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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

The Internal Weather Report

When my son was little, I tried to teach him how to talk about his emotions, which is a hard thing to do. When my older daughter was young, she would tell me everything: 'Hmm, I was feeling a little grumpy earlier today, but now I'm more calm,' but my son would answer in single syllables.

'How ya doing?'

'Fine.'

'Fine? That's it? Just fine?'

'Fine.'

So I'd ask, what's the internal weather report? Is it sunny, is it cloudy, is it lightning bolts, is it a cyclone, is it a hurricane? What's happening on the inside?

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These days, I'll tell the story about how I got my little boy to talk about his feelings, and then I'll have people draw their internal weather report, using the weather symbols. I ask them to add these symbols to the path through their day (previous exercise).

I did this on a few occasions with teenage girls. You always hear that their peers are really important to them, but this exercise really illustrated the depth of that feeling.

I had them draw a path through their day, noting especially when they spent time with their friends. Then, at each activity, I had them draw in a tiny internal weather report. The only time there were little sunshine icons was in the moments in the hall between classes when they were with their friends and after school when they were with their friends. At night, when it was time to go to bed, one girl drew rain because she was sad that she wouldn't see her friends for another eight hours.

How does all this connect with creativity? All of these exercises bring you a greater and clearer understanding of someone else's mind and point of view. You become their advocate. You think, 'If I were in this person's place, what would I want and need?' The more you can humanize and add dimension to the people you're talking to, the more real they become.

We're good at reducing people to numbers ('Tweens drive up to X-Y% of family purchases!'), but not so good at under- standing the real emotions that drive people. Marketing based on numbers feels logical-analytical-left brain. When you're truly in touch with the people you're trying to communicate with, you're accessing that emotional-intuitive side, the side that can't be analyzed.


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