entrepreneur

ConverSketch is Six!

This week marks the sixth year since ConverSketch first came into the world wielding markers, chalks and insights.

Each year I enjoy putting together some of the top lessons or patterns emerging in my world (here’s the link to last year’s, and the year before that). This year I’m taking a slightly different approach, sharing insights and areas I intend to explore more in the coming months.

Three of my biggest insights this year:

  • Cultivate Intuition. Whether it’s trusting I know what’s most important to capture while graphic recording or making decisions on which direction to take my business, I know that listening to my intuition leads me to where I need to be. This is a consistent thread I find myself returning to over and over again.
  •  I’m a Thought Partner. More than only a fun diversion at a conference, I have found most joy and positive impact with my clients when I approach the work as a Thought Partner bringing deep value to their team and goals.
  • Relationship-Building for Success. This year in particular highlighted several groups who were new, forming, or had never worked together in person. Hosting an off-site or retreat with everyone in the same physical space underlined the power of face-to-face, human connection and relationship-building for successful events.

Three things I want to explore in the next year:

  • Listening Lenses. How can I tune my inner radio to the frequency that will best serve the group? What level of listening is most needed to do that? 
  • Weaving Story. How to I hone my skills to listen for and weave together a visual that will tell the core of the group’s story? How can I better engage with my video clients to ask the questions that will really help them tell the core of their story, and connect with their desired audiences?
  • Systems Scribing. This year I want to practice moving around, listening for different chunks of information, and using the entire sheet to map the system to bring forth connections to serve the group best.

I am in awe of the amazing groups I get to partner with. It is an honor to visualize their ideas, be trusted to listen and hold the energy of the room, and distill it into a visual map that will be carried forward to remind them of the work they’ve done and connections they’ve made.

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

Ready to make your even more meaningful and memorable with some visuals? Let's chat!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Denver  - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Denver - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Newest ConverSketch Illustrated Video – Cabrillo National Monument

This is the second installment of the “Drawing Change” series I’m doing in partnership with the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program. Learn about ocean acidification and how aquatic animals are adapting in a changing ocean.

In the Studio!  This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

In the Studio! This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

Three Things You Never Thought of to Level Up Your Company's Culture

What do you think of when you hear the word “culture”?

Does it make you want to panic and flee (potentially to the nearest bar and sing some Boy George songs)? It certainly is a popular business blog topic and a fun little buzzword that gets some folks fired up, and makes other peoples’ eyes glaze over.

Be that as it may, as someone who works closely with teams across different sectors, I get to see the effects of this powerful concept as I support groups moving through tough situations or developing steps to their ideal future state. Sometimes it’s clear that a team has a super dialed culture (aka it’s personality, or the basic shared values and beliefs of an organization), and sometimes it’s clear that folks haven’t taken the time to do the hard work it takes to cultivate and nurture a solid organizational culture.

So, because good things come in three’s, here are three ways a graphic facilitator can help you identify and share what makes your org so incredibly high-functioning and generally awesome so you can keep leading the pack and changing the world.

Create it Together. Communication can make or break an organization. If everyone can actually see themselves in the goals you’re aiming for, they’re much more likely to remember and commit to the group’s vision. Creating a shared, visual reflection of the group’s ideas and stories is a powerful tool to develop buy-in.

Share Like It’s Your Job (It Is). Tools like Summary Graphics and Explainer Videos can be used after your killer, productive, collaborative and fun meeting to remind what people bring to the bigger picture. These beautiful illustrations are often hung in shared spaces or individual desks because they’re stylish and functional – i.e. they’re not only packed with key ideas from everyone, they’re nice to look at too.

Nurture & Invest. Humans have a delightful tendency to change and adapt, and your organizational culture really should do the same to be useful. This might sound exhausting, but it’s an opportunity to build trust and autonomy in your org. Working with a graphic facilitator to train your employees on visual and collaborative thinking is an investment that can have a glorious ripple effect. Skills like suspending judgement, divergent thinking, and of course, creative doodling can have a tremendously positive effect on teams. Go on, teach them to fish.

Click on the image below to see the larger version below.

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



All this culture business (and business culture) sounds like fun. Click below so we can start designing your culture & communication strategy together.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!

When Can Being Intoxicated Be A Good Thing?

ConverSketch is intoxicated this week. No, last night wasn’t crazy, and , despite working from home, I haven’t started drinking early in the day (that's a joke, people!). I’m talking about a different kind of intoxication, and one that is a lot more productive.

This little post for you is inspired by the following piece by Hugh McLeod of GapingVoid Art.

As Hugh so eloquently puts it: You can be intoxicated by a lot of things. We like possibility.

This concept is nothing new, it’s the foundation of so many successful businesses. But somehow, this unorthodox way of stating a concept that these days often feels brittle and overused keeps me coming back to it. Thinking of possibility as intoxicating, as full of energy, new ideas and connections instead of overwhelming, unclear or unknown. And if you tend to get anxious and overwhelmed, you might enjoy this post on how drawing can help you move through overwhelm.

It's a craft to learn to tap into what you feel the moment you realize there’s a lot more to something than you originally thought. Which electrifies you. Suddenly hours have gone by, and there’s still more energy bubbling up from inside you.

There's a few things that have me intoxicated this week...
- Putting together and beta testing a new offering from ConverSketch to utilize my strengths connecting with and encouraging individuals to cultivate Aha Moments with folks one-on-one.
- Delivering prints of my watercolor paintings to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Wolverine Farm Publick House to sell. (Note: The positive feedback I’ve gotten from you all with my painting really blows my mind. Thank you for giving me a resounding high five to continue pursuing and refining my fine art skills!)
- Seeing little vegetable sprouts emerging from tiny little seeds (how miraculous is that!?)

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What possibilities are intoxicating you right now? Take a moment over a glass of wine or beer and doodle out some possibilities that are as enticing as a nice cool beverage on a warm summer evening.

What might be keeping you from taking a nice, big swig from that cup o’ possibility? What steps can you take THIS WEEK to move toward making it a reality?

Comment below 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




What possibilities are you exploring with your organization or individually? Click that button to chat with me about how I can help you make it more effective, productive and fun with graphic recording.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a snapshot from a graphic recording at a workshop with CSU's One Health Institute as the team worked with the talented folks at New City to develop a rockin' communication strategy moving forward. People, Animals, Planet. Heck yeah. 

How does a creative entrepreneur who enjoys predictability relax?

One of my favorite ways to wake up in the morning is the sound of birds singing.

Especially the sweet, gentle sounds that pull me gently from my slumber, but even the more, shall we say, insistent ones right outside my window are welcome to my ears. 

Why? 

Birds are a reminder for me of the importance of trust.

They trust that when they take their first flutters from the nest, they will be able to take flight. They trust that the sun will rise and they will sing their songs. They soar through windy skies, zip between tangled branches, or over steep ledges, because they trust what they are meant to be doing.

Wanting to have a pretty solid idea of what is likely to happen in the future is human nature. Some of us are more uncomfortable with not knowing than others, and of course practice makes progress.

I am one of those humans who generally enjoys some level of predictability. 

If there's one thing you can do in life to eliminate said predictability, I'm pretty sure that's to be a self-employed consultant. Add into that the fact that for many of my graphic recording jobs, I am not really sure what's going to happen during the session, but I will be expected to hand over a beautifully finished chart by the end of it. Uncertainty much?  And I must really enjoy this lack of control thing as I've recently delved a lot deeper into painting with watercolors (check the end of this email for more deets). Which tend to do what they want. 

Cue increased heart rate and impulse to reach for a glass of wine. 

Instead of letting my mind worry (a misuse of imagination, according to Dan Zadra), I take a few deep breaths and focus on trusting that everything is working out exactly as it's meant to.

And the birds can help us humans out too. Listening for as many different bird songs as I can is a fun practice that helps me get present and relax.

Then it's time to take action! Because as much as I trust that everything is unfolding divinely, you gotta do the work too.

Click on the image below to see the larger version on the blog.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you focus on trust? Share in the comments below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this nugget of wisdom, 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



Need someone you can trust to capture the essence of your next event? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic facilitation magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This month I've been working on my watercolor painting skills, leading to the creation of several Colorado wildlife paintings including this little flammulated owl.  If you'd like to see more paintings and work in progress shots, give me a follow on Instagram. If you like what you see and you're interested in purchasing fine art prints or greeting cards, let's chat!

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.

My Top 3 Tips to Rock Your Work Day in 2016

Hey there!
 
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling rejuvenated and energized for 2016. Yes, it seems like everyone is posting online about how kickass 2016 is going to be, how excited they are and what big plans they have in store for us.

You may be thinking along the lines of "Yes! I've been planning and 2016 is going to be spectacular for me too!" Or, you might find yourself wondering "How is everybody so brilliant and productive around the holidays? What will 2016 hold for me?"

If you feel like you're asking those questions, here's a post I wrote about the benefits and tips for creating a Vision Board. (Pssst! Just because it's not January 1 doesn't mean it's too late!)

To be honest, toward the end of 2015 I had a difficult time staying motivated and focusing on important work from day to day. The beginning of a new year is an intuitive time to look back on the year, learn, visualize and plan for success, so I decided to take a hard look at what I was doing (or not doing) and how to shift my daily practices to better reflect the love I have for my work. 

So here for you, lovely readers/doodlers, are the fruits of my self-reflection and observation: The 3 top tips that have helped me refocus and rock the first couple of weeks in 2016.

3) Your Daily Top 3. Each evening, I take a few minutes to write down my top 3 projects or to-do's for the next day somewhere I can see it clearly. This tip is from Marie Forleo (if you haven't checked out her weekly business Q&A videos I recommend it). Taking time at the end of the day to prioritize and organize helps me jump right in instead of flopping around the next morning trying to decide what to do when. I've tried this in my phone, on my computer, and on a note-pad on my desk, but for me, I've found that writing it on the corner of my Ridiculously Enormous Graphic Recorder-Sized Whiteboard is most helpful because I can see them all day and cross them the heck off when I get them done! It's the little things, right?

2) 15 Minute Bites. Sometimes the hardest part of a project is starting it, and Ariana Friedlander of Rosabella Consulting shared this tip with me to overcome that barrier. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and tell myself to just focus on the task at hand for that long. It's such a short chunk of time I can ward off the typical procrastination techniques...I can wait 15 minutes to get a snack, or check my email after I've done 15 minutes of work on a project...hold on, my timer just went off...

And my #1 Tip for staying focused and rocking on the daily is...

1) Start Analog. For me, this means not turning my computer on first thing, but sitting down with a pencil or paintbrush and doing some sketches or painting (for at least 15 minutes!). I find that once I get going, even if it's just for a short time, my momentum from that carries me deeper into the art or inspires me to move on to the next thing on my list. That feeling of having completed something, even if it's just a small sketch, is incredibly powerful in setting a productive tone for the day instead of getting sucked into the wormhole that email can become. 


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

There you have it! I hope these tips help you kick some ass and inspire those around you to crush their days too. With your powers combined, anything is possible! 

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you rock and roll on the daily? Share in the comments below 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










Now that you're crushing your work day, click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at my set-up for filming explainer videos. This one is for Creek Consulting describing deliberative facilitation and how it can help your organization. Check my YouTube channel later this month for the finished video!

What Do Drawing A Bike and Running A Business Have In Common?

Happy Summer Y’all!

This summer has been chock full of family visits, work projects and travel, and some fun stuff like rafting and RockyGrass too, which means it’s been very busy!

Being an entrepreneur means that there’s a LOT of work to be done…always. There’s really no end of things to improve or further develop a business, which is why I am very intentional about when I’m working, and when I’m not.

There is a fine balance between knowing when it’s necessary to push through a creative block, and knowing when to step away from a project, let things percolate (Coffee break, anyone? How about coffee puns?)…and coming back to crush it another time.

If you're curious how I stay inspired as a creative entrepreneur, you might enjoy this post too.

So when my good friend and business mentor Ariana of Rosabella Consulting requested a ConverSKETCH on how to draw a bicycle, I thought it was the perfect reminder of how important balance is, not just for a visual recorder like me. For everyone.

So go ahead and close your eyes, take a deep breath, and give yourself a minute to think about how you’d like to bring more balance in your life while you try drawing a bike!  

Now, bicycles can be a little tricky to draw, so I’ve crafted this week's drawing tip just for you:

If you’re feeling stumped when you start drawing, try beginning with a simple shape. Everyone can draw a circle or a triangle, it doesn’t have to be perfect to get you going! Our bicycle starts with two circles and a triangle. Are you…
 
…Ready to give it a go?

Know someone who might like this tidbit? 

Please share this with all your friends you think might enjoy learning how to draw a bike, or balancing a busy life! And if you haven't already, please sign up for my email list for more free drawing and business tips.

Thanks for reading! Keep drawing, and do the best you can to make your unique, positive difference in this world!

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This July has been packed -- Washington DC to work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, New Jersey for time with family, and Austin Texas for my first International Forum of Visual Practitioners conference! Can you imagine a room with 150 graphic recorders?! It was buzzing, colorful and so much FUN!

And now I'm looking forward to balancing a month of travel with some time at home in Colorado.