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Building Community by Being Clear: LinkedIn Live with Clara Albert of Electrical Association

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Video Transcript

Justin Bieganek: My name is Justin and I’m the Founder of Mercury Creative Group. And we are the branding professionals for associations. We really help them discover who they are, what their purpose is, what makes them unique, and find them ways to connect with their ideal member of their ideal audience. So over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many of these leaders, so I want to highlight them and put the spotlight on them and what they do, and who they serve. So that’s why I’m putting these LinkedIn Live events together. We’re gonna interview Clara for about 30 minutes, and then we’re gonna turn it into question and answer for the last 15. But I do urge our participants to please toss in some questions. 

So with that, I’m gonna share a little bit about Clara. I’ve known Clara for probably six, seven years, maybe more, both working with their association, but also serving on the Association’s North board where Clara is our President right now. Clara is one of the kindest humans I know, and you’re gonna get to see that as you hear her story. Clara is a strong leader who listens. She has grown a culture of collaboration and respect with her team. She says her secret sauce is to lead with empathy and encourages her team to follow their many passions. She also believes being clear in what you are asking and what you expect is key to success. And brings me back to why she is one of the kindest leaders I know Clara also gets up super early, 4:45 am, and gets there to get to work out bright and early in the morning. She does this to clear her brain and set her day up for success. So you’re gonna hear today about Clara, how she leads her team in her organization by being clear with their purpose and what success looks like. What are the outcomes that they want to achieve together in empowering them to be the best team that they can be. So with that, welcome Clara. Share with us a little bit about you and your organization and what you do.

Clara Albert: Thank you, Justin. Super happy to be here. Very grateful that you chose me to be on your LinkedIn live. I’m super excited about it. You know, like most kids, when someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be an executive director of an association. Totally kidding. I honestly had no idea what the association community was all about until after college or so. I started working for an association where I began to learn a lot about the impact that associations can have on an industry. Then when an opportunity came up at the Electrical Association, it made me think a lot about my grandfather who owned a plumbing business in Brainerd, Minnesota, DERO Plumbing. I knew that the work being done for the members of the electrical association would give me that connection to the trades that I had seen so much growing up around my grandpa. I knew what it was like for him to run a small contracting business and the hardships that came along with it. So I thought it’d be a pretty rewarding career for me to work for an association that I had an extra level of passion and connection for. I did work here for three years before my predecessor Judy Rubin was retiring, and then I decided to apply and interview for her role. I was hired to be the Executive Director and I’ve now been running the association for the last six years.

Justin: That’s awesome. I did not know that you grew up with a family member in the trades as well. So see, even I’m learning something new. 

Tell us about your leadership style. What is it that you’ve identified is unique about how you lead your organization?

Clara: I would say my leadership style and the way I go about leading is by being a really good listener. I’m constantly listening to our members and our board and non-members in the industry to try to figure out what they need and then determining what’s feasible with our resources, whether that’s staff time dollars, then turning around and motivating my team to execute on those things that we want to try to make possible. Then on the flip side of that, continuously listening to my team figuring out how I can help provide them with ideas and guidance solutions, coaching to make them better, and get them to be able to achieve the results that we’re looking for. I do think that being at the association for a few years prior to being the leader has given me a unique perspective on how to coach the team and provide support and advice that they need. Because I’ve been in their shoes and I know a lot of ins and outs about the work that they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.

Justin: Share a recent story where just by listening, you were able to help one of your teammates work through a challenge and you just walked away from that going like, I did exactly that. I listened and I empowered that person to do something better.

Clara: I’m seeing it a lot right now with my management team and helping them manage the staff that they have to support their roles. So when I came onto the organization or came into the leadership role, it was a very flat structure and since then we’ve done a lot of work to bring additional staff into management positions. And so just listening to them talk about maybe challenges that they’re facing and providing guidance to somebody underneath them has come up a lot in conversations. And I feel that’s an area that I can excel at and really give a lot of kind of insight into stuff that I’ve seen and I can give, give real-life examples to them to help them then, then overcome that challenge that they’re dealing with. So that’s something that’s come up a lot in the, in the recent months.

Justin: So how would they describe your leadership style?

Clara: I would say they would describe it as it’s transparent but also very caring. I have empathy, I believe you mentioned at the beginning or the intro as one of my top five strengths. I’m extremely approachable, so my team feels comfortable coming to me for advice and discussions. However, I’m very clear about my expectations. So, this comes from the moment we post for a position, an open job. we’re clear about what that role’s gonna look like. We’re clear during the interview process, day one of them starting for the association. We set a lot of benchmarks. You know, what does success look like in this role after three months? What does success look like after six months? There are tons of conversations and goal setting that’s happening throughout every step of somebody’s career with the Electrical Association, I don’t want anyone to ever not know what’s expected of them.

I’ve learned this a lot throughout the years and one of my favorite quotes from Brene Brown is, clarity is kind. And I think in the past with having empathy is one of my top five strengths is that I would be concerned, you know, giving somebody feedback or criticism could come off as something that they don’t wanna hear or something that would make them feel disappointed in themselves or something like that. But then learning a lot more about clarity, being kind has actually helped my empathy and feeling like, no, they, they need that, that verbiage and that feedback. That’s actually the kind way to go about it rather than being passive-aggressive or Minnesota nice, like so many of us can be. Clarity is definitely the better approach in the long run. And sometimes I’ve learned that the hard way over the years and getting feedback from people saying that they didn’t know that that was expected and potentially even, you know, losing them as a staff member because of it. And I don’t want to see those same types of things happen. So I’ve definitely learned a lot over the years. Another book that kind of talks about it a little bit further is Radical Candor. Me just learning a lot more about that, that clarity piece is definitely something I would say my team sees with my leadership style now.

Justin: So I’m hearing you’re sort of on this journey as well as becoming the best human you possibly can and really leading and empowering your team. What is the work that you’re doing, and how has that changed the culture since you began leading the organization? And how would you describe that culture today?

Clara: I would say our culture is very collaborative. we have a collaborative community. Many of us are high in our executing strengths, so we like to put our nose to the computer, get our work done kind of look up, look up for air when all is said and done. But I really have been putting a lot more focus on that fun and relationship building as well because I do feel that that’s so important. Sometimes my team will roll their eyes at different things that we execute because they do just wanna come in and get their work done and go home. I find it so important that they have those genuine relationships with each other. I think that is where we foster the collaboration the most. when we genuinely like each other, we wanna help each other succeed.

No one wants to see a friend on the team struggle or be too stressed out. So some of the things off the top of my head that we do to collaborate and have that fun even if it can be forced, we have done some outings. We’ve gone to Top Golf, local museums. We’ve been to the Bakken Museum in South Minneapolis, which I would highly recommend as something kind of appropriate, full, and different. We went to the Mill City Museum. We turned our Halloween party into going to a local museum in the area. Also, during stressful times or busier seasons that we have, I’ve brought in a massage therapist a few times and had the team just kind of have a little relaxing half-hour break within their day that they could take advantage of. Just recently we’ve adopted a few families through avivo, which is a community-based organization and we break up into teams, do some holiday shopping, wrap presents, and drop off gifts for families in need. We’ve found to build those relationships as a team and kind of reconnect with each other.

Justin: I love all that. You had shared with us when we were chatting when you brought your team back and you are doing a hybrid approach to bringing your team back into the office, that some of the things that you were surprised to see were the hugs and just the genuine we’ve missed each other for a long time. And that time you realized was really important and you weren’t gonna lose that. So tell us a little bit about how the hybrid approach is working for you and or even some challenges that you’re running in with that approach.

Clara: I think I was really surprised to see that I was thinking a lot of people would just wanna stay home forever and never interact with each other again. So when people did start coming back into the office and seeing them hug each other, say, you know, I, I missed you, that was really cool to see. And I think it worked out well for us during Covid to be home because we already did have a lot of those relationships built up from working in the office for however many years together prior. But as we’ve brought on new teammates, it has to be a lot more intentional now. I’m sure everybody’s feeling this, whether you’re fully remote or hybrid you can’t just assume that a lot of those relationships are being built through the computer screen. You either have to have a retreat every so often or do one of those fun outings or activities.

People aren’t just naturally making those friendships and bonds and so we’re trying to make sure it’s happening on a regular basis because even though we’re hybrid, there are times when I don’t see certain staff members for an entire month because their days didn’t coincide with mine. So next week we’re gonna be going out for lunch and doing a secret Santa gift exchange and we’re just being really intentional on making those things happen still. Because I don’t think it’s enough to just say that you have to all be in the office together on certain days. You gotta kind of go above and beyond that now.

Justin: I took my team for a two-day offsite and that was probably one of the best things I did all year. And we’ve been strictly remote for 10 plus years, but that in-person time is so valuable for tightening that team and just having fun because staring in front of the screen and chatting all the time isn’t quite as fun as actually being in person. 

Clara: During Covid we did these kind of Thursday afternoons, I don’t remember what we called it, but it was a water cooler optional, you know, login and, and chit chat about non-work related things for 20 minutes. And I think the first couple everybody logged in and really took part in it. And as we went on after a couple of months it was, sometimes one person, sometimes nobody. And then it got to the point, well I’m not gonna log on cause I don’t wanna be the only one there. And so we found things that didn’t work or that our team didn’t wanna take advantage of. So we’ve learned a lot over the years. 

Justin: What’s a recent win that you’re super proud of with your team and the organization?

Clara: We actually have a five-year apprenticeship program for electricians that has been going on for decades and just this past year we hit record-breaking numbers with it. So just for some context, when I started in 2014, we had about a hundred people going through the program and this fall, so it started in September, we have about 368 apprentices enrolled. So we’re really excited to see a lot of value being placed on training by our members. But I think why I feel really proud about it is it’s truly a team effort. It takes every single employee on our team to run this program in some way, shape or form. Everybody has their hands in it, whether it’s the marketing and sales of it to our members communicating it with people as they see them at events, designing the study guides that are electricians are receiving, updating the curriculum running the actual program, putting the grades into the workbooks. I mean, it is all hands on deck. And so to see it just continuously being successful makes me really happy.

Justin: That’s awesome. That’s a four times growth, so that’s amazing numbers. So cheers to you and your team. I love that you said it’s like everyone is part of that success because I truly believe that as well. 

Clara: And we recently received approval in North Dakota for them to utilize our apprenticeship program as well, so we know there’s even more growth from here.

Justin: So I’m gonna do a little bit of a shameless plug. When we worked with you was the Minnesota Electrical Association, we went through the comprehensive brand work and we took away Minnesota because you were more than just Minnesota. But doing that work helped bring some clarity around your audiences and the work that you’re doing. Can you share with the group here, how has that changed the organization and, and how you approach things?

Clara: Yeah, see, clarity is kind! We did it during the brand work. So for a long time, we’ve been selling the National Electrical Code book on a national scale. And then our educational offerings, like I just mentioned with the apprenticeship program are continuously getting approved in additional states and we’re able to bring more people into that fold, as well as our continuing education classes that we offer. There are typically about seven or so states that we get that approved in. So the “Minnesota” just no longer fit the organization and who we were serving. So it’s given us a lot more potential for growth by removing it. There was a lot of clarity that Justin and his team helped us figure out as far as who our target A is. And we really identified two different sectors and that’s helped us extremely with our communication efforts.

And there’s a big difference between what the electrical contractor needs and what the electrician needs. So some of our offerings are for the contractor and some aren’t. Being clear about that with the verbiage that we use to get the information out there to the industry is super smart. And then also just our distribution on who’s receiving the information helps us to not bombard everybody with everything that we have going on. We all know that yes we receive enough information and clutter and trying to weave our way through it is already a challenge. So the more that we can be clear about who we’re talking to, the better. 

Justin: You do a lot around non-dues revenue. So can you share with the group because you’re really unique in the situation because still a lot of the associations will rely heavily on membered dues versus yours is a much smaller percentage of your annual revenue. To share with us how you do that.


Yeah. So about 10% of our revenue is dues dollars and the rest comes from non-dues revenue. So we have that code book revenue coming into the association. However, we are seeing that go down year over year just because electricians are gravitating towards an online version rather than picking up that hard copy as often on the job site. But we are still seeing a decent chunk of our revenue coming in from that. We have a lot of educational offerings, that’s a huge chunk of our business. Getting out to the industry and educating them on how to do their jobs correctly. The code changes every three years. So, every two years an electrician is gonna need 16 hours of continuing education. So we have a couple of kind of built-in reasons for electricians to need the offerings that we have because of the nature of the industry.

So really putting a lot of resources and efforts into those has helped us keep our dues dollars down so that members can take advantage of our offerings for a cheaper price. And then recently, actually the beginning of 2022, we launched an association healthcare plan. So that is another revenue stream and really member benefit that we’re able to offer. Our consultants that we’re working with, we’re hoping for about seven or eight contractors to join the plan within the first year. And we have about 15 that have already hopped on board with us representing about 220 lives.

Justin: That’s great. Cheers to you again. I’m gonna flip it and what is a challenge that your association is cha is faced with right now that you are kind of in the midst of working on?

Clara: So I don’t think this is unique to us in any way, but we are seeing increasing costs with everything that we’re doing. You know, we were just putting budgets together for 2023 over the last few months, and it was like almost every time we felt we got numbers incorrectly. We were getting emails from our software companies, our vendors, utilities, everybody that we work with learning from hotels, you know, food and beverage costs, room rentals, everything is going up. So this is actually the first year in about seven years or so that we’re gonna be seeing a deficit with our bottom line. So it gives us an opportunity within 2023 to really take a look at what we’re doing for income and how we’re being strategic and smart about growing our business and the areas that we really can make money in and then sunsetting those that aren’t. And that’s probably our biggest challenge. We add, add, add, add, and we very rarely cut. So I think that 2023 will be a good year to take a look at what isn’t providing value and dollars to the bottom line anymore and get rid of it. I don’t know if others on the LinkedIn live here are dealing with the same thing or are finding unique ways to go about this, but, like our health insurance, that went up astronomically for our association staff. 

Justin: If there are things that you’re running into, also please share some of the challenges. I’m sure none of us are alone in all of that. I kind of go back to your identified clear audiences, this gives you this deficit in a sense gives you an opportunity to really look at what you’re doing and, sunset many of those things as well. And that’s not just to Claira, I think that’s to everyone. For-profit non-profit businesses that that’s, this is a huge time to really think about what you’re doing, do it differently, and really make the people you serve the best be better humans and better at what they’re doing to serve their people in their industry. 

How about you? Is there a challenge you’re running into right now? You had kind of mentioned a little bit that managing a team is a little different for you earlier on in our discussion. What, what are you faced with as a leader?

Clara: I would say my empathy is also my biggest challenge. The strength coach that I’ve worked with over the last six years. Like Justin said in the intro, she’s the one who gave me that phrase that it’s my secret sauce to be a successful leader. However, it does get very, very draining on me personally. I take a lot of feelings on and when my team is feeling stressed or not doing as well in a role or something like that, I feel it and I take it on personally and I really need to work on that boundary. and sometimes even understanding that I don’t have all of the control, they even change a situation. I think so often I, I think that I always can be that solution provider. I, there’s gotta be something that I could do and sometimes you just can’t. and I can’t let that kill me or keep me up at night. I need to create that boundary and kind of let stuff go. And I don’t always do that very well.

Justin: It is a superpower and just the power that you have to listen to them. And even if you don’t have an answer that, that, that gift of listening helps that that person or that group that you’re, you’re helping to move forward. So what is a person or a guru you look up to?

Clara: I have a couple. Like I mentioned just recently here was my strengths finders coach. She, Carrie Bischoff is fantastic. Like I said, I’ve worked with her a handful of times over the last six years. She has gotten to know my staff really well. We brought her in for different group training exercises and then when I do coaching with her. She now knows what I have as far as resources on my team as well as who I could lean on kind of internally if I’m struggling with getting something done. And she is just kind of top-notch within the Gallup StrengthsFinders world. She’s done some group trainings with us on strengths-based selling as well as strengths-based leadership. I’d say. My other guru is Judy Rubin, who is the previous Executive Director of the association.

So, as I said, I worked with her for a few years prior to taking on this role and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was just continuously learning so much from her. I see it now more so looking back on it and I call ’em Judy-isms, you know, there’s just different phrases that I find myself saying, and then I’m like Judy always said, that’s where I got it from. She was at the association for 23 years and just understands the association and business industry. Her input on all of that is so valuable and we still get together for dinner and I rely on her as a mentor kind of all the time now. 

Justin: That’s awesome. I was just gonna ask if you’re staying in touch with her, so that’s great to hear that you are. What is a piece of advice that you’ve been given recently, either by Judy or by a peer or a family or friend?

Clara: I would say it’s actually something that someone told me right when I got the position and it was to not forget to stop and celebrate. I used to be absolutely terrible at this since I have achiever very, very high within my strengths. I want to cross something off the list, whether it’s big or small, and move on to the next thing. Taking a minute to stop, take a breath, look back, realize how big of an accomplishment something might have been and celebrate it is really valuable and rejuvenates you to move on to that next thing. So as I talked about the different ways that I reward the team, I do think that I’ve gotten a lot better at that over the years, but I was pretty terrible at doing it at the beginning of my career.

Justin: I think your message is going out to everyone as well. I think especially timely for this time of year, for all of us to stop and celebrate the little wins just as much as the big wins. and I think you all have space now. If you didn’t celebrate it, do celebrate it and thank your team or a loved one, whatever, whoever that is. yeah, I’m, go ahead.

Clara: We had a board meeting last week and one of the things I’ve started to do at the end of the year is put together a year at a glance and it’s an opportunity for me and the rest of the team to add things to this document to show the board with kind of what we’ve accomplished as the, as as an association. And every year we start putting it together. I forget half the things that we’ve done. So just a nice opportunity and it’s something that I’ve kind of scheduled in cuz then I can cross it off the list, you know, so it makes my achiever happy. that reminds us like, oh yeah, we did a ton for the organization this past year, like, way to go.

Justin: One last question. You had talked about peer groups when we were meeting as well, and I just want you to share why that’s important for you and your growth.

Clara: That’d be my biggest advice to anybody else or any other leaders out there is to find outlets or groups of people to talk to so that you don’t have to go through this alone. I have a couple of networks of people that I use as my sounding board and I always gain so much from them and I’m, I’m hopefully giving to them also. I’m a part of the BWC, which is the Business Women’s Circle, and this is a group of non-associations. It’s just business leaders kind of locally and we get together and talk about business struggles, business wins, we’ve set goals, hold each other accountable since a lot of times in our roles we don’t have anybody else doing that depending on how hands-on or off your board is. So it’s a really nice opportunity to get together and, and talk with other business leaders.

And then the other one is my CEO Sync group. So this is my second year of being a part of that through Associations North. That’s executive directors, presidents, CEOs of associations, getting together, and talking about very real industry issues that are going on. we do a lot of like small group sharing. We bring in industry experts to talk about stuff that’s going on. Usually, I didn’t even, you know, think I hadn’t thought about something yet. I get into one of those meetings and I’m like, wow, that’s something that should be top of my mind moving forward. And it’s definitely kind of changed the trajectory of something that we’ve been working on within our organization. So both of those are my outlets and I get, you know, everybody’s different in what they want and what they need. But that’s my biggest piece of encouragement and it saves my husband from having to hear about work struggles all the time. He appreciates them.

Justin: I completely second all of that even to the partner. They understand you and get you more so than our loved ones as well. They’ve all been either through it or going through it with you, so that help is priceless. 

So, Clara, I’m gonna just move into some quick questions that I threw at you. Top industry podcast you are listening to or a book you are reading and why?

Clara: I have to say Spark in conversations with, which is the Electrical Association podcast. It’s top of my list. I also listen to Up First every morning. It’s a 14-minute podcast. It’s just high-level snippet of what’s going on in the world. That’s super helpful. The latest book that I read was, “We Should All Be Millionaires” by Rachel Rogers. I found that to be very interesting.

Justin: Is there a nugget you can share about being a millionaire real quick?

Clara: We all need personal assistance in our, in our daily lives to be able to elevate to the next level.

Justin: Clara, which apps do you use the most?

Clara: Google Maps. I am extremely geographically challenged, so I am constantly putting in where I’m going. Shazam is my other favorite one if I ever wanna know who’s singing a song that I really like. And then of course, Amazon.

Justin: I thought you were gonna say TikTok for sure.

Clara: Well, yes, that’s also up there.

Justin: Share why you like TikTok so much.

Clara: So don’t judge me, it all has to do with your algorithm. You know, my algorithm is wonderful and I’m finding out, like I’m learning so much about how to be a better cook. You know, I love to try new recipes, DIY projects around my house. You know, it’s not all just dance videos, it’s educational as well. sometimes I get down, you know, management leadership, tangents within it finding people who are talking about, you know, one-on-one, how to have a more successful one-on-one or, you know, and it’s just 60 seconds. It’s such short snippets of information. And I find myself sending it to some of my managers. Sometimes I’ll be like, look at this. You know, look at this. This is really good information that you can digest in such a short amount of time.

Justin: It was also inspiration for the brand launch video that we did, and that was during Covid time so no one could see each other. So a lot of inspiration there.

First thing you do in the morning, Clara?

Clara: Workout. 

Justin: I think you have to share, cuz I’m very similar to you. Like there’s that clarity in working out, but you like to work out why?

Clara: It’s the only time of the day that I’m not thinking about, you know, what to do next with the business. Have my kids ate enough vegetables this week, like I am just thinking about myself or yeah. Wondering when 30 seconds is gonna be up so I can stop the plank- that kind of thing. It’s the only time that I’m really thinking about something outside of like really hard issues. 

Justin: It’s a very important clarity break for you to be the powerful you that you are.

If you could learn a new skill, what would that be?

Clara: So I would love to be able to play the piano and thinking about this question, you know, as you sent me these rapid-fire ones, I was like trying to think of where in the house we could put a piano and how I could start taking lessons. So, I don’t know, I might jump on it.

Justin: I think we could be having an accountability partner out there who does piano lessons. 

How much do you trust your gut instinct?

Clara: So I’ve learned to trust it a lot more over the last six years in this role. I think in the past I always, I would overthink it and I wanted to prove myself, prove it in a different way. I think now I’m better at trusting it without having to go through that proving process because I, I’ve learned so many times after the fact that, dang, if I would’ve just trusted my gut, I could have saved myself a lot of time and headaches.

Justin: That’s hard. It’s easier said, right?

 I’m gonna ask Clara if she has a shameless plug to share about the association or something that a big initiative that they might be working on.

Clara: Yeah. my shameless plug would be to encourage youth to explore the trades. we definitely want, you know, people to go to whatever route they find best fitting for them, and going to a technical school or getting hired into construction right away is definitely a really smart career path for a lot of people. I was just looking, there is a statistic that I recently saw that 40% of the construction workforce will retire by 2030. So kind of filling that pipeline is gonna be extremely important.

Justin: Is there anything that you’re doing or with other groups that you’re getting some traction or some things that are working for you in the association?

Clara: We work with a lot of community-based organizations. So they’re putting, they’re putting together a lot of different programs to work with the youth and the trades. And so there’s, there’s this one that comes to mind. It’s 916 and they build a house every year in North Minneapolis and one of our electrical contractors, he’s on our board. He did the electrical work for it, and as they’re doing the electrical work, they’re, they’re training a handful of high school kids in that area on, on that work that’s being done. So we’re trying to partner as much as we can with organizations like that to bring people into the industry, but some of that work takes a long time to see the efforts come

Justin: It’s certainly a long tail. We do have a question from one of our viewers. How can youth find more information about trades and are there any good events coming up that you would recommend?

Clara: Yes, we partner with Project Build Minnesota. I would suggest going to that website. There is a ton of information that they have on there as far as, you know, annual salaries for different trades. And then I think there’s a kind of contact us page right then and there. So if you have any further information you could, you could get it. And that’s a combined effort from all the different trades kind of getting together to get information out there to the industry.

Justin: How are you navigating all the different associations doing sort of the same thing? Is there a way to bring all of them together or are you working in, in that fashion?

Clara: That is the goal of Project Build Minnesota to get all of the trades working towards that one larger initiative. we have a ton of information on our website as well, but that’s obviously specific to the electrical industry. and you can reach out to me and I can talk to you about that piece. But yeah, project Build, putting everybody together I think is super smart. There is an event, I know that was a part of the question that they’re putting on. It’s more for the construction teachers, so getting all of like the shop teachers together from high schools and then hoping that they can continue to deliver the message within high schools. So we’re trying to get to the shop teachers too.

Justin: What are the opportunities for these young people to get into the trades early? What are the wins and why should they do that?

Clara: Well, I think they’re in the driver’s seat, you know, just having such a gap that’s coming our way and is already here. they really, they’re really gonna be wanted and valued for the work that they’re doing. And I think that’s huge. And you know, for, for electrical, there’s just a lot of exciting things going on as far as automating stuff, the, you know, new technologies, solar, EV charging stations, like doing stuff that is really cool, is really cool and exciting. It’s not just, you know, all pulling wire or digging trenches or anything like that. I think that kids could really have a lot of fun with it.

Justin: Can you talk a little bit about it, because I think some of the things that aren’t being shared enough is it’s a shorter educational time they can get on-the-job training right away. there’s also the salaries are very lucrative.

Clara: Absolutely. So obviously if you go, so, so even my route, I’ll give myself as an example. I went to a four-year university and had no clue what I wanted to do when I got done with school, ended with a significant amount of student loan debt, not understanding how I was gonna go about paying that off and not realizing, you know, this is gonna be my take home and this is the amount I’m gonna be paying in student loans every month. And then how little you have left over at the end of that the route for the trades, you know, you could, you can get hired by an electrical contractor right outta high school and start working on the job right then and there and making money go through, you know, the, like the apprenticeship program that the electrical association has.

And many times the employer will pay for it in whole, or a portion of it or, you know, give you reimbursements if you are successful on it. You know, you can kind of negotiate those things out in the interview process. But at the end of the day, even if you did have to foot the bill for it, the end goal or the end amount is going to be far less than what you would have after going to a four-year university. So you’re gonna be productive a lot faster. You’re gonna be making money a lot faster. it’s just really a win-win if that’s something that someone’s interested in.

Justin: Absolutely. I have one question just posted for you. Your favorite holiday tradition in your family?

Clara: I would say, so my grandma, she has made stockings for every single person who’s ever ended up in the family. And I wonder if I could post a picture of this after. So on Christmas morning, there are literally like 50 stockings sitting on the table of, you know, every single aunt, uncle, cousin grandkid that’s entered into the family. She starts it like the second you’re pregnant.  She starts the stocking. She gets to know the name first because she has to add it to the stocking. So I think this is her little secret to being nosy. So we wake up Christmas morning and there are 50 of these, like exact same stockings and some of the older ones, you know, the green is faded. so you could tell whose stockings have been around for 40 years and whose are the newer stockings. And it’s just, it’s super cool.

Justin: I wanna thank you for your time. I want to thank all of our guests for being here as well and people who are watching this future forward. Clara, where can we, where can my guests connect with you at some point?

Clara: Sure. So email address Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or you wanna grab coffee or lunch.

Justin: Thank you. thanks, everybody. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and lots of, lots of fun being with your family and friends. We will be back sometime in January. What I’d like from all of you is if there’s a guest or if there’s a different question or anything that you would like or advice to give to me to make this even better for you. I welcome those comments and I wish you all the best. We will see you all soon. Thank you! 

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