Photo of Belinda Jackson, founder of Picture It Possible, sitting at a desk and smiling

Credit: Belinda Jackson

Seeing is believing

Graphic recording is a relatively new field involving the real-time translation of conversations or presentations into text and pictures. Belinda Jackson, Ed '12 (Cert), started her work in graphic recording as a live scribe. She would show up at a meeting or conference and help capture words with images, along with providing strategic support.

"When people see their words captured in art, they feel valued and heard," she says. "Once you make people feel like they matter, you remove barriers to change."

Initially, Jackson worked as a live scribe alongside her role as a teacher and administrator. But after a restructuring pushed her out of her job in 2018, she knew it was time to lean into graphic recording full time.

Today, Jackson's business, Picture It Possible, has become a respected consulting firm focused on visual strategy and facilitation. Jackson helps make meetings engaging and visual through her process of graphic renderings, promoting learning excitement and allowing for breakthroughs for her clients, from boards to C-suite executives to educators. She also trains other live scribes through online courses.

"So many of us end up feeling overwhelmed when we try to move from idea to action," she says. "But research shows that visual tools help to anchor you. Once you can see it, your brain starts making a pathway to accomplish it."

Here, Jackson tells us about her entrepreneurship journey and where she's headed next.

What inspired you to start working as a graphic recorder?

I had always loved graphic design, and at one point I thought I would become a fine artist. But my experience didn't quite fit there, so I used my creativity as a teacher. After a while, I began to facilitate a lot of meetings with educators. I realized I was very good at listening to people.

But in education, we're often too busy providing engaging experiences for others and we don't take the same approach for ourselves. I thought: Meetings should wake up your brain. There has to be a different way to translate research beyond Word documents and PowerPoints. So when I learned about graphic recording and took a strategic visioning class, I realized: This is it!

Tell me about launching Picture It Possible.

I was honestly surprised by how many people took to this service right away. C-suite leaders and boards were so receptive. I worried they'd see my work as doodling or a gimmick, but they could immediately see how I was able to help the groups process information and get to an ideal outcome while also making meaning. It was strategic and it helped with organizational development—a win-win.

Still, the initial startup phase was hard. I delayed pushing the button to launch my website because I was worried about how people would perceive me. It was also hard to get clients at first, but I learned that it was about consistency over time. I put in my time instead of just wishing and hoping, and people started to champion my work. Eventually, those relationships led to open doors with other clients. And even now, people who I've worked with for 12 years will come back.

Where is Picture It Possible headed?

At the outset, I took graphic recordings of events. Then I moved into facilitation. During COVID, I did a lot of virtual strategic planning retreats for impact boards and C-suite executives. Now, I'm excited to focus more on working with boards, especially those that focus on community action and higher education. Creating tools for this group really excites me, and I know it's going to be sustainable over time.

I'm also launching more courses. People can take virtual notetaking classes with me, but I'm going to launch a next-level program that will give them hands-on internship experiences with graphic recording. And I'm working on a book about business and strategic planning using visuals.

What advice do you have for someone who's at the cusp of pursuing entrepreneurship?

I've always felt like I didn't fit. I wasn't a real artist, a real graphic designer, and I didn't want to be in the classroom forever. I want to see more people in that situation, especially people of color, choosing entrepreneurship as a viable option for a career path. Graphic recording has been such a gift for me. As you start, remember that you just need a minimum viable product. Test your concept, be wise, but let yourself explore. If I hadn't tried out my ideas with confidence, I wouldn't be here.

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