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Working Well Keynoter says "Safe" is "Smart" in the Workplace and in Life


Tallahassee’s Fourteenth Working Well CEO Breakfast happens February 11h at FSU’s Turnbull Center. The event’s keynote speaker provided a preview.

There are quite a few motivational speakers around nowadays. But few can boast the serious academic chops of Candace Bertotti.

“I’m a senior master trainer for VitalSmarts, also an adjunct professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government and Georgetown Law School,” she said.

And speaking of serious, Bertotti’s professional goals are right up there with outlawing war and reforesting the Amazon basin.

“My business is to change the world for good by changing behavior. So how can I give people skills to change results in their lives.”

That aspiration fits right into the Working Well ethos of promoting healthier, happier behaviors, first in the workplace.

“We’re going to be talking about psychological safety. By that I mean how can we create organizations where people can speak up without fear of retribution, retaliation, or embarrassment. So how can I admit mistakes, ask questions, offer new ideas fully and freely and I think will resonate at all levels of an organization.”

Concepts that she said also work outside of business hours.

“This is not just at work. It’s also in our families so how can we make it as comfortable as possible to talk about tough things because we can’t have these tough conversations and it’s hard to have them without it.”

Although Bertotti conceded this approach to more positive human interaction has had its detractors.

“Well,” she said, paraphrasing some of the criticisms, “’you’re trying to teach coddling,’ and ‘oh, you’ve got to make it so safe that we can’t offend anybody here,’ and ‘oh, we have to stroke the egos of all the young people now,’ and ‘wow, we’ve got to make it so safe in here!’ And it’s almost become a bad word. So what I like to do first is to make the business case for why this is important. Leaders may think this is nice to have, but this is an absolutely MUST have if we want to execute and innovate.”

Beyond her 45-minute talk during the Working Well CEO Breakfast, Bertotti said she’ll be sticking around afterward.

“Also there’s a 3-hour training after the speech. It’s going to be more focused on accountability and how we need to make it safe in order to have accountable cultures. So there will be more practical, repeatable skills.”

The breakfast always fills up fast and, despite the letters “CEO” in the event title, everyone is welcome. Check out: www.workingwelltoday.org web site for tickets and other information about the February 11th happening.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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