Head Straight for Sideways

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Think SidewaysHow many new and amazing ideas have you had today? I thought so – not nearly as many as you would like or that would really make a difference in the world or your business – right?

Well, there are books for that kind of thing.  I’ve got several of them on my shelf.  Some of them are rather large and cumbersome and hard to carry around but my latest find in the brainstorming and new idea book category actually came to me from one of my newest guest authors on DIYMarketers, Tamara Kleinberg (@imaginibbles) called Think Sideways: A Game-Changing Playbook for Disruptive Thinking.

Tamara Kleinberg is the New Voice of Bright Ideas

I didn’t know about Tamara Kleinberg before she sent me her article and her new book.  But as I started reading Sideways I could see that she is becoming a new voice for generating new and innovative ideas that you can use to develop new products, services or marketing campaigns.

Tamara is the founder of Imaginibbles, an edu-training company that unleashes sideways thinking with media, products and events that inspire creativity.  She is the creator and host of the hit web show imagi-NATION.  Tamara is a speaker, serial entrepreneur and martial artist.  As a kid in computer camp she won the “I’ll try anything once” award – and these are words she still lives by.

A special treat at the back of the book is her extended story.  You know how you read someone’s bio and want to puke because it seems like they’ve accomplished so much in so little time with what seems like hardly any obstacles?  You won’t see that here.  Tamara has had a plethora of wide-ranging experiences that have taken her to failure and back.

I found myself respecting her failures over her successes because of what she did with them.  She didn’t let any of them stop her, she didn’t take on any self-deprecating stories.  Instead, she took all of it on as a possibility, opportunity and a vital ingredient in what comes next – BRAVO!

Sideways is Fun to Read and Fun to Do – That’s Why it’s a PLAYBOOK

Tamara calls Sideways a “playbook” for a reason.  You don’t just read this book, you interact with it. And I’d recommend taking the word PLAYBOOK seriously and playing with what’s inside rather than interacting or doing.  Because if you take this book on as a task – you will enjoy the content, but your inner critical voice will pop up and you will put it down – just before something good comes out of it.  I’m telling you this from experience – because that’s what I did.

I started by reading the book and “imagining” doing the exercises.  There were a couple of things wrong with this approach:

  1. New ideas didn’t just pop out at me by simply reading and pretending.  This is like watching a workout video from your couch as you eat a half-gallon of ice cream.  Intellectually rewarding but low on the benefit scale.
  2. I got bored with the whole thing.  It was the same experience as watching a sporting event when you’d rather be playing.  I was a spectator instead of a participant.

That’s when I decided to take this book on with a vengeance and use the book in the way it was intended – as a recipe for new ideas and thoughts.

Your Guide to Sideways

I think, like playing, doing Sideways would be a lot more fun as a group.  I’d recommend you get a few copies and give them to some friends and have a Sideways party.  Everyone come with a challenge or idea you’d like to flush out and then take turns playing with the different idea generating strategies that are outlined in the book.

If you’re going to read it on your own, you can still have fun with it.  I recommend setting a time aside for your “Sideways Session” and getting all your materials together.  You’ll want to go to the links and print off some of the forms ahead of time.  You might also consider grabbing a white board with some dry erase markers.    This way, you won’t make the same mistake that I did and have to run around looking for stuff and downloading stuff so that you can do the exercise.  That was distracting and got me all flustered so that I couldn’t think straight.


I have one complaint with this book – it should have been bigger.  The paperback copy is about 5×7 and that just didn’t seem big enough because inside the book are lots of real-life illustrations of brainstorming sessions that are useful as examples, but not very easy to read.

Another interesting aspect of the book is that it has QR codes by each exercise – and a web link that takes you to the page where you can download the form.  This makes me think that this book should almost come in a tablet version so that you can carry it with you and pull up these worksheets while you are mobile and can see them.  But I’m not sure if they’ve come up with the technology to have you write on a PDF – so I’m not sure where that leaves me.  I’m just telling you about the small things that distracted me from the stellar content.

Go Straight for Sideways

Overall, Sideways is a book you want to have close at hand.  I’ve already used it a couple of times to brainstorm some messaging for client web sites and positioning and branding strategies.  It’s fun to read and will help to put you in that wonderfully creative childlike state of curiosity and wonder.  And that is the land where all good ideas come from.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

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