Synergy Business Connections Synergy Business Connections

Synergy Business Connections Team - Conejo Valley Chamber Mixpo Event - 2018

Synergy Business Connections | Passionate People with Personality

Have you ever said, “I’m not artistic; I can’t draw a stick figure”?  I have good news for you: stick figures are not the yard stick for art.  The world is full of opportunities to “do” art.  This month is National Wilderness Month (celebrating the 54th anniversary of the Wilderness Act), and there is such a thing as Earth Art or Land Art which allows all of us to be creative.  You can take a trowel and carve circles in the dirt and make art.

Earth Art began in the United States in the 1960s as a rejection of the traditional notion of confined galleries and museums where “true art” could be bought and sold and displayed.  It was an embrace of nature and a celebration of found objects as art and beauty.  The very transient nature of the designs were part of the art’s essence.

Because this creative expression couldn’t easily be displayed in galleries, it opened the experience to everyone.  Anywhere there were rocks or leaves a person could arrange art.  And this frees us all to be artists!  In my hallway by the front door, I have a large bowl with stones I’ve collected, and my grandchildren can’t resist stacking them into towers.  A farmer in Simi Valley can’t help but plow a happy face into his hillside next to the freeway.  I arrange smooth river rocks to flow between my flower beds.  On hikes through the hills, there are ledges of stacked stones inviting a peaceful thought.  All of these actions spring from our creative center.  This urge to assemble or organize or declare our presence is innate; it is the desire to proclaim who we are and that life matters and is good.


So, have fun with nature and rocks and dirt; leave your fingerprint on your surroundings and know that you are a creative and artistic soul (and forget about drawing a good stick figure).

Read more
  • 16 September 2018
  • Number of views: 0

It’s Back to School time and with budgets tightening, the arts sometime get squeezed out. But I think downplaying art in school is a critical factor contributing to less effective education.  We retain approximately 10 percent of what we see; 30 to 40 percent of what we see and hear; and 90 percent of what we see, hear, and do.  Incorporating art in school and throughout life is key to growth.  Plus, it’s just more fun.

As I have taught visual art to kids, I’ve recognized at least six ways children benefit from art.

  1. Creativity – Trying new mediums and techniques, imagining different ways to portray a picture, mixing colors and exploring the results, connecting or juxtaposing unrelated objects, all lead students into discovery.
  2. Focus/attention – Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Listening, thinking, and concentration are heightened in an art project.
  3. Cooperation – Working with other students on a project fosters contribution, acceptance and respect for another’s input.
  4. Problem solving and Decision making – Factoring and filtering different options and problem solving are almost always part of creating something new.
  5. Accomplishment/completion – The satisfaction of closure or finishing a project contributes to positive self-esteem.
  6. Self-confidence – An “individual’s trust in his or her own abilities, capacities, and judgments, or belief that he or she can successfully face day to day challenges and demands (Psychology Dictionary Online)” is integral in accepting feedback and criticism as a positive step to improvement.

Schools are beginning to realize the value of art integration in all subjects, and many are seeing stellar results from it.  Wiley H Bates Middle School in Annapolis, Maryland, “started implementing arts integration school wide in 2009… (and) has seen a 23 percent drop in the average number of referrals and suspensions per student. The school’s percentage of students proficient or advanced in math has grown four times more than the state’s over the same period, and five times more in reading.” (  When schools commit to integrating art, the statistics have proven the positive results.  But can they also help when a person has finished school?  Yes!

The benefit of art in adult life is staggering too.

  1.  Learning styles: We learn in different ways – by sight, hearing, or doing – and creating art is basic in all the learning styles.
  2. Cross cultural connection: Art is a universal language and communicates cross culturally, strengthening our similarities and sharing our values.
  3. Verbal and non-verbal articulation: It allows us to express emotions, relieve stress, problem solve, use imagination and experience fun.

The excuse that there isn’t enough time to be creative solidifies the decision to stop learning and growing.  Art continues to be a foundation in learning for both adults and children.  It’s the end of summer and with school starting, there is opportunity to recognize art’s value in life for all of us.

Read more
  • 1 August 2018
  • Number of views: 0

“Join or Die” was Benjamin Franklin’s call to arms during the American Revolution. His cartoon, first published May 9, 1754, in the Pennsylvania Gazette, was a rallying challenge for the colonies. The visual impact of a severed snake jolted the colonists to action against the British iron rule and led to years of uprising, fighting but eventful freedom. Image and words were the catalysts.

A revolution starts because change is needed – the American Revolution and Civil War were political revolts, but civil problems of poverty and discrimination have also started revolutions. Words and symbols grab peoples’ attention and can be vehicles to ignite passion and action. Art uses color and images that spark a visceral response, whether emotional or physical, for action against injustice. It can give people concrete forms and pictures to rally around, highlighting larger principles. Art can also be an external representation of internal feelings, spurring action in a “so what”, apathetic culture. It can spark imagination just as effectively as it can inspire hope for a better future. Art is a powerful force to engage people with truth.

As you remember our freedom this month, consider the power art can be in society and in your own life.

Read more
  • 2 July 2018
  • Number of views: 0

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  The door to possibilities is imagination.  It’s the “what could be” dream.  And art is the creative language that encourages and expands imagination.  Painting, drawing, sculpting and other art forms help people process feelings and emotions by focusing attention and concentration; adults can reduce stress and anxiety or express joy and passion through art; children can communicate internal feelings when they can’t find words.  And the simple act of creating something personal can bring a sense of self confidence and pride. But the primary killer of creativity for both children and adults is fear of failure and ridicule.  Creativity is a vulnerable choice so foster it with care and give it importance.

This summer, plan fun and exciting art activities for the kids.  I’ve listed several ideas that might help stimulate your artistic imagination.  Have fun!

  1. Raised salt painting: heavy paper (card stock), white glue, table salt, water colors/brush.  Squeeze a design on the paper with the glue; pour salt on the glue; with a brush and water colors touch the salt and watch the color spread.
  2. Water color resist: heavy white paper, white crayon or oil pastel, water color/brush. Draw a picture or design in white on paper.  Paint over design/picture with water colors and see the design appear.
  3. Shaving cream marbling: pie plate, shaving cream, acrylic paint colors, heavy paper. Fill pie plate with shaving cream, drip drops of paint into cream and swirl with a chop stick or small spoon; lay paper on cream and press down to contact with cream.  Lift off paper and scrape off excess cream.  Let dry and then draw picture with a sharpie on paper.
  4. Rock painting: river rocks, acrylic paint, brush. Paint rocks like animals (ladybugs, cat faces etc) or make designs with different color dots. Dry
  5. Clay sculpture: self-hardening clay, paint. Make coil baskets, snakes, beads for necklaces, etc. let dry and then paint.
  6. Tissue paper collage: heavy paper, different colors tissue, starch or diluted white glue, brush. With a pencil, lightly draw an animal or design, tear tissue into smaller pieces and apply to drawing. Dry
  7. Batik oil pastel painting: brown wrapping paper (grocery bag), oil pastels or crayons, watered down black acrylic paint. Draw your picture on the brown paper, color it in with oil pastels or crayons (press firmly and cover design).  Crumple the paper, unfold it and with watered down black acrylic, paint entire paper (the black will go into the creases and make it look like batik).
  8. Paint anything with acrylic paints…kids and adults love to play with color or copy a favorite simple picture.

This summer, have fun with the kids…try something new and let your imagination fly!

Read more
  • 1 June 2018
  • Number of views: 0

My mother was a Southern lady from Virginia who taught me how a lady should act and the value of who I am.  She modeled integrity, faithfulness and love, and I learned so much from her.

10 Things I learned from my mother

  1. Always be on time or a little early – arriving late shows disrespect for others’ time
  2. Sing when you’re sad – it’s hard to be focused on your problems when you’re singing
  3. Make up your bed every morning – it sets a good habit of putting everything where it belongs before your whole world is out of order
  4. Give money when the offering plate is passed and share with anyone in need – generosity is the antidote to greed
  5. Wake up early for quiet time – once the day starts, it’s hard to carve out the most important part of the day
  6. It’s nicer to smell a rose than a garbage pile – fill you mind and thoughts with good rather than bad
  7. Don’t “sit on your manners” – always say please and thank you and let others go through the door first
  8. Wear lipstick when you go to the grocery store – it’s not hard to look your best…always
  9. Know the story of Great Grandma’s hutch – your family and past generations are who you are and connect you to history
  10. Love God with all your heart and show that love to everyone else

These are great standards to live by, and I see my mother clearly when I read them. But they also inspire me to think what I want to pass along to my children.  So here goes…

10 Things I hope my children learn from me

  1. Laugh at yourself – you are not perfect and that’s OK (everyone else already knows that about you)
  2. Eat breakfast together – family time is sweet and more precious than we realize
  3. Treat others with respect and kindness – this includes your spouse
  4. Always share with others less fortunate – even when we feel poor, we are 99% richer than the rest of the world
  5. Happiness is a choice – let go of hate and anger because they are more poisonous to you than to their target
  6. Put things away after you use them – it’s easier to keep chaos away before it overwhelms you
  7. Wake up early to be quiet and give space to hear God speaking – it is worth silencing our “mind chatter”
  8. Control is an illusion – we are not as in control of life as we think so trust God with each day and the future
  9. Look for the good in people – we are all made in the image of God and it is special to get a glimpse of his face in others
  10. Love God with all your heart and show that love to everyone else

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

Read more
  • 5 May 2018
  • Number of views: 0

When I got my first computer in 1987, I was told it could simplify and speed up the mundane activities of my life – I would have more time to dream and paint and commune with nature.  Today, the reality is that I don’t have more free time – my schedule is usually consumed by that technology.   With emails, work deadlines, Facebook, Instagram et al. I am tempted to react and respond to the world without getting outside and moving.

This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, a day set apart in 1970 to honor the earth and the concept of peace.  I’ve been thinking about my personal peace and the consequences of sitting with the computer against the benefits of being in nature and interacting with art. At first, the relationship between nature and art appears nice but not necessarily close; in reality, they are very similar.  Studies show that spending time outside in nature can change people from being depressed, angry, fearful, stressed or anxious to a more calm and balanced feeling, lowering blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones.  When we concentrate on a flower, a bee or a breath-taking sunset, we can’t focus as much on pain allowing instead for increased creativity and connections with other people.

But what about art?  By “viewing” art our physical bodies can be improved in lower cortisol stress levels just as they are with nature.  But “doing” art is even more beneficial as it also increases brain activity.  Studies show that in older adults, participation in art builds connections in the brain which help prevent memory loss.  Concentrating on anything artistic can clear your mind of negative thoughts, helping you to focus on the moment, relaxing the body and brain.  Many times, a painter will say to me that they can’t believe how relaxing painting is and their concentration and focus shuts out other concerns.  But if your art doesn’t compare to Van Gogh, the good news is that Harvard Medical School found it doesn’t matter what your artwork looks like, it’s the process not the product that matters!

Earth Day is a terrific reminder of the need to get away from the computer and take a hike, paint a picture, stroll along the beach or go to a museum.  My vote is to invite some friends over and have a painting party…Blank Canvas knows just how to inject some creativity into your event.


  1. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 834360, 7 pages,
  2. The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition, Gregory N.Bratman, Gretchen C.Daily, Benjamin J.Levy, James J.Gross,
  3. Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings, Ruth Ann Atchley, David L. Strayer, and Paul Atchley , Jan de Fockert, Editor, PLoS One. 2012; 7(12): e51474.
  4. Read more
  • 18 April 2018
  • Number of views: 0

Art is a risky hobby.  There it is. It’s true.

As soon as you start to paint or draw or sculpt or sing, someone is going to make a comment on what they think of it.  If it’s a positive compliment, you feel justified as a person; if it’s negative, they have just put a dagger through your soul.  It’s hard to be creative and be objective and secure because if you do art with openness and feeling, it is a mirror to who you are.

For me, art can be just a painting that I think is pretty.  But if I really am honest with my feelings and paint something that reflects my inner conviction or growth, that painting can be like exposing my innermost thoughts, feelings or motivations to the world.  It feels dangerous and risky; I am vulnerable.   So what should I do?  Not paint? Not try art? Ignore any creativity?

No!  Not trying anything creative is like shutting the door on a universe of excitement and discovery. We all have feelings and emotions we’re not even aware of and occasionally, art can be that window that opens your real self to you.

Art can be a great time of fun.  But sometimes it can surprise you with YOU.

Art is a risky thing.  Go for it!

Go to and dare to meet yourself in art.

Read more
  • 21 March 2018
  • Number of views: 0

I love color.

I love putting colors next to each other to see whether I get a feeling of peace and harmony or a rush of excitement.  (I know that sounds silly but there it is.)  Turquoise with blue or turquoise with rusty orange – each pairing will play with your head in a different way.

Every year Pantone Color Institute chooses a color of the year.  Ultra Violet 18-3838 is the darling of 2018.  Purple and violet are made by mixing the stability of blue and the energy of red, and whereas purple is closer to red, violet is closer to blue.  Neither are very common in nature but when they are they can be used as a focal point or a calming background.  Purple and violet are most often associated with royalty, wisdom, mystery and spirituality.  According to surveys, 75% of pre-adolescent children prefer purple over other colors; adults either love it or hate it.  The bluer tones in violet have a calming, peaceful affect, putting me in a thoughtful frame of mind.   It’s the color of California mountains at sunset, warm and dusty grapes, hydrangeas and lavender, sapphires and amethysts.  When I give purple paint to people who have never painted before, many of them will paint the backgrounds and mention how calming painting is…I agree but I think the color has something to do with the feelings.

This year be a little daring and experiment with violet, whether at paint night or wearing a new shirt.  See if you feel royal and wise or thoughtful and mysterious.  Introduce this year’s color to your friends by booking a mobile paint party with Blank Canvas.  The painting I’ve attached is one I did last year to bring a little calm into my schedule.  I call it Peace (notice the violets and blues).

Happy coloring!

Read more
  • 5 March 2018
  • Number of views: 0

Welcome to February…Heart month. Valentines, red roses, sentimental cards. But face it, in real everyday life, we still deal with deadlines, traffic, incessant noise and expectations that we’re “not enough”. Stress. And stress literally hurts your heart. Harvard Women’s Health Watch (2013) said that there’s a “real connection between stress and heart disease” which can trigger inflammation, a known cause of heart disease.

There are several ways to lower stress: exercise, a positive attitude, and engagement in creative activities. The American Journal of Public Health (2010, Feb. p. 254-263) found overwhelming evidence that visual arts greatly reduced stress and improved mood in patients with chronic diseases. For a long time, art as therapy has been used to enable a person’s thoughts and feelings to be expressed in a safe way when words aren’t enough. Art uses the right brain where emotions live; it provides a distraction from usual thoughts helping a person to concentrate on details and making it possible to feel a sense of mediation. Doing art can help decrease anxiety, stress and depression while increasing self-awareness and self-esteem. Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

So enjoy a healthy February Heart Month with a little art. Contact Blank Canvas to schedule a painting party with your friends so you can experience the freedom and fun creativity can provide. Happy February!

Read more
  • 1 February 2018
  • Number of views: 0

We were all born to be creative; learning to walk and communicate with others, experimenting and interacting with our environment is essentially being creative.  Art is the arrangement and rearrangement of our environment.  Music, painting, dance, sculpture, decorating, and gardening are all examples of art and creativity.  But what makes us shy away from this exploration?

When I lead children in painting a picture, the younger ones have no hesitation in shoveling the paint on the canvas and take delight in mixing all the colors together.  By the age of seven, students begin to ask, “Is this right?  Am I doing a good job?  Show me how to do it.”  I believe they have accepted and are living the fear that they might fail.  And as a person becomes an adult, he or she is still hampered by the thought of failing.  Many have bought into the lie that art is a reflection of their self-worth and are afraid to risk looking stupid or inadequate.  But once a person can push through that to paint or dance or sing, he or she will feel the freedom and excitement of creativity.  A creative person will try new things-experiment in finding new ways around problems-be surprised by what emerges.  Life can get exciting.

We can survive in a world without art and only being surrounded by the essentials for existence.  But art goes past our basic needs: it brings joy and this alone elevates it into the fundamental category of Life.  Art creates an atmosphere of joyful living.  The art we surround ourselves with-painting, sculpture, music, videos- impacts our outlook, mood, motivation and energy levels.  Art can be found and explored everywhere and is an essential element to life.  Art gives color to life.  Go out and create!

Read more
  • 9 January 2018
  • Number of views: 0

We Welcome ALL Guests!

Come Join Us

Synergy Conejo LinkedIn PageSynergy Conejo Facebook PageSynergy Conejo Twitter Page

«October 2018»

10/17/2018 - Networking at Night Mixer

Monthly Networking at Night mixers provide a great outlet to relax, meet new and seasoned members, and network 'til the sun goes down. Make sure to bring plenty of business cards! OrangeTwist is located at The Shoppes at Westlake Village
Read more
10/6/2018 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

The Burt Williamson Show: Radio Program on Money Matters

Introducing The Burt Williamson Show

The new show will cover important matters that affect the financial lives of business owners, baby boomers, and their families. Oh, it’s presented in plain English, too.

Hear ways you can become a better steward of your finances and have less financial stress, so you can focus on the other things that are really important in your life.

Please listen in on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. on 98.3 FM KDAR radio to hear the 25 minute show. 
A podcast of the interview will be available later next week.

Read more
10/13/2018 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

The Burt Williamson Show: Radio Program on Money Matters

Introducing The Burt Williamson Show

The new show will cover important matters that affect the financial lives of business owners, baby boomers, and their families. Oh, it’s presented in plain English, too.

Hear ways you can become a better steward of your finances and have less financial stress, so you can focus on the other things that are really important in your life.

Please listen in on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. on 98.3 FM KDAR radio to hear the 25 minute show. 
A podcast of the interview will be available later next week.

Read more
11/1/2018 9:45 AM

Synergy Business Connections Networking Group Meeting - First Thursday

Join us for the first meeting of the month. Please try to arrive by 9:45am for a prompt start at 10:00am.

The Conference Room at the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, 600 Hampshire Road, Suite #200, Westlake Village, CA 91361

Join Us / Register

Location: Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce

Read more

Upcoming events

Business Categories

Synergy Business Connections helps businesses grow through relationship marketing and we follow the exclusive category format with one member per Conejo Chamber of Commerce business sub-category. Your business sub-category appears on your Conejo Chamber profile page, right under your business name, to see if your category is eligible. We welcome you to join us at a meeting as our guest to experience the Synergy network for yourself.

Member News

Why Use a Commercial Real Estate Broker (and what they actually do for you…)

In this series, I will be giving insight into the world of a California commercial real estate broker that leases, buys or sells commercial real estate (CRE) for you, the client. The client is the tenant, buyer or seller of CRE space generally defined as office, retail and industrial.

There are four main things a good CRE broker does: They find suitable locations, negotiate the offer, negotiate the lease clauses, and are there when the client needs help thereafter with matters like construction, moving, future landlord disputes, terminating a lease early, etc.

The first thing a CRE broker does that might seem obvious and easy is finding you locations that fit your criteria.  We normally go on a proprietary website like CoStar that the client doesn’t have access to (a subscription to Costar is expensive and you have to learn how to use the software) and run a search for what you are looking for.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  If a broker doesn’t know how to use the software correctly and set up the searches correctly (including keeping a search active so that if a new listing appears that fits your criteria the broker is alerted right away), you won’t find all the possible locations.  Also, consider that many listing brokers for landlords/sellers don’t input the information correctly into the software or even keep the information updated. This makes it difficult to then find applicable properties for a client correctly.  It takes quite a bit of time to do a search correctly.

Seems easy enough; why can’t a client simply find a website like CoStar and do this search themselves?  After all, there are CRE oriented websites like Loopnet or City Feet or and others that state they have the CRE listings available at no cost, right?  The main problem with these sites is that they don’t have anywhere near all of the listings that CoStar does.  Loopnet, for example, is now owned by CoStar and Loopnet makes brokers and landlords pay to have their properties listed on this site so this site doesn’t list the properties available for those that aren’t willing to pay to do so.  Also, for whatever reason, sites other than CoStar simply aren’t used by CRE brokers because CoStar pretty much has a monopoly on most all listings and other kinds of data like comps.  So, if the client wants to do it themselves they won’t be able to find all of the available properties but only a small fraction thereof.

Then there are the off market non listed properties that you can’t find even on CoStar or other websites.  A good broker has connections to landlords/sellers and other brokers that don’t use listing services or that simply haven’t listed the location yet.  Staying in touch with the aforementioned people pays high dividends to my clients, but again it takes quite a bit of time and good record keeping to do so.

A good broker truly does use their expertise, experience and connections to get you the very best outcome. Next time, our topic will focus on successfully negotiating the deal and what goes into that.  Negotiating correctly is an art unto itself.

If you have questions about any of the above topics or have any CRE needs please contact David Massie at or 805-217-0791.

How Are You Measuring Your Offline Analytics?

How Are You Measuring Your Offline Analytics?
Between Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and all the other online data collections, business owners have more ways to track their marketing efforts than ever before. But what about your offline ...

Set Up Shopping on Your Instagram Account: Sell Directly to Customers

Set Up Shopping on Your Instagram Account: Sell Directly to Customers
With the huge leap in popularity in recent years, it’s no wonder that Instagram is expanding its capabilities to include new tools to help people buy and sell on the platform. People are flocking to ...

West Coast Real Estate, Will it Continue to Boom or Will it Bust?

History would say that West Coast commercial real estate market success should be ending very soon. Kevin Shannon, co-head of U.S. Capital Markets for Newmark Knight Frank, has a different opinion:

If there is a downturn, Shannon does not expect it to be as “dramatic” as it was a decade ago. “When the game ends, it will be a short spring training, and we’ll be back playing ball again,” Shannon added. […] “If you look at the engines of real estate on the West Coast: If you build it, they will come,” he said. As long as things continue to go well, Shannon said he thinks next June would mark the longest recovery in history. […] The West Coast commercial real estate market is faring well, and the good news does not appear to be ending very soon, according to some of Los Angeles’ top commercial real estate experts.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the view posed here. This broker from CBRE thinks that the buying and selling market for commercial real estate (CRE) is in the 7th inning, but I think it’s in the 12th inning.  If you want to learn more about buying or selling CRE at the right time and why brokers like this think it’s always a good time to buy or sell CRE (why not, they make a commission whether you the buyer or seller lose money or not) contact David Massie at for more details.  I have successfully bought and sold properties ranging in size from about 1,000 sf to millions of square feet and ranging in price from about $100,000 to $100 million.

Choosing Between a Facebook Page and a Profile

Choosing Between a Facebook Page and a Profile
People use Facebook Profiles. Businesses use Facebook Pages. But which should you choose if you and your brand are one in the same?   Speakers, actors, coaches, musicians, bloggers – many ...

How to Create / Update your Team Member Profile

Are you a member of Synergy Business Connections but don't have your company information on the website? Are you not a member yet, but are thinking of joining and want to know how you and your business will be featured? Learn how easy it is to get your profile on the site...

Read more
  • 15 September 2016
  • Number of views: 1403

Synergy Business Connections

Please read more about the rules and guidelines for our group.  

Read more
  • 7 April 2015
  • Number of views: 2339

Some messages from our group...

What makes the Conejo Valley special, unique or interesting?

I like to call Thousand Oaks "the biggest little town in the country." Even though its size is well over 100,000 residents, it still has a small town feel. You are liable to see someone you know every time you go out. I also like the fact that it has protected itself from the blight that has ruined so many other communities in Southern California by restricting things such as billboards, building structure and height, paid parking lots, and corner strip malls. 

— Cary Ginell - VC On Stage