Harness Your Visual Creativity

November 13, 2007

With kind permission of both Mindjet and Jamie Nast herewith an extremely interesting Personal Interview with Jamie Nast, Author of “Idea Mapping”


Mindjet : Maps use both verbal and numerical information, and combine these with the power of creative intelligence; how do maps specifically allow one to think creatively?

Jamie Nast : Maps tap into all of the cortical skills, which are housed in the right and left sides of the brain. The concept of right brain/ left brain thinking developed from the research of American psychologist Roger Sperry in the late 1960s. The right brain is dominantly represented by color, imagination, daydreaming, rhythm, and spatial skills, while the left brain by verbal, mathematical, lines, sequence, lists, logic, and analytical skills. It’s a myth that creativity rests on the right side alone– it’s right combined with left that maximizes creativity, and nothing does that better than an idea map. A map reflects the natural way our brain associates information.

Maps pull information together onto a single sheet of paper in a way that leverages one more area of dominance found on the right side of the cerebral cortex. It’s called gestalt (German for the whole picture) where one sees each topic, each branch, and how the various pieces of data interrelate and connect. A map is a visual picture that enables people to see the relationships between data points, see everything in one place, and now be able to step back and think, clarify, analyze, prioritize, (re)organize, or innovate– and then take action. A map is a tool that provides a framework that fosters and can lead to new ways of thinking. Now that’s creativity!

MJ : What do you do to think creatively?

JN : I can get overwhelmed and immobilized by the large amount of tasks that I need to juggle. The only way I can function is to put everything in a map. It may not be the most creative example in the world, but for me it is a creative solution. The outcome and benefit to me is that my mind is now free to think rather than worrying about trying to manage all the plates that are spinning.

Another example is when I write a book or an article. Right now I’m considering two different book angles, and using MindManager in both scenarios to generate 100% of my creative thinking. The maps are used for gathering research, tracking potential contributors, determining possible endorsements, and outlining chapter headings. The process itself can be creative, but it’s the ability to step back and look at the gestalt— that’s where the creative process takes action.

MJ : What’s a coaching or teaching example of thinking creatively?

JN : Every single time I teach I use MindManager. There was a time in 1996, when I was supposed to teach a 4-day workshop on Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I wasn’t at all prepared, and it had been 9-12 months since I’d been certified. We were teaching the first day to two different groups on back-to-back days. So I struck a deal with my teaching partner. She taught the first day, during which I took detailed notes in a map so I could teach the same material to the second group on the following day. I didn’t have the software at the time, so for me it was a creative alternative to spending two weeks absorbing information from a four-inch thick manual.


I taught the entire day from a single 11”x17” map. The participants didn’t know that this was my first class, and were extremely receptive to the use of the map. If I hadn’t had the map, I literally would have had to read from the book in order to teach the class. Now I use them all the time. Maps capture the big picture and provide creative flexibility in terms of having options on content. If there’s extra time, I have a branch for what I may add, or what to take out if there’s not enough time. In preparing for the June 5th webinar, I went through the creative process with a map to determine what I wanted the audience to walk away with and how to maximize that hour. 


MJ : Your June 5th webinar The Memorability Factor showed attendees how the visual aspect of mapping increases their own memories and those viewing their maps; how is this thinking creatively?

JN : The simple act of creating a map can be creative – it’s colorful and full of imagery. An image can portray a thought in a way that’s beyond words— and it makes the whole process more enjoyable. If something is fun, it’s more memorable. Even something as simple as using different colors for the various branches can enhance one’s ability to make associations and promote a greater level of creativity. A key client who took my class about ten years ago created two different maps on a topic— both had the same content, but one had images and the other didn’t. She conducted a comparison and found that most people preferred the one with images because it was much more interesting. Images break up the monotony of words and thus stimulate one to think and make connections that might otherwise go unnoticed.

When I think about utilizing MindManager for creativity, I think, what an amazing tool!

For more information on idea mapping, sample maps, workshops, Jamie Nast or to buy her book, visit her website at www.ideamappingsuccess.com, or blog at http://ideamapping.blogspot.com.

To use MindManager like Jamie Nast does, download a free trial here


Lest We Forget … The Last Fighting Tommy

November 11, 2007


Yesterday I ordered “Lest We Forget” by Max Arthur and “The Last Fighting Tommy”, written by Harry Patch, who is now 109 and who is the only surviving veteran of the Trenches of WWI.  He was in attendance at the Royal British Legion Festival of Rememberance broadcast on the BBC last night and I have just seen him speak on the BBC in a recorded interview, at the opening to the Rememberance Service … his eloquence was touching. 

Most of us won’t become 109 years old and most of us will never have to endure what he did …  


There is more about Harry Patch on the BBC’s website : http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/last_tommy_gallery_03.shtml

My interest is not about War (and the rights or wrongs of any particular conflict) but about the lives of real people who endured (and continue to endure) real suffering and hardship and I hope that anyone who can, will support the Poppy Appeal whether by giving of money or by giving their time or both… 




Harry’s companions gave their lives during 1914-1918 in “The War to end all Wars” but the British Legion is needed now just as much as when it was founded because, in 2007, we still have people losing their lives on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My personal views about the war in Iraq do not stop me wanting to support the Poppy Appeal because each Poppy purchased both remembers the dead (and wounded) and helps those left behind and those left permanently wounded.

Lest We Forget…

Microsoft Outlook – Creating Contacts and Categories

November 9, 2007

If you have been following this Blog you will know that I now use Mindjet’s MindManager 7.0 Pro software as a “hub” for all my interactions with Microsoft Office.  However, I still use Microsoft Office extensively and have recently been asked how to create CONTACTS in Outlook and how to use CATEGORIES effectively…

The following screenshots are for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 but the basic principle will work for all previous versions – the key difference in 2007 is that CATEGORIES can have colours assigned to them, whereas in Outlook 2003 you had CATEGORIES and EDIT LABELS as separate entities. 

1. From CONTACTS, create a new CONTACT via File, New and complete all the relevant information


 2.  In Outlook 2007 – Choose an appropriate CATEGORY from the CATEGORIZE button.  If none of the CATEGORIES are suitable you can delete, rename and create NEW ones:-


Once you have assigned a CATEGORY (or several) by ticking them, click OK and that CONTACT will have the coloured CATEGORIES visible at the top.

In Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, as mentioned above, colours were separate from Categories (colours were called labels and are in Edit, Labels) … in the example below I have shown CATEGORIES being applied onto an APPOINTMENT (rather than a CONTACT) but the process is the same for both …


The whole point about assigning CATEGORIES to either APPOINTMENTS or CONTACTS is that you can then, in the future, extract all appointments or contacts PER CATEGORY by simply changing the VIEW.  It is an incredibly efficient way of sub-setting or analysing by CATEGORY … you just need to plan ahead and consider how you might need to view and create all the necessary Categories.

In Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, you can VIEW by CATEGORY… this screenshot shows the Calendar by Category …


To reverse the process, choose VIEW, Current View … and the top item from the menu … which will set you back to the default screen.

Another useful aspect of CATEGORIES is that in Word, the mail-merge feature can use Outlook to merge to a particular sub-set.  Therefore, if you want to merge to a particular group of your contacts you simply need to assign a CATEGORY or CATEGORIES to those people and have them on screen, then open up Word, start the merge process and when asked what data to use … simply choose Outlook and you will be able to use the Current View which will contain the correct names and addresses.

The International Congress for project, programme and risk management

November 5, 2007


Further details about this inaugural event, organised by the Best Practice User Group, to be held in London on 6-7 Feb 2008 are available from the link below:



Online Event Management software

November 4, 2007

If you want to organise an Event but don’t have a huge team to co-ordinate everything, it will be vital to make the very best use of online event management software currently available.

I have recently discovered rsvpBook and would love to hear from anyone who has practical experience of using this software OR any other online event management software … rsvpBOOK


Some of the features which appeal to me are:

E-mail messaging:
Send e-mail invites, reminders and custom messages to your list
Resend invites to addresses not yet registered
E-mail confirmations and receipts are sent automatically to guests
Receive e-mail (or not) each time someone registers for your event
Receive notification when you approach your maximum # of registrants

Online Payment Processing with Reporting:
Accept online payments through your own PayPal account
Or, connect directly to your own merchant account
Include item thumbnail pictures and popup enlargements
View and download sales by item, group and customer
View transaction data for any date range
Set up Promo Codes to track your advertising
Offer early-bird discounts, manage inventory and use start/stop-selling dates

Sessions and Tracks with Reporting:
Set up an unlimited number of sessions; require attendance, or not
Specify title, speaker, description, room, dates, times, audience
View and download attendee lists; send reminders-to-attend to session attendees
Set maximum number of attendees per session, automatic wait-lists
Move wait-listed attendees to the in-list
Move attendees from one session to another with auto e-mail confirmation
Print out session itineraries, one page per person – hand out at the door

Post-Event Services:
Post images and documents for downloads after your event
Send a guest survey after your event
Sell items after your event has occurred – tapes and CDs of speakers

There are various packages, at different price points, including a free trial so that you can try it before committing yourself.  I’d love to hear from anyone who has used this software to arrange any event from a small workshop to a huge multi-sessional conference.