Have You Been Outside The Box?

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Have you been outside the box? If not, you may want to read this. If you have, keep it up and be inspired! eBook produced by YourBrandExposed.com talking about Innovation, creativity and thinking …

Have you been outside the box? If not, you may want to read this. If you have, keep it up and be inspired! eBook produced by YourBrandExposed.com talking about Innovation, creativity and thinking different. http://bit.ly/fTaCKL

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  • 1. OUT SIDE HAVE YOU BEEN OUTSIDE THE BOX?BY SCOTT MACFARLAND SEPTEMBER | 2013
  • 2. OUT SIDE What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear or read the phrase “Think Outside The Box?” I know, it’s somewhat of a cliché, and overused, but I feel it is worth discussing, because it’s highly relevant with today’s marketers. As a marketer, content producer, creative, blogger, strategist and entrepreneur, my mind is trained to think differently. Outside The Box if-you-will. It doesn’t happen because I just turn it on, and it doesn’t just happen because I have filled my brain with books like The Man Who Thought Different, Poke The Box and others like them. It certainly doesn’t happen because I read and write blogs about innovative topics either. Thinking outside the box happens when I least expect it. It happens during unplanned, unscheduled times. It happens when my brain is not working overtime to accomplish my work. In fact, I find that my out of the box thinking happens when I am unplugged from the digital world... Imagine that. I have come to value my out of the box thinking tremendously. I noticed that this creative thinking of mine has been interrupting my brain waves for decades, and I have come to rely on it. I can’t imagine being in a non-creative, non-innovative job that does not require me to bring my innovative, A-game along with ideas that make an impact. I am thankful that I never let myself be put in a box. I am also thankful for all those people that encouraged me to think creatively and dared me to be different. If we would like a more formal, collaborative definition of thinking outside the box, let’s take a look at what Wikipedia says. The words unconventional, creative and different standout. “Thinking outside the box (also thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. Thinking outside the box (also thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking.” Source: Wikipedia 1 OVERVIEW OVERVIEW OVERVIEW
  • 3. OUT SIDE Sir Richard Branson has a rather profound statement he made in a short, but powerful blog post called “Thinking outside the box.” What he said in his blog is probably never thought about when you look at it from one perspective. However, from the other side, it’s quite profound. My suggestion is, just don’t go anywhere near the box. “I wince when I hear the words ‘thinking outside the box’. You will never have to think outside the box if you never Let anyone build one around you.”                                                                                    -­‐  Sir  Richard  Branson As I browsed the internet looking for some quotes that caught my attention, I came across a website called ThoughtCatalog.com. Hmm, I thought, this could be a good place to look I said to myself. As soon as I clicked on the link and went to the home page, I no sooner saw the page come up and then read a quote, “25 Wise, Inspiring Steve Jobs Quotes That’ll Make You Want To Change The World.” Thinking outside the box is a lot like being an inventor. It’s doing something that has not been done or has not been thought of yet. “Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.” -­‐  Steve  Jobs Here’s a quote from freelance writer Nadia Goodman who talks about “3 ways to Think Outside The Box.” She’s definitely got some pretty cool ideas that I think are worthy of adopting. She’s in pretty good company too! “…if you're looking for new marketing strategies, list ten things you could do on Facebook or five ideas that involve crowdsourcing. Play with a variety of prompts and write down whatever comes to mind, no matter how loosely associated.”                                                                                                              -­‐  Nadia  Goodman QUOTES 2 QUOTESQUOTES
  • 4. OUT SIDE In August, 2013 I attended a conference in Boston called Inbound. It was produced by HubSpot, the leader in marketing intelligence tactics and software. One of the things that caught my eye as I enjoyed the few days I was there was, they crafted large creative boards used for dividers to create private space during the conference for people to sit and do work. Interestingly enough, these boards were very intelligent in their make-up and caught the eyes of thousands of marketers like me. These boards had profound quotes and sayings on them like the ones below. There were two that caught my attention the most. I do feel that they are applicable to what we are talking about in this eBook . Thanks HubSpot. MARKETERS Photos of graphics captured at HubSpot Inbound Conference Boston: August, 2013 3 MARKETERSMARKETERS
  • 5. OUT SIDE Two books I found inspirational in my journey to think outside the box INSPIRATION The Man Who Thought Different By Karen Blumenthal A few pages back, I referred to this book. If you have not read it yet, and you value creativity and out of the box thinking, I highly suggest you get a copy and get started. What I really like about the book is, it places value on people, ideas, crazy, nutty ideas that could possibly change the world. Steve Jobs was one of those people. Apple is one of those companies. Your ideas could be something that changes the world and is considered an out of the box idea. Don’t ask yourself why?, ask why not? Your vision, passion, creativity and desire to be different will separate you from the competition. Poke The Box By Seth Godin For years I conjured-up wacky ideas that go nowhere. For years I have been thinking of business ideas that stay in my mind, or live on my computer and don’t go any further than that. What I have learned from all of this thinking is that I need to “Poke The Box” as Seth Godin’s book says. Just keep doing it, and see what happens. We will never know what the result is if we don’t poke, poke and poke some more. As a kid, I was insatiably curious. That curiosity carried over to my adulthood and has freed me up to think creatively and think outside the box. Or better stated, to Poke The Box with many different ideas. Sometimes I am poking too many and I need to harness my thinking. Other times I am challenging myself to poke even more. Either way, I am challenging you to poke. Poke something that you don’t think should be poked and see what happens. Poke an existing idea or business model from a different angle, or different vantage point. Who knows, you just might find gold. 4 INSPIRATIONINSPIRATION
  • 6. OUT SIDE BRAINSTORM As I read different people’s opinions on how to think outside the box, I keep going back to my days working for agencies. Continually, we had to produce incredible, award-winning ideas for our clients. I figured out that there are a few things that are common to all of our brainstorm sessions. Here are 3 tips I have experienced that tend to work very well. Start with a Brief: Everyone in the brainstorm session always had to work from a creative brief. This was a short description of the client’s needs, goals, desires and parameters. All the information in the brief was part of the framework to help us stay focused on being creative and innovative. Without the brief, there would be too much freedom and that produces ideas that are not relevant and pretty soon, the entire session gets off track. Quick outline for Brainstorm Brief / Session • Set parameters and framework • Get a whiteboard (a big one) • Listen to everyone and write everything down • How does the best idea solve a problem or need? • How does the best idea fit into the mission and goals? • Don’t worry about money, market and resources – yet (think big or don’t think at all) Inspiration Triggers / Ideas: Where does this inspiration come from? Well, each person is different. I like to get mine from print ads, TV commercials and websites. Print Ads are especially good because they don’t move, you can’t hear them, they are not interactive and they don’t tap into your senses very well. If a print ad is good, and it gets your attention, imagine what you can do with a medium that taps into the powerful world of your senses. Find ways to accomplish that. Encourage the Ridiculous: This may sound weird, but it actually works. Allow the people in the brainstorm session to pretty much say anything as long as it is in-line with the creative brief. You never know what you are going to come up with and when the ridiculous ideas flow, the creativity comes, and the out of the box thinking becomes normal. That’s when the abstract thought becomes the genesis of your next campaign. 1 2 3 5 BRAINSTORMBRAINSTORM SESSION TIPS
  • 7. OUT SIDE BUSINESS As I thought about this topic, my brain went in a about 20 different directions all at once. I was on Linkedin, Google, Entrepreneur, and many more websites… you get the idea. I had a hard time harnessing my no-focus brain. Of course, then it came to mind. Aaaah… enter the creative brief. SO, I started documenting a brief outline of what wanted to accomplish. I have to admit, Linkedin was a huge resource tool for me as I love the way they aggregate information and serve it to members like me. I came up with three companies that I feel are Thinking Outside The Box. Let’s first take a look Alltop. Let’s get right to the chase. This is all about trends. You can look for information in many categories and market segments, all of which are current. I did not count each and every topic, but I would venture to say there is about 700 topics. One of them is sure to fit your industry or business. Coolbusinessideas.com is a little different. It’s all about locating promising, new business ideas and getting those ideas in front of people. It’s actually very simple. I guess they took the advice they got in B-school and went for broke on simplifying their business model for success. Well, I guess they succeeded. If you are looking for a new idea, product or business, look no further. There are hundreds right here for review. The first words I saw when I went to the Kickstarter page recently was “Bring Creativity To Life.” How appropriate as I search for businesses that are thinking outside the box. You may have heard of this company before, because it has been talked about quite extensively. It provides people with ideas to raise money through the concept of Crowdfunding. 6 BUSINESS Three Businesses that are Thinking Outside The Box BUSINESS
  • 8. OUT SIDE INNOVATION It's a weekend, and what am I doing? I am researching innovation, creativity, and ways to think outside the box. Today, I came across some information that some of you may find very useful. I know I will put it to good use. Author, Marc Heleven calls it the Innovation Cheat Sheet. This is Absolutely brilliant. Thanks Marc for the great idea. Check out Marc's website here. Here’s a snapshot of The Innovation Cheat Sheet. You will have to go to the website to learn more. Trust me, it’s worth it. The Innovation Cheat Sheet was derived from www.7ideas.net 7 INNOVATIONINNOVATION CHEAT SHEET
  • 9. OUT SIDE BLOGS HAVE YOU BEEN A Consultant’s Unique Perspective OUTSIDE THE BOX? Innovation and Sharks...What’s the link? Understand - Adopt - Ignore... Which one? Do you know how to spark your creativity?
  • 10. OUT SIDE BLOGS A Consultant’s Unique Perspective As I spent several years as a consultant serving many industries, the one thing I probably value the most is that I discovered that successful business is not linear. Many of my clients had very similar challenges, yet almost all of them solved them in different ways. The most enlightening piece of it all was, I got to be the person in the middle of all the moving parts, as the orchestra director if-you-will. I learned the most from seeing different businesses with similar challenges solve them in completely different ways, using different tactics and strategies. As a team, we did not know what the solution strategy was going to look like until it was a success. Sometimes we failed first, then made tweaks and failed again, and then the success happened. As a consultant, we are not the silver bullet with all the answers. We are informed advisors that look at the problem through a different lens. That consultative lens has value because it has experienced a wealth of challenges and learned to adapt to the business environment and culture around them. I was inspired to write this blog article because I saw Richard A. Moran's article on Linkedin recently called "Should everyone work in consulting? (At Least for a few years). As I read this, I instantly thought about all the instances when my client work with sometimes vastly different types of companies had problems that were almost identical. What a learning experience, and what an opportunity to experience business in the trench - I loved it! Innovation and Sharks… What’s the link? Sharks, as scary as they are, have a common trait with healthy businesses. Yeah, we don't think of sharks as innovative, however, they always move, this keeps them alive.  Innovation is the key to moving forward in new and different ways, trying new things, with success and failure. This is the key to learning and forging ahead, you know, breaking new ground. We cannot keep pace with the ultra-fast business community if we don't do this. Like Sharks, who will die if they don't keep moving,  we will also die if we don't keep moving and innovating. So, listen up businesses, let your employees innovate, let them think out of the box, let them create, connect and innovate. This is the secret sauce to keeping your business alive. YourBrandExposed.com is designed to look at digital with an eye into the future with a creative, innovative marketing angle. A truly unique perspective for truly unique audience - marketers!  9 BLOGS YourBrandExposed.com Blog By Scott MacFarland BLOGS
  • 11. OUT SIDE BLOGS Understand – Adopt – Ignore…Which one? As marketers, we are faced with technology and information overload on a daily basis. Social media has made our jobs much easier in some ways, and tougher in others. With new web and social tools coming out all the time, we have to make it our jobs to understand them, potentially adopt them or ignore them. Okay, so which one is it? Understand, adopt or ignore? Hmm… not an easy answer is it? To Understand means to wrap your arms around it, and figure out how it works, and figure out if you can adopt it to be an effective tool for your brand and team. It also means, can you fit it into your existing structure so that you are not dropping something else that is important. That's where it gets really tough. To adopt obviously means you have done your research and due-diligence to the point where you absolutely know this could work out to your advantage. The latter… to ignore means, you have done enough research to know that this is not going to work, at least for now. Here's the tricky part. If you want to be innovative, you have to be willing to take risks. That means, adopting and testing knowing that it might work or fail, but you are not sure. That also means, after the adoption process there could be another category called "test" or "trial." That is an entirely new topic that we will dive into another time. However, it is extremely valid. My suggestion is to think about a few things before you launch yourself into a never-ending research cycle of trying to discern whether something is worth adopting or not. Here are a few things that are great baseline questions to ask yourself before adoption should begin. • Does this fit into your goals as a marketing department? • Can it be integrated with your existing team? • Is there a cost associated with it? Can you afford it? • Does the operational functionality of it require more time or less time? • Is it increasing ROI and decreasing cost? If not, how to you account for that? • Does it fit into the existing toolsets you currently use? These are just simple precursory questions you need to think about before mission-critical actions take place. In simpler terms, before you get other departments involved in integration and/or purchasing discussions. 10 BLOGS YourBrandExposed.com Blog By Scott MacFarland BLOGS
  • 12. OUT SIDE BLOGS Do you know how to spark your creativity? We all know, the word “creativity” comes in many forms and has a different meaning for everyone.  The idea behind this writing is to tell you a little more about how I have figured out how to access it. Below are 7 ways in which I can almost guarantee I will get the results I want. Regardless of the type of creative thinking you need to do, you need to find out how to tap into it, and harness it when you need it. This process and the result can be somewhat random and I truly believe that if you ask anyone to be creative on the spot, most people will tell you to go fly a kite, it doesn’t work that way. In my career, I have been in jobs in which I was paid to be creative like that, and it is extremely hard. Here are a few ways that work for me. Give ‘em a try, who knows, maybe they will work for you too. Left Brain vs. Right Brain Did you know that creative thinkers use the right side of their brain more than the left? Of course, you will never know where you are unless you take the test.  Here is a Creativity Test.  (Courtesy of the Art Institute of Vancouver) Take it, and you will learn a little more about yourself. After I took the test, I realized that I am 49% Left brain and 51% Right brain. According to the Art Institute of Vancouver , I am a creative thinker!  I guess that’s good news. Okay, what does it mean?  I really have no idea, but I do know that when I want to think creatively or out-of-the-box, I need to make sure that I am doing at least one of the items below or several of them at once (Oh, by the way, the test above won’t tell you this). Traveling and Airports I found out years ago that whenever I was traveling and had to spend lots of time in airports, my brain was inundated with new thoughts and ideas about my work. If I had a project in mind in which I wanted to come up with some new ideas, traveling is usually what allowed me to come up with some new concepts. Part of this is because my brain was not overloaded as usual, and also because airports have lots of advertising messages and visuals that give my brain idea after idea. Most people don’t like airports. I am not like most people. Exercising Whenever I exercise, (which is usually almost every day), my mind takes a mental break from the norm. This mental break frees-up space in my brain and also opens the front door so-to-speak for new ideas to come in. I find it very helpful for me to come up with innovative ideas. The hard part is, unless you write down these ideas, they will leave your brain just as fast as they entered. I lost many great ideas because I didn’t write them down. Note to self... write them down, text yourself, do whatever it takes to recall that great idea. continued>> 11 BLOGS YourBrandExposed.com Blog By Scott MacFarland BLOGS
  • 13. OUT SIDE BLOGS Do you know how to spark your creativity? (continued) Drinking Coffee at Starbucks I know this may sound weird, however, when I spend time sitting at a Starbucks, in an airport, at a street side cafe, etc... If I am going there to relax, and not rush somewhere. This also becomes a great place to think.  The catch is... It must be a relaxing environment, not a planned, timed stop.  The casual atmosphere, filled with people, smells, music, and movement is a creative trigger for my brain. Listening to Music Listening to music is a great way for me to free my mind from the normal monotony of work, life, and the day in and day out rat race of life.  If I am listening to music (which I occasionally do), sometimes it creates a stream of consciousness that can become very creative.  Okay, here’s the weird part. If any of the other items listed above are combined (and they are once in a while), then I know I can pretty much guarantee that my brain will be filled to the brim with creative, innovative ideas related to my work. Yes, certain types of music work better at certain times, don’t ask me why, I really have no idea. I just know with me it works that way. Movies Going to the theatre can be one of those goldmine places for me, as it is a dynamic environment filled with sound and imagery that is front and center, and like electrodes connected to my creativity. I have taken away from movies many great ideas for campaigns over the years. Next time you go to a movie, leave your phone turned on, and open up an app that let’s you take notes - really. Then, when the moment hits you, type away.  I usually don’t enjoy the movie as much because I am busy typing. The Pirates of the Caribbean was a movie that gave me several great ideas for a product launch campaign I was about to start the following week. That was the most helpful $8 movie I ever saw! Train your Brain Sometimes, the new ideas that are infiltrating my brain cells are not always what I had in mind. These mostly random pulses of cerebral energy are triggered by extraneous thoughts, images, sounds, music, people, smells, my geographic location and other stimuli that allow my brain to break free.  I have found that I can prepare my brain ahead of time to think about topics in which I need some innovative thinking. If I do this, then, when the time is right, and the physical setting is in place... Ba-boom, the creative flow beings. - pretty cool huh? So train your brain, it really will help you to stay on top of your game. 12 BLOGS YourBrandExposed.com Blog By Scott MacFarland BLOGS
  • 14. OUT SIDE ENTREPRENEURS HAVE YOU BEEN Gary Swart Joseph Scholz OUTSIDE THE BOX?
  • 15. OUT SIDE ENTREPRENEURS Linkedin Quote from Gary Swart – CEO, oDesk As I was spending some time researching how to think outside the box, I came across many quotes and articles. This one seems to sum it all up, especially if you want to grow and be challenged. When we are looking for new ways, new frontiers, we must leave our comfort zone. “Growth comes from being outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself.” - Gary Swart Quote from my former Boss Joseph Scholz – President, Ryah Creative Group When Joe told me this, I was pretty nervous. I remember sitting in his office when he initiated a teachable moment to me as one of his employees. Joe, now a long time business owner of Ryah Creative Group in Florida obviously doesn’t just give advice, but lives it, and has adopted his own principles. That is a trait that is not always used by professionals. This applies to all types of business and all jobs. At the time I was a producer / account director for a small agency. Managing client work, budgets, creative and of course client expectations and change – That was the tough part. I have used his quote hundreds of times over the years and it has served me well and many of my employees too. – Thanks Joe. “You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” - Joseph Scholz 14 ENTREPRENEURS Profound quotes from entrepreneurs ENTREPRENEURS
  • 16. OUT SIDE HAVE YOU BEEN OUTSIDE THE BOX? SOURCES
  • 17. OUT SIDE SOURCES 3 Ways to Think Outside the box By Nadia Goodman http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224807 http://nadiagoodman.com Alltop: www.alltop.com CoolBusinessIdeas: www.Coolbusinessideas.com Kickstarter: www.Kickstarter.com ThoughtCatalog.com By Christopher Hudspeth http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/25-wise-inspiring-steve-job-quotes-thatll-make-you-want-to-change-the-world/ Thinking outside the box By Richard Branson http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/thinking-outside-the-box#! Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking_outside_the_box Karen Blumenthal Author: The Man Who Thought Different http://www.karenblumenthal.com/ Seth Godin Author: Poke The Box http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/ Innovation Cheat Sheet By Gary Swart – CEO oDesk http://www.7ideas.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Innovation-cheat-sheet.pdf http://www.7ideas.net Quote from Gary Swart – CEO oDesk Linkedin Article: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130830131114-758147-the-future-of-work-part-ii-10-tips-for-professionals?trk=tod-posts-art- Ryah Creative Group http://www.ryah.net YourBrandExposed.com A Consultant’s Unique Perspective http://yourbrandexposed.com/Welcome_to_YourBrandExposed/Blog/Entries/2013/8/28_A_Consultants_Unique_Perspective.html YourBrandExposed.com Understand – Adopt – Ignore…Which one? http://yourbrandexposed.com/Welcome_to_YourBrandExposed/Blog/Entries/2013/8/13_Understand_-_Adopt_-_Ignore..._Which_one.html YourBrandExposed.com Innovation and Sharks… what’s the link? http://yourbrandexposed.com/Welcome_to_YourBrandExposed/Blog/Entries/2013/8/3_Innovation_and_sharks..._whats_the_link.html YourBrandExposed.com Do you know how to spark your creativity? http://yourbrandexposed.com/Welcome_to_YourBrandExposed/Blog/Entries/2012/2/26_Do_you_know_how_to_spark_your_creativity.html 16 SOURCESSOURCES
  • 18. OUT SIDE END 17 YourBrandExposed.com | Scott MacFarland scmacfarland@yahoo.com | 561.339.2278 Scott MacFarland is a seasoned veteran in marketing, digital, content creation and creative innovation. His career has allowed him to work in many industries serving both domestic and international brands. His passion is business innovation, digital, and creative intelligence. You can read more by visiting www.YourBrandExposed.com. Scott proudly works at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts as a Director of Marketing and Strategic Communication. He also is a marketing consultant, strategist and entrepreneur. SCOTT MACFARLANDSCOTT MACFARLAND