July 2015

Childlike Creativity

2017-03-01T11:55:13-04:00 Categories: Destination, grow, SandBlog|Tags: , |

At Idea Sandbox we talk a lot about being childlike and using your imagination… how solving problems is about creativity and how creativity is driven by your ability to imagine new ideas…

I found this interesting bit about being more like a child in Rob Eastaway’s book, “Out of the Box: 101 Ideas for Thinking Creatively

Adults are often overly concerned about thinking and saying what they’re expected to think rather than what they really think. Young children have a refreshing honesty about them, and divert their energy to new things that excite them.

He continues to say that there are three stages of life:

From 0 to 4 years old is the “Why not?” stage.
From 5 to 11 years old is the “Why?” stage.
From 12 onward is the “Because” stage.

This because stage is where we start to conform to adulthood and lose the “curiosity and wonder about the world that leads us to ask those crucial questions, “Why?” and “Why Not?”

To be more creative, you need to recapture some of the behavior of your childhood.

August 2011

Remove Idea-Blocking Obstacles with Conducivity

2011-08-01T20:37:03-04:00 Categories: Destination, solve|Tags: |

Day in-and-out we spend a good amount of our time coming up with creative ideas, solving problems, and making decisions. With focus, concentration, and inspiration, we are better and faster at these applied thinking skills.

Your boss just let you know – due in 48 hours – is the “big idea” that will build awareness of the new ready-to-drink beverage that is flopping. My guess is that sitting at a melamine covered desk, with gray cube walls, florescent lamps, message light blinking, and e-mails pinging isn’t the most effective place to hatch this killer solution. You need CONDUCIVITY.

Yep… a conducive, stress-free space that’s comfortable, free of distraction, and full of inspiration.

Tim Gallway in his book “The Inner Game of Work: Overcoming Mental Obstacles for Maximum Performance” outlined this formula…

Performance = potential – interference

The ability to be innovative and create new ideas is governed by our POTENTIAL minus the INTERFERENCE… Interference may include… lack of confidence, lack of process, lack of support, or in this example, a lack of conducive space.

Sounds great! How do I avoid this interference and find conducivity?

As an Individual

We spend a lot of our time at our desks, perhaps in a cubicle. Surround yourself with stuff that inspires you. Listen to music that gets your creative juices flowing. (Wear headphones, your tunes may not be what works for a cube-mate). Put on your cube walls pictures of your family, your kids, people who inspire you. Post pictures of your Imaginary Board of Directors. Call on them for help.

Create a Library, Cabin, Sci-Fi, or any other themed cube inspired by Kelly Moore’s book Cube Chic. If you’re the boss, try office modification.

If your desk won’t work for you – find another space.

As a marketer with Starbucks Coffee, I found it less distracting to be in a Starbucks cafe than in the Starbucks offices. Even though the cafe was noisy and busy, I didn’t have my real distractions – a phone, e-mail, and friendly co-workers.

Discover what works best for you.

As a Group

Stay out of the bored room! If your conference rooms suck the life out of you – trust they won’t be the space that will inspire you.

Besides that, it may be the very room where they came up with the idea that isn’t working (re: RTD flopping). Einstein once said… Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.

So, if your conference rooms are uninspiring, perhaps you need to build a space within your office – a CreativityLab – an in-building idea clubhouse.

If that is still too close to distraction, leave your building altogether.

There is no formula or prescription that works for everyone. Figure out what works for you and your team. You may find inspiration in a bowling alley, public library, or far-away resort lodge. Whatever you discover – go for it! Discover conducivity.

March 2011

Brainstorming Studios: Redefining Meeting Space (Literally)

2018-05-14T23:08:52-04:00 Categories: create, Destination, grow, solve, think|Tags: , |

Our current options for great places to hold meetings are minute compared to the number of important out-of-office meetings we conduct.

While there are a handful of creatively crafted locations in the United States, our overwhelming options are hotel meeting rooms and professional meeting/convention space. Boring space. Millions upon millions of square feet of plain, multipurpose rooms. Tan rooms filled with long tables surrounded by expensive chairs.

Below is a Google image search for the term “meeting space.” This is one page, with 30 images, of over 38 million images featuring the same of the same of the same.

But, we don’t have much choice.

Meeting space is a commodity. We get it free when we book enough hotel rooms or buy the catering department’s food package. We then pay crazy-ass prices to outfit the room with basic equipment (LCD beamer, flip chart stand). Yet, we have to settle for this arrangement as it is the only offering.

This is far from a place where we could see the room itself as a tool to help us generate ideas. What I’ve described so far are merely people containers. The positives are (1) we aren’t at the office, and (2) the pool has a swim-up bar.

Form Can Follow Function

Yet, a model exists where form follows function… Movie Studios and Recording Studios.

These are spaces designed and built for a single function. They are controlled environments, fully equipped with the proper tools. They are staffed by professionals with specific skills.

The movie studio has a soundstage and backlot. The lights, camera, and action are all there. Everything you need to make a great movie. A recording studio is designed to achieve desired acoustic properties and equipped with recording and mixing tools. Everything you need to record a song.

This is a concept we understand and value. The word ‘studios’ is fairly synonymous with ‘specialized purpose.’

Brainstorming Studios

Idea Sandbox is designing and will be building Brainstorming Studios. Just like movie and recording studios, our Brainstorming Studios are designed, built, equipped, staffed, and environmentally controlled for the specific function of brainstorming – turning your brain into an idea machine!

Idea Sandbox plans to do for meeting space, what Walt Disney did for carnivals and amusement parks.

February 2011

Idea Sandbox: Think Tank – 20,000 Leagues Under DC

2018-05-14T23:06:50-04:00 Categories: create, Destination, grow, solve, think|Tags: , , , |

Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Thank goodness Jules pursued his passion for writing instead of law (for which he attended university). And, had a good publisher friend in Pierre-Jules Hetzel – who helped improve Verne’s writing.

My impressions of Jules Verne have come via Walt Disney, specifically the 1954 movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Submarine Voyage ride at Walt Disney World in Florida.

In my desire to build a the perfect space to brainstorm, “think tank” came to mind. And, if you’re going to build a think tank, what better location but a submarine.

Brainstorming 20,000 Leagues Under DC

[Click for Larger View]

The secret to brainstorming and strategy-building is a combination of gathering the right people, using the right process, in the right place.

The Idea Sandbox: Think Tank will be the right place. This is one of four spaces, designed – using art and science – for the sole purpose of creative thinking and strategy building.

Aboard Think Tank, is as far away as possible as you can get from the corporate board bored room and tan hotel conference rooms.

In this “right place” I will help you bring the right people, and will lead you through the right process… with the sum greater than the parts – the perfect brainstorms will take place.

This article provides a preview of Idea Sandbox (the place) I’m designing and plan to build in Alexandria, Virginia – just outside Washington, DC.

Idea Sandbox is the antidote to boring, uninspiring, and ineffective meeting spaces.

Idea Sandbox turns brains into idea machines!

The above image was completed today and will be included in my investor pitch materials. After all, without the image – asking someone to invest in a space where brainstorm in a submarine, tropical hideaway, genius lab, or explorer’s library may sound crazy!

September 2010

World’s Greatest Brainstorming Destination

2018-05-14T23:03:33-04:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: |

How would you like to be a part of creating the best meeting space in the world for brainstorming?

The place built from the ground up for the sole purpose of helping people create remarkable ideas. The Disneyland for the mind. The place that “turns brains into idea machines.”

The time is now. The place is here.

From this point forward, I’m committing myself to keeping the promise I made when I launched this site

From me… I promise to provide regular updates on the project. I’ll share where I am in the process. I’ll share the key decisions I’ve made. I promise to invite each and every one of you to the grand opening AND will offer each and every one of you something special if you bring your teams to the Idea Sandbox to find the solutions to your challenges.

From you… I want your honesty. Your thoughts. Your feedback. Your input. If you were to spec a dream space to bring your team – what would it be like? What have the barriers been at your organization to turning a flip-chart page of ideas into reality? How can you help make this the right place for the left brain?

Welcome aboard! For those of you standing, please hold onto the handrails throughout our journey.

Check out this “deck” below as an orientation of what Idea Sandbox is about. I prepared this in August 2009 as a way to brief the folks who are designing the Idea Sandbox spaces.

(Direct link to SlideShare Presentation)
More, more, more to come!

November 2009

Off-Site Meetings: Last Century Technology

2012-05-07T22:30:51-04:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

Did use an abacus or slide rule to build your FY’10 budgets?

To prepare and distribute information about next year’s Marketing Plan did you use a typewriter and make a duplicate with a layer of ink paper?

Or did you hand crank copies on a Ditto (or Verifax) machine?


Of course you didn’t. That would be crazy and inefficient. We have invented better and more efficient tools.

With that said.. while we are in the 21st century… there is a tool that is stuck somewhere in the mid-1900s: The Off-Site Meeting.

It is interesting we don’t perceive meetings as a “tool” the same way we do a photocopier, computer, or even the coffee maker.

And, of all meetings, the “off-site” is critically important. So important, it warrants sending a hand-picked group away from the office, sleeping away from their families, huddled in a hotel conference room for three days, not allowed to return with out “the plan.”

Yet we put no thought to the meeting room. It is a “people container.”

Meeting Space = Commodity

Look up commodity in the dictionary, and there will be a picture of a hotel meeting room. Tan. Accordion folding walls. Wall to wall patterned carpeting. Sweaty pitchers of water dripping into black coasters. A small paper pad and hotel logo pen. Sums up 99.9% of the meetings and conferences you’ve attended, right?

And we don’t care… when we book it. We ask the office admin to call around and find a cheap place that can hold the number of people we’re bringing. If there was a preference, it would be something like: “Oh, let’s stay at that place we were last timelikes their Caesar salad.”

Yet, as marketers and business people we intimately understand the importance of environment and ambiance and the affect it has on behavior and action. We create it for our customers everyday. Especially right now, the holiday season is when we pull out the stops! Christmas lights, holiday music, decorations, special programs and themes… All this to create a more pleasant environment mood and environment conducive for purchasing.

Pay Per Stomach

And the hotel doesn’t care… what you do in the room. They just want to know how many stomachs will be present.

Catering Manager:

    “How many?”

Your Assistant:

    “18 maybe 20.”

Catering Manager:

    “Okay, that’ll be $45 per person for breakfast, buffet-style lunch, and an afternoon snack.”

We literally pay “per stomach.”

And, because the rooms are where hotels make their money – book enough rooms and there is no additional charge for use of the room – just the food costs. But, of course that does NOT include all the tools for the meeting itself. Add on fees for renting the projector, a mic, access to the internet, easels, flipcharts…

The room is tan to be generic. To accommodate yesterday’s Bar Mitzvah, your meeting today, and the wedding reception this weekend.

That is the venue that we think will inspire the multi-million dollar strategy and “killer idea?”

Today’s meeting spaces are the equivalent of using the Ditto machine. With hard work you can crank stuff out… But your results will be inconsistent, sloppy, and slightly blurry.

The Solution?

Hire A Better Space – If you’re going to have an off-site where creative thinking, problem solving, and new ideas are involved – get yourself into a space that will inspire you – yet not be distracting for your work.

Below I’ve listed a few places throughout the United States and Europe built to be a creative space for creating thinking. But it doesn’t have to be a ‘meeting space’ either. You could get inspiration from your local art museum, science museum, or zoo. Find a place that works for your particular group.

Hire A Better Lead – If you don’t have someone on your team skilled at leading groups or drawing ideas out of people – hire someone. (This will also allow you to relax and focus on coming up with the “killer idea” instead of running the meeting).

What spaces have you found inspiration for you and your team?

This article originally posted on the Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix Blog.
Image Source: OfficeMuseum.com

September 2009

Process + People + Place =
Perfect (Brain) Storm

2010-09-22T20:27:49-04:00 Categories: Destination|Tags: , , |

In June, I posted an article called How To Create The Perfect (Brain) Storm.

I shared the perspective that a great brainstorm or strategy session… heck ANY great meeting… is a combination of the right people, the right process, at the right place.

Upon exploring this thought further, I realized there is a priority to these elements… Not only are all three important, but they’re important in the right order.

When I turn the diagram sideways, you can see how they build on each other.

The PLACE is important… the space where people feel safe, free from distraction, and can be inspired.

However, the place is useless without PEOPLE to populate it. Yes, people are the ultimate source of brilliant ideas that lead to innovation, however, just sitting around winging-it (even in an inspirational space) won’t efficiently lead to the solutions you are after.

However, you gather these people in a place led by someone with the right PROCESS (includes tools), and you’ve got yourself a winner. The process forms the base, the strength of the entire process.

If you don’t have a good process figured out (or hired out) don’t bother meeting. All the great minds in even the most inspirational spot won’t make good use of your time.


I offer these thoughts as I’m crafting the Idea Sandbox Brainstorming Destination. I will provide the PROCESS and the PLACE, you provide the PEOPLE and the PROBLEM to be solved.

June 2009

How To Create The Perfect (Brain) Storm

2017-03-01T11:56:29-04:00 Categories: Destination, grow, SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Have you ever been in a brainstorming or strategy meeting where all the elements seemed just right and ideas just kept flowing and flowing? You and your team were able to hit ideas “out of the park?”

Chances are you had…

  1. the right people assembled,
  2. the right process and tools, and were,
  3. in the right place… where people felt safe to think big ideas and were free from distraction.

I call these conditions the Perfect (Brain) Storm… When all the elements come together just so, and ideas just seem to flow.

What a great situation! However, the climate for this type of brainstorm and creating wicked good ideas doesn’t have to be left to chance. You can craft this by gathering the right people, with the right process, at the right place.


You need a skilled facilitator. Someone who can keep the team on track. Push when people aren’t opening up, and know – when the conversation is stalled or getting tangental – how to re-direct to the topic at hand.

This person leads the right group of people, who are in the right mind frame, and feel safe to think and suggest the big thoughts.


The problem you are trying to solve needs to be clearly defined. I strongly recommend structured sessions with an ice breaker, scheduled breaks, and short bursts of brainstorming activity. Each of these bursts should be designed to address a key aspect of the problem.


While great ideas can happen when you’re in the shower or driving to work… If you’re working with a group of two or more people, being in a space conducive for discussion, free of work distraction and “noise” ensure the ideas will come much, much easier.

Keep these in mind when you want to schedule your next Perfect (Brain) Storm!

January 2009

Library of Imagination: Jay Walker’s Inspirational Space

2010-09-22T22:05:32-04:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: , |

In my quest to find inspirational spaces… I’ve come across this TED video of Jay Walker sharing the insides of his “Library Of Imagination.” Not only does he have an amazing collection of one-of-a-kind relics, but he presents them in a space that looks like it’s been cooked up by the Disney Imagineers and Willy Wonka. He has objects that span 5000 years of imagination!

The beginning of the video, Jay talks about some of his artifacts… Just past the 3 minute mark, you’ll see images from the Library of Imagination.

RSS Readers Link Here

Wired magazine did a write-up on this space in their October ’08 edition. Here are some of those photos featuring the Library:

You may read the full article, here!

(Images copyright Wired magazine)