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#33: The day you’re born and the day you discover why

August 28, 2019 | 1 hour 8 minutes 50 seconds

Podcast series host Jill James talks with Mark Hernandez, Navy man, construction veteran, EMT, OSHA compliance officer, speaker, coach, author, and safety professional. Mark’s remarkable journey began at the bottom of a scaffolding operation, when he raised his hand for a late-night safety coordinator role, leveraging his bilingual talent…and never looked back. You’ll learn why a combination of technical and soft skills are essential for any aspiring safety pro, the difference between mentors and maestros, and the “full dimensional” approach to safety.

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro, brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute. Episode number 33. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer. And today, I'm joined by Mark Hernandez, who is a safety professional, and he is also a speaker/trainer/coach in the Houston area. Mark, welcome to the show, and thanks for being here.

Mark:

Oh, Jill, thank you so much for the opportunity to serve and add value to your podcast. And episode 33, well, I wish that was my age.

Jill:

You and I both, brother. Oh, man, it sounds like we already have some things in common.

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

Well, Mark, you know that we start all of these podcasts out similarly, by asking people how they got into the safety profession. And then also if our audience's ears perked up hearing that you're a speaker/trainer/coach. And you know, if somebody out there is thinking, 'A public speaker? That sounds kind of interesting.', or 'Oh, gosh, I could never do that,' stay tuned, because I think Mark's going to have some great things to share about being a professional public speaker, as well.

Mark:

Oh, absolutely. I'd love to share that. And again, my journey, wow. It's been quite some time to get to where I'm at. Just like many people, I didn't start in school, I didn't start in safety. As a matter of fact, I started in the Navy. I graduated school, went to the Navy, got married. And got out of the Navy, and really didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. So, I started in construction. I did numerous jobs, everything from a pipe fitter helper to painter helper. And then I landed a job in scaffold. So, let me just pause right there. For anybody who has ever worked in scaffold, or on a scaffold, or looked at a scaffold, let me just tell you, it's hard work.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

It is very, very laborsome work. And let's just give a shout out to all the scaffold builders out there, you're the first one in and the last one out.

Jill:

Amen.

Mark:

And for me, I built scaffolds for eight years. And it was a lot of hard work, and I honestly didn't really have a goal in mind. I didn't have an aspiration to do anything different. I was comfortable with building scaffolds. That's not saying that scaffold building in itself, is something that is not honorable. All work is honorable. But I didn't see myself doing anything different. And so, I did not look for safety, safety found me. And what I mean by that is, one night on a turnaround. Well, prior to the turnaround, they were all asking everybody, 'Who wants to be on the turnaround? Everybody raise your hand.' It's just more money. That's a no-brainer, that's an IQ question.

Jill:

And what does turnaround mean then when you're a scaffold builder, for people who don't know?

Mark:

Great question. So, a turnaround is when a specific, and within a refinery, a chem plant, industrial type settings, chemical refinery industrial settings, they bring a specific unit down for maintenance. And they'll normally call that a turnaround. And then, the power division, or power industry, GE, things of that nature, they call those outages. Same difference, just different terminology. So, in this case, I was working in a refinery, and they asked everybody, 'Who wants to be on the turnaround?' And I raised my hand. It's more money.

But they specifically asked me, because again, I'm bilingual. And at that time, I was a lead man. And I had been a bump up supervisor from time to time. And they asked me, said, "Hey, Mark, come here, come here, come here." And they said, "Hey, man, would you like to be work safety on night shift? Bilingual, right?" And I looked at myself. I said, "Hmm, brown-skinned Hernandez."

Jill:

Maybe.

Mark:

Maybe.

Jill:

Maybe, yeah.

Mark:

And I said, "Yeah, I'd like to try that out." And again, in the back of my mind, I'm just saying, "Less work." Yeah. But I didn't realize what I was getting into.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

So, I go to nights. I worked the turnaround on nights as a safety coordinator, and find out, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. If I can do this, this is easy work." I walk around-,

Jill:

Being the safety person? Yeah.

Mark:

Yeah, I presumed it, because all I did was-, compared to scaffold building, whether you're erecting or dismantling, it's hard work. And now I'm just walking around with a pad in my hand? I mean, it's a no-brainer. Doing auditing, telling people, 'Hey, you're doing this wrong, you're doing that wrong.' But then, I began to talk to people, and you know, the older individuals in the industry, some peoples with 20, 15 years. And I talked to them, said, "What do I need to do to get into this safety stuff?" And they said, "You need to be an EMT." I didn't know what the heck an EMT was. It's an emergency medical technician. And I said, "Okay well, I'll do that." So I went to school and I did it.

Jill:

Interesting answer.

Mark:

And there was one specific time where I was, prior to-, well, even after I started doing turnarounds, and a little of this, and they would bump me up to a safety coordinator, and I go back down to a lead man. So, that went on for about, almost a year.

Jill:

Kind of a yo-yo of job responsibilities, huh?

Mark:

It was. But really, again, what my perception of a safety person at that time and you're talking almost 20 years ago, going back to episode 33, right?

Jill:

Yeah, right, right, exactly.

Mark:

And so, my perception of a safety person is an individual who walks around with a notepad and tells you, "Mark, you're doing this wrong,", "Jill, you're doing this wrong."

Jill:

The safety cop.

Mark:

The safety cop. That was the mindset and the behavior of the safety person at that time. Whereas today, it's totally different. But that was my model, that was the only model that I had in front of me, so that's what I went with. And then I went to school. Well, let me just rewind just a little bit. Part of going to school, us Hispanics, we eat together. And what I mean by that, let's just picture us. You, you're Hispanic right now, Jill.

Jill:

Okay.

Mark:

You're Hispanic. Jill Cortez, okay.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

So, we are having lunch, and we put our-, what we'll do is we'll put our meals in the middle, and we'll all grab.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And there was one gentleman, and I still remember his name. We called him 'Don Aliber'. Don is with respect. Aliber was his name. We gave him that 'Don' because he was what we called a maestro in the Hispanic culture is a person who has knowledge, training, experience, and one key thing, is influence.

Jill:

Like a competent person, if you're going to call it, in the world of safety.

Mark:

Yes. Yes.

Jill:

Yeah, okay, I got it.

Mark:

But in the Hispanic culture, the maestro is paramount, because they have knowledge, training, experience, and they have influence.

Jill:

Influence, yeah.

Mark:

So we are eating. And Don Aliber was my maestro. Again, when I started out, he took me under his wing.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And what's interesting, if you go out anywhere right now to a Hispanic crew and you ask them, 'Who's the maestro?' You will have maybe, one hand go up. See, there's a difference between a maestro and the Jefe, which is the boss, or the Jefe, which is the supervisor. Big difference. One has influence, one has a title. And we'll get to the leader side here in a little bit. But I wanted to make that distinction, because when I came into that field, I didn't know anything. The one who did knew something, and he became important to me. He had knowledge, training, and experience, and he build leverage influence with me, over time.

So, we're having lunch and Don Aliber is about 54 years old, very tall, hazel green eyes, strong man. He could probably out-do twenty year-olds. And-. I'm pausing because I could just see him across the table.

Jill:

Yeah. I'm picturing his green eyes right now. Yeah. A man who's probably built a lot of scaffolds, right?

Mark:

A lot of scaffolds.

Jill:

Hard worker.

Mark:

Hard worker. Hands very, very, you know back then we didn't use a lot of gloves but you can see the picture. But I'm pausing because of the amount of influence and trade experience and just sheer love that he poured into me.

But over lunch, Don Aliber leans across and he says in Spanish: "Que estas haciendo aqui?", "What are you doing here?". And the question kind of goes over my head. And I say in Spanish: "Nada, pasame la salsa.", "Nothing, pass me the salsa." Again, the question went over my head, we're having lunch.

Jill:

You're like 'what'd I do wrong?'

Mark:

What I do wrong? I mean.

What I loved about Don Aliber is he didn't stop. He was a coach but didn't know it. He was a coach but didn't know it. And so he continued the question again, he asked me again he said, "Mark, what are you doing in here?". And then about that time he leans forward in a-, picture the gentleman in front of you. You can see his beautiful green eyes and then he begins to ask a series of questions. He said, "Mark, you were born here." I said, "Yes.". "Mark, you know English?", I said "Yes." He said "Mark, you graduated high school?" And I said, "Yes." And then he said, "Mark, Mark, you also went to the Navy, didn't you?" And I said, "Yes."

And he leans forward just a little bit more and says "Mark, que estas haciendo aqui? Este trabajo es para el burro.", "What are you doing here, Mark? This job is for the donkey."

Jill:

Oh. Hm. Yeah. And all work is honorable.

Mark:

All work is honorable.

Jill:

Right.

Mark:

And so what he did for me then, an individual pays for a $300 session for a coaching session.

Jill:

Yeah, right? Yes.

Mark:

And what I mean by that is, guys, when we lose sense of our value and who we are and what we could become, we don't know our potential. And I needed somebody else to see that.

Jill:

Yeah and your maestro saw that potential in you.

Mark:

And he called it out.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Now, what's important is when I defined what a maestro was because if he would have told me and I didn't know him or her. The Hernandez would've rose up and probably hit him.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

But because he poured into me.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

I took it. Let me ask you guys something. Have you ever been told truth that gets your stomach and just turns it?

Jill:

Oh, yes. As you're telling this story I'm thinking of one in particular that's not unlike yours. And it was by a mentor that I had probably mid-career. And I was in my second professional job and I had this man who was mentoring me and we were talking on the phone one night and I was telling him how miserable I was in my job and said, "I just don't know what to do." And he's like 'let me just get this story straight'. He said, "you took this position because you wanted-" And he used a horse analogy. He said, "You wanted to-, you thought you would be brushing the horse, making its coat shiny, getting it ready to be shown and it was going to ride beautifully and instead you're in the back of the barn shoveling shit".

And I said, "God, that's right". And he said, "So, is that where you're happy, or do you think you can make that horse shiny?" I'm like, "I want to make the horse shiny", and he's like "then get out of where you are." And I'm like "Okay."

You know, I mean and he was pointing out that I have potential and that I could do something else and he ended that session in a way that this guy would, by reading me this beautiful passage by the Mystic, Rumi about things that will come into your home and upset it but welcome them all as important strangers.

Mark:

That's powerful.

Jill:

It's called The Guest House. And so, yeah when you're telling this story I'm thinking 'God, aren't we so fortunate', those of us who have had those maestros in our lives, right?

Mark:

Yeah and, because this journey, this climb, this run is-, there's no rogue warriors. You know? We're in this together.

Jill:

Together.

Mark:

In the field of safety it's about people, it's about their experience, about the connection and if I could go back to Don Aliber's story real quick, because yours was powerful. I think, if everybody listening could just pick up the phone right now and recall an instance in their life where somebody poured into your life or challenged you like that gentleman did and like Don Aliber did, not only call them, thank them. Because gratitude comes when we recognize what's poured in.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Gratitude, that just came to me. Gratitude comes when you recognize what has been poured in because you have to recognize what's been poured into you first. And so when Don Aliber said that to me, froze. But that night, Jill?

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

That night I cried like a baby because I know it to be true. But then I asked myself, 'okay, so Mark, Mark are you going to stay here as a scaffold builder - all work is honorable - but is that your true potential?' Is that what your life's purpose is?

See, everybody here has a purpose, has a meaning, has a reason for life, I love what John Maxwell my mentor said, he said, "There's two important days in your life: the day you're born and the day you discover why." The dash in between the grave, guess what? That's the time you're allotted to do the work. And so, everybody on the call, you're not a safety professional, that's a title. What we are are individuals here to serve others at the highest level so they themselves can become more.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Because if we only see ourselves as a safety professional, I look at things very technical. But I look at things in a service-minded, service-oriented person now, it's more than a title, it's more of a meaning: fulfillment.

And I think at the end of the day, when we look at ourselves in the mirror that's truly what we want to do, is it to live a fulfilled life. And after that I challenged myself, I said, "well what will it take, what do I need to do?" I went to school. And again, I'll be honest, I made Cs and Ds in school. And I'm going to school and I hear this OSHA stuff and I start taking my books back to work, because, again, I'm still working and going to school.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Just like many of us either on the call or who've done it. Hey, and high-five to you for doing that.

Jill:

Right, right. And so, Mark, what were you going to school for? Like, did you start writing safety?

Mark:

Occupational safety and health.

Jill:

Yeah. Okay, okay.

Mark:

Yeah so I was told, "hey, you want this full time position, you need a degree." And, whoa, I don't have that so I need to go get it. So I went, while I was going to school, I looked up, there was a report we had to do and I looked up OSHA, www.osha.gov, everybody knows that.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

And if you don't and you're in safety, something's wrong.

Jill:

It's not a small town in Wisconsin.

Mark:

Yeah. So I was looking and I find these vacancies and I'm like, 'what the heck is a vacancy?' And lo and behold, it's a job posting. And they have construction safety specialist, construction specialist and I start going through all these different vacancies for OSHA. And I'm a construction guy, you know, what are they going to tell me? No?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Mark:

What do you have to lose when you-, if you don't move, you don't take the risk you won't ever know. So I took the risk. Long story short, I put out there, then I started scrolling down and saw 'Spanish construction specialist' and thought-, I got Spanish!

Jill:

I have that. I got construction!

Mark:

I got construction. So again, back then, this is before even right now the Hispanic fatality rate is two times the national average. This is before Secretary Hilda Solis came into play where she was doing a lot of emphasis on Hispanic outreach.

And so I put in 14 vacancies to work for OSHA and I told myself, I told my wife I was like, "who knows, who knows."

But if I would've stayed in scaffold, I would've never known, I wouldn't have ever jumped because somebody had to tell me, 'what are you doing here?' And guess what happened.

Jill:

Well, I hope this has got a good next piece.

Mark:

There was a lot of no's. Let me just tell you that.

Jill:

Okay, because you said you applied for a lot.

Mark:

But you don't need all-, you only need one yes.

Jill:

One.

Mark:

You only need one yes. And I have a presentation called 'The Pursuit of Yes' which kind of talks about that. And the Houston North OSHA office which had 200 applicants calling me up and said, "Hey, we got you an applicant, you put in." And I tell myself, "for real?"

And he tells me and I still remember Don Wynne, his name and we're still good friends and we sat down and because it was a Spanish-speaking vacancy, the gentleman kind of spoke to me in Spanish, kind of gave me that linguistic kind of test. And guess what, I got the job!

Jill:

Awesome. Awesome.

Mark:

Again.

Jill:

Congratulations.

Mark:

For anybody out there who's thinking you can't achieve, you can't do, guess what. I was a guy who didn't have a degree, I didn't make a lot of good grades, scaffold construction background experience and I got hired to work for OSHA.

Jill:

You've got a government job, oh my gosh. Well and technically your second one, because you were with the Navy before.

Mark:

Yeah. And so I worked with the Houston North OSHA office for, I started as a compliance officer, did that for five years and then I moved to the Houston South office and I became what's called a CAS, a Compliance Assistant Specialist. I did that for seven years which is, under cooperative programs you do outreach, you do partnerships, alliances and you do VPP outreach.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

Now-,

Jill:

So consultation for, that might be a term people know, right?

Mark:

Consultation is on the state side. And that's something that's brought up a lot. People say, "well you're with OSHA, can you consult-". We're like, 'we're not enforcement, we don't consult. We just advise and give information.'

Jill:

Yeah, you were on the federal side. And when I worked for OSHA I worked on the state side, so we had enforcement and consultations. So yeah, thanks for clarifying that.

Mark:

Oh! Well, there you go. Yeah. We work closely with our state counterparts to do outreach with small businesses and things of that nature. Like for example, Hispanic outreach which became a huge emphasis. For Region 6 I was the Hispanic coordinator.

But I did a lot of work in construction. I went back to my roots. And you know because, unfortunately there's a lot of, within the construction industry there's a lot of hazards, there's a lot of issues but there's also opportunities and I think that's where we as safety professionals can help bridge that gap, as no longer the safety cop, but the safety coach. Help challenge, help inform, help inspire people to realize, 'hey, it's not something that-, yes it's wrong, but what's the next right move?'

Jill:

Right, right.

Mark:

'What can we do right now? What's the opportunity in front of you?' And that's when I look at things now because, you know, everything up to this point has been an amazing opportunity, amazing, you know working for OSHA and things of that nature and now back in private. But there's a lot of work that needs to be done but there's a lot of good being done as well.

And so, because again for me, I look at potential just as potential was looked in me and sought out, that's what I look for in others.

Jill:

To be that Don or that maestro.

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

To be that for someone else.

Mark, I'm curious. When you started that job with OSHA and you were in compliance for those first five years, and you know, you had thought back in the scaffold building days the safety person was the safety cop with the notepad and now you literally have the notepad and the badge to go with it. But you're you and you've grown in your mindset about work and honorable work and seeing potential in people, how did that grow in you in those first few years with OSHA in the way that you did your job? Because, I mean it's a weird thing to have that badge.

It is. As a compliance officer, I tell you what. And again, hats off to any of those listeners and all those individuals at the federal state level that support and help our workplaces stay safe. It was for me a very different transition because as a compliance officer you're looking at everything from a problem [inaudible] to make sure, will it stand-,

Jill:

Legally. Yeah.

Mark:

Legal sufficient case and will it meet the elements to be able to sign?

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And I tell people all the time, even now when I'm out there looking. Hey, that OSHA guy is still back there. I mean, there's a reason why I stop and look left to right.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

You know, because in my head, everything in plain view is in plain view.

Jill:

You and me both. I just stop and I look left, I look right, I look perimeter, I look up, I look down, I'm like 'which way am I going to go first?'

Mark:

Yeah. That's how we were taught. You pan left, right, up to down and is anything in plain view off? And I had a lot of opportunity to go in different industries but, with respect to safety cops, safety coach in construction-, I tell you what, one of the biggest things that is really for me gratifying to hear even today, then and today is that 'hey, Mark, you're not like those other guys', and 'hey, Mark, you can really talk to us', and 'hey, Mark, hey, that what you did really helped'. And the reason is, I can relate.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

But when you're too technical-, and again, please don't get me wrong we need the CSPs, we need the CIHs but break it down. Break it down to the people level.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

And, and what I mean by that is because I was a helper, because I was a scaffold builder, because I was a superintendent, because I was in all those different capacities and in compliance. Now, I look at them and say 'hmm, I was there'.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

I was there but I'm also in the capacity now where I can make a difference at this workplace. Yes, you're going to get a citation but guess what? There's times Jill, that I would literally show people how to put on their harness because they were donning them wrong. They would still get a citation.

Jill:

Same. I've done the same. It's like, turn around, I'm going to put both of my hands on your shoulder blades. Now I'm going to look where that D-ring is. Yeah.

Mark:

And the emphasis there is again the safety coach.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Because the technical side we need, and again I can get technical [inaudible] three, H2, II, I can get technical, but the technical in the field doesn't work.

Jill:

No.

Mark:

It's just like saying, 'okay do you know all of your policies and procedures?', 'No.'

Jill:

Right,

Mark:

'Do you know the person?', 'No.'

Should you know the person? Yes. In our field of safety sometimes there's a lot that with respect to-, and I'm grateful for all the different organizations having emphasis on leadership and coaching and things of that nature, because at the end of the day if we can't relate with the individual that's in front of us and help connect the dots to where they need to go to a desired outcome, because if they go back and do the same thing after our conversation we didn't serve them.

Jill:

Right, right.

Mark:

We didn't serve them.

Go ahead.

Jill:

Yeah, we've got to find what's in it for them. And you know, just listening to you and thinking about how I did it as a young compliance person and, my gosh I think I had my OSHA badge when I was twenty-, I was either 23 or 24. And, you know you walk onto a construction site, phew, that's a pretty intimidating place to go. You know, I didn't have a construction background like you did. Plus, I was young and female and alone in the middle of nowhere, you know somewhere near the North Dakota and Canada border.

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

Like, holy cow. You know, and so I guess what I did back then and I continue to do to this day is I try to think often of my dad in the printing factory that he worked in. And as a little kid I would go into that printing factory after school to wait for his swing shift to get done and, you know I paid attention to the work that people were doing on the presses. While my dad was working on the presses I knew all the injuries they had, I knew the kind of work that they did and every time I did an inspection and I saw something that was a technical hazard like you talked about, because we learn that stuff and we know it I'm like 'okay, now how would I explain this to my dad?' How would I explain this to the guys on his crew, the people that he worked with in a way that isn't going to make them roll their eyes or say 'Hey, you snooty, smarty, went to college person, what does this have to do with me?#

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

You know, and so I would explain like okay there's this law and it says that this is this and this is this and it's got to be this way, but here's what that means to you. This is what could happen to you, have you ever seen anything like this?

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

And people would be like, 'oh yeah' and they tell you a story. It'll be like, okay so the way that we can fix it is like this, but do you have another idea? And people would be like, 'well, what about this?' And pretty soon you're in conversation. And you're not the punk with the badge who knows it all.

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

Right? Yeah.

Mark:

Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Jill:

Yeah, no. I'm done.

Mark:

And that's powerful too because at the end of the day, I was a young safety professional that went out and made enemies. But again, remember that that was my model. It's not an excuse but that was the model then.

Now, and this is now a safety professional to a future safety professional: we need a combination of both technical and soft skills. As a matter of fact, Inc. magazine said soft skills are no longer the soft skills, it's the hard skills.

Jill:

Isn't that true?

Mark:

And so it's very important for us, it's very important for us to be able, to be able to connect with the individual at their level. That's not dumbing it down, that's serving your audience.

Jill:

Yep.

Mark:

And when you can connect with them in a way that makes sure that they understand, in a way that's impactful for them and they can turn around and make the change, that's huge.

There's a story that I remembered when you were talking about your dad. I remember while at the Mexican Consulate because we did a lot of outreach, there was a gentleman there and I knew he was doing work on heavy highway because he had a lot of asphalt on his hands and on his pants.

And so I went over and again, at that time I was representing OSHA and I went to him, I extended my hand and I said, "How you doing?" We started talking and I asked him, "can you extend your hands out?" I first asked him does he have a family he says, 'yes, he has a kid, he's a dad', he said 'yes.' And I asked him, "Look at your hands, what do you see?" He kind of looked at me kind of puzzled and he said, "worker."

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And then I asked him, "Look at your hands again. Do you see a dad there?" "Look at your hands again. Do you see a husband there?" And he looked at me and said, "I didn't see that." I said, "Sir, you work eight, ten, twelve hours a day, that's part of you, that's not all of you."

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And again, I say that going back to your safety coach, safety cop, that our job at the end of the day is to ensure that everybody that goes into our job leaves home the same condition that they went to work. And if we can build friends and win people that's a win.

Jill:

That is.

Mark:

And so my challenge to everybody that's on the podcast: build your soft skills. If you're looking at a way to accelerate your career, your growth, accelerate your team's performance, invest in yourself first. Jim Rohn said "don't wish it were better, wish you were better."

Your team cannot become better unless you become better. And then you can serve them at a higher level. And so please get connected to a podcast, get connected to a webinar, get connected to a book.

Jill:

A mentor.

Mark:

I was fortunate enough back in 2011, because again as a CS all I do is presentations, do content building but I wanted to enhance my public speaking. And for those, hopefully your audience knows John Maxwell. I got plugged into John Maxwell, became a certified teacher and trainer coach.

Jill:

Okay.

Mark:

And then I began to see, you know what there is a difference in connection. Because it doesn't matter if it's one person or a thousand people, we have to learn to connect. Connect with the person at their level so that we can relate, we create an experience that's memorable, but we also can connect the dots for them.

And one of things I've been doing the past, oh my gosh, seven years is just, you know, investing in myself, investing in my personal development. Not professional development, I mean yes, I'm growing my professional development but my personal development, my public speaking, you know, persuasion, influence, all those different things because again, let's just think about it like this: if you and I or anybody on the call was to go out and do an audit, let's just be easy, at a construction site.

Jill:

Sure.

Mark:

Scaffold. You see how I did that scaffold?

Jill:

I did. I did. I've transformed myself, I mean, right now in my mind I'm standing in front of [crosstalk] it's a tube and coupler.

Mark:

Tube and coupler, 5 x 7, two tiers.

Jill:

Right.

Mark:

And we're out there all of us because of our level of hazard recognition will point out different things. And it's the same thing with soft skills. How is it that we're going to connect if we can't connect? How is it that we're going to persuade if we can't persuade? How is it we're going to build a team of high performance if we ourselves don't know what that looks like?

We have to be full-dimensional now because the pace of change is crazy fast, competition is so fierce and in order for us to be able to serve our teams at the highest level, guess what? Our teams are dynamic and we have to be able to-, is it influence this year I'm going to focus on? Is it team building? Is it persuasion? Is it high performance? What is it? And then focus on that. And then guess what's going to happen. Now when you're out in this field, and I do this now, I'm in a meeting, boom, they're not connecting. I'm sorry.

Jill:

Yeah, you know what-,

Mark:

I'm out in the field. He didn't coach right.

Jill:

I think that's so important. You know, you're pointing out, Mark, the pace of everything is moving so fast where we have this literal buffet of things that we could choose from. Things that when you're thinking about your personal development or your influence or what is it going to be and there's like, oh my gosh, how would I even narrow it down? But really do. Really do narrow it down for a period of time and get good at that thing.

Mark:

Oh yeah.

Jill:

And if your thing this year is-, the thing that I picked a year ago I think it was, maybe a little bit longer was I really want to work to support women. I really want to work to support women at work. I really want to make space and make sure that I'm creating space at the table and that I have influence over that.

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

So that's my one thing. You know, instead of picking ten or twenty I'm like 'that's what I'm going to focus on.'

Mark:

Right.

And actually you're spot on because high performance number one, according to the leading authority in high performance, Brendon Burchard is clarity. Seek clarity. Because if we're not clear, we can't move and if we can't move, we don't create a win, if we don't create a win what's going to happen? We're going to feel like we've never moved. But clarity at the end of the day is pivotal because if I'm not crystal clear, what's the next right move?

And so those are some of the things that I've focused on for the last, again, seven, eight years is high performance. Leadership, high performance, those are the two specific areas that I've been really diving in. And again, you can break down leadership, influence, persuasion but specifically those two, because if you can't lead effectively, you can't create high performance.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

In our industry we say we need to move fast. Well guess what? [inaudible] said "fast is slow, slow is fast." And what I mean by that is, guess what? If we want our team to accelerate, if we want our team to move at the rate needed, well guess what? What leadership skills do I need to possess? What high performance skills do I need to possess in order to help and equip my team?

Because again, I'll be honest, I've been-. My background, I've been on the backside of poor leadership in every aspect. You know, when I was in scaffold I received poor leadership, when I was a supervisor and project manager and superintendent I gave poor leadership, when I was in OSHA I sighted poor leadership. So I've been on every aspect of this leadership coin, if you will. And leadership is such a pivotal part of what we do as safety professionals.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

You know, when we're out on the field am I leading effectively? And that has been a huge transition for me, where in 2012 I launched my company, Multiply Leadership, which this past year we're rebranding it to Multiply Others which is all about equipping more leaders so we can effectively create sustainable growth. Because just take the talent management gap for example, and it's not adding more people to your team. That's not high performance.

Jill:

No, it's not.

Mark:

It's being able to identify the key influencers in the group and then invest in those. [crosstalk] so you can create now a multiplier effect.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And that has been my passion, that has been my-, it's going to be my life's work to just live to multiply others so we can have-. You know, we use this term in safety a lot, culture, I need to shift culture, you know what?

Jill:

What does that mean?

Mark:

If you don't know what you're talking about.

Jill:

It's empty. It's like the safety program that collects dust on the shelf that everybody thinks they need to have. Like, yeah we're good, it's got the cellophane on it we're good, we got it.

Mark:

Yeah. And so culture is such a dynamic term but yet for me, I look at it, yes we want to shift culture. But let's look at leadership.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Let's look at leadership. And what I mean by that is if i can grow, I can help my team grow, then I've identified another key influencer, I invest in them, they multiply, they find somebody else, guess what? I'm doing less work, actually more work, multiplied.

Jill:

Yeah. Right you know, I think Mark this is a really interesting and good point. You know, we often in safety specifically talk about how safety starts at the top. Yes. In an ideal world. Right?

Mark:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jill:

And that is what we want. However, many people who are listening to us now are thinking, 'right well I don't have that at the top, do I have influence?' It's like you think you have to make that influence happen at the top yourself and you're saying, 'no, let's look within first, let's do some naval gazing and figure out how can I have influence? How can I be that leader in that one area, in that one thing?'

And maybe to bring it even a little closer and more specific and tell me, if this is what you're getting at: if you're a safety professional right now and you're listening to this and you're overwhelmed and you're drowning as so many of us are with so many things coming in every day and you're like, 'what should I do?' And you're saying like, 'let's focus'. And maybe it's picking that one specific, let's say, project but you're marrying it with how can I develop my leadership style, or my influence over that project so we can get to the next one successfully and the next one successfully. And continue to build that circle of influence within yourself and you grow it out from there. Is that what you're getting at?

Mark:

Oh, absolutely. One of the questions I ask, I have a keynote called 'Gameday: four Principles and Practices for accelerating Performance.' And I ask the question, so number one: have you identified your key influencers? Sometimes they don't, sometimes they do. And those who raise their and say, 'yes, I've identified who my key influencer is', the second question is: does that key influencer know he's a key influencer? Because I guarantee you, I don't know if you know Houston Texans but when J.J. Watt gets on the field, guess what? The entire stadium roars. Why? Because J.J. Watt just showed up on the field.

See, it's not enough to point them out, they have to be called out. See, part of this is being like in recon and looking and scanning and saying, 'Oh my gosh, there's a Mark, there's a Jill, there's a Clint, there's a George. Hey, I see something in them, let me invest in them.'

And this is what somebody said to me one time after a keynote: he says, "Mark, what if there's nothing to return?" I said, "well, guess what? You just keep going."

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

It's not what am I going to get. That's the wrong question. What are you willing to give? See, one is self. What will I get in return? That's the wrong question. See, all I know is that if the farmer just goes out there and keeps planting, he doesn't say, 'whoa, shoot, if I plant more will I get less?' He just knows I've got to plant. So, our job, find the one, start with one. I mean that's what Mother Theresa said: everybody wants to help, just start with the one beside you. Start with the one, one becomes two, two becomes six, six becomes eight, and guess what? Next thing you know your influence has just multiplied. Because far too many of us, and again I'm speaking to my safety people. Is that we try to do too much by ourselves.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

But if we identify those key influencers, what's going to happen is now those key influencers help identify other key influencers, that identifies other key influencers, now your reach and your capacity has exponentially grown because now it's a multiplier effect. You're just adding people to your team.

And then what's going to happen is you just change culture.

Jill:

Yeah. I want to get back to your story of, with OSHA you became a certified speaker/trainer/coach, I kind of want to hear about what's happening with your career now because I think you're doing two things with your business and somewhere else. But when you're telling this story about influence it made me think of, you know that same coach I was telling you about who was asking about the horse? Well, I was able to have some training with him in person with a group and as you were telling the story I'm thinking of it. He had one of those, I don't remember the name of the game but it's the game where it has all those geometric pieces and you push down the center of it, you set a timer and you have to put all the little pieces to fit in their little spots, you know like square-,

Mark:

Oh, I hated that game.

Jill:

It might be called-, I don't remember what it's called but it's like the square has to go in the square and the triangle, the triangle and you have, you know until the whole thing pops up and the pieces fly out everywhere.

Mark:

Yep.

Jill:

And so he's doing some coaching with a group of us, this is back in my OSHA days, somehow we got lucky enough to have this really cool coach who was an industrial psychologist. And he has my one co-worker, Todd and he's like, 'Todd, you're going to do this task, you're going to do this job'. And you know, Todd can't get it done in the seconds that he sets on the timer and the pieces are popping up and so, pretty soon the coach is like, 'well, if you can get it done I'm going to give you more money'. He's like, laying dollar bills down on the table and you know, Todd can't get it done. And he's like, 'I really believe in you Todd, I know you can do this.' Timer goes, pieces fly out all over the place, he doesn't get it done.

And then pretty soon he's like, 'Well, everybody in the room, maybe if you could just cheer him on, maybe he's going to be able to go faster and get it done'. Fails again. And of course, ultimately what we get to is we all help him put the pieces in and together we can get it done. You know, and we became, you know influencers together in moving to the next thing. And that analogy is, heck, we probably did that exercise fifteen years ago but I think of it so often. It's like, you know why am I struggling to do something on my own? Who are the people who can help me put these pieces together, you know?

Mark:

I talk about it a little bit in a workshop that I do and a lot of it has to do, if I'm good at this I have to relinquish what's called control.

Jill:

Right?

Mark:

And again, I'm not stepping on any toes but, hey, more can be done when we involve others. And so, I love that story because, you know, going back to where we're at right now with speaker training and, you know, work full time, family-,

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

-also on book three right now. Gosh, it's an amazing ride but one individual the other day at work said, "Mark, how do you do all this stuff?" I said, "what's the price you're willing to pay to live an amazing life?" Again, the day you're born, the day you die, the time that's in the middle. So at the end of the day, and this is for everybody on the call, live out your legacy now, because somebody is going to be reading it when we die.

And do you want people to be talking more about the mashed potatoes or the life you invested? I love what Maya Angelou said: "People won't remember what you said, what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

Jill:

How you made them feel, yeah! Beautiful.

Mark:

And so, how we invest in others makes a difference. And one of the amazing things I've been able to do, I mean I still to this day tickle myself, tickle myself, pinch myself. People pay me to speak. Again, I say that very humbly because I know where I came from. My grandmother came to this country. She did not read, she did not write, she signed her name with the X. My mother only went to third grade and here's a guy that worked for OSHA, got to do some amazing stuff, wrote a book and gets paid to speak.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So Mark, for people who are listening and they're thinking: 'Gosh, I like this idea of public speaking' like it's good and, you know anyone who is a safety professional is already a public speaker, in case you didn't know it.

Mark:

In case you didn't know it, yeah.

Jill:

In case you didn't know it, you really are.

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

Every time you get, like, a person or two people gathered around you and you're teaching something on safety, you're now a public speaker. But if someone listening is thinking, you know, 'maybe I want to do that more', or 'I want to get better internally in my own company', you said you had some training. But can you maybe talk about what it's like being a public speaker? How did you know inside yourself that that's what you wanted to do and you wanted to develop?

Mark:

That's a great question. I gravitated towards the mentorship side in the John Maxwell team. So the John Maxwell team has, or the John Maxwell company has a certification program that's a speaker/trainer/coach, in that I gravitated in the mentorship program to the speaking track.

Jill:

Okay.

Mark:

Because again that was my emphasis. The reason why I got into it because I wanted to enhance my public speaking because I did a lot of presentations when I was with OSHA.

Jill:

OSHA. Sure, right.

Mark:

But the more I did it, the more I liked it.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

But then we got into the whole science of how to connect the spoken word, the written word, how to create a pay-off. All those different things and I'll be honest and you hear this a lot, you know, 'I'd rather die than do public speaking-'

Jill:

Right.

Mark:

You hit it right on the head. Every safety professional is a public speaker. You are a paid public speaker. I told the other guy the other guy, he said, "Mark, I don't want to get up there" I said, "You're a paid speaker, man" He said, "No, I'm not", I said "Yeah you are. You're getting paid right now! Speak"

And so one of the things: if you want to enhance your public speaking, awesome. That is one of the ways, as a matter of fact I did a presentation this past Tuesday for a management team and they said, "Mark, you got energy, you got this-" But see, they don't understand the work.

Jill:

Yeah, talk about that piece. Talk about that.

Mark:

So the work in terms of-, there's a difference between the written word and the spoken word. And the written word is basically context and how you format your speech and how to craft your pay-offs and really hone in on the tone, the inflection, your body language, all that. And then again the spoken word, obviously emphasizing the tonality and things of that nature, how to connect with the audience.

But what's interesting is the speaker track of the mentorship, you know what the name was?

Jill:

No.

Mark:

It was called 'Get good first'. What a name, right?

Jill:

Right. That's what we all want.

Mark:

Get. Good. First. And so we had the amazing privilege and honor to have Les Brown, again for those of you who don't know him, google him today. Spoke at the Georgia dome, I think it was like 80,000 people, like he was Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar and all these guys. But we had the amazing opportunity to have him speak to us. But he also honed in on this one particular part. It's that, "whether it's one or a thousand, you work them", he said.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

You work them as if it were a thousand. And this is what I challenged one person the other day. He said, "Mark, I know this stuff I can shoot it from my hip." No, you're doing a disservice to your team, to the audience, whoever that is. So for all of us on the call, if you want to become public speaker, guess what? You already are, just get good first. Do the work. What is your message?

When I craft a message it's basically the same methodology the entire time. What do I want them to learn, do, feel? And I'm thinking about crafting something around that but whether it's ADI or all these other different things, they're great but I just tell myself, "what do I want them to learn, do and feel". And between learn and feel, there's a story.

Jill:

That's it.

Mark:

Learn, do. Story, feel. And guess what? You practice. Start with five minutes first. We were told if you can't connect in five, you can't do it in thirty and if you can't do it in thirty, don't do it at all.

Jill:

Right? And so when you're practicing, Mark. I mean, you and I are both public speakers. I'm curious, when you're practicing where do you do yours? I know my cat has heard a lot of presentations.

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

I know that television sets that are on, that have faces on them have heard a lot of presentations. How do you practice?

Mark:

In my office with the recording.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

I have a little SONY recorder and I record myself. Because, again, I can have the written word in front of me, and then you memorize and then you can do the spoken word.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

But then what you're listening for is tone, inflection, what we call a pregnancy pause. At what point do I want my tone to inflect to ensure they understood what I'm talking about? At what point do I want that point to come out? How many pay-offs based on time do we need to get? And then the wrap-up. How do we wrap all this up?

Because at the end of the day, the message with no point is no point.

Jill:

Right. Exactly.

Mark:

We don't need to keep them going around in circles. We need to take them home. But when we take them home, take them home better, take them home with the message, take them home with some tools in their pocket, take them home with an experience they can lead from, take them home with a smile. You know?

And you know, Les Brown has 'Distract, Dispute, Inspire' and I have 'Inform, Challenge and Inspire', it's in my [inaudible] so inform, challenge because there's always going to be a challenge, I guarantee you what I speak. But there's always going to be an inspiration because if, and somebody was saying, "Mark this is very technical," but guess what? You don't have to have five bullet points.

Jill:

Yeah you're telling a story, you're telling a story.

Mark:

But if you just stuck and spoke from the heart. One of the things, and this is for all public speakers or future public speakers, Les Brown would always tell us this: "Get out of your head and into your heart." Speak from your heart because the heart connects. The mind doesn't, the heart does.

Jill:

Yeah, Mark you've dropped a number of good resources for people listening today who are interested in public speaking by way of resources that they can study or even take training from. And you know, if people don't have that opportunity right now for themselves, I think something else that you can do is listen to the speakers you love. It doesn't have to do with safety. Listen to the speakers that you love. And kind of pay attention to how they, like you're talking about, Mark there's a cadence and a flow and a methodology.

Mark:

Yes.

Jill:

And you'll hear it in speakers and the way that they present over and over and over again. And each of them have their different style, you know like I just recently had Charlie Morecraft on as a guest of the podcast and if anyone's ever heard him speak he's phenomenal. And I asked him, like, "how did you develop that?" And he's like, "I just started talking." I mean like, he's a born storyteller and the most powerful piece is he connects to every individual's heart, like you're saying.

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

That is is his method. He connects to a heart every single time.

Mark:

Right.

Jill:

And you know, there are others who present in more of a process. A methodical way. But there-,

Mark:

Yeah, or a dynamic, more emotional type.

Jill:

Yeah. Exactly, exactly. So if you don't have access to those resources, study the storytellers that you love, the presenters that you love and pick up those little cues and the things that work for you. Make it your own and you'll soon develop your own style.

I've had the opportunity to have some coaching like you, not as extensive but I've had some coaching from some people in the film industry many years ago who turned their film business into a public speaking coaching. And they said, you know, it's all about story and storyboards, there's a happy, there's usually a not so happy beginning, a happy ending and the stuff in the middle. And you can tell that story in any order you want.

And then you know, their challenge was to do that heart piece. And so you know, sitting in a group, getting some coaching from these people and they're like, 'okay, tell a story.' And they're like, you know, they stop me at one point and they said, "Jill, you have a really good story here and it's like an emotional story but when you got to the emotional part you kind of pulled back and the story falls flat." And they said, "why'd you do that?" And I said, "Because I don't want to cry! Because I'm wrapped up into this and I don't want to cry." And they're like, "well, what would happen if you did?"

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

And I'm like, "I don't know, I'd cry." And they're like, you need to do it again, you need to do it again, you need to do it again and you're going to get to that point where you're going to be able to do it and you might cry but you're gonna keep- [crosstalk]

Mark:

Yeah, it's powerful.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

It's powerful because people see your-, they see the authentic you, though.

Jill:

Yeah, right?

Mark:

You know what I mean? It's one thing to share your heart, it's another thing to give it to them.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

And so, again for those that are listening, if you're in safety, you've just started safety, you've been in safety for 20 plus years. Please, one of our greatest services that we can do to our teams is not talk above them, speak with them.

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

Speak with them in a way that connects to their heart, to their emotions. One gentleman told me the other day, "well, Mark that's touchy-feely" and I said, "wait a minute, put your hand on your pulse on your neck and let me just-" now I said, "now hold your breath" and he inhaled his breath and he got to a place where he needed to exhale really loudly and I said, "that's interesting because touchy-feely is what keeps you alive."

Jill:

Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

Mark:

Just because we won't go there doesn't mean people need to go there. And so again, your style may be different. And one of the things, and I loved how you talked about the public speakers, because again I love watching Les Brown, Zig Ziglar, all these different speakers; JFK, Martin Luther King.

I tell you what, every person on this call, if you were just to google that 'I Have a Dream' speech, I've listened to it so many times but now listen it and then close your eyes. Close your eyes and put yourself there and you will have an experience like no other. That's what you're talking about, Jill. And there's a rhythm, there's a cadence but it takes you there. And if we were to take people there, what could happen to machine guarding? What could happen to fall protection? What could happen to HAZCOM and any other thing that we're talking about?

Jill:

Yeah.

Mark:

If we connected to people what could happen?

Jill:

That's beautiful. That's beautiful, Mark. You know, as we're rounding out our time together today I'm curious. You have dropped so many wonderful things including one thing that you started with: gratitude comes when you recognize what's been poured in. I wrote that down.

Mark:

I'm glad you did because I forgot it.

Jill:

I'll have to send it to you.

Mark:

Yeah.

Jill:

I'm wondering if there are, you know, for safety professionals who are listening, who are maybe wanting to take their career to the next level, or just getting started what are some nuggets that you'd like to leave folks with today?

Mark:

Well, so if I was to do everything all over again I would understand that my contribution matters. My contribution matters. So that means I have to show up every day giving my best. Not expect best in others, give my best to everybody I come across. Why? Because my contribution matters. And it's not a rating game or anything like that, 'oh you're given a 5' or you're given a-. No, no, no. Mark's given a 10 today. Why? Because I'm accountable for Mark. I'm not accountable to you, I'm accountable for Mark. And because I'm accountable for Mark, guess what? I'm going to show up and give my best every day.

As a matter of fact, John Wooden would challenge his players and his team members, he would say, "Make every day your masterpiece". So what if every day we showed up and gave people a masterpiece? We gave them a design, a blueprint for what they can become.

And the second thing I would just say, identify your Mark. If you go back to the Don Aliber in my story that, who is your Mark? Who is the key influencer in your area, your tribe, your organization. That is, you know what? They need your influence, they need your experience, your insight.

Everything you have, why don't you just say, "You know what, I'm going to invest in them for six months". That's just a challenge for everybody. Identify somebody after the call and do it now, write their name now because after the call you're going to forget. Write their name now and then invest them and then say, "I've been watching you". And they're going to freak out. They're going to freak out. And then say, "I've been watching you but guess what? I want to invest in you. Can I invest in you for six months?" And they're going to say, "how much is it going to cost you?" And you say, "It's not going to cost you a dime. Because I want to serve you."

What if everybody on this call just made an intention to go out and find one person to pour into for six months for free?

Jill:

Beautiful.

Mark:

And then the last thing I would say: if you don't have a personal development plan, get one.

Jill:

A personal what plan?

Mark:

A personal development plan.

Jill:

A personal development plan. Yes.

Mark:

Because if you're not growing, your team's not growing, if you can't grow then, oh my gosh.

Jill:

Right. Inertia.

Mark:

Inertia.

Jill:

Mark, this is powerful. Thank you so much.

Mark:

Oh, no. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, serve the audience and give a little insight, a little background into the life of Mark who has been here, had the privilege to be able to, you know, mess up along the way. Because again, if you're not messing up, you're not doing something right, by the way.

Jill:

That's for sure.

Mark:

Fail forward. Learn to fail forward often.

Jill:

Get in good trouble.

Mark:

It's not a mess up, it's a fail forward and if you learn every single day is an opportunity, you learn to fail forward more often. And take everything as a gratitude because guess what? Tomorrow's not promised and your team needs you.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. Well, Mark Hernandez you are a maestro.

Mark:

Oh, gracias.

Jill:

And thank you all so much for joining in and listening today and thank you for the work that you all do to make sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day.

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