colorado state university

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

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.

Introducing...A Kickass Visual Guide to Productivity Just for You!

Happy Wednesday, people!

This week I’m delighted to share with you a productivity tool I’ve been working on and refining this year for a very special group of people. People who think critically and creatively, who care about others in their lives, and who want to make this world a better place through their unique gifts and contributions.

Yep, I’m talking about YOU!

As a creative freelancer, I’m my own boss. Which is phenomenal in many ways, but it does mean that nobody else is there to hold me accountable or be an accountability buddy. I mean, Moxie does try to help, but tends to lose interest or fall asleep when I try to get feedback from her.

So, as a result of working from a home office and having some very productive days, and some not-so-productive days, I’ve been checking out focus and time management tools from successful business people and beta testing them to see how they work for me.

One theme I’ve seen is that breaking work into chunks helps me stay focused. Just doing one project, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, and writing down things that pop into my mind to take care of later, rather than jumping from task to task. Another is to take time to appreciate what you’re grateful for – whether or not it’s directly related to work or the project. Then there’s always the principle of learning from your mistakes – learning from what didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. But I’d take it one step further, and suggest that it’s also important to learn from what DID go well too, and do more of that! And finally, giving yourself time to relax and refresh between intense focused periods. For many people, taking some time to move around is an integral part of processing information and improving memory!

So this week I’m going to share with you a tool I’ve adapted from the work of other entrepreneurs and thought leaders and given a visual spin.

And I’d like to ask you a favor: Will you help me make it better? If you use this tool, will you let me know what you love and what you’d like to see changed to improve it? Iterative design, my friends…iterative design. And the collective brain power, experience and critical thinking of this group is exactly the ticket, I think!

*Right click to download!


Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Las Vegas, Nevada for CONEXPO! I’m here with Gates Safety illustrating expo attendees’ big ideas, concerns and solutions…right before their eyes!

Gates Safety ConExpo Graphic Recording

I’m also tickled to share the newest Video from my studio. This one is for the CSU Alumni Association, and I’m proud to say it’s the first video I’ve produced from script to final edits!

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?
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.

My Tip To Be Successful, No Matter What You're Doing

This week there have been some big changes here at ConverSketch HQ. No, I didn’t get an office kitten (yet). We moved into our first house! I can’t wait to get the studio space set up and know where to find things like pens again.

The two days before we moved I was graphically facilitating with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing – they call themselves HCPF (pronounced hick-puff) – as they built a more collaborative and person-centered network of care providers around the state. Yeah, it sounds pretty forward-thinking, especially for a State agency, and it was. And the people I had the pleasure of working with from HCPF were incredibly hard-working and intelligent with a great sense of humor.

Their energy was contagious. I felt their desire to really make positive change for the people they serve, and it fired me up too. I wanted to do the best work I possibly could while practicing graphic facilitation for their conference. Even though the content was complex, I stayed focused during long days on doing the best work I could, because THEY were. (Here's a post I wrote about tapping into your creativity, if you're feeling stuck.)

And you know what? People were stoked on it. A bunch of people came and talked with me about what I was doing and how much they loved it. One of the incredible facilitation consultants told me she was “over” graphic recorders, but she loved what I was doing. We’re talking today about ways to keep working together in the future.

So what’s my tip to be successful in anything you do?

Do it with excellence. 
Do it with every ounce of hard work you can. Do it with joy. People will notice, and you’ll probably have more fun too. 

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

Now I want to hear from you!

Have you noticed a difference when you're doing your absolute best and practicing excellence? 

Upload your Sketch or share a story in the comments section below to share your unique style and inspire the community! 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 people you know who do excellent work -- give them a little doodle thumbs up!

Thanks for tuning in! Keep drawing and making your beautiful, authentic mark on this world!

Cheers, Karina

Want to add some excellence to your next meeting, presentation or project? Get in touch with me to talk about your vision and how I can help.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Aside from the Colorado Medicare-Medicaid conference, I had the opportunity to serve as a guest "science professional" on a panel with students from Poudre High School interested in a program called Environmentors. I was a Mentor when I was a student at CSU, so taking time with an organization that encourages students to explore science is one way I enjoy giving back to the community. Science Rules!

Aside from the Colorado Medicare-Medicaid conference, I had the opportunity to serve as a guest "science professional" on a panel with students from Poudre High School interested in a program called Environmentors. I was a Mentor when I was a student at CSU, so taking time with an organization that encourages students to explore science is one way I enjoy giving back to the community. Science Rules!

Spring - Nature's way of saying "Let's party!"

I love this quote from Mr. Robin Williams, it just encapsulates the energy of spring and the music of the earth waking up after winter. 

This spring has been particularly full of energy and life for ConverSketch...meaning the blog updates have been thin but I've been on the ground (or the paper, if you will) with several big projects. Here's a snapshot of what I've been up to!

Visual facilitation for the Colorado State University Dryland Collaborative Knowledge and Learning Network:

Partners from Kenya, Mongolia and the Western US visualize their successful collaborative.

Illustrating the City of Fort Collins' Journey to World Class video:

Coming soon to the Internet near you!

Graphic recording the Colorado State University Agricultural Innovation Summit

A lively and challenging discussion on water and agriculture in the West.

Months of planning and research went into the two-day visual facilitation for the Colorado State Forest Service Strategic Planning meeting. All the charts I created are proprietary, but here's a nice shot of the Nokhu Crags, an area managed by CSFS and near and dear to my heart:

Photo: Aaron LaVanchy. Rippin' snowboarder: Spencer Branson

Graphic recording for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Native National Partnership meeting:

A synthesis graphic done during the two day retreat.

Graphic recording the University of Colorado Denver's Food Justice Symposium:


There's plenty of other exciting projects in the works, including the launch of a quiet and helpful email sent to you regularly (but not too regularly) for drawing tricks, inspiration and updates from me! Stay tuned!