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Enjoying the Lunar New Year

We believe that the Lunar New Year celebration is not complete unless there is a traditional lion dance.


According to customary Chinese beliefs, the lion is a symbol of courage, stability, and superiority. The lion dance has been a part of Chinese culture for thousands of years and is performed to bring good luck and prosperity to the business for the rest of the year.

Plucking the Green, (Cai Qing), is a traditional lion dance performance. Cai Qing is performed during the Chinese New Year to bring blessing or fortune.

  • The drum acting as the lion’s heartbeat
  • Cymbals &  gong to frighten away evil spirits
  • The lion might throw candy or pick up lettuce hanging from the ceiling and spitting the leaves out
  • Scattering the leaves symbolizes a fresh start to the new year and spreads good luck.
  • The  lion is presented with lai see (a red envelope filled with money). This is a symbolic act of the lion’s blessing and ensuring good fortune during the year

LNY – we look forward to it every year – especially lion dancing –  with its vibrant colors, dancing, and drumming. It is one of my favorite Lunar New Year traditions.

Lion Dancing through the office
After completing the performance in the reception area, the lion happily danced through the office, going from desk to desk and gathering lai see left by team members, to spread good luck and festive cheer. We loved this, though getting work done was a problem,  it was so much fun!

Good Time to Update your LinkedIn Profile

Two Reasons to update LI:

  1. Jobs are being added a very fast rate – highest in the last 8 years (msn.com). Boomers are retiring. The economy is booming.
  2. LinkedIn just updated its look, the biggest redesign in years. What are you waiting for? Let’s do some spring cleaning! Get rid of the old stuff, boring descriptions and make your profile your showcase of WHAT you WANT!

“LinkedIn is a place to shape a precise, meaningful, persuasive story about your talents—not a career catchall. Cutting distracting content might feel odd at first, but it’s vital to refining the message you deliver. So really try to make the most of its new streamlined design to wow everyone who visits your profile.”

You have less than a minute to make a good impression on LinkedIn – make it count!

And while you are at it… add the LinkedIn Jobs app to your phone – a quick click to survey what is NEW in your targeted list.

Shout Out to the Pridmore Family – Community Heroes in the Fire of 2017

We love Lake Berryessa and not just the lake, but also horseback riding and wine tasting… camping and relaxing too. We love it so much that my children (city kids) learned how to fish, ride, get dirty, walk in a creek and catch frogs here, and then they weren’t city kids anymore! With 30 years of great memories, we watched in horror on TV as the inferno of Northern California fires in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Napa – the fires of 2017 swept down the canyons, wiping out homes, livestock, and taking a few lives – because the fire moved so fast people couldn’t get away. It was shocking, so much devastation and life lost.  BUT it would have been much worse on Hwy 128 …. except the Pridmore Family stayed to fight.

As we drove up to see if our special places, horses, and trailers had survived, we were quite sure that nothing was left. Power lines were down, hills burnt black, trees toppled and charred, ghostly white dust where trees had been but the fire was so hot, only dust remained, and barricades on the highway – their un-burned metal laying on the ground with no wooden supports.

So much was burned, the whole area smelled like one big BBQ. My chest tightened and with tears in my eyes, we drove past burned trees, eerie silence, nothing green, hot piles of logs…. but further in we saw houses – SAVED -and Barns – SAVED- and when we reached the Ranch, a flock of Turkeys scared up onto the road. The horses had been trailered out, and the wildlife had escaped.  I couldn’t believe it. The firefighters had picked their battles and the Ranch was saved, the fire had consumed some trailers, coming within 10 feet of our old Airstream! Our special places were good, still there.

Nature will restore and new shoots, after only a few weeks the deer have come back. It is astonishing, that so much is OK.  We are so very grateful. Maybe daffodil hill will bloom? If not, I will plant some more.

So thank-you to ALL the Firefighters and especially to a family that is a big part of this valley – who wouldn’t give up and managed to save it.


Excerpt from an Article: “Pridmore Family has Deep Roots in Berryessa area

JENNIFER HUFFMAN, Register Business Writer 

Since moving to Lake Berryessa in the 1920s, the Pridmore family has managed to survive in this economically challenged area by running a diverse set of businesses, including real estate development, construction, and storage.

“We’ve had to adapt to our environment,” said Gil Pridmore, who still lives with his family on the original acreage near the intersection of highways 121 and 128.

As the family grew, the Pridmores realized they’d need to do more than just ranching. Gil Pridmore’s father began helping build resorts in the area, including Steele Park and the Oak Shores recreation area. The Pridmore’s also helped construct parts of the Berryessa Highlands development.

In addition to working as general contractors, Gil Pridmore and his brother Darryl are also certified erosion control consultants.

Pridmore Construction operates it’s own materials yard, selling gravel, rock and other construction products to locals. They employ more than 25 people, mostly local, said Pridmore.

The Pridmore’s also run a storage rental business for boats, RVs and other dry storage. At one point they owned a gas station/service center as well.

Volunteer fire chief Pridmore recently joined the fledgling Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce.

Training loves Videos

There are so many reasons to love videos for training. It’s fun, it’s easy and you can create a video quickly…. but for a GOOD video… you have to work. It is OK to make it look easy, in fact that is probably better because nobody wants to hear you whine about making videos for work (it was wet outside, the light was terrible, the talking head whispered…) so you will have to learn it all, and be satisfied. Videos on YouTube, as tutorials, and as system demos really help our group.

TIPS — Do this:

  1. Know the goal. Make a scripts, practice, time yourself. Know your audience, and ask for reviews before you publish.
  2. Make it short. 2-5 minute videos from your non-Pro camera or phone, or highlights of a system issue is plenty. Really. Get the message across, be succinct.
  3. Use an interesting but not distracting backdrop.
  4. Remember, you don’t have to BE in the video. You can describe the scene, or add focus to the message of the picture. Our most effective videos, show the screen movement & data entry.
  5. Training videos should start General and then get specific quickly. So should storytelling and family videos and so many other descriptive videos. Tell a story. Don’t wander through your topic.
  6. Watch many other videos in the genre you are gearing toward.
  7. Watch training videos and watch the experts “How To” videos.
  8. Get used to critiquing videos, this critical thought will help you do better.

References & Examples:

Quick Critique: Solar Winds an example:

  • Talking head videos about products and services don’t have much appeal. The videography and music are not compelling.
  • Selling on a video doesn’t work. It MUST offer value – think TED talks.
  • Are they excited about what they do? meh. Do I relate to them? no. Do they have a service I need? I don’t know. Hmm. I need to see where they can make a difference. I need to hear a particular problem this company solved, that I have had in my business.
  • Summary: Took awhile to download. Not enough value to me.


Training – Destination Facilitation

The world may seem to be getting smaller and more familiar, but that doesn’t mean the same instructional techniques or training styles work everywhere. Organizations worldwide need talent development professionals who can design and deliver learning content that meets the needs of diverse workforces.

Your Global Training Adventure Awaits

“Imagine being more flexible and able to travel. Looking forward to a new training adventure every day! Diversity Leadership is one of the skills that is highly sought after in this ever-changing world of training. Find diversity acumen by training in the world! “— the editor

Destination Facilitation is rich in tips for creating incredible training experiences around the globe. This book brings together a team of 16 expert trainers to share their knowledge and wisdom on productive training results, whether you’re in Abuja or Zurich. These explorers present the best techniques for needs assessments, design processes, facilitation, and classroom management in whatever country or region you’re visiting.

Contributors include Matthew Axvig, David Brown, Alfredo Castro, Dan DeRoche, Bahaa Hussein, Fady Kreidy, Chan Lee, Claudia Salazar, Deniz Senelt Kalelioglu, David Smith, Donna Steffey, Marby Tabungar, Hamza Taqi, Kedar Vashi, Denise Walker, and David Xue.

Get to know your audience and master body language dos and don’ts. Plan for the logistics and technology constraints of training abroad. And avoid the cultural mistakes that interfere with learning transfer.

When the opportunity to design and deliver training in another country arises, don’t miss out. With Destination Facilitation, you’ll be prepared to say yes!

Book Details

ISBN: 9781562869380
Pages: 320
Publication Date: November 2017
Formats: Paperback, PDF
Product Code: 111718
About the Author
Donna Steffey is an international trainer, author, adjunct faculty at both Lake Forest Graduate School and DeVry University, and sought-after speaker who helps organizations achieve their desired business results. Donna incorporates her 20 years of management experience to educate, inspire, and coach. It takes the right blend of information, introspection and humor to cause people to look at themselves and change. Global organizations such as Marriott International, Barclaycard-UK, XIBI-China, Tumine Center-Africa, and the Royal Australian Air Force, have found that after Donna’s workshops people were more self directed, customer service driven and mindful of their team participation. Donna combines learning with fun and applies her master’s degree and life experiences to professional and real world situations. Your participants will be motivated to hit their performance improvement targets and your training will be a success!

The Power of Alignment – Podcast

The Power of Alignment: How Great Companies Stay Centered and Accomplish Extraordinary Things  (time 26:44)

A great podcast… from a newsletter that I enjoy.  Sign up for the Leadstar newsletter to get more information, and a library full of useful tips, podcasts and seminars. — the editor

Alignment is absolutely fundamental to the concept of leadership.

Have you ever had the feeling that you were living in a different world than the rest of your company or organization? Perhaps it felt like the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing? Or, maybe you are an executive and are wondering why your folks just don’t seem to “get it”. Most of us have been there, and these are strong indicators your organization may not be aligned.

Join us as Lead Star Partner Doug Swanson speaks with Dr. George Labovitz, author of The Power of Alignment and Rapid Re-Alignment, about the importance of alignment, and how aligned organizations outperform their peers and competitors. Dr. Labovitz has years of experience helping organizations align and realize their purpose.

Listen in as Dr. Labovitz describes four competencies that allow for alignment within an organization. When those competencies are working together, an organization will achieve vertical and horizontal alignment

Blockchain for Good

Overcoming the challenges social innovation organization face will require a strategic shift in technology adoption, with a focus on enhancing transparency, increasing efficiency, promoting sustainability and achieving scalability. This is where technologies like Blockchain have a critical role to play.

When disaster strikes, The most basic question is HOW DO WE GET MONEY, FOOD, SHELTER to those that  need it? How do we contribute in a meaningful way?  — the editor

Accenture interviewed industry experts and examined approximately 30 blockchain use cases for solving social challenges. We also studied a blockchain implementation at Akshaya Patra, a meal provider serving over 1.6 million children in India. Our research highlights a four-step process for social innovation organizations to achieve blockchain transformation.

Read the full article from Accenture, “Blockchain for Good”

Gift Card Provider Blackhawk Network Going Private

GIFT CARDS… during the northern California fires in November 2017, it was gift cards that became the new cash. People needed goods and services, but non-profits like Heart Central, Catholic Charities and Volunteer Center didn’t want to hand out cash like an ATM. Their community wanted gift cards for gas, food and clothes. Thousands of people in Santa Rosa, CA and Sonoma County had lost everything. Imagine, no clothes – just pajamas, no shoes- just slippers, no purse, wallet, Rx, phone…. so many people ran for their lives when the fires switched directions. Survival can be tricky. Luckily MANY individuals, corporations and local companies came to the rescue.

Gift cards were easy to give to the needy, easy to track for charitable organizations and better for many reasons.

Looking for no-fee gift cards, with a possible matching supplement was a headache. It seemed simple, but was very difficult to get a regular bank to step up and process the cards.

It is with great interest I watch this buy-out. I wonder what will happen. I hope faster service, more options, more transfer ability and also the ability to combine gift cards. It would help our fire-ravaged Northern California community.

“Blackhawk is one of the largest third-party gift card distribution companies and as such plays a critical role as a market maker for connecting issuers of prepaid cards and prepaid digital assets with the outlets where these assets are purchased, which includes merchant locations such as supermarkets, online locations such as Amazon, and banks and incentive suppliers that purchase prepaid cards in bulk,” Tim Sloan, vice president of payments innovation at Maynard, Mass.-based Mercator Advisory Group Inc. tells Digital Transactions News by email. “The market for prepaid gift cards has matured, but continues to grow at a slower pace and has trended towards open-loop cards as retailers have announced store closings.”

Full article here.

The clean up and rebuilding in California will take years. With the catastrophic fires in Southern California added to the numbers of homeless and the low availability of rental space, any improvements in “cash like” disbursements would be  a big help.

“This transaction delivers immediate benefits and significant value to our stockholders,” says Blackhawk CEO Roche. (Image credit: Blackhawk Network Holdings)

What to Expect from Cryptocurrency in 2018

What to Expect from Cryptocurrency in 2018 (Scientific American article)

“Meanwhile, the conversation is turning from bitcoin to the thousands of alternative currencies. Bitcoin has gone from commanding most of the market capitalization of all cryptos to representing about one third. If you were shocked by the price rise of bitcoin, check out the ether or ripple cryptocurrencies, which leave bitcoin in the dust.”

Paper money? Venmo and Apple Pay… and ICO – initial coin offerings….


PenTV Host Dani Gasparini talks again with our Founder and Program Manager On July 30, 2008, Kids & Art Foundation hosted our very first workshop at Pixar Studios in Emeryville. Kids & Art Foundation has come a long way over the last decade, but our commitment to ‘healing the whole child and not just the symptom’ and ‘healing through art’ has never changed.  For families who are navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan, the waiting room can be a grim place, full of uncertainty and long journeys. Kids & Art Foundation’s teams of artists and volunteers bring art and creativity directly into these spaces, providing free art activities and positive interactions to the families who are gathered there. The feedback from parents and caregivers is unanimously positive and appreciative

This is a “love note” from Kids&ART! This group really stands out for its ability to combine ENERGY, GOOD Deeds and love into one package. Check them out, and let others know! @kidsandartorg

While we know that the families that we serve experience relief, joy and healing from their Kids & Art Foundation interactions, we also know that many of the outpatient facilities that we serve do not have budgets to help fund programs like ours that are not considered an official part of their facility’s treatment protocol. So, here in our 10th year, we’re looking to ruffle some feathers and ask some tough questions of our hosting hospitals. Until ‘healing the whole child and not just the symptom’ become a value add and an integral part of the ‘whole child in treatment’ organizations like ours will always be dependent on fundraising round the clock. We’re exploring how we can leverage years of positive feedback and collect data showing the benefits of art during pediatric cancer treatment to encourage these programs to embrace and help fund our weekly workshops. We remain creatively hopeful, and determined.