Our guest today – Dave Thackeray fuels ordinary people with extraordinary ideas to be the best. He’s a pen for hire and a higher pen you’ll never find. Join him on his quest to write a blog post of note every day until 2011.

Want to know two words to propel your design talents into a whole new world of success?

I’m guessing you’re at least vaguely intrigued. Let’s go:

  1. Interaction
  2. Collaboration

Nothing new, you think. You already talk to – and work with – people.

But how about you make interaction and collaboration work for you?

It’s really, really simple. And I can almost guarantee these systems are new to you. What I definitely can guarantee is that they’ll totally revolutionize your ability to focus and grow. And once you’ve nailed those disciplines, the sky is no longer your limit…

Interaction is best when you… Jelly.

Gather up your projects, thoughts, Macbook, most lively contacts, addiction to caffeine and an open mind – and hotfoot over to your nearest, smiliest cafe for a working experience like no other.

I’ve been ‘casual working’ for years with people in and out of my industry. It’s simple. You arrange a time and date to hang out with your laptops, and blast out your ideas over a mocha and blueberry muffin.

You’ll be amazed what you achieve. You know what it’s like when you have a change of scene? Your brain goes into overdrive. You no longer crave creative thoughts: you’re peppered with them.

It’s an irresistible idea: storming the graph paper with a new set of tools, tips and techniques from people you may never have met.

The most inspirational people I have ever met regularly shed the shackles of their conventional working environment and co-work in a cafe over coffee. If you have a big lounge or dining room, you might even invite regulars over to yours to share cookies and creativity.

I can’t say enough great things about the benefits of sharing beverages and brain biscuits with other cool cats in the creative sector. You get more done; you learn new stuff; and it’s as easy as pie to network your wares, an extra plus point of this fascinating and fresh way to drive your talents and projects to the next level.

Jelly is US-based – I give you that point of reference so you can understand the concept better. Wouldn’t it be great to wobble your work in new ways?

Collaboration is best when you… join a Mastermind Group.

Benjamin Franklin figured it out hundreds of years ago. Bring together a set of people united by a common goal (success, silly!) but typically working in different environments and industries. Set topics in advance; bring your own issues causing consternation. Discuss. Set goals – achieve.

You have so much to offer. You may work in a silo, challenged by convention. The door of inspiration may be locked, but you have the key in your hands: it goes by the moniker of Mastermind Group.

You’re already an expert at more things than you could possibly imagine. Confidence is your prized asset – once you join a Mastermind Group, or even create one yourself, you’re halfway to making the biggest difference to your life and business that you could ever imagine.

In a nutshell, Mastermind Group meetings are all about getting to the front of the queue by joining forces to be even better than you ever dreamed of.

Best of all, you’re not restricted by location. Meetings can be phone-based – Skype for free!

To maintain the momentum between meetings I recommend you set up a forum or Google Wave so you can stay in touch between meetings.

As I say, all you need is an open mind and a burning desire to be the best. Everyone round that table or on that call will, too. The caveat, the one golden rule, is to join a Group or create one with members you admire. Franklin called Mastermind Groups ‘your virtual counsel’ and that’s exactly what they are – groups of mentors you can rely on and be motivated by to become an incredible force.

Other things to consider for Mastermind Groups:

  • Members must think differently. You’re the designer, so find someone who plays jazz; a social worker; an accountant. Make sure your collective skills are diverse.
  • Have a great facilitator.
  • Be passionate. If you’ve not got the smarts to succeed, you will fail. But you’ve got this far – you’re an indubitable winner!
  • Keep the group small. 4 is cute – 8 is fat. Go for the middle ground.
  • Set subjects in advance. General stuff works: What’s your definition of failure? What are your biggest fears? How do you deal with cold calls? What are your favourite ways to grab clients’ attention?
  • Make sure people have things to bring. Everyone must get involved, and you can make sure they do by encouraging each member to spend a few minutes talking about their past month in business, or the things that matter most to them, right now. Others can then contribute; you’ll be amazed how easy problems are solved by the process of collective thought.
  • Set challenges. There’s no more powerful way to excel beyond your means than to pledge to a group you’ll go out and achieve something. You will – and the praise will be waiting for you to project you to even greater results next time.

Want to know more? You’re in luck: I recently recorded a Mastermind Group podcast with Alex Parr from The Brains Trust here in the UK.

I call Mastermind Groups ‘brainstorming with balls’. Now get out there and grab them!

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