September 18, 2014 by Gene Jones

How to Unleash Breakthrough Thinking in Business

This is a breakthrough system for spurring innovative, game-changing thinking that propels companies and organizations to reach their highest potential.
In today’s rapidly changing and exceedingly competitive business environment, it is imperative to continually uncover new and innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve and, most importantly, not get left behind. To outperform the competition, breakthrough thinking —the kind of out-of-the-box ideation that expands horizons and provokes epiphanies – is no longer a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. This kind of thinking can take a company from good to great, or from failing to wildly successful.

The rewards realized from developing even one breakthrough idea can be immense. Indeed, the most successful companies are the ones that work smarter, not necessarily harder.

Every single employee at any organization is a potential diamond in the rough—possibly possessing latent ideas and visions that lay dormant, which represents an immense untapped opportunity. The key challenge is discerning how to tap into that diamond mine and unearth hidden gems—those game changing ideas that propel companies to reach their highest potential.

How does an organization foster breakthrough thinking? The answer is surprisingly simple: Trivia! While most people consider such games to be hobbies or playful ways to pass idle time, when strategically implemented, trivia becomes much more than just fun and games. In fact, the use of trivia has been proven to unlock the potential of the human mind, thereby improving mental performance and enhancing creativity. One report cited “the engagement and excitement produced by trivia games is directly related to cognitive and brain development.”
In essence, trivia is important because it exercises the mind.

The Art of Transformational Play
Transformational play is the use of the art of play to accomplish serious business. The mantra of transformational play is: Play First – Work Better – Achieve Superior Results. Therefore, the power of play is not to be underestimated. Transformational play derives its power from its combining of play with strong intention. Basically, transformational play can be described as ‘play with a purpose’. When strategically utilized, specially formatted games of trivia become exceptional vehicles of transformational play.
Below are 5 proven ways that trivia serves as a powerful tool for mobilizing breakthrough thinking:
1. Improves cognitive skills by providing mental cross-training known as asymmetric thinking. By inspiring previously unexplored thought patterns, asymmetric thinking stimulates the brain to fire on more cylinders, thereby facilitating greater neuroplasticity which generates greater creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities.

2. Seamlessly shifts participants to be more alert and receptive to useful information, thus accelerating the learning curve.

3. Facilitates better memory by increasing accessible intelligence. This is accomplished by exercising memory recall systems in the brain.

4. Builds community through the sharing of common knowledge, serving as a unique social interaction and communication model.

5. Assists in concept formation by providing targeted streams of information in question and answer formats, thereby dramatizing concepts by connecting the previously unconnected relationships between events, data and ideas. This leads to greater understanding of relevant subjects.

With these benefits as a foundation, businesses and individuals can leverage strategically crafted trivia games to gain various critical business advantages. Among other distinct advantages, trivia can:
• Inspire innovation and facilitate creative ideation
• Expedite problem solving
• Promote team building and corporate culture development
• Enhance the development of leadership skills
• Increase productivity performance and growth
• Reinforce knowledge and clarify concepts
• Foster conversation and communication
Trivia, when presented in a strategically designed game show format for corporate training, can readily promote the power of cognitive thinking within a business to improve mental dexterity and efficiency among personnel. Trivia games can be utilized to expand decision-making capabilities and accelerate progress by helping individuals knock down ‘mental ‘walls’ and think more expansively. When aptly exploited, such breakthrough thinking yields extreme competitive advantages that drive organizations ahead of the curve….and keep them there.

Used in this manner, trivia becomes the entry point for breakthrough thinking. It prepares the mind to function on a higher level. Essentially, the trivia game show format acts as the launching pad for advanced problem solving and ideation by creating asymmetric thought patterns in the brain. For those not familiar with this term, asymmetric thinking is the opposite of linear thinking. When the brain is working asymmetrically, it is firing randomly which creates new patterns and connections between existing memory and new knowledge. To accomplish this, trivia questions from multiple subjects must be presented in rapid fire and in random order. Also, no question can be allowed to go unanswered, even if everyone in the group is stumped. The way to achieve this is by providing random improvisational hints that lead participants to the correct answers.

Combining all the above-mentioned elements in a trivia game forces participants’ minds to work asymmetrically. This effect occurs seamlessly when the presentation of trivia is properly administered.
The reason trivia is able to serve as a superior method of transformational play is that it has so many other qualities that transcend other methods. Using trivia as a method of serious play provides the opportunity to imbed targeted information within the play process. This is a powerful advantage over almost all other play modalities. Sharing trivia is also a natural community builder, as participants discover that they have much more in common than they previously knew. Trivia brings up stored common knowledge to trigger increased conversation among group members..

The next step toward achieving breakthrough thinking is to focus the now ‘warmed-up’ participants on the task at hand. Setting clear goals is essential. It is best to use this process for one specific goal. If there are multiple goals that cannot be combined into one major goal, then it is best to create a separate process for each desired significant outcome. Once a group is warmed up and focused on their task, the road to breakthrough thinking moves directly toward asking incisive questions about the desired goal. The art of asking good questions is a fundamental phase of breakthrough thinking, as asking better questions leads to better results. This is a lesson learned from the presentation of a trivia game show, as the key to the success of such a show is predicated on choosing questions that appeal to each audience. It is also a proven fact that good questions help direct goal-oriented individuals and groups to focus and proceed more effectively. The brainstorming process enters during the question phase, as prospective questions should be posed freely at first, with no judgment. From an initially large number of questions, a few key questions will arise. Focusing on the best questions will begin to galvanize participants and further strengthen team spirit. Those questions in turn lead to another round of brainstorming which search for a solution to the goal or problem presented.

Embracing the concept of transformational play and choosing trivia as a seminal activity can lead businesses and organizations to overcome difficult challenges and achieve superior results. Repeated use of this process will also help to build a healthier corporate culture. This process applies to any organization desirous of creating breakthroughs.
Why not make your path to success an enjoyable one!


September 9, 2014 by Gene Jones

For the past thirty years, I have done my own version of giveaway marketing, which could also be called ‘giveaway selling’. Looking back on the process, I realize that it arose from my childhood. While most aspiring businessmen began their careers by marketing lemonade at a young age, I learned my craft by buying things. Little did I know that the Girl Scout cookies my mother and I bought would inspire a significant portion of my adult business life.
My Girl Scout cookie experience evolved into a policy of economic benevolence. Each year, we bought a large number of cookie boxes, and then gave most of them away one at a time to various friends and acquaintances over the course of the year. Decades later, I found myself selling a wild assortment of products to clients who paid me handsomely to give them away. That launched me into the role of a lifetime, which has always made me look much more generous than I really am.
I have always told people I have the best job in the world…..getting paid to give things away! Better yet, I make a profit every step of the way.
Setting up such a dynamic is a business Win-Win, with an extra Win for enjoyment and good will. In analyzing the dynamics of my Girl Scout cookie experience, I realized that there were a few distinct elements at work in that model. Basically, the Girl Scouts sell cookies to raise money to support their ongoing operations. They have become a major distributor of cookies without baking a thing. Most people buy the cookies to support the Girl Scouts, and do not necessarily eat the cookies. The baker of the cookies wholesales them to the Girl Scouts, who sell them to people who very often pass them along to others. In the final analysis, there is a cookie seller who doesn’t bake, a cookie buyer who doesn’t necessarily eat, and a huge adolescent sales staff that doesn’t get paid. Meanwhile, the baker is selling a lot of cookies and the Girl Scouts are raising enough money to run their whole organization.
All of this is done in a most cheerful manner.
It is the cheerfulness that has always impressed me. Buying Girl Scout cookies from a neighbor’s smiling daughter makes people feel good about themselves. It makes them open up their wallets and buy cookies that they really don’t want or need.
So what business lessons can be gleaned from this unorthodox approach to sales?
Primarily, it points to the importance of creating compelling incentives to motivate buyers. This is especially important when selling items not related to necessity. In the case of the Girl Scouts, belief in the organization and its principles is the main driver. It’s also very difficult to say ‘No’ to a cute little girl who is smiling at you.
When product sales are linked to a cause, then those inclined to support that cause instantly become potential customers. The first line of products that comes to mind is the assortment of pink ribbons, t-shirts and accessories marketed to support breast cancer research.
The serious side of the marketing coin is finding products that shout ‘give me away!”. Such products have the advantage of turning reluctant customers into volume buyers. In this instance, the coin has three sides. The third key component of giveaway selling is the creation of situations that inspire others to spend….for themselves and/or others.
Any combination of all three of the above components results in a potential sales bonanza. It basically serves as the basis for the promotional products industry. Clearly, promotional products are sold to companies and individuals who give them away in the hopes of either creating new business, motivating employees, or enhancing customer loyalty. The difference between the promotional products model and giveaway selling is that the buyer of promotional products is the end buyer.
He does not pre-sell those products to a third party.
What promotional products and giveaway selling have in common is that both are often utilized in an attempt to modify behavior. Giveaway sellers often give items away in an attempt to fulfill the agenda of a client. Occasionally it is as simple as giving away sunglasses to entice people to get in the mood to dance. Other times, the agendas are far more complex and/or subtle.
What this points to is that giveaway selling is a valuable tool with great potential impact as a social influencer. To explore this concept further, let’s apply the theory of giveaway selling to the trivia game show format. Since the giveaway of choice in most game shows is cash, the cash is provided to the host by the client prior to each show, so there is no profit motive in this particular product. Additional prizes are then awarded to those who win the most cash.The game show host’s job is to give away money – a very pleasant task. By using the cash and other prizes as incentives, the game show host can engage and inspire contestants to new levels of achievement, thereby morphing the game show into an inspirational vehicle for breakthrough thinking…..fusing giveaway incentives with information and conceptual thinking to achieve a state of what is known as transformational play. Game shows, as well as numerous other formats, are often used as team building and learning events that immerse participants in enjoyable activities that are designed to serve an underlying purpose. For many transformational play activities, giveaway selling of products such as trophies, plaques, gift certificates and vacations are key incentives in the quest to achieve meaningful goals.
Effective giveaway marketing requires a good deal of creativity and strategic planning. For those able to master the design and implementation of programs utilizing this enlightened strategy, profits and happy customers quickly are the certain result.
It is the proverbial three-sided coin leading to a Triple Win.