Use The Power of Imagination to Boost Your Creativity

Man can create anything he can imagine.

Imagination—our ability to create images not available to the sensory system—is arguably our greatest faculty for evolving human consciousness. In order to transform ourselves and our world, we need to be able to leap out of the familiar and into the unknown.ideasNH

"Ideas are intangible forces, but they have more power than the physical brains that give birth to them. They have the power to live on, after the brain that creates them has returned to dust." Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich

Imagination is Think and Grow Rich fifth step towards riches and success in life.  It is through imagination wherein desire is crystallized into reality. Mr. Hill discussed in this chapter how man’s only limitation lies in the development and use of his imagination. Even after more than 70+ years after Think and Grow Rich was first released in 1937 and 100+ years after the idea was born, it is still the source of motivation, inspiration and success principle for so many…

Sparks For Creativity

A Universe Of Possibilitiesidea

I am so frustrated when I hear people describe themselves as not creative. If you consider it, each sentence we utter is a creative act. In fact, every problem, every product and every moment in our lives is an opportunity for creativity.

I just picked up a book from Tina Seelig, InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, and she said something that really resonated with me: "Creativity is an endless resource, and we can tap into it at any time."

Innovation Enginemodel

Seelig offers a new creativity model, that she calls the "Innovation Engine," to explain how ingenuity is generated and fostered. Chapter-by-chapter she explains specific tools, techniques and conditions that together enhance creativity in individuals, teams and organizations.

Her approach to unlocking creativity is a holistic one. Her model has six parts – three that come from inside of you (knowledge, imagination and attitude) and three that are generated by the environment in which you live (culture, resources and habitat).

"These are not isolated factors. You have to look at them in concert," Seelig said.

Knowledge, imagination and attitude overlap and are internal because they reside in the mind. Knowledge is the toolbox for your imagination; your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of your knowledge into new ideas; and your attitude provides you with the drive needed to push through difficult problems.

On the other side, culture, habitat, and resources are of the outside world. Culture, habitat, and resources influence the process by which imagination catalyzes the transformation of knowledge into ideas. Thus the individual and the environment are interdependent in interesting and non-obvious ways and essential for creative problem solving. 

Inventive Solutions

Seelig said both imagination and innovation can be fostered in a few simple ways.

Look at things from a new perspective. According to Seelig, we often allow our imagination to dwindle as we age. One of the way we do that, is by asking ourself constraining questions such as: 5 +5 = ?

“There is only one right answer. Really creative people don’t look at the world like this. They look at problems through different lenses and they reframe the problem,” said Seelig. Instead, creative people ask questions like this:  ? + ? = 10

Reframing the question this way, opens up the parameters and allows for an infinite number of inventive answers. 

Rethinking of failure as research. Even under pressure, you must not be afraid of failure, said Seelig. You can always gain knowledge from unexpected results. This way you won't won't fear being innovative, just in case things don't come out the way they are expected to. 

"We all have creativity within us," Seelig argues, "and there are endless opportunities to use it."

 Watch this TedX talk by Tina Seelig on unlocking creativity. Seelig will take you through her innovation model and the various components needed for creativity.tina

Your solution to their problem

Branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over your competition; it's about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. If they don't see you as the only solution, it means they're still shopping.

Rob Frankel, Branding Expertsolution 

Using Colors That Attract Your Ideal Clients

What Do Your Color Choices Say To Your Visitors?

The choice and combination of colors you select for your website (banner, call to action, or campaign) makes a nonverbal statement about your brand/business. The color palette is an essential and important element of your design. color

More importantly, color theory studies have shown that effectively leveraging the attention that is drawn by unique color can dramatically affect your conversion rates. Your choice of colors can attract your ideal client or customer and can motivate engagement by taking their attention to your site’s most important section or your call to action. The right colors have the power to evoke response that spurs the emotions you would like your visitor to experience. 

As a society, we’ve been studying colors and the associations behind them for a long time. There have been sociological and psychological studies performed, history studied, and more. No matter what is behind how we perceive colors, there is no denying certain colors evoke certain emotions. What are the colors of your website saying to your customers? The colors you choose should look good together, but they should also evoke the right emotions. pocketguide

I have compiled a handy Pocket Guide To Picking The Right Colors that you can Download FREE to use as a point of reference when considering specific desired responses. Our guide includes a list of emotions assigned to colors and combines the symbolism derived from mostly Western and North American cultural traditions. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and that each website and customer set is different. Different cultures, genders and classes have dissimilar preferences and attitudes. Emotional response from color also varies with age and sex. It's important to determine the target audience before choosing the right colors. MDCG also provides a customized color research service for your specific niche market in Custom Report format, or as an in-person consulting series. Contact us to learn more.

Making Color Convert

The key to making all of these color theories work is to determine what your visitors want, not necessarily what you want to sell them, and helping them to find and act on it. In other words, figure out what they are looking for and make it easy to find using a bold and contrasting color.

Ask yourself to start… “What responses will my ideal client will find most appealing? Which colors reflect my brand/business style and personality?”

Consider your colors…

RED is associated with love, passion, danger, warning, excitement, food, impulse, action, adventure.

PINK signifies femininity, affection, feeling good, well-being, softness. It is associated with sweetness, innocence, youthfulness, tenderness.

PURPLE indicates spirituality, dignity, royalty, authority, inspiration, power. It is associated with justice, luxury, fantasy, dreams.

BLUE is associated with trustworthiness, success, seriousness, calmness, power, professionalism.

GREEN denotes nature, health, growth, freshness, freedom, wealth, stability. healing, life, harmony.

YELLOW denotes happiness, intellect, activity, alertness, communication. It is associated with curiosity, playfulness, cheerfulness, amusement.

ORANGE denotes vitality, creativity, activity, sunshine, warmth, focused energy, endurance. It is associated with comfort, creativity, celebration, fun, youth, affordability.

WHITE denotes purity, spiritual strength, unity, harmony, perfection. It is associated with innocence, cleanliness, simplicity.

BLACK denotes power, elegance, protection, strength, impenetrability. It is associated with seriousness, mystery, secrecy and sophistication.

GREY is associated with neutralality, indifference, reserved.

BROWN denotes earth, simplicity, security. It is associated with grounded-ness, nature, tribal, simplicity.

GOLD denotes radiance, attractiveness, wealth, expansiveness.

SILVER denotes charm, mystique, understanding.

What Do Your Color Choices Say To Your Visitors?

If you want to use color theory to your advantage, step away from arbitrary choices. Choose your colors based on the two main criteria of readability and psychological association. This one little trick will help to reduce your bounce rate and make your landing pages far more engaging. Download our FREE Color Pocket Guide here. And contact us to learn more about how we can help you make good color choices for your brand and business.

Fresh New Launches

The consumer arena has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. 

There's a profound shift in power taking place in the business arena. With a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of Business 3.0, consumers are now attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were attracted to established brands in the past. In fact, 'established' is now often just another word for tired if not tainted. The future belongs to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS. A trend coined by

Upstarts are making waves: Newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive; consumers are rushing to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS and are now lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage and history.brands

With the democratization and globalization of innovation (not to mention the celebration of entrepreneurship), brands and individuals from all over the world, are now working around the clock to dream up and launch endless new products and services, that are truly better and more exciting than current offerings. Lower barriers to entry has gone from buzz phrase to reality, especially online. 

New players are by default more nimble and laser-focused on what consumers want now (as opposed to yesterday) than the bigger legacy-laden brands they compete with. Several forces are making consumers immediately comfortable with (and even prefer) turning to a fresh new brand:

The new products and services come from entrepreneurs and companies that are natives in a land where communication with brands is two-way, participatory and less reverential, and as such can connect with consumers in a way that older brands often struggle to. It's about speaking truthfully; doing what you say, saying what you do and not exaggerating who you are.

Simplified, transparent
Consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust. The fact that these companies are newly established, means that they often have ‘new’ business values – such as higher environmental, ethical and social standards – deeply baked into their business models and practices. Everything from transparency in labor practices, supply chains and design process, makes for reducing complexity – and therefore trusted – by consumers.

The opportunity to participate
As domestic production makes a comeback (because of factors like more affordable labor, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation) the U.S. manufacturing startup universe is experiencing a renaissance. And these startups are engaging at the local level giving consumers opportunities to participate and new ways to think about and connect with a brand. Choosing local is something people see as a way to make better choices. Whether it’s through offering financial support, by helping to shape a brand’s operations, or even by contributing to the product itself, customers of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS often feel more in control – a basic human desire – and that they have a meaningful relationship with the brand.

This trend won't wipe out all desire for brands with history and heritage. There will still be some consumers, at least some of the time, who will want to turn to established, proven products from trusted, well-respected brands, but CLEAN SLATE BRANDS is a trend driven by a profound shift in consumer preferences, and new businesses should question the attitude, tone, structure and approach of their brand. The characteristics behind successful innovative small businesses and fresh start-ups can be adopted by any brand, including old, big ones: seize the opportunity to do things differently. 

Here are just a couple of recent innovative examples via trendwatching:cleanslate


When Does a Designer Design?

The process of designing a website.designprocess

Just read a good post by Ben Gremillion in webdesignerdepot "To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information. The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. Design (the verb) is an intimate relationship between content and form."

How Does It Work?

Define the parameters
People are surprised to learn that design thrives on boundaries; problem-solving is a good exercise. Here are some parameters to consider:

Attention: “We want to make a lasting impression on people. What is our message? How many different ways can we express that message? What might distract people?”
Medium: “We need this to work in desktop browsers and on handheld devices. How can we write the same HTML for both?”
Budget: “How much can we do with the money we have?”

Ask questions.

“What do we want to accomplish?” is just the beginning, and “To build a website” is not a sufficient answer.
“Who are we trying to help, inform or influence?”
“Why should people come to us instead of the competition?”
“Who is responsible for what?”
“What do we need in order to launch, and what can wait for later?”
“How will we maintain this website? Who will make changes, monitor traffic and troubleshoot problems?”

“Has this been done before? If so, how can we improve on it? What mistakes can we learn from?”

When design is a process, then using layout, typography, color, line, form, contrast and technology solves the problems. 

A life that we need to celebrate

mandela“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ― Nelson Mandela

Our prayers are with you Mr. President.

How to Begin a New Creative Project

My biggest idea-generation secret.

How do I begin to tackle a new creative project?

People always ask me how I "get ideas"…either so quickly, or so many… or for projects in areas and industries that are not even in my realm of industry expertise…the answer (and one of my secrets) is that I'm never in the position of starting a project or creative endeavor, from a "beginning". My starting points are often far ahead. I've already researched and gathered hundreds of relevant examples and ideas that are ready to use, look at, applied to whatever project comes up. My ideation process is separate from that actual creative project…it's an on going habit of absorbing and harvesting absolutely everything.idea

My trick is that I am ALWAYS on the look out for ideas, and when I'm not on the look out, I still capture and save things I see that might have potential. All the time, everywhere…When I'm gathering in this way, I don't necessarily look for ideas for a specific project…I look at anything I'm inspired by. From multiple industries and sources. And I save. This is something that has become one of my best habits, one that has helped me for almost every single project I've been part of. When the pressure is on for a new creative deadline, I start with taking inventory of my collections, and from there I can build and solve and create. Having that foundation of resources, or hooks (that I've already discovered and labelled as "a great idea" either yesterday or last year)..makes the initial creative process for a new project so much easier. 

As I am in the business of connecting and transforming, I tend to look differently. That is another habit I've perfected as well. I "sweep" really…My idea gathering has a flow. It's like the ebb of the ocean, a constant energy…the sweeping waves never really stop, they speed up, they explode, they slow down, but there is always that current force…As I'm always in this flow when a new project comes along, I rarely antagonize myself into "being creative". I'm already in it.

I think of ideas as my design tools and construction blocks rather than solutions to the problem. I never really understood the "aha" moment…or putting ideas on pedestals. The final concept is built with ideas, from many different sources…unlike traditional design tools… "idea tools" need to be refreshed – often – so that's why, besides saving – I keep harvesting - first thing when I awake, in between client work, while I'm watching a movie, in the car, at checkout lines…I capture what's going on in marketing, promotion, branding, design, shape, copy, fonts, layouts…and I save it.

Idea gathering is so important because ideas cannot be generated instantly when a project needs one. Ideas are formed from masses and piles of insight and inspiration, and thoughts…

Anyone who needs to find solutions to problems and think of new ideas should have an idea vault…not just "creatives". In my next post on this subject, I'll tell you fertile places I go to harvest for my idea vaults.

Making It Meaningful

Recognition is a transformative force for good in helping businesses reach strategic objectives.

An article in Incentive Mag from expert Roy Saunderson, a nice list of trends to be aware of when thinking about what's really going on in the employee mindset in regards to incentive engagement. He says: "Recognition, done right, allows people to express authentically how they feel about their peers and the contributions they make. Vendors and practitioners must now learn to reinvent themselves and the way recognition will look and is managed in order to lead out into the future." These top 10 trends are thoughtful insights for taking us into an exciting new year in 2013.rewards

1. Expect a flood of immediate mobile recognition. 
As recognition apps increase we’ll see recognition becoming more prolific as employees using their mobile devices to acknowledge and praise peers near and far.

2. Social recognition supplants reward platforms. 
The use of social media type recognition given via à la Facebook-like platforms is expected to race ahead of using traditional recognition portal programs which have a strong rewards component embedded in them.

3. No excuses — more people will get recognition right. 
Educating on the why and how of meaningful recognition giving will come alive through mobile access for learning via online courses, written content and video modules to develop employees at all levels.

4. Recognition will become even more interactive. 
Face-to-face video capture and the spoken word will likely be explored as the next medium for sending personal messages of praise and acknowledgement besides the tried and true written and graphic formats.

5. A little more personal, please. 
Personalization of recognition will be front and center as a strategy for giving more meaningful appreciation in the workplace. Employers will capture recognition preferences with onboarding new employees and expect more manager interaction to do the same.

6. Give me the cards I want. 
Employees will no longer be satisfied with mainstay gift cards from big box stores and established suppliers. Employees will demand to receive customized cards from meaningful places they prefer and not just what the employer deems everyone should get.

7. Greater transparency with greening of recognition. 
Employees have little trust for corporations’ claims of supposed eco-friendly practices with gifts and packaging. Best to provide simple and clear proof of “green” efforts and keep educating everyone regularly on what you are doing.

8. Employers want better linkage of recognition to results. 
Technology enables improved tracking and recording, not just of recognition actions, but also results achieved. Visualize leader boards online with movement tracked of progress on strategic initiatives along with recognition given.

9. Need for better data not just big data. 
Good data is useful recognition metrics for greater employee insight and employer decision making to enhance employee loyalty and engagement. Imagine data with personalized information promoting preferred rewards that will help increase point redemption from programs.

10. Putting recognition into employees’ hands. 
It’s happening already with demand for increased peer-to-peer recognition tools. By giving more recognition power to employees you remove the barriers of management and their myths that have inhibited recognition giving for too many years.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer for Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute,, which consults with and educates companies on how to get recognition right. He can be reached at Tune in every Tuesday to hear him on Real Recognition Radio.


Robots for Humanity

Are robots the future of healthcare?

From microbots that scrape plaque from arteries to personal assistant robots that help care for patients, medical robots are transforming the face of healthcare.

A range of innovations, from new software to new devices, will transform the way all of us interact with the health-care system—making it easier for us to stay healthy and, when we do get sick, making it easier for medical professionals to treat us. Changing not just how medicine is practiced but who is practicing it. healthrobots copy 2

IBM's Watson—the same machine that beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy—is now churning through case histories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. Are doctors necessary? Just how far might the automation of medicine go? 

In the next few years, thousands of 'service robots' are expected to enter the healthcare sector. And that's no surprise considering the mounting financial difficulties the industry faces. Robots like the Aethon TUG can complete the work of three full-time employees, yet it "costs less than one full-time employee.

This new robotic breed is boasting features increasingly found in smartphones, gaming consoles and other consumer electronics, from advanced sensors and motion detectors to powerful microprocessors and voice activation. The service robots are self-aware, intelligent and able to navigate changing environments such as the chaotic hospital settings.

In Brazil and India, machines are already starting to do primary care, because there’s no labor to do it. They may be better than doctors. Mathematically, they will follow evidence—and they’re much more likely to be right. 

Earlier in 2012, robotics firm iRobot built an emerging technologies group in partnership with InTouch Health to put its AVA telepresence technology to better use. As a result, the two companies developed the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, or RP-VITA, which combines iRobot's AVA telepresence units with InTouch health's distance education tools, creating a system that allows physicians to care for patients remotely.

In the future as the innovators imagine it—“Health 2.0,” as some people have started calling it—you would be in constant contact with the health-care system, although you’d hardly be aware of it. The goal would be to keep you healthy—and any time you were in danger of becoming unhealthy, to ensure you received attention right away. You might wear a bracelet that monitors your blood pressure, or a pedometer that logs movement and exercise. You could opt for a monitoring system that makes sure you take your prescribed medication, at the prescribed intervals. All of these devices would transmit information back to your provider of basic medical care, dumping data directly into an electronic medical record.

Some healthcare problems facing humans can be solved today by machines that function like humans.ibot

Medical Devices Changing Patient/Doctor Communication

When we think of breakthroughs in medicine, we conjure up images of new drugs or new surgeries. When we think of changes to the health-care system, byzantine legislation comes to mind. But according to a growing number of observers, the next big thing to hit medical care will be new ways of accumulating, processing, and applying data—revolutionizing medical care. 

At the recent FutureMed, (an annual conference on medical innovation that brings together financiers, physicians, and engineers from around the world) offer a future in which it is possible to deliver highly personalized care without necessarily having to do it in person, or even with a doctor.

Some examples:traigebot


Computer engineers at Vanderbilt University have teamed up with emergency medicine specialists at the school’s medical center to explore how robots could improve the chaotic process of prioritizing incoming ER patients. They envision robots, dubbed TriageBots, which would check patients in, gather their medical records, administer diagnostic tests and work with doctors to provide preliminary diagnoses and allocate medical attention according to need.

While people wait in the emergency room, they would sit in special "smart" chairs stocked with interactive diagnostic equipment that could relay more comprehensive data to medical personnel. Based on the level of urgency, the triage bots could either immediately notify medical staff or give the patient an estimated wait time. Mobile robots would circulate around the waiting room to check on the status of patients awaiting care and reallocate priorities if necessary.

It looks like Vecna Robotics’ battlefield soldier robot Bear will have some competition thanks to a U.S. robotics start-up developing similar robots. Formed by MIT alumni sometime around 2007, Hstar Technologies is partnering with a number of tech companies and medical institutions, including the Harvard Medical School and Veterans Hospital. Among their first products to enter the market will be the RehaBot, which exercises the upper and lower limbs of patients severely impaired by musculoskeletal and traumatic brain injuries.nurse

Hstar Technologies plans to market a military version of the robot called cRoNA (with the “c” likely standing for casualty).  It will be used to extract wounded soldiers from the battlefield, putting it in direct competition with Bear.  However, Bear’s lead of several years (and its more powerful strength) will give it an edge if they’re comparable in price.  The ability to move casualties without putting other soldiers in the line of fire has obvious benefits, but there’s yet another possible use for the robot.soldier

Another major project in the works is RoNA (Robotic Nursing Assistant), which can lift and move patients in excess of 136 kg (300 lbs).  As already pointed out by Japanese researchers working on a similar nursing assistant called RIBA, nurses risk serious injury when lifting patients.  According to Hstar Technologies, nurses sustain more injuries than any other U.S. profession and most occur when moving patients.