MND hosted another fantastic Connections Friday today! Our staff and clients were happy to meet insurance agent Brenda, her retired mother Bernadine, substance abuse treatment worker Wallace, insurance professional and charitable foundation president Tim, and retired government employee Norma.
Brenda shared with our clients how talking on the phone with her friends became a marketable skill when she entered the workforce. In 1994, she began temping as a receptionist an an insurance company and excelled at customer service. Her bosses noticed her abilities and offered her a full-time position. At first she didn't see herself as the right person for the additional responsibilities, but the people at her office kept insisting that she take the promotion. After being sent to additional training in Illinois, taking a Myers Briggs test, and receiving more encouragement from her management, she went from working as a receptionist, to claims, to sales and lastly to becoming an agency owner. She realized even though she didn't finish college, she had to leave her self-doubts behind, believe in her abilities and become more comfortable with the unknown. Her lasting message with our clients was, it's great that you have survived the circumstances you have been through, but now you have to do something with it.
Brenda's mother Bernadine also had some lessons to share. In life, you have to be smart, be resourceful, set goals, and make some sacrifices. It will not always be easy, but sometimes you may have to choose between keeping your house or keeping your car. You have to realize you can live without certain things if you need to. You have to do what's best for you. She said that everyone needs a mentor. Just ask someone you admire if you can talk to them once in a while for advice. They will help you. Value your relationships, talk to people one-on-one, remember them, take notes on them. Relationships are important to get you places in life.
Our next guest speaker Wallace has had his share of struggles, but stressed to our clients that it is never too late to change your life. He currently works at a substance abuse treatment center, but had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for 25 years. Because of his addictions, he was never able to finish college, but believes that small victories make a big difference when you're trying to reach a larger goal. He stressed that self-love is key and once you start treating yourself better, your life will be better.
Like other guests, Tim reinforced the importance of doing a job well and knowing how to handle difficult situations. Tim started his career journey as a dishwasher, then worked as a waiter and bartender until someone approached him to work in insurance. Tim says he always likes to see restaurant experience on a person's resume because it shows a person can handle working with all types of people under stressful situations. He has never had to interview for a job because he was always stood out to others as a desirable employee. Currently he is also the president of a charitable foundation, stays active in the community and meets a lot of people. His inspiration was his uncle who worked in India for 62 years at a leper hospital, proving again that it's always helpful to have someone to look up to.
Last but not least, Norma shared about her own experiences and life lessons. Norma was lucky enough to grow up in a comfortable home, but always worked hard, with 51 years of work experience under her belt before retiring. She held many positions in the government, often being the first black person or first black woman to hold the job. That was always a blessing and a curse, because people will talk no matter what. Her advice was to always keep a sense of humor, because there are always going to be people who do things that upset you. Remember life is not about second chances, it's about many chances. We are all worth something.
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