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What's more important than being smart? I'll tell you.

What's more important than being smart? I'll tell you.

October 26, 2011

Last weekend's special time with my kids was an eye-opener, here's why'

We went to Pennsylvania to a corn maze which I thought was going to be really boring, but it was far from it. And no, we weren't the ones who called 911 because we couldn't get out ' but I can see why someone would!

Your problem solving skills and the ability to think creatively matter most in today's businesses. I'll show you to how to challenge yourself and your team to think more creatively using exercises like the one I'm about to share.

It wasn't easy to get out. We finally did but it also revealed surprisingly deep management insights that showed up in each one of my kids. Each person had a completely different decision-making style, just like we see among our clients.

In business you have to solve puzzles. Don't look for the answers, though. The approach is more important than actually learning the answer. I'll share with you the approach that will allow you to solve any puzzle.

Plus, I'll share with you a downloadable pack of puzzles you can use in your business ' including one of the most routine but challenging puzzlers you can give to your team and even use in interviews.

Whether you're venturing out into a corn maze or into a new plan for your business you must have a vantage point in which you can try to see where you're going.

They'll tell you a lot about yourself and other people'

Back to the corn maze. This is a lot of fun and if you have a chance to do it I highly recommend it. It's interesting to watch how people go about trying to figure out how to get out because it uses all of the problem solving skills we teach our clients.

Face it, decision-making is tough. There's a lot of pressure. Especially when you're the leader and everyone else is relying on you to get them to where they're going ' even if you don't know exactly where you are yourself. Now that's tough!

That's why getting out of a corn maze is so difficult. You never really know where you are. There's a tower so you can look at the giant field of corn before you go into the maze and get an idea of where you need to go but there's no map with a 'you are here' arrow. You have no idea where you are in the maze!

Along the way, be sure to create checkpoints to keep you and your team motivated knowing they're headed in the right direction. My children were happy to know that we were on the correct path when we came upon this checkpoint. We were almost there! Pictured from left to right are my children, Shimmy, Tali, Dovie and Ruthie.

Same is true in businesses every day. You may have an idea of where you want to go and you may have a plan but you're always trying to figure out where you are. You don't always know. Being an entrepreneur is like groping in the fog. You get glimpses of what you're dealing with but you never have enough information.

What's needed? Checkpoints. As we made our way through the maze, we came across signs that gave us confidence we were going in the right direction. What kind of checkpoints do you have in your organization that inspire you to keep going? At Goldman Promotions, a marketing company that I owned as partner, we played 'Who Let the Dogs Out' any time someone landed a big sale. At Brand Launcher we ring a big cow bell any time someone comes up with a major accomplishment!

Most likely you don't stop and celebrate the victories along the way. But you need to do it to let people know you're headed in the right direction; you're on the right path. Stop and figure out what's working. Ask yourself what's not. And then make the changes you need as you move forward. Stop and celebrate along the way. You and your people will be glad you did.

For a FREE copy of our new Creative Thinking Launcher that includes some of my favorite problem-solving puzzles, GO HERE. Try them yourself or use with your staff. It also includes today's puzzler featured below...

It was so fascinating to watch the different decision-making styles come up as each of my children tried to lead us through the maze. Here's Dovie setting out on his own. No wonder we call him the bulldozer!

Did we get lost a few times? Absolutely! And this is what's really interesting. My oldest daughter, Tali, took a strategic approach. She studied the map, tried to figure out the best course and I love what she did next ' she had us each remember 3 different turns. She said, 'Abba' (that's me) 'you remember right, right left. Ruthie (my other daughter) you remember left, right, left and Dovie (my middle son) you remember left, left, right.'

She got us pretty far but we still weren't out. We were still stuck in the maze! She went back to trying to figure it out, but my son (we call him the 'bulldozer') said, 'I know the way!' He just had a gut feeling of where we needed to go and he got us out! He just took action.

Each one had a very different decision-making style. My oldest daughter took a strategic approach and then acted like General Colin Powell would. Think and then act. My son relied on his instincts like Sam Walton who believed in a 'ready, aim, fire' decision-making style. Act first and then think about the changes you need to make as you go.

My point? Every team needs different decision-making styles. Some of the best teams are made up of people with very different styles.

Steve Jobs (the innovator) co-founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak (the rationalist). Bill Gates (the task master) built Microsoft with Paul Allen (the idea guy). I can go on but you get the idea. We need people around us who can complement our decision-making styles.

So what should you look for?

Two words: Problem solvers. In business today, we need people who can think and solve problems. That's what I loved about how my children tried getting us out of the maze. They tried to think through it and solve it. Both of them got us there. And as we made our way through it, I told them, 'I like the way you're thinking.'

I hate it when people say, 'Oh, you're so smart.' That's nothing more than an innate ability. Instead, you're better off praising your kids and your team for thinking and working through a challenge. Because we need more people who refuse to settle for answers like, 'It can't be done' or 'I don't know how.'

We need people on our teams who will look for creative solutions.

That's why I love the 9-Dot Puzzler I was telling you about earlier. The goal is to draw only 4 straight lines through the centers of all 9 dots without lifting your pen or pencil. It's a great way to see how people go about solving a problem.

I give it to job candidates. And then I watch them and see how they solve it. One candidate just started drawing lines everywhere. That interview ended soon afterwards. Another candidate just sat there for 3 minutes staring at it. She didn't make the cut either. She would wait too long to take action.

Give it a shot yourself. See how you do. Better yet, give it to some people you work with. And see how they try to solve it. Do they give up easily? Do they work to try and figure it out?

You're not really interested in whether they can actually solve it. You're more interested in the decision-making skills they use to solve it.

The ability to think and solve problems is the most valuable asset you can develop.
Still can't solve the 9-Dot Puzzler? Come on! Don't quit on me!! Let me give you a hint: Think outside the box.

For the answer, check out the video. I'll show you...

Download more puzzlers in the FREE Creative Thinking Launcher!

Get your FREE copy of the Creative Thinking Launcher. Click on the image now to download yours. Plus, when the first 5 people share with us the best puzzles they use in their business we'll send you a FREE copy of Roger VanOech's terrific book, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative.

Plus, I've put together some of my favorite problem solving puzzles in my new Creative Thinking Launcher that I'm giving away to readers of the e-letter. Use them with job candidates.

Use them to begin a meeting to get people to think creatively. Use them with those around you to learn more about their problem solving skills. Ask better questions and you'll get better answers. And be sure to test yourself! I'm sure you'll enjoy them too.

GO HERE to download your Creative Thinking Launcher right now.

Plus, the first 5 people who share with us the best puzzles they use in their business get a FREE copy of A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative by Roger VanOech. It's a fantastic book and highly recommend it. Just send your best puzzles to me at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com and if you're among the first five we'll send you a FREE copy of Roger VanOech's book.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President