The power of positive introductions: Connecting with employers using person centered thinking tools

The power of positive introductions: Connecting with employers using person centered thinking tools


– [Woman] Yeah, Kelly, we won’t see
the chat box, right? – [Kelly] No, you will not. So I will read
the questions to you at the end. So good morning, everyone. My name is Kelly
Nye-Lengerman. I am a research associate here at the University of Minnesota and I
am excited to welcome you to the sixth video and webinar, in a series of 10,
called “Make Work A Part of Your Plan.” This webinar series is a partnership
between the Institute on Community Integration and the Minnesota Department
of Human Services. So Laura, if you could click next slide that would be helpful to
me. And Jeffrey Nurick, I am going to unmute you and you can do the lovely
introduction for us. So take it away, Jeffrey. – [Jeffrey] Hello, my name is Jeffrey
Nurick. I’m a Project Specialist at the University of Minnesota. It’s a group of
community education. We have partnered with the Minnesota Department of Human
Services to bring you a webinar titled “Making Work A Part of Your Plan.” This
series of webinars will cover a variety of topics around department services to
support policy in Minnesota. Today’s webinar is titled “The Power of
Positive Introductions.” When you talk [inaudible 00:01:39] anybody means you put
[inaudible 00:01:43] and ability. When we talk about job seeking [inaudible
00:01:53] ability, we’re not all [inaudible 00:01:57] by talking about
acute intelligence. This webinar will provide highlight the power of using positive language about job seekers when working with businesses prepare [inaudible 00:02:09] about job
seeking [inaudible 00:02:19]. Please enjoy this webinar. – Thank you, Jeffrey. And Laura, if you
could click to the next slide, please. So the session objectives for today are to
spend some time talking about using person-centered thinking tools around
positive introductions and using a strength-based approach in job
development. We’re also going to talk a bit more about developing strategies to
build trust and partnerships with local businesses. And we’re going to spend quite
a great deal of time today understanding how to engage job seekers in the process
of job development. Next slide please, Laura. And so, without further ado, I
would like to introduce today’s two speakers from Creative Employment
Opportunities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So I’m pleased to introduce Edward Sheehy,
who is a CESP at Creative Employment Opportunities. And Edward is a graduate of
Notre Dame University and brings a wide variety of experience to his position at
CEO. These have included purchasing, inventory control, logistics, and most
notably, 20 years of experience in retail shop ownership and management. He is the
Founder and proprietor of The Port, an award-winning fish market, in Milwaukee’s
south side. And as such, he feels a particular affinity for the small business
entrepreneur and the importance of the customer first business model in hiring
and training employees. He brings a hands-on, practical approach to his role
of job developer and job coach. As an accomplished singer and songwriter, Edward
is a long-time Special Olympics coach where he has learned that hard work and
desire to succeed are far more significant that one’s limitations. And I’d also like
to introduce Edward’s colleague, Laura Owens, who’s the Founder and President of
Creative Employment Opportunities, which she founded in 1991. She’s currently an
Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in the Department of
Exceptional Education where she teaches courses focusing on high school inclusion
and transition from school to work. She’s also the President of…or was the
President of Transcend, or is the President of Transcend, an organization
based in Rockville, Maryland that provides training and technical assistance around
the country to improve education employment outcomes for individuals with
disabilities. Laura was the Executive Director of APSEF, the Association of
People Supporting Employment First, a national organization focused on the
advancement of integrated employment for citizens with disabilities in Washington,
D. C.from 2008 to 2014. And she is known as an internationally-known speaker having
presented to business organizations, schools, and conferences across the world.
So we are pleased to welcome Edward and Laura today. And they will be taking over
the presentation. I will be watching the chat box for your questions, if you’d like
to save those until the end. Otherwise, Laura and Edward, take it away. – [Laura] Thank you very much, Kelly and
Jeffrey. So we’re excited to talk a little bit about what we do here at Creative
Employment Opportunities and how we assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining
and maintaining integrated employment. So the first thing that we wanted to talk
about is we have three rules in our organization. The first rule is that
everyone is job ready. What we tend to do in our field in education and
rehabilitation is we make assumptions about the readiness of people to be able
to work in the community, and kind of make them jump through hoops to show that
they’re ready. So we have to believe in our job seeker. At Transcend, we really
kind of looked at what are some of the key characteristics of high-performing
employment consultants, and one of them was principled optimism, which basically
meant that you believe in your job seeker, that you look and you find things that are
skills that are marketable, and everybody has them, that there are no prerequisites.
That people don’t have to have certain skills and abilities because the reality
is, in most jobs, you might have some of the skills that an employer is looking
for. But more than likely, they will be teaching you all of the skills that they
want for their particular business when they hire you. Really important is to work
with the current skills that the person has and then look for positions based on
an individual’s interests and passions. I think that in our organization, and you’ll
see through the stories that we’re going to talk about, that we really believe we
can teach anybody to do anything as long as they’re interested in it. If they’re
not, that’s when they’re going to fail on a job. And it has nothing to do with being
job ready. It’s because they’re not interested and they really aren’t wanting
to do that particular job. And then finally, finding a position that maximizes
a person’s abilities and minimizes their disabilities. So we know going in that
people have disabilities. That’s why they’re coming to our organization. But
there’s no point in focusing on their disabilities. What we need to do is really
maximize what abilities they have and how they can benefit the business. – [Edward] The person you’re seeing here
is Abby. What I will be doing as we move along is offering examples, concrete
examples, of real clients and how they fit in with the sort of things that Laura has
brought up. One of the things that’s pretty standard when I meet clients for
the first time and begin to kind of dig in a little bit is to ask, “What’s your dream
job? If you could do anything, what would it be?” And as trite as that sounds, it
offers real clues. As you know, with most, particularly, young people, that means I’m
going to hear about music and video games and sports. But when I asked Abby, “What’s
your dream job?” she first started smiling and said, “I’m going to make Abby Cakes.”
Turns out, Abby loves to bake, mostly at home. She doesn’t have any professional
experience at all. She’s never had an actual job, but she dreamed of one day
being the proprietor of her own bakery, making fancy baked goods. So I found such
a bakery not too far from where she lives. You can see a picture of it there. Great
name, O’ What a Day Café. Well, what they needed at the moment was somebody to wash
the dishes. It’s a very small place, which meant that, although Abby was going to
start washing dishes, she would be in proximity of all the neat things going on
and she could learn a little bit by osmosis. Sometimes we get lucky. And as
Abby was completing her temporary work experience at the café, suddenly, they got
a contract with a large supermarket chain to package and sell big quantities of
cookies and cupcakes. So suddenly, they had a big, new need in packaging. They
gave Abby a shot at it. She was very good at it. This is a hand-wrapped sort of
operation. And the next thing you know, Abby was hired permanently, primarily to
package. She still does some dishes. She’s now just a regular part of the crew. She’s
a bright light in that store. And she’s even begun to serve some customers, which
is she’s ever-increasing in her, not just her abilities, but her value to the café.
So, I would say don’t be terribly surprised if someday you see Abby Cakes on
the shelf, because it just might happen. – And I think what’s great about that
story is that it shows career advancement within a company. And that’s the other
thing that we promote. That not only is everybody job ready, but really looking at
how can we expand what they do? So she went in there entry level, not having any
kind of job or work experience prior to being on board with O’ What a Day Café. So
she started out as a dishwasher, many people do, but she didn’t end up as a
dishwasher. She’s now doing so much more. And that kind of leads to our idea of we
have three killer concepts that we talk a lot about. One is the idea of readiness,
which, again, readiness to us kind of means pre and pre means never. So if
you’re in a pre-vocational program, pre-training, chances are you’re never
going to leave that. You’re always going to end up in that pre area, especially if
you have a disability. So this idea that you need to be ready for employment before
we can help you find a job is something that we really sort of dispute. And a lot
of times, and Edward will probably tell some additional stories about how we work
with people who other people say, “Well, they really can’t get a job. They’re
really not employable but we’re going to give them to you anyway.” And we end up
helping them find a job, so just kind of thinking differently about that readiness
model. That readiness means motivation, it means interest, it means exposure. That’s
how we make people ready. The other is realistic. And what we mean by that is
that there’s no reality police. That we’re not, Edward and I and our team, we’re not
going to tell somebody that their career goal is not realistic and not something
they should pursue. And sometimes what we do is have to turn that into
self-determination activity where we say, “Okay, this is what you want to do.” So on
the bottom you’ll see, “So, you want to be a Rap Star?” which we do get quite a lot
is, “I want to be a Rap Star. I want to be an NBA basketball player.” Then, okay. So,
“What do you need to do to be that? So you want to be a carpenter, to be a Rap Star.
What skills do you need. What skills do you have? What can you work on now and
what supports do you need and what can we do?” And sometimes, what happens, is they
continue with that dream, but then we always go back to, “Well, when anybody
became a Rap Star, when anybody became an NBA player, there was always a fallback.
So what else can we do?” And then we sort of work towards their goal of getting a
job. And it might be in the industry, it might be in the field. But I think, also,
just trying to find out why they’re interested in that versus just sort of
disputing it and saying, “That’s not realistic so let’s go have you stock
shelves in a grocery store.” And never kind of wraps readiness and realistic up
into this nice, little ball that you’re not ready for employment, you’re not being
realistic about your career goals, and so you’re just never going to get a job. And
I think that’s really short-sighted. And I think, as a former educator, and now
working in rehabilitation, it really is important for us to really listen to our
job seekers and find out what they really want, and then to help us figure out how
to get them there. – This is John, and trust me when I tell
you that this may, perhaps, be the most flattering picture of John that I could
find. We met John. He’s an older fellow. He hadn’t worked in many, many years. But
he had such an enthusiasm. He just kept saying, “Whatever you tell me to do, I’ll
do the very best.” So I asked him, I said, “Well, John. What do you want to do?” And
his first answer was, I can’t make this up, he said, “I’d really like to work with
tigers.” Okay. Well, we talked a little bit about working with animals, perhaps
maybe not tigers to start out with. I did explain to him that the only tigers in
town were probably at the zoo. There were some pretty strict zoological
qualifications in order to do that, so maybe we need to change directions a
little bit. John said, “Well, tigers are messy and somebody’s got to clean up. And
that’s what I’m really good at.” Well, bingo. John had given me a clue. And right
near his home, he really didn’t want to ride the bus. He really wanted to be able
to ride his bicycle, so that was somewhat restrictive. And that’s always an issue.
But there was a new, experimental farm, if you will, right in the heart of Milwaukee
south side, all indoors. It was a combination fish farm and vegetable farm,
where this whole thing was in a kind of a symbiotic system. But it was a farm and it
was run by, forgive me, but pretty much all men and it was a mess. John and I went
to visit, thinking maybe he can feed the fish or something along those lines. And
John went in the restroom and came out with a look on his face like, “That’s
unbelievable in there. I’ve got to fix this. Give me a chance. I’ll make it
shine.” We lined up a temporary work experience. And John showed up the first
day. He had gone to a store and purchased all kinds of scrub brushes and industrial
chemicals, everything, all with his own money. And walked in there and spent an
entire day on two bathrooms. When he came out and everybody went in to look, jaws
dropped. It wasn’t the same room. It was astounding. And the next thing you know,
he was all over the building. He did get to feed a few fish, but primarily a
janitorial job. And when his temporary job ended, they hired him. I thought we had it
made. And so this grand operation, about a year or two later, ran out of funding or
grants or whatever they were operating on and closed their doors. So here we are
again. But right close to John’s home was a grade school in a suburban school
district. And they advertised needing people to clean the rooms in the summer.
This is an operation they do at almost every school. They empty everything out of
a room into the hallway, scrub it top to bottom, and move everything back in. And
sure enough, they hired John. He partnered with a young man who could do part of the
heavier lifting, but they worked as a team. And John just loved it. The idea
that he was cleaning up after little kids and providing them with a safe
environment, he just took it to heart. When fall came, he said, “That’s all I
want to do. I just want to do this in the summertime.” And that has been arranged,
and Johnathon, right now, can’t wait for June. – So rule number two is that the glass is
always half full. Again, principled optimism. Believing in your candidate, but
then also believing in employers. I think a lot of times, we sort of blame employers
and say that it’s because employers don’t understand. They do. And I think we’ve met
the enemy and he’s us. And I think a lot of time we just have to go in with the
idea that I’m going to find out what this employer needs. I’m going to find out what
their business is like. And that’s my first entre. My first entre is not going
in and saying, “Do you have jobs?” because that’s what’s going to happen, is the
employer is going to say, “No, we don’t have any jobs.” So your first entre is
really getting to know the business, like you got to know the job seeker. Now,
really getting to know the business, and understanding that there are always,
always, always opportunities in businesses. It’s up to us, then, to figure
out how we can go in and match up the job seekers’ skills and interests with what
the needs of the business are. So having that principled optimism, really getting
to know the job seeker and the employer, is so important. And having that attitude
that the glass is always half full is our rule number two. So, the example for this
one is Maddie. Maddie is a young woman that actually, when CEO started in 1991,
which seems like it was just yesterday but I guess it wasn’t, Maddie lives in Madison
and she moved from the institution where she lived in Madison to a group home in
Milwaukee. And she has a fabulous guardian who said, “I don’t want her in a
segregated environment. I want her working in the community.” So Maddie is deaf and
blind. And they say she has an intellectual disability, but I honestly
think Maddie is one of the smartest people I know. But Maddie and I would go every
week to the Pizza Hut which was down the block from her group home. And I would
sort of hang out with Maddie and spend some time with her. The first job
opportunity we got was with the local hospital and I thought it was great. She’d
put together all the crash carts needs and she fills up the supplies, and she was
really good at it because she’s very tactile-oriented. But after 45 minutes to
an hour being in the hospital she started really getting anxious and she would start
making noises. And then literally, one day the crash cart crashed. She threw it
across the room. She started hitting me and pulling my hair. And I couldn’t figure
out what was going on. And so, in the old days, we probably would have said, “Well,
Maddie’s not job ready.” And so looking at that glass is half full, I said, “There’s
an opportunity. There’s a reason why she’s acting this way.” Well, ultimately, what
we found out was the institution where she had come from was not a very pleasant
place for Maddie and so she was abused and there was some issues. And the hospital
smelled just like the institution. Being deaf and blind, your major sense is smell.
So she didn’t know me very well, and so she kind of thought I was putting her back
in the institution. So obviously, that didn’t work. But needless to say, all this
time, we continued once a week to go have pizza. And we had tactile signs that
Maddie used, so she would get to choose if she wanted cheese pizza or pepperoni
pizza, if she wanted Diet Coke or if she wanted milk. And so one day, the manager
came up and said, “This is so interesting. I’m really intrigued. I’ve watched you
guys here for, ” I think it was a year. “I’ve watched you have lunch with her once
a week. And I’m just really intrigued.” So we started talking. I said, “Yeah, this is
Maddie. And we’re looking for employment for her, ultimately, but just trying to
get to know her a little bit.” And he said…and again, sometimes it’s luck as
Edward said. So as luck would have it, this manager of this Pizza Hut actually
had a son with a disability, and he said, “I would be able to hire Maddie. Let me
figure out how to do this.” So he hired her. And she initially started making the
pizza sauce until Pizza Hut didn’t make pizza sauce anymore. Then she washed the
windows. And she was actually the best window washer ever because she was so
systematic about it. She wasn’t looking, obviously, but she did it really well. She
made pizza boxes. She rolled silverware. And in the back of the picture, you can
see the salad bar. Ultimately, what we had her do, she actually stocked the salad
bar. We put tactile signs on the salad bar so she knew where each item went. And what
happened was then all the people who were blind in the community started going to
that Pizza Hut because they could actually go to the salad bar without assistance
from people. So Maddie worked at Pizza Hut for 18 years. She had 10 managers. She
outlived 10 managers in those 18 years. And unfortunately, three years ago, when
recession hit, the last manager said, “You know what? We just really can’t afford
Maddie anymore so we’re going to have to lay her off.” So, again, the glass is half
full. Okay, she’s got 18 years of experience. She’s grown as a person. She
can do a lot of things and I think she can do a lot more than what she was doing at
Pizza Hut. So I met with a colleague of mine at Menomonee Falls School District.
And she’s a wonderful Director of People Services. And she said, “You know what? I
think we have a need. We have a clerical need. We’ve got all these files that need
to be purged. We’ve got all the stuff that needs to be sent out to the PTA. I want to
figure out a way to hire Maddie, because I also want to walk the walk. I want my
teachers to see that Menomonee Falls School District actually hired somebody
with a significant disability, so there’s no excuse. There’s no excuse that we can’t
transition our young adults with disabilities into work.” So Maddie’s now
working three days a week at Menomonee Falls School District. She has gotten
several wage increases. And her job is cool. And it’s just a really, really
positive experience now that she’s got all these opportunities at Menomonee Falls
School District. So, given that story, and the idea that the glass is half full, this
is kind of our mantra, that there’s a job for everyone who wants one regardless of
the severity of their disability, their need for support, or the economic vitality
of their community. Employers need good people, even in bad economic times. And
some people are going to need a lot of support in the beginning, but employers
really will rise to the occasion. And so we really have to go back to that
principled optimism, the glass is half full, that there’s no reality police, that
all people can and should be working in the community so that they can be
contributing members of their society. The third rule is no job stuffing. And
basically, what we mean by that is a lot of times what will happen is jobs will
come through as Edward might be going around the community. And then we’ll come
back as a team and say, “Well, you know, I saw this employer is hiring, this employer
is hiring.” And then we look at our candidate list and if nobody matches, we
don’t just pull somebody and say, “You’re going to that job anyway because there’s a
need.” We’ll reach out to others or we’ll reach out to our vocational rehabilitation
and let them know that there’s an opportunity. But there’s no point in kind
of stuffing somebody into a job opportunity where they don’t really have
the skills, they don’t really have the interest. So we really believe that we
really want to make that good job match between the individual job seeker and the
employer. – When I met Robert, it was evident right
from the beginning that he was really, really smart. And Robert is an artist. He
loves to draw. His dream is to someday create either graphic novels or perhaps
even his own comic book. And that’s his passion. So, to be honest, finding him a
job drawing comics, not very likely. So a tactic that we use a lot is when somebody
really tells us something that they love to do is ask them, “Why? What is it about
that activity that you like?” So I asked Robert that very question. “Well, why do
you like drawing?” And some very interesting things came out. He said,
“Well, I like it quiet.” He said, “I like working by myself.” And he said, “I love
having the opportunity to work out something to the tiniest detail so
everything is just perfect.” Well, these are all really valuable clues. If I can’t
find him a job as an artist, I can certainly look for a job that incorporates
those things that he likes. In a previous life or two, I had spent some time
delivering things to various offices around town, including law offices. And I
recalled that most law offices, probably all of them, are constantly sending and
receiving all kinds of mail and packages from all over. And somebody needs to be
the coordinator in the mailroom. So I contacted a local lawyer that I knew who
put me in touch with a very large law firm, covers four stories in Milwaukee’s
tallest building so it’s a huge law firm. And before long, Robert was hired. And he
became sort of the king of the building. He would be working by himself in the
early evening hours. He would go cover all four floors, picking up various packages
from workstations around the building, bringing them back to the mailroom, and
making sure that everything was exactly perfect before the FedEx, UPS, mail people
came to pick them up. You can imagine, in a law firm, that if this package has to be
in Kansas City by 10 a.m. tomorrow, you better have everything in order and
exactly right or some lawyer is going to blow a gasket the next day. So Robert took
to this. He loved it. He was like the king of the building. That was, I believe, four
years ago. And last year when I talked to Robert, he had been promoted to full-time,
he started out half-time, full-time with benefits. Still doing some of this, but
also now working in their processing room where they create printed materials. And
to top it all off, while he’s doing this, Robert is going to art school and paying
his own way. – So clearly, job preferences are
important and this is just a fun sort of way of making that point. So if you look
at the Peanuts cartoon line, it says, “I’d have to have a job where you had to get up
early in the morning.” Charlie Brown says, “I’d have to have a job where you stand in
the same place all day.” And Lucy says, “I’d have to have a job where you had to
be nice to everybody.” So clearly, job preferences are important and that’s
really what our focus is. This is another quick story. I want to make sure we have
enough time for questions. But Jay is a young man with a significant physical
disability, at Best Buy in Virginia. And he sort of hung out at Best Buy. He
applied for positions all down the strip mall. And he was denied. And by the time
he got down to the end of the strip mall where Best Buy was, his battery had worn
out so he would ask them if they would charge his battery. And then he hung out
in the home stereo department. Well, after, I guess, a couple of years, this is
Jay’s story and the manager’s story to me, the manager came up and said, “Why aren’t
you working for us? You’re here all the time.” And he said, “Yeah, why aren’t I
working for us?” And I met Jay because his verbal skills are pretty challenging and I
was at Best Buy and I heard him. And I heard him talking to this guy, this
customer, and the customer was really listening to everything Jay had to say
about what kind of GPS he should buy for his vehicle. And I was just amazed. And so
when I got the story, and I found out that Jay really got his own job by being there
and just hanging out and being part of the Best Buy culture, I think it was just an
awesome story. So, these are the things that we kind of focus on when it comes to
positive personal profiles, is getting to know the job seeker, getting to know the
employer, and then where we connect the two. And that’s where we find the good job
match. And then once the person gets the job, we have to support both. We have to
support both the job seeker and we support the employer. – This is Tad. Tad was a senior at a local
high school and has autism. Just as nice a young man as you could know, wanted to
follow in his brother’s footsteps as a star athlete. And I think you can almost
picture what happened. Tad had spent the last couple of years, the proudest thing
that he did was he was on the varsity football team. And his position was
substitute place kicker, which is short for he didn’t play. He sat on the bench
for two years and one day he went to the coach and said, “I want to play.” And the
coach, being a gruff old football coach said, “Well, work harder.” Tad started
running more, lifting weights, practicing extra hours, all of those things. And sure
enough, the coach noticed and eventually put him in a game. Fast forward, Tad is in
a job interview. I’m sitting next to him. He’s doing fine until that famous question
that everybody asks, “Give me an example of a time you had a problem at work and
what did you do to solve it?” Well, Tad looked over at me with a kind of a
panicked look in his eye because A, he’d never had a job and B, he was totally
blank. He didn’t know what to say. And all I did was just turn to him and said, “Tad,
tell the football story.” He told the story I just told about how he eventually
go into a game. Well, all I did, I sat there and I said, “So, Tad, what did you
learn from that?” And he looked up and he said, “If you work really hard, good
things happen.” I could have kissed him. It was just one of the best answers I
think I’ve ever heard. And, believe it or not, the recruiter hired him right on the
spot. She congratulated him. She said, “With that kind of attitude, you’ll do
fine here.” So you have to know your client well enough to offer a little
prompt, and then let them carry the ball. – So getting to know your job seeker,
Edward does this really well. And I was just talking with one of our newer
colleagues the other day. And we have a positive personal profile, which is
actually a format that we use that really helps somebody new kind of go through and
figure out what are the positives of this person, because you can’t sell what a
person can’t do. So you really have to go in there and say, “I’ve got this candidate
who can do X, Y, and Z, just like Tad. You know, what is it? Why should we hire you?
And so we really kind of look at the three Ps: personality, preferences, and previous
experiences. And Edward’s really good at it. He now has the personal positive
profile kind of in his head, but to really have some sort of format because it’s
always going to change and kind of always building on that so that you can make sure
that people move on in their careers. So this is kind of the positive personal
profile in a nutshell. We look at everything about the person and we build
those positive personal profiles with the person, with their support people, with
people who know them, and then we add to it as we get to know them and spend time.
So we find out what their likes are, their dislikes, their interests, their positive
personality traits. And everybody’s got them. Sometimes it’s a little hard to
find, but they’re always there. What are their values? Do they go to church and so
Sunday’s out for work? Do they like the Earth and so they value saving the Earth?
And is that something you can build on? Looking at creative solutions for
accommodations, their support systems, their dreams, their goals. Environmental
preferences, social importance. Do they like to work inside, outside, with people,
without people? So building that profile is really, really important. And then
adding to that is kind of looking at this idea that sometimes people will say, “This
person’s not motivated,” particularly students. They’ll say, “They’re not
motivated.” And so we kind of think that we start in the middle of the
conversation, then. You can’t have motivation until you build some interest.
And the only way you build your interest is through exposure. So we really believe
strongly in job shadows, in internships, and really getting people out there so
that they’re exposed to a variety of opportunities rather than just sort of
pigeon-holing them and saying, “Well, you’re only experience was cleaning the
school cafeteria while you were in school.” And if somebody says, “I’m not
interested in working,” and that’s their only exposure to work, that’s probably
because they’re not interested in that kind of job. And so they don’t realize
that there are so many things out there. And I have a gazillion stories about it
but we want questions later. So, this idea, I think, this is really important.
So exposure leads to interest. And interest builds that motivation. And then
once you have that, then you can build an action plan for somebody. And then,
looking at changing the deficits to assets, and this is just a fun, little
thing that we have that kind of looks at everybody has deficits. But for us, we
tend to slip it. Like if we have a deficit, we always make it a positive. And
that’s what we need to do with individuals with disabilities, too, when looking for
jobs is figuring out, how can we change that deficit to an asset? So these are
just some. Short attention span, they have a lot of interests. They’re hyperactive,
well they’re energetic. They’re going to move around and do a lot of things. And so
where can we make those matches happen? So this is an example of Ivan. And I’m going
to start it and then Edward will finish the story. But Ivan’s positive personal
profile, I did a person-centered planning meeting with him and he brought his
family, he brought his best friend from high school, he brought his brothers and
sisters, his teacher. So I think there were probably 10 people in the room. And
we were all at this positive personal profile, person-centered planning meeting.
And these were all the things they found out about him. So again, it’s really about
him and his passions. So Edward took this information then, and he started looking
at opportunities in the community. And as you see that the number one thing was that
Ivan really loves sports, all sports, all Wisconsin sports, so Brewers, Packers,
Bucks, Marquette Golden Warrior…well, what is it? Golden Eagles. They changed it
from when I was around. So anything to do with sports, and particularly Wisconsin
sports, and particularly Marquette. So Edward went and he talked with Marquette.
And they clearly needed help. So do you want to talk a little bit about this? – Yeah, this was really, really fortunate.
I went in and talked to the man who runs this student recreation center, which is a
huge building with tennis courts, with five basketball courts. The students come
in, and although they’re all supposed to change their shoes when they come in
after, in December with the salty sidewalks and all, they don’t. And as a
result, the basketball court gets really dirty, really fast. So when I talked to
the director, he quickly identified that as a place that he really needed help. And
I’d love to take credit for it, but truthfully, he was the one who initially
realized that the way they cleaned the basketball courts up until this point, was
to take a wet towel attached to a huge, heavy board, and a lot of janitorial staff
would literally drag it behind them on the basketball court to wipe it clean. So like
using a mule, it was the janitorial staff. And they hated this job. It was hard. This
thing was very heavy. John, the director, took one look at Ivan, and one look at
Ivan for most people would see just a disability. He’s a young man with cerebral
palsy in a wheelchair. He doesn’t speak well. How in the world is that going to
work? John took one look at that motorized wheelchair and how well Ivan could turn on
a dime and control it so well with his hand control, he absolutely realized that
there was a much better way to clean the courts. And this was the birth of what we
called the human Zamboni. – So Edward then put a proposal together
with John, the manager, and said, “This is a perfect match.” So let’s take a look at
it. And this is the human Zamboni. This is Ivan. And you can see his adaptation, the
Zamboni machine attached to his wheelchair. And I have watched Ivan just
thrive when I go there from time to time. It’s so amazing to watch him. I think his
favorite part of the job, truthfully, is telling these big basketball players to
please get off the court so he can wipe it down. He’s also getting stray balls. He’s
also doing some off-time…what is this called?
– Scorekeeping. – Scorekeeping for intramurals and things
like that. So he’s around the whole community there. And we don’t have time to
show the video, but if you Google “human Zamboni…
– Marquette. – … Marquette” it’ll come up. So we just
want to end with these final things for you to think about. The first one is don’t
let your ego get in the way of the task at hand. We just think this is a funny
picture of firefighters posing in front of the burning building. I think sometimes
what happens is we kind of take a look at our egos and where we are and say, “Well,
this person can’t do this because, ” so you’ve got to kind of let your ego go and
let employers kind of direct us and tell us where we need to go with that
candidate. Another thing is try a new perspective. And as you can see from our
stories, it’s always about looking differently. It’s always about that glass
is half full. It’s always about well this didn’t work this way, then how do we get
it to work, because it can. And then don’t let constraints deter you. There’s always
going to be excuses. And Edward and I were actually talking about this yesterday. We
can always have excuses for why things aren’t the way we want them to be or why
things aren’t working. Or this employer won’t do that, or this candidate can’t do
that, or this teacher won’t do this, or this parent, or whatever. But those are
self-imposed constraints. I think that we have learned that we just need to sort of
say, “Okay, we can’t go in this direction. Then we’ll find another direction to help
that person.” And then the final thing is to keep your eyes on the prize, because
this is really about making sure that individuals with disabilities are citizens
of their community, that they’re contributing members. This is about Dan
working at Signs. It’s about Anna working at the GAP. It’s about Simon working at a
law firm. It’s about Jose working at a dot com company. This is why we do what we do.
And so we have to have that belief that individuals with disabilities have the
same rights that you and I have to be living and working in the community. And
this is my personal favorite, Winston Churchill, we have to believe. “A
pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the
opportunity in every difficulty.” And I think that’s what we do with our clients,
look at the optimist side and figure out how do we move beyond that. So that’s what
we have, so comments, questions, thoughts, reflections, ideas, debate, dialogue,
stump the presenter. – I’m going to add one last thought.
There’s a real feeling when we do succeed. And nobody bats a thousand. You don’t
always succeed. But when you do, my sense is that those folks who are the first
person with a disability to work really are pioneers. They are educating their
co-workers about disability. They’re educating their families. And they deserve
an enormous amount of our respect because they are making the next person down the
line, that next person with a disability, it’s just going to be incrementally that
better a chance because of these pioneers. That’s my last thought there. So do we
have questions? – Hi everyone, this is Kelly. And Laura,
if you want to click to the next slide that has your contact information that
would be great. I sent a note to everyone to put their questions in the chat box.
I’m not going to unmute everyone because that would kind of be a free-for-all, but
if you want to send a note to me directly or a question to Edward and Laura that
would be great. That usually takes a minute or two. What I do, maybe to kind of
get the conversation going, Laura and Edward, about questions is can you talk
about when you first meet a job seeker, maybe a job seeker with some pretty
significant employment challenges? Where do you sort of begin that conversation?
You talked about developing that positive employment profile, but can you talk a
little bit more about what that goes…sort of who’s at the table when you
do that and what that looks like for you and your organization? – Yeah, so it can take the form of
multiple ways. So in Ivan’s case, we actually did a full-blown person-centered
planning meeting. So it was his transition year, and so the teacher said, “We really
need to figure out how Ivan can work.” He had a fabulous teacher. So we did an
actual person-centered planning meeting that got things started, really got to
know Ivan, got to know his family. Got to know what things like every year they go
back to Mexico. And so that’s the other reason this is such a good job, because
he’s off during the time that they go to Mexico. And so it worked out perfectly. So
we got to know all those little details. And then we developed an action plan of
how we’re going to move forward and what the next steps are. But after doing that,
so that was one tool that we used. And then Edward spent some more time, and then
we talked together. And we kind of just continued to get to know Ivan and his
community, got to know his family a little bit more. But then, the positive personal
profile, you could do multiple ways. I always feel like hanging out with intent
is so important. It really is about spending time with somebody. I think our
systems haven’t caught up with the best way of funding what we do, unfortunately.
But truly, we have found that if we spend enough time upfront to really get to know
the person, it’s not about sitting down and interviewing them. So that positive
personal profile asks questions, but it’s not just about sitting down and jotting
that information and another piece of paperwork that you put in the file. It’s
about this is something for me to build on, so now I’m going to also maybe talk to
your family member that you live with. And then I’m also going to talk to your
neighbor. And then I’m also… So people who know that individual that can give us
additional information and additional detail about their interests and their
passions and what they’re like as a person. And then just spending time with
the person. So I remember Elizabeth was a girl I worked with years ago and I just
spent time with her in her community. We walked around her neighborhood and I was
simply amazed that everybody in the community knew Elizabeth. Everybody knew
her, because she would shop at Bath and Body, she would shop at Spandex, she would
go places with her mom. So everybody knew her. And so it gave me a whole new take on
who Elizabeth was as a person, her personality, what people thought of her.
So I really think that the positive personal profile is really just about
spending time with that person upfront. And we have little data, just within our
company because we’re small. But we have some small data that show that the more
time we spend with somebody upfront, the more likely we will find them that job
that they actually stay and are happy with. If we are forced, because of
funding, to just critically find a job for somebody and it’s not really the best
match, we do find that they come back within a year or two because it’s not the
match that they wanted. – Oh my gosh. I’m sorry. I was on mute
that whole time. I apologize. So I do have a few questions here for you. I’m sorry to
make everyone wait. I know one of the pressing questions that we heard a couple
times before is in regard to the average length of time that getting to know to job
placement takes. Everyone definitely has, obviously, a very unique experience, but
do you have some comments on your personal and professional experience with job
seekers on how long that sort of looks and feels on average? – Well, to be frank, because we are funded
with tax dollars, we are conscious of the time ticking by and we basically do our
best to calculate how much time we are willing to spend on that client based on
recuperating the money that has spent doing that. Now, does that always work?
No. But the goal is to actually come out on the positive side. And that kind of
dictates it. And that’s an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do. – Yeah, because we get…and I don’t know
if Minnesota’s the same, but we’re outcome-based funding. So Edward does all
of this work and we have to pay him, but we don’t get any money until that person
starts the job. And then once they start the job, we bill for that start date, but
then it’s 30, 60, 90 days before we actually get paid for it, so we kind of
have sort of this internal formula that looks at what his hourly rate would look
like and so we kind of say, “This is your goal. Your goal is within two months, to
be able to at least get somebody an internship if not a job. But at least
something that we can bill for that we can continue to bill on.” But we’re notorious
for spending longer for some people. And quite honestly, I know everybody asks that
question, but honestly, we are dealing with individuals, we’re dealing with
individual employers. So sometimes it seems like luck. Because I’ll give
examples in team meetings and people are like, “That only happens to you, Laura.”
Like the employer just jumps and says, “Yeah, I want to hire that person.” No,
sometimes it’s just I happen to catch the employer on a good day and the candidate
that I’m with is just spot-on. But our goal is to always try and find them
something within two to four months of first starting to work with them. Whether
that’s an internship, a job shadow, something that we can start building that
profile. And then ultimately, employment is what we really want. But honestly,
sometimes it takes six months, sometimes it takes a year, sometimes it takes a
month. And it honestly doesn’t even matter the severity of the disability, because I
don’t think Ivan, I mean Ivan was actually a quick placement. And Maddie was not, but
some of the other folks, it really just so depends on the person. And there’s no, I
think that’s the thing if we can get across, is that there’s no cookbook.
There’s no rule. It’s really about that individual person and how much you can
work with them to get to know who they are and what they want. – Excellent. Can you actually hit your
next slide there, Laura, so folks can see the link to the website there? That would
be great. I have a few more questions here for you. One question that came in, it
said, “Can you share your thoughts on people volunteering as a way to gain work
experience and skills?” – Yeah, so volunteering is really
important. However, you need to be very cautious of volunteering. Volunteering can
turn into, “This is what I do.” You also have to be really careful of volunteering
in a for-profit business, because that can really only be time-limited. So we try not
to do that. That has to be an internship where they’re actually paid to do it,
either through vocational rehabilitation or one of their funding sources. But
volunteering for volunteering, if you’re volunteering at a church, or if you’re
volunteering at a civic organization or the Boys and Girls Club, then that’s fine.
But then, just make sure that they’re getting something out of it, that they’re
getting a letter of recommendation, that maybe an evaluation that’s done annually
if they’re actually volunteering. Because that [inaudible 00:54:17]. So putting it
on your resume is great, but then being able to say, “And here’s my letter of
recommendation that says that I volunteered 10 hours a week for the last
six months at this organization and that I was here all the time.” So volunteering is
important, but I think sometimes we kind of get stuck in that trap that
volunteering is all there is. – It certainly has its value for those
with little or no work experience in terms of building a resume, in terms of listing
experiences. Certainly, if it’s a blank page. But Laura is right. It can detract
from the job search. – Excellent. Thank you. So this is another
interesting question from someone that said, “All the examples seem to be of
individuals who are fairly likeable. What challenges do you find with individuals
who maybe don’t have some of the likeability factors due to maybe some
behavioral challenges, some personality issues? And what tips do you have to kind
of overcome those challenges?” – That’s a very good question. – That’s a really great question. And
whenever we present, it’s always to people who go, “Well, I work with people who have
this kind.” So one of the last slides that I showed, just a little picture of Dan,
Dan actually has some very significant behavioral issues. He’s not a very
likeable person. And so I don’t know if you, because Edward, you worked with him
and we did sort of the positive personal profile, but then you worked with him to
get the job. – Dan is a very physically imposing guy
who speaks very, very minimally and with difficulty. And at times, if Dan decides
that if he wanted to get a soda out of a machine or something like that, or
something that he wanted to do, he would just turn on his heel and walk away, and
it was like getting in the way of a train. – And nobody was going to stop him. When I
did the assessment, he rifled through my purse, wanted to get soda. It was
challenging. – In Dan’s case, it really became a
question of keeping him away from the soda machine and trying to minimize those
triggers. I had another client who actually is now hired as a programmer, but
who has tremendous anger issues. And at the drop of a hat is likely to lash out.
Basically, what I did for about six months with him is have him lash out at me rather
than people that weren’t hiring him. And told him, I said, “Look, when you’re mad
call me. Yell at me. That’s what I’m getting paid for.” But you’re right. With
some of these folks we’ve presented to you today are in fact quite
personable. But if you find that spot for them where they can flourish, a lot of
those issues tend to wane. – And I think that’s the key. Like with
Dan, Dan is very likeable now. We avoided the trigger, like Edward said, of the soda
machine. We put parameters so that he knew. And I’ll tell you, everybody loves
him. In fact, when he moved from where he was living to a different community, the
Signs manager said, “We want to have him move to another Signs.” That’s how much
people…because I think, again, going back to that readiness, they have to get
rid of their behaviors before they get a job. But the reality is once they get the
job, those behaviors really do disappear because now the expectations are a little
different. So it’s, again, just spending time with that person. It sounds really
simplistic, again, but it really is what it is. – Yeah, I think you bring up a really
important point. This actually came up in the previous webinar. Someone had asked a
question about supporting job seekers. I can’t remember, I think they were
referencing individuals who maybe had some legal issues around inappropriate sexual
behavior and how do you find a job in the community for somebody who has some pretty
significant triggers? And the speaker from the other week talked about, again, those
environmental factors that we really do have to think about what those triggers
are and supporting job seekers in environmental success. But also knowing
that, I think, Laura and Edward, you made a great point about sometimes you just
have to work through some of those things over time. And that the job is sometimes
the solution to some of those really challenging behaviors. When we raise those
expectations, people can often surprise us and rise to the occasion. Not always, but
often. – Right, right. And I think sometimes,
also, looking at the work culture. Edward just reminded me of another young man that
we worked with years ago who used profanity all the time. And he was on a
behavior plan to not swear anymore. And of course, I met him, and he swore and he
called me names. And I was like, “Wow, okay. This is really true.” He swore all
the time. He used profanity all the time. Now, so I even asked him. I said, “Well,
you’re on this behavior plan. You need to stop swearing, they’re saying, in order to
get a job. What do you think about that, Jeremy?” And he was like, “F the behavior
plan.” I’m like, “Oh man.” So instead of saying he’s not job ready, I looked at him
and said, “We’re never going to get him to stop swearing. We’re just not. So where
can you swear on a job?” And I came back to the office and we brainstormed. And we
brainstormed all these places. And he ended up, long story short, working at a
trucking logistics company where swearing is part of what they do. So the work
culture is just as important. And so we’re never going to stop Jeremy from swearing,
but now he’s in an environment where he can swear because that’s what everybody
does there. – That’s a good point. And I have one more
question here and then I have a little short announcement about our next webinar.
Edward, you work as an employment consultant. Can you talk about or just let
us know the average amount of days or hours per week you spend on getting to
know job seekers? Maybe if we know how large your caseload is and then sort of
how much time during the week do you spend during that job development piece as well
as that getting to know piece. – Well, it varies from week-to-week, but
if I had to pay my own time, which may be different from someone else, I would say
that I probably spend a third of my time with the client and maybe two-thirds of
the time speaking with employers. One of the tricks that I’ve learned that’s very
helpful is if I have found a location where they do need to hire someone, I will
check it out myself. I’m not always one to take a client where the odds are long,
just because that can be a discouraging thing. So I’ll do that myself. But then,
if there’s an opening, I will make sure they will get an application in. And then
I will return and speak to whoever I can, because what invariably happens is that if
I start to make inroads in a conversation at a business about a client who I think
can do a good job there, at some point in the conversation they say, usually pretty
quickly, “Well, have they applied?” And if the answer is no, the conversation is
over. But if the answer is, “Well, yes. As a matter of fact, they have applied and it
should be in your system right now, ” that conversation can continue. And when they
look at that application in a stack of a hundred applications, and they see that
name, I definitely increased the chance [inaudible 01:02:44] will say, “Oh, that’s
that guy that the guy from the CEO came in and told us about.” And trust me, if
there’s a hundred applications in there, you want to be that guy. – Yeah, that’s actually a great question
to end on, too. And I think it was really interesting when you said one-third
getting to know and face time with job seekers, and then two-thirds of your time
in the community talking to businesses. I think that’s really great to hear people
say that out loud, because that’s definitely kind of a different way of
thinking and how we sort of approach job development oftentimes. And so, we’re
going to actually explore the job development piece a little bit more next
week, so I want to let folks know I put a link to the survey on the sheet there that
I hope you’ll take a moment to look at. But next week’s webinar is going to have
two guest speakers: Amy from Trillium in Seattle and Jeanine from New England
Business Associates in Massachusetts and Connecticut. And they’re going to be
talking about organizational investment in job development and making those
connections with businesses. And I know Edward’s also an expert on this. We’re
going to spread the love at our webinars and have Amy and Jeanine as speakers. But
obviously, job development plays a very central role in the work that we’re doing
and so to spend a little bit more time next week to hear perspectives from some
other speakers. I also shared the link. It’s on the screen there, the website, the
mpccp.umn.edu/Employment. All of the videos are recorded and they’ll be
captioned there eventually. Many of them are already captioned. You can also
register for upcoming webinars. There’s a number of different topics for the month
of May as well. And we really appreciate your participation today and we are so
grateful to have Edward and Laura as our guests today and to share their
experiences and their stories. I will be making a PDF form of their slides which
will also go up on the website at some point. And if you’d like to contact them,
you can certainly… I was going to put your website up there, Laura, so people
could visit the work that you’re doing. So thank you so much. I’m going to end the
recording. If you have further comments, questions, thoughts, please do not
hesitate to email me: [email protected] is my email address. Otherwise, I hope you have
a lovely day. It’s 12:05 and thanks so much for joining us. – Thanks, Kelly.
– Thank you, Kelly.

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