Write It Down!

UPDATE 1/14/16:

I’ll be delivering this speech at Ignite Chicago on January 31, 2017, held at the Catalyst Ranch.

5 Minutes / 20 Slides / 1 Passion


I’ve attended this several times and it is always a fun night.

Your cheers and claps would be greatly appreciated, register via EventBrite using the promo code SPEAKERFRIEND

See you then!

 


This is the speech I needed to complete my Toastmasters’ Advanced Communicator Bronze level in my quest to improve my communication skills.

What if…

  • There was a process that could improve your ability to learn and recall information?
  • That same process, and its simple tool, could help increase your concentration?
  • And, spark your creativity?

Benefit #1: Learning and Memory

Writing by hand, has been proven to stimulate parts of our brain, called the reticular activating system (RAS), which filters all the ‘stuff’ our brain needs to process everyday.

When we write it down, we give importance to that which we’re focusing on at the moment. I’ll repeat that in case you’d like to write it down, we give importance to that item at that moment.

A name. A date. An address. The morning to-do list. Weekly shopping list. Your bucket list.

The physical process of writing, placing pen (or pencil) to paper, brings that item to the forefront.

There are several research studies available that examined {college} students who took handwritten notes versus students who used a device (notebook or tablet). Which group do you believe performed better overall? The students who took handwritten notes.

It is the physical process of writing–placing pen to paper–that brings that item to the forefront. Writing it down improves our ability to learn and recall information.

Interesting observation about the students who used a devices; the researchers concluded that they were essentially scribing the professor’s lecture; an important skill when we need to transcribe something verbatim.

Writing, either cursive or print, (my own–an awkward combination) is very important to brain development. Do you have kids in school? Ask them about their method of notetaking during class.

Benefit #2: Focus

We are confronted with barrage of information from ALL directions EVERYDAY! Let’s face it… most if it is a distraction.

Did you know the adult brain processes 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day. (There’s a joke in there, I’ll set that aside for another speech.)

The deliberate ACTION to process a thought slows down our brain; thus requiring more mental energy. We are engaging our motor skills when while writing.

Research is suggesting that writing (reading and drawing) are droplets in the ‘Fountain of Youth’ to ward off the detrimental effects of Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia. Not protect, but lessen the effects while keeping our brains active as we age. 

Write the letters. Break out the journal. Send the postcards.

During an interview, acclaimed author, Truman Capote, said that he wrote the outline and first draft of “In Cold Blood” before he sat in front of the typewriter. Joyce Carol Oates uses hand-written notes and drafts beforehand, too.

Benefit #3: Spark Your Creativity

A pathway for our thoughts, ideas and emotions, writing, as well as sketching, is a channel from your head outward. I personally believe that the heightened creativity is really the result of benefits #1 and #2. Bringing an item to the forefront and concentration.

One of the simplest and beneficial gifts you can give, in my opinion, is a sketchbook (or journal) and pencils to anyone. Enable an individual to cultivate his/her own creativity through the expression of ideas, thoughts and emotions.

Now, some of you might be thinking, pen and paper… that’s sooo old school! You’re not the only one.

While doing the research for this speech, I ran across an article on the Harvard Business Review entitled “Dear Colleague, Put the Notebook Down.” The author states, if you are invited to a meeting with her that you ‘should leave your hipster journal and pens at home’ insisting that taking notes by hand is a waste of time. She wants to be able to ping you digital references, assets and links for your immediate consumption. She went further, after you get back to your cubicle and transcribe your handwritten notes into a project management application, approximately 10-25 minutes, that is a WASTE OF TIME. This time adds up over the course of a fiscal year at a cost to the company.

Coincidentally, the same day I read this article, I received an email from my favorite hipster journal company announcing its latest product the “Smart Writing Set.” The three-part system consists of a newly designed Moleskine paper tablet, a stylus and smartphone app. The notes and drawings made in the paper tablet are digitized via the mobile app, available for iOS and Android. Moleskine is not the only company with similar technologies.

Recap, the benefits of writing:

  • Stimulates our brain for learning and memory.
  • Helps us concentrate by filtering distractions.
  • Heightens our creativity by providing a channel from our head to paper.

Writing is a mental workout. Keeping our brains SHARP!

History of Pencil (sidebar)

In the 16th century, a dark grey almost black substance was discovered in England, it became the first marking element when the herders where marking their sheep.

Woodworkers in the 17th century were producing graphite as marking tool. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the graphite was encased in wood.

Cross the pond to New England, during the mid-19th century, in Joseph Dixon’s woodworking plant, he mechanized the production and patented the machine that planed the wood for pencils. His machine could produce 132 pencils per minute. Dixon marketed his pencil as “American Made.” The Dixon Ticonderoga is a staple and one of our most enduring products, ~ 1/2 billion Ticonderoga pencils are manufactured yearly.

References:

Wall Street Journal, “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?” (April 2016)

Mashable, “7 Ways Writing by Hand Can Save Your Brain” (January 2015)

New York Times, “The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel” (1966) George Plimpton

BuzzFeed, “Joyce Carol Oates Has The Most Inspiring Writing Advice For Authors” (July 2015)

 

Sun + Shade + Art Supplies = USk Chicago Sketch Seminar

WOW!!!

Two full days of sketching, painting and creativity with people who share a passion for urban sketching. I am humbled to have been a part of the leadership team with my own Architecture Sketching Tour. I’m looking forward to next year.


CHICAGO SKETCH SEMINAR

This year’s Sketch Seminar workshops sold out rather quickly, people from the greater Chicagoland area, across the nation and international sketchers, too. Sixteen workshops scheduled over the weekend, many offered twice, from breaking free of the fear of on-site sketching, introduction to art materials, oil painting, sketch like an architect, sketching with markers and colored pencils to coptic bookbinding. I don’t have final numbers yet, but I’d guess that 200+ people participated in workshops, volunteered and taught.


 

BACKGROUND

Urban Sketchers is a global community of urban sketchers for those who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a cafe, at a park, standing by a street corner… always on location, not from photos or memory. And, he/she shares their sketches with the community. The manifesto is quite simple:

  • We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  • Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  • Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  • We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  • We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  • We support each other and draw together.
  • We share our drawings online.
  • We show the world, one drawing at a time.

 

Passion. Talent. Community. Exhaustion. This is how I’d describe the weekend. Individuals with artistic passions learning new techniques or pushing their own creative talents in groups, and sharing ideas throughout the workshops and afterward. The weather in Chicago was extraordinary with sunscreen and cold water readily available. The gentle Lake Michigan breezes were calming, encompassing the entire Chicago lakefront experience.

Architecture Sketching Tour

ArchiSketch-GrantPark-071216-usk2The original request to lead an architecture tour was quite a surprise and humbling*. And, after I had drafted an initial tour, the hub for Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016 shifted to American Academy of Art located at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren–a new tour needed to be developed. The challenge was to organize a walking route that would be interesting and allow enough time for sketching. I believe my Grant Park: Michigan & Congress tour achieved these core principles.

Overview:
  • Chicago Club
  • Van Buren Metra Entrance
  • Michigan Avenue “Cliff” (Van Buren to Congress)
  • Fine Arts Building
  • Auditorium Building
  • Grant Park Entrance at Congress: The Bowman and The Spearman
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • Presidents Court Sitting Lincoln (excluded due to Taste of Chicago fencing)
  • Railway Exchange Building
  • Metropolitan Tower (fka Strauss)

 

USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook
USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook

The map and entire tour booklet are available for download. I’ve included in my booklet the background information on each location and additional photos.

 

Gratitude

First, thank you to ALL who participated in the Architecture Sketching Tour on Saturday and Sunday. Your feedback and comments have been very helpful to refine this tour. Big thanks to the Chicago Sketch Seminar leadership team, teacher and volunteers who made 2016 a success year for Urban Sketchers Chicago.

What’s Next

The Architecture Sketching Tour was a precursor to ArchiSketch Chicago that I’ve been developing since early Spring. Based on feedback, I’m now ready to launch. Visit ArchiSketch Chicago for more information about workshops.

See you on the street with your sketchbook!

Joann

* USk Chicago seminar planners aren’t aware, but, as Docent, I had to seek permission from Docent Standards at Chicago Architecture Foundation to participate and lead USk tour.

Longing for the Dog Days of Summer

I need a break… a long weekend at my favorite beach somewhere along the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sipping a cold drink. Listening to the waves leisurely lap at the shore. Tip-toeing into Lake Michigan.
Since Memorial Day my schedule has been a bevy of activity:

  1. Niece’s wedding and visiting with my siblings
  2. My youngest daughter’s high school graduation
  3. Funeral of a sweet friend
  4. Moved* into new apartment
  5. Urban Sketchers Chicago 2016 Seminar (teaching 2 workshops)
  6. Bon voyage party for a couple returning to Salt Lake City

My summer-to-date.In a very short time, there have been a lot of changes, excitement, tears, laughter, sore muscles and vino. Despite the exhaustion and schedule I’ve retained my sanity. (Contrary to my husband and daughters.)


Wait, I’m not done yet:

  1. 50th anniversary celebration of friends
  2. Moving my youngest daughter into her freshman dorm at University of San Francisco

Guest what I’m doing Labor Day weekend… not a damn thing!

No to party invitations. No more boxes to open or pictures to be hung. I plan on enjoying some R&R. Taking a book and beach chair to Chicago’s lakefront.

I mentioned a move, *please note my new address:
Creative Aces Corp.
553 W Wellington 1 South
Chicago, IL 60657
direct: 773-327-4538
mobile: 231-633-0945

Projects underway include workshop preparations for the launch of ArchiSketch Chicago in August, finishing my Toastmaster Advanced Bronze, reprising a mastermind group for creative entrepreneurs (I did this when I lived in Traverse City, MI) and illustrations collection for fall/winter products.

Most of all, providing you with creative support to you; helping you (your clients) communicated with their audiences.

I will be gone a few Fridays during July and August, but give me a call or drop me an email; I’m confident we’ll agree on a schedule.

Joann

 

 

Sun + Shade + Art Supplies = USk Chicago Sketch Seminar

WOW!!!

Two full days of sketching, painting and creativity with people who share a passion for urban sketching. I am humbled to have been a part of the leadership team with my own Architecture Sketching Tour. I’m looking forward to next year.


CHICAGO SKETCH SEMINAR

This year’s Sketch Seminar workshops sold out rather quickly, people from the greater Chicagoland area, across the nation and international sketchers, too. Sixteen workshops scheduled over the weekend, many offered twice, from breaking free of the fear of on-site sketching, introduction to art materials, oil painting, sketch like an architect, sketching with markers and colored pencils to coptic bookbinding. I don’t have final numbers yet, but I’d guess that 200+ people participated in workshops, volunteered and taught.


 

BACKGROUND

Urban Sketchers is a global community of urban sketchers for those who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a cafe, at a park, standing by a street corner… always on location, not from photos or memory. And, he/she shares their sketches with the community. The manifesto is quite simple:

  • We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  • Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  • Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  • We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  • We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  • We support each other and draw together.
  • We share our drawings online.
  • We show the world, one drawing at a time.

 

Passion. Talent. Community. Exhaustion. This is how I’d describe the weekend. Individuals with artistic passions learning new techniques or pushing their own creative talents in groups, and sharing ideas throughout the workshops and afterward. The weather in Chicago was extraordinary with sunscreen and cold water readily available. The gentle Lake Michigan breezes were calming, encompassing the entire Chicago lakefront experience.

Architecture Sketching Tour

ArchiSketch-GrantPark-071216-usk2The original request to lead an architecture tour was quite a surprise and humbling*. And, after I had drafted an initial tour, the hub for Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016 shifted to American Academy of Art located at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren–a new tour needed to be developed. The challenge was to organize a walking route that would be interesting and allow enough time for sketching. I believe my Grant Park: Michigan & Congress tour achieved these core principles.

Overview:
  • Chicago Club
  • Van Buren Metra Entrance
  • Michigan Avenue “Cliff” (Van Buren to Congress)
  • Fine Arts Building
  • Auditorium Building
  • Grant Park Entrance at Congress: The Bowman and The Spearman
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • Presidents Court Sitting Lincoln (excluded due to Taste of Chicago fencing)
  • Railway Exchange Building
  • Metropolitan Tower (fka Strauss)

 

USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook
USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook

The map and entire tour booklet are available for download. I’ve included in my booklet the background information on each location and additional photos.

 

Gratitude

First, thank you to ALL who participated in the Architecture Sketching Tour on Saturday and Sunday. Your feedback and comments have been very helpful to refine this tour. Big thanks to the Chicago Sketch Seminar leadership team, teacher and volunteers who made 2016 a success year for Urban Sketchers Chicago.

What’s Next

The Architecture Sketching Tour was a precursor to ArchiSketch Chicago that I’ve been developing since early Spring. Based on feedback, I’m now ready to launch. Visit ArchiSketch Chicago for more information about workshops.

See you on the street with your sketchbook!

Joann

*  USk Chicago seminar planners aren’t aware, but, as Docent, I had to seek permission from Docent Standards at Chicago Architecture Foundation to participate and lead USk tour. 

Use A 3-Part Structure for Your Speech

3-part-Newberry-060616

Have you noticed the latest marketing buzzword? STORY. Yes, story or storytelling. Interesting that marketing ‘gurus’ are parlaying a concept that is as old as mankind.

Over the years, I’ve worked with some amazing writers/account directors who were VERY creative and intuitive when crafting speeches and presentations. Among their strengths was the ability to understand the audience, a skill I still employ. We developed killer visuals to accentuate the key points of speech. The perfect pairing for successful communication (plus hours of rehearsal).

All speeches (presentations) fall into these categories:

  1. Informative
  2. Idea / Concept
  3. Sell / Call-to-Action

Be honest with yourself about the type of speech or presentation you’re writing, then the key theme and messages will be clearer.

Informative. Wow, I can’t begin to tell you how many of these I’ve done in my career. Avoid the temptation to overload individual slides with data/information. Focus on the key takeaway, thus the attention will be on the speaker. Provide a fact sheet or ebook as a supplement for your participants. This way, when rehearsing the speech the emphasis will remain on you and the core message.

Idea. Have you watched TED videos? “Ideas worth spreading” are the best kind! You can learn a lot about crafting your speaking skills from TED talks by watching how passionate and clear the speaker is about the message. Passion and confidence are the keys to these types of presentations/speeches. A friend who organizes TEDxIIT laments about the hours spent off-stage writing, editing, preparing and rehearsing. Clarity. Simplicity.

Call-to-Action. What do we want the audience member to do? Buy? Stop doing something? Join a movement? Think like an advertiser or marketer to hone the message and be very clear about the outcome. When organizing this speech, begin with the end-result and script it in reverse. Much like an advertising campaign, the language should encourage the audience to take the desired action.

3-Part Structure

 

Use this three-part structure to organize your speech:

  1. Set-up / Background
  2. Conflict / Confrontation
  3. Resolution / Outcome

The Set-up. This is the background. Set the stage for your audience with history, who’s involved, introduce the characters. You’re building trust with the audience. Entrepreneurs are using this technique on-stage to describe their own path as it led to making change or discovery. A sales presentation would give background on the company and its products or services. Draw your audience into your story as you build to the next part.

Conflict or Confrontation. The tipping point! What is the problem? The challenge? The frustration? Your audience members, most, not all, should be feeling some level of empathy for you at this point. Your emotions and passions are elevated at this point in your presentation.

Resolution. How did you fix the problem? How does the product or service eliminate the problem? What lesson was learned? We’re eager to learn the positive outcome and what the future might be.

There’s a reason the best stories are unforgettable… we identified with the characters, were empathic with the struggle and celebrated the successful outcome. Even business pitches can have this kind of impact when this approach is adapted for your target audience(s); try adapting a client case study.

When you get together with friends and family this summer, listen… listen to the stories being told. Become a good listener to recognize a good speech structure, how the speaker is engaging the audience and the key takeaway. Was it emotional? A call-to-action? Did you learn something? Was a new concept introduced?


Put this into practice today.

Identify the TYPE of your current speech/presentation. Is it clearly 1) informational, 2) an idea or concept or 3) call-to-action? Then, review and edit your content so that it flows into the three-part structure. Simplicity works in your favor with well-thought word choices and vivid imagery.

 

Resources to help you:

Joann

 

Lilacs Are Blooming! (May2016)

Mother’s Day was this past weekend, best wishes and fond memories everywhere.

My girls kept asking me what I wanted… nothing. No flowers. No brunches.

Instead, the opportunity to enjoy the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago, with each of my daughters (went through this exhibit several times). Time spent talking about art, life of an artist, career, college and much more with my girls.

This is the only gift that matters, to me.joannsondy-lilacs-wh-tn

Springtime is my favorite season. I think it was also my mom’s, too. It hadn’t occurred to me that she’s been deceased for sixteen years. Memories springing into my head compounded by the vibrancy of the spring blossoms.

Cecelia, my mother, enjoyed being outside gardening. She was pretty good, the front and back yards of our suburban Detroit home were colorful and well-planned on her meager budget. She planted a variety of flowers and foliage for spring, summer and fall.  Mom’s fertilizer choices were very creative too, sometimes offending the olfactory with fish heads and manure. The end results were the envy of the neighborhood.

Among her best, the lilac shrubs with its dark green leaves and exploding blooms–from white to deep purple–gently drifting sweet perfume joannsondy-lilacs-dk-tnthroughout the neighborhood. Imagine, waking up on a warm spring morning, the windows open and the aroma from the lilacs more potent than the brewing black coffee. Lilac season is too short, only a couple of weeks.

I revisited my lilacs-inspired silk scarf design, “Cecelia’s Lilacs”, adding more blooms to the design and added border. A colorful spring accessory for any occasion. There are two variations, a white and dark lilac background. Available from my Etsy shop.

 

Available in two sizes: 36″ x 36″ for $120.00 USD and 26″ x 26″ for $65.00 USD. Made to order, allow up to 10-14 days for delivery.

 

New Website Launched!

2011 Navy Pier Summer Fireworks 1/2

New year…new website…finally. 

Planning, developing and launching a new website is akin to cleaning out the garage. What do you keep? What needs repair? And, tossing junk in the garbage.

My previous website was too self-centered. More of a reflection of what I wanted and didn’t really address “why” someone should work with me or purchase my products. (I thought the site looked great.)

It took a couple of months to simplify my new business model and the direction of my creative career.

It came down to three core service areas:

  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Publishing
  3. Speaking & Workshops

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been promoting my textile designs (aka silk scarves). All inspired by the ‘details’ of craftsmanship in architecture from Beaux Arts to Art Deco periods. There’ll be a lot more in this area.

During the last few months of 2015, I also published a couple of books: Saigon Shuffle 2.0 and Renaissance Patterns. Both via Amazon’s CreateSpace and available for sale via the behemoth website.

I continue my activities as a docent with Chicago Architecture Foundation (a little less this winter) leading Art Deco and Treasures tours while prepping for Riverfront Art Deco tour.  I’m still, actively involved in my Toastmasters’ group, only 2 speeches to reach the Silver Advanced Communicator level while serving as our club’s president. I’ve also been invited to lead an archi-sketch workshop during the Urban Sketchers Chicago summer symposium (more on that later).

How can I help you?

Joann

Image courtesy of Michael Mayerused with permission under Creative Commons License.

The Importance of Page Structure

The following is an ongoing series from Create Your Own Great Photo Book. The first “Be a Ruthless Photo Editor” covers activities you can use to take control of your image library. The second, “Storyboarding, Not Just For Filmmakers,” presents concepts for creating a theme for your images. Third, Conduct Your Symphony, Visually, introduces techniques to establish a cognitive flow for your photo book.



Structure is Your Foundation

Have you ever open up a book and found it difficult to read because the margins were to small? Not enough space in the gutter? Image placements left you confused? 

Reverse engineering the vision of your finish book, as a product, can ease the pain of bringing all the elements together. It’s more than just the text, images, cut lines and other content; you must take into consideration the overall structure and specifications of the book (print & digital).

This is where a working relationship with a graphic designer who knows how to work with the specifications and your content will produce a professional photo book.

I’m working with my husband, Dominic Sondy, on the updated edition of “Saigon Shuffle”; the first book we self-published in 2009. To take advantage of upgraded print options and distribution, this book will be published via Amazon’s CreateSpace. Since this book is heavy with images, the upgraded paper stock options was a big consideration. 

After reviewing the sizes and other specifications, we decided on a 7″ wide x 10″ height format. I got to work, sketching out page structures for interior pages. Particular regard to how the mostly horizontal images would be placed on the page.

This is a list of key elements that a designer considers when developing page structure for a book:

  1. Spread: Opened, displaying left and right pages
  2. Inside margins (aka ‘gutter’) 
  3. Top Margin + Header
  4. Botton Margin + Footer
  5. Center of Content Area
  6. Body Copy
  7. Font size (points) and line spacing (leading)



The foundation of a page structure is irrelevant in flowing screens of ebooks you’re reading on your mobile device. Ebooks are wonderful; I can devour a fiction novel over a weekend.