A Voice from Healthcare-Listen & Learn

“Racism is literally killing people faster.” said Stephanie Quinn, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy in her first, “In the Trenches” blog post. I met Stephanie during our Leadership Greater Washington Class of 2019 year together. Her smart, quick, engaging style, encouraged you to want to know her better.

When I read her blog, Stephanie’s insights into the current turmoil our country is facing from a health perspective were thought-provoking. The systemic racism in the entire American system hasn’t disappeared since the Civil Rights Act-between COVID and the exposure of police brutality towards people of color, the depth of the problem was fully exposed. Stephanie’s focus on the health impact alone makes you want to learn more. If someone doesn’t get enough to eat, has sub-par housing, schools lack materials, and communities don’t have access to hospitals/health care, then each and every one of us is impacted, on a human level, on a moral level, and an economic level.

a voice from healthcare - quinn

Human level, as people with compassion, empathy, and morality-we must work towards a different system across sectors that serve all people.

On a moral level, how can we continue to teach our children, worship in our houses of faith, care for a family while others don’t share the rights we have under our constitution?

Economically, when each person has access to health/food then they can attend school to gain an education that leads to work and an income. If more people are able to do more than just survive, they thrive and can become active consumers in the marketplace. Businesses benefit and gain consumers by supporting improved social services, health systems, and education systems.

Equal access to the basic rights that we all have as citizens is a must. I love how Stephanie brings home a suggestion for health care professionals, but the suggestion is really also important to allies for this necessary change, and everyone- to use our ears more and pause our mouths…

“Family physicians often engage many of their five senses when treating patients. It is time that as a profession, and as a country, we prioritize one sense above all. It is time to listen.”

Listen to what the people around you need, then speak up, take action, and be part of the systemic change so we can all thrive.

Here’s her entire article, check it out!

Image of group using a white board with text overlay that reads "write and deliver your best pitch now"

Write and deliver your best pitch, now.

My most useful blogs have involved the mechanics or tools that help individuals with their career advancement. A pitch is simple, straightforward, and powerful when done right. The person who delivers a strong one, makes it look easy, but anything that’s good takes prep and work. You can’t skip the planning stages. Come along for the ride.

If you don’t know by now, I like to talk although I am also a good listener. A recurring theme has been played out in several recent conversations. It doesn’t matter if you are fresh from college, rising in the ranks, midstream career shifters, or retirees identifying second careers, we all need to know how to answer the question, “So what do you do?” or “What would you like to be doing?” Americans always talk about careers, especially here in DC. What I hear pretty often is, “I’m not sure what I want to do, so what do I say?”

Here’s my response, you don’t have to know specifically what you want to do, but you do have to be able to express what you can do and where you have applied it, plus close with what contributions you can make to any organization.

Lead on MacDuff

Typically, when I am interviewing someone, the conversation starts slowly with a description of various jobs. Some people describe minute details, others skim so fast if you pause you miss something. When I listen to their stories, you’d be able to hear my fingers on the keys because I always take notes. People see me take notes even at a book talk or lecture because it helps me concentrate and not forget the nuances. I also find that it helps me filter out the noise and find the gems.

My role, when I work with individuals, is to sort through all the details and identify what they are good at doing. This tends to be the things that interest them most. The Gallup Organization gives everyone they hire the CliftonStrengthFinder created by Dr. Don Clifton. His son, Jim Clifton, CEO at Gallup said, “He advised people to build around their strengths rather than fix their weaknesses”.

Soar with your Strengths” was the phrase they coined and wrote a book about describing the philosophy. I’m not implying that we shouldn’t learn about things we don’t know, but I do think it’s important to identify what we excel at doing and what we enjoy because we spend over 70 or 80% of our waking hours on our job.

The way to find the greatest satisfaction in our careers is to find a good cultural fit with an organization where we embrace their mission. This means you need to create a good pitch. If you can’t tell people who you are and what you do, how will they find you?

Pitch Perfect

The first time I blogged about pitches was to craft one for an opening statement on your resume. It’s important to build a powerful, consistent, marketing pitch that you use consistently across all of your marketing materials. Yes, you are marketing yourself on your resume, on LinkedIn, or on any other social media. You also need a version you are able to share verbally in person.

My version of an “elevator pitch” or “30-second pitch” is it’s your opportunity to share with someone what you are good at doing, where you have been successful, and to translate what you have done into how you add value for an organization. Each piece is important but that final sentence packs the punch.

Let’s break this out with an example from my experience.

Concept in Action

Your opening line needs to be dynamic and in the best journalistic style, how do you grab your audience, share enough information to keep them reading or listening?

Here’s a version of what I might say to someone if we started chatting and that infamous question came up.

As a headhunter, I’ve spent the last 25 plus years, matching talented social scientists to research companies where they have a lasting impact on the success of the organization. 

Next, you need to give more substance, flavor, and dimension.

Listening to the specific “pain points” of my client companies, and hearing about the quantitative capabilities of scientists, is like putting together a puzzle. Not only do I screen for ability, but I am able to understand the importance of finding a cultural fit. 

Always close but don’t forget to share what you bring to the table that differentiates you.

It’s amazing to see the 100s of people I have placed in roles continue to excel in their careers. As I watch the organizations I’ve matched with talent, their successes demonstrate that I truly understand not only the technical skills but how to find the right people for the right firms, again and again.

What Are You Waiting For?!

Brainstorm, write it all down, sift through the details, the experiences, and settings. Be able to share that opening statement that grabs your listener’s attention. Paint the picture of your setting where you thrive and can best contribute. Then close with the statement that translates what you have done into how you add value. You will find yourself gaining a clearer picture of what you enjoy doing and where you do it well, and how you can bring this to your next employer. Don’t wait, sit down, and craft your pitch now!

Abstract art with "regain control of your career" as text
Careers, Communication, Growing up, Working Professionals

Regain Control of Your Career

I attended a talk some time ago by Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson who recently published a book called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. The authors, a clinical neuropsychologist and a motivational coach/test-taking company CEO, both agreed that there are ways to reduce anxiety, depression, isolation, and lack of motivation in today’s children. I thought about that tagline, “Giving your kids more control over their lives.” Then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone want more control?”

Throughout our lives, we struggle to be independent and self-directed. When a baby learns those first words, “No!” the baby is looking for autonomy. As we do battle with our teenagers over technology use or homework, they are trying to command their own way of doing things. Later in life, we fight to keep our driver’s license even after it’s unsafe for us or others, but losing that right curtails our freedom. This can be a huge blow that some people don’t recover from, that loss of independence. The ideas about control and being self-directed can also be applied in the workforce and when it comes to managing your career.

There are critical moments in the development of our brain, according to Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson. We as parents can help our children develop into healthy “self-driven” people, by not hovering, rescuing, or solving all our children’s challenges. If we can give them the tools to take “more control over their lives” they can become healthier human beings throughout their lives. If we translate the parent-child role to the workplace, we can also see how this plays out in a manager-subordinate role. We are faced with several challenges in the workplace with multiple generations who have different styles trying to work together. If we teach our children to make healthy choices that give them back their sense of control early on in life, then later on they will be more successful in the workplace. With more confidence, an individual can be more self-directed and this results in greater success throughout the life cycle.

Raising self-motivated children and building a more motivated workforce, are just two aspects of a healthier society or economy. In the arc of our working life, we can learn to be more proactive with managing our careers too. We aren’t all going to be entrepreneurs or the CEO, but we can be proactive or be our own advocates in the workplace. Again, these are skills we need to teach our children while they are young or as they grow up, so they can be healthier members of society. What this looks like in the workplace could take several forms.

When you start your first job, you are often just thrilled to have a paycheck. If you’re more focused, maybe you land a role at your target company or doing exactly what you wanted to do. Regardless, what your title is, what you do on the job is key. Plus, you can influence your career pathway. Here are several important tasks to do as you get oriented to a new job and beyond.

  • Learn the corporate culture and the spoken and unspoken rules of the organization.
  • Build clear communication with your immediate supervisor and don’t forget your peers.
  • Master your tasks and gain new skills that will allow you to progress within your firm.
  • Find a mentor in the firm or outside the firm, someone who can give you sage advice or perspective on any given situation.
  • Identify what you need to do to progress as a professional, and set goals to achieve these skills, experiences, or abilities.
  • Learn how to self advocate for yourself and the organization promoting change, growth, or new ways to do things.
  • Notice a way you can positively impact the organization, pitch your idea!

All of these tasks allow one to take back control and have a say in your own future. It feels better to have control of all ages when we are a kid, a young adult, middle-aged, and aging. How do we retain it in the workplace professionally?

In Teddy Roosevelt’s stirring speech, about the lazy critics in our lives, he said,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat…”

Like Stixrud and Johnson, Roosevelt felt strongly that by acting or participating we are already taking back our control. If we silence the critics who are not in the arena with us and focus on the experience of being there, then we are already ahead of the game. How this plays out for each person can vary, but it is clear that by regaining our control we lessen our anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, or sense of isolation. As we replace these destructive feelings, we now have room for confidence, positive energy, possibilities, connection, and the ability to map our own future. We can’t all be in charge of the company, but we can be in charge of our own lives.