Becoming a Kraken! The Challenge.



The short version (who am I kidding, you all already know I never have a short version) of the story is that someone made a funny remark at a CSI Board Meeting one day along the line of “Release the Krakens” when a couple of us were pushing to get something done.

I am not exactly sure why or how, but it stuck.  It became a running joke that, if you wanted something done, you called one of the CSI Krakens.  We were having so much fun with this that we decided to start a Kraken Committee and even got ourselves some T-shirts. 

I started tweeting about it and soon other CSI Members across the country were getting involved.  By the time we all converged on Nashville for CONSTRUCT last September, more than just Portland CSI Members were proudly sporting the Kraken colors.  Our King Kraken (Thank you Eric!) made a #CSIKraken Tagboard where you can see all of our tweets in one place (  Another lovely lady (thank you Sheryl!) emailed me to get the logo and made a ton of pins to hand out to members at the convention.  She handed them to me, said I love this but “this is your thing” and walked away.

Whaddya mean this is my thing? 

It seems I was so clearly excited about the direction this was taking that I unwittingly became the voice of the CSI Krakens (mainly because I won’t shut up about it.)  I am not elected and I am most certainly not alone.  I may have the big mouth, but the #CSIKraken are the ones out there spreading the message.  They are the real heart of this effort.

In the past year, the effort continues to grow and daily (sometimes twice) I post a #CSIKraken message of inspiration on Twitter to hopefully help keep these fires burning.

Now, you have to understand that the Portland CSI Board works great together.  We all get along amazingly well, respect and admire each other and are generally pretty positive people, even when we disagree.  When we have a problem, we solve it together and we are motivated to take our Chapter to the next level and be leaders.  This is at the heart of what CSI Krakens are all about.

It is important to be clear that this “movement” came from a positive, collaborative place.  The first time most people hear about our Kraken Committee, they envision a big evil sea monster destroying everything in its path (aka Clash of the Titans.)  That is absolutely not what or who we are.

So what exactly is a CSI Kraken?   There are a few very clearly defined characteristics:

–          We are agents of change.  “We have always done it this way” is not in our vocabulary.

–          We are stupidly optimistic and positive.  It is inspiring.  We know conflict and negativity do not accomplish anything.

–          We are not afraid to try and fail because, honestly, what if we don’t fail?

–          We communicate without conflict.  Really, it’s not personal if you have a different opinion.  We respect each other enough to consider all who are at the table.

–          We collaborate.  Everyone has a different skill set.  You bring those together and accept them and pretty amazing things happen.

–          We teach but, more importantly, we learn.  A CSI Kraken will embrace you whether you are a fledgling professional or a seasoned pro.

–          You can count on us, alone or together, to help you get to where you need to be.

–          We are always grateful – for your effort, for your contribution or for just being you.

–          We are inclusive.  The only requirement to be a Kraken is a desire to reach new heights and make incredible things happen.

–          We want to see how high we can fly!

What really amazed me as this “movement” started to grow was how many people were more than ready to get excited and were looking for a path to share their passion.  Not that it wasn’t always there mind you – maybe they just needed someone else to get silly about it first. 

This “movement” has brought some incredible people into my life.  People who have gone far beyond just being fellow members in an organization to becoming my friends, my mentors, my idols and now they own a piece of my heart.  I don’t know how I made it this far without them.

For me personally, this “movement” has gone a step beyond CSI to becoming a personal mission for my life.   The Kraken and what it stands for (in my mind) has become my totem, my mascot, my goal for the type of person that I want to be and the life I want to live.  It is my passion. 

This weird path that I have found myself on this last year or so has become so important to me that I have permanently branded myself a Kraken with a tattoo I never thought I would get.  Ha, bet you didn’t see that one coming.  I wouldn’t normally share that except for I think it emphasizes how truly important this effort is to me.  Important enough to make it a permanent part of me.

So, my challenge to you is to find your inner Kraken.  

–          Go big or go home.  

–          Step outside the box.  Forget that, think there is no box.

–          Be brave & try something different. 

–          Don’t be afraid of change if it gets you where you want to go. 

–          Smile and extend a hand. 

–          Stand out. 

–          Quit worrying about whether you fit the mold, break it and make your own. 

–          Try and go one whole day without being negative and then watch how it affects the people around you. 

–          Be authentic and don’t let fear stop you from sharing your love. 

–          Live the life you always dreamed of living. 

To my industry friends, CONSTRUCT ( is 125 days, 19 hours, 47 minutes and 0 seconds away.  Let’s make this CONSTRUCT one to go down in the history books.  Join me in Baltimore, September 9-12, and on this mission to spread the Kraken fever.  Let’s set fire to every CSI Member who attends and enjoy the trickledown effect as we watch them in turn spread the fire further to their Chapters. Join us on Twitter and follow the #CSIKraken hashtag.  Get involved and get passionate again about this organization that we call our own.

Start now, today! 

This Thursday is Portland CSI’s annual Industry Forum with Keynote Speaker Snohetta followed Friday and Saturday by the NW Region Conference.  We have worked hard and we have worked together to put on what we hope will be a banner event that is new and exciting.  If you are in the neighborhood, join us.  Check it out here:

I am proud of my Chapter but I am even more proud of all of my fellow CSI Krakens who share this passion to make a great organization even better.

One humorous comment shared between collaborative, passionate people grew into something bigger that has become an inspiration to many.

How will you find and share your inner Kraken?




  1. Hey, Cherise – I am so proud of the way you are broadening your reach and leading others in the Kraken way. Keep up the good work.

    Just to clarify: I handed those name tags off to you, in somewhat of a hurry to find a seat at the Opening Session, and to, unwittingly, be set up to embarrass myself, in front of everyone, in the yodeling contest! Seems to fit the Kraken rules above about trying something different: Be prepared to do what’s asked of you, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting yourself into…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on DESIGN MATTERS and commented:
    Want to change the future, don’t like where the industry is today, looking for a brighter future, want to have an impact: become a Kraken!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s