BLOG - Ideas and Insights

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

    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!

  • 01/27/2019 1:24 PM | Paul Venderley

    In 2018, ATD-Orange County ensured each of our learning events and workshops aligned with at least one ATD Foundational Competency.  

    • Business Skills: What Goes Into A Training Program (February) / Communication Plan (October) / Best in Class - Developing Your Employees (September)
    • Industry Knowledge:  Flipped Learning (January) / SIG Conference (September)
    • Interpersonal Skills:  Performance Management through Recognition (December) / The Power of Perception (November)
    • Personal Skills:  Mindsets (November)
    • Technology Literacy:  Engaging the Virtual Learner (March) / Blended Learning (May) / Captivate Workshop (June) / Motion Graphic Videos (May)

    We created a community in which our members applied best practices and grew within the talent development industry.

    • Total Trainer Graduates had an opportunity to facilitate programs for Yes!
    • Training and Technology SIG enhanced their Adobe Captivate skills via a project-based program in which they designed eLearning for OneOC.
    • Nancy Ingram dove into Prezi to create the opening canvas for ATD-OC Learning Event meetings.

    We partnered with corporate and non-profit organizations in our community, utilizing their expertise, resources, and passion in the support of our mission.

    • OneOC
    • South County Photo Club
    • Glidewell Laboratories
    • Taco Bell
    • Pacific Life
    • South County Photo Club

    We are 238 members strong, and glad you are one of them!

  • 01/23/2019 2:14 PM | Paul Venderley

    The State of the Industry report (SOIR) is produced annually by ATD’s researchers, presenting data in several groupings against which learning professionals can benchmark learning investments and best practices in their organizations.

    In this webinar we review ATD-OC's most recent State of the Industry Report, and discuss the following questions:

    • How has the data provided by the State of the Industry affected ATD-OC's strategy?
    • How might this data influence the L&D decisions you make in your organization?

    Data categories reviewed:

    • Efficiencies and Expenditures
      Spending on employee learning continues to be strong. This is the sixth year in a row that has seen an increase in direct learning expenditure.
    • Content Distribution
      Which content areas have the largest share of the learning portfolio?
    • Delivery Methods
      Is all the discussion about the prevalence of eLearning, and the demand of mLearning backed up by this report’s findings?

    View webinar recording:

  • 11/25/2018 5:54 PM | Paul Venderley

    As talent development professionals, we've doubtless taken many assessments analyzing our personalities. What's your MBTI? How about your DISC? Just recently, I dusted off my StrengthsFinder assessment in preparation for a job interview. These tools are great as we seek to interact and collaborate with others. What about the tools we need to promote ourselves?

    Dr. Ryan Gottfredson suggests that we consider our mindsets.

    Your mindsets, Dr. Gottfredson says, "play the role of being your mental fuel filter, dictating the information your brain processes, ultimately driving your thinking, learning, and behavior."

    Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? An open or closed mindset? A prevention or a promotion mindset?

    "There are four sets of mindsets that have been found to strongly influence how successful you are in life, your work, and your leadership," shares Dr. Gottfredson.

    "The mindsets you now wear are mindsets that have been developed based upon how you were raised and the experiences you have had in life. And, it is likely that you fully believe that the mindsets that you currently possess are the very best mindsets to possess. That is what your life has taught you. But, what I have learned from personal experience is that often our current mindsets are not the most productive mindsets that we can possess."

    You can learn more about mindsets at Dr. Gottfredson's website, or join us this Wednesday, November 28, as Dr. Gottfredson offers insights into how our mindsets can impact our career management.

    • Understand the foundational role mindsets play in professional and career success and development
    • Have a clear focus on what mindsets you need to develop to enhance their professional and career success
    • Receive specific direction on how you can improve the mindsets that drive professional and career success

    Consider joining us at the DoubleTree Club Hotel -- Learn more OR

    Consider joining us online via GoToTraining -- Learn more

  • 10/15/2018 12:48 PM | Paul Venderley

    The topic for this month’s Learning Event came from a late night work conversation in which someone bemoaned the fact that when an employee was assigned a training class, they would invariably ask: “Do I have to take this?” Even more disconcerting, they didn’t ask the Talent Development team, they asked their HR reps, who in turn asked us: “Do they have to take this class?”

    If there’s anyone who oughta be repping you, it oughta be HR, right?

    The course objectives were strong. The WIIFM was clear. The problem: it hadn’t been communicated well to the employees. Thus, in an era during which the demands of employee time are increasing (and time seems to be slip-sliding away even faster than before -- can you believe it’s October already?), the need for a strong communication plan to convey the benefits of any training intervention are key.

    In this article, the folks at Business Performance, Ltd. share that constructing a communication plan with key stakeholders keeps everyone engaged in the success of a program. And they gave quite a list of stakeholders, from the instructional designer to the administration staff, and all the leaders and consultants in between.

    In the case that prompted our event, with whom should we have communicated?

    Employees to whom training was assigned would be the obvious choice, and they had received several emails about the upcoming learning requirements.

    • The managers of those being assigned training.
    • Our HR Representatives
    • Can you think of any others?

    At the conclusion of our Special Interest Group conference last month, I intimated that this is a lesson our Chapter can do well to pay heed to. We’ll be there, taking notes of best practices that we’ll be following in 2019. Will you?

  • 08/15/2018 10:08 AM | Paul Venderley

    I’ve been reading John C. Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” and came upon the following statistics from his informal poll to find out what prompted respondents to become leaders.  He shares:

    How They Became Leaders

     Natural Gifting  10 percent
     Result of Crisis  05 percent
     Influence of another leader  85 percent

    This came from his “Law of Reproduction,” in which he asserts: 

    “It takes a leader to raise up a leader.”  

    This isn’t a surprising conclusion. Many leaders will openly point to that one mentor who took them “under their wing and taught me everything they know.”  It’s great when you’re in an organization that has that sort of culture.

    What if you aren’t?

    What if you want to be a leader and haven’t found that mentor who can guide you? Who do you turn to then?

    How about a community?

    My reading of these “Laws of Leadership” comes at a time when ATD-Orange County is looking for people who want to be leaders in their talent development community. We actively seek to create an experiential learning environment; a significant part of that experiential learning resides in leadership development.

    Long-term members are likely aware that our Chapter Board of Directors changes at the end of the calendar year.  We make a big production of swearing in the new board and thanking departing members for their service. Each year, some of our chapter leaders shift positions, seeking to develop their skills in a different facet of a training organizations.  Some stay on in the same position, looking to finalize projects they’d initiated. And some step down. While all that happens at the end of the year, we’re looking to fill those vacant positions now.

    What about it?  Are you ready to develop the skills you’ll need in the next step of your career?

    Nominations for the 2019 Board of Directors are now being accepted.  While that implies you should be recommending a peer whom you think would be darned good at leading our community, we recognize that that darned good leader could be you.

    As a leader of our organization, which leaders would you be working with? Who might be influencing you as you develop your leadership skills?  Let’s take a look at our “C-Suite.”

    Susmitha Valvekar, an instructor at UCLA Extension and instructional designer for Glidewell Dental.  She’s got a Ph.D. in Philosophy, leads the Change Management Special Interest Group, and will be Chapter President for 2019.  She’s been most effusive about how ATD-Orange County has supported her professional growth over the past few years, and views her time in the C-Suite both as an opportunity to give back to the community, and to those who choose to serve on her Board.

      Don McGray, a veteran management consultant focused on continual process improvement, who has implemented several procedures to the Board Leadership that every business should implement.  He’s served as the CFO for the past two years, and will come back for a third. Don’s passion is ensuring the training department adds value to the business it serves, and he passionately applies that focus during each and every Board meeting.

    Jeffrey Hansler, Chapter President for three years running.  He’ll tell you that he’s learned much for about being a leader during the third year than he did the first.  And he learned a lot about being a leader that first year! Jeffrey has received two CSP designations: one, a Certified Speaking Professional from the National Speakers Association; the other, a Certified Sales Professional from API.  And he’s published a book! He’ll be Past President in 2019, serving to advise the current president and anyone else willing to learn from him.  

    Become part of the 85 percent of leaders who develop not through trial by fire, but within a safe community of practice.

  • 08/07/2018 12:14 PM | Paul Venderley

    ATD-Orange County proudly recognizes Jennifer Puente as our August 2018 volunteer of the Month.

    Jennifer has been a commendable behind-the-scenes professional, interviewing and writing about key influencers within the ATD-OC community. She's brought to the table several ideas that fleshed out a role that had, at best, been sketched out on the back of a napkin and handed to her. Her first article, "The Deliberate Volunteer - An Interview with Jeffrey Hansler" was posted on June 4. Her next article: "The Volunteer Who Built Content and Community" focusing on Anthony Harmetz, was just published online yesterday.

    Jennifer is "such a good writer," said Anthony Harmetz upon reading 'The Deliberate Volunteer.' "This is a great service she's providing for the Chapter."  He's recently become one of her biggest advocates for increasing her interview pipeline.

    Now, two articles in eight months may not seem like such a big deal, but as those who've worked with non-profit organizations such at ATD-OC know, it's a fair achievement. Jennifer has mastered the art of persistence and follow-through, collaborating with the proverbial overwhelmed and easily distracted client -- both those she interviews and the person who asked her to do all this in the first place.

    She's building a pipeline of ATD-OC community influencers to interview. We look forward to learning more about them, and her, in the future!

    Jennifer will be at our September Learning Event. Stop by, give her a hearty handshake!

  • 08/06/2018 12:01 PM | Paul Venderley
    Next in our ATD-OC “Model Volunteers” interview series, we spoke with Anthony Harmetz, who, like many volunteers, has rotated through various leadership positions, including President in 2009 and VP of Membership on last year’s board.  Recently, Anthony shared what attracted him to volunteer with ATD-OC and how the relationships he developed within the group supported him through a challenging career transition.
    Article by
    Jennifer Puente

    In 2005, Anthony Harmetz stood atop a cliff of career change.  His successful rise over the previous decade from technical writer to National Director of Training at Bally Total Fitness was coming to an end, thanks to the fitness center giant’s slowly failing business and looming bankruptcy filing.  Realizing all his training contacts were in other parts of the country, he joined our local ATD chapter, hoping to become part of a training community as he prepared for a job search.

    Anthony recalls attending a few meetings, but wasn’t satisfied with how quickly or deeply his relationships were developing.  He needed to build bridges fast.  He decided to volunteer.

    Rich Wong, who was President-Elect of ATD-OC at the time, suggested Anthony contribute to an upcoming Total Trainer program.  The last cohort had just graduated and there was a small team who had committed to immediately taking the lessons learned in that course into the next offering.  Game for the challenge, Anthony went to the first project management meeting.  He fondly recalls what followed as a “trial by fire.”

    “The decision to launch the next session was sudden, so little was in place. The course was starting in two weeks, no participants were enrolled, various presenters weren’t returning, we had all sorts of enhancements to include—and none of the project team members (especially me!) understood what was necessary to make the program work,” Anthony recounts.  He quickly found himself in the familiar role of project manager and got to work.  Twelve weeks later, the program was a success, and Anthony “suddenly had close relationships with all the people on the project team, many of the facilitators, and a number of the program participants.”

    For his efforts, Anthony was also awarded “ATD-OC Rookie of the Year,” a recognition that was all the more meaningful as his job at Bally officially ended a few weeks after receiving the award, and his job search began in earnest. His ATD-OC relationships couldn’t have come at a better time. 

    He remembers attending a chapter event for the Career Counseling Special Interest Group and talking with the career coach, Tom Porter, sharing how dispirited he was after each interview, especially the ones that had gone well.  He’d like the people, the job, and the company, but feel a pit in his stomach as he contemplated working there.  “Tom told me, ‘What you’re feeling’s natural.  You’re like someone who’s just gotten a divorce—and you’re not ready to get married again.’ That clicked for me,” Anthony recalls.  “So I asked, ‘What should I do?’  His answer: ‘You date.’”

    Thus, began a series of short-term consulting projects, during which Anthony discovered he enjoyed the consulting business.  He soon decided to commit to consulting full-time. 

    But he didn’t stop volunteering with ATD-OC. In 2007, he oversaw the Continuing Education department; the following year, he served as the chapter’s CFO; and the year after that, he was selected as President-Elect. 

    The benefits of volunteering have been substantial. “Not only have I developed the community I was looking for, but I’ve also found sub-contractors who’ll help me on my consulting gigs, people I can call on to learn best practices, opportunities to try out new skills in a supportive environment (believe me, no one is ever going to make me CFO of a for-profit organization), and an avenue for working on passion projects,” he says.  Additionally, over the years, his consulting clients have come through his network—a combination of people he knows from Bally, from school...and from ATD-OC.

    Anthony loved Bally and his time there, but part of his excitement about ATD-OC was migrating from an environment where people didn’t always understand training and weren’t always great at managing people (sound familiar to anyone?) to a Shangri-la of like-minded people who understood the importance of talent development.  He calls ATD-OC a “friendly oasis.”

    Based on what Anthony has accomplished as a volunteer, the feeling is mutual.  In reading an early draft of this interview, a current board member commented, “I imagine if we were to include every dang thing he’s done, this article would be much too long.”  Anthony’s contributions to the Total Trainer program alone—which he has managed off and on during his tenure, growing it from a single program to a two-program curriculum, and now exploring the option of adding a third component—speak of his enduring commitment, all while operating a successful consulting business.

    A beloved member of the chapter, Anthony is recognized not only for various achievements over the years, but also for helping the organization live up to its slogan: “Come for the content.  Stay for the community.”  Anthony wholeheartedly believes in that slogan.  And he’s grateful to have done both.

    More about Anthony

    Favorite Learning Resource

    Anthony discovered The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning a few years ago and raves about the book’s emphasis on transfer of learning. “It takes lots of accepted lore about training and weaves it together into an effective process,” he says.  “It’s dense in content and impact but easy to read.”

    Official Bio

    Anthony Harmetz is a workforce training professional with over 20 years of experience designing, delivering and implementing solutions to address the learning needs of various organizations. An accomplished facilitator, instructional designer, and leader, Anthony spent 13 years establishing and leading the learning function for Bally Total Fitness as Bally’s National Training Director. Since leaving Bally in 2006, he has been providing training and development services on a consulting basis. Currently he’s helping clients with: elearning and other instructional design projects, training strategy and implementation, and facilitation and coaching relating to train-the-trainer and personality styles models such as DiSC.


  • 06/04/2018 1:58 PM | Paul Venderley
    As learning and development professionals, we talk a lot about models. The arguments in favor of (or against) ADDIE vs SAM alone could—and have—filled books. In this interview series, we will look at models that are near and dear to ATD-OC: model volunteers.

    Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a lesson in how to volunteer with endless enthusiasm, boundless energy, and unflinching dedication (although any of those would, of course, be welcome). Rather, we’ll talk with volunteers who are real people facing opportunities and challenges with success and sometimes failure. We hope by exploring these models, you’ll see facets of your own professional journey and goals, as well as a path to volunteering.

    Our first interview is with Jeffrey Hansler, a talent development veteran. We talked with Jeffrey to find out what made him want to volunteer with ATD-OC, the skills and competencies he brought to the table, and his strategy for making the most of his volunteer experience.

    Article by
    Jennifer Puente

    The Deliberate Volunteer

    At the time that Jeffrey Hansler volunteered to serve as the VP of Marketing for ATD-OC in 2013, he had already achieved many career successes: from being a top sales representative for Apple Computer, to leading an international accounting and manufacturing software company, to following his entrepreneurial calling and opening his own consulting business in 1990 (initially focusing on training; and since 2006, Organizational Development).

    Amidst this success, Jeffrey was attracted to serve on the ATD-OC Board for two reasons. One, he saw changes in the learning and development industry—changes driven by technology and ways in which companies approached employee learning—created opportunities for ATD-OC to serve its members in new and innovative ways. And two, he recognized by helping to lead ATD-OC through a period of innovation, he would have the opportunity to hone his own self-proclaimed “rusty” skills.

    “Leading an organization is different than supporting leadership,” he said of his decision to join the Board. “I needed to sharpen my leadership and especially my management skills.”

    So, while serving as VP of Marketing for ATD-OC in 2013, he threw his hat in the ring to lead the Chapter, and was elevated to President-Elect in 2014. One of his first actions as President-Elect was to ask for help.

    “I sought out a few people on the Board who I had developed trust with and told them, ‘I’m using this opportunity to develop my leadership skills. Will you help me?’” Jeffrey recalled.

    The act of deliberately identifying those with the skills and willingness to help set Jeffrey on the path towards receiving mentoring and guidance during a time of significant change in the organization. He began meeting every other week with Kathleen Ashelford (then Past-President) and Jolynn Atkins (then President) for what Jolynn coined “PrezConnects.” The group would talk through ideas and challenges they were facing, drawing upon each other’s experience and rallying one another to keep forward progress.

    In addition to Kathleen and Jolynn, there were others who supported Jeffrey in both big and small ways. “The ATD-OC Board draws from people with lots of experience,” Jeffrey said. Unlike some other boards he has served on or observed, he continued, “this is a high caliber group.”

    Jeffrey’s own skillset supports this assertion. When asked what competencies positioned him for success as a volunteer, he said, “My experience in organizational development has given me the ability to read an audience. I’ve also developed communication and strategic planning skills over the years.” It doesn’t hurt that he thrives on change and pushing innovation.

    There have been some bumps along the way—“it surprised me how long things take to get done with a volunteer vs. paid board”—still he’s extremely pleased with what the group has accomplished in the past five years.

    His message to others considering a volunteer role: “With the changes in our industry, we must adopt a new way of thinking. Working with the ATD-OC Board provides that opportunity. The Board challenges your thinking and increases your talent development skills.”

    More about Jeffrey

    Other interests

    Writing, surfing, freediving, scuba (instructor), kitesurfing, golf, mountain biking, poker

    Favorite learning resource

    “I’m a voracious reader. I deep dive into as many as five books a month. When I say deep dive, I take notes in the book as I read and more often than not, create a summary document of the main points. This locks in the lesson points of the book. I keep my personal library tight. If a book doesn’t offer much, it’s out for recycling. And if a book is a keeper, I have likely read it more than once over a 40-year span: Different stages of life provide different perspectives of understanding. So I have 250-300 favorite books at this point.”

    Official bio

    Jeffrey is an experienced executive, leader, and talent development specialist with expertise in leading business development initiatives. As an organizational development consultant and managing partner of Oxford Company Consultants, he works with companies on the initial implementation of innovative programs during major change initiatives. He has consulted and conducted professional training programs since 1980 and currently serves as an executive board member for two privately-held California Corporations and two non-profits, including ATD-OC. He received the ATD-OC Belisle Leadership Award in 2015.

    Jeffrey is also a Certified Speaking Professional, Certified Selling Professional and NAUI Instructor. He wrote and published Sell, Little Red Hen! Sell! and Better Golf with Gene.

  • 05/30/2018 4:34 PM | Paul Venderley

    There were five key takeaways that Paul Signorelli shared throughout last week’s chapter meeting on Blended/Hybrid Learning Environments. Perhaps to nobody’s surprise, our hybrid event about engaging participants in hybrid events quickly became a case study that applied all of them.

    Here’s how:

    Key Takeaway  For Our Meeting
    1. Learn from others We reconnected with Paul Signorelli last year at ATD's Southern California Regional Conference, where he shared his thoughts on how learning environments are expanding and engaging a global community of learners. We’ve been applying hybrid events off and on over the past two years. What techniques could we apply to engage our Chapter’s expanding virtual population?  We tried a few things, and decided that we wanted more.
    2. Push the Envelope (Experiment) We collaborated with Mr. Signorelli to create a hybrid learning environment that both exemplified his message and experimented with activating the hybrid format to promote virtual brainstorming among participants. This would be no mere lecture, but an experiential opportunity in which we would bridge the digital divide that exists between the classroom and the “virtual” environment.
    3. Check Your Tech (Rehearse)

    We rehearsed how best to utilize GoToTraining to share webcam video, slide decks, and Google Docs. We practiced implementing our activities, sussing out the quirks of our platforms, and identifying the system features to highlight.

    What we did not directly test? Room audio. A lesson learned here: get in the room with all your equipment during “normal business hours,” so the person with the expertise to trouble-shoot the gap between your equipment and the venue’s resources is available. Even when we arrived two hours before the event in an attempt to get everything up and running, we ran into trouble in this one area.

    4. Prepare for Failure (Plan B)

    The hotel staff was mystified -- they had just held a meeting in the same room in which twelve microphones worked fine. But for our meeting, the house speakers would not work at all, effectively separating us from our facilitator as he sat patiently in San Francisco, mugging for the webcam, chatting with our four other online participants.

    Our “Plan B” was to have me facilitate the session using our virtual facilitator’s notes. In my opinion, this would have been a far cry from the passion that Paul Signorelli brings to subject matter, so I pressed on.

    I believe it was Seneca who said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Minutes before the program was scheduled to begin, we got lucky.

    A stray comment reminded me that I had a bluetooth speaker in my car. I had already signed onto the GoToTraining session with my mobile phone out of habit. If I were to connect that phone to my bluetooth speaker…

    It was simple enough to work.

    5. Document Your Success

    Our Learning Event boasted two activities which apply Google Docs to engage both online and in-class learners working on the same content. The first activity, which involved creating a letter one word at a time, was more frustrating than engaging. I’d like to try it again, using smaller groups in breakout rooms, to see how that would operate.

    The second activity worked a bit better -- we’d given the learners a document in which each participant could claim a space to type their views on the document, and then go back and review and augment the comments made by other individuals. You can see the results here.

    There were a few other lessons learned, but these were the big ones:

    1. Seriously. Take the time to test everything. With the expert in the room.
    2. Remember your Plan B exists for a reason, and accept it. Everything worked out in the end, but we were lucky.
      • Paul reminds me that it is part and parcel of an experiential learning environment for participants to see that things don’t always happen perfectly, and there’s as much an opportunity for them to learn in seeing us apply the work-arounds. If you agree with him, let us know in the comments.
    3. Make sure your backup kit incorporates all aspects of the event you are about to facilitate. I had packed video backup. I had packed microphone backup. The only reason I had speaker backup was a quirk of fate and Twitter (ask me if you’re curious). From now on, that speaker is sure to be a part of my training kit, a Plan “C” audio component to use when the fancy stuff decides it doesn’t want to work.
     My hybrid meeting backup kit:
    now with bluetooth speaker!

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