I stumbled onto the concept of Conscious Capitalism when I attended a Local First AZ event in Tucson in a few months ago. Since then, I have had the opportunity to clarify my higher purpose (to inspire people to take more creative risks that matter), meet dozens of conscious capitalists from around the world, and capture many, many big ideas as visual notes. I have to admit that I am a bit skeptical of anything with the word "capitalism" in it because I spent so many years teaching about the damage that big business has done to people and the planet. However, after attending the three-day conference and a couple of evening events in Phoenix, I think these capitalists are on a different path. I really do.
First, many of these people introduce themselves by starting a conversation about their passions, such as plant-based foods, sustainable banking, or teaching organizations to think consciously, rather than trying to sell you their product. Second, it feels like they put relationships first and their egos second. Nearly everyone I have met at the local chapter meetings and the national conference is so excited about the future of business - of elevating individuals, communities, and supporting the environment in some way - that the conversations flow really easily. Third, the process of defining a company's higher purpose and building a culture to support it is not an easy or quick task - so they are hard workers who are in it for the long haul.
If you're intrigued by the idea of Conscious Capitalism, you should check out three things:
I was invited to draw for the Conscious Capitalism Stakeholder Event in Phoenix in May. Ten Conscious Capitalists from around Arizona shared five-minute stories of building connections among businesses, universities, suppliers, customers, and neighbors. Some stories were funny and others were heart wrenching, but all were worthwhile! Each of the talks was too short to capture completely, but these highlights show the network of businesses that make up Conscious Capitalism AZ.
I attended a Local First AZ workshop last week in Tucson that was partially an excuse to drive deep into the Sonoran Desert during wildflower season and partially a great opportunity to meet local business people. Who knew that sitting in a furniture showroom for two hours with strangers could change my perspective on capitalism? Let me explain...
The event was focused on Conscious Capitalism, which is a business philosophy that was articulated by John Mackey (the founder of Whole Foods Market) and Raj Sisodia in a book of the same name. In my words, Conscious Capitalism is the idea that free trade is good for communities, individuals, and the planet when it exists to serve a higher purpose - such as helping people eat better foods or supporting local communities or making the world a more creative place - not just to make money for shareholders. Conscious Capitalism proposes that business should seek a higher purpose and consider how business decisions impact all STAKEholders (customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, mama earth), NOT just corporate SHAREholders. The book is a quick and interesting read.
As an entrepreneur with a background in ecology and 10+ years teaching university students about sustainability, Conscious Capitalism seems like the kind of business philosophy that I would have taught if it had occurred to me to teach about business at the university (maybe I'll go back and do that in a few years :). While I had not articulated a clear philosophy for my business, I find myself moving towards more conscious business decisions as I become more profitable. I'm giving away my time through the Contagious Creativity Awards. I try to treat my best customers like dear friends. I use the most environmentally- and human-friendly markers that I can find (refillable Neuland markers) and draw on recyclable surfaces whenever possible.
I am planning to attend several Conscious Capitalism meetings in Arizona over the next month and I look forward to learning more! If you are curious about this philosophy - and the people who are turning it into a movement - you can watch this TEDx talk by Adam Goodman and attend the international conference in Phoenix at the end of April.
I attended the science talks during the Grand Canyon Hiking GTS on February 15, 2019. My big takeaway from the seminar was that the guides and visitors love the Grand Canyon deeply and yet the wildlife, forests, and landscape face more challenges now than ever. Climate is changing, water resources are increasingly scarce, helicopters and planes regularly disturb wildlife, and dedicated park scientists and managers work with limited staff and funding! Another takeaway was that the guides and visitors love the Canyon and support it through contributions to the Grand Canyon Conservancy.
I captured as much information as I could during the short talks in these sketchnotes about the forests of the Kaibab Plateau (Dr. Peter Fulé), Grand Canyon soundscapes, karst hydrogeology (and caves), bison on the North Rim (GRCA Science and Resrouce Management Division), and Grand Canyon maps (Matthew Toro). Enjoy!
What is the Hiking GTS?
The Grand Canyon Conservancy (formerly the Grand Canyon Association) hosts a Guide Training Seminar each year at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hiking GTS is takes place in mid-February and is geared towards hiking guides, tour bus operators, and people who lead backpacking trips in the canyon. It is distinct from the slightly better known River GTS, which is hosted by the Grand Canyon River Guides Association so it is geared towards river guides and takes place at the Hatch River Expeditions warehouse in mid-March.
my visual notes from the 2019 Hiking GTS
It seems like everyone I meet these days is talking about the NSA - National Speakers Association - so when past president Kristin Arnold invited me to attend the Arizona Chapter meeting this week, I went for it!
Kate Delaney, the Sports Princess, spoke about finding your WOW. I would boil her message down into these essential elements:
My visual notes of Kate Delaney's talk
So, does this make me a “visual learner”?
When people talk about learning styles, they often refer to people who prefer to learn from visual information (i.e., drawings, photographs, diagrams, and illustrations) and people who prefer to learn from verbal information (i.e., spoken words, written stories, and text-based instructions). Hence the suggestion of two learning styles: “visualizer” and “verbalizer”. These two styles have received a lot of attention from academic researchers, parenting journals, and Facebook quizzes, but they are only two among dozens of learning styles have been described over the years (e.g., Myers-Briggs, Kolb’s Learning Styles, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, etc.). It seems to give people reassurance when they believe they know how they learn best. Parents are also drawn to the idea that if their children are taught in their preferred learning style, they will do better in school and go on to live more successful lives. However, the science suggests that it is not this simple (1).
Educational psychologists have documented that people do indeed prefer visual or verbal information and to some degree these preferences are related to their cognitive ability with visual or verbal information (2). Scientists determine someone’s preference by giving them a quiz that asks questions like: “when you read science lab manual, do you prefer to look at the diagrams or read the text?” Once they know a person’s preferred style, they can validate that preference by offering them the choice of multiple types of information (i.e. diagrammatic or text-based help on a quiz) and determining if their choices match their preference (1).
Once researchers demonstrate that people reliably prefer one type of information over another, they need to figure out if people learn better in an environment that emphasizes the type of information that they prefer (3). This distinction – switching from identifying the information I prefer to the information that helps me learn – is what separates a learning preference from a learning style. Researchers call this the “meshing hypothesis” and is the most common way to test for the existence of learning styles (4).
Tests of the meshing hypothesis have come up empty-handed. Students do not score better on quizzes after they have been taught in their preferred style (5, 6). In one study, the researchers found that all learners performed slightly better on a quiz about lightning formation when they were presented with visual information, regardless of their learning preference. It seems that students can adapt to accommodate any type of information presentation.
While there is not much scientific support for the meshing hypothesis, there is support for the idea that the teaching method should match the content being taught (7). For example, how effective would it be to teach:
The idea of learning styles is very compelling because it speaks to our human desire to understand ourselves and be understood. However, it is important to understand the difference between preferring visual information and learning more effectively from visual information because if you believe too strongly that you need visual information to learn, you could miss out on a lot of exciting ideas that are best described in only in words!
Resources & References
Visual notes help a listener remember what a speaker says and also seem to help an audience track the flow of a presentation (more on this in an online workshop I am developing now). Drawing visual notes is a first step to developing a visual practice. When people see me work live, they often ask what materials I use for visual note-taking and graphic facilitation. This is a quick resource for people getting started with visual notes.
I love taking visual notes in a sketchbook or journal while I watch TED talks online, listen to live lectures, or have coffee with friends. I typically write text and draw doodles in black marker and then add splashes of color here and there. My style and materials are constantly evolving as I gain practice and learn what works, but this is what I am doing now.
Black outlines. I go back and forth between several black markers. I haven't found the best ink-nib combination, so I oscillate among four types of markers.
People who see Moline Creative work live, either working as a visual process facilitator or a visual note-taker, often ask how they can learn these skills. I always recommend these two AMAZING books for people who would like to work visually:
I have included links to purchase these books from Better World Books (a super cool online used - and new - book retailer), but you can purchase them everywhere wonderful books are sold.
VISUAL COMMUNICATION IS NOT ART. IT'S FASTER THAN ART
You already know how to speak a visual language. When you were a small person, you recognized faces before you knew names. Then later, you probably started drawing before you wrote letters and words. Now you are able to fluently read faces, facial expressions, icons, logos, maps, and a thousand other types of visual language without thinking too much about it. As I just said, you are already a visual communicator.
However, many adults feel that they have lost touch with their ability to speak a visual language because somewhere along the way they were forced to make a choice between being an "artist" or not being one. Most of us chose the second option.
Visual communication conveys the essence of your message in drawings, sketches, icons, or clip art. If you've ever played the game Pictionary, you know that the drawings don't have to be pretty to get your message across! If you want to learn to work visually, you must set aside your inner art critic - or send her to the Met to critique works by the masters. ;)
When you are starting to work visually, the most important thing you can train yourself to do is find the essential points of a story. Once you have these points, you can determine how you'll visualize them and where you need to add lines and arrows to help your audience follow your thought train. After you have those basics down on paper, you can make the presentation a bit prettier by adding color and flair.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PERFECT PEN
Smearability. I like to draw black outlines and then quickly add shadows and color fills. Because I like to work quickly, the black outlines are not always dry when I add color. If I add yellow on top of black, I can sometimes get some wicked smears that make everything look murky. There are several types of black markers, but a few common ones are alcohol-based ink, water-based ink, and pigment ink. My experience is that the alcohol-based ink (i.e. Sharpie, Bic Marking Pen, Prismacolor, Copic markers) smear the least, water-based markers smear the most, and pigment-based markers are in the middle. I did an extensive black pen test to find the least smeary black marker.
Toxicity. While the alcohol-based markers are fantastic in the variety of nibs and non-smear categories, they are terribly stinky and feel toxic to me. They also bleed through the page. I occasionally use Sharpies to draw sketch notes, but not often because they make me nauseous after about 15 minutes. I gave all of my Prismacolor markers away because I couldn’t even tolerate them for 10 minutes. If you can tolerate the stink (or work in a well-ventilated space), graphic designers and illustrators LOVE Copics and Prismacolor markers.
Sustainability. Most markers are disposable. You throw them away when they run low. Some markers are refillable, but these are rare. Water-based markers are probably the most environmentally friendly option because they are non-toxic. The downside of water-based inks is that they are not as archival as other markers (they fade in sunlight).
Cost. If you are drawing sketch notes, you probably won’t go through markers so fast that cost is going to be a big issue. I draw about 50 square feet of sketch notes each month and I go through about 1 black marker and 1 color marker each month (on average). However, if you draw a lot of large wall charts, it adds up. You can shop around to find the best deals on markers and pens (because different places have different sales at different times). I buy markers at my local art stores and also shop at DickBlick.com JetPens.com Neuland.com and Amazon.com.
PERFECT PEN RECOMMENDATIONS: WALL CHARTS
Black outlines. My go-to markers for black lines on wall charts are Neuland Outliners. Period. They are just amazing markers. I love that they are refillable and non-toxic and don't smear. Honestly, I do not know how they do it, but the Outliner ink is amazing. It reminds me of India Ink (and may be!).
Colorful markers. I alternate among a few types of markers for wall charts, but will only discuss a few here. If you don't want to order fancy markers, you can get a lot done with three types of water-based markers that are available at most office supply stores: Crayola Multicultural Markers (for coloring people), Sharpie Flip Chart Markers, and Mr. Sketch (a.k.a. smelly markers). The Sharpies and Mr. Sketch are easy to find in bullet nibs, but search for chisel nibs because I have seen them.
Everyone has personal preferences when it comes to art and office supplies. Try a few things out and let me know how it goes!
Angie B. Moline
Dr. Moline is an ecologist and visual process facilitator who draws pictures to help clients think. She is currently on a quest to understand why live drawings are so compelling and how to make them as sticky as possible in order to improve communication, understanding, and memory. Follow here journey here!