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Making The Most Of Your Skills

by Mentors to Executives Worldwide
May 26th 2021
Fulyana continues her “interview” with Kim, this week covering how and why you should talk about the skills you have that may not yet be utilised by an organisation, whether this is a volu... More
Okay, welcome back I'm Kim Baillie she's Fulyana Orsborn and this is Inside Exec. Today we're continuing Fulyana's discussion with me about administration of organizations and volunteering and we're going to cover today, how you put your hand up, how you volunteer to say you've got skills that this organization needs, whether it's a volunteer organization or in your own working career and also about the importance of feedback, again regardless of where you are. So to be in that environment as a volunteer and to be as good as you are at it and contributing so much must take a lot of passion and commitment and enjoyment. Tell us a bit about what makes you so into it. The start for me was that I attended a meeting that was just a general meeting of the local association, the New South Wales association and in it they were going through their business as they do.

And they got to the point of the newsletter. The woman I was sitting beside almost under her breath said, I don't know how we're going to get this done unless we pay someone to do it. I didn't know, at this stage, whether anyone else in the group had the skills to be able to put a newsletter together. It was a printed newsletter in those days. It was about desktop publishing basically. Almost without thinking, really without thinking now that I I do think about it, I said I can do that. The sense of relief that they could hand over that task to someone who knew what they were doing was palpable. And for my part, I wanted to give back to this organization that had welcomed me with open arms, was sharing about helping me learn what I was doing. And I felt that this was a skill that I could contribute. But part of me feeling comfortable about taking on all of the things that they were sharing with me was that I could give something back. I couldn't give back in terms of what they were doing with floral design at that point because I was only learning.

I couldn't give back in any other way that I could see other than with a skill that I already had that they desperately needed. So that was my turning point of saying, I have this skill, I can help you. And from there, it's sort of general osmosis was they would come and say, oh we need to do this technical thing online. You know, it's 2013. So it was very early days for them to add a website. They had a web presence, but it was very agricultural, shall we say? Yes. It's another area where I have skills. So I said, well I'll have a look at it. I'll see what I can do to make it a bit more interesting and usable. And as the years have progressed that's been their opportunity for anything technology related that they wanted to introduce always fell into my basket because I would have a better understanding of it. They assumed because that they they saw that was what I was doing all the time. And at one point I said to them, you know, my corporate career really was about public speaking.

Yeah. Revelation. We never thought of that, you do all this technology stuff. That must have been what you've always done. There's another podcast we've done that talks about bragging about your successes - because I'd never mentioned these things because it just didn't occur to me to say anything until the opportunity arose. They had no idea and they can't know by osmosis, what you used to do because you don't talk about it or when you were together, all you talk about is floral art and floral design and this structure or this technique, you don't talk about what else you used to be doing or what you've got to do next week. You know, they wouldn't know that I do a podcast, that I do any of the other things that I do, because that's not what we talk about. So I talked about the public speaking and from that they thought about how they train judges and how they train demonstrators. And so there's a section now that I present that talks about how you need to do it. But from that and particularly from the doing the demonstrator side of things, an idea came back to me.

What I realized was that there was no one in this space, floral art, that was showing floral demonstrators, the people who do the big displays, big shows, no one showing them how to present, how, in terms of public speaking, public presentations, there was no one showing them, helping them or coaching them in how to do it. It was all about, they're up there, they're really good at floral design. If they can't tell what I'm doing it doesn't matter because all we came to see was how they do this design. That's not very good for them or for the people attending. So out of that volunteering came an idea for me that is another business, entirely quite separate business, that is coaching floral demonstrators in public presentations. Because across the world they needed a whole host of people who demonstrate in english for whom english is not their first language and even those for whom it is, their first language, are far more interested in the design and they go into constructing mode and they'll put the design together and forget that they've got an audience out there that they've got to talk to and show what they're doing.

And it is very hard to do something that is physically demanding in terms of constructing something and talk about it at the same time to a group of people who might ask you questions and then you lose your place of where you are in putting this thing together. So no different to any other technical demonstration. But there was no one who understood the floral art side of it as well as the public speaking side. But in terms of me putting my hand up and offering a skill, I actually got double back, got the idea for this other business. This is excellent example. I mean everything that you said so far is so relevant, no matter what the organization you work with or what passion you have or what job you're in. We have learned so much from that. I'm still not done with you yet, sorry. So I know that from contributing to all these things, from administration to bringing new ideas to designing to doing worldwide, you've also been a judge on those things.

I'd like you to tell us a bit about the judging and then if you can please at least end up with your most recent experience of after the easter show you went to Narrabri. On the judging side of things, very early on I was keen to do absolutely everything involved in floral art. I just wanted to be part of it all. That was a mistake and I will say it quite clearly, I threw myself into things. I put my hand up for things that I clearly wasn't, in floral terms, ready for and that was purely because I was excited. It was enthusiasm and it bubbled over into yes, I want to be part of it all. That was very poorly managed by the organization, I will have to say. And that was a huge lesson to me in terms of managing people who come in with excitement and enthusiasm and want to be part of everything, want to do things that are clearly beyond their skill set at the moment, but you don't want to lose them from the organization.

There was a point where very early on I could have walked from the organization because of the way it was handled. I applied to be a judge and they have a judge's training course. I can look back in hindsight and say I was clearly not ready. There was this dilemma for the person managing it. She wanted me to be a part of everything, she knew I wasn't ready. She didn't know how to handle it. She kept apologizing all the time. But what I found out later was that it wasn't her decision, it was a committee decision. People who actually voiced their disapproval or their concern didn't say a word to me ever. I've worked with them a lot to this day and I find that disappointing that if you are prepared in a committee meeting to express an opinion about someone's skills, then you should be able to say that to them later on because either you feel that way or you don't. If you feel that way, you have to be prepared for their reaction or you have to measure it and communicate in terms that they will understand and yes, I was disappointed at the time, but I was more disappointed that they didn't speak to me about it than the decision that they made. It's communication, that interaction and I felt like I had done things for them and that we had good communication, that we had good understanding but they obviously felt that they couldn't face me with this negative information.

That's a management lesson that we all need to learn. It's the communication and the communication breakdown that will cause you issues long term. So I didn't do the general judging course that's done. But what I've learned over the years, it's like we have this recognition of prior learning. So this is all my prior learning having been such an intense competitor over a range of competitions that are judged on similar but different rulings. I have a really good idea from a competitive point of view about how something should be judged in terms of the rules and the regulations and the judging criteria. In some competitions we get feedback and in others we don't. So I knew all along that the feedback after a competition was the thing that helped me to grow, helped me to learn and so I was very keen for that always to be part of any judging that I did. The judging I do locally if I talk about New South Wales and it's much the same across the country, is for regional agricultural shows and other garden club shows, flower shows.

Generally they can choose how their competition is judged so they can choose a judge. If they choose to judge it under strict association regulations, then they need, they should have, they don't need, they should have a qualified New South Wales judge or Australian judge. But if they and many of the regional and agricultural shows are like this, they just want someone who's got a bit of experience who their membership appreciates and recognizes, to come in and talk to them about what they're doing. Then they can have any one judge and so on that basis I decided that I wouldn't become, I made a very conscious decision, that I wouldn't become a qualified Australian judge, a floral association rules judge because I didn't want to be constrained by their activities, their interpretation, their very harsh rules about how you interpret a design. I really wanted to judge on the basis of effort.

So I will say I know you love this, I want you to, I want to encourage you to keep doing it and here are some things that I think you should think about to improve what you're presenting in terms of the judging because I will still judge on the basis of design principles and design elements. That goes across any kind of design is not about art, it's not about flowers, it's about any kind of design. It's all about is the scale right? Is the proportion right? Is there a dominant line? Is the color harmonious? And then there's an element that is about floral design that is about creativity and there's one about the interpretation of the class title. So those two things are probably outside of the standard principles and elements of design. Most recently, as Fulyana said, I did the Narrabri agricultural show which was a real blast, a wonderful, wonderful weekend. 140 entries across an age range from under five to over 100's.

So huge interest in it. And I made a point of giving every competitor, every design, some written feedback on the design. So that they had something for when they looked at their design, they could look at what my reaction was and what I suggested, they might like to try to alleviate some of the pressure or aggravation that I might see. Any design that didn't really match the class title and sometimes it's just about height, about the placements, sometimes as simple as how they put it on the show bench, sometimes at an angle is better than flat facing, but our tendency is always to put it front facing because it's a competition. It should be in this spot, down to things like the color choices, the color combinations, the suggestion about actually walking away from a design and coming back to look, close your eyes, open your eyes again. What's the first thing you see because that's the first thing the judge will see not what you've been working on or not what you had, it's spaces in the design because our eyes fill in the space because that's where we think the things should be.

So it's simple stuff. It was so appreciated. I think every day there were people coming up to me saying how much they appreciated the feedback. But my contention is that we should always be doing it because that is the only way we learn and in the workplace, if we don't give people feedback in the workplace, how can they know how good they are or how or where they can improve? And it's not just about saying you didn't do that right. It's about, next time how about trying it this way. Yes. Look at how this works. And that's been my underlying practice across the board. So if it's the fact that I'm doing the administration side of things and they've always put the competitors for a competition together in an Excel spreadsheet that one person looks at, I'll say, can we try putting it on air table so everyone can see it? So it's not just one person's responsibility and it doesn't matter if one machine breaks down, that it's stored in the cloud so everyone can see it, everyone can access it. don't have to do anything with it.

But if you're comfortable doing something with it, then you can and everyone knows what's happening. That feedback side of things, I think is the most important part of the competition side of things. For me, I love the planning beforehand. It's almost like any activities. So if I had a big party, I'd love the planning. Yeah, on the day,, that's going to happen. That's over. But I love the planning. I love the preparation. I love the thinking that happens beforehand. That's the creative process. The actual staging of the design is construction and structural and it's frustrating and I have on occasion walked away from a design and called it particular name that has become historically significant in the annals of the others that compete with me. And so it becomes, that's what you call something that isn't working and you walk away from it. The first time I did it, the other competitors around me, I don't think they've ever seen me lose my temper. They were struck dumb, literally just stood there looking at me and then were worried, can we do this?

Can we help you? Can we, can we fix this here? What is it? What's the matter? And I said, no, I said, I'm leaving it. It's just not going to work for me. I'm going, I'm done, I've had it. It's a good one, you know, that point. Kim, congratulations on all your achievements in that domain. I think it's quite impressive. I didn't make it clear at the beginning, but I had lots of our listeners asking me to do this. So I'm not copping out of making you do it. But they were interested because they heard bits and pieces about it over time. There's so much learning in what you just imparted to us. And I think that will apply in a workplace or anywhere else. So, thank you for that. And for those who are interested in that world, I'm sure that would have given them, I suppose more insight to help them come to join. So, I heard a lot about your journeys, how you got there because you had the interest,

how you learned as you went, how you gave back a lot as you went, how you recognized the opportunities and created them with the public speaking, how you brought the place into more technical world and using the technology to help, how much emphasis you put on helping people and helping each other and their feedback and all of that. All of those are fantastic learnings and examples we have to share and impart knowledge and to make places nice to be part of our organizations. If you're passionate about something, how far do you go? Getting up at 10:30 PM, not sleeping. I could never do that so good on you. Is there anything on that score that you'd like to say that we didn't cover? I think that what I brought to the organization, these organizations, these volunteer organizations was my work ethic, my experience in management, my experience in the workplace and I just over laid that into the organization where I was.

So I think that we all have skills that we take for granted when we're working, that another organization, whether it's another commercial organization or not, desperately needs. When you see an opportunity put your hand up. I think that's the message, offer your services. Yes. It makes you a little bit vulnerable because they might say, no, we don't want that. No, we're not interested in that. Or they might do the long no and say, can we talk about it next time? Can we think about this? Can we find out about that? It doesn't matter what their reaction is. If you believe that you've got the skills that will help them, put your hand up. Yeah. They will never know otherwise. Very true people. Now for something I've always wanted to do. Thanks again, Kim really appreciated. I think we covered that very, very well. For now, I'm Fulyana Orsborn, she was Kim Baillie and this is Inside Exec. I've been wanting to do this for six years, six years. So she's done it now. You won't do it ever again.

But it will be immortalized. What I will do is put the links to some of my other websites so that if you're interested in following through and seeing some of the designs and and seeing how they're constructed and the trials and tribulations of floral art in all its ways, those links will be there as well. But for now, thank you. Go ahead. Now, proper sign off for you, for now she's Fulyana Orsborn, I'm Kim Baillie, this is Inside Exec.

Making The Most Of Your Skills
Making The Most Of Your Skills
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