Monday, December 9, 2013

Mind Mapping by Hand

A few months ago I shared a post on applications for mind mapping.   Today's short post features mind mapping by hand.

I use mind mapping frequently to capture ideas and to plan presentations, blog posts, and details for projects.  I use a small notebook to record ideas, occasional shopping lists, and ideas that might result in posts.  At the time I am ready to create a post, I will create a mind map.

For me, the mind mapping technique is more creative than simple outlining.  Part of the power behind mapping is that you can jot down ideas as they come to without needing to be in sequential or organizational order.  The mind maps below are very simple for illustrative purposes.  After determining the Topic and Subtopics, I can jump from idea to idea, so that I might think about Idea A then Idea G followed by Idea B, etc.

This style of mapping, with a different color for each level is typically how I draw mind maps.  I usually have a pen with me and use highlighters to color the different levels.  This mind map was drawn using the Adobe Ideas app for the iPad.
Mind mapping by hand 
This next mind map was drawn in the traditional style with one color per subtopic.  This mind map was drawn using the UPAD note taking app.
iPad app mind map (upad)
For more on mind mapping, I recommend Tony Buzan's Modern Mind Mapping.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Some years ago, I was called for jury duty.  At the time, I was busy working as a therapist at a mental health center, and didn't want to take the time I thought would be needed for jury duty.  My supervisor wrote a letter to the judge asking for my release from duty.

I drove to the county courthouse and gave the letter to the judge's secretary.  She asked me wait until the judge was available.  From my vantage point in the waiting room, I could look directly into the judge's office.  His back was to me and I could plainly see that he was working on his computer.  Upon closer examination, I noticed that he was playing Solitaire!  Two of his assistants were helping him.

As a side note, if you're ever stranded on a deserted island, start playing Solitaire, because someone will come along and tell you how to play.

As the judge was playing his computer game, I watched as the secretary approached him and told him about my request (the entire office was fairly small).  He nodded his head and kept playing Solitaire!  He kept playing the game until he won!

Needless to say, I was a little frustrated at having to simply wait while someone finished a game.  What kind of situations frustrate you?  What are potential ways to reduce the frustrations that you experience?  I believe that increasing our levels of patience can at least help us tolerate frustrating situations.

Until the mid Nineteenth Century, the process to mail a letter or package from one location to another could take from weeks to months.  The only way to send a letter to another part of the world was by ship.  In the United States, the Pony Express and stage coaches were used to transport mail.  From the invention of the telegraph until today, the speed with which we expect to receive information has decreased substantially.

Today, if we don't receive a text message back from someone or a confirmatory e-mail, we wonder if they received our messages or are ignoring us!

How does one develop an attitude of patience?  How can we demonstrate patience to others?  I believe that we can find encouragement from the Bible to help us become more patient.
patience texts.001
The key word that is included in most of these texts is "long-suffering," which is really a synonym for "patience."  The dictionary definition of patience is "1) an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay, 2) quiet, steady perseverance."

Another favorite text of mine is Galatians 5:22, 23:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To me the secret for an increased level of patience is attitude of forgiveness and lack of expectations about the behaviors of others.  When someone does something that I don't like, I must remember that I can only control my own actions, and then forget about their actions.  If I had contemplated this years ago when waiting for the judge to finish his Solitaire game, I would have been more content with my wait. 

When you find yourself becoming impatient or frustrated with others, I encourage you to think about the "fruits" listed above and how God is patient with us.  I believe you will experience less anxiety over situations and become more patient.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meeting an author-Garrison Keillor

As I was driving around town on Oct. 24, I heard an advertisement on the public radio station for Salon@615, a lecture series sponsored by the Nashville Public Library. On a regular basis, Salon@615 hosts authors who discuss their books and inspiration for writing.

The events are free, but require tickets. A few advance tickets are sold 2-3 weeks prior to the event, and the remaining tickets are available to those willing to wait in line, a couple of hours before the 6:15 show time (the library's address is also 615 Church Street).

The event that piqued my interest was author and entertainer Garrison Keillor. Best known for creating and hosting the weekly radio program A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor also hosts a daily 5-minute program, TheWriter's Almanac, which includes author trivia and a poem reading. Keillor has written a number of books from biographies to poetry.

Because I only learned about the event a few days before, I had resigned myself to waiting in line for tickets. At the time I arrived there were already a few people waiting. As I waited, watching the time slowly pass, a woman sat down beside me. She had advance tickets and soon realized she was in the wrong line. However, before moving to the special line for advance ticket holders, she gave me an extra ticket that she had reserved.

Promptly at 6:15 the mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean, stepped to the podium and introduced Garrison Keillor. Keillor walked out carrying a copy of his book and some notes.

Keillor spoke for about 90 minutes, regaling us with tales and backstories for some of the poems from his new book. He also answered several questions ranging from "How do you come up with new ideas?" to "What is your weekly schedule like?" In responding to the observation, "How do you keep up with all you do?" Keillor responded with his characteristically wry sense of humor, "Well, I didn't realize it was a problem until now."

Douglas G Pratt, 2013Douglas G Pratt, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Complete training before you join the war

Tonight I was reviewing documents that I created and saved in Google Docs, Google's online equivalent of Microsoft Office.  I found this short story and decided to use it as this week's blog post.  The first part of this was written in 2010.

My twelve-year old daughter, Erika,  likes to play with a group of other neighborhood girls.  Yesterday, after returning home after several hours of play, she explained to me that the girls were playing “nerf war.”  Erika looked more like a football player than a warrior with football-like stripes on her cheeks.

In order to prepare for the “war,” the girls devised an obstacle course, utilizing existing playground equipment and fences, as obstacles to go over, under, or around.  The goal was to successfully complete the obstacle in sixty seconds or less.  As of last night’s report, only one girl had completed the course within the target time. 

This morning we continued discussing the obstacle course.  The girls are apparently focused on meeting their time goal on the obstacle course prior to resuming the nerf war.  Erika commented, “You have to complete training before you join the war.”  This reminded me of one of my early work experiences that taught me the importance of proper instruction or training prior to joining “the war.”

After graduating from high school, I secured a summer job at Domino’s Pizza delivering pizzas.  I had no experience in the pizza or delivery business.  Once I was outfitted with my blue and red Domino’s shirt, I was introduced to my trainer.  The plan, I was informed, would be to ride with my trainer for the entire shift, and then begin delivering independently the next night.

I accompanied my trainer for about an hour.  As we walked back into the store after completing a delivery, the manager said, “Doug, do you feel comfortable going out by yourself?  One of our drivers called in sick and I need a driver.”

Being the confident 18-year old that I was, I said, “Sure!  I’d be happy to.”

I strapped the triangular Domino’s sign on my car, a 1972 Pontiac Ventura II, and readied for my night of deliveries.  Driving around with the sign prominently displayed atop my car translated into a significant increase in my wage, an extra $1.50 per hour!  I wondered at the time why some drivers opted out of utilizing the sign, but I needed all the extra income I could easily earn. 

I spent the rest of the evening trying to find streets and addresses in a town that I thought I knew a town I had lived in for six years!  It was amazing to me how many streets were drawn on the large map displayed at the drivers’ entrance to the store.  I was even more surprised at how many new subdivisions and streets existed that were not on the map!  When the additional confusion of darkness was added to the mix, it really complicated my first shift!

I have seen the same scenario played out in business as well.  In a rush to complete tasks or improve efficiency, adequate time is not allowed for training.  Especially with software, there can be an expectation that users will learn from others or use the help function.

If you are in a leadership position, take the time to ensure that your staff is trained on whatever new processes, procedures, or tools (including software) you are implementing.  If you are not in a leadership position, take the assertive action of requesting training. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Maps as Prompts for Stories

Many, many books exist on writing memoirs.  One of my favorites is On Writing Well by William Zinser.  His suggestion is to write one story per day based on whatever comes to mind at the time you sit down to write.  After 2-3 months of writing, you can review your stories and see how your writing "voice" has developed.  Sometimes, a challenge can be to think of an event to write about.


Author Richard Stone has written two books which focus on how stories can have a healing influence.  In both The Healing Art of Storytelling and Stories:  The Family Legacy he suggests that you draw maps of places you have visited or lived.

You can also draw blueprints of houses where you lived, schools you attended, or places you worked.  Because our lives of filled with experiences, often thinking of these places is enough generate many stories.  Family trees are also great for generating story ideas and remembering events with favorite (and not so favorite) aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
From 3 to 12 I lived outside of Chattanooga in the small community of Collegedale.   With the ability to visit any part of the planet vicariously via Google Maps, I revisited my old neighborhood and saved the satellite image.  Using an illustration application, I drew some notes onto the map.  As I made these notes, I was reminded of many stories that occurred in my neighborhood.

Collegedale house

  • In the 1970s, a tornado destroyed a house under construction in our neighborhood.  The spiked nailed panels that held the roof trusses together were scattered and could be bent around your arm to make Roman-styled arm bands.
  • There were several trails in the vacant lot owned by my parents next to our house.  The back property line was shared with an adjacent cow field, where many games were played with friends.
  • My friend Jeremy lived in a duplex at the bottom of the hill.  Later on, his family moved to a house on the same street.  
  • My first piano teacher lived a couple of houses away from us.  Despite her best efforts, I was more interested in watching Batman on TV and was more concerned about being back at home by 5:30 to watch Batman than complete a full 30-minute lesson.

As you can see, this mapping technique is a great way to develop stories and remember events.  There are many more stories I could tell just from viewing the map.  I'm sure that if my brother or sister viewed the same map, they could generate many of their own stories based on their experiences.

With just a little effort, I could make a map for other places I have lived:
  • Murfreesboro, TN
  • Jasper, AL
  • Nashville, TN  

I could have easily zoomed out to display the entire city of Collegedale.  Had I done so, I could have shared stories about walking to school, my school playground, and many other events.

I encourage you to think about all of the places you have visited or lived.  Draw a map or create one using Google Earth (or another mapping application).  You'll be amazed at how many events you can remember.

I used three iPad apps to create the map for this post.

Maps for Stories process

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adventures with Storyboarding

Storyboards have traditionally been used by the film industry as a way to map out cinematography, such as camera angles and acting positions, for many years. Storyboard was introduced by Walt Disney, who used the technique with his creative team to work through stories prior to committing thousands of man-hours to handdrawn panels for animated cartoons.

The film industry continues to use storyboarding as a planning tool. There are several books available that contain the storyboard drawings from popular movies such as Star Wars and Titanic.

Presentation Planning
Storyboarding is also useful as a planning tool for presentation planning. A tip I picked up along the way is to print PowerPoint slides at the small size of nine per page. When you cut these miniature slides out, they are the same size as the 1.5x2 inch sticky notes. Once all of your slides and stickies are together you can tape them on to a whiteboard or wall to easily organize into a presentation. I have done this many times.

Revealing Revelation's Hope
My church is conducting a series of meetings in a month entitled "Revealing Revelation's Hope." The series focuses end-time events as prophesied in the Bible. I was asked to work up an ad for the local Christian radio station. After reviewing the printed brochures for the series, I developed this script that is approximately one minute in length.

Tornadoes, war, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks. There are signs everywhere that we are living in unusual times. People realize that we are on the verge of something big. History’s hourglass is almost empty; but, there is a bright future!
Revealing Revelation’s Hope is a dynamic end-time prophecy series coming to Nashville beginning September 6.

During this live series you will learn about the battle of Armageddon, the seven last plagues, the Mark of the Beast, six, six, six, and much, much more.
Revealing Revelation’s Hope will be held at West End Middle School beginning Friday, September 6 at 7:00PM and continue every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday through October 5.

Admission and all study materials are free.

Visit Revealing Revelations Hope dot com for more info. That’s, Revealing Revelations Hope dot com.
Video Ideas
After creating the script, I made a quick recording using my iPhone. My original intention was to send this to the radio station as an example of the pauses and emphasis needed by their professional voice talent. However, while listening back to the recording, I was inspired to create a video that corresponded and illustrated the script.

Storyboard for Revealing Revelation's Hope
In thinking about the video, I decided that an outline was needed to determine which "scenes" would need to be illustrated and what ideas would be best for each scene. My storyboard is pictured below.

Simple Storyboards
A storyboard does not have to be fancy. There are some applications and software for storyboarding, but I have also used 4x6 and 3x5 cards for storyboarding. Moleskine produces a storyboarding journal.

However, the template for storyboarding is simple: draw a series of rectangles.
Originally, my intention was to find video clips for each of the disasters at the beginning, but ultimately decided to use photos instead. Since I had a clear concept of what I envisioned for each scene, and because I was working alone, I did not need elaborate or large storyboards.

Video Process
Initially, I created a test video using the original quick recording made with my iPhone. After sharing the video with the planning team, I realized that I wanted a higher quality recording for the narration and needed more "hopeful" music than the "X-Files" genre soundtrack used throughout the entire video.

I was satisfied after re-recording the narration and contrasting the somber "X-Files" soundtrack at the beginning - during the disasters - and a brighter soundtrack during the second part of the video.
The resulting video is available on my YouTube channel and embedded here.

Whether you are planning a presentation, creating a one-minute video, or a feature-length film, I encourage you to utilize the storyboarding technique to plan your key points and illustrations. Even if you are not using visuals as part of the presentation, adding a visual element to the planning process will be beneficial.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Project Imaginat10n

Project Imagination
Canon, manufacturer of photography and video equipment, has launched creative venture named "Project Imagination." The concept, in association with actor and director Ron Howard, is to create a short film based on submitted photos. For Project Imagin8ion, the film was based on photographs submitted in eight general categories. For the second film, photos were submitted in ten categories. With Project Imaginat10n, the contest for the second film, photos were selected by celebrity directors and a scriptwriting contest was also part of the project.
Project Imaginat10n
Themes for Project Imaginat10n
Project Imaginat10n has ten themes.
  1. Setting - Any location or environment.
  2. Time - Time of day or within history.
  3. Character - Anyone or anything.
  4. Mood - Conveys atmosphere tone or emotion.
  5. Backstory - A history that promotes fuller understanding of the narrative.
  6. Relationship - A relationship between anyone or anything.
  7. Goal - Whatever the character is pursuing.
  8. Obstacle - Anyone or anything in the character's way.
  9. The Unknown - Anything unexpected.
  10. Discovery - A key or pivotal item, place, or truth that is uncovered.
Adaptable for Presentations
I believe that these same themes can help you create a presentation with more impact. Give some consideration to each of these elements when creating the content and narrative for any talk or presentation you are preparing for.
A presentation is a story. Within the business world, many have still not learned to appreciate that facts and data alone do not generally move people to action. It is the meaning related to the data that can motivate decision makers. Thus, telling a compelling story is vital.
Create a Planning Sheet
When planning a talk or presentation, take a sheet of paper and write down each of the themes. Write a sentence or paragraph that describes each theme as it relates to the presentation. For example, if I am doing a project presentation for continued funding, in the "Time" theme, I would provide a history of the project. Any events (funding, competing projects, etc.) that have impacted the project would be listed under Obstacles.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Repost from Elliott Masie: 99-Second Talks

Elliott Masie is the founder of The Masie Center which focuses on how organizations can support knowledge and learning within the workforce.  Elliott's Learning conference, held annually, features seminars, keynotes, and presentations on the newest paradigms, processes, and gadgets to help improve workplace-based learning.

On July 13, Elliott posted about something new for this year's Learning conference:  99-second presentations.  The full text of his post is below.  As you read, think about what information you could deliver in a 99-second presentation.

Adjusting presentation content
A brief presentation must be designed differently than a longer one.  You can't simply squeeze 30 minutes worth of content and narrative into 1 minute and 39 seconds.  Dale Carnegie, most famous for his book How to Win Friends & Influence People, also wrote extensively about presenting.  You can download a copy of his "Effective Presentations" booklet from  The booklet contains many simple presentation tips.

99 Second Talks ??
Yes, we are inviting our Learning 2013 participants to present several 99 Second Talks!!

In the age of "compression", we decided to experiment with a radical format - focused and high energy 99 second presentations - with a single graphic.

We will have a countdown clock - to keep the story to just 99 seconds - with a single graphic.
Imagine 99 Second Talks on topics like:
  • 3 Tips for Managing a Boss Who Doesn't Listen
  • How We Went "Greener" in our Learning Department
  • Summarizing That Great Book - in Under 100 Seconds
We will present 99 Second Talks interspersed during a few of our General Sessions, as openers for some workshops and a few will be viewable right on your mobile devices during Learning 2013.

Read the original post:

Monday, June 10, 2013


Mars Climate Orbiter

The Mars Climate Orbiter Mission objective was to orbit Mars as the first interplanetary weather satellite and provide a communications relay for another craft which was due to reach Mars in December 1999. The Mars Climate Orbiter was launched on December 11, 1998, and was lost sometime following the spacecraft's entry into Mars orbit. The spacecraft's carrier signal was last seen on Thursday, September 23, 1999.

An investigation board was convened and determined that the root cause for the loss of the spacecraft was the failure to use metric units in the coding of a ground software file used in trajectory models. The software application required that measurements be in metric units but the data files were in English units. The planners assumed that the data was in metric units.

Isaac Peral

Earlier this month, a newspaper reported that a Spanish submarine, the Isaac Peral, was 70 tons heavier than expected. Still under construction, officials believed that the submarine would not be able to resurface once launched.

Officials went on to say that the overage was due to a misplaced decimal point during the design process. The cost estimate to resolve the problem is estimated at $14 million, which will be paid over three years. This is in addition to the $680 million already invested!

Don't Hint and Hope

In business, it is critical that communications be clear and understood. Assumptions can have drastic consequences. When communicating with others be concise and clear. Checking to see how your message is received also lessens the likelihood of mistakes or misperceived communication.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Classic Fairy Tales

When the wonderful happens, when a holiday abroad is a splendid success or an unlikely romance ends happily, we commonly exclaim it was "just like a fairy tale," overlooking that most events in fairly tales are remarkable for their unpleasantness, and that in some of the tales there is no happy ending.
The Classic Fairy Tales is a revealing book about the most popular fairy tales that most of us were introduced to as children, through bed time stories or Disney movies. What makes this book, written by Iona and Peter Opie, interesting, is that the authors reprint the tale as it first appeared in English. Additionally, the authors provide a historical context for each fairy tale, including parallel tales from cultures around the world.
The Classic Fairy Tales includes 24 classic fairy tales from Jack and the Bean Stalk to Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast. Most of these will be familiar to the majority of readers. The book was published in 1974 and is reprinted from a 1980 edition.
Often beginning as spoken tales before being transcribed, these fairy tales reflect the norms and values of the time. Thus you may find original stories where the brides were only 14 or 15 years old when offered for married. Many of the tales include "wicked" stepmothers because at the time, women frequently died young and widowers with several young children immediately needed a wife to assist with parenting. Wells also play a prominent role in many of the fairy tales because this was the "water cooler" of the day. People gathered around the wells to share stories, interact, and gossip.
The magic in the tales lies in people and creatures being shown to be what they really are.
Usually the tale is about one person, or one family, having to cope with a supernatural occurrence or supernatural protagonist during a period of stress. The hero is almost invariably a young person, usually the youngest member of a family, and if not deformed or already an orphan, is probably in the process of being disowned or abandoned.
Unlike the contemporary, rewritten versions of fairy tales, most of the original tales contained very little magic. Enchantments (spells) were often temporary. Additionally, as the authors point out in the introduction, some of the tales do not end happily.
In the most-loved fairy tales, it will be noticed, noble personages may be brought low by fairy enhancement or by human beastliness, but the lowly are seldom made noble.
This is not a children's book. It is very educational in terms of the forgotten history and evolution of the classic fairy tales. In a large sense, this book serves as a reminder that how we recall stories today was not always the case.
All of the quotations on this page are from the introduction.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Increase Your Vocabulary

I just completed a book entitled To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Internet Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov. The book is an excellent examination of how smart technology and big data are used in both revealing and hidden ways in our society today. I will be writing a book review for a later post.
As I read the book, I came across several words that were (1) unfamiliar to me, (2) words that I rarely use, or (3) words that I would like to incorporate (when appropriate) into my writing (e-mails, posts, technical writing, and narratives). I wrote the words on a 4x6 index card (my bookmark of choice) and reviewed the definitions as I encountered the words.
Below are the words that I listed and their definitions. As you read books you will most likely encounter words that are new to you. Of course, it is likely that your list - even if reading this same book - would be different than mine.
ameliorate - to make better or more tolerable
naif - a naive person
effete - having lost character, vitality, or strength; marked by weakness or decadence; soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence
interlocutor - one who takes part in dialogue or conversation
bifurcation (bifurcate) - to cause to divide into two branches or parts
preternatural - existing outside of nature; exceeding what is natural or regular; inexplicable by ordinary means
putative - commonly accepted or supposed
pithy - having substance and point
banal - lacking originality, freshness, or novelty
oeuvre - a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer
quixotic - foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially: marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action
hagiography - biography of saints or veneterated persons; idealizing or idolizing biography
vapid - lacking liveliness, briskness, or force
meme - an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. "Meme" seems to be gaining in popularity as I see it frequently in narratives and on Facebook!
eugenics - relating to or fitted for the production of good offspring
nascent - coming or having recently come into existence
ambit - circuit, compass; the bounds or limits of a place or district; a sphere of action, expression, or influence
puerile - juvenile, childish
madeleine - one that evokes a memory
Don't be an effete naif whose puerile, quixotic memes are vapid and banal!
Naturally, your writing must be for your audience. The sentence above is not a natural one for me, but I want to least have some word ammunition ready to use when appropriate or necessary.
I encourage you to expand your vocabulary by creating your own word bank and write down - or at least review - definitions.

All of the definitions above came from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app for the iPhone.

Friday, April 5, 2013

To Keep or Not To Keep

After the Library of Congress was destroyed by the British in 1814, Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the U.S. government for $23,950.  The collection, consisting of 6,487 books, included books in many content areas.  Today, the Library of Congress has over 32 million books and other types of media.

My Personal Library
While I do not have quite as many books as Jefferson, I have accumulated more books than I can display.  I love to read books, and still prefer printed books over ebooks.  In a previous post, I discussed how to download order reports from Amazon.

Like Jefferson, my book collection spans numerous topics including mental health (my academic background), story, presentations, mythology, writing, cooking, bookbinding, music, and religious texts.

Time to Downsize
In an effort to "declutter" our house, my wife and I decided to review the contents and stored items in each room to determine what could be eliminated.  So far, items can be separated into three groups:  things to keep, thing to discard (trash), and items to donate to Goodwill, my donation charity of choice.

I decided to review all of the books as well.  Because I like books, it is difficult for me to let any go.  I took a few minutes and mapped out a process to help me evaluate each book.

Book Retention Process
The process is centered around four questions.  If the answer to any question is "yes," the book is kept.  Alternatively, if the answer to all questions is "no," the book is donated to Goodwill.
  1. Will the book be used as a reference?  Books that I will need to refer back to or pull information from should be kept.  This includes my mental health books and other business/communications books.
  2. Is there a personal connection to the book?  I have several books that are the result of personal projects including genealogies, books written by students, and some autographed books.
  3. Will the book be reread?  If I am likely to read the book again, or loan it to a friend or co-worker, I will keep the book.
  4. Is the book a classic?  For my process, "classic" takes a broader definition than just a book such as War and Peace or a collection of literature.  I'm using "classic" in the context of a book that provides  definitive perspective on a topic.  For example, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, presents a unique perspective on marketing and presentations, even though it is a contemporary book.

Book flowchart

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a classic part of the quality improvement cycle.  Having developed the book retention flowchart (Plan), yesterday, I took my flowchart to work and reviewed my collection of books at work (Do).   After sorting through the books, I identified approximately 20% of books that do not meet any of the criteria I determined.  Now that I have Checked the results of the Do following the Plan, I am ready to proceed to the Act phase and implement the book retention process on my personal library. 

Create Your Own Flowchart
If you have a decision to make, I encourage you to write down some criteria for use in evaluating the various aspects and potential results of your available choices.  It will help you clarify your thought processes and provide a guideline to use, especially if the decision is a group decision. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Scanning options

For many years, I kept paper with me at most times in order to doodle, make lists, or take notes. One day I decided that rather than utilize scraps of paper or sticky notes for these activities, I would purchase a small journal so that I would have a collection of stored recording. In addition to sketches, lists, and so on, I also use the book for mind map brainstorming.

Mind Mapping

Although cluster brainstorming has been around for a long time, the term "mind map" was coined by Tony Buzan. In a previous post you will find information about mind mapping apps. Tony Buzan recommends that mind maps consist of a series of one-word clusters and also incorporate graphic elements for in order to enhance visual learning channels.


In my last post, I shared a mind map summary of the book Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Level-based Highlighting

Frequently, I use text-based mind mapping to capture key phrases or titles. For each subsequent level of detail, I highlight the words using different colors. For example, for the Decisive mind map, the title is blue, the section level is pink, followed by green chapter titles, and orange key points.


After drawing this mind map, I decided that I wanted to use it as part of my book summary. Using my flatbed scanner, I scanned it as both a magazine and document. I was disappointed in the results because the orange highlighting was not captured accurately. I scanned the mind map again using the GeniusScan app on my iphone.

The third attempt, using GeniusScan, resulted in the best color quality. One of the features of GeniusScan is that it will correct the perspective. After some post-scan editing to correct the white balance (Filterstorm) and add my watermark (iWatermark), I uploaded the image to Flickr.

Below is a collage of the different scanning attempts, including take a picture directly with my camera.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


A couple of year's ago I purchased Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is an excellent book that I wrote about previously.
After reading Made to Stick, I subscribed to the authors' newsletter. It was in this newsletter that I was offered a download of the first chapter for Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work. Embedded in the text of the PDF was an offer to request a copy of the entire book. As with the first chapter, I was expecting a PDF, and was quite surprised to receive a paperback copy of the book in the mail. The book should be available for purchase in March, 2013.
Widen your options
  • Avoid a narrow frame
  • Multitrack
  • Find someone who's solved your problem
Reality-test your assumptions
  • Consider the opposite
  • Zoom in, zoom out
  • Ooch (the Heaths' word for conducting a test or trial)
Attain distance before deciding
  • Overcome short-term emotion
  • Honor your core priorities
Prepare to be wrong
  • Bookend the future
  • Set a tripwire
As with Made to Stick, this is an great book that I encourage you to purchase from or whatever bookseller you use. If reading it doesn't help your decision making, at least you will be aware of your thought processes when making choices.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Story Does to Your Brain

I subscribe to the weekly newsletter for Robert McKee, a Hollywood veteran who conducts a 4-day seminar on writing for movies, television, and theater.
In this week's "Byline" newsletter, he featured a blog post by Leo Widrich entitled "What Listening to a story does to our brains."
In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich used a lot of his free time for playing cards. One of the problems he had was that he greatly enjoyed eating a snack, whilst still keeping one hand free for the cards.
So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented “sandwich”, the name for 2 slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Voice Will Go With You - Sketchnotes Book Summary

In previous posts I have written about handwritten projects. A new technique I learned about last fall is called "sketchnoting." Though many examples are available online, two of my favorite sketchnoters are Mike Rohde and Sacha Chua.
Below is my first effort. The book, My Voice Will Go With You, is a collection of teaching tales from psychiatrist Milton Erickson.