Learn to Draw

What Whitewater Rafting Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

A big hello!

If you missed it, the past three weeks I’ve been rafting and camping in the Grand Canyon, which has meant a total disconnect from technology and dropping into River Life (read: plenty of good company, good food, good beer, good scenery, and great rapids!). If you emailed or called while I was gone, thanks for your patience!

Reflecting on some of the biggest lessons I learned in the Canyon, there are a surprising number of similarities to being an entrepreneur. Here are a few of the reminders I’m taking with me as I jump back into life off the river:

Little side hikes can be the most unforgettable. Some of the most special places in the Grand Canyon are hikes up side canyons which are always full of delightful surprises. Will you find yourself in a slot canyon? Or surrounded by spring frog singing? Or stopped in your tracks by an unexpected waterfall around the next bend? Going the extra mile and wandering off the main river corridor can mean a new discovery you won’t forget!

Approaching each day with expedition mentality/generosity. This is huge. Often the biggest challenges on the river aren’t the rapids, or pushing through a headwind…but learning to live with 15 other people for three weeks. When everyone does their best to work hard, contribute, and put the group first, success is pretty much guaranteed.

The power of presence. The gift of being completely surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, the music of the water and birds, and the steady dip of oars in the water allow one’s mind to open and heart to soften. Without the distractions of notifications or, for that matter, calendars, it’s easy to let the conversation drift, get engrossed in a story, or simply sit and be. This is one of my favorite ways to reset, refresh, and honor the people around me.

You can’t fight the might of the river. This was my first Grand trip rowing my own raft down the river, which meant navigating the rapids! When there’s an obstacle in a rapid and the force of the river is pushing toward it, the way to avoid it isn’t by trying to overpower the water, but by reading it and lining up where you want to go.

…And, at the same time, knowing and honoring your own strength. When the going gets tough, tapping into the reserves and pushing on. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, like when you are in charge of a boat and there are 30 mph gusts of wind buffeting you head-on all day. But you know you have it in you whenever you need it most.

conversketch-learn-to-draw-water

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers,

Karina Signature_100.png




Where in the World is ConverSketch?

In the Studio: Getting back into the swing of life off the river and catching up with all of you. I’ll be traveling to graphic facilitate and graphic record off-site meetings next week, but if you want to get together for coffee and river stories, let’s get together!

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Lucky Number 7 – Happy Birthday ConverSketch!

Holy moly party people, it’s time to celebrate!

That’s right, it’s been seven years since ConverSketch officially launched into this world, and I’m proud and grateful to get to be a visual thought partner for my clients.

In some cultures, seven is considered a lucky number and, while entrepreneurship definitely not completely about luck, it certainly plays a role. Luck, kismet, fate, intuition, divine guidance…call it what you want to call it. There is something beyond pure logic that comes into play as a business founder.

And, you know me, I love to appreciate! So, here are a few of the things I feel lucky about at ConverSketch:

-          I’m lucky to work with the amazing groups and organizations I do. My clients have missions that drive them and always have passionate employees who make the world a better place.

-          I’m lucky to have the privilege to do this work. To have an education and the support to pursue what simply felt like what I should be doing. That I can work hard and that hustle can pay off is a gift that’s easy to forget.

-          I’m lucky to get perspective from the micro to macro scale and to work across sectors allowing observations of larger patterns and trends and that I can learn something new pretty much every day.

-          I’m lucky to share my skills and energy with my clients in an authentic way to support them to do the best possible work they can. I can experiment, infuse goofy humor, make mistakes, and depict my clients as small woodland creatures if I feel like that needs to happen.

-          I’m lucky to have kickass readers like you who doodle along with my emails and write notes of encouragement or questions after reading a newsletter.

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Do you have an idea we should chat about? Perhaps how to help your team understand, engage, and remember information and ideas?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Getting digital in the STUDIO. Feeling very modern working on a strategic illustration and an animated video tablet-style.

Getting digital in the STUDIO. Feeling very modern working on a strategic illustration and an animated video tablet-style.

Fire It Up

Hey folks!

We’re back from co-leading an absolutely stellar service learning trip in Kenya with a rockstar group of students from Colorado State University.

Between the significant time change, over 30 hours of travel, having been trusted with the safety and wellbeing of 12 college students, and having no internet or phone access for nearly 18 days, last week felt a little slow and fuzzy.

Which, in Karina-Speak, means a little frustrating.

Getting back, I was simultaneously fired up to immediately leap into projects and emails that had been put off during the trip, and at the same time I wanted to maintain the blissful state of disconnection and presence that being in Kenya facilitated.

Coming back to winter in Colorado, near our wood stove has been a favorite spot. So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about fire. For me, this month has been an exercise in understanding that all fires –whether they’re in a stove or the heart behind what you share with the world – need the right tending, fuel, and time to burn bright and clean.

Many of us feel the tension between creating space for ourselves and wanting to exceed our clients’ or teammates’ expectations. How do you keep your fire burning?

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Mapping Out Complexity  – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

Mapping Out Complexity – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

So You Think You Can't Draw. I beg to Differ.

It’s been a crackling fall here at ConverSketch HQ, but I can’t wait to share this with you…the 100th Piano has found it’s way to a final home for the winter in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery! You can find it in the section displaying Fort Collins’ history, and perhaps play a little tune!

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One of the things I often hear when I whip out my markers and start scribing is “I could never draw like that.” I typically fire back the following response: “When was the last time you practiced?”

In anything, talent is certainly a factor, but something I believe many of us write off is the importance of practicing consistently. Would you run a marathon without training? Probably not!

I have never found drawing people to be particularly easy to do, but this year I’ve set out to improve my speed and creativity when drawing more detailed people. I DO love squiggle and bean-shape people  and there’s an enormous amount of information you can convey with even a simple human figure.

And, if you’re interested in learning to draw other things, check out almost any of my blog posts to learn how to do a quick sketch of something new. Don’t see what you want to learn to draw? Shoot me a message to let me know what you’d like to see!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Graphic Facilitation    for the National Snow and Ice Data Center:  NSIDC is a repeat graphic facilitation client who I was delighted to hear has kept their strategic illustration from 2013 up on the walls to remind them of their shared vision, goals and the roadmap to get there.

Graphic Facilitation for the National Snow and Ice Data Center: NSIDC is a repeat graphic facilitation client who I was delighted to hear has kept their strategic illustration from 2013 up on the walls to remind them of their shared vision, goals and the roadmap to get there.



Technology and Higher Education at Metro State:  Creating a Story Map of the outcomes of a Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium where teams shared prototypes and offered feedback to leverage tech to enhance learning in higher education.

Technology and Higher Education at Metro State: Creating a Story Map of the outcomes of a Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium where teams shared prototypes and offered feedback to leverage tech to enhance learning in higher education.



Leadership Declarations in Virginia:  A curious challenge posed by this foundation client who wanted to give each participant the visual capture of their personal Leadership Declaration. The challenge? Fellows were leaving immediately following the session and needed to be able to travel with their drawings, so here’s what we came up with!

Leadership Declarations in Virginia: A curious challenge posed by this foundation client who wanted to give each participant the visual capture of their personal Leadership Declaration. The challenge? Fellows were leaving immediately following the session and needed to be able to travel with their drawings, so here’s what we came up with!

Optics Innovation in Austin:  Thinking critically about what the future could hold and how the eye care industry will navigate a swiftly changing landscape.

Optics Innovation in Austin: Thinking critically about what the future could hold and how the eye care industry will navigate a swiftly changing landscape.

What Every Event Organizer Wants to Hear & How to Make it Happen

No matter what your job is, there’s a good chance you’ve had to organize some sort of meeting. And if you haven’t, you probably will. Whether it’s a regular small-team meeting or a massive annual conference, there’s often a lot more work put into organizing a well-run event.

So, first of all, for all you event organizers out there, I raise a glass to you and all the work behind-the-scenes or otherwise un-thanked you do!

Next, if you’re organizing a meeting/gathering/convening/conference/event/show, I want to give you something. Have you ever heard someone at an event you organized say something like…

“This was unforgettable!”

“This was the BEST conference I’ve ever attended!”

“I got SO MUCH out of that meeting!”

“I can’t WAIT to use what I learned with the rest of my team!”

...or even a simple “THANK YOU!”

These are just a few things you, as an organizer may be yearning to hear or overhear. Why? Those things mean your participants felt valued, saw something from a new perspective, that they were present and engaged, and that you’ve helped them do their jobs or live their lives better. And while there are heaps of ways you can create an event that is meaningful and participants love, I’ve got one sure-fire way to get people fired up (in a good way).

Bring in a graphic recorder.

Having someone visually scribing the content, listening for connections, or even for what’s not being said can catapult participants from looking at their phone screens under the table, to wondering how their ideas can be incorporated into the mural being created. Seeing visual summaries of conversations and discussions moves groups from “My idea” to “Our vision” and “Actions I can take”. It can give them tangible stepping stones to take what they learned and move forward, or help unravel a previously complex and mystifying topic.

So, the next time your team is starting to plan an important event, consider a graphic recorder, facilitator or scribe to support your participants, honor their time, and help them do the best thinking they can.

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want to hear “You’re the BEST organizer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with!” from your clients? Let’s talk about blowing their minds!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Turning Dull Trainings into Delightful Drawings:  The US Forest Service has to deal with a lot of challenging situations; if you live in the Western US, you probably know about the prolific wildfires this year. But did you also know the USFS is responsible for hazardous waste spills and clean up? I’m working to help explain the complexity of Spill Response Coordinators and how they work with other agencies when things get leaky. Here's a chart from the initial brainstorming session I facilitated.

Turning Dull Trainings into Delightful Drawings: The US Forest Service has to deal with a lot of challenging situations; if you live in the Western US, you probably know about the prolific wildfires this year. But did you also know the USFS is responsible for hazardous waste spills and clean up? I’m working to help explain the complexity of Spill Response Coordinators and how they work with other agencies when things get leaky. Here's a chart from the initial brainstorming session I facilitated.

Digital Scribing for ShapingEDU : Last spring I attended the ASU UnConference for on the future of higher education, technology, and meaningful learning for students. I'm in awe of how the organizers have carried the incredible energy of the 100+ participants forward into monthly video calls with participants from around the world on topics from the in-person event. The engagement was astounding, and I got to do live digital scribing while screen-sharing!

Digital Scribing for ShapingEDU: Last spring I attended the ASU UnConference for on the future of higher education, technology, and meaningful learning for students. I'm in awe of how the organizers have carried the incredible energy of the 100+ participants forward into monthly video calls with participants from around the world on topics from the in-person event. The engagement was astounding, and I got to do live digital scribing while screen-sharing!

Editing Cave:  Working on the final video for the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team, who use advanced mapping tools to help managers and responders make safer and more effective decisions about when and where to mitigate a wildfire.

Editing Cave: Working on the final video for the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team, who use advanced mapping tools to help managers and responders make safer and more effective decisions about when and where to mitigate a wildfire.

I'm Up to Something.

I’m up to something. And I really can’t tell you about it yet, because it’s top secret. But I CAN tell you about it in August, and if you’re in Northern Colorado, I’ll be sharing some details later this summer.

And although I can’t say much this week, here are a few things my graphic recording clients are saying:

Your work brought an element of clarity and action that I haven’t seen with this group in 10 years.
— Michael Wade Smith, University of Kansas
We have the chart you made two years ago and we hang it up at every quarterly meeting to remind us of our goals and where we want to go!
— CSU College of Liberal Arts
Your work helped transform a group of people who did not know how to talk to each other, or even really hear each other, into a plan for collaborative action. Thank you so much!
— Kate Brown, Ph.D.
The day was a success and we have you to thank! Your work was all anybody talked about the entire 30-minute bus ride.
— JBA Communications
You aren’t just an artist, you are a designer of stories.
— Tonya Malik-Carson, Colorado State University
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Want more secrets? Try this on business from the desert, these from visual thought leaders, and this one for creativity.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want people to be saying these kinds of things at your next event or meeting?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Detroit: Last week I headed up north and was pleasantly surprised by my first trip to Detroit. Working with Together for Safer Roads for their annual meeting, I learned about the science and partnerships that save lives on the road.

Fort Collins: Celebrating achievements and looking to the future of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University.

Analog or Digital? How to Use Your Tools for Focused Creativity

Hey!

Have you ever noticed sometimes it’s just easier to be creative with specific supplies? What I mean is, have you ever tried starting a project on the computer, but it just hasn’t made sense until you picked up a pencil and started sketching or writing by hand?

Last week I learned about a podcast called “Hurry Slowly from Jocelyn K. Glei. When I saw one of the episodes was an interview with Austin Kleon, I had to listen.

The whole 45-minute conversation is worth a listen if you find yourself interested in art, creative process, the role of movement in creativity, and design. If, however, you only have a few moments and I’m lucky to have gotten you to even open this email, here’s a quote that eloquently summarizes the phenomenon I mentioned up there at the top:

“The notebook is the place where you figure out what’s going on inside you or what’s rattling around. And then, the keyboard is the place that you go to tell people about it.”

How do you think best? What sparks your creative flow? What tools do you use that really bring you to a space that facilitates joyful creation?

For me, it’s a handful of markers and a massive sheet of paper. The large scale helps me feel open to make connections and include all the ideas floating around, make connections, then pick the direction I want to focus in on.

What about you?

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Need a couple of helping hands (and markers) to get your creative process flowing? Let’s talk about your ideas.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

New Mexico  - Two weeks ago I graphic recorded for the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. Healthcare professionals from clinics and hospitals around the state shared about how to support new moms and babies to be healthy starting from that very first hour.

New Mexico - Two weeks ago I graphic recorded for the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. Healthcare professionals from clinics and hospitals around the state shared about how to support new moms and babies to be healthy starting from that very first hour.

Vacation Time!  I took last week almost entirely off and enjoyed hot sprints, mountain biking, and thanksgiving with loved ones.

Vacation Time! I took last week almost entirely off and enjoyed hot sprints, mountain biking, and thanksgiving with loved ones.

How to Stand Out in A Sea of Booths

The Trade Show. A massive room filled with hundreds of booths, all wanting to lure in the same passers-by.

Most booths are using the same old methods they always have: the freebies, candy, “try our product!” to nab attention. There are trinkets everywhere. By the end of the day all you see is a glazed look on attendees’ faces as they attempt to find the exit (and preferably the nearest bar).

There’s something missing from this scenario. Something that can set you up for authentic connections and hook your potential clients.

Here’s the secret: people don’t just want a sales pitch, they want to be heard. They are yearning for genuine human connection in a sea of people trying to get their business.

Secret Part Deux? You can have it all: listening to your customers, interactive and engaging displays, freebies, and authentic human connection.

All you have to do is partner with a graphic recorder.

I love chatting with attendees, asking for their ideas, and seeing them light up as they watch their story come to life. Then they want a photo with their drawing, which is the perfect opportunity to ask them to tag the business I am working for when they share it on social media. Boom.

Bonus: Major human connection opportunities, and if you play your cards right, you can get valuable market research data collected in real-time.

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Heading to a trade show next year? Let’s make a plan to help you stand out in a sea of booths!

Yes!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

New Orleans with LeadingAge   I spent last weekend outside the National WWII Museum gathering stories about how visitors wanted their lives to be when they got older. From "no regrets" to "aging like a fine wine", I captured visual stories over the two days!

New Orleans with LeadingAge

I spent last weekend outside the National WWII Museum gathering stories about how visitors wanted their lives to be when they got older. From "no regrets" to "aging like a fine wine", I captured visual stories over the two days!

Nashville with Gates   Today I'm headed to Nashville to do some more story capturing for Gates. We haven't started yet, but here's a snippet from work I did with them earlier this fall!

Nashville with Gates

Today I'm headed to Nashville to do some more story capturing for Gates. We haven't started yet, but here's a snippet from work I did with them earlier this fall!

Talk Nerdy to Me: The Science Behind Why Graphic Recording Works

If you’ve ever experienced graphic recording, you know it’s an extremely valuable tool to support groups to do their best thinking. But what is it that’s making the meeting feel so productive, insightful, and energized?

Today, instead of my usual explanation (It’s magic…see, I even just added a Unicorn to your strategic plan!), I’d like to share some of the neuroscience behind the benefits of having a graphic recorder or facilitator supporting your group.

Visual thinking is innate. From the Harvard Gazette: “…the study found that even when [participants] were prompted to use verbal thinking, people created visual images to accompany their inner speech, suggesting that visual thinking is deeply ingrained in the brain.”

Thinking visually helps us remember information better…

  • “People who were encouraged to doodle…were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later,” Wall Street Journal
  • Dual Coding Theory: Information is more likely to be understood and remembered when presented using images and words.
  • Cognitive Load Theory: We have a finite amount of “brain power” to apply to critical thinking, remembering, or being creative. In fact, our brains can remember up to seven chunks of information before we start letting other things go. Using visual cues helps free up our minds from keeping track of those chunks and instead focus on connecting ideas, remembering key information, and creative thinking.

…and to express our emotions more deeply…which, in turn, results in a stronger memory and likelihood to retain information. An article by the Wall Street Journal cited a study that showed more complex emotional communication and processing from doodles than written responses: "Their pictures communicated more than just a text or a regular photo. They were more personal, more intimate."

We all learn best in different ways. There are four ways in which people learn; auditory —prefer to listen, visual—prefer to see, verbal—prefer to speak, and kinesthetic—prefer to move or do some physical activity. Graphic recording can support all four modalities as people hear the speaker, see the images and words, and get up to see the drawings closer, or walk around the view them.

Everyone wants your attention, which means visuals are more likely to be looked at and engaged with. “Recent studies say that nowadays, content is browsed 94% more often if it contains images and is shared 40 times more often in social media if it contains images.” - Visual Facilitation Cookbook

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my  Resources  page. If you want to talk more, please  let’s do !

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my Resources page. If you want to talk more, please let’s do!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Think this sounds pretty neat? Let’s put science into action for your organization.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah.  This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah.

This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

What They Don't Tell You About Storytelling

Storytelling is a deemed an “irresistible” and powerful tool for strategic thinking and marketing in business these days.

Good stories need to keep our attention -- which is a rarity in a time of sensory overload and instant gratification – by creating some sort of tension that ensnares the emotions and intrigues the audience. Good marketing uses the power of story to go beyond what a company does or makes to share a deeper understanding of the companies’ Why.

But just because we’re telling a story, does that mean the strategy is working?

Over the past year, I’ve been drawn to the concept of storylistening, which embodies what graphic recording is all about.

Taking a moment to reflect, “storytelling” assumes that if we speak a story, people will listen to it. But people are busy, they’re not going to listen to you unless they have a reason.

During strategic planning or visioning, successful processes allow space for leaders to listen to the past, connect it with the present, and create space for people to see the future. Using graphic recording supports the group to tell a story that helps everyone see the Vision, to own it, live it and make it happen.

A good storyteller tells a tale with the audience, reacting and shifting the story as needed. Listening, visually capturing, synthesizing and adjusting with the group is one of my favorite parts of graphic facilitation. Sometimes it looks messy, but if it helps the group tell and listen to their collaborative story, then we’ve done good work together.

How can you give people a reason to listen to your story?

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Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want to get everyone at your company telling the same story? Already have a story, but want to spice it up and share it with the world?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The American Society of Safety Engineers

I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

Fort Laramie Illustrated Video

The first Drawing Connections to Climate Change video is now out! Find out how a National Historic Monument in Wyoming is feeling the impact of a changing climate, and share your ideas to create a different future! CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.