Ideas and Insights

  • 09/09/2019 12:20 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Even before their tenure began, the ATD-Orange County Board plunged into several initiatives meant to empower our members through vibrant and engaging programs. Now midway through the year, we thought: let's check in with the Board and learn more about some of what drives these individuals in their pursuit of Chapter Excellence.

    Our second interview is with Gillian Wilson (pictured, right), ATD-OC President Elect.

    What passion drove you to serve as an ATD-OC leader?

    Helping other people be more successful - by making connections, giving feedback, mentoring, providing advice or resources. If only it were that easy and I had all the time in the world to dedicate to this!

    How does Chapter Service fit in with your own personal or professional goals?

    Chapter Service challenges you to push yourself to do more and get out of your comfort zone.

    What does our motto: "Connect | Invest | Grow" mean to you?

    It means we link our members together with each other, the board and the local community by each of us investing our time and energy and resources. The end result is to grow the chapter and also each other.

    At the end of the year, what would you like to have accomplished for your TD community?

    If I can help at least one person be more successful either in the chapter or at work or in another way that is important to them.

    What else would you like readers to know about your function or the Chapter?

    We are a thriving community that engages, inspires and connects our members driving them to succeed by providing talent development programs, events and networking opportunities.

  • 07/24/2019 2:15 PM | Denise Ross-Admin (Administrator)

    Jean Barbazette was a long-time member and supporter of the ATD-Orange County Chapter. Her contributions are many and her generous heart and spirit will be greatly missed.

    A message from the team at the Training Clinic:

    A Legend Never Dies...

    Our hearts are heavy as we announce this heartbreaking news.

    Jean Barbazette , the founder of The Training Clinic, passed away peacefully on May 9, 2019, following a 26-year battle with breast cancer.

    Jean was not only our founder, she was our mentor, our role model and, above all, our friend.

    As the founder of The Training Clinic, Jean grew a single consultancy to an international training organization with a field staff of 25 and three international licensees. She and Training Clinic trainers have trained over half a million trainers.

    During her illustrious 40+ year career, Jean was a highly recognized leader in our field. Here are just some of her achievements and honors over the years:

    1.  Author of the following books, some which have been translated and reprinted in China:

    • Successful New Employee Orientation, ©2007, Pfeiffer
    • The Trainer’s Support Handbook, ©2001, McGraw Hill
    • Instant Case Studies, ©2004, Pfeiffer
    • The Trainer’s Journey to Competence, ©2005, Pfeiffer
    • Training Needs Assessment, ©2006, Pfeiffer
    • The Art of Great Training Delivery, ©2006
    • Managing the Training Function for Bottom-Line Results, ©2008, Pfeiffer
    • How to Write Terrific Training Materials, ©2013 Pfeiffer and ASTD co-published

    2.  In addition to sole publication, Jean also authored and contributed chapters to the following:

    • McGraw-Hill Training and Performance Sourcebooks in 1999, 2000 and 2001, 2002, and the Pfeiffer Annuals in 1993, 2004, 2005
    • “Self-Directed New Employee Orientation” in What Smart Trainers Know, © 2001 Jossey Bass
    • ASTD Training & Development Sourcebook, 2002 and 2003
    • ASTD handbooks in 2008 (1st edition) and 2014 (2nd edition)

    3.  Jean was a sought-after speaker at Training Magazine, International Society for Performance and Instruction (ISPI), International Federation of Training & Development Organizations (IFTDO), Los Angeles and Orange County ATD (Her home chapter) ATD National and ATD’s TechKnowledge conferences.

    4.  Jean received the following awards and recognition:

    • "Outstanding Contribution" award Los Angeles Chapter ASTD in 1979 for her work in "Position Referral".
    • “Catholic Woman of the Year in Orange County” nomination, Precious Life Shelter (PLS), 1996. Serves on the Board of Directors and volunteers at PLS. PLS serves homeless pregnant women. Awarded for her dedication and continuing commitment to the shelter since 1994.
    • Three awards from Orange County ASTD: President’s Award, 1998 for twenty years continuous and outstanding service, Distinguished Service Award, 1999; Award of Merit, 2003.
    • Featured in T&D Magazine "Long View" column, June 2010.
    • Her BEST-SELLING book, "Successful New Employee Orientation," Pfeiffer ©1994 was nominated by HR Executive Magazine as the book of the year. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) gave the book an "Honorable Mention" in its 1994 book of the year competition. A second edition was released in June 2001. Jean was cited as an authority on orientation on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on October 13, 1998. This article was later reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle. A third edition was released in 2007.

    In her “spare” time, Jean served as President of the Women’s Guild at St. Anne’s Parish, was on the board of directors and also served as President for the Navy Golf Course Women’s Golf Club and was on the Board of Directors for Precious Life Shelter.

    Most importantly, Jean was also a beloved wife, mother and very active grandmother to her three granddaughters.

    Please join us in celebrating the life of this remarkable woman.

    Cheers to you, Jean, you will be greatly missed but always remembered!


    Melissa, Maria & the entire Training Clinic Family

  • 07/18/2019 2:27 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Even before their tenure began, the ATD-Orange County Board plunged into several initiatives meant to empower our members through vibrant and engaging programs.  Now midway through the year, we thought: let's check in with the Board and learn more about some of what drives these individuals in their pursuit of Chapter Excellence.

    Our first interview is with Kimberly Goh(pictured, left), ATD-OC Chapter Secretary.

    1) Tell us about your team.  What do they do for the Chapter?  What are their strengths and passions?

    As Chapter Secretary, I document the discussions and decisions that take place at the Board meetings. I’m also head of the Documentation Committee, which is a team of people who focus on improving the usability, storage, and flow of information at the Board level. 

    Documentation Committee members have exceptional skill in organization and attention to detail. They also are passionate about creating sustainable systems, and cultivating a collaborative team environment on the Board.

    2) What passion drove you to serve as an ATD-OC leader?

    I first heard of ATD-OC when I enrolled in the eLearning certification program at UCI. It intrigued me that the university had chosen to partner with a local professional organization, and that they offered a discount on classes to ATD-OC members.  

    The moment I arrived at my first Monthly Learning Event, I realized that ATD-OC was the perfect complement to UCI’s online program. ATD-OC meetings allowed me to interact with people in a live, face-to-face environment, and to learn from speakers with expertise across a wide range of fields.

    My first experience in Chapter service was as a Welcome Ambassador, and later I joined the Change Management and Technology Special Interest Groups. This allowed me to get to know several board members, and to gain experience by volunteering in various roles within ATD-OC. 

    Eventually, this led me to my current position of serving as Chapter Secretary on the Board of Directors. In addition to the traditional Secretary responsibilities, I also leverage my experience in eLearning and Instructional Design to create courses that support Board work.

    3) What does our motto: "Connect | Invest | Grow" mean to you?

    For me, "Connect, Invest, Grow” is meaningful on both a personal and professional level. I love connecting the dots across a wide range of ideas. Sometimes I’ll read a book or an article, and months later, I’ll discover its relevance to what I thought was a completely unrelated field. Connecting with other professionals is also one of the main reasons I joined ATD-OC: the people I’ve met through this organization have helped me to grow in extraordinary ways.

    Investment is always a long-term strategy. Sometimes it’s an investment in myself, such as dedicating two years toward earning my eLearning Instructional Design Certification at UC Irvine. Sometimes it’s an investment in other people, such as supporting ATD-OC members through my service on the Board. It may take some time, but already I’m seeing significant results, and I know these investments will continue to yield great rewards in the future.

    When I hear the word “grow”, I immediately think of the importance of having a growth mindset. This reframes moments of failure and difficulty, and helps you to see them as the moments when your brain is growing the most rapidly. With a growth mindset, you know you can grow your abilities through effort and perseverance. 

    It’s easier to do this in a supportive community of like-minded people. That’s why it’s helpful to join organizations such as ATD-OC: so we can learn and be encouraged. So we can grow.

    When you attend an MLE as a Welcome Ambassador, you gain an entirely new perspective. 

    4) How does Chapter Service fit in with your own personal or professional goals?

    Serving as a volunteer for ATD-OC has had an extraordinary impact on my career. For example, it is one thing to simply attend a Monthly Learning Event. But when you attend an MLE as a Welcome Ambassador, you gain an entirely new perspective as you focus on enhancing the experience for other members.

    Volunteering for ATD-OC is like taking on a stretch assignment - you are intentionally pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone for the sake of your own growth, as well as for the good of the organization as a whole.

    Serving as an ATD-OC volunteer and Board member, along with earning my eLearning certification at UCI has prepared me to take the next step in my career. I’m just about to launch my freelance eLearning Design and Development business - it’s a very exciting time!

    5) At the end of the year, what would you like to have accomplished for your TD community?

    I’m currently developing a Storyline 360 eLearning course for ATD-OC to assist with New Board Member Orientation. The project utilizes a microlearning approach - short bursts of eLearning that can be used for initial training as well as performance support. 

    The vision for this course is that it will be one component of a larger blended learning experience. This New Board Member Orientation Experience will be led by an Orientation Leader, will include live/virtual meetings, the eLearning course, job aids, and other resources.

    6) What else would you like readers to know about your function or the Chapter?

    Our Chapter is remarkably strong and is well-positioned to meet the needs of professionals throughout Orange County. Yet many people in our community don’t realize the benefits they could gain by becoming members of our organization. 

    Invite your colleagues to an upcoming event or to one of our New Member Orientations, so they can find out for themselves all that ATD-OC has to offer.

  • 05/24/2019 9:55 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    'Fuzzy' Image from the Preface of Goal Analysis by Robert F. Mager

    Go clean your room.

    That’s a job performance expectation that has probably been made of each of us at one point in our lives.  And it’s “fuzzy,” says Rex Conner, because “clean” means one thing to the child, and another to the parent.

    Case in point:  for my boys, that recent request meant picking up the clothes and stuffed animals off the floor.  For me, it included taking the stuff off the ceiling fan.

    If “fuzzy” seems an incongruous term to describe performance expectations, you can look to Dr. Robert Mager for precedence.  It’s a distinctive term he used to describe the subjective language that we encounter as others describe their expectations for performance.  “Provide good customer service.”  “Be a team player.”  These goals “are difficult – if not impossible – to achieve when stated in such vague terms,” says Dr. Mager.

    For Rex Conner, co-founder and lead principal of the Mager Consortium, these “fuzzy” terms are the root of workplace evil, and it’s up to us to weed them out of corporate verbiage.

    In his presentation: “Establishing A Common Performance Language,” Rex Conner shares a four-step process to “defuzzifying fuzzies.”

    1. State the fuzzy in terms of outcome, not process
    2. List observable actions
    3. Clarify the list
    4. Test the list

    If this sounds easy, let me dissuade you.  It’s not.  Because you can’t complete this list alone. You need to work with the person creating the fuzzies in the first place.  During our chapter meeting, Rex had participants role play a defuzzification process: one person playing the employee, the other playing the boss.  The employees’ job was fairly simple:  work through the list.  The boss’ job was much more difficult; they had to explain what they meant.

    This is another principle laid out by Dr. Mager: while it’s Training’s responsibility to support an employee’s skill and self-efficacy, it’s Management’s responsibility to provide an opportunity to perform and a supportive environment.  “Fuzzy” terms erode the supportive environment because employees don’t know what Management wants of them, causing workplace conflict.

    Consider this idea with the “clean your room” example:

    “You call this room clean?” you ask your child.

    The kid nods.

    "Your bed is still a mess."

    "You're just going to make me go to bed after this anyway."

    There are still toys on the ceiling fan!

    “You never told me to clean that before!”

    So now: you’re the boss.  How will you defuzzify your request to clean their room?

  • 05/15/2019 3:57 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    What if you could take away the root cause of a majority of conflicts in the workplace? What will that do to productivity? What will that do to the retention of workers?

    Rex Conner points to subjectivity in the work processes as a root cause for a lot of workplace conflict, and states that "fuzzy language" can create an unstable foundation for performance at the very beginning of an employee life cycle.

    "Fuzzy language" is a concept brought about by human performance guru Dr. Robert Mager when discussing performance outcomes, and Rex Conner, Lead Partner and Co-Founder of the Mager Consortium, applies it here as he discusses how Recruiting, Training, HR, and Evaluation describe job performance expectations.

    "You need one methodology on which to build the processes for recruiting, training, evaluating, and developing employees," Rex shared in a recent interview. "You need a common performance language."

    What is a common performance language?

    "That is a lot like English," Rex says. "In the workplace, when you speak a common performance language, no one is speaking in fuzzy terms when we're talking about people performing.

    Fuzzy terms are subjective terms. Terms that are common in the workplace, like: 'You need to be a team player.' or 'You need to provide world-class customer service.' Those are fuzzy terms. They're open to interpretation. When you're talking about a big organization, that's fine. But when you're talking about an individual performing, every time you have subjective language that you leave open to interpretation, you're inviting conflict, you're inviting inefficiencies.

    "So a common performance language means: everyone speaking in clear terms, and in addition to verbal speech, the processes that are involved, the work processes, the way you get things done, do not have subjectivity in them. You've worked through all the processes and made them objective."

    As long as HR, training, the business units, and the quality people are speaking their own languages you are bound to have conflicts, misunderstandings, and inefficiencies that sap the human spirit and the bottom line.

    That quote comes from the description for Rex Connor's upcoming seminar: "Creating A Common Performance Language." We asked Rex if the argot specific to each department contributed to the subjective language.

    "It's OK if each discipline has its own jargon," he replied. "We all develop jargon just around the work we do. But when we're talking about the common effort about helping people perform when they're on the job, that's when you need to take out the subjectivity, both in the language we use, the discussions we have, and in the work processes.

    "It's definitely a cross-functional effort. It doesn't mean that all the functions need to morph together. HR can still be HR, and the recruiting component can still be recruiting and have their own terminology. But the processes that they use need to be built on the same objectives on which the training is done. The evaluation of workers needs to use the same standards that they used in training. Needs to use the same job description that they used in recruiting. And so, those functions don't have to merge, but the processes that they use have to have the same language, the same basics. It all needs to be governed by the same performance objectives."

    Learn more about Establishing A Common Performance Language at our May 22 Learning Event.

  • 05/13/2019 2:22 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The Orange County Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) was recognized for its submission to the ATD “Sharing Our Success” (SOS) program. The national SOS program identifies best practices among local ATD chapters and uses them as models for other chapters.

    Elizabeth Beckham, Chair of ATD’s Chapter Recognition Committee said, "This recognition honors the OC Chapter’s best practice that demonstrates its commitment to managing a successful organization as well as advancing the talent development profession at the local level. We are honored to recognize the chapter with ATD's SOS recognition."

    The Training and Technology team was rebooted in 2017 with the goal of providing our members an opportunity to develop eLearning content that served a non-profit organization in the greater Orange County community.  We immediately found a partner in OneOC — Orange County’s non-profit resource center.

    The project: to replace a regular webinar software demonstration with an online tutorial, providing OneOC’s clients with the just-in-time ability to recruit volunteers for upcoming events, and freeing OneOC staff to do other much-needed tasks.

    Members interacted with a real client, created storyboards, and developed eLearning modules using prevalent eLearning authorware. In addition, they developed skills as a remote team, working in small groups in between the periodic SIG meetings.

    This effort provided members with the opportunity to enhance their technological skills and add a project to their resume with a complete work sample hiring managers can review, while providing a much-needed business solution for one of the leading nonprofit organizations in Orange County.

    ATD-Orange County's Chapter Vision is to: "Be the space in which to practice and perfect your talent development skills and build your professional network in Orange County."  We're proud to have the Training and Technology SIG as one of many communities of practice in which our members can take their skills to the next level!

  • 05/08/2019 9:55 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)


    As working professionals, we are aware of the value of a wardrobe.  A snappy suit can make or break an interview.  A fabulous outfit can establish a professional demeanor that opens doors.

    It's the unattainability of these professional essentials that perpetuate a cycle of unemployment and poverty for those who are struggling to return to work.  ATD-Orange County is proud to once again support Working Wardrobes in their mission to help men, women, young adults and veterans overcome this difficult challenge so they can achieve the dignity of work.

    This May, we're asking you to dip into your closet and pull out that one (or two) item(s) that you just aren't wearing for work anymore.  Bring it with you to the May Learning Event, and we'll contribute it to Working Wardrobe's Professional Clothing and Accessories Drive.  

    (You don't need to attend the May event, but that's where we'll be.)* 

    You'll find the "Drive for Success" details here.
    Please note some of the details:  we're looking for clothes in "slightly used" condition, clean and on hangars.  Ideally, these clothes are "interview ready."  

    Please take a look.  If there's something in your closet that doesn't bring you joy, but can bring joy to someone struggling to re-enter the workforce, we'd love to find it on the Working Wardrobes clothing rack at this month's Learning Event.

    Thank you.

    Want to learn more about Working Wardrobes?  Here's a quick fact sheet.

    * Not attending the MLE, but want to contribute anyway?  Stop by between 5:15 and 6:15 pm, drop off your donations and get some quick networking in.  We'll be there.

  • 04/08/2019 3:07 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    It gives us great pleasure to introduce our newest Programs Committee Leader: Ken Dixon.

    Ken approached our Vice President of Talent Development, Lynn Nissen, and shared that he was willing to support ATD-OC with "anything needed to help our events run more smoothly." This brought to mind SO many things, but we narrowed it down to:

    Identifying what interests the OC learning and development community, matching that up with industry trends, and from that creating a curriculum for the ATD-OC Monthly Learning Events. Ken's first project: to assemble a panel of webinar practitioners for an upcoming how-to session on setting up and facilitating world-class webinars.

    Ken has lived in Orange County for most of his life and is a long-standing member of ATD. As the founder and principal consultant of Dixon Talent Development, Ken has over 25 years of experience developing and implementing classroom, virtual, and web-based training. His passion for brand, learning, and strategic collaboration have been key to supporting success with global brands such as Gap, T-Mobile, Beats by Dre, and Apple.

    With all that experience under his belt, we asked what Ken was looking to gain from his service as Programs Committee Leader. Essentially, he perceives in this role an opportunity to build relationships and enhance his professional network. This is definitely an integral competency, one that we hope each member of our community will help Ken achieve.

    Please join us in welcoming Ken to the Programs team!

  • 04/03/2019 8:24 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    To continue our series of profiling “model volunteers,” in which we explore the goals that drive individuals to volunteer and their strategies for making the most out of the experience, we spoke with Kathleen Ashelford, who recently concluded her latest term on the ATD-OC board, this time as the VP of Talent Management.

    It turns out that when you volunteer for as many positions as Kathleen, you’re likely to be profiled more than once; and not surprisingly, there is a great interview with Kathleen written by Paul Venderley back in September 2015. If you didn’t catch it the first time around, it’s worth a read. Kathleen shared about her past efforts as the Chapter President, the skills and friendships she developed, and what inspired her to volunteer:

    I just wanted to contribute, to connect with others, and to make a difference. Every role since has been an opportunity to do what I love—to help an organization grow its ability to serve its stakeholders and fulfill its mission.

    It’s a sentiment that Kathleen reiterated during our more recent interview. In fact, her experience in the intervening years connecting with other volunteers and other non-profits has been like gasoline on a long-burning fire, stoking her excitement with the growing trend of corporate social responsibility. For Kathleen, volunteering is about the people.

    “Being able to make a positive impact is really important to me,” she said.

    The connection to a mission and a greater good leads many people to volunteer. Kathleen saw this firsthand during her time last year working as an AmeriCorps Fellow with OneOC, an organization that provides professional services to local non-profits. She divided her time between working in OneOC’s Organizational Development Department and helping to organize community service projects for corporate employees. She was impressed at the outpouring of corporate-supported volunteering, seeing organizations like the Home Depot Foundation, Taco Bell, Wells Fargo, and Ingram Micro send employees to contribute to community service projects during and after work hours: building playhouses for the families of veterans; making repairs at the Giving Farm; building homes for homeless veterans.

    The benefits of these kinds of volunteer experiences need no enumeration. But with all the worthwhile charity organizations, locally and across the globe, why dedicate your time to a professional organization like ATD-OC?

    “ATD-OC is focused on the betterment of people, making a positive impact on an organization’s people; not just giving them skills,” Ashelford said. “Most people want to do a good job. As talent development professionals, it’s our charge to help them find that sweet spot between their organization’s mission and what they do best.”

    It’s this sense of ATD-OC’s mission that led Ashelford and other board members to look for ways to offer skill development programs to members. They partnered with OneOC on two such projects: the first was to facilitate leadership development courses for Orange County non-profits, and the second was to design an eLearning module for OneOC’s member organizations on how to post volunteer opportunities to their website. Both projects would be led by seasoned talent development practitioners and staffed by ATD-OC members looking to grow their skills. The effort was such a success that ATD-OC received the Spirit of Volunteerism award from OneOC.

    Like any other worthwhile endeavor, there were challenges along the way. Finding members who were willing to serve as “learning advisors,” finding the right projects, finding the right learners with just enough experience—all of these added up to make it difficult to easily replicate the project’s success.

    But Ashelford hasn’t given up. As she passes the torch to the newly elected VP of Talent Management, Ashelford noted that she and the board (outgoing and incoming) have talked about a new model for engaging members in their own development and giving them the tools to make an impact in the lives of the people they serve.

    It’s a mission we’re eager to accept.

    More About Kathleen

    Kathleen Dvorak Ashelford is a program developer and team leader passionate about making a positive impact through nonprofit organizations. She has worked as a volunteer, staff member, and consultant to nonprofits serving a range of causes including STEM education, veterans issues, and Native American youth.

    She served as ATD-OC President in 2014, and has held several other Chapter Board offices, including Vice President of Technology and of Talent Management. In 2016, she co-founded a partnership between ATD-OC and OneOC (formerly, The Volunteer Center of Orange County), through which ATD-OC members volunteer their skills in exchange for professional development and networking opportunities.

    Last year, as an AmeriCorps Fellow, Kathleen worked in OneOC's Organizational Development Department, where she helped build and deliver training, leadership development, and other business services for Orange County's non-profit organizations.

    She has held leadership roles in the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, the Military Support Ministry at Mariners Church, Irvine, and the National Veterans Foundation. Other nonprofits with which she has been involved include Malibu Global Awareness (a fund-raising organization for Doctors Without Borders), the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Astronomers Without Borders, and the Cheyenne River Youth Project.

    Before transitioning to the nonprofit world, Kathleen was a project manager, business analyst, technical writer, and process improvement specialist in the information technology industry.

    She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with highest honors from Biola University, and has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.

    Kathleen’s passion for helping others has led to several volunteer commitments, including one Saturday each month spent at Griffith Observatory, where she and her fellow members of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society show visitors the sky through their telescopes.

  • 02/20/2019 5:17 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Are you a team builder? A webinar facilitator? A tinker, a tailor, a rogue level one evaluator? ATD-OC is looking for talent development professionals with a passion in any of those topics.

    Here's the deal: we've got a community looking for you to share your expertise with them. Rather than invite them into your house and look over your shoulder, we're wondering if you'd consider leading one of our Chapter Learning Events.

    We've placed our wish list on this post, but our interests are by no means limited to those. If you've something you'd love to share with people interested in their professional development, we'd love to hear from you!

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