Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Smartest People in the Room

At one of my previous jobs, my boss and mentor taught me a very important lesson.  He said that to be successful, you don't have to know everything. You just have to understand what you already know, and acknowledge what you don't know. Then go out and educate yourself on what you don't know from the best and brightest in the industry. He invested the time and money in me to send me to conferences and seminars so that I could help make his business successful. That was in the corporate world where industry secrets are sacred and you usually have to pay a substantial amount for information and an education.

It is much easier in the animal welfare world. Since most animal welfare professionals and volunteers truly love animals, they are willing to share what they have learned with everyone.  No use reinventing the wheel when somebody has already figured out how to do it. The quicker you can incorporate new life-saving techniques the quicker you will; well you know, save more lives. Pretty simple.

So it frustrates me to no end when I see shelter management and staff who don't make use of the vast amount of knowledge that is available to them. There are webinars, and seminars, and articles, and conferences and Facebook information that are free or almost free for the asking. You can shoot a quick email or Facebook message to somebody that has had success in the area that you are struggling with, and I bet they will reply with helpful advice and ideas.

I'm not sure in what other industry or profession, the level of complacency that is prevalent in animal shelters is tolerated.

I prefer to hang out with the smart folks. Gleaning what they know - what works, what doesn't. How were they able to save over 90% of the animals in their shelter? What did they do? What mistakes did they make along the way?  I'm not proud - I'd rather ask now than waste a lot of time and effort doing something the wrong way.

I hope to meet you at a conference this year. Come and look me up. I'll be hanging out with the smartest people in the room.

"Leaders have a never-quenched thirst for knowledge.  They read and ask questions. They study problems, watch others, and think.  A leader understands that the mind is the most effective leadership tool, and he sharpens it constantly." - Stan Toler

Links to free educational resources:

Petsmart Charities Free Webinars for Animal Welfare Professionals

Best Friends Animal Society Free Resources for Animal Shelters and Rescues

No Kill Advocacy Center Free Resources and Articles

Animal Farm Foundation Free Resources for Shelters and Rescues

ASPCA Pro Free Recorded Webinars

Free Articles, Webcasts, Recordings and Videos from Maddie's Institute from Maddie's Fund

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