The Brainstorm happened

Yesterday we did something that every business should do...we got
together with another creative company and had a brainstorming
session. We have been trying to coordinate this gathering for almost a
year and finally got it done. We discussed marketing ideas,
advertising, branding, new products, and played with Legos! We planned
our gathering with the Lensbabies team, led by creative mad man, Craig
Strong - seen here creating an artistic photograph of his Lego
creation - and marketing wizard, Sam Pardue. Lensbabies also brought
their key managers and we brought our managers.

We met at a nice resort and rented a meeting room. Craig had a
"creative ice breaker" project for us all to build lego sculptures
representing different facets of our personalities and/or
perspectives. We didn't want to quit building! We spent the whole day
together and it spurred some really great ideas and realizations. It
also gave our team a chance to talk and brainstorm all the way there
(it was a 2.5 hr drive for us) and to brainstorm and reflect on what
we discussed driving home.

It's amazing sometimes how obvious things can become when they are
viewed from the outside. This is why I HIGHLY recommend this practice
to every business owner - no matter the size of your operation! The
Lensbabies team gave us valuable insight and ideas that I'm sure will
make a very positive impact on our business this year. We, of course,
shared our insight with them and hopefully gave them an equal dose of
outside thinking. Both our companies care very much about each other's
success, so it was a very rewarding experience to both receive and
give advice and insight.

Plan your brainstorming session now! Call a few friends you trust and
care about and make it happen! Be clear that everything is
confidential and be ready to share honestly with each other. Let every
idea out - don't hold back. We put giant sticky notes (giant) on the
wall and listed our SWOT analysis for each company. SWOT is your
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites, and Threats. Strengths and
Weaknesses are both internal factors - those you've developed or need
to work on. Opportunities and Threats are outside influences - like a
growing market, competition, economy, etc. We picked our top 5 in each
category and analyzed how to capitalize or improve them. It helped us
to focus.

We then discussed marketing, advertising, networking, etc and shared
ideas that had worked or not worked for us in the past. We gave our
outsiders view of each other's companies to see if we actually saw
ourselves as our customers potentially do. There were a LOT of great
ideas flowing and we drove home excited by all the clarity and
possibilities. We already have our next meeting planned for 3 months
from now.

My only regret was that I wish we had done this sooner.