The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Once a week, we have meetings to go over the past week and review the next week. We encourage people to stand, walk around, etc. to encourage fluid creativity. This helps people just spit out ideas and continue the conversation. Sitting encourages people to say what they need to say and be done, while standing and walking allows people to be more free and give their new ideas.
- Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper
Reading challenges me to be more creative because I have to consider whether I agree or disagree with what I'm reading and why. It forces me to question my assumptions and analyze problems from other points of view.
- Kelsey Meyer, Contributor Weekly
At RTC, we recently got our executive team together in Florida for a few days of brainstorming, and we opened one session with a series of improv games. That experience opened our minds and readied the team for play before diving into more traditional brainstorming. The result was a deeper dive into our exploration and more laughter and fun, which increased our aptitude for creativity.
- Corey Blake, Round Table Companies
We have been doing whiteboard sessions each week. A question is written on the office whiteboard at the beginning of the week, and people have the opportunity to answer it. Then, we all come together at the end of the week, review the answers and decide which ones to implement.
- Alex Lorton, Cater2.me
When we want to do a creative brainstorm, one of the prerequisites is to act like the customer who will be using the product. Are we marketing a car seat? We morph into super soccer moms and go through a day with the car seat, stopping at Starbucks, school and back home. Our best creative breakthroughs always come when we walk in our customers' shoes.
- Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Agency
When we're tackling tough design challenges, I've found that it's incredibly helpful to take a break and do something unrelated, like a spontaneous dance party or playing a game. If our team gets to relax briefly and laugh together, our creative energy is much higher when we refocus on the project at hand, and we're more likely to come up with good ideas.
- Martina Welke, Zealyst
One of my favorite product innovations of the last decade are those extra large Post-it notes. When I'm in brainstorming mode, I fill my walls with the large Post-its and break new ideas and projects down into milestones with the smaller, colorful ones.
- Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
My most productive brainstorming method is getting into a room with just one other person -- generally my business partner. If I can talk to someone who's on the same level, but also someone who will challenge my ideas, the creative output is exponentially larger than getting into a room full of bright people.
- Rameet Chawla, Fueled
I like reading people's thoughts and opinions on various subjects from both angles, so I frequent social bookmarking sites like Reddit. I love to see coherent arguments from both sides and the community vote based on the facts (not hearsay or emotion). I personally don't always contribute, but I read trending topics daily.
- Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing
But it's not actually just the wine. Our team travels for tradeshows, and after a long day on our feet, we get together and share a meal. Usually the talk turns to business and because we're out of the office, not trying so hard to solve problems or come up with ideas, they just flow freely. We've scribbled more than a few new ideas on the back of napkins and then gone home to implement them.
- Erin Meagher, Beneficial Blends, LLC dba Kelapo
The best brainstorming comes from cross-disciplined people working together. Our brainstorming sessions are company wide -- engineering, marketing, management and all interns participate. Creative and off-the-wall ideas come from all over the place. Don't confine creativity.
- Adam Lieb, Duxter
Bring together fellow entrepreneurs to creatively brainstorm ideas and troubleshoot problems. The key: find people who understand your space but aren't direct competitors. Spend the day with three to five people, and give the floor to each person for a set period of time. Other than that, there are no rules. Just be open to everything you haven't thought of, and push back on your ideas.
- Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
My team and I have occasional Google Hangout brainstorm sessions. We take 30 minutes to discuss a predefined topic from the comfort of our webcams and computers. It's a great way to get my team engaged in company changes while taking the digital route.
- Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
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