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Interview with Kevin Shrake

Keynote speaker Kevin Shrake began his career as a registered respiratory therapist and advanced to CEO-level positions in some of the largest healthcare organizations in the country. He has experience working with organizations of all sizes and specialties in communities ranging from 4,000 residents to 4 million. Kevin Shrake knows that a fully engaged workplace is what makes businesses successful. His talks lead to increased employee and customer satisfaction, improved financial performance, employee turnover and quality. Learn more about him in this interview!

When and how did you learn the importance of employee engagement?


I learned the importance of “people engagement” from my childhood.  Very early on it was evident to me growing up in a small town in the Midwest, that when people worked together and took pride in their environment, the community thrived. The streets were clean because people cared, crime was low because of respect for others and the education system was of high quality because teachers wanted to teach and they actually cared about the students that they were educating. I also learned the importance of teamwork through participation in athletics.  It helped me recognize that every person’s job on the team was important and that we all brought different skills to the game that made us better collectively than we were on our own. Taking these principles and transposing them to the importance of “employee engagement” was a natural transition.

Employees are engaged when they feel that their contribution to the organization is valued and appreciated.  People are engaged when they have an understanding of the goals to be accomplished and why they are important.  They are also engaged when there is a general sense of servant leadership that permeates the organization.  There is a direct relationship between the percentage of engaged employees and positive outcomes such as high quality, low cost, excellent financial performance and a stellar reputation.  Good communication is a key factor in sharing the information necessary for people to be well informed and therefore engaged.



How do you define good communication?


Good communication involves an effective sender and a receptive receiver. Back to the athletic analogy…a good pass is one that someone catches. Communication must be consistent, open and honest.  I believe it is important to err on the side of sharing too much than too little. One develops trust by consistently delivering open and honest messages, regardless of how positive or negative the news might be. Good communication also involves being a good listener. Martin Luther King once said, “It is more important to understand than to be understood.”  That philosophy places the emphasis on the other person rather than yourself which is another common characteristic of good communication.



What leadership qualities do you most admire and why? 


In my mind, the definition of a leader is someone who has the characteristics that draws other people to want to follow them. It has very little to do with hierarchy and much more to do with the ability to develop trust through open communication, respect and recognition of the importance of every single person’s role in an organization and the willingness to “get their hands dirty.”  I admire people who lead by example, practice consistent levels of visibility to the entire employee base, are calm and confident in times of adversity and have a sense of humor.  I believe that leaders should take their jobs seriously and themselves lightly.



What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?


I love to teach and I have found that in order to speak effectively about a subject you have to really know the topic. Expert knowledge is a combination of formal education, real world experience, being mentored by successful leaders and learning from the experience of others. Through my public speaking engagements, I gain great satisfaction from making a difference in other people’s lives as they learn methods to effectively deal with their daily challenges. I enjoy the fact that many of the skills presented can be used to increase their influence and effectiveness in their personal as well as their professional life.

Having the advantage of connecting with a variety of talented people also presents great learning opportunities for me in return as they share their experiences and what has worked for them.



Why should clients use you for their next event?


First and foremost, I have great passion for what I do and present in an engaging way that has been termed, “Edutainment” … a combination of education and entertainment. I have found that engaging the audience in illustrative story-telling, relating common problems and solutions, involving them in hands on activities and making them laugh at the same time is one of the most effective adult learning techniques.

I have some natural abilities in this area, but those skills were honed by the original master of public speaking, Mr. Zig Ziglar. The formal training, work as an independent contractor and the personal mentoring from Mr. Ziglar and his team has prepared me to handle most any audience in an effective manner regardless of the industry.

Some people are excellent speakers but have no real world experience at the executive level. Some people have great experience but are poor presenters.  I believe I have the combination of the ability to teach in an effective, engaging manner along with the actual experience of having lead large organizations.


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