Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.
Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Donna Maurillo who is director of technology transfer for the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, Calif. For 20 years, she had a PR agency before being lured into Silicon Valley’s technology industry. She earned her Master of Science degree just a month before qualifying for full Social Security. She has two children, three grandchildren, and no plans to retire.
D is for Dream. What is your Dream?
I don’t really have dreams. I have a few long-term goals, such as saving for my retirement or traveling to Italy again. But when it comes to dreams, I find that if I slow down enough, some really good things catch up with me. Too often, people run after what they think will be good for them, and they don’t pay attention to what is already being sent their way.
E is for Encourage. What encourages you?
It doesn’t take much! I’m one of these people who can run all day on a few kind words. But when I fail at something, or when something bad happens, I allow myself time to feel sorry for myself, to feel that it isn’t fair, or even to get angry. I’ve known people who believe that those so-called negative emotions are bad for you. No, they’re not! Your emotions are simply your unedited reactions to events. If we deny them, they come back as obstacles — or ulcers. So I guess another source of encouragement for me is to allow myself to wallow for a bit. Once I can acknowledge those very real emotions, I can set them aside and get back to work.
R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?
My friends would say it’s my ability to find humor in almost any situation. Sometimes it’s gallows humor, but that also has its place. Laughter releases some good chemicals into your brain, it reduces tension, it can make adversaries lower their defenses, and it can help a group feel some kinship. Just the simple act of smiling — lifting those muscles at the corners of your mouth — can release “happy” endorphins. Isn’t that amazing?? Even a forced smile can make you feel better.
R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?
Ready? I don’t think I’ve ever been ready. Often, I’m one of those “ready, fire, aim” kinds of people. You can over-think some situations, and then you never feel ready enough. Most times, all you really need are some quick strategies, some reassurance that you’re reasonably prepared, and a willingness to charge into it. I used to have a sign in my office that said, “Leap off the cliff. Grow wings on the way down.” It reminded me that when we’re pushed, we can come up with some great solutions. I also had a boss who liked to say, “Never leap a chasm in two steps.” In other words, if you’re going to do it, then give it all you’ve got.
I is for Individual. Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why?
The first person who pops to mind is my mother. She had some tough times raising eight kids, and she has every right to be beaten down. But she is one of the happiest and most positive people I know. Once I asked her how she ever stood up to the challenges, especially when we were teenagers. She said, “I remember only the good stuff.” My Mom’s parents are also memorable. They gave up everything they had in Italy to come to an unknown country and make a new start. Imagine leaving behind all your friends, many of your relatives, and all that was familiar to you — and never going back. I’m so grateful that they took that leap of faith because it gave the next generations so many opportunities that we would not have had otherwise.
C is for Continue. When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic, what makes you want to continue?
Age is a great thing because the older you become, the more perspective you gain. At least, that’s how it should be. But for too many of us, perspective is a gift we never unwrap. I try to keep in mind that the things I worry about today will likely be forgotten next month. And when you realize how big the universe is, and how long it’s been around, our problems are simply dust motes. A good dose of dark chocolate also lifts my mood.
K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?
Be true to who you are. As Thomas Jefferson said, you have to keep your roots planted in your principles, but when it comes to issues of fashion, then flow with the tide. Flexibility is important, but not at the cost of what you believe to be right and true. Or as my mother always says, “Keep an open mind, but don’t let your brains fall out.”
Visit Donna Maurillo for more information