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We’re happy to introduce Theresa Todd, Senior Improvement Advisor on the Shift team! We took some time to learn more about Theresa, her work as part of the Programs Team, and her magical abilities to connect with almost anyone!

What is your title and what departments do you work in?

I am a Senior Improvement Advisor and I work on a variety of teams. I work directly with clients, supporting them with their improvement initiatives, along with other improvement advisors and program managers as part of the Programs Team. I am also a part of our Community Partnerships team where I help Shift develop and maintain external relationships. Finally, I support Shift’s remote work culture on the People and Celebration team.

What’s different about the way Shift works?

I love that collaboration is the hallmark of what we do. Whether with clients or within our team, we work hard to bring as many voices into the work as possible. I have learned so much about the value of giving and receiving input, instilling our principles into our work, and making mistakes.

Do you apply improvement methods to your life? If so, how?

I certainly try to! I’ve been testing different approaches for using my morning time before work more efficiently, mainly by tracking how many tasks, if any, I’m able to complete before my workday starts. I start most mornings by comparing the reality of my day to my checklist. Have I overslept? Do I have a planned change to my routine, like a doctor’s appointment, that will interfere with the time I have to complete tasks? When there are more unfinished tasks than I’d like, I try to figure out if there are non-random contributing factors I can account for the next day. Recently, when I overslept, I found that activities from the night before needed adjustment—I needed to be in bed at the desired time on my evening checklist and make sure I had no more than 30 minutes of screen time before bed. Making those changes helped improve my morning routine.

Which Shift principle resonates the most with you?

Learn and Adapt. The idea that we embrace opportunities to unlearn and look for opportunities to improve is such a refreshing concept. I often struggle with trying to get everything right the first time and feel down when I ultimately fail. I am unlearning this tendency and enjoying that as I learn and adapt other healthy work strategies, I can do so without judgment.

How do your past experiences positively impact your work at Shift?

In my previous improvement roles, I had plenty of time to dig deep into my projects and do lots of analysis. This penchant for details and data analysis supported the success of some of our projects. I was also a volunteer manager for many years before getting into improvement work. I learned a lot about how to relate well with others and how to invite people into the conversation. These skills come in handy with clients and partners.

What is your hidden talent?

With a few exceptions, I can connect with just about any new person that I meet. The secret: Use their name liberally. Dale Carnegie said, “...a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Also, find something that you genuinely like about the person and mention it to them. I’ve seen these two strategies open doors to communication time and time again.

What type of music is on your current playlist?

For many years, I have been a huge consumer of Brazilian music, mostly bossa nova. I have a massive playlist on Apple Music of some of my favorite songs spanning five decades. I play that every day. I have a little classical and hard bop jazz on there as well. Lately, I’ve been listening to Beyoncé’s newest album, Renaissance. My repeat songs: Focus and Move.

What’s your favorite sport/sports team?

I remember watching Arthur Ashe become the first Black man to win the Wimbledon tournament in 1975, and I have been a fan ever since. At one time, I even wanted to train to become a line judge. I have put in a lot of mental and emotional energy into the Williams sisters over the last 20+ years!

What was the last book you read?

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout. She is one of my favorite authors and has a lovely, simple style to her writing. I love how all her novels are interwoven with different characters’ storylines and provide rich descriptions of their lives. Her use of dialogue and first-person narration comes from an everyday, relatable point of view but in between there is beautiful storytelling. For those unfamiliar with Elizabeth Strout and her work, I highly recommend the novel, Olive Kitteridge.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Play the guitar! I love that it’s portable and that you can create beautiful music with just a few simple chords.

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