Upward Mobility in the Federal Government

Upward Mobility in the Federal Government


Good morning, my name is Gloria Molvanado.
Glo for short. I am the chief of staff for the white house initiative for educational
excellence for Hispanics for the US department of education. I am currently on a temporary
assignment to the office of diversity and inclusion here at the office of personnel
management. I just wanted to do a quick introduction to the webinar series. This is called our summer school series, because
it’s taking place June, July, and August of this year. We’re covering different topics.
Yesterday we covered how to find and apply to jobs to the federal government. Just a
quick side bar, we do know that the link was not working well yesterday, so never fear. We will be sending out a follow up email to
the listservs with a link to the video recording, as well as supplemental materials that were
mentioned during the course of the conversation. We’ll also post that online for folks to be
able to watch and share the link with their colleagues and their friends, and their listservs
as well. Today is the second in the series, we’re talking
about upward mobility in the federal government. If you’re already in the government, at a
lower grade level, at a higher grade level, and thinking of ways to maximize your time
in the government then this is the webinar for you. If you are considering a career in the Federal
government, this is also a great way to get some more information and find out how you
can move up, or laterally. I’m going to now turn it over to our facilitator for this conversation,
Bruce Stewart. He is the deputy director for the office of diversity and inclusion here
at OPM. He will guide the conversation, Bruce. All right. Good morning, I want to thank the
panelists here. I think it is going to be very informative here this morning. In speaking
for all of them I know that we all appreciate you all tuning in to get some good information. With that we are going to go ahead and kick
it off, I just want the panelists, Kimberly we can start with you. Introduce yourself
and give a little background about where you work and all that stuff. We’ll just go ahead
and kick it off with you. OK. Thank you. My name is Kimberly Castillo
and I currently work for the federal aviation administration, which is under the department
of transportation. I serve as a national Hispanic employment manager. I like to say it’s like
a civil rights advocate because we need fairness and advocate for employees as well, and also
for prospective applicants. I come from Miami, Florida. I graduated from
college with a Bachelors in public administration in 2006 and I actually started with the federal
government as a student intern, through the HACU program, which stands for the Hispanic
Association of Colleges and Universities. To be honest, when I applied, I got a phone
call and they said, we would like you to come and intern for the department of transportation
FAA. I had no idea what it was, I actually thought
I would be required to drive trucks. Little did I know at the time, but the key thing
was to say yes. To be honest, once I began that internship that really opened doors for
me. It really has led to where I am today, and working with the federal government has
been a great experience. OK, Ora. Good morning. My name is Ora Alger. I work
for the U.S. Department of Education. I’m the diversity program manager at the agency.
I’ve been in the federal government, had this federal career, for over 20 years. It’s been
a great experience. As we talk along in the panel, I want to share just some of those
experiences with you and hope that it is of some value to you. All right, Glo? Hi. As I mentioned before, Glorimar Maldonado.
It’s quite a mouthful, so Glo for short, please. I am, as I said, the chief of staff for the
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, which is another mouthful. I’m located at the U.S. Department of Ed,
although I am detailed here to OPM for the next couple of months. I’m the newbie on the
block, maybe. I’ve only been in government seven years and change. It will actually be
eight years this October. I’ve only ever been with one agency, so this is a great experience
for me to be able to see how other departments operate. I’m an odd case. I came in under a career
ladder position. Just being able to move up that way. Then, also, being able to experience
the value of details and other things, I think, has really added to my career experience.
I’m really glad to be here and to be able to share that with you today. All right. Well, thank you very much, panelists.
Now we’re going to get into the meat of the show here. The first thing, and I think it
is probably a question that a lot of viewers have on their mind. That is, how did you actually
come about identifying the particular career path that you all are on. If I could…Ora, if you start that off and
just give them a brief summary on how you decided to go along this particular path that
you’re on. That I’m on now? That you’re on now. I think careers in the federal government
take many avenues. That’s what’s so great about having a federal career. Actually, I
started with the Department of the Navy. That’s how I started my career. Spent a few years
there, and then went into private industry. I went to work for the National Association
of Broadcasters working in conventions and exhibitions. Then, a friend of mine said, “You know, the
federal government really needs someone like you. You need to go back.” I thought about
that and I did. Ever since then, I have never regretted coming back into the federal government.
I’ve been at Education for almost 20 years, because I have 23 years in government. I started in the Office of the Chief Financial
Officer, as a GS-5, and then went from OCFO, as we call it, to the deputy’s office and
worked with auditors, who are a strange crew of people but nevertheless needed in the federal
government, worked with the auditors and got to be the special assistant to the deputy
chief of staff for CFO. Then my deputy decided he was going to another
agency, and the director of employee relations, which I had never even dreamt about, said
that she thought I’d be great as an employee-relations specialist. I went into that and loved it.
I just loved it. Then she decided to come to OPM, and I found myself talking to the
CHCO at our agency, and then the CHCO recommended, “I think you’d be great in EEO.” I’d never even dreamt of that. But what winds
up happening is that people look at you and are watching you and observing you, and they
know your weaknesses and your strengths just as well as you do, and what winds up happening
is that you wind up secretly having some mentor that says, “I think you should now try this
avenue.” The beauty about being in the federal government
is that you get to try and explore many avenues of careers, or jobs. Then, today, I am the
diversity and inclusion program manager in the Office of EEO, and loving every minute
of it because I love people. OK, all right. Thank you, Ora. Now, what it
seems to be as I listen to you talking is that to achieve in the federal government,
you can take many different paths, and even though you might have a certain goal laid
out, there are many different ways to achieve that goal. Glo, could you talk to that a little
bit? Sure. Like I said, I came into the government
in 2004. Actually, my background is in publishing. I had worked for a nonprofit for a couple
years, and I was actually a publications manager for a nonprofit in Atlanta, which is my hometown.
From there, I was able to transition into a writer-editor position at Department of
Ed. You wouldn’t think of Department of Ed as
hiring writer-editors, but you don’t have to have an education degree, necessarily,
to work in a specific agency or a science degree or a math degree. All agencies have
all components. I was able to fit into the editorial branch at Ed. I love writing. I love editing. But I really
felt that I needed to be involved in the agency in another capacity. As being Latina, I joined
the Latino group, which was just an extracurricular activity, just going to their meetings and
attending their events. After about a year, I started volunteering my time to put them
on and assist with the logistics or whatever I could. It really filled that void, I guess, that
social void, and it helped me to connect with other folks, and it helped me to acclimate
to DC, which was a huge culture change for me. Then working for the government, which
was another huge culture change for me. [laughs] I actually got into the diversity and inclusion
arena through the affinity group, because their issues really were close to my heart.
I wanted to see more Latinos in the federal government. I mean, I was one of those folks
that my mom, as Deshawn Mingo mentioned yesterday, she’s gently got her foot on her daughter’s
back to push her into government. My mom was the same way. She was constantly saying, “Oh, you need to
apply to the government. You get great benefits, and there’s this that and the other,” and
I was always saying, “OK, hold your horses, it’s not going to happen.” When I finally
did become a member of the civil service, I have no regrets. By being able to take on the employment issues
regarding Latino employment for the agency and just trying to do more outreach and doing
more recruitment, I ended up connecting with folks at EEO, which is how I met Aura. I connected
with the Chief Human Capital Officer and the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Management. I was able to make some really great personal
and professional connections, and it’s true. The more involved you get, the more people
watch you, and the more they determine whether or not they can rely on you. Whether you’re
an expert in your field. I do a lot of reading too. [laughs] Reading the regs and reading about hiring
authorities and flexibilities and reading the law. It was just so much to absorb. That’s
how I actually came to be here. I actually brought that knowledge that I did
on my free time to the job that I have at the initiative, and then that was written
into my position description there and then in managing interns and detailees and other
folks that would come to our office that just amplified the whole effect. To the point where
now I’m on detail to OPM, which is like heaven for me. [laughter] That’s…like I said. I had a publishing background
and you never would have ever guessed that I would actually be in the diversity and inclusion
field, and here I am. Well, very interesting. I have in my notes,
one of the things I want to talk about as we move further with this discussion, and
that is the whole power of networks. Social networks. What I consider this Facebook effect.
How you can…being embedded in that can give you opportunities that you would never have
dreamt of. Very interesting. Kimberly, if you could, could you just give us a little
bit about your background, the paths that you’ve taken to get where you are right now? Sure. As I mentioned, I started with the government
as a student intern. Really, I told my mom, I remember when I got accepted, I said I’ll
be back in a semester. Don’t worry, I’ll be back. ot recommend to wait till the last semester
in school, is that when I was in the presence of Federal employees and just seeing the array
of different opportunities, I was just amazed, and I fell in love with working with the Federal
government. My key thing is I didn’t particularly know
where I wanted to be, to be honest. But my key thing was I know I have a passion for
public service. If I can be in a place where I can serve others, whether that means helping
them seek for work, or help them advance, I wanted to be that person who is the link
between that agency and the public. I’ve found that in the Federal government, at the Federal
Aviation Administration. One of the first things that I did was that
I got involved with the mentoringship program that they had at the agency. That was phenomenal
because it really gave me a good understanding of the structure of the agency. I was able
to network with people, and it really helped me get more accustomed and learn more about
the agency. In addition, one of the things that I also took advantage of is I said let
me conduct informational interviews. I used my lunch time. Most of the time, to meet with
people. Now I use it to go to the gym. [laughter] Because I realized I needed a work-life balance,
you know? Definitely using 30 minutes or 20 minutes, and asking somebody, can I just come
by and learn a little bit about your occupation. That really makes a big difference, and that
also helps to build relationships. Some of the things I got involved in too, was joining
committees. Finding opportunities throughout the agency
where there’s workgroups and asking my supervisor, is it OK to participate and give my input.
That was also a great learning for me, and also for them, because I brought a new idea.
That was very helpful. By getting involved and networking with other people and building
relationships, little by little, believe it or not, it helped shaped where my next path
was. I ended up working for the Office of Civil
Rights, the National Outreach Program for Diversity and Inclusion, where I also, like
Glorimar, focus on targeting…doing outreach in the community, which I really enjoy. Not
only for Hispanics, but for minority groups. Being, serving as that link, and so I think
that also, another key thing has been…whenever there’s a problem or a challenge or a challenge
or an issue in the workplace, I also like to keep a very positive outlook and say I
don’t look at it as a problem, I look at it as an opportunity. Those are opportunities
where you as an employee can come up with an idea and present solutions to the workgroup,
to the manager, whatever that might be. It’s also about your focus, it’s also about
your way of thinking. How you control your mindset, and just finding ways that you can
give back. Contribute. Doing things above of what you’re expected to do. You have opportunities
around you, available to you. Maximize on that. Don’t wait to be told to
do something. Be the person to be the problem-solver. That’s how I found my way so far, and I’m
still looking by the way. Let’s see what comes next. [laughter] Thank you so much Kim. Very enlightening.
That just leads right into a couple of things I wanted the panel to discuss. We talk a lot
about career paths, but as you mentioned, Kim, a lot of it has to do with our outlook,
and how we see situations. Then things that don’t go along the way we want them to, how
do we bounce back. The resilience part. What I’d like to do is for the panel to take a
minute and really talk to the viewers a little bit about mindset. For you viewers out there, I just want to
give you a recommendation. There’s a book that was written by a psychologist. Her name
is Carol Dweck. That last name is spelled D-W-E-C-K. She wrote a book called “Mindset,
the Secret To Success.” It’s been widely published. I think it was published in 2007. Basically, the book outlines that most folks
have one or two mindsets. There’s a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset. The fixed mindset
is that you feel like the situation is happening around you and you just go along with the
flow. Whatever happens, you don’t really have control over it. The growth mindset is that
you have control over the events in your life. Now, of course, not every event. But looking
at the glass half full versus half empty, it opens up a lot of doors to you. I think
you might find that interesting. If I can get the panel just real quickly to talk about
a time, when they thought a positive mindset work for them. Glo, could you start that off? I think every agency is unique, and I think
every agency culture is unique. One thing that goes across all agencies, and nonprofits
and business and the like is that you always…You do come up against…I call them…They’re
not mountains. They’re stumbling blocks. My mom always says I put stones in my path. They’re these little stones that can hinder
you, if you let them, from moving forward. There have been times where I’ve had supervisors
that weren’t necessarily as supportive of my efforts as I would have liked them to be.
They had their reasons, but I’m a go getter. My way of thinking is, “OK, how can I [microphone
feedback] Oh, well, OK [laughs] ” Everybody wake up. “How can I get around this little stone?”
Not…Still following protocol. Still complying with regs and everything, but how can I move
forward past this particular challenge or obstacle? I’ve had to be creative in my thinking
and with the buy in piece. I think the department’s Hispanic Employees
Council, for example, was a huge outlet for me because being in front of your computer
for eight hours a day in a cube farm gets old. It gets boring. You never really meet
anybody. I remember being on one floor for the first six months of my federal career
and I’d never met anybody. You’d see people in the hallway and it was like, “Hi,” and
then you never really got to know them more. Finding that outlet was a great way for me
to connect with folks. It was a great way for me to see the glass is half full more
than half empty. Because then I was able to think, “Oh, OK. This outlet is available for
me. What about this outlet and this outlet?” Just really seeing things more as, as Kim
was saying, possibilities versus challenges. That’s…I recommend that to anybody. Find
an extracurricular activity that you can participate in. Talk to your boss about it and let them
know, “Hey, this is really an area of passion for me. I’d love it if you’d support my involvement
in this.” Nine times out of 10, they’re willing to support you in it. Absolutely, well thank you very much. Ora,
if you could follow up on that, what about you? What was a specific time when a positive
mindset actually helped you along with your career? Actually, I think going into the diversity
and inclusion part, when I had that talk with the CHCO and he says, “I think you’d be great
in EEO.” [laughs] When he says, “What do you think of that?” I go like, “I never thought
of that.” But I had to keep a positive attitude that I was going into something different. Yet, in so many ways, it wasn’t different
because I had an ERLR background. I figured somehow I can transpose that and make something
that I’m not fully comfortable with comfortable. I’m a very passionate person. I like to jump
in with two feet. Sometimes I hit the concrete. But in this case, I try to always keep an
open mind and be positive that the next door that opens for myself or any one of us is
a door of opportunity. I need to look at it, as Glo just said, as the glass half full and
not half empty. Then, make the most of the situation. If negative things start to filter in, I try
to just sit there and turn it around and say, “Things will get better. If they don’t, what
am I doing not to make them better or to make them better?” Right. Yeah. That was different for me, but ever
since I’ve been in it, I’ve so enjoyed it. I’m a people person. I love people and I love
being around people. Kimberly is and I know Glo is. I think that’s what keeps us moving
forward, the fact that no matter what the challenge is, we embrace it. We move forward
with it and make it work. OK. Now if you look…You started us off when
you talked about mindset and networks. What I’d like to ask you, in just a follow up.
You spoke to this before, but how is it that the viewers can actually go out and create
opportunities for themselves? How did you do that? How did you actually go out and create
opportunity, because the conventional wisdom is that you wait for opportunities to come
to you. That’s the thing that we get stuck in. But
it seems like, to me, the real key to success for most of us has been that we created our
opportunities by getting involved in different activities, by finding out what our passion
is, and making it happen. Give us an example of how you’ve done that in your career. OK. Since we’re speaking about the mindset,
first and foremost keeping a positive mindset and knowing that, for example, when you’re
applying for jobs it’s important to apply for more than one job at a time. We should
never wait to hear from one and don’t have the fear that when you submit an application,
managers from different offices will talk behind and they’ll recognize that you’re applying
to multiple vacancies, which is a myth. Actually, it doesn’t work that way. The key
thing, one, for that sense was to look, to do my research, to look for opportunities
and to apply to as many as possible. Use my networks. Use the people that I met through
the organizations that I was involved in, most definitely, to help me and guide me. Trust me, when you ask people, “Would you
mentor me? Will you allow me to shadow you? Or will you just sit with me for a few minutes
and talk to me a little bit?” They’ll be more than happy to because it doesn’t really happen
as often as you think. We’re in this position because we like public service and making
that connection. Another thing I think that is key is goal
setting. Although you might not know how exactly you’re going to get to where you want to get
to, it’s important to identify what are the goals, where do you see yourself in one, five
years, and so on. The next key thing is to identify…What I did was identify what were
those supporting activities to help me get there. But then the most important thing is to identify
target dates. For me, I held myself accountable on a monthly basis. Even if it was a personal
goal, as wanting to lose weight, which is everyone’s, almost, goal in December. [laughter] Is to identify, “Well, how much weight loss
do I hope to have lost? What’s the target weight for that month and every month after
that?” Another thing that I did, though, was I created this concept for myself that actually
did really help me obtain my first job. What I did was I created a professional portfolio.
This was actually an assignment from my 12th grade teacher. She asked us to write…I remember a resume.
She asked us to have a writing sample, but to be honest, I don’t know what was the outcome
of it. But I remember we had to put it in a binder. What I did was I know that I was
a very involved student. I was in student government and different organizations in
school, a cheerleader and also part of broadcasting, the magnet program. I’m the type of person who likes to keep track
of the things that I do. In 12th grade, I was also thinking, “Oh, I want to keep this
as a memory for when I have kids later on.” I still don’t have kids. [laughter] But that was part of it. It was self gratification
and it was also to show my kids, “This is what your mom did when she was younger.” What
I did is I got a three ring binder and some sheet protectors. I started inserting all
these materials in the binder. When I transitioned from 12th grade to college,
I actually used it at one point to get into a program, which I the public relations program
at the University of Florida. I first attended Miami Dade College, and actually, Bruce if
it’s OK, I want to just show you my portfolio. Sure. [laughs] This thick binder that you see here was my
very first portfolio. I’m just going to flip through it just to show you some examples
of the things that I inserted in the portfolio. However, since then I’ve learned that it is
better to keep it shorter and simple. [laughter] When I present this… You don’t take that to an interview. No, do not. But I wanted to give you a little
bit of the history and just let you know how it has benefited me. On the first page, what
was in the portfolio was my resume. Then I just had pictures of me during an internship
at the time in high school in broadcasting. That’s what I wanted to do at that point.
I wanted to be a reporter. Then there was a point where I wanted to be
a Congresswoman. When I went to my first two year college, which was Miami Dade College
at Western campus, I got involved there in student government. Here I have a flyer of…This
is actually my opponent who I keep it here because I won and I was really afraid that
he knew so many people on campus and I won. It’s a good memory for me. But anyhow, here’s a copy of the actual flyer
that I used to promote myself. Here’s the ballot. On this side is…This is the actual
flyer that I used. It’s in five different languages and my slogan…I had created a
website. The reason why I’m showing this to you is because these are actual materials
that showcase leadership, showcase the audience that I had been working with. It also showcases my computer skills, communication
skills. I want to show you not because I want to show off, but actually it’s an opportunity
that if you see anything in this binder that triggers a thought, what are you doing currently
now in the workplace that could be used to better promote yourself? That’s what I did.
In this binder, you’ll see newsletters. There’s letters of recommendation. Here’s a letter that I had written to the
student body. This is a newsletter of me presenting in front of the faculty, and so on. I’m going
to tell you my first success story, actually. Oh, and then there were also certificates
that I had received, which I inserted in here. Articles…Either articles that either I wrote
a story for or maybe I was mentioned or…You don’t even have to be the person being acknowledged. It could be materials or things that you contributed
to. If you’re part of a work group, you could put a flyer of the event. For example, just
being part of this webinar, that invitation will go in my professional portfolio. My first
success story was actually when I was trying to get into the public relations program,
as I mentioned. I had been admitted to the broadcasting program at the University of
Florida. Two weeks before, I drove up with my parents
and I put this binder together in the car, actually. I went to the director and I said,
“Can I transfer from one program to another?” Of course, he was like, “OK, it’s two weeks.
I’m sorry, we’ve reached cap.” Then I said, “Can I present to you my professional portfolio?”
He said, “Sure.” He went ahead and he looked through the professional
portfolio. By the time that he completed looking at the portfolio, I got a waiver. I said,
“Wow.” That’s my first success story. The next success story is that…I used this also
to present it when I was applying for my first position in the Office of Civil Rights. The director at the time, she flipped to this
one page…First of all, she looked at this binder and she wasn’t really sure what this
is. That’s the other key thing. It’s thinking outside of the box and saying, “What can I
do different?” This portfolio is not a common thing. “What can I do different to showcase
my abilities?” Because the challenge is, if you’re going, for example, through a job interview,
let’s say all three of us are going through a job interview, we are there because we met
the basic qualifications. But the difference will be it’s that person
that stands out, because all of us will say we have the knowledge, the skills, and ability
to do X. We have the passion. We want to do this. We’re the right person for this reason
and this reason. However, that one person who brings a professional portfolio will leave
a very lasting impression, and so that’s what we want to do. We want to find ways…what can we do different?
Anyhow, so she stopped on this page, and this page talks about a federal government conference
started by the Florida International University. I explained to her that I helped found this
conference, and she actually had an interest in having a conference, a training conference,
to train managers at the FAA on how to hire persons with targeted disabilities. I attribute my success in obtaining that first
position with the FAA to this page right here. There’s something in the book. If you’re in
college and you feel like you don’t have a lot of work experience to show, using materials
that you…that showcase your involvement in college really helps. Now if you’re a federal employee, or any employee,
and…what you would do is you would use materials from the workplace, so that could be PowerPoint
presentations. It could be memos that you’ve written for a director. It could be “Thank
you” cards, anything that you can showcase. OK, and then in closing, I don’t want to use
too much time, but then in closing, the key thing, too, is to tailor what’s in your portfolio.
Tailor it to the vacancy announcement, to the detail announcement. Tailor it to a school
scholarship. Tailor it to a school application. Whatever it is, it has to be tailored to what
it’s requested by that application. The best time to present your portfolio is
at the very end of an interview when they say, “Do you have any questions?” Everybody
needs to have questions. That’s when you want to say, “Sure. I have a professional portfolio
that I’d like to leave with you,” and here to my…on the side are some samples of portfolio
that you can also purchase. That is actually one key tool that I use to
help advance and showcase my abilities. Especially when I was coming fresh out of college I really
didn’t know how, and I continue to do it now in the workplace. My recommendation to everybody
is, starting today, get a three-ring binder, purchase sheet protectors, the clear sheet
protectors, and as you accomplish every task, go ahead and just file it away. Don’t worry about the order. Just file it.
When that next opportunity becomes available you’re going to use that thick binder that
I have as an archive, and then you’re going to get a professional portfolio, something
that’s much thinner, and then you’re going to take out the materials and tailor it to
the opportunity of choice. That’s my…that’s what’s helped me. Just to piggy back on what you were saying,
we all go through annual evaluations, and I think that as you’re doing projects throughout
the year, if you do get that three-ring binder, and you just put a copy in there, when you
go back to write your list of accomplishments for your supervisor for the evaluation, it’s
really going to help you refresh your memory anyway. It serves a two-fold purpose. The other thing
I wanted to add is that I think a lot of folks tend to sit and wait for somebody else to
sing their praises, and there’s a difference between, of course, being arrogant and being
assertive, but there’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn a little bit and singing
your own praises because you have to take charge of your career. Nobody else is going to do that for you. You
drive it. You control it to a certain extent, and you should take full advantage of that,
and I think that the portfolio is a great way to do that. I have one of my own, actually,
that my mom, she instilled that in me. I’m constantly updating that thing. Really, honestly,
I’m going to take your advice and streamline it a little bit, because it’s just crazy right
now. [laughter] You know it’s falling apart because there’s
just too much, and I need to just streamline that. But it’s a great way to showcase who
you are, what you’ve done, and what you can do. Because if you can do what’s in that portfolio,
who knows what else you can do? It just opens up a whole level of opportunity
for you as a federal employee, as a student, as somebody trying to get into government.
It does leave a lasting impression, and a good one. Very interesting. Well, great comments. For
some of us that are a little older, though, our portfolios look more like Webster’s encyclopedias. [laughter] I was going to say that’s the difference between
the baby-boomers and Generation Y and X. [laughter] Kim and Glo, as usual you brought up some
good points, and I just want to hit on a couple of key things that summarize just to make
sure we have this, and the viewers can understand this. One of the things you talked about was
that you have to have a positive mindset. Viewers understand that. A positive mindset is an absolute requirement
to be successful and have a successful career path in the federal government because people
don’t want to be around others who aren’t positive. It’s just the way it is. The second
thing that I’ve gathered from listening to the panel is that you need to develop a well
and diverse network of people that you can rely on, either to shadow or to gain some
mentoring or coaching or sponsorship or whatever the case may be. Here’s the third thing that I want the panel
to hit on a little bit more, and I thought Kim did an excellent job with regarding the
portfolio idea. Because competition is keen, so even a job announcement goes out on USA
Jobs, you could have upwards of 500,000 people apply, and then if you’re fortunate enough
to get an interview how do you stand out? That’s the next area I want you all to talk
about is how do you…we might think of ourselves in a certain way, but others have a view of
us also. It really comes down to branding and being able to stand out and be distinctive
and all that stuff, and it’s interesting to…it would be interesting for us to know, “How
do you go about doing that and how do you stand out? How do you…besides having a portfolio, what
are the qualities and characteristics that you need to display within your work area
that comes across as being positive and standing out, and Ora, if you could just take a minute
or two to talk about how you…what brand are you, and how do you stand out and look
at as that person that people want to be associated with? I think one of the things that is so important
for myself and for anyone else to stand out is the fact to be compassionate, to be empathic,
to have understanding about yourself and others. Those are things that people also look to
you, not only can you do the job, but how you do the job, and how you interact with
other people. I know for me it’s important to not only keep
the positive attitude, but try to be…try to help others find their positive, try to
help others find their path, whatever it is for that moment. I know I’m…when you say,
“How do you brand yourself?” I’m just me. As I said, the way I live is the way I present
myself, and what I mean by that is that, again, having a great outlook on life, trying to
be positive with yourself and others, empathic. I think what’s sometimes we miss are the social
sciences of relationships, the humanities of relationships, and sometimes that goes
missing. I think if we cultivate those characteristics within ourselves that shines forth as well. OK. Very good, very good. Glo, could you add
to that, and I want to give you a quote and have you speak to that because when you’re
dealing with folks in the workplace, there’s a lot of folks who can do stuff like we talked
about. There’s a lot of qualified folks. But here’s a quote. “It’s not what you do. It’s
the way you do it.” Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. That can really help you stand out. Could
you speak a little to that? Yeah, I think for me there’s a couple of things.
First of all, consistency is a huge thing for me. I love consistency, and I think when
you’re the type of person who strives to be detail-oriented, and that doesn’t come easy
to a lot of folks, but I think in any job there’s a level of pride of work, pride of
ownership that you need to take, and so doing something well, doing it consistently well
can help brand you as the type of employee that everybody wants to have on their team. Folks see that and they know you bring a high
level or a high standard of work anywhere you go. My motto has already been that I try
to make a place better, better than it was, when I leave it. When I leave I should be
leaving a lasting, positive impression. Even if it’s a small change, that’s a good change,
and that’s something that wasn’t there before that I brought to the table. I think that’s huge, the consistency, and
attitude that you can’t become consistent until you have the knowledge. I’m a voracious
reader. When I came into publishing I had an English degree, and that was it. A love
of writing, a love of proofreading, and that was it. I knew nothing about proofreading marks. I
knew nothing about trademarks and printing presses. There’s just so much stuff that goes
into just that, and so I read everything that I could. I talked to folks. I am not a networker
by any means. I’m actually, believe it or not Ora, I’m an introvert. [laughter] I am very shy, but my way of networking I
do very well one-on-one. I will gird my loins and go up to somebody like Kimberly suggested
and say, “Hey, do you have just 20 minutes to talk to me about…this is what I’m thinking,
and this…I just need a little bit of guidance, and I’m hoping that you can help me.” You’re
right, folks…you’d be surprised at how often that doesn’t happen. Coming out of your comfort zone just a little
bit to get you that little bit of extra knowledge that you need, and then you apply that consistently,
and that’s going to effectively brand you. Then the last thing is…well, two things.
Initiative, I’m big on taking the initiative on something, and I get that from my mom. She’s been in government for almost 30 years,
and her motto used to be, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Now she’s mellowed out,
and I’ve taken her place. But my thing is I like to take the initiative. I like to take
on extra tasks, and I always tell folks, “Pile it on, and I’ll tell you if it’s too much.”
Because I would rather be busy than bored. If it don’t have anything to do I’m bored
to tears, and that’s just a recipe for trouble. I’d rather take the initiative, and that…folks
like employees who take the initiative, who take the initiative to learn, to grow, to
take on extra projects, to work with other people. Those are positive things, and again,
that labels you as a valuable person. Then the other thing is honesty and transparency,
and that speaks to the consistency piece. I personally am really big on saying what
I mean and meaning what I say. If I don’t know the answer, I don’t know the answer.
That’s just the bottom line. I’m not going to pretend to know the answer, but I will
do my best to find the answer for you or connect you with somebody who knows more than I do. I mean I’m not afraid of connecting with folks
who are way smarter than me. [laughs] I recommend that you do that as well, that you just remain
open, honest, and transparent. I’m not big on working in silos, either, so if I have
something that you need, I’m going to share it with you. I dug it up, I put it in Excel
spreadsheet, but if you need it, and you can work from it, great. I’m going to give it
to you. That fosters teamwork too. Again, all of that
speaks to being the employee…you know your positioning yourself to move up because folks
see that you have a little area of responsibility but that you’ve been able to quadruple the
production or quadruple the consistency and what have you, and they want to move you up.
They want to move you over. They want to have you talk to other people about what you do
and how you do it. It takes a little bit of time. It doesn’t
happen overnight. That’s like the next thing. I mean it’s not like Jack in the Beanstalk
where you plant a magic seed and it happens, but you build that reputation over time, and
then over time you can reap those benefits. All right. Thank you very much. Bruce. Yes. Glow said something that I want to share with…especially
the people who are already in the federal government, government employees who are already
there. One of the things that we all need to think about, it doesn’t matter what grade
level you are, and you do need to think about this, is what legacy you want to leave behind. It doesn’t matter…it doesn’t have to be
on a grand scale. It doesn’t have to be that you become the director of an organization
or you become the secretary of an organization. What it means is a legacy that people knew
you or know you as a person of honesty, as a person that is a go-getter, as a person
that complies, a person of thought and creativity. Those are the kinds of things…and it doesn’t
matter, again, in what area you’re working in. A legacy that when you leave you were
the best auditor that they ever met, or you were the best accountant that ever existed,
or that you were the best program director or management analyst. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you
stay fresh, that you embrace the work that you do, and that you think about that you
want to leave something of value behind when the time comes that you either move on to
something else or you retire. That’s what I wanted to say. Very good, and that was really timely, because
I wanted to ask Kim to follow up of that idea, on this idea of taking details and either
going on a career lattice track versus a career ladder, and what’s the distinction and maybe
share an example of your outlook on that. OK. Well I think that seeking for opportunities,
sometimes we can get a little comfortable, but it’s very important to try and challenge
yourself. Try different things, because you’d be supposed of…boy, once in the federal
government, once you get an opportunity to work in a different office you fall in love
with that, too. We don’t have to be in one track. I actually
did have the opportunity when I applied for this developmental program. It was called
the Executive Leadership Program provided by the graduate school. I think the best thing
about it was the actual detail opportunity, and I had the opportunity to do it at a different
agency, and I chose the Department of Education. I wanted to learn about higher education and
how they managed grants. That was a great learning experience for me, and I was able
to bring back a lot of the skill sets that I learned from that detail, and I was able
to actually contribute to the Department of Education to help them with their filing system
and creating a new form of tracking, and it was just a good thing to do, as Ora mentioned,
to leave a legacy and have an impact pretty much in the way we work day to day. But finding details, you know it’s not always
about necessarily advancing, meaning to the next higher grade. It’s also about what else
is available laterally that I can take advantage of? Then opportunities become available that
way. Actually I did benefit from a detail, and
I hope to do another one in the future to keep exploring the different opportunities,
and I think it also helped with the networking, again, building relationships. Now I have
relationships with different agencies that can work with my agency, and as a result we
can have a greater impact in the community in joint missions that we have. That’s one example of how a detail has been
very beneficial for me. One thing, if I may, that I wanted to add from the question previously
is that for me, personally, when we’re thinking about how our mindset and how we carry ourselves,
I think for me it’s been very important to know what are my strengths and what are my
areas of improvement? First and foremost, knowing me, myself, and
having that self assessment, it’s very important for all of us. Then once you identify what
are your weakness is, OK, well who is strong in my organization that has that, who’s strong
in that area that I can work with and partner with? I think that’s been very helpful for
me. Also being around positive people. There’s nothing like being around positive
people because positive people are looking for positive things, and you can only get
positive things. That’s very key for me. It keeps me humble. It keeps me balanced. It
keeps me joyful. I enjoy, like earlier when I said, extending your hand and helping other
people, sharing the information, sharing the information. Because in the end it’s for the greater good.
For me once I die, I can’t take any of this with me, so it’s not the tangible things that
are important. It’s really the impact, the legacy that we leave behind. Did we help somebody
today, and what impact did we make in their lives, and how do we help them? That’s my
self-gratification. But I’ll tell you one thing that I think is very helpful. All of
us have challenges. We’re in meetings and we have to make a decision,
but we don’t see eye to eye. One of the things that I do is I like to say, when I think I
have good answer, I like to say, “Well, what do you think if we do this?” versus saying,
“That’s a bad idea,” or “No.” I think it’s also about the approach when we’re making…when
we want to make recommendations. How we carry ourselves, and what we say and
how we portray that is critical. That’s one way that we can contribute to the workplace
as well is our thought process and how do we communicate certain things. When you say,
“Well what you do you think about this?” then the team says, “Well…” Now they feel included. They’re thinking about
your idea, and they’re going to say, “Well you know what? That sounds like a good idea.”
There you go. Then more than likely maybe they’ll say, “OK, we’ll go with that.” That’s
one approach, and I think it’s really about that relationship and aside from the obvious
how we carry ourselves professionally every day, like Ora mentioned, and Glorimar mentioned
is consistency. Also, our presence online, social media, what
are we saying on our Facebook pages and twitter, and things like that. Understanding that the
role that we play in the work place, and also our lives on a personal level, does have an
impact. We represent the federal government and there’s an integrity factor there. People
look up to you. We have to know that we are models, and that
it’s important to be a good role model. Those are some things that also I wanted just to
throw in there that have been helpful for me in the workplace, as well. I agree with you about the self awareness
piece. I think that you can’t walk around as a federal employee, or as a person really,
and not have some self awareness. Like I said, know what you bring to the table. Know your
strengths, know your areas of improvement. Part of that also goes into knowing when to
go. That’s something that I’ve learned over the years, is that moving up professionally
doesn’t necessarily mean moving up, like Kimberly was saying, up the career ladder. It is a
lattice, and that was actually one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received,
is that if you look at your career more as a lattice, where you can move up, down, to
the side, horizontally. That all contributes to adding to your knowledge
base, and making you a more valuable and more knowledgeable and more consistent employee.
That will eventually move you to where you want to be. But without that self awareness
piece, you’re really going to stagnate. My thing now is I don’t ever want to be…it’s
going to sound terrible, but let me explain. I don’t want to be the “but girl.” I don’t want to be the person that everybody
says, “Oh, she’s a great worker, and she comes in on time, and she’s got all these great
ideas, but”…and then something negative follows after that. Because “but,” that word
“but” erases everything that came before. You can give a list of positive attributes
a mile long. But when you add “but” at the end of that list, you’ve just erased everything
that you’ve said. I don’t want to be known for that. I don’t want to be the “but girl.”
I want to be the person that folks want to move along the way, and want on their team,
and want to share with other agencies. Because that ultimately increases your value.
Value added to you as a person, to you as an employee, and that’s a positive thing. Hey Glo, do us a favor and speak real quickly
as a follow up to this whole notion of career lattice versus career ladders. Specifically
regarding the difference between SES positions, GS positions, technical positions, and giving
the viewers an understanding that not everybody has to be SES. There’s different things to
satisfy your motivations, it just depends on what you want to do. Exactly. I think it speaks back to that self
awareness piece. This is something that I’m at a point in my career now where, [laughs]
my career, I’ve been here eight years… [laughter] Another time off. [laughter] I’m constantly evaluating and assessing, when
I came into the government I really had no idea what I wanted to do other than move up.
That was my ultimate goal. When I came in as a career ladder, I got to the top of that
career ladder, and my next thought was OK, what happens now. I scheduled a series of
informational interviews, just very informal discussions with some top folks in the agency. My approach to them was, I am a point in my
life where I need to know which direction to go. Should I be an executive officer? They
dabble in everything, personnel and IT and budget. Do I want to manage people, do I want
to go in to the senior executive service and be a strategic thinker for an agency? I didn’t know which way to go. Over the course
of a year, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with some really great, very helpful
folks from each of those areas. They’ve been able to provide some great information. The
senior executive service is a great way to move government forward for the people. Not to sound cliché, but those are your
strategic thinkers, and those are your career folks who are at the top of the food chain
so to speak. They make a lot off hefty decisions that affect not just federal employees, but
they affect folks out in the communities in the nation. You have that opportunity, as
with every opportunity it has its positives and its potential challenges. You can go to the top of the GS ladder, GS
15 and there’s two tracks for careers. You can be a technical, or you can be a managerial.
In technical you’re just doing the program work and you’re me, like I was a couple years
back. You’re in your cube farm and you’re just plugging away at the work and you might
be communing with the community a little bit. For the most part you’re just doing the work
itself. Then there’s the managerial track, and you
can actually grow people, and manage people, and processes at the same time. Obviously
both tracks are valuable to the government, there’s no right or wrong in the path that
you select. It’s the path that is right for you. If you’re passionate about growing people,
then managerial is the way you want to go. If you’re passionate about thinking outside
the box and you want to be part of the strategic planning for the agency, then SES is potentially
for you. If you just want to be in your cube farm, and drink your coffee. Do the work,
and not worry about anything else. You’re just as valuable. You really need to be aware
of what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what you don’t want to do. Then, pursue the option that fits for you.
The details are great. I always tell my interns, “Now is the time for you to decide where you
want to fit.” Do you want to be in the government? Do you not want to be in the government? Do
you want to work for this office, or do you want to work for another program office? Don’t be afraid to dabble a little and experiment,
because the last thing you want to do is be in a place where it’s just the wrong fit.
My philosophy is, “I don’t want to damage people by being in the wrong place at the
wrong time.” Because you can become cynical and jaded, and that attitude infects the environment
around you. You don’t want to leave that negative impact on the environment. You want to be the person that promotes change
and positivity. You do that by knowing when it’s time to go. When it’s time to move over.
When it’s time to move up, or even when it’s time to step down. You have to have that knowledge
in the back of your head. I encourage you to explore the different career paths that
are available. Technical, managerial, SES, there is a lot of opportunity in the government. Very, very interesting. Thanks so much for
that. Ora, could you maybe follow up on that a little bit? Share a couple of items that
might help folks? I 100% agree with Glo, and her evaluations
of the different [laughs] areas that you can go into. One of the things that, as you were
talking, I was thinking about knowing…especially knowing when it’s time to move on. I know…when
I was working in the office of the Chief Financial Officer, there was…I was actually, even
though I was not an auditor, my chief, branch chief, thought I could oversee auditors, because
I had some knowledge of what they were doing. I remember thinking that they might be resentful
of me a little bit, for doing that. But I did it. But I had this sense that I needed
to move on. I didn’t need to make the argument that this wasn’t the place for me. I knew
that it wasn’t, and I had to make that decision to move on. That’s important in our careers,
that not to expect that our supervisors are going to say, OK, it’s time for you to move
on, or it’s time for me to promote you. It’s like, both my colleagues have said, that
self-awareness of who you are and what you’re about and what your strengths and weaknesses
are and what potential you see in yourself, and if it’s not where you are, you need to
move on. I just wanted to add that, because having worked in HR and seeing the things
that go on in EEO, there are a lot of employees and managers as well that somehow feel that
damage has been done to them because of where they are. The reality of it is that you control your
own path. Therefore if you control your own path, it hasn’t that someone’s done something
to you. It’s that you need to make that critical decision of picking yourself up and moving
on somewhere else. I just wanted to add that in there, Bruce. Thanks so much, very good, very good. Now
what I want you all on the panel to discuss, is, just briefly, one example or two. Some
classes or courses that viewers could actually take that helps them with upward mobility
within the Federal government. I think that’s always very helpful, to actually
get some concrete things that have helped you all. When you look back on it and say
you know what, that class or that course really helped my growth, and my ability to move up
in the Federal government. Kimberly, do you think you could…as you’re writing furiously
there…start off for us? [laughter] I’m trying to think. I think a very good class
that I had taken was a writing class, and sometimes we think that we’re great writers,
but…having, freshening up on your writing style is always good. I just learned so many
techniques on how to improve my writing style and better communicate and how to shorten
my emails. I remember when I first started. I brought
that bad habit from back in high school. The essay part, where you do a nice introduction,
and it’s not until you get to the middle or almost the end that I’m really saying what
I want to say. I do remember that I needed that I needed that. As you see, I’m saying,
“Um.” I need to remember not to say, “Um.” A writing course is very good. Also, we mentioned earlier…I got involved
in different organizations and through the organizations there are lots of training opportunities
that are offered annually. There are organizations such as the National Council of Hispanic Employment
Program Managers that any employee can be a part of and, on an annual basis, they partner
with different organizations and offer trainings. The one that I can think of honestly off the
top of my head was that writing class. A generational class, understanding how to work with different
generations was a very good one, as well. But I think, going back to the idea of just
self reflecting and identifying what are my areas of improvements, not weaknesses but
improvements. Then asking coworkers and around what are
some of the trainings that you’ve taken that have been helpful to you. That’s one that
comes to mind right away. OK. You know what, though? I’m going to tell
you. It’s really true about the email writing. [laughter] One of the things in the federal government
that you all can attest to, we’re always writing. We’re always communicating and most of the
time we’re communicating through email. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the way
a person communicates with you in email cognitively makes…You draw an assumption about that
person. Their capability or whatever, so we just want
to reemphasize, and I thought that was a great point, that it’s very important to be able
to write well and write short… [laughter] …and get to the point because everybody
gets 1,000 emails and they want to get to the point very quickly. Glo, could you follow
up on that? I think, for me, I actually took a speech
class when…I was in college at the time, but I’ve actually participated in a couple
of Toastmasters events and things. I think public speaking is a huge piece. By public,
I don’t necessarily mean in front of…In a panel or in a speech, but it could be in
a meeting. You may have to present an idea to some pretty senior level staff or even
your own boss. You want to be able to present in a clear,
concise manner and justify or provide the business case for your idea. In order to do
that, you do need the writing piece, because you need to be able to put that down on paper,
but you also need to be able to do it verbally. For me, personally, who knew…When I was
taking this course in college and we had to do 15 minute presentations. They couldn’t
be any less than 14 minutes, any more than 15 minutes or you’d get dinked. It was pretty
intimidating for me as an introvert. Ironically, I got a good grade in the class,
but it’s really…The points that I learned, the things that I learned ended have carried
me through to today. I would encourage anybody. I’m big on free or cheap. Sorry, that’s me. [laughter] The federal budget being what it is, it’s
a little tighter now and we want to be careful about how we spend taxpayer dollars, obviously.
But there may not be money available in your office budget for training. I hate to say
it, but you may have to dig into your own pocket a little bit or you may just look for
those free resources. Affiliation. There’s plenty of affiliations
here in the D.C. area or around the regional offices nationwide. They’ve got chapters there
and they host conferences and they host workshops and professional development seminars. The
affinity groups in your respective agency, a lot of times they do brown bag lunches and
different policy seminars and what have you. They bring guest speakers in. Those are great ways to get training, as well,
and to learn from other folks. Then, the other point is department sponsored training. Every
agency’s different, but there are some training programs, some topics that go government wide.
Diversity and inclusion is always included. IT is always included. Safety and security
is always included. Ethics everybody needs to know. Be ethical. But there are other professional development
opportunities available through your agency that I encourage you to take advantage of,
and nine times out of 10 they’re free. You’re right there in the building. Go downstairs
to your training and development center. Take advantage of those. Cut out a little portion of your day for professional
development, because it’s an investment that will pay huge dividends in the future. It’s
a little bit of an inconvenience for a huge payoff. That’s what we need to remember. All right. Thank you very much. Ora, what
about you? First thing, I do want to ditto what my colleagues
have said in terms of refresh yourself, refresh yourself, refresh yourself. Even with the
most basic things, sometimes you have to go back to square one just to get that under
your belt. For me, it was all the same. Writing, communications, but what really was
a door opener for me moving forward in my career was I was very fortunate to be a candidate
and picked for an 18 month project management course at GW. I took that and got my Master’s
certification in administrative project management. That made a big difference. That opened some doors for me, as well. But
I don’t think we ever stop learning. I don’t think we should ever stop learning. Like I
said, from the basics to whatever it is you’re interested in, you should go for it. I know
in our agency at the Department of Education, we have a great training center. Things are offered all the time as freebies.
You need to take advantage of it because it’s beneficial not only to the people around you
and to the people you serve, but most important it’s beneficial to you. OK. All right. Thank you very much. Now, we
have a few minutes left. There’s a couple of things I wanted the panel to discuss before
we got out. We’ve been pretty doggone optimistic here… [laughter] Just a bit. …regarding the federal government, so now
it’s time to get down to some reality, though. Reality optimism. That kind of thing. What
I want to ask is, and I want the panel to discuss, what are the inherent challenges
of working within the federal government? What things could folks expect as challenges
or barriers in their quest for upward mobility or just the satisfaction of working in an
area that folks are passionate about? That type of thing. There are, I think, some structural
things that present challenges to even folks that are as optimistic as we are. Anybody who would like to start that off,
just name a couple challenges you might have personally experienced or things that you
see, just to give the viewers an idea that if they’re already in the federal government,
they’re not alone. Anybody want to start that off? Do you want to go? [laughter] I’ll start it off. I think… Oh… No go ahead, Kimmy. No, no, go. [laughter] That’s one of them, never being able to decide
who goes first. [laughter] One of the challenges that I experienced early
in my six-year career, so far, was actually…I was working for an organization, and I had
a team lead at the time. Very early, coming fresh out of college, I was very optimistic,
and I just wanted to learn, really take it all in and learn. I was hired in this position. Fortunately,
I did go to trainings to prepare myself for this position while I was there. However,
in the workplace, when I would communicate with this team lead, for example, I was not
given projects that supported what I was hired for. That was a big challenge. I had asked, “Can I shadow you?” because she
was doing what I was going to be doing. I remember her saying, “I don’t like having
people look over my shoulder.” I came across this barrier at a very young age that I just
was surprised about. I started to think I must be the problem, because I didn’t know
any better. I think that maybe some of us might be facing
something close to that, regardless in what level we are in our careers, where we have
aspirations to do more, and the persons that maybe we have to work with don’t necessarily
support that initiative, or they might not want to see you succeed, for whatever reason. Luckily, I remained positive, and through
those networks and the mentorship program and tapping into different groups and relationships,
I was able to outcome that and move into a different position. I never held anything
against her. I actually just prayed about it. I prayed for her, and I hope that everything
works very well for her and for myself. I moved on. That was a personal challenge
for me. Since then, I am happy that it happened early, because I learned it is not me. We
do have challenges in the workplace. The challenge is not the work. It’s never the job. The challenge
is the people we have to work with because we come from different backgrounds. We have
different ways of thinking. We grew up from…We have all these different
experiences when we were growing up, so we interpret things differently. The way, your
tone, whatever that might be, it’s all different, and everyone has different motives. What we
have to understand is that sometimes you might not be in a position of choice in a great
environment that you had envisioned or mentioned. We have control of our destinies. If it’s
not working out for you, it is time for us to check out. That is OK. Everywhere is not
perfect. We don’t know what people are dealing with, those people who we might start holding
grudges. Don’t hold grudges. This is my suggestion, actually. Choose what you’re going to stress
about. That’s what I do. I really am very selective in what I choose
to stress about in life, again, because nothing in life is really worth stressing. Of course,
we have things at work that we…Things need to get done, and so it naturally causes some
stress, but take a moment to just, again, self-reflect, put things into perspective,
and then find out what’s in your control and what can you do to improve and to get out
of that situation. If you experience, or if you’re experiencing
something like I did, then my suggestion would be to let’s identify what are our next goals.
OK, so how do we get out of this situation? Might be “I need another job.” Then, how are
we going to get there? What are some of the developmental programs, or what are some of
the things that even I, personally, can do on my RDO? Where can I volunteer? Maybe I can go to another office or whatever
it might be. You have to think creatively. Could I meet with somebody? Again, informational
interview. Could I contribute some time to a project after work? Whatever it might be.
I would say, just be selective about what you choose to stress. We don’t want to stress about anything. We
really want to stay positive. Know that it’s not you. If you have the right intentions,
it’s not you. We just have to find ways to work with other people, and finally, is to
change our environment. You are in control. We can all make it better. That would be my
suggestion. OK. Anybody else? I agree with Kimberley. Actually, she stole
my thunder. [laughter] What I find as a barrier, having worked in
employee relations, labor relations, and now in EEO, the biggest barrier or the biggest
downside of moving up or moving out is the lack of real communication, not communicating
with your supervisors, not communicating with your colleagues. Especially, I’m talking,
at this point, between employee and supervisor, really communicating about your desires, your
vision of where you see yourself. Sometimes, a manager doesn’t have the opportunity
to really focus on just us. They focus on thousands of other little things that are
going on. I think a barrier is communicating. Where do you see yourself a year from now,
two years from now, three years now, having a real reality check about that…Communicating
that to the powers that be in your office. If that doesn’t happen, then the bottom line
is you need to move on. I agree with Kimberly. Don’t always think that it’s you. My mother
always said “it takes two to tango.” There’s two sides to everything going on. But real,
open dialogue, I think is the key to finding yourself, finding where you want to be. Then,
if that’s not happening for you because it can’t happen where you’re at, then moving
on. All right. Glo, could you wrap that up? Yeah. I think for me, personally, it’s been
a couple of things. One of the biggest hindrances for me, challenges for me, has been a hidden
bias. This right here? I look like I just graduated from high school, if not still in
high school. [laughter] For me to sit up here and be able to share
career advice, I know plenty of people out there are like, “Who the heck is this 19-year-old
girl?” I’m not 19. How old are you? Oh, I’m sorry… [laughter] I was going to say thank you. [laughs] Sorry about that. I’m old enough…yeah. I walk into a meeting,
or I’m invited to speak somewhere, and I see it on everybody’s face. They just look at
me like, “Who the heck is this little kid?” I’ve actually been taking some leadership
coaching on the side with a trainer. She asked me how I could reframe that in my
mind. How can I see that as a positive? Because for me, it’s always been a negative. Folks
look at me and they’re like, “What could she possibly know or contribute? She’s 10.” [laughter] What I’ve done is, and it’s really bad to
say it, I’m giving away my secret. I played the “Columbo” card. For those of you who know
who Columbo was, the show, he always had this saying. “Oh, and one more thing. One more
thing.” He always seemed scatterbrained. I don’t give the impression of being scatterbrained,
but I do give the impression of being very innocent. I use that to my advantage. I’ll
sit in a meeting, and I’m a firm believer. I keep my ears open and my mouth shut, and
I learn a lot. Then I ask specific questions after everybody’s done speaking. You learn
quite a bit when you do that. Then, they realize that they’ve underestimated
me. I can move forward, and I can build those relationships. But man, that’s a heck of a
hurdle. I’m going to be carded at the movies for the rest of my life. I know that. [laughs]
I’ve come to accept that as a reality. Hidden biases, it’s just a reality in government,
in non-profit, anywhere you go. You have to learn to reframe that like my
coach says, and use it to your advantage, whatever the hidden bias may be. The other
issue that I’ve found is regulations and compliance to regulations. I know my old bosses are just
rolling their eyes right now because they have heard me say it a million times. “I love
you, but I’m not going to jail for you or anybody.” The thing with government, everybody’s familiar
with the red tape of government. It can be a little bit of a barrier because you’re trying
to put forth an idea, or a project or the goals of the agency, and you hit road block
after road block after road block. You hear people say, “The law says this. We have to
comply with this. The regulations say this.” It gets old. My interns hated me saying, “We have to comply.
We have to comply. That’s a great idea. Let’s just tweak it so that we don’t get in trouble.”
It always helps to remember that if you understand the purpose for something, you won’t abuse
it. I’ve carried that through. I understand that the law is there for a reason.
The regulations and the rules are there to protect the taxpayer, which I am one, to make
sure that things flow a certain way, to ensure diversity, to ensure a level playing field
in a lot of areas. Armed with that understanding, then I can go in and say, “OK, we can comply
with this, but let’s try it this way instead.” Nine times out of ten, the thinking outside
the box, while complying with the rules, works. But red tape is a reality, whether it’s a
promotion or a detail. You don’t know where it’s going to strike. The key is to think
around it and use it to your advantage. The last thought that I had, and it just sums
up everything. I have a friend who just retired two years ago. He’s from the South, so he
had a saying. “One monkey don’t stop no show.” It’s true. I bring a lot to the table. I can
say that as a fact. I’m not trying to self-promote in any way, I’m just saying it is what it
is. I have a lot of knowledge, but one monkey don’t stop no show. I can, and will be, replaced at some point.
The work will continue. The mission of the agency will continue. I’m just a small mark,
a small step on the road to where the agency and government is going. I bring value, but
I also know that others bring value as well. When I’m gone, somebody else can step into
my shoes and enhance what I’ve done. It’s all about building blocks and enhancing each
other, the agency and putting the work forth. You can use anything to your advantage, you
just have to tweak it a little bit. Very good. Thank you very much. I wanted to
just add on that people also don’t think I’m the age I am. [laughter] You don’t believe that, OK. [laughter] A couple of real good points, hidden bias
is certainly something that’s prevalent that we all engage in. We have a tendency to hire
people that are like us, that are tall. The average height of an American male is 5’10”
the average height of a Fortune 500 CEO is almost 6’3″. You understand there’s a difference
there. The other thing they mentioned about red tape
is reality, and that’s one of the things I think all of us would certainly promote that
you go out and develop. You can develop this skill and that’s called creativity. You can
still comply with the red tape or the regulations. Do it in a creative way, creativity is like
a muscle that you can build and improve upon. Were there any questions through the web?
OK. What I want to do is go ahead and wrap this
up, and I want to wrap this up with…the panelists did not know I would do this. I
want them to recommend one book that they think would be valuable and helpful for the
viewers. I’ll give you just a second, as a matter of fact, I will go ahead and start
off with one myself. It’s really changed my outlook and helped me put things in perspective. There’s a book called Man’s Search For Meaning,
the author is Victor Frankl. That last name is spelled F-R-A-N-K-L, Victor Frankl, and
the book’s title again is, Man’s Search For Meaning, some of you, it’s a classic, might
have already heard of it through sociology classes or what.But in it, Dr. Frankl was
a holocaust survivor and lost his whole family. Basically the question that came to him is
what was, after seeing all this devastation and death, what allowed him to survive? Even
guys that were much bigger and much stronger, they lost their lives but Dr. Frankl continued
on and somehow found his way through it. What he says is something very simple. It’s that he wanted to write a book about
his experiences in that concentration camp to help other people. It was that idea of
meaning and purpose and passion that sustained him through it. If you can have that passion
about something or purpose, we feel like that’s certainly something that can help you be successful
in any of the number of paths you decide to go on. That’s the book I would recommend.
It really helped me quite a bit. Who would like to go first on their book? OK, go. I volunteer. I have two, actually. One is
the, and it sounds really trite, but The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I think it
really helps to know the folks that you work with and the folks that you have to do projects
with. It helps to know how they receive information. This book speaks specifically to things that
you do for your loved ones, but you can also translate that to the workplace, as well.
I like words of affirmation, so if I work with somebody who receives love the same way,
then, “Hey you did a great job on that project, thank you so much for your help, I couldn’t
have done it without you” will go a long way to building comradery with them. The second book sounds really weird so bear
with me, it’s called The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. I want to say this one is about small
pox. [laughs] Which has no bearing on this conversation, but I bring it up because it
really transformed the way that I put things in perspective. He’s writing as a science
writer about this being used as a bio-terrorism weapon. It just put things in perspective, because
when you think about all the other issues that are out there in the world, and you come
back to work and you think of your tiny little issue that’s on your desk, it goes to what
Kimberly said. You really have to focus your energy where it really matters, it helps to
refocus my energy to think like wow, there’s small pox running around out there. I recommend
that book. All right, well thank you very much Glo, Ora? I would recommend a book called Drive by Daniel
Pink. It’s a really great book where it tells us what drives us to do what we do, what motivates,
what can help us get there. I have it sitting on my desk, so when I get to a point that
I am going, “Oh, I don’t have the energy to do this” and I look over, there’s that Drive
book. I open it up to something I can relate to,
so I highly recommend it, it’s a great book. As a matter of fact, we tried to get Daniel
to come to our department to talk about his book, but unfortunately he was totally booked
up, so I’m hoping we can get him next year. Very good, I have read that book, and just
let the viewers know, there’s three main things that he advises. One is mastery, so you find
something that you’re really good at and you become an expert at it. I think the panelists
can tell you that goes a long way within the Federal government. The second thing is autonomy, being able to
control your own work day. Being able to set your schedule, those type of things, is something
that actually motivates people. The third I just had on the tip of my tongue here, mastery,
autonomy, and purpose, finding your purpose or your meaning in life. We talked about that
and touched around that this whole hour and a half. Very good recommendation Ora, and
Kimberly? OK, a quick short reading, one that’s very
common, is Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It’s a good book that talks about
just adapting to change, teamwork, and communication. Another critical one would be Crucial Conversations,
I don’t know the author though, but if you do a search for Crucial Conversations I think
this is a very common training, very popular right now in the federal government. It’s about how do we communicate with people
with different ways of thinking, different back grounds, that is a fundamental piece
to our success and how we work with each other is, communicating our thoughts. Letting it
out. That’s two good books that I’d recommend. Very good. I think this wraps up our time
here. I certainly want to extend appreciation for the panelists for taking their time out
to be a part of this. I hope it was enlightening to the viewers there. We thank you so much
for participating in this. I think I’ll let Glo round it out with saying a few words.
On behalf of myself and the panelists we appreciate it. Glo? Just close everything out. We want to let
everybody know we will be sending a follow up email in the next couple of days to wrap
everything up, recap what we discussed here today. We’ll also provide you with a list
of those books that we mentioned, and then a link to the video recording as well. As I mentioned earlier, this is just the second
in a series. We’ll more than likely schedule some for the fall as well. That will be our
back to school series, so stay tuned. Also, feel free to call the number that was on the
bottom of the invitation to the webinars for more information. If you want to be added to the listserv, we’d
love to hear from you. If you have any specific questions or any specific topics that you’d
like us to tackle in the future, we definitely welcome your input. Feel free to share, and
thank you for joining us today.

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