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PODCAST – The One Thing: R.J. McMahon, Oak Leyden

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
This week on The One Thing podcast, our hosts, Robin Bettenhausen and Tom Kallai, spoke with R.J. McMahon, the CEO of Oak Leyden, a Chicago nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

This week on The One Thing podcast, our hosts, Robin Bettenhausen and Tom Kallai, spoke with R.J. McMahon, the CEO of Oak Leyden, a Chicago nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

R.J. shed light on Oak Leyden’s relentless commitment to fostering a thriving company culture. From the moment new recruits step through their doors, Oak Leyden prioritizes effective onboarding processes designed to seamlessly integrate them into the organization’s mission and values. R.J. emphasized the importance of understanding the diverse experiences of both newcomers and long-standing team members, highlighting the need for ongoing engagement across the board.

We dove into the intricacies of Oak Leyden’s operations, exploring the organization’s multifaceted approach to providing unparalleled support for individuals with disabilities. From individualized therapy and education to housing, job placement, and comprehensive services, Oak Leyden leaves no stone unturned in its mission to empower and uplift its community.

R.J. addressed the challenges inherent in operationalizing Oak Leyden’s strategies. However, he exuded confidence in the organization’s ability to navigate these hurdles through strategic collaboration and unwavering investment in their mission. His words resonated powerfully: “We identified something that was floating out here,” he remarked. “The stars aligned, and we were able to jump on it.”

Tune in as we delve deeper into Oak Leyden’s remarkable journey, exploring how they leverage effective communication, teamwork and strategic partnerships to drive meaningful impact in the lives of those they serve.


00;00;16;28 – 00;00;23;21
Welcome to The One Thing podcast brought to you by The Horton Group. I’m Tom Kalai and with me always is…

00;00;23;23 – 00;00;25;15
Hi, Robin Bettenhausen.

00;00;25;17 – 00;00;46;12
So, Robin, we talk with a lot of different organizations, a lot of different nonprofits, and they have a lot of really great missions, but a lot of them are very different. You know, we’ve talked with foundations, tech providers, interior designers, but to achieve their mission, they all need one thing. What do you think that is besides money? Yeah.

00;00;46;14 – 00;01;08;05
Okay. So definitely two things. It’s a culture to support that mission. So I would say it’s like the beating heart of a nonprofit is the culture. And when I first talked with our guest today, he was so excited to talk about driving culture that if culture is the heart of an organization, RJ has it running at like high cardio, 200 beats per minute range.

00;01;08;07 – 00;01;14;08
So today I’m pleased to introduce R.J. McMahon, executive director of Oak Leyden. Welcome to the show, RJ.

00;01;14;10 – 00;01;30;01
Great. Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Robin. Excited to be here. And and boy, I appreciate the intro, but I don’t know that we’re quite there yet. I mean, we’re we’re trying. We’re trying. We’re feels like we’re still in the you know, in the training phase. I don’t think we’ve started the race yet.

00;01;30;03 – 00;01;32;23
All right. Well, then the effort is there, which is good.

00;01;32;25 – 00;01;46;17
Yeah. I mean, that’s what it’s about, right? That journey of getting there. So before we jump into all the great things happening at Oak Leyden, could you give us an example, R.J., of what you see as kind of an all time great team culture?

00;01;46;24 – 00;02;12;08
Wow. Wow. Boy, that’s a great question, Robin. You know, I first of all, I’m a team guy. Like, I love I love being on a team. I love cheering for a team. You know, I love just the whole team piece to whatever it is, whether it’s an organization, whether it’s an athletic team, whatever it might be. Just kind of that shared ownership, shared responsibility.

00;02;12;08 – 00;02;39;06
Right. And and so so when I look out to two great teams, I think of those organizations. And again, whether it’s, you know, a basketball team, a football team, soccer, whatever it might be, or a company, an organization. Right. That that there’s that shared ownership kind of across the board. And it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. It’s it’s really it’s a shared expected mission.

00;02;39;06 – 00;03;03;29
It’s a shared accountability that that organizations know that they have to be together in order to achieve their mission. Right. Is, as you so eloquently mentioned, Tom, you know, especially in the nonprofit sector. Right. We we have to create and manufacture that for our folks. Right. Is, you know, they could go anywhere and, you know, and 99 out of 100 can make a lot more money than what they’re doing here.

00;03;04;00 – 00;03;07;29
Right. So. So we have to make sure that we’re feeding them in other ways.

00;03;08;01 – 00;03;26;26
Good timing for that, too, right? We’ve been talking about the NCAA tournament. And I remember watching I don’t know if it Saturday or Sunday, but one of the teams was kind of ahead the whole game and started to lose it. And after the game, they did hang on to win. I remember the announcer saying it was great to see the team stayed as a team.

00;03;26;26 – 00;03;33;15
There wasn’t any blame, There wasn’t any sort of. And I thought that stood out to me as like a good team culture feeling.

00;03;33;17 – 00;03;40;26
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s that’s very real. Right? And and and and it’s no different than, you know, then the work that you guys do that we do, right? Yeah.

Who Is Oak Leyden?

00;03;40;26 – 00;03;48;25
As we talk about, you know, the culture behind your team, it might help to give a little context. So what can you tell us about Oak Leyden and your.

00;03;48;25 – 00;04;13;24
Yeah, absolutely. So, so you know, we’ve been around. First of all, we’re a nonprofit, right? And and so we serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We have 12 group homes, 54 individuals live in those homes. We we offer two day programs not only for our 54 residents, but also for probably about 25 ish community members that live with their family or others.

00;04;13;27 – 00;04;40;12
And then we also provide early intervention services for little kiddos birth to three years old that have been assessed or diagnosed with delay or disability. So and we’ve been around since 1956, like many organizations similar to us, you know, we grew and we started out of basically out of a lack of support for for individuals that we serve.

00;04;40;18 – 00;05;05;12
Right. And so families came together and said, you know what? We got to we got to figure this out. We can’t do it on our own. So the Oak School was created back in 1956, and then that morphed into, you know, serving adults. The residential program really kicked off the day program, the early intervention services. So it’s really it’s been quite a journey over these last, what is it, 68 years?

00;05;05;14 – 00;05;17;06
Very cool. You have mentioned or sort of referenced a culture of unity. So tell us a little bit about that, what that means to you personally and what that means to an organization like Volkswagen.

00;05;17;08 – 00;05;37;27
Yeah, absolutely. No, again, really good question. And for us, you know, like I mentioned, we have 12 homes right in and and the majority in those homes, you know, one person is serving and supporting four individuals. Right. So. So, you know, I’m in my home time. You’re in yours, Robin. You’re in yours. And we’re just we’re trying to do the best we can.

00;05;37;27 – 00;05;55;24
Right. And help our folks live their best lives. Right. And and and it’s hard work, right? It’s tough on the best day, right? And and, you know, we don’t really always see the best days with with the individuals we support, so. So how do we create that culture so that I know that I’m part of the Glide team?

00;05;55;27 – 00;06;13;22
Tom Robin, you guys know that you’re part of the applied team, even though we’re basically on an island, you know, solo, right? So how do we create that unity? How do we, you know, kind of manufacture that, so to speak, so that, you know, I know that I’m being supported, even though, you know, when I look around, it’s just me.

00;06;13;22 – 00;06;47;11
Right. So so how do we do that? And we have to be that much more intentional than any place else. Right. And those organizations that are blessed to be kind of in the same building or or or have have the opportunities for to bring everyone together. Right. And create kind of create that culture. Right. We we have to do it in a lot of different ways and have to be that much more intentional and how we kind of support our folks because we know ultimately, if we take care of our team, we know that they will in turn take care of the individuals they support.

00;06;47;11 – 00;07;13;02
Right. So so while while the mission is, you know, the 54 individuals that live in our homes, the other members, you know, the 300 little kiddos that we support, you know, we need to support and really and really, really take care of our team, our frontline team, whether that’s on the adult side or the children’s side. So so that’s that’s how I view kind of this this idea of a culture of unity that that we’re all in this together.

00;07;13;02 – 00;07;24;27
Right. And and like we said, I mean it’s it’s that shared accountability and it can break down really easily in the work that we do. Right. So we have to create that many more kind of supports along the way.

Oak Leyden’s Culture

00;07;24;29 – 00;07;41;17
I think you put it really well, you know, taking care of your team and you stepped into this team in the lead role like about three years ago now, right. So when you stepped into that coach role keeping with the basketball reference, what was working in line in terms of culture and what wasn’t working?

00;07;41;20 – 00;08;01;19
Yeah, gosh, really, really good questions. Holy cow. You guys are good at this, right? So, you know, so so I joined Oak Light in my first day was like August 1st or third or I think it was August 3rd of 2020. So, you know, there are a few things going on at that point in time if, if we’re going to harken back.

00;08;01;21 – 00;08;31;25
So, you know, so the so the challenge for us was, you know, we are so separated at that point. Right. And and, you know, we’re worried about the individuals we support and we serve that, you know, we don’t want to bring any more germs, any more people into their homes. Right. And so so we were limiting kind of all the the additional interactions, whether that was, you know, additional support folks coming in, you know, other knuckleheads like me walking in the door right.

00;08;31;25 – 00;08;56;22
So we really wanted to be that much more protective of our folks. Right. It and and make sure that they were safe and that they were being taken care of and supported them in ways that, you know, again, talk about manufacturing something we had no idea. Right. What was going on. Right. So so for us, really trying to figure out, okay, how do we how do we do this truly like how do we do this?

00;08;56;22 – 00;09;18;27
And and and I applaud the team, the leadership team here in Oakland. When I came in, they made a decision long before I got here that, you know what, our admin folks, we need to show up and be at the office. Right. Because clearly the work that we do, our frontline folks, they can’t work from home. They’re working in a home, but they can’t work from home.

00;09;18;27 – 00;09;27;19
Right? So so I applauded our team, our leadership team that they they established that early on. Like in more.

00;09;27;21 – 00;09;32;19
Example, kind of. Right. Like exactly. Absolutely. Like come in and then we’re just sitting at home.

00;09;32;25 – 00;09;50;13
Exactly like how you know, talk about team or the lack of team. Right. So so you’re just saying, okay, yeah, you guys got to be on the front line, literally on the front lines of this work. And I’m going to be hanging out in my PJs, in my you know, in my living room, kind of, you know, doing what I need to do.

00;09;50;13 – 00;10;12;14
But, you know, so so I applaud that. So that was that was an easy kind of torch to pick up and continue to to carry right in. And so so then it was about, okay, how else do we do We really assess this. Right. And it’s so much of of those early days, Right. It is. You know, just keeping the trains moving.

00;10;12;14 – 00;10;38;21
Right. And and and really, you know, it’s funny looking back like you didn’t want to move the dirt around too much for fear of what you might see. You’re fine, right? So it’s like, okay, let’s just keep going. Hey, if the moves go and just keep keep momentum going, we’ll we’ll have opportunity to figure this out downstream. And and slowly but surely, you know, it became pretty apparent that we got to be that much more intentional.

00;10;38;21 – 00;10;58;25
Like we can’t just kind of rest on our laurels and excuse me, the smoke and mirrors of of good work happening. Right. That we need to really be and create that culture of unity that we’re talking about. Right. So so they kind of pinpoint like, ooh, this, that or the other thing. I don’t know if it was as specific as that.

00;10;58;25 – 00;11;25;11
Tom and Robin, but it was just kind of a sense that, you know what, we’re in some instances, we’re hanging on by a thread here, right? So so let’s let’s really figure out, okay, how do we how do we create something that is sustainable, that that can be, you know, life giving to everybody on the team, not just those of us that are fortunate to be able to close our door and kind of hang out in, you know, in safe spaces.

00;11;25;18 – 00;11;34;14
Yeah, it’s a good mentality to have. It’s like kind of just like a why not? Why can’t we do this? Like, let’s circle the wagons and build something that wasn’t here before, right?

00;11;34;14 – 00;11;53;11
That works, Right? Exactly right. And and and I think, you know, we’re the work that we do. And you guys know, we we’ve been working together, you know, Horton Group in Orland, been working together for a long time. You know, so much of our kind of our our our work, so to speak. Right. Is is compliance related. Right?

00;11;53;11 – 00;12;13;22
So, you know, you’ve got it. You’ve got to make sure that folks that are in the homes that are working with the individuals we support that that they have, that they’re cleared to do that work. Right. So so it becomes so much of the compliance piece that we kind of forget that, you know, we’ve got core values that we that we really espouse to.

00;12;13;22 – 00;12;29;14
Right. We get we have things that we want to we have ways that we want to carry ourselves right. In ways that we want to engage with our fellow teammates as well as the individuals we serve. Right. And and and we can’t take it for granted that, you know, we’re hiring good people or our process is good.

00;12;29;14 – 00;12;46;09
So yeah, we’ll be good. Yeah. I mean, sometimes you get lucky, right? No doubt about it. Like we all get lucky, but. But we can’t kind of rest on gosh, it’s, you know, like, let’s just be lucky and, you know, kind of bury head in the sand and just kind of hope for the best.

00;12;46;12 – 00;12;48;07
Yeah. Let’s be lucky and good.

00;12;48;09 – 00;12;55;22
Exactly. my gosh. What a novel idea. Right, Let’s let’s. Let’s check both of those boxes. Wouldn’t that be good? Right.

Oak Leyden’s Partnership With On-Ramps

00;12;55;24 – 00;13;13;10
RJ, I understand that you’ve recently partnered with On-Ramps. Works with a number of big organizations, well known organizations, Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, Obama Foundation. And so what led you to them and sort of how is that working out? Tell us a little bit more about that.

00;13;13;12 – 00;13;45;01
Yeah, great. That they’re really a great group. You know, we’re fortunate to partner with them and I was introduced to them through a group that a CEO group that I’m part of this did. If you guys know vintage right So so On-Ramps came in and gave a presentation to our vintage group and you know and it was it’s ironic you know when when they first came through Cali Cali to to do this I’m like my gosh, we just had a presentation in the morning.

00;13;45;03 – 00;14;27;21
You know, the last thing I wanted was another, you know, 45 minutes of something. Right? And and as they’re talking, I’m thinking, this actually this actually is good. Like, I need that. where’s my pen? I need to write write this stuff down. Right. So so it was really it was, it was my moment like, okay, there is an opportunity here and, and you know, when, and I just had this conversation with, with another leader of, of, of a small university and we were, we were lamenting the fact that you know, all of our team or many of our team members are there on the hamster wheel right there on the treadmill.

00;14;27;21 – 00;14;50;11
They’re there going and going and going. Right. And and for for someone to kind of toss another thing, another responsibility onto their their task list, it’s like, you’ve got to be kidding me. Like, frankly, how do I keep the plate spinning, right? I mean, really, you’re going to you’re going to do that to me. Like, Sure. Tom, hey, can you can take this on, can’t you?

00;14;50;15 – 00;15;18;02
We did it well enough. Exactly right. Right. In the end. And again, we got we got great people on our team. They would say, sure, you know, we’ll give that a go like no. So so anyway, so the idea that you want we didn’t have to solve this internally that we could actually partner with an organization that does this right, that so come in and evaluate, assess our onboarding, assess kind of how we go about engaging our team when they come on board.

00;15;18;02 – 00;15;39;18
Right. And and again, it’s not just about checking those boxes. Let’s go out and really kind of figure out how do we do this better, Like how do we really create this culture, right? And and, and be you know, I’ve used this word a lot in our conversation to be that much more intentional in in how we do this and how we how we are setting ourselves up for success.

00;15;39;18 – 00;16;02;22
Right. And again, not just hoping to be good, hoping to be lucky. Let’s let’s actually put things in place to do that. Right. And and so that was really significant and and that kind of we launched that with a truly a full assessment. They interviewed 40 to 50 people about their onboarding experience. And and, you know, and and that can be challenging for our for our team.

00;16;02;22 – 00;16;22;22
Right. And and so it was about also engaging our leadership team to say, you know, this is a judgment free zone. Right? We’re we all recognize that. We got it. We’re trying to go there. Right. So so we recognize that, yeah, what we’re doing now is not satisfactory. Right? So but but there’s no we’re not finger pointing to anybody.

00;16;22;22 – 00;16;46;26
Right. It this is a shared we’re all alone in this like. So help me understand how do we get better? Right in and hands open, not fingers pointing. Right. So. So let’s make sure that we’re doing that appropriately. Right. And and and that’s always a worry when when you know, when you’ve got kind of external eyes coming in to say, you know, you guys, you guys are doing this, but you’re not doing this right.

00;16;46;26 – 00;17;05;00
And and and that can be tough to swallow. Like, again, if we’re not if we haven’t established that that kind of culture of unity. Right. And and and that was a worry like, you know we can all talk a good game until you know until you’re kind of pushed up against it, like, wait. I didn’t know we were coming after me.

00;17;05;04 – 00;17;08;26
Like, I was like, all the time and. Robin Right. But but we don’t want.

00;17;08;26 – 00;17;10;15
The microscope on me.

00;17;10;17 – 00;17;29;24
Exactly. This is a really bright light. Why is this on me right now? So, again, trying to trying to trying to make sure that that we all own that right. And that, you know, this is not me pointing fingers. This is not anything other than we got to get better. Right. And let’s own it together and then move forward.

00;17;29;26 – 00;17;49;19
Yeah, that’s awesome. So as you’re picking up those rocks, right, and looking under them to see what you need to do and and trying to turn the battleship right of culture. I mean, it’s slow moving, that slow moving process. I mean, the first thing you start with, you already mentioned it is onboarding. You know, you get the next generation of employees onboard with what we want to do.

00;17;49;24 – 00;17;52;29
So, how did your onboarding get impacted by On-Ramps?

00;17;52;29 – 00;18;17;24
Yeah, I mean, basically completely blown up to be, to be honest. Right. So so you know, it becomes a little bit of h.r. Checking the boxes, making sure that we’re doing the compliance stuff and then and then depending on who it gets handed off to, right, who the process gets handed off to. Right. So, so if you’re coming out to my team, right, and we’re we hired a new development director recently, Right.

00;18;17;24 – 00;18;44;26
So, so when Jim came on board kind of on me to go out on board him. Right. And and so depending on how much time I got, like, okay, you know, yeah, let’s spend a little bit of time. Let’s, let’s grab lunch your first day and but then kind of fly and be free, right? So, so yeah that good Right let’s, let’s be honest that’s, that’s not really going to create something sustain you what’s right.

00;18;44;26 – 00;18;45;21
You got it now.

00;18;45;21 – 00;18;47;11
Good. Okay, everybody good? This is.

00;18;47;11 – 00;18;49;29
Your bread and butter.

00;18;50;02 – 00;18;50;25
All right? Because I got.

00;18;50;25 – 00;18;52;02
It. So you got it.

00;18;52;02 – 00;19;16;07
Okay, good. Right. So you got your passwords, right? You can get into the system. Great. I’m rocking and rolling. I’m assuming that will. Well, I’ll see you by Friday. Right? So? So this is good. This is great. So go. Go get them. Not not ideal. Right? So. So how do we how do we be how do we create something that that actually, you know, affords us an opportunity for a little cross-pollination.

00;19;16;07 – 00;19;36;05
Right. So it’s we’ve got some adult services, we got some children services, we got some admin all together hearing about, you know, about how we started, right about kind of a little bit of what I share. But, but I went into more depth about, you know, yeah, we started as out of, out of a need. Right. So so let’s keep that in our mind.

00;19;36;05 – 00;19;57;15
Right. And then let’s talk about our values. Let’s talk about how we build relationships with each other and our colleagues. And we spent the morning and it was great, right? So now we’ve got four more scheduled. And and so it’s not just about the onboarding piece, right? We also have to reboard our folks, right? So yeah, we got we’ve got 120 people in this great organization.

00;19;57;18 – 00;20;15;10
So we got we got to bring those the that the oldies if you will right. That the veterans we got to bring them through this right. And not again not just assume that yeah they got it they’re good right that we gave them a water bottle that has our you know, that has our you know, has our values on it.

00;20;15;10 – 00;20;20;18
Right. Like, I mean, we should be good, right? Who to thank. Yeah, exactly.

00;20;20;20 – 00;20;22;01
We think that more than all you need.

00;20;22;05 – 00;20;25;28
What are we worried about? Right time. Come on. We’re good. We’re good to go.

00;20;26;00 – 00;20;49;17
I do love to hear that. It’s not just focused on those coming through new. Obviously, in the IDG in the nonprofit space, we do see a decent amount of turnover. But the important part isn’t just always the new folks, but really how do you engage all those other team members that have been loyal, faithful to apply then and make sure that everyone is engaging in that same culture so is that kind of the solution, getting them involved in that process?

00;20;49;19 – 00;21;10;17
Absolutely. Absolutely right. So so we were very intentional when when when on ramps did their assessment right, that, you know, talk to some new folks that that have joined the organization in the last few months. Right. See what their onboarding was like. But then also talk to these folks that they have been doing this right. It to your point that have been doing this a long time, like how how did you get onboarded?

00;21;10;17 – 00;21;36;03
And then when when people join your team, how do you onboard that. Right. Like, are we supposed to do that? I didn’t know that was my responsibility. Right? So, so it’s just this all these little moments that like, like, whoa, okay. So again, just reinforces the fact that, yeah, we got to, we got to do this, we got to keep doing it and we got to find those opportunities to then keep it going.

00;21;36;03 – 00;21;41;21
Right. And really, you know, create something that sustainable and viable for everybody.

00;21;41;27 – 00;21;56;13
R.J. I started at Horton so many years ago, almost 25, so I feel like if someone came to me with that question, I would just get super creative because no one could call me like, Well, they took me to the steak dinner. That’s where we start.

00;21;56;15 – 00;22;09;28
My three weeks of onboarding. It was great. I had no response, but I learned about the culture and the organization. I met with everybody. I was wonderful that we’re doing today. Are we still doing it?

00;22;09;28 – 00;22;15;18
I learned one word 25 years ago, unfortunately, words simpler.

00;22;15;20 – 00;22;36;08
I like how you brought up the idea of keeping it going. He also alluded to, you know, everyone the structure is everyone’s on an island and you really want to encourage this idea of like cross-pollination. You said, great, which I like. So with so many there’s so many tools that can be used to help drive employee engagement. Is there anything that you’ve put in place at Oak Leyden that’s been really impactful?

00;22;36;08 – 00;22;37;02

00;22;37;05 – 00;22;47;27
We’re trying. We’re trying time, right. So, so one thing that we’re that we’re instituting, we’re in the early stages of this. We’re using Slack. Are you guys familiar with Slack?

00;22;47;29 – 00;22;49;13
I am familiar with Slack.

00;22;49;13 – 00;23;19;22
So so we’re we’re kind of we’re we’re going all in on Slack, right? So so we’re we’re we’re moving all our tips to the center of the table. We’re like, okay, you know, we got to do this right? And and and it’s it’s truly in its infancy, right? And we’re starting with our leadership team and then and then our management team and we’ve sprinkled that actually our children services team, our Melissa Emet and her therapists, they’re on board like they’re doing it right.

00;23;19;22 – 00;23;40;09
So, they’re our model right now. Like, okay, it can be done right And so so there’s that they’re, you know they’re using different channels to, to share insights to bring questions to the group. They’re storing some some data, some some docs right in the I’m not even going to get the right but it’s you know, it’s in the channel.

00;23;40;09 – 00;23;47;27
But there’s something else that where you store the docs I don’t even know I’m going to get slammed by my own team at the when they listen to this in the slack.

00;23;47;27 – 00;23;49;07
To say it’s like it’s.

00;23;49;09 – 00;24;22;04
It’s slack exactly so yeah so so now the next the bit the next big hurdle is is how do we engage our adult services. Right? So so again, we think that this is really going to be beneficial for especially kind of our vision is when when our participants either come home from the day program or head to the day program in the morning to be able to say and you know, and have a have a channel for you know, for my the folks that I care for.

00;24;22;04 – 00;24;45;22
Right. So you know, you guys are on the channel and hey time Robin, just so you know you know that Betty had a really tough night. Right. Or you know, or Mark was great, but he was a little overstimulated. So just be ready that he may need some quiet time when he gets home today. Right. So we think that that’s really that’s kind of our grail, right?

00;24;45;22 – 00;25;13;26
That that’s where we think the Holy Grail can be. And and we feel really good that that slack can do that. Now, what we have to do is ensure that we’re providing those opportunities for everybody to to use it and to really gain gain everything that can be done through that. And we know it’s going to be a bit of a a bit of a haul to get there.

00;25;13;29 – 00;25;26;02
But we feel really good that that we’re headed in the right direction, like we’ve got our North Star on that. And I think it’s going to be really good once we get there. But it’s going to be it’s going to be choppy until we get there.

00;25;26;07 – 00;25;55;08
Yeah, I think you’re on the right. You’re on the right path because, you know, we we talk with a lot of ADT providers and communication consistently comes up is one of the big hurdles or big issues that can lead to a claim or an incident. And you know one DSP coming in on shift not knowing that someone’s already, you know, disregulated as opposed to knowing that they are I mean, you’re going to treat that situation with a different level of care and concern than you would, you know, if you know versus if you don’t know.

00;25;55;08 – 00;26;14;02
Absolutely. So don’t we want to we want to be fine with our instruments, right? We don’t want to be flying blind. Right. So so you’re spot on time. You get it right. You get it. I think we all get it right. Fundamentally, we all get it. So now now we’re trying to put things in place so that so that it it can actually be operationalized.

00;26;14;02 – 00;26;27;04
Right. That that that we can put the individuals we serve kind of in the center right that and not just kind of hope for the best. Right. As we were talking about. Right. That you know, it’s got to be there’s got to be plan in place and let’s start executing on that.

Key Takeaways

00;26;27;07 – 00;26;48;07
There’s a saying that’s hope is not a strategy. Right. And I think that that we’ve talked a little bit about that today. And I think you were more humble at the beginning of our conversation when you said we’re not even at the starting line. You have given us so many tools and ideas. And I just hope that a lot of organizations that listen to this are encouraged and motivated.

00;26;48;09 – 00;26;59;21
We call this podcast the One Thing podcast. So your final question is what is the one thing you hope others will get from this conversation? Take away or implement?

00;26;59;24 – 00;27;20;10
Wow. Okay. That’s that’s big. Okay. All right. Well, I would I would have to say that truly, you know, regardless of where you are, right, you can always you can always reset. You can always get better at it. Right. And and and I think for for for us, this seemed very overwhelming. I got to be honest with you.

00;27;20;10 – 00;27;48;28
Like we were talking about it for a while, right. As I mentioned, I’ve been in this seat since August of of 2020. Right. And that’s three and a half years. And it took a good, solid two plus years of. We got it. We had to we got to do something. We got to do something right. And and and you know when told kind of the the engagement with on ramps, it didn’t seem like we’re going to be able to get there.

00;27;48;28 – 00;28;13;25
Right. Because I had a lot in my head. Right. Other members of our team had stuff in their head. But to operationalize it and then to execute on it, I don’t know how we’re going to do it, frankly. Right. So so don’t be kind of, you know, be humble enough to know that you can get better. Right. And but then but then if you have to partner with somebody who who does it, who gets it right.

00;28;13;25 – 00;28;31;26
And and we don’t have to recreate everything. And I think that’s where, you know, we live on shoestring budgets and nonprofits. Right? So so we try to make do with with everything. Right. So as we were laughing before, right, we got people spinning multiple plates and just hope that hope we can keep them going so that nothing crashes.

00;28;31;26 – 00;28;50;04
Right. And and and that’s not always the best strategy, right? Like how how is that a good strategy? Right. So so let’s let’s actually invest in in this. If we think it’s important enough, then let’s invest in it. Right? Let’s figure out how we invest in it and then make it happen. Right. And and and get everybody on board.

00;28;50;04 – 00;29;09;24
And I think that for me, that’s that’s the one takeaway of this process is, you know what, we identified something. It was kind of floating out here. The stars are aligned and we’re able to jump on it. And then it’s like, yeah, it was a great reminder like, yes, that this is the way that we need to do this.

00;29;09;25 – 00;29;27;13
We can’t expect I can’t expect that it’s all going to come from me. I can’t expect that it’s all going to reside within our leadership team right. That, that we have to actually bring in experts that do this right. Let’s not, you know, where’s the shame there. Right. But but we always feel in nonprofits that we have to.

00;29;27;18 – 00;29;46;25
No, we we can’t do that, right. We have to do this ourselves. Right. Why do we have to do that? Right it but and trust me, I’ve been I’ve been beholden to that for way too many years. Right. And so this was just a great kind of, you know, it’s that vague moment like, yeah, we can partner with somebody who gets this right.

00;29;46;28 – 00;30;04;03
That’s I think that’s a perfect way to wrap it up. And RJ, thank you for being here. Your energy is infectious. I think my wife was yelling at me that my pulse is too high and I need to take a moment, but I feel like I’m ready to run through a wall. Thank you enough for being here and giving us a bit of your time and your insights.

00;30;04;03 – 00;30;05;07
So, thank you so much.

00;30;05;13 – 00;30;25;04
My gosh. Great. Great to hear the opportunity. Tom and Robin, really, really grateful. We love our partnership with Horton, Right. And it’s not it’s not a vendor relationship, right? It truly is a partnership. And that’s what we’re grateful for. And and this is just another example of of of why we why we love. And so so thanks for the opportunity.

00;30;25;07 – 00;30;30;12
I’m really grateful for for a chance to shine a light on Oak Leyden and the good things that are happening here.

00;30;30;15 – 00;30;33;22
You put it perfectly. Thank you so much. Can’t say thank you enough for that.

00;30;33;22 – 00;30;35;00
Appreciate it. Take care.


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