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Rick Ruiz
Excellence, Engagement, Accountability!
Tapping Into The Power of The Human Spectrum!

Engaging Diversity PROFITABLY!

What Difference Will YOUR Team Difference Make?


Resources - Human Side Stories
Being Deaf
Blind Stories
Handicap Parking. To the Author of the Anonymous Note Left on My Car Window
Planting Values is Color Blind
Thank an A&P

"Food for Thought"
  • Inclusion OR Outreach?
  • Compromise OR Confrontation?
  • Charts put people in a box
  • Feelings are facts
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do
  • Success and failures both have a great deal to teach
  • Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
  • People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Providing incentives, encouragement, a challenging environment and opportunity for every employee to empower the best capabilities from individuals of varied backgrounds and talents is my view of diversity.
Mohammed Naeem
BS Applied Mathematics, BS Mechanical Engineering, BS, Computer Science (MIT), MS Computer Information Systems
One of My Own Team Members

".. help people make quality decisions in situations where there are differences, similarities and related tensions"
R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr
Author, Building on The Promise of Diversity

Being Deaf

This is a story that conveys the hardships, the misunderstandings and the triumphs of one individual, William R. Mueller better than anything I could possibly describe. He delivered his speech entitled, Building the Bridge of Trust, April 12, 2006 to a packed audience. His passion, energy and conveyance was enthralling. Please consider this story an example of an infinite number of stories that apply to each individual with whom we come in contact.

Building the Bridge of Trust

My name is Bill Mueller. I am an engineer and have worked in industry for the last 32 years. Currently I am a lead member of the engineering staff at Lockheed Martin, MS2, Moorestown, New Jersey. My responsibilities are for building hybrid microelectronic components, modules and systems for the Navy's AEGIS weapons system. I have been at Moorestown for over 20 years.

I was asked to give a personal perspective on how diversity and inclusion has affected my life and career. I would like to cover three topics that are important to the fundamental ideals of Inclusion and Diversity.

How life changes, challenges, and conflicts affect us as individuals and employees;
  • Principles in life's relationships that I call respect, responsibility and reality - how they apply to us and how we should apply them in our relationships with others;
  • Building two-way bridges of communication to connect Inclusion with Diversity - not just speaking at each other.
Changes, Challenges and Conflicts

Let's take a moment now to pause and clear our mind and reflect on who we are. I would like all of us to think of a major event that has influenced our lives - health issues, death in the family, school, graduation or anything that can come to mind. How did this affect us? How did our parents, families and friends relate to us? Did we change our own self worth?

Our life's journey affects each of us differently. We decide the direction or choices we make based on who we are, as formed by our education, family and social relationships. We use this knowledge to think and make our choices and then follow them. So, my choices will be different than yours. I can't say that my choices are better than yours - they are based on my background and my education.

Each one of us then views our success as a measurement of our own values, self worth and accomplishments. These views are also influenced by how we expect others to see us or how we think others see us.

Time is change, since time does not stand still. So, as time moves forward it changes us, challenges us and can cause conflicts within us. Little did I know that time and change would have such a profound effect on me.

I was a hearing person until the age of 22. My education is a BS from Rochester Institute of Technology. I attended RIT as a hearing student. I was aware of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) program but was a hearing student. I graduated in 1974 and looked forward to a career. Within 2 months of my graduation I contracted a rare disease "Cogan's Syndrome." I was ill, had vision problems and was losing my hearing: my life changed. This was 1975 - a completely different time from today. There were no TTY's, no closed captioning, no Americans with Disabilities Act, no diversity and the list goes on.

I had choices:

A. Learn lip/speech reading,
B. Learn sign language or
C. A new and very iffy idea - having a wire implanted to hear again. The life style I knew or the one I did not know?

How did this affect me? Personally I hated myself, hated what I had become. I was angry at the world and became very upset at all I believed in. Why ME! Why NOW! It is not FAIR!! Then fear set in with self-doubt. I did not want to CHANGE.

I found myself caught between two different worlds - the hearing world of my friends and parents where I felt I no longer belonged, and the unknown world I had entered. I was CHALLENGED with confusion and fear.

Interpersonal relationships changed. My parents seemed to blame themselves for the disease that had happened to me. My girlfriend - now my wife - did not know how to help me. I did not know how to help myself. I couldn't use the phone. There were a few embarrassing telephone calls too, for example when planning your wedding and it's not your fiance on the other end of the line? There were always lost conversations with my parents' family and friends. I was always a couple of minutes late or a few topics behind them.

My first job ended and I had to head home. My career had to start over. I felt like it was my fault and unsaid in my mind was... You know you have to work harder than others, You're too slow, I will tell you later. Later never came. Was this right?

Conflicts

I chose "A" to learn lip/speech reading and be included with family, friends and the life I knew. I learned speech/reading in 1975-76; it is a really different art form.

I chose this path to prove them all wrong. I could and would be as good as anyone else. "I AM NOT HANDICAPPED!" I would assert to anyone that would listen. Only communication was an issue and it became a bigger issue, because it took more time for me to communicate. In reality, the lines like, "I will tell you later" or "it was nothing" became a standard pattern to me. I felt excluded, not included. Like in "Children of a lesser God" I had the hate of one's self, the fear of change, the challenge and lack of self worth.

Communication was the big issue when I was first losing my hearing. Little things were figured out on how to communicate. I started carrying notepads, index cards and pencils. I can't tell you how many times I lost pens and pencils when I tried to talk to people. Sometimes we were able to have paper flip charts or black boards. As white boards became the norm I would ask for one to be put at my desk with multicolor pens - I wrote in blue, you had red and the third person green etc.

As I learned to lip/speech read things got a little better, easier and a lot more interesting. Only at times it got annoying when people would keep turning their heads or multiple people would talk. Eyeball ping pong is not an easy game. Likewise, impatient people who wanted to say something once and only once were difficult to deal with. Also if someone did not want to make the time to communicate, I was left out. Other things that took time to learn were reading lips on people with mustaches and beards that masked facial movements or hid the person's lips.

What about a person's "ABILITIES?"

Whenever I hear the words handicapped, challenged or special needs employee, they are all just politically correct words for disability. These are all negatives that destroy harmony. They can be, or are all, similar to the ISM's type thinking - criticism, racism, plagiarism, (I know this one, working and seeing someone reading my notes and taking the idea) and a new term Audism. These negatives affect all our relationships on a personal and interpersonal level. They also play havoc with how we view our self-worth and how we perceive how others see us.

Capabilities are positive attitudes that support and build unity. All people have the capability to contribute. Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest minds in Physics; he has ALS and still lives a capable and productive life. Is Stevie Wonder or Jose Feliciano handicapped, was Ray Charles? No, they live full lives, are productive and make fantastic music.

Rather than going by appearances, we should all strive to look at each person's CAPABILITES and how they enhance and add to the whole community.

I am thankful that there have been many people I have known and worked with who have treated me as an equal. With them, it was what I knew that was important, not what I was.

After learning lip/speech reading, sometimes I had fun seeing what other people could not hear. At one of the first companies I worked at I was able to speech read at a distance. So sometimes passing the boss's office or a windowed conference area I could look in and read the meetings members' lips. They used to turn to the side or close the office window curtains. We would joke about setting me up with a pair of binoculars to check out our competition.

Our "VALUES" are formed by family, education, and experiences. Respect, Responsibility and Reality. I take my job very seriously. I respect all people I work with. They are the chorus and symphony, my eyes and ears. I respect them because we need each other to build and test the product I am responsible for. My name is on the drawing. How many people are on an AEGIS Cruiser, Destroyer? If the system does not work I am responsible and I would not want to face the reality of what could happen to the men and women on that ship!

Each of us must respect each other and be responsible for our actions. This also means to be responsible for how our actions and interaction can affect others. WE are also responsible to face truth as it is, not as we want it to be or perceive it. So, what if we are in a position of RESPONSIBILTY? Shouldn't we take the responsibility to help our fellow employee, friend or family member reach his or her full capability?

Reality is our life as it is. The plain and simple facts of life is the way we are, not the way we want it to be. Life is not American Idol, Survivor, Fear Factor, or the Apprentice. Life is what we see, live and work in every day.

With Easter coming I would like to talk about my time wearing a "BUNNY SUIT" working in a Clean Room. I wanted to belong, to work on the newest project in-house. The project was in a Class 100 Clean Room. I was excited, and started to work in the area. Then I started to make excuses to stay out of the room. Finally I had to talk to my boss and admit to him and to MYSELF the reality that I was deaf. The clean room required that all people must use a face mask. I could no longer read lips and communicate. FEAR was a great and overriding factor in why I waited a long time to admit to myself and my boss why I was not doing the job. Thankfully, my boss and several others took the time to listen and understand what I was going through. This was about 1995.

The hardest thing in life is seeing reality as it is not as we want it to be. I was given a new chance to support in several areas that allowed me to lip read and communicate. I was supported by fellow employees and valued for my ability to contribute.

Like in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, Mr. Holland finally had to look at reality and see life as it was when his son Cole confronted him and asked for help!

After facing this reality, I explored a way to improve my ability to communicate. I had tried to rework my life by first using a hearing aid - it worked for about a year or so. Then I repaired my life by learning lip reading and speech reading - that worked for about 20 years. I finally decided on a Cochlear Implant in 1998. It was a tool to possibly hear again, but it is not a cure for my deafness. It was a change, a challenge and new conflict for me because I had to relearn how to hear.

This was my choice and my family's choice and we supported each other to make this decision. My surgery was in April 1998 and my hook-up was in May. It was a new round of changes, challenges and conflicts. There were a new set of Hopes and Fears all in one. It worked! It would take me 2 years to re-learn how to hear. The implant is not perfect: in areas with loud background noise, multiple conversations, or outside on our tour, when the wind would howl in the microphone, I still needed to speech read. I also can't tell the direction of sound. The first clear word I heard was uttered by my wife driving home after my first hook-up when she got cut off by another driver - let's leave it at that! The first conversation with my college student son was when he came up behind me and wanted to see if the implant worked. "Dad, can I have some money?" Well, without looking I said "NO!"

I had to figure out what sound went with what. It was spring and beautiful outside. I walked into the bathroom, the window was open, the light was on and was noisy. I walked into the bedroom, the window was open, the light was on and it was quiet. This went on for several days. Finally I figured it out - there was a fan vent in the bathroom that was making the noise.

I always enjoyed reading to our four children. Role reversal was having my first-grade son teach me how to "re-learn" hearing by reading to me!

I was able to work again and was accepted. But have I changed? To some no, I was still the same person. But to some family and friends I did change - why? I changed yes, but the implant was not a cure for my deafness or for all my life's issues. There are things I cannot hear, and there are still problems communicating in noisy backgrounds, and cell phone situations. I still should ask for help but, fear of asking is always in the back of my mind because I am working alone most of the time and do not want to fail.

Time changed things from 1975 to 2006. In 1990 we got the ADA. Look at the advances in the electronics field. Now we have a lot more tools as Tim Taylor would say, "ARRGGH, More POWER!"

All televisions now have closed caption capabilities. There are TTD's and relay phone systems, the internet, e-mail, IM messaging, Blackberries, cell phones with text messaging, and Bluetooth interconnect. They are all present now and they have all been MARKET DRIVEN. There are FM wireless sound systems for theaters, churches and schools, Rear Window captioned movies; open caption processing for meetings, live captioning for jury members - I was the first to request its use in Burlington County, New Jersey - and the list goes on. All these technologies have a few things in common: they take TIME to USE, TIME to UNDERSTAND, and TIME to SHARE the information.

Watching TV today, look at all the ads for hearing aids, motor scooters, and patient transfer systems, custom bath and shower systems for the mobility challenged and the list goes on. There's a new awareness that all people want to be included and perform to the best of their capability.

How can we use these tools effectively and what challenges do we face? Can we make this work? YES!!!!

  • Education is always a good start. Sharing experiences is another
  • What are most important issues?
  • How can we approach the challenges that we see?

I finally get to ask the questions here, I do not know the answers.

WE have to TRUST each other openly and freely to be able to work together, to belay and cancel fear and anger that cause a lack of communication and understanding in our relationships.

I love Star Trek and the ideals that Gene Roddenberry tried to set forth in The Next Generation - a society that was all-inclusive with each one capable of contributing to the good and betterment of society. We are not there yet but I hope we are trying to reach that idea. I always loved Scotty, the Engineer and Spock, the Science Officer but, look at the diversity and inclusion with Geordi and Data.

The Bridge of Trust

Growing up in the New York City area, I remember crossing some of the greatest suspension bridges in the world, The George Washington Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. I can also remember having to take the Staten Island Ferry from Brooklyn to Staten Island to get to scout camp before the Verrazano Bridge was built. Ferries moving back and forth stopping to let cars on and off. It was a discontinuous process. I watched as these massive towers and structures for the bridge were built. When the Bridge opened, it allowed a direct and continuous transportation path. A suspension bridge is designed to allow for changes in the load that it carries; it has give and take to allow for continuous use in both directions.

I like to think that a two way relationship is formed like that suspension bridge, built with flexibility to meet the challenges that we face. We need two massive towers grounded in some bedrock principles to hold the weight of our relationships. The two supporting towers are grounded in a foundation of TIME and TRUTH. These form the basis of all our relationships, Time to build them and truth to maintain them. Then we need to string the lines between the towers. We need all the strands for understanding each other to be bound together to hold or allow the relationship to have flexible support. This is how we build a cable of UNDERSTANDING. Then we need supporting rods or wires, sent down from this cable to attach to the roadway below. The supporting suspension wires that we use to maintain the bridges road and integrity are RESPECT and SHARING. With these two principles to RESPECT each other and SHARE our knowledge and beings we can smoothly transfer the shifting weights of our changing relationship. Only then we can build the connecting roadway I call COMMUNICATION.

What should we call this bridge? It is a "Bridge of Trust" supporting a roadway of Communication that becomes a two way continuous path linking the sides of our relationship called Diversity and Inclusion.

This conference is to discuss leveraging the power of Inclusion. Are we open minded to change? What can we learn and how can we apply it if we do not listen or communicate? We must be open minded in our thinking to all, not only to people who are deaf, hearing impaired, visually limited, wheelchair users, and so on...

IF Inclusion is accepting people for whom they are and Diversity is about differences and accepting differences... then Diversity and Inclusion must be where both sides accept changes and differences to accept each other.

It is about building bridges of TRUST to achieve a common goal. This is why we are here today to become an integral part of that bridge where all parts are valuable, no part is defective and all parts are needed.

It is not 1975, it is now 2006 but the challenge for change is with all of us. What are we going to do about it? It's your Choice, I have already made mine. Want to join me?

Bill Mueller

Blind Stories

The Blind Have A Hard Time Getting Jobs Because Of Social Stigma

Planting Values is Color Blind

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.

I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.

When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful - in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified.. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is "Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said. Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
* If you plant hard work, you will reap success
* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

Author Unknown

Thank an A&P

Airplanes are pressurised aluminum cans that fly 40,000ft in the air, full of people, with a ridiculously low accident rate. Pilots are great, they are skilled, intelligent people who do a great job flying but! For every pilot, there are a dozen mechanics keeping those planes safely flying.

I am an FAA certificated Airframe & Powerplant mechanic. That's a fancy way of saying I fix planes! We are called A&P mechanics, or just A&Ps. There are thousands of us (hundred thousands? I'm not exactly sure). We work for airlines, corporate aircraft owners, little shops that maintain private planes and big repair and overhaul facilities. We are why you can fly without fear. I've torn apart giant Boeings and Airbuses, fixed any issues and put them back together. It's all heavily regulated, the paperwork is precise and the skill and passion of the mechanics is unmatched. Most of us are prior military, many are not, but we all share a deep love of, and respect for aviation.

Mechanical failure is one of the LEAST common causes of aircraft accidents and incidents, and we are dang proud of that! So even though pilots get the glory, and people are annoyed when a flight is delayed, and roll their eyes at the mechanic they see come on the plane to fix the problem, remember...we keep you safe! A quick thanks, or a little praise would make our day. Who am I kidding? It would make our YEAR!

One last thing, I'm a girl. Wild right? Female mechanics make up just 3% of our industry but are often some of the best grease monkeys out there, and not just because we fit easily into fuel tanks! Google AWAM, we have a website and Facebook group for scholarships and networking for both male and female mechanics. It's awesome.

I'd love to hear from anyone with questions, or who might be interested in becoming an A&P.

Love!
Stacey
February 2016
Staceylistserve@gmail.com
___________________________

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