What’s Your Word for the New Year?

What’s Your Word for the New Year?

Update: For 2018 my word for the year is CONNECTION.


Let me tell you…. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago.

I know it works for some people but as for me… nah.

I still have my resolutions from the 80’s that I never finished. Oh my!

Last year I decided to set an intention for the year around one word.  DO.   I drew a picture of my word and shared it with my friends and family.  There’s something about sharing that helps you stay accountable and makes you push a little harder.


My word in 2016

Now it’s your turn.  Choose a word for the new year.  Need some ideas for your word? Here are a few.  FAITH, ACTION, PEACE, REST, FOCUS, CONSISTENT, DETERMINED, HEALTHY, BRAVE, PRESENT, INTENTIONAL, GROWTH, FORWARD, SLOW, IGNITE, and JOY.  There you go, that’s should get your wheels turning!

My word for 2017 is EXPANSION. Yep yep! I will share my sketch with you once I’m done.  

I created a blank template that you can use for this year.  Click here for the full size PDF you can print on 8.5 x 11 paper.


Word for the Year Template

Templates (worksheets) like the one above can also be used for training and coaching.  Templates help you visualize and work through a process, goal, or strategy.  Try using templates with your clients, to learn more just contact me.

It’s Never Too Late!

It’s Never Too Late!

The year is winding down… so fast.  How did that happen?

I am reflecting on all of the good times and the challenges of the year.  It’s easy to think to yourself “Oh, it’s too late for me to  _______ (fill in the blank).

Well, it’s never too late!  Consider this…

  • Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car.
  • Morgan Freeman’s acting career didn’t take off until he was 52.  That year, he appeared in the films Glory, Driving Miss Daisy and Lean on Me.
  • Julia Child worked in advertising and media before writing her first cookbook when she was 50, launching her career as a celebrity chef.

Here is a drawing I created that sums it all up.  I hope it inspires you to do greater things starting TODAY.  It’s never too late to start something great!

Never too late, Sketchnote, Lisa Nelson Washington DC

What will you start TODAY?

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Conference

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Conference

The International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) had their annual conference in Washington, DC this year.

You know what that means.  It means I had to be there!  I live in the DC metro area, so I was delighted to spend 4 days with a group of folks that love visual thinking as much as I do.

Here are 5 ways to make the most out of your next conference.  I will use IFVP as an example, so here we go…

  1. Have a Plan.  Conferences can be overwhelming, especially when it spans several days.  One hack I tried that worked very well for me is setting an intention each day.  Each day before I arrived, I determined what I wanted to practice and what I wanted to learn from others.  For example, on Day2 I wanted to practice graphic recording using my iPad.   At the end of each day I felt a huge sense of accomplishment because I was focused and intentional.
  2. Participate.  The best way to learn is to DO.  After all, that’s why you are at the conference.  I know it’s tough, especially when sessions run one after the other and it seems like you have a IV drip of coffee.  Make an effort to participate no matter how small.  Ask questions during your sessions, talk with your neighbor, and jump in on the exercises and group activities.  That’s what I did and it always helped me connect with the people at my table.
    Group exercise - drawing - IFVP Arlington, VA

    Group exercise for building a mobile.

    IFVP Mobile Graphic Recording Arlington, VA

    Completed mobile. WOW. Designed by Team Sculptures


  3. Make time to meet up.  Conferences are the perfect time to meet up with friends you don’t see often.  The best advice I have for this is to plan before the conference.  Find out who is attending and connect with them early so you can make plans for a morning walk or happy hour.  I was so happy to see my buddies from the #CincyTakesOnPoverty project.Friends IFVP Arlington, VA
  4. Talk to the Vendors.  The vendors participating at a conference can give you fresh ideas on how to help your clients. They also have insight on trends in your industry, so learn what’s hot and what’s not from them.  You can usually buy supplies, get significant discounts and save on shipping.
    Neuland Markers Graphic Recording Tools Supplies

    Neuland was in the house, so that means stock up on ink and markers. I picked up my free gift too, love the marker bag!

    Scribes-to-GO Printing Graphic Recording

    Scribes-To-Go shared ideas on using print materials to make our events POP!

  5. Have Fun!  Look at this crowd.  Yes, the photographer told us to say cheese or something like that.  But we were all genuinely having FUN together.  Such a supportive community to be a part of.  The conference theme came true in this picture for us, United We Scribe!

What’s your best tip for getting the most out of a conference? Please share and comment below.

How to Leverage Hashtags at Your Conference

How to Leverage Hashtags at Your Conference


Hashtags are popping up everywhere.  #hashtagsaretakingover.  Okay, I just had to do that, because creating a hashtag is just that simple.  

A  hashtag is composed of a single word or phrase beginning with a “#” and with no spaces or punctuation. Hashtags were originally created by Twitter users and have now been adapted across all of social media.

You can start to leverage the power of hashtags when planning your next conference.

Before the conference:

  1. Include the hashtag in all of your printed and online materials.  For example, the event program, handouts, sponsor package, and PowerPoint slides.
  2. Update the social media profile for the organization or event to include the hashtag in the profile description.
  3. Use social media to bring awareness about the event and include the hashtag in all posts.  Remind your event team, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers to spread the word using the hashtag.
  4. Promote your events using hashtags by having contests and give-aways.  Partner with sponsors for a win-win on both sides.  This will generate interest and buzz around your event.

During the conference

  1. Remind attendees from the stage (during breaks, before lunch, etc) to tweet or post their pictures and favorite moments of the conference using the hashtag.
  2. Display posts and tweets from attendees with the hashtag during breaks.
  3. I always include the hashtag of the event when I am graphic recording. For example, here is an image I created real time at a Small Business Think Tank hosted by Dell.  I included  the hashtag #smallbizphilyy. If you are using a Graphic Recorder, ask them to include the hashtag in all the visual summaries for your event.

Dell, #smallbizphilly, Graphic Recording, Small Business Conference

#thatisall… Of course, I have to end this post with a hashtag.

Please share and comment below.


A Good Plan

A Good Plan

When I heard this quote, I was so inspired.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of PERFECTION.

Time is so precious, and it’s often wasted in trying to make everything perfect.  So let me encourage you.  If you have a thought or a plan, work on it.. seize the day! You don’t have to get all your ducks in a row.  If you even have ducks 😀

What’s important is to keep moving forward. Go bravely! Each experience teaches us a lesson.  A Good Plan TODAY is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

For a larger view, click the image to expand.

a good plan

I would love to know about your success stories.  How do you get unstuck? Please share and comment below.

Building a Platform – Interpret America #IASummit4

Building a Platform – Interpret America #IASummit4

I recently worked with Interpret America for their annual international conference.  It was so fascinating to me because I was in a room full of language and sign interpreters.  I felt right at home because I am also an interpreter… but I use a visual language with sketchnotes and graphic recording.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Michael Hyatt.  This was a great opportunity for me because I follow his blog and listen to his podcasts all the time.  His keynote was tailored to the audience of interpreters and focused on Building a Platform.  I created sketchnotes of his presentation.  When I asked him if he would sign my sketchnotes on my iPad, he was happy to do it 🙂

I also created sketchnotes for a panel discussion on Social Media Success Stories.  The panel mas moderated by Michael Hyatt.  The panelists included Ian Anderson, Nataly Kelly, and Brandon Arthur.  They each shared unique stories and tips on using social media for the interpreting profession.

For a larger view, click the images to expand.

Michael Hyatt, Platform, Interpret America, sketchnotes, #iasummit4

For a larger view, click the image to expand.

Michael Hyatt, Platform, Interpret America, sketchnotes, Focus

For a larger view, click the image to expand.

Michael Hyatt, Platform, Interpret America, sketchnotes, Keynotes, #IASummit4

For a larger view, click the image to expand.

Social Media, Interpret America, sketchnotes, Panel, #iasummit4

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