find and connect to the most creative and innovative women in the world?

Listen to internet radio with Kalon Women on Blog Talk Radio

This coming week I will have the honor of being interviewed on blogtalkradio by an incredible woman who won the President’s Call to Service Award.  The host of the Kalon Women in Business Blog Talk Radio Show is Sandra Levitin. 

Sandra is the Founder, CEO, and Publisher of Kalön Women an online magazine for women who simply get better with the passing years just like fine wine.  She and I have several things in common.  We both left the corporate world.  We both enjoyed stellar success in the area of sales and marketing.  We are both from Texas.  We both recognize the power of technology and social media to promote and empower women.  We have found and are pursuing our own passion!

She asked me to share my story about how I found my passion in the field of creativity and innovation.  I am filled with gratitude not only for the journey I have taken, but also because of the choices I have made that allow me to live my passion.

Sandra has provided a vehicle where all of our voices can be heard within the community of Kalon Women.  Sandra created her unique blogtalkradio program featuring Kalon Women in Business.

Life is a journey filled with ups and downs.  When we connect with other women and share our stories, we are able to empower each other and smoothen out the road.

I am grateful to Sandra Levitin for creating this community for Kalon women and making it possible for all of us to connect to the most creative and innovative women in the world.  This is an online community where we can share the challenges we face and the victories we experience.    You are invited to join us.  Please come.

You are now invited to grab a cup of coffee, sit down and listen.  You will be pleased you invested the time to hear my story about how gratitude and passion leads to creative thinking.  Since I was able to overcome some rather incredible challenges, then I know you can do the same.  This is a story meant to inspire you.

Take a few minutes and listen to my interview hosted by Sandra Levitin on the Kalon Women in Business Blog Talk Radio Show.  It will take place this coming Wednesday, November 10th.     Click here to listen.  The topic is Gratitude and Passion Leads to Creative Thinking.

If this time does not suit you, then please be assured that it will be recorded and you can listen to my interview at a time when it is convenient for you. 

Now it is your time to share.  What are you doing to express gratitude?  Do you keep a gratitude journal?  What steps are you taking to find your passion?

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Trend Watch: The Feminization of Leadership Creates Higher ROI.

The feminization of leadership is a trend worth watching.

Women in senior executive positions enhance ROI.

How do you retain your most valuable employees?  How do you recruit top talent?  How do you increase (ROI) return on investment when there is a talent shortage?   What impact is gender diversity having on the bottom line?

I just finished reading, Womenomics, Write You Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.  They had some fascinating insights into the value of female leaders and their contributions to ROI.

If you want your organization to increase its ROI, then you might want to know about recent research done in France. The findings show that companies with more women in management positions did better during 2008 than those with fewer women.  For example, the share price of Hermes rose by 16.8%.  Keep in mind that 55% of the firm’s executives are women.

At Pepperdine University, a nineteen year survey of 215 Fortune 500 companies and took three different measures of profitability:  equity, revenue, and assets.   The companies that had the best records for promoting women outperformed the competition.  These companies beat the industry average by 116% in terms of equity, 46% in terms of revenue, and 41% in terms of assets.  It concludes women are good for profits.

What is the link between gender diversity in the top leadership and U.S. corporate financial performance?  In the late 1990s, Catalyst, an independent research organization, completed a study of 353 of the Fortune 500.  A higher number of women in senior management results in a higher return on equity and a higher total return to shareholders by more than one third. 

In an effort to make their firms more competitive in the global economy, the minister of trade in Norway demanded that 40% of women be on the board of each company.  

If your company wants to make more money, then one solution is to employ more women in senior leadership positions.  It seems women are now the hot commodity in today’s workplace.

What can you do to attract and retain top female talent?   Women place a high value on flexibility because it allows them to more effectively live their dual lives as professional women and as mothers.  To retain these employees, companies are offering alternative work schedules, furloughs, unpaid vacation time, and reduced schedules. 

Flexibility is viewed as a way to keep up morale and avoid mass layoffs.  During harsh economic times, this is a way to cut labor costs.  Yet at the same time, companies are able to accommodate the wishes for flexibility desired by many women.

What will the future bring?  Women earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees in the United States and 58% of all graduate degrees.  In business, women comprise over one third of all graduates.  From 1996 to 2002, the senior ranks of women in Fortune 500 companies grew from 10% to 16%.  This is more than a 50% increase in just six years.  The feminization of leadership is a trend worth watching.

Do you think seeking out women for senior executive positions is a good business strategy?

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Ten Tips Guaranteed to Kill Creativity in the Corporation

Be careful, electric ideas can give your organization a big jolt!

An electric jolt of creative ideas can lead to change!

1. Do not provide a budget for any creative projects. Everyone knows that when you are measured on a quarter by quarter basis, the ROI is simply not there to make your performance look good on a timely basis. The long term consequences of stifling creativity will become someone else’s problem after you are promoted for achieving short term ROI.

2. Make everybody dress the same in bland colors. A good recommendation, if you truly want to kill creativity, is to have everyone dress in blue or grey with white shirts or blouses. Color inspires creativity and this is dangerous to entrenched ideas.

3. Do not allow laughter. If you hear laughter in the hallways this means employees might be having fun and everyone knows creativity flourishes when individuals are having fun.

4. Schedule meetings where only the presenter is allowed to speak. Too much interaction might spark a creative idea from your employees.

5. Promote employees who say, “Yes” to all your ideas. Strangely enough one technique for becoming more creative is to say, “Yes, and …..” However, in this case the employees simply said, “Yes.” They forgot the part where you add to an idea with “and.” Watch out and do not promote any employees who say “yes and ………”

6. Do not allow animated facial expressions. Be sure to reward and cultivate a poker face where there is no visible reaction to anything that happens or is expressed. If someone is animated then there is great danger that they will inspire other employees with unusual ideas. Employees must keep their facial expressions under control at all times. Showing emotion is a clear danger sign of creative thinking being formulated.

7. Make every effort to have a homogeneous team that looks like you. Diversity in physical appearance and in thinking styles should be avoided. When you have people who think differently it just takes too much time to reach consensus.  Diversity just leads to disruptive thinking.  If you want similar thinking, then homogeneity is the way to accomplish this.

8.   Do not become proficient in the latest social media or social networking. If you allow your employees to blog, tweet, and connect on LinkedIn, then they might be exposed to radical ideas from other industries.  Do you really want to expose your organization to the possiblity that these radical ideas will be brought to team meetings?

9.   Do not allow time for employees to pursue creative thinking pursuits. This is such a time waster. If you insist on everyone doing things the way they have always been done, then they do not need to learn new things.

10.  Do not schedule any specialized training for creativity. If your leaders and employees learn how to be creative on demand by using the tools and techniques available to stimulate their brains then they might start generating hundreds of great ideas. This leads to more work for you and the management team.

Can you think of any other innovative ways to stifle creative thinking?

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Trend Watch – Creativity Scores Headed Downward for U.S. #innovation

Since 1990, U.S. creativity has been in a downward spiral!Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever thought about whether creativity could be measured?  It seems that in 1958 E. Paul Torrance designed a series of creativity tasks to measure creativity.  He administered his test to 400 children in Minneapolis. 

I would question how accurate this creativity index would be in predicting creativity for adults.  I read a recent Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.   Apparently, Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University, validated a more than three times correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment with Torrance’s creativity index as contrasted to childhood IQ.

This year, Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary did a follow up study where he analyzed almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults.  It appears that creativity scores steadily rose, just like IQ scores until 1990 and then creativity scores nosedived.  The decline is most significant from kindergarten through sixth grade.

In my prior blog post, I wrote about the CEO Survey of 1,500 CEOs who unequivocally identified creativity as the most important leadership competency for success in the future.  

What does this mean for the United States in terms of maintaining our leadership position in the world?  Our leaders understand that creativity is essential; yet at the same time our creativity scores are plummeting!

Stop and think about where we currently need creative solutions.  We are crying out for new ideas to solve our ongoing economic crisis.  We need new ideas to solve the issues of sustainability.  We need new ideas to support our changing demographics.

Creativity includes not only generating great ideas, but it also means being open to the ideas of others.  Through creative thinking we can generate solutions for a health care system as well as new thinking for moving towards a more peaceful world. We need new ideas to make our country more competitive and to identify new ways to measure success. 

Do you think creativity is important?

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Millennials select creativity, globalization, and sustainability as future trends for CEO leadership.


Photo by Quang Minh (YILKA) used under a creative commons license. Thank you Quang.

How do millennials view leadership? Do they agree with the results of IBM’s CEO study that creativity should be the primary leadership attribute? How do they differ in their views? When you consider that in a few short years Generation Y will make up half the workforce, then it becomes very important to understand how they view leadership.

IBM conducted a Global Student Study of 3,600 students in college and graduate schools in conjunction with the Global CEO Study.

Gen Y grew up in a global, flat, digital and interconnected world. Most were born after 1980, and they grew up with digital games, music, mail and data. They did not do their homework in libraries with the help of a reference librarian. Instead they surfed the internet and clicked on links to fulfill their homework assignments. They stay connected with their friends on Facebook.

They rated creativity as one of the top three leadership qualities. This is in alignment with CEOs. The themes of globalization and sustainability differentiated them from the CEOs. When asked to select the most important force likely to impact organization over the next five years, twice as many students saw globalization and environmental issues as relevant in sharp contrast to the CEOs. The students showed a high level of concern around the scarcity of resources and global competition for these resources.

Millennials tend to view themselves as global citizens and they see the need to redefine value and the terms of success. They grew up in a flat and globalized world where everyone is interconnected by technology. Generation Y wants to create new relationships between societies, business, economies and governments since we all live on a shared planet.

These are the rankings of the nine leadership qualities by Generation Y: creativity (63%), global thinking (51%), integrity (37%), sustainability (35%), openness (29%), dedication (27%), influence (22%), fairness (15%), and humility (14%). Students and CEOs placed creativity in the top position as the leadership attribute needed to develop new strategies and business models.

What leadership qualities do you see as important for our future leaders?

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Creativity is the new style of leadership!

Competency in creative leadership leads the list for standout CEOs according to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study.  The survey included over 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries.

Creativity is more important than rigor, management discipline, integrity or vision.  Creativity is identified as the leading competency.  Our world is becoming incredibly complex and dealing with ambiguity in this complex world requires creativity.

I listened to a webinar sponsored by Harvard Business Review.  IBM’s Saul Berman and Peter J. Korsten shared some insights on standout companies in today’s ambiguous environment. 

As we come out of the worst recession in 50 years, the new economic environment is viewed as structurally different, with more complexity, more uncertainty, and more volatility.  However, standout companies (the top 25% ) are turning complexity to their advantage with creative leadership.

There are three different ways that standout companies achieve success and capitalize on complexity.  They embody creative leadership, they reinvent customer relationships, and they build operating dexterity. 

A speedy decision is valued over a correct decision.   There is a philosophy of correcting things as they move forward.

Creativity is the leading indicator of leadership quality.  Creative leadership drives the change needed in the organization to stay ahead of the market.  Creative leaders use different communication styles and tools.  

They are more open to experimentation with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media.  Standout companies break with the status quo of industry, enterprise, and revenue models.

Chief executives believe that to navigate an increasingly complex world will require creativity.  They will co-create with their clients.  They will globalize what is possible due to standardization and localize what is necessary and whatever needs local tuning.  Think “glocal.”

When creativity is implemented within an organization, then it is better prepared to deal with some of the massive shifts taking place such as new government regulations, changes in global economic power centers, accelerated industry transformation, growing volumes of data, and rapidly evolving customer preferences.

Clearly creativity is the new leadership differentiator for standout companies.   You must ask yourself, what tools are you providing to your organization to unleash the creativity of your employees?

Permission to use graphic granted by IBM.

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Create Innovative Choices For Your Future with Divergent Thinking!

I am reading Tim Brown’s book, Change by Design, How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.  IDEO is ranked among the ten most innovative companies in the world.  Tim is the CEO of IDEO. 

I was intrigued by the concepts of divergent and convergent thinking.  To experience design thinking, you must understand the difference between divergent and convergent thinking and how they can work together. 

With convergent thinking you are looking at a set of available choices in an existing world.  Divergent thinking is about creating new choices and seeing possibilities that no one else has seen.

When you begin with divergent thinking, you can maximize your choices.  As you increase the number of choices, your life will have become more complex.  However, as Tim Brown comments, “Divergent thinking is the route, not the obstacle, to innovation.”

With divergent thinking you multiply your options as you create choices.  You have more choices in regard to how you understand and apply consumer behavior in creating new products or new experiences. 

With convergent thinking, you head towards a solution.  In the convergent piece you eliminate options and focus on making the choices you wish to implement.

Why does understanding the difference between divergence and convergent thinking matter?  Westerners are taught to take inputs, analyze them against predefined criteria, and then converge upon a single answer.  Convergent thinking is not a good way to probe into the future and create new possibilities.  It is about finding the most expedient answer versus the right answer. 

Divergent thinking opens your mind to many possibilities.  These are two different phases that go together.  If you apply divergent thinking, you can create choices that have not existed before.  When you go into the convergent phase, you are well prepared to find the right answer.

I often use iMindMapping software and techniques to achieve divergent thinking.  What process or tools do you use to stimulate your mind to create new choices for your future?

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Designing an Innovative Community Exclusively for OD Using Creativity and Imagination!

Susan T. Blake, U.S. Country Facilitator

Imagine a world where organization development practitioners can access a global platform and find the tools they need to be effective and to maximize an organization’s performance. Imagine a place where you could develop your own creativity and leverage this new found knowledge with clients in your OD consulting practice. Imagine an innovative virtual community built exclusively for those in OD.

I recently spoke with the CEO of Susan T. Blake Consulting, who is also the United States Country Facilitator with Sedaa’s Global Brain Trust. I asked Susan about the value she has obtained working across borders with other country facilitators in a virtual environment. I was also curious about how she came to be selected as the U.S. Country Facilitator.

Susan responded, “I found Sedaa’s Global Brain Trust through two different friends, who each recommended that I join the group. I was pleased to be invited to join this exclusive community for senior practitioners of OD. I was selected to be the U.S. Country Facilitator because I was fully engaged within the community. It was a good fit because I had a background in OD, I had a little bit of a sales background, and a variety of skills – all of which I call upon in this role.”

When I asked her to outline some of the highlights of being a U.S. Country Facilitator, she mentioned several, “I have learned about OD in other countries and I am expanding my global network exponentially. This experience has given me the opportunity to use and develop a variety of skills including OD, team management, dealing with change, as well as sales and marketing. Being a country facilitator has given me an opportunity to use and develop every skill I possess.

I am learning to be creative while I build global relationships and put together the appropriate tools for each individual situation. We have a terrific bunch of creative people who are solving the challenges of building a new virtual organization specifically for those in OD.”

I wondered, “How can someone become a country facilitator?” Susan responded, “As we build our OD community, we are going to be adding country facilitators from every country. It is a tremendous opportunity!”

Susan then issued an invitation, “Just come visit our web site and let us know if you have an interest in becoming part of Sedaa’s Global Brain Trust.”

When you think about it, OD has the potential to be a hot-bed of creativity. OD practitioners are in a position to help their clients by developing their creativity and innovation. They also use their own creativity every day while selecting the right tools and taking the best approaches to finding solutions for their clients. Creativity is all about putting yourself in a place of maximum potential and then maximizing the potential of the organization.

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Thank you Sabrina Gibson, Creative Connie Went From Novice to Professional Guest Blogger at Front End of Innovation Europe 2010 Within Six Months!

When I first began blogging I had no idea that my journey would take me to Amsterdam within six months as a guest blogger for the Front End of Innovation Europe 2010, an event sponsored by the (IIR) International Institute of Research.

Although I had vast experience selling emerging technologies and I represented internationally renowned thought leaders in the world of creative thinking and innovation, I was a novice at blogging. 

I had signed up for a social networking class with Sabrina Gibson.  We received our first assignment and we created a blogging strategy plan.

Now six months later, I responded to a bid to be a guest blogger for the Front End of Innovation Europe.  Imagine my delight and surprise when I was selected.  I was notified of my acceptance five days before the event would begin in Amsterdam. 

My assignment is to blog LIVE and post during the sessions while the speaker is actually speaking.  I also had to produce ten tweets each day of the conference and post on two websites, the website of Front End of Innovation Europe 2010 and my own website, Develop Your Creative Thinking.  I am up for the challenge.

Over the next three days, I worked 15 hours per day and generated 22 blogs within that time frame.  When I first arrived, I was asked if I had brought my camera.  I was taken by surprise.  I do not travel with my camera because I typically do not take photos.  Fortunately, I did have my iPhone with me and it has the ability to take photos.  Now, I realize not only am I to blog but I have to hop up and take photos as well.

When I returned home, I redid all of my blog posts.  Now they read much better and make more sense.  Despite many challenges, I am incredibly pleased with myself.  

Remember, it was only six months ago that I began blogging.  I am quite proud of what I have accomplished.  I assure you if I can learn to be this productive with social media and social networking due to the superb training from my incredible teacher, Sabrina Gibson, than you can also learn these same skills.  

I just want to express my deep gratitude to Sabrina Gibson for giving me the necessary skill set to prepare me to blog at a major international design thinking and innovation conference.  Thank you, Sabrina Gibson!

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