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Growing While Quiet

Taking Time. Wow, I know I need this! For some, it comes during meditation, others while hiking. One of the best place I have experienced this is at Sunday evening Compline, at the Stanford Chapel on the campus. It was a surprise to me. I didn’t know what to expect. But the solid walls, quiet atmosphere, stillness and then beautiful music were like salve. Nothing was said, no sermon, so speaking…just a time of contemplation.

We’ve all heard about the importance of taking time for ourselves. When we hear this we often think of rest and relaxation. Making time for some R&R is important, but it’s not all you need. When was the last time you set aside time to fully reflect on where you’re going and where you’ve been– both professionally and personally?

I challenge you to set aside an hour or two in the near future to reflect, write and discover recent lessons learned while examining how you’ll apply them in the future. Completing a personal retreat is simple. It might consist of an afternoon in the library or your favorite coffee shop. Perhaps you’ll head outside to a quiet spot or spend some time in a local museum. The key is to get away from the rush of your day to day obligations and focus on yourself. Just the intentional action of structuring time for ideation about your career and life goals will create opportunities for future growth.

During your personal retreat consider questions like these as you envision your next season of development:
• What are you not doing now that you wish you were?
• What joyful activities do you want to bring more to the forefront of your life?
• What type of challenges do you feel ready to undertake?
• What are some of the most significant lessons you learned during the past year?
• What specifically can you do to apply the learning you’ve experienced? What will you change, adjust, do more of, or stop doing all together as a result of the new knowledge?
• What goals are you accountable to meeting during the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months? How about during the next 2 and 5 years?
• Which relationships do you want to commit to strengthening?
• How are you of service to others often?
• What specific results would you like to achieve in the next year?
As you respond to the questions you deem important, take the critical step of writing down your thoughts. Your reflections will make an excellent starting point for evaluating progress the next time you get away to get started on what’s next for you.

From Leadership Moments.

Be A Better Listener

Humans have an average eight-second attention span. You’re going to need to do better if you want to get things done.

Enjoy this article by Fast Company.  

(quick summary below)

“We are living in a time when it’s more challenging to be consistently aware and intentional because so many things are demanding our attention. Our brains haven’t caught up to the technology that’s feeding them,” says Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative.“The impact of this leaves people in a chronic condition of fight or flight.”

  1. Listen to Learn
  2. Quiet your Agenda
  3. Get engaged and active by Asking More Questions
  4. Are you talking or listening? You want to do both. Pay attention to this ratio.
  5. Practice reflective listening. Repeat back what you heard. Request confirmation that you “got it”. This is harder than you think!!
  6. DO NOT interrupt! Hard, I know.

“The most difficult component of listening effectively is waiting for a period at the end of a sentence before formulating a reply.” –Leslie Shore, author Listen to Succeed

SMEs – Subject Matter Experts and their Role in Projects

SMEs are at the heart of  business projects, software creation and  instructional design projects. Often SMEs are inserted at the end of the project to review the final stage, but they can do so much more!

When you think about it, it would be difficult to learn anything at all without someone sharing what they have learned with you and others. To paraphrase Isaac Newton, we all stand on the shoulders of giants when we gain new knowledge. All of this knowledge is passed to us by someone who has learned and shared that information to those who followed. It wasn’t until recently that we had a name for this knowledge sharer in the training world: SMEs.  — excerpt from SMEs From the Ground Up, author Chuck Hodell

In order to get the most from your time with SMEs, innovative companies don’t leave this knowledge-sharing to chance. They establish best practices and approaches to working with SMEs. To have more success you’ll have to discuss how to define the different SMEs and their roles within your project.

Working with SMEs can ramp up a project from “completed” to SUCESSFUL and INNOVATIVE.  The people that “know” that have been in the trenches are always in demand. With just a few sessions they can steer a project away from the pitfalls. SMEs can also take the innovative dream and add some “What Ifs?” and “Customer Requests” that would otherwise be forgotten in a fast moving project.

Some ideas:

  1. Find your SMEs. Look at the time they can commit and be respectful of their constraints.
  2. Get Senior Leader buy-in to use SME time. They can reallocate and also acknowledge the valuable contribution that a SME can make.
  3. Do your homework before scheduling SME time! Get a list of questions together. Answer the ones you can, then ask for help from your SME!
  4. Record these meetings with SMEs. The writers, newbies and trainers will really need to review the details more than once to capture the “hidden gems” and get the details out of the sessions.

Other reference:  “Secrets to Successful SME Projects,” Sarah Wakefield and Patty Murdock

Museum Day May 18- Plan an Event

May 18th is International Museum Day!!

Many companies support the arts in various ways. For companies that donate to museums team members are often given free admission to these museums. In some cases, one guest may enter free as well. This can be quite a savings! This is also an opportunity to have a team building event at no cost!

To find out more, you can always ask at the museum Member Services about admission and discounts. You can also ask your HR department which groups or museums have special free days, admissions, or sponsored events for your company. Bring a business card, pay stub  and/or  ID with you so that you can get in.  Target, Bank of America, Bank of the West, HP and Wells Fargo (among many others) have this type of “employee bonus” program.

The museums have changing exhibits and something for everyone’s interest.

To celebrate this special day, here is a link to many museums:

Virtual Museums of the World:  For example there are 163 museums listed on this site just for California.

Try out this example from SF MOMA This virtual museum is available online; the Museum itself has additional exhibits.

San Francisco Bay Area Museums and free days! 

One of our Favorites:  Autodesk Gallery is near The Embarcadero in SF and very interesting, especially for a geeky field trip! location: 1 Market St (One Market Plaza) 2nd floor.

San Francisco Asian Art Museum – Go Mingle!

These exhibits are running now!

This is a great place for a team gathering, something after work, absorb some culture, have a nice snack afterwards? The Tenderloin has many places to eat, or drink. With a little research you can find something that suits your group. Late Night at this museum is a great treat, a perfect place to unwind. Every exhibit I have ever visited here, is beautiful, interesting and full of a variety of art, textile, carving, sculpture and more. There are special lectures too.

Saints and Kings: Art, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs: With nearly 27 million adherents worldwide, Sikhism is among the world’s largest religions, and also one of the youngest. Delve into the life and teachings of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak, a charismatic, influential teacher who defined the religion’s fundamental philosophies, which emphasize belief in one god, equality, social justice and community service.

Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty One of the most powerful civilizations of the ancient world, China’s Han dynasty achieved profound cultural and artistic influence, technological advancements and military might. Two thousand years later, discoveries of royal tombs allow us to glimpse these extraordinary accomplishments firsthand.

DATES:                   From April through September, any Thursday       

LOCATION:         Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. (Civic Center) San Francisco 94102

TIME:                    Thursday “Late Night” is 5:00 p.m. –  9:00 p.m. Special Price $10

DETAILS:              http://www.asianart.org/regular/thursday-nights

Exhibit information here. Museum phone 415-581-3500

May Days to Celebrate!

mayEach Day listed below, can be the spring board to a fun employee celebration. This is a great time for a picnic, Popsicles at work, or some outdoor activity. These team building events are so important. Make sure to plan ahead AND announce the event so that your team has something to look forward to and can participate.

May is the beginning of several team building events. If you would like to try something unique, you can try a MUDDER RUN, imagine your entire team wading through mud and helping each other over obstacles. You may not even recognize them at first glance. It’s silly, it’s fun, and the money raised goes to a good cause.

International Museum Day is a perfect excuse for an educational off-site. Most museums have cafes and places to relax and let the world go by. It’s even more fun to arrange for a docent tour at a museum in your area.

May 10 is Clean up your Room Day, but it could be easily converted to “Clean up your Cubicle Day!” and this could be a nice, clean way to head into summer.

Celebrate Memorial Day, remember our community heroes, our Active Duty Military,  Veterans, Police, 911 operators, Fire Fighters  – our lives are better because of them. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT Memorial Day (link) which is Monday May 30, 2016 this year.

You can ask your team what they would like to celebrate, there are always special occasions.



1 Mother Goose Day
may day

2 Fire Day

3 In 1802, Washington D.C. was incorporated as a city.

4 National Candied Orange Peel Day

5 National Hoagie Day

6 National Teacher Appreciation Day & Beverage Day

7 International Tuba Day

8 Have a Cola Day

9 In 1899, the lawn mower was patented

10 Clean Up Your Room Day

11 Eat What You Want Day

12 Limerick Day

13 Leprechaun Day

14 In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visits SF

15 National Chocolate Chip Day

16  Wear Purple for Peace Day

17 Pack Rat Day

18 International Museum Day  SF Bay Area Museums and free days! 

19 Frog Jump Jubilee Day

20 In 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patent first blue jeans with copper rivets

21 National Memo Day

22 In 1967, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” debuts on NET (now PBS)

23 Penny Day & National Taffy Day

25 National Tap Dance Day

26 In 1896, Dow Jones begins an index of 12 industrial stocks (closing is 40.94) & In 1937, San Francisco Bay’s Golden Gate Bridge opens

27 1679 in England, the Habeas Corpus Act (strengthening person’s right to challenge unlawful arrest & imprisonment) is passed.

28 National Hamburger Day

29 In 1953,Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first men to reach the top of Mount Everest.

29 Monday May 29 is Memorial Day, a day to remember our military heroes.

31 National Macaroon Day


April Days to Celebrate are Here!

June Days to Celebrate are Here!

From English-only to Embracing a World of Languages

Wouldn’t it be great to put an ear piece in your ear and translate foreign languages in real-time? Why?

Many reasons, here are a few:

  • Increase understanding in selling technical items.
  • Essential in explaining simple financial processes, deadlines, and changes.  (For complex processes, I’d rather have a translator, but this method could help customers find already translated materials or understand the “next step”.)
  • Adds to a great customer experience!
  • Customers wait long periods of time to speak with a bi-lingual customer representative.
  • Bilingual workers help customers reach their goals, and break language barriers.

The technology for this has been in the works and looks like it’s possible to do so. The ear piece translates the language in real time.  Any representative may assist the customer, and both end w/smiles on our faces!  A Breakthrough!

Pilot earphones act like much like “Babel Fish in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ ” – they let two people who speak a different language understand each other.

The gadget will launch to translate between English, French, Spanish and Italian in Autumn of this year.

Just thinking …. that it would really help to employ more bilingual people in every business, and for this technology, bi-lingual workers could use it to full advantage. As for letting two people understand each other…. that often fails when both speak the SAME language!   — the editor

Also Check this company out- Bragi.   www.bragi.com/

Bragi – experience the world’s first wireless smart earphones. Bragi is developing discrete virtual audio assistants that enable, protect and entertain you.

Reading Group… at work

This is a great way to have a “get to know you event”. We have a book reading club. We suggest books and pick just one, short books have a *bonus* (favored by the group), but we have picked such a variety of books in the last 2 years.

We find reviews that  describe our first pick, then we vote. It is easy and fun, inexpensive but interesting. We seem to alternate from hopeful to historic, easy reads to mysteries.  Some members want books on Kindle, others want popular new books or are focused on a particular author.  It’s really good for us, an easy hour, that we look forward to having. We make it no stress, and read/review a book every two months.

Our current book isn’t a book at all but rather any book from the Judge Dee series. This will be fun, we haven’t read the same book! Here is a sample of what we are reading.

Chinese Murder Canton1.jpgThere seem to be Judge Dee Google books and other eBooks. ALSO, please let me know if you would like to borrow a Judge Dee book to read. They are fun. … Translated to English by Robert van Gulik. And now they are available in Amazon, for years they were “rare” but now many of the books have been reprinted.

These wonderful mysteries are based on a Chinese magistrate in the Tang Dynasty China, with wood cut block print pictures. Each of the characters has a role in each of the many books. It is a bit like Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries; easy to read, and with many of the folk ways set in this time period.   Judge Dee (Wikipedia)


Other co-workers get involved and suggest their favorite books too:

From Tim: These are the ones I liked best

  • East of Eden – Steinbeck
  • City of Thieves – Benioff
  • Into The Wild – Krakauer
  • Catch Me If You Can – Abagnale
  • Disrupted – Lyons


Volunteer at Family Paths event

Family Paths is a non-profit organization of mental health professionals and dedicated volunteers that provide a number of mental health and supportive services to low income, multi-stressed individuals and families.  They are a multicultural agency committed to serving families of Alameda County regardless of age, ethnicity/race, financial status, language, sexual orientation, immigration status, class, religion, gender, mental or physical ability. Family Paths is a welcoming and inclusive agency dedicated to strengthening family relationships by providing mental health treatment and supportive services with respect, integrity, compassion, and hope.

This month they will be celebrating their 45th Anniversary  serving children, parents and families of Alameda County.

Volunteers are needed to assist during the day of the event. Specific volunteer duties/roles will include:

  • 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
  • Check In
  • 8:30 p.m. to  8:45 p.m. and  9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.

Dispersing & collection of donation cards/checks

Date:  Friday, April 28th

Time:  6:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.

Location:  Impact Hub, 2323 Broadway, Oakland, CA

Volunteers will be given a code to register and attend the event at no charge.

To learn more about the organization and anniversary event, visit Family Paths and 45th Anniversary Celebration at Impact Hub


On Reinventing and Finding YOUR Voice

Be your own SELF!

The site was first developed three and a half years ago and had a functional aesthetic much like Medium or Tumblr that allowed you to scroll through blocks of clickable images that would take you to an article. The background was white and minimalistic. “There wasn’t that much personality,” Murray says. “As we’ve grown, developing our editorial voice and our social voice, and really come into our own, we’ve been screaming for a way to visually express that.”

Not everything must look like a Google / Apple search page. And if you remember way-back they have changed many times through their history.  –the editor

Article on a site and its change over time, useful and reflective… worth a read.