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AC Podcast: Mike Rohde on Sketchnoting

by | The Accidental Creative

Some people are naturally drawn to sketching ideas and concepts. Others fear it. Today’s guest, Mike Rohde, will share how all of us can use sketching as a way to unlock ideas and new avenues of thought with tips from his new book The Sketchnote Workbook.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Mike’s book. The winner will be chosen on December 1, 2014.

[UPDATE: Congrats to AmandaK, who was chosen as the winner of The Sketchnote Workbook.]

[amazon_image id=”013383171X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” align=”left” ]The Sketchnote Workbook: Advanced techniques for taking visual notes you can use anywhere[/amazon_image]

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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  1. Kyle Plattner

    Todd, thanks for all your great work! Keep having great guests like Mike Rohde on. It was so great to be exposed to his creative approach and it inspires me to change the way I think about note taking. The internet needs more creatives like the both of you!

  2. Behinder

    It’s always a pleasure to hear Mike. Thanks to him I motivated to start sketchnoting :)

  3. Daniel

    Thanks for another great episode. I have been meaning to get into sketchnoting. Getting over the hurdle of not being an artist but an avid note taker.

  4. sharon888

    Thanks to Mike for introducing me to your podcast. I followed his tweet here. And thanks for the chance to win his book. I have the first one and it’s great.

  5. Melaine D'Cruze

    Such a wonderful talk Mike. So inspiring. Thank you Todd for having Mike over as a guest.

  6. DoingItAllWrong

    Great interview. I’ve had Mike Rohde’s books on my wish list for a while, but i’m one of those that is having a hard time getting myself to try sketching, even though I know it will make me think more deeply and help process things I need to work on.

  7. Angel N

    Very interesting episode. I tried to think the whole time if I have ever taken to a sketch pad while on my creative cooldown, and could not find one until I realized I do do spriting though. My main creative outlet is worldbuilding, and sometimes when I am in a lull in front of that word document, I will draw from my sprite reserves folder and put my ideas down even if they won’t go toward anything. I sometimes find that when I’ve strayed from my thesis, or path, making a simple sprite will remind me the main throughline, the genre I”m aiming for, or even pick up old lost memories or ideas I neglected to write down at the time.
    I’d be willing to submit that any media shift while remaining creative is a good way to wipe your mental RAM and get back in it.

  8. Pamela Ray

    Todd, I enjoy listening to your podcasts and this latest episode was another excellent interview. I’m looking forward to checking out Mike Rohde’s books. I take notes every day in my job as a marketing coordinator/designer and I really should do more sketching. I think that it will help me to slow down and clarify my thoughts and design ideas. I love your books by the way. The Accidental Creative and Die Empty have been great resources for me, both at work and as a freelance designer as well. Keep up the excellent work!

  9. Tim

    Great advice. Love you podcast.
    Sketching is so important in my notes, even if they are just some doodles.
    I always keep some notebooks around, one for work, one for more private notes. Like your Midori Travel Notebook I use a similar system by Roterfaden ( ). It helps me to keep my notebooks (and sometimes notes on napkins) always close by and sorted.

    Thanks again for your podcast.

  10. Kim Senn

    This post/podcast was so motivating for me! I tend to keep notes & sketches separate… no longer. One notebook, sketches and notes, somehow this idea takes away the pressure of perfectionism. Thank you!

  11. jlpesca8

    This was a great episode and I can’t wait to read this book. As a visual learner, I’m intrigued to put sketchnoting to work in so many aspects of my life!

  12. JoElle Ramsey

    Right on. I love this. A writer’s conference workshop brought the power of sketching and visual storytelling to life for me. Based on the Maori culture, we explored the unconscious, delved into the symbolic representation of our stories & blossomed. As I shared my writing on a chalkboard, through a random, quick drawing, a symbolic representation, its’ metaphor & meaning came alive. Adding to the power, stepping away, into another corner of the room, viewing my picture story from another perspective, then talking about it unearthed the depth of my unconscious, the “more than” of my writing that was there all along. Thank you for the reminder.

  13. ktinboulder

    Great interview Todd and Mike, listened to it on my pre-thanksgiving dinner run looking out at the ocean. I use sketch notes mostly to mind map and plan, definitely going to try it in my next meeting. Love the “slow down” aspect.

  14. Sean Carpenter

    Todd – Loved this episode because it talks about what I call #CarpArt. Sitting at conferences and trying to tweet every cool statement by a speaker forced me to miss so much of the rest of his/her message. For the past few years, I sit and listen and then certain things the speaker says come to my mind as a picture that I then draw. I have been adding the hashtag #CarpArt and then I shre these via the event’s thread. It’s been amazing how many people connect with these sketches and say they “saw” that message the same way.

  15. K O

    Every year I have to take a set number of continuing education hours to renew my license. I can’t stay awake sitting through lectures all day. Sketchnoting will help me capture the most salient points and be easier to review than my hastily scribbled text notes taken between naps.


    Wonderful podcast. Recently my boss and I fired each other after 17 years with the company. He told me I have become too much of an independent thinker and creative. I had been completely stifled by his boundary insistence. Todd, I have your books, they are incredible. I think it was when I began “doodling” my notes that my boss made his final decision to give me the ax. It was too much for him. Thank you reigniting my creative spark. I am eternally grateful and free falling into a new possibilities.

  17. Johanne

    I’ve enjoyed Mike Rhode’s first book and then challenged myself to start using sketchnotes earlier this year during a TEDActive conference. It has transformed the way I take notes as well as the way I process ideas.

    While I often record what goes on during a talk or other event, I also include spontaneous (and ephemeral) ideas that occur to me as I draw and make connections between what I hear and my thoughts.

    I’m still struggling with illustrating certain concepts, but have found great value in continuing to practive taking sketchnotes. It’s a rich source of ongoing inspiration in my work and art.

  18. Jim Cyr

    Gee, if I had a copy of this book I would see how I could apply it to learning stories for storytelling. I sometimes use storyboarding to learn stories, but this seems to capture even more than a simple picture would because you use it in conjunction with words.

  19. Kiira K. Taylor

    so great to be here with you and soak up what you have to share. THANK you.

  20. Brandon Buerkle

    This podcast has been thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, as well as valuable. I like Mike’s idea of experimenting with visual note taking, as I tend to either draw or write, but have a hard time blending the two. I will certainly work on listening for the visual, and not worry about presentation so much as capturing ideas in an effective and memorable manner. I look forward to checking out Rohde’s book for deeper insight on these techniques.

  21. AmandaK

    What a great episode! I’m a graduate student, currently writing my dissertation, and I’m always looking for ways to energize my reading/processing/prewriting phase, which is a little dead and dusty. I’m extremely interested in working on sketchnoting, which I hadn’t really considered as an option but I love how it marries text/data with a creative approach. Since my work has a strong visual component (archaeology), this could really revolutionize how I interact with my research.

    • Todd Henry

      Hi Amanda – congrats! You’re the winner of a copy of The Sketchnote Workbook. Please forward your mailing address to support [at] accidentalcreative [dot] com and we’ll get it in the mail to you ASAP!

      • AmandaK

        Fantastic news!!! Thanks, Todd (and thanks, Mike!)! I’m thrilled!

  22. Donna Dustin

    My first introduction to Sketchnoting – can’t wait to learn more!

  23. Matthew Iacopelli

    I am an interior designer so I am always sketching ideas in a notebook. I am also a blogger so I also sketch out mind maps and ideas for new posts and digital products.

  24. Asnipofgoodness

    The idea of sketchnoting is so interesting to me! I am a visual learner, and I can’t believe this hasn’t occurred to me before! I have detailed memories as a child of drawing what I was listening to! Somewhere along the way I told myself that wasn’t the right way?

  25. Thien-Kim

    I like to sketch notes when listening to a speaker because I can visually emphasize important points–either by making the words bolder/bigger/more dynamic or illustrating concepts.

  26. Dan

    I love sketching, thats my first love. Pencil on paper is my method. thank you for supporting the arts community!

  27. James Black

    Great podcast! I love sketching it is my key to unlock ideas. I post a ton of daily doodles on my instagram @jamesblackeys as a way to get warmed up with drawing and thinking in visual language.

  28. Mahdi

    Looking forward to reading this. Reminds me of _Back of a Napkin_.

  29. Ryan

    Enjoyed hearing more from Mike. One of my favorite uses of sketchnoting is listening to speakers at church. The Bible is full of great word pictures, and they make their way easily into my notes.

  30. Scotty Neale

    Mike, I’ve been “sketching” notes for years, but without structure. Your perspective has helped me see things in a different way. What do they say, Change how you look at things and the things you look at change.

    Thank you,

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