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#15: I can die on that hill and make it better for somebody else.

December 5, 2018 | 52 minutes 21 seconds

Our host, Jill James, sits down to have a conversation with Linda Martin, 2018 President of the Board of Certified Safety Processionals, chair of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals Foundation Board, and recipient of the 2018 Marion Martin Award recognizing influential women in safety.

Together they talk about their shared Midwest origins and accents. Linda talks about getting started in her career as HAZWOPER was going into effect and how that moved her into a safety practice. The two also discuss feeling like they could make a difference through safety and how that led and drove her career path.

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro, brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and The Health and Safety Institute, episode number 15. My name is Jill James, Vivid's chief safety officer, and today I'm joined by Linda Martin, who I recently met at a cocktail party in Houston. Linda, welcome to the show.

Linda:

Hi, Jill. Thank you.

Jill:

What makes us want to have you on the Accidental Safety Pro, when we just accidentally met at a cocktail party in Houston, our listeners might be wondering.

Linda:

I think.

Jill:

So, we both happened to be attending the National Safety Council's annual conference in Houston, and Linda, you walked across the stage to receive the 2018 Marion Martin Award, recognizing influential women in safety. I was standing in the room when you crossed the stage to get the award, and I was waiting and waiting to hear your story, because I thought, "This woman's gotta be phenomenal." Then they just hand you the cool, little thing, and then you walk off. I'm like, "What?"

Linda:

I was a little confused too on stage. I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, but-

Jill:

Yeah. Thousands of people in the audience.

Linda:

Right. No worries. I got this.

Jill:

Right? So, it just so happened that the universe drew us back together, so I could hear the rest of the story by way of a cocktail party that was being hosted by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals later that evening. I get to walk in this tiny, little room, and there you are. I'm like, "Yes. I might get to hear her story."

Linda:

Many, many stories, right?

Jill:

Many, many stories. It turns out we're both from the Midwest, so we immediately bonded over our accents.

Linda:

Right. Right. I'm from Wisconsin. You're from Minnesota, so it's about the same, right?

Jill:

It is about the same, though you might have lost a little it of your Midwest accent living on the East Coast now.

Linda:

I have. You know what? The only time that I really kind of get it back is when I'm with people from the Midwest or talking to my mother on the phone.

Jill:

And then it comes back.

Linda:

And then it comes back with a vengeance. That's not a bad thing.

Jill:

No. It's not. It just makes people laugh a little bit.

Linda:

That's right.

Jill:

Yeah. Especially when we say boat, and soup, and Minnesota.

Linda:

Bubbler.

Jill:

Exactly. Linda, to get into your story I think let's back up a little bit. I'd like to tell the audience a little bit more about you, about your credentials, because it's pretty interesting. You've been in the practice for 28 years. When you're normally professionally introduced, it might not sound like, "Hey. This is somebody I met at a cocktail party."

Linda:

All right.

Jill:

Let's do this. I'm going to formally introduce you, and then let's tell our audience how you got into safety accidentally.

Linda:

Sure.

Jill:

I mentioned that you have 28 years in environment health and safety profession, working in construction, general industry, and consulting. You are a certified safety professional, a certified industrial hygienist, a certified hazardous materials manager. You're also the 2018 president of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the chair of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals Foundation Board, and you're also the 11th editor of the National Safety Council's Supervisor Safety Manual, which was just published this summer. Additionally, when all of that isn't going on, you're a full time faculty member and online MS degree program coordinator at Keene State College Department of Safety and Occupational Health and Applied Sciences. Wow, Linda.

Linda:

That sounds about right.

Jill:

That sounds about right. Did I miss anything?

Linda:

Oh. You know, I try to keep busy.

Jill:

I guess.

Linda:

Yeah. I'm kind of a collector. I collect gigs of the safety sort. I am always looking for an opportunity to do something else. Many of those things that you listed, they just kind of happened organically over time. One day I kind of looked up, and all of a sudden I was fully in the safety world, going to cocktail parties and meeting interesting people. It never really was my intention. You know?

Jill:

Yeah. What was your intention? I mean, you're a woman from Wisconsin. Yeah. What was your intention? What was the winding road?

Linda:

Yeah. I didn't get into safety traditionally, and I think that if people listen to your podcast, most of the people that you talk to didn't come right out of school with a safety degree. Maybe some of them did. I'm gonna take you back to high school. When I was back in high school, you know, you went to the guidance counselor, as a female, and they said ... You took all the tests. Right? Everybody came out with the same thing. You were either gonna be a teacher, or you were gonna be a nurse. So, that was what was presented to me when I went to college. I kind of was like, "Wow. Okay. I've got-"

Jill:

Boy, that sounds limiting. Yeah.

Linda:

"... I've got two choices here?" I actually did go to Winona State originally to kind of do physical therapy, which is kind of a take on the healthcare profession and only chose it because I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I found my way into geology, which in Minnesota is kind of a big deal. Winona State and U of M, they're both geology schools with great programs. When I graduated four years later, I was given again a limiting kind of outlook of where I could go. I could either go into the oil business or environmental consulting, neither which of I wanted to do, but you have to make a living.

I got into environmental consulting and just kind of over time found my way to safety. One of the things that really drew me was my first several years of consulting in the environmental industry and hazardous waste was that it was right on the front end of the HAZWOPER Standard. So, that had just come out, and companies were scrambling to kind of protect their workers. I worked for a company that didn't really care about that. When I kind of woke up, five years into my career, I thought, "Oh my goodness. Look at all this exposure that has happened over my first five years of my career," and I was horrified. So, kind of gradually, as I became a project manager, moved into a safety practice, kind of fleshed that out as someplace that was of interest to me. I felt that I could make a difference. Then just it kind of intrinsically grew from there.

Jill:

Yeah. When you were doing that, was there anyone who planted a little seed of safety that you saw, like, "Oh. That's what that is"? What did that look like back then? Or were you finding it yourself?

Linda:

I was kind of finding it myself, but I will say this. I worked for a while, early in my career ... What is now AECOM way back in the day was a company called Metcalf and Eddy. We were doing consulting, removing the airfield at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire. I had a manager. I was in the field, and I had a manager that said, "Hey, now. We're removing these 50,000 gallon storage tanks from the infield of this airstrip, and I'd like you to run down that slope of sand, hop over this moat of water onto this concrete slab, and hold the survey rod for me, so that I can survey the bottom of that pad.

Jill:

Oh my gosh.

Linda:

I said, "You know, I'm not gonna do that."

Jill:

Good for you, and you were like in your early 20s, right?

Linda:

I was. I was about 23 or 24. I said, "That doesn't really seem safe to me." That kind of was that aha moment of either somebody's gonna back me here, or they're not. The safety director at the time actually he backed me. He came out and kind of shepherded in some new order to how the field operations were going. It really made a difference in, "Wow. This person had the authority to come out and also the presence to change things for the better." I think if there was any one time that I can remember in my career, it probably was the first time that I ever said no. Now, I say it a lot.

Jill:

Yeah.

Linda:

I would say that that was [crosstalk 00:09:35] time.

Jill:

Yeah. It likely saved your life that day.

Linda:

It probably did. It probably did. You know, when you look at some of the things that you mentioned about me, when you kind of just listed off all that stuff, most of that has happened in the last I would say five to eight years, my service on the board, my service with the foundation, several of my credentials. I think that there was a consciousness on my part around 2009 or '10 that I was just gonna make safety my full time thing, because that's what really sung to me. I didn't really want to do the environmental piece anymore. I was tired of it. I never really wanted to do it. Safety was, it was something I was passionate about. You know, I can make a difference.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Five years ago, but backing up before that, so you stayed in that kind of environmental realm for a long time. Is that where you got into the IH stuff as well?

Linda:

I did.

Jill:

Okay. What did those next jobs look like that kind of helped you get to the point where you said, in 2009, "You know, okay. New chapter"?

Linda:

Yeah. After I worked for a while with that company that I just mentioned, Metcalf and Eddy, I kind of moved into more of a managerial role, so that I could develop projects and develop clients. So, it gave me more freedom to kind of do the things that I wanted to do, to choose the jobs that I wanted to do, and to choose my own direction. I mean, one of those pieces was I had an early aversion to the exposure that I had in the field, and it became kind of an industrial hygiene focus for my consulting.

For several years I worked as a project manager and a senior project manager in the environmental consulting industry. Probably a third of my practice was safety consulting, was IH. So, 2009 I started taking a lot more courses, because I thought it would be helpful if I round out some of my educational piece. I started. People will kind of chuckled at this, but I started at the OSHO Education Institute, the director-

Jill:

Sure. One of the OTI centers. Okay.

Linda:

One of the OTI centers. It was affiliated with Keene. The more I learned, the more excited I got, the more depth my knowledge had, my practice had. I found myself getting a masters degree in safety. Here I am now getting a PhD.

Jill:

Wow.

Linda:

What I'd like to say is that high school guidance counselor was kind of right, in that I've come full circle now, and I'm a teacher.

Jill:

I don't know if we want to give that much credit to that guidance counselor.

Linda:

Well, you know, sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways. Right?

Jill:

It does.

Linda:

My mother and my grandmother both were teachers, my mother formally and my grandmother informally, and so I kind of see it as this rite of passage in my family to become a teacher of something that I really care about.

Jill:

It's in your bones.

Linda:

It's in my bones.

Jill:

It's in your bones. That's pretty neat. You teach now at the college, but you also do something in the crane industry. Do you have like a dual career track, or what does that look like?

Linda:

You know, I do. Like I said, around 2009 I got into safety full time as a corporate safety director, and I also did some consulting on the side. You know, what people will find when they get in the industry and they start networking, is that somebody knows somebody who can help you with different things. I was introduced with an operations manager at a crane company around 2014 or '15. I did a lot of consulting for them. It was a very familiar industry. My father comes from a construction background, and so I've been around construction workers and the construction industry all my life. When I started doing consulting for this crane firm, I was like, "Wow. You know, I love safety, and I love big equipment."

Jill:

And it feels like home a little bit.

Linda:

And it feels like home a little bit. So, the more I did in the consulting realm for them, he eventually just said, "You know, you might as well just come work for us," which is a good thing. Right?

Jill:

Yes. It is.

Linda:

It speaks volumes about what you're doing for a company. I would say, yeah, it's kind of a dual career. I mean, I still do a lot of work for them. I feel connected, because that's kind of where my roots are, and so-

Jill:

It keeps you grounded maybe.

Linda:

It keeps me grounded. I do it in my spare time.

Jill:

Wherever that is.

Linda:

Wherever that may be.

Jill:

You're a faculty member at Keene State. What's that like for you? Or maybe if we have potential students listening, who are like, "Hm. You know, there's another university." Because there's so few programs in the country. Tell us about what yours is like and maybe what your role is.

Linda:

Oh. Sure. I kind of came to academia through a person on the board, [Sherry 00:15:36] [Marchem 00:15:36]. She's an IH. We were on the board together the first couple years, and she said, "You know, you ought to teach." She got me involved with a couple adjunct places, and I've been adjuncting online for quite some times. Keene State College is in my backyard, figuratively speaking, a couple hours away. I became involved with them, because they were putting together the first construction safety major, undergraduate major, in the country.

Jill:

Wow. That's interesting. I had no idea.

Linda:

They put together this advisory council, and so they asked me to kind of participate in that, helping kind of flesh out what that would look like. I got to know a bunch of people here. Again, here comes the networking piece. I became kind of friendly with the dean and the department chair, and they kept asking me, "When are you gonna come to work for us?" When are you gonna come to work for us?" You know, a two hour drive to work-

Jill:

Yeah. It doesn't sound very appealing.

Linda:

Right. But once they kind of hammered out this construction safety program, which went live this fall, they came back to me, and they said, "Okay. We realize you don't want to move to Keene, but we're putting together this online masters program, and we realize that that's in your wheelhouse. So, would you do that for us?" That's kind of what my role is right now is I'm putting together their online masters from their existing hybrid program and teaching in their program. I'm also putting together the adjunct team, doing a lot of the learning management system work. It's really kind of a fulfilling ... It's a Jane of all trades, if you will.

Jill:

Right. Right. And you're breaking ground, I mean, in the first construction safety focused program.

Linda:

Right. Right.

Jill:

That's fantastic.

Linda:

My goal for our masters program is to eventually have a construction safety option at the masters level. I'm always thinking of the next best thing.

Jill:

Of course.

Linda:

Get this online program going for the masters, and then roll some of the construction program online, because I guess where I see the gap right now for education is that we have a lot of people ... This goes to the theme of your show. We have a lot of people who find safety later in their careers, or they become a safety professional by somebody saying, "This is now gonna be part of your job." When you're a working professional, it's really hard to go to a brick and mortar school and get that undergraduate degree, if that's what you wish. I see more so in the construction industry this type of person, the type of person that normally would not have a chance to achieve their Bachelor’s degree, but the online school is now making that possible for them. So, wouldn't it be great if we had an online construction safety undergraduate or masters?

Jill:

Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, so many of us are generalists in safety, because we've kind of had to do it all. Like you said, Jane of all trades. For those of us who really want to focus on one industry or another, like just let's step away from general industry and focus on construction, if that's where you are. That would be so powerful in getting people, I don't know if up to speed is the right word, but into their careers faster with more tools at their disposal, if they're already working in the field.

Linda:

Right.

Jill:

Well, thank you for doing that. Thanks for being a ground breaker. That's fantastic.

Linda:

I don't know if I'm a ground breaker-

Jill:

That's fantastic.

Linda:

... but okay. All right.

Jill:

It sounds like you are. It sounds like you are.

Linda:

I've always got the next thing kind of brewing in the back of my mind. I'm not so sure that my family quite likes the amount of time I spend thinking of the next thing I'm gonna be doing, but-

Jill:

I think daydreaming is a thing ... I call it daydreaming. I'm always thinking about what is the next thing as well, and it means that I have lots of sticky notes with my latest, greatest ideas stuffed in all kinds of places. A few of them rise to the top every once in a while, the ones that continue.

Linda:

Right. Mines a little book. I keep a little book in the cab of my truck, and I write down things that I'm kind of thinking of, either for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, or the foundation, or even kind of career-wise, like how can I do better? How can I help? How can I mentor somebody, so that when I leave this field, it's better for me being there?

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. I don't know about you, but I also spend time figuring out, as I age into this career, what are my values that drive me to that next thing, you know, and focus on that. I recently did a values exercise through a leadership book that I'm reading, and it made you figure out what your two greatest values were.

Linda:

Oh. What were they?

Jill:

Right?

Linda:

I'm curious. What were they?

Jill:

It's like a list of hundreds, and you have to keep narrowing it down and narrowing it down. I narrowed it down to dignity and perseverance. The perseverance was really easy for me to pick, because I know I have that. I have it in spades. It's what has always propelled me to the next thing or to get anything done in life. The dignity piece, as you're looking at all of these other word, I'm like, "It really goes back to dignity. I want dignity for all human beings. That's why I do the job that I do."

Linda:

Yeah. Cool.

Jill:

Yeah. Just doing that piece has ... Every time I make a decision on something career-wise, I'm like, "Oh. Yeah. That's what's driving me. Oh. Yeah."

Linda:

I mean, that kind of resonates with me, the perseverance. I think dignity, that's pretty cool that that rose to the top. I think one of the things that I think about continually in our field, because it's so easy to not have, is a sense of direction, professional ethics. I mean, I don't know what was on the big, long list, but ethics usually rises to the top for me, because I feel like with all these regulations and nobody really watching over your shoulder every day, what guides you to do the right thing and to not accept any different from your employees or your coworkers.

Jill:

Right. That's funny that you say that. I had my son do the same exercise with me, because I was just curious. He's 16 years old. Ethics was his. I'm like, "Oh. Yeah. That makes so much sense for you." He's been this tireless advocate for people, if he felt somebody was being wronged for some reason, since he was in kindergarten.

Linda:

Love it.

Jill:

He'd march kids to the principal's office with a group of people and say, "Hey. Somebody's making fun of so-and-so at the lunch table. They're not our friend, but it's still not right."

Linda:

Wow.

Jill:

I'm like, "Okay."

Linda:

Wow. That's good parenting. Good parenting.

Jill:

Thank you. Perseverance was his second one, because he is a lot like his mother. But you brought up this great point about ethics in our business, in our practice. What do you think that looks like, particularly as you have an opportunity to have ...? You've been in the field a long time. What does that look like to you?

Linda:

I mean, I think it kind of envelopes the sense of right and wrong. Right? What does it look like in the field? I would say it's doing the right thing when nobody's watching, like I said. It's choosing the right course of action, even though it's hard, and speaking up. I think a lot of times in our career field you can get into a situation where an employer doesn't want you to speak up. You're just that person there that they trot out if they need you. I'm sure that rings true for a lot of your listeners. They want safety, but they want safety to be silent. I think a strong sense of professional ethics pushes us to always speak up, not only for the workers, but for the overall good of the world, if you will, the whole workplace.

Jill:

Yeah. I call it the hill worth dying on. I imagine this hill or a line in my head when faced with something that ... I mean, because you know when you're in that moment, because your gut is telling you something, and you're starting to get nervous, or twitchy, or however people know they're in that moment. I really try to pay attention to that and ask myself, "Okay. Is this the hill?" Then if it is, then I'm gonna dig in and persevere. If it's not ... and that's by way of risk management. What is this about? Is there a business decision to be made here? Is somebody's life on the line? You know, all that stuff that we go through as a safety professional and then decide how to execute.

Linda:

Well, I think as we age into our careers, we intuitively know that. You're probably asking all those questions in a split second. What I will say is early in my career I probably was more silent than I am now. I think that's one of the benefits of being 28 years in the profession or more is that you know your value. You have a sense of maybe this is the hill worth dying on, because I can get another job. Right?

Jill:

Right.

Linda:

It's more important to speak up. So, what I see more is, on the younger end of the spectrum, where people are early in their careers, they don't really have that luxury a lot of the time.

Jill:

Because they need a paycheck.

Linda:

They need a paycheck. We all need a paycheck, but one of the things I think that benefits me as I've gotten older and more years in the field is that I can die on that hill and maybe make it better for somebody else coming along behind me. That's fine.

Jill:

Yup. And be okay with that. Right. Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about what that was like early in a career. You and I both started in safety in our 20s, and we're women, and it sounds like your path often led you to being in more ... Not only are women continuing to be a minority in our field, but the fields where you were working were also pretty male dominated in construction trades and a lot of that environmental piece. What did that look like for you in terms of how did you find your voice and build into that?

Linda:

I've always had a voice, Jill, but I will say-

Jill:

I got that joke.

Linda:

Yeah. I've always had a voice.

Jill:

Sorry. A little slow on me there.

Linda:

One of the things that I've kind of prided myself on is that I don't like plying my craft, if that's the right way to say it, and maybe this is the wrong way to say it too, by pulling the woman card, by either having men do what I want in the field because it's a female asking or change their behavior because I'm one of the guys. I think I've prided myself more on building a base rapport. That entails ... Well, first of all, some of the older men that are in construction, and this kind of generates itself as new people come in, they see safety as here comes the safety cop. She's gonna tell me to put my hard hat on, and I'm gonna chuckle about it. Then when she leaves, I'm gonna do whatever I want.

Jill:

Take it off.

Linda:

Do whatever I want, just placate her. But to actually kind of come in and say, you know, "Listen. I'm not here to do that. I'm here to try to help you do a task better. Number one, I want to hear why you're doing it the way you are, because sometimes that's important." That gives them a sense of empowerment that they're part of the process, but also not to be that person that comes in and is barking orders or be the know-it-all safety person.

Jill:

The safety cop.

Linda:

The safety cop. Right?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Linda:

The other thing is that when people see you as the same, and by the same I mean we all have the same concerns ... I want to do my job, and I want to do my job, because I can make money, and I can support my family. I love the weekends. I love to get to the weekends. I love it when it's 5:00 and I get to go home and hold my daughters on my lap. So, when you build that sense of, "Hey. We're all the same, and I care that you have that same ability as I do to go home at night," I think it goes a long way. I never, at least in my professional practice, I never have had a problem with working with a bunch of guys. That's not to say that it's not difficult. It has been very difficult over the years.

If I was to give some advice to women, I would say come in and show your sameness, that you have the same values and same concerns. Listen a lot. Right? These guys have been in the field for some of them 30 plus years, and they do things, because they've learned to adapt their tasks over a set amount of time. Just because they're doing something not the way that you would do it, it doesn't mean that it's wrong. It doesn't mean that it's not safe. It might not be as safe as it could be, but that's ... The listening part allows you to get to the point where you can have a conversation about making something safer or maybe having a compromise.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I think that's a powerful message for anyone young starting in their career, and particularly for us as women as well, is to find the sameness. That's a perfect place to start. Then continue building your rapport. I think what you said about, "Tell me about your job," you know, I might call that tribal knowledge. If you're standing next to a crane operator ...

Last week I was standing next to a man who was teaching me about a new pipe threader. I'm like, "Okay. Tell me about the pipe threader. You're in the electrical trades. This is what you use. This is your tool every day. This is something new. They've changed some things on it. Tell me about it. Teach me, so that I can view it through my safety lens, but you're the expert on this particular thing. Tell me how you do it." I think when you find the sameness, like you said, and then ask people to teach you about what they're excellent at and where their expertise is, it kind of breaks down barriers and walls like, "Okay. I'm smart, and it's not the safety cop coming in who's gonna tell me how everything's wrong." You're listening.

Linda:

Right. You know what? I think that's a really good story, Jill. I mean, allow yourself to get excited about a pipe threader.

Jill:

Yeah. Right?

Linda:

Allow yourself to get excited about how a crane gets set up or how lift plans get done. If you're not excited about that, then find the area of expertise in safety, if safety is your passion, find that area, so that when somebody talks about their job, their excitement builds your excitement, and you work together to do it better. Allow yourself to get excited about the pipe threader.

Jill:

Yeah. It's true, and I did actually.

Linda:

Right? Did you, kind of after that interaction, sit back and go, "Oh. That's pretty cool"?

Jill:

I did. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I did.

Linda:

You know? They can feel that. Somebody who's excited about the pipe threader, they can feel your excitement, and when they can feel your excitement for what they do and see that light of understanding, that's your window. That's your window to make a difference in how they perform their work.

Jill:

You're so right. I think about the various trades and jobs, and some jobs got me more excited and interested than others, particularly backhoe operators. Backhoe operators amaze me, because they have this giant, giant equipment, and they're operating it as if they're picking up a paperclip off a tabletop, and they do it with this precision. Just to watch them do that ... or a crane operator making a pick.

Linda:

I was just gonna say that. It just seems sort of zen, a feeling of sort of zen accomplishment of a task.

Jill:

Yeah. Every time I was standing, you know, not on the edge, near an excavation with my job with OSHO, I'd just be in amazement of these operators and be like, "Wow. I don't think I could ever do that," or maybe I could, but it's just ... Yeah. Their work always amazed me. Then it just made me ask more questions, like how did you learn that?

Linda:

Right. You know what? That goes a long way too. When you pay homage to the fact that they are doing something with such ease, you know ... It's not uncommon for me to pull somebody out of the cab and say, "That was amazing. You know? I could never do that. How do you do that? How do you learn that?" They kind of think, "Wait a second. I'm amazing."

Jill:

Right? Yeah. And, yes, you are.

Linda:

And, yes, you are. Right? I don't know if it's emotional intelligence that leads me to say stuff like that, like that youthful kind of naivete, but I don't pull back on praise when praise is due. I think that also goes a long way in being a safety professional and changing minds about who you are and what your intent is.

Jill:

Right. Right. Well, and it leads to authentic conversations that you can have with people, to then let them not view you as the safety cop, but someone who really authentically cares for their wellbeing and then going home to our shared sameness. Right?

Linda:

Right. Right.

Jill:

You had mentioned the Board of Certified Safety Professionals earlier. I'm wondering maybe, since you're in the role as the current president, share with the audience a little bit about the board and maybe some opportunities that other safety professionals listening may not know about, something they can be taking advantage of or helping them shape their career.

Linda:

As with everything else, the board was something that I kind of fell into. It happened on a day that I probably didn't have a whole lot to do, and they sent out that call for volunteers to be on the board. I thought, "I can do this." There's the first takeaway is never think that they're not talking to you. You should approach every request as if, "Oh. They're talking to me. They want me to be on the board. I'll do this." It was a surprise to get on, but it's been a real neat learning experience, in that I learned about the value of certification, which is what the board does. I would say being on the board has probably solidified the fact that I feel that there's a necessity for people in our profession to show their competence and to ...

If you look at any of the salary surveys and those types of things, that certification raises you up in your career. So, that would be the first takeaway, or the second takeaway, because I really do think that when you get these newsletters from the things you belong to, like ASSP, or NSC, or the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, when they ask for help, they mean it. They're talking to you. The only way to get more of those reach outs and more of that ability to kind of find things that enrich your career is to do one or two of them. Right? Because the more people you come in contact with, the more opportunities that appear. Right? So, it kind of has a cascading effect. I'm coming into ... I don't know how much of a secret this is. I've been elected to a second term-

Jill:

Congratulations.

Linda:

... for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals presidency, and I'm really looking forward to coming into our ... They're been around 50 years, so we're having a lot of 50 year celebration type things. You know, we've just started the foundation, which I've been super excited about since the board started talking about it several years ago, because we're having the ability to make a difference in realms that aren't certification based, in the youth safety realm, which I think we can all agree is an important area.

Jill:

Absolutely.

Linda:

Professional development and creating more research around how we do our jobs. What are the new things coming out, and how do we deal with them? The foundation to me is really kind of a thrilling piece of my board work.

Jill:

Yeah. I want to hear more about youth safety at some point too, but you had mentioned mentorship and paying attention to mentorship. You and I, at some point in our conversations, I don't remember if it was at the cocktail party or not, were talking about how do we fill the female pipeline for our industry and encourage more women to go into what I think we both feel is a STEM field.

Linda:

Yup.

Jill:

How do some of these roles, and board positions, and the foundation work, how do you see that helping us to fill that female pipeline? What should we be doing fellow women to help fill it?

Linda:

I'm not a fan of filling the quota, as it were. I think that when you start looking for who's gonna be next in the field, it's more about getting the word out and encouraging women in high school, as they move into college, that this is a really cool career field, which is part of some of the youth safety. It's some of the Board of Certified Safety Professional's mission. It's in the ASSP and the NSC's mission to get more people into the field, but as women in the field, we have to be more active in really giving opportunities to people that we see have potential. I think as we get busier and busier, as we get farther along in our careers, it's easy to say, "I don't have to time," but it's important to pick up the phone.

It's important to encourage young women that you see on LinkedIn or at these mixers that you go to for ASSP or NSC, that you encourage them to reach out to you, and then actively look for opportunities for them to get involved, whether it's bring them along to something, whether it's make some introductions. At least from my end of things I say, "What would it have been like if somebody didn't pick up the phone when I needed that reach out?" So, I always pick up the phone, unless I'm busy. I pick up the phone, and I call people back. If people ask, I think that it's incumbent upon us to give them the best of what we know, the best of us. I don't know if that speaks directly to women. It speaks to [crosstalk 00:41:01].

Jill:

Yeah. Right. Any mentorship. The farther we get in our careers and the easier it is for us to be busy or clouded over, you know, it's easy for us to say, "Hey. Call me any time," but sometimes it really takes us to do that reach out back to someone who's maybe just getting started in their career-

Linda:

True.

Jill:

... because they may be thinking, "Oh. They're really busy. They said that, but was that really the case?" So, sometimes I think part of the mentorship is to be the initiator as well.

Linda:

I think it also, once you are the initiator and they see that you're gonna fallow through, because follow through is another big thing with mentoring, it just snowballs upon itself. I see this with my students a lot. I say, "Here's my cell phone. Call me." Maybe that's not the best way to do it, but I say that. The first person calls me, and I actually pick up. Then I see kind of this on rush of people calling me. It's kind of like they all talk to each other, and they say, "Hey. She's gonna pick up."

Jill:

She's gonna listen. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Linda:

I might give good advice. I don't take people's advice, but I give good advice, os give me a ring.

Jill:

Same. Right. That's excellent. That's excellent.

Linda:

I don't know if that answered your question, but-

Jill:

It did. It did. I think it's an encouragement for all of us to really do some naval-gazing and really figure out how can we be mentoring to fill the pipeline for safety professionals, because we know that there's not a lot of us out there. It's incumbent on us to keep the profession going and to continue sending people home safe.

Linda:

Well, I also think part of that too is if you think about what you want the profession to look like after you're gone and you see where the thought leadership is right now, how do you reach the most potential practitioners, young practitioners? For me the answer was teaching and staying active in the field. Right?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Linda:

Because I think there's somewhat of a disconnect with a lot of programs that instructors get in 10, 12, 15 years, and they're talking about practice back in the 1980s.

Jill:

Right. You have to stay current.

Linda:

So, stay current, but for me it was I can reach the most people in the most effective and thoughtful way by becoming an academic part-time or full time [crosstalk 00:43:38].

Jill:

Right. Yeah. And you're still able to do your work, like you said, with the crane company that you work for to keep you current. It's why I so much appreciate being able to get into the field now in my position. I'm not a working safety professional, as I had been in my last job, but like I said, last week I was standing with a guy and a pipe threader, but I was also at a sugar beet processing plant for three days, and practicing my safety skills, and seeing new things and ways that the safety director at that facility was doing things. It keeps me sharp in my practice, and I think that's so important that we don't get outmoded. Go ahead.

Linda:

I was just gonna say and you have a platform here to take those things that you're learning and send them out to the general population, so that's cool.

Jill:

Yeah. Thank you. We didn't talk about family, but I often ask in this podcast, because we're safety professionals, what does home life, safety life, friends life ...? Yeah.

Linda:

I work a lot. I work a lot, but I have a very understanding wife, and I have two little girls, six and three. For me, I mean, I think there has to be work/life balance. I know that's a trite phrase, but I have a tendency to say yes to a lot of things professionally and then consult my wife later, and she's very gracious in letting me do that. But as my time fills, I think the takeaway is that you have to find a way to recharge. Especially if you have a three year old and a six year old, you need those batteries ready to go by the weekend.

Jill:

Absolutely. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Linda:

I will say that I have some work/life balance, but I'm at the point in my career where all these great things are appearing, because they've snowballed, and it's hard to say no. It's hard to say no to an extra year on the board. It's hard to say no to somebody asking you to do a podcast.

Jill:

Thank you.

Linda:

No, but I think it's important, because if you get that platform to make things better or to make a difference, that I feel compelled to go with that. I have great support at home to do it.

Jill:

Yeah. And you're saying yes to your value system it sounds like

Linda:

Right.

Jill:

Yeah. That's excellent. Has your six year old caught onto any safety ...? I know, right? I'm thinking about my son asking me, "Mom, what's our safety plan?", when he was really little. So, what does it look like in your house?

Linda:

So, recently, I want to say in the last six months, she's had this awareness that I'm this ... She calls me the safety person. She said, "You're the safety person. Right?" Then she calls me [Memes 00:46:41]. She goes, "You're the safety person, Memes." I'm like, "Yup." We'll be walking around somewhere, and she'll say, "that doesn't look very safe, does it, Memes?" You know, my wife does the same thing. It's really interesting. Probably two years ago now I was standing in the line at Walmart at Christmastime, and my wife was standing, looking back into the Christmas section. Under her breath she's going, "Turn around. Turn around. Turn around."

I turned around, and there was somebody getting a box, an employee getting a box off the top top shelf of that shelving in the Christmas decorations area, and she was outside of the lift, outside with one foot on the lift and one foot on the actual shelf, and the thing was wobbling. It kind of warms my heart, not that this employee was doing this, but that my wife and my family have now kind of adopted that same sort of, "Hey. That's not right," and actually will point it out to me. You know me. I went over and said-

Jill:

Said something. Yeah.

Linda:

Yeah. Said something, emailed Walmart, did all those things that I'm supposed to do as the safety person. You know, it was kind of heartwarming when my daughter finally realized that this is what I do for work and it was important. You know? I'm keeping people safe.

Jill:

My son has called me the safety mom for-

Linda:

The safety mom.

Jill:

Yeah. Forever. Then maybe brace yourself when they get to be teenagers, at least this has been my experience. He finds it a bit annoying, and now he calls me worst case scenario mom.

Linda:

I am always the one that's saying, "Get down off the couch," and, "Don't jump on that," and, "I don't like how you're doing that." So, sometimes it makes me look bad, but they'll thank me for it when they're walking around upright when they're 20.

Jill:

Yeah. Right? Exactly. Exactly. My son's like, "Mom, you just take every story and you can tell me how I can kill myself, be maimed."

Linda:

Go horribly wrong.

Jill:

Yeah. Go horribly wrong. He's like, "You should just chill out." I said, "It's not my job to chill out with you."

Linda:

Yeah. You know, I think in this profession you can't turn it off.

Jill:

No. That's the thing. you can't.

Linda:

Right? It's not a bad thing.

Jill:

It's not, and our kids are just going to have to deal with it, because I guess there's a lot worse we could be doing. Right?

Linda:

Right. Right. I suppose.

Jill:

Oh, man. Well, before we round out our time together today, Linda, is there anything you'd like to share with the listeners, maybe somebody just getting started or maybe someone who's maybe even a little stuck in our career right now?

Linda:

You know, as I said before, I think part of the hesitancy with people either getting into our field or finding a leg up is that they don't think when these reach outs come out, that the people are talking to them. I think have the confidence to say, "I want to participate. Even if I give a little bit, I'm gonna try to add value here." If these leaders in the industry that are involved in these activities see that, they will take an interest. I mean, I take an interest. If somebody wants to learn, then I'm here to teach. So, if you're stuck, there's certification. There's the OTI. There's higher education that's accessible online now. If you're passionate about safety, there are avenues to make your knowledge base better, to get involved.

Again, I'm kind of Pollyanna, because I'm always that person that's glass half full. See everything that happens in your career as a learning experience. I mean, at least you learned you don't want to do that again or you don't want to get in that situation again. If you can change your mindset, and I'm kind of getting into the realm of that coaching, but if you can change your mindset into feeling and knowing that everything happens for a reason and that somewhere in the back of your mind you're destined to make a difference, good things will happen. Your career will advance. Reach out. I don't know.

Jill:

Yeah. What is this here to teach me?

Linda:

What is this here to teach me?

Jill:

Yeah. Instead of why me, why this challenge?

Linda:

I've been there.

Jill:

What is this here to teach me?

Linda:

I'm telling you, don't say, "Why me?" Say, "What can I do with this?"

Jill:

Right. Right.

Linda:

You know?

Jill:

Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Linda, for being a guest on the podcast. Again, congratulations on the Marion Martin Award.

Linda:

Thank you.

Jill:

I'm so happy that we met accidentally at a cocktail party.

Linda:

I am too. At a cocktail party. Maybe we'll meet at more cocktail parties. That would be fantastic.

Jill:

That would be fantastic. Thank you all so much for joining in and listening today, and thank you all for the work that you do to make sure your workers go home safe every day. You can listen to all of our podcast episodes at vividlearningsystems.com or subscribe in the podcast player of your choosing. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's yourself, please contact me at social@vividlearningsystem.com. Until next time, thanks for listening.