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Leader of the Month Q&A: Paul Suchy

Posted on 21 August 2017

1) Usually you are the youngest stakeholder at the table trying to get buy-in from more senior leaders. How do you get those individuals to buy into your vision and become advocates for the work you are doing? 

Leaders are leaders because they can identify people that deliver results – be one of those people. Community work tends to be something people do because they care. Therefore, an outcome-driven vision and authentic intentions is oftentimes enough to get leaders to listen. Show what you know because people trust people that know what they’re talking about. It’s better to be prepared, so show up ready to explain how you’ll deliver results respective to what’s been tried and failed. Do your research. Staying up to date on the field and possessing a genuine interest in my work pushes me to the front of the competition. My background in clinical and experimental research has shown me the power of best practice. Basically, it’s easier to effectively communicate what you need and get the attention of others when you come from a place of comprehension.

2) Is there anything from your experiences the past couple of months that you would go back and do differently, if so what are they?

Looking back, I would tell myself to slow down. I have tunnel vision whenever I start a new project. But this isn’t always negative because it has taught me the importance of collaboration. Teams get the job done. For instance, a few months back I was planning to begin hosting a monthly meditation workshop at the community garden near my house. I went through the process of speaking with the steering committee, the block association president and the leaders of local organizations. But I still jumped ahead of myself. I planned the event and assumed my work was done when it wasn’t. I totally skipped essential steps, forgetting to do community outreach. Ultimately the event turned out okay, but it didn’t achieve the success I was hoping for.

3) What is the biggest risk you've taken since being your work in Brooklyn, and how did you push yourself to overcome it?

The biggest risk I ever took was simultaneously one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I continued working on a project that a Board of Directors (also my first client ever and a hefty investment) weren’t ready to invest in. I spent the previous 6 months planning this project out without pay. I conducted assessments, worked with the families of my clients and developed programming. A few days before the board decided, I was crossing my fingers that I would at least be able to pay rent at the end of the month. Regardless, the risk paid off and the project was successful. I made it through that time of insecurity by convincing myself that, regardless of the outcome, I would at least learn from the experience. I had to continually pull the bigger picture back into sight. If I lost focus, I would lose momentum and the project began to suffer. Don’t lose sight of your vision.De-risk. De-risk. De-risk.

4) What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to make a difference in their community, but is hesitant to take the initial steps to get involved?

If you’re ready to give-back to your community, it’s best to begin by spelling out your goals. This means finding out what’s relevant to you and identifying what you would be willing to do. Maybe you love children and you’re willing to volunteer for a few hours a week at a local school. Simple. Finally, you have got to get in touch with people that are already doing the work you’re interested in – knock on the front door, call the office or send an email. People in this industry tend to be responsive because they don’t have as much help from the government. Things happen because we make them happen. Some words of wisdom: decide on something you would do even if it meant you had to sacrifice an hour of sleep on your only day off, so that when things get tough, it’ll be easier to stay committed. Do your research. Be patient. Ask how you can help!

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