Let’s face it, we are all still reeling from the last two years of upheaval and a little pep talk can’t hurt so here it is, URMIA. Guest Greg Offner shares with guest host Michelle Smith and URMIA Matters listeners the 7 Keys for Success and his top two for higher education risk management leaders specifically. Take a listen. You’ll be grateful you did.
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Text KEYS to 33777 for a copy of the 7 keys
Greg Offner, Friend of URMIA and awesome Keynote Speaker
Michelle Smith, CAE- Senior Director of Events, URMIA
Michelle: Well, hello everyone. I'm Michelle Smith, your guest host for today's episode, and it is my pleasure to welcome to the show, Greg Offner. Greg, welcome. Please say hello to our URMIA Matters listeners.
Gregory: Michelle. It's so phenomenal to get to see you again. It's great to be able to speak with the listeners. I'm just pleased as punch the y’all invited me on this is great.
Michelle: Well, for those of you out there who don't know Greg, here is one of my all time favorite keynote speakers. I've been doing conferences for a while and it's really hard to find a speaker with a message that matches the energy of the presenter. And for me, Greg, that is you.
Gregory: I'm blushing. I really appreciate that compliment. Thank you, Michelle.
Michelle: Greg keynoted for us at a critical time when URMIA had to pivot of course, to a 2020 annual conference, a virtual program. And I'm not sure if you remember, Greg, but you spoke to us about adapting to disruption.
Gregory: That's something I knew well at that time. So as the world shut down and my role as a keynote speaker became super ambiguous going all right. I speak on stages stages. Stages aren't available. I go to conferences, conferences, aren't happening. What are we going to do? My wife, Kim. And I had also just found out that we were pregnant with our first child.
So I was one of those people, you know, life salling apples and cereal boxes, and, you know, trying to create a clean room for when you walked in the house. Cause we didn't know what to do. And I know that your members were going through that same thing, except that. Looking after 10,000 children, sometimes more with the work that they do. So it was a really nebulous time for all of us. And I was glad to be able to bring that message of navigating disruption -not just in the methods that we use, but in the mindset that we use to approach that change to your members.
Michelle: Yeah, I think the timing of that message was perfect. And, thank you again for being with us then in that trying time. Since then it seems we've had nothing but disruption in the world and higher education, risk management is no different from that. But I have to say that I feel like we've had a shift in the profession. I feel like we've come to a crossroads in our field where now we've sort of stepped back to assess what the damage done by the pandemic and we're now creating these new opportunities, for, you know, our risk managers and they are creating those opportunities for other people as well. Are youseeing this in in other professions and other groups that you talk to?
Gregory: Am I seeing lasting change as a result of the pandemic?
No, everybody is back to normal. Everybody is super happy. It's like nothing. Yes, absolutely. Michelle, everyone, everyone is dealing with this because there is no “back”. There's only forward. I personally spent time wishing things could be the way they were. And now I, realized that that is time I didn't spend making the future the way I'd like it to be.
And the organizations that I see out there who are doing it well, right now, are not really focused on what things were, what their successful skews or business models or offerings where they're spending their time focused on what will we offer in the future. That's going to be a value to our stakeholders.
Michelle: Exactly. Exactly. So do you have any advice for leaders who, who, are going through that right now? And in addition to, you know, trying to, move everything forward, we're seeing this, epic change in the workforce. We're seeing the silver tsunami at the same time, we're seeing the great resignation. And so the people are just utterly exhausted and worn out from the day-to-day operations from the last two years, as well as, you know, trying to restaff their departments. What advice might you share with these folks in this seat right?
Gregory: Sure. Well, if they're thinking about themselves as relates to the future, There are skills that they can start developing right now that no matter what comes at them in the future are going to be terribly valuable.
Tremendously valuable, terribly valuable is probably like an oxymoron or something, but they will be tremendously valuable for them to develop. Because what we are seeing is that the velocity of change shows no sign of stopping. And so what we need to do to be ready to roll with that velocity is to make ourselves able to withstand any type of change, to develop skills within ourselves that are change proof if you will. So what are those skills?
There's seven of them that I've identified. I call them the seven keys of success. And you mentioned one of them just now you mentioned people are feeling exhausted. Well, the third key is energy. Managing our physical energy, our financial energy and our emotional energy and the physical energy that taking care of ourselves part, for a lot of committed individuals, people who really love what they do and who they do it with that often gets pushed to the side. Yeah. I'll take on another project. No problem. I'll work an extra hour. I'm going to dig into this on the weekend, but if we're not taking care of ourselves, that physical energy part, we're not only going to break down, but in some cases we'll perform worse then we would, if we just took the break, I experienced this personally in 2015, I was, I had a day job as an insurance broker and my night job was working as a dueling piano player. I didn't give my voice a break. And as a result, over the last several years, I've had to have 15 surgeries on my voice. I nearly lost the ability to speak completely so I don't, I'm not trying to scare listeners, but imagine losing what you do imagine losing whatever it is that makes you, you, that resource. That's what can come from, not guarding our physical energy, same thing with our emotional energy, getting frustrated or worried, or worked up about problems that aren't ours really.
And then obviously financial energy, you know, what are you thinking about when you've got financial challenges? You're thinking about the financial challenges. So working with the right planners or professionals to, to make sure that your house is in order.
The keys themselves are curiosity, drive, energy, which we just talked about, focus gratitude, attitude and belief.
It's a whole lot of -too much- to go into an a podcast so what I'd ask listeners to do, what I'd invite them to do is text the word keys, K E Y S to 33777. I'll drop them a one sheet that explains what each of these keys are, how they can be applied positively and how sometimes they can show up negatively.
If we're, let's say too curious, that can become a detriment. So if they text KEYS to 33777, they'll get that one sheet. But the other one that I do want to spend a minute to focus on is the key of gratitude, because that has been shown to extend the longevity of life. It's been shown to make us more successful in whatever we do, but it is a practice.
Gratitude is not something that comes naturally to most of us. And if you are what, you know, you might describe yourself as naturally grateful, it's because you learned it from someone else. We acquire the practice of gratitude either by teaching ourselves or we're taught by others. So if you grew up in an area, family and environment where gratitude was practiced routinely, you're probably better at this than most, but you still have to practice.
I thought I was really good at it going into the pandemic and it knocked me on my butt. I've really had to work hard to get back to a place where gratitude comes natural. Because there's a part of our brain and some of our listeners may know this there's a part of our brain, the amygdala, it's a very ancient part that governs fight or flight and the two nervous systems.
And, it's trained. It's highly effective at noticing things that are dangerous, things that are not good for us. And so we are hyper-focused on that subconsciously throughout the day, we noticed that person that cut us off in traffic. Boy, do we notice. But we may not remember the person that you know, that I love this one, the pedestrian that waits for me to pass by before they cross the street. There's no other cars behind me, so they just let me go. And then they cross that's so kind, but we remember the one that cut us off. Or the one that made us wait, we have to train ourselves to find what's good in a situation. And when we start looking for what's good, we see more of it.
So what I'd encourage folks to do, if they want to develop a gratitude practice, is to try something called the three blessings, and this is the positive psychology technique. And you can watch a YouTube video of it if you want. Or you can just listen to me, explain it real quick. At the end of the day, think of three things that you're grateful for. Little things. Fun story, Michelle. I think I shared this with you before. In fact, I know I did because I shared it in the keynote.
I broke my foot at my wedding, the last dance of my wedding reception. I jumped up in the air - it wasn't drinking. I wasn't drunk - and I broke my foot. And for a little while, part of my gratitude practice was to look down at the foot that wasn't broken. Look at my right foot in the morning. When I woke up and go, my Right foot works, look, I can wiggle it. I can move it around and that. Awesome. I can use this foot.
And that sounds stupid and it is, it is stupid, but that's the point. It's something so small and so insignificant that I'm forcing myself to notice it. And when we force ourselves to notice the little things, the big things really create an impact.
So try the three blessings exercise, if you're listening. Write down, tonight, three things that you're grateful for little things, and then do it again tomorrow. And the next day and the next day. By doing that, you'll develop a gratitude practice that in these challenging times, we're dealing with all sorts of employment, tsunamis, and other challenges. They will at least get you to a place where you're centered and you can focus on what matters.
Michelle: That's awesome. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. I think that, you know, one of my favorite, things to tell people when they're really stressed out is you know, do like the airlines do put your mask on yourself before you help others. And I think this is one of those pieces that folks can take along, work on themselves, but then share with their teams as well, whether that's an existing team and thanking them for their resilience and the past two years, or whether they're building a new team. And just being really thankful for bringing a new team together. I think that, you know, you can practice these, things on a regular basis in your staff meetings and around campus and, just set the example for others as well. So I love the, gratitude, and the three practices, the three blessings, each day. That's really awesome.
Is there another key that, that, you think our risk managers might be? especially in need of, as we come out of, we emerged from the storm as, was our theme for 2021 annual conference and head into our 2022 annual conference in September.
Gregory: Key that risk managers are particularly in need of how much time do we have Michelle now I'm just teasing. I'm teasing. I mean, this is, so what I love about risk managers is I know, I know that they're focused on risk. And so I know that they're probably hypervigilant about energy and focus. They know what to pay attention to.
One that I think is always fun to talk about, regardless of the group is belief. Because folks here that one of, all of the seven keys, when I say that, and I'm in a room of people who can respond, right? Not on a podcast, folks, belief, what do you mean? And isn't that the same thing as attitude? Like what, I don't understand. Attitude. Belief, like explain it.
Well, belief is what we see when we look in the. Attitude is what others see when they look at us attitudes, kind of like a reputation, we can control the things that influence our attitude, but we can't really control our attitude itself because it's what you say about me or what I say about you.
It's subjective, but belief is what we see in the mirror. And one of the most challenging things is changing the stories we tell about ourselves, because when we look in the mirror, we see. We see someone who can do something or who can't do something, you know, whatever your stories are about yourself.
And we've created stories for ourselves over the last couple of months, over these last two years, gosh, two years we've been doing this. Some of those stories have been transformational in a good way, but some of those stories have been transformational in a not so good way where we may look in the mirror and think this isn't what I signed up for.
This isn't what I like to do. And that's okay. But we have to decide what we want our story to be kind of going back to what we started with in this conversation, Michelle, we're, we're not somebody who's got a time machine that I don't know about. We're not going backwards. We can only go forwards. And the neat part about having the agency that we do as human beings is that if you don't like the story that you're in, when you look in the mirror, if you don't like what you see, you've got the power to change it.
But the first step in doing so is writing that belief. When you look at yourself, believing that you have the power to change it. I know that for me, something that's been difficult over the last year is I'm a new father and I love my daughter and I'm glad to be a father, but it is being a father has brought up, especially being a father at the end of the pandemic. It's brought up a lot of challenges that I'm not good at yet. I'm really a big. In the very literal sense and I'm really bad at it. I'm getting better, but it's tough. And I, I feel sometimes like, I'm, I'm letting myself down here or I'm not doing all that I can there. And what I've learned is that when I look in the mirror just by reassuring myself, I'm doing the best I can, that I am trying, that opens up the possibility for me to move forward and get better and get better.
But if I were to look in the mirror and say, you're not a very good father. You're not, you're not a very good business person right now. In fact, you're not very good at much. So what are you going to do? Oh my God. I'd cry at eat tons of ice cream and go sit on the couch and watch Netflix. And you know what? Once in a while that's an okay strategy for dealing with the day. Totally. Okay. But being able to look in the mirror and create the story that you want to live is what makes it possible. That's what I meant when I say, if we look for the good in our day, we start to find it, whatever we want, whatever story we'd like to live out is out there.
And our teams, the people that we support and the people that we work alongside, they've got stories, understanding that they bring those stories to work with them and helping them with this key of beliefs so that they can shift their stories. To a way that's useful is one of the best gifts you can give as a leader. So I hope they download the seven keys. I hope they just text, what is it? Keys to 33777 so they can get this list.
Normally, I like to talk about them in detail and go into them and workshop them with people, but just by reading it, and whether you share it with your family, with your work family, or if you just share it with yourself, I hope you put it into practice because knowing it is great, but doing it is even better.
Michelle: Absolutely absolutely believing in yourself that you can take that next step. That's often, both personally and professionally, one of the harder things to do, raising your hand at the table, you know, making your seat at the table, raising your hand for that next opportunity, knowing your worth. There are a lot of things that come into that, that self-confidence in that key of belief. And I believe that you are a great dad. I know it's new, but welcome to parenting 101. There's there's no, my daughter's 28 years old. She's traveling in Scotland this week and, there's no handbook for this chapter, so I know that Frankie's in great hands. And, you're just gonna rock it out the whole way along and every, every chapter is new and fun and exciting, but I think you and Kim are going to do a great job.
So, I really appreciate you sharing that part of your life with us as well, and our listeners and, and, you know, just a little bit of gratitude - thanking you for being with us on this podcast and sharing the seven keys. And, just, your positivity overall is, is really great and I'm, I'm thankful for that.
Gregory: It's a pleasure, Michelle. I love the opportunity to get back together with you and chat a bit. This is awesome.
Michelle: Yeah. Yeah. and I hope, that you have a great time on your upcoming speaking tour in Dublin. I'm a I'm a, little envious of you and super excited for you to have that opportunity. And I too look forward to exploring, Ireland someday. and until that time, I wish you safe travels.
If you want to follow up with Greg and get these seven keys, text 33777, and his contact information will be in the show notes as well. And, of course you can find him on social media and he's a big champion of URMIA and our risk managers and the profession. So really appreciate you Greg, for hanging out with us today.
Gregory: My pleasure, Michelle.
Michelle: Yeah. This wraps another episode of URMIA Matters.