Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Right-Brain Biz Plan

Two years ago, I stumbled across the book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee. I loved the concept - that there was a way for someone who thought in images, to survive - and thrive- in the left-brain business world.

My kids will tell you that I only read books with pictures. And as far as business books go - this one is loaded. Even so, I find it hard to get motivated simply by reading a book. But when something is really important, the Universe moves in and starts poking, shoving, or using the ole whack to the side of the head to get our attention. While procrastinating on my own plan, I went to the Squam Art camp (NH) and ended up taking a mini-workshop with Jennifer Lee. I was swept up in her contagious enthusiasm and immediately signed up for her RBBP workshop online.

And ordered her accordian book kit. And then signed up for licensed facilitator training. But I'm getting ahead of myself! The kit had stickers! And the class had fun videos and worksheets and colorful teeny post-it notes and I found myself making trading cards depicting my values and collages of my ideal customers, and vision boards filled with all the ads and brands that I admire. I found myself yelling "I LOVE money! I DESERVE money! I'm NOT afraid of money!" And because this was an online class, I didn't humiliate myself no matter what I yelled. Although I did frighten the cat...

A few people have told me that they haven't gotten themselves to crack open the book, even with all the pictures. A few people have taken the video class with Jen and still haven't actually done the work. Because cutting and pasting magazine pictures is scary. I get it. And we all learn in different ways. I need the book, the video AND hands-on attention. Maybe you are like that too? So far-right-brained that you tilt when you walk? Nothing to be ashamed of. But I have finally started to understand WHY the whole "planning it out" is so terrifying to us. Well, one reason anyway! It's because - even if we have a pretty good idea WHAT we want to do (like teach or open a store or blog...) we aren't clear on the WHY.

One of the projects in the Right-Brain Business Plan Book that I most enjoyed was making a deck of Values Trading Cards. Make a list of individual values that are important to you. Then find pictures that express those concepts and glue 'em onto a piece of cardstock. Then, whenever you need to evaluate a new opportunity or idea or purchase, you flip through your deck and see if it is in line with your values. Genius. Here's what I learned about myself:

 1. Creativity.    No-brainer, right? (Hmmm... how about a No-Brainer Biz Plan?) If something doesn't have some aspect of creativity involved... I could care less. This includes problem solving in general. If there is nothing to be solved, no challenge to overcome, no mystery to reveal - let someone else deal with it.

2. AWE.    Magic, mystery, spiritual stuff, super-powers! Whatever you call it, I need a sense of "Wowwwww....."

3. ENERGY.   Inspiration, passion and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I'd put good health in here too.

4. FAIRNESS. Oh yeah. Maybe it's the middle-child in me, but I do spend a lot of time kicking things and yelling "That's not FAIR!!" But it's also the part that pushes me to try and make things right with others no matter what. Sometimes this one really sucks.

5. KNOWLEDGE.   I just really need to know how stuff works. How it's made. Did you know that polar bears don't have white fur? It's actually transparent to let the sun through to their skin... which is actually black to retain the heat. Don't worry, the Universe had it's little joke by sending me a son who is even MORE like... that. [Alex at around 6 years old, early, early one Saturday morning...."Mom, wake up! I wrote you a paper about Angkar Watt because you really need to know this. Don't worry, there are pictures."] He was right. I really DID need to know. Angkar Watt is like Atlantis. It was a lost, mythical city/temple. Except... it's real.

6. RESPONSIBILITY. A bit like fairness, but I see it as - everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves. You broke it, you fix it. (or - I broke it, I have to fix it). I don't mind helping, but everyone needs to fess up and then cooperate.

7. OPTIMISM.  I'm actually more of an Optimistic-pessimist. Or maybe it's a pessimistic-optimist? "Cheer up," she said, "things could always be worse." So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse. Or maybe you prefer "When going through Hell, keep going."

8. RESOURCEFULNESS. Yes, we can figure this out! There must be a solution. If I just keep trying things, something is sure to be successful...

9. SATISFACTION. Well, does it make you feel good? :-) Doesn't that cat just say it all?

I think it's time to redo my RBBPlan, but these cards will always be my values. I encourage you to make a set too.

I'll be doing a Right-Brain Business Plan workshop at TangleU in Massachusetts next month. If you are attending, you'll get a copy of the RBBP book and we'll do lots of cutting and pasting (bring scissors, gluesticks and some magazines). If you have done any RBBP projects or vision boards or such things, please bring them along too.

If you aren't able to attend, or even if you are... Jennifer Lee is doing a weeklong Right-Brainers in Business Summit starting on Monday (February 25th-March 8th). There's no fee, it's only about an hour each day and it might be a good way to kickstart yourself into getting something down on paper. Jen will have a bunch of other amazing people such as Jill Badonsky and Kelly Rae Roberts. And when you sign up, you get to listen to an interview with Marney Makridakis who runs Artella.


  1. Fantastic post. I love your cards and I am happy that you are re-discovering your spark!! Enjoy your RBBP.

  2. I love your value cards! I'm going to start saving my magazines for Tangle U today!

  3. I think you should make and sell those wonderful Values cards- they would be a fun teaching learning aid for all kinds of events,

  4. One of your best posts since I've started following you. Thank you, I do believe I'll be getting this book AND doing the exercises. I'm tired of the left-brainers telling me what to do. :-D

  5. Fabulous. I'm off to buy the book now. :D

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this series!

    I read your post at 4 am, immediately signed up. Was too out of it to even peruse video. Went for the enhanced package, so I can go through at my own pace.

    After all that excitement, went back to sleep feeling great about my potential. Slept through 4 alarms and got to work 2 hours late!

    I'm sure it was worth it!

  7. I have signed up for the Free One, Sandy. I work so will view after hours. Thank-you, downloaded book to Kindle.

  8. Your illustration have lots of point of view and it is very important in business planning.

  9. Sandy - one of your best posts ever! I would really love to see your own illustrations of those cards!

  10. I really like the value trading cards as well. Creativity is undervalued in the business world. I appreciate the authors blog.

  11. Pretty remarkable post. I simply came across your blog and desired to say that I have really enjoyed searching your blog posts.Business Plan Workshop


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