Roberta O’Keith Show Notes
Roberta O’Keith found a fellow co-worker on the floor, non-responsive and barely breathing. As the person responsible for handling employee complaints about work, she knew stress finally took her down. That was Roberta’s wake up call.
Roberta was raised in Downers Grove, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago; along with her older siblings LeAnne and George. She was the only one in her family to graduate college and also go on to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration.
Her father was a keen business man that left his corporate job when she was in grade school to pursue his dream of being his own boss. At an early age, she learned the basics of marketing and accounting by stuffing envelopes, building mailing lists, and doing the bookkeeping for her dad’s growing business.
Roberta is known for having a broad range of skills and abilities. She’s worked as an emergency medical technician, coached gymnastics at the local YMCA, led sales and marketing efforts for large life and health insurance companies, and executed many business process improvement projects. She even loves the creative process of picking out fabrics and designs to make quilts.
Roberta doesn’t lean to one side of her brain, but leverages the whole thing when it comes to analytics, process, passion, creativity, and growth. This is why she dislikes being pigeon holed or labeled as just one thing. She loves to learn and grow and challenge herself. She’s discovered that her best work is in environments that are ambiguous and undefined.
She currently works as a Business Excellence Leader for Black & Veatch, a multi-billion dollar engineering, design, and construction firm that leads and manages human infrastructure projects throughout the world.
She is also involved with many non-profits that help improve the quality of life for individuals and children around the world including World Vision, Samaritain’s Purse, and Child Fund.
Roberta currently lives in Lenexa, Kansas (suburb of Kansas City) with her husband of 18 years and two children; Faith and Joshua. Her husband is pursuing his Masters in Divinity and pursuing a pastorate career. Yes, she a pastor’s wife…. Not your typical one!
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“Companies not forward thinking are not willing to take the risks.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“In order to change or manage growth, identify your key people.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“Business excellence can help you drive innovation and change.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“Business excellence is all around culture change.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“Self-awareness helps you to that next level or burst of passion.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“You have to be very mindful of culture and how to set the tone.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“Change starts with yourself.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“You feed off of people’s energy; positive or negative.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“It’s important to coach yourself to higher levels of energy.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“How can you bring passion, resilience, and discipline?” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
“Find the support of like-minded people to help you move along.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Roberta O’Keith found a fellow co-worker on the floor, non-responsive and barely breathing. As the person responsible for handling employee complaints about work, she knew stress finally took her down. That was Roberta’s wake up call.
Advice for others
Seek out others outside of your company for support to help you to move forward.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Best Leadership Advice Received
Overcome your fear.
Secret to Success
A great support system that supports me in anything I do.
Best tools that helps in business or Life
My coaching tools that I’ve learned through Energy Leadership.
email: rokeith70 [at] yahoo.com
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because we have a black sheep in the family on the show. Rebecca O’Keith was raised in Downers Grove, Illinois western suburb of Chicago along with two older siblings, her sister LeAnne and his brother George. She was the only one in her family to graduate college and also go on to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration. Her father was a keen businessman and left his corporate job when she was in grade school to pursue his dream of being his own boss. At an early age she learned the basics of marketing and accounting by stuffing envelopes, building mailing lists, and doing the bookkeeping on her dad’s growing business. Roberta is known for having a broad range of skills and abilities. She’s worked as an emergency medical technician, coach gymnastics at the local YMCA, lead sales and marketing efforts for large life insurance companies and executed many business process improvement projects.
She even loves the creative process of picking out fabrics and designs to make quilts. Roberta doesn’t lean to one side of her brain but leverages the whole thing when it comes to analytics, process, passion, creativity and growth. This is what she dislikes being pigeonholed or labeled as just one thing. She loves to learn and grow and challenge her yourself. She’s discovered that her best work is in environments that are ambiguous and undefined. She currently works as a Business Excellence Leader for Black & Veatch a multibillion-dollar engineering, design and construction firm that leads and manages human infrastructure projects throughout the world.
She’s also involved with many nonprofits that help improve the quality of life for individuals and children around the world including World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse and Child Fund. Roberta currently lives in Lenexa, Kansas, which is a suburb of Kansas City, with her husband of 18 years and two children Faith and Joshua. His husband is pursuing his Masters in Divinity and pursuing a pastoral career. Yes, she’s a pastor’s wife but not your typical one. Roberta O’Keith, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Roberta O’Keith: I sure am. How are you doing, Jim?
Jim Rembach: I’m doing great. I’m glad to have you. We’ve known each other for a couple years and I’ve always been fascinated by –Gosh! You’re talking about the diversity in your bio and just different perspectives that you have and viewpoints and you’re even a wild child and now preacher’s wife, can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Roberta O’Keith: Thanks, Jim. You know, my current passion today is around helping companies grow. It’s all around how do you take your company to that next level.
Jim Rembach: We’ve known each other because of the customer experience and being part of the Customer Experience Professional Association and when you talk about customer experience, isn’t all customer experience focused on growth?
Roberta O’Keith: You know, I don’t think so. I think there are companies out there that are reactionary and so they are losing costumers left and right and so they’re scrambling to put together or improve what their customer experience strategy is today. So, I think there are two sets of companies out there, one that’s reactionary and one is truly focused on innovation and growth.
Jim Rembach: Okay, so that’s really interesting. Just talk about that from a consultancy perspective, right? If I’m looking at two different types of organizations and are looking for someone to come in and support and help their transformation, transition and help improve the processes associated with customer experience, how can you determine which one is which? Because often times they’ll say the same things, we want to grow, we want to be better than our competition, we want to provide the best—we hear the same general statements from everyone but yet there’s only so many—the top poster companies for customer experience out there. What’s the difference?
Roberta O’Keith: I think a company that has their eyes set on future growth, they’re using words like, innovation, they’re forward thinking. Companies that are feeling the pressure of losing market share they’re ones that are the leaders in their market share that they’re always ahead, those are the companies that are the ones that I think have the greatest opportunity to improve because of their drive and their determination and also their forward thinking. A lot of company struggle in this are that are not so forward thinking, they’re not willing to take the risk that sometimes you need to take when developing CX strategy or to implement and execute some of those strategies, that’s key. I think what their risk tolerance is is definitely indicator of who I’d like to work with.
Jim Rembach: Okay. That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing that. When you started talking, I started thinking about something that I often talk a lot about and that is mindset. There’s a book that I’ve been recommending for years if anybody has kids, well heck, it’s not even just about kids anymore, same thing with the [5:51] lead, a book called, Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. And she talks about having a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. And as you we’re explaining the difference between those two types of organizations and they’re focus on customer experience and how they view it, I started thinking of a fixed mindset with that company that doesn’t want to take risks that is fearful in their decision-making process and their action taking thinking about whether you stop losing that is absolutely a fixed mindset. Where a growth mindset is, “hey, we’re going to make mistakes and we’re going to learn from those mistakes.” And we need to focus on the positive and we’re going to learn through this. And we need to take some risks because if we don’t take those risks we’re not going to move forward. So, then how do you determine or help an organization that maybe kind of in the middle?
Roberta O’Keith: So, you’re dead on with the two different mindset, the fix mindset and the mindset for growth. Companies need to recognize that in order to change or manage any kind of initiative to grow, if they’re stuck in the middle, they need to identify and see that they have people that are passionate, that are disciplined and people that are resilient to those changes. And if they can find those key persons in their organization they can help drive to change or initiative it’s very important to have. And I think from a business excellence structure or standpoint this is where I come from, is that implementing a program around business excellence can help you drive the innovation and drive the changes needed to improve that customer’s experience and take your company into that next level. And business excellence is all around culture change and how to identify the key people that can help you drive your organization to that next step.
Jim Rembach: I also know that you’re certified and six Sigma as well as a couple of different things, you even shared a book with me when we are at members meeting at Member Exchange for the Customer Experience for the Professional Association, show me a little bit about that book and what is it about?
Roberta O’Keith: So, what’s interesting, the book I gave you is Energy Leadership by Bruce D. Schneider. He talks about the seven levels of energy that a person kind of gravitates toward or can live between various levels of energy. And energy being—there is energy that goes on between you and I, there’s you feed off of people’s energy it can be positive it could be negative but it’s all about recognizing where you’re at during the situation that you’re in or during a day to help coach yourself to a higher level energy or a lower level of energy. What I mean by that is a lower level of energy like a 1, if you’re level 1 or level 2, really talks about kind of people that they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, everything is bleak, mundane, they’re the people that you know you don’t want to hang out with because they just seem to bring you down and drain your energy.
As you move up the various levels of energy is where you get more energize to—your problems solve, you’re clear minded, you’re at a win-win mindset versus a I’m a victim mindset. And so, this place is very much into corporations and companies who have maybe an employee engagement issue or culture issue that they’re struggling with in order to help them get to the next level. Being able to recognize and understand this levels of energy can help in organization move through and bring their employees along the journey to become more passionate, more resilient and more disciplined in order to drive change.
Jim Rembach: So that goes back to what you were talking about in regards to an organization and their customer experience focus and transformation strategy is—where’s their energy coming from?
Roberta O’Keith: Exactly, exactly. And it’s tough some people get discourage, we all get discourage but recognizing where you’re at on the spectrum if you will, this book helps you identify where you’re at today and where you might want to be tomorrow or on the next hour. And so, it helps you recognize what you think, what you do, and how you emotionally react, so, you can move forward. So, more self-awareness helps you get to that next level or give you that burst of passion and energy to get through the day.
Jim Rembach: So it definitely sounds like that’s one of the book for CX folks that are trying to lead the transformation to have in their libraries, so to speak. I think being mindful like you talked about the culture piece, you talked about being in secure places as far as where you are versus where you want to go and being really focused in on the positive energy to help you get down to the right path.
Roberta O’Keith: Absolutely, absolutely. And the book is really more of a story, so it’s an easy read. To understand how a current business owner is struggling with issues within in his company and dealing with various personalities, like we all have to deal with, and so it’s a really good, easy read and I think it’s very insightful for anyone.
Jim Rembach: Also we’re talking a lot about inspiration. You know, energy, like you’re talking about comes from quote that we actually like on the Fast Leader show. Is there a quote or two for you that you can share?
Roberta O’Keith: One of my favorite quotes is Culture eats strategy for dinner and eats innovation for dessert. I think that a great quote because you have to be very mindful of culture and how do you set the culture tongue, and do you drive initiatives move your culture along through any growth or change initiative that you’re facing.
Jim Rembach: So, when you start thinking about, we shared a little bit about off mic your growing up and how your sister was so much older and then your brother came along and you’ve said that by the time you were born you’re parents kind of wore out, so you got to get away with things that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t have. But we learn a lot through our path and our journey of life and we have humps that we have to get over and a lot of times we get a chance to make course correction and go off to a better direction. But is there a time where you have to get over a hump and it made a difference for you that you can share?
Roberta O’Keith: There is a time in my career where I was the ombuds person who was the one who took on internal complaints for employees that wanted to raise an issue either with the manager or a co-worker confidentially. And I had a co-worker who was having some issues and one day we found her in the rest room passed out barely breathing. And I knew from the stresses that she was going through that it was causing physical issues for her. Luckily she ended up being okay but that was a real wake-up call for myself because I was feeling like I was in a dark place at my job, I was feeling like I wasn’t valued, I felt like no one cared about what I was doing and just didn’t really feel like—I didn’t have that passion anymore to drive change this particular organization. And it was a wake-up call for me to look at myself and said, “Am I going to be the next person on the bathroom passed out barely breathing because of the stress.” And I realize very quickly I needed to change my mindset or get some help in order to move me forward. And so, I had to leave off that particular toxic environment for my own mind sake and for my health as well. And so I was able to get some coaching, coaching helped me quite a bit this is where I learn more about energy leadership. And it really help be become more self-aware of how I was perceiving situations or perceiving the job or task at hand and how could I bring change because it all starts with me it doesn’t start with other people, the change starts with yourself and how can you bring that passion and that resilience and that discipline to any project or any initiatives, so I definitely learn a lot there overcoming that obstacle.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. I know that for many of us it takes a long time to get to that realization. And so many of us also don’t have, I guess you’d say like you were referring to the wake-up call of to finding a co-worker who’s non-responsive in a critical situation, but if you were to give somebody one piece of advice on, if they started to feel those things, what would you tell them so that they didn’t get to that point?
Roberta O’Keith: Finding a support system, a support group, a person who you can share those things with definitely—when I was working on a particular project and I wasn’t feeling like I had the support at work with regards to driving some change around customer experience, I sought out other people that were like-minded outside the company through professional organizations to help me move along and know that I’m not the only one struggling with those issues at your company and that I wasn’t crazy and that I can be a zealot for customer experience and I have others that are as zealot as well. Finding that support to really help you move forward is definitely some great advice.
Jim Rembach: You bring up a really good point about the power of community. Oftentimes we think that the community that we are part of is the community that is part of the four walls that are surrounding us and oftentimes we have to take a step outside of that to realize that the community is a lot bigger than we think it is.
Roberta O’Keith: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I think too. Sometimes we think that if we stay in that four walls we’ve got blinders on and we don’t see any other opportunities out there or way of life that is different in the corporate sense, if you will. And so when I left my job during that time that was pretty difficult, I did leave my job on my own, and I sought out consulting work at that time because I really wanted to overcome the fear of being able to succeed. I was afraid that I couldn’t when I was in that wall and I was really scared. And I got to a point where, you know what, I’m going to take this leap of faith and I’m going to trust in my own ability and trust in my own skill set that I can do what I’ve always dreamed about and that was having my own consulting work and company. And I was able to do that, and boy, the world is so different when you’re a consultant. But I see how I could’ve so much value now to other companies instead of just those four walls and being so confined in those four walls.
Jim Rembach: We talked off mic about direction and next stage and next space and you talk about being independent **with Black and Veach and I know you’re happy there but when you start thinking about all of these things including your husband going to become a pastor, what are some of your goals?
Roberta O’Keith: My goal is to get my husband through seminary, he’s got a year and half left and it’s been a four year journey. Some of the personal goals, I want to be able to give back. One of my goals is really be able to feel that sense of accomplishment with others. I climb that corporate ladder, I’ve achieved the goals that I wanted to achieve from a corporate sense and I’ve achieved personal success through my own company, now it’s more like, where can I help others achieve their goals? And where can I help companies achieve their growth plans or their goals as well?
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Roberta, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Roberta O’Keith, are you ready to hoedown?
Roberta O’Keith: I sure am.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So, what do you think is holding you back from being even better leader today?
Roberta O’Keith: Fear.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Roberta O’Keith: Overcome that fear.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Roberta O’Keith: A support system. I’ve got a great husband and family that support me in anything that I do.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Roberta O’Keith: I think my coaching tools that I’ve learned through energy leadership has definitely helped me.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners. Of course we’ll put that Energy Leadership one on the show notes pages, what else?
Roberta O’Keith: I really like the book by Tony J, Zappos leader, Delivering Happiness.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/Roberta O’Keith. Okay. Roberta, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Roberta O’Keith: Listening and facilitation skills, I would definitely want to take back. Because that would help me become more aware and being open minded to hearing other people’s opinion. Back when I was 25 I was pretty opinionated.
Jim Rembach: Roberta, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Roberta O’Keith: You can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn, robertaokeith.
Jim Rembach: Robert O’Keith thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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