Put brainstorming in the hands of a group of friends, agree to a set of guidelines, and the ideas flow freely. In 2006, we kicked off the first of our monthly brainstorming meetings. Over the past two years, friendships have bloomed. It's totally "me-time" and we leave energized & refreshed. We loosely follow the structured process developed by the originators of The Brain Exchange concept.
"The Brain Exchange," as described at their site, "is a monthly, open-ended brainstorming group for women, re-introduced in 1995 by Anita Goldstein and Susan Goldstein. People brainstorm about relationships, in-laws, children,quality of life questions, career questions, marketing strategies, entrepreneurial ideas, titles for the books they're writing and names for their babies. Brainstorming is an opportunity to meet like-minded women, to give and receive support for work and personal issues, and to network. It's a process that encourages people to share their new projects, their concerns, their hopes and fears, and to explore transitions. We use a structured process and traditional brainstorming guidelines to generate answers to questions."
I read about The Brain Exchange years ago, setting aside the concept while the kids were toddlers and it seemed infeasible. Two years ago I emailed 11 friends. An excerpt from my message: "I know that each and every one of you has no free time. I know that this may seem an indulgence but I believe that it would be a good experience and worthwhile." 7 of the 11 were interested in the concept and thought they could get away one evening each month.
We have about 10 members; meetings vary in size, but a meeting only requires 3 people! There is no guilt over missing a meeting, people come if they can and can bring a friend. We grow the group organically.
More about how the meetings work and other tips in Part 2.
Check out some of the brainstorms we created together.