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Remote Workers!

There have been a lot of discussions about remote work lately, due to IBM’s recent decision to reverse its flexible work policy. Its CEO Ginny Rometty claimed that the move was done to “improve collaboration” and “accelerate innovation.” oh sure.

Whether you work remotely, or not, there are advantages to both policies. Several executives are thinking that working on site is “the only way to increase productivity”…. NOT TRUE.

You can build great teams, have productive work relationships and get stuff done (!) remotely. First, you may have to become a bit of a “personal marketer”. It’s more than just “ask for what you want” from your manager, it is “BUILD A CASE for what you want. Make sure that you really want to work at home…. it can be great to have a different work environment. Besides, someone else fixes all the equipment and makes sure the office lights and heat work. If you still have your heart set on a remote work job, then read on!

Try these “best practices” to build a case to work remotely:

  • Make solid working relationships while you are on-site
  • Initially, spend a lot of time in face-to-face meetings
  • Become innovative or indispensable, create in your “tool kit” with a unique skill set
  • Does your work lend itself to very early time frames or early then later work time (another words “split shift”)?  This flexibility can be very appealing to employers
  • Discover advantages to your employer for You to work remotely
  • AFTER you have performed and produced the work products that are needed, you can start slowly –  discuss working 1-2 days a week remotely
  • Propose the idea early and set-up a gradual implementation
  • Make sure your clients (or work mates) know and trust you, and your work
  • Provide status on every project – often!
  • Have a dashboard of progress so that everyone knows where you are on each project (without asking!)
  • Check-in on the status / impressions of how the new schedule is working, address issues, make corrections
  • Deliver on-time
  • Communicate about obstacles or red-flags
  • Make sure to have a “proposed solution” to problems

When you have a Remote Team, you’ll need to build team member engagement to your meetings –

  • Hint #1: don’t make this a surprise, it will feel to random
  • Hint #2: explain why you are helping your teams bond!

Real life example: I had a manager in AZ that I never met, however, Ann B was a stellar manager. For three years, I felt that I knew her, enjoyed her meetings, and wanted to work for her.

Her Strategy to Engage

She implemented a one-page monthly newsletter for her team of 24 people (from different cities all over the USA). It included a team member highlight. It also had a picture of one of us, in a remote location and the question: Where am I? We’d have fun trying to guess. The next month the answer was posted. We learned a lot about each other and became a team over time.

She added a theme to each weekly status meeting. And finally, she added theme music to each meeting while we were waiting 2 minutes for everyone to join!

It seemed like  odd behavior …but the result was that everyone joined early to hear the song and guess why that related to the theme. It was fantastic fun and we had a laugh (for a minute). This type of team building worked. Ann knew that she had hired curious people and she worked to encourage that trait!

She also added a “guess the company stock price for the next week” game! That refocused us…. on our impact to the company…. and the winner got a $10 coffee card.

We worked hard for her, and connected solidly with the entire team, collaborating, asking for help and congratulating each other. We were a good team, we trusted each other and we were work friends!  This is a success story, of the highest magnitude. And you can do it too!

Celebrations and Commemorations in June

Thinking about Diverse Families

This post is inspired by Well Fargo’s amazing Diversity Program.

The meaning of the word “family” is varied and broad. People often refer to their work family, friends as family, church family, and family of volunteers to name a few. Then there is, of course, the family you are related to by blood, the family you grew up with and the family in your home. Many families now even include their pets. What better representation of diversity than family? No two are exactly alike.

Did You Know?

  • Flag Day is observed each year on June 14 to celebrate the history and symbolism of the American flag.
  • Native American Citizenship Day, held each year on June 15, commemorates the day in 1924 when the United States Congress passed legislation recognizing the citizenship of Native Americans.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. The day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
  • Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free.

fam·i·ly noun – The basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family>


di·ver·si·ty noun – The quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc. The state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization


According to reports from the Census Bureau, a majority of all households in the nation are now headed by unmarried adults.  There are now more one-person households (28.7 million) than there are households containing married couples with minor children (24.1 million).  Family diversity has become the norm. Of the 89 million unmarried adults in the United States, about 30 million live alone, while some 65 million live with someone else.  More than 2 million single dads are raising children, as are more than 8 million single mothers.  More than 10 million unmarried adults are living with a domestic partner while another 2 million live with a roommate.  The other 37 million unmarried and single Americans live with adult blood relatives, i.e. parents, children, siblings, or extended family members.


Think about volunteering for a organization that you believe in. Let’s keep the momentum going and show the impact we can make on our communities!

  • Native Peoples Traveling Exhibit – The Native Peoples Team Member Network within Wells Fargo has created a hands-on experiential display of artifacts contributed by team members from a variety of Tribal backgrounds.  This is a great activity to encourage and promote both diversity and understanding. Your company can develop a great idea just like this one, and get your workforce involved!  Or you can research existing events and activities and get involved as helpful volunteers!
  • Girls On The Run Spring 5K – GOTR is a physical activity-based, positive youth development program designed to develop and enhance girls social, psychological and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experiences. Their mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  They envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. The GOTR Spring 5K is a run in which girls from the program and their coaches/ mentors run together as their prior 10-week program concludes.  Other runners are encouraged to sign up, as well as volunteers. They will need volunteers for bag check, cheer section, food table, face painting, t-shirt table, start/finish line, parking, and other various duties.  Check out the GOTR website to find a run near you.
  • Juneteenth Celebration Sioux Falls – June 19, 5:00-8:30 pm, Sertoma Park. The  Friendship Baptist Church to celebrate and learn about Juneteenth (see the Did You Know? section above). Festivities will include the Mobile Black History Museum, Soul Food, choir performance, entertainment, children’s area and more.

Reading First – Volunteering for Literacy

The READING FIRST program is a wonderful early reading program. Each volunteer reader gets 10 books to read to a school group that they choose (grade level and school); the books are supplied by Wells Fargo / Scholastic and after we read the book, we get to leave them at the school library. This way the children can enjoy it again, or bring it home to share with their family.

I read at John F Kennedy Elementary school, near my home. This school is full of life and so close to my heart. I get to know the students, and in our books and our discussion afterwards we talk about friendship, happy times, and learning. It does make a difference. We learn new words together, a few weeks ago I explained “joyous”. We also learned “germination” because they are planting a garden. Last year, they told me they were afraid of bees, so we learned about what bees do and how they navigate. It is wonderful to see these children curious and surprised.

It is very important for the kids to have some time with adults who volunteer. We have conversations about WHY I come to read to them and that I think reading is very important. We talk about learning and going to the library. They are so bright and sweet; they all inspire me with their enthusiasm.

Each year, I read 10 books are read to 3 classes of kindergarten students; that is about 70 little ones that get to enjoy a story. The kinders look forward to the reading program and we look at all the books several times so that they are looking forward to a book that is an “old friend” or something they don’t know.

This school community has its struggles; there is poverty and difficulty with language literacy. JFK is a Title 1 school and a California Distinguished School. JFK Elementary schools takes what could be a harsh reality and turns it into strength and hope for a wonderful future.


Recovering from Too Much Work

Stress, burnout, and exhaustion are bad enough, but these “robbers of your energy” also slow down creative thoughts, innovations and willingness to start any new task. How can you RESTORE?

  1. LET GO. You can’t do it all. Schedule a vacation of at least 7 days. Don’t check in. Don’t spend time on endless social media posts. Disconnect!  Need more inspiration? Look at these references: Job Stressors, Restorative Vacation,
  2. Find a Creative Outlet! Do something new! How about Beach Yoga, kayaking, knitting, join a singing group, volunteer!
  3. Learn to make the most of relax time. Are you really relaxing if you are cussing out other drivers? Fuming about parking? Agitated over your last bonus or lack of one? Learn to push the thoughts away. Give yourself a mental break.

This may seem impossible, but its not! You can train yourself or ask a friend to help.  Maybe you have been working non-stop for so long, you might need to find a group doing something you like and enjoy your new activity that way, try: Meet-up online, Sierra Club, or Community Classes.  Find a new skill in your local shopping center: Home Depot has gardening classes, Art Classes/ painting are offered for an evening, go listen to live music at a summer jam session or at the park. Try something you liked as a kid! Or find a kid and play – they are great teachers – but they will probably beat you at tetherball, four square or hopscotch.  Ha! You can do it! You’ll be glad you did!

JUNE is here!

What are you going to do for JUNE? The weather is nice. You could have a Team Walk or plan a picnic. These are great low cost events. Pot Lucks, Ice cream break time, and swapping chili and BBQ sauce recipes are all fun to do. June is National Safety Month!

I’ve added a few interesting historical events to this month, so you can think back in time.

1  Dare Day
2  Mother Earth’s Day and National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day
3  Repeat Day  Repeat Day
4  National Frozen Yogurt Day
5  National doughnut day
6  Teacher’s Day (Bolivia). In the USA, Teacher’s Day is May 6.
7  National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
8  National Jelly-filled Donut Day
9  Donald Duck Day
10  National Yo-Yo Day
11 In 1770, British explorer Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
12  National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
13  National Juggling Day
14  Family History Day and Flag Day
15  Smile Power Day
16 In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union.
17 In 1579, Sir Francis Drake claims a land he calls Nova Albion (modern California) for England.
18 In 1981, The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, the first operational aircraft initially designed around stealth technology, makes its first flight. And also on this day in 1923, Checker Taxi puts its first taxi on the streets.
19 Feast of Forest (in the province of Palawan in the Philippines) and World Sauntering Day
20 World Refugee Day (International)
21  Summer Solstice
22 In 1949, Meryl Streep, American actress and singer is born.
23 In 1926, The College Board administers the first SAT exam.  Also, United Nations Public Service Day (International)
24  Eton College was founded in 1441 King Henry VI of England
25  George Orwell, Born today, British writer (1903-1950)
and also on this day Antoni Gaudi, in 1852, inventive Spanish Architect
26  Madagascar becomes independent in 1960
27  In 1967, the world’s first ATM is installed in Enfield, London.
28  Mel Brooks, American filmmaker is, born in 1926
29  In 1613, The Globe Theatre in London, England burns to the ground
30  Happy Birthday to Michael Phelps, 1985, professional swimmer, winner of 14 Olympic gold medals

june month The Third Sunday in June is Father’s Day.

I’ll let your imaginations take you away. There are so many celebrations and party activities in the summer. Find one or ask your team to help you pick an adventure!

Month Long June events!

MAY DAYS are here! 

JULY DAYS are here! 


June Month-Long Events to Celebrate

JuneOur group is very dedicated to rescuing and helping feral cats that are abandoned in our area. It is a sad thing to see so many kittens and cats “dropped off” on the salt marsh area. The cats often starve or have more kittens. Our volunteers carefully trap and spay the cats and release the ones that they  cannot bevsocialize. It is a HUGE task, which they take on with dedication. I was happy to see that in this month of June, honoring Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, we could highlight their efforts.  There are many other events that may have local parades, walks or celebrations.  Let the interests of your team members guide you.

Remember a sincere thank you makes a world of difference!

Month of JUNE events:

Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month
Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
International Picnic Month
National Dairy Month
National Fresh Fruit/Veggie Month
National Iced Tea Month
National Rose Month
National Safety Month
Recycling Month
Turkey Lover’s Month
Zoo and Aquarium Month

June is here, Days to Remember! 

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.