Whack Your Thinking – NaNoWriMo 2021

In 2011, two important things happened to me: 1) I saw Matt Cutts’ famed TED Talk, “Try Something New for 30 Days,” which enlightened me to the wonderful world of National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) and 2) I had lunch with one of my heroes, Warren Buffett, which, needing to release the energy that the encounter had built up, prompted me to try something new for 30 days.  That thing I tried was blogging about my approach to networking for 30 days following the approach of NaNoWriMo… that was more than 600 blog posts ago and I haven’t looked back!  In fact, it prompted me to launch a movement, Coffee Lunch Coffee, to encourage everyone to intentionally incorporate relationship building into their daily lives.

For some, especially those who don’t perceive that they have the time to actively network, who feel as if networking is sketchy, overly sales-y, selfish or inauthentic, thinking differently about building better, more meaningful professional relationships might feel like a stretch.  Since it is my tradition to blog every day during the month of November, I am going to spend the next several weeks encouraging you to “whack your thinking.”  That is, as Roger von Oech, the founder and president of Creative Think, a Menlo Park, California, company specializing in stimulating creativity and innovation, says, “jolt [yourself] out of habitual thought patterns that prevent you from looking at what you’re doing in a fresh way.”

We all have the capacity for this. We can all break out of our “prison of familiarity” by disrupting our own standard operating procedures and processes.  For me, a math major who is more comfortable with numbers than with words discovered, that meant holding myself accountable to blogging every day for 30 days in 2011… I learned that despite thinking that I did not have the ability to string together a cogent group of words, I actually am a writer with ideas that have turned out to be helpful to others.   I wonder what gifts you have lurking just beneath the surface that you have to share with the world? 

Are you curious about how to get started?  von Oech suggests doing things that go against cultural norms or at least different than what you would typically pursue – things like writing a poem in the middle of the night… eating ice cream for breakfast (yes!)… wearing red socks… visiting a junkyard or thrift shop to see what you discover… work the weekend (then take the week off!)… take the slow way home… sleep on the other side of the bed… hold your fork in your non-dominant hand… you get the idea.

So, go on, give yourself a whack on the side of the head and see what creative genius rises to the surface.  (But, be careful… we’re not going for a bump or bruise!)

Happy Networking!

P.S. – For many of the next 30 days, I will lean on lessons from von Oech to share tips, tricks and tools for bolstering your networking efforts.  Special thanks to my aunt, Lauren Davis, for introducing me to von Oech’s work – I am grateful to her for the whack on the side of the head that got my creative juices flowing.

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