Rockstar of the Month: Emily Marko, Visual Problem Solver.

Have you ever felt just a little bit ... different than the rest of the world? Like your brain works differently, or you think about things in a way that no one else does? That's exactly what this month's featured #rockstar, Emily Marko, said when talking about her journey into entrepreneurship and visual problem solving.

Emily's outlook on the world combined with her ability to see things visually and then translate those ideas into some of the most beautiful images out there, makes her a rare gem. It also makes her brilliance shine even brighter, as she puts her work out into the world.

We hope you enjoy getting to know Emily as much as we have. And if you'd like to connect with her on the regular, you may want to consider joining the Rock It! Community. #justsaying

(Photo Credit: Brian Cohen)

(Photo Credit: Brian Cohen)

Name: Emily Marko
Business: Emily Marko
Job title: Visual Problem Solver
Website: emilymarko.com

For those that may not know, what is visual storytelling and how do you use it to help people?

Looking for a powerful way to connect your clients and customers to you and your business? The visual storytelling process puts your thoughts, opinions, passions, and desires into a “story,” your story, and it’s an incredible way for entrepreneurs to “see” their goals and dreams.

When I work with women business owners, I listen to their challenges, frustrations, and desires for change. As we chat, they watch me draw and visually reflect what they’re sharing. I’m looking to capture all their thoughts on a particular subject, find patterns, themes, and connections. Taking their often times chaotic thoughts and translating them into a simplified visual format immediately gives them a feeling of control. From there, we can use the visuals to create a simple action plan for them to pursue their goals.

How did you get into this work? It's not exactly a saturated market, so how did it even come across your radar?

Well, looking back I think it was all meant to unfold the way it did. I have always been a visual person and am formally trained in graphic design. When I was working in the corporate world of training and development, my manager at the time returned from a conference and said “I found the perfect job for you!” He explained that while at the conference a “graphic recorder” was drawing pictures large scale in front of the room to capture what the presenters were saying.

My research into graphic recording fascinated me! Visual thinking was helping my brain process information, so I was certain it could help others. Today, I use my skills and my passion for this method of storytelling to help heart centered, passionate business owners and organizations to organize their thoughts, build plans, and tell stories using visuals.

What is the process of visual storytelling like? Can you walk us through your process? 

COLLECT INFORMATION

Everyone’s story is important, but getting the raw material to tell that story requires listening. Listening might be my superpower! As my clients answer my questions and share important details in our initial conversations, I’m able to get the building blocks for what I’ll need to translate their words into visuals.

VISUALLY TRANSLATE

Once the content is collected, visual magic happens! My brain begins to simplify and convert all those conversations into a synthesized visual that’s expressed in simple, easily understood pieces. The end result takes the heart of the story and expresses it in a beautiful, visually pleasing format.

PLAN ACTION

In our action-centered world, a visual plan becomes a powerful tool when it fuels forward progress. No matter whether your story defines goals for your business, highlights the purpose of your work, or captures important ideas on a specific topic, you’ll walk away from the visual storytelling process with a clearly defined action plan that’s easy to understand.

Based on your experiences — both personally and professionally — what are some things people can do to shift from indecision to action?

The reason we get stuck when it comes to making decisions is that we don’t feel like we’re in control. Uncertainty and overwhelm become our default patterns. Fear keeps us stuck.

Utilizing visual tools to make decisions can really help. Visuals give us a quick, easy, and non-confrontational way to capture our thoughts, important information, and to identify the “unknowns” of any situation.

My go-to visual tool is a mind-map. Mind-maps, and visuals in general, help my clients to see patterns and possibilities they’ve never considered before. You’ll make connections you didn’t realize were there, which will help you feel more in control. Ultimately, your visual tools help you get clear, make quick decisions, and take action with confidence.

You talk about "living your dash" on your website. What exactly IS living your dash, and what does that mean for you?

Years ago I read a poem by Linda Ellis titled The Dash. Her words left a lasting impression on me and shifted my perspective on how I want to live my life. Your Dash is the time you exist between your birth and death, but it is also what and how you choose to think, speak and act everyday.

Living my dash means that I choose to align with my core values by focusing on positive thoughts (rather than negative), speaking with kindness, courage and empathy, and acting with respect, love and wonder. Above all it means that even when I face hardships I will thrive in my life, not just survive.

Stories are a powerful tool for entrepreneurs. Can you talk more about the importance of storytelling and how you help others tell their story through visuals?

What I love about entrepreneurs is how passionate they are in their efforts to translate their passion and purpose into everyday reality. But as a solopreneur, or a leader of a small team, I bet you wear a lot of hats. Long work hours, and to-do lists that suffocate can quickly lead to burnout. You may eat, sleep and breathe your business, but how effective are you in communicating your purpose to potential clients? Can you explain how your business is unique? Do you have realistic short-term goals to determine where your energy should be focused? Have you taken the time to capture the details of that next new product or project?

Often the answers to many of these questions is no. That’s where I come in. Using my visual storytelling tools, I can help busy entrepreneurs go from chaos to calm. I can help them recognize, organize, and tell their story — no matter what story needs to be told. Seeing all the moving parts and pieces through the magic of visuals will give their brain space to make new connections and have major breakthroughs. So whether they are trying to grow their business or get their personal life wrangled, visual storytelling can be the key to taming all the chaos.

Famous last words... What advice would you give to women as they reflect on all that they have (or, perhaps haven't) accomplished this year?

I get it. You might be really discouraged because it feels like the year is over and yet, you didn’t come close to meeting your goals. That can be so frustrating!

Or maybe, you’ve had an amazing year, but you’re already wondering how you can top it in 2017.

My first piece of advice would be to start noticing things now. What worked for you this year? What didn’t work at all? Where were you most stressed? Where did you experience a perceived “failure?” Noticing is the first key to successfully reflecting.

I absolutely love the blank page of January 1, full of possibilities, but it wasn’t always that way. Until I found a proven way to look back on my year and translate my observations into an action plan for the new year, I found myself discouraged when I didn’t meet my lofty goals for January.

That’s why my Relaunch 2017 online course is going to be so awesome. Instead of feeling discouraged, confused, and overwhelmed by planning your new year, you can set goals with clarity, feel calm as you begin to take action, and have the amazing year you know you can have.