management coop

Tracey Klinkhammer – Management Co-op at The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus

Tracey Klinkhammer - Management Co-op at The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
About Tracey Klinkhammer

Inspiring students to succeed is what Tracey Klinkhammer aspires to in her role at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Management Co-op Department. With a focus on helping students turn their abilities into exciting possibilities, Tracey leverages her diverse experience in sales, human resources and education to really partner with the students in the program to support their goals.

Starting with an engineering degree and completing an MBA with a co-op she knows firsthand the impact of integrated learning. She recognizes through her own journey how there are many pathways to get to where you want to go. Tracey believes in making a difference one student at a time.

Connect with Tracey: Email | Website | Linkedin

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

The Dream Machine Tour

Alex Banayan: The Third Door (book)

Charlie Rocket

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is Tracey Klinkhammer. Inspiring students to succeed is what Tracey aspires to do in her role at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s management co-op department with a focus on helping students turn their abilities into exciting possibilities. Tracey leverages her diverse experience in sales, human resources and education to really partner with the students in the programs to support their goals. Starting with an engineering degree and completing an MBA with a co-op, she knows firsthand the impact of integrated learning. She recognizes through her own journey, how there are many pathways to get to where you want to go. And Tracey believes in making a difference one student at a time.

Sam Demma (01:25):
This is a very refreshing and awesome human to human conversation, and I hope you enjoy it and take something valuable away from it. I will see you on the other side. Tracey, thank you so much for coming on the high performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind the reason why you got into education?

Tracey Klinkhammer (01:49):
Well, thank you first for having me, Sam, I’m super excited to be here. This is very fun for me. So it’s a long story. I’ll try to keep it short, but it starts with my own passion for learning. I think I was one of those kids in school couldn’t get enough. And I had really great teachers that fed that passion. And so I was always getting pulled into, you know, extra projects and so going into high school, I think I realized how much I benefited from people investing in me. And then I started getting into peer tutoring, which led me to realize I loved teaching. I loved helping. I loved seeing my friends progress past their math tests and I was really interested in being a math teacher. But at that time when I was applying to universities, my father sort of gave me the choice of taking a math degree at my local university, which is a great university or fleeing the nest.

Tracey Klinkhammer (02:40):
And I could go anywhere in Canada if I took engineering. And so that was a very it was an easy decision for me. And so he said it wouldn’t close any doors and it was, it’s a great degree. Engineering’s a great degree. Mm. But I didn’t wanna be an engineer, taught me a lot about problem solving and so on. And every year my dad would say, do you, how’s it going? No, I don’t wanna be an engineer. So the only door it did close though, was teachers college. Funny enough so I had to figure out, okay, so I can’t get into teachers college. What can I do? So I did what we did back then before phones and surfing, I turned to the smartest girl in my class and I said, what’s your plan? And she talked about doing her MBA and talked all about this thing called co-op, which I didn’t know about co-op at that time.

Tracey Klinkhammer (03:25):
And so, you know, walked over to the payphone. That’s dating myself and says people probably like payphone, who is those? And then I booked an interview and, and did my GMAT and got into the MBA program. Mm. So I, I didn’t quite get into formal education until five years ago when I did join U oft. Nice. But what I realized as I became an HR professional and I took some time off and did some training on the side, I realized I was always about people enablement. And so even, you know, if you, about what education is, it’s really about giving students the tools they need to be successful. And I took that mindset with my HR jobs. And then finally this opportunity because I ran recruitment programs across the country and I was in talent acquisition. And I, I realized the value of co-op. So then I brought people in and I started partnering with the ship Toronto Scarborough and realized it is an amazing program, amazing students, amazing people. And so for three years, I basically saw the value of co-op as we brought on students and then eventually transitioned to being part of their team. So that was a long story, but I’m currently at the university of Toronto and, and I work in the business program supporting students who are in co-op.

Sam Demma (04:45):
What, what prompted you to make the jump from HR job to UFT? Like, was there a defining moment in your story that you thought it’s time for me to move on from this? Or why did you decide to switch?

Tracey Klinkhammer (04:57):
I think I just got to a point in my career and I think this is a really important thing they always talk about with students. I think sometimes there’s a pressure to feel this, you know, what success looks like and to sort of follow a certain pathway and the pathway tends to be vertical. And so a lot of students, you know, when they look at definitions of success and they look at creating pathways for themselves and modeling, you know, other people, what they tend to see as vertical progression. And I think I just got to a point in my career where I, I really stopped and thought, you know, what’s really important to me. Why am I in this job? What do I wanna get out of working? And and the answer was really about making a difference. And so not that I, in my other job, I, I loved my job.

Tracey Klinkhammer (05:40):
I, I wanna say, you know, I loved working for the cup that I worked at. I just thought that I had a chance to really affect change one student at a time by, by getting into a university setting. So, and it really did feel full circle. It really did feel finely, you know, after all these years getting into a formal education setting, which I had talked about wanting to do when I was in high school. Mm-Hmm . And so it, what I didn’t also tell you is I did sales in between there too. So, you know, sales…

Sam Demma (06:09):
What did you sell?

Tracey Klinkhammer (06:10):
I, I sold, but don’t tell anybody I called my grandma. I like, oh my grandma. I said, grandma, I got my first job. And so, yes, I’m still in drugs. I worked for AstraZeneca, so, oh, wow. I did. And so I brought on because I couldn’t get an HR job because I didn’t have the experience. And so someone said, well, get a sales job, understand the products, understand the people. And then you’ll be able to support them in that HR function. But at the time that I got into and sales taught me a lot about, it’s funny, all my jobs gave me bits and pieces. That helped me be a good advisor, cuz that’s basically what my role is. It’s kind of advising. So sales taught me about listening and the importance of really understanding need and really, you know, under taking the time to gather requirements and really understand, you know, pain points and how you can really help someone through that. So I actually think sales experience hands down for anybody is a great fundamental experience. I think everybody should do sales at one point in their life.

Sam Demma (07:10):
Yeah, I agree. I agree. I have, I have a coach.

Tracey Klinkhammer (07:13):

Sam Demma (07:15):
so I have a coach and a mentor who spent half of his life selling surgical equipment and he is now a speaker and he’s been speaking for 25 years and he teaches me everything. He knows about sales and like that’s one of the most important things, but he helps shift my mindset from, you know, thinking about sales as selling to serving, like you’re mentioning about understanding people really on a deep level and what they actually need. And if you are, are the person to help them. And it’s, it’s so true. It’s, it’s so true. It’s funny that you mentioned that now it’s come full circle as you got into a classroom, because you mentioned that you were a student who always wanted more mm-hmm and it seems like your daughter is too, because you’re in her bedroom and behind you on the wall is a chalkboard . Yeah. Which is like that’s so cool. Like having a chalkboard in your bedroom. That’s amazing. What do you think led to you being that student that always wanted more? Did you have people in your life who stressed the importance of education? Was there teachers who played a fundamental role in your life?

Tracey Klinkhammer (08:12):
I think it was to be really honest. I think it was my parents. Yeah. particularly my mom, she didn’t have our access to higher ed. Okay. And I think, you know, growing up with her circumstance, I think she realized she, my parents are phenomenal have given me like their, you know, amazing role models. But I think for my parents, it was like when you go to university, not if it was always higher, ed was always part of our conversation. Now, funny enough, they never actually pressured me. It all came from me. I, I really drove myself. My parents were not those hovering parents. They never helped me with my, like, this is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. They didn’t help me with my homework. They didn’t check up on me. I was really motivated to, you know, manage my work, ask for more.

Tracey Klinkhammer (08:58):
They, they looked for opportunities and supported those opportunities when they came up and when, you know, teachers approached them and they were so supportive, but it really did come from me. And I, I think it was those teachers that took the time. Cuz now that I’m on the other side of it, I realized that the E easier thing for them to do, would’ve just been to do the basics mm-hmm . And I think about, you know, my grade six teacher going up, she knew I love language and she would create these special, extra you know, study guides for, you know, crazy words and how to use them. And I love that stuff. And I look back now and I think, oh my gosh, she did that all in our own time. And that’s, that was really early on. And even in grade one and two, I was taken out with seven other students and we stayed with the grade one class in grade two and we worked on special projects.

Tracey Klinkhammer (09:46):
And again, they were really that would’ve been like the easier thing to do. Would’ve just been to let us all kind of go with our cohort, but they kept us separate. And so early on I realized, you know, if you sort of demonstrate and, and show that passion, that you really can find people in your life that wanna feed that. And so definitely teachers have a, a big role to, to play in that. So, and in high school too, same, I could go there’s a lot, you know, that that’s that I realized. And I don’t, that’s what I don’t think people like, I always tell my kids cuz they’re in high school and one of them’s in grade eight and I always go back to those teachers that made a difference cuz I know the difference they’ve made cuz my, my kids are talking about them and I thought you have no idea how transformative your experience in the classroom was for my kid. And so I’ve really tried to instill in my children and for anybody that’s listening, you know, it’s a great thing to do. Gratitude is huge. It’s a really, it’s an easy gift to give it’s free and it’s a, a great way to give back. Now I feel like I have to go back and call my grade six teacher I feel like I have to go back and tell my grade one grade, two teachers. You know, thank you. Thank you.

Sam Demma (10:53):
Well, I appreciate you sharing that because you know the educators that are listening to us right now, it’s also a reminder to them to note that sometimes students don’t tell you these things. No that you’re, you know, you could be making a huge difference, but not hear about it for 30 years. And no it’s important to, to understand that that doesn’t mean you’re not making an impact. The impact is still there. It just might take a while for you to see the F roots of it. Or you may never see it, but know it exists. And I just think that’s important to stress as well, because you know, you know, maybe the student didn’t have someone like yourself telling them, you know, be grateful and tell your teachers, you appreciate them, but the students really do. And I I’m sure you even see that in your role at U F T you know, like I’m, I’m sure when you give advice to students you, you help help them find the answers to questions that they have not by telling them what to do, but by helping them explore themselves, I’m sure they’re super grateful.

Sam Demma (11:47):
Do you have any stories of, of students at UTSC that, that you know, you keep, you keep in the forefront of your mind maybe when you’re feeling a little down or you know, a little beaten up?

Tracey Klinkhammer (11:57):
Well, this has been a rough year. I will tell you this year has made, you know, has been made better. I work. This is one of the best programs in the country. Yeah. I am so proud to work at U oft and I love the students that I work with and they’re their teachers. I’m always learning from them. And for me, I don’t do it for the gratitude truthfully, like that’s, that’s a bonus. And what, what really moves me is when I actually see them achieve their goal mm-hmm and help them figure out what that is like, what you were talking about. It’s really unlocking their pathways. I think every young person when they’re sort of embarking, and this is the time of year now where students are ex accepting their college and university applications and thinking about what’s next for them. And I always think it’s really important to understand how fluid those, those goals can be.

Tracey Klinkhammer (12:45):
And, you know, helping a student understand through reflection and through their own growth and learning, you know, to really tie into what’s important to them and understand, and it can change along the way. So the best part of my job is being with the students. That’s what I love about working with the business program, cuz I’m with them from the beginning to when they graduate. And that change is so amazing. Cuz some students come, they have a plan, they execute on the plan. That’s great. They graduate. And that all went to plan. There are some people who had a plan and the plan is not what they I’m sure I can see you. Right? Yeah. I think more students feel like you do Sam, but that’s not how I thought my plan was gonna go. Yeah. And so that’s a really cool thing to be a part of too, because then I, you know, then I’m more, that’s back to the consulting thing and the advising, which is about listening and themselves reflect and figure it out.

Tracey Klinkhammer (13:36):
And cuz I think they ultimately know where they wanna go. It’s having the confidence and the, the belief in themselves to do it, especially when they’ve experienced some failure because news, flash, you know, everybody at some point we have a lot of great students and I always tell them it’s for, for a lot of students, they real, haven’t experienced a lot of failure in their life and that first experience can be really painful. And and there’s a number of ways students react to it. I think they, this is gonna sound weird, but I think it’s such a great thing. I think it’s such a great teacher. And resiliency is one of the most important things. I think a young person can learn and help successful through their, their time.

Sam Demma (14:18):
So a student comes to the office, crying that they failed something like how do you, how do you deal with that? Like what kind of, I guess what kind of, what kind of questions would you ask to help them find their own answers?

Tracey Klinkhammer (14:30):
Well, I, I think first it’s starting with kind of empathy and compassion, right? Yeah. Like acknowledging the feelings. And I think that’s the thing, I’m a super positive person, but I think the students have come to realize that I’m good with all the emotions. You know, your, your university college life is gonna take you through a wide range of experiences. Some of them are gonna be really positive. Sadly, I’ve been with students that have experienced tremendous loss. And that, that, that comes in all sorts of different experiences and that’s hard. Cuz you’re seeing student experience that. And I think for me it’s more about understanding where they are in that moment and what they need in that moment. And then, you know, I work at a school world, it’s got lots of great resources to help support students depending on, you know, what’s happening. But I think the big one is just kind of being with them and saying, I’m sorry, and I hear you and not trying to problem solve.

Sam Demma (15:24):
Sometimes people just go straight to the questions.

Tracey Klinkhammer (15:26):
Yeah. I don’t sort of whip out my checklist and you know because everybody’s different. And also when I have a relationship with the student, when I’ve known them for a few years, you can really tell if someone’s, you know, kind of the majority of your interactions have been a certain way. And then you see this change, you realize this is an important moment and I try to make space and time. And I think the biggest thing and the most challenging thing is being really present because obviously I have a family we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I think I, I think to really be effective in education, I think you have to really focus on how are you really present with that student in that moment? So they know that you ha you’re, they’re heard and that they’re supported. Does that make sense?

Sam Demma (16:08):
Yeah, of course. It’s, you know, it’s letting them speak what they have to speak and, and understanding what their situation is and almost being like a best friend, like, right. Like that’s what it kind of sounds like at the end of the day.

Tracey Klinkhammer (16:22):
No, I like to draw some boundaries, you know, of course yeah. Like I’m a nine to five here to there. Yeah. And you know, they’ve got lots of friends. I think what I am though is I think I am someone, you know, given my experience, given my role, I am someone where they know that they they’re not alone, that they can that. So there is a place to sort of help cuz you know, whether it’s related to job seeking or academic performance or maybe there’s something personally in their life, knowing who to reach out to things are gonna happen in your life. And I think what I want the ’em to know is I can’t solve your problems, but I can definitely be here to support you and connect you with the people that can like I’m not a counselor. Yeah. I’m not a, you know, like I, we, we have these great people that help support and I’m as much as I’m obviously friendly with them, we have lots of laughs and we’re fun, but there is there is that I think it’s about trust. I think what you’re getting to, when you talk about is, you know, they get to a point, I think they, they really know that I care and when someone cares, you’re more apt to share and build trust with that. So that’s what I try to do. I try to show I lead with caring. That’s kind of hopefully that’s how they perceive it, but yeah.

Sam Demma (17:32):
Cool. Yeah. I love that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. I was getting at the idea that like, they feel like you’re a friend, not that they’re talking to you like 24 or seven or anything, but you know, like they’re

Tracey Klinkhammer (17:42):
Not hitting me up on you know, not, not texting each other, like, you know yeah. Boundaries, Sam boundaries…

Sam Demma (17:49):
Right. yeah, it makes, it makes total sense. And you know, what types of challenges are you faced with this year? I know it’s different, it’s very different. So like what does it look like? How have things changed?

Tracey Klinkhammer (18:01):
Well, let me ask you that. How are you, what kind of challenges are you?

Sam Demma (18:04):
Well I mean, I almost quit speaking back in may. And that’s when I met this guy who became my coach named Chris. Like I, it’s funny, it followed the whole classical heroes journey. I went on an adventure and COVID hit and then I found a mentor and his name was Chris. And then I had trials and tribulations and I almost quit and here we are now, but at, it was, it was terrible. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know if I could keep doing this. Then he started shifting my belief system to understand that this could also be the greatest opportunity because people need this sort of inspiration and motivation and just positivity now more than ever.

Tracey Klinkhammer (18:46):
Chris. I like it. I like Chris. He has a good attitude about he’s cool. So it’s the same thing. I think we’ve all had to pivot. I, you know, what I hear from you Sam is that you were thrown a huge curve ball, which basically the pandemic has for everyone, like for our students, for our staff, you know, I work with a really great team and we’re used to working with each other and seeing each other on campus. I miss them. I feel, you know, it’s isolating working in my basement is not my favourite. Sam, it’s cold down there. I had to buy warm socks and like I got a heated blanket for my birthday or for. But you know, and I miss that I think what I miss the most and what I find the most challenging is how organic everything was, all those connections with students and, you know, being on campus think students sort of, you know, available to pop in and, you know, I work in the business building, so you’d see them when you’re walking around the building, there was so much information that was exchanged that I was a lot better able to sort of keep up with what was going on here, information.

Tracey Klinkhammer (19:47):
And I think the, the, the biggest challenge has been how intentionally need to be when you’re online. And I miss the casualness of just being in a workplace where, you know, you enjoy the company of your colleagues, you enjoy the, the students that you work with. And so I think that’s been the biggest challenge. And I think all the students are feeling a little bit of isolation, right? Like it’s, so some students are living their best life. They like this online thing. I would say the majority are anxious to come back to, to to school and for our co-op students for a lot of them, you know, they’ve done work terms where they were in the workplace and now they’re transitioning to having to learn how to navigate the world of work online. And so that comes with its own set of challenges and, you know, supporting our students through that.

Tracey Klinkhammer (20:31):
So what I love about my team though, is I work with someone who inspires me. He’s you know, one of my, one of my, my manager, Phil, I’ll give him a shout out. He’s always thinking about new ways of doing things. And and I think that’s where you have to go to just like how you talked about, you know, where, what can you do? How can you respond to this in a different way? I think we’ve asked ourselves that as a department and we, you know, we ask that of the students too, when they’re looking at managing through that. So yeah, it’s been a tough year for everybody.

Sam Demma (21:02):
Yeah. That’s great. And I, I agree. It’s a, it’s a weird different year. And I think, you know, I find too, if we focus on the negative too long, we’re always gonna find the negative. And if we try and focus on the positive, no matter how small we can, can grab a hold of it and figure out some other things that can happen because of it. There’s a quote. I love that, you know, without dirt, you can’t plant a seed or, you know, this guy, Charlie rocket always says Santa delivered presence, not in the light, but in dark . And I was like, ah, you know, this little analogy just to remind us that when there isn’t a, a tough situation or something to overcome that there’s also some form of an opportunity hidden in there somewhere. The problem is often sometimes a part of the solution in some way, shape or form.

Tracey Klinkhammer (21:41):
Yeah. And I think that’s what I always tell students too, like lessons that you learn sometimes aren’t wrapped, you know, on your analogy of the gay ifs. They’re not always wrapped in pretty paper. Yeah. sometimes those lessons and you don’t realize that they are actually a gift. So you get these lessons at the time when you’re in it, it might feel really overwhelming and it’s hard to reflect in the moment, but I’ve seen a lot of students that when they look back on those experiences, they realize how important, how impactful they were to where they ended up getting to. But in that moment, it can, it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t always feel like a gift when you’re learning that lesson. That’s not wrapped in the prettiest of papers. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Sam Demma (22:18):
I’m with you. And you mentioned Phil, Phil’s been an inspiration back to Phil for one second. Like what is it that Phil’s done that’s inspired you or you know, motivated you. And I asked the question just because I feel like in our, all of our lives, there are teachers and motivators. Like I can mention people that inspire me. I already mentioned Chris, my coach mm-hmm what is it about Phil that kind of inspires you? I think

Tracey Klinkhammer (22:40):
Phil is just, he’s fantastic. I mean, he’s worked at the university for maybe, I don’t know if he’s gonna get mad, but 15 years, maybe I’m adding up. And I’ve, I’ve worked at UT for five years. What I, what I really appreciate about Phil is he inspires me because he’s always looking to be better for himself and for our students, like he puts our students first. He’s always, I don’t know how he manages to read so much. He listens to a million podcasts. I think he reminds me of the people that I had in my life early on that were always feeding my need to learn and to grow. And so he’s always, you know, flipping me and our team, you know, articles he’s come across and he’s really helped me see the value of that investment in yourself. Cuz sometimes you get really busy as an educator and you realize, so, oh, I have to keep learning.

Tracey Klinkhammer (23:31):
Like I, here I am teaching. And I’m, you know, a lot of my work you know, we, we help our first year students, we teach a course in terms of getting them ready for jobs, but we do a lot of one-on-one counseling. And I think sometimes you get into the, you know, the, the, you know, the kind of the day in day out of your job and you forget that you’ve gotta take that time to invest in yourself. And he’s always reminding me that that’s important. And working with someone in an educational setting that puts students first that, you know, values innovation and new ideas. It’s great. Like, I, I, I, I hope that everybody gets to work with someone like that. So yeah.

Sam Demma (24:08):
And if you could, you know, go back in time not that it’s too far, we’re not gonna date you but if you could…

Tracey Klinkhammer (24:16):
I did talk about my payphone, Sam.

Sam Demma (24:17):
I did talk. That’s why I’m, I’m like, I’m trying to save you here, but it’s too late. if we did go back in time, you know, to Fred Flintstones. Yeah. Yeah. If, if we went back in time to the first year that you, you did this sort of work in education, like knowing what you know now, what advice would you give younger Tracey?

Tracey Klinkhammer (24:36):
Oh my gosh. I would give my younger Tracey, like this year has been tough because I think in this role of caring, you know, you real again, and being present, I didn’t realize the impact of COVID on like of the pandemic on me personally and, and just, you know, working on my own and not having the team to re-energize me. I, I would’ve told myself earlier, make sure you, you take care of yourself a little more, more intentionally. I think it was that, that was it. Aside from that, I, I think, you know, and I probably would’ve put more time earlier and, and I still do it, but just, I forgot how much I love reading and, you know, kind of keeping recharged and connected. So I think those two things is just more about self care and and filling the, filling my bucket so I can fill others. So, yeah.

Sam Demma (25:32):
Oh, cool. I agree. Those are great. Those are great pieces.

Tracey Klinkhammer (25:35):
Would you go back and say, if you could tell yourself before you got on your journey, I’m always curious, what would you do?

Sam Demma (25:39):
Well, unfortunately, there wasn’t any payphone , but I would tell myself two and invest in Tesla for sure. totally joking. If I could go back in time to when I was 17 and going through some tough experiences, I would remind myself that my self worth as a human being, isn’t attached to things that I do that I’m innately, you know, worth just as much as every other human being, just by the fact that I’m here and I’m born mm-hmm I would tell myself that I’m a competitor and I operate best when I challenge myself and it doesn’t have to be in a linear fashion, meaning always soccer as it used to be when I was younger, it could be in any way, shape or form, whether it’s a challenge to run a marathon or to push myself mentally in a specific way or to take a new yoga practice on or something. I would tell myself to, to ask myself how I can use my gifts and talents to serve others and to help others. Cause I feel at my best as well when I’m serving or in some form of service mm-hmm I’ll tell myself to not hate reading throughout high school.

Tracey Klinkhammer (26:45):
Maybe it’s important. I tell my kids to read every day. Reading is so important. They listen to like, you know, they, they underestimate the power of reading, like the, it is important. Okay. What else? Sorry. I’m I’m on your train. I got really onto that one.

Sam Demma (26:57):
Well, I’m sorry. I’m like spitting out 15 different things here. I know you’re making me feel like I gotta go by.

Tracey Klinkhammer (27:01):
I can revisit. What would I tell myself five years ago?

Sam Demma (27:05):
well, you got me on, you got me on the spot too. And I’m like, I dunno.

Tracey Klinkhammer (27:10):
Know what, but what I like though, what I heard about you is it’s all that self-reflection piece. Right? And I think that, and that’s the part where I really, you know, want our students to get to is just about figuring out where your gifts are, where your’re are and really looking inward. I think a lot of students want, and I think, you know, you may have felt that same pressure to look about, you know, look to your left, look to your right and see what other people are doing. It takes a lot of courage to sort of look inward and dis you know, kind of discover for yourself. You know, you talked about you as a competitor and creating a space for yourself where you can leverage that at strength, the yours, and a lot of students spend a lot of time on what they’re not good at, instead of just saying, Hey, what am I good at? And let’s, you know, let’s grow with that. Let’s, you know, nobody’s gonna be great at everything, but figuring out how to really leverage your own strengths and keep moving. So, yeah.

Sam Demma (27:59):
And there’s times where I’ll put myself in a situation where I know I’m not good at something to try and, you know, build this skill mm-hmm , but in certain, you know, certain moments when I’m down or when things aren’t going well, I wanna put myself in a position where I feel at my best, so I can get back to my best mm-hmm . And for me, that’s running or pushing myself physically, but that’s just for me. And I think for everyone, it’s totally different. Like you said, mm-hmm you mentioned reading and I know you love reading. So would you mind sharing a couple of sources or things you’ve read that you think are valuable?

Tracey Klinkhammer (28:28):
Well, thanks for asking Sam. I think I tell I really should get a commission for this cuz the number of people I have reading this book and I know you’ve read the book, you know what I’m gonna say? I do know the third door, not the, and I do not work for Alex, but everybody should read the, I think it, it, it goes for students, it goes for educators. It goes for really anybody in life. It’s a story of resiliency and and it, and it’s applicable in a business context in your own personal life. Would you say, would you say that’s a solid book recommendation?

Sam Demma (29:02):
A hundred percent. In fact, I just, I just have another third door experience. Maybe I can share real quick.

Tracey Klinkhammer (29:08):
I love thethird door. I always, cuz that was basically my life for people that are listening. The third door analogy is essentially a story about what happens when you encounter obstacles. And it’s this young guy who’s in med school who wants to figure out what makes famous people successful. And he, you know, kind of sells a won’t well, you gotta read the book to know, but basically the analogy comes up with is if you can’t, you know, successful people, if they can’t get in the main door of a club or the VIP entrance, they find a third way in. And so I think, you know, when I think about my own life, okay. Wanted to be a teacher, you know, one of the obstacles was obviously my parents were foot in the bill. Okay. I’ll go to engineering, couldn’t get into teachers college. Okay. Do an MBA, got into people enablement, which was ultimately what teaching was and then found a way back to education. So I think eventually I feel like I am where I belong. It’s taken me to get here. I absolutely love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the students. So the third door is a, is a good teacher. And I love that. Now tell me about your third door experience. Tell me about it.

Sam Demma (30:12):
So I’ve been reaching out to people in very unique ways over the past couple of years because of that book and because of things that I’ve been exposed to by mentors as, and colleagues more recently though, there’s this gentleman named Charlie rocket, who’s in the us right now, driving around on, on an RV called the dream machine and he’s making people’s dreams come true. And he’s building like amazing communities all throughout the states and he’s just, he speaks in schools and he does this, these, these dream machine drops like Hasbro gave them five, $500,000 and they give a whole city filled with children, free toys on Christmas that couldn’t afford it. Like there’s, it’s so cool. The work they’re doing and his story’s crazy. Like he managed, he managed a huge rapper named two chains and after seven years became 300 pounds and had a brain tumor and he was gonna die.

Sam Demma (30:58):
And he left his work in the music industry to become an iron man. And in a year he lost 160 pounds and completed this race, which is crazy to think about in the same year that he almost died and had a brain tumor reversed the brain tumor and now is doing all this work. And so I, I think it to myself, wow. What I, what I think I have to offer could really compliment what they’re doing in the states. And so I’ve reached out like 12 times and just not getting it anywhere. I haven’t got in touch with him. He hasn’t got back to me and I finally said, I’m gonna do this. Like, I’m gonna figure this out no matter what it takes. There’s another door here that I’m gonna enter. And I ended up networking with all the people in his, in his Instagram following. And I, I came across a guy named Timmy who happens to be his cameraman and we built like an amazing relationship. And I spent the last three weeks listening to all 62 episode episodes of, of Charlie rocket’s podcast. And I…

Tracey Klinkhammer (31:46):
I love it.

Sam Demma (31:49):
Wait, wait. It gets worse. It gets better. I made a note, a page of notes on every episode. So I have a 62 page booklet with a cover letter that says my onboarding is done. When do we get started question mark PS, don’t skip the last page. And if you flip to the six, the third page, it says www dot message. Dreamer.Com, which is their company and a redirects to a landing page with a video where I pitched this idea of coming on board. And then I spent $180 to get a custom made box with his logo all over it. And his cameraman gave me the mailing address and I just dropped it in the FedEx international express one day shipping today. So stay tuned, decide this here’s an example of the third door.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:29):
I love it. So, but here, like countless, like 12 times you’ve been rejected, you know, your lack of kind of response. Yeah. It doesn’t, you know what you’re thinking is how can I find a different way in, right? How can I connect with this guy? You are making me, as you describe what he is doing. I feel like I really have to UPP my game.

Sam Demma (32:45):
Geez. Yeah, this guy’s crazy. My gosh, it’s super inspiring.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:49):
Like how do people do that? I don’t know, like anyways, good for him. And that’s great. I hope you get him on I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for you.

Sam Demma (32:57):
I’ll let you know.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:57):
I love it. My onboarding’s been done. When do we get started? Love it.

Sam Demma (33:01):
Little confident, a little confident, right? I like it. I like it. Yeah. Anyways, Tracey, this has been a great conversation. We went down so many different alleys. I don’t wanna say rabbit holes. Cause I feel like that’s a negative thing. I think our were, we, we went down so many, you know, pathways on onboardings on, on, on bridges that were leading us to beautiful highways. So thank you so much for taking the time to, to chat today. If an educator listening wants to reach out to you, what would be the best way for them to get in touch?

Tracey Klinkhammer (33:28):
Think LinkedIn, I don’t know how many Tracey Klinkhammers are on there, but I’m always happy to connect on Linkedin. I don’t have a big social media presence. I think we talked about this. I’m really in this job to really affect change, one student, at a time. And I think that’s kind of always been my way and I, I think I take in that sales experience and my HR experience, cuz I was in consulting roles and I was in education, like training and development. And so that was all about creating, you know, training experiences for people in a workplace that supported their learning. And I think I take all of that with me in my, you know, my experiences with students. And I really want them to know that, you know, our, our team, not just me obviously, but our team’s there and it, and it starts with just one student at a time.

Tracey Klinkhammer (34:13):
And I always, I say to my husband, I have the best job I could be literally sitting across from a student that it’s going be a trailblazer and I’m gonna be able to say, I knew that person mm-hmm when they were a student and maybe just maybe, and maybe they tell me and maybe I’ll never know. Maybe they feel like I had some small part in helping light that fire or help them find that piece of themselves or self reflect or, you know, get them on, you know, support them with the tools they need to get on the path that they want. So that’s why I do it. I do my job because I love my job and I, you know, I want our students to succeed in the way that works for them. So I don’t have a cookie cutter approach. There’s no one pathway that’s right. For any one, you know, that works across all students. It really comes down to each individual. So that’s it. So if anybody wants to learn more about that, they can. But it’s pretty simple. I’m not Charles, you know, Charlie guy, rocket. Yeah. I know Charlie rocket, my goodness. I’m gonna go home and go think about how I can up my game.

Sam Demma (35:14):
He’s not a teacher, so don’t worry, you know, he’s a, but he’s a, like he, he’s just an awesome guy. Like I I’ve wanted to, like, I want to go to the states and do a tour with him and like speak in the schools with him. Like that’s what I’m hoping comes out of it. But yeah, just it’s inspiring.

Tracey Klinkhammer (35:31):
You’re listening. I’m I’m like back in Sam big time. So I’m really excited to keep me posted.

Sam Demma (35:36):
I will. I will. Thank you so much this conversation. I appreciate it. Thanks Sam, take care. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the high performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.