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Meet Van Lai-DuMone of Worksmart in Mar Vista

Today we’d like to introduce you to Van Lai-DuMone.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Van. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The idea for worksmart began when I found myself at a place in my career where I didn’t feel fully engaged or satisfied with what I was doing, because I had drifted so far from my creativity.

To make a change, I simply started bringing creativity back into my life, through painting, and other forms of crafting. And it changed everything! Even though I wasn’t directly being creative at work, I saw how being creative in my personal life – impacted the way I showed up at work. I was happier, more vocal in presenting my ideas and more invested in finding new ways to solve problems. I knew that if creativity was positively influencing me professionally, then it could do the same for others.

From there, I started hosting creative workshops in my backyard and at a friend’s art studio under the business name ‘Craftivity Events’. The focus was on personal development through art projects, where I facilitated interactive activities paired with relevant art projects to foster personal growth.

I started playing with the business model, asking myself where I could make the most direct impact, and from a business perspective, what target market would make the most sense. My background in corporate training and development gave me the confidence to adjust my business to a B2B model. I changed the name to worksmart, with the tagline ‘Creativity is good for business.’ I designed workshops and programs with the mission to help businesses instill creativity and creative mindset at all levels of an organization. Because creativity is the seed for innovation.

The more people you have in your organization thinking creatively, and sharing ideas – the more successful you can become as an individual and a company.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The term ‘creative chaos’ is used to describe the times of doubt, unknowns, and overwhelm during the creative cycle.

These are the times where you just don’t know if your project is going to work out, and you just have to trust the process and press on. I have faced the same doubts and unknowns in starting and running this business. There are days where I think I have it all figured out – I sign a contract with a new client, or a workshop receives high praises.

Then, there are days when a big meeting falls through and I’m having trouble developing a new workshop. What helps me get through these phases is to be consistent in my efforts and recognize that it’s totally normal to have these ups and downs in running a business.

Another area I initially struggled with was presenting my offerings in a way that was relevant to the business world.

The idea of creative art projects doesn’t immediately strike a chord as fulfilling a business need or solving business problems. I learned to mold my presentation to educate potential clients about the importance of creativity in the workplace.

I like to ask people to name one company who has thrived on staying stagnant. Or name a company who would be better off without change and innovation. My ultimate goal is to help companies build a culture where people at all levels of their organization are comfortable expressing and sharing ideas to innovate and impact their lives, their careers, and their companies.

Worksmart – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At worksmart, I encourage businesses to cultivate creativity in their people and teams, to drive performance and build a creative culture. Operating with the understanding that we are all creative, I deliver professional development programs using creative art projects.

In my work, I use one of the most well-known forms of creativity – visual art. The reason I do this is not to help people become better artists, but to use art as a tool to practice all the lessons creativity teaches: trusting the process, being engaged in the moment, collaboration, creative thinking – just to name a few.

One of our most impactful workshops is the Team Art Installation. Where teams work with a facilitator and a professional artist to design and create a large-scale art piece that reflects their company’s vision. One of the best ways to explore how a group works together is to have them physically create something together.

We also teach the process of Creative Problem Solving which can be used to come up with solutions to any challenge.

Think of this as brainstorming through the use of imagination and physically creating and building potential solutions. The premise behind this workshop is that everyone has good ideas. And for those people who do not identify themselves as creative, Creative Problem Solving gives them a process to follow to come up with unique ideas.

Ultimately, what differentiates us from other consultancies is our focus on bringing creativity out in every person in an organization. The benefits we deliver impact individuals, teams and the company as a whole. Creativity is innate in all of us – and we want to bring that out in as many people and organizations as we can!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
One of the best things about this work, is that it provides for so many proud moments!

The moment when someone walks into a workshop and sees art supplies and shrieks in excitement. Or when in the same workshop someone walks in and sees the same art supplies, and says, ‘I’m not creative’. But by the end of the workshop, they are beaming with pride in the art piece they have created. I have walked into repeat clients’ offices and have seen that people keep their art piece sitting on their desk or hanging on the wall. The moment when a team art installation is revealed and there is collective sense of pride and accomplishment. These are really the proudest moments of my career and I hope to collect many more of them!

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