We’re back with another installment of #MeetTheTeam, featuring a Q&A to introduce you to our terrific faculty members at #RBLP; today we’re speaking with Zachary Pryor, RBLP-T!
Hi Zachary! Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from.
I’m originally from Alliance, Nebraska – a small railroad, farming and ranching town in the western part of the state. After high school, I went to a year of college at University of Nebraska Kearney then joined the US Navy, and have been on active duty since 1993. Twenty-eight years so far, and looking forward to my 30-year mark and retirement. I married my high school sweetheart, we’re still together and now have three adult children and two grandchildren. I currently serve as one of the Command Master Chief instructors at the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center, where I have the honor of preparing all the new Commanding Officers, Executive Officers and Command Master Chiefs before they go out to their first command. Along with that I am the Navy Program Director for all Enlisted Leadership Development, E3-E7 and E9 (the Senior Enlisted Academy gets the E8 group). I am kind of busy with that.
What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP?
I have a BS in Health Care Administration and a MS in Educational Leadership from Trident University International, for my formal education. In the Navy I started out as a Hospital Corpsman, spent about nine years as an Operating Room Technician, and then once I was promoted I went to Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) school. Furthermore, I have been to the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy, the Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat school and several other leadership schools that have been offered to me.
Who is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory?
I have had a couple people who have been mentors to me over the years: Terry Prince, Force Master Chief (ret), was one of the first truly inspired people that I worked with. Additionally, I have a fantastic wife (Juanita), who has done so much for me in home life and raising our children while I went off and played sailor, truly an inspiration. Definitely not least, my parents have inspired me – married for almost 50 years now, just a joy to be around, and they instilled hard work and loyalty in me.
What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor?
I love that we as RBLP instructors get to mentor someone who is earnestly seeking to better their own lives and leadership skills. We get to pour [our experience] into another person for a couple hours and see them grow from one lesson to the next. Seeing Alvin Keen leading me through the process and the excitement he had doing it really drew me in.
In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers?
I have to tell a story: I was working for a Marine Brigadier General as her Command Master Chief, and this amazing leader had a three-legged dog. That dog had cancer, had to have a leg removed and recovered from it; I never saw it complain when it was racing against other dogs, or being outside. I want to be that resilient – just no matter what happens, I can shrug it off any problem and still move forward without stopping and looking around me. I have had a couple rounds of cancer, a shoulder rebuilt, and other smaller setbacks in life but I’ve kept looking for the next hill to conquer to prove that those things did not stop me. I want to be like my general’s dog and just be that resilient. Now if I can just teach someone else to have the same mindset as that dog.
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?
I like talking about success, education/training, and concern for your people. Senior-level clients often go into a mentoring or career development session and only talk about their “idea” of success, forgetting that the person across from them may have a different view. We forget to ask sometimes what that other person wants to do to be successful. Education and training is huge with me, but not everyone wants to go to brick and mortar college; maybe they’d prefer a trade school, or to get a certification instead. Finally concern for people – if you don’t have concern for those working for and with you, you will lose them. Remembering small things such as birthdays and major milestones helps. RBLP lets me teach a person about all three of these areas.
What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training?
As a Command Master Chief I had to do a lot of career development boards and command indoctrination (INDOC), where I talked about education with the sailors. I already had my degrees, and when I spoke about certifications, I had a sailor ask me which ones I had done. I hadn’t done any at that point through Navy COOL, so I decided to check it out and when I looked up some leadership ones, it was RBLP that I was most interested in. Now when I talk to sailors, I can discuss the ones that I have completed. Further, my brother-in-law (US Marine Corps Master Sergeant, ret.) has an MBA, but most of his job interviews have turned into conversations about certifications. That helped me also to figure out which ones would be most appropriate for me to use in the future.
In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories working with a client and why?
I cannot say that I have best memory, but what I love is when someone is lost or confused on a particular issue or training topic and then when it explaining it the “a-ha” moment happens and they get the concept there. I love seeing the light flicker in their eyes of when they understand it and figure out how to use that topic in their work center.
Pivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love?
I am an avid outdoors person, along with my wife. We love camping, hiking, mountain biking, Nebraska football and other stuff. Further I love personal training, running, yoga, high-intensity interval training, and just general fitness. Because I love to eat, my wife is a great cook! We are also actively engaged in our church and helping others. My favorite part of the day is connection time with my wife at night – a glass of red wine, conversation about the day, thoughts about our future and our children’s futures and where we both want to go and grow.
Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
“If you don’t run, you rust!” – Tom Petty, “Big Weekend”
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together!