As part of Real-time Perspectives’ ongoing blog series focusing on millennials, we sat down with Grand Rapidian Holly Anderson, 29, Program Manager of the Community Food Club of Greater Grand Rapids.
RTP: What do you spend your days at work “doing”?
Holly: I would say on a daily basis my days are spent being ready for just about anything. I don’t even know how to put it in a nutshell. I oversee the daily operations of the Community Food Club, working with volunteers and primarily making sure our store is well-stocked and well-presented and full of life. The club is a membership-based grocery store for low-income households. It’s a pilot program and a collaboration of seven nonprofits in town.
RTP: In a nutshell, how did you initially connect with Barbara?
Holly: I first worked with Barbara during some large group activities at my previous employer, and as soon as I was aware we had an opportunity to work intimately with her, I took full advantage. I met with her individually throughout the rest of that season, so I also worked with her one-on-one.
RTP: I wonder if you could describe a little bit what it’s like to work with Barbara in a coaching capacity?
Holly: You know, I feel really lucky that I had the opportunity to see her both in large group and individual settings. Both settings break down barriers. In a large group, the magical thing about Barbara is she doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know; she just simply unveils it to you in a way that’s a learning opportunity and allows you to be your best version of yourself. In one-on-one, she does the same exact thing but she does it in such a gentle yet raw way that you can’t help but recognize your own strengths. Sometimes I think when we’re learning difficult things about ourselves it can come off as a weakness, but Barbara helps you find the power within yourself to turn it into a strength.
RTP: What have you learned from Barbara’s coaching style?
Holly: Barbara and I worked together a few years ago and I still feel her impact on a day-to-day basis, both personally and professionally. Most specifically, she taught me how to trust myself, how to recognize that a gut instinct might be some of those skills and innate talents and ability that I have. And she taught me how to listen to that and communicate it to people around me to allow me to be a successful version of myself. I think sometimes, especially as young women in leadership, we find ourselves doubting this or that simply because we’re surrounded by people with more experience and it can be hard to truly believe you have something to contribute. Barbara was amazing at helping me understand even though my thoughts and perspectives are different, they’re still worthy of being shared and brought to the larger table.
RTP: You’re a member of Gen Y. What do you think your generation is doing particularly well, professionally?
Holly: I think our generation is at a really unique spot. We didn’t grow up with all this technology, but we learned how to incorporate it in our lives. Now we’re learning how to keep it integrated and set boundaries between our personal and professional lives, which really never had to be set before. Despite all the negative media about work-life balance, I think we’ll all look back and say, you know what, it wasn’t a bad idea to turn off our phone or not check it until after breakfast. I genuinely believe we’re handling this consistent pressure of being on in a really unique way and in a way that no other generation has had to experience.
RTP: What advice would you give to other millennials looking to move ahead in their careers?
Holly: I would advise absolutely anybody looking to better themselves to seek out counsel such as Barbara’s – somebody who can sit down with you, be honest, help you uncover roadblocks, and kind of guide you along that process. Sometimes you just need a third party and when you have somebody with Barbara’s talents and abilities and skills, you can’t help but come out of a session with her without being better immediately. And to trust your gut. That’s one thing that we don’t do often enough.