May 2019 Issue
Women in Leadership and Management in Animal Health

Changes are Coming!

We are continuously seeking to improve the value our members receive from WILMAH while remaining true to the four pillars that WILMAH was founded on.

  • Establish paths to help, encourage and inspire each other in our current, developing and evolving roles
  • Identify and overcome common challenges and barriers to success
  • Provide resources, events and mentorship opportunities for women to enhance and improve our career possibilities
  • Provide advocacy, action and enrichment for women in animal health

As such, we will be transitioning many components of the WILMAH experience to a members only platform starting July 1st. We wanted to give you advanced notice so that you could become a member either by joining as an individual or having your company become a corporate sponsor. In June we plan to launch our updated website so check back for our new look. We are also hoping to launch a mentorship program in the coming months. In addition, we will share more webinars and we're in the early planning stages of our first annual retreat! We don't want you to miss out on any of the great activities to come this year so take a few minutes and sign up today!

Meet Your Board

Hi!  My name is Heather Fox and I am a board member of WILMAH as well as Vice President of Industry Solutions for LifeLearn, Inc.  LifeLearn is a Canadian-based company, but I am a proud Clevelander. Believe it or not, there a many of us out there loud and proud! (Well, we did have a river catch fire many years ago, and yes, we did have a nickname:  "Mistake on the Lake"….but no longer!)
Heck, our Cleveland Browns finally won a few games last year so we are on an upswing!   Not only am I proud of where I was born and raised, I am also proud to be part of the veterinary industry for the past 15+ years.

My father, Charlie Fox, the lovely guy in the picture, was my first mentor.  My first job at the age of nine was a paper route that I managed with my brother. My job was to roll and deliver the papers as well as manage the collections. That meant going door to door (oh, did I mention I grew up in Cleveland…so think SNOW…lots of SNOW) no matter the weather to collect money. The challenge was that in the past, the paper was free so when my brother managed the collections, only a few households would ever pay up. My first pep talk came from my Dad.  He said, “Heather, do not take NO for an answer. A no from a customer, is just an opportunity to keep the conversation going.” I thought he was nuts, but I was a good Catholic girl, so I did what I was told. He told me to ask questions, listen carefully, always be interested and remember each customer. The good news is that when my Dad and I counted my first month of collections, I got a raise and my brother was out of a job!

Ask Questions, Listen, Always be Interested and Remember the Details…that is something I never forgot and that truly set the stage for my professional career. When people ask me, "What makes you successful?" or "How can I advance my career?" I always go back to those immortal words and I also tell them to be their authentic selves. This one may sound simple but, look at someone when you are speaking. Eye contact is important and should never be underestimated. Sadly, the art of good conversation as well as polite and respectful debate is becoming a lost art in the age of social media.

Volunteerism and mentorship have been important parts of my life.  As a Girl Scout and Girl Scout counselor, I knew that mentoring women to be successful future leaders was my mission in life. When asked to be a board member of WILMAH, I was beyond ecstatic. Not only have I have been a proud member of the animal health industry for many years, I have enjoyed being a mentor to some incredible and now wildly successful women and men over the years. (Okay, I can’t take all of the credit - they were pretty amazing from the start!) WILMAH will be launching a mentorship program over the next few months and I look forward to meeting new people and learning from other mentors and mentees. We can all be growing together on this crazy journey we call life. Oh, and you can bet your sweet bippy we will be having some fun along the way!! That was also an important lesson from Charlie Fox…he said to be kind and respectful and laugh out loud. Life is too short, enjoy the ride!
Happy Mother's Day!
We hope all of you had the opportunity to celebrate this special holiday with family and friends. A few of our members shared their pictures.
Top Left: Leslee with twin boys Ethan & Lukas and daughter Hayden. Top Right: Chrissy and her mom Lynn. Middle: Sisters (left to right) Anne, Jennifer & Stephanie with their mom Patsey. Bottom Left: Jenny and her boys Adam (4) & Miles (3). Bottom Right: Kelly with son Wesley and daughter Kathryn (who will become a mom in July. The baby is lovingly called Pistachio as that was the size when she found out she was pregnant!)
Mastering Mentoring with Debra Benton
We hosted Debra at the annual UVSA (previously AVDA) conference last month in Nashville. Debra Benton is a distinguished authority on leadership mentoring with over thirty years of experience as one of the nation's top C-suite coaches.
Debra approached mentoring by teaching us how to get the most out of our interactions with others. Her presentation was both informative and engaging as she has an easygoing style and great sense of humor. She began by talking about how we can control our effect on others through how we think, act and interact. She encouraged us to both expect acceptance and give acceptance. When we meet someone, we should perceive ourselves as on the same level with that person as opposed to inferior or superior. Debra went on discuss the importance of facial expression and posture. She helped us learn to soften the often hard line of our mouths by saying "cheese whiz" and encouraged us to modulate our tone as if we were asking someone to "pass the salt". She further explained that it's important to sit up straight and maintain a level head rather than tilting it to the side. Finally, Debra talked about the importance of asking questions. She taught that you should always ask three questions to clarify a concept and respond to someone you're interacting with.
Debra went on to outline the Four Steps to Sales Success since nearly every interaction is a "sale" of some sort.
1. Ask questions about what the other person wants to achieve, maintain and avoid.
2. Ask who, what, why, when and how.
3. Determine what resources are available to execute the desired transaction.
4. Highlight what you have to offer by shaping your presentation to include their answers to the questions you asked previously.
She reminded us to have a good sense of humor, to listen, to show our humanness and to use appropriate touch to connect with someone we're engaged with. She further explained that when you're working with a mentor and asking questions, you should already have an answer in mind before you ask your question. "I've thought of this but I'd love your opinion" for example. This give and take helps maintain the balance in a relationship.  It's important to " ask for favors" rather than always being the person to give, give, give. 
Finally, Debra challenged us to do things differently than others, without being weird. For example, she suggested a slow head nod rather than the typical up and down bobbing we usually do when we're agreeing with someone. She shared examples about opportunities she's had to engage with influential people because she acted differently by doing something such as saying hello in an elevator rather than staring at the walls without eye contact like we typically do. She encouraged us to make one sincere contact a day, five days a week to someone outside of our industry.

New member Ashley Pochick shared, "Debra Benton’s presentation for WILMAH was refreshing and inspiring. Her ability to look at normal day to day activities and create new thoughts and actions allowed for a new perspective to be discovered. Her enthusiastic approach delivered relevant and pertinent information that was easy to understand and put into action. Within hours of her presentation I  created and ordered unique one-sided note cards to use for networking and have begun utilizing them in my daily interactions.  Thank you WILMAH for finding such a dynamic and valuable speaker!"

To learn more about Debra visit or pick up one of her many books including Secrets of a CEO Coach: Your Personal Training Guide to Thinking Like a Leader and Acting Like a CEO.

WILMAH Board Members who attended our UVSA event (Left to Right): Julia Lowe, Lesli Stasiek, speaker Debra Benton, Betsy Watkins and Meggan Harris.
Article Review - We Have To Talk:
A Step by Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations
After reading this article, WILMAH Membership Chair Heidi Madsen shared her thoughts. Over the past twenty years I have had many difficult conversations in my career. Whether it be a performance review (my own or for an employee), the unrealistic expectations of a customer, or a team member not pulling their weight, these conversations can be trying to say the least. I used to get nervous in these situations, but have since learned a few tricks to help me navigate them more effectively.
Judith Ringer's article titled, We Have to Talk: A Step by Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations addresses these very situations. Not only is her checklist effective in a variety of conversations, but it teaches us the most important lesson of all: the importance of removing the emotion from the conversation. Judith states that "the majority of the work in any conflict conversation is work you do on yourself. No matter how well the conversation begins, you’ll need to stay in charge of yourself, your purpose and your emotional energy." I have learned to take the emotion out, take a deep breath, and state the facts. 
Another aspect I appreciate in this article is the inquiry checklist. Checking-in with the person you are engaging with allows the other party to explain their side with no interruptions. It also allows you to seek to understand before diving in. A colleague and I were recently baffled by a strategy that was being implemented unbeknownst to us, so I suggested she approach the conversation in this matter.  Leveraging this "help me understand" approach helped her gain insight to the other side of the decision making process, before jumping to her own conclusions or diving into a difficult conversation without knowing all of the details.
I would be remiss if I didn't cite one more favorite in this tricky area of conversations. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown addresses the topic referred to as "rumbling". (Thanks Jody Greene for the recommendation!)  Her guidance is not to argue your point every time, or get into a fight, but rather to “rumble”, because rumbling allows both parties to mutually work through difficult conversations and grow together. As Brene Brown states, "a rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean in to vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, and to be fearless in owning our parts". (See Brene's Rumble Language toolbox below).
Ultimately, difficult conversations help us grow and learn. Instead of shying from them, we should prepare for them, seeking to understand, remove the emotion and organize our discussions with check lists that can help drive successful outcomes.
Thank You To Our In Kind Sponsor
   Our in kind sponsors help us provide content for our members. The team at LifeLearn hosts webinars for us and has led the redesign of our website. We genuinely appreciate them and hope you'll help us share our thanks!
   Founded in 1994, LifeLearn's original focus was on providing continuing education for veterinarians. Based in Guelph, LifeLearn has expanded their services to include marketing, client communication and technology that optimizes business practices. Their mission is to "help companies and organizations thrive with customizable online solutions".
   Take a few minutes to learn more about LifeLearn and their core values of lifelong learning, diversity and discovery to name a few.
As an In Kind Sponsor LifeLearn enjoys many benefits including 25 complimentary memberships, recognition as a sponsor at our events and during our webinars and much more. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor email us.
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