IFVP Keynote Address—How I Built Resilience

Christopher Fuller

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Industry Insight / Story

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July 3, 2020

On June 27, 2020, Christopher Fuller, CEO of Griot’s Eye Inc was honored to deliver the first ever remote keynote address for the IFVP’s 25th Anniversary Conference. The following Insight was the basis for Mr. Fuller’s keynote presentation.

Resiliency is the kind of skill you might not know you possess until after you have gone through a trial. It’s not until you have weathered the storm or walked through a desert under a blistering sun with only a small canteen at your side, do you understand truly what you are made of. Not knowing what you’re capable of until after the fact, is why you may bristle when you are in a time of struggle and someone offers you “just hang in there” type of advice; because in that moment you might be thinking something like, “Do you have any idea what I’m dealing with? I don’t know what the hell to do! So shut up with your lame advice!” So if you respond like this to that type of “hang in there baby!” advice...

I totally understand that reaction. But, as cliché as it may sound, please know that there are people out there who truly empathize with you and feel your pain.

Navigating a career through ups and downs over three decades

Well, I may not have prior experience going through a global pandemic, but I do have a little knowledge of what it takes to navigate a visual facilitation career during times of personal and economic struggle over a near 30-year career in the field. As someone who has been a visual practitioner since my time as an MG Taylor “knetwork” knowledge worker beginning in 1992, and then later as an entrepreneur with my venture Griot’s Eye Inc, I have gone through some turbulent times. Starting with that beloved little company I was a core part of, MG Taylor, sinking like the Titanic after hitting an iceberg that was composed of big-time constraining consulting contracts and mounting debts. Then years after leaving MGT to work on my own, I had to migrate through the desert that was the post-2008 financial crisis, which for a time greatly reduced work opportunities for many of us.

The first time I scribed, the talk of the event was the "LA riots" of '92. 28 years later racism and police brutality still plague us. Observing the illustrations, I am reminded that on a less tragic scale, but still personally painful, is the loss of my hair.
A sketchbook of cover-to-cover doodles...and Run DMC, Prince, and Whodini lyrics

But before I get to those stories of resiliency I should introduce myself formally. My name is Christopher Fuller, and I am a graphic facilitator and graphic recorder, or as I like to refer to myself, a “graphic reporter.” As I stated, I began my career in 1992 working with a small, but innovative consulting firm called, MG Taylor Corporation. I was a year out of Rutgers University with a Visual Arts degree when I first came into contact with MG Taylor and their distinctive usage of graphic recording. Equipped with this degree that basically declared, “he’s a good drawer”, my immediate post-college experience was filled with a lot of rejection. Having been turned down by two potential prom dates, I was no stranger to rejection. But unlike those 30-year high school rejections, which I’m so totally over by the way (totally over, I’ve never even looked them up on Facebook… this month) these rejections really stung. Why? Because in this instance, I actually believed I had a legitimate shot of achieving these goals.

Contrary to popular belief, an Art degree is not an instant ticket to the big time...everyone knows that's a Philosophy degree!

No stranger to rejection

My lifelong dream that I had worked towards was to hone my drawing skills so that I could become either a comics illustrator or animator, preferably with Marvel or Disney. But in some very thoughtfully written form letters both companies responded to my portfolio submissions with a “pass”. There were other rejections too, like the one I received from Hallmark Greeting Cards. They cared enough to send the very best...

Hallmark sent their rejection letter in the form of a greeting card. At least it seemed that way at the time.

Okay, it may not have been a rejection in an actual greeting card form and I can laugh about it now, but those rejections were extremely painful at the time because I felt I had worked so hard at something only to be told I just wasn’t good enough.

But those rejections led me out of the NY/NJ area where I had been living and down to my parents' new house in Orlando, Florida. My father had been transferred to Orlando from New Jersey while I was in college. Orlando was pretty unfamiliar to me at the time and quite frankly, I felt like having to move in with my parents after earning a degree was kind of a failure, so I was not looking forward to being there. But Orlando turned out to be a fateful and opportune place for me to be because it was also coincidentally where MG Taylor was headquartered at the time. MG Taylor was a  small and wildly creative and innovative consulting company founded by architect Matt and educator Gail Taylor and they gave me my first start as a knowledge worker, graphic recorder, and graphic facilitator.

If you are unfamiliar with MG Taylor, then I will tell you that it had a huge impact on the management consulting field and for us directly as visual practitioners, it was a game changer due to their utilization of graphic recorders in their collaborative design and strategy methodology, known as the “DesignShop” process. I maintain that MG Taylor helped usher in a new direction of “personalized scribing” as opposed to the democratized approach that had been the primary way of doing it for most of its formation up to that point.

Graphic Recording gets a little more graphically enhanced through an injection of personal flair in the early to mid-90s

Democratized (l) and personalized (r)—both are equally effective in the right situation. Note, this "personalized" approach looks like this because it reflects the artist's personality, in this case, mine.

Personalized graphic recording is a way of scribing that is influenced by many sources that were not traditionally associated with earlier graphic facilitation and recording such as: illustration, street art, graffiti, comics, fine art, and even music. It is not a “better way” of work, simply a different way. Remember, without following the mantra that “content is king” an illustrative graphic report is simply just a pretty picture. Listening always comes first! The above image showing the contrast between depicting Michelangelo's David reflects my personal style, which is heavily influenced by comics and street art. But personalized graphic recording is really about using any and all graphic techniques that were rarely used in graphic facilitation's beginnings due to the facilitator need of speed and efficiency. The multi-media graphic report you see below was done from my keynote address by Sabine Soeder of CoCreativeFlow. It is an example of a very personalized approach that uses nontraditional graphic recording methods that is highly dynamic.

Personalized graphic recording is a way of scribing that is influenced by many sources that were not traditionally associated with earlier graphic facilitation and recording such as: illustration, street art, graffiti, comics, fine art, and even music.

This multimedia piece by Sabine Soeder is an example of a highly personalized nontraditional graphic reporting style.

For a bit more in depth look at what the differences are, please read my article “A Brief History of Modern Graphic Recording/Scribing.”

During my time at MG Taylor we worked very hard to spread the gospel of collaboration in the design process and also the power of visual facilitation. Eventually, MGT came to the attention of big consulting, and in 1995 Ernst & Young LLC licensed the MG Taylor DesignShop process and thereby introduced much of the mainstream business world to graphic recording through the creation of their Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) centers which they established all over the world. (In 2000, EY sold their consulting practice to CapGemini, where the ASE is still in existence today). A few years before MG Taylor reached those pinnacles with Ernst & Young and its ASE centers, I had begun working with them when I signed up to help out in a city-wide DesignShop they were facilitating that was focused on promoting community volunteerism. It was that introductory meeting that brings me to my first bit of resiliency advice to you all.

Resilience Lesson One: Do not chase money. Chase interesting opportunities.

When opportunity knocks, do yourself a favor and open the door. And let 'em in.

From that initial MG Taylor volunteer job I learned a valuable life lesson: Do not chase money. Chase interesting opportunities. Because my whole career begins with saying “yes” to something that paid no money, but simply intrigued me.

You see, the way I discovered this world was through my father. My father alerted me to this big workshop the Taylors were facilitating for the city of Orlando because he had been a participant in an earlier community DesignShop leading up to this big event. He was very enthusiastic about his experience as a participant in their community focused meeting and knew that MG Taylor would need volunteers to assist them on this city-wide workshop coming up in June of 1992. At the time I was working sporadically in Orlando doing freelance illustration work and the occasional caricature gig at some of the theme parks, and most of the work I was doing was for very little money.

“This potential volunteer job sounds great. How much does it pay?”

To get me interested in helping out the Taylor’s on this project, he excitedly told me about his DesignShop experience working with a group of diverse people discussing societal issues centered around raising civic mindedness and promoting community volunteerism. As you can imagine, there’s no topic more scintillating to an early 20-something than hearing long pontifications about the value of raising community responsibility and civic mindedness. So just as my eyes were beginning to roll into the back of my head, my father then began telling me about how their group conversation’s key points were being interpreted by these “knowledge workers” through words and drawings. Suddenly, my ears perked up and my interest was piqued! I cut him off, “what are these people doing?” I said. He told me they were “scribes” and if I agreed to volunteer to help them, that is what I would be doing. Amazed by this very interesting sounding prospect I eagerly asked, “how much does it pay?!?” And my dad said, “um, don’t you know what ‘volunteer’ means? It doesn’t pay a thing. Why did I take out loans to send you to college if you didn’t learn basic concepts?” So as interesting as “scribing” seemed to me, my reflexive answer was “no” when my dad asked me about volunteering. I was already doing a lot of low paying freelance illustration gigs and so the thought of working for nothing did not interest me. But my father asked me to think it over and so I did.

But even though working for free did not light my fire, this whole idea of listening to people and then capturing their thoughts with words and pictures as-it-happens did stoke genuine curiosity. I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and so I kept trying to imagine what these scribes must look like and a couple days later I reversed my decision and told my dad I would at least go down to the open session to see what this scribing thing was all about. And so, one June evening in 1992 I showed up for a introduction to “knowledge work” to prepare for the upcoming event at MG Taylor’s offices in downtown Orlando. I have written about that moment previously on my Insights blog before, so I will be brief and just say that watching Matt Taylor talk about the future of work, using a lot of new-to-me and intriguing terminology, while more importantly, someone captured his thoughts graphically behind him was like seeing the sunrise for the first time. In fact, this might just be middle age and/or the effects of California’s passage of Prop 64 affecting my memory, but I swear I heard  the 2001 theme playing, as I saw that initial marker squiggle hitting the erasable wall to scribe up Matt’s greeting. I knew then, I had made the right decision, and that moment led to me becoming a critical part of MG Taylor’s company and subsequent history.

Maybe it's Cali's recent passing of Prop 64, but I swear I heard the 2001 theme the instant I first saw someone scribe.

During my time there I gained knowledge that I still rely on daily to help me not only do my job as a graphic facilitator and graphic reporter, but also navigate through my life. It was an exhilarating time being a part of something unique and little known, then helping it grow and gain recognition from the wider outside world. Once I went from being a network member of their knowledge worker pool to a full-time employee there was hardly a moment where I did not scribe a DesignShop for them. And I was able to work beside people who were mentors, compatriots, and in some cases, lifelong friends. My subsequent career as a scribe has taken me to 5 continents to work, and introduced me to fabulously smart and creative people all over the world. All of this happened because I said “yes” to an interesting opportunity that offered no immediate money at the time. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of—until it wasn’t… Which brings me to my next life lesson on resilience.

Resilience Lesson Two: Uncontrolled fear short circuits your rational thinking capability and can inhibit your ability to make wise decisions.

Who you gonna call when your fears go unchecked and uncontrolled? Hint: Search inside your mind.

This is the metaphorical iceberg I alluded to earlier that nearly ruined the company.

(l) 1995: "I'm king of the world!" (r) 1998: "Iceberg, right ahead!"

After MG Taylor hit that iceberg I eventually learned: It’s okay to be fearful, but just don’t let that fear become so uncontrollable that you cannot think rationally and make wise decisions. This to me is one of the cornerstones of resiliency.

But after MG Taylor hit that proverbial iceberg and I made the painful decision to leave the company I was completely fearful of what would become of me. So fearful that for weeks after leaving I did nothing but worry. I was also feeling a little shameful living again with my parents because that constant, feeling like a failure fear that hangs over us all at various times in our lives seemed to be coming true, yet again. I let the fear overwhelm me in the beginning of that transition from MG Taylor “golden child” aboard our ship, to rudderless lifeboat trying to find a safe port in the storm on my own.

Using mindfulness techniques to help you overcome fear

In times of stressful change, before you are resilient, you are fearful. Don’t be alarmed by this, it is a natural reaction to the unknown. Fear is the limbic part of the brain’s answer to the suddenly unfamiliar.

The limbic system if you are unaware is a complex system of nerves and networks in our brains that control our basic emotions: pleasure (my personal favorite), anger, and fear. The limbic system also controls our basic drives such as hunger, care for others, dominance, and sex. (once again, a personal fave of mine).

A graphic report on mindfulness I captured from a presentation by psychologist, Rich Fernandez.

The image you see above was a graphic report I captured on using mindfulness techniques as a way of helping to overcome fear and stress. It was from a presentation by psychologist Rich Fernandez, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. I just want to highlight a few topics from that presentation that resonated with me and that I have tried to always remember and put into practice in my life since hearing his talk:

“Clouds pass”. Meaning everything is temporary, the good and especially the bad.
“Choose what to focus on.” In every bad situation there are options and possible solutions that you cannot lose sight of because your fear of the unknown has a tendency to blind you to other ways of thinking. So you must always make sure to choose to focus on the positives rather than negative. That sentiment is expressed best in song.
“Creativity comes from being open minded.” A fearful mind is a closed mind. Therefore, it is imperative for anyone involved in a creative endeavor to always strive to keep an open mind in whatever problematic scenario you may unfortunately find yourself in.

Circuit training

Another mindfulness technique that Mr. Fernandez noted, was using the practice of “circuit training” as a way to train your brain to stay focused on the things that really matter and keep yourself open to new possibilities. He described it as maintaining “focused attention” and “open awareness” through activities like meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling, among others that put you in a meditative state where you can gain insight and clarity into your present situation. As people working in the visual practitioner field I believe we all have a predisposition to circuit training built in to us, and that is our affinity for drawing and sketching. No matter what level of drawer you consider yourself you are probably involved in this profession because you like to figure things out on paper. You like to doodle. Since the time I was a little kid I have used my love of doodling to help free my mind to wander and also focus on subjects important to me at the time. I highly recommend that you use regular doodling as a form of circuit training to bring you some stress relief.

Which brings me back to: Before you are resilient, you are fearful. So if you are ever going to be resilient enough to get through any challenge, you are going to have to overcome your reactionary fear to get to a point where you can thoughtfully make smart decisions. Because as a great teacher once said, "Fear is the path to the dark side."

"Fear leads to the dark side." — Master Yoda

And if Master Yoda were to add one more bit of wisdom he might also say that fear is nothing more than an attitude. And when your attitude changes, your experience and outcomes will change. Thereby giving you the resilient attitude to transcend fear. But because he’s Yoda he would switch up the syntax.

“Fear, attitude it is, nothing more than. When attitude changes, experience and outcomes for you will change. Hmm”—The Lost Tao of Master Yoda

Remember, there is no better way to ensure failure than to be too fearful to ever try. Don’t let a fearful attitude keep you from trying. Which brings me to my next lesson:

Resilience Lesson Three: Resiliency requires having an attitude that is about connecting rather than disconnecting.

Strive to have an attitude of connection, rather than disconnection.

Don’t blame yourself

After MG Taylor hit that iceberg in 1998 and I decided to get to a lifeboat — which turned out again to be my parent’s house in Orlando, I remember driving down I-95 south from our headquarters on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with tears continually welling up and feeling like a failure. Though the company all went down together, I took it very personally. Have you ever reacted like that to a bad situation? Putting an inordinate amount of blame on yourself for many things that were largely out of your control? I do not think I was out of the ordinary in that way (in most other ways, yes, but in that way, I believe that kind of thinking is unfortunately too prevalent). For this reason, I want to stress that if your business or life is struggling right now during this pandemic and the other troubles that plague our world, you must NOT blame yourself.

I want to stress that if your business or life is struggling right now during this pandemic and the other troubles that plague our world, you must NOT blame yourself.

In retreat

But when I got to my parent’s home that is exactly what I did. So I barely came out of my room that first week because I was so depressed. I was also completely fearful of what I would become without being a part of something that I took such pride in. I cannot emphasize how much fear coupled with self-isolation becomes smothering depression. Those toxic ingredients have the danger of placing you in the exact opposite state you should be in, because it puts you in retreat mode. You disconnect from the world.

Toxic ingredients.

It was because of this retreat mode that I disconnected from others after leaving MG Taylor. I kept to myself and even ignored a few messages from friends who wanted to check up on me. One email I received was from the head of Ernst & Young’s ASE knowledge worker network at the time, inviting me to think about joining their pool of contract DesignShop staff. Initially, I was put off by this because I did not want to be a part of something that I considered at least partly responsible for the sinking of the ship I was on. So I ignored the emails for a while. I honestly, couldn’t be bothered with responding to the invitation because I was too damn busy partying. What kind of party you may want to know?

“Ain’t no party like a pity party y’all, cuz a pity party don’t stop! Throw your hands in the air, then wave ‘em like you just don’t care. Because you literally — Just. Don’t. Care.”

A visual griot is born

And that’s where I was after quitting MG Taylor. Disconnected on my own little boat adrift from the world and fueled by a lot of self-pity, that was doing me absolutely no good. Thankfully though, I had my parents around to remind me of all the good we had done and to encourage me to reach out to others in my field because my journey was only just beginning. My mother reminded me that I had only quit my job, not my life, not what I loved to do. And for me, that love was drawing in real-time to help people understand and distinguish the signal from the noise; to see where their ideas converged and diverged; and to tell their collective stories visually to help them gain real insight. And so I launched my entrepreneurial venture, Griot’s Eye, borrowing the term “griot” from West African culture. A “griot” is a tribe’s historian, musician, praise singer, poet, and storyteller.

Griot's Eye = visual storytelling.

I call my venture Griot’s Eye because I like to think of my approach to graphic recording as being more akin to visual storytelling reports and “songwriting” with images.

4 key roles and responsibilities of real-time visual storytelling.
I feel our job is important because it helps people distinguish the signal from the noise.

And so with my parent’s encouragement I reached out and reconnected with the world and the ASE’s offer because I realized at its essence it still allowed me to do what I loved to do: capture visual stories in real-time as part of their network of knowledge workers. I may have no longer been one of MGT’s key components but I was still a scribe, and that was all that mattered. In addition, my mom and dad were threatening me with rent this time around living with them, so reconnecting with the world was to my distinct advantage.

Making new connections

I am very grateful I did reconnect and join the ASE at the time even though at first I was extremely reluctant to do so — because the ASE in that period was doing tremendous work and actually expanding on many of the ideas and practices that MG Taylor had taught them. Connecting also introduced me to some of the most incredibly talented people I have ever worked with and I learned a lot from that experience.

I doubt if there is a person reading this now who has not been the recipient of some sort of major crisis or heartache, like losing a job, or a loved one. Suffering is the only given in the human condition. If you have gone through suffering and come through the other side, then you did so because you acknowledged that fact eventually and did not wallow in self-pity, disconnected from others. Connection and reconnection is one of the most critical hallmarks of resiliency. And that brings me to my next key point.

Resilience Lesson Four: How do you connect to bolster your resiliency during a crisis—express yourself!

Create spec projects and share them on social networks.

As you see it is critically important to have an attitude of connection to be resilient enough to surmount life’s challenges. So how do you go about connecting with others? Well, in this day and age it has never been easier to connect with people. Just the fact you are reading this shows me you value connection and know how important social media is in that respect. Here, I am specifically addressing the social media tools like:

LinkedIn, which you can use to share your professional philosophy, explore what others in your field are doing, and connect to potential clients;
Instagram, which helps you share your talent and connect with others who inspire you visually;
But not so much Facebook, where you just share obituaries from celebrities who died at least three times already on that site; political arguments with dolts from high school you should have never befriended online in the first place; and life advice taken from either quasi-Eastern philosophies, Marilyn Monroe, or Master Yoda.

Or you can combine them all for the best of all worlds!

“Sing for the Unsung”: professional + personal = entrepreneurial passion project

Another way to connect to others online if you have the time, and I know Covid-19 has suddenly given some of us more “free” time than we would like, is to create a project to express yourself. As visual facilitators this means show and tell time! If you have market sectors where you’ve done a lot of work, then consider doing an attention-getter project directed towards them. Create a work highlighting issues particular to them, such as, an infographic, a short presentation, or even a video/multimedia project. In my case, I took some time to produce a video that celebrated the work of healthcare professionals during the time of Covid-19.

Healthcare is an industry where I have a lot of experience, and also many existing relationships so I felt it was important to get my feelings on record regarding the work that many of them are doing during this pandemic in our most heavily hit areas, like in my city, Los Angeles. Even before I started doing a lot of graphic facilitation and graphic reporting work in the industry, healthcare workers have always meant a lot to me. Some of my earliest memories are of being on a ventilator after I had a massive asthma attack that doctors initially thought would take my life as a young child. I remember spending a long time in a hospital children’s ward and the nurses there took very good care of me. So good I even proposed to one. She said she’d wait for me. I think she should be in her late 70s now if my math is correct.

A qualified success

I decided to produce a short “visual song” and story dedicated to their work to address the topic of the average, everyday nurse, doctor, and clinician toiling during the Coronavirus.

The project ended up growing in scope much more than I originally planned and by the time it was all done I had spent nearly a straight month of 12-14 hour working days; roped in three friends* who graciously collaborated remotely across 2,000 miles for little or no wages; and had spent two weeks writing and recording an original song to accompany the video. I also lost 10 pounds during that month because I tend to neglect a lot of other basic things when I get into a creative fever dream. I plan on writing a diet book detailing the experience called, “How to Lose 10 Pounds in 30 Days and Gain 9 Twitter Followers.”

What I did not gain in weight or massive Twitter followers from the effort, I did gain in "targeted audience hits."

Targeted audience hits leads to new opportunities

But what I may not have gained in weight or massive Twitter followers (never the intention in the first place) I did gain in what I like to think of as “targeted audience hits.” The project has ultimately been rewarding to me so far, not just because it was a fulfilling creative experience but because within the healthcare community I had targeted, I heard from a number of current and former clients who were affected by its message. As a result of that video, my company has landed a few nice remote job opportunities to design infographics and presentations, with the possibility of more to come. By expressing myself creatively I was able to connect and reconnect with an industry where I already had some experience. Therefore I was able to create new opportunities for myself and bolster my resilience during this difficult time.

Working on that video also required that I take on some new skills such as video editing and learning new software programs. That self-education process is my fifth and final lesson to you.

Resilience Lesson Five: Diversification and adaptation, are the keys to resilience.

Diversify and adapt!

Our size as entrepreneurs is to our advantage in these difficult times

The whole reason we as a species are here today is because of mammals ability to diversify and adapt to staggering change. Those two abilities are the keys to resilience. As visual practitioners, I believe most of us are uniquely equipped to handle this because just like our mammalian ancestors 65 million years ago, our size is to our advantage. We are a community of nimble businesses made up of either sole proprietorships or small firms and because our overhead is relatively small compared to the giant consulting firms or tech companies many of us routinely work with we can more easily shift focus. Because when it comes time to make a quick pivot, would you rather be the Titanic, or a speedboat?

Like our mammalian ancestors 65 million years ago, our size as entrepreneurs is to our advantage.

Learn new skills to adapt to the new environment

For my venture, Griot’s Eye, the slowdown time during the pandemic has been utilized to broaden the notion of what it means to be a visual facilitation organization. For much of my career I have placed the bulk of my company’s focus on live on-site graphic facilitation and graphic recording. But as soon as the Coronavirus hit, one of the first things I did was spend a week practicing my virtual graphic recording with new software and scribing from YouTube video talks and presentations. During that time period I discovered that I really preferred the tactile approach to working on big boards and so I purchased equipment to scribe live remotely from my home studio on a 5'x3' dry erase wall that is streamed in real-time and shared with the client at their discretion. It is a method I picked up from a post by visual practitioner, Guillaume Lagane in the Graphic Facilitation Facebook group.

Diversify your business by raising the profile of once ancillary services during the pandemic

Diversification of my visual facilitation services required me to beef up my presentation and infographic design business, which I traditionally had only approached as an ancillary service connected to the main job of graphic facilitation and graphic recording. But with the cutdown in business travel and meetings, I highlighted some of my presentation and infographic work from the past on social media. That promotion helped lead to an opportunity to create an infographic for a utility company here in California.

Building your entrepreneur “Shield of Resilience”

I do not have to explain to you how much tougher the work of maintaining and growing your career will be during this stressful time, whether it is as a visual practitioner or something else. But these 5 resilience lessons that I have learned throughout my career have greatly assisted me along my journey and seen me through many challenges:

Resilience Lesson 1: Look to chase interesting opportunities rather than money—or given the economic realities of today, at least do not reflexively say no to intriguing opportunities purely on monetary terms without seriously weighing all the options.
Resilience Lesson 2: Learn to mitigate your uncontrolled and unchecked fear, lest it short-circuit your rational thinking capability and inhibit your ability to make wise decisions. Explore ways of using mindfulness techniques such as meditation. Or if you are a visual practitioner, use your natural propensity for doodling to help you manage and relieve yourself of fear and stress.
Resilience Lesson 3: To overcome fear, you must strive to have an attitude that is all about connecting rather than disconnecting. Remember fear plus self-isolation, equals smothering depression, so look to connect with others during difficult times to get yourself out of a rut.
Resilience Lesson 4: To connect with others, utilize social media tools to express yourself and showcase your talent by taking on spec projects targeted at markets and industries you have experience with. Or select industries you would like to work more in and create an attention-getter project targeted towards them. Remember, you may not enjoy instant rewards from such efforts, but let the work in itself be its own reward because you will fortify yourself with new skills and possibly even new compatriots if you work collaboratively. People will eventually recognize your efforts if you share them.
Resilience Lesson 5: A new reality requires you to diversify and adapt if you want to stay relevant. Work on using your downtime to explore new skills that augment your business and improve your personal situation. Look to others in your field on social media who are also going through the same issues. Be inspired and learn from the work they may be doing to help you to diversify and adapt your own business.
The Entrepreneur's Shield of Resilience!

If you focus on these 5 things, I cannot promise a long career with nothing but successes and no failures; but you will have the necessary perspective needed to navigate through downturns and overcome the natural fear associated with those difficult periods. And when it comes time again that you find yourself hanging by a thread in a desperate situation, you will not be immobilized by fear and stress, but outfitted and equipped with your “Shield of Resilience” ready to face the unknown and life’s difficult challenges. So you can ride into battle like this...

When conceiving this graphic, on a whim I googled "cat armor" hoping for inspiration. I was...shocked. You can find anything on the Internet.

Thank you to the IFVP community

I would like to thank the International Forum of Visual Practitioners for giving me the opportunity to give the keynote address remotely for its 25th Anniversary Conference. It was an honor and a privilege to speak with such a diverse and global audience working as graphic facilitators, graphic recorders, sketch-noters, and all around visual thinkers. If you are working as a visual practitioner in some way, or are looking to become a part of this dynamic and creative field, then I highly suggest you become a member of the IFVP

If you have enjoyed this Insight that was the basis for my keynote presentation then I encourage you to register your email on the site and follow me on social media to be alerted to new writings and Griot’s Eye announcements. For those of you interested in learning more about graphic recording and real-time visual storytelling please know that I will continue to deliver education and exploration courses on the craft along with my esteemed colleague and friend Peter Durand in the future, whether online or in-person (once the pandemic ends).

If you are an event coordinator, meeting facilitator, or executive that is interested in harnessing the power of live visual storytelling at your next meeting, conference, or strategy and visioning workshop remotely, then please contact Griot’s Eye! Let us show you how we can elevate your next event virtually and make it a truly memorable and engaging experience that can illuminate your story to help you win over the hearts and minds of your attendees and stakeholders!

Be sure to follow Griot's Eye on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more information, inspiration, and examples utilizing the power of graphic reporting (recording), graphic facilitation, and visual storytelling techniques. If you enjoyed this insight, and any of the other insights on Griot's Eye, be sure to share them with others.

*I would like to shout out the three wonderful people who helped me create “Sing for the Unsung” through their generous time, talent and musical contributions:
• Singer, Alyssa Harris  
• Violinist, Mariah Roberts
• Bassist, Andrew Jackson

May the Force Be With You!

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