Fun fact: I have always loved taking notes. However, I was very particular about the linear aesthetics of my outlines, sections, and headings. I never used visual notes, and there were no doodles or sketches. I never even knew that was an option—after all, I didn’t want to “mess up” my notes.
Now I can’t stop thinking in pictures.
My name is Wendi Pillars, and I have been an educator for 24 years in both military and civilian worlds—overseas and stateside—with learners of all ages, from toddlers to adults. I use visuals to explain, clarify, ease anxiety, and add laughter, finding that this inspires others to be creative, encourages new ways of thinking, and fuels the leap from abstract thoughts to concrete action steps.
I started this work in my classroom, in the pre-Internet days. When my language learners didn’t know a word, I would sketch it out quickly to move us along. Choruses of “Oh! I know what that is!” and laughter soon intertwined, helping create both community and more efficient shared understanding. I eventually began creating visual notes at conferences and realized what a tremendous cognitive push this process was. Soon after, I doubled down on teaching students and colleagues in how to use them.
What I love most about doing this work is that it adds layers of value to learning experiences, meetings, and decision making because it inspires more confident thinking. Graphic recordings serve as shared references for all participants, making them perfect for gauging growth and building stronger connections between both content and people. Visual notes transcend linguistic boundaries, particularly among multilingual and multicultural groups, and serve as an anchor point for even the toughest of conversations.
I particularly love empowering others through visuals. “Sharing the marker” in both the figurative and literal sense is important to me because I truly believe we all have creativity waiting to be released. Part of my role entails taking the time to help you tap into your creativity so that we can work as thought partners and you can lead others to do the same.
When you sketch more, you think more.
When you think more, you connect more dots.
And when you connect more dots, you accomplish more.
My markers are ready. Are yours?