In this episode of Finding Career Zen, special guest Jody Alexander shares her experiences working at the YMCA, an organization she has dedicated herself to for more than 30 years. What made Jodi want to stay with this organization for so long? What is her secret to avoiding burnout?
As a first-generation college student, Jody felt the pressure to get a job while taking classes in order to pay her way through. Growing up and going to school in Ohio, she spent a lot of her childhood at the YMCA, so when she saw a hiring ad looking for a swim team coach, she thought she was the perfect fit. Jody landed the job and continued working as a swim team coach throughout college while studying education in hopes of becoming a teacher.
Over the 33 years that have followed, despite never intending to have a long career with the Y, she has achieved consistent success while continually advancing within the organization. Today, Jody is Chief Operating Officer of the Central Florida YMCA, a well-earned title gained through years and years of devotion to the same company. Things weren’t always easy, but Jody has never strayed and still believes there is more out there for her to learn and ways to grow.
How does she do it? Tune in to this episode to learn more about Jody’s secret to success.
Advice for consistent career growth
- Be curious. There are so many avenues to explore within an organization. Strive to continue learning how to be a better leader.
- Don’t be told what to do, look for things to do. Look forward and never run out of ideas. Goal-directed behavior is key for growth. If you try to be the best, you will feel like you’re winning.
- Use your voice. As a woman, it’s very easy to not. Don’t be shy and afraid to speak up, find your place at the table.
- Success is in the eye of the beholder. There’s not one path to success. It is such a personal thing to define, but it’s all about being happy.
- Direct your own path. Be curious and inquisitive. If you have a passion point, you’ll find ways to learn and figure it out. Some skill sets can’t be taught, even through an education system.
Pete Newsome 00:15
You’re listening to the finding career zen podcast. I’m your host Pete Newsome. And my guest today is Jody Alexander, who is Chief Operating Officer of the Central Florida YMCA.
Pete Newsome 00:24
Jody, how are you this Friday afternoon?
Jody Alexander 00:26
I’m good. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Pete Newsome 00:28
Thank you for agreeing to join. I’ve been really excited to have you on because when we met, you remember when we met, right?
Jody Alexander 00:37
Pete Newsome 00:38
February of 2020, you were kind enough to come into our office and present to my team. And little did we know within the next week or two, because I think it was the end of February, we had a couple of people who were sick.
Pete Newsome 00:53
And we were looking at him sideways, not really concerned at the time. But you know, the world turned upside down immediately after that. Did you ever see that coming?
Jody Alexander 01:04
Absolutely did not. I look back on that and I’m thinking there is no way we could have gone to talk to a roomful of young leaders. And almost two weeks later, the world shut down. So it was unbelievable.
Pete Newsome 01:18
Pete Newsome 01:18
So everything you had planned, running the day-to-day operations of the YMCA, you didn’t have a plan for that? Did you?
Jody Alexander 01:30
No, and you know, I’ve been in operations to the YMCA for over 30 years. And I would like to think I would have a plan for everything. And it was our conference room has a huge whiteboard on it.
Jody Alexander 01:41
And we completely filled it that Friday, the next Friday afternoon, actually, on all the things we had to consider knowing we were going to shut down.
Pete Newsome 01:51
And how many employees do you guys have here?
Jody Alexander 01:55
We had at that moment, we had 2,200 employees.
Pete Newsome 01:59
Massive, a massive organization.
Jody Alexander 02:01
It was massive. And we closed on March 17. And on March 19, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life career is laid off 2,000 employees. Furloughed 2000 employees on March 19.
Pete Newsome 02:19
And so I have to ask, and I didn’t realize that actually. I mean, I knew you guys had to take drastic action. Of course, you know, as much as any business yours is one that could not operate during that time.
Pete Newsome 02:32
Quite the opposite. How’d you handle that? I mean, that’s just gut-wrenching is where that comes to mind.
Jody Alexander 02:40
Yeah, it was gut-wrenching. And, you know, we tried to be as human as we could. And honestly, we made tons and tons and tons of phone calls.
Jody Alexander 02:52
And I mean, we kind of designed a process and one of the things that we didn’t want to do is just feel like an organization or a company that is big and is a, bigger employer, and just send out a blanket, email and just say, sorry, don’t come, you know, don’t come to work.
Jody Alexander 03:10
But we thought through all the things we could still offer them, we still continued health insurance through the entire closure.
Jody Alexander 03:17
We still allowed accrual of PTO time you know, all of the things even not knowing anything, not knowing when are we coming back? How many employees? Can we come back? We tried to be as human, the type of organization that we are right, this serves people and cares for our staff.
Pete Newsome 03:33
How long? How long were you closed? When were you guys able to bring members back?
Jody Alexander 03:38
Yeah, we were close for about seven, seven, and a half weeks, the first we faced our openings, and May 21 was the first time we could bring four of our locations back up and running.
Jody Alexander 03:49
And then we phased four at a time for the next several weeks, because just as difficult as closing down was opening back up.
Pete Newsome 03:58
Jody Alexander 04:00
You know, you when you open up a brand new location because you built it from the ground up, there’s, you know, a sequence that you go through. But when you have 18 locations and 2,200 staff and, you know, trying to figure out all kinds of new guidelines, right?
Jody Alexander 04:16
All kinds of new guidelines that you’re trying to piece through. We took our time and tried to, you know, process through that and figure that out. Not everything opened again.
Pete Newsome 04:26
Right? I mean, it’s, you know, even now, when you go in, I had to go get bloodwork earlier this week. And I don’t even think about wearing a mask anymore. It’s just it’s not part of the routine at this point.
Pete Newsome 04:39
But I went into a quest lab and I walk into the lobby, everyone was wearing a mask. I still didn’t then and they came out and said you have to wear one and I’m like, wow, okay, we’re still not back to normal.
Pete Newsome 04:50
But where are you guys on that spectrum as far as being, you know, normal?
Jody Alexander 04:55
Yeah, I don’t. I think new normal is probably really where we’re gonna be it’s hard to shed, you know, there’s going to be always that moment in time pre-pandemic, I say it all the time pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, it’s probably really we’re an endemic, you know, to be honest, we’re not really all the way past it.
Jody Alexander 05:14
So I think it’s more new normal. And accepting that I don’t even benchmark against, you know, pre COVID numbers of, you know, our, even our, our revenue, or how many memberships we had all that kind of stuff because I think people have figured out lifestyles have all changed.
Jody Alexander 05:34
So, you know, so we’re kind of re-inventing, and really allowing that pandemic to be a bit of a disrupter. And seeing, you know, how do we look and be different? You know, there were probably a few signs, we needed to do that anyways.
Jody Alexander 05:51
And that’s everything from the workforce and the staffing plans and taking care of staff and our philosophies and how we’ve shifted and changed some things, you know, all the way down to the customer, you know, end user and how we’re delivering, because I think people’s needs have changed.
Jody Alexander 06:09
And I think we’ve had to figure out how to meet people where they are and define differently what that is.
Pete Newsome 06:14
Well, if anyone was equipped to do it, it would be you. And I say that, because do you remember the book that you talked about when you came in? In February? 2020?
Jody Alexander 06:23
Yeah, I’m such a reader, you might have to remind me, I’m not sure which one I was even referring to then.
Pete Newsome 06:31
Blue Ocean Strategy.
Jody Alexander 06:32
Oh, my Blue Ocean. Yeah, that was one of my favorites.
Pete Newsome 06:35
So I bought it and read it immediately after you recommended it. And it talks about innovation and change. One of the quotes from the book that resonated with me was create don’t compete.
Pete Newsome 06:50
And that’s what you just described. And so how fitting that you’re someone who, as I said was is if anyone was equipped to handle that it was you. So what are some of the changes that you’ve made?
Jody Alexander 07:02
Yeah. So several things, we’re actually looking through an entire reinvention of how we take programming and product to the community. And so our typical business model has been as a YMCA, as a nonprofit, we have our YMCA membership is really the revenue sources.
Jody Alexander 07:24
It is the engine is what drives everything. And so you’re gonna have those locations that are going to be in suburban locations that have all of the revenue, but we want to make sure we’re serving all in the community, that’s part of our mission.
Jody Alexander 07:34
So we still have locations where a membership model isn’t going to, you know, you’re not going to generate a lot of cash off of it. But we know that people need healthy living and youth development and all the things that come with that.
Jody Alexander 07:34
So instead of having a one size fits all approach, we’ve really had the opportunity to look and say, you know, what, how do we look at all of this differently? And then how do we partner with others to do what we’re really good at? Which is have really great buildings, in locations where people can get to them, they feel safe with our brand, they feel safe interacting with us, they know a little bit about us, but bring programs and services that look and feel you know, different.
Jody Alexander 07:34
So, you know, we’ve kind of done that reinvention. We do a lot of customer surveying and really understand what it is that people want. We’re in a market research study right now. And fascinating the things we thought people wanted, people want gathering spaces.
Jody Alexander 07:34
People want a place in an unstructured way just to get together and have indoor play areas for their children. And you know, so much of what we do is register for this. Register for this, you got to pick this time you’ve got to pick that time. So how do we continue to fill the idea of bringing people together but listen to the community and navigate ways of you know, I’m doing that.
Jody Alexander 07:48
So what has happened is we have that model where those Y’s would throw off enough cash to be able to have locations in our pine Hills area, or our South Orlando, Oak Ridge and OB T areas where you’re not going to have as much of a strong membership base.
Jody Alexander 08:06
Well, when you close locations, you know, have revenue coming in your main, you know, form of revenue, and we dropped to 50%. So we went from a $70 million organization to a $35 million organization almost overnight.
Pete Newsome 08:19
I bet Wow.
Jody Alexander 08:21
It’s you, you all of a sudden saw the major flaw in something that you have felt that’s institutional, that, you know, it has stood the test of time for decades. So it immediately, you know, showed the flaw from that perspective. But it also gave us the opportunity to say, you know, what, there’s also a reason that in some of our locations, memberships, not the thing, you know, that are those? Is that really what that community needs?
Pete Newsome 09:58
So silver lining almost?
Jody Alexander 10:01
Yeah, it’s been needed. It’s actually been one of those things. You know, we talked around the Y for quite a while. It’s very difficult to be nimble when you’re a larger organization. You know, there are 850 YMCA associations, 2,000 different locations across the country, and we’re in 110 countries I think.
Pete Newsome 10:23
I didn’t realize the international scope.
Jody Alexander 10:27
Huge, It had actually started in England, and London, England in 1844.
Pete Newsome 10:32
I had no idea. Wow.
Jody Alexander 10:34
It came to the United States in 1851 in Boston.
Pete Newsome 10:39
I was just in Boston last weekend, I would know I would have found that first location. Do you know where it is? By any chance?
Jody Alexander 10:45
So? No, I don’t remember off the top of my head. I don’t even know if I’ve even had a chance to visit it.
Pete Newsome 10:51
Well, it’s probably not a YMCA anymore. Yeah. One of the things that I saw on the Freedom Trail was the oldest bookstore is now a Chipotle.
Jody Alexander 10:59
That is the first sign that times have changed.
Pete Newsome 11:02
And even worse, it was a closed Chipotle. It’s not open right now. But yeah, it’s changed a little bit. But I didn’t I had no idea the Y had that. I just assumed the history was from the US.
Jody Alexander 11:16
Yeah. Now you know, in Central Florida, we’re actually what’s kind of a young YMCA, we really didn’t get our footing until the late 1800s when we were established.
Jody Alexander 11:27
But nothing really took off until, mid-1960s when a group of volunteers just came together and they said, you know, we really need to establish some locations. And so piggyback on the Boston the very first location was at the Lake Eola, I think it’s Persimmons Hollow Brewing right now.
Pete Newsome 11:53
Yeah, I know where that is.
Jody Alexander 11:55
It was a hotel. It was a Panera Bread. I think it was a jail way, you know, way back when. So.
Pete Newsome 12:02
Now you will talk more about this in a minute. You’re the long history you’ve had with your career at the Y of 30 years, more than 30 years?
Jody Alexander 12:11
Yeah, it’d be starting at 33 In September.
Pete Newsome 12:14
33? I mean, that is, that’s fascinating. So I want to get into that a little bit. But I will say, you know, I grew up, my kids were they all raised here. One was born in Tampa, and then we moved to Jacksonville.
Pete Newsome 12:26
One was there, for the very brief time we spent, and then the other two were born here. But we, from the time my oldest was three years old, were at the Y every Saturday playing soccer.
Pete Newsome 12:37
I can tell you, those are some of the best memories I’ve had as a parent. You know, the friendships we’ve made last today, my oldest is now 22. So, you know, the kids are long gone from those days, unfortunately. But I mean, what a wonderful thing for the community that touches so many lives everywhere you go.
Pete Newsome 12:58
And, you know, the impact, I know that you’ve had to have had locally the buildings. When I first started going we live in the Southwest part of town and it was called, I don’t know if it was Jacobi YMCA, it’s now the Roper YMCA.
Pete Newsome 13:12
But and but when that building was redone, it’s as nice as anything you could see the Dr. Phillips YMCA is just unbelievably nice. So is that part of your mission going forward?
Jody Alexander 13:25
Yeah, you know, YMCAs don’t happen without community leaders. YMCA doesn’t happen without you know, donors and philanthropists and partners that helped to kind of, you know, pull it all together.
Jody Alexander 13:38
And the Roper family is, you know, and the Dr. Phil charities those are, you know, right there just to have the YMCA is that you know, you mentioned there, those are grassroots community leaders that grew up in the YMCA and really understand you know, values-oriented, a place where people to come together, you know, the safety aspect of it, the socialization that can you know, can come from it.
Jody Alexander 14:05
So, you know, that is exactly what we try to do in every aspect to be a community convener, right to kind of lean in, listen, and figure out what it is we can do that adds value to the community.
Pete Newsome 14:19
What a neat thing, and I hadn’t thought about it until this moment, because I just took it for granted. You know, we go to the Y and that’s where we play soccer and T-ball and basketball. And I coach there around the clock.
Jody Alexander 14:33
Thank you for that. We appreciate that a ton.
Pete Newsome 14:36
I mean, so many good times and we just take it for granted. And these things don’t happen by accident, which is what you’re saying, right? It takes other people to get involved. I mean, how do you solicit that? How do you get people to step up? I mean, that has to be that’s a major effort.
Jody Alexander 14:56
Yeah, you know, we are very fortunate in Central Florida where we have generational leaders. So you do have family members or organizations that have leaned in since the beginning, right those community leaders and you know, and those volunteers from that perspective.
Jody Alexander 15:13
But most recently, some of the things that we’re trying to do as we continue to define this thing that we’re good at, and the things that we feel necessary in the community, and then how the buildings or the locations and the programs that we have served that need right?
Jody Alexander 15:31
We’ve defined three very specific areas that are going to be our lanes, and our lane is going to be drowning prevention, because drowning is at an all-time high, and we’re surrounded by water. In Orange County and Seminole and Osceola County, we’ve hit all-time highs.
Jody Alexander 15:51
So we’re going to do everything that we can with swim lessons, drowning awareness, all those things. Out-of-school time enrichment. So we look at it as an extension of the extracurricular activities, you know, things from the school time.
Jody Alexander 16:03
And then Community Health, being able to really be that chronic disease prevention, evidence, base socialization, mental health, all of those things like, you know, food stabilization, safety, you know, the connector of resources.
Jody Alexander 16:19
So when you start to define your scope, and where you’re going to be, there’s a natural alignment that happens, and you can find people’s passion points for you know, so we have, we have a volunteer group, that’s a drowning prevention group.
Jody Alexander 16:33
And these are people that might have had an, you know, a family member with a near drowning or a drowning, they are people that are like that have seen, you know, we were talking about swimming, so well that have seen lifelong value in swimming, whether it’s through sport or boating, or going to the beach, and, you know, they want to make sure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to kind of go down that continuum.
Jody Alexander 17:01
So you know, when you define your message, and who you are, as an organization, that helps us almost at a grassroots level, figure out who to partner with, and you know, how to say, this is how you can get involved.
Pete Newsome 17:14
That’s really neat. And I get that, you know, as I think through my life, and the evolution with my kids, you know, there was a time where we were, it was just such a part really have every weekend.
Pete Newsome 17:25
And then now it’s not my kids are older, they’re my youngest starting high school. How do you bridge that gap? Because I could see that at a later day. Yeah, when, you know, I would have guessed that that would be a struggle, right?
Pete Newsome 17:37
To get those people kind of in between when you were so busy raising kids, they’re all over the place. And then when your life slows down, but I would guess you’d see a lot of people leave for a while and then come back.
Jody Alexander 17:51
We absolutely do you see that. It’s interesting, you know because I’m also, you know, I mean, the organization has to have a business mind to it also. Right? So that’s the only way we can deliver back to the community and invest back in the community.
Jody Alexander 18:08
So yes, sure. I watched the membership numbers, I see how many, you know, overall households we’re reaching, and how many don’t stay with us. And, you know, we at any given time are about 41% of the what you would consider new memberships are rejoined.
Pete Newsome 18:25
Jody Alexander 18:25
So we embrace it, there are going to be seasoned in life. And there’s going to cycle in life when you’re gonna, you know, kind of come in and come out and, and, and, and, you know, and that’s okay, you know, what we want to be strategic about and so it’s an interesting example, we actually struggle as a nation and you know, certainly here locally, a little bit with the with millennials.
Jody Alexander 18:49
We, you know, used to be the largest generation that took over baby boomers. But now what is it Gen Y that I think is the largest generation for millennials? And but back in the 90s and early 2000s, we cut all the teen programs as budgets got tied, or we thought schools were doing, you know, to cut all the teen programs.
Jody Alexander 19:11
And so we lost that connection. We lost that emotion you know, I grew up the Baby Boomers grew up with us. Talking to the Baby Boomer and they’re gonna say, Oh, I was a part of High Y after school club, I was a part of Gray Y they’ll tell you all the clubs and you know, tell you all about the YMCA.
Jody Alexander 19:31
So we also have to be very intentional about fulfilling the need but you know, also creating that continuum of connection and know people you know, let people know that we are here if they do need us.
Pete Newsome 19:44
Okay, well, so you don’t need any advice from me. But I will say that well as apparent in this is cliche, but true. You know, when I was growing up, I’d get on my bike I would write up and it wasn’t why I was in Gainesville, Florida.
Pete Newsome 19:58
We had a boys club near there. area and I would go there and I’d spend all day and come home when it was dark, the typical story here, right, and now kids don’t do that.
Pete Newsome 20:08
And I think that would be such an opportunity for the benefit of our youth to get them out and to be able to spend the day hanging around because the YMCA is that I’ve gone to regularly, the ones near your work, or near my house there. There are plenty of places to play and hang out. I mean, is that an effort that you guys have ever tried to push at all?
Jody Alexander 20:30
Yeah, that is a lot of our program reinvention. You know, it’s interesting. We’ve talked for a lot of years about the membership model, and you hear it in so many industries, right? We hear it all over you. We want people along, we want people to belong.
Jody Alexander 20:46
But it’s really about what it is that you offer inside of the construct of a membership. Membership is just a way to pay for something, right? It’s a subscription, a subscription, right? It’s just a way to pay for it. So yeah, we and this is part of our kind of reinvention.
Jody Alexander 21:03
Right now we’ve got to be very specific about leaning in on the different programs that kids are interested in. So I’ll give you a perfect example. We’re piloting right now 1,2,3,4 locations where we’re working in eSports.
Pete Newsome 21:22
Jody Alexander 21:23
We’ve got an Esports League, right?
Pete Newsome 21:25
Jody Alexander 21:26
Yup and oh, my goodness, we have kiddos that the middle school that never would participate in a basketball league or participate in, you know, maybe, you know, they never come to us for something.
Jody Alexander 21:40
So reaching an entirely new market, because that’s what they’re interested in. Right, that’s the hook. But what else do we want to do with that? Well, we want to help them network, we want to help them think about, you know, post high school choices for, career or post second, you know, education, things like that.
Jody Alexander 22:04
So we’re looking at the program things or the environment, to your point, right, we’re looking at all of our environments, we’re looking at, you know, places for kids to come to hang teen centers, we haven’t had those and most of our locations for decades. So now we’re repurposing space.
Pete Newsome 22:20
Yeah, that, you know, I just had a call yesterday with a company that was building eSports. Club. And I, they was referring to the kids as athletes, and they’re like, these are our esports athletes.
Pete Newsome 22:39
And I’m like, okay, you know, that’s, that takes, I have to wrap my brain around that my kids, you know, I have three boys who spend a lot of time with a controller, and I know your son, you know, as a little older than my kid and still does that a lot, right.
Pete Newsome 22:58
And I may or may not have done that well into my, my, my older age, but it’s you, you can ignore it, but you’re only doing yourself a disservice. And that’s what the kids want to do. And it’s a very social thing.
Pete Newsome 23:11
But the downside, as a parent, and I think as you know, as someone who cares about the future of our young generation, it keeps them inside, and you have to get out, you know, being social over an internet connection just isn’t the same.
Pete Newsome 23:30
And you have to be out you have to be, you just can’t be on your own roof all the time. And so.
Jody Alexander 23:38
See daylight every now and then.
Pete Newsome 23:40
Yeah, it’s but it’s, but it is a very social thing. And I can’t deny that you learn teamwork, and you have to communicate. I mean, there are a lot of benefits to it. So that’s, that’s really neat that you guys are doing something about it.
Jody Alexander 23:51
Well, the approach is doing it in locations where the kids come together. Right?
Pete Newsome 23:58
Jody Alexander 23:58
And so establishing the club. So we’re not going to get into the virtual and everybody’s at home, you know, this is more coming together. And, you know, establishing a club and, you know, the there are so many things that you can lean into just just just following Out Youth Development and thinking about what it is that we’re trying to do an enrichment perspective, in generating interest.
Jody Alexander 24:23
You know, from a business perspective, there’s marketing involved in eSports. There’s a developing right to being a programmer there is graphics and artwork, you know, so getting them hooked by that, but then understanding and connecting them in some of the other programmings that we do to kind of lead towards career exploration opportunities.
Pete Newsome 24:48
Jody Alexander 24:49
Pete Newsome 24:50
Yeah. So it’s, it’s such a big business, it’s only going to grow and there’s so much that goes into like you said that those skills can transfer, and what I found about recently is that there are scholarships offered for play bike from colleges which is interesting.
Jody Alexander 25:09
Reminds me because I put the timer on his Xbox he probably could have been topping the world. Another parenting fail.
Pete Newsome 25:20
Well, I’ll we’ll reserve the opinion on that whether that was a fail. But I want to shift if we can to talk about you a little bit because your career is almost 33 years with one organization you know this wasn’t you said your first job I read on your bio that you started as a lifeguard in 1989.
Pete Newsome 25:44
But after you got out of school, what did you start with the Y right away? As a grad?
Jody Alexander 25:51
Yeah, so I’m, I’m I guess a YMCA lifer. Meaning I took I think my first lesson at like five years old. You know, it’s really, it’s interesting because I also like to think what I’m doing right now brings kind of full circle for me.
Jody Alexander 26:10
So in the Y, we have something that we call we have our Y story, right? Our connection and why we’re here and why we stay. And I started off as a, you know, swim lessons, I could ride my bike to my local Y in Ohio, okay. And I did swim lessons.
Jody Alexander 26:27
I did the overnights, I did, you know, I did all of those things. And I kind of what I knew from recreation, and I mean, I was on swim teams for years. You know, from that, from that perspective, I was a first-generation college.
Jody Alexander 26:46
So when I went to school, I had to have a job. And so I was like, okay, well, let me go to the YMCA. I know a little bit about that. I saw a little ad post that said for swim team coach.
Jody Alexander 26:59
And I’m like, was on a swim team that’s definitely qualified. That qualifies me as I was on a swim team. And I was so fortunate to meet the person that hired me as a Program Director in Toledo, Ohio, where I went to school. And he was just amazing.
Jody Alexander 27:16
And he tells a story that I only I don’t know if I answered any questions, right? But he said, I didn’t answer one question right, when he said, you know, what, do you think the main job is here as a swim team coach?
Jody Alexander 27:31
And apparently, I answered to be a role model.
Pete Newsome 27:33
Jody Alexander 27:34
And so he was like, wow, you know, so all those years of working with my own coaches and being a part of a YMCA, you know, somehow I either got lucky or I was smart enough. So, you know, he took a chance on me who had no swim team experience, and I did everything I could to learn about how to train kids, and you know, and hang out, you know, with kids and stuff.
Jody Alexander 27:55
And, and you know, and figure that out. So lifeguard and swim team coach.
Pete Newsome 27:59
Did you do that all through college?
Jody Alexander 28:00
I did it all through college, I also did before and after-school child care. So I kind of stuck with the Y I had no intentions of making the Y a career. I was in school for education.
Jody Alexander 28:12
And I was going to be a teacher. I mean, I wanted to be a teacher. And, you know, in the worst, worst way, I just was very passionate about it. But I had mentors along the way, all those folks that wrap themselves around me at the Y.
Jody Alexander 28:26
And they’re like if you work for the Y you teach every day. He’s like, you just get to teach in the way you want to teach in areas that you’re passionate about. So I’m like, what, I didn’t even know there could be a career with the Y, what does that even mean?
Jody Alexander 28:40
You know, and so I’m looking at these people, and they’re like, you know, like, like me. I’m an executive director of this YMCA. I was like, oh, wow. Wow. So I had great people around me who helped me land my very first job as an aquatic director.
Pete Newsome 28:55
Jody Alexander 28:56
Yeah, aquatic director. And here’s a great one for you. I think my first salary was $19,000 as an aquatic director, and I thought I was so rich.
Pete Newsome 29:05
Jody Alexander 29:07
It was unbelievable.
Pete Newsome 29:08
I just told the story the other day of my first salary in 1993. So I must have done something a little better. I had 23,400.
Jody Alexander 29:18
Pete Newsome 29:20
And I remember, I went to training for two weeks. The weekend I graduated from FSU and I had I was dating a girl who I was crazy about and I’m still I’m crazy about and I came home and from training and I had a week’s paycheck and it was you know, $200 whatever it was.
Pete Newsome 29:40
And we went to the movie what and saw the firm that movie, which was a huge disappointment compared to the book, but that’s a whole different story. And I remember sitting in the lobby and looking at her like, you can buy whatever you want.
Pete Newsome 29:53
If you want popcorn and candy or I’ve never had Um, yeah, there were times when I couldn’t take out the minimum $10 from the ATM for the previous four years in school. And I thought that a $23,400 salary was, was everything. I was so proud of it. So yeah, if it makes you feel better that after that job, the next salary I think was 19. I did go backward.
Jody Alexander 30:22
Everybody should start there.
Pete Newsome 30:26
I don’t think that’s too realistic anymore, fortunately, but. But yeah, so you started out as an aquatic director? And that was in Ohio still?
Jody Alexander 30:35
Yeah, that was in Ohio. And it was actually a small, smaller Y to the west of Ohio. So I left Toledo. I was in the Toledo Association. That’s where I went to school. And I went to a small and independent Y.
Jody Alexander 30:49
So we’re all kind of structured differently and a little bit of a rural town. And I was like, one of you know, two program directors and I really missed the network. I missed the network.
Jody Alexander 31:00
So I honestly didn’t even think I lasted two years at that position before I was able to get back into the Toledo YMCA. And I got to expand my role probably didn’t expand my salary.
Jody Alexander 31:15
But I got to expand my role because I got to do aquatics and fitness.
Pete Newsome 31:19
Jody Alexander 31:20
And I got the fitness role because I got to supervise fitness because in aquatics I would do pool aquatics. So they said, well, clearly, you’re qualified to do fitness.
Jody Alexander 31:32
So I learned a whole new, you know, program line and actually did wellness and fitness for about 15 years of my career.
Pete Newsome 31:40
Jody Alexander 31:41
I added all kinds. So I discovered a real passion for leading classes and doing personal training, and you know, and doing all of that.
Pete Newsome 31:50
So you were very much getting to teach?
Jody Alexander 31:52
Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing. But I learned, you know, I learned I figured it out.
Pete Newsome 31:57
Now, what brought you to Florida?
Jody Alexander 32:00
Actually, the YMCA did so in 2009. And the world was kind of having, you know, major housing crashes, high unemployment, right? And Toledo is very kind of trickled down Detroit. Right?
Jody Alexander 32:20
So we were experiencing a lot of unemployment and, you know, and challenges and in that system, and I don’t think I would have because my family still lives there, I don’t think I would have ever left if potentially that, you know, didn’t happen.
Jody Alexander 32:37
But I had also reached a spot in my career, where I had, you know, one of the higher positions, and there was, there’s going to be a little bit of a ceiling there. And so with everything that was happening, and we were looking at closing down YMCAs, I really felt like I needed to get into a little bit bigger of a system.
Jody Alexander 32:59
And I have talked to these guys, you know, here in Central Florida, a year before. And I was like no, I, you know, I’m really rooted and my family and it would have been a really big leap, you know, to be 20 years with one organization and one town.
Jody Alexander 33:16
But we decided to go ahead and you know, kind of take the chance and will add to the great parenting moments, I actually moved my son to Florida on his 13th birthday.
Pete Newsome 33:32
Very popular for that.
Jody Alexander 33:33
No, I know, I’m surprised he still speaks with me. You know, and it was tough. It’s a hard transition. You know, any kind of a move is, but it is, you know, we just love this community. We love the YMCA, you know, in general, of course, but we love this community. I love what we do in this community.
Pete Newsome 33:53
Well, you know, you know, so you’ve, you’ve moved up consistently, right? You’re at the top of this organization. Now as the Chief Operating Officer, you’re, that’s rare, you know that that to stay at the same organization for a long time A.
Pete Newsome 34:09
And then B to succeed along the way in advance. It’s something that I have just massive admiration for, because I know I couldn’t do it. I know that I couldn’t walk through those minefields.
Pete Newsome 34:22
I’ve worked for two large corporations prior to starting 4 Corner Resources, and there are just constant pitfalls everywhere. So what’s the secret? Yeah, because it’s, it’s a wonderful thing it to be mean, how rewarding you know, to be able to have that kind of success, but also to see an organization grow and to be part of it.
Pete Newsome 34:44
And just especially one that you know, that you care about, and it does so much good in the community. But what has been your secret, hopefully not a secret because we’d love for you to share it.
Jody Alexander 34:58
You know, I don’t know if there’s, a secret. My, I’m, you know, a few years ago, I worked with an executive coach, and I was talking to him about, you know, all kinds of different things. And I’m always on a self-discovery path.
Jody Alexander 35:17
Matter of fact, you know, my family properly rolls their eyes, and they’re like, oh, my gosh, this is another lesson seriously, you’re going to teach us something else from this. But, my coach asked me to describe myself in one word.
Jody Alexander 35:29
And that was hard. I don’t even remember actually the word that I use. But he said, huh, he said, I just find your cure that I just described you as curious, you just have a curiosity about you.
Jody Alexander 35:43
And so one organization, but so many avenues to explore. And even in 33 years, I don’t feel like I’ve probably even come close to unearthing all of the things that are still out there for me to learn, and to maybe, you know, put a different touch on or to put a different spin on.
Jody Alexander 36:06
So it’s, I can never be bored if I am constantly learning how to A be a better leader, and, you know, walk help walk people through, you know, this organization, but also in just service to my community, and figuring that out.
Jody Alexander 36:24
So I drive my staff nuts, they’ll tell you all day long, because I’m probably popping out ideas all the time, ask them and look at this and look at this, you know, I’m a data, I’m a data geek, too, I am constantly studying trends and numbers and looking for that thread that you know, helps to optimize something.
Jody Alexander 36:43
Or, you know, make something better become, you know, more efficient. So, you know, that’s probably a little bit more of the science side of the secret, you know, that the curiosity is probably a little bit more of the art side, it’s also emotional.
Jody Alexander 37:00
You know, the organization gave a lot to me growing up, they gave a lot to me, right? And so when you look at somebody who takes a swim lesson, and you know, then can pass a lifeguard test and can become a lifeguard and then can go from lifeguard to being a professional leading in the organization, it’s you know, there’s, there’s, that’s emotional.
Jody Alexander 37:24
So the Y has given a lot to me. So in the time that I’m at the helm, as a staff leader, I want to be able to make sure that I can do the best that I can.
Pete Newsome 37:35
What you described in terms of curiosity, and never running out of ideas and things to do. I know what I look at what I think about it constantly, what makes someone person successful and not another, right, what are those traits?
Pete Newsome 37:50
And that one is something that I’ve started to think about a lot probably over the last six months is that there’s, you know, who’s looking forward, who is who was looking for, you know, at what they can do next, and to take ownership of things, right?
Pete Newsome 38:07
And as someone who has hired young professionals for many years, I think that probably the biggest differentiator for folks who have the ability to succeed and improve and advance are those who are not being told what to do, they’re looking for things to do.
Pete Newsome 38:27
And I don’t think you can teach that. And I don’t know where it comes from. I’d love to find that seat because that is the secret sauce. Yeah. But I think, I don’t know, it evolves somehow. And or maybe you’re just born with it, you know, nature versus nurture.
Pete Newsome 38:40
Who knows, really, but I really, that really resonates with me, because I know as you’re describing, I know exactly what that looks and feels like. And something that I think’s helped me succeed.
Pete Newsome 38:53
Because I, my biggest problem is I don’t have enough hours in the day, where there are 50 things that I will not get to do, that I would like to be doing or need to do or feel compelled to do whatever you want it whatever phrase you want to put.
Pete Newsome 39:07
But I guess I’m thankful for that. But I also realize, I, over the years have thought, well, doesn’t everyone feel that way? But I’ve realized, no, that’s not the case. It’s pretty rare.
Pete Newsome 39:23
What about politics? So you’ve had to, so of course, you’ve had the ability you’ve had to drive. But even though the Y is, you know, a more wholesome organization than most. You can’t escape the politics. So how have you navigated that so effectively?
Jody Alexander 39:40
You know, and I probably had more politics In my career than maybe even most. So when I was mentioning being in Toledo and kind of getting to the ceiling of where I probably was going to be able to go was because my father-in-law actually was the CEO of the organization.
Jody Alexander 40:06
You know, just for the sheer fact of, you know, reporting lines, and you know, and all of that we had to be super, you know, cautious all of that. Yeah. I was working for the Toledo Y, he came to town and brought his son, and I’m mad at him. And you know, 28 years later, we’re still doing YMCA stuff here.
Pete Newsome 40:25
Oh, that’s cool. I didn’t know that.
Jody Alexander 40:27
We were both lifeguards.
Pete Newsome 40:28
Oh, no kidding. All right.
Jody Alexander 40:30
Not only do we do these other great things, we also do matchmaking so you know.
Pete Newsome 40:35
I bet that there are more than a few relationships that have started that way.
Jody Alexander 40:41
Yeah. So I have, you know, I just always had this very goal directed, right? So I think the behavior is goal-directed. And so we were very goal-oriented, in what we wanted to do in serving the community.
Jody Alexander 40:53
And when you keep that in your sight line, you know, it just always fueled me to try to be the best, I was the person who was always going to beat the numbers. I was the person who was, you know, just constantly bumping up against the top that I could.
Jody Alexander 41:13
And so I think when you look at achieving or and I’m highly competitive, my Strength Finders will tell you, I got you to know, achieving competition and strategic are like my top three learners, I think, number four.
Jody Alexander 41:25
So, you know, yeah, I bumped up against those things, it’s not as difficult because you just kind of feel like, you feel like you’re winning. So you, put your results behind you.
Pete Newsome 41:36
Jody Alexander 41:37
And so like I mentioned earlier, it is a feel-good organization. But if there’s no margin to the organization, there’s not going to be an organization. So constantly having you know, those goals and putting up, you know, putting a plan together. So, I’ll tell you, though, as a, you know, you can cut me off if you don’t want me to go there.
Jody Alexander 41:59
But being a woman leader, you know, there are very, very few COOs that are women across, you know, our country from the YMCA perspective. I’m the first COO, that’s a woman here in Florida.
Pete Newsome 42:13
No kidding. Okay.
Jody Alexander 42:17
Yeah. And so, you know, kind of grow growing up those were not as much internal to the Y, but honestly, external, so, my Y in Ohio, my first executive director, job, our YMCA as, suburban life and phenomenal Y.
Jody Alexander 42:39
And, you know, I was regularly you know, hanging out with the, you know, the other community leaders in that town, you know, the school superintendent, the police chief, the mayor, you know, many of those were on my board. They were all men.
Pete Newsome 42:55
Jody Alexander 42:55
And you know, I joined Rotary so that I could you know, network and I think I was one of nine women. And, you know, in the entire Rotary Club, and I barely just joined and we went to the community and went to the Christmas party.
Jody Alexander 43:11
And I still had, they give you a big you know, new Rotarian, you know, button so that people would seek you out and say hello to you and welcome you. And I can’t tell you at that party, it was time after time after time, that the members would walk up, and they would shake my husband’s hand.
Pete Newsome 43:30
Jody Alexander 43:31
Oh, how are you you know, and he’s, he’s amazing. And he’s like, hey, I think you want to talk to my wife. So, so, you know, so I, so from a political perspective, I think it’s just trying to find your seat at the table.
Jody Alexander 43:45
So, you know, that’s probably been more of a challenge for me than, you know, the inner workings of the politics, but you know, 63%, I think of our organization is women, with the staff members, so there is a feeling of obligation to push it and pave the path for them. Right?
Pete Newsome 44:08
So is that a conscious thought that you have? I mean, do you think?
Jody Alexander 44:11
All the time.
Pete Newsome 44:11
You do? Interesting, okay, it so doesn’t Don’t think badly of me this, but I don’t it’s something that never occurs to me. Now It’s not my cross to bear right? I’m not, you know, I’m not the one that people don’t immediately come up to in that situation you just described, I haven’t been in your shoes.
Pete Newsome 44:34
But as a professional you know, my CFO is a woman. And, you know, she’s my peer for all intents and purposes, and it never even occurs to me. You know, it doesn’t.
Jody Alexander 44:47
Pete Newsome 44:49
But it really hasn’t. If I look back on my whole career, and it’s funny as you were talking, I just recently interviewed a friend who’s a VP with Disney. She’s been with Disney since two years out of school, and she’s, so she’s in her 20-plus years
Pete Newsome 45:04
My sister, I interviewed not too long ago, she’s a VP with Hilton. She’s been there since her first that she has both beat Jody if she’s listening, and I’ll have her, you know, so I’m sure I’ll hear from her if I’m wrong, but I think her first salary was she was making $8 an hour at an Atlanta Hilton after graduating from college.
Pete Newsome 45:24
I’m sure my parents were thrilled. Right? So I’m surrounded by, you know, friends and family who have succeeded. And as you were talking, and I didn’t think about this prior to us getting on today, these women who I’ve interviewed have consistently been in a role for a long time and succeeded.
Pete Newsome 45:47
And I have to stop and think about it, I don’t know how many guys I know, that have had that longevity. So I think there’s a, there’s a maybe a lesson there, I don’t know what it is, or we’re gonna figure it out right now.
Pete Newsome 45:59
But it’s, I guess, it’s, it’s disappointing to hear that, that still today is thought because I in my world, I would say, really? Are we still doing that? Like, I don’t, it seems ridiculous.
Jody Alexander 46:14
It does. But it is a, it is a consistent thought that I have in my role in leading an organization that has that strong woman, you know, a workforce to consistently think about how to make sure they have that opportunity.
Jody Alexander 46:34
And that, you know, you know, try to break through the, you know, the barrier of being, you know, now would I ever want my legacy to be that you know, she is the first female COO, absolutely not, that’s not a legacy that, you know, that I, I want.
Jody Alexander 46:51
But I want to make sure that, you know, any path that I can pave is going to be something that makes it just a little bit easier for people.
Pete Newsome 46:59
So you’ve clearly done it, but what advice would you give to young women who are ambitious and want to succeed? I mean, as far as dealing with that challenge?
Jody Alexander 47:11
Yeah, I think using your voice. Using your voice, you know, it is very easy to, to not, and especially if you get kind of, you know, pushed down every now and then you know, and so, when you were talking earlier about, you know, the other strong women in your world I was thinking yeah tenacious.
Jody Alexander 47:34
You know, tenacity is probably, you know, a trait, I think most leaders need that, right? But to use your voice to not be shy and afraid to speak up and, you know, find yourself, find a place for you to be you know, at you know, at the table, and then reach back and help other women, right, it’s the same thing.
Jody Alexander 47:58
So networking and learning from others, you know, I think that those things are all extremely, you know, extremely valuable.
Pete Newsome 48:07
So it’s a bit of a dangerous ground these days, talking about gender differences. No, we cut nothing, we don’t know, that’s part of the fight of this. And the risk is that now that there’s every once in a while.
Jody Alexander 48:21
You were probably like I didn’t know she was gonna take me down that route.
Pete Newsome 48:24
Trust me, this one’s easy. There’s when I do a different podcast with our HR director, who’s the most non-HR person you could ever meet. And we challenge each other with, with, I guess, uncomfortable topics, that are not uncomfortable for us.
Pete Newsome 48:42
But in our divisive world, where there are very strong opinions on every side of every issue, you have to almost commit that you’re not you’re gonna say you’re gonna be honest, you’re gonna be genuine and let other people decide how they feel about it. Right?
Pete Newsome 48:55
Like, that’s not up to me to decide how people feel about what I say. But so here’s my, here’s my developing theory. And I think I just mentioned this on a podcast that I was on the other day.
Pete Newsome 49:06
When I think of the women who were who are successful, successful women with children, you have to be hyper-organized, you have to be just proficient and efficient at whatever you do because you don’t have time not to be.
Pete Newsome 49:24
And as a father of four, I’ll tell you, I’m a pretty attentive and involved dad, I mean by any logical measurement. But my responsibilities have always paled in comparison to what my wife has been, in terms of, you know, the detail stuff, right?
Pete Newsome 49:40
I mean, the little stuff and now every relationship is different, and every household is different. I get that. But I think too, I think that you have to be superior to be a mother who’s working and ambitious, especially in a stressful, challenging environment.
Pete Newsome 50:00
But that’s the responsibility. Because you’re not gonna able to do it otherwise. So like, it almost makes you better. And I don’t know if that sounds crazy, but that’s sort of something that I’ve thought about a few times lately.
Jody Alexander 50:11
Yeah, I think it gives you the chance to hone the skills of details, you know, just call it project management, not that your children are projects, but you know, like, all of those things.
Pete Newsome 50:23
They are very much projects.
Jody Alexander 50:26
Mine are, you know, we’re a little bit of a different household, though, you know, and we took a risk early on in the career, we, my husband and I had had both you could see our careers were kind of, you know, taking off and hid under a company in a business.
Jody Alexander 50:45
And I was kind of continuing to move up. And we decided that this that life, stunk, that it was real and so we made a conscious decision to follow my career, and, you know, wait for all of those things out, then he was a stay-at-home, dad.
Pete Newsome 51:01
Jody Alexander 51:02
For years for years. And it’s interesting how we actually were very prepared for our move from Ohio, because that actually happened about six months before we actually moved to Orlando.
Jody Alexander 51:15
And you’d look back here, like, we were getting prepared to, we got to make that move so that I could continue to kind of figure all things out, you know, by starting a new job, and he could really make sure that the kids got, you know, the kids got settled, which is great, because it ended up leading to an amazing, you know, Career Discovery for him himself.
Jody Alexander 51:38
You know, he does know, renovates homes and stuff now and gets to do that on his own schedule. So, you know, by unleashing himself, he found a different passion. But he was that person who said, you know, I’m in your corner, and I’m going to help support you and figure this out.
Pete Newsome 51:57
I think that’s really, really, really cool. Because to have a successful relationship, it has to be a partnership, it has to work for the individuals, whatever that might be. Right? That goes without saying, but you have to have balance, you know, that, that, that just makes sense for you guys.
Pete Newsome 52:13
And this podcast is called finding career zen. And the website that we’ve recently created, is all about helping people find the thing that gives them happiness in their career, the right success,
Pete Newsome 52:27
Success to me, and I’ve talked about this quite a few times recently. So I won’t go into too much boring detail, but success really is in the eye of the beholder, right, I used to think it was financial, I used to think it was advancing.
Pete Newsome 52:40
But I don’t think that at all anymore. I mean, I think that success is such a personal thing to define, because it’s all about being happy, and you can’t be happy in your life unless you’re happy with how you spend your day and your waking hours.
Pete Newsome 52:55
And so it’s all very much tied together. And I love the idea of a nontraditional approach, right to like, like what your husband does, he just doesn’t he works for himself.
Pete Newsome 53:07
He doesn’t own his own schedule. He does it on his own time. And you haven’t said this yet, but I would venture to guess he’s probably a whole lot happier than he would otherwise be.
Jody Alexander 53:15
Thank goodness, both of us and probably our kiddos too, right? You know, because it’s just you can just get absorbed in the career and you know, something’s gonna fall something’s going to and somebody is going to be unhappy or, you know, whatever.
Jody Alexander 53:30
But yeah, it’s, you know, probably not, it may not be for everybody, right? But to your point, it’s, it’s okay to figure out what works for you, as a family, supporting a career, and finding passion, so that it doesn’t feel like a job or this is, you know, something I have to trudge through.
Jody Alexander 53:48
But then also getting that chance to just, you know, live life.
Pete Newsome 53:52
Jody Alexander 53:52
And I think that that is always been, you know, part of our overall family dynamics and what it is that we, you know, that we’ve strived for.
Pete Newsome 54:02
That’s really neat. It’s, it’s, it fits in just so well with the mission that I’m trying to perpetuate, which is let’s not follow rules that were put in place by other people a long time ago.
Pete Newsome 54:18
And, you know, I’ve been rethought, I think about college a lot. Is college important, you know, for everyone, is it necessary? And that and I think, no, not for a lot of people.
Pete Newsome 54:32
I don’t think it should be the default answer that we’re sort of, I’d say our generation was taught that it should be in I mean, what’s your take on that with young professionals right now you have you obviously have a lot of young folks working at the Y and we’ll always have a young group. Where do you land with that?
Jody Alexander 54:50
Yeah, that is such a topic and you know, from just a couple phrases you just said I’m in agreement with you I think that people aren’t human beings are not just they’re not a plan, there’s not a blueprint for every single person.
Jody Alexander 55:11
And some, some people, you know, want that here, I’m talking about how I’m such a learner all the way through, but most of my learning and self-discovery has been self-directed. Right?
Jody Alexander 55:21
So it’s been directed through the topics that I’m most interested in reading, the audiobooks that I use, or the workshop that I go to. So I’m certainly not going to throw away my college education.
Jody Alexander 55:33
But so much of what I’ve learned is through my, also my experiences are through the network that I have created, you know, being able to bounce ideas, having thought partners, you know, from that perspective, so I really do start by sitting in the camp of people should have their own individual plans.
Jody Alexander 55:52
And we shouldn’t have such strict rules on you know, if you don’t have this, you don’t get passed out. Right?
Jody Alexander 55:59
I just feel that is not what is. So I’m reading a book, I’m almost done with it. It is called Humanocracy.
Pete Newsome 56:10
Okay, I’ll write it down.
Jody Alexander 56:12
Yeah, well, I can’t even say humanocracy. And it basically is talking about people being human beings versus being a plan or a roadmap, and how you tear down bureaucracy.
Jody Alexander 56:24
And so again, I think education is important. But it doesn’t have to be the most important thing for everybody from that traditional sense. And so if you put these kinds of roles and bureaucracies in place, you might be missing out on the most talented person there.
Jody Alexander 56:46
Those skill sets, you know, that, that you can’t teach to people through even an education system. So I’m kind of a no rules, rules person.
Pete Newsome 56:58
But you know there’s, and that’s really the what I what I’m enjoying so much, just over the past month and a half of zengig being in the existence of exploring that and your message that you just delivered is very consistent with how the successful people that I’ve encountered think.
Pete Newsome 57:17
And so the rules like you wonder who’s putting these rules in place? So one of the things I was just thinking of is that a fortune 500 company I worked for mentioned, I worked for two big companies in my career, and one had a rule in place. He said, unless you have an MBA, you can’t move past a manager level.
Pete Newsome 57:34
What? Like, that is, that’s absurd. And the idea of being taught, and learning to me are mutually exclusive, right? I mean, they can be, I don’t need anyone to teach me I have.
Pete Newsome 57:51
I’ve learned through my own experiences. I’ve learned through my own efforts here. You mentioned books that you read, get on YouTube, you can have, you know, you couldn’t receive for your college education in a month on YouTube if you’re so inclined.
Pete Newsome 58:04
And I think we’re doing the younger generation a disservice by not talking about these things, and helping them realize that there’s not one path to success, right? You mentioned you said it, you never would have imagined that you would have your career, let alone 33 years with one organization and still going.
Pete Newsome 58:26
But that’s where your path took you and you couldn’t no one can predict that. So for us to tell 18-year-olds, and 17-year-olds, go do this. Because this is your path to success, it sounds ludicrous. Yeah.
Jody Alexander 58:40
Oh, this goes back to the aquatic director job and moved into aquatic director and add fitness to it. Why I didn’t I only learn that by doing? And I didn’t learn that because I went to a four-year school, but I will tell you, I was I felt like I was really good at my job.
Jody Alexander 59:00
You know, I figured out how to be a teacher in classes. So again, if you have a passion point, they’ll find ways to learn and figure that out versus all the step-by-step type, you know, approach.
Jody Alexander 59:11
So I want people to be curious, I want them to be inquisitive. And I want them to be that’s how i truly believe critical thinking is developed, right? I want to work for my children. I want creative problem solvers.
Jody Alexander 59:31
And when you get to self-direct and choose your learning path and options, including the ways in which you learn, you know, I’ve got, you know, one child that would only do audiobooks and you know, would write all of their notes and another child that you know, hey, Mom, have you picked up this book lately?
Jody Alexander 59:55
You know, or, you know, I’ve got this book so that’s also part of it, there are just different vehicles to your point of YouTube, right? So there are different vehicles and doing that. And so I truly believe that if you get to direct that path versus this is the course load, you have to take, you’re going to be so much more well-rounded, and, you know, and develop this critical, you know, thinking skills.
Pete Newsome 1:00:22
It’s wild Jody, it comes up in almost every conversation, I’ve been having this idea of the education system, what it is versus what it should be. And, you know, when I look at me, you described your two when I think of my four they are so different, their interests, there, their capabilities, yeah, they’re, they’re just all of it.
Pete Newsome 1:00:43
And yet we, they all got stuck in the same classrooms in their respective years. And with 30 other kids who were just as diverse as ours are from each other. And it just seems like no one that would want to would create this on purpose, right?
Pete Newsome 1:00:58
No one would say if you, if you had a blank slate, hey, this, this makes sense, because it just doesn’t, and then we just continue to perpetuate that now I want, if I’m going to have an orthopedic surgeon opening me up, I do want them to have sufficient education.
Jody Alexander 1:01:13
I would say there are a few things out there that, you know, that mean, absolute skill.
Pete Newsome 1:01:17
But for most of us, right, myself certainly included in this, there’s no degree that could have prepared me or was even necessary to do what I’ve done throughout my entire professional career beyond the things I wish quite frankly, I’d learned more about, you know, finances and, you know, operations, related things that we really don’t learn in school.
Pete Newsome 1:01:38
So it’s, it’s, it’s something that I’ve really learned a lot lately. And so it’s good to hear you say that as well. It’s a very consistent message that I’ve been hearing.
Jody Alexander 1:01:48
You know, we take an approach. Yes, I can talk about that personally. But like even at the YMCA, we take an approach that how do we ready, our high school, our high schoolers through high school initiative type programs that we have, you know, whether it’s volunteer programs, a Leaders Program, or you think a government like we have all kinds of real specific types of programs, that prepares them for a career.
Jody Alexander 1:02:14
You know, and if some of them, it takes them to college, which could be University, which could be to your school, or it takes you to, you know, an internship type thing, but, you know, being able to understand that they all are going to, you know, respond differently in different, you know, moments in time.
Jody Alexander 1:02:33
What we don’t want them to do right is go into a low-wage job that, you know, doesn’t allow for them to create a comfortable lifestyle.
Pete Newsome 1:02:45
Pete Newsome 1:02:45
All right. Yeah, that that is to be avoided. And the good news is, and as we, I’ve spent more time looking at various career opportunities. One of the things that we’re doing on the website is creating what we call career guides.
Pete Newsome 1:03:04
You know, how do I become, you know, you name it, right, we’re trying to capture as many roles as we can. And it’s, even though I know that some have been in staffing a long time, the variety of opportunities there are, and it’s only growing thanks to the internet, thanks to technology.
Pete Newsome 1:03:20
And even though there’s, there’s a lot of negativity right now, in the world, and our country, there’s never been a time of better opportunity, there’s never been a better time to be alive.
Pete Newsome 1:03:30
And so I think technology is going to help us solve those low-wage jobs as we go forward and allow us to, you know, have more time to think and to be free and, and to and to produce advancement.
Pete Newsome 1:03:45
So, it’s exciting. But we have a lot of challenges along the way, right? That, but yeah, leaders like you, you’re gonna, you’re gonna help solve them. So I really appreciate the way your your your perspective on all of this.
Pete Newsome 1:04:02
So I’ve kept it for a while I told you that was gonna keep an eye on the clock. So I know you’re busy. But I do have to ask you one more question. So, as I mentioned, the title of the podcast is finding career zen and so after this time, you know, With the Y, have you found career zen?
Jody Alexander 1:04:21
You know, I would say this moment, you know, asked me tomorrow asked me next week, you know, but I would say at this moment if you looked at it globally, and overall you know, the answer would be astounding yes, there are always challenges, there’s, that’s always going to be you know, what that is.
Jody Alexander 1:04:41
But I found a passion for, you know, the position that I have and the things that I do and that’s everything from the external to the community to the internal to you know, the the the team members, so you know, I, I couldn’t be more blessed and thrilled with, you know, what this career has given me.
Jody Alexander 1:05:09
And, you know, and, and I feel really, you know, comfortable at where I have from that zen perspective, as you know, as well.
Pete Newsome 1:05:19
Awesome. Awesome. Well, that’s what you know, everyone should aspire to be able to say, in their own career, and you’ve earned it. Right? I mean, that doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. It doesn’t come out without effort. You’ve moved your family.
Pete Newsome 1:05:33
You’ve said yes to jobs that you had to figure out on the way as you figure it out as you go. And I think those are some of the traits that it’s why I like having these conversations, because I want people to hear that, you know, nothing wasn’t handed to you.
Pete Newsome 1:05:48
It didn’t come easily it it didn’t come quickly. And I’m sure like you said there were many days where that answer would have differed. Probably.
Pete Newsome 1:05:57
So the goal is not I’d never tell anyone expects success, quickly expected easily quite the opposite, like everyone that I know. And it’s such a consistent theme who achieves that level of career happiness and it has to earn it and has to do it over time? So I love that answer and thank you for it.
Jody Alexander 1:06:22
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Pete Newsome 1:06:25
Well, awesome. Well, it’s Friday afternoon, and any big plans for the weekend before i let you go?
Jody Alexander 1:06:31
Well, there’s a little more work on the horizon. So all the kiddos are getting ready to go back to school. Right? So that comes with events for us and serving the community.
Jody Alexander 1:06:40
We’ve got two big hope fest back-to-school events that are Wayne Dench, Y, and our South Orlando Y this weekend, so we’re gonna do that. And, you know, just go out and hand out backpacks and do haircuts, and, you know, screenings, health screenings, and all that kind of just serve the kids.
Jody Alexander 1:06:59
So I feel like I get to play a little bit, you know, by actually getting to participate in our programs.
Pete Newsome 1:07:06
Yeah, man. I’m not ready to do it yet. I just finished coaching. A couple of months ago, during my last basketball season in middle school with my now young, youngest, who’s now a high schooler, I have no one to coach anymore. And so everyone keeps asking, are you gonna go back and like, eventually.
Pete Newsome 1:07:24
Not quite yet. I’m retired for the moment. There’s nothing like just the five-year-olds running around on the soccer field on a Saturday. Like someone needs to have a grandbaby. Then I can do it.
Jody Alexander 1:07:38
It kind of put that pressure a little bit like come on.
Pete Newsome 1:07:40
Pete Newsome 1:07:41
The clock’s ticking.
Jody Alexander 1:07:42
Pete Newsome 1:07:42
Well, awesome. Jody, thank you so much for joining today. Really appreciate it. And everyone listening, we would appreciate it if you rate us and review us always.
Pete Newsome 1:07:52
And thank you for listening and have a great rest of your day. Thank you again.
Jody Alexander 1:07:57