by: David Armano

There are no wrong questions, but you may night be asking the "right" ones. The right questions lead to a deeper understanding and will help you find what you're looking for. Here's 2 questions I get asked often.

1. What software do you use to create your visuals?
2. What widget did you use to raise money for Daniela?

Both questions are valid and will yield simple answers which I'm more than happy to share.

1. I use Adobe Illustrator.
2. I used a Chip In, in combination with PayPal.

Simple answers to basic questions. And maybe that's good enough for what you're looking for. But I actually think that these are the wrong questions. Or maybe there are better questions to ask, to which the answers are found not only by asking the source—but by looking for clues. Here's the questions I would look for answers to.

1. How can I be a better visual thinker?
2. How do I even start cultivating a community?

Ok. Now we are getting somewhere. Each of these questions gets closer to identifying something that is closer to the root, but achievable if you work really hard at it. The hard part is that I can't answer these questions for you fully, you have to do the legwork. But I can point you in the right direction and then you have to chart your own course. So let's take a stab at it.

How you can be a better visual thinker.
This question will yield many different answers from the sources you ask and it definitely cannot be answerd in an e-mail, comment or tweet. In fact, I am not an expert on visual thinking and merely practice my own version of it my work and thoughts. So, I've actually provided my answer to this question as best as I could in this slideshow. You can download it, print it out put it on your wall if it helps. I'd also point you to the Vizthink site community which discusses nothing but visual thinking. And I'd recommend a crash course in appreciating visual communication. You can do this by simply picking up a Sunday edition of the New York Times or browsing their site, not to mention scouring the Web for evidence everywhere. My one word of advice? Re-train your mind to notice everything. Visual communication is all around us from our roadways to our grocery stores. Instead of taking it all for granted—stop and think about what works and what doesn't. This is the first step of many. You'l have to figure out the rest for yourself.

How you can cultivate a community
This question requires you to refocus on the more important word.

Hint: It's not community.

The word you need to hyperfocus on is cultivate. Think of how one cultivates a garden. It takes several factors:

1. Passion for gardening
2. Patience
3. Willingness to weed, prune, seed, and grow. All the hard work that comes with producing fruit
4. Appreciation for the fruits that have been yielded
5. A desire to share the fruits of your garden with your neighbors

There's no magic bullet for cultivating a healthy community. But if you can do it—that's the main ingredient behind stuff like raising nearly 17k for a family. Cultivating something can lead to all sorts of things like getting your community to spring into action when you need it. To learn the art of cultivating, you again need to sharpen your powers of observation. Go to the places where healthy communities are in place—see who people are learning from. It could be brands or people. Web MD did it by connecting people to each other and the knowledge they were looking for. Chris Brogan did it through thousands of micro-interactions over time. Seek out the examples, watch and learn. You'll find out more this way than by asking any question.

Questions are good—but question which ones you should ask and what they'll get you. You may only have one shot to ask them. And my opinion is that you'll get even better answers by discovering things for yourself. Start with observation, see with fresh eyes—it all begins here.

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