BLOG - Ideas and Insights

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

    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

    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

    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.


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