Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Leadership Lessons: An Interview with Rebekah Sweeney, Senior Director, Policy & Programs

November 26, 2023 Rebekah Sweeney Episode 126
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Leadership Lessons: An Interview with Rebekah Sweeney, Senior Director, Policy & Programs
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever pondered the qualities of an effective leader and the difference they can make? This episode brings you insights straight from the heart of Rebekah Sweeney, Senior Director of Programs and Policy at the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Rebekah, with her background in news and politics, unveils her unique leadership journey and shares some indispensable lessons. She discusses the power of problem-solving over arguing, and the lasting influence of working for a mentor that you respect and admire. 

A crucial part of leadership that often goes unnoticed is the importance of authenticity and purpose. Rebekah shares her personal experiences, underscoring the significance of positivity, transparency, and self-awareness in the workspace. Hear how the joy of serving others and celebrating their victories, can instill a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your career. 

With a focus on her  intended legacy at the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and in life, we explore the pivotal role of caring and supporting her team and Association members in achieving this vision. This enriching conversation sheds light on working relationships, daily support, and the legacy we craft every day. Prepare to be inspired and empowered!

Find Rebekah here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebekah-sweeney-0b485125/
And WCMA education: https://www.wischeesemakersassn.org/trainings

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Cyndi:

Welcome to the Intentional Leaders podcast. We are an episode 126. This is a lessons learned interview with Rebekah Sweeney, from Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Welcome to Intentional Leaders. This podcast is not just for leaders, rather for anyone who wants to make an impact on the world, professionally or personally. My passion and purpose is to provide tips, tools and resources that I've learned throughout my career working with large and small organizations, profit and non, and also as an entrepreneur. I've had the joy to teach thousands of individuals who, like you, are trying to navigate this crazy and complex world. So here's to doing that successfully and intentionally. Today, I am thrilled to introduce and welcome to my podcast Rebekah Sweeney. She is the Senior Director of Programs and Policy at Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Welcome, Rebekah. Oh, it's such a joy to be with you Cyndi, thank you for having me. I'm thrilled and I mentioned before we started recording that I was a little nervous about interviewing you, because I feel like we have a lovely partnership, we have a friendship and I was a little bit anxious about asking you to be on the podcast and I'm thrilled that you said yes.

Rebekah:

Oh, Cyndi, it's like having a cup of coffee with a really good friend. I appreciate that you asked me on and I'm really excited to talk a little bit more about kind of the leadership journey that I've been on.

Cyndi:

Yeah, and what's so exciting is I get to learn about your leadership journey, because when you and I work together with Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, we're focused on leadership, training and providing education to your members or doing planning or whatever it might be, and I don't really get a chance to understand your story. And so this is a chance for me to learn what shaped who you are today, because I absolutely adore you and how you show up as a leader today, and so I want to know, like, how did you get here?

Rebekah:

Well, as you know, I'm an open book so let's get to it.

Cyndi:

You started your career in politics and what I find so fascinating about that is many people find that a very challenging space because of how complex it is, the people dynamic, full of controversy and, frankly, political landmines. When you think about that, from working in the political arena to where you are today, what were some of your biggest lessons of navigating in politics?

Rebekah:

Well, I've always been drawn to it, but a stint in politics wasn't actually my initial plan. Okay, all through college and into my young adulthood I worked in news at a small market television station in Western Wisconsin. You know talk about the car accident of the day or kids reading to dogs at the local library and some important things too, but it's the gamut in local news.

Cyndi:

Yeah.

Rebekah:

At that point in my life I did not have a five or 10 year plan, I had a whole career game plan. Oh, I thought I knew exactly where I was going. I had identified target television markets that I was going to jump to after a couple of years here, I'd go here, and then I'd go here, and so by the time I was 40, which is what I am right now I would be a foreign correspondent and I would be reporting on history as it happened. So that was the plan, wow so. But life throws you curveballs, and in my case it was happily in the form of the love of my life. And my husband and I started dating just before we graduated from college and he ended up then running a congressional campaign. So when we married, which was fairly quickly thereafter, I was doing a lot of political reporting and ultimately felt like I had this conflict of interest. So I decided to get into politics. To very earnest right, I can't. Oh, I could. How could I ever have a husband at home working in politics and I'm reporting on it? Oh, so I got a job, a freshman legislative aid to a freshman lawmaker in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and I really shouldn't have gotten the job because it should have gone to somebody who had been working on a campaign. But the person who became my boss had interviewed a lot of people and none of them was the right fit. And when we met, we just immediately gel and I ended up working for him seven of the nine years I spent in the Capitol, and you know, for him, working in politics was a real shift. He had worked in union labor circles and he made cars for a living, he had assembled vehicles and was the first time he had worn a suit was when he went to work in the Capitol. So this is a very big shift, and it was a shift for me too, because I had not worked in politics, I had not run campaigns, and so we learned a lot together, and I think going in without a whole lot of preconceived notions about what it was going to be like was helpful. You could really see the lay of the land, and the thing that I learned in that time, those nine years, is that arguing is so easy. It is so easy to engage in conflict, to offer counter positions, yes, but solving problems is hard, and solving a problem requires vision, it requires determination, collaboration and, I think, most of the time, a pretty healthy dose of humility, and I watched a lot of people all of them all of the members of the Assembly, the Senate, the Governor all of them could individually be called leaders, but I watched many of them in that time struggle with a deficit in one of those categories and ultimately find themselves very unsuccessful in their efforts. The people who could get things done really worked hard at building bridges and being honest, and they also had to start off with a really good idea. They were smart to begin with, naturally, and then hard working and kind and generous with others when they were successful. The other thing that I learned, which is not maybe intrinsic to politics, is don't take a big, fancy, important job for the title.

Cyndi:

Okay.

Rebekah:

Make sure that when you are dedicating a lot of the time of your daily life to a job, that it's for someone that you respect and somebody that you believe in, or a cause that you believe in or a task that you find purpose in. Because if you just take a job because you think it'll look good on a resume or you think people will be impressed with it, you can find yourself really sorely disappointed. The two years that I didn't work for that gem of a human in the Capitol, I worked for a guy that I couldn't fully respect and that was a real learning for me. I took a job as a press secretary because I thought well, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Cyndi:

You're kind of moving towards that foreign correspondent kind of thing.

Rebekah:

Oh, yes, right, I mean it sounded pretty good and the reality was we didn't mesh, our values didn't mesh and the way that we operate in the world didn't mesh, and so it was a daily conflict for me, like a moral conflict for me, and that's very, very stressful. So what I always encourage young people working in politics is to pick the people or the causes that you work for based on how they align with your own sense of value and what you want to achieve in your working life. Don't pick it because it looks good on a resume. It doesn't always work out. So I guess those are the two things. Really, solving problems are hard. You really have to bend over backwards to help other people in order to be successful in your own goals and to be thoughtful about the choices that you make and who and what you work for.

Cyndi:

Yeah, what wonderful life lessons. And one thing that I'm very intrigued with is how your history has shaped how you show up today as a leader, and I think that's interesting and helpful for me to understand, because you are very purpose-driven and some people are and some people are not, and some people it becomes what you're shaped to believe in, because you've had experiences where there's a disconnect between your purpose and your values and then you feel that and realize how important that is to you and it sounds like that was part of your journey is to realize the importance of that, because you very much show up that way today, from my perspective, all the time.

Rebekah:

Certainly, although, thank you, that's such a compliment, but I think that it wasn't always like that. To be honest with you, I think that when I first started working my career, I was really driven by other people's praise by money, for sure, because I didn't have any at the time and I needed to pay my bills but also external validation. I wanted other people to think I was really good at something. I wanted other people to think that I was the best they could get, and sometimes to my own detriment. I would sacrifice my own personal time and happiness to try to get others to think I was a tippy top. And as time has gone on and I have learned through a couple of additional decades of working and have had my basic needs met I have enough money to make them mortgage. Those sort of basic needs are met. I care less and less about external validation and more and more about how I'm making a positive difference in the world. I think that that was always buried in there for me, but it really. It took a little bit of time to get to a place where I realized that the thing that I enjoy most about working is serving someone else in a way that makes their life better.

Cyndi:

Yeah.

Rebekah:

And then the best days that I have at work are when I've solved the problem for somebody else or when they've achieved some level of success that I've been able to support in some small way.

Cyndi:

Yeah, absolutely. It's such a beautiful mindset and a beautiful way to frame the impact that you want to make and, frankly, the impact you are making, because when I met you, it was in the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and you and I have worked together now for I don't know how many years.

Rebekah:

But five or six, right. You've trained about 1,000 people in our industry now. You've made such an incredible impact. We're so fortunate to have your energy and skill and expertise You're like an extension of the staff in a way that makes us so much stronger.

Cyndi:

Well and I appreciate it and I'm grateful and honored to be a part of your team Because, as I look at you and the rest of the people within WCMA in this role, you provide support, you provide advocacy, you provide education, communication, but also you provide tons of energy yourself Between you and Sarah. You kick off, you close every training session we have and your messages are so purposeful and inspiring. And when you think about that because you are a problem solver and when you think of all the challenges in the industry that you're working in, how do you get that energy? How do you get the energy to show up that purposefully all the time? I was trying to think back like, out of the years we've worked together, have I ever seen you not be calm and composed and in that way? And I couldn't think of one.

Rebekah:

Well, well, it happens. I mean. It's a real compliment. I appreciate it, but the reality is I'm not the energizer bunny, nor am I in a good mood, great mood every day, all day. I think what's true is absent, sort of a mental health issue, a medical issue, how we present ourselves to the world is a choice, and the choice that we make impacts our daily outcomes and our long-term impact. And what I've found is that when I meet people with a sense of humor, a sense of genuine and active interest in what they have to say and an appreciation for what they do, I get better daily outcomes and more desirable long-term impact. So I try to be deliberate each day about showing up with a little jump in my step. For your younger listeners. There's a little snippet of video that I don't know. It's popular in TikTok, some social media right, and it's of a reporter talking with Rihanna, like the pop music R&B, and the reporter says you know, what do you do on those days that you don't feel powerful, that you don't feel like beautiful, your best self, and she says we'll fake it. What's the alternative? You know cry?, who wants to do that. That resonates with me. I think about that more often than I can tell you, and so some of it is about a choice. I'm not advocating that people show up inauthentically to work, but within your capacity to choose positivity and to choose energy, I think that you'll end up with better outcomes. And I am really motivated I mean, I'm an extrovert and I am really motivated by being a meaningful person in somebody else's life. I can help somebody you know level up in their career If I can help them find the right supplier for their packaging or make a new sale you know, get that slot at Whole Foods on the merch, I'm thrilled with those moments and I celebrate those successes as if they were my own, and I think that I find a lot of meaning in serving others.

Cyndi:

Yeah, and it shines through all the time, I mean when you, when you, when you kick up our show?

Rebekah:

No, I think so, it seems, cindy, it's so it's.

Cyndi:

it is a beautiful, consistent thing that you do, and when you talk about it as a deliberate choice, I believe in that too. I believe we get to choose how we're going to show up.

Rebekah:

Yeah, I can tell yeah.

Cyndi:

And I think that is an important choice to who you want to be in the world, and I totally agree that that's not about being disingenuous, it's not about being inauthentic. It is about presenting your best self every day in the way that you are capable of doing, or recognizing that you can't show up as your best self, and being self-aware and transparent enough to say that and to know it.

Rebekah:

Absolutely. That's disarming, isn't it? When you are having a tough day to lead with that upfront, if you're going into a team meeting and I don't know, it's something personal or it's something work-related and you come in and you say, hey, this is not my best day, here are some of the things that are going on. I honestly think that sharing those things openly now it's not appropriate to share with everyone, but people that are within your inner circle at work, sharing those kinds of frustrations, I think I just can't help myself. But on top of it, I think that it builds trust. It says to those people you know what I appreciate you showing up even on the days that are rough for you, and you can share those things and together we'll make that burden lighter. And my team shows up for me in that way and I show up that way for them as well. I think on the days that you cannot fake it, per Rihanna, you should also be open about the things that are challenging so that you can A get some help and and B feel that sense of support at minimum from the people that you support on a daily basis too.

Cyndi:

I love the message and I do firmly believe that that is the excellent foundation for trust. It is about being able to create transparency and establish trust and rapport in a very deep and meaningful way and, as you said, if you're a good role model for that, it allows other people the opportunity to do that as well and to be who they are authentically. So that's a gift you're giving other people as well as yourself. Rebekah, you just mentioned that you like to solve problems and that your collaborative approach is important to you. Being purposeful is important to you. So, connected to that, but kind of thinking about that at a higher level, what do you feel like has been your greatest leadership challenge throughout your career and how are you overcoming that?

Rebekah:

Well, there's all sorts of challenges when you're leading, but I think the thing for me was a need for some maturity. Early on in my career I really wanted control. I'm type A, I'll just kid just wanted to be in charge. And I would find it so frustrating when my position wasn't the one that we move forward on, let's say in the legislature, or when we didn't do the story that I wanted to do at the news station. I would find that so frustrating and unfortunately it was very unproductive. So now I find myself in a position not dissimilar to those ones where I am managing people, but also not the top of the organization I'm not the executive director. So I find myself working sort of in two spaces managing those who work underneath me in the structure, but also managing up a little bit. And initially in my career I found it so frustrating to not win all the arguments and I had to learn that there's actually a lot of joy in navigating both circles, helping to connect the needs and the ideas of the people that you're managing with the needs and ideas of the folks who are ultimately the deciders. So I find myself a better advocate. I like to look at my job as being an advocate really for everybody involved and to try to help bring people together for a solution. But it's a mindset shift for sure. You have to stop thinking about winning things or being in control and instead say that you want to help everyone have a positive outcome, and then that's a win.

Cyndi:

Yes, it ties back to what you said earlier about collaboration, and when you're a collaborator, I think you're a bridge builder and it sounds like you're building bridges all over, like I want to build a bridge to my team, I want to build a bridge to in the executive director role. You want to build a bridge to all the needs and I think that's a very powerful position to be in, because when you have that purpose, when you have that goal and when people trust you to share in that way with you, you can create a strong bridge. And a lot of people don't know how to do that, or frustrated with doing that, or it takes too long, or it's too complicated, or it's too stressful. But I think you make that purposeful in the role that you're in right now.

Rebekah:

I hope so. I hope so. I think I find great satisfaction in people feeling like they can speak freely with me. I think that direct and open communication finds a lot of solutions.

Cyndi:

Yeah, so you're evolving and I think you also mentioned that you are feeling some gratitude in the role that you're playing, rather than thinking you need to be something different or show up in a different way.

Rebekah:

I try to, on a daily basis, think about the things I'm grateful for in my team and in my boss. I am grateful to not always be the person responsible for the final outcomes on all of us, but I recognize the weight of that sort of role and at this stage of my life I have some young children at home and they have needs to. I'm grateful that I can have a little bit more balance than I think that sometimes is afforded to people who are in that final decider role.

Cyndi:

Yeah, and let's talk a little bit about that, because I know of your two delightful children.

Rebekah:

Yes,

Cyndi:

One of the additional things amongst my billions of things that I admire about you is your focus on your family and raising to what I see as amazing human beings, and I haven't really spent time with them. I see them through you, I see them through Facebook and all the things, but I feel like somehow I know them in a way ( I overshare.) No, no, these are just two really amazing human beings that you and Matt are raising. So leadership to me, in the bigger space of us as human beings, is about the values we represent. It is about the purpose that we want to make and to have in the world, and I feel like you are living that. You're living purposefully, gratefully and with your values clear. So what are some of the values that you feel like you want your children and your family to embrace as they navigate through becoming who they are ultimately going to become?

Rebekah:

Yeah, they're at such an interesting stage 9 and 11. And you can see them kind of becoming the humans that they're going to be. It's such an importance. I mean all of childhood is important but we're clearly informative years and I don't necessarily want to hand out sort of a mandate of values. These are the things that we expect you to be. My children see my husband and I operating with kindness for others and for each other, and with integrity and loyalty and honesty, and I hope that that'll rub off on them. I think it is. But I think the thing that I really want for them is a feeling of security and the knowledge that they're unconditionally loved. There's nothing that they could do ever that would change the way that I feel about them. The love only grows and I think that that's really important because I mean, we know we know from studies that that boosts your stress resilience, that you are physically healthier, that your brain develops better If as a child you feel safe, secure and loved. But I think, as they grow up, I'm hoping that will also arm them with a decent level of self worth and self esteem so that they can relax enough to try things, they can take risks, they can become who they want to be because they know that, at the end of the day, they're loved just the way that they are and for whatever choices they end up making. I think that when you know that you're loved, you don't have to seek validation from external sources so much. Maybe your paycheck doesn't determine your worth, your title doesn't determine your worth. You have a belief in your own inherent worth, and I think that that makes you again a healthier human and also someone who is more likely to actually find your joy, whether it be in your personal life or your professional life. I think that it builds trust, too, and so it allows our kids to talk with us about things that are scaring them, things that they're worried about or things that they're excited about, and sharing those feelings also again makes you stronger as a person and make hard things easier. That applies well beyond the bounds of a family, too.

Cyndi:

Yeah.

Rebekah:

Because emotional security, emotional safety at work, also enables people to take risks, to try things, to go for new goals. If you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world. Mistakes are inherent in innovation. We are going to make mistakes, we are going to fail, we are going to have to try, try, try again. That has to be okay if we're going to grow and become more successful. I think what I want for my children is, I suppose, what I want for everybody that I work with and work for, and this is everybody out there in the world. I'd like them to know that they are okay just as they are, and that things are going to be okay. I wish that everybody worked in that kind of environment. I'm allowed to try things to varying degrees of success, but I'll tell you that having somebody else that feels confident in you and feels like your ideas are worth trying man, is that ever motivating More often than not results in something that's positive for others too. I hope they know I love them. I hope that everybody that I work with knows that I feel that way about them too.

Cyndi:

I do too. You said a couple of things that I want to really reinforce because I think you state them so eloquently and I think they are differentiators in leaders that have a big impact. When you talk about psychological safety and emotional safety, all the researchers that Timothy Clark and Amy Edmondson are two researchers who actually look at that and study that when you allow people to be their authentic selves, when you allow them to learn and make mistakes, when they feel safe to express themselves and be authentic, that is incredibly powerful in people showing up in a way that makes a big difference. You also talked about innovation and change and 100 percent there's a correlation to all of that safety, but I think we don't always think about how we establish that. I think some of the books I read about here's what to do one, two, three, four as opposed to here are the values and characteristics that you can represent as a leader that allow people to feel that way. That's pretty elusive and you just described it beautifully and eloquently for your family, and that you're showing up that way transparently and authentically in both spaces personal and professional.

Rebekah:

I try to tell people directly how I feel about them and then back it up with those actions. People need to know it verbally and feel it. Beyond that, it doesn't take very long or hasn't taken very long with the people that I've worked with to get to a place where I think they know I have their back. I cheer on their success and that makes me happy. I think that it gives them more satisfaction in their jobs as well.

Cyndi:

Yeah, I want to go back to you kicking off and closing the majority of our leadership training. As you said, we've been working together for several years and apparently have trained a thousand people. I don't know how many it's been, but it's been a lot. I find so much joy in those sessions. That joy also comes from you having that foundation of what you want them to feel, what you want them to learn. All the time you're telling 25 people at a time call me, I need something. I want to be here for you. I'm endlessly curious. Do people actually call you?

Rebekah:

Absolutely day and night, all the time. They have my cell phone number and they know how to use it. I love it. I love it.

Cyndi:

It's like you're the hotline for thousands of people. I thought when does she sleep? You put yourself out there and say, hey, you got a problem with this. I want to know. You do that in each of the classes. You put your number in the chat box and I'm like holy smokes, sister, when do you ever get any sleep? What's happening there? I believe you mean it, you're saying it with authenticity and you're saying it with energy and passion. Please call me.

Rebekah:

Well, I think that the people that I work for the members of Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, our dairy manufacturers and processors they have hard jobs. Only the ones that you train in particular are people working in production or in packaging, and so they have jobs that require some physical labor, in some cases, warmer environments, and they have a lot of pressure to produce. I think the thing that can be lost sometimes in manufacturing jobs is a sense of purpose, and I want to make sure that all of those people know that I recognize the purpose in their work. These people are creating safe, delicious, nutritious dairy foods to feed the world and that many people make joyful memories over. So their work has meaning, and I think all work has meaning and value, and I think that it's really important that people hear that from someone outside of their own sphere, that they appreciate the work that they do, and the folks who are going to our training sessions, the folks that you meet, do have an ability to make a positive impact on their workplaces, to create safer and more positive, more productive work environments. They're managing people, they're supervising people and ultimately, they have some responsibility and some influence on whether that person says that they had a good day or a bad day at work, and I just want them to recognize their purpose and their power.

Cyndi:

That sense of you supporting that and you putting that out there for them in a way that that is a purpose. I mean the purpose is ultimately, they produce food and they feed the planet, and I think what you're also saying is your purpose is to help people have a good day at work and feel purposeful, and your purpose is to help do that. And you make that connection to people. When you hand it off to me and we talk throughout the day about leadership practices and strategies and mindset, they feel personal power, like oh, that is my purpose is how someone leaves at the end of the day, I can affect it. And that sense of power you set the stage for them to engage in that learning in a really helpful, valuable way, because then it connects, then they open up, like, oh, I don't do that every day. Oh, sometimes I talk to people and I'm not very nice, and sometimes I do this or sometimes I do that. Or a lot of people talk about their personal stress coming across in a way that isn't helpful to the people they work with. So I love your messages, not only to hear them, but it sets the stage for an amazing learning experience. In my opinion, that really allows people to be vulnerable and real about their challenges so they can find their purpose and meaning.

Rebekah:

I think the work that you do is very impactful and we've seen people grow from maybe being grumpy and a little unsatisfied in their positions to people who are on a tremendous upward trajectory in their careers. Overall, in the five six years we've been doing these classes together, nothing really brings me more joy in seeing someone have a positive mindset shift and recognize their power and the purpose and then turn that around into something that I don't know helps them grow, helps others grow and results in great success for their company or cooperative as well. We really have seen people do 180 degree turns, being given tools to grow as leaders. So education is so important and spending some time thinking about these things on a regular basis makes a huge difference.

Cyndi:

Yeah, you facilitate that process and you ensure that there's focus and quality and opportunity for people. And again, I'm so grateful to be a part of that because it gives me purpose, to help you in helping others to have a purpose. Let's just keep doing this. All right, Doing this thing when you think about your legacy because I do ask people in these leadership sessions to think about their legacy it doesn't matter where you are in your career, how old you are, but we're all creating our legacy. So when you think about yourself, Rebecca, and think about the legacy that you want to leave, you're very young in your career and you still have a yeah, I've got some time left to create a legacy, which is good.

Rebekah:

Cyndi, I've got more work to do.

Cyndi:

But what do you want that to be? What do you want to you know, is you reflect back, because you already are establishing that You're already out there, giving people energy and purpose. What else would you say is important to you in your legacy?

Rebekah:

Well, I'm in it for the long haul with Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association. I love this job and our shared purpose as a trade association is to help our members become stronger businesses overall, be that through innovation or new product development or export endeavors, and I love supporting all of those things. That mission is meaningful to me. But on a more personal note, I keep thinking about the best bosses that I've had, and those folks are people that I can say unequivocally. I've cared about me as a person and have cheered my successes at work and in my more private life as well. They've invested that thought and time and effort not only in who I am in a workplace but in the world, and they've trusted me to try new things and to lead those efforts independently. They've given me a leash and a little bit of latitude to try things. They've also given me very direct feedback, both when it is to recognize positive results and to boost my confidence when I needed that even more early on in my career, but also to point out areas for growth. I remember our news director when I was just a kid I mean, I was probably 19 years old and one day I came to my desk and she had put a little toy dinosaur on my desk. Oh, Anne I said, what is this? And she said a little reminder, don't be a dinosaur. And so we had recently gotten a new piece of equipment, new editing software, and I wasn't using it. It had been several weeks and I had not tried it yet. I was using the old machines where we're cutting tape and she said you're way too young and you should always be too young to get stuck in old ways. You have to keep trying new things. So those little points of kind and constructive criticism ultimately have stuck with me. I still have that tiny dinosaur on my desk right now, do you? I absolutely do. Those moments of positive feedback or constructive criticism I think are really helpful direct communication. But they've also advocated very successfully on my behalf. It might be for a raise or a promotion, or maybe it's just to encourage me currently in my role to have a better balance in my work and life and all of those ways that they showed care. And I hope the people who work on my team or the people that I work for within our membership could say those same things about me. I would like people to feel that and to know genuinely that I care about them and that I'm ready to take action to show them that I want our members to be able to trust me with sort of sensitive information and I want them to know that I would be able to do something to help advocate for them in moments where they need it. So, in a nutshell, that I care and that I can do something to help is what I hope people will say about me. I hope that's the legacy. There's not some ivory tower goal that I have for this. I find a lot of meaning in just daily support of others.

Cyndi:

Yeah, that shines through in every single interaction I probably ever had with you. You are very consistent in your purpose, in your support, in your care and compassion for others. It's one of the many reasons that I absolutely love working with you and love partnering with you, because I feel that personally, I feel that professionally, you know and we've shared some things, hard times that we've gone through, and you have been there for me 100% and I appreciate that when I think of your legacy, you're already living it. You're already doing those things consistently and strongly.

Rebekah:

Thank you. I appreciate you and you said earlier I mean so many nice things, but I adore you and I care about you and I always will, and I'm grateful for the impact that you make and I'm grateful for having this moment to kind of be thoughtful together for a little while today. I will walk away from this conversation feeling more energized and ready to get back to work.

Cyndi:

Oh well, thank you for taking the time. This is a very busy season for you for a lot of different reasons and I thought, oh my gosh, how is she making time to talk to me today? But I was thrilled to learn again a little bit more about the history of what made Rebekah, Rebekah in the way that you show up today. So I appreciate you telling and sharing all those stories with me, but also my audience, to inspire people to learn from you and to learn more about your role and the things that the association is doing. So again, thank you for your time and thank you for your partnership, Rebekah, thank you. If you are in the dairy industry and want to learn more about Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association training sessions, go to WisconsinCheesemakersAssociation. org. Under their resources tab, you will find all the training and education, including the leadership training by yours truly.

Lessons Learned in Politics and Leadership
Finding Purpose and Leading With Authenticity
Leadership, Values, and Building Bridges
Creating a Meaningful Legacy at Work
Appreciation and Partnership in Work