Archives for February 2012

How to Tap Into Your Inner Genius in 10 Minutes a Day

Today I want to share a very effective problem solving technique I recently discovered.  This technique will help you generate ideas, come up with solutions to business and life challenges, and generally gain  insight into anything you’re currently trying to work through.

The technique is called “Sentence Stems,” which I was introduced to through Rich Schefren’s  “One Step Ahead” newsletter.  It’s easy and even fun to do, and takes just 10 minutes per day, though you can spend as much time as you like on it.

Here’s how it works:

Start with a sentence stem that’s based on a challenge you’re trying to work through, a goal you want to achieve, a problem you want to solve or anything else you want to gain insight into.  The sentence stem itself will contain the solution to the problem you want to solve or outcome you want to achieve.

For example:

“I could start earning more money each month right now if I . . . .”

“It would be easier to get referrals for my business if I . . .”

“I could get 2 new clients in the next 30 days if I . . .”

• Then every day for a week (or for maximum results, two weeks), write out 6-10 endings to the sentence stem.

• Each day (ideally first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh and full of energy!), write out your sentence endings without looking at the previous day’s answers — you don’t want your previous day’s answers to guide your new answers.

• Write your endings as quickly as possible without second guessing yourself, worrying about perfect grammar or spelling, or stopping to “decide” if this idea will work or not. Just write.  The idea here is to bypass your conscious mind and tap into the powerful awareness of your subconscious mind.

• Try not to use the same ending more than once.

• Now, at the end of your 7 days or 14 days or however long you decided to do this, review everything you’ve written, strike out any repetitions, and consolidate what’s left.  Some of the ideas you wrote down will give you new ideas; write these down as well.

• Then review your list again, decide which ideas are best, and prioritize the ones that are immediately actionable, and begin taking action on them.

Now, your sentence stems don’t have to be business related of course.  Your stems will be about whatever particular challenge you’re currently facing.

Maybe you want to get healthier, so your sentence stems could look like this:

“It would be easier to exercise 3-4 days per week if I . . .”

“It would be easier to eat a healthy diet daily if I . . . “

And so on. You get the idea.

Let me tell you, this technique works.  I used the sentence stem “I could increase my monthly income immediately if I . . .” and after just 4 days of doing the exercise, I have 28 ideas, and the week’s not over yet.  What’s more, I’ve already taken action on one of these ideas, which is going to net me an extra $1100 in income next month.   And I still have 27 more ideas to explore – wheeeee!  ; )

The idea I took action on is something that wouldn’t necessarily have crossed my mind had I not done this exercise.  Although it isn’t an ideal solution to a consistent increase in my monthly income year round, it doesn’t matter, because what I was after was a solution to more income right now, within the next 30 days, and that’s what I got.

I even wrote down my next half dozen sentence stems to work on when I’m finished with the current one.

One of the other benefits of doing this exercise is it will get you thinking of solutions and answers even when you’re not actively completing your sentence stems each morning.  I’ve come up with ideas lying in bed, while in the shower, while in (boring) meetings, driving around, and in the market.

Now YOU try it, you genius you!  ; )

And next blog post, I’m going to take you through some ideas I generated when I applied this exercise to a friend’s dilemma of getting more customers into her bakery/cupcake shop.  Stay tuned!

 

Shortcut to Market Research: How to Create Content Your Target Audience Wants to Read

Oprah Magazine Cover What if you could figure out a way to write exactly what your target audience wants to read, without having to brainstorm for hours or randomly throw stuff out there until you find out what “sticks?”

You can, and I’m going to tell you how.

It’s shockingly easy, really.  See, glossy print publications spend thousands of dollars on market research to learn precisely what customers want to read, and create their headlines and articles based on that. So why not piggyback on that research, and use magazine headlines in your niche as an inspiration for your own content?

For example, let’s say you’re in the business inspiration niche, and you’re stumped about what your audience wants to read. If you look at Success magazine you’ll find headlines like:

  • Lionel Richie: Overcoming ‘No’
  • Vince Lombardi’s Rules for a Legendary Life
  • Conquering 6 Deadly Fears of Entrepreneurship

If you sat down with a few issues of the magazine and a notepad, I bet you could come up with at least a dozen ideas for blog posts to write, from your own perspective and with your own particular spin on things, of course.

In the lifestyle niche, there’s no better example than O, The Oprah Magazine. Check out these great headlines:

  • 4 Steps to Aha!:  How to Figure Out Exactly What You Want 
  • Express Yourself: 26 Ways to Tell Your Story and Share It With the World
  • The Healing Effect: How to Tap Into Your Mind’s Hidden Power

In the cooking niche, you could look to Bon Appétit.  I love to cook and I love to write about cooking, so I could look to BA for inspiration, where I’d find headlines like:

  • 50 BBQ Tips & Techniques From the Experts
  • Low-Fat Cooking Secrets
  • The 5-Minute Appetizer
  • Corn, Tomatoes, Zucchini:  12 Things You’ll Make All Summer

So set aside a couple of hours, grab your favorite adult beverage, a notepad, and several issues of a magazine or two in your niche, and go to town!  (If you don’t have access to physical copies of magazines in your niche, you can search for them on Amazon.com.)

And for more ideas on how to use magazine headlines to get your creative juices flowing, check out this article on Crazyegg.com, “7 Proven Headline Formulas That Convert,” and over on Copyblogger.com,The Cosmo Headline Technique for Blogging Inspiration.”

What techniques do you use for brainstorming content ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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