facilitator

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.

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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,

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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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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.

Four Tools Guaranteed to Send Your Team into Decision-Making Bliss

I hope this finds all you folks in the US happy and rested after the Thanksgiving holiday.

My last newsletter focused on suspending judgement while brainstorming to facilitate innovation and creativity, with a promise to follow up this week with ideas to help you or your team make decisions and select the best ideas to move forward with. Okay, maybe you won’t end up completely blissed out if you use these ideas, but at least you’ll have a darn clear picture of what’s important to your team. Which is pretty much the same thing, right?

A graphic recorder can often visually reflect where there is energy or consensus in the group through the illustrations they create, but what if you don’t have a graphic recorder, or the group is having a difficult time deciding?

My first step is usually to have the group create Clusters. When brainstorming, I like to have participants write ideas on sticky notes – one per note – and post them on a wall. This makes it easy to move the ideas around into different themes or categories, which can then simplify or reduce the number of items you need to decide on or prioritize. Be sure to clearly delineate and name the clusters.

Great, now we have a ton of awesome clusters. What now? Now, my friend, you have options (ironic, more decisions for you to make).  Here are some of my favorite decision-making and prioritization techniques, in no particular order, and with endless opportunities to tweak to fit your needs or group.

1.       The Dot Vote: A Classic. Chances are, you’ve used this at least once in your life…If the words “dot vote” make you want to run screaming from the room or throw the device you’re reading this on against a wall, please move on to Idea 2 immediately. However, it’s used often for a reason; it’s quick, can be used in groups of all sizes, and forces people to make tough choices. I usually give people multiple dot stickers so they can give their votes some weight: if you really love an idea, put as many dots on it as you’d like. If you are interested in several, spread your dots around. The caveat is that dot voting might mean an idea that will more heavily affect a minority of the group might get overlooked, even with weighted dot voting.

2.       Five Finger Vote: A la OGSystems Visioneers. This is another quick, weighted voting technique. After generating a list of clusters or key ideas to vote on, discuss them to be sure participants understand each one. Go through them one by one and ask participants to hold up fingers for each as follows:

0: Strong Preference Against (could not accept this idea)

1: Preference Against (accepting this idea would be a compromise to better alternatives)

2: Casual Preference Against (could accept this idea, but other alternatives are just as good)

3: Casual Preference For (could accept this idea, no better alternatives)

4: Preference For (would support this idea, and not prefer another idea)

5: Strong Preference For (could not support another idea)

Count the total for each option – the idea with the highest number of votes is the winner.

3.       Selection Chart: Another Classic. When I need something more analytical and number oriented, creating a chart with options on the left column and criteria for ranking across the top can be useful. Decide on a scale for weight (i.e. 1-5, 5 being most important), and go through each option and give each criterion a number based on how important it is. Again, add up the scores for each option and you’ll get a winner and see distribution of importance. Bonus: You can do this individually first, then come together to discuss patterns or differences across the group.

4.       Decision Trees (for inspiration & humor try this one): A la Dan Roam. Start with an important question, such as “Is dropping our price a good option?”. From there, ask and draw another, related question like “Is our market price sensitive?” decide yes/no, and if yes, ask another question, such as “How is our price relative to our competitor?”. If no, try another option since price isn’t a factor. And so on.

Now get out there and make a blissful Selection Chart to decide which of these tools you’ll use next time your team needs to make a decision.

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 to help your team make some decisions...then actually move forward together? 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?

I'm proud to announce a new explainer video is out in the world thanks to the new One Health Institute at Colorado State University! Click the image above to learn how CSU's Dr. John Spencer is partnering with researchers and practitioners in Brazil to work toward ending leprosy!

How to Stay Relevant & Infuse Generosity Into Your Business

Howdy!

Can you believe it? It’s been a year since I started sending out these little nuggets of creative inspiration. And I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a single one I’ve scheduled since I started.

I’ve chosen to hold myself to high standards. Even though writing isn’t necessarily my favorite thing, and there were days all I wanted to do was tell y’all that sometimes…well, sometimes you’re just not feeling creative. Peace out.

But there was something else that kept nudging, even when it would have been easy to blow off an email. I remembered that I respect and admire each of you, and I want to give you this small gift of an email every two weeks. I know you are all busy and your inboxes are packed, so I make these as succinct, engaging (and clever) as I can for you. Maybe a pun will brighten your day, or maybe you needed a little reminder to make space for creativity.

Not only that, but I’m doing some pretty cool work that I want to share with you. Developing new techniques, styles, processes to support your work, and products to show appreciation or refine your vision for the future and what you can do to get yourself there.

So what can I share with you this week? As usual, what I’ve figured out by trial and error ahem, experience. Be consistent. Here’s how:

Remember why/who you’re doing this for. If it becomes just a chore, that will become apparent in your work. If you’re having fun and sharing for the love of it, that will shine through too. As good ol’ Paul Simon said, have a good time (with it).

Make your commitment known. Social science shows that when you verbalize something you aim to do in front of others, you’re more likely to actually do it. Chalk one up for social norms.

Give yourself time for iterations (who does this sometimes? Karina raises hand). This is secretly a two-for-one. A) Schedule time to write, brainstorm, plan. If it’s not in my calendar, it’s not real and I’m more likely to blow it off or get distracted. B) Don’t expect to write it perfectly the first time. If you do, great! Use that time you expected to iterate to go for a bike ride or something. If you need that time, know that you’re still a creative force to be reckoned with, sometimes it takes time and breaks to be able to really tap into that Creative Genius. Which is a beautiful segue to…

Know that despite what everyone’s social media feed is telling you, creativity can be a slog (term coined by the amazing Marie Forleo). By that I mean it can require tenacity: moments of blinding clarity and creative genius peppered among many sessions that may feel mediocre. But all that purposeful action will yield improvement, if only you give it time and energy to germinate and bloom. So Hug the Slog, love the journey and put your time in. Because forever is composed of nows (yeah, that’s Emily Dickinson, via the incredible Em Shepard).

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I read every single one of your emails, appreciate the feedback and requests that have helped me learn and grow as I figure out this newsletter thing. So, as this next cycle of ConverSketches unfolds, I’ve been developing topics and doodles that I really, truly hope will help you make sense of the world and have a little more fun with it too.

If you liked this tip, it would be AWESOME 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



Creativity is a drive. I'm real good at helping you or your team see where you can focus & leverage your energy. Click on to talk about your ideas.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

My newest  explainer video  collaboration is out! Click the image above to find out how dliberative dialogue and facilitation can shift the conversation from adversarial and argumentative to curious and productive. Thanks to  Creek Consulting  for the inspiration &  Wes White  at Shadowlands Media for the excellent production.

My newest explainer video collaboration is out! Click the image above to find out how dliberative dialogue and facilitation can shift the conversation from adversarial and argumentative to curious and productive. Thanks to Creek Consulting for the inspiration & Wes White at Shadowlands Media for the excellent production.