Category Archives: work

Sketchnotes: Conversations About Social Business (Jennifer Okimoto, IBM)

Jennifer Okimoto spoke about social business at yesterday’s Canadian Women in Communications (CWC, @cwcafc) meetup in Toronto. Since she’s a friend, former colleague, and all-around awesome person, I just had to catch up with her while she was in town. I was amused to turn up in a couple of her stories. =) Here are my notes from her talk. Click on the image for a larger version.

20130917 Conversations About Social Business - Jennifer Okimoto

Feel free to share this! (Creative Commons Attribution License) Like these? Check out my other sketches for more. You can find out more about Jennifer Okimoto on Twitter (@jenokimoto) or LinkedIn.

For your convenience and ease of sharing, you can find this page at .

Sketchnoter’s notes: I did these sketchnotes on paper because I didn’t have my tablet PC with me. I used a black Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint on a legal-sized sheet of paper. It turned out that my flatbed scanner can’t handle legal-sized sheets of paper and my margins were too small for the sheet-fed scanner, so I cut it in half (hooray for plenty of whitespace!), scanned the pieces, overlaid them in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, erased the overlap, and desaturated the layer to get rid of the slight greenish cast. I added the blue colour by drawing a separate layer in “Add” mode. Since I drew in ink, I decided to leave the contrast as varying instead of redrawing everything digitally. Drawing on paper makes me miss working digitally (those nice, clean, confident lines!). <laugh> Next time!

Sketchnote: Managing Oneself (Peter Drucker)

Xiaoxiao asked me to sketchnote Managing Oneself, a classic article by Peter Drucker. Here are my notes. Click on the image for a larger version.

20130822 Managing Oneself - Peter Drucker

Please feel free to share this! (Creative Commons Attribution License)

In addition to sketching a visual summary, I thought I’d reflect on the points discussed in the article.

What are my strengths?

I’m happy, optimistic, appreciative, and resilient. I reflect a lot on what I do, how I do it, and why. I learn quickly, thanks to speed-reading and note-taking skills.  I know how to adapt to many of my characteristics, such as introversion and visual thinking. I’m comfortable with numbers, words, and drawings. I embrace deliberate practice and continuous improvement. I’m good at setting up little experiments, taking calculated risks, and finding ways to improve. I’m frugal and I’m decent at questioning assumptions. I work on being more rational and compensating for my biases, and I’m not intimidated by research.

Feedback analysis: I periodically review my decisions through scheduled decision reviews, blog archives, and other reflections. I’m good at breaking decisions down into smaller ones that I can try out or test. I can get better at involving other people in my decisions. I tend to discount things that are unscientific or that seem dodgy, but that hasn’t really gotten in my way. The main thing that gets in my way is my tendency to flit from interest to interest, although I’m dealing with that by learning how to create value in smaller chunks. I’m planning to improve my feedback analysis process by scheduling more decision reviews.

How do I work?

I learn primarily through reading, writing, and trying things out. I find it difficult to absorb information by listening to lectures or talking to other people. My preference for team or solo work depends on the project: for most development project, I prefer to work with at least one other person whose skill I respect, because I learn a lot more that way. I’m also comfortable working on my own. (I’m learning how to delegate, though.) I’m more comfortable making decisions than giving advice. I prefer some order and predictability in my daily schedule, but I minimize commitments. Routines give me a platform from which I can go wherever my interests take me. I enjoyed working in a large organization, but I’m also fine working on my own.

I know that it’s easier to make things happen if I adapt to my idiosyncrasies rather than wish I were someone else. I’m good at passing opportunities on to other people, and helping people see what might fit me.

What are my values?

I value learning and sharing as much as I can of what I learn with as many people as possible, which is why I prefer to share information for free instead of locking it down in order to earn more. I value equanimity rather than excess.

Where do I belong?

Where I am. (Yay!) This experiment is going well, and I’d like to continue it.

I know I worked well in large corporations too, and I think I’d get along with small ones. I definitely don’t belong outside my comfort zone (that time I had to do some Microsoft SQL Server admin? Yeah…) or in high-stress, high-travel, workaholic environments. (Which, fortunately, consulting wasn’t – at least for me.) I do better in situations where it’s okay to ask forgiveness instead of always asking for permission, and where 80% is okay instead of trying to get to 100% the first time around. I do well with some discretionary time to work on useful projects or help people outside my typical responsibilities.

What should I contribute?

I think people could use more examples of this sort of smaller-scale life, because it’ll help free people from assumptions about what they need or how much they have to sacrifice. I’d love to make it work and to share what I learn along the way.

I also care about helping people learn and think more effectively. Visual thinking is one way to do that, so I want to help people who have the inclination for it discover tools and techniques that they can use.

I care about learning in general, which includes learning about different topics and then creating resources or mapping concepts so that other people can learn them more easily.

Books, blog posts, drawings, presentations, and coaching are some ways I can make progress in these directions.

In addition to those five questions, Peter Drucker also gave these career tips:

Taking responsibility for relationships

One of the things I learned as a kid was that you can take responsibility for the way you interact with people and you can help them get better at interacting with you. (Yes, I was the kid reading Parenting Teenagers for Dummies and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.) At work, it was great explicitly discussing communication styles and motivational preferences with my managers, who helped me tweak things to play to my strengths.

The second half of your life

… why wait until your forties? Winking smile

I’m a big fan of having at least two good things on the go at any given time. I learned this as a software developer. That way, when you run into a setback or delay, you can always work on the other thing in order to keep yourself moving forward.

For me right now, there’s writing, drawing, and software. In the future, who knows?

How about you? What do you think about managing yourself?

Dealing with professional envy

One of the things that both rocks and sucks about the Internet is that it’s easy to find people who are better than you.

This is great because you’re surrounded by inspiration. It’s easier to figure out what “better” looks like when you can see it. You can try on other people’s styles to see if they fit you, and when you do that, you’ll learn more about your own.

Being surrounded by all these role models can be hard on your self-esteem and your determination. Not only are you surrounded by all these people who have spent decades into being amazing, you’re also getting overtaken by younguns who come out of nowhere.

Such is life. I could get caught up in it, or I could see it for the game that it is, step outside of thinking of it as a contest, and invent my own rules. I’ve gone through this before, and it gets easier and easier to choose a way to see life.

I’ve been learning about drawing in the process of cataloguing the sketchnotes that are out there. It’s difficult to imagine getting to be as good as the people I see, but I make myself remember that they started from somewhere. Besides, the alchemical combinations of life are what make things interesting. Maybe my technical background or my interests can open up other possibilities.

Envy is good as long as it’s useful. Self-doubt often tries to creep in, but the truth is that it’s optional.

Thinking about ways to help people who are in between

A number of people I know are in transition, looking for their next job. Some people are giving the independent lifestyle a try. What can I do to support people?

Let me break this question down in order to make it easier to think about.

What do I know? I know about building a reputation and growing your network by sharing what you know and what you’re learning online. Many people are curious about this, but don’t know where to start. I can help them start sharing. This isn’t something for immediate payoffs, but it’s a great professional habit. I also know the basics of consulting, and I can help people get started. I know about lots of books on career advice and entrepreneurship, too. I know Web development with Drupal, Rails, and WordPress, and I can help people learn. I know what it’s like to be an immigrant, and what it’s like to be introverted.

Who do I know? I know tech meetup organizers and participants in Toronto. I know enterprise social business consultants. I know mobile, web, and open source developers and designers. I know marketers. I know writers and bloggers. I know independent consultants, freelancers, and startup founders. I know sketchnote artists and illustrators. I know virtual assistants. I can help people with informational interviews, and I want to get even more organized in terms of keeping notes on what people want and what people can offer.

What do I have? I have sketches and notes from business and technology books, meetups, and products. I have a place where people can get together. I have a website where I can share ideas. I have a fledgling that’s doing well. I have blog posts from my business experience.

What can I do? I can keep in touch with people, especially those who feel suddenly cut off from their professional networks. I can help people get started in freelancing by coaching them, referring clients, and connecting them with people who have complementary skills. I can help people brainstorm ideas, stay motivated, and improve their communication. I can share what I’m learning from business. I can cheer them on as a friend.

Are people around you in between opportunities too? How can you help?

Sketchnotes: Dave Ley, Jen Nolan, Leo Marland and me at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information’s career panel


(Click on the image for a larger version)

Kelly Lyons and Isidora Petrovic invited Dave Ley (CIBC), Jen Nolan (IBM), Leo Marland (IBM), and me (… figuring things out! also, formerly IBM…) for the March 12 career panel for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information students. People were curious about the job process. They wanted to know what managers were looking for when hiring, and how information graduates could differentiate themselves from people with more technical backgrounds. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had lots of stuff to share about learning, sharing, working with passion, and getting hired even if you don’t have any actual work experience. It turns out a few people were interested in entrepreneurship too. Yay!

I’ve condensed some of the points from the discussion into this graphic, and the organizers say that the video will be up on YouTube sometime. =)


Adjusting to early-morning wake-up times and 45-minute commutes. I’m still a little twitchy – a little sleep deprivation plus a two-hour timeshift earlier than my previous schedule. I can tell by the tic near my eyes, a slight tremble in hands. Handled with tea in the morning and the occasional walk through the rows of cubicles. With a little more sleep and a few more weeks, I’ll settle into a new normal. Fortunately, I still feel mentally there, not fogged, and I get lots of things done. It’s good work, and I’m glad to help make a difference.

It’s a little bit weird typing a full day on a QWERTY layout and then coming home and typing in Dvorak. It takes me a little while to adjust. Typing words, no problem. Keyboard shortcuts, isolated movements – that’s a little harder. I wonder why copying and pasting opens a download window in my browser, and then I catch myself and press the correct keys.

I need to find new rhythms for writing. I can’t blog externally about what I’m working on at the client, but there’s still so much I’m learning and sharing. I could keep posting book notes – there are so many to do! – but a little variety is good.

Today I helped J- edit some of her writing homework for her English classes. The essay was easy: trim unnecessary words, make tenses consistent, clarify wording… She wasn’t sure where she was going with her fiction chapter, the first in a new story. I read through pages of dialogue that went back-and-forth without much progress. I pulled out one idea and suggested starting the chapter with something like this:

My dad isn’t my real dad.

My best friend hates me.

And my shadow just told me to hit a chicken.

“That’s awesome!” she said. Now she’s off and writing, curious about what happens next in the story. I’m curious too.

Adjusting. Tightening things up, dropping the unnecessary, getting the hang of a different flow. We’ll see what happens. =)