Pod Cast Guest Van Lai-DuMone

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Van Lai-DuMone

Van invites clients to think with their hands and use curiosity and creativity to disrupt traditional training methods. Being a Strategic Play LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods facilitators fits directly into her training philosophy and interactive style. As the founder of worksmart, a progressive team and leadership development company; Van proposes that we are all innately curious and creative, good ideas can come from any level of an organization, and when we create environments where creative thinking and creative tools are cultivated, innovation follows! She studied Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned her MBA from Pepperdine University. She is a contributing writer at Thrive Global and a Fast Company Executive Board Member. 

Born in Vietnam and raised in Southern California, after her family fled Vietnam as war refugees, Van watched her parents pave a new life for themselves. She saw first hand how creative thinking, innovation, and curiosity can help people overcome their circumstances.

Van shares this story in her TEDx Talk titled, ‘What if? The Life Changing Power of Curiosity’. 

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[ Introduction ]

 

Mark:

Welcome to the Strategic Play Podcast.  Unlock Your creativity, expand your mind, and have good clean fun with Strategic Play founder and LEGO® Serious Play® Master Trainer, Jacquie Lloyd Smith, and creative force and curious mind, Mark Millhone.

 

Jacquie:

Hey, Mark. How are you doing?

Mark:

I'm good. I'm good. It's great to talk to you again. Today we're going to look at a really important question, which is "Why don't people enjoy work more?" This has become more and more challenging as we're still in the midst of the great resignation, which followed the recession that we're coming out of.

And I think that our guest has got some extraordinary insights on how to make work more fun, more creative, and to have teams want to stay and work together.

Jacquie:

And I'm really looking forward to chatting with Van, because she's so insightful and just a delightful person. And the mission that she's on is really aligned with my heart. So I'm super excited to chat with her today.

Mark:

I love that her name Van rhymes with fun, because she is totally great that way. She invites clients to think with their hands and to use creativity and curiosity to disrupt the traditional training methods. I know that she does a lot of work with you as a Lego Serious Play methods facilitator. And I can really see how that really meshes with her training philosophy and her style. She's the founder of worksmART, which is a progressive team and leadership training company. And I love her come from, which is that we are all innately curious and creative, and good ideas can come from anywhere. And it's really about creating environments where creative thinking and creative tools can be cultivated.

She's got some bona fides to bring as well, in addition to being a Lego Serious Play methods facilitator. She’s got an MBA from Pepperdine University. She's a creative contributing writer at Thrive Global, also a Fast Company executive board member, and she's got a really inspiring personal story. She was born in Vietnam, raised in Southern California after her family fled Vietnam as war refugees. And check out her inspiring Ted talk. It really tells the story of how her sense of creativity and her inspiration to really focus on creativity as a discipline comes from seeing how her family completely reinvented themselves. So much to talk about in her conversation and so many great inspirational insights to share.

Jacquie:

Wonderful. Okay. Let's dig into it.

Mark:

Let's do it.

[ Interview ]

Mark:

So welcome to the podcast, Van. Thanks for joining us.

Van:

Thank you, Mark. Hi, Jacquie.

Jacquie:

Hi, nice to see you—or hear you.

Van:

Both.

Mark:

So Jacquie, what was the prompt that you gave Van for the model that she made in advance of the podcast?

Jacquie:

I asked her if she could build a model that would explain a little bit more about how she got into the field of creativity and innovation and all the great work that she's doing right now. So that was her prompt. It was pretty loose. She built a model and she sent us over a photograph of it.

Mark:

Awesome. Van, would you describe for us  that model?

Van:

Sure. So that question really brought me back way to the beginning of my time, at least, my work and curiosity and creativity. I've always been curious and creative. I started doing this work about six years ago. But when you asked me that question, Jacquie, it took me back to my childhood as a Vietnamese refugee.

So my family came here in 1975 when I was two years old, and we fled the country at the end of the Vietnam War. And we first came here and lived at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in San Diego. And then we were transferred to this refugee integration center up in Northern California, where my mom became—we can tell more of the story later, if you’d like to. But just with the Lego build, I built a woman standing behind an open door, holding a sword. And I couldn't paint red nails on her, but a red brick representing red nail polish. And that woman was a Hollywood movie star named Tippi Hedren. And she was a volunteer at the camp who was sent up there or volunteered there to help these women find a career for themselves.

And they were just so curious about her red manicured nail polish. And what that did was it opened all these doors for my mom, her 20 friends, to start the manicure industry—the Vietnamese manicure industry in the United States. And then all these possibilities for hundreds of thousands of other Vietnamese refugees and immigrants later on to build careers in that industry and really innovate that industry.

So when I look back, I think that my curiosity and my creativity came from that experience. So what I built was, like I said, the woman holding a sword like a warrior for these women who had nothing, the red brick representing red manicured nails, a door directly in front of her opening up. And I just built this beautiful garden of colorful bricks with flowers growing out of it. And I also built a blue path that's supposed to represent that whole idea of one act of kindness creating this ripple effect with no logical end.

Jacquie:

Great. That's wonderful. And I was actually at an event with Van, I'm going to say about a month and a half ago, and heard the story and also saw the pictures, which I think you've made into—it's a Ted talk, right? That whole story.

Van:

Yes.

Jacquie:

So we'll put—we'll definitely add a link to the bottom of the podcast so that people can click on that and have the same experience that I had. It was just awesome. So thanks for sharing.

Okay. I'm just going to ask you a couple of questions then about this model. So people, if you are—if people are on our website, they're going to be able to see this model, but just to give it a bit more color. Tell me why, first of all, the person is I understand like holding the red brick for the fingernails. But what's the door about? Tell me about why you thought about putting a door right there for her to walk through

Van:

Now that you say that Jacquie, that woman represents two people, right? The figure represents Tippi, with her manicured red nails; and it also represents my mom, this idea that she was able to take that. And what Tippi did was open doors for all of us, open doors for my mom to walk through and be able to create this new life for herself in this new country.

Jacquie:

Okay. And then there is a flag with a blue clear brick and a small yellow brick on top. Can you tell me about the flag? it's like off—if I look at the model straight on, it's off to my left.

Van:

So as I was building that whole garden, I felt like there was something that needed to be higher, right? Like this possibility of a garden was already built and that flag represents even more possibilities. And you have no idea what else is possible based on that curiosity and the creativity that came with that.

Jacquie:

Okay. And then there's also a very similar one on the other side. Does it mean the same or is that a different kind of idea?

Van:

I think that's just me needing things to be very symmetrical.

[ laughter ]

Jacquie:

Which totally happens when you're building.

Van:

Right.

Jacquie:

You can't hide in play. So now we know you're organized. Okay.

Van:

Right.

Jacquie:

That's great. Okay. There's two eyes looking at me as well that seem to be in front of the garden, like looking at some flowers, it seems. What does that part represent?

Van:

That represents—with the little window on top of it, too. So there's two eyes with a little window on top of it. And I think there's a lot in here that represents that whole concept of what's next, what's possible. The TEDx talk you mentioned is based on this principle and this framework of: If you follow your curiosity, ask what if and take small steps, what else is possible for yourself and for others? And I think that eye, again, is in the forefront of the build. It's what's next.

Jacquie:

Like just being totally open to…

Van:

Yes.

Jacquie:

That's great. And actually, maybe you could tell that story, like the—because doing the TEDx tells a story, but there's also an interesting story about how you got to do the TEDx. Can you share that a little bit? Because people won't get that if they just watch it.

Van:

Okay. So I, as a business owner, I think most of us want to do a TEDx talk and I wanted to do it on creativity, but there's so many talks on creativity. I was—I just kept thinking, what am I going to talk about that hasn't as spoken about before? But it was always there. It was always at the forefront of what's something I wanted to do.

And what ended up happening was I went to this event in Orange County, Anaheim, with my mom, celebrating the Vietnamese nail industry, the manicure industry. And when I saw my mom on stage with these other women, I thought: This is my story. I'm going to tell this story. And about two weeks later, I was on front of my computer and an acquaintance of mine posted that she was hosting a TEDx talk, she was producing one. And I looked at it and it was called TEDx Citrus Park, Mission of Mavericks for women. And she had all her speakers lined up. She was selling tickets. So I bought a ticket and thought let me go check this out, closed my computer, walked away.

And then that curiosity tapped me on the shoulder. So I went back to my computer, opened it back up and sent her a message. And I said, this is my story about my mom and how she was a maverick in the Vietnamese manicure industry. I'd love to tell the story on your stage. And she emailed back a couple days later and said, we'd love to have you tell this story on our stage. And that's why I realized like this concept that TEDx talk, follow your curiosity, ask what if, take steps. That's exactly what I did to get that TEDx talk.

Jacquie:

That's such a great story, because I think it really It highlights your philosophy and then had such an amazing result. So thanks for sharing that. That was great.

Mark, any thoughts?

Mark:

What I love so much about that story is that it reframes for me how many people can think about creativity, meaning that it's like this sort of privileged profession. it's something that artists and entrepreneurs get to do. And what I find so dynamic about that is it totally turns that on its head, it says: Opportunity really is the mother of invention. And how is it that we can lean into those small moments and recognize them for the opportunity that they are? And just a little bit more about that in terms of your work, both with worksmART and as a Lego Serious Play facilitator. What are some of those small moments, and how was it that you learned to recognize the opportunity that they present?

Van:

It's interesting, because I think it's almost like a skill, right? This idea of being able to pay attention to these moments is a skill, because I know there's often moments that I haven't paid attention to. With play, with creativity, what I find is that when you're playing, when you're creating, you get into that idea of flow. I know you talk about in the trainings, Jacquie. And it's in that flow that you're just able to take those pauses more often than you would in normal life and really reflect on like the power of play, the power of creativity, and see things that you normally wouldn't, right? And that's almost—I think that's one of the definitions of creativity, is like being able to connect things that people normally may not connect.

And I think when we are playing, we are creating and giving people the opportunity to, in a group. You're not only able to create those moments for yourself, but you're able to collaborate to make those moments as well.

Jacquie:

Now Mark didn't ask you, but I'm going to ask you. Maybe you can—because  Mark usually says, “How did you guys meet?” But he didn't say it. So I'm going to say it. Hey, how did we meet? Don't you think that's a good question, Mark?

Van:

And I don't even know. Jacquie, do you know like the whole story? Because I met you about six months into starting my business. And we met at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, CPSI, in Buffalo, New York. It’s a conference that happens every year. It's presented by the Creative Education Foundation. And Jacquie's been involved for many years, I believe, at that point.

And you were there presenting as Strategic Play, LEGO Serious Play, and I attended one of your workshops. And not only did I attend, but that's the very first place I made my very first Lego duck. And I am on one of your postcards with my very first duck I ever built. I think it's amazing.

So I had—I  met you at a really great time, because I had just started my business and I made—people have asked me like, how'd you get into this? I’m like, I made this up. I didn't know what I was doing. I've been in learning development all my career. I've been creative all my life and I decided: Let’s just bring those two together and bring creativity into the workplace. At that time that I met you, it looked like bringing arts and crafts into an office and saying, “Hey, do you want to just make stuff with me?” Right. And then at CPSI, when we met, I was like, Oh my goodness. There's all these amazing tools that we can use to take creativity, to take play into the workplace, and connect it to business outcome rather than just having it be something to get away from work.

Jacquie:

That's exactly it. Yes. So that's actually, it's a funny story because when you came to the duck, it was a night flight, I think. And yes. And so I was just going around taking random photos and people were posing with their ducks and all of those pictures were great. But the one of you and your friend was just such a super picture that we, yes, we turned it into our postcard. There you go. And so…

Van:

And we all look so happy. Me, my friend, there's ducks.

Jacquie:

I know. They just make you smile, don't they? Look what we made. Yes. And then after that you ended up coming and taking the Lego, the training. And now you are a certified Lego Serious Play facilitator, and you've been using Lego in your work as well as a whole bunch of other things, as well. So maybe tell us a little bit about how you use the Lego and maybe some—any kind of a story that you might like to share that…

Van:

Oh, my gosh. I have so many now that I've been doing for so long. So yes, I got certified as a Lego Serious Play facilitator, which I lead oftentimes in my workshops and say that, right? Yes. I'm a certified Lego Series Play methods facilitator, and people just love that. And I will tell you, like adding Lego to my toolbox completely changed my business.

Jacquie:

Well that's so funny. It's just not enough to have an MBA.

[ laughter ]

Van:

Yes. You need to be a Lego Serious Play facilitator, too.

Jacquie: 

That's right.

Van:

It’s like the next level. First you get your MBA and then you become a certified Lego Serious Play facilitator, and then people take you seriously.

Jacquie:

There you go. That's how it works.

Van:

Yes. So it changed my business in the sense that I was trying to bring arts and crafts creativity into the workplace, and that often scares people: What? You’re going to ask us to paint? You're going to ask us to sketch? I don't even know how to hold a paint brush in the right direction. But when I added Lego, I always looked at Lego as like the low hanging fruit of creativity, because people recognize Lego. They have emotional connection to it from childhood and they're willing to engage with it.

So in that sense, it really opened up opportunities for me in business. And the way I incorporate Lego Serious Play into my workshops now is I will often teach a full program around Lego Serious Play. But oftentimes, I might use my creative problem solving tools, my creative artifacts, and Lego all in one workshop.

And I often use it for what it’s meant to do. Like how do I get people to think with their hands and come up with ideas that they may not think of if I just ask them to speak it out loud on their own? And I will tell you, there is one—a few stories. But I think the most powerful ones that I've seen are my work with Navy SEALs in this program called the Honor Foundation.

The Honor Foundation is a non-profit organization all around the country. I work with the campus in San Diego, and they work with special force operators like Navy SEALs as they transition from military to civilian careers. And I come in—it’ a three month program. I come in the night before graduation and teach transition night. And what that entails is using my creative modalities, including Lego Serious Play, and I ask them: What is possible? What is possible for your future outside military service? And we build. We build ideas. And oftentimes that first build, as Jacquie is, I'm going to work for the DOD, right? And then we build more and ideas come up. You know what? I used to love sailing while I was younger. I used to love traveling when I was younger, and what might come from that?

So one success—or two success stories. One was this gentleman built a model of him on a yacht and put on his deck and took the picture, because he lived by the ocean. And now he's a yacht salesman in San Diego, just living his dream, right? After 20 plus years as an explosive ordinance special force operator. And then just the most recent one. I went down there and I said, “Build another possibility for your future.” And this one gentleman got up and was sharing what he built. And the first thing he said to me was, “I was very skeptical about this whole Lego thing. And then I started building the fact that I want to be an entrepreneur. So here I am on this side. I start building this bridge to entrepreneurship, and I realize it starts tipping over. What that made me realize is I have to balance the other side of it.”

So there's so many lessons in Lego Serious Play in working with your hands, building again. Like that last one. That concept that he came up with, he couldn’t have come up with it if we were just talking about it. He really had to physically see himself tipping over to realize he has to balance the other side of it.

Jacquie:

Yes. That's a great story. I also really appreciate your comments about that people are afraid of doing anything creative. And even though everyone is creative and we all have experiences as children, at some point we're told that playing with that is for children and not for adults and it's not serious. And you better put that stuff away because now you have to get a career and a job: Welcome to life as an adult. But what we realize is that all of those things are still needed and necessary for us to reach our full potential, because this is where innovation and creativity—and you can't problem solve as an adult without activating that muscle that imagination and that curiosity, which is your point. And if we don't use that then we're not going to be as effective as adults. But trying to get people to think about that when they've been told that stuff is for kids is really difficult.

And so I agree with you 100 percent that the Lego—you called it low hanging fruit. I always call it, and it's ironic because it's a building block, because they are blocks and you can build with them, but they are the most probably nonthreatening creative tool that we can bring in, even more than Play-Doh or clay or drawing. All of those things are intimidating because we feel like there's a right way to do it. Where with the Lego it's all anybody within minutes can make something really creative and interesting that has a powerful story to it. Yes. So I love that because I think that you're right. If we were going into boardrooms with arts and crafts material, people would look at us like, what are you doing here with that stuff?

It's pretty hard to even get invited. Like my background in art and play therapy, I was always trying to figure out how I could take that stuff into boardrooms. Knowing that I would be able to build more effective teams and the Lego gives us that bridge and that step in. So I'm super glad that you have that in your toolkit, because it paves the way for the other things that you do.

Van:

Exactly. And I  talk about that. I talk about this idea of scaffolding creativity, starting with the Lego. And then that really opens people up to getting a little more creative. It's just these little stepping stones.

Jacquie:

Yes. It's amazing how brave they get at the end of the day. You can get them singing and dancing and wearing hats. There's no way they were going to do that at 9:00 in the morning.

Van:

Yes. And similar yet different, because I was thinking about the transition program where I work with the Navy SEALs Honor Foundation. And when I first started working with them, I was given the entire three month program and told, “Where do you want to put this in? Where do you think you see Lego here?” And I gave them four or five spots for it. And I ended up at the very last night before graduation, and I realized that to get these men and women to open up and play like that, it took those other things to happen over those couple months for them to really be able to open up and get as much as they could out of that workshop.

Jacquie:

So maybe I'll just ask you. I know that because we ran into each other at this conference not that long ago, I armed you and you’re dangerous now with the Playsonality stuff. So maybe we'll just talk about that really quickly. So we have the assessment, which you learned how to use. And then we worked together on getting some collateral stuff with you.

So the Playsonality, for people that don't know what it is, it's an assessment that you can take online. And it there's eight primary play styles, and the assessment helps us understand which is our primary play style. From that, it helps us understand—because there's a line between how we play that’s connected to how we communicate, which is connected to how we learn, which is connected to how we work. And if we understand what makes us happy and maybe what our core drivers are, we can bring that into our work, which is what you had said. Like instead of having just play set off to the side, how can we actually incorporate that so that we can be better, not just employees or business owners, but better human beings all around? Because, of course, it makes people happier if we're coming from our authentic self. You went and you did a workshop. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened?

Van:

Yes. So the workshop was amazing. I love the idea of that Playsonality assessment, because it really allows us to bring what we do normally in our businesses, bringing play and creativity in the workplace, and give people an assessment. Because people love their assessments. And then be able to tie it into how does this, how does your play personality apply into your work?

So the workshop. What do you think Jacquie, there was 20 of us in that room? And we were able to do the assessment and I'm an Adventurer. And I sat with other Adventurers. And what I thought was interesting was, even though I was sitting at the table with people who had the same play style as me, we all still had so many differences. We still had people—we saw a lot of differences in how how that comes out in our personality, how that comes out in our character, how that comes out in how we bring it out into our lives.

But it was so much fun, and I think it was amazing that you gave us permission to take that assessment and use it for the next few months and play with it and pilot it with some of our clients, which I did. So I brought it to a group I worked with in San Diego and they had a great time with it as well. I like the fact that they all—what their play styles, each of them, it was right on. They thought it was right on. And what we were able to do was go around the room and everyone was able to talk about their play style, just like we did in the workshop you did, and highlight the lines in the workshop, as well as in the assessment that spoke to them.

So what it really did was, again, gives you another tool to do the, what I mean, the work that we do really is this idea of learning more about the other people in the room. So what I noticed was when I did this with the pilot group was that people would go up and, “I'm a catalyst and these are my characteristics.” And people then were like, “Oh, of course you are,” right? And we learned more about each.

Jacquie:

It's so funny. Because once people take it—I had a friend that was just here over the weekend who actually—we're going to interview her, I hope. And she took it and she's a Designer. And so then she's at—she's from Italy. So she came to visit us, and so my husband's all, “Make us a real Italian meal.” So she was cooking, but of course she was changing the recipe as she was going. And she was saying, “Yes, I'm a Designer. So I don't follow the recipe.” She made so many references to her play style, and then tried to say, “Oh, I always do this. And it's because I'm a Designer.” So she was like really enjoying having the outcome and then using it to explain, perhaps, why she does things the way that she does them, which I think is great. Because it really, it gives us insight to ourselves, which we then can share with others for them to reflect back.

And Mark, by the way, is a… Mark, what are you?

Mark:

I'm a Humorist.

Jacquie:

He's a Humorist.

Mark:

This would've been so much more helpful for me to know earlier in life, because I was walking through life in a very serious way. And I remember I was in a writing class in college, and the teacher just sort of looked at me and shook her head and said, “I know. I know you. You want to be Eugene O'Neal. But you're funny. So live with that.”

Van:

What I like is that it confirms for me that I don't like being told what to do. And now I can just tell people, I'm an Adventurer.

[ laughter ]

Jacquie:

There you go. There you go. Actually, this is going to bring me to my next question. So as an Adventurer, when you read the profile sheet that you got, what resonated with you about the findings?

Van:

And it really has helped me too. So this idea that I like to explore new things, places, ideas, to try new things. I'm  always taking things and turning them around to make it a little bit different. And when thinking about applying that to my work, it was great to acknowledge that in the sense that anything I built. And let's say someone else is like, “Can you deliver that workshop for us?” I will go back and change it. Because I’m like, oh, what else can we do? How can we make that different? How could you—because I don't want to do anything twice, right? I don’t want to do it over again. I don't want to do it over again.

But at the same time, recognizing that some of these adventurous traits of mine I have to mediate for the work. I can't spend all my time exploring new routes and doing different things. Sometimes what I've built and what I have is good enough, and just go down that route. So this idea of, yes, this assessment allowed me to recognize who I am as an Adventurer, and it helps me to mediate where those characteristics are helpful and where I can be like, okay, let me tone that down a little bit so that I can be a little more practical when I need to be.

Jacquie:

Being an Adventurer and opening up a creativity business, I see the connection there. Because even though a lot of people are talking about creativity, not very many people are going to be entrepreneurs and take this on. So that is definitely an adventure in itself.

Okay. So my next question then. When you looked at the Adventurer, I guess we'll call it the profile, and you think about yourself as a child. Can you identify maybe an early something that you did that you're like, oh, my style was even coming out then? Is there a connection back to childhood that you could maybe tell a story or something you could think of?

Van:

Okay. Well I’ll tell you this story, Jacquie. Because, as a child, I was actually very shy, an introvert. And not to get too deep, but very attached to my parents. And it's probably because we were Vietnamese refugees. And I was, during that time, I was actually physically separated from them for a bit of time as we were escaping. So I think my—so the story I'm telling you, I'm sure a psychologist can dig deeper into this, is the Adventurer part of me is I remember one time I was like, I'm running away from home. I was like five. I'm like I am leaving. I want to live a free life as a five year old. I packed a suitcase. I enrolled my brother into this mission and I remember standing at the door, and I still remember this all these years later. I'm going to stand at their door thinking and imagining we have just my little suitcase. I have my little brother with me and I could see us scaling the side of a cliff. And then I thought, maybe we'll go tomorrow.

[ laughter ]

Jacquie:

So you were ready. You were ready.

Van:

I was ready. And my little escape plan wasn't like going down the block. It was like visualizing us on this huge mountain, scaling the side of a cliff.

Jacquie:

Oh, wow. That's great. A great story. Okay. And when we think about that spirit, like how do you think that spirit has helped you in the work that you're doing now? Like how do you think that's played out in where you are in this moment and maybe where you're going?

Van:

So I think it's played out in a couple ways. Like being a risk taker comes naturally to me, as an Adventurer. I don't really—I don't know if it says this in these words, in the Adventurer writeup. But I don't think through a lot of things. I feel it. I get curious about it. And then I just jump in and, what do  they call it, build the parachute as I come down. But that's served me in many ways in this type of work. Because a lot of it is, like you said, this work in creativity and bringing creativity into the workplace.

We are just writing it now. It's not—there's not a playbook. We are creating it. We're innovating it. And being a risk taker as an Adventurer helps me to just jump in and make—take action versus overanalyzing it. And it's almost like when you are knowing what your style is, is interesting because to me that comes so naturally that I feel like everyone acts like that. And knowing the other styles makes me realize: Oh, no, some people are very conscientious and careful about their next move. Not everyone acts like this.

Jacquie:

Right. Some people would have to get an Excel spreadsheet out and do a weighted SWOT. Yes. And I think, so we created like a little cheat sheet for each of the eight. And for the Adventurer, it's all about taking the path less traveled, which we really need that right now because we can't go back in time and keep doing things the way that we have done them in the past. We have got to find a new path forward. So you're right. You're definitely a forerunner in this field, and that adventurous spirit is something that we all need a little bit of.

And likewise, Mark. The cheat sheet for yours, we came up with levity and the quick wit. And those are needed as well, because at times things do get really heavy and people do need to kind of laugh at themselves. People need to not take themselves so seriously. So having that humorist play style on a team is incredibly helpful. And I think that when we start to think about how all of the styles are positive, they all bring amazing gifts. And then how do we support each other to enjoy those gifts and feel good about them?

Maybe gifts—maybe a teacher in grade seven didn't support, so that you can take advantage of it and use it now. But, yes. So that's. That was great. Those were my three questions on the Playsonality. And I think that they really bring color to the assessment when you ask people. Because you're right too, Van, that another person that we might talk to and ask that question, is going to answer it differently, who also is an Adventurer. They're going to have a different way of explaining, perhaps, answering those three questions. We'll see if other people tell us about packing their bag at five and imagining being on a cliff with their brother.

Van:

That's right.

Jacquie:

And was he younger or older than you?

Van:

He was younger. My—I tried to get my older sister to go too, but she was watching Wonder Woman and wouldn't leave the TV. That is an interesting prompt. Because I think all of us as a child at some point another, threaten to run away. And it would be interesting to ask: So when you threatened to run away, what did that look like?

Jacquie:

Yes.

Van:

One last thing on the Playsonality is I'm so excited to use it in my work, because we talk about the importance of play, of creativity, in the workplace. And this really gives us a tool to connect someone's play personality and it gives them permission to take your—we talk about it all the time. This is the whole idea of bring your whole self to work, but people don't know what that means. But this gives you a way to be like: Here's your play personality. Here's how you naturally play. Here's how you like to be. Now, if we can figure out ways that you can bring that and incorporate that into the workplace and into the work you do that is one way to bring more of yourself into work.

Jacquie:

Yes. And I think that's so important, because right now we're going through this huge upheaval with people quitting, because they're resigning from their work. Because COVID has really brought people to a moment where they're thinking about their lives and what they're doing and if they want to keep doing it. And of course, we have this big turnover. I was just talking to somebody yesterday that's like hiring almost an entire new team and recognizing that it's not over yet. So these people could also shift as well. And I think that if people were able to think about how they could bring more joy to the work they're doing right now, they might not be so quick. Because wherever you go, there you are. And if you're in a new job, that doesn't mean that it's all going to be great. It could be, in a year or two, the same old. So helping people think about and helping corporations think about that. How do we support people at a more human level so that they can bring more of themselves to work and be happier doing the job that they do?

Because I think that you didn't go to work on day one and think, oh, I'm going to be burned out in X amount of years. You go with this incredible enthusiasm ready to go. So I think it's just a matter of trying to bring that good news story. And yes, we're on a mission to try to do that. So thanks for helping. Thanks for helping get the good word out.

Van:

Thank you.

Jacquie:

And hopefully lots of bosses are listening and thinking about this is important stuff, because it really is. So thank you for being on the mission.

Mark:

And if I was a smart…

Van:

I’m happy to be here with you.

Mark:

If I was a smart boss or a smart any person, and I wanted to know more about the wisdom that you bring forward on a daily basis, what's the best way for people to follow or connect with you?

Van:

Just like I build a lot with Lego, I also build a lot on LinkedIn. So you can always find me on LinkedIn under my name, Van Lai-Dumone. Or just on my website, worksmartadvantage.com.

Jacquie:

And we're going to put those links right into the podcast. If you're listening in, you can also read this podcast, because we're going to put the transcript in there as well with the pictures so that people can find you as easily as possible.

Van:

Great. Thank you so much for having me.

Jacquie:

You're so welcome.

 [ Conclusion ]

Mark:

Such a fascinating conversation. Whenever I speak to Van, I come away feeling inspired. I love how she grounds the experience of creativity in our senses, in our hands. And hearing the story of the creative journey which her family took to make a new life for themselves here in the United States based upon manicures, it gives a whole other level of symbolic resonance to that. But what stood out for you, Jacquie?

Jacquie:

Yes. I thought that part was really great that she talked about her mom doing manicures. And now she's got this business that's think with your hands. So that red thread is super. I love the way that she talked about scaffolding creativity and the story that she told about the person that was able to use Lego to think about the future and bringing their whole self into retirement. I thought that was great. And I'm super happy that she's enjoying the Playsonality assessment and is able to use that in her work. I think that's a really great asset that she has in her hands as well.

Mark:

Let's give our audience an opportunity to think with their hands too, and play this inspiration forward. What is the prompt you'd like to share with our audience for this podcast?

Jacquie:

We would love people to build a model of what they're curious about or their curiosity journey. If you're in this work already, maybe build something and tell us how you got there. If you're listening to this and there are things you're curious about, build a model of that.

If you're listening to this in the community site, just go ahead and post. If you are listening to this on our website and you would like to take a picture of some Lego that you've built with and tell us your story, you can send it to hello@strategicplay.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Mark:

Awesome. Well until our next interesting conversation, Jacquie.

Jacquie:

Looking forward to talking to you again soon. Bye. For now.

Mark:

Bye. For now.

[ Outtakes ]

Mark:

I told my mother I was running away. And she said, “You'll be back by dinner, right?”