BGBS 055: Mike Rohde | Sketchnotes | No One Has Your Persnickety-ness

BGBS 055: Mike Rohde | Sketchnotes | No One Has Your Persnickety-ness
July 26, 2021

BGBS 055: Mike Rohde | Sketchnotes | No One Has Your Persnickety-ness

How can you dare to do something you previously thought you couldn’t do?

Mike Rohde, designer and author of two bestselling books: The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook, helps everyday people overcome just that. Through simplifying the art of drawing and providing a judgement-free space, Mike empowers his students to realize their Sketchnoting capabilities. Mike defines Sketchnoting as a communication device that is first for you, then for other people. Whether you make scribbly drawings or masterpieces, the importance is that you engage with what you’ve retained to find value in what you learn.

Drawing was always a part of Mike’s life, and we learn about his journey from doodling cars from memory as a kid, to working as a print designer in the pre-computer era. All of his knowledge truly paid off when having full control of the hand-lettering and drawing within his books. To Mike, writing a book is like climbing a mountain, but he emphasizes that celebrating each small win makes it oh-so worthwhile. Today, Mike is on a mission to teach, and the world is definitely better off because of it. Keep making the world a little bit braver Mike!

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • In most of Mike’s workshops, around 80-90% of participants begin the session believing they can’t draw. His goal is to make these same people confident in their abilities by the end of at least an hour.
  • “Ideas, not art.” People get hung up on the idea of their ability to draw as a stumbling block. Once Mike teaches them a simpler way to visualize in a flexible setting, non-artists realize that they have much more capability than they believe
  • Here’s the thing about Sketchnotes: It’s first for you, then for other people. If you have a scratchy drawing that captures meaningful information, that is more valuable than a beautiful Sketchnote that doesn’t represent what you’ve heard
  • Growing up, if Mike wanted something, he had to create it himself. This is how he made his own comic books and newspapers, allowing him to hone and master the skill of drawing from memory, which helps him with work to this day
  • In a long haul project like writing a book, it’s all about the progress, not the achievement. It can’t be done overnight; there will be lots of grinding and revisions and being happy with the progress made, no matter how small, will make everything worthwhile.
  • Before the name “Sketchnote” was coined, Mike named his creation “sketchtoons”. After writing notes for a life-changing event in 2007, the new name felt more fitting
  • Mike enjoys using both an iPad or pen and paper for his work and doesn’t prefer one over the other. The way he sees it, you wouldn’t ask a professional mechanic if they prefer a wrench or hammer! They each have their own strength and purpose.
  • Lately, Mike has been into drawing with good old Paper Mate Flair Pens on his own Sketchnote Ideabook, which has thick, white paper ideal for Sketchnoting
  • Mike believes that the thickness of a pen line will affect your state of mind while working and can impact the way you draw
  • The Sketchnoting technique is beginning to be used within schools to get students more engaged in their learning and discover how to better analyze and make sense of the world



LinkedIn: Mike Rohde

Facebook: @Sketchnote Handbook

Instagram: @rohdesign

Twitter: @rohdesign


[11:54] The more important skill in Sketchnoting is actually listening and analysis. So the ability to listen and to make sense of what’s being said, and to then be able to draw it is really key. If you have scribbly, scratchy drawings and writing but you’re able to listen and make sense of something and capture it, that’s going to be much more valuable than a beautiful Sketchnote that doesn’t represent what you were learning or what you heard.

[24:12] Ultimately, it wasn’t about the money…I’ve been through enough projects where I wasn’t in control of things to know that when you turn it over to someone else, they just don’t have your vision or your persnickety-ness to make things exactly the way you want it.

[30:38] Here’s some wisdom for people who are thinking about book writing and creation. It’s definitely worthwhile when you’re done. But it’s definitely a journey when you’re going through it. And that’s okay, I think it’s good to have those lifetime experiences where you can’t do it in a weekend, you’ve got to do it over months.

[41:51] Seth Godin always talks about if the idea is good, you’re probably not going to be able to stop it…I just look back at these certain pivot points where it hit a point and accelerated, and it just continues to do that. And now, there’s tons of people doing it and teaching it and sharing it. And I really like that. I love having lots of voices in the space. I think it just verifies that it’s a real thing. And it’s definitely a benefit to people who adopt it.

Podcast Transcript

Mike Rohde 0:02
It’s really funny that all that stuff happened in the first that first 2007 I think that the first 2007 was where I realized, it feels like I should call it sketchnoting. Before that, it’s funny like, up to that point it was like the pro name for it was sketch tunes like I was, it was sort of like was cartoons and sketching. But when I did this event, it was a little less like cartoons and just more like sketching and noting and that word just came to me. So it was right at that event, when I just really started calling it sketchnoting. And for whatever reason that name seemed to make sense to a lot of people and they liked it.

Marc Gutman 0:39
Podcasting from Boulder, Colorado, this is the Baby Got Backstory Podcast, where we dive into the story behind the story of today’s most inspiring storytellers, creators and entrepreneurs. I like big back stories and I cannot lie. I am your host, Marc Gutman, Marc Gutman, and on today’s episode of Baby got backstory, we are talking to someone who has impacted my life in ways that very few have and today we are talking with Mike Rohde, the author, and I guess you can say inventor of Sketchnotes, the unique method of taking notes visually. And before we get into my conversation with Mike, if you’d like and enjoy the show, please take a minute or two to rate and review us over at Apple podcasts or Spotify. And Apple and Spotify use these ratings as part of the algorithm that determines ratings on their charts.

Better yet, please recommend this show to at least one friend you think will like it. Hey, while you’re at it, one enemy who like it as well. It’s time we bring the world together over the common love of the Baby Got Backstory podcast. Today’s guest is Mike Rohde. Mike is a designer and the author of two best selling books, the sketchnote Handbook, and the Sketchnote workbook. He teaches in evangelizes sketchnoting. in Visual Thinking literacy around the world, he’s a principal designer in visualizer. at Johnson Controls, his team helps group and define problems and imagine new solutions using Human Centered Design Thinking principles.

Mike illustrated the best selling books rework, remote, the hundred dollar startup in the little book of talent. And as I mentioned, Mike’s book changed my life. I’m not I’m not joking here. I believe it was Brent Weaver, who suggested the book to me in passing. And it wasn’t supposed to be life changing. Just a little recommendation from a friend, or something he had heard of, or briefly seen. Hey, you should check out this book, about sketchnoting. I think that’s what it’s called, is what he told me that when I opened up the book, it was as if Mike was speaking directly to me, to the way I saw the world, to the way I learned to the way I listened at events. But I had self doubts. I didn’t, and still don’t see myself as an artist. My drawings are rough and crude. But Mike’s book told me I could do it. If I followed his teachings, if I followed his steps.

And you know what? He was right. And a whole new world opened up for me, my aperture expanded and I was able to communicate in a way that was authentic to me in a way that was beneficial to me and appreciated by others. Today, I get stopped by others who crane their necks to see my notes. I’ve shared my notes that the requests of others and classmates and people at conferences. And most importantly, it has helped my memory of key ideas and events in a way that handwriting just can’t. Oh, and by the way, I have the world’s worst handwriting.

Several times a day, I lose an idea or a to do item on my list because I can’t read my own handwriting. Drawing and big type in pictures was designed for me. Recently, my good friend Keith Roberts and I were interviewing one another, and he asked me about Sketchnotes. And we published that interview to YouTube. And you might imagine my surprise when on a Saturday morning while drinking coffee, Mike Rohde emailed me saying he liked our video that started an email conversation back and forth. And here we are. I’m so excited to introduce you to Mike Rohde, and this is his story.

I am here with Mike Rohde, the author of the sketchnote handbook in the follow up the Sketchnote work. book. And as I told Mike, when we when we just met on zoom here a couple minutes ago, it is a real honor because Mike is a personal hero of mine. I’m a big fan of sketchnoting. I did a little YouTube video about it and via the power of the search engines and crawling algorithms that found its way to Mike and Mike reached out and said, I was really cool that you like my sketchnoting? And I said, Yeah, that’s really cool. You liked my video about your sketchnoting? Yes, no. And so here we are. And so Mike, let’s get right to it. Like what is Sketchnoting?

Mike Rohde 5:39
So Sketchnoting is this way of capturing information visually. So it’s note taking, but you’re not limited to only writing, you can write, and you can draw pictures, and you can do lettering and use icons and color to express yourself in a way that’s more expressive. And I think, provides more ability to remember and recall information than simply writing in text.

Marc Gutman 6:05
Yeah, I would agree that’s one of the things that I love most about it is the ability to recall I mean, I’ll be flipping through old notebooks. And I’ll see like something funny that I, I drew that was it was meaningful to me, like, Yes, I completely remember what that was about, and what we talked about in the takeaway, versus if I’m thumbing through and I see a bunch of text and, you know, it just doesn’t resonate in the same way. So that that memory recall, is one of the the biggest things I love about it. And, you know, I think one of the first questions most people probably have is, you know, do I have to be an artist? Do I have to be have this immense talent to be into Sketchnoting?

Mike Rohde 6:39
That’s a really great question. And when I used to present in person, I haven’t presented so much in person lately. One of the first questions I would ask in one of my workshops, whether they were an hour or a full day, is who here feels like they can’t try, please raise your hand, and usually 80 or 90% of the room would raise their hands. And I would get excited about that. Because having done the workshop hundreds of times now, I know that by the end of at least an hour, people will feel more confident in their ability to draw in the key to it is exactly what you pointed out, people are concerned that this is art. And if I’m not a good artist, I can’t do it. And so it’s really fun to show them another way. Another way to, to visualize it doesn’t necessarily rely on the art that they may have been taught in school, which in a lot for a lot of people is baggage, it’s more harmful than helpful to getting started.

So one of my mantras is ideas, not art. And it’s not, it sounds very provocative to an artist. I’m an artist as well. And I don’t feel that way at all. I think what it what it means to me. And the reason I use that term, is the idea that people get so hung up on their ability to draw, being a stumbling block, that I needed to take that stumbling block away from them, I needed to provide them a simpler way to visualize what they were thinking that would not be so demanding, and so difficult for them to do, right. And especially in an environment where you’re doing this live while thing people are talking and being able to draw, making it simple, is a really, really big key to getting people to do this, because you can you know, most people who come to the classes already can write.

So I mean, unless you’re teaching, you know, second graders or something like that, that the challenge is just be writing, right? Maybe actually, the second grader could draw better than they could write. But for most people, they can already do notes as it is right. They can write things, but they are really afraid of drawing. In fact, I kind of wonder if the fear of drawing is actually stronger than the fear of public speaking in some ways. And the reason I say that is, as you think about it, let’s say you’re a really successful business person, maybe a CEO, or a high powered executive, and you’re supposed to go and draw something.

But if you can, if you can’t draw any better than a fourth grader, that’s not going to be your best side, you don’t want to reveal your weakness, right? So it can be really scary for someone who feels like that’s a weakness in their life, to admit it to someone else. So I think it’s really important to in these workshops, and also individually to create some kind of a safe space where it’s okay to not be graded, trying and again, so it comes back to the simple way of drawing that makes it possible for non artists to do this work. And to see that they’ve actually got tons more capabilities than they probably realized when they walked in the room.

Marc Gutman 9:32
Yeah, I totally agree. And you talk a bit about writing in this in this idea of writing and how we all know how to write but, you know, to me, there’s this mythology that artists are born they come out of their mother and they are just talented. And when you were speaking it reminded me that well, yes, well, we all can write it’s a learned skill and we don’t come out as babies with the ability to to make characters and we actually spend quite a bit of time practicing, and we have, you know, in our class, we have dotted paper and all these things to make the most basic characters.

And what I really like about Sketchnoting is this same idea that it’s something that you can learn, and you can build up your own alphabet, so to speak, you can build up your own library of things that you can draw on, it really is more about being suggestive. And I think, you know, what I really love. And I don’t remember which book it is. But there’s, there’s a variety of ways of even doing like human figures, like I’m like terrible human figures, but you can do stick figures with pointy noses. And just by the way that you can’t the line or have an arm movement, you can suggest motion and all sorts of things. So really taking that away and using Sketchnoting more as a communication device and something that people can learn. And so that, you know, that’s something that is that I’ve taken away from your books that, you know, with a little bit of practice, like you can build up your own library and get pretty, pretty good, at least for your own skill level of wherever you want to be.

Mike Rohde 11:01
Yeah, I mean, it comes back to is it helping you be better be a better person, right? is it helping you? If you go to a conference and you want to learn something? is it helping you remembers and helping you process and helping you learn better, like, I could care less? If it looks awesome, right? That’s not the point of it. In fact, you don’t even have to show it to me, you can keep it private. If that’s what you feel like, I think that’s sort of a misnomer was Sketchnotes that seems to travel with it as well. If you Sketchnote, then you have to publish it on social media and the show everybody in the world, your work? Well, you can but I don’t think it’s required, it’s first for you, and then for other people.

Mike Rohde 11:37
So it’s going to have more meaning for you, because you’re the one that did it. And all those little short hands that you’re doing, as you’re creating the Sketchnotes mean a lot more to you, especially since you were there in the moment when it was happening, right, it’s gonna bring back memories that nobody else has got in their heads. So I think actually, the more important skill in Sketchnoting is actually listening, and analysis. So the ability to listen and to make sense of what’s being said, and to then be able to draw it is really key.

So if you have, you know, scribbly, scratchy drawings and writing and stuff, but you’re able to listen and make sense of something and capture it, that’s going to be much more valuable than a beautiful Sketchnote that, you know, is doesn’t represent what what you were learning or what you heard. So I do think listening is kind of like the secret weapon that a lot of people overlook, for drawing really well. And I think, you know, drawing is sort of a part of it. But it’s almost like a whole body experience of listening and drawing and involves every part of your body, which is another good reason to do it, because it’s really fully engaging in a lot of ways.

Marc Gutman 12:45
And so you’re in Wisconsin now, is that where you grew up?

Mike Rohde 12:49
I grew up in the Chicago area, actually, as a kid, and moved here. When I was in my teens, and had been here for quite a while, raised a family here really liked this area. I always felt good. Being a Midwesterner, I like the seasons. So it’s been a really good fit for me and my family. And I like I like being here. Like, kind of like being from Milwaukee, there’s, it’s kind of a cool little town that sometimes people don’t always think about when they come here, like this is a really cool city. How did I not know about this city? So it’s kind of fun to sort of know my way around and know the cool places to take people. And it’s kind of fun. It’s it’s good to be from the Midwest, and in the Midwest, I guess.

Marc Gutman 13:28
Yeah, I can attest I last time I was in Milwaukee was I think, during the polar vortex, like two years ago, and I couldn’t really go outside very much. But it was it was really great and really cool seeing there. And I can’t remember the name of it. But I went to this really cool kind of indie movie theater. And I see that you’re in the movies there with your background with Blade Runner and Star Wars Back to the Future. And, and that’s a big love of mine to see I really, really loved that. And Wisconsin. And so when you were growing up in Chicago, and then into Milwaukee, I mean, were you always kind of doodling Were you always thinking in images?

Mike Rohde 14:02
I think I was when I look back as a kid. You know, we we were I guess, lower middle class. I don’t know. I don’t think that can be judged a lot of different ways. But we did have like tons of money. If I asked for stuff like maybe I’d get it for Christmas, or maybe my birthday. I didn’t have lots of toys. We had used bikes that my dad would get from a cousin fix it up. And my dad was good at fixing things. So typically, we would get things that were repurposed, which I kind of appreciate now, and so if I wanted something, I would sort of have to create it. So I got into making my own comic books and I made a little newspapers and books and you know, I did drawing a lot because it was kind of fun. I think a lot of it. I was seeing things and the way I saw things is a little bit unusual for a kid.

Mike Rohde 14:49
So I remember, as a little kid, my parents told me that I basically memorize the front’s of old cars and I saw the faces In the cars, so the headlights and the grills how had faces to me. So you could be driving down a road and I was Oh, that’s a Buick. And then as I got older, that’s all the saber, or you know, like I could identify the differences between these cars by the identifying grills or tail lights or other, you know, the lines of the vehicles. And I think that actually encouraged me to draw those. So I could draw them from memory. And I can still do some dumb practices like I did when I was a little kid. But you know, that the ability to memorize and sort of turn cars into objects, I think, sort of primed me in some ways for this idea of doing the visual library that you talk about, like, how can you break down these complex things into simple, simple shapes or simple objects that you could recreate, and you have the essence of the thing, even though it’s like, you know, 10 lines, you can capture the essence of a Pontiac lesabre. Right. So that that also came into play.

Later, when I was in college, I was a print major and became a graphic design major, one of the things I loved was type graphy. And that was another thing that I could memorize the letter form. So certain letter forms go with certain typefaces, and you could spot a typeface. And all you really need to know is like three or four of the key letter forms. And if you see it in a sentence, you can spot Oh, that skill sands, or that’s whatever, right because of specific characteristics. So I think it’s the same kind of thing. It’s like identifying and boiling things down, and then being able to rely on that memory. I think that’s helped me now in doing that kind of that same kind of work. And drawing was always sort of part of my life. And it just never, they never were, no one was able to ever shake it out of me. So I guess I’m lucky in that way that I got to draw since I was a little kid. And it really never stopped.

Until now, even in my professional life, I found a way to kind of squeeze it in. Or sometimes they say it leaks out of me whether I like it or not. So that’s been a real, I’m really fortunate that that’s true for me.

Marc Gutman 16:58
Yeah. And that was gonna be my question. So your your parents cool with you pursuing a career in art? Did they see that as a way that you were going to be able to, to make a living, I am sure for, you know, the way you just described it, that middle to lower middle class that like, hey, they probably were like, Hey, we just, we just wanna make sure Mike is okay, you know, he makes a living. And he can make a buck where they were they cool with the art path?

Mike Rohde 17:21
Well, my mom is always actually very artistic. And my dad was very good at troubleshooting. So I took on both of those aspects from them. So the funny thing about me is I always had sort of a technical side and an artistic side. So I had both those. I think my dad was probably more concerned. And I’m sort of facing this now, because I’ve got a son who’s just turned 18. So we’re kind of wondering, like, what’s he going to do right now I’m in the same spot as my dad was. But I think he just didn’t understand like, what was an option, then, like, he didn’t know understand what graphic design or commercial art was, in our school or high school, I happened to have a really good printing program, at the time, where you could learn printing in the school, do all this work, and then you’d get an apprenticeship and get a job in industry and just transition and be a full time could make pretty good money as a printer back in the day.

Mike Rohde 18:10
But as it would, as luck would have it, it was right around the time of a kind of a recession. And so the jobs that normally would have been wide open for a kid like me coming out of high school, with those skills suddenly dried up. And so I went to a Technical College, again, in printing. And in my printing class. There, we did lots of cross training. So I ended up in these design classes with designers in the commercial art or graphic design program. And so I ended up in these design classes, and they’re like, what are you doing in printing, you should be a designer. And so I sort of thought, you know, that’s, that’s a pretty good idea. I’m pretty good at this. And I do like the technical side of the printing.

So I switched majors and became a print designer to start my career. And I think I always had the advantage of, you know, I mentioned I was always had a technical and an artistic side. Having come from that printing side, I understood that the reason why printing worked and what the limits were. So when I did my design work, I sort of always had that in the back of my head, and I could go to a press check with a printer, and I could have a discussion with them about ideas for making things print better, or, you know, my stuff would tend to print pretty well because I knew what I should and shouldn’t do because I was a printing student. So that’s sort of where I made my shift into design and my dad’s ended up being very happy with my career choice, but I think a lot of it is he just didn’t understand at the time that there was actually a way to do art and be paid for it.

He just thought of the starving artists eating ramen noodles in a studio apartment right and then starving their way through life or something. So, you know, he did his best and you know, he ultimately had to trust your kids to make good decisions and that the the train that you gave them up till they were 18 would rub off on him a little bit and then Seems like it did.

Marc Gutman 20:02
Yeah. And so your dad, you know, had the wherewithal to step back and let you be your own man. But like, what were you thinking? Were you super confident coming out of school that like you were gonna conquer the world with your art degree? Or was there? Are you uncertain? Or like how clear were you coming out of like, if this was gonna work or not?

Mike Rohde 20:20
Well, I was pretty hard, I was pretty hardcore for printing, like, I was pretty good at that I had an artistic eye for it. And I was good at the technical stuff. And I understood the concepts and knew how to apply them. And, you know, there was a little bit of an at the time, because it was still pre computer, when I was coming out, there was a little bit of artistic flair to printing at the time, right? Because you did things made most things you did manually. So there was some human aspect to it, that you could, you could be kind of almost artistic in this in this profession. And I was pretty good at it, I was pretty dedicated to going into that. And then, like I said, the economy sort of changed the direction. And I’m glad it did, because, you know, it sent me back to college, because otherwise I might have just gone right into that business and would have been a printer. And so, you know, it sort of made me pause a little bit and rethink, there was a time for, I think, for a summer that I was into photography as well.

Mike Rohde 21:18
So I’ve always had an interest in these, I guess, communications or visual arts, in general. So all those things are still interesting to me doing photography, I by no means a professional photographer, but you know, I like to, I like taking good shots, I like good lighting, like all those things sort of informed all the work that I do now. So I tend to be, I guess, you know, I would call myself a renaissance man. But I like a lot of different things. I like to have competence in different areas. So having those skills is definitely worked out. Well, for me being able to do as a solo person, or partnering with just one or one other person, like in the case of the Kickstarter, you know, shooting, shooting photos, and doing illustrations, and, you know, all that kind of stuff, all those skills have come become very valuable.

Now, as I’m doing this, you know, teaching and product work. And even the books that I wrote, all that printing skill that I had sort of forgotten for a long time came in handy because when peachpit, the publisher came to me, they said, Hey, can we give you like $5,000? And have you design your own book? That’s like, Yeah, sure. So I took it all the way from writing the text, and sketching and doing the illustrations to production. So I’m quite an unusual author in that sense that I actually turned over my production files to the printer, and they ran the book, based on my production work. So that’s, um, that was a really nice thing to have control from end to end over the whole product. But what were both of the books. So you know, at the time, it’s sort of like, you know, the Steve Jobs, quote, you can’t see how things how the dots line up until you look back. And that was definitely one of those cases like going into it.

He told me when I was a printing student, that one day, I would write this book about visual notetaking. And I would design the book, and it would be a best seller. And I’ve traveled the world teaching it like, you got to be crazy, like, you would never believe that. But here we are. Looking back and all those experiences. And all that knowledge that I gained over time, really did help me in doing the things that I’m doing now.

Marc Gutman 23:23
Yeah, and just for those of you listening, since we are on an auditory medium versus visual, like if you you know, I do want to point out like the complexity of your book, this is not like, you know, I think I think you know, today you can go you can do an E file, you can send it to Amazon, you can get a little cover art, and they’ll turn out a book that looks amazing. That looks like it was you know, that’s the real deal. But your book is a very visual artistic book, every page is hand lettered, every page is hand drawn to some degree. And so that that’s no like insignificant fact that you put in our work. Yeah, he put this book together. I was like, $5,000, like, they got a good deal for that!

Mike Rohde 24:04
Yeah, it wasn’t like, you know, I took that opportunity as well. I can make money doing it. But I have control that was really, ultimately it wasn’t about the money. It was about the ability to make sure so I I’ve been through enough projects where I wasn’t in control of things, to know that when you turn it over to someone else, they just don’t have your vision and or your persnickety ness to make things exactly the way you want it. Right, and maybe that’s being a perfectionist, but, you know, I I’ve heard stories of other authors who are also designers who gave up that right someone else. And they were really, really frustrated, like they would spit covers and they would get all turned around. And I just had a really great working relationship with my editor and all the people on that team that they trusted me and I trusted them and we just really worked together well, and it’s, it worked out really well. And it’s interesting, you mentioned that the book being hand lettered.

Mike Rohde 24:58
Actually, one of the things that I I realized as a print production designer was, I do not want to hand write this whole book, because there’s going to be too many typos that I’m going to make. So I actually reached out to a friend and said, Hey, do you know somebody who does typeface work? And he’s Yeah, sure, this guy named Dell wetherington. Does that work? So I reached out, and he was willing to make a typeface out of my handwriting.

So we did several different fonts. And that’s what we use to produce the book. So it made it like almost like typesetting like you would use Microsoft Word or something. And then in the end, we had turned that into a product now you can actually buy that typeface for your own projects called the Sketchnote typeface. So, you know, this thing that we did for the book purpose ended up being, you know, an asset later that people use it. In fact, three weeks ago, I saw an ad in a Costco. flyer in my email was using my typeface. So it’s, it’s pretty crazy how you think it’s a one time thing, and it can often have greater impacts. And maybe you imagined in the first place.

Marc Gutman 25:59
Yeah, I mean, that’s going to be quite the feeling when you see your own typeface and the Costco flyer, and you tell Dell, if he’s ever looking for a model of a typeface that’s legible. I would be happy to to be you could use my handwriting. You This is like, but it makes me feel a lot better that that was typeset versus, versus hand drawn.

Mike Rohde 26:18
Most of it

Marc Gutman 26:19
Yeah, yeah.

Mike Rohde 26:19
Some of it, Some of it was handwritten, like some of the, in the sketches, Sketchnotes, do have people’s actual handwriting. But I mean, the body of the text was my, my typeface, which, you know, Delve was pretty sneaky. He found out there’s a feature in this interfaces you can do called contextual alternates, and some, some software like our page layout software, will use it. And what it does is you can have like 10 different A’s and 10 different E’s and 10 different ages, and it will randomly rotate through them to make the make the typeface look more random. So especially important for a handwritten style typeface to you know, not like not the same as over and over again, it would actually rotate through I think he, I think he kept it at like four is four characters for each letter that can potentially spin in there randomly. So it gives it a little bit more of a random feel to it, which I thought was kind of a neat little nuance that nobody but me and delve and now your listeners will know about.

Marc Gutman 27:19
No, I think that’s fascinating. I never knew that that was possible. And just like the or even, you know, just technology, like there’s such a custom aspect to it yet. It’s it’s really brought to us via technology. It’s incredible to me. So you mentioned this a little bit. But, you know, what’s what’s challenging about writing a book like this or writing a book in general? Like, what don’t we know?

Mike Rohde 27:43
Well, I would say this, if you’re thinking about writing a book, I encourage you to do it, because I think I never thought I would write a book. And here I am an author of two books. So I think there is definitely there are definitely books in people. So I would encourage you to do it.

Mike Rohde 27:56
But I would also go into suggest you go into it clear, I didn’t know that writing a book is a huge undertaking. It’s like walking the Appalachian Trail or climbing a mountain. And I say that in the sense that the thing that I learned about writing the first and then the second book was if you’re used to pulling all nighters and doing projects, forget it, it doesn’t work that way. I, I kind of grew up in the design business where you could like pull all nighters and do like an annual report in a weekend or, you know, stuff like that, you could pull it off, right?

You cannot do that with a book, it just doesn’t, it won’t accept that option. You can do an all, you know, you can spend all weekend and write something, but it’s going to be a long haul. So basically know that it’s going to be a long haul and sort of plan accordingly. What I found really valuable for me was having a team that would sort of keep me on track and make sure that I was doing the things that I was doing. So editors, editors are hugely important. If you think you can get away without an editor and you’re writing a book, then you’re fooling yourself.

You need editors, both copy editors to make sure you’re not saying dumb things to you know, other other editors who make sure that your concepts makes sense and hold up and challenge you and say, Do you really believe that? Is that really true? Like those kind of things, they’re going to make your work better? Like it’s a pain in the moment, but it’s better in the long run. So I think a good team is really important if you’re going to write a book, even if you have to assemble it yourself. And then I would say the probably the last thing is, well, I’ll say two more things. The next thing is you have to know that in a long haul project like this, it’s all about progress. It’s not about achieving it. Like I said, you can’t pull the weekender and knock out a book, I guess you could but it might be a bad book. But it’s gonna take lots of revisions and lots of grinding.

You just have to be like, happy with progress, like, Hey, I made progress today. You know, even if it’s writing a page or whatever it might be like look at the progress. And know that if you continue along that path that’s going to build up into a whole book. And I would say the last thing is, when you write a book and you’re done with the book, you’re only have done because the other half is promotion. And often that’s actually harder than writing the book. So, you know, know that promoting is going to be a ton of work. And that it, it requires a lot of effort to do that as well. And, you know, something I learned in that space was don’t do everything, all the ones like so don’t have all your podcasts launched on the first day, like spread them out. So they sprinkled through the, you know, a month or something. So it seems like you’re everywhere for a month, right?

That’s gonna be probably your, your best option to get people’s attention, you know, repeated repeated action, in their mind is sort of what where it’s at. So there’s some wisdom for people who are thinking about book, writing and creation. It’s definitely worthwhile when you’re done. But it’s definitely a journey when you’re going through it. And if that’s okay, I think it’s good to have those lifetime experiences where it’s, you can’t do it in weekend, you can do it over months.

Marc Gutman 30:56
Yeah, and so much more to a book than just as you mentioned, writing it, you know, there’s the promoting and thinking about what you’re going to do. That’s, that’s great advice. And thank you so much for sharing that. This episode brought to you by Wildstory. Wait, isn’t that your company? It is. And without the generous support of Wildstory, this show would not be possible. A brand isn’t a logo or a tagline, or even your product or a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product service or company. It’s what people say about you, when you’re not in the room.

Wildstory helps progressive founders and savvy marketers build purpose driven brands that connect their business goals with the customers they want to serve. So that both the business and the customer needs are met. This results in crazy, happy, loyal customers that purchase again and again. And this is great for business. If that sounds like something you and your team might want to learn more about, reach out @ And we’d be happy to tell you more. Now back to our show.

I’d like you to take a moment and think back and do you have a clear recollection of like when this thing sketchnoting was born? When you look down in your notebook? And you’re like, I’ve got a Sketchnote!

Mike Rohde 32:28
I actually do. And it’s the funny thing is is like it actually started earlier than I realized, but I just didn’t know what it was. And that that actually tracks with so many people that I’ve met that said, oh, I’ve been doing sketchnoting for so long. And I just never knew what to call it, which is a great feeling. Right? I was sort of the lucky one that got to name it and the name that stuck. But I do remember that actually, the first sketchnote that I call a Sketchnote is one I did in early 2007.

Mike Rohde 32:53
That’s really where I think it started, where I intentionally went to a conference in Chicago, from Milwaukee on the train design conference, with a different mindset around note taking up into that point, for probably three, four years, I’d somehow gotten myself to a place where I wrote like everything down and I use the pencil so I could race mistakes. And I had a giant notebook. Like and it was a huge burden I hate I was really good at it. And I hated it. It was the worst. And so early in 2007, I found that I can’t take it anymore. I got to do something else. And as a designer, I’m always faced with constraints and restrictions. You know, you can only have this many colors, you got to use that typeface. You got to use my ugly logo, all those kind of things are always in my life, right?

So I thought, well, what if I put a if I put some constraints on myself, what would happen if I did that? So I thought, let’s now that you know, it’s time I didn’t think about it. But I kind of did it. George Costanza, remember that episode of George Costanza decides to do everything opposite of what he normally does. And then he like, starts dating a beautiful woman and gets the job of his dreams. You know, all these good things are happening because he’s doing the opposite. It felt kind of like that, where I said, Okay, I’d normally carry a big book, what if I carry a pocket book? I usually use a pencil. What if I use a gel pen. So those are sort of my first two decisions. I sort of boxed myself in. On the train. All I had with me was a pocket moleskin that I bought, I don’t know, a month before and didn’t know what to do that because it was too beautiful. I finally had a purpose for the thing. And then I had these jeetu gel pens if that.

Okay, I’m just going to take these two things. I’m going to show up at this conference and see what comes out because I really wasn’t sure. And once I sat down, the interesting side effect of these two limitations was I was faced with the fact that I couldn’t write everything down that I normally did. And that when I did write stuff down, it couldn’t I couldn’t erase it because it was ink. So it’s sort of put my put my mindset in a different place. My mindset now shifted to I need to really be thinking about what’s being said right now. I can’t, I can’t just write everything down and maybe describe Ever later, I got to think about it.

Now I got to really listen closely, I have to really analyze what they’re saying, decide if it’s worth me putting on the page, because I’m using a pen, and then put it down. And from my perspective, I suddenly had tons of free time, because before I was just writing, writing, writing, writing, I never had time to think twice. So suddenly, for me, I had all this free time to do like, the lettering that I loved, and drawing images that were popping up in my head or sketching something from one of the slides. And I, I really loved it, I got to the end of that day, and I just felt like this is the this is the solution. I have to keep doing this. And I kept looking for opportunities to go to conferences and kept trying it. And that was really that conference in 2007 was really where I think sketchnoting was born for me, intent that, you know, with intention. And when I look back to my college years, when I was in that, remember I said I switched from printing to design.

I happened to dig up my old notebooks from those years of after sketchnoting and sort of taken off and said, holy cow, I was doing sketchnoting I was doing this exact same thing in my classes. I was trying. And I was writing and I was doing lettering, and I’m like, how did I forget that? What what happened to me over these last couple years. And I think looking back now I sort of realized that the technology side of me sort of took over I got into palm pilots and powerbook duo’s and I you know, I started typing everything. And you know that I just sort of shifted my mind to a different place.

So when I went back to analog and books, I just kept following the assumption that I had a keyboard in my hands, and I could write everything instead of really realizing that, you know, that thing I did in college is actually really effective for remembering and studying from. And I ended up not realizing that I would stumble back into what I actually had been doing before. So I didn’t call it sketchnoting back then. But it really, when I look back at it, it is what I was doing. So I think I was probably doing it all through college and probably back into high school to some degree in some form or another but never really intentionally, like as a thing like I would call 2007, where I really put all the pieces together and realize, hey, this really works. And I was aware of it. Before I sort of just did it naturally. And accidentally here is where I really did it with intentionality.

Marc Gutman 37:20
Yeah. And so if you weren’t calling it sketchnoting, at that time, when did you have a name for it? Or were you just like, Hey, this is just the way I do it.

Mike Rohde 37:27
That was just the way I did it. I didn’t have a name for it. It’s kind of funny.

Marc Gutman 37:31
And then so you’re, you’re Mike, you’re doing your thing, you are taking notes in your own visual way. And like most great things I have to imagine, I mean, you’re doing it for you. I mean, you’re not probably thinking, Hey, this is a speaking tour. This is a this is a book like when does it become a thing? Like when do you start to get? Where does it start to become like a real part of your life? Both? I guess it’s already become a part of your life from a conference standpoint, but like professionally, like what all of a sudden, do you become like the Sketchnote guy?

Mike Rohde 38:03
Well, there’s sort of a couple of points along the way. So this is early 2007, when this first thing happened. And I kept on wanting to try it. So I think it was in the summer or the spring or late spring, early summer. And the guys who are on Basecamp. Now that used to be called 37 signals, they decided to do a conference at their at a space that they had access to for like 150 people. And so I said, I’d really like these guys. And I said I’m going to go do this conference. And this would be a good chance to test out this note thing, the sketchnoting thing that I’m playing with and see how it works in this kind of setting. Right. So I went to that event and I did that event and Jim Kou doll who’s friends with the base camp, guys. They’re also Chicago firm. They’re like an ad firm. They do. They’re the guys behind the field notes. If you know what field notes are.

Marc Gutman 38:49
Yeah, my friend Aaron draplin, who’s been on the show has also partnered—

Mike Rohde 38:52
Yeah, partnered up with those guys. So they could all partners found my Sketchnotes on Flickr somehow. And they put it on their blog, and then 37 signals whose Basecamp they put it on theirs. And that’s that was a really big bump in like awareness, people started being aware of it. And I kept doing it and doing it. And I went to South by Southwest that following spring, I think 2008 and did it and I published it again, at the time I was publishing on Flickr and I use Creative Commons, I intentionally use Creative Commons because at the time, it was pretty popular. And the thing that I liked about it was I retained all my rights to the work. But I could build in usage rights right into the licensing. And what that meant at the time was bloggers, if they found the images compelling.

Mike Rohde 39:40
They could just use an embed code and stick it right in their blog, and they wouldn’t have to ask me for any permission because I’d already pre given it to them. So that was really important in spreading the concept and that that got back to the South by Southwest leadership. So the next year they said Hey, Mike, if we give you a pass this off by Will you come in sketchnote officially, like spend the whole week and just capture the experience of being here. Like, yeah, sure. So that was my next event. So that was a really important one. Because that’s South by Southwest in 2009.

I wanted to see like, could I handle this for a whole week, and what would get tired first, my brain or my hands. And it turned out, my brain actually got more tired than my physical body did, just from all the thinking and analyzing, but it was a blast, I really loved it. And that, so that was a really important point, because then that sort of spread it even further. And then it was around 2011, or something like that is when the book stuff happened. in between there, there was a point where I created Sketchnote army, and that was basically this desire to share other people’s work, I had been sharing and pumping my own work. And I just felt like, it’s not so much fun to be doing this alone. I mean, I started seeing other people doing and it seemed like there’s a movement, and maybe I should be the one to capture this in one place. Because it was really hard at the time, around 2008 2009. To find this stuff. You just had to scrounge everywhere.

I thought, well, what if what would happen if I invited people to submit their stuff, and we just put it on our website, then you just go to one place, and you could see the stuff. So that was an important moment in 2009. And shortly after that, the book deal came out. And in between there, you know, I did illustration work for the guys that Basecamp for rework, and then later remote. So that was those are also, you know, points that sort of brought awareness to that work, right. So they I think they all sort of added up over time, and it just kept building. And once I wrote the book, you think after doing all that work on the book, and there’s a video that we did, that suddenly would take off, and I think it did pretty well. But, you know, nobody knew who I was, other than maybe they saw a book. So it took a little while for it to kick in. But it just kept on growing and growing.

I think the idea was that Seth Godin always talks about if the idea is good, you’re probably not going to be able to stop it. And I think that’s sort of what what happened, right? I sort of solved the problem in my own life, which was I hated taking notes in this old, dreary way. And I found a way that made sense to me. And I figured, well, it solved the problem for me, there’s probably a few other people out there that it could help. And it turned out there were a lot of few other people out there, right.

So I think that’s why it just kept on growing and growing. And I just look back at these certain pivot points where it almost like, you know, hit a point and accelerated, and it just continues to do that. And now, there’s tons of people doing it and teaching it and sharing it. And I really like that I love having lots of voices in the space, I think it just verifies that it’s a real thing. And it’s definitely a benefit to people who adopt it. And it makes you know, being in a community is way more fun than being all alone. So there’s lots of benefits to the way that it’s worked out over these many years.

Marc Gutman 42:48
Yeah, and yeah, and I can even my own experience, it’s like, I’ve been a part of some long term education classes and things like that. And there’s just something magical about the Sketchnotes, right, like, people see me doing it, and they’re drawn to it. Like, I think everyone wants to do it as well. Like, it’s like this universal way of, of communicating. That’s just so incredible. And so, when did you coin it? Sketchnoting? What, like, when did you be like, when were you like, this is the name?

Mike Rohde 43:16
I think, actually. So it’s really funny that all that stuff happened in the first that first 2007 I think the first 2007 was where I realized, it feels like I should call it Sketchnoting. Before that, it’s funny, like, up to that point, I was it was like the promo name for it was sketch tunes, like I was it was sort of like was cartoons and sketching. But when I did this event, it was a little less like cartoons and just more like sketching and noting and that word just came to me. So it was right after right at that event, when I just really started calling it Sketchnoting. And I don’t know, for whatever reason, that name seemed to make sense to a lot of people and they liked it even over the more established names that existed before like graphic recording, which is kind of a different thing. or visual notetaking like, you know, Sketchnoting just has a little bit more of a branding ring to it, I guess, you know, it’s less clunky and it’s descriptive and it’s concise and it just seems to work so that’s that’s sort of when it popped up was right at about that same time as the first Sketchnotes kind of appeared in my head. I had a name for them, so I guess it was destined to be.

Marc Gutman 44:25
Destined to be, and so is Sketchnoting now your your full time gig, is that what you do for a living?

Mike Rohde 44:32
It isn’t actually it’s something I do on the side. I do pretty steadily on the side. It’s kind of my side, my side gig. I primarily I work as a principal designer, doing user experience and service design for large organization. I really like it I like working in a team I like I still have a real love for design in general service design, specifically solving you know the company work for isn’t a big industrial company.

Mike Rohde 45:01
So there’s all kinds of opportunities to apply these ideas. And, you know, visualization opportunities like crazy, because so much stuff is just bad PowerPoint. So the opportunity to do illustrations and Sketchnote and even, you know, doing using my design skills in that space is really, really powerful. And I see lots of upside and opportunity. So a lot of why stay there. And you know, I’ve got a family as well. So it’s good steady work, and it allows me to do this stuff on the side. And so far, it’s worked out pretty well.

Marc Gutman 45:33
Yeah, not too bad. Not too bad. And so do you have, you know, I know you’re probably not like your children, right? You’re probably not supposed to talk about your favorite Sketchnote. But do you have a favorite that you just, you look back and you’re like, you know what, that’s that’s the full expression of Mike. That’s, that’s, that’s it.

Mike Rohde 45:52
There’s a couple of them. But if I if I was forced to pick one, there’s one that’s in my Flickr feed, that I still love that still has really fun memories for me. And it’s the story behind it is that I was doing a work project in the Oakland area in San Francisco, and we ended up going to shape nice, we couldn’t get into the main shape, nice. But we got into the cafe, which is like a smaller venue, we got reservations for myself and to work colleagues. And I happen to have my notebook along. So I pulled my notebook out. And after I would finish a course, I would sketch out what it was and built this whole little two page Sketchnote in my notebook. And it just really has like a captures everything like a captures a moment in time a really great meal. With two good friends. If you look at it, it’s not really it’s all black and white. So there’s no color.

Mike Rohde 46:40
Some of the stuff that I drew is not really super detailed. Like it’s not a standard illustration. It’s not a piece of art, it’s more of a, it’s a Sketchnote. It’s like the purest expression of a Sketchnote for me, and I really, every time I see that I’m like, wow, that that really turned out really good. And it was actually it’s kind of old. It’s like 2012 it was right around the time. Not too not too long, before I started on book work, so I was really fortunate that I had the opportunity and that one among others. There’s some other ones that I really like as well. But that if I was forced to pick one, that would be it.

Marc Gutman 47:14
All right, paper or iPad, you know, I was really I got your headshot in for the the press kit. And you’re standing with an iPad. And you know, I I don’t I’m not surprised I’m actually using an iPad right now. And I think it has Oh, by the way, there you are. But as we’re talking I’m drawing Mike but um, yeah, I pad or paper or both?

Mike Rohde 47:38
I’m a both person I think of I started think like when the iPad Pro and the pencil came out, that was the moment where the iPad became useful to me as a drawing tool. Like I’d used it before, for reading for like, part of my book, I actually typed in an iPad with the keyboard. So I mean, it had been useful to me. But as a illustration tool, a serious illustration tool when the pencil came out, which I think is 2017 or 18. That’s when I picked it up. And I saw the value. And I always think of like, you know, I think there’s sort of a desire always to like say, Oh, the iPad is a paper killer. It’s like, Why does it have to kill it? Like, why can’t I use both? Right?

Mike Rohde 48:15
You know, you go and do a professional mechanics toolbox, they’re not going to say wrench or hammer. Right there, they need both of them. Because in some cases, you need a wrench. In some cases, you need a hammer, sometimes you need a six point wrench because man that bolt is on their heart, and you’ve shot it with some penetrating oil, and you’re gonna have to wail on that thing. And like a adjustable wrench isn’t going to work, right. So even within wrenches, there’s specific things right. So I think of like the iPad is sort of one tool, and it depends on what I’m doing. Like if I need to do lots of changes. So like client work, or have to go back and modify things or move things or I want the ability to shift things, that is often the best choice. And then there’s other times when I want to use paper when I don’t want to be potentially distracted, right?

The problem with an iPad is you’re like a second away from Twitter or Facebook or who knows what, right so and the battery can run out. I mean, they made the batteries last a long time. But if you forgot to charge it, you know, now all of a sudden, you’ve got a Karen feeding issue, write up a notebook and a pen, you know, it’s probably gonna run the other. The other funny thing I always say is like, you know, you know how many pieces of paper and beautiful pens you could buy for the cost of an iPad, like you have a lifetime supply for what you pay for an iPad. Now, that’s not to knock the iPad, it is a valuable tool, but it’s always again about what’s the right what’s the right purpose for the tool. And so I look at it as a spectrum all the way from, you know, paper to an iPad and I choose the thing that makes sense, or that I feel is right and I just like having options, I guess.

Marc Gutman 49:50
Yeah, and that makes complete sense. But you know, you’re talking about paper and, and pen and we were talking right before we recorded about just you know Kind of this there’s something magical about pen and paper, you know. And so it was what’s your favorite combination the gf got going right now. And if you’re anything like me, it changes like mine has changed. Yeah, over time, you know, but but I kind of come back to the same, the same kind of combo more often than that.

Mike Rohde 50:17
Well, the last couple years, I’ve become an ambassador for this company called Norland, it’s a German company that makes markers. For graphic recorders. Graphic recording is basically like sketchnoting. Except graphic recorders typically work at large scale, they typically work in front of the room. So everybody watches them while they doing while they’re doing it, they have to be very skilled at listening and trying. And these tools are built for those people. But they realize the value of sketchnoting and they’re starting to build more tools for Sketchnoters. So they have a variety of tools that I really like the fine one line, which is designed for sketchnoters in mind, have some really nice tools.

Mike Rohde 50:53
The thing I like about New Zealand too, is every one of them now is refillable. So you can buy bottles of ink and refill your pens and just keep reusing them. If your nibs get squishy, because they’re felted you can pull the nibs out and put new nibs in so they’re in effect. They’re like lifetime investments, kind of like the tools I was mentioning, right. So those are really great tools and the the colors and the quality of the pigments are really great. So it’s not a hard thing to choose. As far as gel pens go, you’re exactly right, I started jumping around. For the last little while I’ve been really into good old Paper Mate flares like you had in junior high school black paper, mate flair and boxes. And I just you know, as they get too mushy, I just go to the next one. And they just have a really nice, there’s something about the feel of it that I really like. So that’s another one. And then I’m always like checking the latest gel pens and trying stuff out.

The latest one that I really liked is Sharpie of all pens has come out with a gel pen. And the one that I stumbled onto is a 1.0. So if you know your thicknesses of pens, it’s really wide pen. But I love it because it just lays down this nice black line, it’s really juicy. But because it’s gel like dries nearly immediately, so I don’t have to worry about smearing it so much. So that’s sort of my latest gel pen that I’m into. And then as far as books go, I did a Kickstarter campaign with my friend Mike Ciano last year. And we basically designed a sketch notebook that’s ideal for sketchnoting. So it’s really thick, hundred 60 GSM kind of a thick, almost cardstock like paper and bright white, and a polymer cover that’s really tough, and then guides inside, but the paper inside is really fantastic. So actually really, I really use my own notebooks to do sketchnoting with and then for, you know, if I’m doing bullet journaling, which I do every day, I’ve been using the leuchtturm brand, a bullet bullet journal or the dot grid books. And then there’s also no Island is just released one that’s a little bit bigger, that I’ve been using for a while since they sent me one as an ambassador, and I’ve been testing it, it’s been actually really nice.

It’s a little bit bigger than a typical five and a half by half sheet so I get a little bit more space. So I’ve been enjoying that. So those are a couple couple things that I’ve been using pretty regularly and quite enjoy.

Marc Gutman 53:11
Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, I have long been electrum fan. And that’s been my go to book but I’ve actually got one of yours on the way and I’m very excited to to try that.

Mike Rohde 53:22
I’d love to hear what you think of the paper and all that stuff as a product and branding guy.

Marc Gutman 53:26
Yeah, as well as the Newland pens. Yeah, I was hoping that pink I like to make extra colors pink, you know, I like that a lot. And that didn’t have it, but it had smooth. So I got some I got some other stuff that I’m very excited about. And like I were talking about before the show started I could just really geek out and try different pens. I like to you know, my goat my go to that I keep coming back to is actually the the pilot Gtech that has that like kind of scratchy feel, and it’s a thinner line but like I have less control as I do because I like I’ll crosshatch or that’s all fill it in. But like or even in your technique, I’ll do multiple lines down. But now I also feel like that’s a little bit for me was like a more of a beginner pen less control, I can control the ink and, and I do like playing with Federline pens as well

Mike Rohde 54:12
it is interesting how like the pen you use can impact the way you draw. So like a real thick pen will sort of produce a certain kind of a, it almost puts you in I’m in a mind state or something. And if you use a thin pen, it’s put you in a different mind state. You wouldn’t think so. But I’ve noticed it’s subtle, but it actually is there. And it’s it’s it also sounds like if you and I went into an Office Max or an Office Depot, we’d be the guys standing at the pens the pen aisle like for an hour like look oh look at that one.

Marc Gutman 54:41
Never tire I’ve got like pen cases for like even like like armful of pens. Yeah, I keep finding like pen cases with like pens that I packed for a trip that like then I like sit down I pick up I’m like oh my gosh, like I’ve got all these pens like I forgot that I even like packed for a trip just in case you know. So, Mike as we as we come to this Our time here. What’s next for sketchnoting? Where do you see this going? We’re ready. Hope it goes?

Mike Rohde 55:07
Well, I’m really excited about a couple things. So one thing that’s really excited and I have a little tiny bit to do with, but actually pretty small is it’s moving into education. And the reason it’s moving into education is because teachers are like totally crazy for sketchnoting. And they’re crazy for it because of a couple things. Because the teachers told me this, that they see their students really embracing it, their students are actually much more engaged when they teach, because they’re being given the the right to do doodling in class.

Mike Rohde 55:41
Now, of course, it’s directed toward the subject, but they get to do drawing and doodling and stuff. So they get engagement. And then the, the other benefit that teachers seem to be really excited about is, when they use sketchnoting. In the classroom, the students actually remember a lot more, right. So it becomes this really great tool that gives them the ability to analyze and process which a teacher wants and then remember more. So when they go to a test, they can actually do better.

In fact, I have one friend in the Fresno school district in the science department that does something called sketch booking, which uses the sketching technique in it. And I believe she lets the students like as they learn stuff in science they get, they have to draw it in their sketchbook and it gets graded. And then a test time, I believe they have open book testing. So they give them a test. And they can have their sketchbook there, anything they write is fair game to reference. So like, you think about the virtuous cycle that gets created there where a student knows that the stuff is going to be on a test, but they’re going to pay attention. And they’re going to put that stuff in their notebook. Because if I can look at it in my notebook, and I caught it, like I could, you know, really do well on the test, right?

Ultimately, it’s, can you analyze and make sense of the world, right? That’s really what education is coming to, if you think about it, so teachers are really excited. That’s got me super excited. And then I guess the second thing that I’m excited about is doing more teaching. So when the pandemic came in March, just like everyone was kind of shocked. And it took a little while to kind of settle in. But I started noticing all these local meetups Visual Thinking Copenhagen, or the visual jam, or a variety of different events that normally would be, you know, 15 people in a, in the back of a restaurant in Copenhagen, and nobody ever knew about it, except them, suddenly, they have these international audiences, right? 100 people coming from around the world being part of these communities that is super exciting.

And I think the opportunity for us, even though it’s not a great situation, to have to be forced to be in this digital space and figure out training and teaching and cameras and microphones, that the the benefit is going to be it’s going to actually get people connected in in the future and give opportunities for people who want to like me to start doing teaching and reach people that I might never have reached because I probably wouldn’t fly to their city right now I can do online courses and teach stuff like lettering or layout or whatever, whatever the students want, really.

So I’m really excited about this opportunity for the last eight months to build up my technical skills and technical gear. And, you know, having tested it to be able to now feel confident that I can teach so that’s really exciting, as well for me.

Marc Gutman 58:34
And that is Mike Rohde, author of Sketchnotes. Mike and I nerded out on design, pens, AV gear and brand strategy. After the show stopped recording. I could have talked for hours with him. He’s such a fascinating individual. And he really made me rethink. Maybe I’m a designer after all. And you see that’s the power of Mike Rohde. He’s a teacher at heart. And the best teachers are the ones who can see in you what you can’t see in yourself.

Mike is on a mission to teach, to teach sketchnoting to teach design. I don’t think he really cares what he teaches. As long as he’s teaching. It’s his inner nature. And we’re all better off for it is a big thank you to Mike Rohde and the sketchnote team. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Next, I’ll be taking one of Mike’s workshops that will have taken place by the time this airs, but check out his website for upcoming workshops and opportunities to learn sketchnoting.

We will link to all things Mike Rohde and sketchnoting in the show notes, including his books over at Amazon as well that’s the show. Until next time, make sure to Visit our website @ where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS, so you’ll never miss an episode. I like big stories and I cannot lie. You other storytellers can’t deny.

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