Episode 6 - "Spilling the T" with Jennifer Keyser Atkins

Episode 6 August 11, 2020 00:22:59
Episode 6 - "Spilling the T" with Jennifer Keyser Atkins
A Most Unusual T Party
Episode 6 - "Spilling the T" with Jennifer Keyser Atkins

Aug 11 2020 | 00:22:59

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Show Notes

Join Teresa Abram for a T Party with entrepeneur and HR superhero, Jennifer Atkins from Strategic Compensation Solutions.  Jennifer's "T" does a lot of talking and reveals that she is a very transparent, direct and clear thinker as well as communicator. It also spills the T and leads Jennifer to announce an upcoming change!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:03 Welcome, pull up a chair, feel your mug. Get comfy. Join us at the table for the most unusual tea party. Here's your host and graph ologist Theresa April. Speaker 1 00:00:18 Welcome, and thank you for joining us today for our most unusual tea party. I'm Teresa Avram, handwriting analyst, and graphologist, and I've got my mug on hand and it's a nice warm cup of something, but you're not going to find out what until the very end. So in about 20 minutes or so, I'll let you know, what's in my cap today. Our guest is all the way from Charlotesville Charlottesville, Virginia, and her name is Jennifer Atkins. She's the founder of strategic compensation solutions. How are you doing today, Jennifer? I'm great. Thank you for having me today. Thank you for joining us. Can you tell our listeners just a little bit about strategic compensation solutions and what you do? So strategic compensation solutions is an HR consulting firm. Um, it is female owned and it's a small business and we manage for our clients, um, any HR needs. Speaker 1 00:01:15 So it can be in the realm of compensation, benefits, wellness, compliance, audits, um, even policies and handbooks. So there's a wide gamut of why our clients reach out. Um, I've managed small businesses and nonprofit clients all the way up to large employers with more than 25,000 or 30 employees. So my company runs quite the gamut, um, but there are a variety of HR needs. And I think now more than ever, people are aware of the criticality of human resources with the pandemic we've been facing, um, and just keeping employees safe and making sure that everyone, um, is being taken care of. And that there's a lot of awareness around working from home, um, around gentleness and kindness in the workplace, um, and equity policies. So we've been pretty busy, uh, given the current times. Um, but definitely the focus in general over the past three years has been regarding HR needs. Speaker 1 00:02:15 Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. So it's really a full spectrum company that you're renting. It's related to HR. You're ready to jump in and do it. I absolutely am. I know we'll talk today about my career path and, um, I've had a lot of different hats in human resources, so I have a diverse set of experiences, um, to be able to apply to my client's needs. So it works out well. There's nothing like that. Hey, where you have just that wide range of experiences that you can draw from. Absolutely. Are you ready to see what tails the T tells me? I'm so excited, still land. So just as a reminder to the listeners, I don't personally know my guests before I invite them onto the show and unlike other interviewers, I really don't do much research about them. I just ask for a handwriting sample and they send it to me and I take a look at it in this context. Speaker 1 00:03:07 I'm only looking at the tea, so it's really just the tip of the iceberg as far as the handwriting analysis goes, but it's still amazing how much we can learn about somebody just by looking at their teeth. If you want to know more about the process, just be sure to check out season one episode one of the podcasts and it'll explain it for you. So, Jennifer, what is the most unusual thing about your tea? Is that in the word little where we have the two teas together, you used one stroke to connect them, and then it led right into the L so one stroke did three different things and that is not something I see every, every day here at handwriting pie. That's actually an unusual trait and it's the sign of a fast thinker. And it's the sign of someone who is quick to action and adopts to new ideas quite quickly and readily. Speaker 1 00:04:00 Would you say that that is accurate about you? I think so. I'm always multitasking. I always want to make sure that I'm meeting deadlines. Um, and I think too, there's just, I feel like there's always so much to do so there's a sense of urgency to be organized and productive. So I think that is likely reflective of my personality and just approach to life. Totally. And it's reflected in that tea. Just that quick thinking that quick action, right? Get the most out of one stroke that you possibly can. That's really cool. No, that's a really positive trait to have in your handwriting when it appears in the word little, however, I also noticed that you do something sorta similar in your signature where the line goes quite long, but there's a difference here and it's twofold. Would you like to hear what that difference is? Speaker 1 00:04:49 Absolutely. The first thing is your last name only has one T and instead of this now being the sign of a quick thinker, who's using one stroke to accomplish two things. It starts to confuse things a little bit, and that communicates to the reader that you actually wish to keep things quite casual. And you want to be addressed as Jennifer. That is so crazy. Yes, that's absolutely true on a personal level. Um, I am divorced. So that last name for me is, you know, one of those things where it's like, let me sign it. Um, so I typically go by Jennifer Keizer Atkins, if you look at my social media, um, because my main name is Keizer. So that's super interesting. That is. And my second point touches exactly on that is that when you do that long one, it actually slopes down and crosses out part of your name. Speaker 1 00:05:42 And that's usually the sign of somebody who is distancing themselves from that name. It's like, you're taking it out of action before anybody else can. It's like, Nope, not there that's appropriate. Yeah. So, um, it's something that it, it does communicate to others though, that you're crossing yourself out and on an unconscious level, when people see that they're also crossing you out, if I was, you know, to be working with you in any sort of capacity, one of the things that I would really recommend for you is just to lift that up, keep you can keep it long. Cause the long stroke shows enthusiasm, even when there's only one T, but by having it drift down and cross out your letters, you're crossing yourself out. It's let me, how can I phrase this? It's not necessarily the best public persona that you want to present to somebody else lift the end of it, keep it long, keep it enthusiastic, but lift it up a bit. Speaker 1 00:06:36 Yeah, I, well, it's funny. Um, you know, again, the listeners will find, I may soon have a name change that we'll cross it out, but that's really interesting. It's quite fascinating actually, when we look at signatures often, um, especially if they're a celebrity, you can tell when it's a stage name. Interesting. Yeah. You can start to really pick up and say, that's not their natural name. They're not actually comfortable with that name. They'd rather not. Wow. That's really neat. So let me see here. I think the other thing about your T's that's a little bit interesting is that they tell me you are very direct and clear thinker. And certainly from our little bit of our, our pre podcast chat, I think that's been confirmed. And the reason that I say that is because none of your T's not when it doesn't matter, whether it starts at the beginning, if it appears in the middle or if it's at the end, not one of them is connected to the letter before it always is standing alone. Speaker 1 00:07:36 There is no sort, no lead in stroke of any sort. They always start at the top move down. And that really does speak to somebody who is direct and clear in their thinking. And you eliminate a lot of the frills. That's absolutely correct. As you can tell, I'm very transparent. I like to be honest, open and direct again, I feel like especially in human resources is very important for people to be clear on the information they're given. I think also throughout my career, I've had to have very difficult conversations, as you can imagine on some very sensitive topics. I mean, that's why HR is called human resources. It is dealing with humans. And so I think I have certainly the personality of being direct. Um, I do it in my personal life, but also my professional life. I think it's a skill that I found to be helpful, um, because that transparency and directness definitely eliminates confusion, especially around sensitive topics. Speaker 1 00:08:31 I just find it better to be honest and forthcoming. So that even during tough messages that maybe people don't want to hear or might be uncomfortable, at least you're clear on the reason behind it, even if you don't like the message. Absolutely. Absolutely. And you are, you know, you hit the nail on the head in HR that is such a key piece, that ability to communicate and to be direct, to be open, to be people can tell if you're beating around the Bush and it'll make them more nervous and more anxious. So yeah, I think providing that sense of security, um, for people to know that, you know, one, you do have the expert knowledge when you're offering guidance and that's really critical, but also again, that you're very clear so that if there are questions, they feel comfortable being able to ask them and knowing that they'll get direct answers. Speaker 1 00:09:20 Yeah. Yeah. So important. I love it. I love that. You can say, yeah, that's me and it's right there in your handwriting. And I can say, I can see it, you that it's you for sure. You know, the other thing that I would look at and I'm going to go out on a limb here and I'm just going to make a guess, cause the handwriting sample that I got from you, isn't really very large. So there's limited amounts of resources there, but I really feel that you get inspired by anything that is a creative. If it's a creative endeavor, it really inspires you. What, uh, what do you think it is that really inspires you? I think that's absolutely true. Um, so not only do I own my own company and do consulting, but I'm also an adjunct professor at a local community college. Um, so I work with college students on student development and student success and I am a required course for all incoming first year students. Speaker 1 00:10:13 So that's a lot of where my creativity and, you know, I'm able to share career knowledge and connecting education with career paths. Again, it aligns with that human resource background that I have. Um, but I definitely am inspired when I think about what motivates me every day. One thing is, you know, again, equal access to education and the creativity behind that, you know, looking at student retention and how to make students successful, how to provide that best path for everyone. So I think, again, the creative thinking behind that of how do we provide solutions is one of my most favorite parts of the work that I do. And then on my consulting company, the same thing, you know, clients are coming to me with problems and issues. And it's very rare that I find ones that I haven't encountered before, but every culture is unique to the organization. Speaker 1 00:11:00 So it's always fun and exciting for me to tap into that creative side to say, okay, well, how do we match this or align this with best practices, but still make it unique. And I think that's something that makes my consulting company different than the big box consultants that you see, because I do utilize that creative approach to make it a personalized solution so that it works for the organization. So I think you nailed it. That's exactly where I get my inspiration. I don't want to just be a paper pusher of policies and, you know, provide just a template response. Like I definitely enjoy the creative portions of providing solutions. Um, and that's exactly why my company is called strategic compensation solutions. Um, because I think the strategy behind it and that creativity is reflected even in my title of my company. Yeah. Oh, that's beautiful. Speaker 1 00:11:50 Yeah. So it's definitely, if you can think outside of the, and come up with a unique solution, that's what you want to do for your clients. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's what keeps it exciting for me where I'm never bored because even though I do a lot of pay studies, for example, on equity, so how are people paying their employees and how is that program instituted? Um, but I love looking at it from a brand new viewpoint and again, everyone has to get paid, right. That's kind of boring, but how do we incentivize employees to do their best work? How do we engage employees? How do we keep people excited about the work that they're doing? So, yes, I think that's where the creativity aspects for me get me very excited about my work. Yeah. You know, and that's so important. Um, I know I've had this discussion with other people as well in HR where we talk about the fact that not everybody is motivated by the same thing. Speaker 1 00:12:40 Yes. Getting paid is important, but it's actually not the only thing that motivates people. We know that people will take a job that pays less money if there's motivation there that satisfies them in another way. Yes. All right. So Jennifer, there's a, there's a saying out there where we learn from our mistakes. Right. We learn and we grow from our failures and yet we're still usually very afraid to make one. I would love to hear from you what maybe mistake or failure you made that you actually think is, has been a gift. Yeah. So I think one of the failures, I think about when I, you know, especially think about my career path, cause I've been very deliberate when I was in college, I would work as a transcriptionist. So I would do that work from home ironically, which is funny now because in the nineties, most people didn't work from home. Speaker 1 00:13:33 Um, but I was able to do that from home when my son was very young. And so it was a great job. Um, and I actually had switched companies to do it for someone else. And I don't know if it was a, you know, I mean, I definitely think they said it was a skill mismatch that I wasn't typing fast enough. Um, or, you know, it was medical terminology. So there would be some errors on my spelling with, especially the drug names that you had to use for medications and things. And so they said, you know, I don't think this is working out. And I thought, Oh, I've never had someone tell me that this job isn't working out. And I said, well, you know, I probably need to go get more training. And so I actually did, I went back and got more, um, I took a medical transcriptionist class and so, you know, but again, that was a job that I ended up leaving and I felt like I really wasn't successful. Speaker 1 00:14:24 And while that may seem like a minor failure to the listeners, for me, it was devastating because it was early in my career, life search, you know, I wasn't sure what I wanted to be. And I was still in college trying to figure that out. And I thought, wow, if I'm not good at this job, maybe there's a lot of jobs that I'm not going to be good at. This is so terrible. And so I really, you know, again had to go within myself to say, okay, you know, you're going to be getting critical feedback. Not everything will work out and not everything's for you. And to be, you know, 19 years old, having that conversation with yourself is really difficult. But I say that that's my important failure because it sticks with me because I learned from that, that, you know, even if something's not working out for you, you can redirect. Speaker 1 00:15:07 And so one of the things that I learned was the importance of education. You know, once I got the additional training, I was much better. So again, I think that comes into me being prepared for things. Um, I spent a lot of time on acquiring knowledge and so I'm really well prepared now. And so while it was the failure at the time, and I felt devastated about the situation, I think longterm, that it just provided a backdrop for me to realize the importance of performance. And again, that you just got to find the right fit for you. Um, with those additional skills training, it really makes all the difference in the world. Amen. I totally agree with that. It's, you know, that discussion that you were talking about having to have with yourself at 19 of, you know, I can't do this, what can I do? Speaker 1 00:15:50 And, uh, you know, that's a tough discussion to have with yourself at any age, whether you're 19, whether you're 25, whether you're 40 or whether you're 60, it's never an easy conversation to have with yourself so that you got a head start on. It is really kind of awesome. Yeah. I think it was tough at the time, you know, to hear that your performance is not a company standard and they're not gonna need your services any longer. Um, because again, I had been doing it successfully and so I thought, wow, I've got this, but I didn't have it obviously to the, to their level. So, you know, what a great message right now in particular, cause everything is sort of upside down in 2020 with COVID and there's going to be a lot of people who are looking at different jobs, right? Different companies, different roles. Speaker 1 00:16:34 And that's going to be such an important mission message just to keep in mind is that your skillset is valuable. And just because it doesn't match up with one particular job, doesn't negate who you are and what you can do. Absolutely. I talk a lot about transferable skills. So think about what are you doing right now that can be utilized in a different way. And so when I think back to that scenario, I did really well at the listening portion. So I would listen to the transcription tapes and, you know, the typing administrative portions. Weren't so great for me. Um, but when I think about, you know, what does human resources do? I listen, you know, I take in information and then I create a strategy. So again, I, I kind of learned from that to transfer those skills that I had into something that I am actually strong in doing. Speaker 1 00:17:20 So it's just looking at it in a different lens. Yeah. Beautiful. I love it. So I'm wondering Jennifer, as we start to wrap up this interview, it's been wonderful talking with you. You were just such a font of information and you clearly love what you do. You are very passionate about it. It's such a great energy to be around. If you could name this episode, what would you name it? Probably spilling the tea. So, you know, we always use that slang term at the community college they'll spill the tea, what they have. Um, I would call it spilling the tea. Cause you know, we talked a lot of stuff about positives and negatives. Um, you know, so I think that would probably be the best name. I love it. Okay. So Mateen at work, I'm curious if you would do something different. If you won a lottery and had $10 million suddenly at your disposal, would you do something different with your life? Speaker 1 00:18:17 I really genuinely would not. And I have lived my life every day, making sure that, especially in my career, um, that it was what I loved and was my passion. And I figured that the money would follow because I'm a really hard worker. So even in these tough times with uncertain budgets and you know, everything going on with the pandemic, it's still, I know I can count on myself. And so even if I won the lottery, I might, uh, be a little more relaxed for sure, but I would not change my employment. Um, I still would do consulting and I still would teach at the community college. Um, because again, I think both of those are my passions and you know, the other thing is with my company, I'm able to work on larger issues, um, such as pay equity for women and minorities. And so I feel like, again, it's my way of giving back to society. Speaker 1 00:19:09 So none of those things revolve around the reward of finances. So I'm lucky, you know, I've really built a career path that I'm able to do what I love. So that part wouldn't change is that luck or is that planning and is that true? Let's do production. There was a lot of planning action and schooling. I came ahead of this a lot of hard work of, of long hours. Yeah. So I think I might own a couple of beach houses to help me do my remote work a little, a little more relaxed. That would be a big change for me. I don't have that beach house right now, but that would be something that I would definitely invest in if I won that million dollars maybe next year, I'll start, I'll start playing the lottery. I love it. That's great. And I, you know, that phrase that you said to just really do what you love and the money will follow. Speaker 1 00:19:57 Don't put the money first and then hope you're going to like it. Do what you love first. And then the money will follow it. Just, I have found that you can't chase dollars, you know, because the reality is there's never security in that. You know, a lot of people think, wow, you and your company that, how do you know what's coming next? And it's like, well, I work in human resources. So I know that even though you think you have a nine to five, that's secure, there's furloughs, there's layoffs, you know, people are finding there really truly isn't security. So to spend eight, eight hours minimal at a place every day and that doesn't align with your passion, you know, I'd really encourage listeners to really think about that because you only get one life. And so you want to have joy in that. So again, it doesn't, you know, not everyone is Pollyanna every day and it's perfect. Speaker 1 00:20:43 Right. You know, there's always challenges, but overall, if you can wake in the morning, enjoy what you're doing and know that you're serving a purpose. I think those are the key things to keep you happy because the dollars end up being empty and the dollars may go away. Yes, that's so true. Yeah. And you know what, you end up spending those dollars on stuff to try to feel that void inside of you anyway. So it just becomes this little circle. It's not a satisfying, it's really not. And I, it was funny. I had this great corporate job and I had, you know, a great compensation package, but I was never home. And I thought, right, I have this house that I never can enjoy. I'm sure I flipped to the opposite extreme now that I work from home primarily, but I have to really like my house because that is why I usually work. Speaker 1 00:21:29 Uh, but yeah, I felt like, you know, I was working so much that I didn't, I wasn't able to enjoy the finances that I was gaining. So it just, wasn't the right balance for me. Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. I really appreciate your openness and your honesty and your direct and clear communication. All right. Well, in my mug, I've got some lovely, strong hot coffee with French vanilla. And I'm curious, what was in your mind today? I am a huge fan of caramel macchiatos. Was it a homemade winner? Was it from Starbucks? It's my favorite. Yes. I'm a huge Starbucks fan. Yummy. That's a big treat for me. We don't have a Starbucks where I live, so we have to drive like 20 minutes to go get. I can't even imagine there is one, you know, every five minutes here, Speaker 0 00:22:17 Every block in the big city. All right. Well, thank you again so much for joining me, Jennifer. Thank you for having me today. Thanks for listening. If you're wanting to hear more from Theresa and her guests, be sure to subscribe on the platform of your choice and follow her on Instagram at handwriting from underscore pie. Speaker 1 00:22:50 If you would like to contact Jennifer, send an email to strategic compensation [email protected] or follow her on Facebook or Instagram at strategic compensation solutions. Thanks for listening.

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