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Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

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Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This blog shares the case study of the IT Leadership Development Program co-created by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient. More can be learned about this program on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast with Steve Gruetter titled Building Aspiring CIOs and ‘C’ Level Leaders.

 

The Challenge/Vision: The Central Ohio CIO Forum identified a gap in the number of leaders ready to step into CIO roles for the projected regional growth. To address this opportunity, they partnered with Expedient and the Innovative Leadership Institute to build an IT Leadership program that meets 2.5 hours per month, including six in-class learning sessions with pre-defined topics, roundtable executive presentations, and discussion sessions, and two networking events.

According to the American Society of Training and Development, US businesses spend more than 170 Billion dollars on a leadership-based curriculum, with the majority of those dollars spent on “Leadership Training.” According to McKinsey, “there is no silver bullet for successfully developing leaders—more than 40 key actions must be taken to increase chances of success to 80 percent”. As a leader interested in developing or as an organizational leader interested in developing people working for you, it is essential to have useful information about how to select a leadership development program. There are plenty of opportunities to spend your money from one-day classes to online programs to comprehensive university programs. How do you make the best decision to ensure you are investing your time and money wisely and that you have a high probability of success from your investment?

Goal: elevate the quality of IT Leadership in Central Ohio to support succession planning, economic development of the region, healthy business growth, and business financial success, improve employee engagement, and attract and retain top technology talent to the Central Ohio region.

Solution: The program is co-delivered by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient that leverages best leadership models and content, leadership assessments, learning technology, and learning methods and processes. The image below reflects the combination of tools and approaches. Listen to participant feedback 5-minute video to learn more about how participants describe their involvement and impact.

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Program Design

ILI, in partnership with Expedient, designed the program to meet the outcomes and desired learning experience based on CIO Forum goals and designated topics. This section describes the details of the approach to designing and delivering the program.

  1. Identify the best leadership models and materials to meet the learning goals.
  2. Identify the best learning approach based on leading research focused on the most effective method for leadership development. The approach leverages
    1. In-Class Program content – In-class activities 2.5 hours/month (six content sessions and four expert round table discussions (moved to Zoom during shut down). Programs are updated regularly based on trends and leadership research.
    2. Round tables – Local CIOs provide insights from their professional experience to help IT Leaders build business understanding as well as perspective about the journey to becoming a senior leader. These sessions are very open and candid. Jeremiah Gracia, Economic Development, City of Dublin, Ohio, leads a roundtable talking about workforce development. The City of Dublin is a co-sponsor of the program.
    3. Networking events are a crucial element of the program. A strong community requires leaders to build a network to share information as well as support one another in navigating the challenges technology leaders face.
    4. Assessment – Participants take pre and post-session Innovative Leadership behavior assessment powered by SkillNet (some with Boss feedback). Participants incorporate this feedback into learning assignments. Read the blog by Mike Kritzman, founder of SkillNet A Proven 5 Step Approach to Solve Skill Gaps and listen to his podcast SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company. We invite you to take a free mini-ILI Competency assessment.
    5. Parallel path complete leadership workbook activities presented in six modules: leverage International Award Winning Innovative Leadership workbooks, podcasts, and videos delivered by the Kajabi Online Platform. Kajabi Online Platform podcast with founder Travis Rosser. Read the blog post based on Forbes article Leveraging Technology To Improve Leadership Development.
    6. Create accountability by submitting the leadership workbook activities as deliverables and receive feedback: track deliverables and attendance for certification.
    7. Strengthen network and support community by sharing assignments with learning partners (matched using Position Success Indicator to identify the best match) Position Success Indicator podcast with Founder Mark Palmer. Read the Blog by Mark Palmer The Position Success Indicator (PSI): Your Job Fit Solution for the Future of Work.
    8. Challenge previously held constraints by the class participants on how to be a leader and show leadership traits
    9. Build a network of like-minded peers in each cohort, a group of technology professionals whose opinion they can trust, based on class interaction
    10. Evaluate progress by soliciting participant and CIO feedback on participant’s development progress.
    11. Collaboration by Slack (Advanced Leadership Program Only).
    12. Certification for participants who complete all requirements successfully earn an Innovative Leadership Certification. Muskingum University recognizes this certification for its Master of Information Strategy and Systems Technology (MISST) program for three credit hour leadership class.

The basis of this learning approach is 15 years of experience teaching leadership development to MBA students. You can learn more by listening to a podcast with Steve Gruetter and Maureen Metcalf discussing the program in depth.

Results/Impact

  1. Participant success
    1. 200 participants in the first four cohorts, representing 104 Central Ohio organizations
    2. 45 of the first 150 participants (30%) have had a promotion since the first cohort started (per LinkedIn)
    3. 8 participants promoted to a C-Level role – CIO, CTO, CISO, Chief Strategy or Chief Transformation Officer
    4. 82 of the first 150 participants have earned a certification of completion
    5. 8 participants advanced to participate in the Advanced Leadership Development Program Pilot
    6. $44,000 raised so far for the Central Ohio CIO Forum Scholarship Fund from the first four cohorts
    7. The last three cohorts had 32%+ women participants
    8. The previous three cohorts have had 32%+ minority participants
    9. Participants are taking advantage of the Muskingum MISST program three credits course waived for course participants
  1. Survey results
    1. Results from IT Leaders Program as measured by CIOs they report to – answers provided reflect a 1-5 scale:
    2. How much have the participant(s) individual leadership skills and/or performance improved over the last year attributable to what they have learned by being in the program? 4.5
    3. If the participant(s) currently leads a group, how much has the culture and/or performance of their group improved over the last year attributable to the participant’s leadership? 4.5
    4. How much better prepared are the participant(s) for additional leadership responsibilities/promotion in the future? 5.0
  2. Approximately 50% of participants meet the rigorous requirements for certification.
  3. Community successIT Case Study 2.png
    1. Better prepared leaders for additional leadership responsibility (see survey results).
    2. Program enrollment remains substantial and increasing – companies continue to enroll the maximum number of participants in the class. Over 75 companies have registered their employees. Cohort five has the most significant number of participants well in advance of program kick-off. 25% enrolled six months in advance of program kick-off.
    3. Promotion of local leaders – companies fill senior roles with local talent.
    4. ILI continually updates content – content remains fresh to address community requirements. ILI adds refreshed content and value to each successive course.
    5. Diverse leaders – programs continue to attract increasing rates of women and minorities, thereby improving the quality of leadership because of a more diverse pool of candidates.
  4. Watch a 5-minute video of participants describing the impact in their own words.

Conclusion: The best leaders elevate their leadership quality because they actively participate in well designed and effectively delivered leadership development programs. The IT Leaders programs involve a range of activities that include participants learning key frameworks, building skills, practicing new behaviors, reflecting on new skills and self-awareness activities, and feedback. We created the program to leverage the latest research on leadership development for adult learners. One defining feature of this program is that it heavily leverages technology to support learning outcomes. When the State of Ohio was on work from home requirements, the IT Leaders program helped its participants in building the leadership skills they needed to navigate the complex and uncertain territory of leading during a pandemic. Future classes will continue to build on the success of the past four years.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Christina Morillo

There’s No Place Like Home

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Empowerment
There’s No Place Like Home
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Miracle Moment®

“There’s no place like home” Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

 

MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

cyn barnHow are you doing? How is your family? Are you safely ensconced at home? How is that going? In our lifetimes, there has never been a global pandemic like what we are experiencing with the coronavirus Covid-19. Hang in there! We will get through this.

One of my all-time favorite films is The Wizard of Oz. The book and the movie have so many critical life lessons and one of the most important is to appreciate what we already have.

In California, on March 19, our Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish consistency across the state in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order outlined a few essential services that could remain open including medical facilities, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, laundromats, and some government agencies. Schools and universities are closed. Most companies, restaurants, stores, and businesses are shuttered.  Freeways are almost empty, many parks, trails, and beaches are closed. Everyone is mandated to maintain a personal distance of six feet from another person. Living in the Twilight Zone has become a reality.

Our Be the Star You Are!® and StarStyle® offices closed on March 12 and will continue to be closed until the shelter-in-place decree is lifted. There is financial loss and, like others, I am concerned about paying the rent, utilities, and expenses, personally, professionally, and for Be the Star You Are®. However, I am grateful to have a comfortable home office and library from which I can work. The numerous personal projects on my To-Do list are finally getting attention. Because I am spending so many hours in my garden, it has never looked better, and my barnyard of adopted animals keeps me very grounded and occupied. Farm chores are never-ending. Home is where my heart is and I am thankful, despite the dire circumstances, to be spending time in peaceful isolation.

Not everyone is happy about the command to remain at home, especially if it is not possible to work from home. We all miss seeing family, friends, and co-workers. We yearn to go out to dinner, theater, events, and parties. Life has changed very suddenly and each day can be scary, confusing, and debilitating.

My husband’s office is closed. He wants to go to work. He worries for his patients, staff, and the people. Income loss is a major stress point and he fears that his practice may not survive this crisis. It is hard when the work one does is not doable remotely,

Everyone is in the same predicament. This morning the publisher of the wonderful newspaper for which I write, The Lamorinda Weekly, announced that this week’s publication will be the last until advertising revenue return.  All of my in-person speaking bookings have been canceled. Many companies have or may have to close their doors, never to reopen.The trickle down affects each of us negatively. Employers and employees are struggling to find equitable solutions to survive this emergency.

As a literacy and empowerment non-profit, we want to do our part to provide resources to entertain, instruct, and uplift you during these very challenging and stressful times. Reading is a relaxing and rewarding way to pass productive time while at home.

Publisher’s Weekly said it best, “As more families shift to manage their studies and work remotely, and Americans seek both information and escape, we are proud and heartened to find books are the source that will sustain us through this challenging moment. From the authors, agents, publishers, and everyone who helps create them, to the readers who turn their pages, we’re grateful for you all.”

Here are FREE RESOURCES that will help sustain you and your family through our home stays.

1. Books for everyone from the Association of American Publishers:https://publishers.org/aap-news/covid-19-response/

2. Book Reviews written by our volunteers for all genres of books to help parents, librarians, and teachers: http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html

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3. From our literacy partner, The Reading Tub, book reviews and recommendations, bringing literacy home to families:  https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/

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4. From our favorite kids author,Brooks Olbrys, a narrated video for ages 4-8 of the first five chapters of The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob#1- A Journey Begins: https://blueoceanbob.com/pages/book-videos

“Decide what you love, what excites and inspires, 

then make that your purpose and watch what transpires.” Doc, the Turtle 

Blue Ocean Bob

5. If you love nature and gardening, a plethora of gardening articles:https://www.cynthiabrian.com/gardening-articles

If there was ever a time to stop and smell the roses, that time is now!

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6. For teens, by teens, Express Yourself!™ Radio hosts and reporters continue to interview fantastic guests. Listen to 9 years fantastic interviews : https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

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Recent guests include Mega Best Selling Author Dr. Bernie Siegel, Start-Ups guru Trevor Blake, Branding Expert Priya Florence Shaw, and coming April 5, author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong will discuss Pop Star Goddesses with 35 of our favorite musical stars.

For information on new weekly episodes and guests, visit https://www.starstyleradio.com/expressyourselfteenradio

7. Lifestyle radio programming at its best, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® offers you 728 hours of LIVE uplifting, informative, empowering broadcasts showcasing celebrities, authors, successperts, and the pioneers the planet. https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

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Tune in on April 8th for a celebration of Passover and Easter and a stroll through Monet’s Garden.

Beginning on Wednesday, April 15 at 4:30pm PT, join us for Wine Wednesdays with sommelier, Heather Brittany. Each week we’ll raise a glass and learn about a different varietal. We can all use a little vino during this down time and Heather Brittany brings us the party to put the bloom on the doom. It’s Wine Time! Salute!

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New LIVE shows every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT: https://www.starstyleradio.com/starstyle-radio

8. Find simple ways to bring joy to others with Karen Kitchel’s Scattering Kindness, a short blog that reminds you to smile. https://www.scatteringkindness.com

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9. Get inspired with audio and video interviews about purpose, passion, and possibilities: https://www.cynthiabrian.com/interviews-of-cynthia-brian

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Other Resources

If you or your business is in need of financial help, low-interest emergency loans are available through the Small Business Administration. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance

For factual information about Covid-19 visit these sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov

The World Health Organization at  https://www.who.int for updates.

For California: https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/#business

As Mr Roger’s said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

I and everyone affiliated with Be the Star You Are!® are helpers. We are here to support you through this struggle.  

Our prayers and gratitude go out to all of the medical workers, first responders, and those on the front lines who are risking their lives to save others. We also send our thanks to the companies and individuals who are stepping up to help procure supplies and to those who work in essential services that must stay open to the public. Make sure to show your appreciation in whatever way you are able to these unsung heroes.

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Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay sane. Meditate and Breathe!

Remember, “This, too, shall pass.”

Sending virtual hugs, elbow bumps, and wellness wishes.

Enjoy springtime as you harbor at home!

redbud in bloom in the rain

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org

P.S. During the lock-down, I am available for consultations, webinars, interviews, or speaking via on-line sources only. If interested, email cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org or visit https://www.starstyleradio.com/coaching

DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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“Read, lead, succeed. To be a leader, you must be a reader.”


MORAGA COMMUNITY FAIRE POSTPONED

The May 9th Moraga Community Faire and Family Fun Booth of Be the Star You Are!® have been postponed until the Coronavirus and personal distancing is over. We will keep you posted when a new date has been scheduled. In the meantime, please visit the website of our generous SuperStar Sponsor, GreenAir, your energy solutions company, https://www.gogreenair.net. GreenAir did the solar installation for Cynthia Brian several years ago and she highly recommends this company. Become sustainable,. Go GREEN!

Green Air Logo Face painting and Reading


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GUIDESTAR 2020 PLATINUM SEAL OF TRANSPARENCY AWARDED to BTSYA

 

Be the Star You Are!® is committed to the highest level of transparency! Our organization earned the 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar, showcasing the progress and results we’re making toward our mission! We’re proud to use GuideStar Platinum to share our full and complete story with the world. To reach the Platinum level, we added extensive information to our Nonprofit Profile.

About GuideStar: In February 2019, GuideStar joined forces with Foundation Center

to form Candid, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Today, GuideStar is a service

of Candid. Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration, and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. Candid’s data tools on nonprofits,foundations, and grants are the most comprehensive in the world. Learn more

at candid.org and on Twitter @CandidDotOrg.

Visit https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org.

Make a tax-deductible donation today!


“Communicate, Collaborate, Innovate!”


SHOPPING ON-LINE!

Since we need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary, these are on-line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials,

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1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

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3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

& buy from your favorite stores.

4. Search and GoodShop: Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too! https://www.goodshop.com/nonprofit/be-the-star-you-are

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

6. BTSYA Logo Store: http://btsya.rylees.net

7. Buy or Sell on EBAY:http://givingworks.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/be-the-star-you-are-501-c-3/1504/?favorite=link

8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell: https://www.unionandfifth.com/charities/be-the-star-you-are-moraga-ca/shop

9. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” T-shirts and tanks $19.99 at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/

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10. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle. http://ow.ly/cYs130iN6n4

We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

http://www.btsya.org



Home is where the heart is and right now our bodies need to be there, too. There IS no place like home. Stay heathy. Stay HOME.

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Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org

All donations are 100% Tax Deductible according to law. Thank you!

https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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A Wave of Inspiration

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Business
A Wave of Inspiration

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

The following blog is provided by Anie Rouleau. It is a companion to her and Daniele Henkel’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on titled Certified B Corporations Seek to Improve Our World that aired on March 24th, 2020.

 

In 2003, I went on a solo adventure and traveled around the world for 18 months. In every country I visited, I sat down in the parliament to hear what the local pressing socio-economic issues were. Time after time the same challenge surfaced… the environment.

From Africa – where the concern was access to clean drinking water, to Australia – where I swam over disappearing grey coral reefs, to Chile – where I witnessed a plane flying over lakes to steal water for Argentinian vineyards.

Growing in up Canada with the abundance of freshwater lakes and rivers surrounded by two oceans, I was flabbergasted by this reality. I quickly understood the meaning of Blue Gold, a book by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke that deeply moved me.

Concerned about this reality, water became my inspiration and motivation.

 

A Wave of Innovation

Principal source of all life, water is vital to human health.

Paradoxically, water is the main ingredient in almost all of our products. Water is also required to use most of our products. Offering biodegradable products to limit the damage in our water sources is a good start, but we must also be aware of the harmful repercussions of single use plastic packaging. These containers and plastic particles are largely found in our oceans and today form impressive plastic islands. We are part of an industry known for its single-use packaging and products that have damaging impacts on the ecosystem.

As conscious citizens and a responsible company, it is our duty to ensure the least impact possible on our waterways throughout the lifecycle of our products. For example, our new ecodesigned dish tabs have been tested to be efficient at low temperatures from 45° Celsius and in a shorter wash cycle. Not very extraordinary for some, but highly impactful on a larger scale and a small win for the company.

 

A Wave of Freshness

In our collective imagination, a wave represents a strong force of nature. Sometimes calm and peaceful other times tumultuous, water occupies an intimate place in which ecological concerns come to take root. If the wave on our bottles could talk it would tell you that it symbolizes cleanliness, foam, and effectiveness. Figuratively, the wave is our source of inspiration and wealth that must be thought of every day. Its beauty is present in every room where there is a water source in our homes, from the laundry room to the kitchen.

It’s easy to forget to drink enough water every day, it’s equally easy to forget that we waste water every day. In Canada, we’re privileged by its abundance from coast to coast, from the base of the Rocky Mountains in the West to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in the East.

Let the wave on our bottles serve as a daily reminder throughout your household that water is precious and an essential part of our lives.

A Wave of Change

Just like our products, an actual ocean breeze does not smell like anything, yet it brings a sense of peace, wellness, and desire for change. Water scarcity is a worldwide challenge that is current and pressing, awakening a strong motivation for change. What if one day our entire product line contains no water and has no packaging?

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Anie Rouleau, a Montrealer born to a business-oriented family, Baléco’s Founding CEO knows how to do business without compromising her values and convictions. That’s why she chose to redefine the notion of clean by creating a line of ecofriendly home and body care products designed for conscious living. Fervent defender of local sourcing, she sits on different committees, including Made in Montreal. Women leadership and ethics being causes close to her heart, she is a mentor for young women in business. She is also part of Quebec entrepreneurship promotion groups. Mother of two, Anie is driven by her desire to protect future generations. By investing in innovation and eco-design within an industry which sets his sight far from sustainable development issues, she seeks with Baléco to define tomorrow’s business as a transparent entity, respectful of its employees, the community and the environment.

 

Photo by Alexandra Côté-Durrer

Lunch Break Leisure: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress During the Workday

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Business
Lunch Break Leisure: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress During the Workday

For the next couple of weeks, we are doing a few extra blog posts as encouragement in these uncertain times.  This extra blog has some great ideas to give yourself a break as we face added pressures of working from home, having children home from school, and being all under the same roof all the time.  Be sure to do some self-care so you can do your best for your family and your job.  Here is also a link to an interview on resilience that may give you encouragement as well: Five Lessons in Resilience: Overcoming Life’s Challenges with Kate Terrell.

 

If you’re like most Americans, you probably suffer from some level of work-related stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of workers report being stressed out from work, with 57 percent saying it’s so bad they feel paralyzed by it. The workplace tension is triggered by a number of factors, especially company culture, lack of work-life balance and strained relationships with bosses and co-workers. And it can have a detrimental effect, not only on your productivity during the day, but also on your overall health, well-being and mood.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to relieve some of the pressure during the workday. According to the experts, employees need short, periodic breaks to recharge their batteries, boost attention span and, ultimately, improve their job performance. Here are a few things you can do to tap into a state of leisure on your lunch break, even if you’re feeling totally zapped of motivation and energy.

  1. Watch a Funny Video—All those hilarious YouTube videos you saved for a rainy day may be just what you need for a midday destress. A 2015 study conducted by two psychological scientists at the University of New South Wales found that employees who watched an eight-minute video at work experienced an energizing effect that counteracted the effects of mental depletion. Yep, all those hilarious cat videos could actually be making you happier and healthier!
  2. Make Art—Creating something meaningful, whether it be a poem, a painting, a drawing or some gorgeous rhinestone art, can help you sink into a state of deep relaxation and focus on something other than work. At the same time, being creative serves as an act of self-expression, allowing you to offload some of the pressure or stress that tends to build up during the workday.
  3. Color—Studies show that adult coloring reduces stress and boosts creativity because it relaxes the brain, flows attention away from ourselves and provides a low-stakes activity that’s purely pleasurable. Another fun spin on adult coloring is the popular trend of making diamond art, which lets you color in complex designs with glimmering rhinestones, triggering the same calming effect. Grab a few diamond art kits to keep at your desk and work on each day during short breaks
  4. Take a Walk—We probably don’t have to cite any sources here! We all know that exercise is one of the best and most well-proven stress relief activities ever, no matter if you take a cycling class, learn some hip-hop moves on YouTube or practice outdoor yoga. Taking a midday walk around the office is the perfect lunch break activity because it’s distracting and boosts your mood but doesn’t leave you feeling sweaty or too tired to go back to work.\
  5. Stretch—Sitting for hours on end at a desk can cause you to store physical tension, tightness and pain in your upper back and shoulders. The physical effects of being stationary all day can lead to feelings of psychological stress, but you can counteract some of these challenges by taking two or three 15-minute breaks throughout the day to stretch and focus on something other than work.
  6. Knit—Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching and other needlework activities are perfect for the workday because they’re fairly self-contained. You can keep all your tools and supplies in a small bag or container that you can either leave in your desk drawer for an anytime distraction or take to and from the office so you can also work on it at home. Needlework is similar to crafting and coloring in that it diverts attention away from the stress trigger and provides steady, calming focus in its place.
  7. Listen to Music—Music is the ultimate distractor, and it’s one of the few things in life that can instantly affect your mood in a million different ways. Keep some well-stocked playlists handy for those especially stressful days, with upbeat, energizing or relaxing tunes that take you to another place and help you unwind, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes while you eat lunch.
  8. Talk to Friends—Never underestimate the power of good conversation. Whether you meet an old friend for lunch or vent to your co-worker over a short walk, letting out your frustrations and listening to others can help you sort out your feelings and discover new ways to handle them. It also helps provide you with a different perspective, so you look at things differently and stress less.
  9. Write—There’s no denying it: Journaling, or even just jotting down your feelings, is good for the mind. In fact, a study from UCLA showed that putting your feelings into words actually produces therapeutic effects in the brain. Visualizing certain words on paper activates the prefrontal region of the brain and lowers its amygdala response, which tends to trip when your body is in danger. In other words, writing your feelings down literally calms the brain.
  10. Play a Game—Few things bring quite as enjoyable a distraction as playing a game. Whether on your phone, computer or tablet or even with a tabletop or board game, playing a game throws you into a totally different reality, effectively giving you some relief from the stressors of daily life. Consider looping in fellow gamers around the office so that you get both the benefits of gaming and the benefits of social interaction during a single lunch break.

Make Taking a Break a Priority

We’re all overworked, with tons of tasks, meetings and stressors to manage. The key to giving yourself some relief is to make taking frequent, short breaks a priority. You should be entitled to a certain amount of breaks each day depending on the laws where you live, so don’t be afraid to take them. It may be exactly what you need to be happier, healthier and more productive.

 

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Vanessa Adams serves as the marketing coordinator for Diamond Art Club, which offers the highest quality diamond art kits on the market. She oversees all content creation from their West Hollywood, California Headquarters. In her spare time, she enjoys true-crime podcasts and pilates.

 

COVID-19 Is An Opportunity To Press the Reset Button

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Empowerment
COVID-19 Is An Opportunity To Press the Reset Button

The world is in a state of fear and anxiety over this virus. Rational thought has been replaced by fear which is leading to mob and hoarder mentality. The worst people are resorting to total exploitation holding toilet paper and disinfecting wipes hostage. Every media outlet is giving us minute to minute updates on the virus. Depending on what news you listen to the information is often contradictory. What we all want is some sort of stability, but we are not getting it externally. When fear and emotions are high, intelligence is low.
Most of our businesses are closed or if we are lucky, we and our staff can work from home. Social distancing, a word I never heard two weeks ago, is now a standard component of nearly every conversation. We are all going through a “Life Altering Event” at the same time. I host a weekly internet radio show on the voiceamerica.com network called “Life Altering Events.” This is what I tell my listeners in 22 countries every week, I think it applies here:
Life altering events present us with opportunities to seize the moment and make difference in our own life, the lives of our loved ones. They are a fork in the road where we have a choice. We can choose to fall apart or we can choose to find the courage, pick up the pieces, deal with our grief and start moving forward toward better times and better people. Always remember this, it is never too late to have the life you want and deserve.
So now what? Consider this, now that we are away from the daily grind of life, it is the perfect time to press the reset button and look at our business and our life. As business leaders, we are always thinking about things we can do better; about how we can improve our processes; and how we can improve our customer’s experience. Unfortunately, we never find to time to sit down and reflect on the hundreds of thoughts racing through our mind. Our staff, who is closer to the situation, can’t offer suggestions because they are overwhelmed with their day-to-day activities. Well now you have the time – so let’s use it wisely. Turn off the news walk to a park or the ocean or whatever place gives you a sense of peace. Keep a safe social distance from others, take a deep breath and reflect on these four points:
1. Why are we doing what we are doing? It is more than just making a living. What value do we bring to the world and our customers. Are we doing things the best way for our customers or what is easiest for us? Be honest.
2. How do we do what we do? Talk or email your staff. Ask them how can we make this process better, more efficient and more effective. You may be shocked to hear their ideas. They may be living with an ineffective process because “it is what it is.”
3. Empower your staff to execute their idea. When people have “skin” in the game; when their input is valued enough to implement; they will give a level of effort you never saw before. They become the expert in their area. You may even develop “The Next Practice” rather than following the old best practice that is past its prime. I was always taught if I am the smartest person in the room, then I am in the wrong room.
4. Focus on continuous improvement. Don’t be like most organizations who try to “milk” a product or solution rather than continuing to improve. When your customers and staff see that you are totally committed to improving every aspect of your business, you will become the “go to” company. Your customers and staff will not even consider an alternative because they know you are meeting their needs today and will be there with even better solutions in the future.
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; these points are universal. The more we try to control things, the less control we actually have. Something I say every week at the end of my radio show is this:
None of us are in this alone. The secret to walking on water is knowing where the rocks are.
The rocks are out there. You can find them. We can help you. Stop obsessing about COVID-19 and press the reset button. If you do, you will hit the ground running after this crisis is over, while others will be just starting to pick up the pieces.

Spring Ahead

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Empowerment
Spring Ahead

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“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

With the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus Corvid-19 a pandemic, daily living as well as travel is interrupted. While we need to be alert and prepared, we can not panic. My method of staying healthy while diminishing anxiety during these very troubling times is to avoid crowds by going into my garden. 

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The vernal equinox is only three days away, yet we have been experiencing spring since the first days of February. The cows are munching on the green grass in the hills, the frogs are croaking their mating calls, and gardens are bursting with color. Other than the copious dancing daffodils, nothing spells spring more than abundant camellia blooms, the eye-catching Chinese fringe shrub, and the fragrance of both freesia and hyacinth. Garden chores performed in the fall is paying dividends now.

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In the South, camellias are known as the “belles” of the plant world. There are over 30,000 cultivars with blooms in many shades of red, pink, purple, and white. Some feature double petals, others look like roses or peonies. Most species prefer shade to semi-shade thriving in well-drained acidic soil. They are drought-tolerant and best of all, depending on the species, blooms can begin in the fall continuing through the beginning of summer. Float blooms in a shallow bowl for a pretty centerpiece. Make sure to pick up fallen blossoms.

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A fabulous foundation plant for any garden is the Chinese fringe flower, a fast-growing shrub that provides evergreen foliage and a strong structure to the garden.  In spring, showy, frilly fringes of pink cover the plant. Prune the plant to keep it the size you desire knowing that it can grow to 20 feet. A great perk is that you can propagate with stem cuttings and even make a border or a wall of fringe. Did I mention the flowers boast a sweet aroma as well? 

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Freesias are bulbs that are grown for their beautiful scent as well as their gorgeous variety of colors. I happen to adore the upward-facing bells of the blue or purple freesia but the yellow, white, pink, and red produce gorgeous presentations as well. These bulbs multiply and come up just as spring springs forward year after year. They are deer and rabbit resistant and very easy to grow. Cut a handful for a long-lasting indoor arrangement that provides beauty and perfume.

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Hyacinths are dramatic with rich, deep blooms in many colors. Like freesia, they make excellent cut flowers, can be grown in containers, are deer resistant, and bee magnets. Their heady scent exudes from both their flowers and their leaves. Plant them along pathways, stairs, and in the front part of your garden to savor their elegance and aromatic character. They, too, will surprise you each year, sprouting as the sunshine warms the earth to delight the senses.

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Consider adding any of these favorite garden specimens to your environs for perennial spring enchantment.

New Fire Code on the Horizon that Affects Landscapes

Moraga-Orinda Fire District Chief Dave Winnacker has a plan to declare all areas in our district as Wildland Urban Interface in the fire code to prevent insurance companies from canceling policies since Lamorinda is designated a fire zone. When it comes to landscaping, the proposed code would require a two-foot area away from current structures and three feet on new construction to be cleared without any combustible materials. These materials include wood bark, mulch, and plants that are growing taller than two feet. Ground coverings that would be allowed would be green grass, river rock, gravel, crushed granite, or even bare earth. Some trees will need to be removed, especially eucalyptus, pine, bamboo, and junipers if they are within six feet of the structure. This new code is not yet in effect, but with spring on the horizon, this is a great time to start cleaning up your landscape to make it more fireproof. 

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

  • START seeds as soon as the soil is warm enough. If you are anxious, start your crops indoors near a south-facing window or use a fluorescent light for 12 or more hours per day.
  • CLEAN out perennial beds now and prepare the soil for replanting.
  • WELCOME home the migrating birds with fresh water in the fountain and seed in the feeder. 
  • PLANT edibles amongst your ornamentals. Lettuces, parsley, dill, and basil are pretty as well as delicious. 
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  • DIG out and replace older woody lavender bushes. Lavender thrives for about 5 or 6 years then is ready for the compost pile.
  • ADJUST your lawnmower to a higher setting and allow the clippings to nourish the soil.
  • PLANT host plants for the butterflies such as milkweed and dogwood.  Leave a patch of dense vegetation for protection from inclement weather and a small mud puddle to quench their thirst.
  • INVEST in a well-made wheelbarrow or hand truck to haul heavy bags of soil, rocks, or pots of plants.
  • RESEED lawns with the people, pet, and planet-friendly Pearl’s Premium lawn seed available in 5 or 25-pound bags of a sunny mix, shade mix, or sun/shade seed blend. The roots go to 4 feet needing 50-75% water making for a better drought-tolerant lawn. To order, visit www.PearlsPremium.com. Use discount code STAR20. 
  • EMPTY all vessels that contain water as mosquito larvae is already hatching. 
  • PICK up fallen camellias and dispose of them. Camellia blooms are abundant this year and they drop daily. Do not allow the decayed petals to stay on the ground to avoid damage to the mother plant. If you notice dark brown veins in the petals, your camellia may be suffering from petal blight. Treat weekly with a foliar fungicide.
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  • PRUNE the new wood on your woodland or panicle hydrangeas down to 18-24 inches now to encourage fuller blooms later.
  • STAY informed about Covid-19 only via reliable information. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov or The World Health Organization at  https://www.who.int for updates. State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
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May hope traverse our nights and bring us all a brighter morning free of woes. Take a breath and inhale spring.

Stay healthy, be well, and be safe.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Spring.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1402/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-ahead.html

 

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

cyntha brian with books.jpg

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 * Nearly Five Hours of Laugh-Out-Loud, Animated Fun

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Kids
Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 * Nearly Five Hours of Laugh-Out-Loud, Animated Fun

It’s a Sonic you haven’t seen before an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline. The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. Will C. adds, “Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end. The message of this series is that friends are stronger together.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer wraps it up with, “I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman.” See their full reviews below.

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Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

https://youtu.be/_-61s1WGEYI

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.The Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2 DVD, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs, which include 26 episodes.  What is nice is the gift set comes with two toys, Knuckles and Tails.  Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog that has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic’s friends – Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) – help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock).  Each episode has a different story line.  The episodes do not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that’s what makes it so entertaining.The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy.  My favorite episode is “Bro Down Showdown,” because it’s extremely funny.  It is about how Amy had to leave for a little bit, so Sonic and Knuckles ask her if they can stay at her house while she is gone.  Amy says yes, but there is one rule – no foolish things in her house.  So the first thing they do is eat nachos and spill on the couch.  Conveniently a commercial comes on saying, “if you win the best bros contest you win a brand new couch.” They immediately enter the contest.  It turns out Dr. Eggman is spying on them.  He arrives and starts bickering with Sonic about a bogus little thing.  A guy working there sees them fighting and pairs them up, even though Knuckles is going to be Sonic’s buddy.  Knuckels finds a new partner and tries to win the couch.  This is my favorite episode because this all happens, just because they spilled a nacho.

 

The moral to the stories is about “teamwork making the dream work,” because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friend, to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.I give Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing too. This DVD is available now so look for it!

 

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Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

https://youtu.be/OIaCzPyfbT4

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end.The DVDs include 26 action-packed episodes, and if you get the limited edition gift set, you’ll also get two action figures—either Sonic with Dr. Eggman or Knuckles with Tails. In every episode, Sonic and his friends protect their village from the evil Dr. Eggman. Of course, no matter how crazy the situation, Sonic and friends are able to save the day in the end.

There are some really funny storylines, like when Sonic and Knuckles spill nacho cheese on Amy‘s couch while house-sitting. They try cleaning it up with grape soda, which just makes it worse! Their next idea is to try to win a new couch by going on a game show, but they fail and one of Dr. Eggman’s missiles ends up exploding the couch anyway. In another episode, it’s hilarious when Sonic grabs the last chili dog that Dr. Eggman wanted, so to be nice Sonic goes all the way to the warehouse to bring his nemesis a chili dog. But Dr. Eggman wanted extra relish, so he throws a tantrum by trying to destroy the whole town by shooting it with lasers and attacking it with robots. Of course this is nothing Sonic and friends can’t handle. One of the best jokes is when the boys compete against the girls in a survivor challenge. The girls decide the losers will have to do everyone’s laundry, but Sonic says, “That’s not fair for us boys – we don’t even wear pants!”

The message of this series is that friends are stronger together. There’s probably not a lot of content that parents will object to, but there is some cartoon violence that kids might be tempted to copy. The only thing that’s a problem for me is that there is one episode out of the 26 that’s only available with Spanish audio, no English at all. Unfortunately I can’t understand what they’re saying in the episode, “Fire in a Crowded Workshop.” I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12, and adults might enjoy watching with their kids as well. Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is available on DVD February 2020.

 

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Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

 

I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. I like that there isn’t just the typical “good wins over evil.” It is expected that good will win, but it is fun to watch too.  Some of the humor is a bit dry if you are an adult watching the show. But, it is appropriate for children ages 5 through 12. I like that it shows teamwork and friendship, and all of the action makes it very entertaining to watch. The characters are very likable; my favorites are Sonic and Amy. I like that the characters are unique and each brings something to the show. Of course, Dr. Eggman is not a favorite of mine, but he also makes the series entertaining, especially since Sonic and his pals usually outwit him. I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value. This DVD would make a great gift for a Sonic fan, since it is a Limited Edition Gift Set that includes Knuckles and Tails figurines. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer

 

Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

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Kids
Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their friendly hometown and make childhood memories. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Cadence G. comments, “I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation.” Ruby A., follows with, “Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.” Christine R. wraps it with, “Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing.” See their full reviews below.

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

https://youtu.be/gxfNfM_q3kA

I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation. The only part I didn’t really like is that the characters sometimes talk too slow and you want to make them talk faster, but it probably makes it easier for little kids to understand. The Llama Llama Family Collection has 15 episodes and is based on the book series written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. The animated collection is about a llama and his friends who have awesome adventures together. Each episode has a moral to the story. For example, in one of the episodes, Luna (a giraffe, voiced by Vania Gill) is very scared to go on stage to perform a solo in front of an audience. Then Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get a dance machine and it really helps Luna lose her fear of performing in front of an audience.  Another story tells about Llama Llama, Euclid and Gilroy Goat having a sleepover, where they experience new and different things while at a friend’s house. I know when I go to a sleepover, I find myself trying a new food or doing any activity that I wouldn’t necessarily have done at my house.

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I didn’t recognize the voices of any of the characters, although after looking at who does the voices, I recognize Jennifer Garner, who voices Mama Llama. I like Luna’s personality, but my favorite character is Euclid (Brendon Sunderland). He’s smart, but in a funny way. I like when the group of friends take swimming lessons with Mama Llama in Eleanor Elephant’s (Kathleen Barr) pool. Even though Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) isn’t a great swimmer, his friends are supportive. And it is cute seeing Llama Llama’s grandpa (David Hoole) learn to swim, too.The message of the film is to be nice to others. It’s important to help your friends, rather than make fun of them or bring them down. When I see someone making fun of someone, I try to stand up for them. It is nice to watch a film where a group of friends support one another.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 9. This DVD is available now, so go look for it!

 

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Ruby A. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

https://youtu.be/_xmGNvh83_w

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is collection of episodes about a group of animal companions that go on a lot of adventures, meet new friends and solve problems along the way. In one episode, Llama Llama’s friend, Luna the Giraffe, struggles with bad stage fright. She has a dance recital the next day. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have to help her, or she won’t be able to perform without becoming nervous on stage. In another episode, Llama Llama and two of his friends, Gilroy Goat and Euclid Sheep, plan a sleepover together. What they don’t know is that strange things will happen just as they are about to go to sleep. But maybe the friends’ imaginations will wander too far…

 

Some of the lead characters are Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and Llama Llama (Shayle Simons). They are an adorable mother-son duo, and they love each other very much. What really stands out in this collection  is the incredibly detailed and expressive animation. The vibrant colors and homey scenery go hand in hand to create a wholesome, fun show for children and their families to watch. It really is a great choice for teaching good lessons to young minds. The message of the DVD Llama Llama Family Fun Collection   is that you should always be willing to help your friends, and that problems can be solved through the effort of a team. It is definitely successful in communicating its message through the close-knit friend group, and how they stick together and help each other face their fears. The message is definitely positive and uplifting, and can teach young children that companionship is an important life skill to have. There really isn’t anything to worry about when children are watching this series. There is no bad language at all, and there isn’t any negative behavior that young children may attempt to imitate.

 

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 2 to 10.  The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection  DVD is available now

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Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

 

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD features the animated friends from Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama book series in 15 stories, including holiday stories for Halloween, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The friends learn to use their unique talents with some creativity to overcome day to day problems by following grown up advice and helping each other. In “Stage Fright,” Luna Giraffe’s upcoming dance recital is giving her performance jitters, but Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu are there to offer support, calming breaths and remind her to just have fun. Nelly Gnu is jealous of the attention her baby brother receives in the story “Jealous Nelly.” Her new tree-house takes a backseat to babysitting and party planning for the baby. She misses her parents’ and friends’ attention, but soon realizes that being a big sister is the perfect role for her. The friends accept the challenge to do without their electronic gadgets when Grandma Llama and Mama Llama take them on an overnight campout in “Let’s Go Camping.” They use their five senses to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing. Children ages 4 to  8 should enjoy these fun, engaging episodes. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 * Nearly Five Hours of Laugh-Out-Loud, Animated Fun

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Kids
Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2 * Nearly Five Hours of Laugh-Out-Loud, Animated Fun

SonicBoom..jpg

It’s a Sonic you haven’t seen before an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline. The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. Will C. adds, “Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end. The message of this series is that friends are stronger together.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer wraps it up with, “I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman.” See their full reviews below.

 

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

https://youtu.be/_-61s1WGEYI

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

The Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2 DVD, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs, which include 26 episodes.  What is nice is the gift set comes with two toys, Knuckles and Tails.  Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog that has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic’s friends – Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) – help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock).  Each episode has a different story line.  The episodes do not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that’s what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy.  My favorite episode is “Bro Down Showdown,” because it’s extremely funny.  It is about how Amy had to leave for a little bit, so Sonic and Knuckles ask her if they can stay at her house while she is gone.  Amy says yes, but there is one rule – no foolish things in her house.  So the first thing they do is eat nachos and spill on the couch.  Conveniently a commercial comes on saying, “if you win the best bros contest you win a brand new couch.” They immediately enter the contest.  It turns out Dr. Eggman is spying on them.  He arrives and starts bickering with Sonic about a bogus little thing.  A guy working there sees them fighting and pairs them up, even though Knuckles is going to be Sonic’s buddy.  Knuckels finds a new partner and tries to win the couch.  This is my favorite episode because this all happens, just because they spilled a nacho.

The moral to the stories is about “teamwork making the dream work,” because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friend, to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing too. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

https://youtu.be/OIaCzPyfbT4

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end.

The DVDs include 26 action-packed episodes, and if you get the limited edition gift set, you’ll also get two action figures—either Sonic with Dr. Eggman or Knuckles with Tails. In every episode, Sonic and his friends protect their village from the evil Dr. Eggman. Of course, no matter how crazy the situation, Sonic and friends are able to save the day in the end.

There are some really funny storylines, like when Sonic and Knuckles spill nacho cheese on Amy‘s couch while house-sitting. They try cleaning it up with grape soda, which just makes it worse! Their next idea is to try to win a new couch by going on a game show, but they fail and one of Dr. Eggman’s missiles ends up exploding the couch anyway. In another episode, it’s hilarious when Sonic grabs the last chili dog that Dr. Eggman wanted, so to be nice Sonic goes all the way to the warehouse to bring his nemesis a chili dog. But Dr. Eggman wanted extra relish, so he throws a tantrum by trying to destroy the whole town by shooting it with lasers and attacking it with robots. Of course this is nothing Sonic and friends can’t handle. One of the best jokes is when the boys compete against the girls in a survivor challenge. The girls decide the losers will have to do everyone’s laundry, but Sonic says, “That’s not fair for us boys – we don’t even wear pants!”

The message of this series is that friends are stronger together. There’s probably not a lot of content that parents will object to, but there is some cartoon violence that kids might be tempted to copy. The only thing that’s a problem for me is that there is one episode out of the 26 that’s only available with Spanish audio, no English at all. Unfortunately I can’t understand what they’re saying in the episode, “Fire in a Crowded Workshop.”

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12, and adults might enjoy watching with their kids as well. Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is available on DVD February 2020.

Sonic Boom Season 1, Volume 2
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. I like that there isn’t just the typical “good wins over evil.” It is expected that good will win, but it is fun to watch too.  Some of the humor is a bit dry if you are an adult watching the show. But, it is appropriate for children ages 5 through 12. I like that it shows teamwork and friendship, and all of the action makes it very entertaining to watch. The characters are very likable; my favorites are Sonic and Amy. I like that the characters are unique and each brings something to the show. Of course, Dr. Eggman is not a favorite of mine, but he also makes the series entertaining, especially since Sonic and his pals usually outwit him. I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value. This DVD would make a great gift for a Sonic fan, since it is a Limited Edition Gift Set that includes Knuckles and Tails figurines. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer

Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

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Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their friendly hometown and make childhood memories. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Cadence G. comments, “I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation.” Ruby A., follows with, “Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.” Christine R. wraps it with, “Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing.” See their full reviews below.

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation. The only part I didn’t really like is that the characters sometimes talk too slow and you want to make them talk faster, but it probably makes it easier for little kids to understand.

The Llama Llama Family Collection has 15 episodes and is based on the book series written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. The animated collection is about a llama and his friends who have awesome adventures together. Each episode has a moral to the story. For example, in one of the episodes, Luna (a giraffe, voiced by Vania Gill) is very scared to go on stage to perform a solo in front of an audience. Then Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get a dance machine and it really helps Luna lose her fear of performing in front of an audience. Another story tells about Llama Llama, Euclid and Gilroy Goat having a sleepover, where they experience new and different things while at a friend’s house. I know when I go to a sleepover, I find myself trying a new food or doing any activity that I wouldn’t necessarily have done at my house.

I didn’t recognize the voices of any of the characters, although after looking at who does the voices, I recognize Jennifer Garner, who voices Mama Llama. I like Luna’s personality, but my favorite character is Euclid (Brendon Sunderland). He’s smart, but in a funny way. I like when the group of friends take swimming lessons with Mama Llama in Eleanor Elephant’s (Kathleen Barr) pool. Even though Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) isn’t a great swimmer, his friends are supportive. And it is cute seeing Llama Llama’s grandpa (David Hoole) learn to swim, too.

The message of the film is to be nice to others. It’s important to help your friends, rather than make fun of them or bring them down. When I see someone making fun of someone, I try to stand up for them. It is nice to watch a film where a group of friends support one another.
I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 9. This DVD is available now, so go look for it!

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Ruby A. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is collection of episodes about a group of animal companions that go on a lot of adventures, meet new friends and solve problems along the way. In one episode, Llama Llama’s friend, Luna the Giraffe, struggles with bad stage fright. She has a dance recital the next day. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have to help her, or she won’t be able to perform without becoming nervous on stage. In another episode, Llama Llama and two of his friends, Gilroy Goat and Euclid Sheep, plan a sleepover together. What they don’t know is that strange things will happen just as they are about to go to sleep. But maybe the friends’ imaginations will wander too far…

Some of the lead characters are Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and Llama Llama (Shayle Simons). They are an adorable mother-son duo, and they love each other very much. What really stands out in this collection is the incredibly detailed and expressive animation. The vibrant colors and homey scenery go hand in hand to create a wholesome, fun show for children and their families to watch. It really is a great choice for teaching good lessons to young minds.

The message of the DVD Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is that you should always be willing to help your friends, and that problems can be solved through the effort of a team. It is definitely successful in communicating its message through the close-knit friend group, and how they stick together and help each other face their fears. The message is definitely positive and uplifting, and can teach young children that companionship is an important life skill to have. There really isn’t anything to worry about when children are watching this series. There is no bad language at all, and there isn’t any negative behavior that young children may attempt to imitate.

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is available now

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD features the animated friends from Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama book series in 15 stories, including holiday stories for Halloween, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The friends learn to use their unique talents with some creativity to overcome day to day problems by following grown up advice and helping each other. In “Stage Fright,” Luna Giraffe’s upcoming dance recital is giving her performance jitters, but Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu are there to offer support, calming breaths and remind her to just have fun. Nelly Gnu is jealous of the attention her baby brother receives in the story “Jealous Nelly.” Her new tree-house takes a backseat to babysitting and party planning for the baby. She misses her parents’ and friends’ attention, but soon realizes that being a big sister is the perfect role for her. The friends accept the challenge to do without their electronic gadgets when Grandma Llama and Mama Llama take them on an overnight campout in “Let’s Go Camping.” They use their five senses to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing. Children ages 4 to 8 should enjoy these fun, engaging episodes. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

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