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Our Laguna: Working together doing good works

June 20, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

Karyn Philippsen dug deep to understand why she was invited to be the keynote speaker on "synergy" at the annual luncheon hosted by the Guilds of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts — and came up with some answers.

"I was honored when conference Co-Chair Sandy Hovanesian asked if I would speak at this gathering," Philippsen told the audience. My next reaction was "Why me? What might I contribute?

"And what in the world is synergy? Why does everyone use it like an answer? When did it become so fashionable to use the word?"

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Philippsen said the dictionary defines "synergy" as the combining of two or more agents or forces so their effect is greater than the sum of the parts, or the cooperative interaction among groups.

It comes from the Greek words "sunergi," which means cooperation, and "sunergos," defined as working together or combining action.

"The purpose of the luncheon was to celebrate the synergy between the guilds and the center to create programs for children and the community," said Hovanesian, a Laguna Beach resident also active in the Laguna Taxpayers Assn. "Members of the guilds for years could not believe they had been participants in these wonderful programs."

Phiippsen's message to the audience was that synergy is all around us. It is what a family is all about, she said, although not a word often used in that connection.

"When I was growing up we didn't say, 'Gee, they are synergetic family,'" she said.

Philippsen said she regrets that the same compatibility doesn't always carry over to the organizations one joins.

Philippsen said she plumbed her depths to dredge up what she had done, why she had done it, how she became who she is and how she arrived on the stage for the conference.

Her career has been wedded to the hospitality industry, most recently not to just one hotel but to all the members of the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau, of which she is the board chair.

The bureau practically defines synergy. Members have joined together to make Laguna Beach a tourist destination, hoping to fill hotels, restaurants, retail shops and events in town, as well as benefit residents through bed and sales taxes.

Philippsen is also president of the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn., an all-volunteer group that encourages the collaborative exchange of cultural, educational and business activities with other cities.

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