August 2017

Idea Generation: Great Ideas Are Looking Up

2017-08-28T09:47:57-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, think|Tags: , , , , |

Ever wonder why great ideas seem to pop into your head at the strangest (and sometimes inopportune) times? Like when you’re… falling asleep, in the shower, or exercising? It’s not a coincidence. These are times when your body is switched to autopilot, and your conscious mind doesn’t need to labor to perform these routine tasks. So the mind creatively wanders and processes other stuff. Processes thoughts and problems that have been churning in the ‘back of your mind.’

But, what if you could harness this as a skill and use it at will?

It’s probably not realistic to think you’ll be able to tell your boss…

“I just finished lunch and will have some BIG ideas for you later this afternoon! I’ve got to try to fall asleep first!”

So if a midday nap or at-work shower isn’t practical, what else could you do to allow your mind to creatively wonder? Idea Sandbox recommends:

Cloud Gazing


Yep, that’s right. The same techniques you used when you were a kid (i.e. looking up at clouds, inspired by their formations, and seeing shapes… ducks, bunnies, and bears) can be used to arouse great ideas.

So how does it work?

The secret to this technique is to allow your mind to drift – like the clouds – versus concentrating. Take a 15 to 30-minute recess from your project. Get outside, or at least to a big window – and gaze. Toss your (problem, opportunity, challenge) out to the clouds, relax, let your mind wander, and see what forms.

I can’t guarantee every time that the new bottle design you need will reveal itself in cloud shapes. Or that forming clouds will definitely inspire the new customer communication strategy you’re seeking. However, I can assure that you’ll be a bit more relaxed, energized, and focused when you return to your desk.

I hope you give Cloud Gazing a try and see if it works for you. Good luck! And remember… only use your new Cloud Gazing powers to do good!

June 2009

Top 10 Blogs To Stimulate Your Creativity

2009-06-05T17:28:22-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Roger von Oech – author, inventor, consultant, and creativity guru – posted his 10 picks for blogs that stimulate creativity on “the best in blogs” site.

It is an honor that Idea Sandbox was on that list. With hundreds (thousands?) of sites to choose from, narrowing it down to 10 had to be a challenge.

But to be one of those ten…? Truly exciting! Thank you Roger!

Be sure to check out the other sites Roger picks as well.

  1. Althouse
  2. Bad Banana
  3. Belmont Club
  4. Idea Sandbox (you are here)
  5. Innovation Tools
  6. Lateral Action
  7. Logic+Emotion
  8. Philosophistry
  9. Wishful Thinking

More About Roger:
He started his company, Creative Think, in 1977 to stimulate creativity in business. His most recent product is the iPhone App version of his Creative Whack Pack which rose to #1 in the App Store’s Business category.

He’s probably best known as the author of the creativity classic A Whack on the Side of the Head, and as the creator of the Ball of Whacks and the X-Ball.

May 2009

100 Most Creative People In Business: Fast Company 2009

2009-05-19T17:45:37-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

The June issue of Fast Company delivers their list of the 100 most creative people in business.

They write… “We emphasized those whose creativity addresses a larger issue – from the future of our energy infrastructure to the evolution of philanthropy to next-generation media and entertainment.

Topping the list at #1 is Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design) and #2 is Melinda Gates, the driver behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The 98 people that follow have amazing and exciting stories. You can read all of the biographies at the Fast Company site.

Leave a space on the 2010 list, Fast Company… I’ve got some big ideas!

October 2006


2010-09-22T22:29:09-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , |

On Friday I posted a list of existing and potential Oktoberfest-like traditions (Bachtoberfest, Spocktoberfest…) A comment was left by a guest who needs to be called out… The father of Whack himself, Roger von Oech! Roger is recognized throughout the world as a leader in stimulating creativity and innovation.

If we had a Whacktoberfest it would be about inspiring your brain with the ideas found in Roger’s suite of books, tools and on his blog…

Ball of Whacks
A new tool from Roger. Built on science and experience indicating that having something to manipulate, fidget with and to keep the hands busy helps get the mind working. (That’s why you’ll often find Plah-Doh, pipe cleaners and other type objects in brainstorming sessions).

“A Whack on the Side of the Head:How to Be More Creative”
The book does just what it suggests… Roger provides scores of 1 to 3-page suggestions offering different ways to approach and solve your challenge.

Creative Whack Pack
A deck of 64 cards each with a different exercise to spark ideas.

Innovative Whack Pack
A deck of 60 cards, each with exercises to shift your perspective on your challenge.

A Kick in the Seat of the Pants
Roger encourages us to utilize different roles to help the creative process – from idea to launch… The Explorer (seek information), Artist (create), Judge (decide), and Warrior (implement).

“Expect the Unexpected or You Won’t Find It: A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus”
A really cool concept. Roger uses the 500-year-old writings of the Greek Heraclitus as lessons to generate creative solutions to current problems.

And finally, here’s Roger’s Creative Think blog.

If you need ideas to stimulate your creativity, these resources should do the trick.

Thanks for stopping by, Roger!

January 2006

odranoeL ekiL etirW

2017-03-07T13:37:30-04:00 Categories: create, SandBlog|Tags: |

I’m studying one of my heroes and a newer member of the Idea Sandbox Board of Directors.


DiCaprio Image

No. Not DiCaprio.

da Vinci

Leonardo was a master at everything he did… One of the things I find interesting about him is that he wrote using “mirror writing.” (In order to read it, you’d have to hold it up to a mirror).

Leonardo wrote in Italian using a special kind of shorthand that he invented himself. People who study his notebooks have long been puzzled by something else, however. He usually used “mirror writing”, starting at the right side of the page and moving to the left. Only when he was writing something intended for other people did he write in the normal direction.

People who were contemporaries of Leonardo left records that they saw him write and paint left handed. He also made sketches showing his own left hand at work. Being a lefty was highly unusual in Leonardo’s time. Because people were superstitious, children who naturally started using their left hands to write and draw were forced to use their right hands.

No one knows the true reason Leonardo used mirror writing, though several possibilities have been suggested:

  • He was trying to make it harder for people to read his notes and steal his ideas.
  • He was hiding his scientific ideas from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings sometimes disagreed with what Leonardo observed.
  • Writing left handed from left to right was messy because the ink just put down would smear as his hand moved across it. Leonardo chose to write in reverse because it prevented smudging.

As a fellow left-hander I’m pretty sure he choose to write in reverse to prevent smudging.

I wonder what mirror writing could do for me? Enhance my creativity? Help make me a genius?


Okay, so maybe writing backwards won’t help – but reading will…

I’m in the midst of reading two books that have inspired this post:

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
by Michael J. Gelb

Leonardo’s Notebooks
edited by H. Anna Suh

Source of da Vinci blockquote: Boston Museum of Science

Best Times to Be Creative

2017-08-19T18:00:06-04:00 Categories: create, SandBlog|Tags: |

The January 16th issue of TIME magazine has a major section on “How to Sharpen Your Mind.”

One of the key articles explores the best times of day for both “Morning People” and “Night Owls” to create, problem solve, rejuvenate and rest. I’ve re-worked the graphics presented in TIME for this post.

For the Morning Person
TIME says, for the early riser, “creativity peaks early in the wake cycle before distractions can impede the brain’s imaginative focus.”

Morning Person
For the Night Owl
The most productive time for Night Owls is “long after they’ve shaken off morning grogginess.” While working past midnight can be effective, experts agree “sleeping less than the optimal eight hours can impair cognitive performance.”

Night Owl


  • Low Concentration



    – the body’s clock shifts, lowering concentration.

  • Creativity – best time for brainstorming and open-ended thinking. Before the brain is flooded with the day’s stimuli.
  • Problem Solving – The brain is warmed up and at its peak for activities from analysis to memorization.
  • Rejuvenation – ‘To stay sharp, experts suggest refreshing the mind with daily exercise and brain-building activities like reading, artistic exploration, and puzzle solving.’

Check out Michael Kaplan’s “The Best Time to Do Everything”… TIME references this book in the article.

For more, pick up this issue of TIME.