At Project SPICES, we strive to walk the talk.  Our clients’ testimonials inform others and us how we uphold our mission, vision, values, and goals.  Review the testimonials of people who have been impacted by us.

Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board

Executive Director - Mrs. Castro Testimonial

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the time you have spent trying to help me see the value of SPICES and how the elements of the program have the ability to change a person’s life.  Through many of our conversations, I walked away thinking “she has something; I just can’t clearly define it or know how to use it!” It was when I saw the program in action with both our customers and staff that I finally understood the value of SPICES.

We see many customers walk through our doors seeking the right formula to help them secure employment. Often times, successful employment is secured after attending a job search workshop or after a one-on-one session on assessing skills and how these skills can be transferred to different industries.  Other times, customers need much more support. Customers who remain unemployed for too long start to build emotional blocks that keep them from succeeding. This is where SPICES made a difference at the SELACO Workforce Development Board!

SPICES offers a series of techniques that help customers start to expose what exist within them that keeps them from moving forward. The unique relationship and empathy you display as a trainer and mentor allows customers to freely explore the “junk” that keeps them from succeeding.  SPICES puts accountability for success in the hands of the customer.  The SELACO customers who participated in the SPICES project realized that while they said they wanted a job, they were taking no steps to secure that job. SPICES unveiled the reality of their self-destruction and what they needed to do to change direction. Your project gave our participants a forum to rebuild their confidence, self-worth, and establish a direction for success.

My staff who participated in your one-day training session exposed some realities about their own barriers and attitudes that prevented them from connecting positively with their peers and hindered their ability to fully support our customers.  Staff shared that involvement in your workshop helped them see that while they are committed to supporting our customers, there are steps they can take to demonstrate a greater level of empathy and commitment to ensuring a customer’s success.

Dr. Koo, you demonstrate a unique ability to connect with a person and open their eyes to their full potential. The job search sessions you offered our customers are no different than the job readiness techniques we offer in our menu of workshops.  What was different are the techniques you used to develop a relationship with the customers and gain their commitment to trust you and follow your recipe for success. These are the same techniques that my staff hopes to duplicate as they deliver our services and guide our customers to long term employment. Thank you for finally getting me to the point of understanding the true value of SPICES.

Ms. Shirley Green, Career Development Specialist

Letting Go! After 15 years of not knowing or understanding why you are the way you are, Dr. Koo helped me to identify and let go of the hurt and bitterness I had been holding on to.  With Dr. Koo’s help I was able to come out of the emotional box of hurt that I never know I was in.  I can honestly say thinking back now there were significant signs of unhappiness and a sense of anger and blame for what I thought should have been.  After participating in one of many of her workshops the one that really released me from my box was the one titled “Getting the Junk Out”.  Fifteen years of holding on to the “bitter junk”, I felt free, so free I called up to the person and apologized, thanked them for the lesson they had taught me and finally moved on with my life. That box I had spent so many years in was no longer my emotional prison.  It’s surprising when you begin to change who you have been for so long into someone that you know you were truly meant to be.  It is always nice when others notice, but it gives you a better sense of awareness and relief, even a bit of joy, when you begin to notice it for yourself.  For example after I got my “bitter junk” out I smiled more, began saying good morning to everyone I came in contact with and started focusing on making myself a more happier person not only for me but my family as well. Words cannot begin to express the thanks and gratitude that I feel for Dr. Koo.  From the bottom my happy and now free soul I say “THANK YOU, THANK YOU and THANK YOU!

Anthony Sharp, Career Development Specialist

Visionary. Gifted. Anointed. Groundbreaking. Lively. Theatrical. Informative. These are just some of the words that describe the Dr. Koo experience. What she did in a matter of 8 hours was remarkable. She came in, peeled back my onion, and helped me dump out all of the stuff that was holding me back. I now have a deeper appreciation and feel much lighter than before. Dr. Koo is a human kaleidoscope. She empowers, uplifts, transforms, confronts (in a loving/direct way), breaks down and builds up. Her approach is one that is force to be reckoned with and cannot be duplicated. Dr. Koo’s love and investment in people is genuine, compassionate with a touch of tough love. What I appreciate most about her is that she does not give credit and boast about her schooling. She shows up, delivers and let her anointing and gift speak. If you are looking to boost the productivity of your workers and enhance company results, I beseech you to contact Dr. Koo immediately. CAUTION: Have a box of tissues handy as you will need them….in a good way.

I am grateful to you and your training. Professionally, it was beneficial to me as I am using “My pleasure” in my interactions with customers and staff. I have noticed a difference in the tone of my interaction with everyone being more positive. Also, I have spent time working with customers who do not know how to use a computer and helped them create a resume and navigate through various computer programs. Personally, I am learning to let go of things more and keep moving forward, go with the flow, and do not take anything personal. Thank you Dr. Koo for your assistance.

Tammy Ferranti-Lansdown, Career Development Specialist Customer Marketing and Communication

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending one of Dr. Sarai Koo’s training sessions and am very impressed by her candor and professionalism. I found the training both powerful and effective and I have heard nothing, but good comments from coworkers. She has the ability to get to the root of a issue and communicate in a way where everyone could understand and relate. I especially appreciated that she personalized the session and made the information relevant to both our professional and personal lives. I look forward to working with her again in the future.

Last Friday’s training with you was such a privilege.  I feel that your presentation was both powerful and effective and I have heard nothing, but good comments. I so enjoyed your ability to get to the root of the problem and communicate in a way where everyone could understand.  I especially appreciated that you personalized the training and made the information relevant.  It would be beneficial for management and other departments to experience a training with you as well.

Vivian Hochschild, Career Development Specialist

Dr. Koo changed my life personally and professionally. She teaches you to believe in yourself through her teachings. You will cry, but you will also learn to release all negative emotions so that you can move on in a positive way. You helped heal my heart by helping me to let go of the pain that my father and husband have inflicted on me. I now know that I need to forgive them and myself and I know that I am making the right choice for myself and my son. I had all of these fears surrounding my decision such as “what if we do not have not enough funds and we all lose our jobs.” While I hope that does not happen, I realize that I have to be positive and know that I am making the right choice by teaching my son that abuse is never right. I have to take that risk and I need to be more self-confident in my abilities as an employee and a person. I am now more positive than ever that my future and son’s future is filled with happiness, joy and love and that whatever happens, there is a positive solution to every problem. You truly changed my life and if there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask. I will help you in any way I can.

Kenisha Humphrey, Disability Resource Coordinator

Prior to attending the workshop, I told myself I was not going to let you “break me” and I wanted to keep this wall up, because it shielded me from being hurt.  After attending your workshop, I realized I am tired of masking my feelings and not being who I really am.  I also realized the abuse I suffered as a child/adult was not my fault, I’m not the person others made me out to be and I have the choice to make a decision on the choices I make.  I also learned to really focus on the customer and their needs.  This reminded me of why I entered this field and for a long time, because I was dealing with personal issues, I lost sight of this.  Your workshop changed my life, helped me put things in perspective and forced me to face my burdens.  I would love to keep in touch with you.  I sent a request to you on LinkedIn and thank you again for helping getting my life back on track.  Thanks again.

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Personal Testimonials

Educator who had 20 years of depression

I used to hate life. I hated my job, I hated the people I worked with, I hated existing. I hated, felt hopeless, and didn’t want to live. I was a depressed person.  I felt like a depressed person, I acted like a depressed person, I felt the hopelessness of a depressed person. I don’t have the inner pain that used to be a part of me all the time . . .Now, I am a person who has hope.  I am able to think positively.  I take on challenges I vowed I would never do. I am able to meet some of the goals I make for myself. I’m not devastated about the goals that I don’t meet; I’m still able to feel hope that I can accomplish those goals. My job still isn’t easy, but when I drive to work I find that I am still able to have positive thoughts about my life.  In addition, a lot of the same situations and the same people that once brought a lot of frustration and hurt, I find that a lot of those things don’t bother me with the same intensity as before. . . I almost feel like this is a time of “promotion” for me.  A promotion that has been a long time coming.  But is here nonetheless.  I feel like God is watching over my life.  I am in his line of sight.  My past life was painful.  But not a waste.  Because God was there all along. In short, life is better.  Before, life was so awful that I thought it was a miracle that I would even put one foot in front of the other.  The difference is, even though I am still a work in progress and am still taking things day by day, I feel as though I can walk greater distances.

Recommendation from former advisor

I am writing to lend my full support to Dr. Sarai Koo as she seeks to develop and deliver consulting for corporations and agencies that seek to strengthen their leadership and improve the talent of their organization. I have known Sarai since 2005 during which time she completed a MA thesis research under my guidance in human development. Since then I have worked with her as a colleague in the world of leadership training, talent development, scholarship and personal goal-setting.

Frankly, I do not know anyone else who has impacted organizations, communities, and people’s lives in a deeper and more positive way than she has. Her work uniquely helps people to become their whole selves, to better know their meaning and purpose in life, and to develop a sense of personal agency to in fact make themselves better. She does this by identifying both the internal conflicts within and the larger social fragmentation that people may be experiencing—and then helps those individuals to better know themselves, become more effective as contributors to the organization, and learn how they might navigate the world in which they live. She is a person with proven success and a true passion for this work.

First, there is no other way to say this: the impact of her work has been “extraordinary:” over the past 15 years, she has helped over 15,000 individuals and a dozen organizations large and small to improve their interpersonal effectiveness, work product, and sense of community. In fact, Dr. Koo has a special talent for designing a curriculum for organizational change that matches the particular needs of the organization and its members. She has already won awards for this and I expect her to receive more plaudits as she continues to grow into and shape her subfield. More importantly, as she strengthens the practices of each organization she works with, I know she will do this by helping its leaders and staff to be more centered, grounded and collaborative as an organizational community—and as a result, will leave them in a better position to continue to strengthen their organization long after she has gone.

In fact, Dr. Koo now has a human and organizational development “tracking system” that enables each organization to continue to assess its own self-development in the years to come. In effect, she makes it possible for an organization to maintain a portfolio on what it will take for each person to achieve her or his full potential and the kinds of future support each would need to best match up with those needs. “Alumni” of her training programs in the past have been so appreciative of the effectiveness of this that many have volunteered to help her with any new organization or cohort she has agreed to assist in their own talent development.

Most importantly, Sarai is skilled at taking scarce resources and leveraging them up for maximum results with her client population. In other words, she has already proven herself to be highly effective at making the most of limited financial budgets in a context of large human and social needs in the organization. She has not only program and talent development skills but also the executive leadership acumen to understand and anticipate how management might benefit from growing strengths in it workforce. This is an exceptional ability that in my opinion few people possess. I have no doubt about the effectiveness and efficiency of the new self-knowledge and processes she will present to your organization.

Sarai is also able to take a social problem in an organization and translate that situation into a longer term benefit for the organization. Sarai has the ability to acquire external funding to improve those practices along with the culture of the organization, track the outcomes of an agreed upon program of change to strengthen the organization, and then use those outcomes to plan future change and secure still more external resources in the future.

Most importantly, Sarai has a golden touch with people. She has a way with professionals, administrators, staff, and executives that is akin to lighting a fire under them—but by educating them how to acquire and exercise their own sense of agency and control over their own lives. I think this is her best unique skill and is in fact the secret to her success and I believe this is one of the reasons why she has been so successful even though she is still in her 30’s. In fact, I might even say that Sarai has a kind spiritual or cosmological way of connecting to each person in that person’s own context of work, family and personal growth—and it is this heartfelt belief that leads each person to believe in and want to cultivate her or his own future.

In my 20 years of graduate school teaching, I would rank Sarai #1 in having the intellectual strength, humanistic depth and stamina of spirit to reach and nurture populations large and small for decades to come. Not only is Sarai the best student I have worked with, she is also “true” to herself—and she teaches others how to treat themselves in the same way.

Adrian

As I see it, we’re all lost. Whether it’s in terms of our future, our fate, our purpose, or our place in the world, there’re always nagging questions in the back of our minds. Ones we can’t answer. Ones we can’t ignore. They hound us like flies, circling and infecting us. And they only get louder as we get older. We turn every which way to find answers. Like rats in a maze. Sometimes we’re led to chapels and churches and synagogues. Others, we’re led to needles and pills and blunts. All they offer are the quick solutions; ones that get us through the night until the morning. The morning. The morning so we can question again. So we can run like rats in a maze. So we can find our way back to the chapels and the churches and the synagogues and the. . .I was tired of it. To relieve my questions, I turned towards the __ program for guidance. A program that had given me so much. A program that seemed to have an answer for everything. And it did this time, too. SPICES. More than a religious doctrine or shallow self-help code, SPICES offers a set of life philosophies worth living by. The answers to those big questions. Who am I? The person I create for myself. How should I treat people? Equally, regardless of whom they are. We’re nearly identical genetically, anyways. All past wrong-doings are in the past, and the past is where our past lives live, not our present selves. Why am I here? To improve the quality of the human race. SPICES is more than just another cheap slogan: It houses the secrets to living a quality life. After all, don’t we all need a map?

Natalie

Before this program, my mind was totally lost in who I was and what I wanted to become. I did not know if being here was ever worth my time and effort, I was just a lonely person that was very much affected by that fact. After this program, it showed me to love myself first, to cherish who and what I am. It helped me understand what my journey was to be, and what I needed to do to become the person I am meant to become. Of course, I have not yet become the full potential that I hope one day to be, but this program opened my eyes, and heart and showed me that I am truly capable of anything I put my mind in to. Sarai is a great mentor and human being, her help and love gave me what I was looking for, and whenever I feel I’m going back to that dark place, I remember what she taught me and what she represents. I am so fortunate that I crossed paths with such an amazing person that showed me this program and am forever grateful for such an experience.

Daniela

My testimonial from experiencing this program has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I remember how I was when I first came into the program, I was in a desperate situation in life where I did not see the light that would guide me to a better place, then I met Sarai and the program she had planned. This started with an activity of a race, we had to go outside and then go further away from where Sarai was located. In this activity she asked us life questions of emotions and things we have done to become a better person, the only rule was to be honest with ourselves, if she asked something and we have not done it than we walked a step further and if we did something in life that was not beneficial we went a spent back.  At the end of the game I was all the way on the end of the race, it was a[n] awakening moment where I knew that I needed to change in order to reach my full potential in life and be a better person so that this world can be a better place to live.

Genessis

Sarai implemented SPICES in everything we did . . ., without any of us even knowing! When she finally did define SPICES to us, I remember me telling her “…Isn’t this kind of what we’ve been doing?” I slowly started to put the pieces together and I realized she had been practicing SPICES this whole time. SPICES is living a balanced life and changing yourself for the best and to live a quality life.

SPICES changed me so much, I used to be shy, I blame-shifted, I never really saw things through the eyes of others, I was many things that I now try my best to no longer be. I feel like I broke out of my shy shell because Sarai would give us each our own voice. She created this safe environment where none of us felt judged and it felt like our opinion mattered so much. I got so used to speaking my mind in front of others that I am no longer shy and have an opinion about everything.

Through SPICES, I learned about blame-shifting, which is the act of blaming another or others for a mistake you made yourself. I guess I wanted to lie to myself and think I was perfect, so I’d blame others for my mistakes. I now no longer blame-shift, but I do however sometimes catch myself blame-shifting, but I catch myself and stop it immediately.

I also learned about dealing with others. I learned how to understand people and the way they act, for example, if someone is having a bad day then they might come off as rude but there is always a core reason for people’s actions. SPICES also taught me that there is no need for competition. There is no need to have to pay attention to how your neighbor is doing, because we all have different purposes in life. The fact that someone is better at something that you aren’t, isn’t the end of the world. You both have a different mountain to climb and all I should be concerned with is making it to the top of mine, I have no need to stop and look at what others are doing if I know my own purpose. SPICES taught me that I should be so invested in improving myself that I should have zero time to look over my shoulder and judge the person next to me. This whole idea of SPICES can only work if the person is willing to put in an effort, once SPICES is presented and laid out for them, I am certain the person will want to change themselves for the better.

SPICES can change everything, the way we interact with each other, the way we handle situations, even the way we love ourselves. SPICES has the potential to create a better tomorrow, especially in a time when I look at my surrounding peers and see nothing but lost, unmotivated youth that don’t love themselves and use other things and people to find that love. SPICES can be the game changer.

Winnie - pre-marital education advising sessions

My fiancé and I recently went through several pre-marital counseling sessions with Sarai, which she ran under her SPICES framework.  First of all, Sarai is wonderfully skilled as a counselor.  Having never been in a counseling situation before, I was quite anxious about the whole thing.  Sarai made me feel safe and after some initial awkwardness, I eased into opening up.  I appreciated the objective third party view on our relationship, and she was able to effectively translate our points of view into digestible insights that we probably wouldn’t have been able to arrive at ourselves.  Sarai is incredibly perceptive, and was able to gently pinpoint character traits for both of us that we knew we needed to work on.

Secondly, the ideas that she suggested under the SPICES framework, were quite valuable.  Some of them, such as practicing gratitude and taking responsibility for our own actions and feelings, are things that most people have heard of and are universally thought of as healthy relationship skills.  However, Sarai was able to explain those ideas in a way that allowed me to see how powerful they can be.  While ideas such as these are certainly inspiring, they must be put into action, and I really appreciated the way Sarai helped us figure out ways to practice the necessary skills in everyday life.  My fiancé and I have been trying out these practices, and are seeing improvements in our communication and general well-being.

Sarai was generous enough with her time to do these sessions with us privately, and I think that made a huge difference in the way I was able to internalize her teachings.  I’ve heard some of these messages before in large group settings and have always felt inspired afterwards, but there was something about having Sarai’s full attention that made a difference.  Perhaps it was the targeted, personalized suggestions, or the fact that I knew that my partner was on board with me, but I carried these lessons with me in a way that I never did before.  I have a habit of looking at the negative side of situations and stressing myself over things that I have no control over.  Sarai honed in on this habit of mine during our sessions and I saw how the negative effect that it could have on my relationship.  Since then, I’ve made very conscious efforts to gauge my thoughts and turn them around, per Sarai’s suggestions.  I am a work in progress on many fronts, but with Sarai’s invaluable insights and encouragement, I am committed to the effort of building a relationship that is loving, enriching, and supportive of fulfilling our purposes in life.