How to Make a Flowchart (and Decide What to Do for Lent)

Today is a two-for. How to make a flowchart and how to decide what to do for Lent. Wow. I’ve just doubled my audience reach here guys. Wow.

How to make a flowchart

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room. Why would I ever suggest creating a flowchart? Aren’t I a writer? Wouldn’t I always suggest writing and never suggest flowcharts?

Of course not. Design is important for effective communication. Sure, words are my trade but design brings everything to life. And sometimes words and design need to work together to help a reader visualize.

This is the situation I encountered when writing an article about Lent (a season in the Christian liturgical calendar focused on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God). I wanted it to inspire mindfulness and prayer but felt there were some obstacles since a lot of people treat the season like a “resolution reboot” and a lot of people do things like give up television, chocolate, and pop.

Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. But I wanted to go a bit deeper and get to the root of Lent. In 650 words.

My creative process

It didn’t take long before I realized a flowchart was in order so I started sketching. It was difficult to take my big ideas and shape them into a streamlined process but after a few tries I had something I could live with. I also had to take the concept to my editors and the graphic designer for approval since I needed half of my article space for a graphic. A graphic directed by a writer. Can you imagine? Well, maybe you can’t but it was quite the pitch let me tell you.

When to use a flowchart

Here are some situations where creating a flowchart will help you.

  • When you’re defining/communicating a process
  • When you’re identifying bottlenecks or waste in a process
  • When you’re problem solving
  • When you’re improving a process
  • When you’re making a decision

Why you’d use a flowchart

  • You can explain a complicated decision-making process on one page
  • You can standardize a process
  • You can make decisions faster

Whiteboard Flowchart

How to make a flowchart

  1. Determine your flowchart’s goal. What’s the desired outcome once someone’s read the flowchart? Start simple and grow from there
  2. Decide on your steps. How many steps are there? Is it a Y/N type thing or is it a walk through?
  3. Put your steps in order. Decide where it starts and where it finishes
  4. Test, test, test. This is where you’ll figure out if you need more steps or you’ve got them out of order. Run it until you’re convinced it’s complete
  5. Press publish! (Or pass it to your designer to make it…good)

There are all types of ways you can build your flowchart once you have the content but I’ll leave it for you to Google. I’m no designer.

ACTUAL FLOWCHART DESIGN

If you’re curious about Lent or how to use this chart, the article is posted here. Or if you want to take it for a spin, download the flowchart below.

Lent 2017 will start on Wednesday, March 1 and will end on Thursday, April 13 (wow, what a timely post).

Priceless Movie Review: Blu-Ray + DVD Release February 14

Priceless Movie Review

Priceless Movie Review

When I saw the Priceless movie come up in my review queue I wondered what an inspirational film “shining a light into the dark world of human trafficking” would reveal. I mean, how do you do that?

Dubbed a romantic drama, Priceless follows James Stevens (Grammy-award winning singer Joel Smallbone from For King and Country) on a red-eye delivery with a mysterious package. Sketchy. Stevens is troubled, complicated, and in over his head. He realises this once he hears crying coming from the back of his delivery truck. What are those girls doing back there? Now what does he do?

As Stevens bonds with his delivery he’s faced with an impossible choice: deliver the girls to their destination (where they’re expecting to work as domestics to pay off their father’s debt) or…or what? So he drops them off.

The problem is, in his heart he knows what’s going on and compassion compels him to do something. This is where things get gritty. Stevens, with the help of a new friend, dives in headfirst trying to save the girls. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, he doesn’t know what he’ll do next, but he is driven—to the point of risking relationships with his family.

There aren’t any surprises in this indie drama but it does pose important questions we might find easier to ignore.

  • What does love look like?
  • What is my responsibility when I see injustice?
  • What’s a life worth?
  • How far would I go to do what I believe is right?

Answer these questions and you may find yourself in James Stevens’ shoes. Because the truth is, it’s not somebody else’s job to fix the world’s problems, it’s your job and it’s my job. It’s our job to stand up for those with no voice. If you’re a Christian, you may find some motivation from 1 John 3:17. “If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” Or how about Proverbs 25:26, “A good person who gives in to a bad person is a muddied spring, a polluted well.”

So, do I agree with Stevens’ methods to bring about change? In truth I feel conflicted, he used violence and I found it troubling. But was there another way? I don’t know. And if faced with the same situation, would I be brave enough to stand against oppression and do what I know in my heart is right? I hope so.

Priceless reminds us that human/sex trafficking is not something that only happens in other countries, but happens in our country and we all have a responsibility to do something.

Priceless is available today on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Amazon and Walmart and available on Digital HD from iTunes.

Priceless Synopsis

Inspired by true events, PRICELESS is a powerful drama/thriller about James Stevens who was, at one time, a good man with a great life—but that was then and this is now. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash—no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering is actually who, he is compelled to save two beautiful and frightened sisters who are unaware of the danger that awaits them.

Can love, strength, and faith redefine his past and change the course of his future? This unlikely hero risks it all to save these women, confront the forces that oppose him and ultimately discover the life he was meant to live.

From the creative minds behind the two-time Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY, PRICELESS stars Joel Smallbone (for KING & COUNTRY), Bianca Santos (THE DUFF), Amber Midthunder (“Longmire”) with Jim Parrack (SUICIDE SQUAD, “True Blood”) and David Koechner (ANCHORMAN, “The Goldbergs”). PRICELESS is the first film from the Smallbone Brothers. Ben Smallbone directs from the script by Chris Dowling & Tyler Poelle. The film was produced by Steve Barnett (300). David Smallbone and Luke Smallbone serve as executive producers, and Jacob “Cubbie” Fink is co-producer.

Come see TEDxStanleyPark 2017 March 4 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

TEDxStanleyPark 2017 brochure

March 4, 2017 is TEDxStanleyPark and I’m thrilled to be a blog ambassador again. If you’re thinking of going let me encourage you to get tickets before January 31 so you can grab the five early-bird bonuses I’m offering. Just use my link.

TEDxStanleyPark Early-Bird Bonuses

  1. Get a 90-minute float from Floathouse ($75 value)
  2. Get a 30-minute MediCupping massage from Elegance MD Medispa ($65 value)
  3. Get a guided tour of Stanley Park (running, cycling or foraging) from Guides.com ($45 value)
  4. Get four tickets to a comedy show from Yuk Yuks ($40 value)
  5. Get a couple’s beginner dance lesson (salsa, tango or bachata) from Baila Vancouver-Dancetoday ($40 value)

TEDxStanleyPark 2017 speakers list

All you have to do is click on my affiliate link then purchase your tickets. This year you can choose where you sit (balcony, general admission, or VIP) and even purchase lunch ahead of time. If you attended TEDxStanleyPark last year then you know why this is such a great idea!

A day or two after you complete your purchase you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to claim the bonuses. Did I mention they’re for EACH ticket you purchase? Make sure you use my link so you get the bonuses!

Last year’s event was a huge success and I’m still revelling in the ideas shared. Although I can’t imagine being more inspired to make a difference in the world seeing this year’s lineup I KNOW it will happen.

If you have any questions send me a message. I’m a huge fan of TEDxStanleyPark and want you to join the party.

TED Talks have become more than a conference. TEDxStanleyPark is your chance to innovate and discover ideas worth spreading—putting those ideas into action to make our city and our world a better place.


Description

TEDxStanleyPark is an annual conference that showcases a diverse range of humanity’s tough challenges and activates attendees to implement solutions to those challenges. Our perennial theme is Ideas to Action.

Our Vision

We use high-impact talks to cause actions to happen that move the needle toward a better world. These actions give legs to dreams of what could be.

Attendees

TEDxStanleyPark is for thoughtful optimists with curious, fertile and open minds in search of practical ways to make the world a better place.

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation [book review]

Travel Canadian Pacific

If you know anything about Canadian history you know the Canadian Pacific Railway company played a role in shaping it. Marc H. Choko’s Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation tells the story based on CP’s publicity output—their marketing and graphic design in particular. It’s a unique take on telling a brand story while educating readers on how public and private interests can align for the greater good. In this case, forming a unified Canada.

Being raised in Canada, I learned about CP’s scandalous beginnings from a political point of view. I imagined the private company as the big baddie, trying to monopolize the rail industry by outbidding all competitors and making backroom deals with politicians. While it’s not not what happened, this book adds another side to the story, the part where provinces (NS, NB, BC) refused to join the Canadian Confederation without the promise of a railway linking them to (now) Ontario/Quebec and how the British government wouldn’t/couldn’t fund it. Also added was the HUGE obstacle of the Canadian Shield and Rocky Mountains—and even once CP had the contract they were near bankrupted several times finding ways across these untamed wilds.

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation cover


Oh, and if the railway didn’t happen out west then the United States would have annexed BC—the history of the Pacific Northwest (up until 1846 this was Alaska-California under the control of British North America) was interesting in particular as the motivation for keeping British Columbia under British control was for two reasons: 1) it seemed like a shorter route to Asia and 2) gold rush. Those were the only reasons because everyone out east thought the west was worthless.

CP had an uphill battle because this opinion was so prevalent. So the company advertised. They convinced their workers to talk up the west whenever they returned home to their families and communities, they brought in influencers (sorry, travel journalists) and gifted them all-inclusive luxury vacations so they would return to Europe and share their adventures. They built stunning hotels and created a steamship line to lure wealthy travellers across the sea and continent. And over time they even created mid-range accommodation so the new middle class could come too.

Duchess Steamships Newest and Largest

Building a national railway was all well and good but CP was a for-profit company and therefore needed profits. Tourism was one thing, but to keep the rail lines safe and to increase land values they needed more people living out west. So they advertised. They worked with the government. And they built ready-made farms for people.

Because the (eastern) Canadian settlers had such a poor opinion of the west, CP reached out to Americans and Europeans instead, offering amazing deals and door-to-door (ish) travel. This was of interest to me because this is how my great grandparents came to the Canadian prairies—the promise of affordable land, a farm, and a home. I knew they got a good deal on the land but this is a whole other layer to their story.

Own Your Own Home in Canada

For 374 pages of Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation, take in the history, complexity, and ingenuity of a company created from a prime minister’s vision for a transcontinental railway. Learn how the company overcame devastating obstacles like political scandal, sabotage, financial ruin, the Great Depression, two world wars, recession, competition, and critique by holding on to a clear vision, creative marketing, influential graphic design, and diversification.

One note: I read a PDF review version and must say, I have missed out. I thought this was a marketing book so didn’t mind the digital format but more than half the pages are images of CP advertisements and historical photos. If I had the hardcover I would have enjoyed this book much more. As it stands, it was a joy to read, even if it did take me six months.

How to Change Your Cabin Air Filter [tutorial]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FRAMFresh #CollectiveBias

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR CABIN AIR FILTER TUTORIAL

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I love DIY but I am not a DIY car person. In fact, my current vehicle has only ever visited the dealership for work. I know what it sounds like.

In fact, it’s because I know what it sounds (and looks, and is) like I decided to do the unthinkable: change my own cabin air filter and engine air filter.

The difference between a cabin air filter and an engine air filter is one filters air in your vehicle’s interior and one filters air in your vehicle’s engine. The engine air filter is straightforward so I’ll skip to the cabin air filter change.

How to change your cabin air filter (because if I can do it, I am quite certain you can too)

What you’ll need:

  • Cabin air filter (you’ll have to check the book for your vehicle’s make and model to get the correct sized/shaped filter)
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • The guts to remove your glove box

That’s it! Wondering if your vehicle even has a cabin air filter? If it was built after the year 2000 you have an 80 per cent change of having one installed. Again, check the book to be sure. When I purchased my FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter and FRAM Extra Guard Air Filter I checked the book at Canadian Tire for my exact make, model, and year so I knew I was getting the right products.

FRAM CABIN AIR FILTER TUTORIAL

The box instructions say this change can take you 15 minutes but for me it was longer. The filter case is snapped in tight and because you’re up under the glove box there are other thingies in the way. Here, perseverance plus my pink utility tool were the keys. I worked away at the top of the filter until it was far enough out for me to grab it. Except for that, the entire process was a breeze.

I was curious when the last time my cabin air filter was changed so I looked through my past receipts. You know, I don’t think it has ever been changed! I see my engine air filter having two changes (yay!) but nothing for the cabin air filter (boo).

FRAM Engine Air Filter

Changing the engine air filter is straightforward because it’s easy to get to. And bonus, my vehicle’s filter only has a lid to snap off, no finicky screws or tight jammed-up spaces. I expected a bit more trouble here but it took less than five minutes once I got started.

The most time consuming part? Figuring out how the heck to open my hood and find the thingy to make it stay up.

Here’s a few reasons why you should think about changing your air filter.

  • Air filters act as your vehicle’s first line of defense
  • Air filters block dust, allergens, and dirt
  • Dirty air filters restrict airflow, which can affect your vehicle’s overall performance

This was an awesome challenge and I pass the torch to you. Need inspiration? See other #FRAMFresh stories and find additional tips for changing your cabin air filter.