Mitch Ditkoff is the co-founder and President of Idea Champions, a highly acclaimed management consulting and training company, headquartered in Woodstock, NY. He specializes in helping forward thinking organizations go beyond business as usual and establish dynamic, sustainable cultures of innovation.
Educated at Lafayette College and Brown University, Mitch has worked with a wide variety of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies who have realized the need to do something different in order to succeed in today's rapidly changing marketplace. These clients include: GE, Merck, AT&T, Allianz, Lucent Technologies, NBC Universal, Goodyear, A&E Television Networks, General Mills, MTV Networks, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a host of others.
At the heart of his work lies the fundamental belief that a company's most important capital asset is the collective brain power, creativity and commitment of its work force and that this asset can be significantly leveraged when people are provided with the appropriate setting, systems, tools and techniques to think (and act) out of the box.
Mitch has been an adjunct faculty member for several esteemed leadership development programs, including GE's Crotonville Management Development Center, Duke Corporate Education, Fuqua School of Business, Chubb Business School, University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management, and Bell Atlantic's Marketing Institute.
In addition to his consulting work, Mitch is also an accomplished keynote speaker and large group workshop facilitator. In 2010, Mitch was acknowledged as one of the "40 Hottest Business Speakers on the Association Circuit" in Association Meetings magazine. In 2013 and 2014, he was named one of the TOP FIVE speakers on innovation by one of the leading speaker's bureaus in America.
In 2010 and 2011, he was voted as the #1 innovation blogger in the world and is now a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His widely read blog, The Heart of Innovation, is a daily destination for a global audience of movers and shakers. Additionally, Mitch is the author of the recently published STORYTELLING AT WORK: How Moments of Truth Reveal the Real Business of Life.
Mitch lives in Woodstock, New York and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with his wife, peace artist, Evelyne Pouget. Their son, Jesse, 22, recently graduated Hampshire College. Their daughter, Mimi, 19, is entering her second year at Hampshire.
Val Vadeboncoeur is Idea Champions' Director of Training with 25 years experience in the field. Val believes that the most essential qualities an individual needs to exhibit in order to master the Protean landscape of our rapidly-changing business world are courage, the ability to innovate, and curiosity ... which dovetails with becoming a lifelong learner on the job AND in life.
Through the years, Val has worked closely with a wide range of forward-thinking American companies, focusing on innovation and teambuilding. These clients have included: AT&T, GE & GE Capital, Morgan Stanley, Scotia Capital, Ernst & Young, TIAA-CREF, Champion International, Olin Corporation, Price Waterhouse, and Atlanticare as well as a number of non-profit organizations.
Val is, most recently, involved in developing and delivering our updated brainstorm facilitation training, Conducting Genius. Our Conducting Genius clients include Blue State Digital, MBooth, Just Marketing and Kraton Poymers.
Mr. Vadeboncoeur, who is part MicMac Indian, was born and raised in Rhode Island, and educated at Boston University. His checkered past includes being a radio disc jockey, writer, playwright, theater director, actor and producer of art exhibits. He's also striven mightily after an elusive competency on various musical instruments. His last name is French for "go of a good heart," and his nickname is "Moose." He currently resides in Woodstock, NY.
Prentiss S. Uchida is Idea Champions' Chief a lot to Learn Officer (CLO) - a perfect role for someone who has made the long journey from head to heart. During the past 30 years, as a serial entrepreneur, Prentiss has held key management positions in both private and public companies, including founder and CEO of Vector General (a pioneer in graphics workstations), CEO of the Inner Game (a corporate training and development company), CEO of Secom General (a NASDAQ mini-conglomerate of automotive component manufacturers), and CEO of Kahootz (an enterprise software company). Additionally, Prentiss was a founder and director of Instar Infomatiqué (a French medical software company) and managing director of VanderBolt GmbH (a German technology transfer company).
He was the architect of the first peripheral graphics terminal that generated real-time, dynamic three-dimensional images used in the original Star Wars movie and the design of the Boeing 757 and 767. He has also produced infomercials for direct response TV, developed a nutritional supplement for cardiovascular health, and has served on the Board of Directors of the United Way.
Helping organizations create a sustainable "culture of innovation" (i.e. work for fun and profit) is Prentiss' most recent fascination, having learned that people are happiest when they are creating, growing, helping, collaborating, and feeling gratitude for their lives. Towards that end, Prentiss is engaged these days in the entrepreneuring of Ingenuity Bank, Idea Champions' next generation idea management software.
Prentiss has BA in mathematics, a black belt in karate, an aircraft pilot's license, and has crashed and burned as a commodity trader. He was a skier, is a golfer, and for his 2nd act, is an aspiring singer/songwriter. He lives in Agoura, California with his wife of 25 years, Patricia, and has 3 grown children.
Steven McHugh is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Idea Champions.
For over 25 years, Steven has worked closely with top leadership, middle management and project teams to dramatically improve their business results. His multi-dimensional approach to meeting the needs of his varied clients is a skillful mix of business assessment, visioning, creative thinking, strategic planning, process redesign and Balanced Scorecard deployment.
Steven's clients include businesses in high tech, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare and telecommunications, including AT&T, Met Life, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Life Care Centers of America, Olin Corporation, Zurich US Insurance and numerous small and mid-sized companies.
As a business coach, Steven draws upon his diverse background as a gestalt psychotherapist and consultant to the corporate training, management, and construction industries. He is co-author of Get Out Of The Box, a creativity-based strategic planning workbook. He is also co-author of Scoreboard Pro™, a web-based business performance software service.
Steven resides in Boulder, Colorado and is an active volunteer and a long-standing advisory board member for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. He enjoys white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, outdoor photography, fine wine, and really good sushi.
In addition to her work with Idea Champions, Lynnea is also the Co-Founder of Acacia Tree, an international consulting firm that takes corporate leadership teams to places of real need around the world in an effort to help companies develop - real-time - their individual and organizational potential. Lynnea lives in Milford, CT with her soulmate, Michael, and her wonder-child, Jamie, 7.
Doug Sanville is one of the most skillful, dedicated, and imaginative OD consultant/facilitators we know. He brings an extraordinary wealth of expertise, experience, wisdom, and good cheer to the Idea Champions team and we are thrilled to have him on board. Doug's many talents include scenario planning, visioning, strategic planning, team development, leadership development, process redesign, coaching, and creative thinking. Many of Doug's clients, throughout his long career, have been in the manufacturing space. Indeed, Doug got his start in that world, being instrumental in the start-up and subsequent development of Celestial Seasonings — one the country's leading herbal tea manufacturers. Doug began as one of Celestial Seasonings' first Production Managers, originated the human resources function there, and served as Director of Human Resources for ten years. While at Celestial Seasonings, Doug lead a number of change efforts, including the establishment of an ESOP, a Gainsharing Plan, and Team Hiring and Performance reviews. During Doug's time at Celestial Seasonings the company was listed amongst the "100 Best Companies to Work For". Doug's subsequent clients have included Olin Corporation, Schreiber Foods, Life Care Centers of America, Rio Tinto, Kennecott, Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Storage Tek, and AT&T. Formerly from Boulder, Colorado, Doug now resides, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is an avid hiker and can be found appreciating the great outdoors whenever he isn't working his OD magic.
Melissa Gibson is a highly gifted brainstorm facilitator, workshop leader, marketing consultant, and Director of Idea Champions BrainTrust (an outsourced think tank). After receiving her Economics degree from Cornell University and a Masters in Brand Management from the University of Georgia, Melissa went on to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs and organizations committed to acquiring new customers, generating increased revenue, and building brand equity. Melissa's approach places special emphasis on grassroots growth platforms, collaborative marketing, triple-bottom line strategy, and creative thinking. Most recently, Melissa has been a featured speaker at the ReThink Local Wellness Conference at the Omega Institute, the National SHAPE America Convention, the ECA World Fitness OBOW Conference, and the Etsy Impact Workshop Series. Melissa not only thinks out of the box, she snowboards out of the box. In 2015, this daredevil innovator won three medals at the National USASA Snowboard Championships in Colorado -- two silver and one gold. Whoo! Whoo!
Scott Cronin Before starting his work in management coaching and development, Scott Cronin spent 15 years on the other side of the fence – as a manager. He has successfully faced a wide variety of business challenges, from being an internal management consultant and trouble-shooter for a fast-growing chain of record stores, to coordinating multinational construction projects.
Scott has incorporated his practical understanding of business in his work with client companies like Viacom, PepsiCo, Taco Bell, Regeneration Technologies, Inc., Nickelodeon, and AT&T. Combining his knowledge of interpersonal skills and team dynamics with his awareness of the day-to-day realities of corporate life, he offers needed understanding and skill development, drawing on real-life business examples that acknowledge the complexities and difficulties of the manager's job.
Over the past few years, Scott has focused specifically on helping managers cope with the increased demands being placed on them: he has worked as a coach and teacher to help executives develop their employees, lead teams, and create a clear vision for their own professional future. Some of his coaching and teaching clients include Cablevision Systems Corp., Coors Brewing Company, Comedy Central, Cole-Haan, and Simon & Schuster.
Clients and participants have praised his energy, humor, and creativity, his insight into their organization, and his ability to help them see and overcome their own blocks to learning. In the words of one client, "Scott teaches without pontificating; he tells the truth. He helps you over the rough spots with humor and honesty."
Howard Moody's mission is to transform the 21st century workplace into an environment that helps people operate at the highest levels of insight, creativity, authenticity, and teamwork. For the past 25 years, he has provided an extraordinary variety of highly engaging programs for hundreds of forward thinking organizations. Howard doesn't just help his clients "break the ice", he helps them melt it, drink it, and surf it. Bottom line, he gets people out of the box, connecting, with each other and ready to get on with the business at hand in ways that inspire, uplift, and motivate. Howard has been a faculty member at the Omega Institute for Holistic studies for several years and is also the co-founder of The Adventure Game Theater, an improvisational learning process for teens featured on PBS and NPR. Additionally, Howard is an Advanced Trainer for The Nurtured Heart Approach and is the co-author of forthcoming book, Nurtured Heart Play (Spring, 2017.) If that wasn't enough, Howard is also a certified trainer in Laughter Yoga.
"We consider ourselves to be visual journalists," explains Fahey of the studio's working method. "We don't just 'decorate,' but bring editorial content to every project we take on – from launches to branding to kinetic type presentations." The studio's work has also expanded internationally in the last few years: with significant and notable projects in China, South East Asia, and Europe.
If your organization is looking to brand it's internal change effort or culture of innovation initiative, Maryjane and her team of savvy designers are primed and ready to respond.
Lucas Handwerker is a Hypnotist, Mentalist, TEDx Speaker, Writer, and Explorer of the Mind. He uses his well-honed skills in hypnosis, psychology, and NLP to create dynamic, interactive performances that energize, awaken, and reveal great depths of hidden potential. Included in Lucas. performances are evocative demonstrations of thought reading, thought sharing, behavior prediction, lie detection, and influencing. Audience members have reported that, as a result of attending one of his shows, they have let go of old fears, gone beyond limiting assumptions, changed beliefs, envisioned bold, new possibilities, and entered into heightened states of astonishment and wonder.
Barry Gruenberg Dr. Barry Gruenberg has spent more than 25 years consulting, coaching and training in the areas of organization and leadership development. He is trained in Gestalt approaches to individual and organizational change and in Robert Kegan's coaching methodology aimed at overcoming immunity to change.
Barry has extensive experience in both the private and public sector. For years, he served as internal Organization Development consultant at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration where his primary focus was on changing the organizational culture to be more collaborative and participative. He has served as the Director of Organization Development for Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division and spent three years as Director of Corporate Leadership Development at Microsoft. Before joining Microsoft he was an Organization Development Director for Hewlett Packard's Storage Organization and an Organization Development consultant in the U.S. General Accountability Office.
Barry has also worked for the Center for Creative Leadership, where his major focus was on providing intensive development and coaching support to executives of Fortune 100 companies. Additionally, he has worked with Marshall Goldsmith delivering developmental feedback to senior managers and has advised and coached over 100 managers and executives. Barry began his career as a Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University and has also worked as a Science Policy Analyst for the U.S. General Accounting Office.
Barry has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan and has done postgraduate work at Princeton and Stanford Universities.
Nathan Brenowitz is a recent addition to the Idea Champions' core team of consultants in his role as Master Trainer of Idea Champions' new teambuilding offering, Drumming Up Teamwork. This novel approach to teambuilding utilizes the primal drumming circle as a way to help groups and teams (from 10 — 100 people) connect and communicate on a deeper level.
Nathan has been studying music since his mother enrolled him in the Julliard School of Music as a six year-old piano prodigy. He later utilized his piano background to become a blues and jazz trumpeter. A burning desire to travel took him to various exotic countries where his interest in world rhythms began to develop. Nathan has since studied drumming first hand (pun intended) from master drummers in Africa, Brazil, and most recently, Cuba. In addition to his musical studies, Nathan holds a Master's Degree in counseling from St. John's University in NY.
Eight years ago, marrying his musical and communication skills together, Nathan created his own breakthrough workshop, Rhythm Circle, which uses hand drumming to help participants get more deeply connected and "in tune" with each other. Since then, Nathan has worked with businesses both large and small throughout the United States. His gentle, positive, and non-threatening approach has been highly successful in bringing co-workers together to become more sensitive to each others' needs, strengths,and communication styles.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, and a life-long baseball fanatic, Mr. Brenowitz still plays fast pitch baseball in over-40 leagues. He has two grown sons, Lukas and Matthew (both excellent conga drummers) and resides in Woodstock, NY.
Aliza and her crew of graphic wizards have been successfully delivering graphic solutions to a wide range of discriminating clients for more than 25 years. and is now working closely with Idea Champions to expand our abilities to help our clients communicate key messages with clarity, elegance, and power.
Growing up outside of New York City, her youth was infused with countless visits to world-class art exhibits, dance, theater, and music performances. After studying dance, piano, and harp, she studied fine art in Spain and began developing her many innate artistic gifts. What followed was a world-class education in the world of graphic design . first assisting an art director in a New York design firm, then moving to the West Coast where she held design positions at Microsoft and Aldus Corporation (aka Adobe Systems) Her specialties include typography, information architecture, and web design.
Aliza is passionate about finding solutions that balance clear messaging with beauty and vibrancy. She is tech-savvy, resourceful, persevering, organized, and thrives on creative collaboration.
Top News & Offerings
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.
"In tune with corporate America." — CNN