The question most people don't ask me and why it matters

In this issue, stepping out of your comfort zone is not as scary as it looks, a framework to think through ideas, the 3 best returns on investment, and the effort paradox.


Comfort zones are tiny prisons that keep us
from experiencing the vastness of life.


I get asked all the time what software* I use to make my visuals.

I understand why it’s asked but this question frames the wrong problem.

Software enables thinking, but without the thinking, a piece of software is just an empty shell.

The more important question to ask is:
how do you translate an idea into a visual metaphor?

For me, it’s a 3-step process.

Step 1: Clarify the message

Everything is downstream of clarity. Without it, no amount of graphics will resonate with the audience.

Step 2: Simplify the meaning

You need to give your message shape so your audience can process it fast and easily.

Step 3: Amplify the insight

This step is critical. Most visual thinkers believe you have to blatantly hammer your reader over the head with the message. But this makes the reader passive.

I believe in trusting the reader.

Leave space in the message for the audience to fill in the gap themselves. It’s not about you looking smart. It’s about making your reader feel smart.

We’re just touching the surface here, but this is the general overview of the process: Clarify => Simplify => Amplify

*For the record, the software I use is Procreate on the iPad with an Apple Pencil. 😊

P.S. If you want to start translating your own ideas into visuals, it’s not too late to sign up for Cohort 4 of Thinking in Visual Metaphors but time’s running out for enrollment. Class begins Wednesday, March 27th!


3 best returns on investments 👆


A friendly reminder to appreciate the effort it takes
to make something look effortless.


This book is HEFTY. If you don’t know Allie Brosh, she’s the creator of the popular web comic, Hyperbole and a Half (her first book of the same name rose to the #1 New York Times best seller list).

Not only are her stories funny, but they’re hauntingly poignant and moving, combining visual thinking with written storytelling.

The following excerpt is more on the serious side but has been on my mind all week (in the context of how Allie was processing her grief):

“When you can explain things to people who are willing to listen to you explain them, it is extremely difficult to resist fully and brutally explaining them.

It feels good to explain them—like maybe you're getting somewhere.

Like maybe, if you can just ... really explain them, the experiences will realize you're catching on and stop bothering you.”
—Allie Brosh, “Solutions and Other Problems”

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