Tag Archives: COCAbiz

COCAbiz Spark 2012 Business Creativity Conference – A Livetweeter’s Perspective

COCAbiz Spark conference

Businesses face challenges every day. If they don’t, chances are they’re not taking enough risks. Executives and the people that work for them are tasked with researching, planning, recommending and implementing solutions. From where do those solutions come? Our education and experiences inform our decision-making, and our left brain often runs the show. Logical, sequential, rational and analytical thought is used to derive ideas and therefore solutions. The fact that you’ve done your due diligence by deliberately considering all sensible options should yield a solution with which few could argue.

What role does creativity play? Frankly, before I knew of COCAbiz, the business creativity and training division of the Center of Creative Arts here in St. Louis, I had not given that question much thought. Businesses call themselves “innovative” all the time, but it simply does not make it so. COCAbiz has developed a series of classes and workshops, and curated a series of events, designed to get businesspeople thinking with the underused right side of their brain. That is where creativity and innovation are born.

COCAbiz Spark conferenceI was invited to be the official “livetweeter” at their second annual business creativity conference called “Spark.” The event spanned two days and included creativity lab breakout sessions and keynote speeches from Seth Godin, Jonah Lehrer and Linda Kaplan Thaler. On day one, I floated between all of the creativity labs and documented as much as I could. The labs ranged from salsa dancing to Rube Goldberg machine building to poetry translation to musical improvisation. On day two, I decided to participate in one of the labs, and I chose the one titled “Productive Performance Critique.” I am obsessed with how body language, tone and word choice affect the absorption of constructive feedback. This lab taught us the “See Think Wonder” method of performance critique, which allows one to interpret a situation and make careful observations without immediately passing judgement. This will usually allow the critique recipient to be more receptive to the feedback. This lab showed us that, while routinely used to explore works of art, this method could be applicable in the business world. It culminated with teams of two and three, each led by a director, choreographing and performing plays that the group at large then critiqued using the See Think Wonder method. It was scary to perform as an actor in front of a crowd, invigorating once it was over, and a great way to practice See Think Wonder.

COCAbiz Spark Business Creativity conferenceAlong with updates from the labs, I tweeted out as many quotes from the keynotes as I could using the COCAbiz Twitter account. I also used my own RizzoTees account and Falk Harrison‘s a few times as well. In fact, by the end of day one,  I had bumped up against Twitter’s daily photo upload limit on the COCAbiz account. I was unaware that such a limit existed. So for a time, any photo I wanted to tweet had to come from my personal account. I was then able to retweet it from the COCAbiz account.

We used the hashtag #Spark2012. Using such a hashtag yielded four benefits:

1. Attendees can follow the events of the day. Of course, if you’re in attendance at an event, you may find yourself capable of following along in person. However, reviewing the tweets of fellow attendees can often lead to face-to-face encounters. Yes, Twitter can help you meet people in the flesh! It’s an oddly powerful feeling to meet a new person after having conversed with them online. The online tweets somehow enhance the offline interaction.

2. People that did not attend can get a feel for the event, and can consider attending it next year. COCAbiz is not just interested in selling out this year’s event. They want to build an ever-growing asset in Spark. Could this event become the next South By Southwest Interactive or Big Omaha? There’s nothing to say it can’t. I tweeted with the intention of giving people that did not attend an idea of what they missed, and what they could expect should they decide to attend next year. Always be building communication vehicles for today and the future.

3. Employing a hashtag and convincing a majority of attendees to use it allows you to buy a Tweetreach report. For $20, COCAbiz was able to purchase a report on the hashtag #Spark2012. Our 27-page PDF report includes a page of metrics (see below), a list of all contributors in reverse volume order (the first page of which is also below), and perhaps most importantly, a full digest of every tweet made using the hashtag. The neatest thing about this digest is that all links are clickable. Under normal circumstances, your tweets from six months ago are so buried. They’re basically gone. You can’t search them anymore, it’s laborious to page back to several thousand tweets ago; you really can’t find old tweets. This report gives COCAbiz a complete digest of the event. All tweets can be opened by clicking the tweet in the report, the accounts of all Twitter users that participated are there, and all photographs tweeted are now archived and accessible in the future.

4. Finally, if you have people (like a boss or a donor) that want a report of what you did with Twitter at an event, frankly this is a nice report to hand them. It shows breadth, reach, frequency and depth of conversation. It does not necessarily show “success” – you must decide what you are trying to accomplish by livetweeting an event. My role at COCAbiz was to raise visibility and awareness of their mission and of the Spark event, and to help attendees find each other and meet, and we succeeded. I hope COCAbiz asks me back next year!

Tweetreach report

Tweetreach report

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COCABiz Event – bizthink3

Bright Orange Desk COCAbiz

Several employees from Falk Harrison attended “bizthink3,” held at the Missouri History Museum. As the name suggests, this was the third business creativity and networking gathering curated by COCAbiz. The mission of COCAbiz is to combine creativity and the arts with business-focused facilitation to teach real business skills in creative and effective ways. In other words, it’s about using creativity to solve business problems.

One of the creative activities we participated in was the writing of a poem about ourselves. The concept of a “Metaphorical Self-Portrait Poem” was introduced. We were provided a rough outline, suggested metaphor categories, and a sample poem about noted St. Louis aviator Charles Lindbergh.

The metaphor categories were:

An animal, plant, shape, tool, sound, or color
A form of water, fire, air/sky, earth
A beverage, mythical character, household appliance, geographic location
A musical instrument, building structure, form of weather, mode of transportation

The rough outline was as follows:

People think I’m __________ (animal)
but I’m really __________ (animal)
I am __________ (sound)
and I am __________ (fire)

What scares me most is __________
I am __________

I want to be remembered for __________
and for __________ (location)
I am a __________ (mythology)

All I really want is __________ (personal attribute)
I am __________ (accomplishment)
and I am __________ (form of transport)

So we were provided with some tools and some food for thought. We were then given around 10 minutes to write our poem. At this point, many attendees began sweating profusely. Some didn’t feel like poets. Some didn’t want to embarass themselves by revealing through poetry who they think they are. There were many nervous people not wanting to write, or not able to write. Nevertheless, everyone wrote a poem.

In the end, a few brave folks read their poems aloud to everyone. They were GOOD. In fact, when the moderator asked what struck us about the process, I raised my hand and said, “That so many people thought their poems were no good, when in fact they were great.” It was a very enlightening exercise. I wish I had stood up and read my poem, which is below.


People think I’m an addict, Pavlov’s dog when the iPhone buzzes
but I’m really Curious George, that cute little monkey that wants to know you.
I am the white noise of clicking, clacking tweets
and I am the clothier – you need not go naked.

What scares me the most is that you won’t understand that last line
(I have a t-shirt company.)

I want to be remembered for caring for the world, which means you too
and for being an oenophile, even when I’m at Schlafly’s.
Yes, I am a wine drinking freight train (always in moderation).

All I really want is two healthy daughters – they must not perish.
I am living a dream, CPA years be gone
and I am happy. I now have purpose.

NOTE: COCAbiz is holding a very special event on August 29-30, 2011. Called the “Business Creativity Conference – Play At Work,” it will bring together St. Louis’ best and brightest, along with four incredible speakers. As lead sponsor of the event, Falk Harrison will send several employees to the festivities, and we encourage you to consider registering. It will be a business conference unlike any other.

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