Tools for Capturing Your Best Ideas

You know how, when you just wake up, or you’re taking a shower, or just driving around … you get a brilliant idea and wish you could just remember it long enough to write it down, or record it …

Well, INNOVATION TOOLS provides us with a gaggle of great tools (from high-tech to cheapo) to nail ’em down.

You’re probably already using one or more on this list, but if you have any others that work well for you, just enter them in “Comments’ below this post. (Someone once told me they use a soap that writes on shower walls … look for it in toy stores.)

Thanks again to Douglas E. Welch for this excellent site.



LISTENING with Love and Affection

My Valentine’s Day gift to you …

When I came across this article, which is a “summarized extract” from Brenda Ueland’s book, If You Want to Write, at the Global:Ideas:Bank site, I got so excited. I just had to post this even though the book is no longer in print (140,000 copies sold).

In my work doing career consultations with artists, musicians and songwriters, I hear them repeat some form of the phrase, “I just want to be heard.” (Often this is the driving force behind their yearning to express themselves, their thoughts or dreams or feelings … and just as often, it doesn’t seem to matter too much who is listening to them, so long as they’re heard.) At any rate, I’m made aware that many of us, as children, were not listened to, certainly not in any serious way. This is not to be confused with merely wanting attention. It’s a much higher ambition.

On the contrary, it’s clearly evident to me when I find someone who has had someone in his/her life who feels he or she was listened to (and taken seriously) in his/her youth … and also has someone in his/her life who is still listening to them, as Brenda Ueland says, “… with love and affection.”

When I worked (years ago) in Talent Development at Walt Disney Imagineering, several of us took an extremely helpful 3-day workshop called Leader Effectiveness Training. One of the most difficult sessions for all of us was the part on Listening. We all thought we had been doing that “all our lives.”

In one exercise, we were given scripts based on work-related problems. One person read his script and another was asked to repeat back what he thought he’d heard. What we learned was that anyone can repeat words back and say, “I hear you.” But what frequently is missing is the true essence underlying what is being said. Many of us in the exercise leaped to solve the work-related problem before completely understanding what the “real” problem was. This type of listening was difficult for us … much more intense and yet, invaluable. Listening that closely takes practice and patience!

My husband, John Braheny, is a consultant in the music business … and has, over the years, interviewed hundreds of music business celebrities (and behind-the-scenes stars too). His interviews have been printed in several magazines as well as broadcast “in flight” on United Airlines. He says he’s learned to make it a practice to get to the interview recording session early, and begin the interview with some easy “talk” because it often takes a few minutes (or longer) to have the interviewee relax and “open up.” He often gets them to tell stories they’d forgotten they knew. He’s very patient and is the best listener I know.

The Brenda Ueland article here is particularly good for writers, but whether you’re in the arts or not, I believe it has something to say to all of us, as a friend, a lover, a parent, a teacher, a manager, a husband or wife. Heck, if you’re around people at all, this is something you should read. And maybe pass it along to your Valentine!



QUICK! – Right/Left Brain Exercise

Brilliant … it’s harder than it looks … plus I laughed a lot. You just have to move your mouse in the OPPOSITE direction than you think you should. Up is down, for example.

Click here to try this fast little challenging game called


?Thanks to John Gabree for this one.



DANNY GREGORY – Make Creativity a Habit

This is a cool blog … especially the entry Danny Gregory made on January 03, 2005, “Early Morning Habits.”

He tells us how he managed to make “doing something creative” into a daily ritual, a habit. Yes, yes, I’m trying to do it too, so this is a good reinforcement.

P.S. Thanks again, Doug, for telling me about this.




That old adage, “Beware of what you ask (because you may get it)” is ringing true for me.

When I put the word out that I was looking for Web sites about the Creative Process, I wasn’t expecting to be overwhelmed with excellent info, all found on one site. But here’s one that knocked me out…

Take a minute (ha!) to explore Mycoted “… a small UK company which offers a range of services to assist in creativity and innovation.”

I was turned on to their super-organized database of Creativity Techniques which you will find very useful if you’re a Product Design Manager, or if you work on a creative team of any kind, or are simply working alone on your art/craft/script/novel/music. My favorites on the list thus far are “Brainstorming,” “Keeping a dream diary” and “Who are you.”

Finally [and I swear I’m not doing a paid advertisement for them], I really appreciate their list of Quotes … especially if you’ve ever come up with a concept and your client looks at you with a blank stare, telling you how “that won’t work…” These quotes will make you smile!

Example: “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

–Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

In fact, these quotes remind me of a great book called THE EXPERTS SPEAK. We refer to it often to remind our workshop attendees that even experts can be downright wrong in some of their judgments about creative ideas …




Here’s a swift motivational kick from ‘horror’ writer, Michael Montoure, to stir your juices.

“Don’t tell yourself, ‘This month I’m going to write that novel.’ Tell yourself, ‘Today I’m going to write five pages.’ And do it. Take your dreams and break them down into small pieces and you’ll have them in your hands before you know it.”

It’s worth reading the whole article …


Contributed (thanks) by my fellow blogger, Douglas E. Welch.



Author – David Keirsey

Of all the “personality tests” I’ve explored, I have found this one to be extremely useful as I consult with creative teams, songwriters who collaborate, design teams, any group that works together, to brainstorm projects or solve problems.

The first time I saw Keirsey’s ‘test’ was in his book Please Understand Me but now, you can take the Keirsey Sorter test online at and then read about your results. Of course, the two books featured below will provide you with an in-depth explanation.

[Yes, the test is similar to the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI), but then, both are based on the “Archetypes” work of Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung.]

For blog purposes, my brief translation of their terminology:

-Extroverted (you draw your energy from outside yourself)
-Introverted (you draw your energy from inside yourself)
-Intuitive (you operate from a hunch)
-Sensing (you require facts, figures, evidence)
-Thinking (more objective)
-Feeling (more subjective)
-Judging (more deadline-oriented)
-Perceiving (more open-ended)

We each possess a mixture of these in our behavior, but it’s helpful to see which quality is dominant in our personal work-styles. And equally helpful to you is to observe which of these qualities are operating in your co-workers.

Of all the tools in my arsenal, this one has been the most useful, simply for the vocabulary it provides. Once I’ve opened my workshops with this test, artists, co-workers and collaborators show a new respect for each other’s approach to a project. Things can flow again …


Great Book for Introverts


How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

by Marti Olsen Laney

I heard about this very helpful book recently on National Public Radio in an interview with the author. Valuable reading, whether you are an Introvert or an Extrovert. It explains a great deal about our work styles, creative process, and personalities … and how we, unconsciously, treat each other, rarely taking into account WHY others might not respond in the way we expect. It provides a useful perspective for:

– creative artists who collaborate with other artists

– parents with children who are more introverted or extroverted than themselves

– teachers with students who … (ditto)

– employers/managers who have employees … (ditto)

(More Kiersey information upcoming… next post.)


So, What’s Stopping You?

Here’s a helpful article for artists with ‘reasons’ why they can’t seem to get around to making art.

It’s a “Before & After” coaching success story from self-help author/lecturer, Cheryl Richardson.

Many thanks to my good friend, Linda Feinholz for providing this info.


Quick Creativity Exercise by Gerry Katzman

Here’s the good news: your creative muscles will respond immediately to even the lightest amount of training.

Here is an exercise that takes a second and will definitely increase your creativity by leaps and bounds.

Taking a composition notebook (the kind you had in school), write your phone number and the word “confidential” on the front. Get a pencil and place them next to your bed.

As you wake up, take whatever is in your mind — a thought, a feeling, a picture — and write it down. It can be one word, it can be one letter, it does not have to make sense or even be in a recognizable language. Whatever you’ve got in your mind, write it, draw it, scribble, or scrawl it. You are not making sense, you are simply catching an image and transferring it to paper. If you have nothing in your mind, write a line down the page and close the book.

You are done.

This exercise will reward your creativity more magnificently than you could ever think possible. With only one second every morning, you are telling your subconscious that what it has to say matters.

And with that, your unconscious mind will begin to flow you a river of new thoughts and ideas that will surprise even the most creative person among us.

Your conscious mind will be delighted to start the day with an easy task to accomplish and you may notice a greater sense of order throughout the day. But whatever the reason, this exercise works.

Soon, you will find your creative powers growing exponentially. Try it for one week and let me (Gerry Katzman) know your results. Write to Those who respond will be entered to win an opportunity to attend the next “Breakthrough Creativity Conference” for free!

This was found in Gerry Katzman’s recent article,

“Creativity — Key to Success,” published in Integrity Business & Consumer Journal, Vol. 1, #2),

Crisell Integrity Journal, 18421 Bessemer St., Tarzana, CA 91335.

(949) 742-0979.

Gerry Katzman’s clients have included Microsoft, ADM, American Excpress, The Anthony Robbins Mastery Tribe, and more.


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