My First Love….

Love is action and a life time commitment. My Godmother made sure I understood that passion,  patience, willingness to go the extra mile, and perseverance were necessary to demonstrate love.  Being a part of my life since birth, she was confident that when she made her introduction I would  fall in love.

bucsIn the 10th grade, the introduction was made. Immediately, I did fall in love. I fell in love with the opportunity of helping make life better for others, regardless of their age, and being able to make a difference in a variety of places. You see my Godmother introduced me to the speech-language pathology profession. It was one that I had never heard of before but it seemed just right for me. I loved to speak and jumped at the opportunity whenever it presented itself! The idea of helping those who could not speak really resonated with me.

Most of us take our ability to communicate for granted, and do not realize how extremely difficult it is to live a productive life when communication is impaired.  Other than the absolute essentials of air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and shelter from the elements. nothing is more vital to humans than the ability to communicate.  In my quest to learn as much as I could about this profession, I wrote off to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The packet of information I received helped me to understand all the opportunities that awaited me as I worked to help others. drscreenOff to Hampton Institute (University) I went to learn all that I needed to get started. There I met my first Mentor, Dr. Robert M. Screen. He was all about excellence and his core value became mine. He had earned his doctorate at Michigan State University and supported me in receiving a scholarship there to earn my master’s degree. The more I learned about this profession the more I fell in love.

Once armed with my degree and credentials, I began to pursue my love with others. patchildMy love intensified as I saw the smile of a child who could now be understood by a parent, teacher, or friend.


The tears of a person who was now able to return to work after recovering from a stroke.  A kiss between a husband and wife because love could verbally be expressed again in that simple phrase, “I love you.”

My love grew as I taught students about my love and watched them light up when they learned a new concept, made a new discovery from their research, and celebrate with family and friends when they obtained their doctoral degree.


My love reached new heights when I was able to meet with other professionals around the country and facilitate the development of policies, best practices, and new systems.


You see I learned from my first love that what brought me joy was not just evaluating, providing interventions, teaching, conducting research; but rather it was the results or outcomes of those activities. My love for speech-language pathology led me to my true love, a love for outcomes.

As I pursue my love for outcomes, I can never forget my first love!

If you know a student who you think might benefit from my first love, check out my very first book, which is in its third edition, Opportunities in Speech-Language Pathology Careers (McGraw Hill).  May is “Better Hearing & Speech Month.”communication


Don’t Let Age Stop You!

Have you heard these quotes about AGE?  ali





When these quotes have been shared, a response that I often hear is: “You need to face the fact that there are some things that are going to change because you age.  You just wait and see.”  While that is true, as I age I may move slower, my visual and auditory acuity may change, my memory may not be as sharp, boundariesBUT what I never want to allow is my age to become a boundary that prohibits me from achieving my goals and dreams.  

Recently, I was reminded that age has no boundaries when I saw a picture of a fellow Hamptonian, William (Bill) Goldborough. Bill graduated in the 1949 class at Hampton University (Institute). This class fondly called themselves the “49ers.”  Bill and I met at a meeting of the National Hampton Alumni Association and later served together on its Board. Bill was the Technology Committee Chair in 1998. My initial impression of him was a man of innovation and a trail blazer. He was fearless, perhaps in part, because he bravely fought as a World War II Veteran.  I often admired that Bill was unafraid to speak what was needed to be said and likewise was unafraid of change. No wonder Bill was recognized by the President of our National Hampton Alumni Association as a “trailblazer.” I wasn’t surprised when I saw this recent picture. Bill, at 91, made history becoming the oldest initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  See the details in this article.

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When I reached out to say congratulations, Bill responded:

“I live my life like “A CANDLE IN THE WIND” and look back only to direct my path FORWARD. God is my constant CO-PILOT and continues to guide me.”

Bill’s message reminded me to look back as a reference point to continue moving forward and not forget that I need my co-pilot, God, to guide me.

My message to you. When you think you’re too “old” to accomplish a dream that was placed on your heart, remember the dream is a “calling” AND if you stay in tune with your co-pilot,  God, your dream will become a reality.

Achieving your dream is not about AGE; rather, it is about YOU!



The Golden Rule

Instead of heading to meet my fiancé for a fun-filled weekend, I was on a plane headed to Oklahoma City planning a corporate audit of the company’s clinical services. Joining me were all the lead quality improvement professionals across our rehabilitation fields and company divisions. There was much work to be done to complete the audit in a timely manner and make our report to the Corporate leadershipaudit

Over the next ten days we worked tirelessly examining patient records, clinical documentation, interviewing patients, and facility personnel. Our evenings were spent reviewing data collected, identifying additional data needs, and planning for next steps. Exhausted,  everyone departed for home confident that we had completed successfully the audit, identified what was working, areas needing improvement and had developed sound recommendations.

After arriving home, immediately the audit report was finalized, circulated to the team for review,  and feedback. Then it was about preparing for my meeting with the Company President. Our audit had identified processes that could be improved, but more importantly it recognized the need for people development. Our direct service providers needed training in areas that put our company at risk.  Our supervisors weren’t as effective as they could be in managing and utilizing assistants and aides. Investing in our people would minimize future risk and increase productivity, patient, and customer satisfaction.The people development recommendations came with a  hefty price tag in that we were the largest employer of rehabilitation professionals next to the Veteran’s Administration. My job was to convince the President of the company benefits that would be derived as a result of its investment.   As an officer of the company, I was aware of the need to meet our  return to stockholders’ projections.  I had to make sure that the proposed cost  of our recommendations would not jeopardize that commitment. Our chairman always reminded us that “our word is our bond.” So I ran our numbers by the Chief Financial Officer. auditreportAfter integrating his feedback, I was confident that the audit report was comprehensive, accurate, and justified our  recommendations. Next, it was time to share the audit report with the President.

The President looked over the report, listened attentively to my presentation, asked a few questions, and then indicated that the recommendations were too costly. He then asked me if I knew about the golden rule. Why of course, as a child my parents had taught me “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But what did that have to do with the company and my recommendations? (I thought) Seeing my puzzled look, the President realized that we were not talking about the same rule. He then said, “I think you may not have heard about the golden  rule I am referencing- “He who has the gold sets the rules.” rememberThe President was right, this was a new rule for me. At that moment I realized so often conflicts I had experienced in decision making had resulted from my lack of understanding this rule. If a person who has the gold differs in perspective from those making recommendations, then the person with the gold will always rule! In that instance, I recognized the importance of “having the gold.” Later, I launched my business  in pursuit of building a company that creates the gold so that I could begin setting my rules. Today, my attention is directed toward growing a B.E.S.T. movement that “brings out the B.E.S.T. in people and organizations.”   I get to set the rules!




What’s Your Temperament?

There has been a lot of talk about temperament these days and it reminded me of when I discovered mine.  It happened when my boss called me into his office and shared with me that one of my employees had told him that I was difficult to work for because I was controlling, unwilling to let my employees have the freedom to do things the way they wanted, and a micromanager. disappointed I was in shock and disappointed. Why did my employee feel that she could not come to me and express her feelings? Why hadn’t my boss sent her back to me to discuss the issues rather than call me in directly to discuss something he was told? Did my boss think these things too? Now what must I do?

Immediately, I reached out to my HR Consultant, who I enjoyed working with because he was knowledgeable, experienced, objective, and good at guiding you in developing appropriate strategies. Luckily he was at his desk and had time to talk. I explained the situation and together we mapped out my strategy.

Consultant:  “Let’s begin Pat, my finding out your personality preferences and temperament. I’m going to send over an assessment tool and it will give us some useful information that will help shed some light into the situation at hand.”

I love measuring so that sounded like a great place to start. The tool arrived and it was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). [The MBTI is used by eighty-nine of the US Fortune 100 companies, and over two and a half million Americans take it annually. The tool identifies 16 different personality types and 4 temperaments.] I took it immediately and returned to my consultant. Within days, he was in my office ready to review my results with me and discuss next steps.

Here is a small example of what I learned about myself to illustrate the impact that knowing more about myself had upon me.

  • Extravert which means I get energized from outside of myself. I love talking, invading others space. This can be challenging to others who get their energy from within and like their privacy.
  • Intuitive which means I make sense out of information from sensing. This can be challenging to others who need the details.
  • Thinking which means my decision making is all about logic, cause and effect. This can be challenging to those who consider others in their decision making.
  • Judging which means I love structure and order. This can come across as controlling to others who like to explore options and possibilities.
  • NT Temperament which means I am a person who loves to ask “why?”  Why is an evaluative question that sometimes puts others on the defensive.

I found the information invaluable and then wanted to have all my staff to complete the MBTI so that I could have a better understanding of their preferences. This would help me to better manage our interactions. As it turned out most of my employees’ preferences were the opposite of mine. No wonder there were issues! My consultant also helped me to understand that with any new hires, I needed to make sure my team was more diverse in their preferences.

What I learned about my preferences and temperament has helped me to better navigate relationships with people. I know that I cannot control others but I can control myself. So it becomes important for me to flex when I interact with types that are different from me. By the way my temperament also focuses on insights about organizations and systems. No wonder I love my consulting work that has taken me into over 125 different organizations!


The MBTI may not be for you. But I hope that today’s blog inspires you to self-assess and recognize that your temperament has an impact on others. Sometimes because of our temperament we don’t get our desired results. But knowing our temperament equips us to be more effective in managing and having productive relationships with others.

No Excuses!

It was time for my meeting with the Chairman. Every month, each Vice President had to submit their Department’s  “To Do” list, to-do-listwhich identified their major activities with the date expected to be completed. All activities were tied to agreed upon performance objectives that were aligned with the company’s business objectives. At the end of the month, the Chairman reviewed with the Vice President their department’s performance. A copy of the “To Do” list was provided with completed or not completed by each activity.

My department had completed all of its objectives except one. It had been a tough month for one of my direct reports, who was the lead for this objective. She had spent most of her time with an aging parent who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In preparation for the meeting, I had asked her to give me a status update.

My Direct Report:  “To be honest, I have not done anything with regard to this activity. I’ve been too busy trying to get my mom settled in her new home, a nursing facility that had an Alzheimer’s wing.”

Me: “When do you think you will be back?” I asked.  “

My Direct Report: At this point, I just don’t know.”

Me: After I hung up, I wondered if the Chairman would be understanding when I explained the situation.

Entering the Chairman’s office, I exuded confidence but was a little uncertain about how things were going to go once he knew that all of my objectives were not met. We were movingly along fairly quickly and the Chairman was pleased that it looked like my department was getting things done on time. Then we reached the last objective which was “not completed.”  Immediately, I started to explain about my direct report’s mother. Surprisingly, the Chairman interrupted and said, “I don’t need to hear the excuse. It’s not completed. makeithappen

Just tell me when I can expect it to be completed.” He then put his pen down and looked me straight in the eye and said, “No Excuses.”  Your job as leader of the department is to ensure that objective are met and on time. When they aren’t, your job is to have a plan and clarity about when they will be met.  The reason doesn’t change the fact that the activity was not completed. In order for the company to meet its business objectives, things must be completed, and on time. Our stockholders are counting on us to deliver on our promises to them. Just make it happen! Do you understand?” My reply was “Yes, and I then provided a specific date when he could expect completion.

“No Excuses” has proven to be an invaluable lesson.  I have come to recognize that by not acknowledging an excuse (reason something didn’t happen), I recognize areas needing improvement,  maintain focus on solutions and get things done as quickly as possible.



Forgotten- At the Bottom!

 The CEO, HR VP and I headed over to the site of our new facility for a walk-through. building

As we entered the building, the HR VP explained that the third floor was the top floor and the most important in the building. He immediately pointed out the office suites of the Chairman and CEO. While pointing out his office space, we learned the dimensions of the VP offices and that each had a window view. All direct reports had a nice size office with windows too. I was excited to hear this because I knew my team would be happy given they were working currently in cubicles. Walking through the floor, the offices of the VP of Finance, Regulatory Affairs, and their direct reports were identified. Then we stepped on the elevator and headed to the second floor.  Offices of the  VP of Information Technology and his team were identified along with the new hardware and data systems. Finally, we were on the bottom floor. The HR VP then turned to me and pointed out my office and my direct reports offices. Immediately, it was easy to recognize that the office size was not comparable to the VP offices seen on the previous floors, and my direct reports offices did not have windows. shock

I was shocked and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How would I ever explain to my Department that we were on the bottom floor, while the other departments were at the top?

Upon returning, the HR VP and I had a  previously scheduled meeting. Excited about showing off the new building, he immediately engaged me in conversation about it.

HR VP:   “So what do you think about the new building?”

Me:   “I wouldn’t take my mother to see it.”

HR VP:   With a look of disbelief he asked, “why would you say that?”

ME:  “Well, at the outset of the tour, you told the CEO and me that the most important floor was the third. And at the end of the tour, you showed me the location of my department which was on the bottom floor. What message do you think that sends, when the VP of Professional Services is the only female VP in the company? The only African-American VP? The only VP with a rehabilitation background, which is the focus of the business? In fact, know that I will have a hard time coming from the bottom floor to the top when summons for a meeting.  Also, I don’t know how I will explain this to my department and keep them excited about the move when my direct reports will not have windows and comparable space to their counterparts.”


HR VP: Stunned with my response and questions, he responded. “I don’t know what to say. That was never our intention.”

As soon as I arrived at the office the next morning, the CEO’s secretary called to say that the CEO wanted to see me right away. When I walked into the office, there was the HR VP with the CEO and blueprints spread out over the conference table.


CEO:  ” Last night, the HR VP shared with me your conversation. And I want you to know that the company does not want to send messages that are not reflective of our values, beliefs, and priorities.  We have re-examined the space allocation and your department is being moved to the third floor. Here is the location.” Pointing to the blue print, the CEO then said, “you and your direct reports have space comparable to your counterparts.”

ME: “I am pleased that you have addressed this issue prior to the move.  Would you please, show me the measurements so that I can be certain that all of our space is comparable to the other departments?”   measuringfloorplans

HR VP: Pulls out the ruler, measures, and validates the space size is the same.

ME. “Thanks for resolving this issue so quickly. My department’s location on the top floor sends the message to our stakeholders (both internal and external) that women, minorities, and our customers are as important to the company as our finances and government regulations.”

I left relieved that I was not going to have to let my department know that we had been forgotten, overlooked, and on the bottom floor.


  • Make sure you obtain regular project updates, including specifics that relate to you.
  • People don’t always recognize when their actions aren’t in alignment  with their words and values.
  • Don’t just point out what you perceive as a problem or issue, also point out the impact of not addressing the problem or identifying the issue
  • Show gratitude when problems are resolved and issues identified

Off to My Best Start!

After the contract was signed and start date agreed upon, my supervisor asked me to come in over the weekend so that she could begin my on boarding. What was so important that we needed to get started on Saturday? After all, my start date was the following Monday. My supervisor saw my puzzled look and immediately explained that she wanted to make sure I knew my way around the facility and was familiar with the phone system so that I could handle the basics when I arrived on Monday. That seemed reasonable since a majority of my work was going to involve handling incoming phone calls from our members. As we departed, she reminded me to dress casual, bring the things that I wanted to put in my office and come prepared to spend at least three hours.


Upon entering the building, she greeted me warmly and showed me that I would  greet my visitors in the same place. Then she took me over to the receptionist area and made sure I knew where to sign in and out.  “This is how you will get to your office,” she explained as we took the elevator to our department’s floor. “Why don’t you get settled in your office and when you’re finished come on over to mine.”

My supervisor made it clear that she was excited about working with me and wanted me to be successful. She then drew a diagram that depicted the roles associated with my position and explained that on Monday, my primary responsibility was to answer incoming answeringphonemember calls. She reviewed the script I was to use when answering internal and external calls; showed me “how to” operate the phone system; reviewed the most frequently asked questions and responses; identified resources available to assist me with calls; and reviewed the process for tracking and reporting calls. Then we engaged in role play. From her office, she called mine. Afterwards, specific feedback was provided- pointing out things I did well and things that needed improvement. We continued until I felt comfortable and confident that I knew “how to” handle the phone system and frequently asked questions. After working for an hour, it was time for a break and that took us to the cafeteria. Now I knew where to go when it was lunch time. After returning to our work area, my supervisor reviewed with me the agenda for my first day. We did one more round of role play. I left feeling confident that upon my return I was prepared to handle my first responsibility, “answering member calls.”

On Monday, confidently I entered the building knowing exactly what to do and where to go. While signing in, the receptionist asked me if she needed to call and have someone come get me. I told her “no,” I knew my way. Once at my desk, the phone rang, I immediately answered with the appropriate greeting and helped my first member get the information needed.images Sitting in my chair a smile came over my face “knowing I was off to my BEST start!”  

Here’s what I learned.

  • Starting early demonstrated to me that my supervisor had a vested interest in my success; we became partners with a shared focus
  • Because I was comfortable with my new environment and confident about what I needed to do, I was able to meet the performance expectations
  • Knowing how to navigate the phone system and environment helped me to be efficient in my use of time
  • Being there on the weekend, eliminated distractions and created an opportunity for us to spend quality time together, building our relationship and focusing on what was expected of me
  • Clarity about expectations helped me to know what to do and facilitated experiencing early success on the job