Strategist. Confidante. Plate Spinner.
Q and A with Shelly Berlin
Q. What does it mean to “be bold” in a workplace?
To me, being bold is the act of being courageous. Being bold is to stand out, to take chances, to have faith that what you reach for is out there. It shows up in workplaces as experimentation, innovation, optimism, drive, belief, ambition, assertion, and most of all pushing beyond one’s own self-interest. Being bold means everyone wins.
Q. As a child, what did you 'want to be' when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher. We had a large chalk board in our basement playroom, and I remember playing school with my younger brother. I enjoyed being at the front of the room imparting knowledge (and bossing my brother around.)
Q. What does Berlineaton’s vision of “a world of courageous endeavours” mean to you?
I believe that every time someone does something courageous something good happens. And, the more courageous endeavours there are, the better the world will become.
It takes courage to improve and change the status quo, but more than that, it takes personal commitment and determination. I really connect with people who have this determination. To me, they are the visionary leaders who will change the world for the better.
Q. What is your favourite client success story?
I could talk about the organizations we’ve helped improve, but I think what strikes me the most is when an unsuspecting person in an organization becomes inspired by the work we do together, and makes the conscious decision to be bold and focus on improving their organization, in addition to doing their day job.
I worked with a woman about 15 years ago who was quite skeptical about the work we were doing, until she rolled up her sleeves and tried some of the tools and techniques we use. After working together for some time, she considered me her mentor, and was keen to learn everything she could about how to improve her organization.
I had dinner with her recently and we talked about what she is doing now in her senior role to transform her organization – she even has the word 'transformation' in her title. I can’t help but think I played a role in that.
Q. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Two things jump to mind – possibly because they were both pretty dangerous. The first was rafting grade 5 rapids on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe (below Victoria Falls), and the other was hiking the Aonach
Eagach Ridge in the Scottish highlands with two paratroopers who had absolutely no fear of heights.
Both of these activities felt very uncomfortable at the time. At various points I actually feared for my life. Looking back, they were defining moments for me in my coming of age. I felt a great sense of personal accomplishment. These experiences propelled me to continue to push myself and others beyond our comfort zones, and to experience the benefits of doing so.
Q. How will consulting services be delivered in the future?
More collaboratively. Possibly a bit messier and disruptive. Consultants will come from behind their veils of expertise and join clients to come up with solutions that are simple and beautiful.
Q. What is your favourite quote?
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney