Presto Chango!

I am still amazed by magicians. They create the illusion that magic exists. In fact, it actually does in some form when you think of all the practice and psychology that goes into art of magic and illusion. Magic is merely not knowing the mechanics, direction or outcome and being rewarded by the performance when it happens

This reminds me of a quote…

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Graphic facilitators and Visual Thinkers do not offer magical solutions. Those are only found in fairy tales. What is available to small businesses and start-ups is the ability of visual thinking, graphic facilitation and recording and even the growing popularity of sketchnotes to create a vision. As the Mad Hatter states, to utilize the strength of visualization, one must believe.

There are some people who refuse to believe that visualization can help create a solution. Graphic facilitators and recorders are perceived as artist to the spoken word. Transforming speech and text into murals of conscious thought. People don’t need to believe in magic to have visual thinking help create solutions. The reality is, like magicians who train, research, rehearse and master their art (skill), graphic facilitators and recorders are specialist in drawing out processes and opportunities. Science and art blend in such a way that it can appear to be a magical solution, but it is not. It is a truly enriched thinking process.

Once a company or individual embraces how powerful visual thinking can be, then, I guess, something truly magical does happen, clear vision. It is this clarity of vision that creates a strong strategy and eventually growth and success.

As I always share with people I meet, “the best plan is one seen by all.”

However, if you are still looking for a magical solution, than you must believe in magic to find it are forever wait.

Let’s Make A Deal

I am amazed that the show “Let’s Make A Deal” is still so popular after 50 years. Yes, this year, 2013, the show turned fifty years strong. Starting in 1963 and having various hosts and enduring numerous recessions, wars and prosperity, the show has continued to survive and thrive on a very basic premise, ‘Choices.’

They say art mimics life. This show is proof of that. Take a basic concept of making choices of unpredictable outcomes, and add lights, loud clamber, funny costumes and thousands of people who want to make it rich and you get life and a long-lasting television show. Surprisingly, there is a lesson in all this. A lesson businesses and start-ups can learn from.

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Choice is a very powerful thing. It can be exciting, dreadful, painstaking, crippling and even boring at times, but choice is still something we have full control over even if we don’t think we do. Starting a business, project or even launching a new product or service, we have choices to make. Just like the show, most of those decisions are made blindly without knowing the repercussions of that decision. Your choices may bring riches or you may get zonked. That choice you make is the one you must live by. And that goat you got zonked by, will cost you more than it’s worth. Luckily, that’s where the similarities to the television show can end.

Unlike the game show, you can avoid playing the mystery game of choosing a door and then living with the consequences, you can be more strategic if you do one thing first….

Have A Good Plan

I know, sounds so obvious so why spend my time writing about starting any endeavor with a plan? Because many people start a project, career or business with only half a plan. Yes half, at best. Roughly laid out, all expectations of success and no fall back, exiting or alternative strategy put into place. The belief that a single idea (the game show door analogy) will bring you success. This is where adding a bit of pre-planning to your plan pays off big time and those doors, well now you can create the option to choose the next one if you don’t like what’s behind door number 2.

As I always state ‘the best plan is one everyone can see.’ Making a visual plan (utilizing graphics and text) let’s you do two very important things. First, by drawing out your plan, you actually begin (th)INKing about it in a different way. You offer yourself a second opinion on your own idea so that the glow of that idea (imagine a bright light bulb) does not blind you. By creating a visual map, you can begin seeing the stages and obstacles along the process or journey of your endeavor before stepping through and accepting a single choice and dealing with being zonked.

The second and greatest thing about creating a visual map, is that others can see your idea also. Visuals offer a greater clarity to complex ideas. When others can see what you are planning, the opportunity to discover gaps, obstacles and even secondary strategies is created. This process is called collaboration and is a dynamic toll in achieving success. Having a visual map also increases the ability for others to remember the idea long after you present it to them. This is very powerful when sharing your idea, business concept or project with possible mentors or even financial backers. They remember longer with greater detail. They can see what you see.

Life imitates art that imitates life. Before you make that deal for success or to be zonked, put your plan on paper. Go beyond pure text, add images and pictures to show what you are thinking about. Show your plan. It’s easier to explain and far stronger of a tool than mere words. Also, it’s okay if you can’t draw like an artist, draw like a planner…. keep it sketchy, keep sketching, because when you sketch out ideas, you’re actually (th)INKing better and clearer.

Business Lesson from Aesop

What can we learn from Aesop’s Fables of the Ass and the Grasshopper?

An Ass having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted; and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what sort of food they lived on to give them such beautiful voices. They replied, “The dew.” The Ass resolved that he would live only upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.

AssGrass The message is all too clear, one person’s methods are not the same as yours. Mimicking the tactics of others without understand the purpose or strategy is harmful to your strategy and long-term success.

Many companies see a successful business and figure if they duplicate the tactics they will earn the same market awareness and thus the same results. I take Apple as a prime example. We see Apple as an industry leader, dominate brand and strong culture and any one of us would enjoy the same results. What people fail to remember is the challenges Apple faced in their early years. The were not as successful as one would imagine. They did not gain market share overnight. Applying another organizations tactics without understanding their strategy or having very similar strategies is pure foolishness. Like the Ass, you are not the same as those you admire. Mimicry may be the highest form of flattery, but it also is the highest form of failure in business.

Learning Business from Mother Goose

Many childhood nursery rhymes have been used as analogy and metaphors for business for years. These have been proven effective methods for getting a new perspective on an old idea or basic concept. Let’s take a classic 1659 nursery rhyme from Mother Goose and see how it could apply visually to business.

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.”

Jack B NimbleTo understand this power that this rhyme has as an analogy for business, we must first understand the origin of the rhyme for its true meaning.

Over the span of several centuries, jumping over a candle was both a sport and method in England of foretelling one’s future. With a lit candle placed upon the floor, a person would jump over the candle without putting out the flame. In sports, the candle would be raised, much like that of a high jumpers crossbar. In foretelling ones future, being successful, would signify great fortune for the coming year.

Time To Get Creative

For this use of the analogy the rhyme and illustration will be used for various aspects of business. In this application, Jack represents the small business owner or start-up operator. The first line, ‘Jack be nimble’ can be used to express the need or ability of a small business to be agile or nimble when approaching a business venture. ‘Jack be quick,’ speaks clearly. One must move quickly to gain a competitive advantage over the competition. ‘Jack jump over the candlestick.’ could represent the need to have a strong strategy and alternative plan to overcome obstacles along the way.

Final, what Jack is jumping over is the candlestick attempting not to disturb the flame. This could be used to represent opportunities and the need to avoid disrupting that opportunity by being hasty or trying to carry out the task unprepared. To be successful, be it jumping over flames of a candlestick like Jack or entering into a business venture, proper preparation and strategy are the keys to success.

So remember those childhood stories and rhymes and realize they were created to teach lessons through storytelling. Use these stories again and teach with analogies.

Last word of creative insight, act like Jack and you can be successful the whole year-long.

Graphics Out of Control

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What do you see?

The most difficult thing for a graphic recorder or facilitator is the application of graphics to express an idea. Graphics are interpretive, because of this, an image may have more meaning than what we imagine as we draw it out. Let’s refer to the example above.

In the graphic above, is the figure giving, sharing or stealing an idea? Maybe the figure is examining the mind of the subject or maybe worse, the graphic implies the subject is mindless. No matter how you may read the graphic you can see even a simple graphic can be very powerful. Like a quick text, a single image may lack framework or context to guide its meaning. Without context, the content is left to personal interpretation by the viewer and may hinder or derail the viewer from understanding the idea being recorded.

My rule; don’t ink disconnected or unsupported images unless you are attempting to create provocation of the viewer.

As written before, like the written language, graphics need connectivity or relationship to other graphics or text to create context. Let’s look at the same graphic with a single word added to the image and see what you read from the set this time.

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Ideas Fly

I was told at a very young age, “Hang on to your ideas, they can help you fly.”

ideas can fly sm

Never was there a truer statement made to me that has guided my life and my dreams and what has become the inspiration for me to help others.

I want to share with you the source of this wisdom. Imagine this being spoken by a single mother of two children back in early 1940’s. A time when ideas where too costly to have and dreams were more about having food for her children and putting clothes on their backs then soaring with an idea. But she fought and held on to a simple idea of becoming more. She achieved a leader position in the fashion industry in a time when it was controlled by the old boys clubs and women toiled in the factories.

She was an inspiration back then as she is still to this day. Thank you Florence, my grandmother, for all the insanity and love that you taught your daughter and then me.

Dream big ideas and never let them go. You’ll be amazed at where they may take you.