Once More, with Feeling
By Andy Goodman, Director, The Goodman Center
In February 2018, we introduced Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center as a new contributor. As a refresher, here is the link to the archive of Academy newsletters where one can access all of the past articles by Andy Goodman, including the February, April, July, and October 2018 issues, and now February 2019, too: SDZG Academy Newsletter Archive.
You've said the same words a thousand times. So, how do you keep them fresh for today's audience? A legendary singer has the answer.
Between in-person speeches and online classes, I give roughly 50 talks a year on the subject of storytelling alone. While I tailor each presentation for the audience at hand, there are certain portions that are invariably repeated. And when I arrive at those portions, a little voice in my subconscious pipes up. "Again?" it asks. "Are you really saying those exact same words again?"
Sound familiar? Even if you're not hearing voices (yet), I'm guessing there are times when you find yourself reciting an all-too-familiar script. Perhaps you're pitching to a prospective donor, interviewing a job candidate, or talking to the press. At first, you're in the moment, but before you know it, your mouth is on autopilot and your mind is... beginning... to.... Sorry, where was I?
As someone who does a lot of public speaking, I must confess this was getting to be a problem; but about a year ago, singing legend Tony Bennett gave me an invaluable piece of advice. (And by that, I mean Tony Bennett was being interviewed on National Public Radio, but the advice he shared was so spot-on that I felt he was talking directly to me.)
The NPR interviewer asked the singer a question about his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," one that several other interviewers have posed as well: when you've sung that song so many times, where do you find the inspiration to belt it out with gusto one more time? I turned up the volume on my car radio. If ever there was an analogy to my particular problem, this was it.
Tony chuckled and admitted that this was, indeed, a challenge. He'd lost count of the number of times he'd sung that standard. But whenever "San Francisco" appeared on his set list, he consciously took a moment before the performance to stop and think about what the song meant to him.
He said the song had opened doors for him around the world, and that he'd had the privilege of singing it before kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers. It became an "all-access pass" for a crooner who had been relegated to singing in bars, but was now performing for sold-out crowds in concert halls and arenas.
In those moments of reflection, Tony said he felt grateful for all the song had done for him; and once that feeling started flowing through him, he knew he was ready to perform. Audiences may respond to the lyrics, the song's sentiment, or his delivery, but he believed they also connected with this unspoken feeling of gratitude.
I've taken his words to heart ever since, and now, whenever I'm waiting for my turn to present, I consciously think about the unique opportunity I've been given. When I start to feel gratitude, I know I'm ready to begin. And should that little voice ask, "The same words? Again?" I will be able to answer with conviction, "Yes, the same words—and happy to say them."
For more information about The Goodman Center, visit thegoodmancenter.com.
Getting Better All the Time
Sharing Our Experiences, Expertise, and Insights Makes Us All Better
By James F. Gesualdi
To keep ahead, each one of us, no matter what our task, must search for new and better methods—for even that which we now do well must be done better tomorrow.
—James F. Bell
We are all connected. Everything is connected. The more we give of ourselves through sharing our experiences, expertise, and insights, the closer and more positive those connections are and the better we become. Let's creatively explore and consider some of the many ways sharing makes us better.
All of us have benefitted from various professional and personal influences. We have all had teachers, and many of us have had coaches and mentors. Formal learning, practical experiences and personalized mentoring, encouragement, and inspiration elevate our capacity to serve animals, their interests and well-being.
Formal mentoring could perhaps be employed to an even greater extent than it is within the zoological community and zoological organizations. Informal mentoring can take the form of sharing one's knowledge and sensitivities with others within a department or across the zoological community.
Inherent in every mentoring relationship is the potential for "reverse mentoring," whereby the mentor learns a great deal from the mentee. This occurs through conversation, questions, challenging the status quo, seeing things through fresh eyes, and new insights. This is but one of the ways in which mentoring makes us all better.
When reflecting upon the service we are called to provide to animals and people, any good works have likely been aided by good teachers and mentors. One of the greatest joys imaginable is finding others whose intellect, experience, or heart moves you, and having them agree to help show you the way. To have another you hold in high regard (if not awe) agree to undertake to help you is at once humbling and exhilarating. It is similarly fulfilling to be there for someone else, to help them have a better go at making their way. As time passes, and you watch that person grow into greater success, it adds untold meaning and significance to one's own work.
Sometimes sharing may involve communicating about something we didn't get quite right, erred about, or possibly worse. In these difficult situations, there may be prudent limits on sharing, but adversity is a great teacher. Advancing the zoological community, including improving and protecting animal and human lives, depends upon the really hard-learned lessons we face.
We endeavor to at least influence others outside the zoological community, like the public, government agencies, and our critics. In order to seek first to understand their perspectives (thank you, St. Francis), it is almost always beneficial to help, learn from, and engage these "others," even through mentoring. These relationships, now too numerous to count, have shaped or reshaped all of us engaged in them, and opened the door to dialogue in place of conflict.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care Proposed Rule
The Animal Care unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently proposed a new regulation relating to licensing under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and other subjects, including some standards of care for commercial dog breeders. The latter part has drawn considerable attention and seemingly broad bipartisan support. The former portion dealing with licensing and administrative topics, like inspection report appeals, is of great importance to the zoological community.
In response to criticism and litigation relating to the current annual ministerial renewal of licenses, the agency is seeking to change to a licensing regime in which new licenses would be required every three years, or even more frequently when there is a substantial change in the species or number of animals, or types of programs offered. On the surface, this would be a significant change, possibly requiring more focused and more frequent attention to AWA compliance. That's a good thing for enlightened and responsible zoological organizations, the public, other stakeholders such as critics, and, most importantly, the animals. For instance, this would preclude chronic noncompliance issues from going unaddressed while licenses are "rubber stamped" at the time of renewal. It would also check that facilities, staff, training, and other requirements are satisfied before major changes occur at an organization.
Unless extended, comments on the proposed regulation are due May 21, 2019. The Federal Register notice announcing and exploring the rule and setting forth the proposed language is available at: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-03-22/pdf/2019-05422.pdf.
For those who practice Excellence Beyond Compliance®, continuously improving animal welfare and maintaining compliance are our overriding priorities. So many of the good practices detailed in the book or discussed in this column mesh perfectly with the proposed licensing changes.
The most important passage in the proposed rule is this agency response to a concern about the added resources required to comply with the new licensing model: ". . . we wish to make clear that licensees are required to be in full compliance at all times under the Act and regulations." 84 Fed. Reg. 10724 (March 22, 2019). AWA compliance is necessary and important, but it matters most of all when used constructively to drive and inspire our ongoing efforts to continuously improve animal welfare, and better serve animals and their interests, especially their well-being.
In closing, it is good that we keep sharing with each other, as this work we do involves mentoring that is worth having or receiving, and certainly worth doing.
I am not a teacher, but an awakener.
© 2019 James F. Gesualdi, P.C. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. This is not, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.
For more information on Excellence Beyond Compliance®, visit excellencebeyondcompliance.com.