Life-Saving Strengths

Sometimes, Clifton Strengths Assessments can literally save lives. That’s what Laura Farmer Sherman and I discovered in our work at Susan G. Komen San Diego.

As President and CEO of Komen San Diego, Laura had been working with my firm, Marsha Berkson Consulting, for about a year to identify and build the right team and culture to move her organization forward in an increasingly competitive non-profit space. Our work accumulated impressive accomplishments, including exceeding revenue targets and expanding grant programs for the community. But the experience that Laura took the most pride in was helping Karla Lopez find her path in life.

Laura met Karla in 2009 shortly after Karla’s sister, Sandra, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Sandra had reached out to Komen San Diego for medical advice and care. In a show of support, Karla organized a team to participate in Race for the Cure, a fundraising event sponsored by Komen San Diego. Their team of 120 was the largest one in the race.

Karla was so appreciative of the support Sandra received from Komen San Diego that she began volunteering at the nonprofit organization. “She had a great work ethic and was passionate about helping others,” said Laura. “So when the position of Office Manager became available, I reached out to Karla to see if she was interested in the opportunity.” Karla said yes to a role that had a wide range of administrative tasks, including answering telephone calls from people seeking medical advice following a breast cancer diagnosis.

It was perfect timing because I was facilitating the staff retreat and had each staff member complete the Clifton Strengths Online Assessment. This tool enables an individual to understand and tap into his or her unique talents. When Talents are revealed and celebrated, individuals become the best version of themselves. And collaboration among team members increases.

Karla?s StrengthsFinder Assessment shined a light on talents and abilities she possessed but hadn?t acknowledged. Her Top 5 are: Includer, WOO (Winning Others Over), Responsibility, Empathy, and Positivity. When I reviewed the findings with Karla she said, ?I knew I had these qualities but I didn?t think of them as special. I certainly never considered them to be my ?Strengths.?

The findings, which I brought to Laura?s attention, indicated that Karla unique talents were not being utilized.

At that time, Komen San Diego was starting a new initiative ? Mobile Mammography events. Through partnerships with local health clinics, the organization was bringing free mammograms and clinical breast exams to underinsured and uninsured women where they live, pray and shop.

The first Mobile Mammography event was held in the parking lot of a shopping center in Chula Vista. It was all hands on deck for the staff. The bus was in place but nobody approached the unit. Karla moved into action. She entered the supermarket and walked up and down the aisles. Speaking in Spanish, she approached each woman and shared a personal story about her sister, Sandra, who had delayed having a mammogram because of the cost and was subsequently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Karla encouraged the women to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Mobile Mammogram bus and get a free screening.

On that day 50 women, between the ages of 50 and 60, followed Karla to the mobile clinic and received their first-ever mammogram!

Karla?s unique talents were on display. In addition to reaching out to complete strangers in the market (Includer) and helping them understand the importance of monitoring their breast health (Responsibility), Karla walked the women ? one by one ? to the bus (WOO). She hugged each one and waited outside until the exam was finished (Empathy and Positivity). Then she hugged and congratulated the woman for having the courage to take this important step. Karla wowed (or WOOed) us all.

?The Clifton Strengths Assessment gave Karla permission to push the envelope of her life,? said Laura. ?She became more adventurous, joining a hiking group and training for a marathon. Karla?s physical presence changed, too. She began wearing make-up and brightly colored clothes. It was like watching someone change from Black/White to Technicolor.?

?Helping Karla find her path in life is one of the best things I?ve ever done,? said Laura. ?With the knowledge she obtained from the Assessment, Karla recreated herself. Not only is she flourishing personally and professionally, she is making a huge difference in the lives of the people in our community. Karla is literally saving lives.?

Every time I see Karla I marvel at her continued growth, confidence and genuine happiness.

I would love to guide you and your team on the path to ever-greater success. Please call me for a free 30-minute consultation.

619-890-7014 | marsha.berkson@gmail.com