Monday, August 14, 2006


You never know what will be the next great idea. Last night, I awoke at 3:00 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep again. Prayed for awhile (I know there's fighting in the Middle East, typhoons in China, dead water in the Pacific, and children starving in Darfur, God. But I can't do anything about that. So, while my concerns kind of pale in contrast to those, they're still my concerns. Just in case you needed some reminding of what's going on here in my little corner of southwest Michigan....). Still couldn't sleep. So I decided to put my mind to work on some issues that needed fresh ideas.

Bam! Right off the bat, I had three great ideas for marketing the skills and products of three different clients of mine. And one good idea for marketing Geoff's book. They were so good and so novel that I wrote them down... in the dark... hoping I'd be able to make heads and tails out of my scribbling in the morning.

When brainstorms strike, it's best to write them down. You can always look back on them in the harsh light of day and evaluate whether or not you think they were as brilliant as when they first occured. But if you don't write them out as they come, often, they slip away -- never to return.

There's something to be said for setting your mind to work on a problem when it's in a different attitude than normal -- when it's a little sleepy, or distracted, or when there's contemplative music playing, or you're engaged in some unrelated physical activity. (I highly recommend stall cleaning for jump-starting one's creativity. It's an unparalleled activity for brainstorms.)

In Orlando, at the MEGA Book Marketing University, Jean Houston had us do an exercise in which we focused on each of our 5 senses, one at a time. "Can you smell fresh cinnamon cookies?" she asked. "Now, smell wet dog... How about lilacs in springtime... Now, smell the sea..."

Evoking scents, sounds, sensations, sights, and tastes was a controlled way to jump start our creativity. Once we'd "awoken" our senses, she suggested that we "drop in" a creative problem that we'd been wrestling with. Our awakened senses provided mental "hooks" that could snag portions of the problem and lead to previously unthought of possibilities.

It's an interesting exercise. And I have to say that it can be quite effective in opening new channels of thinking about a problem that has previously been considered "done to death." Of course, so can lying awake at 3:30 a.m. -- as long as you've got something nearby to scribble down the resulting brainstorms in the dark.

"Carol of the Horse" News

My good friend Wendy Demarest who owns and operates Gilead Elder Care, will have a booth featuring her elder care homes at the Berrien County Youth Fair. She has agreed to let us feature "Carol of the Horse" at her booth.

The idea just occured to me this afternoon. (It was not one of the 3:30 a.m. gems...) Anything that brings people to your booth at the Fair is a Good Thing. Plus, people with small children and grandchildren are the same people who are in a position of deciding what to do with their aging parents. It's a perfect complement to their target demographics.

When I brought up the idea to Wendy, she was more than happy to let us feature the book at her booth. Friends are golden.