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In this Issue

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Featuring Stephen L. Williams, Director for the Department of Health and Human Services of the City of Houston

This interview with Stephen L. Williams, Director for the Department of Health and Human Services of the City of Houston, was conducted and condensed by Mahogany Johnson.

MMJ: Regarding public access, what promotional and outreach strategies are you employing to successfully help the public make informed decisions about factors influencing their health?

SW: The Department of Health and Human Services continues to conduct assessment interventions and immobilization initiatives. In fact, last year we visited a number of apartment complexes in the southwest area, and we’re going back into that area in the fall of this year to conduct more assessments. We are responding to things that are of an immediate concern, but we’re also in the community to help people organize themselves to address issues around health. We are involved in several initiatives around community gardens, health and wellness. For example, we have community gardens at every one of our multi-service centers. We have farmers markets at several of our health and multi service centers. Our Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clients are able to redeem their vouchers to purchase fresh foods and vegetables at our farmers markets, and that is in the area of wellness.

Of course, we operate the diabetes awareness and wellness network (DAWN), which serves as an adjunct to primary care for people who are either at risk for having diabetes or have diabetes. In that, we have not only a nutrition component, we have life coaches, activities, cooking demonstrations, and everything that would help a person avoid becoming diabetic by maintaining an appropriate A1C level. We are in the process of revamping a lot of what we do at the multi-service center, so there’s a particular interest toward linking people to civil service and businesses, and conducting the initial part of eligibility for various health and other benefits. For example, we now have the capacity to connect people with benefits in the Harris Health System. We have contracted with the state to have Medicaid workers at a few of our sites, and we’ve developed a human resources unit that is primarily responsible for doing that.

Aside from that, at our multi-service centers, we are looking for ways we can conduct more extensive outreach. For example, during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment process, and for the last two years, we’ve successfully coordinated the regions outreach and education efforts to provide citizens information and help them enroll in Obama Care. We did that in conjunction with our partnership that we developed called ‘Enroll Gulf Coast.’ Probably one of our biggest efforts right now that we’re heading into is the ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative, which was rolled out from the White House last year. We are leading a community coalition, which includes various governmental entities, nonprofits, and other interests that are looking at turning around the plight of boys and young men of color.

Another major highlight is that we became the first accredited health department in the state of Texas in January of this year. We continue to do the basics of operating our laboratory, which covers a 17 county tenement area. We have monitored several citizens, and what most people don’t realize is that that required our staff to go out and engage with individuals over a 21 day period. We continue to inspect more than 12,000 food related establishments and swimming pools within the community, and we are doing all that in a timely basis now. We operate programs around sexually transmitted infections, immunizations, family planning and dental health. All of this is at the core of what we do, but what we are trying to do is ensure that we connect people with the levels of services and support that are needed, which will in turn enhance our effectiveness in dealing with our core public’s health issues. Through our 1,115 waiver projects, we are monitoring approximately 15 different projects. Several of them are not even in our department or related to fire, homelessness, or other initiatives.

MMJ: What is your approach to performance management and how do you ensure your metrics reflect strategic drivers for organizational success?

SW: I actually have a dashboard that I can access from my iPad as well as a performance management group that is responsible for tracking where we are as it relates to all these individual projects or initiatives. We are also looking at outcomes. For example, I can tell when I pull up the dashboard, what my immunization rates are in WIC and in our walk-in clinic.

MMJ: What do you know now that you didn't know as a new president of your previous organization?

SW: I’ve been president of a number of organizations. As president of The Texas Association of City and County Health Officials, we were able to bring most of the health directors from health departments throughout the state together, and we focused on passing legislation that created a group that I now chair called the 969 Policy of Funding Committee, which gives the health commissioner advice on what policies and funding strategies we should use in the public health arena. It’s about forming relationships with your colleagues, getting a good idea of what their interests are, and being able present to people similar interests, and come up with a strategy so that we can set up an agenda in response to our common interest. But that is not something that just happened overnight. It was about building relationships over the last few years so that we can, in fact, set that agenda. Now, we are able to do things that will probably influence national practice in politics. For example, we are working with the National Association of City County Health Officials and the Big City’s Coalition to look at how federal dollars flow from the federal government down to local health departments, and we have been able to bring the state of Texas health department in on that because they have agreed to make their financials visible to this consultant group that is going to look at that. And we are thinking that that information will be used to set an agenda for the national Big Cities Coalition.

MMJ: What is your best advice for budding professionals entering into the public health sector?

SW: I think the first thing you have to do is to be confident, know your area, and be open to different paths. A mistake that a lot of young people make is that they will develop a professional journey or aspiration, and they think that it can only be accomplished through one path. By doing that, I think that often times they miss out on opportunities that could probably help them reach greater heights than they ever imagined. With that said, you have to be open to various opportunities that can help you meet your professional goals. I think that the whole notion of understanding how to connect with people and respecting people is also very critical. I think that developing the skills to listen to folks, understand where they are coming from, to really connect with folks and acknowledge where they are, and to make sure what you are pursuing is actually a good skill for someone to have. I think no matter what profession you are in the ability to having some analytical skills and facilitation skills really transform across various professions and disciplines. Those skills are what I encourage young professionals to really look at.

MMJ: What have you experienced as a public health professional taught you about leadership?

SW: My leadership style is pretty open. I trust my people to do what they need to do, and I give them enough room and flexibility to get the job done. I determine what needs to be done, but they are responsible for figuring out exactly how they can best go about getting that done. But I’m also open to having those directives modified upon receipt of new information. I’m pretty much open to my people challenging me on where we want to go and where we need to go, but they have to present me with facts and evidence that my thinking is a little off, which I’m open to. Those people who have worked with me long enough have developed a certain amount of confidence and comfort with me, and understand that we work best when they can do that.

MMJ: How do you get people on your team to live your leadership philosophy, especially for staff members who are trying to move up the ladder?

SW: Well, I think we have to acknowledge that some do that better than others. Some folks have control issues, and they feel that being a supervisor or manager means they have to control staff. Hopefully, most people grow out of that, but the truth is that some people never grow out of it. Certainly not totally, and some to various degrees. I think that if the folks aren’t getting the job done and one has an understanding of human beings then you know that they are likely to do better work and more work when they are happier or feeling more secure. Being able to find what makes them tick or what motivates them would be really important. The main lesson I think is to understand that no one is perfect and that we are human beings who are bound to make a mistake sooner or later. We have to forgive ourselves and not present ourselves as an art of perfection. I think the biggest mistake some people make is not admitting that they are wrong or that something went awry. I believe your success will be marginalized if you don’t develop a knack for owning up to your mistakes. So, really understanding and getting comfortable with your imperfection and acknowledging that imperfection is one of those foundational things that have to happen in order for you to grow and succeed.

MMJ: Tell me about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

SW: For me, professionally, that has happened at various levels. For example, I used to be a therapist, and it was intrinsically rewarding to see clients engage in sessions and discard a lot of baggage that resulted in them functioning at a much higher level. I realized how my interactions could have a positive impact and make a difference with individuals, so that’s at one level. Then, as I grew in my career, I had the opportunity to create several programs as a staffer. For example, when I was in Phoenix, Arizona working as an assistant to the public health director in Maricopa County, I realized by building a better understanding in public health what needed to happen so that I could actually help my department become more holistic in terms of the public health services that it provided. That kind of snowballed because I wasn’t supervising anyone or anything I just had a concept and an idea that made sense to assist the public health profession. He realized that those functions were missing in the department and empowered me to go and create them. Through that experience, I realized that individuals could actually make a difference from an organizational standpoint.

Then, when I got into more of an executive leadership role, I began to understand the importance of communicating a vision that is focused on helping people, and on doing something good. People will catch on fire and really support that. From that point on, I realized that we could settle for being comfortable with where we were or we could really stretch our organizations to do more than even the individuals in the organizations expected. With that, I realized you could get anything done by motivating people. I think you’ve seen several examples of it in some of the things I’ve talked about earlier. Most of our employees never imagined without the Assessment Intervention Mobilization (AIM) project, that we would actually be putting people on the street. We had a very positive response from staff as well as from community members because they realized that we were actually applying what we call high touch with folks responding to problems, and taking on something that we knew we wouldn’t have all the answers to because we were driven to do the best that we could and that’s still going on nine years later. Those are just examples of things that I’ve experienced that lead me to believe that if you are fairly decent you can get things done in a positive way.

MMJ: Is there anything that you would like to share with the City of Houston’s workforce, or something you wish people knew more about you or your department?

SW: We’re a valuable asset to the City of Houston. The public has bestowed a great amount of trust in us and I think we shouldn’t abuse it. We should treasure that trust and go about doing our work knowing that the public has entrusted us.

Ask the Expert Panel Series: Strategic Workforce Planning

The Learning and Development Center Hosted its 2nd Ask the Expert Panel Series Discussion on Strategic Workforce Planning

Ask the Expert Panel Series is a unique organizational development (OD) intervention to address concerns presented by middle and senior-level managers from the 2014-2015 Leadership Institute Program (LIP)


Houston, TX—June 29, 2015—The Learning and Development Center's Organization Development (OD) and Auxiliary Service team hosted its second session of the seven part Ask the Expert Panel Series entitled, "Strategic Workforce Planning." The panel featured Dale Rudick, P.E. Director of Public Works and Engineering, Marcia Wilson, Deputy Assistant Director of Planning and Development, Robert D. Thomas, Deputy Assistant Director, Strategic Benefit Administration and Operations of Human Resources, and Noel A. Pinnock, Division Manager, My Brother’s Keeper, Health and Human Services.

The panel discussion, which was complimentary and open to all City of Houston employees, took place Tuesday June 21, at 1:00 p.m. at the Learning and Development Center (4501 Leeland Street, Houston, TX).

All panelists shared their experience and expertise on a range of topics including succession planning, human capital, talent management strategies, cultural climate, data-driven decisions and mitigating risks, buy-in and more. Robert Thomas shared with the audience the Human Resources Department's strategic plan approach. "In Human Resources (HR), we're helping drive the closing of the gap in those in the post-secondary arena with the summer jobs program. We need programs to drive the knowledge gap, areas of domain expertise where we can create that revolution within our sections, sell our ideas and watch them blossom," said Thomas.

Taking the floor, Dale Rudick noted the importance of this discussion, particularly serving a multi-generational workforce, and harnessing employee talents. "Incoming generations should be viewed as a welcomed change and not as a threat. There is a wide array of talents in Public Works and Engineering that is very representative of our society as a whole. We need to ensure that we are hiring, retaining, and developing the right talent to fill future positions within the City of Houston," said Mr. Rudick.

Noel Pinnock, offered solutions to finding and developing our next cadre of leaders. "It's kind of like the bell curve in that you have some people within the organization that are there to exist. Then there are those who are there to coexist, but you have very few who live to leave a legacy. You want those who are in a position to leave a legacy," said Mr. Pinnock.

Ms. Wilson, highlighted a number of factors that should be considered as a part of the strategic planning process, addressing: succession planning, enablement and training sessions on budget projection. “You need to know how to do more with less, find out what drives employees to do their best work and positively reinforce and support them along the way.” said Ms. Wilson.

"In the HR community, the benefits and administration team has begun to capture the knowledge of our members and create databases that will be driven by sound innovative new systems that will measure how well we capture job knowledge. Systems are extremely important. I like to refer to them as platforms. There are many touches between all of us during the course of the day, week, month, quarter and year at the City of Houston. If we capture those interactions, we can then theme those interactions and utilize them to define our strategic approach," said Thomas.

The closing remarks were delivered by Omar C. Reid, Director of the Human Resources Department, who encouraged attendees to participate in the Ask the Expert series and take advantage of the opportunity to have their concerns addressed by a panel of subject matter experts.

About the Learning and Development Center

The Learning and Development Center (LDC) is a strategic development and employee performance improvement organization that offers comprehensive training solutions that significantly affect performance and institutional outcomes. The LDC’s consultancy is comprised of an experienced team of professionals with the knowledge and capabilities to design and implement strategies that help our clients’ achieve their goals. The LDC’s primary focus is to provide transformational learning programs that enhance the skills, job competencies, and improve performance and overall satisfaction for the City of Houston's workforce.

For more information, please visit the LDC website at


Mahogany Johnson


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Check Out Our Latest Course Offering(s):

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Customer Service That Wows

Thursday, July 30th, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Pay closer attention to telephone detail
  • Work effectively with a wide variety of callers
  • Recognize that City of Houston employees are customers to each other
  • Recognize forbidden phrases and know how to avoid them
  • Apply good listening skills to determine customers’ needs
  • View complaints as an opportunity to identify problems and better serve customers

This course focuses on:

  • Answering promptly
  • Transferring calls
  • Providing customer service to internal callers
  • Handling irate callers

Instructor led: Karen Harris
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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"Empathy Represents the Foundation Skill for all the Social Competencies Important for Work.” —Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence (25412)

Friday, July 31st, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Emotional intelligence describes the ability to understand one's own feelings, and that of groups, and how these emotions can influence motivation and behavior. The concept of Emotional Intelligence has been around since at least the 1900s, but is considered a new branch of psychology. As a result of the growing acknowledgement by professionals of the importance and relevance of emotions to work outcomes, the research on the topic has continued to gain momentum. The emotional intelligence skills you’ll learn during this workshop will help you gain the ability to more appropriately respond to the world around you and eliminate the stress and frustration that often comes from working with others.

Learning Outcomes:
• Define and practice self-management, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and empathy.
• Understand, use and manage your emotions.
• Recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior.
• Identify the benefits of emotional intelligence.
• Relate emotional intelligence to the workplace.
• Balance optimism and pessimism.

Instructor Led: Victor Taylor

Price: 35.00USD

Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Problem Solving and Decision Making (25501)

Tuesday, Aug. 4th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

This course presents problem-solving and decision-making models to help learners tackle problems and chisel them down to size.

Instructor led: Karen Harris
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required
: Yes

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Business Grammar Nouns and Verbs (25232)

Thursday, Aug. 6th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, employees will be able to do the following:

  • Speak and write sentences using correct subject-verb agreement
  • Form the plurals of nouns correctly • Form the possessive of nouns correctly
  • Form plurals of verbs correctly
  • Use irregular verbs correctly

This course focuses on:
  • Recognizing common grammatical blunders with nouns and verbs
  • Identifying nouns and verbs
  • Identifying the types of nouns
  • Distinguishing the difference between plural nouns and possessive nouns

Instructor led: Bonnie Sandberg
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Building Legendary Customer Service (25502)

Thursday, Aug. 6th, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Each and every one of us serves customers whether we realize it or not. Maybe you are on the front-lines of the organization serving the people who use our services. Perhaps you are an accountant serving the employees by producing their paychecks and keeping the organization running. Or maybe you’re a supervisor, serving your staff

Upon completion of this course, learners will:

  • Define customer service
  • Identify who are customers
  • Recognize the customer service pitfalls
  • Develop outstanding customer service practices
  • Calm down angry customers

Instructor led: Dawn Janis
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Plan Your Day to Save Time (25503)

Monday, Aug. 10th, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to organize their work and time and deal with unexpected problems.

This course focuses on:

  • Organizing your work
  • Prioritizing your tasks
  • Avoiding procrastination
  • Delegating effectively

Instructor led: Dawn Janis
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Conflict Resolution: Building Workplace Relationships (25504)

Tuesday, Aug. 11th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of building and maintaining good relationships
  • Understand the key role that attitude plays in workplace and career success
  • Analyze your interpersonal style to work more effectively with others
  • Determine interpersonal strengths and trouble spots
  • Understand your conflict management approach
  • Apply active listening skills for conflict resolution
  • Apply specific strategies to deal effectively with challenging personalities

This course focuses on
  • How your attitude takes part in your career, working relationships, and your success
  • Importance of good human relations skills
  • Building positive workplace relationships
  • Dealing effectively with challenging workplace attitudes

Instructor led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Managing Change (Managers & Supervisors) (25505)

Thursday, Aug. 13th, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

This course focuses on what creates change, organizational responses to change, dealing with the actions to change, and communicating change.

Instructor led: Karen Harris
Price: $35.00
Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Business Grammar Prepositions, Pronouns and Confusing Words (25233)

Thursday, Aug. 13th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Identify prepositions
  • Recognize that the object of a preposition can never be the subject
  • Define pronouns
  • Identify and use singular and plural pronouns with the proper verbs
  • Use objective and subjective pronouns correctly
  • Use the correct word when writing and speaking

This course focuses on:
  • Identifying prepositions
  • Distinguishing between the subject and the object of the preposition
  • Using the correct forms of pronouns
  • Selecting the correct word and word spelling

Instructor led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Word 2010 - Level 1 (25499)

Tuesday, Aug. 4th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this class, participants should be able to identify the parts of the Word window, create, save, and reopen Word documents, modify documents by editing text, apply different formatting techniques, create labels and envelopes.

This class focuses on:

  • Creating a document
  • Navigating within a document
  • Using the cut, copy, and paste features
  • Working with paragraph formatting
  • Applying bullets and numbering
  • Changing the page orientation, the margins, and the vertical alignment
  • Using the Find and Replace features

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

Excel 2010 - Level 1(23679)

Wednesday, Aug. 5th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Become comfortable using Excel by:

  • Opening, modifying, and saving files
  • Creating a new workbook
  • Entering basic formulas
  • Entering common functions
  • Adjusting font and number formatting
  • Preparing the file for printing

This course focuses on
  • Creating and formatting workbooks
  • Entering basic formulas and functions
  • Working with page layout for printing

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

Outlook 2010 - Level 1 (25500)

Wednesday, Aug. 5th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

This course focuses on:

  • Sending, receiving, and forwarding mail messages
  • Working with attachments for mail messages
  • Requesting a read receipt
  • Sorting the Inbox
  • Scheduling and editing appointments
  • Creating and responding to meeting requests
  • Adding contacts
  • Adding tasks and recurring tasks

This is a hands-on class with emphasis on using Outlook’s various folders and features. Participants will receive a step-by-step manual to be used in class and as a reference in the office.

Instructor Led: Dawn Janis

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

Excel 2010 - Level 2 (23680)

Wednesday, Aug. 12th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Learn to be more efficient with Excel by:

  • Entering more complex formulas
  • Using Conditional Formatting
  • Sorting and filtering data
  • Creating and modifying charts
  • Creating a custom number format

This course focuses on
  • Working with more complex formulas and functions
  • Using Conditional Formatting
  • Sorting and filtering data
  • Creating and modifying charts

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

PowerPoint 2010 - Level 1 (25591)

Thursday, Aug. 13th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to organize a presentation, work with text, and use graphics. Participants will also be able to create speaker notes, work with transitions and animations, apply a design, and create a background.

This course focuses on:

  • Creating a new presentation
  • Editing text and working with placeholders
  • Inserting and modifying AutoShapes
  • Inserting and modifying clip art
  • Creating a table
  • Adding speaker notes to a presentation
  • Setting transitions and animations
  • Adding a design
  • Creating a background

Instructor Led: Dawn Janis

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Featuring Dr. Antoine Moss, Speaker, Author, Career Coach & Job Market Strategist

In lieu of Ask the Expert Panel Series, I decided to feature an external subject matter expert to offer a fresh perspective on a recurrent theme addressed during last week’s second session entitled Strategic Workforce Planning. By way of discussions on cultural climate, talent management strategies and human capital, the topic of a multi-generational workforce continued to resurface, particularly, that of millennial’s or Gen Yers.

As a member of this so-called entitled and ungrateful generation, I'd like to address this idea with the help of Dr. Moss, who is an internationally recognized resource in the fields of college success, internships, job search success, early career acceleration, and leadership. He has contributed to career development articles, stories, and presentations for career service organizations and media outlets, such as, Cleveland’s Plain Dealer Newspaper, The Urban Business Round table, Intern Bridge,, and Fox 8 TV News. Most notably, Dr. Moss writes for as a weekly contributor providing articles for its Career Section. His articles have advanced the careers of thousands of students and young professionals across the country.

MMJ: What inspired you to write your book, Learn to Intern CEO Style: 71 Leadership Principles that Got Me and Now You Money, A Free Graduate Degree, and Respect!?

AM: I had a close friend who authored several books. This individual exposed me to the notion that becoming an author was attainable. I’ve always been an inspirational figure to my peers and even older adults. Consequently, I viewed writing a book as another vehicle that would help me inspire people…particularly young people, to achieve their career dreams.

Although I was a graduate of an underserved and troubled public inner-city school, I competed with hundreds of bright students across the country for very competitive internships. During this quest I was able to develop an unprecedented framework for landing the country’s most competitive internships. As a result, I started at the bottom as an impoverished boy from the inner-city but then became on top by acquiring amazing internship opportunities with entities such as the FBI, NASA, and United States Congress in Washington, DC. Due to my high levels of success with internships, I decided to write a book to show others how to find internships and convert them into full-time job opportunities.

MMJ: You have a wide array of experiences, complemented by a robust professional background – especially for someone your age. What is your recommendation for other driven, young professionals looking to rapidly advance their careers?

AM: If young professionals want to rapidly accelerate their careers and land top positions at a young age they have to do several things. It’s actually pretty easy if they follow my career success formula that’s listed below.

1) Become amazing; they have to always be a top performer---always. Become highly qualified; they have to work hard to acquire the necessary skills and education that will set them apart from their competition. This is why I have two books, a Ph.D. and many other achievements that set me apart from my competition and colleagues. Don’t be the problem; instead, solve your boss’s problem. Many young people tend to become impatient and disgruntled due to slow career advancement opportunities. Instead of adding to their boss’s number of headaches, they must ask them what their biggest problems are and then volunteer to work towards solving them independently and with a team.

2) Learn the game, and then play it well. Each organization has a culture centered on career advancement and success. Sometimes there’s a culture of “seniority” based advancement and on the contrast, some organizations advance individuals based on performance as opposed to time. So young professionals must understand their culture and find mentors that will help them navigate the culture effectively.

3) Enhance their exposure at the top. Young professionals must become visible to the top decision makers and senior managers. These individuals can help them “cut the line” and advance. Young professionals must ensure their reputation is stellar in their eyes. This can only be achieved by constantly doing great work, innovating, and adding tons of value to the organization.

4) Become the C.E.O. of their dreams. As I define in my book, C.E.O. stands for Creator of Excellent Opportunities. Young professionals must proactively create their own opportunities for career advancement through networking, proper career planning, and peak performance. They should take a very proactive approach with their career as opposed to sitting back and waiting for someone else to make their career dreams come true.

5) Build a mutually beneficial network. In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” Well for early career advancement, it’s about “networking, networking, networking.” Positive relationships must be formed and cultivated because many opportunities aren’t ever posted or advertised. So the more connected young professionals are, the better chance they have at advancing quickly. As with any relationship, professional relationship should be mutually beneficial. Young professionals should always figure out a way they can serve their mentors and individuals within their network. The more you serve, the more you receive.

MMJ: Gone are the days that local governments can attract top talent based only on the notion of job security. What recommendations do you have for leaders in the public sector who are seeking approaches to professional growth, workplace flexibility and career development opportunities for hiring top talent?

AM: 1) Leaders must change their mindset from “how things used to be” in terms of career advancement and seniority. Some leaders remember how long it took them to advance in the old days and they try to make young professionals wait for advancement simply because the leader had to wait 10, 15, or 20 years before they could advance.

2) When they see the potential in their young employees, leaders should promote or advance them. They don’t always have to necessarily “prove” themselves. Great leadership knows how to spot talent and pull them up.

3) Mentor and coach them. When I was conducting research for my dissertation, one of my findings was that young professionals appreciate constructive feedback that can be useful for career advancement. As mentors and coaches, leaders must take time to develop their employees while giving them empowering feedback.

Leaders should also meet with them to help develop goals for the job and other professional goals they may have that may not perfectly align with their current job description. This shows their employees that they care and have empathy.

4) Give them flexibility…even let them work from home. Many young careerists would take a lower paying job in exchange for greater flexibility. A lot of governmental organizations offer flexible work schedules and benefits. However, all leaders don’t value this and don’t fully embrace/promote it within their departments. It’s vital that organizations have flexible work opportunities in tandem with leadership that actively embraces this perk.

5) Give them high-profile tasks and meaningful work that impacts the public stakeholders so they are connected to the mission. This will enable them to realize that their work matters and is important to the organization and the public stakeholders.

MMJ: The stark message for many organizations and government agencies alike is to “innovate or die.” Few agencies are successful at fostering a culture of innovation, showing that innovation in government is more the exception than the rule. Houston is home to NASA, a future Spaceport, and boasts a very diverse culture of young and talented professionals. With that said, how do we bridge the chasm on innovation in government in order to attract, hire and retain top talent?

AM: Listen to the ideas young professionals have. Embrace them. And then adopt them. Many young careerist have entrepreneurial minds and think outside the box. Challenge them to innovate. Each generation brings something special to the workforce. So leaders should appreciate and embrace all generations while working towards innovation. Older workers have key institutional knowledge while younger employees are often equipped with fresh ideas---they make for the perfect marriage and opportunity for innovation!

Oftentimes, without innovation in government, young professionals become bored by the mundane and monotonous work that some government officials have to do. Senior managers should develop special committees and working groups to embrace innovation. Rewards should also be given for innovation. Managers should aim to produce a few innovative products or results every year or every six months.

MMJ: There are several schools of thought on the topic of changing jobs too soon. HR cynics might think you went into a job with unreasonable expectations if you change jobs too soon. Would millennials do well to “stick it out” and give their jobs more time?

AM: The most important thing here is for millennials to have a plan without burning bridges. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. If their career position is progressive, it may appear that they have to “pay their dues” for a reasonable amount of time, then they should be patient. Patience is more critical now than ever in the workforce since so many baby boomers in the government are eligible to retire. This means they could retire literally any day. So millennials should befriend their baby boomer colleagues and build a very healthy professional relationship. This is important because they oftentimes have the ability to identify or groom their successor. This is exactly how I landed a top position within my organization at NASA.

Conversely, if young professionals are working a seemingly dead-end job, then it’s best for them to strategically move on to something else that’s in alignment with their career path and ambition for advancement.


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Upcoming Industry Webinars & Local Events

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5 Reasons You're Not Meeting the Needs of the Modern Learner

Modern learning professionals are beginning to recognize that long, stale formal learning is not meeting the demands of the modern learner, and the legacy LMS tools they use to deliver that training are making content a struggle to search for and use.

What learners want today is the ability to quickly find content on their own, when and where they need it, that helps them do their jobs more effectively – yet organizations continue to fail to deliver. Why is this?

In part 2 of our 4-part series of webinars, Brandon Hall Group Senior Analyst, David Wentworth, will moderate a discussion between Brandon Hall’s Chief Strategy Officer, Michael Rochelle, and IHRDC’s Vice President of e-Learning Solutions, Tim Donahue, as they cover 5 main reasons why current learning programs are limiting organizations’ potential without them even realizing it.

Tim and Michael will cover:

  • Why learner satisfaction scores are so low
  • Why organizations struggle to deliver relevant content
  • Why the costs of content development are so high (and continue to climb)
  • Practical solutions to skills gaps, including IHRDC’s real-world experiences in a highly regulated industry

Topic: 5 Reasons You're Not Meeting the Needs of the Modern Learner

Date: July 30, 2015

Time: 1:00 p.m. CDT



About the Speaker(s)

Tim Donahue

IHRDC, Vice President of e-Learning Solutions

Michael Rochelle

Brandon Hall, Chief Strategy Officer

David Wentworth

Brandon Hall Group, Senior Analyst

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Employee Engagement Best Practices at NRC

Employee engagement is more important now than ever in the federal government. As agency budgets continue to be constrained, there are fewer resources available to perform increasing work demands. Tapping into people’s discretionary effort through higher levels of employee engagement is critical. Further, as the economy and the private sector job market improve, federal employees may choose to leave government for private sector jobs. Employee engagement can help lower employee attrition, and improve the ability to retain talent.

In this webinar, Jody Hudson, deputy chief human capital officer of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), will share NRC’s best practices in employee engagement. NRC has consistently been ranked among the top three agencies in the federal government by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, based on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results and the associated Engagement Index.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • how to boost employee engagement in the face of budget constraints
  • how to lower employee attrition and keep from losing government employees to private sector jobs
  • how federal government managers can improve their ability to retain top talent.

Topic: Employee Engagement Best Practices at NRC

Date: August 05, 2015

Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

Sponsored By: Blackboard ProEd


About the Speaker(s)

Jody Hudson, Chief Learning Officer, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Jody Hudson currently serves as the Chief Learning Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) where he has held that position since May, 2009. Mr. Hudson is the responsible executive for the full breadth of workforce learning and development programs at NRC. Prior to that, he served for four years as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) first Chief Learning Officer. At DOE he had executive responsibility for organizational learning and development, recruiting and internships, and human capital business automation programs. Prior to joining DOE, Mr. Hudson worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for twenty-one years where he led a broad range of regional environmental program management, regulatory, scientific, and administrative programs. Throughout his federal career, he has led a number of organizational change, organizational development, and workforce training programs. He graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Chemistry and has completed graduate studies in IT Management at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri and at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Personalized Learning: Overcoming the Learning and Development Engagement Problem

Two daunting trends—the increasing skills gap and the lack of employee engagement—are affecting the perception of learning and development (L&D) in organizations. Employees, managers, and executives are becoming increasingly disengaged from the L&D department and its offerings. It’s time to turn it around!

In this webinar you’ll learn:

  • the three primary contributors to learning disengagement
  • why the existing approaches aren’t working and may make the problem worse
  • a new approach that leverages adult learning theory to drive learning engagement
  • steps to implement personalized learning in your organization.

Topic: Personalized Learning: Overcoming the Learning and Development Engagement Problem

Date: August 06, 2015

Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Sponsored By: SkillDirector


About the Speaker(s)

Cheryl Lasse, Managing Partner, SkillDirector

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner, a role she’s held since 2002. Cheryl’s goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to personalized learning and the opportunity to identify skill gaps for the job they have or the job they want. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Career Navigator.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales—mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

Stuart Rogers, CEO, SkillDirector

Stuart Rogers is SkillDirector's CEO, focusing on strategic leadership, finance, and operations. He has broad operational, sales, and executive management experience at companies in the technology and hard goods distribution sectors. Stuart holds a bachelor's degree from Wofford College and an MBA from the University of South Carolina, with concentrations in marketing and finance.

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Engaged Employees = Productive Employees: The Culture of Recognition

Today’s organizations struggle to engage their employees. According to the Harvard Business Review, recognition has the greatest impact on employee engagement. Brandon Hall Group’s research shows that 39% of employees are highly engaged and advocates of the organization. As a result, employee recognition is quickly becoming one of the greatest priorities for a company’s strategy. In fact, over one-third of organizations plan to increase their investment in recognition over the next year.

Rachel Cooke, COO at Brandon Hall Group, chats with Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group for a 30-minute webinar on August 12th, at 1:00 pm EST.

You will come away from this session with:

  • How to create a culture of recognition to improve employee engagement, productivity, performance and manager engagement
  • Key considerations for optimizing your rewards and recognition solutions

Topic: 5 Reasons You're Not Meeting the Needs of the Modern Learner

Date: August 12, 2015

Time: 1:00 p.m. EST



About the Speaker(s)

Rachel Cooke

Brandon Hall Group

Madeline Laurano

Brandon Hall Group

About the Learning and Development Center-The Center for Excellence

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At a glance...

The Learning and Development Center (LDC) develops and provides programs designed to empower and enhance employee skills and competencies for improved performance and job satisfaction. Our services also extend to external businesses, organizations, and communities.

Our mission is to build a world-class, responsive and results-oriented workforce by providing the following:

  • Learning that meets critical business goals and needs
  • Lifelong learning opportunities that will prepare employees for life and work in an increasingly technological society

Facility Features

The LDC is a two-story, 54,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility featuring:

  • An auditorium capable of seating 150 with fold-down desktops
  • Instructor computers connected to HD projectors and the Internet
  • 170 available campus parking spaces
  • Break-room area with microwaves and refrigerators
  • Welcoming lobby area
  • Open atrium for al fresco activities

Internal & External Room Rental Request Forms

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Your Perfect Presentation: Speak in Front of Any Audience Anytime Anywhere and Never Be Nervous Again

This practical guide, which can be read on its own or as a companion to the Own The Room training program, offers the same effective tips and techniques already being used by top executives, celebrities, leaders, and expert public speakers around the world. The fear of public speaking plagues even the most accomplished among us, but Bill Hoogterp shows you how to get over it—once and for all. He explains how the brain processes information, what audiences respond to and why, and provides powerful tips and techniques to quickly amplify your effectiveness as a speaker and communicator.

LDC Tip: Obey the 10-20-30 Rule

I am evangelizing the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

  • Ten slides. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.

  • Twenty minutes. You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.

  • Thirty-point font. The majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch.
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