As everyone now knows, there will be a new addition to the Comp Laude Awards in Burbank this November. The program is less than thirty days away. A fantastic committee of workers' compensation professionals has dedicated significant time to the new People's Choice Award portion of the program. They deserve recognition.
The Sponsor of the People's Choice program is Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novel and Jiminez. Partner Jeffrey Adelson served on the committee and will moderate this program in November; his leadership and commitment are unparalleled.
A brainstorm of WorkCompCentral founder David DePaolo, the People's Choice program will feature short "TED Talk" presentations of an inspirational or motivational nature. David conceived it, and an amazing group of people has succeeded in bringing it to you in 2016.
The leadership of Yvonne Guibert, WorkCompCentral, was the force behind bringing this program to fruition in 2016. Her focus and determination regarding this project were indispensable. Steve Cattolica is Legislative Advocate with AdvoCal. He brought many thoughtful contributions to the planning of this event. The speaker/presentation selection panel was all-star. It included: Richard Victor, formerly of WCRI and currently Senior Fellow of the Sedgwick Institute; Becky Curtis, an amazing example of fortitude and focus, she is founder of Take Courage Coaching and an all-around amazing person (and Comp Laude award-winner); Catherine Bennett is an the Director of Public Relations at Sedgwick Claims Management, and has a broad and deep understanding of this industry and the people in it. A truly amazing group that rapidly and efficiently brought organization, focus and determination to fulfilling this dream of David's. I am both proud and humbled to be associated with each of them.
Each speaker was selected from a group of submitted proposals. The speeches in November will be brief (7 minutes), but the speaker's proposal had to be even more abbreviated. Each made a pitch in 250 words or less, and they were all fantastic. Unfortunately, time is limited and we had to pick the seven that we believed were the most inspirational and motivational. I will not recite the 250 word synopsis of each. What I will do is provide you a brief overview.
One will be about a lady attending a holiday party in San Bernandino last year. In the midst of a celebratory day, at which she was to receive an employee-of-the-month award, Julie was shot by terrorists. The national news story is well-known and disturbing on many levels. But this presentation will introduce you to an "optimist, cracking jokes with her husband and 3 children while she learns how to both navigate the workers’ compensation system, and learns to walk again." Despite her significant trauma, and the long rehabilitation she faces, her story is one of hope, commitment, and perseverance.
Another will bring lessons from Rwanda. This will teach the value of empathy, which is so important in workers' compensation. Building on a humanitarian trip to Rwanda, and exposure to results of tragedy, genocide, and violence, this presentation will focus on the resilience of Rwandans. The speaker describes them as "the kindest and gentlest people I have met." They exhibit a sense of community, kindness and empathy from which any organization could benefit. The Rwandan philosophy of Umuganda or “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome” will be the focus.
One speaker will remind attendees that "words matter." This focus on the purpose of workers' compensation will illuminate the needs of injured workers, and the losses suffered. It will be a reminder of the bigger picture, beyond the medical care and indemnity. The effects of injury are broader than are perhaps acknowledged in our day-to-day. The speaker will focus listeners on the losses of "financial security, identity, confidence, and health." The theme is practical advice on communicating with injured employees, "demonstrating empathy, eliminating cynicism, active listening, and changing our lexicon."
Yet another will focus on the "lousy job" that is done in conveying and sharing the many good things done by workers' compensation professionals and the industry. The public image of Comp is tarnished by the few and the poor examples and outliers that make the news. But this speaker will focus on the "diligence and hard work of front-line claims handlers, case managers, medical providers and other staff working to deliver great medical care to work comp patients and get them back to work." A passionate reflection on all the good that is accomplished day after day, week after week by many thousands of people whose story just does not get told often or forcefully enough.
A speaker will focus on the talent shortage that workers' compensation faces. The theme of this is an "advocacy principle—an injured worker–centric approach" to managing recovery. This is potentially successful, according to the speaker, if this industry enhances its "talent pool by mining groups that typically have been underrepresented." Examples cited will include "people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, senior workers, retirees, and recent graduates." The speaker advocates embracing the "unique talents and experiences each individual brings to the whole of an organization," and the overall strength that such diversity might foster.
Another speaker will describe the effects of catastrophic injury, and learning "to walk all over again." Having suffered two traumatic injuries, having lost both legs, having endured through the recovery and rehabilitation, this speaker will bring a positive attitude and motivational message. He "decided to make something out of what happened" to him. And he has become an artist, innovator, and motivator. He will speak on overcoming adversity, celebrating life, and perseverance. His theme is to "live life to the fullest and Walk with Soule!"
A speaker will present on developing a culture of caring and compassion. His theme is the methodology of story telling for understanding the challenges of workers' compensation specifically and corporate culture generally. He describes stories as a method of remembering and understanding situations, events, success and failure. The message of caring and compassion is woven through specific examples of highlighting positives and social purpose. With humor, insight, and passion, the speaker will bring a message of changing perceptions. challenging the status quo, and championing a cause.
I know, you are probably thinking a couple of things by this point. First, who are these speakers? I will leave revealling identities to Yvonne and the WorkCompCentral team. Watch their website for details. Second, perhaps you are lamenting that you cannot make Burbank this November. That thought has crossed my mind as well. I am sorry to be missing this parade of positivism and motivation. I am hopeful that these extraordinary presentations will find their way to the Internet for those of us who cannot make the trip. Finally, you may be thinking "this is right up my alley." Sorry, the stage is now set for 2016. That does not mean you cannot present, but start now planning for your People's Choice 2017 proposal!
Thanks again to a phenomenally talented and dedicated committee, without whom there simply would not have been a 2016 People's Choice. I am certain that David is so proud of each of you! You each inspire me - Thank You!