Video Blog

How to hold your own planning offsite

Are you achieving your goals and staying on track? If you want to reboot your goal setting, a great way is to plan your own planning offsite. These are fun and productive, and you can conduct one practically anywhere - your home, a meeting room, the library, a coffee-shop.

There's a tip-sheet download that goes with this too. Get the PDF

You'll find this a very positive and energizing way to get refocused. And once you start doing them regularly, you'll find you achieve more than you think.


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 PS - a couple of the links in the download are affiliate links. That means I *might* get a very small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase. Or you can just google the item. I would never recommend something I don't actually love to use. And someone needs to keep the hamsters in kibble here. 

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Managing your creative energy

Ever get into a creative slump? It's not uncommon in people who use creativity to make a living. Energy for creative people often has a pattern. That's the subject of this week's video.

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Recommended Tools

In this video I talk about where to get great creative tools. And here's the whole list. I'll update it as I discover more. [The video makes reference to a download -- that is actually the information posted below.]

Online sources for PowerPoint

It seems that we all work pretty extensively in PowerPoint now. So it has to look good. You can get nice looking presentation decks at Creative Market They also sell individual graphic elements, such as logos.

You can also buy individual slides (or entire decks) from

Both sources are quite affordable.

You still have to write the inspiring words, but at least the deck will look pretty!

Online Sources for Images

Some of the sites I have used for stock photography include the usual ones, like and where you pay for each picture.

But you might also check out

If you are really only looking for a few icons, I quite like

(As someone who is trying to make a living in the creative field, I am careful not to rip other creatives off. Either they are offering it free, or I am paying for it. Please don’t just scoop an image off Google – make sure the creator is okay with your usage.)


These are the ones I use the most …

Moderating to the Max, by Jean Bystedt, Siri Lynn and Deborah Potts. This is the book I was waving in the video, and is a great resource. Clear, simple, yet filled with solid explanations and often the behavioral science that explains why the tools works.

Stir It Up! By Laurie Tema-Lyn, also provides recipes for activities and exercises to support creative thinking. A very wide range of activities are described.

Innovation Games, by Luke Hohmann, has instructions for running workshops to create and improve ideas. The tools are presented as serious games, such as Buy-a-Feature and Product Box. I’ve used a lot of these in my work, and over time, have built my own versions of the recipes.

Think Better, by Tim Hurson, provides a model for working through a creative problem solving process. If you don't take formal training in a creative problem solving process, then you need a book like this.

Other excellent books that have creative tools …

Secrets of a Master Moderator, by Naomi Henderson, is a short course in being a qualitative researcher, and also has some good tools.

Marketing Concepts that Win! by Martha Guidry, is a toolbook for creating testable concepts. A concept in this context is a format for expressing a beginning idea that can be tested in a research setting. Not so much a book of creative tools as it is a framework for structuring ideas you want to test. I’ve sent a lot of these to clients.

The Universal Traveler, by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall, is a book that predates the personal computer, and so is a marvel of typesetting and engaging non-desktop design at work. A very engaging book, it covers the creative problem solving and idea generating process, and has some good tools as well.

A Whack on the Side of the Head, by Roger von Oech, is about becoming more creative in your thinking. Not really a book of tools, more like a book of prompts about how nurture creative thinking. A fun read with many useful anecdotes.

Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko, is filled with dozens of creative thinking tools. Michalko has written a number of books, and also has related products.

(I’ve put in links to Amazon using my affiliate code, which means, I may get a very small commission if you buy the book. Or you can just search it on your own.)


Many conferences are not about skill development – to develop your skills, you need to find the events that focus on skill development. Sometimes these are formal training events, but sometimes you can get a lot of training inside a conference.

I love attending conferences for the learning and networking, but a few stand out for superior learning.

The annual QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) conference is fantastic. Mostly attended by qualitative researchers, the focus is on skill building. QRCA also offers a European conference every two years, which is very worthwhile as well. And their Qcast webinars often showcase methodologies.

The CPSI (Creative Problem Solving Institute) conference is the source of fantastic skill development in the Osborne-Parnes creative problem solving method (often abbreviated as CPS). You can take formal courses and become accredited, or attend sessions just for the learning. The event is attended by more workshop leaders and consultants than researchers, so it’s a different mix of people than QRCA.

MindCamp and CREA (International Conference on Creativity and Innovation) are similar to CPSI, but held in different locations. MindCamp is in Ontario at a YMCA camp. CREA is held in Italy.

Many art and design colleges run creativity events, and these may be more accessible in your local area.

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A No-Fail Brainstorming Power-Up

This 5 minute video discusses how to make your brainstorming sessions better by using better facilitation methods. The video also shows you how to use the Borrowed Genius method, a really great way to encourage better ideas from your session participants. 

I sent this download out to an exclusive list, and got such great feedback, I thought I would re-post it here. It's called Twelve Ways to Brainstorm and Borrowed Genius is just one of those ways. Just click on the image to get the link by e-mail.

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How to Power Up Your Brainstorming

This 4 minute video and handout discusses how to improve your brainstorming with better problem statements. I call these improved problem statements "Catalyzing Questions," a phrase originated by Tim Hurson.

Just having a better problem statement will help you improve your brainstorming. Just using this one technique will greatly improve the effectiveness of any brainstorming or creative problem solving session!

The handout has a recap of the key points discussed. Just click the image below to get the handout by e-mail.

PS - I'll add you to the mailing list for this site when you sign up for the download. We don't share this list, and will only send you useful notices. But it's an easy one click unsubscribe if you ever find it annoying.

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Thank you so much for stopping by!

I'm pretty excited to be launching this store, which has been an idea waiting to happen for -- well, longer than you might think. A couple of years, actually.

I know that our professional community is accustomed to sharing and collaboration. This is really just another form of collaboration. The idea is to take approaches you might see or hear about and make them "out of the box ready to use." 

Some of the tools here aren't written up in any book we know of, because I created them. You have probably created any number of your own tools. And maybe you are thinking you would like to sell some of your own stuff here. Well, that's in the plans too. But we need to get this started first, and so here it is.

If you want to stay in touch with what's coming next, please subscribe.

- Susan Abbott, chief curator

PS - if you try something and you don't like it, we have a 30 day money back guarantee.

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