Category Archives: Working Better

Using VR to train for Winter Olympics

Read the full article (from Venture Beat newsletter) :

U.S. skiers and snowboarders are using VR to train for PyeongChang Winter Olympics

For the past couple of years, virtual reality training startup Strivr has been working with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) team to train athletes for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The startup worked with the Park City, Utah-based governing board for US Ski & Snowboard to use VR to enhance athlete preparations for competitions.

VR is affordable and training with a visual component increases retention… I would enjoy trying it out and feeling like I was an Olympic racer. – the editor

“The ski team’s use of VR falls into the ‘no brainer’ category for use cases in virtual reality,” said Jeremy Bailenson, Strivr cofounder and director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University.

Companies Going Green & Employee Engagement

Have you noticed how many companies are going green (or at least trying to convince us that they are)? Going green is good for the environment. It is good for the bottom line. It can also be good for employee engagement. People are proud to work for companies that do good green deeds. Pride in the workplace is one form of inherent recognition (recognition that comes from the work and workplace). So, a sincere “green” effort would contribute to this sense of pride. What can your team do to go green?

This post comes from Cindy Ventrice a public speaker, Recognition Champion and author: Want help creating a program? The Secret to Recognition Programs That Work is a little book packed with ideas. You can find it at in the Resource section. She also sends out weekly recognition ideas, sign up for them, they are inspired!

We call this faker greenies – green washing. Sometimes corporations get it wrong, and have done great good deeds, but don’t portray these efforts well. Sometimes they are fakers.

The same thing happens with people, there are fakers and there are wonderful green good deed doers.  MY PET PEEVE? Imagining that buying $100 organic cotton yoga clothes  (made in a sweatshop in Vietnam or China) somehow gives you the “mantle” of instant green.  UGH.  Look past the label! — the editor

Try this, read: Green Gone Wrong, a book.


Greenlining Institute Serves Non-Profits

At a time when nonprofits are being displaced due to high rents, the Greenlining Institute is providing a safe haven space to several nonprofits at affordable, below-market rents at its newly renovated energy-efficient building at 360 14th St. in the heart of downtown Oakland.

In late February 2017, the Greenlining Institute hosted a grand opening event to showcase the space with elected officials, activists, nonprofits and the community. During the event, Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar thanked all the  sponsors for their support. He wished the Center had enough space to house other nonprofits currently being displaced.

With a long relationship of more than 2 decades, along with other sponsors, a grant of $500,000 from Wells Fargo helps makes 360 Center possible. This is an especially important time, because many non-profits are leaving Oakland.  — the editor



The Green Jobs Interfaith Coalition presents The East Bay Green Jobs & Careers Fair to address the challenges of the climate crisis, economic inequality, displacement and high unemployment rates. The East Bay Green Jobs & Career Fair will be held on Saturday, this is a community event with several exhibitors. To learn more go to their website.

Join us for the East Bay Green Jobs & Careers Fair
When: Saturday, April 15, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Where: Mount Zion Missionary Baptist
1203 Willow St, Oakland, CA 94607

The Green Careers/Jobs Fair is the next logical step after our successful Oakland Green Jobs Summit held on October 5, 2016 (check out this report back from Planting Justice), and will continue to strengthen our shared vision to build economic equity for under-served communities and to foster green job development in the East Bay for years to come. Because of the broad age range of participants we expect, exhibitors are encouraged to share two types of employment information when possible: 1) to connect participants to current employment, and 2) to expose participants to future career opportunities. To support job creation we also plan to have a small business corner that will highlight opportunities the green economy holds for those with the entrepreneurial spirit.

As my favorite  professor said decades ago,  Arnold Schultz…. “Everything is connected to Everything else”.  This was part of a discussion on the Arctic Tundra and environmental degradation… the role of humans, technology and pipelines. His idea is as relevant then as now.

Enter Facebook, LinkedIn, social media in general and years later we have people learning about their world through social media, getting help for complex math algorithms on social media and becoming an “instant success” on social media. It’s not verified, its not vetted and  its messy and the very best way collaboration can be. Lots of voices, lots of ideas. I wish more people would call out, “Bullshit” however that doesn’t see to be PC.  So we learn in fits and starts, relevance and accuracy being discovered with exploration, looking for the facts and digging deeper.

Secrets of the Next Wave author

The Next Wave is different. It’s an attempt to use data to fillet out of the world around us a sense of what’s working now. And, by implication, what’s not. Our world runs on networks after all—for medicine, finance, transportation, just about everything. These networks can be studied and measured and understood. So why not use them to tell us something about work?

Are You Globally Present? Richard Richards

To ensure your success in making a connection across cultural divides? Here are some guidelines from Richard Richards:

Reference: A Seminar is coming, details: Global Thinking, Training, Success

Be Present

Being present is a universal courtesy that transcends culture, language, and whether communicating in-person or virtually. Key points to consider:
– Some cultures have personal relationships that precede business relationships. Results in a “Type A Sales first” behavior vs. calmer, contemplative start to a working relationship.
– Multi-tasking and BUSYNESS, can be seen as rude and unacceptable. Unplug!
– Looking at “body language” and cultural politeness.

Reach Out

Reaching out and connecting is essential. Key points to consider:
-Check-in frequently , discover acceptance or disagreement.
-Use empathy in timing, holidays, local happenings, religious events. Establish a “Do not Call List: for areas that are experiencing disasters, holidays etc. Think about time zones!  Bend YOUR work hours.

Be Expressive

Not just what we say, but how we say it (vocally, facially, physically, and emotionally). Key points to consider:
• Pace of their speech, clarity, loudness and enunciation will profoundly change the level of understanding with a new audience. Involve written communication with verbal. Have you ever misunderstood or had trouble understanding a faster pace? ASK your audience if they can hear you! Accents, slang, idioms can cause trouble.  Yup and Bob’s your Uncle!
• You might try SMILING when speaking. You can hear it (even in a phone conversation). Body language helps communicate, so if others cannot see you, enhance your descriptions.
•Watch out for filler words, “ums” and “ahs.” These are distractions. Practice in front of your team. Join the Toastmasters International club for encouragement and help.
•Acronyms will cause misunderstandings, even if they are explained, because B sounds like D and on a conference call, new people may join later or be afraid to “raise their hand”. Yes, check-in!
•Make sure to have supporting visuals or text. Increased understanding AND retention will help those listening in their non-native language.

Be Aware

Self-knowing is being aware your values, strengths, and limitations, especially when it comes to what you know about the other culture. Key points to consider:
– Admit what you don’t know. Own it with grace and humility and teach others what you learn so it can be adopted company-wide.  Be forthcoming,  Make sure to “honor” questions. Thank those that speak up!

At the end of the day, we need no language to be able to laugh together, and much of what “divides” us is really our own biases and lack of curiosity about differences. And as the author Ciore Taylor said, “Differences simply act as a yarn of curiosity, unraveling until we get to the other side.”

Global Thinking, Training, Success

The ATD training network is holding their yearly conference, many subjects, many speakers.  This one, grabbed me, Uniting Global Teams: Communicating Virtually for Impact, Inclusion, and Engagement it’s on Tues, May 23. And although I cannot go, as trainers and knowledge workers, you may want to go. (BTW, we are ALL trainers and knowledge workers.)

As an employee you must understand global consequences of our actions on earth, and the meaning of what happens HERE, has an effect “over there”.  Employers want their teams to have global understanding, cultural acceptance, and curiosity / the drive to get along.

As technological advances and other disruptors drive companies to become flatter, more global, and more matrixed, employees at all levels need to get better at working together through virtual channels. But that’s easier said than done. This session will share best practices and frameworks you can incorporate into your training and onboarding programs to unite your global teams and cut down the time it takes to get them working together harmoniously and efficiently. You’ll also be able to see the practices in action, because one of the speakers will be using Skype to lead the session. Class Description


Nugent, Kate

Nugent, Kate

Director of Learning

The Ariel Group, Role: Speaker

Richards, Richard  Richards, Richard

Senior Consultant and Facilitator

The Ariel Group, Role: Speaker

Reference: Are You Globally Present? Richard Richards


Women’s Month – 31 days of March!

We are coming to the end of Women’s month. But is it really?  Women bring so much to every situation…. We can honor women everyday, and honor the men that support them. We are not alone.

This is a special tribute to MOMS that Work.  Yes, all mothers work…. however, this quick note goes to NEW MOMS that are working. I remember trying to figure it out. I was smart and capable and working with mostly men. We all learned together. They were a little embarrassed – not knowing what to do. It was ok, I didn’t know what to do.  I would start laughing, my face would get red, they’d bring me a chair to sit down. If I fell asleep at my desk, they would tip-toe in and reroute my phone to not ring. They brought me food. Often. They tried so hard. I tried so hard too. Back then, I had only 6 weeks of maternity leave, I had to return (for salary and health care especially). And the struggle started again, New Moms have a lot to learn all at once. Thank God for kind co-workers.

I just wanted to be energetic and “in charge” but I soon realized …. something had to give. I couldn’t work 10 hours a day x 5 days a week, as I had before. I wanted to clean everything. I was fierce and emotional.  But through all the changes my co-workers helped and laughed with me, I was so very fortunate.

I remember a moment, when I started to cry at my desk (yikes!) my baby had just used a cup at day care and I was “MIA” (working). Oh so sad, I missed that special moment! My team of men “conferred” and they brought in JEAN, another woman who had grandkids(!)  to listen and talk to me. Jean helped me that day, I just needed  a hand to hold for a few minutes, a bit of encouragement and she was there.  My team of problem-solvers did a great good deed!

Thanks to everyone who helps a women excel. We all need each other.  Thanks goes out to my team and my family!

This isn’t my quote (below), but I love the expression of strength. Working Mothers that go to work…. It’s so hard to leave our little ones, but we make it, with understanding and help from family, co-workers, amazing care-givers and emergency baby-sitters, and neighbors that pitch in.

Has being a woman impacted your leadership journey?

How could it have not impacted my journey? I was the only woman in the room at leadership meetings for many years, but that never bothered me because I was accustomed to being surrounded by men growing up on a family farm alongside four brothers. However, when I had small children, one thing that made me different from my male peers was balancing motherhood with my job responsibilities. I used to joke that I wore a suit to work like my peers, but the difference was that I carried a washcloth in my briefcase to wipe off baby sneezes and breakfast fingerprints from my jacket!
It was also evident that I had a positive impact on my male peers because I naturally brought a diverse lens to the job, since my life experiences and perspectives differed from theirs.

Build a GREAT GREEN Team

To develop a stronger, more respectful team work with them to develop guidelines for communication.

 Here are a few ideas for guidelines:

  • Honest but respectful
  • Complete information
  • Inclusive of everyone affected
  • Timely response
  • Problems discussed and resolved
  • Everyone participates and listens

Remember that these guidelines are for you as well. Respect your team!

This recognition tip is sent to you courtesy of Make Their Day! If you know someone else who would like to receive a free weekly tip that will help them build a recognition habit, forward this email to them.

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Copyright Cindy Ventrice 

Using Focus to Excel

Excerpt from this Article in FastCompany.

Distraction. Even for skilled writers who love what we do… yes, we would prefer to do anything other than write. Writing is work. Worse, it’s lonely. Most projects, at least in the initial stages, it is lonely. My friends believe I just sit calmly and training manuals pour from my fingers, that I am meant to blog, and my emails are revision-less. NOT TRUE.

Also, first (+) drafts tend consume all your time. You impose a deadline, it comes and goes. There is still content that doesn’t hang together and it is revision number 12. Oh, let it be done. But no.

I learned to write because my fellow coders couldn’t. So they stayed glued to their monitors concocting devious ways to process faster…. and I explained the systems we built to our management and C-level execs. It was a trade-off. We all would have lost our freedom to create something great, if we didn’t show progress and share status. I was elected… or forced to stretch into this role, and I am grateful.  — the editor

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money,” says Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, her celebrated 1995 book on the craft. “And not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”

Sometimes our tools help us. Speaking of FOCUS MODE in MS WORD — One author says “I’ll cling to Word until Google Docs brings out its own version (it offers something roughly similar but not quite there yet) of one-click Focus mode, no matter how retro or dorky that might make me in the eyes of some. Focus mode forces you to concentrate.”