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NSC Live: “People were making bets on how long I could make it.”

October 23, 2018 | 41 minutes 13 seconds

Our host Jill James sits down with the Safety Training Ninja, Regina McMichael from the Learning Factory, live from the floor of the NSC Expo.

Transcript

Jill:

Welcome to the National Safety Council Congress and Expo. I'm Jill James with the Accidental Safety Pro, and we are recording live podcast sessions this week while we're here at the expo. My guest today is Regina McMichael with the Learning Factory, welcome to the show.

Regina:

Thank you.

Jill:

So, you know that the Accidental Safety Pro Podcast is all about safety professionals, like you and I, telling our story about, how did we accidentally fall into this profession because so many of us simply did. And it sounds like you have a pretty compelling story about how literally an accident ... so do you mind sharing with our audience ...

Regina:

Not at all.

Jill:

How did you become a safety professional?

Regina:

I was 20 years old, and I was young, and recently married, and had been in love with this young man since I was 10 years old, and waited until I got old enough to be interesting. And finally we started our relationship, got married and he worked for a residential contractor, and he did roofing, and I got into safety the day he died.

So he fell from a roof, 25 feet 11 inches. And we're just regular people living regular lives, and suddenly I was thrown into this world that I didn't understand, I couldn't figure out why he died.

And so I ... my goal was just trying to understand that. I learned OSHA regs, I participated in the investigation, I demanded data from the agency, I demanded data from worker's comp commissions, autopsies, everything.

Jill:

How old were you?

Regina:

20.

Jill:

20.

Regina:

20.

Jill:

That's a lot of cahunas for a 20 year old in grief.

Regina:

Yeah.

Jill:

Wow.

Regina:

Yeah, I didn't know yet who I was going to be, human ... as a person and I didn't know that the things I was doing at that time and the strength I was showing, which I didn't know I was. I didn't know that that was a part of who I was as a core individual. And still wonder.

Jill:

We're all learning. We're all continuing to learn.

Regina:

For me, it was like, I just had to find a reason for why he died, because he wasn't a rockstar, he didn't die in a plane crash, he's just a regular person. He had served in the military, he'd been a wild boy when he was young, survived some interesting things and it was like, why did he die? And so -

Jill:

How long had he been on the job?

Regina:

He had worked construction on and off through his teen years and then after the military. So with that particular company, probably less than a year. You know construction in the '80's, 1986. So when he fell and when he died and when I was starting to investigate in and learn what was happening, regulations, et cetera. It was interesting because that's when I started finding out that there wasn't any protection, there wasn't any anything. And it wasn't just a lack of regs, it was a lack of complete and utter regard. And nobody was doing it. I didn't have a blame for the people that he worked for. Because it wasn't like I could drive down the street and see anybody [inaudible] their workers.

Jill:

Not a known entity.

Regina:

No. No. And so, I was ... My mother, "You need to go to college. You need to go to college. Take the worker's comp money and go to college." And the worker's comp experience was pretty ugly. It's not always pretty now but in 1986 it was -

Jill:

What was it like? I mean, they have an assigned dollar amount. Isn't that sad to say, a signed dollar amount for the death of a family member.

Regina:

I wish it was that simple.

Jill:

Okay.

Regina:

They literally denied the claim, and tried to blame him, as if that's relevant in any state. But they gave it a shot, and I remember talking to my attorney and he's like, "Oh, that's just where we start." And I'm like, "Why would anybody treat anyone like that and start there?" So I actually settled for much less than what the law allowed, but it was a conscious decision because the angst, the hate, the not wanting to stay in a place of grief. I went to grief counseling and there's five steps and I'm like, "Alright, well I'm going to work through those really quickly because this kind of sucks. I don't like it. I don't want to stay here any longer." And I actually thought I could will myself through it.

Jill:

At 20, maybe we think we can will ourselves through grief. Well, although that's probably something many people continue to experience.

Regina:

And I think there's something to be said for that. A choice to not stay in a place. And so I made those choices that I didn't want to stay in an ugly, depressing place. And so, with a small amount of money in my hand, I stumble off to community college. And there I was, walking down the hallway, and on the bulletin board was this paper talking about safety academic program. And I'm like, "wait, what?"

Jill:

What just happened here?

Regina:

It was amazing. There was this brochure and it had the course listings in it and so, this is like 1987 now. So it's got the little pieces of paper at the bottom that you're supposed to rip off -

Jill:

Yes, yes. I remember.

Regina:

But I'm holding the brochure and I realize this is my destiny. So I look to my left, and I look to my right, and then I stole the whole thing.

Jill:

I would have totally done the same. Totally done the same. So, did you feel in that moment, I'm going to avenge this? What had happened, and right things.

Regina:

Yes, from the very beginning I felt a necessity to try and right the balance. And I didn't even know what that meant early on, but through my college time and early on in my career. And it's interesting, because I talk about this in the keynote when I talk to people about ... I literally thought I was supposed to save one life. That that one life was supposed to trade for the life that was -

Jill:

Sure.

Regina:

And that balance would somehow explain why he died. Because I had something I was supposed to do. And so then it would make sense.

Jill:

Mission accomplished.

Regina:

Exactly, then I'd be able to breathe. He didn't die for no reason. The problem is, as you have probably experienced, as most safety professionals that I talk to, it's almost impossible to leave the end of the day, to leave your career and say, "I saved a life today."

Jill:

We don't know.

Regina:

We don't know. Police officers get to know, firefighters, doctors. But safety professionals, we just walk around hoping -

Jill:

Hoping today it mattered.

Regina:

Hoping some [inaudible]

Jill:

And hopefully we've saved thousands and thousands of lives in our work. I think so too. So righted it many times over.

Regina:

And I figured out, for me, once I started training, how much I loved to train, how much I loved to connect with people. That I realized, me trying to save one person, me trying to directly impact you was way too small. But if I could train people and they could then go out and impact -

Jill:

Fishing, that whole fishing analogy. Teach them to fish and they'll do it.

Regina:

Yes. And I thought, "Okay, so I won't find out if I helped, and I'm okay with that." One [inaudible] through my career.

Jill:

I'm going to have to give that up.

Regina:

But it's interesting that we're talking about this because this is probably the first public recording of this conversation. I have so many people in the 30 years I've been in the industry who come up and are like, "I didn't know any of this."

Jill:

Wow. What an honor. Yeah, what an honor to have this story told here. So, you're at the community college, you start your courses, you finish it.

Regina:

Yep, 2 years in 10 months.

Jill:

Okay. Congratulations. Well done. What's the first job? What did you decide to do?

Regina:

So I went to work for the highway department for the state of Virginia.

Jill:

That's funny, that was my first safety job too.

Regina:

I know. When I read that I thought that was really cool, actually.

Jill:

Okay, state of Virginia.

Regina:

And, oh my gosh, to work with people, and to spend time with people, and to train them, was so awesome. My first training was probably 3 days into the job.

Jill:

Wow. Totally green.

Regina:

Yeah, useless. And I was handed a carousel of slides. An age check, age check there. And it was on backing safety, and I'm like -

Jill:

Oh

Regina:

Yeah, I'm like heavy equipment and backing it up.

Jill:

I'm like 23 years old.

Regina:

I'm like, why would you back over somebody? Who would do that? There like, yeah it's a thing. So I learned as I taught. But confined space training, and there was an incident where I was in the confined space with my people and we lost touch with above. And I come out and my guy, topside, is just covered in sweat, shaking, and he goes, "I just canceled the 911 call. 'Cause you taught me, I can't go in."

Jill:

He listened.

Regina:

He said I couldn't come in. He goes, "I thought you guys were down. I couldn't go in." I'm like, you did right, man. And I'm like oh my gosh.

Jill:

It worked. The training.

Regina:

The training worked. That was powerful stuff.

Jill:

And you're 20-some years old.

Regina:

I know. I'm like, I did that.

Jill:

Wow. And so how did you, as a 20-some year old female, I've been in your position also at the highway department, what did you do to build street cred. 'Cause it's a thing, when you're young and female and you just got out of school and you don't know how to back up the actual truck.

Regina:

We're looking at the size going, what does this one say?

Jill:

Yeah.

Regina:

That's a nice picture. What does it mean?

I don't know. I think I could look back and say, I think I did these things, but at the time I think it was just about having my heart in the right place. I really did care about these people. We had an incident where one of our vehicles was hit by a tractor trailer on the major interchange right out Washington, D.C., and I remember I had taught First Aid CPR all day long and I had gone to the site because I had to pass it to get home anyway. And it was awesome having lights in your car 'cause you got to pass all the traffic. And so, I get to the vehicle and it is demolished, it is horrible. But my guys [inaudible] the moment, they weren't in the truck. And the reason they weren't in the truck was because one of the signs on the side of the road had fallen down. And you know how they always make the jokes about the guys who work for the highway department.

Jill:

It takes two, three, four, people, one shovel.

Regina:

What's orange and sleeps six? The [DOT] truck.

And instead of ignoring something that was a hazard to the public, they turned around and walked back and did the right thing. And that's when the tractor trailer hit their vehicle. And they would have been in the vehicle had they not done the right thing. And when I saw them, I just lost it.

Jill:

Yeah right.

Regina:

I'm just bawling my eyes out and I'm like, you're the most beautiful people.

Jill:

I did my job! I did my job! And you did your job!

Regina:

I know.

Jill:

That's the whole test of safety professionals, that they're going to perform the way we want them to perform when nobody's looking. And so you did your job and they did theirs. How wonderful is that.

Regina:

It is.

Jill:

So how long were you at transportation and then what happened next? What launched the next phase?

Regina:

I did that for about 14 months, but I've always kind of let the universe give me some push.

Jill:

Same.

Regina:

So, there I was and this opportunity presented itself to join the Associated General Contractors of America, the largest construction trade association for general contracting in the U.S. And so, there I was heading off to a job in a suit, and heels.

Jill:

Very different than the steel toes you left behind.

Regina:

People were making bets on how long I could make it.

Jill:

'Cause you had to leave your boots behind.

Regina:

And I had an amazing boss. He was an amazing mentor, Pete Cheney. And Pete taught me another side of safety I hadn't seen. We got to develop product, we got to develop training. We made videos. And all of a sudden I'm like, this is broad reach.

Jill:

Different part of my career, yeah.

Regina:

And I got to work with some of the leading safety people in construction safety. Some of the top people. And I didn't even know then, what I was with. It's not until years later that I look back and I'm going -

Jill:

[inaudible] is kind of a big thing.

Regina:

And my mentor is past president of the ASSP, past board member of the BCSP, fellow ... and so I was lucky to have this amazing opportunity and this exposure to know these really great minds. And these people who are saving [inaudible]. And then I got recruited by, of all organizations, the National Association of Home Builders.

Jill:

Whoa!

Regina:

Yeah.

Jill:

That was the universe again.

Regina:

And during the interview I said to my potential boss, I said, "I need to tell you something before you hire me."

Jill:

And what happened after you said that?

Regina:

He was like, "Whoa." And "let's not talk about it a lot." And I said, "Actually, I don't talk about it at all, so you're good to go." Because I wasn't ready to tell my story. I didn't start to tell this story for 28 years.

Jill:

Yeah I believe it.

Regina:

And not because it was a secret. I wanted people to judge who I was as a safety professional by the work I was doing, not the perceived -

Jill:

You knew in your heart why you got into it

Regina:

[inaudible] oh they hadn't been talking to people about it that I wanted to be judged by the performance of my career.

Jill:

And so, what did you do in that job? What was the role that you were filling in that one. Is there more irony that goes with this?

Regina:

You know my story.

Jill:

I don't. I've never heard it before.

Regina:

That's what's so crazy. The reason they brought me in was because they needed someone. I was the first full time safety person they had. And the NEHP was actually a much, much larger train association than the AGC, but they represented so many small businesses around the world. I mean, home building americana, doesn't get any more than that. And the reason they needed someone full time is there was a regulation under development that I had been involved with in AGC, but they needed someone to dedicate themselves to it full time and they recruited [inaudible] and that regulation was fall protection.

Jill:

Fall protection. Wow. Was it the residential fall protection?

Regina:

The residential side.

Jill:

Wow.

Regina:

Yeah.

Jill:

I only know this because I remember as an OSHA investigator at the time when that happened and then having to learn what the regulation differences were and how insanely different they were and this little checklist that I had that, "if it's this, then this, and if it's this scenario, then that." And so you helped develop that.

Regina:

Yep.

Jill:

That is fabulous. Wow.

Regina:

And then we had an interpretation that came out, I helped write that. And developed a bunch of product. Yeah, it was amazing.

Jill:

What did that feel like?

Regina:

You know how the devil and the angel on your shoulder, kind of like, whenever ... one of the things that was particularly hard for me, was as the agency was putting together some stout language, and fairly so. People were dying, I get that. When you look at statistics from 1986, one of those numbers is my husband. So I got all of that. But I also got that I wasn't going to be able to convince Kevin, my husband, to tie off to the roof then he wasn't going tie off to the roof.

Jill:

To do it, yeah

Regina:

And it wouldn't have saved his life. So we had a regulation with the best of intention but it wasn't going to save anybody's life. And which is why NEHP, at the time, put a lot of political pressure to develop a special interpretation. And it gave the industry some time to catch up. Did they do it [crosstalk] ?

Jill:

Add some options, yes.

Regina:

Was it enough, at the time, whatever? No, they still waited around way too long, but ... going out and citing a whole bunch of people and it not making anyone better, isn't helping either. We needed something that did all those things.

Jill:

Stuff them in.

Regina:

Just to add to the crazy mess of a story. So there we are, and at the time, this is secretary Joe Dear's office. The signing ceremony of the regulation. And I'd love to say how important you feel going to a signing ceremony but really we all wanted to be there just so we could get an advance copy of the reg and find out what the implantation does.

Jill:

What the heck is in here.

Regina:

How long do I have?

Jill:

I remember Joe Dear's signature on so many of the OSHA documents that I was using as guidance documents at the times.

Regina:

He was an awesome ... I say that with all my heart. He was an awesome leader and I think he did a lot for the agency. And so there we were in the signing ceremony, and they start passing out advance copies of the reg. And it's like 2 days before it will get published in the federal register. And I flip it open. And I scan to the [inaudible] and it is nine years to the day of my husband's death.

Jill:

Whoa. Whoa.

Regina:

February 6.

Jill:

That is awesome.

Regina:

I'm looking at my boss at the time and I'm like, "do you see this?" He goes, "I don't get it."

Jill:

How many years later was that?

Regina:

Nine years to the day.

Jill:

Nine years, oh yeah, you just said that.

Regina:

Nine years, it kicked in.

Jill:

Oh man. Who was the first person you told that to? Did you call his mom? Or like, what do you do?

Regina:

It was my boss 'cause he was just standing right next to me, and I'm like holding the date and pointing at it. He's like, "Why are you so insane we got 90 days. We can work with that." I'm like, "No, it's the date." Out of all the days in the year. There are 365 to chose from and it's that one.

Jill:

Wow. What a story.

Regina:

You want me to do another one?

Jill:

Yes. Yes. I love irony.

Regina:

Stop.

Jill:

And the universe coming together.

Regina:

I do too. I do too.

Jill:

Cause I'm still picturing you taking the poster off the wall in the community college.

Regina:

Running down the hall.

Jill:

And the nine years later, yeah.

Regina:

So our wedding anniversary is April 28th, Worker Memorial Day.

Jill:

Wow. You're in the right field.

Regina:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah, you're in the right field. That's pretty amazing.

Regina:

There was a time after my son was born I thought maybe I needed to leave the industry that I wasn't on my right track. And it's interesting because that's when I learned so many professionals struggle to stay in the industry. To feel relevant. To feel like you're helping.

Jill:

Yes we're always reinventing ourselves.

Regina:

And I think it's the people that are truly successful are the ones that struggle with those things so they can reinvent themselves. You're exactly right.

Jill:

It's the struggle and when you start feeling it, then you know, is it time for me to move on to a new chapter? Or do I need to reinvent where I'm at and take a new trajectory to your path?

Regina:

Absolutely.

Jill:

So AGC this is all happening. Did you stick around there for a while and what's next?

Regina:

So home builders for almost five years I think. And then I left to start a consulting business. In part through some government grant work. So I was training home builders all across the country and trying to get them to use fall protection. And trying to get them to actually own an extension cord with a ground plug on it.

Jill:

Or at least plug it into a [crosstalk]. Here's a portable one, use this.

Regina:

The best part about it was ... that was five years of hostile audiences, of toning my skills as a trainer, as an influencer to people who didn't understand. 'Cause they're like, "How can we do this all?" And it's like, "Can you do anything? Could you do one thing today, and one thing tomorrow?" I'm like, "Don't look at it in total, because it's too overwhelming." I'm like, "try to figure out what's right."

Jill:

Talk about hostile audiences. I know what you mean when you say that. But for anyone who's doing training or is in front of audiences right now. Whether it's on big stages like you do now, or around the world like you do now. Or someone who's just in front of a room full of people in their company. There's something to be said for your audience and the life that it brings or the life that it doesn't bring. And so when you say hostile audience, maybe describe that. How do you work through that as a trainer? And then flip it around to when you have one that gives you life. 'Cause those are fun.

Regina:

Actually when I teach, I teach about class culture. And that as the trainer, as the facilitator, that we have the responsibility to hold that culture, even if you walk into a hostile room. Possibly 30 people don't want to be there, it's another OSHA training class. Perhaps it's even punishment for an accident. You know, something that's happened. Or somebody had a near miss and so they're all getting trained on ladders even though it may or may not be the issue.

Jill:

You're right

Regina:

And may not be the solution. And so that hostile audience are the guys that are forced to be there and I'm from the east coast so I say guys for everything I should probably preface that.

Jill:

Guys means people for the purposes of this podcast.

Regina:

That's it.

Jill:

Yeah, okay.

Regina:

Obviously two women sitting here. We're definitely equal opportunity.

I feel like it's our job as the professionals, but particularly as trainers, and we have to turn it around. We have to get the passion side and we've got to get them to appreciate the person standing next to them. We've got to get them to remember that it can happen. And that's what was interesting about the bulk of my career is I never said, "And let me tell you why this matters because it does happen to regular guys just like you. It happened to my husband." I never pulled that card. I always felt like it was my job to get them there without that.

Jill:

Without that, yeah.

Regina:

And so, I had these signature at the bottom of the form that said, "I can learn nothing from a woman."

Jill:

I've experienced those audiences.

Regina:

I'm like, guess what you can learn? You can learn that I'm going to rip this up and no client will ever see it. That's what you're going to learn today. I'm like, do you actually think I'm going to turn that into somebody? So it kind of cracked me up. But, you're not going to get everybody. You're not going to get 100% believers. But if I can get 4 guys in the front of the room with their arms crossed in front of them angry-

Jill:

To relax.

Regina:

Yeah. And they'll actually start to -

Jill:

Lean in.

Regina:

I'm good. I'm good. I'll take that. And that was a lot of it. I just tried to get them to do little pieces. And for hardcore compliance people. They would have difficulty with my approach because I wasn't about, you have to be perfect. Because I felt like, "Can we try perfect tomorrow? Today can we just not kill you."

Jill:

It's the, don't be a safety cop, kind of thing. And I think that many of us in this profession have been safety cop when we didn't know what else to do or hadn't honed your skill enough to know there's a business gray and how to ride that and then how to move the needle toward the direction that you want, knowing that you're not going to get 100% right from the first time.

Regina:

But it takes confidence.

Jill:

It does.

Regina:

You need a great mentor to be able to say I didn't get 100 and say nobody gets 100. Let's start in the right direction.

Jill:

And some days training in front of audiences just isn't going to go well. It's not going to be out of the park every single time. It's really a bummer because you go into it you hoping it will. But sometimes audiences are flat, sometimes you're flat. So anybody who's doing training should certainly know that. Don't think it's a failure because this happens and it's cyclical and I'm sure it still happens to you, happens to me, and we never know which audience it's going to be and which day it's going to be.

Regina:

But when you get the good one.

Jill:

Oh it's awesome. And you live on it for a long time. At lease us extroverts do.

Regina:

You have to feed on it and you have to accept this is all you got. I was in an unnamed country, unnamed city, I don't want to offend anybody. But I was in a Nordic country, and it was crashing and burning. And this was in a 20 country tour. And I had worked in countries where it wasn't supposed to be effective and it was awesome. And then here I was in this crash and burn situation and this gentleman comes to me during break, and he just looks at me, and he says, "Some people don't have ears." And I was like, "Is this a translation thing?"

Jill:

What? What? What does that mean?

Regina:

And basically it was, some people don't want to hear. They don't have ears to hear what you say. And that was such a relief because I went back in the room and I focused on the people who had ears. And I taught them the best I could and I tried to impact their lives the best way I could. And I stopped worrying about the people who didn't have ears, because you know how they can control you? And you're trying so hard to get to them. And then, yeah, so it's like, "no, I'm going to focus on the people who have ears." So that's been really helpful for me. If it's crashing and burning, if you have 3 people that care, let those 3 people -

Jill:

Focus on them.

Regina:

Because they're there. They matter.

Jill:

There's something about knowing your audience as well and taking just a little bit of time before you get going and trying to figure out, "Why are all those people with their arms crossed? What's going on here?"

I remember, specifically I was doing some training. I don't remember what I was training on. It might have been the OSHA ten hour or something and the room was full of scientists, but I didn't know that it was a room full of scientists until maybe an hour or 2 into the thing. And they were just like, "hoo hoo," not engaged at all. And I'm like, "oh they're scientists, and I'm using a different level of vernacular." So when I started talking about heat stress and started talking about use a sling psychrometer, all their eyes lit up like, "Oo, she's talking about something technical." Then they're like, "What is that? How's it work? How's it measure relative humidity?" And they wanted to know all of it and it was a win for the rest of the time. But I didn't do my homework to find out who is my audience and who should I bring. Which level of vernacular do I need to bring for that audience?

Regina:

That is so critical that I do a lot of train the trainer. And that's such a critical thing that people think they can just go up there and be awesome or just go up there and be technical capable. And it's so much more than that. And one of the things I've really tried to teach trainers is that the moment you're ready to acknowledge that the one hour, or the eight hours, that you have with these people, that it is all about them and not about you. Not even a little bit. As soon as it's all about them the class will go so much better.

Jill:

What a great tip. What a great tip.

Regina:

And it's so simple. And it's so free. And so, I'm like, "Get over yourself." Don't try to over-impress a bunch of scientists with too much info 'cause if you know too much [crosstalk] alternative

Jill:

Then it would have been too many questions I would have been out of my wheelhouse really quickly and they would have known the emperor had no clothes.

Regina:

Yeah it's taking the time to learn, being ready to be authentic. I think that's really critical. People are afraid to be themselves, and so that's something I try to teach people is just be authentic and when they ask you something you don't know, don't try to figure it out at the moment. Take it during lunch, get back to them later, or whatever it is. We know that rule.

Jill:

Don't feel like you have to know the answer immediately. I think that's something else that you grow into, in any profession, particularly in ours. That you don't have to feel that, "oh my gosh somebody asked me a question I've gotta know it right now." Don't make anything up. "I don't know. I'll get back to you on that." And you work your network then, or your resources. [inaudible] show me where that is.

Regina:

Yes always. Digging through the regulation book trying to find it.

Jill:

And you can never do it under pressure.

Regina:

Under pressure.

Jill:

Yes.

Regina:

Let me hang up, give me five minutes, and then I'll find it.

Jill:

Then I'll find it. So you've had your own consulting company, the Learning Factory, for how long now?

Regina:

Well, that's actually the second consulting company I've had. So I had A Place in Between. As crazy and as unsatisfying as my worker's compensation interaction in the early part of my safety existence was, I ended up joining an insurance carrier for seven years. And it was really great. And that's where I honed my training skills. They actually invested in me learning more, I figured out a lot of the things I did as a trainer had a name. It was part of instructional assistance design, it was an actual thing. I wasn't just getting good at what I was doing because I was lucky I actually was figuring out things. So when I started getting formalized education in training design and development, I was like, "they have a name for that."

Jill:

I've been doing that for years.

Regina:

Yeah I just thought that was fun. But it's a thing.

Jill:

It's a thing.

Regina:

So that helped me a lot and that's when it occurred to me that the industry in general, we're at an extraordinary disadvantage. We are forced to think of training as almost an extra part of our job. You have your full time job and then oh, you're technically competent therefore you should be able to train. Go be awesome and make everybody really, really smart. And you have no extra time to do it.

Jill:

You have no skills as a trainer.

Regina:

No. And so I tell some of the people that I work with that if I want to be overly dramatic, and I do, that bad training really could kill. It really could. We slam a bunch of unnecessary information in people's heads. We get so caught up on regulatory structure.

Jill:

And it sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher in their ear.

Regina:

Yes. And they go out and do something unsafe and we call them ugly names and want to blame them.

Jill:

Blame the victim

Regina:

When, really, did we do the best we could do as the profession to get that knowledge into their head? So it's become my personal goal, my effort, to get the industry moving forward on great training. And so, that's why I'm a big believer in the BCSP's Certified Environmental Safety and Health Trainer Certification, because I think that's one more step in legitimizing who we are as a profession. How do we explain to our bosses that we need extra time, we need extra money, we need extra people, if we're not ready to legitimize the work as real work.

Jill:

So take just a second to explain that program, so if people listening are like, "Oh, there's an actual place you can go, for help in our profession for training." Explain what that is for a second.

Regina:

So we're Board Certified Safety Professionals, the BCSP, which I'm an ambassador for, just claim -

Jill:

Nicely done.

Regina:

Just claim that now. So they took on a certification several years ago, and that's the Certified Environmental Safety and Health Training Certification. And what's interesting about it though is that a lot of people have some misunderstanding so ... Taking the test doesn't make you a better trainer, it's preparing for the test that makes you the better trainer. And that's where you're going to learn training theory. That's where you're going to learn instructional design. That's where you're going to learn all of that stuff. So people come up to me and they go, "I've been training for 20 years, can I pass the test?" And so I'll say, "I'm going to say 10 different terms to you -"

Jill:

Do you know what they are?

Regina:

And if they resonate, go for it. And then I'll start throwing some things out. And they're like, "I have no idea what those things are." And I said, "Let me help you with the right resources so you can move in that direction."

Jill:

It's actually a thing.

Regina:

Yeah. It's a thing.

Jill:

Knowledge transfer and how you do it with adults.

Regina:

Yes.

Jill:

Is a thing.

Regina:

It's a thing.

Jill:

And there's a science to it.

Regina:

When I learned adult learning principles, I was like, "Oh my gosh." That was huge for me to uncover [inaudible] levels and all of that stuff. I'm geeking out here for a minute. But you get that.

Jill:

Good geeking.

Regina:

Thank you. Just suddenly you go, "I was just doing that 'cause it worked one time then it worked five times." And then I find out, no, that's real theory. That's exactly how we're supposed to behave as facilitators and trainers. So that's been a big push for me is trying to get the industry ... even if I can't get everybody certified ... if I can get people to at least acknowledge that training is real work. That it's hard. That it takes education or at least professional development to get you to that place.

Jill:

What a great tip for people listening. I think that's wonderful. So you stayed with Zurich for a while and then you started the Learning -

Regina:

Then I started the Learning Factory.

Jill:

The Learning Factory

Regina:

So I finally did that. It's really funny because everyone was like, "You don't have safety in your name." And that was because my focus needed to be on the learning side and I didn't want to limit ... it's not just safety training, although it's primarily safety training. But it's so much about train the trainer. And then, a lot of my clients after I work with them are like, "Can you do what you just did and not say safety and say something else?" And I'm like, "yeah, sure."

Jill:

Actually I can.

Regina:

Yeah I can. You're leadership training is awesome, we just want you to say quality instead of safety. Okay

Jill:

Okay.

Regina:

[inaudible] don't change. So right now I've got a client and it's a chemical manufacturer and so I'm coming and doing an eight hour program on communication skills for their research and development department, which is, almost exclusively PhD chemical engineers.

Jill:

Talk about bringing a different game.

Regina:

They're like, "Can you do that?" And I'm like, "Yeah, sure."

Jill:

Yes this is going to be a fun challenge.

Regina:

It's going to be so much fun, so I'm actually super excited about it. But it's bringing that idea that you take the time to connect with people and learn about them and then they walk out the door and they go, "I'm better today than I was yesterday."

Jill:

I just blogged about this sort of theory last week, "I see you, I am here." It's having that intensional exchange with someone and really seeing people, who they are, instead of somebody that did something right, or somebody that did something wrong. But we're seeing one another and having an authentic exchange so we can have a real conversation about how do we learn? Why do I care about you? Why do you care about learning this? Rather than barking our rules and having an authentic exchange with one another.

So you're here at the expo and you are training this week.

Regina:

Four times.

Jill:

Four times. You are going to be so exhausted by Friday or Sunday or whenever you get to kick back. So tell the audience, what are you training on, and if someone's here at the expo and they want to get in on one of your classes, what are you talking about?

Regina:

I'll actually be training on the expo floor tomorrow. I'll be doing a one hour safety training ninja program. It's a signature program on how we can train better as professionals. Then I'll be doing an eight hour program on safety training ninja on Thursday, so post-conference. Then I'll be getting a seat on the C Suite on Wednesday, and so that's geared toward safety professionals and I think the self-limiting behaviors of our profession. Not our fault, no one taught us otherwise. But we've self-limited with this silo of moral imperative of safety. It's valuable, it's important, I'm all about it personally, obviously. But the moral imperative does not necessarily drive business.

Jill:

That's right.

Regina:

And so -

Jill:

How do you do both?

Regina:

Yes. And I think that's a cultural shift that we're seeing in the industry. Huge. And for me, I think that one thing I can do is share my experiences with small business throughout my career and be able to teach them if we can tie the safety initiative to profit, to better behavior, to quality, to whatever that company needs, on a day -

Jill:

We're [inaudible]

Regina:

Yes. We're in a much better place. But this silo, "we're doing this and this is safety, we should do it this way." I get with a company and I'm like, "oh, you're 5SA." And they're like, "yeah." And I'm like, "well what's a 6S?" And they're like, "what do you mean?" I said, "this is the other column on for safety." And they're like, "well don't we need another thing?" And I'm like, "don't you have enough things?" I'm like, "No let's piggyback on something that's working. I'm a good consultant." I'm really okay -

Jill:

We don't need to invent a new acronym.

Regina:

To the [inaudible] we were talking about how as safety professionals, if we're not reading annual reports of the companies we work for, it's on us. If we don't know how to communicate with the executive level because we don't understand them, we haven't taken the time to learn them, we don't understand the corporate culture at the executive level, that's on us.

Jill:

How to pitch an idea in a way that speaks to their decision making.

Regina:

I need 2 million dollars to [re-guard] the machines. Oh, what's that going to do for me?

Jill:

Exactly.

Regina:

Where's my ROI?

Jill:

Exactly.

Regina:

And then when they look at you and go, "What's ROI?" And you're like, "Okay, let's talk some more."

But yeah, I think, for me, connecting that side of it goes back to my personal history despite the fact that there wasn't necessarily a direct relationship between those things. But as I progressed through my career and I saw the necessity of business has to see it, it can't just be a moral imperative because if moral imperative did the trick, people wouldn't speed. They wouldn't do some of the things that we do. We're human beings, we make mistakes.

Jill:

We wouldn't be texting and driving.

Regina:

Gosh I know. That's a scary one.

Jill:

So that's you at the expo this week. That's wonderful. You mentioned the Safety Training Ninja, did I get that right?

Regina:

Yes.

Jill:

You're writing, have written, a book.

Regina:

Yes.

Jill:

Tell the audience about the book.

Regina:

Should be out before the end of the year. Published by the American Society of Safety Professionals.

Jill:

Wow. And it's title is?

Regina:

Safety Training Ninja

Jill:

Excellent.

Regina:

I know. Not too tough to remember.

Jill:

And so how will people find it?

Regina:

They'll be able to go onto ASSP's website or if you follow me on social media I will be talking about it constantly.

Jill:

Okay.

Regina:

But the idea is that there are very few or almost no, and certainly not current, safety training books for safety professionals out there. And if you're hearing this podcast, or if you have ever seen me teach, you'll hear me in the book. Because it's just me talking. And I just happen to be typing instead of having it filmed or something.

Jill:

Do you have an audio version of this book coming? 'Cause that will be fun too.

Regina:

I know I should -

Jill:

What's next?

Regina:

Yeah, learning to podcast, this is good, I should probably just do a few because ... just the stories alone, lots of stories. Utilizing the classic ADDIE instructional design system, which is a process. The safety people get processes. Teach them instruction design process, go through it, and then show how it makes sense in the safety world with safety examples. The book is specifically designed for that. And I'm hopeful that it will help people. Everyone keeps asking, "When is it getting published?"

Jill:

So people can find you on LinkedIn, Regina McMichael and the Learning Factory, and then the Safety Training Ninja. Those are all keywords people can search for to find you. That's awesome.

Regina:

Then reginamcmichael.com

Jill:

Okay.

Regina:

That's my speaker website where I actually do a lot of keynoting and work with large organizations, small organizations, trained associations, and talk about my journey in the profession and hopefully help their people. That's out there as well.

Jill:

So what's next for you? After this, besides breathing for a moment. Where are you off to next? Like, what's your next speaking gig?

Regina:

My next speaking gig is at a group of chemical engineers. I've had a busy 3 weeks. I was just in Alaska at their state program for NSSP. In Hawaii right before that.

Jill:

Nice gig. You went from hot to cold. You kind of saw it all.

Regina:

And now Houston

Jill:

And now Houston.

Regina:

So yeah, a little crazy. Although it's very chilly here today, so it does feel a little rough around the edges.

But the next gig is Richmond, Virginia and I'll actually get to see family because that's where I was living way back when. And then things tend to get a little quiet around the summer, which is good, I'll be able to work on some actual -

Jill:

That's good. And your book is going to be coming out. That's excellent.

Regina:

Then things blow up in January.

Jill:

Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast today. That is so fun, and I'm sure people are listening, they're searching things that you said and they're looking forward to the book as am I.

Thank you to everyone for listening today and thanks for the work that you do to send your workers home, including your temporary workers safely at the end of every day. If you'd like to listen to more of our podcast episodes, you can search for us, the Accidental Safety Pro at the podcast player of your choosing. And if you'd like to send us a question, you can do that by emailing social@vividlearningsystems.com. Until next time, thank you for joining.