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Debi Mongan - The Mindful Call Center

164: Debi Mongan: I was totally wrong

Debi Mongan Show Notes Page

Debi Mongan decided to take a break from her career to raise her daughter. After five years had passed Debi decided to go back to work. She thought she was going to re-enter where she left off. Once she realized that wasn’t going to happen she took a step back, which helped her to take a leap forward.

Debi was born in Washington DC and raised mostly in the Maryland suburbs. She was an only child until she was 10 years old, when her first brother was born. Her parents divorced when she was 12 and both remarried. She is now the oldest of three brothers and a sister. Her family is made up of natural, half, step and adopted, multi-cultural siblings. Don’t ask which is which, as she’ll tell you she doesn’t know. “They are my family. Period.”

Due to the gap in age between Debi and her siblings, she was very maternal toward them and was always involved in mentoring one or all of them in one way or another. Being a leader and a guiding force came naturally and having them to “practice” on was great training, even though she didn’t realize it at the time. While still in high school, she got a job in a telemarketing call center that sold magazine subscriptions. She was an administrative clerk and literally learned everything from the most entry level position there was. When she turned 18 she was permitted to get on the phones for the first time. After a short time attending college in North Carolina, she returned home and to that same call center. This year marks her 30th year working in the Customer Service and Contact Center industry.

Debi worked in several contact centers over the years and first moved into a leadership position with Maryland Baseball, LLC. It was a dream come true to work for the Oriole’s minor league teams and have an office in the stadium. Her staff was primarily teenagers and college students, which brought out her mentoring side. She left the sports industry and took a job with one of the largest, at the time, vacation ownership companies in the travel industry. She spent twelve years directing the customer service, reservations and B2B division of the company. About five years into this position, she started studying mindfulness in her personal life and was amazed at the positive effect she was seeing in her life at home and at work.

This prompted her to experiment with adapting mindfulness techniques to make them appropriate for the workplace. She started sharing with some of her employees and quickly realized she was on to something. She left the travel industry and took several short-term management assignments in contact centers of various sizes and industries to develop and test her ideas. In 2016, she finally took the plunge and founded The Mindful Call Center.

Debi has one daughter Shelby who lives in Chicago as she enjoys life on the coast-side, near the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @DebiMongan to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“There’s something about sincerely showing that you care about their well-being that makes a person feel loyal want to stay.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Until I hand you a red cooler with a heart or kidney in it and you’re running to the helicopter, you’re not allowed to be stressed.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“You need three things to remind you that it’s time to stop and take two minutes.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Your thoughts do create your reality.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“You can manifest just about anything you want.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Your mind is so powerful that it can affect your job and your KPIs when you harness it correctly.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“The universe will whisper in your ear for a little while, and then if you don’t listen, it’s going to yell at you.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“None of the things and issues that are keeping you up at night are world-changing or life-altering events.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Debi Mongan decided to take a break from her career to raise her daughter. After five years had passed Debi decided to go back to work. She thought she was going to re-enter where she left off. Once she realized that wasn’t going to happen she took a step back, which helped her to take a leap forward.

Advice for others

This too shall pass. None of the things and issues that are keeping you up at night are world-changing or life-altering events. Just take it easy.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Being self-conscious and taking things personally.

Best Leadership Advice

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it and you’re not going to do it.

Secret to Success

My sincere desire for the success of others and not just my own.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Owning my mistakes and admitting when I’m wrong.

Recommended Reading

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

The Alchemist

The Napkin, The Melon & The Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful by Simply Changing Your Mind

The Monkey, the Moon & Maybe: How to Embrace Change & Live Fearlessly

Contacting Debi Mongan

website: http://mindfulcustomerservice.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebiMongan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debimongan/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

Empathy Mapping

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: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

164: Debi Mongan: I was totally wrong

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.

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotion. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show who’s going to help us really unlock the power that’s already inside of you. Debi Mongan was born in Washington D.C. and raised mostly in the Maryland suburbs. She was an only child until she was 10 years old when her first brother was born. Her parents divorced when she was 12 and both remarried she is now the oldest of three brothers and a sister. Her family is made up of natural half-step and adopted multicultural siblings, don’t ask which is which as she’ll just tell you she doesn’t know they’re all my family. Due to the gap in age between Debi and her siblings she was very maternal toward them and was always involved in mentoring one or all of them in one way or another. Being a leader and a guiding force came naturally and having them to practice on was great training even though she didn’t realize it at that time. While still in high school she got a job in a telemarketing call center that’s old magazine subscriptions. She was an administrative clerk and literally learned everything from the most entry-level position there was. When she turned 18 she was permitted to get on the phones for the first time. After a short time attending college in North Carolina she returned home to that same call center. This year marks her 30th year working in customer service and contact center industry. 

 

Debi worked in several contact centers over the years and first moved into a leadership position with Maryland baseball. It was a dream come true to work for the Orioles minor league teams and have an office in the stadium. Her staff was primarily teenagers and college students which brought out her mentoring side. She left the sports industry and took a job with one of the largest at the time vacation ownership companies in the travel industry. She spent 12 years directing the customer service, reservations and B2B division for the company. 

 

About five years into this position she started studying mindfulness in her personal life and was amazed at the positive effects she was seeing in her life at home and at work. This prompted her to experiment with adapting of mindfulness techniques to help make them appropriate for the workplace. She started sharing them with some of her employees and quickly realized she was on to something. She left the travel industry and took several short management assignments and contact centers of various sizes and industries to develop and test her ideas. In 2016 she finally took the plunge and founded the mindful call center where she is today. Debi has one daughter Shelby who lives in Chicago as she enjoys her single life on the coast side near the San Francisco area Bay. Debi Mongan are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

Debi Mongan:   I can’t wait Jim, glad to be here.

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m glad you’re here. Okay, I’ve given our legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we get to know you even better. 

 

Debi Mongan:   Absolutely, I’d love to share it. Currently my passion and my focus is on getting the buy-in and getting acceptance from leadership in the contact center and customer service industry to understand that mindfulness belongs in the contact center.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so when you say buy in you’ve actually been doing this for a while so you’ve actually had some positive financial impacts that you’ve seen as well, right?

 

Debi Mongan:   Absolutely. What’s wonderful about this is when I go into a contact center the first thing I want to do is I give you an overall picture of where are their pain points, where are they struggling, And generally there’s a few KPIs that they’re looking at attrition is another huge thing that they want to address. So what I have seen happen is after just one hour workshop teaching the most elementary aspects of mindfulness that I’ve adapted and made appropriate for a contact center agents have improved their productivity tremendously. The escalation rate for calls drops because all of a sudden they’re confident and they feel like they can handle it and they do handle it and there’s a lot of calls that they kind of give in and escalate when it’s not needed, so escalations are seeing they’re down and time is money that’s absolutely very helpful right there. Yet the biggest change that I see and the biggest help is with attrition there’s something about sincerely showing that you care about their well-being in their life that makes a person feel loyal and want to stay. We all know that the longer someone’s with you the more cost-effective it is. I’ve read studies that say that it will take up to a year’s salary just onboard a new agent, the impact on the business. So that’s one of my biggest focuses is to help with the attrition problem. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, when I think about mindfulness it’s one of the areas of overall wellness, wellness covers a lot of different factors mindfulness being one, why for you is mindfulness something you’ve actually held on to and want to actually do more of that type of work?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, mainly because I have my own personal experience with it. I’ve had it work for me and been very excited by what it’s done and I want to share that, I just generally want to share that. The other aspect of me that is the caretaker and the nurturer, and mama bear is then nick name that I’ve gained from agents along the years, and that’s because I really do care about their well-being and discovering a way for them to be less stress and more productive and more focused and that’s the holy grail to me. Nothing is worse for me when I was running a call center than to have someone come into my office and just look so stressed and be so worried about any particular thing that was going on at the time. I was famous for telling them, look until I hand you a red Igloo cooler with a heart or a kidney in it and you’re running to the helicopter you’re not allowed to be stressed. But for years I said that but I didn’t have any way to tell them how to not be stressed. Then I discovered it in my own life and I was playing it at work for myself and sharing it and one thing led to another. The other thing is wellness, that’s very important to me the entire wellness at work, for lack of a better word craze I’m so thrilled that it is and then it’s catching on. But I want to concentrate on one thing, I’ve said before, a football team has a head coach and a defensive coach an offensive coach because you’ve got to address all the different aspects, and I just want to be the defensive coach.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so you say defensive coach when you talk about mindfulness, how come that’s not an offensive coach?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, I think over time it turns into being an offensive coach but the problem is in the beginning it’s more defensive for a lot of different reasons. Number one just getting the buy-in and getting people not to roll their eyes and not to think, oh I have to quit my job and go to Tibet and meditate on a mountain for a year, that’s not what it’s about. So, it’s very defensive in the beginning but that’s the great thing about it is that at some point it just becomes part of your life a very offensive.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so talking about you get past the eye rolls somebody wants to start working with you what does that look like?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well it can look like whatever they need. I try to be really flexible but just say in general they want to have me in for a workshop with their agents. So, I’m going to spend about a half a day prior to the workshop getting high-level view of everything that’s going on. As I mentioned before find out what their pain points are? What do they want to accomplish? What are the things that are keeping them up at night so that I can specifically address some of those things? And then a workshop would typically last 60 to 90 minutes. I do limit the workshop size so I may have to do more than one in a day depending on how many agents that they have and we spend that time just learning the very basics. What I’ve developed, I call it STATT, and what that means is set 3 and take 2. 

 

In the initial workshop they’re going to learn what balanced breath and mindful breathing is all about and that is just an amazing tool to have. If it’s the only tool that they ever have it it’s going to help tremendously. One of the things that makes that work—what I have to worry about is after I leave it can’t be a one-day one-hour workshop it has to be cultivated it has to be practiced that’s why they call it a practice. So, that’s why I’ve developed STATT to remind them and to help them. And then what I do is the set 3 part of STATT is you need three triggers throughout the day, three things that are going to remind you that it’s time to stop and take two minutes. So that’s where the contact center adapting to a concept contact center comes in. I understand that the world and I understand how to find those three or where you’re most likely going to find those three opportunities throughout the day to take two. So, that’s kind of what I’ll do within that day, we’ll teach them the basics so that they know and then I help the group as well as individually figure out and decide what are those three trigger points throughout the day that are going to remind them to take those two minutes to use the tool that they’ve just learned and then there will be a lot of follow-up and just helping them to continue.

 

Jim Rembach:   I had the opportunity to share with you off mic that there was a really good friend of mine who was actually working in contact centers and had a really nice niche carved out within the utility industry teaching mindfulness her name was Barbara Burke but unfortunately Barbara passed away. For me I saw her really have a significant impact with a lot of organizations because of what you’re talking about and doing the mindfulness work. One of the things she also had a lot of success with is with book clubbing. She wrote a couple books and one of her books was titled the, The Napkin Mellow of the Monkey, and make sure we’ll put a link to both her books on your show notes page, but it was amazing for me to see talking to her clients, her customers, that were in these contact centers and how much of a positive impact working with her had actually had upon them both personally and professionally was huge. 

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, I have to tell you this is going to sound like we practiced this, but we didn’t we can both attest to that, I list in the things that I suggest a company do because there are the parameters of people can’t be off the phone and they can’t do this they can’t do that. One of the things that I did eight ten years ago back when I first started experimenting with this was started a book club. That way people could read the book at home on their own something related to wellness and then we would discuss it and it was great at least gets the subject on the table. I am not familiar with Barbara and I’m really excited that you’ve shared a little about her because I definitely will look into to her work.

 

Jim Rembach:   Barbara always said that she wanted to make a dent in the world and of course she’d passed away and she’d left a void in the world, so hopefully there’s an opportunity for you to step in and carry some of that important work forward. Now one of the things that we’re talking about when we just refer to mindfulness and stress and all those things, emotions and energy. One of the things that we look at on the show which is really important to help give us energy and help us with a sense of direction are quotes. Is there a quote or two that you can share that you like?

 

Debi Mongan:   There is. Actually I’m kind of a collector of quotes I love that stuff. In trying to pick one it would be really difficult but I the one I want to share is a quote from Dr. Maya Angelou, I have a handful of them that I love. This particular one she said, ask for what you want and be prepared to get it. And the thing that I liked the most about that quote is that over the years since I first heard it, it has changed in what it means to me. When I first heard it I took it quite literally.  I was at an early stage in my management career and I needed to understand—I was working in professional sports industry nothing but men and I really, literally needed to understand—ask for what you want and assume you’re going to get it prepare to get it. So, that’s what it meant at first and why it stuck with me. Now 25 years later, it means it’s a validation to me that your thoughts do create your reality. You can manifest just about anything that you want. Your mind is so powerful, your mind is so powerful that it can affect your job and your KPIs when you harness it correctly.

 

Jim Rembach:   Without a doubt. For me I keep trying to remind myself cognitively about those things so that I can influence all that subconscious thinking that’s going on at ten thousand miles an hour. When I start also thinking about all this and you talked about the journey and what it meant to you differently. Throughout our lives we have a lot of humps that we have to get over and they help formulate some of those things in our head that aren’t so good and it helped us hopefully have enough wisdom and power to be able to put those things at bay and really be more mindful and focus on the positive but those humps are a lot of learning opportunities. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump where we can learn?

 

Debi Mongan:   I actually unfortunately have several, I actually have a couple. I love that that’s saying that the universe will whisper in your ear for a little while and then if you don’t listen it’s going to yell at you and I’ve had a couple times I’ve been yelled at. One that I think is important and that I learned the most from and still tap into later. A little over 25 years ago I had been in the customer service industry for almost 10 years and was moving up the ladder and doing pretty well and got kind of my first management just a little above a supervisor position. My initial reaction and thoughts which I’m kind of ashamed to admit now was, knowing take it easy. Now I’m a manager I don’t have to talk to customers anymore and just not the great attitude at all and this happened to coincide with when my daughter was born. When she was born I decided to take a break from my career it wasn’t a hard decision to make it all I wanted to at least spend the first five years of her life with her, so that’s what I did. A lot of people were very supportive and a lot of people thought I was crazy you’re just hitting your stride, but that’s what I did. 

 

Now where it gets interesting is five years later when I decide to reenter the workforce I’m I think I’m just going to go right back in where I left off and I’m interviewing and I’m very quickly finding out that’s not what’s going to happen. I had to sit down and have a little talk with myself and figure out, okay, how am I going to approach this? What I decided was I’m going to start from scratch. It just so happened there was a job opening at the Baltimore Orioles minor-league baseball team, very close to my home a huge baseball fan my whole life, this was amazing. All they needed was someone in their telemarketing department selling tickets. So, I went to the interview and did really well and I clearly remember coming home and telling my family I’m going to take the job I’m going to them what I got and in six months I’m going to be running the place. I was totally wrong it was three months. Actually it was a very small contact center and telemarketers, there was only eight of us, but three months end I was asked to manage the team and literally going from I’m on the phones today I’m managing everyone tomorrow. It was very sobering and exciting and scary and as Maya said ask for what you want and prepare to get it I don’t know that I was really prepared to get it but it was great and I learned a lot with it.

 

To add to that, a few months after that we started a partnership with Special Olympics and I was asked to expand the call center from the eight telemarketers that we had to 40, I had no idea how to do that or what to do so there was a lot of learning process. But the reason that it was successful was I approached it from the perspective of still being on the phones and still being on the frontline that’s what really cemented to me and that was going to be my management style. I consider myself an advocate for agents and reps and it’s worked for me all along and I don’t intend to ever change. That’s how this evolved to where I am today. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Thanks for sharing that. I can only imagine going from 8 to 40 unless you been in it—that is like a massive growth. When you start getting into that larger number the whole scheduling issue and the exception processing of people needing time off and all this that and the other just becomes a huge burden within itself it’s a lot easier to handle with eight but when you have that higher number it’s really tough. You said you didn’t know where to go and you just focused on agent, I have to push back on you say no, no, no, no, you had to learn a heck of a lot more than that. Where did you go? 

 

Debi Mongan:   There was some trial and error for sure the Internet wasn’t even a thing at that point so getting feedback from agents actually as far as the training part of things what worked for you so I was able to develop training that way. We had two great assistants that were really helpful and I had a colleague that was my direct superior and the four of us we just figured out how we thought it should be. There was nowhere to go there was no references to take we just figured out how it should be and knew going in that we had to be really flexible because we weren’t going to get it right the first time.

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, you had a lot trust that you had obtained at that point from management that’s for sure because it’s was a risky proposition so I commend you on how ever you even handled that it wasn’t just an agent thing you were managing that executive expectation as well.

 

Debi Mongan:   Yes, thank you that that was really a nice confidence builder for me. As I mentioned before baseball is professional sports so there’s very few women doing anything that level they there and to be successful at it was really great. The flip side of that coin is we were so successful that they ended up just selling the division to Comcast and we got taken over by the big conglomerate so somehow that’s supposed to be a compliment but….

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, it is. You actually built a revenue stream for them that they otherwise would not have had.

 

Debi Mongan:   But the thing about it is if you grow up a baseball fan you love it, it just seemed like I will do anything I will crawl in class to have an office in the stadium?  I would go out at lunchtime and sit and watch batting practice so I was willing to do a lot to have that position. 

 

Jim Rembach:      Well, yeah it’s funny that you say that. You and I talked about the whole pro bono work thing and me being such the giving heart sometimes my wife is like, you need to stop doing that. I’m afraid if I was able to work for a baseball organization they probably wouldn’t have to pay me, right? 

 

Debi Mongan:   Correct, exactly. 

 

Jim Rembach:      Okay, so you got a lot of things going on, you’re trying help people be more mindful in contact  centers and hopefully like I said you’ll be able to fill that void and carry it forward that Barbara had actually vacated too soon, there’s a whole lot of moving parts to all of this. If you were to say you had one goal, what would it be? 

 

Debi Mongan:   My one goal that I can look back and say I was successful, I have to use an analogy to explain it to you, those of us that have been in the business for a really long time remember back in the day when it was unheard of to take an agent or a rep off the phone for 15 minutes to one-on-one coaching session, unheard of. Now we look back on that now and think that’s ridiculous. Of course you need to do that because the return on that is amazing and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with the mindfulness aspect of wellness. I want to look back and have it be commonplace and I want everyone to laugh and say I remember the day when we didn’t even know how to balance our breaths. 

 

Jim Rembach:   The Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen, so go to www.callcentercoach.com. To learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the supervisor success path eBook now.

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Debi, 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. Debi Mongan, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Debi Mongan:   I hope so. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I know you are. Okay, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Debi Mongan:   Being self-conscious to take things personally.

 

Jim Rembach:   What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Debi Mongan:   Don’t say it if you don’t mean it and you’re not going to do it.

 

Jim Rembach:   What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Debi Mongan:   My sincere desire for the success of others and not just my own. 

 

Jim Rembach:   What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Debi Mongan:   Owning my mistakes and admitting when I’m wrong.

 

Jim Rembach:   What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners, and it could be from any genre? 

 

Debi Mongan:   I’m going to give you two, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Alchemist by Paul

Coelho.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going www.fastleader.net/Debimongan. Okay, Debi this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you’ve 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? 

 

Debi Mongan:   This too shall pass. None of the problems and issues and things that you’re facing that are keeping you up at night are world-changing, life-altering events just take it easy. Because life is too short, life is way too short and that time can be better spent doing other things.

 

Jim Rembach:   Debi, 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?

 

Debi Mongan:   Sure. My website is www.mindfulcustomerservice.com and I am on Twitter @debimongan. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Debi Mongan, 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 www.fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

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Jenny Dempsey Customer Service Life

163: Jenny Dempsey: I took on this superwoman role

Jenny Dempsey Show Notes Page

Jenny Dempsey was working more than 50 hours per week, she rarely took breaks, and had the highest amount of vacation in the entire company. She kept stuffing her emotions down and wore a smile. Then one day she had an anxiety attack. A few years later, it happened again. Finally, Jenny realized that she had to make changes.

Jenny is a southern California gal. She was born in Covina, right outside of Los Angeles, but did the majority of her growing up in a little country town, Norco. At 18, she left for college to attend San Diego State University to major in English. She had a brief stint living on the East Coast in Philadelphia and New York City, but returned back to California because that “winter thing” was pretty rough.

Her family is small and dysfunctional, but whose family isn’t, right? Her mom had an at home animal rescue (think exotic reptiles, emus, cows, chinchillas) and her father managed a successful campground for over 30 years. Her parents split up when she was in the 3rd grade. She has one younger, tougher and much cooler sister, Jackie, who founded her own commercial cleaning business. Jenny is also the proud auntie to her 1-year old niece, Bailee Sue.

From extra work on movies and TV to singing lead with a kid’s band program through the Fender Guitar Museum to being President of the Norco Junior Horseman’s Association, Jenny learned early on that through hard work, practice and creativity, you really can do anything you set your mind to and don’t have to stay within one limited box.

Jenny’s first job at age 13 was babysitting during PTA meetings. It went on from there to a variety of positions – file clerk at a law office, selling chocolates, a barista, to call center support with a web hosting and domain registrar. Moving her way up the ladder as a Customer Service Manager in telecom. She left to make the DMV a friendlier place as a Customer Care Manager. Now, she’s the Social Media & Customer Experience Manager with NumberBarn where she uses her writing and customer service skills, plus a dash of creativity and humor, to help showcase the brand.

Jenny is also the co-founder and regular contributor to CustomerServiceLife.com, a customer service focused blog which she writes with her former boss, Jeremy Watkin. Shining a light on her passion for health and wellness, as well as a continuation of helping people. She’s currently in school to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She recently founded DempseyWellness.org with the focus to inspire a non-diet, work/life balance approach with her clients.

Whether it’s cooking an organic, vegan, gluten free meal for others to resolving an issue for a frustrated customer whose phone number doesn’t work, Jenny wants to point out that nourishment comes in many forms. And, we all have the opportunity every day to nourish ourselves as well as others.

Jenny currently lives in sunny San Diego, California with her boyfriend and their two cats, Taquito and Chompers.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @jennysuedempsey to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“You just can’t leave work at work, especially when you’re dealing with the emotional aspect of it.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“Hire for a great culture fit and then train them to do the day-to-day job.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“Have your team select accountability partners and work together.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“If you’re going to do all this work, you might as well make these changes happen.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“It has to start with someone the team looks up to.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“It starts with one person.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“In order to take the best care of others, you must first take the best care of yourself.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“Be authentic, even if it means being slightly awkward.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

“Don’t care so much about what people think about you and stop comparing.” -Jenny Dempsey Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Jenny Dempsey was working more than 50 hours per week, she rarely took breaks, and had the highest amount of vacation in the entire company. She kept stuffing her emotions down and wore a smile. Then one day she had an anxiety attack. A few years later, it happened again. Finally, Jenny realized that she had to make changes.

Advice for others

Don’t care so much what other people think about you and stop comparing.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Imposter syndrome. I believe I’m sometimes inadequate.

Best Leadership Advice

Customer service is just people helping people.

Secret to Success

Being authentic even if it means being slightly awkward.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Keeping and sticking to a schedule.

Recommended Reading

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Contacting Jenny Dempsey

website: http://customerservicelife.com/

website: https://www.dempseywellness.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennysuedempsey

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-dempsey-a580a344/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

Empathy Mapping

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: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

163: Jenny Dempsey: I took on this superwoman role

 

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.

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotion. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more. 

Jim Rembach   Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today that’s going to help us with something that it’s just way too easy to neglect. Jenny Dempsey is a Southern California gal. She was born in Covina right outside of Los Angeles but did the majority of her growing up in a little country town Norco. At 18, she left for college to attend San Diego State University to major in English. She had a brief stint living on the East Coast in 

Philadelphia and New York City but returned back to California because that winter thing was pretty rough for her. Her family is small and dysfunctional but whose family isn’t, right? Her mom had at-home animal rescue—think exotic reptiles, emus, cows, chinchillas and her father managed a successful campground for over 30 years. 

 

Her parents split up when she was in third grade. She has one younger, tougher and much cooler sister Jackie who founded her own commercial cleaning business. Jenny is also the proud auntie of a one-year-old niece Bailey Sue, that’s quite southern that’s Southern California. From extra work on movies the TV to sing in lead with a kid’s band program through the Fender guitar museum to being president of the Norco Junior Horsemen’s Association. Jennie learned early on that through hard work, practice, and creativity you really can do anything you set your mind to and don’t have to stay within one limited box.

 

Jenny’s first job at 13, was babysitting during PTA meetings. It went on from there to a variety of positions, file clerk at a law office, selling chocolates, a barista to call center support with a web hosting domain registrar moving her way up the ladder as a customer service manager in telecom. She left to make the DMV a friendlier place as a customer care manager. Now she’s social media and customer experience manager with number barn where she uses her writing and customer service skills to help showcase the brand. Jenny is also the co-founder and regular contributor to www.customerservice life.com, customer service focus blog which she writes with her former boss and board member of call center coach, Jeremy Watkin. Shining a light on her passion for health and wellness as well as the continuation of helping people. She’s currently in school to become an integrative nutrition health coach. She recently founded Dempsey Wellness.org with the focus to inspire a non-diet, work/life balance approach with her clients.

Whether it’s cooking an organic vegan gluten-free meal for others to resolving an issue for a frustrated customer whose phone number doesn’t work, Jenny wants to point out that nourishment comes in many forms and we all have the opportunity every day to nourish ourselves as well as others. Jenny currently lives in sunny San Diego, California with her boyfriend and their two cats, Taquito and Chompers. Jenny Dempsey are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   I am so ready.

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better. 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Absolutely. Just as you mentioned earlier one thing that is my current passion that is too easy to neglect and this is wellness in the workplace. 

 

Jim Rembach:   So when you say wellness, I could take on a lot of different forms and I see people under that type of umbrella which can be quite broad talk about and focus on different things. So, from your perspective when you think about wellness and especially for us coming from the contact center environment there’s a lot of things that we can address as far as wellness is concerned. What’s in your mind?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Absolutely. Our typical idea of wellness is nutrition and eating all the good stuff and green stuff and exercising and making sure we’re at the certain weight on the scale but there’s so much more to it so I’m taking a more holistic approach to it a whole person. So, every customer service agent sitting at their desk, what is going to make them be the best person that they’re going to be that day? And it’s more than just what they eat and how much they exercise.

 

Jim Rembach:   You bring up a really interesting point. I just had the opportunity this week to be at customer contact week and there was someone there from a United Way Contact Center in South Carolina she was the president of the United Way. She was talking about—she showed a video and talked about the types of callers that are calling in our contact center for me I immediately started thinking about the agents who are having to help people all day long with some very unfortunate circumstances and you start hearing about people just going through some pains of life that is just so hard to bear it endure that they are seeking out and needing help. One of the things that they do at the United Way in South Carolina which is really cool is there’s so many different agencies that are out is they help people find those agencies and that assistance much faster than trying to do it on their own which is great. But I started thinking about those agents really all day long hearing all of those things and trying to help people that burden has just got to be huge on their mind.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Yeah, absolutely. And then they carry that with them when they leave work a lot of us you can’t just leave work at work especially when you’re dealing with the emotional aspect of it you carry that with you and then it becomes part of everything you do. Then if you don’t have a way to express that, let’s say, the teams aren’t talking about it then it just builds up inside and that can cause someone to be sick all the time that can cause someone to have fatigue all the time and they may think, oh my gosh, it’s just because I’m not eating right—no, it’s more than that. And so yeah, that’s a great point, Jim, absolutely.

 

Jim Rembach:   So when you start talking about effects or symptoms that people start seeing in regards to this holistic wellness, what are some of the common ones that we may not be recognizing the symptoms, because everybody else is having those problems too?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Absolutely. And I would say one of the first ones is, look at the agents that make it look like everything’s perfect and they’re so happy and doing great jobs and they’re not talking to you about the problems. Those are the agents that, it’s quite possible that they just want to have that perception that everything’s great and they’re not going to and they’re going to stifle the feelings. And the reason I know that because I’ve been there I’ve done that I’ve been that person and that is where the problems come into play. There’s also the other things for me, maybe someone’s falling asleep at their desk all the time. Could not be that they haven’t had enough sleep it’s just that maybe they’re just heavy with all the weight of the stuff that they’re dealing with the customers, maybe it’s just too much.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   So when you start talking about that, I started thinking about some of the different types of personalities. And when you start thinking about screening people for particular jobs a lot of times we test for their skills but we don’t necessarily test for their personalities. So when you start thinking about this from a holistic perspective would you recommend that an organization do more of that type of evaluating to make sure that they’re getting agents who can actually weather the job?

 

Jim Rembach:   Absolutely. There’s a whole being trend right now hiring for culture fit and making sure that the person not only can do the job, in fact, sometimes hiring them not based on skills and based on the fact that there’s such a great culture fit and then training them to make sure they can do the day-to-day job. It’s way more effective for the long run less turnover than just hiring someone who is going to be great at actually doing the busy work, the job. 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   I just had the opportunity to look at Laurie Bachmann’s report on 2018 Priorities in the Contact Center which was just released and one of the things that people are struggling with which is been a chronic problem and it’s always a problem when we start having times of economic, let’s just say wellness, is that, ever having problems with turnover and it’s a major issue. What you’re saying is that if I do that additional set of screening I may not be able to fill positions that I have vacant right now because I’ve put that extra filter in the process. So, what would you tell a company about that?

 

Jim Rembach:   Exactly. Well, it’s one of those quality over quantity. You may have to struggle for a little bit you may have open desks you may have to hop on phones because you haven’t found the right person to take over that role yet but ultimately in the long run it will pay off. If you’re looking for support system with your team that’s going to surpass time and stay together and gosh not have to deal with the turnover, it’s such a mess when people don’t show up and they just—you’re losing people left and right this is going to help. It’s not going to solve all the world’s problems but it’s going to help with those basic things of just keeping people on your team.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   So if I start thinking about a particular approach that you would take to an organization that says, hey we want to  be more aware and mindful go through a change process and implement more of these wellness types of activities and mindset in organization, how would they go about approaching that?

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright, there are five core components that you’re going to need to focus on. Number one, hiring, onboarding, selecting the right people. Number two, we got coaching with the team, peer enablement, feedback gathering an organizational enablement. We’ve already talked a little bit about hiring and onboarding what I want to jump into is coaching with the team. This could look like something whether it’s a weekly coaching program with leadership, monthly, daily whatever it looks like for your company it has to stay consistent. Peer enablement this is where the magic happens having your team be able to select accountability partners and work together. They’re in the trenches together they’re going to be able to get it and more success comes out of those experiences than most other things. Feedback gathering and what I mean by this is staying consistent and surveying the team at least a couple times a year and this is simply because you’re never going to know what you need unless you ask. This survey doesn’t have to necessarily be an email that you sent out with a link to a form this could be something that’s collaborative where everyone’s sitting in a room together and talking about what could improve the call center and then the end really just comes to organizational enablement. If you’re going to do all this work you might as well actually make these changes happen. And so with the leadership team having a system in place giving a platform for that feedback to actually live for it to be born and to become a part of the call center.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Well that’s a good framework. For me I had the opportunity to interview Kendall Lyman who’s been a change consultant for many years and he wrote a book about the most effective managers a change and he talks about that a lot of people refer to change and they talk about top-down and bottom-up and he says but the fact is that the only way it works is when you have both. You talked about the organization and helping with the transformation process and then you also have the peer activities where they’re working amongst themselves in order to create that internal change for one another so you got to change the person and you got to change the environment so that’s a good approach. When you start talking about things that—I mean, for me I see contact centers going through some very habits, I’ve been there myself and I even watched a video of a celebration at a contact center and they’re handing around doughnuts and all this stuff and I’m like, gosh—even for me working in an office most of my life now, I’ve gotten into some habits to break the cycle of just being there in the same place for so long I have to get up and I take more breaks it could be kind of hard in the contact center. When you start talking about some of the tactics to break up some of the habits that we’ve had what have you seen to be successful?

 

Jim Rembach:   What I’ve seen be successful is literally—it has to start with someone that the team looks up to whether their manager or whatever whether it’s someone in the group it starts with one person. Have you ever seen that video on leadership where there’s one guy doing a crazy dance by himself and then all of a sudden another person comes over and then suddenly there’s a huge group dancing and it was just started with one crazy guy doing this crazy dance and everyone thought he was nuts until they joined in. It really starts with someone the team can trust that is walking the walk and if they can do that then it’s easy and everyone’s like, oh, what maybe I comment something for myself and habits slowly start to shift. It’s gradual it’s not going to happen overnight it’s those things that take a while to shift but it has to start with someone the team, trust.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   That’s a really good point. One of the most successful programs need to find their champions and support their champions and enable their champions, that’s a good point. Okay, with all of this and just change process as a whole we need a lot of energy to keep us going and one of the things that we look at on the show are quotes to help us do that. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

There is. There’s something that I say all the time and it’s something that means a lot to me, In order to take the best care of others you must first take the best care of yourself. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I think that whole self-reflection thing when I heard you say that I started thinking of some people that are close to me. One particular person she says that all the time however I want to flip it back it’s like, you have to do that to you. Are you saying it just to me or are you saying it to yourself because I need you to do some things so that you’re still around and healthy for many years. Okay, I know talking about your growing up and doing the different jobs and finding your way into the contact center and now working in wellness I know there’s pumps that you’ve had to get over those things teach us a lot. Is there a story that you can tell so that we can actually get over the hump faster?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Oh, absolutely. I took on this superwoman role kind of in my call center career and I think I stand guilty of it but I’ve learned a lot from that. It’s not necessarily realistic but when I was working as a customer service manager in Telecom years ago I also managed a separate department required a high attention to detail I was working about 50 hours a week. I rarely take my breaks rarely taking vacations, in fact, they had the highest amount of vacation time in the entire company and I was kind of in that role where it’s forcing the smile on my face even when I was so burned out. But I didn’t acknowledge that I felt that way I kept pushing through it I was stuffing my feelings down to get through the day that’s kind of the customer service way we have to be happy and positive. And then I’d leave work and I’d go home and work more because there was more to do. When I was with my friends all I talked about was work because that’s all I ever did and I loved my job it’s not that I didn’t love I had a great job and I loved my team but I knew that something was off. 

 

One day it hit me I had an anxiety attack right there at work in my office my team was right around me so it’s quite a moment of I felt very ashamed very embarrassed I felt like I was weak. I tried to shake it off by hiding in the bathroom for a little bit but you can’t really shake something off like that and you think you would learn from that moment. Flash forward a couple years later and working in a different role in another contact center role and I had another anxiety attack and it was like, oh my gosh, this is happening again what am I ignoring what am I not saying or doing? And this time I had to push that superwoman pride down into the side and I had to get some help. I did a lot of internal work I went to therapy I saw a naturopathic doctor I started working with my own health coach at that time but then I also knew that there were some big things that I had to pay attention to like maybe I needed to find a different job that was more aligned with my values. It’s not just all about meditation and yoga and all of these types of things I had to make a big shift and that was really hard because I had built up my career so high. So shift change my job found a job that actually aligns with my values and continue to make changes on a daily basis that are lifestyle changes as opposed to just something that’s going to get me by till the next anxiety attack, so huge learnings do that. I don’t know if anyone else can relate Superman/Superwoman type role but it’s great until it’s not great. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I also know some people personally who kind of play that superwoman role and again it comes down to that self-reflection component. You went through it twice, thanks for sharing a story by the way, because it’s hard to come and actually share something like you were saying—I felt weak I was embarrassed it takes time to get over that to be able to share it. There’s other people who are going through it right now, I know I’ve had my stints in moments of that and I try to keep myself out of it by doing some of the things that I was talking about  taking some of those breaks and I try to take a mid-day exercise break to kind of clear my mind. Sometimes when I’m doing that exercise I find my mind just running a hundred miles an hour it’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa I have to call myself bring myself down off of the edge. When you start talking about that second time when you went through and you started getting some support, was it quite immediately? Did you come to that realization or was there still another time span or period before you started saying, oh I got it now. 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   There was still another time period. It was less than the last time—the last time was probably a couple years between that but this maybe was a few months simply because I just did not feel good. Anyone who’s had anxiety attacks it’s mental but it also takes such a physical part of you—fatigue and all of these other things like gesturing issues and I was like this is not how I want to live my life. So within a few months I was starting to make some big shifts and the shifts felt rather challenging but I knew that I had to do it I don’t want to say it was easy but it was easy to make those shifts because I was in that mindset that I had to make the changes that make sense.

 

Jim Rembach:   If you’re talking about one thing that was the biggest impact for you as far as—I did this and I felt some immediate impact to me what was it?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   The biggest thing was quitting my job and then not having a job. I know that it sounds crazy and for someone who has anxiety attacks it’s like, oh what, no you’re wild you’re out of control but it hardest most scariest thing I have done but it was the best thing. I did not have a job for a month so it was a very short period of time, I found one shortly after, but taking that month off and I had not taken breaks or vacations before was like, whew, but it woke me up because it was like there is more out there and you can kind of mold things to be what you want them to be but you have to really be in the right mindset. And that was the biggest wake-up call that I had and they were all my choices, totally my choices.

 

Jim Rembach:   It’s interesting that you say that. I met some guy, a couple of months ago who basically that’s the way that he works he does sabbaticals. And the way that he does it is he finds a job intentionally tries to find one where he’s only going to do it from anywhere from a year to two years and then he takes a couple months off and finds another job.

 

Jenny Dempsey:   That’s so awesome. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Yes, it’s become a lifestyle for him, so that’s interesting to say that. Alright, so have a lot of things going on, we talked about of course the cats and the boyfriend and the jobs and the wellness but when you start looking at one thing that would be a goal, just one, what would it be? 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   I want to really find a way to bridge the gap between customer service and wellness. I know that there’s so many elements to it and I really want to—my goal is to get a really solid structure around those two and how they’re going to interact together and how I can help participate in them interacting together. 

 

Jim Rembach:   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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Jim Rembach:   Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Jenny 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. Jenny Dempsey are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   I’m so ready,

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Impostor syndrome. I believe that I’m sometimes inadequate. 

 

Jim Rembach:   What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

Jenny Dempsey:   From my former boss, Jeremy Watkin, customer service is just people helping people.

 

Jim Rembach:   What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Being authentic even if it means being slightly awkward.

 

Jim Rembach:   What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Keeping and sticking to a schedule. I can’t live without my Google calendar.

 

Jim Rembach:   What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners and it can be from any genre?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to www.fastleader.net/jennydempsey. Okay, Jenny, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to back to the age of 25. And you’ve 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. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Don’t care so much what other people think about you and stop comparing. Because people who actually want to be around you will love you for being authentic and those are the people that you want in your life in your tribe surrounding yourself with them and that’s what’s going to make the biggest difference and impact. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Jenny 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?

 

Jenny Dempsey:   Absolutely. You can find me on Twitter @jennysuedempsey or you can visit me over at www.customerservicelife.com or hop over to www.dempseywellness.org

 

Jim Rembach:   Jenny Dempsey thank you thank 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 www.fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

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