How to be a Genius (with a cabbage)

February 9, 2012 § 7 Comments

Some nice kind people “liked” my concept fan picture in my last post. This post is about making one, and how to be a genius as well. According to someone or other, if you can think of more than 8 things you can do with a cabbage in 2 minutes, besides cooking and eating it, you’re a genius.

So. Are you? A genius, I mean, not a cabbage. Take up the challenge. You’re allowed some latitude (i.e. wackiness), but the question stands: What can you do with a cabbage (besides cooking and eating it)?

Errr. Ooooh. Hmmmm.

Play football with it.

Good. Another?

Hit someone over the head with it.


Errr. Ooooh. Hmmmm. Eight seems a long way away, doesn’t it!

So let’s use a concept fan.

You said play football with it. Why?

Because it’s round. Round, so it could be a bowling ball if you carve out a few finger holes. Volleyball? Nope, too heavy. Play catch with it. Attach a message to it and roll it down a hill to your friend waiting at the bottom. (There’s no signal, in case you ask).

We said it was heavy, which is why you could hit someone with it. Break a window with it (if you want to burgle a house). Drop it on a rat. Stand on it to reach something at the back of the cupboard.

Heavy. A paperweight. A doorstop, keep a window open with it, one of those elegant sash windows. Drop it in a puddle to splash someone.

It’s green. Mash it up to make face camouflage (when you’re burgling the house). Paint a wall green. Dye your clothes green. Dye your ex’s clothes green.

What about stripping off the leaves? Use one as a fan (not a concept fan). That’s a good idea. But why? Why can a leaf be a fan? What properties does it have that make it a good fan? It’s large and flappy, it catches the wind. OK, so it could be a sail for a toy boat, or a handkerchief. It’s curved, so it could be a hat, or protection from the sun. Curved we said? A spoon for soup. Pick up a spider with it. A pooper-scooper for your dog.

How we doing?

24!! We’ve hardly started! What’s the one above genius-level? Surely they’ll have to invent a new category for us. A scatter-gun approach to generating ideas, the way we often think creative minds work, shooting off all over the place, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Not at all. Far more effective is to be systematically, logically, predictably creative.

Try it with your students! I’m sure they can beat this paltry figure. You could even use the Genius Generator.

Ten Thousand Words

February 7, 2012 § 9 Comments

A picture speaks a thousand words. There are ten pictures here, taken from my notebooks over the last year or two, each representing an important insight for me, mostly in a business context. See if you can match the pictures with the ten definitions below…

Think global, act local. ”Glocal”, the word is, working with lots of people in different countries, making resources with them that suit local needs, and selling through local teachers and business owners.

If you say three things, you say nothing. What’s your core message? You can’t have two priorities.

Some people take up new ideas. They get it, and take the lead. The vast majority of people on the bell-curve look to what others are doing, and follow the crowd. The gulf between these two mentalities is wide. Take note of the feedback from the early adopters, and act on it to make it accessible to the rest.

A book, the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya sisterhood became a word-of-mouth sensation because the book spoke to the (mainly) female readers, who spoke to each other. People build relationships with each other, a network of support and love. Design a business that allows and encourages this.

Key Performance Indicators. Business terminology really, but for all of us, information is king.

When the goal is fuzzy and a long way away, and the external environment can change, you need to be flexible, have a strategy where you continually strengthen your position. Like in chess.

On the journey, when you make things, products or services maybe, to you these may be just important milestones, things you note as you pass by, keeping your head down. But hang on. To the outside world, these can be worthwhile products in their own right.

That’s a good idea! But don’t stop there. Think. Is it the best? This idea is a way of doing what? What are you trying to achieve? Looking rather like a mind map, you can make a concept fan, where you continually jump back and forth between ideas and concepts.

Do one thing well. Don’t try and do everything. You’ll end up being a jack of all trades, master of none. Take what you’ve got, and make it brilliant. Don’t smother the good idea in blanket of excess. Maximum magic, that’s what you’re after.

The environment always changes. The only constant is constant change. Successful animals, and businesses, are those that evolve to suit the new landscape.


Do you have any wise words you’d like to share? Or pictures that represent them?

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