Shift-it Coach Newsletter
Volume 8 | Issue 4 | March 9, 2012


Things are going really great these last few weeks.  Really hitting our stride in this season's programs. SHIFT-IT Online wrapped up after its 7 week run ... wonderfully supportive cohort with members with a high degree of personal awareness and ability to be vulnerable and share. A real pleasure.

This week we kicked off the new Magic Marker Mastermind – so fun to introduce members to each other and begin process of forming a creative hub to help these Visual Practitioners take their graphic aspirations to the next level.

Am also having a blast in my expanded collaboration with THEO and Sheila & Marcus Gillette.  While they won't make much sense out of their context, here are a few sketches from our Thrive in the Time of Awakening program. Hopefully they convey the shift from fragmentation to integration that this special container is all about. I myself had HUGE SHIFTS happen during and after last year's offering so I'm so curious to see what this year's results will be ... fasten our seatbelts!


Hope you are feeling the pep and perk of Spring's energy too!

Yours in Visual Expansion and SHIFTing IT,

Christina Merkley,
The SHIFT-IT Coach
and Interactive-Visuals Mentor



Szilard Strenner, Visual Facilitator & Certified Visual Coach
Szilard Strenner
Visual Facilitator &
Certified Visual Coach®
Budapest, Hungary

"I am really grateful to Christina and I really appreciate her and Visual Coach Certification®. I learned a lot and many things changed around me.

We got gorgeous videos and a fabulous toolkit; we were taught how to properly employ The SHIFT-IT Visual Coaching Process and its 17 visual maps with clients.

We were insistently reminded how to formulate visual recordings correctly. We were coached via ongoing contact with our mentor and peers. And we were examined via a thorough exit process and received detailed, helpful feedback in a highly supportive manner.

Before I applied, two important visual practitioner colleagues labeled Christina "a highly professional" source, and yes, they were right. She shared her working methods, tools, accessories, and business tips. I gained superb practical tools to support my professional and personal transition. I launched my visual practitioner business and website (English version coming soon), created environment for online visual coaching, have started to build a team and I have new and returning coaching and corporate visual facilitation clients. I was very satisfied with the program and the results we created.

Many people say "I am a coach!" but in Visual Coach Certification we worked hard to earn our visual distinction! Thank You Christina and Congratulations to the whole SHIFT-IT team in Victoria, and our peers all around the World! Are you wanting to shift your practice to the visual way of working? If so, I highly recommend the visual trainings at SHIFT-IT Coach, Inc".

Szilard Strenner
Visual Facilitator &Certified Visual Coach®
Budapest, Hungary


Magic Marker Advanced Mastermind
March 5 July 2, 2012 (weekly Webinars plus in-person retreat)

I'm happy to announce a new intermediate-level program to support blossoming visual practitioners (scribes, facilitators and coaches). For people who have already received base visual training (from me or equivalent experience), and are keen to build the next phase of your visual career. This mastermind provides up close instruction and support to enhance your skills and biz (whether you are internal or external). Includes weekly drop-in calls, online forum for sharing, private mentoring with me, plus an in-person retreat. Group limited to 12 members.

Full Details and Application Process
* 2 Spots Left: Applications Received Up to 2nd Session (March 12)

Visual Coach Certification (2012 Cohort)
10-Weeks Online: April 10 June 19 (Webinars, Tuesdays Noon-1:30 pm Pacific)

Become a Certified Visual Coach®. For leading-edge coaches, counselors and therapists from around the globe. Add the power and innovation of Visual Coaching to your own practice. Includes advanced visual coaching techniques, use of my SHIFT-IT System® with your clientele, instruction in the 'template-izing' of your own content into visual tools, plus marketing and biz development mentoring. Apply now to secure your place.

Full Details and Application Process.
* 2 Pre-requisites Required. Applications Received by March 24th!

Fundamentals of Interactive-Visuals (In-Person Version)
May 3-5, 2012 in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Over 87% of your facilitation, coaching, training and consulting clients are visual thinkers – learn powerful visual skills to boost the effectiveness of how you work with them. This in-person, professional skills training thoroughly covers custom chart work, visual scribing, visual facilitation and visual coaching (the four main applications of working visually with groups and individuals) so you can add these powerful tools to your own consulting, facilitation, coaching and training offerings.

Register Now Just 2 spots left!
*Note: Pre-requisite for Visual Coach Certification.



I've been in the Interactive-Visuals field for going on two decades now ... and the field just gets richer, deeper and more known every year.  It's truly an exciting time to enter into the field, however there are a few things you should know if you are contemplating developing a career or hobby in the visual way of working.  As a mentor who has coached hundreds of people in successfully developing their visual craft ... here are my tips on how to have a successful entry.

One of your first steps (after browsing the internet and reading books) is to get yourself to a decent basic training.  For good and for bad, there are now a plethora of beginning level visual scribing and visual facilitation trainings popping up.  Good – because there may be an offering closer to home or cheaper than there used to be.  But bad – because the quality of some offerings leaves much to be desired, so as a consumer you must do your due diligence in finding a good one.

I've offered my Fundamentals of Interactive-Visuals training for over a decade now.  It thoroughly covers the basics and how they can be applied to the four main ways of working visually (custom chart work, visual scribing, visual facilitation and visual coaching).  Lots of marker work and practice in a safe environment with other visually interested participants from across the globe.  My course is offered twice a year (in-person in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in May and online for 9 weeks in Oct.-Dec.).  I also offer private and in-house trainings.

Basic Icons & Wall Work
Your Visual Tribe

In addition to my own trainings, I recommend the trainings at The Grove Consultants International in San Francisco (David Sibbet was my first mentor and a true founding father in the visual way of working) and Crowley and Associates in Maryland (Deirdre is a good friend who shares my same philosophy about the work being about PROCESS first and foremost not art). There may be other good trainings out there but at this time I'm not prepared to back them publicly due to needing to know more about their structure and philosophy.



As I've written about extensively before, in my opinion there are four main applications in the Interactive-Visuals genre (custom chart work, visual scribing, visual facilitation and visual coaching).  See 4 Ways of Working Visually for more details.

After receiving good basic training, your next task in becoming a functioning visual practitioner (whether for work or fun) is to decide upon your primary area of interest.

Which genre do you want to commit to as a starting focus? My suggestion is that you pick one to start with, then you can add others as you go along.

As of late, more and more formally trained illustrators, artists and designers have been getting turned onto this niche. If you come from this background, a natural place to apply your skills is in Custom Chart work (including the time-lapse recording videos that have become all the rage) and visual scribing/graphic recording. Should you wish to enter into true visual facilitation work, you'll most likely need to hone your understanding of facilitation and process before you can effectively work on that side of the spectrum.

If you aren't an artist (and don't want to invest heavily in becoming one) but do have facilitation, coaching or other process experience then visual facilitation and/or visual coaching are going to be your starting places.  You can take your basic visual skills and start applying them to processes that you already design or lead.  And/or you can learn handy ready-made visual processes like The Grove's Strategic Visioning Process (for strategic planning work with groups) and/or my SHIFT-IT Visual Coaching Process (deep personal thinking for individuals, life and business partners).  I believe Global Business Network has also template-ized their Scenario Planning.

If you aren't already a facilitator, but are interested in becoming one, then a basic facilitation and/or strategic planning course will serve you well. Then you can start adding in visuals to the way you facilitate (or act as a visual scribe in settings where someone else is doing the lead facilitation role until you are ready to start co-facilitating or taking on the lead role). This work is about PROCESS not art, so you really need to know and hone your process abilities in order to effectively perform visual facilitation.


Once you have determined your focus area, you will enter an extended practice period. Please note, you will not become a skilled Visual Practitioner overnight (no matter who you are). You, like all of us who have become proficient in this work, will have to enter into a sustained development period in order to hone your craft and your internal confidence.

It takes chutzpah to draw, doodle and format thinking publicly. You may have early wins right off the bat, but please be prepared that it may take months and even years to fully stand tall in this work. You may need to take on pro bono work to begin with and lower rates as you build your portfolio, contacts and network. There is no shame in this. Its realistic and a fact of life. Committed people who maturely accept this do well ... folks who have immature expectations don't. While this is a captivating, fun and even glamorous field ... it is a skilled craft and a business like any other. So you must be prepared to put in your mileage to reap the rewards.


Speaking of business, concurrent to honing your skills you will also be building your practice (if you intend to do this work beyond a general interest or hobby). One of the reasons I have been success in this work is because I invested extensively in business development and marketing training, particularly online methods. Moving back to Canada (after years in San Francisco) and living on a beautiful island, it was a necessity that I learn how to market and promote my visual work effectively (at that time there were few practitioners in this country, let alone the world).

Nowadays, given the global interest in working visually, it is easier (cause early adopters like me have paved the way for you). However, due to increased volumes, you will need to learn how to differentiate your offering and yourself from others in the field. And learn how to effectively attract the kinds of clients you care to work with (see my How to Effectively Select a Visual Practitioner article for the client's perspective in all of this).


Even though the visual way of working is growing in leaps and bounds, it's still a unique niche and as such it can be lonely at times. As you continue to develop your craft and yourself, it will become increasingly important to surround yourself with like-minded and hearted people ... to build community via your Visual Tribe.

Not only is ongoing networking and community good for business, it is good for the SOUL.  In order to be successful at this work (or any work for that matter), it's important to strongly believe in what you are doing and to rejuvenate and keep things fresh.  To keep an excited, motivated, and energetic vibe within yourself and your work.  Its imperative to befriend others and find qualified mentors who can assist your ongoing evolution.

As you progress, you will grow out of early visual interests, friends and mentors and into new ones.  This is a natural and healthy process, as you change and morph to new levels.  We all stand on the shoulders of folks who come before us.  And we all have opportunities to give a leg up to others who are coming after us.  That is the natural evolution of a field. And the visual field is no different.

Good places for continued networking and mentorship are Magic Marker Mastermind, Visual Coaches, Forum for Visual Practitioners, VizThink, Center for Graphic Facilitation, Facebook Graphic Facilitation Group and Neuland.  I'm sure more will emerge as this wonderful field continues to morph and SHIFT.

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©2012 Christina L. Merkley

You can, as long as you include this blurb and a functional link to my site:

Author's Bio: Christina Merkley, "The SHIFT-IT Coach" and creator of the SHIFT-IT System®, is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Law of Attraction techniques. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other helping professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: and


Ready for your SHIFT? There is a HUGE TRANSITION going on in the world today both at a spiritual and physical level. Many people are feeling the call to ascend to a crisper, cleaner and more soul satisfying life - are you one of them? Enlist me as your personal transition aid. Define your vision, bust through your interfering resistance and start taking action. Pioneering Visual Coaching and Law of Attraction methods.

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Are you a helping professional with a creative bend? Are you intrigued with the visual way I work with my clients? I've trained hundreds of facilitators, consultants, trainers and now coaches, counselors, social workers, etc from around the globe. Learn fundamental visual skills that you can use in your own work with groups and individuals. Come join the visual tribe!

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Christina Merkley
The SHIFT-IT Coach &
Interactive-Visuals Mentor

Christina Merkley is The SHIFT-IT Coach. Creator of the SHIFT-IT System®, she guides individuals, partners and conscious companies in defining and getting what they really, really want.

A teacher of Law of Attraction, she is also an expert in visual meeting techniques, strategic planning and visioning: having worked for such notable companies as BBC, Readers Digest Funds, eBay and Stanford University. After a move from San Francisco, she now lives in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - where she maintains a vibrant coaching, facilitation and training practice.

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Looking for more rich, SHIFT-IT content? Check out my blog for recent ramblings, resources and general interest features:

Relationship: Are You a Distancer or Pursuer?

How to Effectively Select a Visual Practitioner

Visual Tools to Map Your New Year

Transformations Via the Tube

In Appreciation of Jerry Hicks

The Brouhaha About 2012

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