A chain reaction.

I had the great honor and pleasure of sketchnoting the TEDx San Diego conference. Previously I had attended the 2010 and 2011 TEDx events. (But when the event was moved to the Saturday during the holiday season I couldn't make it!) With 700 attendees, this event was much larger than the first event of 150 attendees but was able to reach a much wider audience.  




























































































If you want more insights on storytelling and creativity in business, sign up for my newsletter!

Recap of TEDx San Diego 2010

Recap of TEDx San Diego 2011



Digital addiction: cigarettes, food, sex, and selfies.

digital_addiction So. I love my iPhone.

At a seminar earlier this year, Interactive pioneer Todd Purgason said there’s never been a great creative tool for self-expression. It’s true. You can take photos. Film videos and create art.

The iPhone is also addicting. It’s like a window into another reality where you can leave your current existence.

Yesterday my history-obsessed daughter and I were discussing the origins of the term alpha and omega. Quickly at a stop light I googled omega to see what latin letter it stood for. Thank you iPhone, instant knowledge. Instant gratification.

Yet, when my husband is driving it’s too easy for me to get on my iPhone and miss the opportunity to talk to him.

Why do I keep feeling a need to go back to my iPhone?

It's all about dopamine. Dopamine controls the pleasure systems of the brain and motivates you to seek out pleasures  food, sex and drugs. So when you get a response to a text, it's a shot of dopamine. When you find an answer you Googled, it's a shot of dopamine. And our body always wants more. More. More.

Up next:

A 12-step program for iPhone addicition.



For more creative insights on storytelling, be sure to sign up for my not-too-frequent newsletter!

Happy creating!



A digital detox in the desert.

Cosmos - Digital Landscape Painting Once you get outside of the city, the stars shine crazy bright.

I've been camping in the Anza-Borrego desert since I was 12 years old or so. Now that I have kids of my own who inherited my tiny bladder, I have to wake them up to go to the bathroom every night. (Definitely no fun when it's raining or 34 degrees outside.) But when when we open the tent flap and peer up, we are greeted by the most amazing spectacle of stars. At 2 am, all of the campfires have been put out and there are no lights to compete with the galaxies overhead.

One evening my son Robert asked me, "Mommy, are those stars there all the time?"

"Yes, they are," I answered. "We just turn on so many lights, we drown out the stars."

These days, a lot of people are detached from the night sky. We don't just hang out on the front porch like people did 50 years ago. With TV and air conditioning, we stay indoors. And we miss spectacular sights like this.

The desert has become a wonderful refuge, not just for its natural beauty, but for also what's not available. There’s no Internet connection and no phone reception. No YouTube, Hulu or TV to distract us. At night, we sit in chairs around the campfire and make s'mores. (I'm always the first to fall asleep.) And in the mornings, I read in the tent with the kids before venturing out for hot chocolate.

Isn’t it funny, I have to leave home to spend time with my kids?

It’s so easy to get distracted around the house. The laundry. The Internet. The bills. I’m looking forward to another desert trip over New Year's.

I hope between the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you have time to sit with your loved ones and do absolutely nothing together. Just take the phones and put them in a basket in another room, even if it’s for an hour after dinner.

May your holidays be merry. May they be bright. May they be unplugged.



P.S. How I remember the difference between desert and dessert. You only want one desert, that's one s. Who doesn't want two desserts? That's a double s.

Cultivating a Design Culture: Sketchnotes from UXSpeakeasy

The UXSpeakeasy group consistently has great programming (and beer.). This month's event covered how to cultivate a design culture and featured Chuck Longanecker of digital-telepathy. The event was held in their new space that formed housed one of my favorite places, the Hive. Chuck shared how digitial-telepathy has evolved over the years. What's a design culture? It's more than having a foosball table or lunches on Friday. It starts at the top and engages every aspect of the company.

This was a challenging session to sketchnote, so much wonderful information coming out at once. Graphic facilitator extraordiaire/Stick Figure Strategist Jeannel King was also there and sketched. I glanced over her shoulder and it was fun to see how differently we interpreted the material. I asked her for suggestions on how to represent Soul. (She is amazing because she uses marker and pen while I do more with the iPad.)

UXSpeakeasy: Cultivating a Design Culture

See the big version here.

UXSpeakeasy: Potential

UXSpeakeasy: Design

The World's Very First Internet

So do you think the Internet is an amazing thing? A depository for all of our collective knowledge. It is. But it's not the first. The great library at Alexandria in ancient Egypt was the first time when all the the world's knowledge was actively collectively organized, and more importantly, organized. In this clip from the program Cosmos,  Carl Sagan walks us through the great library that contained over 1,000,000 scrolls. When commercial ships can into port, they were searched for books. Agents were sent to travel the world, to borrow and copy scolls.

The library is no longer with us and Sagan ponders just how much information was lost, from a Mesopotamian historian's account of stories from creation to the flood, to the daily musings of Egyptian priests.

What would happen if we lost the Internet? How much would you lose? (Do you have a backup?)

The new year unfolds with Instagram Cranes.

MP_craneAs an interactive copywriter, the expected holiday greeting is to send a witty, holiday themed email or video. But this year, I wanted to do something different, something precious. Something that people would keep out on their desks year round.

After several creative meanderings (most of which involved large amounts of chocolate,) I came up with Instagram origami cranes. (The crane is a symbol of prosperity and luck.) It's the ideal collision of digital and real world.  For my social media and marketing clients that I followed on Instagram, I designed customized square grids using their Instagram photos and then printed it on my HP printer.  I cut each square to size and then folded a crane. I attached a ribbon with a gift tag: "May the New Year unfold with peace and joy." Clients could hang their Instagram cranes on a tree or in their office.

The response was quite positive.

HM_crane SB_crane




Why I do the co-working thang.

I had a work situation that many dream of. I owned my own business and could work from home and set my own hours. The work was fun and paid well.

The only problem was, I was going insane working at home alone.

I’ll admit it. I was lonely. I missed the camaraderie, creative brainstorming and design nerd conversation of an office.

That’s when I discovered co-working at the Hive.

The Hive bills itself as a flexible workspace for urban creatives. Here you’ll find a mixed group of small businesses. Start-ups. Photographers, PR folk. Social media. Non-profit. Web designers. Developers. And even the occasional interactive copywriter like myself.

Co-working was founded on the idea than even though cell phones and wireless internet liberates us from cubicles in corporate offices, the best human interaction still happens offline and in person.

Basically, if you're surrounded by new and interesting people, you will have new and interesting ideas and conversations.

Over the past two years, I have met so many inspiring and creative people, my approach to work has changed to be more open and collaborative. I have also broadened my client base and business has expanded with numerous referrals. Some exciting things:

  • Endlessly multiplying the number of people I team up with for projects.
  • Having my entire approach to work and creativity be challenged by an amazing individual who showed it’s possible to do good while doing good work.
  • Watching a young woman transform into a media powerhouse, conducting business on her own terms.
  • Laughing an entire afternoon while a designer tried to source local taxidermists for stuffed foxes and bears for a photo shoot.
  • Watching the daily ins and outs of a start-up as they grew, sought funding and changed their focus.
  • Savoring Tuesday morning coffees with friends, discussing life online and offline.
  • Learning how to be a connector, introducing people to each other so they can grow.
  • Witnessing a student evolve from a hard working intern to a much- in-design graphic designer.
  • Watch a solopreneur grow a successful online, learning to do much himself: social media, marketing, SEO, and sourcing manufacturing.
  • Watching an entrepreneur realign their work with their values.
  • Expanding my understanding of the creative process through a series of enlightening conversations with a successful illustrator.

If you Google “co-working San Diego” the Hive is right at the top.  But now there are several places where you can experience co-working in San Diego.

  • The Hive: Two locations in East Village. San Diego’s original co-working place.
  • Jelly: The co-working phenomenon that started it all. Jelly meets every other Friday at the Hive. Come by and co-work for free.
  • Hera Hub: Founded by Felena Hanson, Hera Hub caters to female business owners and entrepreneurs. Felana knows what women need (like bowls of M&Ms that I have to remove from my desk when I visit.) They’re moving to their new location this week.
  • 3rd Space: It's not a cult, yet. A 30-second walk from all of your favorite coffee-places. They hosted many TedX AFC follow-up events.
  • Co-Merge: I haven’t been here yet. But look at this patio: it’s to die for.
  • GravySD: It’s co-working for you North County Coastal peeps.
  • Kowork'n: It’s co-working for you North County Inland folk.

Less text, more sex: advice to the royal newlyweds.

So when the honeymoon’s over and Will and Kate are back in the palace, how do you keep those newlywed embers of passion burning?

Well, since I just celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary yesterday, I’ll offer a few words of advice.

Banish the technology from the bedroom.

We’ve never had a TV in our bedroom.

And that goes for computers, laptops and now dun, dun, dun, the smart phone.

That’s right. The smart phone stays in my office at the other end of the house. It’s just too easy to start surfing and then the other one starts snoring.

So that pretty much leaves our bedroom for conversation, reading, sleeping – and rad sex.

Will & Kate, may you enjoy a long and happy marriage.

How do you limit digital intrusion in your life?

TEDx San Diego. People spreading ideas.

Well, TED came to San Diego yesterday. It was a mind-blowing experience.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. You've probably heard of the people who speak at the flagship event held every year, major leaguers like:  Bill Gates, Seth Godin and Bill Clinton. The TED website is one of my favorites where you can listen to or watch riveting talks by remarkable people.

Yesterday's local event was TEDx San Diego (x = independently organized.) How do I describe the day? My brain is overflowing. 22 speakers each gave a 15-minute talk offering inspiring new ideas. Some of my favorites included Marty Cooper, inventor of the cell phone and Bill Toone, who brought a new twist to conservation. Jake Shimaburkuro simply rocked the ukulele.

I had high expectations for TEDx San Diego and was so delighted when TEDxSD completely exceeded them in every way. I was completely unprepared for the community aspect of the event. The tagline of TED is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” The speakers were only a springboard. We were encouraged to meet new people and form new connections. We were asked to sit in a new seat next to people we didn’t know for every session. And instead of asking the typical what do you do questions, we were encouraged to ask “What do you love to do?”

These were some of the amazing people and fellow San Diegans that I met:

David Michael Bruno is the manager of online marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. He started inspiring blog called 100 Thing Challenge, a project focused on breaking free from the constraints of American-style consumerism. He has a book about 100 Things coming out by HarperCollins.

Jamie Miller is an architect and founder of Urban Fabric Architecture. He proposes building office space out of shipping containers, so the building can grow with the needs of the company.

Joanna Wasmuth loves connecting people and resources to reduce poverty. Over lunch, she talked about her travels to over 25 countries where she saw unimaginable poverty. She is currently a strategic microfinance consultant at World Vision.

Sunni Black was a childhood hero of mine. She was a trainer and performer for many years for the Bird Show at the Wild Animal Park (now known as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park but don't get me started on that.) I loved that when I asked her what she studied in school she said she was an art major.

TEDx San Diego closed with the idea that what happens after the conference is what’s really important. We were encouraged to keep in touch with those new people we had met and encouraged to make a commitment to do something, whether professional, personal or volunteer in the upcoming year.

More stories on TEDx San Diego : TEDx San Diego draws top thinkers to San Diego.

TEDx San Diego wants ideas to turn into action.