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How to Succeed At Failing

“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
—Albert Einstein

Albert didn’t speak until he was four, or read until he was seven.

Early failure didn’t stop him. And he's not the only one:

  • JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected by 12 publishers.
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.

Fail. Fail. Fail. Yet they didn’t stop. They kept at it.

 Many of us fear failure so greatly, that sometimes we don’t even try. 

And that’s just crazy.

Glorious failures litter the history of food, science, business, art and literature. Inventions that would never have occurred. Diseases that would never have been cured. Failure is an experiment that hasn’t worked. But the process, the methods, the learning?  They teach us something we didn’t know before.

Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before making the light bulb. 

Sir Alexander Fleming spoiled a bacteria sample, and discovered penicillin as a result.

As the bankrupt businessman and then successful Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford said:

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Failing is a most excellent way of finding out what doesn’t work. It’s a necessary step to success. It should be embraced and encouraged. Because breakthroughs, innovations, inventions—these come from people who are prepared and supported, to take risks. 

It’s really hard to be right first time, every time, especially if you’re pushing the envelope, or looking to do something new and different. So be brave and risk failure. Encourage others to try the unexpected. Join forces and experiment. Choose the course with the least predictable outcomes. Do something different and be challenged by the results.

It makes life so much more interesting.

For more ideas about risk-taking, failure and innovation, have a listen to this Radio National podcast with the author of The Innovation Formula, Amantha Imber and Manager of Brand Development and Innovation at Virgin Australia, Christopher Stubbs.

Let's Talk About ... Health

All industries face unique issues and specific challenges. They need to engage differently with their audience. Here are a couple of things to consider when you are communicating about health.

Health communication covers a lot of territory – from awareness of pubic health issues to altering behaviour or influencing attitudes at an individual or community level.

And let’s be honest, information about health can be confusing.

Medical terms, medication names, theories and practices – it’s not a language most of us feel comfortable with. And we generally don’t hear it at a time when we’re set to absorb complicated explanation, nuance and detail.

But it’s not enough to have important information. It’s not enough to have cutting-edge research. It’s not enough to have considered, thought-out plans and procedures.

You need to be able to communicate these ideas effectively. To have a strategy that encourages health changes in individuals and communities.

You have to let people know how they can make their lives better.

Always start with the why. Are you educating about health and sharing information? Encouraging a change in behaviour? Creating awareness about a disease or product?

Find out who your audience is. Do you want to talk to Health Care Professionals? Their clients? Engage Mass media or connect at a grass roots level? Do they have specific cultural and linguistic needs? You want to know what motivates your audience, what they think, what they do. (We’ve written previously about the benefits of Empathy Mapping – contact us if you’d like some help).

Consider the best way to express your message. Is it step-by-step directions, or personal stories that work to address public health concerns?  Think about your language, style, materials and format. What’s the clearest way you can communicate your important health message?

Because the more we know, the better we’ll be.

If you’re after step by step guide to developing a Health Communication Campaign – here's a pretty great resource.


Do have the prescription for communication success? We'd love to help you get your message out there. Get in touch!


Happy Anniversary to Us!

It's our 4-year anniversary, and to celebrate we're giving Matt away. That's right, Matt, Sketch Videos founder and the illustrator behind the 50 million dollar sketch, comes free with every video booked in and paid for by the end of September.

He'll be there to facilitate an eye-opening graphic visualisation on your topic, with your team. Ask us how.


Featured Sketch: Centre for Innovative Justice

Usually, we feature a video in this section, but this month, we're showcasing a Live Sketching Event where our Chief Doodler got to show off his sketchy skills.

Talk us through it Matt ...

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of working with the Centre for Innovative Justice (in partnership with Victorian Legal Aid and National Legal Aid) to graphically record an evening seminar covering some of recent innovations in the justice system. The event was hosted at RMIT's Storey Hall in the city. While this was the first time we'd sketched an event in the justice space before, we've worked with the Neighbourhood Justice Centre to create a series of sketch videos(link to NJC) in the past, so felt like we had a good handle on some of the language used during the event.

The session ran for an hour and a half, and consisted of six speakers, sharing their experiences and discussing recent developments. Compared to all of the visual facilitation work I've been doing with groups lately, having a single narrative to capture felt like a luxury! The brief from the client was pretty broad: "capture the event graphically" and I'm pretty proud of the end result.

My favourite thing about this event, from an illustrator's perspective, was drawing the cartoonified caricatures of the speakers. Caricature adds a fun element to the visual map (luckily nobody has taken offence—that I'm aware of, anyway!) In this instance, the faces were quite abstract and cartoony, so adapting features within this style framework was a lot of fun.

I also found the content genuinely interesting—it made me realise that many aspects of our legal system date back centuries, and there are traditions in place that lead to efficiencies that serve no particular purpose. It truly is a space ripe for innovation!

Judging by the number of compliments I received at the end of the night, the visual map I created was well received. I often wonder whether part of the novelty of having a graphic recorder present is as exciting for attendees as the finished canvas. I guess there is always an element of magic when watching someone draw something from scratch. A big thank-you to Khoi and his team for the opportunity!

And from Khao CaoLam from Victorian Legal Aid...

"I was really happy with your work and thought it added an extra dimension to what we were doing, especially because we were trying to demonstrate approaches that may be very new to people. The visual recording helped to link the concepts with people and everyday contexts. You were very easy to work with."

Nice sketching!


Sketch it Big. Sketch it Live.

Sketch Videos recently held a training day focused on Graphic Recording for Illustrators.

Live Sketching for training, for presentations and for facilitations is such a brilliant value-add, and we're working on growing our Graphic Recording team to keep up with the demand. It's not enough that you can draw. You have to be able to condense information, manage time and space and be able to make a real contribution to to presentation. 

Here's some snapshots of a sketchy good night.

Follow along for your daily sketch fix on Twitter or Facebook.


Here's hoping you spring into Spring.