Our #MeetTheTeam series – where we introduce you to the fantastic faculty at RBLP, one at a time – continues, and today we’re speaking with Michelle Burke, RBLP-T!
Hi Michelle, thanks for chatting with us! Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
My name is Michelle and I’m from Cocoa Beach, FL (not born and raised). I strive to give back because I had to learn a lot of things the hard way. No one taught me many of the things I wish I had known when I younger. As the oldest of eight, my parents had their hands full raising eight of us and were so focused on basic needs. My ‘why’ is to share information to create transformation! That’s what really gets me excited – to see the “a-ha!” moment when true change takes place.
What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP?
I’ve been blessed with so much variety in both of these areas. Early in my career, I started out as a field service technician in DC, MD and VA repairing computers and printers with an electronics engineering degree. After a couple of years, I realized I needed more schooling if I wanted to advance so I went back to school to get my bachelor’s in computer information systems management. Armed with that, I moved into management and found a home in project management – initially as an informal leader. Several years later, I realized I really enjoyed teaching, so I obtained my Masters in Project Management. Now, I own my own business where I teach, coach and consult on all of the things that I love to share and do!
Who is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory?
My former mentor and leader, Mike Vinje, was instrumental for me in this space. Mike was a leader who did his utmost best to create an environment of inclusion. He instilled the mantra, ‘Have the courage to tell the truth’ even when it was unpopular or terrifying to share. I learned so much from him and I’ve been honored to share what he taught me with others.
What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor?
Felton Williams and I struck up a conversation on LinkedIn as it was thought-provoking and inspiring. In no time, it seemed like Felton and I hit it off. After a bit of dialogue, Felton suggested that I meet with the leadership team in RBLP. I love being with and working with like-minded people. The RBLP team is a group of leaders trying to make the workplace as strong as possible by sharing tools and strategies for teams to be rock stars – even when the chips are down.
In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers?
To me, resilience is the ability to do the hard stuff when it’s unpopular. It means having each other’s backs in the good times and bad times. The marriages that last are a lot like this. It takes work. Perseverance. Being able to laugh and have fun with one another even if you may not agree with the other person. Coming to the table to have the conversation when you don’t feel like talking, but you know you will be better for it once you both work through it. That’s what resilience means to me.
What are the three most important components, in your opinion, that you try to convey to every team that you train under the RBLP certification program?
The three most important things to me when it comes to resilience are:
1. Earning trust
2. Encouraging people to have fun
3. Enforcing accountability
A gal I used to work with used to say you need to ‘give love to get love.’ That’s always stuck with me and I think it applies to resilience. How do we gain the trust of the people we work with if we don’t earn it first? Many folks want to have a good time with their work since we do so much of it – it’s our job as leaders to make things lighthearted if we can and infuse a playfulness into our roles. And, if we have teammates that aren’t pulling their weight, nothing will demoralize a team faster than having to pick up the slack for someone else time and time again.
What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training?
This is a simple example, but one that has a ton of power for me. Early in my career, I would hold meetings and want to get right to the point. Why waste time with useless chit chat when we had work to do! A gal I worked with years ago liked to schedule ‘coffee chats’ just to get to know each other – no work – no to dos. I thought I was going to lose my mind! I was of a mind that ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’! LOL! Well, I was wrong. Dead wrong. I learned that getting to know your teammates is critical to showing up with empathy and helping them with whatever needs attention. That was a small, but powerful lesson for me that I embody today.
In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories of a training program that you’ve accomplished with a company and why?
I’m working with a company now who wants their teams to think differently. Meaning, they’ve brought us in to help their employees, volunteers and community leaders analyze their current climate and encourage learning company wide. Through this current program, teams are walking away with new and creative ideas to serve their communities and customers. Now that’s pretty cool!
Pivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love?
There are folks that think I’m a personal trainer. Hahahah! I suppose that’s because I’m super active. I consider myself an athlete as I like to push the limits on what my mind and body can do. I competed for a couple years in bodybuilding competitions and last year I finished my first Olympic triathlon. I have a love for the water and most days you can find me surfing in my hometown of Cocoa Beach, FL if I’m not working.
Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others?
If I had to pick just one quote, it would be this one:
“Whether you’re in a team of two or more, it’s KEY to listen to develop a compromise. That’s what builds lasting relationships.” I live this in my work and personal life – I’ve been married for 28 years so I guess it’s working!
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together!