Join me for a DoodleTV Fireside Chat with Sunni Brown, founder of the Doodle Revolution. Sunni and I have known each other for years, and have supported each other during all of the transformations over our career. We had so much fun connecting and chatting about the power of visual thinking! Here are some of the interview questions I prepared for our conversation:
DB: When did your Visual Thinking first get activated?
SB: What I remember most is that my visual thinking was something that was missing. I studied journalism and linguistics for my undergraduate degree and then went on to get a Masters in Public Policy, and I remember in all of these situations having an understanding of the complexities and challenges of the world, and the awareness of the politics and journalism environment and not having visual thinking as a tool to help me display, process, or organize the information. And I remember thinking, "What am I missing?"
Finally, and thankfully, I ended up at The Grove Consultants International, and it was like a light bulb went on. And I want to be clear, I was very skeptical at first. I was one of those people who had preconceived ideas about visual thinking. Which made my perspective when writing the Doodle Revolution even more powerful because I could talk to the skeptics.
DB: What made you decide to start the Doodle Revolution and how has that journey transformed you?
SB: The transformation has been very personal. First of all I felt I was a late bloomer in the Visual Thinking lineage, but I also understood its power. I have two family members that do not fit into traditional schooling, so the journey to writing the Doodle Revolution was more like a calling. I wanted to play a part in the diversity of learning because I was seeing some of my family members being left behind.
When I started working for The Grove Consultants, I joined their team as a Graphic Recorder and soon found myself traveling the world to work with clients. During that experience, I had a lot of conversations with all kinds of different people , different cultures and what I found was there was a consistent bias against Visual Literacy in every conversation, and there was misinformation and fear and scarring. At first I was just observing and taking it all in. My antenna was very open and then I started to get pissed. I started to pair up what I was hearing with my family experience and I started to realize that this is bullsh*t.
There are people all over the world that need this as a tool. It is native to them. It is a natural instinct. We doodle as children and it is recognized as being developmentally appropriate. And then, one day it happened. I woke up on February 14 (not sure what year) and I wrote the Doodle Revolution Manifesto.
DB: You recently moved back to Austin, and I have seen little windows into what you are creating...what are you building there?
SB: It's called the Center for Deep Self Design. And building it was a journey. I think like all creatives, we go on these hero journeys in life. And I like to say heroines, we are heroines on a journey. And in the process of integrating visual thinking into being a part of my humanity and life, I started to get access to the deeper inquiry of what is possible. When I started to embrace even the most simple thing like doodling - and I redefined it as, "making spontaneous marks to support the thinking process". What I found out was that doodling has this transformative ability to impact your cognition and your ability to investigate and inquire which led to me on a my own journey of personal inquiry. I believe my personal transformation was going to happen any way, because that is the nature of being human. But the doodling helped to accelerate it. I was able to externalize internal content and I could see it and that was a huge process, and I am still in process.
And it was the birth for the Center for Deep Self Design. Which ultimately is a creative and contemplative space for this kind of transformative work.
DB: We have a lot of people just starting their journey of discovering the power of doodling what advice would you have for them?
SB: I would encourage them to keep saying," YES". Any time you step into an unknown, all of your natural fears are going to emerge. And I do not not fight them. I know a lot of people try to banish their critic. I choose to befriend it. So when I sense that inner critic emerging I say something like, "Oh, hello. I totally hear that you are freaking out. I hear you, I honor you. And I am going to do it anyway."
So what I encourage people to do is when you find obstacles, not if you find obstacles, because they are going to appear no matter what. So when they appear, acknowledge them and keep going. That is the real journey. As part of being a doodler, you will discover people, places and things that will take you to unexpected places in your journey, so you just need to keep saying, "YES!"
DB: Sunni, I have always had a dream of doing something together. I know that LIVE events will not be happening for quite some time. And Austin holds a special place in my heart, in this interview we began to plant a seed of a dream of doing something together in the future. Thank you so much Sunni Brown for spending time with the Doodle Girl & Friends Community. It was so much fun to connect and hang out together!
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Links to all things Sunni Brown:
GameStorming Book: http://sunnibrown.com/gamestorming-2/
The Doodle Revolution Book: http://sunnibrown.com/the-doodle-revolution/
Deep Self Design Book: http://sunnibrown.com/deep-self-design/
Sunni Brown Blog: http://sunnibrown.com/blog/