We had the good fortune of connecting with Van Lai-DuMone and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Van, would love to get a better understanding of the role tech plays in your industry?
My company works to develop teams and train aspiring leaders through the use of creative tools; such as visual arts, spoken word, and improvisation. We emphasize creativity, because it is a capacity that we all have access to. Up to recently, technology has played a fairly small role in my business. I solely used Zoom video conferencing for initial client consultations and project planning, because it proved to be a great tool to build face-to-face relationships with clients. After our initial planning calls, when the work began, it was all in-person events. Then, COVID-19 left us all sheltering in place; and all live trainings were canceled. With that, I had to re-think, pivot, and iterate the way I work. The experience has offered challenges as well as opportunities for me to explore virtual options for facilitation. Within the last three months, I have found ways to not only incorporate technology into my trainings, but also do it in a way that allows me to continue to offer hands-on, experiential and interactive learning. I have found new ways to utilize Zoom, and have taken on other facilitation tools such as MURAL™ and Play Prelude™ – both use visual learning. The beauty in experimenting with new tools now, is that we all find ourselves suddenly remote. Everyone is learning, adapting, and facing a steep learning curve. We are all beginners and we’re in this together!

What should our readers know about your business?
My business is a collective of corporate facilitators who address professional development through creativity; disrupting traditional training methods. Many of us come from a corporate background, so are all too familiar with what typical training programs look and feel like. And we show people that there is a better way. We describe our clients as ‘change makers who value people and profit; and the idea of incorporating creative methods to workplace training makes them happier than a kid in a candy store!’ Our work is based on the fact that we are all creative, good ideas can come from any level of an organization, and that people learn and retain information best through creativity and play. So that’s how we deliver our programs. For example, I might facilitate a strategy session using LEGO® bricks. We also offer a workshop on psychological safety, co-facilitated by a spoken word artist. Then there’s our presentation skills workshop using improv skills. Our goal is to make learning fun, memorable, and retainable. We do that through our creative methods, as well as through designing each program to address mindset, behavioral habits, and skill set. This collective model of co-facilitation utilizes the strengths of my network of creative facilitators, who hold similar values and vision, using different methodologies. Together, we are able to design programs that deliver the best content to clients. In response to COVID-19, and inspired by a client request, our team developed a series of 60-minute interactive talks called ‘LIVE Virtual Learn Lab,’ making it convenient for companies to curate a virtual professional development program for their teams in a financially reasonable way.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Given our current limitations I would spend a lot of time at the beach. I recently started surfing again, and I think that everyone visiting should give that a try! Under different circumstances, we would also spend time on Abbott Kinney; people watching, shopping, and grabbing lunch on the back patio of Plant Food and Wine, followed by ice cream at Salt & Straw. Some great downtown spots are the Los Angeles Flower Mart, lunch in Little Tokyo, museum hopping, and dinner at Broken Spanish. A hike in the Santa Monica Mountains and an overnight stay at my favorite local Airbnb in Temescal Canyon (that has a small farm with pigs and goats) would also be on my list of to-dos. And no visit with a best friend would be complete without lots of time just sitting on the couch wrapped in cozy blankets and catching up!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom was the inspiration for my TEDx Talk. I was invited to share a framework I developed around creating possibility by following your curiosity. In my talk, I share how curiosity allowed my mom to rebuild her life here in the United States after escaping Vietnam as refugees in 1975. I tell the history of why Vietnamese Americans dominate the manicure industry in the United States. And that history includes a Hollywood movie star’s determination to empower 20 Vietnamese refugee women (including my mom) to follow their curiosity, ask ‘What if?’, and take small steps to start what is now an $8.3 billion dollar manicure industry. It’s a story that aligns with the work I do today. It powerfully shows that ideas indeed can come from anybody, regardless of socioeconomic status, education, or position in the workplace. We are all curious. And we are all creative. And by giving people the time and tools to express their ideas in a creative way allows all ideas to be heard on a level playing field. Ultimately, that is my work. And as we all currently find ourselves in an environment where our status quo has been disrupted, we could all use a little curiosity to discover what is possible, and what comes next for us – as individuals, communities, and businesses.

Website: www.worksmartadvantage.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/worksmartadvantage/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vanlaidumone/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/worksmart_LA
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worksmartadvantage/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLixzTazp2U&t=15s
Other: Watch Van’s TEDx Talk: ‘What if?’ The Life Changing Power of Curiosity and Courage, reveals how a Hollywood movie star’s determination to empower 20 Vietnamese refugee women (including Van’s mom) to follow their curiosity, ask ‘What if?’, and take smalls steps forward – led to the beginnings of the Vietnamese dominated manicure industry in the United States. An industry now worth 8.3 billion dollars. https://bit.ly/LifeChangingPowerofCuriosity