Visual Lessons from Our Election

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” – Le Corbusier

As we wake up realizing we’re at the end of this stage of our democratic process and as we prepare to move on to whatever comes next, I have a couple thoughts on the pictorial side of things.

1.     Emotions trump all.


The human brain works on many levels. At bottom, your brain-stem responds to simple sensory inputs with immediate “fight or flight” reactions. Next up the chain, your limbic brain triggers emotional responses to what you perceive: happiness, sadness, fear, lust, hatred, and joy. At the top, your massive neocortex enables you to pause, take a breath, analyze your reactions and emotions, think them through, and then make informed decisions based on evidence, experience, reason, insight, and wisdom.

At the beginning of the race, I expected to use my neocortex. During the first debate, I struggled to rise above the limbic level. By the end, I was all brain stem. At moments we saw attempts to rise to rationality, but real “thinking” never had a chance this time around.

The lesson: when you look like you’re losing, ring the amygdala. It works every time.

2. Window seats look out, aisle seats look in.


I noticed an interesting aspect of the voting map. It reminded me of the seating chart when I buy a plane ticket. For the most part, those states with “window seats” voted blue and those on the aisles voted red. The people in the window seats like to look outward and see the world beyond the plane. Those in the aisles prefer to watch the movie. It is two different mindsets: seeing the outside world as an opportunity to be seized, or seeing the outside world as a threat to be avoided.

I fly a lot. Virgin America is my favorite airline. They play a little jingle just before takeoff. It’s called “We’re all in this together.” It reminds you that even though you might not like the person sitting next to you, you still need to be civil and clean up after yourself because, well, we’re all on this plane until it lands.

I like the sentiment. I hope the whole nation can live up to it. I might not agree with you, but you know what? I still prefer the window.

3. Life under a megaboss won’t be the fun some people seem to expect.

This is my most personal concern about this election. I find it unsettling how much Donald Trump admires Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not many people know this, but I lived in Russia for seven years. From 1990 to 1997, I lived and worked in Moscow. It’s a long story, but the key is that I had the opportunity to move to the Soviet Union at the end of the cold war, and I took it. I was able to build a successful advertising business in Moscow. I learned to speak Russian and made many friends, learning important lessons every step of the way. At the end, I sold my business for traveling cash, and moved back to the US.

But you know what matters most? I saw every day what it is like to live in a place where the boss alone is the boss, and what he says goes, without debate. In hindsight, I was afraid every single day I lived there. If you are a success, toe the party line, and don’t make waves, you’ll be fine. But if you choose to think different, express yourself, and raise your head for something the boss doesn’t like, be careful. The boss will take your head off.

Let’s remember; we’re all in this together. We’re all Americans, and we got here by being open, not closed. This is America. Not Russia.


DRAW-TO-WIN-244x300Available now!

Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Visual Mind

Get ready for the ultimate crash course in communicating and solving problems through simple pictures. Get ready to draw to win.

Learn More

Excerpted from Draw to Win by Dan Roam with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Dan Roam, 2016.


Business As Always Been Visual


Below is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my latest book, Draw to Win, available now (September 13, 2016): 

I don’t think there is any race driver that could really tell you why he races. But I think he could probably show you.


Business Has Always Been Visual

In your business, you can no longer afford not to be visual. Our visually driven world now demands that pictures step to the front. But this is not a new phenomenon; pictures have always been at the heart of great breakthroughs in science, economics, technology, politics, and business. What is new is that you can’t ignore the visual anymore. And that’s a good thing.

Why? Because there is a simple unwritten rule about the power of pictures that you can always rely on: Whoever draws the best picture wins.

What It Means to Win

In business, winning is a pretty straightforward formula: You find something that you can do well enough to earn enough money to keep doing it. That’s the business cycle: Do something other people want (if you’re lucky, it’s something you also love to do), find a way to sell it to them, keep improving how you do it, and train someone else so that they can do it when you’re gone. There are a million variations, but that’s the basic theme.

2No matter what your business does, these four tasks keep you driving forward: You must lead, you must sell, you must innovate, and you must train. Do all four well and your business will win for a long time; miss any of the four and sooner or later your business will stop.

But just because the formula is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are an infinite number of ways to lead, sell, innovate, and train. The beauty of pictures is that they help clarify and streamline all four tasks.


  1.  Lead: Pictures help you clarify your vision and share it so that other people see where you want to go.
  2.  Sell: Pictures help you deeply understand a problem and then show other people that you have a way to solve it.
  3.  Innovate: Pictures help you look at the same old things in new ways—and then find ways to make those old things undeniably better.
  4. Train: Pictures help you map out the steps of what you do so that you can show other people how they can do it too.

So here’s this chapter’s rule again, only this time with its mercenary subtext:

Whoever best describes the problem, solution, or idea will be the best understood.



Whoever draws the best picture gets the funding.


That’s the essence of this chapter: If you’re truly serious about solving your problem, selling your solution, or explaining your idea—let’s be blunt: if you want your project or business to get funded— the best way is to provide the clearest picture of what you’re trying to say. It really is as simple as that: If you draw the best explanation of an idea, you will win. Why? Because when you see something that makes sense to you, it lodges in your brain and activates your memory in a way that words never will.


Available now!

Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Visual Mind

Get ready for the ultimate crash course in communicating and solving problems through simple pictures. Get ready to draw to win.

Learn More

Excerpted from Draw to Win by Dan Roam with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Dan Roam, 2016.


Visual Selling is Your Secret Weapon


The best salespeople in the world don’t sell a product or a service; they sell a perception. And a perception is a picture.

Great salespeople don’t try to convince you of anything; they simply describe a picture of a better world that is so compelling that it draws you in. If they are really good, they draw that picture with you, creating a mind-meld that can’t be achieved in any other way. By the time the picture is done, you’re more than sold; you’re in.

In my new book, DRAW TO WIN, I show how your visual mind processes the simple pictures that make sales fun and easy – and how to create those pictures so that you can activate someone else’s visual mind as well.

From Sigmund Freud to Martin Luther King Jr to JK Rowling to Steve Jobs, the greatest salespeople in history have used pictures to explain, clarify, and convince– and have created visions so compelling that the rest of us can’t help but be drawn in.

In this SlideShare exclusive, I will walk you through the bare necessities of visual selling:

  • Why you need to draw your idea out if you want to draw people in.
  • Why visual sales works – and how to get started.
  • How to draw the world’s oldest sales picture.
  • When to be quiet and hand over your pen.

Please take a look. Share your thoughts with me. If you like what you see here, I’d love to sell you on DRAW TO WIN.


Drawing Is Our Oldest Technology


Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my latest book, Draw to Win, available now (September 13, 2016): 

Drawing Is Our Oldest Technology

Thirty-two thousand years ago, your many-times-great-grandparents Oog and Aag drew pictures on the wall of a cave. They drew bison, a herd of horses, and many beautiful bulls. These drawings predate weapons, pots, jewelry, and most clothes.

Your ancient ancestors had things to tell each other, and the technology they used to record it was drawing. That desire to share was so compelling that Oog and Aag’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren kept going back to that same cave and drew the same pictures—for the next eight hundred years.

Adult drawing is “curious”? I don’t think so. The only thing curious is why people in business don’t draw more.

people love pictures

The Visual Is Back—and Here to Stay 

Everyone online relies on pictures: Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr; the greatest focus of social media is the image. This explosion of pictures isn’t a millennials-powered fad disconnected from the world of business. It’s the logical extension of those lines first drawn by Oog and Aag. Today we just have better technology.

Don’t think of sharing images as the dumbing-down of society or as threatening to business; on the contrary, creating and sharing pictures is the most natural thing in the world.

The problem is that there are too many images that aren’t very good, or good for you. Most pictures online are “lazy images.” Cute cats, train wrecks, and sexy bodies have their appeal, but they appeal to your lowest-common-denominator brain; they distract and occupy your brain without leaving much value behind.

Good images—meaningful pictures that trigger deep thoughts, clarify complexity, and inspire insight—exist too but are fewer in number. That’s not the fault of the pictures. The reason lazy images are so distracting is because the people who make them know that your brain loves to look at stuff. That’s good to know—and we’re going to take advantage of that too, but we’re going to use that insight to turn your good ideas into better pictures.

Why is that important? Because, as Cisco reminds us, 90 per-cent of the data you see is visual.

The Conversation Is Now Visual 

Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind. — ROBERT COLLIER

If you walk through the office talking loudly to yourself, nobody will listen. But if you can enter the conversation that is already going on in your colleague’s head, he or she will pay complete attention and invite you in. That’s always been true.

What’s different today is that now the conversation is visual. People’s stories are visual. Shopping is visual. The news is visual. If you want to enter just about any conversation today, you need to be visual too. Learn to join the visual conversation and you will be seen and heard.


Don’t Be Afraid of Drawing 

Don’t be the businessperson who says, “I can’t draw; therefore, I’m not visual.” That’s a deceptive trap. It’s deceptive because it assumes that drawing is difficult and that being visual is dependent on drawing. Neither is true. And it’s a trap because it stops you from accessing the most powerful problem-solving part of your brain before you even know it exists. And that’s not just silly; it’s a huge roadblock.


Available now!

Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Visual Mind

Get ready for the ultimate crash course in communicating and solving problems through simple pictures. Get ready to draw to win.

Learn More

Excerpted from Draw to Win by Dan Roam with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Dan Roam, 2016.


If you want to be in today’s conversation, you need to be visual!

Hi everyone!

It’s been ten years since I started writing The Back of the Napkin, beginning a small revolution in business visualization.

Since that time, I’ve delivered 700 speeches, classes, and projects to 180 clients. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things:

  • People love pictures, and the simplest pictures work the best.
  • With 3 minutes practice, anyone can draw.
  • Whoever draws the clearest picture wins.

Now, I want to share everything I’ve learned with you in my new book, Draw To Win—which is officially available today! 

Draw To Win is ten short chapters long. Each chapter introduces and explains one of the Ten Commandments of pictures: why you need to be visual, how to draw your ideas quickly, and what pictures work best in different situations.

It really comes down to this:

  1. If you want to lead, you should draw more.
  2. If you want to sell, you must draw more.
  3. If you want to innovate, just draw faster.

As I’ve said before, if you want to be in today’s conversation, you need to be visual. Draw To Win shows you how. Line-by-line.

For all those who have already pre-ordered the book or will do so today—THANK YOU! I have one additional ask, help support today’s launch in one of the following ways:




I look forward to seeing your drawings,