Jennifer B. Davis
Ryan Sims from spoke at WebVisions. One of the things he talked about was a matter of taste and talent, in which he showed a graph inspired by Ira Glass, of NPR's The American Life fame.

Along the top is a line slightly angled up the represented the degree that one has taste. Even early in ones career, in Ryan's case graphic design and visual arts, he had good taste. It has certainly gotten better, but natural talent and inclination made him start out pretty high. The next line is more of a steep slope and represents talent. It starts low and over time, with what Ira calls an incredible "volume of work," improve to the point where it can approach the taste line. In other words, you have the ability to produce work you are truly proud of. Ryan said that he wished he had been taught that earlier in his career.

To hear Ira explain it himself, see this video below:

So many artists, writers, bloggers (ahem), fail to live up to their own standards. But rather than getting discouraged we must press on (or post on) and remember what Penelope Trunk said:

Jennifer B. Davis

As always, you can use these cartoons for non-commercial purposes, just give credit to Jennifer Davis and link back to
Jennifer B. Davis
There is a spectrum of emotion that is said to rule the stock market that runs from fear to greed. With the recent events in the financial markets making headlines, I have been thinking about the factors of fear and greed and how they affect our individual or organizational risk tolerance. If you have assets and resources adequate but not extraneous, the fear of loss may keep you in conservative investments. If you have an excess of resources or are investing with money you are prepared to lose, you can be driven by greed.

In other contexts, I prefer to draw the risk tolerance curve below.

When you are contemplating a decision, do you have more to lose or more to gain? This, more than any other thing, will determine your boldness, your willingness to accept risk, and the lengths to which you will go to preserve the status quo.

I used to work in an intrapreneurial group at a huge, multinational corporation. Although by the corporate standards it was a "start-up," I recognized immediately the difference between this group and the actual start-ups I had worked with. This was no scrappy start-up. As a case in point, we had a full-time attorney, PR professional and agency, and trained marketers making sure we used the brand appropriately. The company knew that at even the most aggressive projections, the revenue and margin that would be brought by this new business was less than the value of its brand in the marketplace. Thus, there was more to lose than gain. Which is one of the reasons why, in my opinion, these initiatives were not successful under that corporate umbrella? Start-ups work when there is more to gain than lose.

I see this curve playing out in the discussions about the use of "social media" in corporate contexts. Some companies large and small are jumping in and now have Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, and active outreach by more than one "department" of the company. Other consumer brands are reluctant to jump in and lose control over the message, the brand, or the customer experience (all things that might be a false sense of control anyway). Tara Hunt's new book The Whuffie Factor outlines this well. When I met her last week at WebVisions, she said several times that her next book will be about the cultural change that is required to "do" social media and create social capital in the marketplace. I think she'll find that companies must create environments where they have more to gain than lose by their efforts to see the change take hold.

In fact, this even applies to personal motivation factors and change management. In Alan Webber's Rules of Thumb book, he says that there is a formula for predicting change: "Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change." Said another way, change can happen when the risk of gain is more than the risk of loss.
Jennifer B. Davis

I am of the school of thought that the worst decisions tend to be the ones made slowly. If you wait until all the data is readily available to make a "risk free" decision that is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer, the window of opportunity and innovation has already closed. The smart ones already have started to act, learn, and are miles ahead of you before take the on-ramp.
Along this line, much has been written about iteration cycles and speed of decision making. Appparently there is a correlation between successful results and the number of decisions made (right or wrong). It goes to reason that if you make more decisions, you'll end up making more correct decisions and luck will fall your way.
Jennifer B. Davis
I heard the following at Carrie Bugbee's session at WebVisions 2009 and couldn't resist turning into into a cartoon. Enjoy!

You can follow Carri here. If you want to use this cartoon for non-commercial purposes, it is fine with me (as long as you give credit and link back here). You probably want to get Carri's permission before making it the title of your next book.
What is Twitter like to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below and I'll draw up some of my favorites and add them to future posts.
Jennifer B. Davis
I just attended the WebVisions conference in Portland and got to interact with many inspirational speakers and concepts. I think I have several months of new blog posts.

For those of you who I met at the show or who might be new to this site, I write on subjects related to business, innovation, corporate culture, and personal development. I love user-created content, print on demand, and innovative business models enabled by new technologies (not surprisingly, I founded a business based on these things, called Remarkable Tributes).

Thanks to the organizers of WebVisions and I look forward to interacting with each of you on some of the insights I gained this week.
Jennifer B. Davis

This is a great multi-purpose invitation. It could work for so many things, all of them good. Who do you want to bloom with? Send them this graphic (with a link to, of course).
Jennifer B. Davis
I first heard this quote from a minister at a Portland-area church event and thought it was fantastic. It applies in so many situations and is such a good reminder about human nature.

If you want to use the cartoon for non-commercial purposes, make sure to give me the props and linked back to
Jennifer B. Davis

I am amazed that over the years one of the most popular posts I have done was on the topic of "Yes, and", the tool used by improv actors to create realistic scenes and engage their audience and fellow players. It is worthy of a review.

After you do, I invite you to click on the graphic above. Download it. Print it out. Post it in your cube or office. Something Hugh from GapingVoid calls "cube grenades." Put it on your bathroom mirror. Make it a constant reminder of how to build teams, cultivate a culture of collaboration, and how to have fun.

If you post it or use it for non-commercial purposes be sure to give me credit and link back to
Jennifer B. Davis
If you were to make a list of the most and least effective meetings that you have, what would your list look like. Here is my first draft.

I have written before about meeting effectiveness and I am interested in your thoughts about how to make this staple of the corporate life more effective (or how to effectively end of life the practice all together).
Jennifer B. Davis

Related to my earlier post about there not being a shortage of ideas, there is a natural selection process for ideas. In most organization, especially lean start-ups, only a handful of ideas get any resources, so they have to be good ones. That is a good tension to have. I have been told before that when money or resources exceeds ideas, then companies are in big trouble. I haven't ever experienced that situation and hope I never do!
Jennifer B. Davis

A LinkedIn contact reached out to me the other day to schedule lunch (which we did). She told me that she was trying to meet with every local contact among her connections on LinkedIn, which struck me as a very ambitious task, but one that is really valuable. Our lunch resulted in a new, deepened connection, some shared information, and a referral.

You can connect with me on LinkedIN here or we could meet for lunch and be LinkedOUT-and-ABOUT.
Jennifer B. Davis

For more thoughts on midlife crisis, see Craig Damrauer's excellent drawing on the subject (which inspired mine above) or my friend, Lisa's post which says something powerful about possibilities yet to come.

Okay, in fairness, I have some years to go before I can have a full-blown midlife crisis, but my husband will tell you that I have been talking about convertible sportscars, exotic vacations, and the restless ambition that I always have has sprouted out in a bunch of new activities, like drawing doodles, writing songs (and other related endeavors that I'll tell you about later), and scheming about yard improvements. Maybe these are the energy field fluxuations before the big earthquake of creativity to come.
Jennifer B. Davis

The kids were playing in the yard today and I was enjoying hearing them decide what characters they were going to be. It made me think that at some point we stop deciding what characters we are, but that doesn't keep us from being characters in terms of having a defined dress code, language, location, strengths, weaknesses, and purpose for being. We are all characters, but we don't put much thought into the choices we have about all of these things.

So, if we were to imagine something different for ourselves (personally, professionally, in our work, in our play), what would it look like? I can't help but believe that daring to imagine would in itself open doors.

You are free to use the doodle above for any non-commercial purpose as long as you give me credit and link back to
Jennifer B. Davis

A friend of mine commented the other day on her blog that she was feeling "lackluster." I, too, have felt that way many a time and chuckled to myself thinking that it would be much better to feel and be seen as someone with "luster", although I had never heard anyone described with that term. Yet it fits. Someone with luster shines with brilliance. They are someone who reflects and amplifies light. The personality equivalent of "bling."

Well, I certainly don't achieve that all days, but it is something to strive for.

You are free to use the doodle above for non-commerical purposes as long as you give me credit and link back to Thanks.
Jennifer B. Davis

I find myself using made up words and one my recent favorites is "retwizzled." I use it to mean when I need to tweak, edit, or change something (usually a document) to reflect the latest thoughts or direction that it needs to go. I retwizzle it and then we are good to move forward.

When a colleague teased me about it, I began to think that the word has broader applications. It is not only documents, plans, or decisions that get retwizzled from time to time, but often it is our entire life. If something is no longer working. If the circumstances have been altered. If changes need to be made. It is your chance to retwizzle.

The doodle above reflects my renewed interest in drawing. You are free to use the image for any non-commercial purpose, as long as you give me credit and link back to

Jennifer B. Davis

When it came time to sign yearbooks, I remember that it was popular to write "K.I.T." which stood for "Keep in Touch." Now, instead of writing KIT in a yearbook, you can connect via Facebook and the hundreds of other social networks. My husband and I joke that at any one time we can contact me 20 different ways.

So, as a reminder, here are a few ways that you can connect to me:

I look forward to keeping in touch.

The doodle above is part of my renewed interest in drawing. You are free to copy and use the image for non-commercial purposes, as long as you give me credit and link back to the blog at

Jennifer B. Davis

I have been reading Alan Webber's new book, Rules of Thumb. In it, he offers and describes 52 different rules of business that he has learned over the years.

The concept in the cartoon above is a saying that I think I started repeating since my very first week on my very first job out of college. There was never a shortage of ideas. Things that could be done. Places to go. People to see. Products to build. Features to add. Only a shortage of everything else to make ideas reality: time, money, expertise, capacity, etc.

To me this is not only a inescapable truth, but it is also a blessing. Not all ideas are good ones. Without constraint the best ideas wouldn't win and we'd waste a lot of time. The corollary to this (and perhaps a future cartoon) would be "May the Best Ideas Win."

As always, feel free to use the cartoon for any non-commercial purpose, as long as you give me credit and link back to Thanks!
Jennifer B. Davis
A colleague of mine recently used the word "consolidarity" in a conversation the other day (never minding that it is actually not a word). I thought it was worthy of a submission to Webster's. The definition I proposed when I tweeted about it was the following:
Consolidate + Solidarity = Consolidarity.

The quintessential example of the word would be when parents both agree to have their kids share a room. Where else could you use the word?
Jennifer B. Davis
Jennifer B. Davis

Some of you may recall that in 2008 I made a personal resolution to draw some one-frame cartoons and post them to this blog. I have renewed my interest in drawing, turning some of my recent doodles, thoughts, and overheard conversations into little cartoons. After all, creating is another way of thinking. I'll be posting them here over the coming weeks. Enjoy!

These drawings borrow heavily from the style of Hugh at GapingVoid, who pioneered the drawing on the back of business cards and for whom I am no substitute (definitely check out).

Feel free to use these cartoons for your own non-commercial purposes, if one strikes your fancy. On your website, in your newsletters, in your presentations, or even on a t-shirt. Just make sure to give me credit and link back here to Thanks!