Charles T. Lee Author, Speaker, Idea Maker 2016-11-21T22:54:48Z http://charlestlee.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Charles Lee <![CDATA[Change Your World Through Gratitude]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10922 2016-11-21T22:54:48Z 2016-11-21T17:03:12Z Gratitude Starts with Attitude There’s no doubt we live in a world of deep uncertainty. It’s not that difficult to become pessimistic about what our present looks like and what

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Gratitude Starts with Attitude

There’s no doubt we live in a world of deep uncertainty. It’s not that difficult to become pessimistic about what our present looks like and what our future holds. It’s far easier to complain about what we don’t or won’t have than it is to be grateful about all that we already do have.

I forget about gratitude whenever I get myopic in my life and work. How often have we felt sorry for ourselves for not having the careers or family life that others have on social media? How often have we projected our envy as criticism towards those who have succeeded further in their dreams than ours?

The truth is that our lives are probably not as bad as we think nor as great as we project online. I would assume that for most we are somewhere in the middle. We just flip flop our perceptions when convenient. Yes, I’m guilty of this. You’ve heard it before… Gratitude starts with attitude and a posture that unleashes live and joy into our being.

Say Thank You Today

As we approach this holiday season, it’s a natural time for all of us to slow down a bit and reflect upon this past year (or years) of life and work. Taking a moment to pull out names from our memory of people who made a difference in our life is a great practice to engage. I won’t pour any guilt on you for not doing this earlier. I’m probably writing this in part to remind myself of this annual activity.

Let’s spend a few minutes today or tomorrow to communicate our gratitude to people in our lives that have invested into who we are today. It may be a family member, friend, co-workers, client/customer, or even someone you’ve never met, but have appreciated from afar online. Whoever it may be, take some time to write them a card, send them an email, or post a comment on their respective feeds.

In addition, take a moment to write down (yes, on that thing called paper) a list of things you are grateful for. I think you’ll find something to note. If not, you really need a vacation or some friends!

Enjoy this season and embrace their simple practices of gratitude to realign your life to things that really matter.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

 

 

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Vijay Kumar on Why Design Thinking is Crucial to Innovation]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10914 2016-11-17T04:24:00Z 2016-11-17T04:23:26Z IDEATION PODCAST INTERVIEW In this episode of the Ideation podcast, innovation consultant Vijay Kumar discusses how organizations and individuals can apply design thinking when developing creative solutions to problems. Here

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IDEATION PODCAST INTERVIEW

In this episode of the Ideation podcast, innovation consultant Vijay Kumar discusses how organizations and individuals can apply design thinking when developing creative solutions to problems.

Here are the show notes from this episode:

How to Overcome the Obstacles of Executing Human-Centered Design 

Avoid Blind Spots

Organizations must be careful not to develop narrowed-thinking when creating innovations to solve problems.

Building Innovations for People

Rather than focusing on the problem, innovators should have a clear understanding of the end user.

Practice Empathy

Innovators have a high level of empathy in order to understand how and why a customer will use a product or service. Develop a clear understanding of the end user and avoid making decisions based on assumptions.

Think of Innovation’s Environment

Take a step back and ask who will use the product or service and in what context. Understanding the entire context and environment in which a product or service exists is key to developing a successful innovation.

Breeding a Culture of Innovation at Your Workplace

“Cultivating an innovative culture is the most difficult challenge any organization faces and the biggest challenge to being successful in your innovation.” says Kumar.

Empower the Individual

Empowering individuals to be champions of innovative actions will help organizations succeed as a whole. Kumar uses Proctor and Gamble as one example of a company that embodies empowerment.

Make Innovation a Team Effort

Organizations should practice teamwork and approach innovative thinking as a collaborative effort. Try making your project a multidisciplinary effort, connecting individuals across departments. Innovation is often sparked when seemingly unrelated ideas intersect.

Integrate Processes – Because individuals have unique processes to approaching an issue, it is important  to develop a process that all members can agree to. Collaborative discussions that facilitate open mindedness can help companies integrate individuals into a cohesive team.

Measuring Success – 10 Types of Innovation

Kumar says that there is no single measure to an organization’s success. Organizations should review and measure innovations based on qualitative data rather than just focusing on quantitative measurements. Using the 10 types of innovations as a framework, organizations can map how successful the company has been in each area of innovation.

Resources for Further Discovery

The Design of Business by Roger Martin

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley

Claudia Kotchka

101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.

ABOUT VIJAY KUMAR

Vijay Kumar is a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design in Chicago. He is an innovation consultant, coach, and adviser to global organizations for the use of structured methods for conceiving reliable human-centered innovations and turning them into strategic plans for organizations. Kumar has dedicated his entire career to the study of strategic design planning and methods. His interest in design thinking was sparked by interactions with famous American designers Charles and Ray Earn. While attending design school in India, Kumar was fascinated by the way the designers approached innovation, realizing how the human mind makes connections for creatively solving complex problems.  Kumar has consulted to global organizations such as Autodesk, McDonald’s, Motorola, Pfizer, P&G, SC Johnson, Shell, Steelcase, T-Mobile, Target, Texas Instruments, and Zurich Financials among others. Kumar is the author of the book, “101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.”  He is an Honorary Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.

 

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Seth Godin on Living with Purpose & Mission]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10891 2016-11-02T21:38:34Z 2016-11-02T06:34:03Z IDEATION PODCAST INTERVIEW  Seth Godin discusses on the Ideation Podcast how entrepreneurs and idea makers can better discover their purpose and life mission. Topics discussed in this episode include:  

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IDEATION PODCAST INTERVIEW 

Seth Godin discusses on the Ideation Podcast how entrepreneurs and idea makers can better discover their purpose and life mission.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

 

Creating a Mission for Your Life

Seth shares his personal journey that led him to discover his purpose.

  • “[The]ability to matter is open to just about everyone. And for me mattering means changing something.”
  • Successfully fulfilling your mission doesn’t come without failures.

 

Habits for Success

Seth explains the pitfalls of looking for a formula for success.

  • The secret to success is there are no shortcuts. “The seeking of the habits is a way of hiding. What you’re hiding from is responsibility. The responsibility to be in a situation where you are afraid. That’s what it means to make change – is doing something that might not work.”
  • The real formula to success is overcoming the fear of failure in order to find out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Successful people aren’t successful because they did something others couldn’t; They did what others didn’t. He offers as an example American poet Sarah Kay who began performing her poetry at fourteen. “Sarah cared enough to do something that might not work. And when it didn’t work, to do something else again. So that’s the only habit. The habit is signing up for a practice where you are willing, in a respectful way and with dignity to other people, to expose them to ideas that might not work.”

 

Practical Applications for Cultivating an Idea Mindset

Seth lists important steps to putting ideas into action, which he covers in depth within his 4 week intensive online workshop, Alt MBA

  1. How to have a perspective that is different from everyone else.
  2. How to make the right decisions with practice.
  3. How to persuade other people to support your ideas.

 

Staying True to Your Mission – Amidst Opportunity

Seth offers tips for entrepreneurs and idea makers to stay on the right path. He explains:

  • Why principles are a key factor in continued success.
  • …we do our best If we know other people are watching us…And if we can just apply that principle from the first day to the last it so much easier to be consistent in what you stand for.”
  • The value of learning to be different, creating your reputation, remaining consistent with your principles, and setting boundaries of what you will and will not do.

 

Inspiration for Pursuing a Life that Matters

Seth mentions the most important lessons that he has learned from the individuals who have inspired him the most. His list of influencers include:

Susan Piver – writer, teacher and founder of the international mindfulness community, The Open Heart Project.

Lewis Hyde – professor and author of The Gift.

Catherine Hoke “Cat” – Founder of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a nonprofit organization that serves men throughout the Texas prison system.

John Wood – Founder of Room to Read, a global non-profit organization focused on literacy and gender equality in education. Room to Read raised a quarter of a billion dollars to build schools around the world.
 

Looking Ahead to the Future of Social Innovation

Seth offers his perspective on the current state of society and how it will shape the future. He weighs in on the issue of global warming and the implications it will have for us in the near future.  He also discusses how innovation in self -driving automobiles will soon change our transportation system and how artificial intelligence will usher in new possibilities, and maybe even bad outcomes in the very near future. Seth references  The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel he recently read, saying “it blew me away.”
 

Tips to Encourage the Hustling Idea Maker

Seth provides final thoughts for those working hard to put their ideas to action, imploring idea makers to make connections now. Successfully sharing your ideas and innovations is understanding that there is much greater value in reaching a small audience than casting a wide net. He says that the key is earning the trust of a small group, and if they believe in your ideas, they will share them with their audiences. If they don’t, keep working to create something better. He says that success is achieved when you can “connect  people with something that they will connect other people with.”

 

If you are on iTunes, please don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast!

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Discovering Purpose: Start with Volume]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10872 2016-07-06T17:17:32Z 2016-07-06T17:17:32Z What’s Your Purpose? Discovering one’s purpose in life is truly liberating and invigorating. Whenever I come across an individual who appears to have a clear sense of purpose for their

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What’s Your Purpose?

Discovering one’s purpose in life is truly liberating and invigorating. Whenever I come across an individual who appears to have a clear sense of purpose for their life, I can’t help but ask how they got to their level of clarity. For me, there’s nothing more empowering than to know who you are and why you exist (i.e., to what end). This type of knowledge has the power of infusing hope, inspiring actionable ideas, and guiding day-to-day decisions.

How Did You Discover Your Purpose?

One response I hear often from those with a clear sense of purpose is that purpose is discovered through spending a large volume of time and effort in developing one’s (often potential) expertise. While it would seem ideal to know one’s purpose before engaging a path of development, that is rarely (if ever) the case. We have to spend significant time developing multiple areas of expertise that might eventually help us discover our purpose. In addition, purpose itself can and should become more refined over time.

Here’s an animated video I came across a few years back that captures some great thoughts by Ira Glass on the importance of volume.

A Journey to Purpose

My personal purpose in life is to reduce the percentage of people who take their ideas to the grave. I not only find great satisfaction in helping others actualize their ideas, but truly believe that when people implement passion, our world becomes better as a result.

My journey to this purpose took years of exploring multiple pathways in life and countless hours of developing my ability to help others execute on their ideas. I didn’t initially understand why my path took me through learning and engaging multiple fields of study and industry. I felt more like a wandering generality than a meaningful specific. Nevertheless, over time, I realized that all of my experiences were culminating into creating a company that would help serve people and brands across industries to better implement and scale their ideas around products, services, and campaigns.

I used to feel a lot of regret around what I thought was “wasted time”. I used to wish that I had more direction during my childhood and young adult years to streamline my efforts. But now, I’m thankful for the path I took. It may have taken longer than most, but I feel much more prepared to handle any challenges that come my way when it comes to idea-making.

I’m not sure if we’re born with purpose, but I’m confident that purpose can be discovered when we put in the time and work it takes to see it clearly.

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Learnings from Iterating Our Business]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10826 2016-05-12T18:23:38Z 2016-05-12T16:41:12Z Change is Inevitable. Progress is Not.
Every business experiences change, but not every business will experience progress.

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Change is Inevitable. Progress is Not.

Every business experiences change, but not every business will experience progress.

Progress is the result of strategic efforts made by businesses to refine who they are, what they do, and why they exist. Progress takes focused effort and commitment to meaningful iteration over time. Accidental progress (i.e., reactive happenstance) may occur from time to time, but the kind of progress that elevates business at its core requires strategic building.

Our company, Ideation, recently went through another cycle of iterations over this past year that has refined our business design. We originally started the business in 2009 as a branding firm that delivered brand strategy and related design deliverables. During the first 3 years, we tried lots of different creative service deliverables in order to find an emergent product or service that would distinguish us from our competition. We worked on everything from developing processes for extending brands, product innovation, network & partnership strategy, integrated marketing, event production, app & platform development, and whole list of other services. We knew early on that distinctiveness in offering would require a significant volume of work to “find ourselves” as a company.

In 2013, we entered our second cycle of iteration as a company. As we reflected on the various types of projects and clients we had engaged over the first 3 years, it was clear that a thread began to emerge that highlighted our core competency. Our uniqueness was rooted in our ability to move complex ideas, plans, and visions into a strategic pathways for day-to-day execution. We saw a clear opportunity to bridge the world of strategy with the world of creative execution. We had developed turnkey processes and pathways to steward and project manage ideas from inspiration to implementation. We were fortunate to have on our team experienced strategy consultants, talented creatives, and strong project managers. So, we began to tell the story of idea-execution as service.

The Challenge

While we were gaining clarity internally within our company about who were and what we were providing, it was still difficult for many outside our company to create a new category of business outside of traditional consulting groups and creative agencies. We were neither, but kind of both. Our premise was that effective execution requires skill sets from both worlds. Nevertheless, it was not easy to communicate. The struggle continued to iterate forward.

Seeking Advice & Wisdom

In 2015, I decided to invest in seeking wisdom from mentors and those who I have admired from a distance. Learning has always been a big value of our company, but I needed make a personal commitment to grow as the founder. I started to reach out to people I knew and some I didn’t to see if they might be consider contributing to the success of our company. Yes, I called in some favors. I also started taking courses online to further refine our business model and future direction. As a result, in late 2015, we were able to identify what our next iteration of our company would possibly look like.

Aha Moment

It became clear to us as we learned from others and gathered input that we were creating a new category of business. Could this be a disruptive innovation (borrowing the words of Clayton Christensen)? Maybe. We’ll see.

We identified a void that exists between the work of large consulting firms and the large creative agencies that work with leading brands. Executives needed help in translating what strategic plans meant for their respective business units and creative support to better execute on their ideas, whether internal or external facing. Many lacked the strategic and creative support needed to ideate and execute on innovation concepts. We discovered that our type of company was a perfect fit for this level of engagement and execution. We didn’t have to become a large strategy firm nor a large creative agency. We needed to focus our attention on mixing strategy AND creative to help executives refine and implement their ideas. It was a simple idea yet we didn’t see too many other companies in this space go for this opportunity. Most were either individual consultants who didn’t have a creative support team or large entities that couldn’t or wouldn’t engage at this low end. For us, we had found our niche. We exist to help executives refine and implement their ideas with creative support. Word has spread quickly about our work because we’ve found a tribe that needs what we do.

Our latest iteration as a company has focused us in a way that we’ve been looking for over the past 6.5 years of existence. While I know this is not the last iteration, it’s clear that we would not be where we are without a commitment to iterating progress.

Questions to Consider for Your Business

  • How does your organization iterate itself?
  • What are some intentional things you could do to iterate forward whether as an individual, team, or company?
  • Who do you learn from and how do you learn best? Is your learning diverse?
  • How do you record your progress?

Let’s keep moving forward friends. Our future versions of our companies can be much better than anything we can imagine today.

Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Moving.

Ideation – An Idea Execution Company from Ideation on Vimeo.

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Doing Your Job Is Not Enough]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10781 2016-05-02T16:53:44Z 2016-03-23T16:47:45Z "As long as you get your work done, you'll be okay." False.

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“As long as you get your work done, you’ll be okay.” False.

No matter the age, profession, or size of company, there still appears to be this belief with many in the “workforce” that as long as we complete the tasks assigned to us by our bosses, clients, and/or project management software, we are “successful” in our work or career. It’s as if many approach work like a factory worker who works within their respective lane of activity and hopes nothing interrupts what they need to accomplish to keep the lines moving. Or maybe, some of us have never shaken off the poor habit from school of doing the most minimal amount of work possible while still getting a passing grade.

Knowing what to do isn’t even half the battle.

I know you’re probably super intelligent and up on all the business and professional development trends and insights. That’s why you keep reading these types of posts and articles. Let me bring you into a little secret, most posts and articles are written to increase click throughs, sales of ad space, and primarily provide super high-level insights about whatever is hot at the moment. It’s not to say you can’t get anything good from magazines, blogs, and news sources, but you have to be able to see what they’re actually selling you.

Over time, if you’re not careful, you’re actually going to believe most of what’s written and it will skew your view of reality. It will easily make us feel smarter than we actually are, more relevant than we know what to do with, and more entitled without actually changing our lives. Kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster, no? Generalizations about market research, trends, “best practices”, etc. are just that…generalizations.

Here’s a crazy thing about knowledge in general. It makes you think you are doing something even when you’re not. It’s much more enjoyable to think about what could be, what should be, and why it’s not happening. Knowledge should propel us to move beyond the expectations in our lives, but isn’t it ironic that it often keeps us stuck where we are by distracting us in the hypothetical?

I can’t tell you how many people I meet that are so “forward-thinking” and yet default to an antiquated approach to moving forward. Look, if you want get ahead, it’s less about changing your workflow, hours, etc. and more about going above and beyond anyone’s expectations and doing the hard things that build your life and career.

Work harder, think smarter, and produce louder.

I can’t think of anyone (outside of the few that have simply inherited “success”) who have accomplished something significant without going beyond their day-to-day job requirements. Going through life by doing the minimal and being an exemplary employee should never be anyone’s goal. We have to thrive beyond what’s expected, fine tune our ability to think clearly through the noise and distractions around us, and speak up by producing great work that we’ve created to better our lives and the world we live in. Of course, I’m not saying that we work ourselves to death. (Then again, I don’t think workaholism a problem for most of us.) Wisdom is usually in the middle somewhere. In this case, it sits between the extreme of minimalism and workaholism.

Still reading this?

Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of this post. I really do believe all of us have the ability to rise above the expectations that others put on us. I’m not even saying that we have to meet their expectations. What I know to be true (which you can test in your own life) is that no one is going to hand you success. You have to go after it. For me, this has very little to do with money and a whole lot more to do with purpose. My drive is rooted in my desire to live out my purpose. I realized early on that my purpose can’t be rooted in some job description that my boss gives me. Nothing on paper is ever going to encompass all that I am purposed to do. This means that I have to make time and work towards building things that can’t be confined to a day’s work. Some call this over-delivering, but I feel that it’s really just living out who I think I’m designed to be.

Maybe some of you were born with some supernatural talent. I’m a little jealous but very happy for you. For the rest of us, let’s step it up a bit and experience life more fully. Let’s not make excuses and lean on articles written about what we’d like to be. Life is short. Let’s go do something meaningful.

 

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Always Look for “Number 2”]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10775 2016-05-02T16:54:56Z 2016-03-16T16:15:21Z While the face of the brand is usually super inspiring and talented, good leaders surround themselves with a great "#2".

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Looking Beyond the Face

Most companies have a go-to face for the brand. It’s usually its founder or CEO. They are usually the ones speaking, taking interviews, and providing vision for the organization. They usually have the “goods” for inspiring others and making core decisions that impact the future of their respective brands. They are often strong communicators and carry a presence into most rooms. These are the individuals that most people outside of the organization want to connect to and get to know.

Don’t Forget #2

What I’ve learned over the years is that while the face of the brand is usually super inspiring and talented, good leaders surround themselves with a great “#2”. These are often the softer spoken and behind the scenes individuals who really help to inform and guide a company (as well as its CEO). They care less about being the face or drawing attention and more about making sure the organization fulfills its purpose.

I have yet to meet a great leader that doesn’t have a great #2. These are unsung heroes of an organization.

Find #2 & Learn

I usually do my best to connect with people in this role. I find that they have so much to offer with both insights and opportunities for connection. They probably know many areas of the runnings of an organization that the CEO or founder may have no idea about. They know the ins and outs of what makes their brand work. In addition, these individuals are generally far more accessible and have a spirit of mutual learning that sometimes CEO’s and founders don’t have. I think it’s in part because they are in a role where they have to continue to learn and be on their game to better support the organization.

Next time you’re in a room of “#1’s”, always look for their “#2’s”.

 

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[Surviving (& Thriving) through the Hype Cycle]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10753 2016-05-02T16:55:35Z 2016-02-18T17:50:48Z Most ideas are filled with hype. Understandably so, good ideas are designed to take us beyond where we are to where we could be (which is usually a much better place).

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Most ideas are filled with hype.

Understandably so, good ideas are designed to take us beyond where we are to where we could be (which is usually a much better place).

Now the challenge…

Choosing to engage or not engage a “good idea” is something we all have to make a decision on quite regularly. There are so many ideas and so many factors that drive their success. How do you manage risk? A lot of this really has to do with our understanding of where the idea sits in its hype cycle.

There’s a helpful graph called the “Gartner Hype Cycle” that was originally designed to describe the cycle that technology ideas go through into order to move from an idea to deployment into the market. In my opinion, the descriptions and key moments in this cycle also provide helpful insights into other industries that seek to navigate idea implementation.

Gartner Hype Cycle.001

As described by Gartner, the Hype Cycle drills down into the 5 key phases of a technology’s life cycle:

Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.

Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.

Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

How do people use this in decision-making?

People use this frame of understanding to make some of the following plays on ideas:

  • Early Adopter Approach – These individuals are willing to combine risk-taking with an understanding that risky investments don’t always pay off jump in early with the idea and choose to stay with the idea through the phases. Most who engage this early have the ability and resources to withstand the early phases.
  • Moderate Approach – These individuals are moderate in their approach and need a sound cost/benefit analysis when new ways of doing things are not yet fully proven. These individuals will join the efforts much later on in the process and are willing to give up the “up side” by coming in when there’s more basis for engagement.
  • Further Maturation Approach – These individuals will not move when there are too many unanswered questions around the commercial viability. They do not mind waiting until others have delivered tangible value.

A few things to keep in mind…

No matter when you engage a new technology or an idea, it’s important to keep in mind the following:

  • Ideas go through hype cycles. Most good ideas will experience inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, slope of enlightenment, and plateau of productivity. Ideas are fluid and require maturing over time. It’s the nature of ideas being implemented.
  • Patience is still a virtue. There are very few if any overnight successes with ideas. Being patient and committed to delayed gratification is a must. Think long-term.
  • Play it smart. We all have varying degrees of risk tolerance and it’s okay. Understand what you’re able to withstand as well as who you’re working with since most ideas don’t happen in a vacuum and alone. Do you know the risk tolerance of others in your team or the team of the one you are investing in?

A point of reference like the Hype Cycle can provide much needed framing for our pursuit of ideas. Take a moment and see where your idea sits in this cycle. It is possible to not only survive this cycle but also thrive through it.

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[3 Minute Focus Exercise]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10732 2016-05-02T16:56:04Z 2016-01-11T16:39:23Z A Discipline Worth Fighting For   It’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus on an idea or project let alone clear headspace to reflect and create. The tantalizing noise that surrounds us

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A Discipline Worth Fighting For

 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus on an idea or project let alone clear headspace to reflect and create. The tantalizing noise that surrounds us often ends up consuming us. This is unfortunate because any significant requires our undivided attention for its execution. If you have a desire to create things filled with beauty, meaning, and intuitive simplicity, you’re going to have to focus. I’m reminded of what Steve Jobs once said…

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Focus is birthed out of discipline and discipline can only take shape as you work on it each day. In the area of focus, I do a quick 3 (sometimes 5) minutes exercise daily that helps me both refine my ability to focus and create space in my thinking to decompress and realign my thoughts. I hope you find it helpful in moving your ideas forward.

 

  1. Pick a small item. This could be anything like a object on your desk, toy, fabric, product package, picture, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything of great meaning to you personally.
  2. Spend three minutes looking closely at the object. Pay attention to the small details (e.g., color, threading, shapes, design, texture, etc.).
  3. Note one new insight about the object. Take a few seconds to mentally note or put on paper one new insight or perspective you’ve gained from the exercise. It’s doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Just one thing you walking with that you’ve learned to appreciate more.

 

Doing this everyday with objects that don’t necessarily have immediate impact on your life or work is healthy. It forces you to strengthen your ability to focus as well as allows you to take a break from the madness of noise that sits all around you. Try it for a month and let me know what you think.

 

Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Moving.

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Charles Lee <![CDATA[3 Key Insights to Moderating Memorable Interviews & Panels]]> http://charlestlee.com/?p=10728 2016-05-02T16:56:34Z 2016-01-05T17:24:22Z More than Public Speaking   Public speaking has been a part of my professional life for 25 years now. I enjoy engaging audiences with relevant topics that add value to

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More than Public Speaking

 

Public speaking has been a part of my professional life for 25 years now. I enjoy engaging audiences with relevant topics that add value to their life and work. Good content delivered in a memorable fashion often sparks beneficial change in the lives of the people experiencing the presentation. It’s an honor to speak and I’m thankful for each opportunity to do so.

More recently, over the past 5 years or so, I’ve been approached with increasing regularity with opportunities to moderate interviews and panels. This is a new area of learning for me and I’ve found it to be quite challenging to moderate interviews and panels in way that will be memorable for the audience. It’s quite different than presenting content as a speaker. Good moderation requires different modes of thinking and focused execution. I’ve come to enjoy these opportunities very much and have committed a good amount of time becoming better at it over the years.

Here are 3 insights I’ve gained in moderating memorable interviews and panels. I hope you find them helpful if you find yourself in this role.

 

Insight #1 – Center the conversation on the one(s) being interviewed.

This sounds like common sense (because it is!), but it’s surprising to watch so many moderators who think the center of an interview is the one interviewing. Good moderators know how to contribute meaningful questions and content without being the center of attention. It’s important for moderators to really focus in on the words coming out of the interviewee or panel members rather than running through a list of questions they want to get through. While it’s definitely essential to be well prepared with questions, it’s even more important to be present in the moment as the conversation is unfolding. I always try to put myself in the shoes of the one(s) being interviewed to think through their mindset and hopes for the conversation.

 

Insight #2 – Think deep rather than broad.

No interview will be able to cover everything the audience wants to hear about. Unfortunately, too many moderators react to this by only asking surface questions that cover a broad spectrum of topics. Ultimately, the audience leaves the experience feeling like they really didn’t get anything substantive out of an interview. I’ve found that it’s better to go deeper on a few topics than go broader with many. I will often search online for other interviews that my interviewee has participated in and take time to listen and try to understand their unique perspectives and even behaviors during interviews. People generally enjoy more substantive content and this can only come by going deeper, especially since most interviews are limited in time.

 

Insight #3 – Bridge application for the audience. 

It’s important to make sure bridge application points during the tail end of an interview when possible to help the audience internally articulate what they’ve just heard. I try to think ahead on what potential points of application that may come out of the interview. While I may not use all of these application insights, I do find that I do use many of them if I have done a good job of preparing for the interview. This really helps to “bring things home” at the end of the conversation and nicely frames the interview for the listener so they can walk away with something tangible.

 

If you are a moderator or have moderated in the past, what are some things that have helped you in preparing for interviews? I’d love to learn from your experience.

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