How do you talk about your work?

When was the last time you faced that moment, when you knew that you would need to bridge the gap between the work you do and people’s lack of familiarity with your field?

Just the other week I was a professional association meeting (the name remains secret to protect the identity), which began with the typical unstructured networking time that I so loathe. I know some folks who attend the meetings and I feel compelled to say hello and chat for a bit. I don’t know lots of folks and want to meet them, as that is in large part, my purpose in joining the organization and attending their events. I generally do more of the former type of socializing and less of the latter—unless I go in totally focused on my objective, “Meet four new people—listen, learn about them, and discover how to be helpful.” 

So the stage is set, I am meeting new folks through connections (yay!), and I get asked the oh-so-tired question, “Who is your target market?” My (rather devilish) reply is, “Everyone who communicates!” I then feel compelled to acknowledge that I realize my partner in conversation is seeking a more focused answer, and so I ease the tension by talking about the several types of folks who most frequently attend bikablo trainings. Though I really believe that my first answer is more on target (sorry, I couldn’t help it!). I WANT to reach everyone. I believe this is a skill that can help everyone to communicate better. And to date, I just haven’t reached out beyond a few particular professions, though more are on my radar!

What do you do? How do you describe and share information about our work—and the great variety of ways it is now being used? How do you help people see what they haven’t really understood before?

My reality is, that folks generally do not know about visualization work or of the bikablo Akademie. I explain that I teach people to capture ideas, thoughts, conversations, processes, relationships and more, in icons, containers, graphic elements and words. Usually, folks are both puzzled and interested! I then pave the way for further understanding by describing graphic recorders at conferences, (“Remember a recent conference, with a keynote speaker, and perhaps someone at a wall capturing the presentation in pictures and words?”). Or, I describe the role of graphic facilitators in meetings. Soon there is a spark of recognition, often followed by the question, “Are you an artist?” They are surprised that I am not and then sadly state, “I can only draw stick figures, I could NEVER do that!” I assure them that most folks don’t feel skilled at drawing as we haven’t had the opportunity to really develop that form of language throughout our schooling. Often I share photos, to help folks make the connection to how they could use visual practitioner skills in their work.

My most recent endeavor, in my effort to simply and easily describe my work is a one page visual—it certainly makes easy work of explaining bikablo! What do you think? 

I’m working on another iteration that is solely hand-drawn… and thinking that I may create a third with a combination of drawings and photos. I’ll post those later today—so check back! Please weigh in—let me know what you thinking!

Would you cadet such a visual? How would it facilitate people’s understanding of your work? Would you share what you have created—I hope so!

What your vision for 2020? How’s it taking shape?

I have just a few goals this year— and I am working at being just fine with that (it’s a process). I have taken to heart the work of Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s time to focus ONLY on what I do best, and that’s difficult for me.  I LOVE so many things and do more than one or two of them rather well—like most people!

How do you come to this conversation? Are you enjoying an abundance of many passions, ideas, and goals or are you more laser-like in your focus? How are you moving forward, meeting your milestones on the way to your goals?

One of my goals this year is to share with the world my revitalized, expanded, deep passion, and curiosity about the many ways we can take good care of ourselves so that we thrive. I believe that when we are well taken care of we can offer our best selves to others.

One of the ways I am seeking to share information, practices, and resources, is through speaking at conferences, so I am up to my eyebrows in writing proposals. I LOVE planning for working with people: imagining what they will learn and achieve in the session, thinking through their questions, developing  the curated list of the resources that I can share with them—it’s so much fun!

My strengths* of:

  • curiosity and interest in the world—What are they facing? What do I need to understand about their worlds? What will help folks the most?
  • creativity, ingenuity, and originality—What unique questions do I have for folks to help them do their own learning? How will I design a session to capture their hearts and minds?
  • zest, enthusiasm, and energy—How will I share my passion in a way that invites conversation and a diversity of views, without overwhelming folks?
  • hope, optimism, and future-mindedness—In what concrete ways will share my positive thinking about the future—the possibilities that exist for those who will embrace, or at least try, new ideas and practices?
  • bravery and valor—How will I step outside my comfort zone/what I have done before and experience the disequilibrium that accompanies growth—just like the participants?

are all engaged in this process.

* as discovered through The Brief Strengths Test,

2014 EuViz Conference, Berlin, Germany

How are you using your strengths in your work (and play)?

Have you taken The Brief Strengths Test or something similar? If not, I’d suggest it (The Brief Strengths Test is free.)

I feel most at home when I am using my strengths—they support me and I enter a state of flow. I must admit though, I have found that I can fall into getting caught up in them and then experiencing TROUBLE!

In creating the design for the workshop proposal on self-care I started to think broadly and deeply about the collateral material I could create for the session. It was so much FUN to imagine creating a card deck to support their learning, a zine to make notes about their journey, the development of a Mad Libs-like manifesto for participants to work with… Oh my gosh! I had to put on the brakes!

You can see it, right? My creativity and enthusiasm have taken me just a wee bit too far afield of the task to be accomplished. The 75-minute session cannot support all the goodies I have started to develop in my mind’s eye… At this point, when I see myself in the throes of overindulging in the areas I love to play, I chuckle, note the ideas that I may use “next time” and reel myself in.

Have you experienced the “dark side” or your strengths? How do you handle it?

If you’re curious about exploring your strengths, how you can use them in your work and play, and any of the myriad ways you can take better care of yourself, let me know! I’d love to have that conversation with you!

2020: Checking in on my plucky new year’s resolution—“No apologies!”

Just last week I had an inkling that this bold, desirable, and challenging choice might be too audacious to achieve. I designed a month of work for myself that was just a wee bit over the top—with training, travel, projects and new initiatives. By the second week of the month, I found myself having to apologize to a few folks for my delay in responding to their emails. I started to feel frustrated and that turned to feeling troubled, bordering on disheartened, though not hopeless.

How about you? What successes are you experiencing with your resolution(s)? While I hope they’re going well, like so many folks, we face hurdles in achieving or goals.

What is stretching your limits or is difficult to achieve? What strengths do you have that will support you in finding your way to achieve your desires? What have you done in the past to overcome such obstacles—how might you apply those experiences now? Are there folks in your circle who can support you by listening and referring to strengths they see in you or offering up alternative ideas?

In musing on my predicament, it occurred to me that solutions would arise as I tapped into my strengths of ingenuity/creativity, hope/optimism/future-mindedness, and bravery/valor (from Martin Seligman’s research into happiness, The Brief Strengths Test). I needed to gain some perspective, get in touch with my values, then check in with my intention and the context in which I choose to live and work. These supportive strategies compelled me to reflect on the world we live in today. Specifically, I am referring to the “go-go-go” nature of responding fast to whatever is in front of you. The common “wisdom” that one must respond to emails immediately if not within 24 hours… I hear that workplaces (made up of people) often demand it, and I recognize that I work in my own world, as a solopreneur, and do not have the constraints that some others feel…

In my world of work, I want to be responsive and yet not working, or even communicating with colleagues—24/7—even though I enjoy relationships with folks around the world. In sharing my resolution and some of the concerns I was facing in achieving it with several good friends, I realized that I wanted to stand strong. I still like my decision and I can fine-tune my response to my ever-present emails. I believe that being responsive is important and yet the 24-hour limit doesn’t always work for me.

When I stepped into thinking about my goal again, I got creative and am exploring several possibilities (some of which will take a bit of bravery):

  • writing a blog post about my thinking (check!)
  • posting on social media—perhaps a manifesto about connection…
  • revising my email signature to inform folks that if they really need to reach me they should call or text
  • and, the possibility of using a snappy and heartfelt autoresponder (in extreme cases of days of travel and training)

Designing a different approach to my dilemma—truly a response I can embrace— now feels upbeat, rejuvenating, and has motivated to step back into the fray. My needs for harmony, clarity, communication, order, effectiveness, integrity, respect (of others), and independence/self-expression are being met by my plans!

Kryptonite, well, perhaps not quite…

What do you find challenging in your work?

My challenge is truly integrating my new learning with my existing knowledge to create new approaches, content, and materials. Remembering/refreshing my memories of what I have learned over time with new concepts and practices is daunting and yet delicious!

Just this month…

I chose to step into the opportunity to unite two areas of interest to support my practice. I joined the “Commit to Sit—A 90-Day Commitment to Practice” program offered by Koshin Paley Ellison, one of the founders of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. It’s a wonderful opportunity to increase the consistency of my meditation practice and to make time every day to reflect on a brief reading and question relevant to who I want to be in the world. (Such a question, posed every day, is also a great reinforcer of my coaching practice and being in that space of curiosity—in this instance, about myself.)

I’m also feeling delightfully pulled into exploring—widening and deepening—my comfort level with different styles of illustration. With the desire to practice my drawing in a new and consistent way, I decided to abandon my usual style (simple, rather spare) and color palette (often lively), and to explore using only one color as a background (!), another color for drawing, and a third for writing. I also yearned to make the finished works simple and easily comprehensible. And, to do this every day, to reflect the essence of the brief reading and reflection in the Commit to Sit email.

What has come to pass in a short time…

It took me a while to become enamored with my choice of colors and style, though once I settled in, my challenge has become more keeping my work to just the essence of my thoughts.

I have also decided to share my work with the FB group for this adventure—these are folks around the world who probably aren’t very familiar with the work of visual practitioners. I am excited, feeling a bit of trepidation, and am super curious to read their reactions. Doing this work for myself, and sharing it with others, meets so many of my needs—for adventure, novelty, connection, and contribution…

My plan…

As you can imagine, I have no idea how my work will be received by the Commit to Sit community.  I will share the impressions I receive in a future blog post or two… as this is a long term commitment.

How are you encountering this piece?

What is alive in you when you consider my ruminations and the challenges in your work? How are you making your way through, around or over the obstacles you face? In what ways are you reaching out for the opportunities that will enable you to flourish? I’d love to know. Please drop me a line,,  or comment to share with the community.

The Blank Page – So Exciting!

With just a few days distance from 2019, I can without hesitation, claim that it was a year of great opportunities, unexpected personal challenges, and ultimately, one of transformation.

What about you? Where did you begin the year? What hopes and dreams materialized as planned, what difficulties did you face, and what did you experience, learn, and accomplish?

My highlights were

  • sifting and sorting through all the types of work I have done through the years and landing in a new, more cohesive, place and space/site (
  • reviewing and reflecting upon my visual practitioner work, and creating a visual tour of the breadth and depth of my offerings as Bikablo trainer, graphic recorder, graphic facilitator and graphic coach to share with colleagues
  • basking in the glow of partnering with colleagues to create new offerings—Heather Martinez, for Bikablo + Lettering, and Julie Swanson and Stephanie Steigerwaldt to offer Bikablo trainings to professionals in the non-profit space through creative fundraising and a creative fee structure
  • learning alongside my Bikablo colleagues in both Cologne, Germany, in NYC and online—and being supported by the Bikablo team
  • stepping into new areas—Generative Scribing with Kelvy Bird online, Fast & Loose Sketching with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in-depth Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training with NYCNVC and the NVC Academy

I feel a sense of deep gratitude to my colleagues, family, and friends—they support me in my all endeavors.

As I envision the blank page of 2020—it appears to be a year full of promise! How are you feeling about it—hopeful, apprehensive, intrigued, curious, perplexed, eager, rejuvenated, in turmoil, full of longing, open—or a melange of feelings, both subtle and strong, positive and challenging?

I feel open, eager, and curious about the year that is unfolding! On New Year’s Eve I happened to choose the newest edition of Mindful magazine from my current stack of goodies by the couch. The current issue is all about self-care—one of my favorite topics and a core value. (I was presenting on the topic of self-care back in the ’90’s at conferences for crisis counselors working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. We saw too much burn out in our staffs and volunteers, and I loved engaging colleagues in new ideas and practices.) On December 31st, I had a moment of clarity—the desire to engage, again, in delivering training and offering coaching around self-care.

I am beginning to feel the shape of 2020— more Bikablo training, incorporating new forms of drawing and lettering in my visual practice, deepening my coaching work around self-care (EFT, PTT, breath work and journaling), and writing/drawing zines about NVC .

How about you? What is alive for you now? What is worth carrying forward with you into the new year and what will be discarded? If you want to talk about it—I’m ready to listen!