State of the Chapter – Fall 2014

We’ve got a few great updates for you this month, including new board members and our very first online event!

Chapter update

The board and I have been quieter than usual over the past several weeks because we have been hard at work on fleshing out what it really means to deliver on the IABC-LA “lite” plan that we shared in our last update. As a reminder, this “lite” plan puts a focus on sustainability and building a chapter that can deliver long term value to our membership.

One area where we’re going “lite” is our member events. Instead of focusing solely on time-intensive in-person events, we are moving to online events as a way to address our geographically diverse membership. We’re excited about the potential of online events to help us engage with one other.

First online event on November 18

Starting this month we’re kicking off our new “Learning Lounge” series of online member events. Several times a year, we’ll gather together from our homes and offices to learn from experts in our field, share best practices and build relationships with colleagues across Southern California.

You’re invited to our first Learning Lounge on Tuesday, November 18 from noon to 1PM. Grab some lunch and join us from the comfort of your office or home for a lively chat about “Hot Topics in Communication.”

Register for free via GoToWebinar (IABC members only).
Can’t click the link? Copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1846924810286651394

We’ll be facilitating a conversation about the trends and issues that are on YOUR mind, as well as sharing ideas and best practices with one another. Social, mobile, gamification – we’ll go wherever the conversation takes us. It will be a great, fun way to learn something new, get inspired or just enjoy getting to meet other communication professionals.

New board members

I’m thrilled to welcome several new members to our chapter board. Please join me in welcoming Nick, Leslie and Vinca. We do still have openings for additional volunteer board members, so if you’re interested in any of the positions below, please let me know.

  • President – Mike Spasoff, HealthNet
  • Past President – Nicole Maury, The Project Curator
  • VP Events – Dustin Alipour, Psychoanalytic Center of CA
  • VP Communications – Nick Duggan, Citrix
  • VP Social Media – Leslie Dodson, Kaiser Permanente
  • VP Member Engagement – Vinca Russell, Amgen
  • VP Finance – open
  • VP Webmaster – open

Together these board members bring exciting new viewpoints and vitally important fresh energy to build the new IABC-LA.

We’re also always looking for event and membership volunteers to help with the month-to-month work of running the chapter.  To those of you who have already contacted us with interest about volunteering – THANK YOU! As our new VP of Member Engagement, Vinca will be reaching out to you soon. If you’re interested in volunteering, please send us an email.

Thank you for your membership in IABC, and your involvement in the Los Angeles chapter. Don’t forget, please do join us for the Learning Lounge on November 18. After that, enjoy your holidays and we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2015!

Best regards,
Mike Spasoff

Lassos and Warren on “Bridging the Gap Between IT and Comms” Event Review

On Wednesday, April 30th, IABC Los Angeles hosted “Bridging the Gap Between IT and Comms” with featured speaker Alan Lewis, VP, Client Engagement for JCS Consulting.  The event produced heavy participation by attendees in a conversational Q&A and sharing of case stories throughout Alan’s presentation. (Audio files of Alan’s presentation will be available shortly.)

We’re delighted IABC-LA members and attendees Charlotte Lassos, President, Straight Up Communications, and Janie Warren, Sr. Communications Representative, Enterprise Systems Learning & Communications, The Walt Disney Company, each provided her own p.o.v. of the event:

Charlotte’s Wrap-Up:

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Charlotte Lassos

 As communicators, we look to technology to make our jobs easier. We want tools that help us work more efficiently, speed things along, and ultimately, facilitate collaboration. We usually know what we want, what outcome we want to achieve, and that the tools are probably available. However, working with IT in a corporate environment to make it happen can be a different story all together.

I had the pleasure of attending the recent IABC-LA event “Bridging the Gap Between IT and Comms” presented by Alan Lewis. I found the presentation to be very informative and highlighted by lively dialogue.   Alan’s presentation covered a brief psychological overview of the IT professional, how to work with IT, cloud-based solutions that can help communicators innovate, and Communication 2.0 within an organization. He provided case study highlights and examples of his recent work with DIRECTV to implement a cloud-based collaboration platform, with built-in metrics, that has transformed they way work gets done at the company. By serving as an advocate of both teams, Alan was able to help communicators at DIRECTV get the solutions they needed in place while maintaining IT’s security requirements.   For me, the takeaways from this presentation include:

  • In the “old-school” way of thinking, IT professionals exist to fix problems. If you need their assistance with new technology, make a solid business case and present the business requirements necessary to help solve your communications challenge.
  • On-premise servers ARE, and will, move to cloud-based servers and organizations need to be ready for this change.
  • The emergence of cloud-based social business platforms will change the way work gets done. Social business harnesses the trends in market today, helping to change the business models of yesterday and drive brands forward into the operating modes of tomorrow.
  • Employees want to work with current and innovative technology tools, as well as the same social tools they use in their personal lives.
  • Corporate communicators can test cloud-based solutions on a small group within the organization based on business requirements presented. The group’s success can then be used to make a business case for use of that tool/solution enterprise wide. This may help organizations using the on-premise server model where the lack of timely software updates often stall productivity.
  • Bonus takeaway: one of the members recommended the book Grouped, by Paul Adams. The book is described as a useful resource for marketing and media practitioners on the subject of social networks.

I recently worked on a large project with a client to move from a traditional Intranet to an employee communication and collaboration portal. My role focused on content development and content management tools/processes. During this IABC discussion, I was able to draw parallels between the two projects and look at where things might have been done differently to further enhance the outcome on the client’s project. I gained additional knowledge to offer as possible solutions on future client projects.

By Charlotte Lassos Straight Up Communications

Janie’s Wrap-Up:

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Janie Warren

As a communicator in a finance/IT organization, I was elated to attend the IABC ‘Bridging the Gap between IT and Comms’ event.

The evening began in a lovely private “wine-cellar” type room of the Tin Roof Bistro, in Manhattan Beach, which included a variety of delectable eats from tasty cheeses to fruit, and let’s not forget the wine!  I had a chance to network with some fellow communicators, and then I carefully selected a seat towards the front of the room before the presentation began- I just knew I would have many, many questions.

I was immediately intrigued in the conversation ahead as the presenter, Alan Lewis, began his talk.  Not only does Alan have an IT background, he was extremely engaging and I instantly felt confident that I could ask any question.  In addition, the ‘open forum’ style of the event allowed for great conversation and experiences from an awesome group of like-minded communicators.

Topics included:  how an IT professional thinks, how to work best with IT, and how to utilize cloud based solutions in an organization.  As expected, I had quite a few comments and inquiries– all of which were addressed beautifully.   Since the event, I’ve begun to apply some of the lessons learned.  For instance, I now know that building relationships with IT pros can really make life easier.  I also understand the background of the ‘cloud’ and how to best utilize social solutions in the workplace.  I even received a great tip on a social habits book called Grouped which I plan to indulge real soon.

Overall, the presentation was excellent, Alan was very knowledgeable, and I especially enjoyed hearing different scenarios and perspectives from other attendees.  I look forward to the next IABC event!

By Janie Warren, Sr. Comms Rep, Enterprise Systems and Learning Comms – Disney

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Robin McCasland, IEB Chair Provides Outstanding IABC Transparency and Profession’s Global Trends

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Robin McCasland, International Board Chair for IABC visited Los Angeles chapter members at RGP’s offices in downtown Los Angeles.  Our chapter members were treated to two outstanding presentations, both substantive in transparency about IABC headquarters and in content in “Who We Are, Where We Are, and What’s Next?”  

“Communicators have evolved into facilitators of the conversation,” said McCasland.  Robin also stated the take-notice fact that communicators, especially in the present glare of 24/7 media exposure, are now being viewed as professionals with highly skilled expertise in the same context doctors and lawyers are viewed professionally in respective careers.

Before Robin pulled us deep into the GPS of exactly what’s happening with communications’ professional and global trends. McCasland invited us into a transparent GPS operations-view of IABC Headquarters. IABC is now 70 countries/9 regions strong! With highest membership in the U.S. and Canada, the organization is expanding even further into Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Middle East and Russia!

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Robin worked closely with Ann Lazurus, Interim Executive Director of  IABC, as well as several other “razor-focused” IABC execs dedicated to refreshing IABC and addressing multiple “thorny” issues.  Task forces were created. Issues addressed include an extremely expensive headquarters’ lease to attracting new staff to eliminating or reducing extraordinary budget expenses.

IABC’s ancient website and ABC professional certification are being updated…Gold Quills process has been transformed  and much more. IABC headquarters may transition to a virtual office, be moved locally or completely relocated. Members have positively praised new staff for their customer service and member focus! For Robin’s inside look at headquarters, please access YouTube audio links:

Around the World with IABC
Communications Trends
IABC International Update

On global trends and the profession, Robin provided facts and figures in her Prezi presentation which are “waking up” other industries, viewing communications professionals as extremely necessary in today’s business world. See 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer.

McCasland stated, “Running a communications department today is like running a political campaign.” Social media, workplace environment, clients’ new power in shaping engaged information…and are you ready to respond to a crisis in five minutes? In the current climate as a pro communicator, you need to be. Stories are now told in visual images to evoke an emotional response to get customers or employees to take action.

Moving forward, IABC is looking at how the industry can create consistent standards in certification as a professional communicator both domestically and globally. The org is also exploring the value in creating courses and education for recent young college grads heading into business environments, yet without tools such as Ethics and Strategic Comms.

Huge thanks to Robin McCasland, FRSA, who took on a tremendous amount of responsibility as IABC’s IEB Chair when many would have backed away…and for giving the L.A. Chapter incredibly valuable information to support the chapter and our careers.

Big thanks to Vivien Hughes, Managing Director, Marketing, Communications & Media, and Chris Paik-Phong, Sr. Operations Manager, RGP (Resources Global Professionals), for allowing us to use the cool event space! She’s invited us to use it again at a later date.

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Thanks to Dustin Alipour, VP, Events for catering help, and to Mike Spasoff, President-Elect for photos and tech help.  And appreciative thanks to attendees for supporting these events:

 

 

 

 

 

 

IABC Cutting Edge Internal Comms Panel Wrap Up

(Los Angeles) On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, IABC Los Angeles hosted a networking panel event “Cutting Edge Internal Communications” with internal comms experts at the South Pasadena Central Library in Pasadena.

Moderated by President-Elect, Mike Spasoff, the internal comms panel provided everything from insights to the newest internal comms vehicles, what new tools add value and which tools get in the way, approaches to cross-generational challenges, tried-and-true skill sets, and the differences from internal comms compared to external marketing and PR.

The panel consisted of Kristin Wong, Manager, Internal Communications, Global Corporate Communications at Avery Dennison, Jeremy Soule, Manager of Employee Communications at Activision Blizzard, Daniel Penton, Founder of ICPlan, and Betty Henry of Betty Henry Communications.

IABC Members, non-members and guests enjoyed a light dinner, pithy panel discussion and Q&A.

Kicking off the question on what “stubborn” vehicles are still being used vs. what’s new, Jeremy Soule simply replied, “Email!” Regarding new tools, Jeremy emphasized a social collaboration platform is a must with  a “fun, positive voice” to reflect the employees. Kristin Wong stated Avery Dennison made the decision “the email attachment was dead” and transformed the entire employee population to Google Docs for shared collaboration.  Daniel Penton discussed Yammer, smart phones as engaging employee comms tools. Betty Henry emphasized connecting the company’s brand with internal tools, including entertaining or humorous ways to engage employees.

Attendees at IABC-LA's "Cutting Edge Internal Communications" event on 2/26/14 in Pasadena.

On tools adding value or getting in the way:  Kristin stated employees absorb information visually now in an anytime, anywhere platforms. Avery Dennison created a risky yet very rewarding video blog of the CEO who uses his own iPhone to capture himself all over the Avery Dennison global offices and shares the super short video blog posts with employees, and answers questions.

Jeremy Soule says tools must reinforce Activision Blizzard’s “We make fun” motto.  He shared his views on how extremely important trust-building is with employees, especially when there are tough announcements later.

Kristin Wong shared on cultural shifts and a values-based company culture affecting Avery Dennison’s significant milestone building location change.

Betty Henry discussed mapping out employees’ ages, education-levels, towards understanding the employee audience. She also discussed a fun case study engaging employees through an employee film festival in which over 50 hilarious films were submitted. Betty also mentioned employee audiences are more of a finite audience compared to external audiences.

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Internal comms approaches also included wi-fi, no company phones on desks, gaming, using enthusiastic employees as change champions, training bosses to walk the walk, and profiling departments separately vs. treating employee populations as one homogenous group.

“Use your feet!” says Jeremy Soule.  Face-to-face hallway meetings can be incredibly effective in gaining needs information, even at super-cool and gadgety Activision Blizzard!

Daniel Penton emphasized internal communicators “must give internally what employees are exposed to externally.” In other words, same quality counts inside as outside messaging and visuals.

The attendees’ Q&A produced some terrific follow-up discussion on different apps such as Crowd Campus, push notifications, MailChimp and more case studies. The audience got a big laugh at Betty Henry’s story on “Compliance. A Hotbed of Comedy” and enjoyed Kristin Wong’s recap of how a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the CEO was photographed all over the world and authentically connected employees from Ohio to employees in Asia.

Huge, special thanks to Mike Spasoff for putting such an outstanding, informative panel together and the South Pasadena Library.  Thanks to board members Dustin Alipour, Kyle Kearney, Gerhard Runken and Christie Ly. And thanks to Bill Severino for assisting in the set-up!

For more event details and photos, follow us on facebook at “IABC Los Angeles” or twitter (@iabcLosangeles)

Photo credits: Kyle Kearney.

 

We want to hear from you!

FeedbackEventWe recently held a Feedback meetup at the Library Bar in downtown Los Angeles. IABC members and other interested parties joined board members to socialize, share their thoughts and ask questions about our chapter.

The feedback and discussion was wonderful and will greatly help your board plan upcoming events throughout 2014.

 

If you missed the event though, don’t worry, there’s still a way to share your feedback! We’ve created a survey monkey that will allow you all to give us your feedback. Click the link below and let us know what you think!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/IABCLA2014b

Event wrap-up: Multigenerational Workplace Communications panel

On Tuesday, November 12th, IABC Los Angeles partnered with AMA Los Angeles to host a  multigenerational workplace communications panel.

Moderated by IABC LA’s VP of student relations, Kyle Kearney; the panel included Stefan Pollack, author, “Disrupted: From Gen Y to IGen” , Sean McGill, Sales Director: Ustream , Craig Rosenkranz, Public Policy advisor & millennial trend guru Katelyn O’Shaughnessy, founder of mobile trip app “Tripscope.

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“For the first time in history, workplace demographics span 4 generations, meaning 20 year old new hires find themselves working side by side with colleagues 50 years older.” – Trinet HR service.

As work paradigms shift, a communications gap may emerge between generations. Our panelists discussed millennial work ethics, economic challenges and communications trends across baby boomers, Gen X & Gen Y; referred to as “millennials.”

Millennial travel expert & CEO/founder Katelyn O’Shaughnessy described the employment landscape as “entrepreneurial.”

Having exhausted traditional employment hunting tactics, O’Shaughnessy cut her own path, creating demand for positions that weren’t officially open. The approach eventually worked. O’Shaughnessy also launched a travel app, Tripscope  ,for which she recently won Social Media Week’s $100k StartUp demo competition.

“If circumstances don’t exist, you need to create them,” said O’Shaughnessy.

Online video guru Ustream Sales Director Sean McGill agreed with O’Shaughnessy, likening today’s millennial work approach to the 2000/2001 dot com bubble.

The Pollack PR Marketing Group President and author IGen, Stefan Pollack pointing out that Millennials may be quick to skip jobs for a salary bump. O’Shaughnessy disagreed, citing college debt loads and a tight job market.

The panel discussed workplace nuances such as professional clothing attire, office vs. home work hours and corporate hierarchy. O’Shaughnessy said she might be 30 minutes late, but stays 2 hours after work.

Regardless of whether you’re a Boomer or Gen X, Pollack said their employees are expected to pull their weight equally.

“Can millennials be drivers, or do they need to be pulled along?” Live tweeted IABC guest Richard Romero.

Pollack and O’Shaughnessy disagreed about Boomers texting and emailing clients at 1am if necessary. Pollack made it clear that iGen doesn’t have a lock on this 24/7 practice.

Former public policy advisor Craig Rosenkranz described Government millennial work life as a different ball game. Positioning towards his UCLA Anderson School marketing MBA, Rosenkranz looks forward to the private sector’s opportunities & challenges.

On Goverment workers’ multigenerational standards, a couple audience members spoke up, describing baby boomer culture vs. Gen X and Gen Y expectations.

The panel agreed with Pollack’s observation, outlined in his book, IGen; Disrupted, that marketers and employers need to gain millennials’ trust by listening.

For more event details, follow IABC Los Angeles on facebook and Twitter.

Special thanks, IABCLA volunteers, panelists, board of directors, AMA Los Angeles & Chipotle Burritos.

 

Warner’s Corner – IABC Media Leaders Content Marketing Panel Wrap Up

(Los Angeles) On Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, IABC Los Angeles hosted a networking media panel event with Media Leaders at the ROC Center Santa Monica.

Moderated by Josh Ochs, the integrated communications panel covered everything from effective content creation, industry blunders/lessons learned, content marketing trends to leveraging social media tools.

The panel comprised of Chris Bechtel, Chief Marketing Officer, Make Good Social, Debra Eckerling, Goal Coach,Guided Goals and WriteOnLine, Priscilla Vento, Founder & CEO, 30 Miles North and James Aldous, Communications Director, OpenX.

IABC members and guests mingled with a diverse mix of West LA StartUps, Investors, Marketing/PR & corporate communications pros, social media managers, web developers, entertainment folks, gaming peeps, SEO gurus and much more.

Kicking off the panel, Josh Ochs asked the panel about leveraging online platforms to gain brand momentum, for which panelists cited a variety of tactics.

From hiring guest bloggers to managing editorial calendars, Debra Eckerling shared blogging tips, workflow tools and best practices.

On driving brand visibility, “get your video into the hands of relevant influencers,” said YouTube guru Priscilla Vento of 30 Mile North.

Chris Bechtel and James Aldous agreed Facebook is more consumer driven, and less business to business orientated. Panelists agreed. Aldous cited online chat tool Quora and Linkedin.

“Understanding where your audience lives is key,” said Bechtel.

2013-10-08 IABC-LA Media Leaders Event

 On integrated communications, the panel discussed the changing tides of earned-owned-paid-evolved media silos.

One IABC member asked where the panel thinks social media departments “live” these days. Vento said their social media manager functions separately from their media relations. Panelists agreed.

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In closing, panelists each shared a unique personal story. Turns out Priscilla Vento is an avid skateboarder, Aldous a non-fiction writer, Eckerling a karate black belt with stripe, and my personal favorite…Bechtel, a Bay Area rap video production founder (no longer). “Once clients who paid all in cash wanted their money back, I left town,” said Bechtel. The audience laughed.

For more event details and photos, follow us on facebook or twitter (@IABCLosangeles)

Special thanks, IABC-LA volunteers Stephanie BelskyLinda Arres and event sponsor Angel Launch.

by Warner Boutin, VP, Communications – IABC Los Angeles. Photo credits by Calvin Lee. 

For the complete 1-hour plus event video:

http://youtu.be/Qbl8BHX-OU4

 

June 12, 2013: 2013 Annual June Dinner with Keynote John Kobara of California Community Foundation

IABC Los Angeles celebrated the end of the chapter year in trendy and gourmet style at Le Ka Restaurant in downtown L.A.  What a truly memorable, upscale event and vibe for existing members and new faces to meet, enjoy each other’s company over deeply-flavored red wines, a three-course gourmet dinner and John Kobara’s outstanding commentary on 21st century philanthropy. The IABC Los Angeles board also announced the new board slate for the 2013-2014 year and upcoming plans.
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The board welcomed longtime members Deborah Hawkins of Focus Communications and Past-President (2000) Trish Lester  of  Signature Communications who have been exemplary and dedicated members.  Deborah and Trish sat with our very newest volunteer, Dustin Alipour, VP, Events (2013-2014) and discussed strategies to bring lunch-time get togethers back to the chapter. How’s that for networking and rolling up Dustin’s sleeves already!

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John Kobara, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, California Community Foundation insisted on no long, formal verbose introductions of his accomplishments! He’s clearly a renaissance man with tremendous professional experience in  managing development, marketing, marketing, grant-making, civic engagement and donor relations functions of the foundation. He provided our attendees with with a glimpse of:

  • what the Foundation truly supports 
  • how Ivy-League colleges are influencing applicants in terms of focusing an applicant’s true interests vs. what’s expected
    by parents or misperceived “balanced” activities
  • how micro-lending changes a motivated entrepreneur’s life
  • statistics in terms of philanthropic giving in Los Angeles…we think the $10 individual gift doesn’t make a difference. It does!

The California Community Foundation provides programs and grant-giving focusing on the most pressing and critical issues in the arts, education, healthcare, housing and human development and has over $1 billion in assets.

 

While John spoke, the otherworldly chocolate bittersweet dessert communicated yet another engaged “Wow!” moment to our senses during the evening.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iabc-la/9029590551/We also welcomed Betsy Berkhemer Credaire who announced her new groundbreaking book “The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors” featuring how women can get on thriving corporate companies’ boards. The book also discusses Betsy’s movement to make it legally mandatory to have at least three women on a public company board.

I briefly informed members of the progress we’ve made since I took the helm months ago. We are looking forward to a very substantive 2013-2013 year with chapter events in the works featuring a strong line-up of professional development and networking opportunities, including very collaborative events leveraging other associations who would like to leverage themselves with us as well. Our hefty yet very-refreshed strategic plan is being refined and we’ve launched our chapter’s video series on “We Are Diverse Storytellers”.

Warner Boutin, VP, Development gave a preview of some very updated events in the works for members including our chapter’s leveraging of Silicon Beach (Santa Monica) to how agency and content managers are working together in communications. Our student outreach is very much underway and we are working smart to bring students into the IABC family of communicators.

I thanked the existing board members who gave such dedicated time and energy to revitalize the chapter, create momentum and add  outstanding contributions so the chapter thrives at a new level of engagement:

President: Nicole Maury
Past President: Paula Cassin
Treasurer and Chair, Major Events: Christie Ly
Chair, Member Communications: Betty Henry
Chair, Membership: Kerry Bonner
Chair, Website: Mike Spasoff
Chair, Social Media: Warner Boutin
Chair, Student Relations: Kyle Kearney

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We would like to express our sincerest thanks and appreciation for these IABC-LA members who graciously volunteered time and services throughout the year and for the June event:

  • Michael Ambrozewicz
  • Chris Cabrera
  • Bill Spaniel
  • Gerhard Runken
  • Rhonda Sciarra – Pacific Plains Regional
  • Dawn Pace

The IABC Los Angeles board also announced its new slate of all-volunteer board members:

2013-2014 Chapter Year

President: Nicole Maury
President-Elect: Mike Spasoff
Treasurer:  Christie Ly
VP, Membership: Gerhard Runken
VP, Development & Social Media: Warner Boutin
VP, Student Outreach: Kyle Kearney
VP, Events: Dustin Alipour

Finally, we are so delighted to connect with some members and new faces who are interested in volunteering: member Amy Friend of the The Capital Group, and new faces Lucine Ying Chen and Benjamin Kee.

We thank each and everyone of our attendees for celebrating with us. And a very special thanks to Christie Ly who created such an outstanding and engaged event for all of us. There was such a camaraderie with new and veteran friends.

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IABC Los Angeles “Diverse Storytellers” Video Series

Nicole Maury kicks off the “IABC Los Angeles Diverse Storytellers” video series featuring board members, past chapter presidents and chapter members. Bringing insights about our chapter from a Los Angeles niche perspective, the video series aims to bring fresh collaborative energy on what it means to be an IABC member here in L.A., and the benefits for you that resonate outwards to your work community.

May 14th – Bill Chott’s Presents “The Improv Trick”

Standing in a circle for an improv exercise, pointing to a peer across from you, and waiting for a “Yes” from them before walking across the circle to take his or her place doesn’t take a lot of brains. Yet it did for me, because I wanted the already-established rhythm of pointing and “Yes’s” and criss-crossing in the group to keep going. If a participant was slower on the “Yes”…I needed to not move until hearing that positive, welcoming “Yes!” from another.  But I did move! Welcome to Bill Chott’s “The Improv Trick” presented at our host, DIRECTV’s facilities.

Embarrassed? Sure! The “Slow Down. Walk. Don’t Run” tool applies here which is difficult to do in a business climate where we are expected to be “on” and “prepared” 24/7. Bill Chott, an experienced comedian from The Second City, is a highly experienced improv master who had us on our feet to experience creating, facilitating and bringing about positive change in ourselves and our team to approach just about any work situation.

So what is “The Improv Trick”?  In all fairness to Bill’s workshop participants all over the globe, we won’t reveal the answer here.  Yet the trick is related with taking that nerve-wracking anxiety we have all experienced when in a new business situation and…following your fear. Fun, interactive exercises included posing while another responds to that pose with his/her own pose.  The interactive creativity began when the rest of us called out 10 different adjectives or nouns to describe these integrated “statues”.  Once again, no planning involved, just getting out of ourselves and  participating in a moment’s notice in what’s happening. In another interactive exercise, DIRECTV host and IABC Exec Board Member, Michael Ambrozewicz waxed poetic on “cobwebs.” Student Outreach Chair Kyle Kearney let loose on “chocolate” and Greg Cash put “brussel sprouts” on our minds. When I looked over at Michael and Warner Boutin, Development Chair doing the mirroring exercise, it looked like a John-Wayne-Meets-The-Matrix-movie situation.

What does brussel sprouts have to do with business interaction? The answer is “trust”. Trust that your mind and creativity will work in a spontaneous, non-planned situation.

“The Improv Trick” managed to work well with introverts and extroverts alike in the group. We learned tactical tools in how to think and engage differently while on our feet and it made for a truly fun, friendly and “Yes!” evening.

Huge thanks to Bill Chott, and Michael Ambrozewicz and Caroline Leach of DIRECTV for sponsoring the event. I enjoyed planning the event while Christie Ly, Treasurer managed Eventbrite and registration details. Betty Henry, Communications Chair and Warner helped promote. Mike Spasoff, Media and Technology Chair did on-site and post-production work. Warner and Kyle captured still photos. Catering services provided by Open Sesame Grill.

In a final addendum announcement, we invited participants to stay to add a few words to our “Who Is IABC Los Angeles?” video project.  This chapter video series of :45-:60 video clips featuring current and past board members and members will support the niche that makes the Los Angeles chapter unique while also supporting the overall vision of IABC headquarters.  Look for the video series soon as we’ll populate social media.