business

The Gift to Give Yourself

Hey folks,

I took the week before Thanksgiving almost completely off. It was glorious and filled with things like mountain biking and great food with friends and family. Returning to work I felt rested and ready for the projects lined up.

That might sound dreamy (and it was), but I found myself struggling with something mildly disturbing, especially the first few days: It was difficult to disengage my Work Brain and stop thinking about projects, emails, and my to-do list.

I’m not alone on this – according to this article in Fortune, more than half of all US employees had unused vacation time in 2016. Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.

W.T.F?!

Why would we be letting ourselves think this is in any way, shape or form acceptable? Why would we as bosses or co-workers be perpetuating this absurd idea that we cannot allow ourselves time away from our occupations? Especially, when in fact this is completely counterproductive to doing quality work? And yet, there I found myself, on a week off thinking about things I “should” be doing for work.

As a business owner, it’s strangely tempting to not take time off. Even evenings or weekends might seem like a great time to just crank out a couple extra things that have been on my list forever. Especially during the holiday season when it seems like there are a million extra things to do.

So over the next few weeks, I encourage you to take some time for you. Whether that means 2 weeks exploring remote mountain villages, a weekend at some hot springs, or just waking up an hour earlier to get in a work out for your own sanity. Because when I really think about it, balance is imperative to make the most of the gift that is today.

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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

After you’ve rested and are ready to fire things up again, let’s talk about putting visuals into action for your organization.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Today I’m in Phoenix (or Tempe – it’s hard to say) graphic recording for a senior leadership team at Arizona State University. More to come!

Last week I had the joy of  graphic facilitating  for the Inter-Agency Mixed-Ownership Abandoned Mine Working Group. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see a group of people actually collaborating across agency and geographic boundaries to improve the health of our watersheds.

Last week I had the joy of graphic facilitating for the Inter-Agency Mixed-Ownership Abandoned Mine Working Group. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see a group of people actually collaborating across agency and geographic boundaries to improve the health of our watersheds.

I also graphically facilitated a Board Retreat for Trees, Water and People, a non-profit based in Fort Collins that does work to support rural communities across the Americas through sustainable natural resource management, farming, and capacity building.

I also graphically facilitated a Board Retreat for Trees, Water and People, a non-profit based in Fort Collins that does work to support rural communities across the Americas through sustainable natural resource management, farming, and capacity building.

A Simple & Surprising Trick to Make Your Ideas Crystal Clear

Hey hey, it's Wednesday!

And you know what that means...time to get your weekly dose of Visual.

This week's trick to clarify ideas is using white space intentionally. 

What comes to mind for you when you hear "white space"? For me, two things pop up. 
1) Mental clarity
2) More literally, intentionally leaving part of a graphic recording or painting untouched

I find that when I give myself time to clear my mind or step away from a project, even if it's just a few minutes, I'm then able to come back to it with more clarity and focus. And it turns out I'm not alone in that...here's an article from Fast Company about practicing mindfulness even when it feels like you don't have time.

In art, white space can be used to draw the viewer's attention to what is most important. In graphic facilitation, I find using white space helps the audience see the flow of information clearly, and makes the drawing less overwhelming when lots of information is being presented. 

Often when I'm working live graphic recording gigs, there will be so much fascinating and important information zooming around, before I know it my paper is filled to the edges. It is a continuous and conscientious practice to be sure I'm capturing what's most important and not over-crowding the chart. 

How can you use or create white space to be more effective and creative at work?

Here are some ideas for the office...
- Think you're all on the same page? MAKE SURE...write it down, draw some boxes and arrows, then leave some white space on the page so people can add, or by waiting a moment before speaking again to allow time for people to process, react, etc. This is often when the most creative or powerful idea emerge, when we allow a moment before responding (note to self...remember this!).
- If you're working collaboratively, leave a space in your document or iPad sketch to allow yourselves to add to later...who knows what new experiences might happen tomorrow or in the 5 minutes after the meeting that could illuminate a new path or idea!

If you feel like there are too many things flying around your mind to be able to focus, try...
- Taking at least five minutes to meditate -- sit quietly and focus on your breathing or take a stroll outside and try to count how many different bird songs you hear.
- Do a "brain dump" by writing down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. You can create a mind map, a list or just write stream of consciousness until everything is out.
- Grab an adult coloring book and spend some time in the zone. Don't have one? See the drawing below for some DIY ideas!

Remember to give yourself some white space so you can be crystal clear on what's most important for you, your team or your family...and sneak some creativity in to supercharge your day. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, share this with someone you think would enjoy some white space!

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?

Last week I did an annual "Facilitation 101" training with undergraduate students in an environmental conflict management course at CSU. We focused on tools and techniques the students could use in stakeholder engagement processes as they move beyond their education and into internships and jobs in the environmental field. 


4 Wisdom Nuggets from A Creative Entrepreneur Celebrating 4 Years in Business

ConverSketch’s 4th birthday means a present for you my Readers!

This week it is my pleasure to share a moment of gratitude that ConverSketch has been alive and growing for four years. I couldn’t be more delighted or appreciative for the support from you: my friends and clients who are the reason I get up and pour my heart into the work I do every day.

Encouraging more effective and collaborative communication, sharing creative inspiration, and seeing you and your teams work through and move beyond challenges are what keep me going every single day.

So to thank you for being clients, collaborators and partners in disrupting the status quo of workshops and conferences, I’d like to share with you 4 insights and related tools that have helped me grow a successful business. I hope these reflections and tools can help you continue to convene meaningful groups, think critically and creatively, and every single day ripple your amazing ideas and actions outward to change the world.
 

1. Know Your Why and Practice It

Okay, getting meta here. There have been many blogs, books, and videos on this idea made popular by Simon Sinek’s TED talk that people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you’re doing it.

What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Think deep here, not “My cat that wants to get fed and jumps on my head” but what about your work really resonates with you? Is it seeing people’s faces light up when they try your new recipe? Is it helping someone navigate a website to find an answer? Is it having a spontaneous, meaningful conversation with a co-worker by the coffee-maker? Figure out you WHY and make sure it permeates what you do.

Graphic Facilitator’s Expert Tip: Now backing down to a super simple yet effective concept that can make or break a meeting whether it’s 15 minutes or 3 days: Have a clear goal or purpose for the meeting and make sure everyone who’s attending knows too. Otherwise, you’re more likely to go in circles and nobody will know why you’ve met or when you’ve finished. 

2. Listen Real Good

This is what I do for a living. I listen. And then I write and draw like lightening to capture those key ideas visually. In such a fast-paced world, it is important to pause and listen deeply and presently to those you’re working with to really make the most of your time and energy together. More on this coming in the next newsletter…stay tuned.
 
Graphic Facilitator’s Tip: When having a conversation, when the other person finishes a thought instead of jumping right in, wait three seconds to see if there’s something else they want to share. This way, you’re truly listening instead of waiting for your turn to speak, which can allow for deeper and more meaningful conversations. Cred goes to Marie Forleo for this one.
 
Bonus: This works well with loved ones too!

3. Manage That Time

It’s what you have, so make it count. Work hard, and also take breaks mentally and physically. In a culture that stresses…well, stress. I hereby formally give you permission to take time for yourself and to disconnect. It’s how I find inspiration as someone who’s expected to be creative always.
 
Graphic Facilitator’s Tip: If you want to geek out with me on this, I recently published a post on how I’ve been more productive day-to-day, and my top tip remains to start your day with something other than the computer. Whether that’s taking a few minutes to sketch the view from your window or writing stream-of-consciousness, I’ve found beginning my day with a pencil and paper leads to a more productive day.
 
BONUS Graphic Facilitator’s Tip: To make the most of your time and that of the group you’re working with, write down goals where everyone can see them. If you’re working through a challenging process, draw it out or make a mind map

4. LOVE Thyself and Thy People! 

Yes, I couldn’t help it. Valentine’s Day is coming and although I generally dislike the focus on mindlessly buying jewelry, flowers and chocolate (okay, the chocolate is pretty alright), I DO love taking the time to show and share my love. Any day of the year. Come on over if you need a hug.

Expressing love has been both a phenomenal area of growth and a strength for me as I’ve launched ConverSketch.
 
I’m good at letting people know I appreciate them. I’m great at being supportive and kind to groups I work with. I love the work I get to do every day.

But you know who I’ve had to practice loving through this business ride?
 
Me.
 
Yup, one of my biggest challenges has been loving myself as a business person. What I mean is that as I’ve been learning the ropes of entrepreneurship, being a self-directed professional, and working with many clients all over the world, I have developed a better sense of the immense and long-term value that my services provide my clients. Owning that value and learning to articulate it clearly to those I’m serving has been a continuous learning loop, one that I expect to iterate and improve forever…because these things don’t reach a definitive point of perfection.

And that’s one thing I LOVE about my job: I always get to keep learning.
 
It’s also incredibly important to take time to acknowledge the people you work with and the Heart and Brain Power they’re putting into what they’re doing. It takes a very small amount of effort to say a quick thank you, send a note or take a moment to express gratitude at a weekly meeting.

And it can have massive, positive repercussions.
 
Graphic Facilitator’s Tip: Smile a lot. It A) gives someone a boost and B) makes people wonder what you’re up to.

(Hint: click on the image below to see the larger version)

If you enjoyed this, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

So thank you once again for being a part of the ConverSketch community. Here’s to four more years of creativity, critical thinking, good humor, innovation, vision and action. 
 
Cheers, Karina










Need help exploring your Why? Looking for an expert listener to visually synthesize your next event? Click below and get ready for take off!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

At the end of January CSU hosted a grand meeting of leaders and minds across all of the Colleges and engaged community members to discuss the One Health Initiative. The energy was almost tangible as ideas whizzed around focusing on how human, animal and environmental health are related. Although I'm proud of my charts, I'm even more proud of the enthusiasm and critical mapping each of the nine groups showed during the workshop.

What Can Jack-O-Lanterns Teach Us About Business?

Happy Wednesday!

Carved pumpkins are emerging and I've appreciated several characteristics they share with a genuine and successful business and life. 

Each jack-o-lantern is unique, unapologetic about imperfections (really, they totally own them) and they proudly shine their unique lights out for the world. If it's blowing rain sideways or still and quiet night, jack-o-lanterns shine on. 

My most meaningful days, whether they are focused on running my business as a graphic facilitator or living life, are when I'm tuned into what makes me unique and I share that with those around me. So today I encourage you to be generous with your Light, shine it brightly and joyously, even if the wind picks up or snow starts to fall. Because you're the only one who can shine your Light the way you do. 

Here’s this week's drawing tip:

Love the imperfections. If you're drawing and a line isn't as straight or round as you'd like, embrace it anyway. See how that "imperfection" actually makes your drawing even more interesting or calls attention to your unique style. Be like that Jack-O-Lantern and just "glow" with the flow!

As a graphic recorder sometimes things go, shall I say, different than I had hoped or expected, so I try to look at it from a new perspective and make it part of that unique graphic facilitation!
 
(Hint: click on the image below to see the larger version)

Comment and upload your Sketch below to share your unique style and inspire someone else!  And of course, any questions, epiphanies, and requests for future ConverSKETCHes!

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like,  share this with friends who have a unique, bright Light to shine out to the world!

Thanks for reading and doodling this week. Keep drawing, and shining your authentic Light out to the world!

Cheers, Karina




Having trouble finding a match to ignite your individual or business's unique Light? Get in touch with me to set up a one-on-one or small group visual mapping session to see how to illuminate your uniqueness to make an impact!

Where In The World Is ConverSketch?

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a gem in our town, and I'm stoked to have filmed a new explainer video for their Annual Report this year! Here's a teaser -- look for the finished short in early November!