Celebrate Your Freedom Fourth

Fireworks-red-pink-FloridaJuly 4th – Time to Celebrate Your Entrepreneurial Freedom

Even if you aren’t an entrepreneur – yet – you still enjoy many similar freedoms. Or you likely want to. This is a great time to reflect on the independent mindset and how we can all nurture it in ourselves and others.

We’re more than ever a nation of independent workers, entrepreneurial in spirit if not in action. Some of that by choice, some by forces out of our control. But  . . . we can choose whether we stay on our own Freedom Trails or not.

LibertyBell RedWe have been given the freedom to choose – whether we stay in a employer-controlled job, to work for a nonprofit, to volunteer, to moonlight, to freelance, to consult, or to wholly own our own businesses. We can choose to go back to j-o-b-s, to retire, to teach, to work part-time, to work multiple jobs or gigs to make it and stay afloat. None of those or all of those. Never forget that you have more choice than you think. What paths to take, what the trail and winding journey looks like for each of us.

And we are not alone

More than 50 million Americans are out on their own in some way – freelancing, consulting, work-for-hire, running their own business and own lives. Small businesses (with <49 employees, so truly ‘small’) have contributed to most to overall job growth in the US lately (BLS, SBA). America has 3.7 Million ‘microbusinesses’ (<9 employees) and they make up 75% of ALL private-sector employers. Wow. Are you one of those? Do you want to be?

There are a lot of other solos to be out ‘alone’ alongside.

What might work independence look and feel like for you? For your work with clients, your community, your family, your fellow entrepreneurs? What small and big freedoms will you celebrate?

This Freedom Fourth maybe you will celebrate:Freedom Fourth Story-InfoHound

  • Freedom to work wherever you choose
  • Freedom to believe in yourself, your abilities, your skills, your gifts
  • Freedom from working with sabotaging bosses or co-workers, time- and soul-sucking tasks
  • Freedom to choose your own projects, your own clients, your own boss
  • Freedom to work on projects you really, truly love – with people that respect and love you back
  • Freedom to pursue your dreams in all their forms
  • Freedom to break rules and create your own
  • Freedom of flexibility
  • Freedom from trying to please everyone, and never being quite happy with yourself
  • Freedom to be who you are, play to your strengths, and love what you do

Take time this 4th of July, Independence Day holiday weekend to celebrate your own freedoms. Claim your Freedom – now and every day going forward. What has led you to take a different path, or just begin to contemplate it, and the happiness that independence brings you.

How Anyone Can Mind Map to Brainstorm for Content Creation

Let’s use Mind Mapping to Brainstorm and Organize Ideas for Content Creation

Blog Mind Map exampleI said in an earlier post this winter that I’d talk about using mind maps to help with generating ideas on a topic to write about, do a podcast on, or create videos for your audience. Mind maps can help you organize your information as well as think creatively. If you haven’t tried mind mapping, it’s worth a shot the next time you need to figure out what to post on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter or your next webinar or program.

Why Mind Map For Content Creation?

Mind maps have distinctive characteristics that them better and more useful than traditional organizational tools. They are great for visual thinkers and learners (and we all tend to pick up info quicker visually vs. all text), for creative thinking and getting out of your ‘normal’ routines. Lots of people don’t think in a linear way, so the graphic, relational method of a mind map works better for them. Mind maps can be used for organizing information, creating plans, goal setting, or certainly for idea generation for writing and research.

Brainstorming via a mind map encourages free association and a judgment-free zone. All ideas are valid, put them on the map and decide later if they fit or are good for your project. If you come up with a lot of ideas unrelated to your original creative session or theme, start a new, separate mind map and work on it later. Or if your map starts getting complicated and unruly, cut one or more sections of the map out and save them as new maps.

How to Mind Map – the basics

basic demo mind map Start from the Center – Mind maps explore a central theme, idea, topic or question – something that’s fodder to build off of – and branch or build out from the center. Put the central idea in the literal center of your map (on paper, whiteboard, an app, XMind, PowerPoint, etc). Put other ideas and thoughts as spokes or sub-circles off the main, and each of those can spring new links, spokes, circles – whatever is related to the idea you’re noodling on.

Emphasis on Relationships – You can see at a glance how elements of the map (or central theme) are related. The links or relationships don’t have to be exact or strong, just what comes to you.

Keep It Simple – single words or concepts are better than complex or bundled items; use as little text as possible; use colors, symbols, pictures, doodles (most of the software tools will let you add images, graphs, other files, color coding). Just don’t go overboard with your color-coding. It still needs to make sense at a glance. If you don’t know where to put an idea, let it ‘float’ until you see its connections.

Ask Questions – use the classic 5-W’s (who, what, where, when, why + how) to stimulate your brainstorming. Or you could map out Pros vs Cons, of a tool, app, product or service. The Question approach is especially good for mapping articles, blog posts, how-to instructions, or research-driven content pieces. You could mind map your next webinar or video as well! For example, think about Who it’s for, Where you will film it, What are you teaching, and Why it’s important for your audience.

Mind Maps Are Fluid – they can easily be changed, edited, added to. Don’t stop, don’t think, just do. Just keep adding, spiking out. If you do get hung up on 1 word or idea, leave it and move to something else. If one branch starts to get a little long or veers off target from the central theme – no problem, snip it and turn it into a new map.

Collaborative Tool – mind maps can be generated as part of a team or group exercise (physically or virtually, in real time or with members contributing as they can). It’s easy for every member to add an idea or relationship and contribute to the whole.

Using Mind Maps in Blogging

From Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is this good, if somewhat older, post on using mind mapping for writing and blogging.  His main points –

  • Don’t get hung up on technology or technique – just write or draw and let ideas circulate and flow. You can use paper, a whiteboard, or a cool app, but use what’s easiest to get ideas going and keep them going.
  • Use it to extend your existing ideas and writing – take your most recent posts (or videos, articles, podcasts – whatever your content format fave is) and spend just a few minutes (seriously, set a timer for 5 min) on each one, thinking of ways to take that idea further. Questions you didn’t answer, questions that came later, the opposing view, a commentary on the topic, more details on ‘how-to’, a case study or example, a link round-up, a visual way to describe X, etc.
    blog series sequence map
  • Expand again – Take one of the good ideas you came up, circle it, set the timer for 5 more minutes and think about how to expand all over again! Start creating more little ‘child’ circles, bubbles, boxes or whatever. You’ve got the creative juices flowing, so use them!

Tools For Mind Mapping

There are many other free and paid mind mapping apps or software offerings to download. The ones above are the most popular. Do some searching, check out the interfaces, look at other options and try a few to see which ones are intuitive for you to use.  If you can’t or won’t use it, it’s not a very useful tool!

Demo MindMapMore Resources and Examples on Using Mind Maps for Idea Generation

Producing effective ideas with mind maps – http://creately.com/diagram-type/article/producing-effective-ideas-mind-maps

Using Mind maps for brainstorming – http://www.novamind.com/mind-mapping/brainstorming/

How to brainstorm using mind mapping- http://coachingpositiveperformance.com/how-to-brainstorm-a-project-plan/

16 powerful ways to brainstorm with mind maps- http://upyourimpact.com/brainstorm-with-mind-maps/

Mapping your mind to create ideas- http://www.creativesomething.net/post/26558918419/mapping-your-mind-to-create-ideas

Brainstorming the brainstorm – workflows and ideas- http://brettterpstra.com/2013/08/23/brainstorming-the-brainstorm-workflows-and-ideas/

Brainstorming art ideas using a mind map- http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/ss/how-to-brainstorm-art-ideas.htm

Mind mapping and brainstorming- http://www.mech.hku.hk/bse/interdisciplinary/mindmap.pdf

Idea Brainstorming ExampleTest out some mind mapping tools, starting with pen and paper, and see if it helps you the next time you’re feeling a bit stuck. Use one to map out your whole blog, or your posts for the next quarter. Create a mind map for your next course, program, seminar or webinar. Try mapping out your marketing and promotion strategy for the next quarter too.  See where this creative, visual technique takes you and your content creation this year!  Hopefully I’ll share some of my own mind maps for content projects here at The InfoHound.com!

Info Pro + Marketer = Strategy First | Smarter Marketing