Kerry Wekelo is the Managing Director of HR and Operations at Actualize Consulting; however, she is so much more than the job title. Wekelo is a consulting specialist and she has helped build Actualize Consulting’s internal structure. Company culture is near and dear to Wekelo’s heart, and she is an advocate of infusing personal life values into the corporate arena. It has helped Wekelo make Actualize Consulting and those around her a success.
Kerry Wekelo hasn’t just built a strong career in the business world. She has written children’s books teaching mindfulness and yoga. Wekelo also wrote the acclaimed Culture Infusion: 9 Principles for Creating and Maintaining a Thriving Organizational Culture. It is a book that has been highly sought out by individuals in the business world.
With so much going on in her professional life, Wekelo still finds time for herself. It is during this time that Wekelo is able to find balance and recharge her batteries. It is a necessary time of the day for Wekelo and she believes find balance is important for everyone.
Recently, Kerry Wekelo sat down with Totalprestige Magazine and spoke about her career, books and finding balance.
Kerry, you have an incredible resume. Can you tell me how you got involved with human resources and Actualize Consulting?
After graduating with a dual major in finance and marketing and with a minor in psychology, consulting seemed like the right fit for me given my skill set, ability to get along with others, and my desire to be the best. It was a few years later that my brother started Actualize and asked if I would help out with building the internal operations of the firm.
Can you explain just how your three key methods of accountability, acumen and aspiration help businesses and their culture?
At Actualize, we know that culture starts at the individual level. We stress the importance of accountability, not only in terms of conflict, but also in terms of personal growth. Employees are encouraged to take charge of their lives and come to us if they have problems or see room for improvement. It’s trust. Then comes acumen – we ask employees what they can do to be better known, whether that’s writing articles, mentoring others, or speaking at events. Last is aspiration – what excites our team professionally and personally? Work should be driven by passion, and with passion comes hard work.
These three ‘As’ are what businesses should strive for, because they are all based on a foundation of trust. Companies should encourage their employees to speak up when something is wrong, take action in their careers, and follow their own personal goals. In doing so, business becomes less of a minefield and more of a family. Employees want to feel appreciated and heard, and in return they will produce good, passion-driven work. It’s a win-win situation.
What can attendees of Actualize Consulting e-courses and seminars learn to improve their businesses and their management skills?
At Actualize, we truly believe on focusing on our people so that our motto, “our expertise and commitment driving your success” is true. Our e-courses and seminars are based on that same idea: prioritizing wellness and communication at the individual level. We teach our attendees to lead from their heart and manage with empathy and understanding. And sometimes, because we are all human, that can be harder than it looks. We offer tools, personal experience and guidance, because improving corporate culture is not one-size-fits-all.
I’m intrigued by Zendoway, which you are the founder of. Can you explain what Zendoway is and what is the Zenodoway Cube?
Zendoway is a combination of two words: “Zen,” which is about meditation, community and learning, and “Zendo,” which means a meeting hall or forum where that learning takes place. I started Zendoway when I was looking for a way to bring breathing into my kids’ school. I wish someone had taught me what a powerful tool breathing is when I was a kid, and it’s so simple! Five deep breaths can save you a lot of conflict. I developed a squeezable, stress ball foam cube with different breathing prompts on every side, perfect for kids in a classroom. The idea was, every time a child could feel themselves getting upset, they could learn to turn to their breathing instead. From there, I ended up developing 12 more cubes, all with different themes. Some, like the Principles cube, are even tailored to a corporate setting.
You have written several books for young children. Why is teaching mindfulness to children so important to you?
Teaching mindfulness to children is important to me, because it’s a tool that I wish I had when I was younger. Growing up, I didn’t know the power that mindfulness and breathing had. I always joke that I’m a recovering people pleaser, and it was these tools that taught me to listen and believe in myself – something that took me years to do. I’m passionate about giving children these same tools so that they can feel empowered from within and develop a healthy relationship with themselves.
Kerry, your Culture Infusion book is critically acclaimed. What influenced you to write the book and what can readers expect to learn from it?
Since 2010, I’ve been working to enhance team experiences at Actualize, and it’s become the main reason I love my job. I love seeing our team getting healthier and happier each year, and it’s awesome to see our turnover rates dropping to the lowest they’ve ever been, from 33% in 2010 to less than 1% between 2016 and the present. Two years ago, Chad, the founding partner of Actualize and also my brother, asked that I develop a service to our clients on how to improve corporate culture.
Culture Infusion started from my own personal journey, which is in part why I think it is so successful – it’s real. When I started working, I thought that I could essentially live two different lives: one at work and one at home. I was compartmentalizing my values which only left me drained. Once I began infusing my personal life principles into my corporate life, that’s when I had more capacity as a leader. At Actualize, we encourage the same things of our employees, starting from a foundation of personal wellness, and that’s why we’ve seen success.
You aren’t just a writer and human resources expert, but you also teach yoga. How do you find time for everything you do, and why yoga?
For me, finding time to do everything begins with finding time for myself. When I make time for myself, whether that means getting up early to journal or work on affirmations, I tend to feel more energized throughout the day. If I don’t start out with self-care in the morning, those are the days where I tend to feel spent – meaning I might need to take time for self-care at night. People always say they are so busy, and I am busy too. But I enjoy having all these different areas; it helps me feel balanced.
I chose yoga, because I’m a Type A personality. My mind is always moving, and yoga forced me to be still. It was a way for me to take that quiet time and relax.
Kerry, what is next for Actualize Consulting?
Continued expansion of our Culture Infusion offering. I want to shift to helping others see how they can create and maintain thriving organizational cultures centered around their people.
What is a day in your life like?
It depends on the day. That is what I love about my life, the diversity of work, writing, kids, and taking time for myself. The key word is I try to balance it all to make the day a great day!
What makes you smile?
What scares you?
What is your secret talent?
I have MBA in Information Systems and love researching and implementing new technologies. I created and maintain Actualize and Zendoway websites.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Helen Keller. Ever since my childhood, I have been in awe of her courage and strength. She faced adversity while she was both blind and deaf, but was still able to create a beautiful life. The senses she did have were more powerful, and she didn’t dwell on the senses she lacked. My personal motto, “living life in adventure and wonder” is inspired by her.
What are you never without?
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
What inspires you?
Leading from the heart and taking time to listen to others. Seeing how people respond to the simplicity of listening inspires me to continue my path.
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
Stop school shootings, it breaks my heart each time it happens, which is too frequent.
For more information on Actualize Consulting and Kerry Wekelo, please visit http://www.actualizeconsulting.com.