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The Listening Post
  • About

    In the technology era, there are a million-and-one ways to connect with the world. With a million-and-one different needs and personalities, it is difficult to choose just one channel that will allow us to most effectively listen to and communicate with our customers and partners.

    Through the wisdom of experts and research by the authors, The Listening Post offers insights into a variety of aspects of today’s communication with a more specific focus on communicating effectively G2G (geek-to-geek).

  • About the Authors

    Darcy Pierce

    I’m actually just a kid trapped in a semi-adult body, I love cartoons, coloring and mac and cheese. I enjoy listening to Claire de Lune while taking ballet classes, but at the same time, a well-tuned muscle car is like music to my ears. I thrive on opportunities to spin what others find to be completely boring (or overly technical like microchips) into exciting and engaging marketing programs, because of this, Synopsys is my Disneyland and social media is my platform.

    Geeky Confession: I secretly love math and numbers. I can recall phone numbers after only a short glance, and for some reason find it necessary to memorize my credit card numbers.

    Hannah Watanabe

    The “jaw-dropper” fact that most people are surprised to learn is that I was homeschooled K-12. I have never regretted this, and in the end, I am still just your everyday California girl—can’t get enough beach or sun. Whether it’s a day trip to Santa Cruz, a weekend in L.A., or an adventure on the other side of the world, I love to travel. My favorite outdoor activity is camping, and my true love is tap dancing. Other than social media, my passion is working with children because I’m reminded of the days when a crisis was not getting a second cup of animal crackers at snack time.

    Geeky Confession: I occasionally spend an hour clicking on the ads on my Facebook page trying to figure out why they are targeting me. Then, I enter keywords into my profile in an attempt to capture ads that I’m actually interested in.

  • Archives

YouTube Helps Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on September 30th, 2011

The channel that gets to close our series on how social media helps engineers is YouTube. The only social media platform that we never hear anyone complain about or say they would never use is YouTube. Why is that you ask? Because everyone loves video! If you don’t have a Facebook page, refuse to open a Twitter account and are happy with your rolladex of business cards instead of LinkedIn, we still bet at one time or another you were on YouTube and enjoyed it.

YouTube isn’t just for funny home videos, music videos and movie trailers. It is a great place to learn and see things you would otherwise never have the chance to.

YouTube is especially great for engineers because it is a source for many valuable videos including how-tos, product demos, technical reviews and technical answers to questions you just can’t seem to solve.

Below is an example of a video that engineers could find useful. In the video MCCI explains how to migrate your drivers to USB 3.0 designs on Synopsys USB 3.0 IP.

If a picture can say a thousand words, then a video can say a million. YouTube allows companies to take you places you wouldn’t normally be able to go.

When you are watching a video on YouTube and realize that it has over a million views, I’m sure sometimes you think, wow, how did that happen? Well that is the power of YouTube. If people find the content valuable, for whatever reason that may be, people are going to share that content with their friends, family, co-workers and so on and so forth. A YouTube video can become viral very quickly.

Unlike some of the other channels, YouTube is very straightforward. If you can figure out how to record your own videos, you will definitely be able to start your own personal channel on YouTube. Finding videos is also extremely easy because it is just like any other search engine.

Everyone loves a good video. They are much easier to digest than an article or even a podcast, so YouTube makes it easy for you to share them whenever you find one you like on any channel you like.

What is your favorite part about YouTube?

This concludes our series on how social media helps engineers. Is there anything we missed that you would like us to touch on or anything you would like us to explain more? We would love to hear from you!

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Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Facebook Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on September 19th, 2011

So far we have told you how we believe engineers can benefit from blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter. Now it’s Facebook‘s turn. Facebook is a tough one, because although people understand how to use Facebook, it is the one channel that usually gets the label “For Personal Use Only“.

Many may choose not to friend request their colleagues on Facebook to avoid a merge between work life and personal life. This aside, we’d like to share how valuable we find Facebook as an information source. The best thing about Facebook is you can choose who to follow and who not to follow. This also includes companies.

When we ask those who are aware that companies have Facebook pages if they follow companies, most shake their head because the misconception is that if they do so, they will get spammed. They don’t know that companies cannot send you private messages, and they cannot write on your wall. If you choose to follow a company, their posts will show up on your home feed, but many companies understand that the posts they share on Facebook need to be valuable and the quantity of posts reasonable. If you begin to follow a company that start clogging up your feed, you can back out at any time and “Unlike” the page.

If you have a few minutes, take some time to find your Facebook search bar and start typing the names of some companies and check out their pages. Some might have photos, others might have deals, an interesting video, or a link to a webinar you didn’t know about. The list of what you might find is long.

 

Both of us love to follow companies.  Each morning, we log onto Facebook and it’s like we each have our own our morning newspapers.

For example, Hannah can get on the her Facebook home feed in the morning and in 30 minutes she can…

  • See the top social media story from Mashable
  • Find out what the latest article from EDN is
  • Find breaking news from CNN
  • See the latest new toy on Engaget
  • Get a good digest of what the hot topics are from her favorite social media bloggers
  • Discover that Best Buy is having a sale on the laptop she’s been wanting
  • Get a “Facebook fan exclusive” promocode from her favorite airline for a flight down to L.A.
  • Hear about a boot sale that Nordstrom is having :-)
  • Catch a status update from her sister who is away at college

All the information Hannah wants each morning is in one place.

If you do happen to be friends with some of your colleagues or people with the same career interests, you too can be part of their morning digest of information and news.

Don’t be afraid to like and comment on the posts of a company’s Facebook page. This is exactly what they want. Liking a post lets them know what kind of content you find valuable, and commenting allows you to give the company feedback or showcase some of your own knowledge.

The beautiful thing about social media to us is the ability to share content, thoughts and information. If you find a post on Facebook valuable, chances are, one of your friends will to, so share share share.

Stay tuned for our next post on YouTube which will be out final entry in our series of how social media helps engineers.

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Posted in G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Twitter Helps Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on September 14th, 2011

When we talk to engineers about social media, most have a basic understanding of what LinkedIn is, what Facebook does, and how great YouTube is, but many openly admit that they do not understand Twitter. Most people have the misconception that Twitter is just people talking about what they had for breakfast and miss the value that Twitter brings. For this post, not only are we going to explain how Twitter helps engineers, but we are also going to explain some of the Twitter jargon, since many find the platform somewhat obscure and confusing to use. Twitter is a very powerful listening tool that also has an extensive reach, if you know how to use it.

We suggest that the best way to figure it out is to start using it. Once you have a Twitter account, observe how other people are using it. Start searching for people and keywords. You’ll find that Twitter is a great way to get news, share content and keep up with anything and everything you are interested in. Twitter is a great place to stay up to date with what is going on in your industry. By following key influencers, you can set up a feed that alerts you to the very latest content and the most up to date news.  Give it a try. Go to the search bar on Twitter.com and search some keywords like “engineering” and see what people are talking about.

The key takeaway of this post is that Twitter is not just about what you had for breakfast. Twitter is a source of endless knowledge that you can digest while you eat breakfast each morning. You just have to know how to tap into this knowledge. Inside Twitter, you can find topical conversations and a great deal of shared information. We only listed a few examples above because the possibilities are endless.

On Twitter you can follow people who you already know or those you think just have something interesting to say. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you do not send requests to be “friends” or become a “connection”, you simply follow people or companies that you are interested in hearing from and interacting with. By searching different topics, you can see the people that are talking about them and the conversations that are developing.

One you’ve figured out all of the topics that you want to be searching for and the content that you want to be collecting, you now need a place to aggregate all of this information. TweetDeck is the tool you are looking for. Don’t be afraid of its daunting appearance, TweetDeck is just a series of feeds and searches broken up into columns. One column is your main feed that includes tweets from all the people that you follow. All of the other columns are where you enter in your custom topics and #hashtags (explained later) that you want to be following. Once you specify a search term for a column, that column will aggregate every tweet made on that topic, even the tweets from people you are not following. New search columns can be added, deleted or moved to a different position at any time.

Now let’s talk about the 140 character limit. Every tweet you make should be adding some kind of value and with the limited characters, you have to think of the most important thing that you want people to know. You might have to word tweets differently then you would if you were saying it out loud, but with practice, the 140 character limit actually helps you to be a more relevant and concise writer.

It is good practice to make sure that you are @mentioning a company or a person when you talk about them in a tweet.

A retweet is almost like forwarding an email. When you see a tweet that you like, or a tweet that you would like to comment on, a retweet allows you to do this and share it with your followers.

You can send a direct message two ways, either by clicking on the “message” button located on the top of a person’s profile (button looks like small envelope) or by starting a tweet with the letter “D” followed by the person’s username (without an @ symbol).

As mentioned briefly, one way you can find information and help your tweets to be found is by searching for and using #hashtags for topics.

A #hashtag is a great way to make sure that your tweet gets a farther reach then just the people who follow you. Anyone who is searching that particular #hashtag will also potentially see your tweet.

For more details on how to use Twitter, read Twitter 101: How should I get started using Twitter?

@YouWhoReadThis Thank you for reading. Have questions or comments? Please share your thoughts below. #twitter #engineers #engineering ;-)

 

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Posted in G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

How LinkedIn Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on August 31st, 2011

LinkedIn is the most adopted and respected social networking site in the engineering community. There are many professional advantages to using LinkedIn.  Below are several education slides that we created to discuss with engineers how they can benefit from using LinkedIn and take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer.

One of the best ways to increase your knowledge about a particular topic, especially one related to your job, is to discuss it with others.  Some engineers have used LinkedIn Groups to create very lively discussion groups on topics that they are interested in. Here are two  groups that serve as good examples: Low Power and Power Management Designs and Design Verification Professionals. To take a deeper look into how to use LinkedIn Groups, checkout the U.S. News article, How to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships, by Lindsay Olson.

Having a profile on LinkedIn not only allows you to search for jobs, but for jobs to find you. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs they are trying to fill.

By building your network on LinkedIn and utilizing all of its features, you are in turn creating an online portfolio of your professional experience that can be used to help you land a job.

From monitoring the metrics for our blogs here at Synopsys, we have discovered that the number of views for a particular blog post increases when the post is shared on LinkedIn. For example in the month of June, On the Move, a blog written by Hezi Saar, received over 1,000 views and 36% of those views were referrals from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has realized the value in giving companies a voice as well. Many companies have groups where customers can discuss their products. Companies can also take advantage of Company Pages. A feature that was recently added allows companies to make updates, as if they too were a person, that shows up in people’s feeds. If you follow companies, you’ll receive their updates in your home feed.

Some people are selective about who they add to their network according to the relationship they have with the person. Others are more open to connecting with anyone.

If you maximize your profile on LinkedIn, you’ll maximize what LinkedIn can do for you, which is to tell other professionals about you.

How do you use LinkedIn? Do you have any questions? We would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

How Blogs Help Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on July 13th, 2011

Like we discussed in our previous post, we are going to expand on the presentation that we showed during DAC 2011 and take a deep dive into each channel we mentioned and explain how they benefit engineers.

Below is a presentation that we created on how blogs help engineers through sharing and collecting knowledge, fostering relationships and being available in a real time, easy to find environment.

Did you learn anything new from our presentation? Are there any other ways you think that engineers could utilize blogs? We are here to answer your questions, if you would like us to expand on any of our points please don’t hesitate to ask.

Next week we will be sharing our presentation on how LinkedIn benefits engineers. Stay tuned!

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Posted in B2B, Communication, G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

How Social Media Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on June 30th, 2011

In our last post about DAC, we mentioned that we would be expanding on the presentation that we displayed in the Conversation Central area of the Synopsys booth. Before we go into detail about how we believe each social media platform can benefit engineers, we would like to share the presentation to give you a brief overview.

Do you agree with our reasoning? Are there any additional ways you believe social media benefits engineers? Please share your thoughts with us!

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Our First DAC Experience

Posted by Hannah Conrad on June 14th, 2011

You may have noticed that some time has passed since we last made a post. We were completely engrossed in planning for the 48th Design Automation Conference, but we are satisfied with our activities at DAC this year. Being that this was our first time attending DAC, we thought we’d share our experience and activities with you.

Stepping on the show floor early Sunday afternoon was overwhelming. After months of extensive DAC planning, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we were actually there.

Our home base was the Conversation Central area of the Synopsys booth.

Darcy and Hannah sitting on what should be labeled "The Conversation Central Comfy Couch"

Hannah opened her mouth and suggested to Karen that she do a video introducing what would be happening in the Conversation Central area over the next few days. Hannah’s suggestion backfired as Karen went wild over the brilliance of the idea and suggested that we both do it with her! This would have been less nerve racking if the video was not going to be broadcasted live through the Synopsys Facebook Page, but we fixed our hair, checked our makeup, put on a smile, and pulled off a pretty good introduction video. You can watch the playback versions of each of these videos on Synopsys’ Facebook Page or YouTube channel and catch guest like Jan Raebey, a UC Berkeley professor, who talked about putting microchips into people’s brains.

See our introduction video with Karen below.

It was Conversation Central’s first dance with not only video, but live video.  Among 16 shows, we sprinkled in six live video shows. These shows were streamed live through the Synopsys Facebook Page using the LiveStream application. How much did this cost us? Not a single cent. Both the LiveStream account and Facebook application were free. You might assume that we used an extremely nice HD camcorder, but we found our Logitech webcam duct taped to a tripod, to be more than sufficient.

Our Logitech webcam duct taped to a tripod. High-tech at it's finest!

Our live show with Paul McLellan and Jim Hogan on the DAC floor being live streamed to Facebook

With three live audio shows, six live video shows, and seven recorded audio shows, we had plenty of room for a great lineup of guests. From Cloud Computing to chip design at 20nm, you will find a recap of each show posted daily from June 13th – June 28th onto the Conversation Central Show Notes page in a series that we are calling “The Voices of DAC”.

We didn’t stop with just Conversation Central. In the past, Synopsys has had a Twitter Tower in the general booth area for attendees to follow. We still displayed a large screen with three Twitter feeds, but this year we decided to step it up a notch and add an interactive element for our Twitter followers by hosting two Twitter games.

Twitter Game Card

The first game was called Twitter Trivia and was played by show guests attending specified events (outlined on game card) and answering a question that was tweeted by Synopsys at the beginning of each event. Once they figured out the answer from the topics discussed at the events, they would then tweet the answer to @Synopsys. Every time they answered a question correctly they were entered in a drawing for a Dell Streak 5. Our two winners, @Bruce1271 and @mguthaus, were able to pick up their prizes right in the booth.

We also had a contest to see who could use “@Synopsys” and/or “#snps” in their tweets the most during the week of DAC, allowing even those who were unable attend DAC a chance to win. Our winner @dennisbrophy, will be sent a Kindle 3!

Another addition to DAC this year was the use of QR codes. Not only did we have an entire sign right outside the booth dedicated to displaying QR codes that connected to each of our new media channels (see picture below), but we also had a station inside the booth that generated personalized LinkedIn Networking Cards that boasted a QR code that would link anyone with a smartphone to your own personal LinkedIn profile, making for easy connections in a fun techy way.

The cards were a hit! We had people come back with their colleagues’ business cards asking us to generate LinkedIn Networking Cards to give to them. We even had a few people ask if we would be able to send them cards in the future for others they knew.

When scanned with a QR code reader on a smartphone, each QR code linked to one of Synopsys' social media platforms

Hannah's personalized LinkedIn Networking Card

In addition to all of the above activities, we also had a screen with a rolling presentation that educated engineers on how they can benefit in their career from using the various social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Our next few blog posts will build off of this rolling presentation as we share how we believe engineers can benefit from social media.

What was your favorite part of DAC 2011?

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Posted in B2B, G2G, Social Media | No Comments »

Google Wants a Piece of the Social Network Pie, but they are in the Wrong Kitchen.

Posted by Hannah Conrad on April 8th, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Buzz, Digg, Tumblr, Delicious, Flickr….

And the list goes on and on. All of these various social networks that seem to be multiplying on a consistent basis in an attempt to tap every part of your everyday life, all require yet another profile and a new way to connect with friends, colleagues or even just others who share the same interests. This over saturation can be both overwhelming and exhausting, and at the same time, it all seems to be a little redundant. Will all of these various one off networks stand the test of time? Probably not.

However, there is a very good reason why there are so many new social networks emerging, on what seems like a daily basis, it is because people and companies have realized the impact of this new form of communication and everyone wants a piece of the pie. This includes already successful and well known companies who seem to be feeling like they somehow got left behind and are worried they may be too late to get in on the new media surge.

For example, Google has made it obvious that they do not want to be left behind in the social media bandwagon dust. After the release of Buzz, that seems to have missed the mark, Google announced today the promotion of six new Senior Vice Presidents including Vic Gundotra, the new SVP of Social.

In an article in Mashable today:

“While Google is in very good shape by almost any standard, the rise of Facebook and its failure in social has scared it so much that all employee bonuses will be determined by the success of its social media initiatives. Fixing Google’s social strategy is a big reason why Larry Page is now CEO.”

We all know that Google wants a piece of the social network pie, but there are simply no pieces left. Or are there? Maybe the problem is not that there are there are no pieces of pie left, but rather that Google is looking for pie in the wrong kitchen.

As already stated, the everyday social network user is overwhelmed with the number of social networking platforms. In order to reach the average user, Google needs to take an indirect route. How can they do this? Google has its eyes on overtaking Facebook and winning the hearts of the consumer. The problem is, we are all too in love with Facebook to let that happen. Google has to get us to love them on the social level in another way. When we were discussing the Mashable article this morning, we realized that the average user does not have a social networking life while at work. For many of us, as employees, we do not encounter a social network each day on the professional level. Unless you are a social media specialist like we are, while at work, you probably only take a quick peek at your Facebook on your lunch break and maybe sneak a tweet in here or there, but otherwise, being on social networks while on the clock is a company no-no.

Google has an opportunity here. If Google could make an outstanding, kickass internal social platform for business, it might be able to win us over. There are several companies offering internal social platforms for business: Yammer, Chatter, Convofy, and Socialcast (to name a few). The problem though, is that you cannot use all of the features for free. One of our biggest pet peeves about personal social platforms is when they ask you to pay. For example, on an individual user basis, you can’t send an InMail message on LinkedIn to someone you are not connected to without upgrading to a paid account. Facebook on the other hand lets you do this. Facebook got it right. If you want us to truly love something, you have to give all of its features to us for free. Money comes later.

Here is what we would suggest to Google. Google should provide a free internal social networking platform for businesses. Offer it to each company as a single secure account with logins for each employee. They need to make it useful and productive to business in order to get companies to adopt it. More importantly, they must add an element that ignites a love for the platform that causes the individual employee to crave it. If Google can win us over as employees in the workplace, then perhaps we will be more open when they release the same social platform for us as consumers. Offer the platform as a product for businesses, use that niche route, and when it takes off, fork to the right into the heart of the individual consumer.

The best part about this is that Google has the perfect stage to test such a platform—its own company and its own employees. If Google can get it to work for their business and at the same time, get the employees to individually love and use it on a consistent basis, then we the public probably would too.

What do you think? Does Google stand a chance at successfully entering the social networking market?

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Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

High Speed Internet with a Limit

Posted by Darcy Pierce on April 4th, 2011

Many of those who have AT&T’s residential DSL High Speed Internet have probably already heard the news that AT&T is putting a monthly usage cap on their broadband service. The average AT&T customer will not be affected by this. In fact, only the top 2% of users may be affected. Interestingly though, this group of customers use about 20% of the totally capacity of the network.

According to AT&T their average customer uses only 18 GB per month. This means that 150 or 250 GB is more than enough for 98% of customers. However, if you are in the 2%, you will be charged $10 for every 50 GB over your usage allowance. AT&T is being courteous though, giving users a grace period of 2 months to change their usage habits, and then subsequently will begin to charge overage fees.

Although we understand why internet providers like AT&T and Comcast have a cap on their broadband services, we can’t help thinking about who might be included in the top 2% and how their communication and business habits might be affected. Being that we are Social Media Specialists, we sympathize greatly with the large amount of social media consultants and contractors that work out of their homes. Since going over your usage relates greatly to how much you upload and download various content, we feel that any social media contractor, or any individual working out of their home may be affected by this.

On the non-business side, others who may be affected are those who do not have cable television and instead stream all of their movies and regular TV shows from the internet. Some groups of college students may be affected as well, such as film production and photography students who may frequently upload and download large files.

Another issue that could arise with this new usage cap is the increased importance of network security. Although most people already have their wireless networks password protected, there is now an added risk if they do get hacked with the addition of overage charges.

Internet usage caps like the ones we just described can also have an influence on less obvious areas. GigaOm, who posted a similar article about the issue, expresses how caps like these may potentially hinder innovation.

Here is a chart provided by AT&T that breaks down what you can get out of you allowed monthly usage.

What are your thought on broadband usage caps?

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Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Idea of the Idea Book

Posted by Hannah Conrad on March 4th, 2011

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-power-of-ideas/

Ever have those moments where you’re in a meeting, or working out, or maybe while you’re listening to the radio on the way to work, and something just clicks? You have a random, but fantastic idea pop into your head, and you experience an “aha” moment! You scramble to find something to write the idea on—a handy notebook, a piece of scratch paper you have lying around, a receipt, etc—just to make sure that your brilliant idea does not get forgotten. When you think about it, honestly, how many of those ideas do you remember and take action on?  How often do you misplace that piece of scratch paper or forget where in that over packed notebook you jotted down your possibly career-changing idea (if you wrote it down at all)?

We both have encountered this problem before. Since our jobs require us to be cooking up new and creative ideas on a regular basis, it is almost like we are programmed to have a constant brainstorming session taking place in our minds, but some of our original ideas become forgotten in the wasteland of our expansive imaginations.

A sense of order and reason was needed for this constant and chaotic stream of ideas, so that we could further grow and cultivate these individual inspirations. And so the idea for the “Idea Book” was born, and a beautifully wood bound notebook with gold leaf pages was purchased. We realized that this book could be a game changer as soon as we started to transcribe our ideas into it. In the past, we struggled to find our scribbled ideas in our notebooks and strained to remember all of the ones that we had discussed verbally, but now we have a place to accumulate all of our off the wall (maybe even crazy) ideas.

The idea of the Idea Book is to give each idea a fighting chance to not be forgotten or overlooked, but instead, turned into a reality.

For us, the Idea Book is inspiring, because it removes boundaries. There are no limitations to what is possible and nothing is considered silly. It is a representation and an outlet for our raw imaginations. This new guarded channel to articulate and express our ideas allows us to better communicate with not only ourselves and each other, but it also allows us to more effectively communicate our ideas to others so that no idea gets left behind.

Where do you keep your ideas?

Some inspiring quotes about ideas:

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. – Albert Einstein

“All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” – JFK

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Posted in Communication | No Comments »