Art for Superstorm Sandy relief

I’m from the East Coast, but living in Oregon. My family is on Cape Cod, which wasn’t affected much by superstorm Sandy, but I do have lots of other friends and customers who were affected. It’s been hard to be thousands of miles away not feeling like there was much I could do other than text for relief.

I know that even though power is being restored slowly, many people will be struggling for a long time to build some part of what has been destroyed. Insurance isn’t always helpful in natural disasters, and there are so many needs beyond what is obvious right away.

I’ve made a small donation, but would love to do more. As I’ve been processing the news and stories I have been drawing the forces of nature and my impressions of the storm. So I thought I could at least encourage people to purchase prints.

20% off for you 20% for storm relief

For the month of November you can get 20% off the price of any prints or digital downloads in our online gallery. Not just storms! Pick from over a thousand photos and prints of paintings. I’ll be adding more everyday.

Just use coupon code superstorm at


The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide Review

How to use your listening, thinking, and drawing skills to make meaning.

Visual communication can be daunting. Most people don’t learn the foundations in school. Even if you go to art school, you may know how to draw, paint or make stuff. But you still may not know how to take this skills and utilize them in a business context.

Brandy breaks it all down in this book. She isolates the design aspects you need to effectively record conversations and provide visual overview for meetings and events.

Do you have what it takes to be a graphic recorder?

Early in the book, Brandy lists out the success factors for being a successful graphic recorder. Later she defines the language and skills you’d be using.

I am not a graphic recorder. While I have most of the skills required, my brain likes to gather lots of data and think about it before creating visuals. I’m just too reflective to be able to get the visuals down in real time. Even so, there is a lot of value in the book for me. It helps me understand the factors that make for other types of visuals like slides and flipcharts. It delves deeply into the most important elements to think about.

The Principles of Graphic Facilitation

 The bulk of the book are the Principles of Graphic Faciliation

  • Overview
  • Listening
  • Thinking
  • Drawing
  • Practicing
  • In the Room

She breaks down each part and clearly describes how you can use each principle to be more successful. Of course there are illustrations through out to help us see clearly exactly how to apply each idea.

Her section on drawing gives you a basic visual vocabulary that anyone can do. Really. If you can write and make simple marks on the page you can do these drawings. It’s a fantastic reference to pick up so you don’t have to think about how to draw something – it’s right there on the page.

(Real artists use references all the time! You can too.)

Other reasons I like this book

The book is well thought out through out.  Brandy really covers what you need to know to communicate more effectively using visuals. Graphic recording uses a lot of words. Oftentimes the visual parts are the organizing structures. I think this must be why Brandy is so good at it. She breathes structure and organization and makes it look effortless.

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or on Brandy’s website.

If you’d like a really deep dive into graphic recording, Brandy is offering The Lab. It’s a small group concentrated learning experience, sure to accelerate your skills. I saw the results her students got after the last class and was really impressed. The next session is January 7-9, 2012 in Chicago. As of this posting, she’s only got 2 spaces left.


November is Contentpalooza

Each November I take on a challenge to create something everyday. The last few years it has been Creative Every Day Month where I do a new image everyday. This year I am working on a memoir project that uses words and images, so Contentpalooza with it’s focus on creating both seems more fitting.

There is a Facebook group of over 200 people taking this challenge. My plan will be to report my daily progress there. Since it’s already Facebook focused, I will most likely share the images I create there. If you aren’t already connected to me and want to see the daily images, send me a friend request.

My guess right now is I will post summaries of my progress here on the blog. So much of what I am doing right now is part of a much larger project, so I’ve been wondering how to share it. Do I post the parts and share the process as it develops? Or wait until there are more finished pieces to show?

What do you enjoy? Seeing the process or just the result?



Image Power at Power Boost Live

Here’s a success story from one of our customers, Yolanda Facio from Red. Hot. Momentum

Yolanda Facio Speaks about Referral Marketing

I was pretty excited when I was recently asked to present a workshop at Pam Slim’s Power Boost Live event.  Pam asked that I give a breakout session on building a referral-based business.

I set up the 90 minute workshop to include three work sections.  I would give a small amount of content and instructions then had the participants work on that content.  The first item involved outlining a target market and differentiating statements about what set them apart from the competition.

I wanted to make sure that each person left with some usable work that could be translated into action immediately after the event.  In order to do that I knew I would need to get creative.  My workshop was in the last breakout of the day so folks had been talked at all day and were starting to get tired… as was I!

So in order to make my job easier, to ensure I would spark conversation amongst participants and get them working, I used the VisualsSpeak Image Set.

Use photos to guarantee success

Before the workshop began, I set up one table in the room with all of the images.  I used all but the smallest sizes.  I mixed them up all over the table, it looked great and generated quite a bit of interest as people entered the room.

After my introduction material I started in on the first of the work items.  I explained what I expected them to work on for the next 15 minutes.  Then I asked them to stand up, go to the table and pick out some pictures that might help them think about their target customers and what made them special as businesses.

The process was an absolute hit.  Talk about breaking the ice!

The excitement and energy at the table was great to see.  The participants engaged not only with the images but with each other.  Lots of conversation and most importantly laughter and smiles.  I had beat the afternoon slump.

My experience using the images and the feedback I received after will definitely ensure I include the images in all types of workshop formats.  There are just too many benefits not to.

One woman who had tried to work on a target market description in the past said that it finally all just came to her.  She credited my workshop.  Secretly I credit the images.  She was not alone in the assessment that “things just clicked” during the workshop.  As a result I received lots of “thank you’s” after the event.

I couldn’t be more pleased!


Exploring Your Strengths

“Good morning friend, I got the “Exploring Options” deck yesterday and this morning during my meditation time I used them. WOW! Since it was a quiet time for me, I decided to write out my learnings/insights rather than to talk them out –tough for me, as you know talking is my default mode of communication! ;-)”

Using my new tool from VisualsSpeak — the “Exploring Options” card deck.

I chose to focus around the “Exploring Strengths” question prompts — asking the following questions of myself,

“What are my strengths when it comes to my Professional Speaking and Training work?” “What do I do when I speak?” “What does my audience get out of it?”

Going through the deck I chose 5 cards:

  • Painting of a person standing facing to the left of the card. There is light coming from (or going to) heaven/the clouds. This light connects in two places with the person, the head and the heart.
  • A photograph of a campfire at night. No people, just the burning fire.
  • A photo of a wooden foot bridge – the kind you wold find up in a hiking trail in the mountains.
  • A close up photo of blueberries . . . with one lone raspberry in the middle of them.
  • A photo with the bank of a river in the foreground and barren trees/grassy patch in the middle.Towards the top of an incline there are stick frame outlines for 3 buildings. The photo was taken in late fall or winter (itʼs a clear day, but no snow). The outlines of the buildings may have been drawn in by someone.- a photo of exploding fireworks.

Here is how I tell my story

My professional speaking helps people connect what is in their heart with what is in their mind. The ultimate purpose is to also connect their head, heart and actions — what they believe, what they are passionate about and what they “DO”. (Purpose, passion and behavior)

The way I do this is in connection with a form of human engagement that goes back to the beginning of humankind — the story around the fire. Retelling stories,talking about the day, sharing wisdom and humor around a fire has a primal quality about it — interacting around the fire is one of the oldest forms of human interaction –the fire provided warmth, light, sustenance (cook our food), and a space for humans to share what was important to them.

COMMUNITY. When I speak I like to take people on a journey — like hiking on a trail. The trail may be familiar or it may be brand new — every step is unique – whatʼs around the next bend? How does the sunlight shining through the forest feel on my face?

One of the things that people are able to get out of working with me is the ability to see, understand, and celebrate their own uniqueness. Each of us is different, and itʼs the difference that makes life interesting and fun. My work helps people answer the question, “What makes you special?”

I focus on finding and sharing your unique value proposition.Very often people have an “ah ha” moment during/after hearing me speak. They get inspired to share more of themselves with each other and the world. They gain a moment of clarity around their unique purpose and how to live/what to do (next). They are ready to explode — making a unique and beautiful impact on the world.

Thanks Sean for sharing your experience!If you’d like to share your experience with the VisualsSpeak tools, we’d love to hear it!


Deepening Strategic Visioning

deciding which image to use to describe vision priorities

In a recent visioning session, long-time client Valerie used the ImageSet to help bring focus to a group of nurses who were getting stuck.

The nurses were trying hard to get away from their stock answers and needed something to spark some creativity and renew focus.

Using the VisualsSpeak tools, Valerie asked the nurses to think visually by selecting one or two images to represent their priorities.  Adding the physical element of getting up and gathering around the table to look at and chose images is a fantastic way to add additional tactile elements to the exercise.

They got up, moved around, engaged with one another and really embraced the experience.  This process lead to a much more in-depth discussion about what the priorities they were focusing on meant to them individually and as a group.

This is a common response.  Research shows that when you can get individuals physically engaged in a process you up the potentiality of new and deeper outcomes.  The physical coupled with the visual helps to bring new insights and fresh ideas to established patterns.

The nurses were struggling to come up with new ideas and meaning, the ImageSet broke the struggle and enhanced the process.  The visioning session was a success for Valerie and for her clients!

If you’d like to learn more about the ImageSet >>> Click Here!


Can an Image Paint a Thousand Words?

Here’s what’s interesting about the brain.  It relies on memories to develop our values and belief systems.

I had to think about that at first because my initial reaction was, don’t I decide what I believe?  Nope.  My brain has an active role in determining what I believe based on what I remember.  Of course then I get to filter that information. 

So the mind, what we think of as our conscious self relies quite heavily on what the brain is doing and lets face it, the brain doesn’t really have the best filing system in the world or I’d be able to remember the name of that movie, you know the one with that guy…

And that leads me to images.  Images are the place where our memories hang. 
If you don’t believe me then look at the word below:


Now, how do you feel? How many memories were immediately triggered?  Or did you have to think about what the word meant first? 


Now, look at the image below:

So, this time, how did you feel?  How many memories were immediately triggered?

With the word you probably got some ideas about what the word means and what it means to you.  But I’m betting you didn’t have an emotional reaction like you might have when you looked at the image.

Images are powerful.  Not only are they worth a thousand words, they are worth a whole host of emotions, values, beliefs, passions and more. 

This is what makes VisualsSpeak tools so effective.  When working with individuals or groups on big questions about innovation or leadership or teambuilding.  Nothing breaks through barriers quite as quickly as images do.  Images reach into the brain’s filing cabinet of memories and make connections we couldn’t make as well on our own.

If you want big breakthroughs with your clients, if you want successful sessions every time, give images an opportunity to shine.  You’ll be amazed at the results… we always are!

The ImageSet does it all – check it out! >> ImageSet


Leadership as Art

darknessI recently read an article, “Every Leader is an Artist” at the Harvard Business Review web site.  The article, written by Michael O’Malley, author of a book by the same name, makes the argument that great leaders are artists.  He compares the artist to the leader to show those similarities.

While I agree with O’Malley, it raises the question:   “How do we get leaders in business to see themselves as artists and, therefore, embrace art?”

It’s a big question.

Many in traditional leadership positions favor the “left-brained” way of thinking.  Spreadsheets filled with numbers certainly doesn’t feel like art.  On the surface most of the decision-making activities of a leader don’t feel like art.

But the interconnectedness of those numbers to real-world solutions is a form of art.  It takes not just analysis but the ability to see through the numbers to the bigger picture.  It isn’t just about one product or service but the implications of it’s existence in the marketplace.  It isn’t just about customer as consumer but customer as partner.

All those connections, some more abstract than others, reach far across both the left and right sides of our brains.  It is art.  It is analysis.  It is a combination of both.

So how do we get leaders to embrace art?

Is it in the ability of the artist to embrace analysis?

Is it in the joining of forces, the bringing together of both artist and business leader?

Where and how can we begin to create the threads that will bring them both together?


Building Great Teams One Image at a Time

What do pinterest, tumbler and facebook have in common with VisualsSpeak?

Images.  Visuals.  Pictures.

Over the last year, we’ve seen the popularity of visuals rise.  From Pinterest to infographics, images are everywhere.

The reason is simple.  Images are highly effective.

That’s what makes VisualsSpeak tools so powerful.

The ability to “paint a thousand words” in one image is one reason the human brain loves pictures.

One picture can convey years of meaning and memory.  When used in team-building efforts, images can be a powerful team-building tool.

Why Image Decks are So Powerful

Of course the primary reason the VisualsSpeak image decks are so powerful is that they are made up of images.  But, the decks aren’t just piles of images, the images themselves have been tested and vetted to make sure they get results.

In a team-building setting, images can cross all sorts of interpersonal communication boundaries between members of a group as well as shine light on all of the variations among group members.  But the images can also shed light on the similarities among a diversified group of team members.  Unveiling these often unnoticed similarities can create a more powerful group dynamic, creating a much healthier and more productive team.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

Here’s Lori Silverman’s story:

Lori Silverman is a builder. As a key leader of Portland State University’s Professional Development Center, Lori helps the university build new degree and certificate programs. And that means bringing teams, boards, and committees together. A lot.

So when it was time to put a new advisory panel together and set up a first meeting? Well, we’ll just let Lori tell you herself, in her own words:

“It was my first meeting with my advisory panel and on it’s way to a humdrum bother of a meeting for everyone until I decided to use VisualsSpeak. My biggest anxiety was giving up a full 90 minutes of a two hour meeting just to introduce

“In just 90 minutes I have the richest understanding of my new advisory panel’s ability to contribute, special attributes, natural leadership and group tendencies, willingness levels, commitment level, level of understanding of the program and most interesting to me – they have a genuine curiosity about each other – and a desire to work together in the future. Sometimes I have worked for months to glean that kind of knowledge on a team – and almost never got it.

“I have to admit that biting the bullet and committing 90 minutes of their first meeting to playing with images was risky – I didn’t know them well, and I felt like and they made me feel like I was asking a lot of them just to be there – but WOW. One of them had told me in advance that he would not be able to stay for the entire meeting – so when the meeting finished and I asked why he stayed – he said that he guessed it was a barometer for his interest in the meeting!

“I couldn’t have done that with my old agendas’ ‘Statement of Purpose, New Business, Yawn, yawn.’ Thanks to the team building tool, I think we have eliminated so much of the hidden agenda, anxiety, waste of time kinds of feelings on behalf of the group.”

You can learn more about the Team-Building tools here >>  Building Great Teams


Unplugging at the Oregon Coast

If you’ve been following our video series, you may want to know more about the Oregon Coast and why it makes for a great place to get unplugged.

Jalene and Christine talk a little bit about the Oregon Coast  in this last video.

If you haven’t checked out the Women Unplugged retreat page, please do, it gives all kinds of details about the retreat.  This is a one time opportunity to get Christine and Jalene together to help you unplug, get creative and have fun in a relaxing and restorative setting. 



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