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Get Creative, Be Innovative

Excerpt from Leadership Moments:  This is an inspired newsletter, written by a fantastic team  of military Veterans.

In today’s business environment, creativity is more important than ever because businesses must be able to adapt to an ever-changing landscape that requires innovation and flexibility. The lifecycle of many products and services is much shorter than it used to be. Remember Blockbuster Video? Many of us have fond memories of renting movies there but their lack of creativity and innovation caused them to be left in the dust by the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Without creative leaders, businesses are destined for mediocrity at best and extinction at worst. Just like you would practice your golf swing to become a better golfer, science has shown us the importance of exercising our brain to become more creative. A study on identical twins by George Land in 1968 found that as we get older, we learn noncreative behavior that decreases our creativity. To combat that, we need to actively exercise our creative brain. Here are some things you can do to help spur your creative side:

Get away from your desk. Go for a walk, ride a bike. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that we think more creatively when we are distracted, such as when exercising. This is due to increased dopamine levels in our brain and the distraction factor allow us to stop ruminating on ineffective solutions. How about a walking meeting?

Break your routine. Do you stop at the same coffee shop every morning or sit in the same seat on the metro every day? Changing your routine can help provide you with different perspectives and expose you to different people.

Collaborate with others. Not only does this help bring more ideas to the table, but it also allows you the opportunity to inspire creative thoughts in others.

Make some noise. In this article titled “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition,” researchers discovered that mild levels of ambient noise led to more creativity in individuals by activating our abstract cognition.

Play with toys. Believe it or not, many creative design companies encourage their employees to have toys at their desks. I found the value in this first-hand through experiencing the impact playing with playdough had on my creative process during a recent executive education course.


by Patrick Nelson, a great team member and contributor to the Lead Star Group.  Read more articles by Patrick >

Lead Star • PO Box 328 Fairfax VA 22308 • 800-381-7780 • leadstar.us Like this newsletter? Click here to subscribe!

Get Inspired – Volunteer!

The holidays can be tough enough, even when you have a job, good food, friends,  a spouse, and kids + a dog that all love you. Imagine missing a few of these elements… it is much tougher. It might be nearly impossible…. and that’s why I volunteer. I know that I am lucky and I want to give back. I know my time is needed as a volunteer. Volunteering connects me with my community, and brings a big reality-check about how much is needed in our community to keep us all strong and healthy.

I volunteer all year, but during the holidays, the need for volunteers is staggering. I volunteered with 100 team members at Toys & Joy, this is just one of the many programs that is sponsored by Salvation Army. It was so well-organized and beautifully put together  – it was easy and inspirational to help.  Imagine a basketball court filled with tables, stacked with toys. Then imagine hundreds of staff and volunteers, carefully organizing the toys, stacking, bagging and delivering the toys. Add in a top-notch dedicated Manager or Two and you have an amazing event.  We had stuffed animals sitting quietly on the bleachers, tables of LEGOs (more varieties than I had ever seen), tables for baby items, books, art materials, trucks, dolls, puzzles, and much more than all that. This event served 1400 families, mainly in the Tenderloin in SF.

If you want to get involved, consider the Salvation Army.  They have several opportunities, and many different roles: set-up, bilingual translators, food and toy sorters, organizers, and more.  There are volunteer events all year long, maybe you’d like to deliver food to seniors or work in the office. There are many ways to help.  We did this as a team event.

Location:  Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center 240 Turk Street San Francisco CA 94102


Kids & Art – what a Impactful Year to Help Kids with Cancer

As we close out 2018, you may be thinking this is a year to be grateful, you may want to SHOW your gratitude in a concrete  way and get involved in your community! What better way to be grateful? Volunteer!

Kids & Art sent a gratitude email: “Grateful in 2018“.  Please read it, to see their many sponsors and volunteers. Support them with your $$, time, and help by spreading the word. If you love art, you know the healing properties of being creative. For Kids with Cancer, art is a happy, healthy way to get well.  They support kids and families, that are going through the hardest time in their lives.  This is an inspiring group, the kind of ACTIVISTS with big hearts and lots of love.

Learn More:

You can also purchase a copy of our 2018 Kids & Art 10th Anniversary Book here.

Check out this news segment of our founder, Purvi Shah, on ABC7 News with Kristen Sze, our Guest Emcee for the 10th anniversary celebration

Dear Kids & Art Community,

What an incredible event we had on December 1st, as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kids & Art Foundation at Salesforce East’s Ohana Floor. It was lovely to commemorate this milestone with friends new and old, and we are so grateful for all of the support. We are incredibly thankful to our sponsors Trianz, Whamix, David Deutscher, Pixar Animation Studios, Perkins Coie, and the Perisic Family, and to our many in-kind sponsors Artist & Craftsmen, Avant Planners, Cavallo PointDraeger’s Market, Fete Fraiche, Jalsa Catering, Jensen & Novacic, Inc., New Dehli Restaurant, Nothing Bundt Cakes, One Brick, Salesforce, and Trader Joe’s, Bay Street SF. Thank you to our Special Guest, Catharine Clark, of Catharine Clark Gallery, our Guest Emcee, ABC7’s Kristen Sze, and to our Guest of Honor, Kori Rae, from Pixar Animation Studios. Also, tremendous thanks to all of the volunteers who gave many hours to the event! Thank you to everyone who attended and celebrated with us. This event would not have been possible without the dedication and heart of our entire Gala Committee and Event Team. Thank you to our Event Chair and Board Member, Teri Behm, to our Event Co-Chairs, Kiran Chadha and Rachel Handsman, and to our Event Team, Deborah Hopkins, Davina Moussa, Jade Kwan, Joe Moussa, Lauren He, Renae Davidson, and Sejal Desai. Thank you to Board Members Rinat Goren and Robert Owyang for your guidance and support. And lastly, a most heartfelt thanks to Purvi Shah, our Founder and Board Chair, who was there every step of the way in conceiving, planning and executing of this celebration. Thank you, Purvi, for positively impacting the lives of so many pediatric cancer patients and families and for allowing so many artists, volunteers and staff to be a part of this meaningful experience too. If you missed our event, no worries. You can still keep us in your end-of-year giving plan and donate through our event site, on our website, on facebook, or via check.

With much gratitude,

Suzanne Yau, Executive Director

Location:  1443 Howard Ave. Suite 218  Burlingame, CA 94010  650-877-2750  art@kidsandart.org

Monthly Celebrations for December

Need a theme for a party at work?  These are fun.  No Budget? Make an event for zero dollars!

For December Days — look at all the potential for a more fun meeting, just pick a day, think of a theme.

There are special acknowledgements in each month, many more than are listed here… these are some you may not know about:

  • Winter Month – celebrate snow, wearing mufflers, drinking cocoa!
  • Hi Neighbor Month – meet a cubicle neighbor and have a 15 minute coffee chat!
  • Read a New Book Month  – have a book sharing event. Bring a book  that you have read and trade!
  • Universal Human Rights Month – find a volunteer event to do as a group. It feel so good. We are working at Salvation Army’s Toy and Joy in SF this month!
  • National Stress-free Holiday Month – take time to relax. Bring in an essential oil diffuser – with peppermint oil see people in the office smile! I do this, it works!
  • Safe Toys and Gifts Month – donate a favorite toy (new or gently used, maybe gathering dust in the closet) to a toy drive.

You can make a tradition of your own at work or home.  It is fun to have a celebration or even something silly. So how about this: End of world celebration?  Even though the day has passed….. there are many celebrations on the quirky numerical dates every year…. you get the idea! (celebrate PI day 3/14)

The Mayan calendar is set to end on 12-21-12, and many seems to have an idea of the events that might take place. These discussions usually range from ideas that the calendar means nothing at all – to talks about prophecies of doom and gloom, where the calendar portends the “End” of our world from a global cataclysm.

If it were the last day on Earth, (which it is not!) I for one, would prefer to make a party!!! So let’s celebrate and party, and make it a night to be remembered!!!! Mayan Calendar Cartoon

End of Another Great Year! December Days!


Check out December Monthly celebrations too.

1  National Pie Day and Eat a Red Apple Day
2  National Fritters Day
3 Galileo invents the telescope in 1621
4  Wear Brown Shoes Day and National Cookie Day
5   Happy Birthday to Walt Disney, American animated film producer (1901 – 1966)
6   Happy Birthday to Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (1920)
7  National Cotton Candy Day
8 Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” album is released in UK in the year 1967
9  National Pastry Day
10 10,000,000th model T Ford assembled in 1915
11 In 1975, 1st class postage rises from 10 cents to 13 cents
12  Happy Birthday to Cathy Rigby, American gymnast and actress (1952)
13  National Cocoa Day
16  National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
19  National Oatmeal Muffin Day
20  Games Day
21 Winter Solstice
22  In 1964,The first test flight of the SR-71 “Blackbird” took place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.
23 Night of the Radishes (Oaxaca, Mexico)
24  National Egg Nog Day
25  Christmas & National Pumpkin Pie Day
26  National Candy Cane Day
27 In 1966, The Cave of Swallows, the largest known cave shaft in the world, is discovered in Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
28  National Chocolate Day
29 In 1937, The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
31 New Year’s Eve

December 31 marks the end of 4th Quarter.

Dec 2012 calendar

AND there are monthly fun celebrations for December, many charities and organizations have a special month.

November Days to Remember are here! 

January Days to Remember are here! 

Behaviors that Self-Sabotage Your Work

Watch for these damaging actions – decide to be more confident – it makes a difference.

  1. Apologizing too much. There are times when an apology is not called for. Don’t say you’re sorry when you’re not at fault for anything, or you haven’t done anything that you need to apologize for.
  2. Saying “This might be a stupid question, but….” I cringe each time I hear someone say this and then follow up with what is usually a perfectly sound question.
  3. Not speaking up. You may have intuitive or thoughtful questions, or insightful ideas and suggestions. But if you never speak up, no one will know. And no one will benefit from them.
  4. Taking yourself out of the game. If you get stuck – do you quit? Then, you will never give yourself a chance. For example, if you think you couldn’t beat others for that promotion or job position, and you don’t try, you have zero chance of getting it. Don’t take yourself out of the game. Get in there and try. You may succeed, or you may learn from the experience. This happens when you end your sentences with a question. This looking for agreement, takes the impact out of your message.  It sounds as though you doubt what you’re saying. Just say it.
  5. Being overly modest. If someone compliments your work, don’t dismiss your efforts. Saying, “Oh, it was nothing” when you’ve achieved something difficult discredits your achievement. Take credit for your efforts. A simple thank you will work fine.
  6. Being afraid to ask for help. Worrying that others will think less of you if you need to ask for help not only holds you back but is unnecessary. Asking for help demonstrates confidence, and that you’re open to input and teamwork.
  7. Not asking for what you want. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. If you ask, you may get it. Or at least it will likely be the start of a negotiation.
  8. Rambling in your communications. Plan ahead when you communicate! Whether an email or speaking, rambling on and talking around your point makes your message less impactful. You diminish the credibility and importance of your message. You’ll be less trusted to present in situations that will give you more visibility or career growth. If you have trouble with this, organize your thoughts and determine the point you wish to make before you speak.
  9. Staying in your comfort zone. You self-sabotage when you don’t give yourself the opportunity to stretch beyond what’s easy for you. Do something that allows you to grow. Do something that scares you. Be willing to fail. Growth comes from doing things that challenge you. (link to my post about facing fear or waiting for permission)
  10. Criticizing yourself. When you negatively label your actions, you chip away at your self-confidence. Use positive self-talk to build courage and belief in your abilities.
  11. Avoiding opportunities to showcase your skills. This may mean seeking out chances to present in front of peers or senior management, to share what you know to a group during a meeting or anything else that allows others to see your abilities.
  12. Procrastination. You may not think of procrastination as self-sabotage because this one is an easy trap to fall into. FOCUS!! Having a  “monkey mind” gets you exactly nowhere.  Avoid the trap of  instant gratification, through social media, chit-chat, going for coffee too often.  Even when you’re not in the mood to do the work, do some small part of it at least. Just getting started can give you momentum to keep moving forward.
  13. Dressing inappropriately. Don’t wear clothing that’s too tight or revealing for the office. Don’t dress sloppy or with ill-fitting clothes. It will be distracting and can negatively impact other’s impression of you. Research by Wookey, Graves, and Butler found that “that high-status, sexually dressed women receive lower ratings in competence.” Gauge your work attire by what others in your office are wearing. If you’re not sure if something is too revealing or inappropriate, err on the side of caution.
  14. Not saying NO. When you say yes to everything, you’re not respecting your boundaries. Stop trying to please everyone. Stand up for yourself.  When someone makes a request, consider if it conflicts with other priorities or values. You can’t do good work if you’re trying to do too much.


Take time to notice if you engage in any of these self-sabotaging behaviors. Becoming aware of them is an important first step to being able to change them.

Original article By Leigh Espy

Forum on Banned Books

For the last few weeks, with have had an internal discussion at work (a blog really) on Banned Books and what we think. I love this interaction because everyone has a different opinion, however, we can speak honestly about what we think and how  & why there is a banned book list.

Our discussions are supportive for different perspectives, new questions and we don’t find the need to rant, but we all really enjoy the discussion. New perspectives and intelligent conversation on our outlook, are the result of our chats. Some members even offer history about banned books, one of them was The Color Purple! Another discussion was about books being banned but then they are made into movies!  I am grateful for a work group like this!

See what your group thinks.  note: This list is created annually.

The last week in September is Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. As quoted on the website, “Censorship is a growing threat that infringes on our foundational rights. The year 2017 saw an increase in censorship attempts and a revitalized effort to remove books from communal shelves to avoid controversy.”

Here are the 2017 Top 10 Most Challenged Books. Have you read any of these? I have read To Kill A Mockingbird. But … I find it interesting that many of these books have been popularized through broadcast media (TV series/Film). I may not have read the book, but I have seen the show or film. Definitely a curious parallel.

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. George written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

OCTOBER is PINK!!! Wear It!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also referred to in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

breast cancer awareness ribbion

Tell the women you love, Yourself included, to get a Mammogram, support the many causes, go for a BCAM walk, donate!  Get your coworkers, friends, family and everyone involved.

CHECK OUT HERSCAN, Breast Ultrasound Screening, a no-radiation alternative to a regular mammogram! Insurance doesn’t pay for it – about $200, but the detection rate is much higher… 97%!


During Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October, people raise money by organizing activities such as theme parties or a “pink day” (when employees wear pink clothing or accessories) at work. The money raised is donated to the organizers’ choice of breast cancer care or research programs. This effort is international, an increasingly prominent “pink day” is Global Pink Hijab Day celebrated by many to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.

National Football League

During the month of October, the National Football League promotes breast cancer awareness by incorporating pink on its websites, graphics, and advertisements. Players also show support by wearing pink gloves, cleats, captains patches, and other apparel during games. I love this … it is so very noticeable and helps with awareness.

October themes are here! Days to Remember!


Do you need some inspiration for an employee meeting or a theme for an event? Look no further, October is jammed with days, Special Events and celebrations!

Month Long Events:

  • Adopt a Dog Month
  • Computer Learning Month
  • Disability Awareness Month
  • Energy Awareness Month
  • Family History Month
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Pretzel Month
  • Squirrel Awareness Month
Rosie is dressed for Halloween, in her festive orange and black "jester" collar.

Rosie is dressed for Halloween, in her festive orange and black “jester” collar.


Suggestion: Most people don’t dress up for Halloween in my office but they often dress up their pets! A fun idea for a Halloween themed event is: Pet Costumes! Have your group bring in wacky pictures of their pets and elect a panel of judges, award silly hats as  prizes. Voila!  You have a fun and inexpensive team event.


If your group dresses up… make a theme… or have a costume contest. It is amazing to see how creative people can be and you learn more about your team and their intrerests at the same time.

And there are also special days, here are some that are fun & interesting:

  • Oct 1  World Vegetarian Day & Creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890
  • Oct 2 Name your Car Day
  • Oct 3 Gwen Stefani, the singer from No Doubt was born, in 1969.
  • Oct 4 National Golf Day
  • Oct 5 The City of Anaheim (in California) is founded in 1857
  • Oct 6 In 2007,  Jason Lewis completes the first human powered circumnavigation of the world.
  • Oct 9 John Lennon is born, The Beatles, British musician and songwriter –   (d. 1980)
  • Oct 10 World Mental Health Day
  • Oct 12 In 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance is first recited by students in many US public schools, as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.
  • Oct 13 In 1970 Fiji joins the United Nations
  • Oct 14 National Dessert Day
  • Oct 15  FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, is shared with the coding community for the first time
  • Oct 16 National Boss Day, Spirit Day
  • Oct 17  Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
  • Oct 18 It’s Necktie Day in Croatia!
  • Oct 19 Evaluate your Life Day
  • Oct 20 Sweetest Day
  • Oct 21 International Day of the Nacho
  • Oct 22 National Nut Day
  • Oct 23 Mole Day (for Chemists, just so you don’t misunderstand!)
  • Oct 24 United Nations Day, the anniversary of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations
  • Oct 25 In 1912, Minnie Pearl, American comedian and singer, is born.
  • Oct 26 Pan American Airways makes the first commercial flight of the Boeing 707 from New York City to Paris, France in 1958.
  • Oct 28 In 1942, the Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) is completed through Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Oct 30 National Candy Corn Day
  • Oct 31 Halloween

My office celebrates National Candy Corn Day every year. Imagine that! And Sweetest Day is another favorite.  You may have special Company anniversaries and events  and historical markers… it is easy to find a theme.

Old Times, History and fun in October!

3rd Quarter has just ended. What do you want to celebrate?

It is snowing in the mountains. Or maybe, not yet.
Here are some interesting tidbits, fun facts and information about dates in October. You can plan a team event around these days, or have a meeting with a theme.
October 1:
Born 1671 – Guido Grandi, Italian mathematician (d. 1742)
Born 1914 – Daniel J. Boorstin, American historian, writer, and Librarian of Congress (d. 2004)
Born 1945 – Donny Hathaway, American soul musician and composer (d. 1979)
1890 – The Yosemite National Park is established by the U.S. Congress.
1908 – Ford introduces the Model T car.
1964 – The Free Speech Movement is launched on the campus of University of California, Berkeley.

October 15:
Born 1844 – Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (d. 1900)
Born 1908 – John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian economist (d. 2006)
1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company begins operation.
1940 – The Great Dictator, a satiric social commentary film by and starring Charlie Chaplin, is released.

October 31:
Born 1912 – Dale Evans, American singer and actress (d. 2001)
Born 1966 – Adam Horovitz, American rapper (Beastie Boys)
Born 1971 – Dan Rather, American news anchor
1864 – Nevada is admitted as the 36th U.S. state.
1938 – Great Depression: In an effort to try restore investor confidence, the New York Stock Exchange unveils a fifteen-point program aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.

My group loves music, sports, and numbers. I made this list of notable October Dates for them.  They are hard working and have become a great team. They have gotten to know each other even though we are in separate offices. It is alot of work, but it becomes alot of fun when you celebrate along with all the hard work!

This is a great time to thank your employees for all their efforts all year long. Employees: get up and pat yourselves on the back!

October is the start of a great 4th quarter, and it is all of you, inspired employees and your hard work and attention to detail that have gotten to this point.  THANK-YOU.

October Themes are here! Special Days to Remember!