As a benefit to members, GoodWork offers the monthly ‘Unstick’ sessions, gathering fellow members to work through each other’s sticking points in work, using the power of the group’s diverse perspectives. Each month has a focused theme to help us hone what is keeping us stuck.

Next week, our Unstick Session will be tackling the question “What’s In Your Tool Box?” – a look at tools and tricks to hack productivity and sanity.

We are looking to our colleagues and coworkers to go beyond conventional thinking and cull from their out-of-the-ordinary job experiences, habits and tools to help us with our work and life efficiency. With such a wild resume, we couldn’t think of a better woman than Susana Cruz, Dallas Regional Manager of EnrichEd Schools, an organization on a mission to reimagine substitute teaching, to facilitate this conversation.

GoodWork [GW]: Let’s start low level and work our way up. What are your go-to tools right now that you couldn’t live without?

Susana Cruz [SC]: My sensory items, hands down. From fidget sticks to Mochi Stress Balls, I need things that I can feel, touch, interact with to stay centered. The Calm App is always a good one to go to when spinning a lot of different plates in one day. I use Google Calendar so I’m always being notified of what’s coming up next (this is a major way I stay so prioritized), I even track when I have free gaps and head down time.

For communication: for my internal team, we use Slack. It always us to always be in communication and I can turn it off at the end of the day. For talking with my teachers, I’ve fallen in love with SendHub, I couldn’t do all the communication with so many people without it.

GW: You have a wild resume, from snake wrangling, to high ropes course facilitator, to running camps for burn victims, and now you’re leading the charge for your organization in the Dallas Metroplex. What did you learn before that’s become a lifesaver for your job today?

SC: First and foremost, I’ve learned from working in life-or-death industries about the importance of prioritization. I’ve also been a Life Guard, and with all of these major leadership roles, you have to always be thinking “what is the ABSOLUTE priority right now?” It’s usually “make sure no one dies.” And to do that, you have to stay focused in the moment and facilitate learning as you go along. People have to learn about their mistakes and how to work past them within seconds of making them. Mistakes in some of those jobs means death, and fixing someone’s mistake for them doesn’t help them learn how not to jeopardize themselves the next time. So facilitation becomes my next major tool in the field.

The human factor in most of the jobs I’ve had, to the one I’m in now, is huge. Helping facilitate people through what their needs are helps them become more aware of themselves and the world around them. You’re not feeding them an answer, you’re helping lead them to it on their own. I have learned a lot about asking questions prompting people immediately after they’ve done something I wouldn’t have helps them keep up with their sometimes subconscious actions. I have three top points when it comes to facilitation:

  1. What are your Glows & Grows? You know where you excel, celebrate yourself. Getting people in a positive mindset before feedback is key. Then asking them where they feel like they need to grow before offering my opinion/ expertise, helps me see how they think and they may have seen things that I haven’t. Placing this in the positive by talking about “growing” is helpful as well.
  2. Experiential Learning. Everyone is different, but there is nothing like tactile experience. Immersing someone in experiences that will ignite their senses helps engrain ideas into memory.
  3. The Agenda. People like to know where the journey is going to take them. Preparing people with an agenda, even if it’s quickly scribbled on the whiteboard before the meeting, will help people prepare mentally and not get off on tangents. Everything not on the board is tabled until post facilitation session.

GW: What’s your top tip for any industry that involves a sh*t-ton of hustle and wild hours?

SC: Breaks. Your brain needs them. Whether it’s five minutes in a phone booth pretending to be on the phone while you practice deep breathing, to walking a lap around the building to get away from the noise, your brain needs relief to refocus.

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