Saturday, December 1, 2012

Shine on, OT Leader!

Hopefully, by following this OT Leaders that Shine blog, you’ve gained some excellent leadership tips from our highlighted expert OT Leader, Amy Salinas, MS OTR/L.
Amy planned and hosted the First Annual car show fundraiser for the brain injury service at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (Rancho): “Rebuilding Cars; Rebuilding Lives”.  On September 29th, over 1,000 guests visited the event, with over 150 cars registered – which is a huge success for a first time car show!

This entire process has been a great learning experience for Amy – and for those of us who have been following the excitement as the plan evolved.   

Working her way up the professional ladder to chairperson of the brain injury interdisciplinary team at Rancho, OT supervisor Amy Salinas is no stranger to leadership responsibilities; however, this car show was her largest professional endeavor to date.   Amy was searching for an event to bring her team together while promoting recognition about brain injury in the local communities surrounding Downey, CA.  Amy generated the enthusiasm for this event after a few conversations with her father, an avid vintage car hobbyist.   

Amy’s father and his fellow club members held leadership roles guiding the implementation, launching and running of the car show.  He was actively involved up to the last minute when he and his car club judged the entries.  Through this experience, Amy learned to interact and gain the trust of many community agencies, most of whom had never heard of Rancho Los Amigos.  She recruited help from the Sherriff’s department to the Girl Scouts. She even had a large stage donated for free. It seemed that anyone Amy spoke with about the show, wanted to help in some way.  Approximately 200 people volunteered their time from the generation of the idea, to the implementation of the show. Taking on a leadership role can be quite exciting when the leader is passionate about a cause.  Amy is a true example of this passion and commitment.   

Leadership Lessons Learned: 

1) Every decision has an up-side and down-side. 
Amy learned that as the day of event drew near, and as people who were helping became more committed to the success of the show, every decision affected the groups that were helping in a different way.  Amy made great efforts to anticipate and carefully weigh the outcome of each decision she made.   Even on the day of the event, plans had to be altered when the food truck vendors decided that they wanted to move their location.  Things were carefully planned around the location of the trucks, but when that changed, Amy remained calm and flexible moving vendors and events around so that things worked out for everyone.

 2) Remain calm in your demeanor.
Amy learned that the people reflect each other's energy.  As a leader, when you demonstrate emotion, the people you are communicating with mirror that emotion.  Also as a leader, if you mirror your partner's emotion, things can escalate and emotions can take over. To implement a calm and effective program, Amy suggests being empathetic, but keeping the larger goal in focus at all times.  The more involved people become, the more emotions are displayed.  Amy learned that she could keep the people around her calmer if she herself maintained a calm demeanor.  She suggests keeping the ultimate goal of the program as the primary focus at all times helps to keep the daily events and the associated emotions on track.

 3) Know your audience.
When you work at a world-renown hospital as popular as Rancho Los Amigos, it is easy to assume that everyone knows what type of facility it is.  After all the marketing, Amy was surprised at how many people still needed to learn about brain injury and the rehabilitation hospital in southern California that it known by health care professionals for its ‘Levels of Cognitive Functioning’.  Amy also suggests being brief and succinct with your marketing materials.  She recommends that a one-page flier should “say it all”.  So when marketing your program, make no assumptions! 

 4) Communicate, communicate, communicate….
Each entry in this blog emphasized Amy’s need for open, clear communication.  She repeated the need to listen carefully to others and address issues as soon as possible.  Amy worked with several different committees in the hospital and even more in the community.  She learned how to communicate with volunteers and helpers so that they felt heard, and she respected their input.  Amy cannot overstress addressing issues as early as possible, again keeping the ultimate program as the primary focus to accept input and avoid disappointment.
5) Acknowledge your helpers.
There is no way that the car show would have been as successful if it had not been for all the help Amy received.  She eventually lost count of exactly who was helping, because people ended up recruiting help that she never knew about.  However, Amy emphasizes the need to acknowledge as many of the people who helped as possible.  She arranged a ceremony with hospital administration to acknowledge as many people as she could, and was sure to note her appreciation for all the people she didn’t know about as well.
6) Do a thorough de-briefing.
This was Amy’s first of many (she hopes) car shows.  She feels she learned so much this time around and is eager to set the wheels in motion for next year’s show.   She forwarded emails asking for suggestions and held a meeting with those who were able to attend.   Suggestions were made about how and when to register cars, to where the stage would be located, to the flow of traffic exiting the show, to having someone sell hats for sun protection; will all contribute to the success of the upcoming car shows! 
7) Use your resources.
In reviewing the day, Amy realized that she could have made better use of the primary Rancho resource, their patients! Next year, Amy is planning to have the patients be more involved in planning and running the show.  This year, many helped by baking for the bake sale and giving out the trophies, but Amy feels that they can build their leadership skills and contribute more by getting involved earlier next year. 
8) Celebrate your successes.
Amy bought a car-show cake and had a huge party to celebrate the success of the First Annual Rancho Car Show!  People were happy to share in the celebration by sharing their pictures and their stories. 
To see pictures and learn more about the success of the car show, go to:

In the end, the show was such a success, that it raised over double the amount of money she had hoped to raise. 

Congratulations Amy, you truly are an OT Leader that Shines! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your event. Very inspiring.