creativity

Overwhelm? Strategies to Overcome!

We’ve all felt it - this time of year can be simultaneously wonderful and stressful. Between wrapping up presents and wrapping up projects, planning parties and planning the next year’s strategies, it’s not hard to slip down the slope of feeling overwhelmed.

This exact thing happened to me last night, and I found myself worked up and worried I was missing important to-dos.

I wanted to share with you a few of the strategies I used last night, and a few more that you can mix and match to overcome that feeling of overwhelm, so you can focus on the slippery snowboard/ski/sledding slope instead.

  • Write down everything you’re stressed about or that’s floating around in your mind. Work, personal life, projects, people to call, gifts to give. You can sort it into categories if you want to, or just go for it and get everything down. Often seeing it on paper shows me there’s less going on than I think before I start writing, or some of it isn’t as big a deal as I’ve been making it in my head.

  • Next, write down everything you’re appreciative of or thankful for. Again, just start somewhere and write until you’ve gotten everything out you can possibly think of to be grateful for. I find that when I take a moment to appreciate all of the amazing things that are happening, whether it’s the fact that my heart beats without me having to think about it or for someone who did something unexpectedly kind, this practice is a powerful tool to shift my entire energy. I might even do a little abunDANCE.

  • Now that you’re feeling clear about exactly what’s on your plate and you’re feeling pretty great about this crazy thing we call life, you can come back to that list. I like to pick three things that are priorities and I can work on right now.

  • Set a timer and crank! Length depends, but I like to focus for 42 minutes, then take a break for 18 minutes - here’s a post about my strategy for using the timer and a couple other favorite productivity tools.

  • Walk away (then come back). Sometimes after making a list of everything I’ve got going on, I need to step away and clear my mind. Exercising, stretching, watering plants, meditating, whatever to get yourself in a physically new space to be able to let go for a bit. Then, once the mind is refreshed, coming back and making a plan of attack is a little easier.

  • Finally, be kind to yourself. You’re human, and a damn fine one at that. You work hard, but remember also to give yourself time to refresh. You’re generous with others, so do yourself the favor of being generous with yourself too.

conversketch_abun-dance

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?

On Vacation!  I took last week completely off and spent time with my partner and family. :D

On Vacation! I took last week completely off and spent time with my partner and family. :D

In the Studio:  Filming a  video  about enjoying our national parks safely in hot weather.

In the Studio: Filming a video about enjoying our national parks safely in hot weather.

How to Explain the Value of the Graphic Recorder to the Folks Making the $$$ Decisions

Are you planning an event that you think could use some graphic recording, but the decision isn’t up to just you? Here’s a few ways you can help your team or leadership understand why it’s a great idea to get visual.

Start Planning Early: We all know there’s a million ways to spend an event budget. Make sure to reach out to your visual partner early on so you can be sure to have engaging, thought-provoking visuals to support your group!

Thought Partner: Find a visual practitioner who can help you understand your options about what’s possible and will help you craft custom elements and even processes that will make the most of your time together.

Science Rules: Graphic recording and facilitation isn’t just mesmerizing and fun, there’s a heap of science behind why it works! For example, did you know that the brain processes a visual 60,000 times faster than text (Semetko & Scammell, 2012)? Here’s a blog I wrote about the science behind graphic recording. And here’s a list of my favorite resources online and published, and if you want to geek out even more, ask me about my master’s thesis work around using graphic recording to help communicate complex science.

Money Matters: …and not just the operating budget for the event. Think of the value of the time (and salary!) of each person in the room. Why WOULDN’T you pull in someone who can help you make the most of your participants’ time? Bringing in a graphic facilitator to design a custom-tailored process or capture content visually can support your people as they make connections more quickly, think big, and collaboratively!

learn-to-draw-cash-money-graphic-recording-conversketch

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

Now you’ve got ‘em all convinced, let’s talk about your event!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Boulder:  Working with startups and seasoned executives in the optics business to co-create and brainstorm ways to foster success on the leading edge of the industry. Thanks to  Sanitas Advisors  for the photo!

Boulder: Working with startups and seasoned executives in the optics business to co-create and brainstorm ways to foster success on the leading edge of the industry. Thanks to Sanitas Advisors for the photo!

Windsor:  Supporting the Town Board and municipal leadership as they envision and plan for their future!

Windsor: Supporting the Town Board and municipal leadership as they envision and plan for their future!

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?

conversketch-learn-to-draw-a-pencil

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.

Use This Handy Trick to Get the Hang of Drawing a Face in Profile

One thing that’s always been a challenge to me is drawing faces, and especially…the dreaded profile!

While not altogether needed in most live graphic recording work since I’m focusing on capturing the content high-speed so you can see what you’re talking about, sometimes I find myself wanting to draw a cool perspective, or have a bit more time to do some detail work, and don’t want my cool illustration of your ideas to end up looking like this:

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Work by Picasso. Just in case you thought it was mine.

Wait…that’s actually pretty nice…

Anyway, you get the point.

So, I did some research and found this handy little trick to help with where to put all those little features that make up our faces…like eyes and noses.

learn to draw a profile

This is just a beginning guide. Get creative! Experiment with different shapes of noses. What happens if you change the eyebrow ridge above the eyes? What can you do to make it look more male or female? Younger or older? How can you add emotions? Have fun and play with it!

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

You've got the team, I've got the markers. Let's talk about your next event that could use a touch of visual storytelling.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Currently: Near Baltimore, Maryland capturing a training on management and communication for the NSA. So yeah, I can't say much about it at this point... Other than it's always a good day when you figure out how to work in the Lion King.

Circles of Life NSA Leadership Training Graphic Recording

Also:

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

The CSU Center for Public Deliberation is one of the gems that makes Fort Collins unique. I’m fortunate to be a graduate of the student training and continue to be involved as a Community Associate and help out facilitating or graphic recording for various dialogue and deliberative processes they facilitate. Earlier this month they put on a session called Beyond Partisan Politics: The Power of Authentic Engagement. During this session we learned the neuroscience behind why it’s so easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of False Polarization, and tips on how to have a productive conversation, even if you don’t agree with someone. Here’s the graphic recording chart from the evening.

What do Romance Novels and a Piano Have to do with Endless Creativity?

One of my favorite things to do while in traffic is to listen to “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me”. Somehow, no matter how stuck I am, I end up laughing and feeling good. And when someone like Nora Roberts is interviewed, in addition to adding a few years to our lives from laughing so much, we’re also blessed with some casual little Insight Blasts from a creative genius: she’s had 198 books on the New York Times best-seller list.

When asked about writer’s block, or feeling like she’s run out of every possible romance or thriller story possible, Nora blithely responded “Well, there’s 88 keys on the piano, but do you run out of music?”

88-keys-to-creativity-from-graphic-recorder

Another way of saying this, from Hugh McLeod:

hugh mcleod creativity is a drive

It takes more than just sitting down for 5 minutes and expecting something brilliant immediately that will be perfect for your Instagram feed. It’s about taking time and being present with your work. And it’s about setting high expectations for yourself and holding yourself to them.

Of course, it’s a balance between knowing when to take time away from a project, and when to push through because you need to put in the work to become amazing at what you do. And you want to be amazing because you’re the ONLY person on this planet who can give what you have to give.

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

Looking for someone to capture your team's creativity?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Thanks to you, the only available spots for the Bikablo + ConverSketch training are on the Waitlist. If you’d like to be added, please let me know ASAP.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of capturing presentations of young philanthropists at Berthoud High School as they presented about various non-profit organizations in the community doing work to support youth. They had visited with each organization and then had to decide if and how much funding from a grant they wanted to allocate. I  graphic recorded , and to my delight, the teacher shared with me they had the illustrations made into plaques for each of the organizations awarded funding!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of capturing presentations of young philanthropists at Berthoud High School as they presented about various non-profit organizations in the community doing work to support youth. They had visited with each organization and then had to decide if and how much funding from a grant they wanted to allocate. I graphic recorded, and to my delight, the teacher shared with me they had the illustrations made into plaques for each of the organizations awarded funding!

An artist, a scientist and an entrepreneur walk into a bar…

Hello!

Thanks to everyone who shared feedback on my last email. Based on what I heard, this week I’ll return to your regularly scheduled insights & drawing tips. My goal with these emails is to equip you with tools to spark ideas and creativity, so as always, if there are things you’d like to hear about or have been yearning to draw, please let me know!

When was the last time you laughed? Almost certainly it was with other people, and likely not even at a joke. It turns out that laughter is something we as humans use to bond with each other, rather than something we learn. This means it’s actually an instinct, and one that makes us feel closer with one another. Plus, it helps relieve stress and often improves your mood.

So, laughter can help us build great teams. But let’s be real here. Laughter isn’t something you can manufacture or fake, we know when it’s not genuine.

How can you create a space that inspires more laughs, and therefore more synergy between you and your team?

Try adopting a playful mentality. One way to cultivate this is with doodles and drawings. Approaching things from a place of playful curiosity tends to lead to a more optimistic and laughter-prone conversation.  The next time you find yourself tensing up and getting ready to defend something, see if you can take a moment, relax your shoulders, and ask yourself if you could take a more playful approach.

“Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.” - Anonymous
 

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



You've got the team, I've got the markers. Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of visual storytelling humor & magic.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch

Research in Action! Last week I got to graphic record stories and insights from researchers at CU Anschutz Medical Campus who had spent a week immersed in two communities around Denver. They built relationships and heard needs and perspectives from people in historically underprivileged groups about how medical research could be better done and shared in their neighborhoods.

The Secret World of Graphic Recorders: What YOU Can Leverage From Leaders in My Field

Happy September y’all!

Just about a month ago, I was in a place I know you’ve been too: Excitement-Overload. I was headed home from a most amazing gathering of graphic recorders and visual thought leaders: the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) annual conference.

These three days play a huge role in the way I approach the next 12 months of the year fueled by ideas and perspectives shared by people who are leading the field and experimenting with new ways of doing this work.

By far the best part of this conference is getting to meet and connect with people whose work I admire and, almost without fail, finding out that there’s a whole lot more to admire in them than their work.

I also had some realizations about the way I want to focus my energy and approach this work to better serve my clients, which I’ve distilled down to a few key insight blasts that can conveniently be used by just about anyone.

Inspired by the brilliant Brandy Agerbeck, I seek to “be a partner, not a commodity”. By that I mean I’m someone my clients continually seek to collaborate with because I’ve done work that makes them want to get out there and really make a difference. Not simply a pretty picture, or even only during the event, but with tools, creative ideas and solutions for using the charts I create long after the event too.

Another session that stuck with me was led by the incredibly intelligent and talented Stephanie Brown on how to be a better partner for facilitators leading change processes. We all came to the conclusion that being a good partner revolves around practicing solid preparation, stellar listening, and letting them know that I have their back, and know they have mine.

Steph also posed the idea that “Organizations grow in the direction from which questions are asked.” I love the idea of crafting questions and visually capturing responses that will help my clients leap forward through uncertainty and change.
 

Lisa Arora, from her deep well of experience and knowledge in this field, shared a question that has me rethinking the way I work with groups: “What do we want people to see, feel, and do?” This deceptively simple question now informs the way I capture different groups and sessions based on their response. Will this be part of a presentation, or is the process of capturing a difficult conversation the most important part of the work I do for a particular client?

As a Creative with a capital “C”, it can be easy to get “comparitis”. What I love about the community of graphic recorders is how generous and supportive everyone is. The last take-away I’ll share comes from Brandy again: There is room for everyone here. The most important thing to do is to be authentic.


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




Curious how to better utilize your graphic recording charts during and after the meeting? 
 

Change Happens. How To Foster A Team That Not Only Survives, But Thrives.

The word “resilience” is popular right now. We’ve worn out “sustainability” and we want to build a business culture that helps our organization stay on the cutting edge. But how many of us think about what resilience really means? Here’s a definition for you:

Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.
 
So, a resilient team can deal with the inevitable and ever-more-frequent changes we experience in life, and get back on track. But is simply getting back to where you were before what you want? Does this sound like an organization that is cutting edge? Isn’t there something more?!

I’m so glad you asked. There’s a brilliant guy named Nassim Nicholas Talib that wrote a little book called Antifragile. Now stay with me here, I see your eyes glazing over at some jargon-y, made-up business word. I promise you this one is worth thinking on. Antifragile is one of those books that is so packed with ideas that make my mind stretch, that I have to take a moment to process each paragraph I read. It’s awesome.

Talib describes the essence of antifragile as the following:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better (pp. 433-435).

See what I mean? That is an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL idea. Change hits, and instead of somehow making it back to the way things were before, your team actually improves? Yes, please.

So how can you create a culture of antifragility?

It takes intentional work. Central to building a high-functioning team is good communication. Regular, transparent and open communication nurtures trust, and creates a positive feedback loop of good communication.

Feeling like you’re in a communication rut with your team? Three words for you: Draw. It. Out.

Using drawings, especially simple ones, is a phenomenally useful and fun tool to build a culture of great communication and antifragility. Doodling complex ideas helps you clarify what’s most important and simplify the ideas to more easily explain to others. Inviting other team members to collaborate with you and share what they’re seeing opens eyes to new perspectives, new connections, and create a sense of shared ownership of ideas, which leads to a higher likelihood of action. Even if it looks messy, it’s about the process. It’s about sharing ideas and working together. Then being able to refine and share your story so that when sh*t gets real, everyone knows what the vision is, and feels the confidence to move toward antifragility.

Partnering with a graphic recorder can help you take a step back, think critically about the situation, and give your notes an extra pop of drawing expertise. Or, if you're itching to take the reins (ahem, markers) yourself, getting personalized training from a visual creativity coach can help you take your ideas to the next level. 

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What do you think about antifragile? Come on over to the blog and share in the comments so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

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

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


You don’t have to be an artist to draw out your ideas, but it’s pretty fun to work with one. If you’d like to bring me on for your next event or work with me one-on-one to improve your skills to draw out ideas, let me know by clicking that nice button down there.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Next week I'm headed to Salt Lake City to help them create a visual summary map of what they've been hearing in 1 1/2 years of outreach around ending homelessness in SLC. This drawing is something they can use to help the group is build on what the City has heard from the community, rather than repeating what they know already.