Author Jodyann Prendergast: “Appreciate The Power of Conversations”

The Power of Conversations: Many times when we are in a room, we sometimes forget to have a conversation with the individual setting next to us. Mostly because we are taught not to speak with strangers. Well, I have discovered that conversations can be life changing. The other day, I was on a flight and […]

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The Power of Conversations: Many times when we are in a room, we sometimes forget to have a conversation with the individual setting next to us. Mostly because we are taught not to speak with strangers. Well, I have discovered that conversations can be life changing. The other day, I was on a flight and I decide to say hello to the passenger next to me. Before you know it, we had a conversation about what I do and we exchange information. The next day he called requesting services. He is still one of my biggest supporters until this day.

Asa part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jodyann Prendergast, MHA. Jodyann is an Author, Healthcare Executive, Entrepreneur, and Mom. Jodyann is that friend in the-business-know who you wish you can take on every business venture. Jodyann is the current CEO/President of her own home healthcare agency, where she delivers services to seniors and the disabled. She is known for her no-nonsense yet effective approach where she addresses current issues affecting healthcare systems surrounding the delivery of quality care. As one of the few minorities to own and operate a premier and award-winning healthcare system, Jodyann has extensive knowledge in operational management, risk management, and strategic leadership and is considered a leading expert in business management. She believes one can master any given venture; however, one must be intentional and strategic in doing such. Jodyann sits on many organizational boards such as ‘Gift for Adoption’ and “McGivney Community Center.” She is also the founder of the “Essence of a Boss” Conference designed to improve the personal and professional status of women of color. She is the mother to six-year-old Jayden Craig who is her greatest joy. Jody’s favorite quote, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ilike to say Healthcare Management choose me because I had no intention of being in this field. My Bachelor’s degree is in Psychology and Human Service because I wanted to become a lawyer. After gaining a summer position at a nursing home as a receptionist, that vision quickly changed because I worked closely with the Administrator and would shadow her daily where I became knowledgeable about organizational management. I was my happiest then. Working with the seniors and staff was fulfilling and so from that moment my niche was to help others especially the disabled. However, I did not want to be clinical and I wanted to manage the administrative side of things as well as make the day to day decisions and so I went back for my Masters in Healthcare Management.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I remember this moment like it was yesterday. After one year of opening my company, I decided to sign up for the Connecticut State’s Home Care program. One month after signing up, I got a call from the director asking if I had room for 60 new clients. My first thoughts were, No I don’t and I did not have enough staff to cover this much clients immediately. Plus the state reimburse on a 2 week period, where would I find payroll funding for this much staff. But, I answered Yes I can take them. That day after getting off the phone, I immediately posted the job opening and after the 1 hour of the job post, over 100 applicants had sent in their resume. I called and scheduled them all for an interview. The next day, I interviewed them all and I was lucky to find my 60 lucky staff. Then there was payroll to cover for the following week and so I had to borrow the money needed from my 401K and then some from my family. This story is interesting because I was able to lead by faith. Saying that yes, to the state that day allowed my company to grow beyond its potential and it was just enough buzz for the community to know about us.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

The funniest mistake that I made when I first started is thinking that I could do everything needed within the company. I would be the scheduler, the payroll specialist, billing analyst etc Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? I learnt that my company cannot function effectively by doing it alone. I needed a team to get it all done. I remember going home exhausted every day. Having an effective team changed that. I can now enjoy being a leader as well as enjoy watching other staff execute the mission without my daily input.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

I think what makes the company stand out is our people. We provide care with pride and dignity and we care from the heart and ensure that the Human aspect of what we do is maintained. Can you share a story? Two years after starting, I met a senior who was a past Veteran. She looked disheveled and needed someone. She expressed she had no family and don’t even know where to start to gain services. I decide to give her services unpaid while we I applied for her benefits. We serviced her for 8 months straight and then she passed. Because she passed, we were never able to gain payment for the services provided. However, we lived up to her mission. She was able to pass with her pride and dignity.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

Yes, I am. We are looking to launch our luxury travel senior care. This service will be global and will allow senior’s to contact us when they need assistance while traveling. Our aim is to have caregivers available in selected countries. How do you think that will help people? This will help seniors age well. They will be able to travel without limitations.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I would advise other female leaders to enjoy the journey and lead by example. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and get the work done with your team. Always remember, Leaders eat last. When your team is happy, they will go over and beyond to execute the company’s vision.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

The best way to manage a large team is to ensure clear channels of communication are established and that your management team is responsive to the team’s concerns. Lastly, Be willing to delegate tasks to members of the team that are capable. This will allow more time to focus on other priorities but it will also give those employees the opportunity to take on high-level tasks and to improve their skill sets.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Yes, this particular person was my grandmother. My grandmother reminded each and every day about how important I am. She would let me know that living well is the best revenge. Can you share a story about that? My mother was not present during my teenage years. Due to such, my grandmother had to fill that gap. I remembered one evening when I came home from school and I showed her my report card. She was so excited because it was all straight ‘A’s but I was not. Looking concerns, she said why you are not happy and I expressed, well I wanted my mother to be at the awards ceremony because everyone else’s parents will be there. She quickly said, do you know who you are? She said you are beautiful and one day you will make decisions to change this world. She said, your mother will wish then that she was here from the beginning. She said, you have to decide how you want this story to end. From that day, I made the decision to be all I can be with no regrets or looking to the people who are in the past. The people who should be here are here and I am grateful for that.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Yes, totally. I have a nonprofit, The Jodicares Foundation where I give back to seniors and children in need.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. You have to be your biggest cheerleader: There will be times when you will have no one cheering you on. During those times, you will need the strength of yourself to persevere. I remember when I started my first company, there were times that I felt I could not keep going. During these times, I would dwell on my strength. Mostly my spiritual strength of knowing God will take me through. At this particular time, I would choose Faith over Fear.

2. You have no control over the cards you are dealt. You just have to decide how you play the hand: As the famous quote goes, when given lemon, make lemonade. This is true in business. You are not always given what’s expected, However as leaders you have to take what’s given and make it work for your good by controlling the outcome. I remembered once, I had a staff that walked out in the middle of the work week. This particular staff was with us since the start of the company. When she waked out, I thought the company was over because she was a vital part of the company. However, I controlled that though and emotion and immediately went into problem solving mode which is to replace this staff and continue on with the business immediately. Going through this taught, Always train more than one staff in any given area and second, your business should have standard operational procedures so that when one leaves and another takes over the transition is seamless.

3. Know the Power of You: This is the most important thing one will do in their entire life. Knowing the power of you will allow you to turn your failures into success. After discovering the power of me and what I am capable of is when I became my best self. Knowing the Power of who I am allowed me to say Yes when something suites me or no when it does not. For instance, knowing the power of me allowed me to walk out of an abusive relationship that lasted for 8 years. Such relationship took many years of joy and happiness. Knowing the power of me gave me back clarity to understand that Love does not hurt and that I am worthy. I am worthy to be happy, to be loved and to give love. Most importantly, worthy of saying no when something don’t feel right.

4. Failure is success: As a leaders being accepting of failure is important. Changing our mindset of how we think of failure will bring value to you and anything you decide to venture in. If you do not fail, How else would you have learned what does or doesn’t work. Failure isn’t so much a dead end as it is a fresh start and a learning opportunity. It’s a mark of experience, proof that you went out in the world, actually tried something and learned something from it. I remembered once I failed gaining a government contract that I bid for. When I found out what I did not gain that contract, I thought my world would end but I reevaluated and decided to try again. I gained the contract on my second attempt. I was able to be plan, prepare and position myself. Failing gave the insight needed to get the job done. Failure can be the beginning of success if you decide it will be.

5. The Power of Conversations: Many times when we are in a room, we sometimes forget to have a conversation with the individual setting next to us. Mostly because we are taught not to speak with strangers. Well, I have discovered that conversations can be life changing. The other day, I was on a flight and I decide to say hello to the passenger next to me. Before you know it, we had a conversation about what I do and we exchange information. The next day he called requesting services. He is still one of my biggest supporters until this day.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amounts of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That movement would be to create an online hub for young Black Leaders to learn about investments and the importance of generational wealth. If given the opportunity, these leaders would be knowledgeable from a young age and would be able to become more which in turn would change the financial status of generations to come.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You cannot control the cards you are dealt; However, you can control how you play the hand. This is relevant within my life because so many times I had to overcome obstacles. In order to overcome those obstacles, I had to change my mindset and decide within myself that I can have a positive outcome. However, in order to do so, I had to Plan, Prepare and Position myself accordingly.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama — They both have inspired me to become more and do more. They both have changed the perspective of what Black Women should look like and I am grateful. Due to such, they have provided endless opportunities and have inspired Black women to achieve beyond their ‘Self Made Up’ potential.

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