6 Ways To Inject New Ways Of Thinking Into Your Business

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There are some who say that it is time to "think outside of the box." There are some who say that there is no box. There are are some who are quick to generate new ideas. There are some who are dying to know how those people are so quick to come up with new ideas.

In the interest of helping those who are trying to figure out new ways to think differently, here are six ways to generate new ways of thinking. The main concept behind all of these (even if they are channels you are already using/aware of) is to use/think differently when engaged with them. Basically, go against your normal habits. If all you do is watch a particular news program, try to pay more attention to something you would normally not have. If you’re used to reading a particular magazine, read an article that you would normally have skipped over.

6 Ways You Can Use Media To Generate New Ways Of Thinking:

  1. Follow This Week In Tech (TWIT) – Leo Laporte does a great job of keeping a live 24-hour stream going over at TWIT Live. While you’re on a lunch a break or floating around on a Sunday morning, just soaking in his thoughts, guests and ideas should give you tons of new ways to think about how your business can use technology to be that much more efficient. Chris Pirillo also does a lot of this (in fact, just this past week, he was streaming the full Gnomedex conference online – tons of great speakers and learning opportunities).
  2. Bill Moyers JournalBill Moyers brings together a very high-brow list of thinkers and provocateurs. What you wind up with is some very deep and heavy conversations about the state of the nation. It is not light and it is rarely fun, but it is always fascinating. The pace is very different from other types of news/interview shows, and these in-depth discussions (which can be about anything from healthcare reform to the state of the English language) can be a great spark for how your own business can be shaped or changed.
  3. Howard Stern – It’s not because of the porn stars or crudeness, that Stern makes this list, but rather his own, personal skill-set. Every day, for close to five hours, this guy is "on" (whether you like him or not). He has an amazing ability to pull stories out of people and he is very quick on his feet. Spend some time focusing on how he brings it all together (the line of questioning, show flow and sheer mass amount of content). It’s quite fascinating.
  4. Magazines – If you’re reading this, you are probably already neck-deep into magazines like Wired, Fast Company and Technology Review. The trick is to take the latest issue and do two things differently. One, read the issues cover-to-cover. This includes editorial, ads, small bits and the longer features. Some of the greatest ideas are those that are taken from another (very different) industry and applied to your own. Two, if you’re not able to read the magazines cover-to-cover, read (at least) two full-length features that you would have normally skipped over. The general idea here is to get you out of your regular pattern, while at the same time having it still be somewhat relevant and connected to your personal tastes.
  5. Read fiction – Full disclosure: I can’t remember the last time I read a paperback novel. Most of my reading is either online news, magazines or business books. While at my publisher’s a month ago in New York City I ran into Michael Connelly (the bestselling fiction author). At that moment, I went out and bought a couple of his books. Whether it was a turn of a phrase or stepping back to understand how he constructs both his characters and his stories, it led me to some interesting thoughts about how we pitch (and win) business at Twist Image. It could be a classic novel for you or a thriller. Whatever the case, make some time to read some good fiction.
  6. TED – Most of the time when we mention the TED Conference, it is presentations from speakers that will either make you a better businessperson or help you get better at making presentations. The real truth behind the power of TED is that the conference exposes you to how many different people from many different walks of life think, act and improve. Just like some of the other pointers here, hop over to the TED website and watch a presentation (or two) from a scientist, environmentalist, artists, etc…

The basic idea is that to think differently and inject new ideas into your business, you have to expose yourself to how others think, act, write and present. To have new and different ideas, you have to listen and follow new and different ideas.

What are some of things that you do to generate new ways of thinking? 


  1. Hey Mitch,
    I know you don’t want to brag or self promote but you should have mentioned to- “Listen to Media Hacks.”
    It is a probably one of my favourite podcasts with great digital marketing insights and CC Chapman’s not suitable for work language that may just compete with Howard Stern.
    Good job on the show and keep it going! As people are listening.
    All the best,
    Alex “Fan” Ikonn

  2. Mitch,
    Exposure to other ideas is hardly difficult these days; as you point out, whether it be magazines, newspapers, books, podcasts, television, etc., there is more idea-fruit out there to be harvested than probably ever before.
    #5 on your list is probably the one I’d prioritize most. In general, reading books is a discipline more important now for me than it’s ever been. Being longer than a blog post, newspaper or magazine article, a book slows down the pace of information consumption, allowing an idea (or many ideas) to fully take root in your mind and be shaped into something that will remain with you for some time to come. Fiction has an added advantage in this, as well-developed characters become people you truly care about, so their ideas and experiences become yours as well. On that note, I just read a wonderful book by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter called The Light of Other Days about the accidental invention of a time viewer and its radical affect on society. Written in 2000, you can quickly see how the technology at the time shaped the authors’ expectations of what was to come. Had they written it nine years later, I imagine the technological developments they invented for the story would have been quite different. For me, reading this book prompted reflection on how we experience history, the retrospective distortion of our own memories, the focus on heroes, etc.
    One podcast suggestion, too: In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg – a wonderful survey of history, philosophy, and literature.

  3. The simplest is to make personal contact with the most inspiring people you meet in social media. It doesn’t take much effort to move someone from a friend to facebook to email to a phone call to coffee or lunch. Sure you can attend conferences, go to a local Ted, trek off to SXSW, but the deeper relationships with people who you can learn from and who you find inspiring is nothing but a request away.

  4. I most definitely agree with TWIT and TED. And Alex makes a great point about Media Hacks… but if you’re reading this, you’re probably already listening to Media Hacks right?
    Another thing I do is go to Boudler Open Coffee – there are lots of great minds there, and the conversation is just amazing. See if there’s one of these in your area, and make a point to go. You’ll encounter some amazing people.

  5. Good topic. I often find new ideas by taking thoughts from the media hack gurus and throwing it out for discussion with people just beginning to understand the power of online. It’s very easy to get caught up in this world of “Us” and think that everyone gets it. Most still don’t. And more often than not, our new business ideas succeed or fail by them.

  6. I have a couple of mastermind groups I belong to where we get together to talk about what we’re working on and what we could be working on. It’s pretty informal, but always leads to amazing ideas and conversations.
    I guess in answer to your question, I do the same thing you’re suggesting here – I get around people who are smarter than me, or who can and will view my situation from an aerial perspective.

  7. What I try to do is pretty simple but very important (I feel). One is talk about your ideas/work to people who come from completely different background, and even to people who at first have no idea what social media, twitter or even google is. You quickly focus on what is important and relevant. Second is to travel outside North America/Europe and talk to people and listen. For example in Thailand, where I currently live, there is not one single day where I don’t see or experience something and I think….wow, that’s interesting, there is probably something to do with this.
    great post
    thank you!

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