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Transcripts - Episode 06: Regina Stanback Stroud

Updated: Aug 30

Transcripts

Episode 06: Regina Stanback Stroud

Naomi Castro

Hi, I'm Naomi Castro, and this is the Castropod. This season I talk with college presidents and nonprofit leaders who have things under control. What things? Cool things! Things, things that improve the lives of the people around them. I want to learn how they do it.

Like when you have a rich lifetime of experience and an opinion about everything. How do you keep your mind open and able to think differently? Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud was retired when we had this conversation, but yeah, that didn't last long. Since then, she's become the chancellor for the Peralta Community College District. Hmm. I'm seeing a pattern here first, Marvin Martinez, now Regina. Now, I'm not saying that being on my podcast gets you a better job but it can't hurt.

Naomi Castro [August 19, 2019]

The people aren't the enemies, even though I am reduced sometimes to wishing bad things, you know. The people aren't the enemy of me. But I fundamentally disrespect and, and have contempt for the ideas that they put forward. I mean, I fundamentally do not respect white nationalism. And that's what I experienced, what I'm experiencing now, is that we have a white supremist in the White House, and that the consequences of that is showing up in our policies and is showing up in the ways in which we are defined as a nation, and it that means it influences everything and influences all of our institutions, whether it's our finance institutions, our educational institutions, religious institution. It influences so many different things.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Thank you.

Naomi Castro

So you were not born a college president? Can you tell us just a little bit how, how your journey led you to that place and and beyond?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Sure. I commonly say that I have a non-traditional trajectory. But really it is a traditional non-traditional trajectory. And this is what I mean.

I entered the professional workforce as a registered nurse and found that I was very, very interested in teaching. I always loved teaching and I mean, I loved the notion of teaching. You know, I found that I was interested in teaching and so when the nursing students would come up on the floor that I worked in an acute care setting, I would grab the nursing students and say you want to learn how to take out sutures? Or do you want to learn how to work with you know, balance traction? You know, I would ask them if they wanted to do certain procedures. And then in the course of them doing those procedures, I would be teaching them and I found out that I really loved it.

And it just so happened that unfortunately, one of the instructors at the local community college was injured and they needed a substitute teacher for the year. And I ended up doing that for them and just fell in love with teaching nursing. Moved out to California, ended up with the position as a faculty member in a nursing department and did that for many, many years. Absolutely loved it could have done it for the rest of my life.

But in the course of being a professor, I got involved with the faculty issues and politics and I got involved in the Academic Senate. It took very little time before I was a local Academic Senate President then became the State Academic Senate President. And as the State Academic Senate President that's where I was introduced to a lot of leadership issues and opportunities that you commonly don't get from a structural formal education process, and even from experiences at local colleges.

So I was at the state level advising or being engaged in the processes that advise the board Board of Governors on academic and professional matters. I was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, you know, I was working with the Assembly Committee on Higher Education and the staff that supported the assembly woman who was the chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. So I had all of these different experiences learning how to navigate these different halls in these different environments that were not traditional education.

And then when I finished doing that, I went back to my department at the college, which meant that I had swam in a little bit bigger pond in terms of having discussions around issues, and I knew that I was wanting to do something different. I went on to become a Dean of Workforce and Economic Development, mostly because I was interested in working in anti-poverty, but I knew that I had to work, in order to do that, became a Dean of Workforce and Economic Development and redefine that role at that college.

So initially those positions were positions that were geared at serving business and helping business create a workforce. I wanted to transform it to where you serve the community and you support the community and being able to have access to those business environments and those business opportunities. So I ended up being a very successful, had a very successful tenure as a Workforce and Economic Development Dean in the Silicon Valley during the initial technology boom. It was rolling and I was known nationally, I was known internationally. For the work we were doing, we advise the British government on their development of their workforce development program. We toured the British, the English countryside and I presented anywhere from you know, out in the country or Sheffield or I presented at 10 Downing.

So it was a really very rewarding experience. Came back to if I get back to my, you know, trajectory in the community colleges, one of the presidents that I worked for said you need to be a vice president. Now when your president says you need to be a vice president, and you're currently the dean, that sounds like you need to get out of here. Right? So I asked him, are you saying that I need to leave? Because I understand that might be what he was saying. Or you are you saying that you really see some potential in me to be able to take on a different job? He said, you need to be a vice president, you need to have much broader influence.

So I said, I don't know anything about being a vice president. I don't know about enrollment management. I, you know, never been on a negotiating team. He gave me a job description. And he said, I want you to look at this job description for vice president and I want you to circle everything you don't think you know or you have experience in. So I did. I was just going to show him how I was not prepared to be a vice president, there was no way I could be it so I just certainly everything that I had no experience in.

And he proceeded to assign me to every single one of the things that I circled. He put me on the negotiation team, he put me involved in the allocation process for the enrollment stuff. I was just livid. But within that one year, I had all of these experiences. So when I applied for a vice president position, I was able to say, yes, I have experience in this role, well I served on this particular committee, or it was my responsibility to do it. Yes, I've been on the negotiating team.

It was a phenomenal development process that I had no idea that that's what I was doing. But he did. So he was very supportive. Then I became the, the vice president. I was the vice president for 12 years, 11 years. I could have done that for the rest of my life. And actually, my wife said, you need to look at being a president. And I said, but I can't be a president. I don't really know this and you know, there are people that are relying on you for that and you know, I just don't think I'm ready. And she said to me, will you look at who's presidents now?

Meaning just look in the field and you're going to tell me that you don't have similar talents or even better talents? And so I actually started considering it and I applied for the presidency. I first applied at Merritt. I didn't get that position. And I applied at College of Alameda where I was invited to be a to interview, however, to be a finalist, however, in the course of me doing that, the presidency for Skyline College opened up and I decided that I really was committed to Skyline College and would prefer to be there and engage in leadership there. So I became, I applied for and became the president of Skyline College. And so that took me from being a registered nurse to you know, an executive leadership position and ultimately CEO.

Naomi Castro

That is amazing. I'm just reflecting on what a wonderful president you had, who when you were dean. And I've been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts talking about supervision as mentoring and guidance.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yes.

Naomi Castro

And yeah, it just that just makes that squares that circle for me. Thank you.

And you've and we talked a little bit before we started about the the joy in that we experienced in our leadership programs, our doctoral programs, and how much fun it is to keep learning. So one of the things that's become really apparent through this project is that effective leaders continue to learn.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Absolutely.

Naomi Castro

So I'm wondering what if there's a particular area or a particular book or movie or anything right now, that has sparked some more learning for you?

Regina Stanback Stroud

So for me now, I can tell you that I'm interested in almost everything because I have this sense of responsibility. For an example. There was a period of time when there was a lot of work about how to have effective teams. I was trying to devour all of the team stuff, doing the Five Dysfunctions of a Team trying to how to have effective teams. I did some of the work by the professors that are at Harvard that did a lot of that teamwork. I can't remember their names now. But I read two or three of their books. And I was just really working into teams because I was trying to apply that to my institution into my leadership.

So one of the things I'll tell you that if you're interested in leadership, and you're interested in really effective leadership, some of the good work that I've seen is Patrick Lencioni work on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It's consumable, it's accessible. In other words, it's not a lot of academic jargon is just accessible, and it's just good pragmatic work that I have used and seen the results of even in my own organization.

So that's some of the work that I'm doing.

But now that I'm retired, and I'm trying to figure out how do you take this 35 years worth of work, and knowledge and wisdom and, you know, things that you learn from either doing really great things or making lots of mistakes, how do you take that and make it accessible to others and make it so that is of some benefit to somebody other than yourself? And so now I'm exploring things like, you know, executive coaching, and how do you support people who are, you know, achieved and accomplished in their own right, but, are trying to figure out how to navigate certain issues or how to navigate certain environments or how to even progress through certain systems. You know.

And, you know, of course, I'm, my personality is I got an opinion about everything you just asked me about anything. I have an opinion about it. But I recognize that there is a a method in which you can be effective and supportive. And that is not just something that you do off, you know, off the cuff. So the whole art of executive coaching and stuff is some is something that I'm now you know, exploring and reading about and trying to figure out if I want to be certified in etc.

The other thing, even though it's gonna sound like it's completely not related, is that I am engaged in learning a second language. I speak English fluently, I slaughter Spanish, but I can get through things I can have a, you know, conversation as long as you stay in the present tense. You know.

So I can I can manage, and my love is French, and I've never formally studied French. So now I'm in French instruction. And that is actually something that I have found to be very stimulating, just intellectually, but also it keeps your mind open and able to see. At least for me, I feel like I'm able to, like catch nuances of issues or things that I would not have caught before because I'm having to think differently. I'm having to look at things in a different perspective. It's not, it's not what I call auto script, you know.

So that actually is something that I would say that people who are in leadership positions, do whatever it is that keeps your mind stimulated, whether it's reading academic articles, learn another language, figuring out how to swim, whatever it might be.

Naomi Castro

And is it, do you think it's something to do with just keeping you sharp on your toes? Or is it being a beginner again?

Regina Stanback Stroud

It’s all of that, it’s having empathy for … okay, so I you know, my politics are very progressive. So I didn't have to study French in order to have empathy for others who are here who are trying to learn the language, but I can tell you that it’s sharper, and more clear the struggle that someone might have to do something that is so very basic for me.

And I'll give you an example. One time, Linda and I were traveling abroad and we were in Italy. And, you know, I took an Italian class before we went to Italy. And I tried to figure out how to learn a few things, basically, so I could make sure I could order the gelato correctly. And this was many years ago that we were sending postcards back. And we had like, 20 something postcards and we go into, I have to go to the post office. We go into the post office and I have to stand in line and I have to order stamps, and I have to figure out I've already looked it up online. I've already figured out how do you say I need to buy stamps, please God don't ask me any other question or put in kind of quantifier around or anything or I don't know what you're talking about. Right?

So I do that people were like frustrated with me. They were like making noises. You know, they were blowing hard and stuff because they were waiting in line. You're at a post office right? I got through it, oh God, it was painful. Now understand that I was coming from at that time I was a vice president so I was coming from a space where I'm typically respected. And if people are frustrated with something that you're doing, they're not so openly hostile. You know, they're a little bit more strategic. Right?

So I, I wasn't accustomed to experiencing that though I can talk to you about other things I have experienced to me and these, being African American in these United States. However, I get out of that line. I mail the postcards it’s a 25 minute experience. I get back to the car. And Linda says, babe, you left one. I was like, please, please don't make me go back in there. That was just simply trying to mail a postcard. So I see people here trying to navigate major issues that impact their lives in their children's lives, trying to do it in a second language. You know, so for me is just gives me an empathy that is far more clearer than I had, or have had as a result of just my basic progressive politics. Does that make sense?

Naomi Castro

That makes so much sense. That's a great example. Yeah.

I did want to ask about early influences, not necessarily early continuous influences on your leadership style. And would you, do you have a categorization for your leadership style?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yes.

Naomi Castro

Okay, well, tell us.

Regina Stanback Stroud

So I do have a framework, and that's the result of 30 years of work and it's the result of a doctoral degree, you know. And so I do lead with a framework that's called leading to transgress, and it is simply a framework that is multiracial is multi, gender informed. And it is designed, it's situated closely to the masses of marginalized people, and it is designed to use your position of influence and consequence in order to reallocate resources, to deconstruct and break down systems of power and privilege, traditional systems of power and privilege.

And so what that means is and I, I have a statement, I'll give it to you. I used to post the statement on my computer. So that when I was trying to, when I was struggling with different things, when I was struggling with different things, I would say, okay, well, what do I fundamentally believe? You know? And so I have a leadership framework that is grounded in equity and social justice, because I was interested in making sure that I use my position of influence and consequence in order to lead toward the mitigation of systems of oppression, and in order to lead towards social justice.

So what informs that? Well, as the tour guide on when we when Ireland would say, anytime we ask them a question anytime we could ask them a question about something today, and he would say, well, to answer that, I'd have to take you back to 1658. So what informs this? To answer that, I'd have to take you back to my childhood.

I was raised in the segregated South, but I was raised by a mother who believed in education as a practice of freedom. Now, she didn't use those words. As a matter of fact, she wasn't formally educated. But she knew that education was the key for us. And she knew that it was the means by which we would be able to at least fight or escape the systems of racism, which was, you know, legally sanctioned brutality and oppression against African American people in these United States.

So she said, they can take everything away from you, but they cannot take this. So I'm pointing to my head. And that was the key for all of us. So she had four children, two

girls, two boys. The question wasn't whether we would go to college or not, it was where we would go to college, but not whether we would go. And she was a minimum wage worker. So we had to make sure that we were trying to, we had a means to go.

My father died in the military, so we had the GI Bill, and we all grew up, you know how you know, when you go from first grade, you go to second grade automatically and you go from second grade to third grade and it's automatic. It's not like you got a choice to say, well, I don't think I'm gonna go to third grade, you know? I don't think I'm gonna go to high school. You know, it's compulsory, right? All four of us did not know that you had a choice not to go to college. We thought that, okay, you finish high school and you have to go to college like, otherwise it's illegal, you know, and my mother never disabused of that notion. You know, so we all went to college.

And some of us you know, all of us now, my one brother has two master's degree, another brother has a master's degree. I have two master's degree and a doctorate degree. And my sister who is who, you know, is a year younger than I has an associate's degree and has, you know, spent her life trying to achieve, you know, her next degree, you know. But we all understand the value of education. So that informs me, and it informs my leadership perspective.

Now, there are lots of other things that happened in my life, you know, that informed me my experiences, I went to Howard University, I had examples of great leadership.

And I also had examples of really bad leadership. So I learned in the course of my profession, in the course of my education, and profession, professional experience, I learned what I aspired to, and what I didn't want to do. So, and I paid attention.

Especially I remember being the Senate President at a local college, and I was constantly up against issues with the Vice President of Student Services. And, you know, from my perspective, she was constantly wrong, but she was constantly winning. And so I just decided to stop and pay attention to her. I listened to her voice. I looked at her mannerisms. I looked at her gestures, I paid attention to the sequence of how she formed her ideas like whatever just came out of her mouth first. And then I paid attention to the patterns and figured out that whatever she says first is the thing that she's most concerned about. You know, I just paid attention to everything. And I wanted to be as effective as she was. But I wanted to do it because I thought that I was right on the right side of issues. And I learned from her, even though I was constantly on the other side of the table from her in terms of the issues or my perspective. I learned a lot from her. I emulated her voice, I emulated her mannerisms, I paid attention to her style, her disposition. I learned a lot from her.

Naomi Castro

Wow. So do you, do you fall in the camp, do you believe we have opponents or enemies?

Regina Stanback Stroud

I don't think we have either one of them. I think that we there are people who think differently than I do. And I used to have this saying, you know, I'm working on respecting the rights of people to think differently than I do, no matter how wrong they are.

I think that there are people who think differently than I do. And I actually believe that, you know, when people have all of the information that they'll come to similar decisions, might be some nuances and how you do certain things. Except there are ways in which we were informed by our own biases, we're informed by own our own ideologies, our backgrounds, our perspectives, and so it might be different decisions, but I don't consider the people opponents. I don't consider them enemies. I just consider that they have a different perspective or a different opinion than I do or a different idea than I do.

Naomi Castro

Wow, I've got a lot of growth to do because, I was very happy that I have moved from my younger years of having enemies to now having opponents, so I can I can keep moving in that direction.

Regina Stanback Stroud

You know, you can test me, you can challenge me, you can say okay, well what about, you know what about like, to me the ultimate difference exists in the way the person who is in the White House perceives and sees and, and tries to make things happen. And I mean, the difference between us is great.

I fundamentally disagree and disrespect most that comes out of that administration.

The people aren't the enemies, even though I am reduced some time to wishing bad things, you know. The people aren't the enemy of me. But I fundamentally disrespect and, and have contempt for the ideas that they put forward. I mean, I fundamentally do not respect white nationalism. And that's what I experienced, what I'm experiencing now, is that we have a white supremist in the White House, and that the consequences of that is showing up in our policies and is showing up in the ways in which we are defined as a nation, and it that means it influences everything and influences all of our institutions, whether it's our finance institutions, our educational institutions, religious institution. It influences so many different things.

I still don't have the enemy in the people, you know, because the people are just, you know, they're, they're just flawed from my perspective. But I fundamentally am opposed to and have an enemy and the ideas that they're perpetuating.

Naomi Castro

And so he was on the volunteer fire department and he's a progressive liberal hippie guy living in rural Louisiana. And so one time he was they were called out to a fire. And they pulled up to the house, the house was on fire, the residents were outside trying to fight it with a hose. And, and there was a giant confederate flag hanging from the window. And he said it was the only time he ever paused and thought, am I going to help save this house?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yes.

Naomi Castro

That was hard work. It wasn't the easiest thing at all because this affects people's lives. They their families are affected. But I could not have it destroying, it would have been causing harm to the institution. And I had to do something about it. Then I had to I don't know, however you say I had to make sure that the community, the college, understood that I own that mistake in that, first of all, I apologize to the people that were impacted and admitted that I was wrong, right? And I said that out loud. And I said it publicly so that people would feel comfortable in the future to come in to say the same good decision. Right, and they would see that as not necessarily means of lack of support for them to say that. So I admitted it out loud, publicly honored the work that had been done, but I also with some care, tried to take care of the person that was in that that was involved in it because that's a that impacts your life.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Right.

Naomi Castro

And he came to the very quickly to the decision, of course, I am, of course I am. But he said, you know, it gave him pause.

Regina Stanback Stroud

That’s right. Yeah, I mean, it challenges us to be the people that we say we are, or that we think we are, that we aspire to be, at least for me, it does. I mean, I, you know, I come from a background of compassion and humanitarianism, but I have not had a single good wish for a single person in that administration. You know, and, you know, if were I to be challenged, you know, the quite frankly not able to conjure it up right now, you know, so.

Naomi Castro

Yeah. Well, that is that is very refreshing.

Regina Stanback Stroud

It just means I’m human.

Naomi Castro

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's not it's certainly not how the media portrays, folks, with very different opinions. And often it portrays us as hating each other or, you know, demonizing each other. And, you know, certainly people do that, but we can try to be our better selves and not do that.

Regina Stanback Stroud

You know, that might be you know, that's in all fairness, that's an extreme example. When I bring it to the workplace, when I'm bringing it to where I'm, you know, applying leadership skills it's easier to say, okay, look, just because people believe this or support this, and I don't support exit testing. I don't. It's easier for me to say look, that doesn't make them bad people. It just makes them think differently than I do. It's easier for me to do that. Where as when I see somebody that this representing kind of the brutality of white nationalism, that's a harder job for me to separate the people from the issue. You know, it's just work we have to do.

Naomi Castro

Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I'd like to change gears just just a little bit. Although thank you for all of that.

And one of the things I was really interested in the most motivating question I had, because of some particular things in my professional work, was this seeming contradiction, and you may say, it's not a contradiction, when you're leading an organization or an institution in the nonprofit world and in the community college world the folks that work there are mission driven by and large, and you know, you don't go into nonprofit or community college work because you you're chasing big bucks or because you know, you're going in to it because you think you're, you're contributing to doing something good. Although, you know, maybe some of the folks chasing big bucks think they're doing good too. That's, that's great. But we, we tend to hire folks who are really good at what they do, and, and have a high level of autonomy or value a high level of autonomy. But the organization also has some unifying principles or mission. And sometimes and it those things might be at odds at times.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Absolutely.

Naomi Castro

Or in particular, if you get down to kind of nitty gritty things like branding your institution or your organization. And that's, you know, and that might seem superficial, but I don't think so. And so how do you find that Goldilocks zone between allowing folks to do what they want to do the way they want to do it, their autonomy, with creating this unified cohesive group?

Regina Stanback Stroud

So the the response I'll give you to that I'll give to you on that is going to sound like it's easy. But trust me, it's not easy. It's easier said than done. One of the things that for me is really important is to bring in really good people, because I did see hiring as one of the responsibilities that was most important in my role. And I took it very, very seriously. And I engaged in it in a very intentional and deliberate way so that I would be able to bring into that institution, people that would support the mission of that institution that would want to serve the communities that we were serving, and that would see it from a perspective, an equity based perspective.

So I was very attentive to hiring and I can talk to you about that at another time if you like, because I did many, many different things than traditionally is done. And then you bring in people. And it's not so easy because the very talent you wanted is the very thing that may be presented to you that will give you the challenge on some things.

So, as president of the college, it's my responsibility to provide that leadership, help set that agenda, though not in a vacuum it’s informed by all of the work that people do and the perspectives of the people in the institution and the community needs and those types of things. But then, you know, I see that as my responsibility in providing that leadership. But then I've also hired people who have their own perspectives and have talents to be able to support those perspectives, and in their own right and legitimately so, you know, make those perspectives known.

So I'll give you a good example, as I hired a gentleman named Mustafa Popal. Brilliant young man. And when I heard him, when he left the room, I said to the team, this is a phenomenal person. I said, I am going to hire him. He is going to come here. I know he's gonna start the revolution and he's gonna give me headaches, but he will make this institution better. Right? Now, I tease Mustafa all the time, because anytime he does something, and I, you know, he's challenging us or something like that, which I count on him to do. And I count on faculty to do, staff to do I say, I knew it. I knew you were gonna start the revolution. You know, I teased him all the time.

But that's how our college goes from, that's how a college shows up differently. That's how we we go beyond being just good. You know what I mean? Almost use a cliché says goes From Good to Great, but we actually did use that framework in order to make sure that we were weren't just good enough, but that we were really a great institution for the community that we serve, you know. So yes, you're going to have that when people come in because you're, that's the talent that you're hiring. But it makes your institution better.

And so the key is, from your perspective, is to make sure you have enough self-reflection and that makes sure that you're examining your own perspective to realize that you may not have it right. Or your interpretation may not be it. Or you have to kind of trust that other ideas will serve as well. I'll give you a good example when I was first kind of conscious of it.

We were developing the materials for, to let everybody know that we had the shuttle available from Bart that would be free.

Naomi Castro

I've taken that shuttle. Thank you.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Of course. And in developing the materials, the all of the staff in the marketing office in the public relations area, they sent all of these different brochures and images and things. For me, that was the craziest stuff I had ever seen. It was like it looked like, I don't know, I couldn't connect to it at all. I couldn't connect to it at all. It wasn't like crisp enough and professional enough and, and what I finally decided was to get out of their way, because they understood the field, and they also had different experiences. They were younger people for an example that we're trying to connect to younger people, etc. And just because I as a CEO/President haven't gone through kind of these the formal stages in my life, it didn't connect with me. It might connect with people who need to be students at that college.

And so I had to make the decision, just in my mind, and it wasn't a hard decision to make, to trust that they knew what they were doing. And that it would serve us, it was the best decision. The process was exponentially successful. We thought that we would get like 1000 people, we had ridership of like, 6000 in the beginning, you know, I mean, just, it just was exponentially successful. And I was glad that I, it taught me, you know, like, I don't even hesitate. You know, the director would say, do I need to run these things by you or she would try to run things by me. I'm like, if you if you recommend that this is it, let's do this, you know? So I stayed close enough to give guidance and make sure that we were, you know, that we were within the construct of the institution, the framework of the institution, but gave them freedom to do their do their thing and show their talents and share their talents so that the institution could benefit from it.

Naomi Castro

I really, well I appreciate all of that. That's fantastic. A lot of mirrors. We’re talking about mirrors and windows, so a lot of mirrors, but I also love everything that I've seen come out recently from the marketing department. It's so good. And one of the things I saw was a maybe it was at your retirement celebration. Something that said Skyline we got your back.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yeah. We get your books, we get your back,

Naomi Castro

We get your books, we got your back. I love it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That's fantastic. Thank you, you give me a lot to think about.

Another question that I had. That was very specific, you know, I've heard plenty of podcasts or interviews where they talk about making hard decisions. And the leader being interviewed talks about combining the decisions or bringing people together to a consensus. But sometimes there's parameters that just you can't do that all the time. I mean, when you can.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Right

Naomi Castro

And it's something better great. Sometimes you do that and something not so good.

Regina Stanback Stroud

That’s right.

Naomi Castro

So I'm much more interested in how you make the decision, when you have to choose between two really great things, but you cannot combine them. Or if you have to make a decision where you're choosing between two things that you don't really like either of them, but because of time or other external constraints, you've got to choose one.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Right.

Naomi Castro

How do you do that?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yeah, I don't think there's any, I don't have any magic formula for it. I can tell you that one of the things that I try to stay focused on is what is my leadership framework. And then what is the ultimately the board and the chancellor trying to accomplish? Right? So sometimes you can get to those types of things. Well, what does the strategic plan say, what did the, you know, what did we say in our master plan? Those types of things. Sometimes it's not so connected that way. And it's like, do you go with this one or that one? I'll give you a good example. We never had, we had one African American faculty member in math.

Naomi Castro

How many how many total math faculty about?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Twenty something, many, many more if you count adjuncts, right. But one African American faculty member who was a woman and she retired. And we were getting, we were hiring new math faculty. And two faculty came through that were phenomenal. Lots of people came through that were phenomenal, but two of the finalists. One was an Asian woman who was phenomenally successful with students and students loved her. Our colleges is predominantly Asian student population. So it was wonderful that the students would be able to, you know, see themselves in her but also the students who didn't look like her would be able to see role models as well. And the other one was this African American man, young African American man that just was phenomenal.

And I struggled because both of them were equally good faculty member, we're equally successful with students, were equally loved by students. And I had to figure out what to do. And in the end, I was not willing, I kept changing the scenario. I kept saying, you know, how can I, how do I tell the story that, you know, this person came to me, this woman came to me, connected to the community loved by the students, phenomenally qualified and I didn't hire her? Regardless of whatever else was going on. How do I tell that story? How do I tell the story that this African American man came to me, connected to the students, phenomenally successful, phenomenally qualified, and I didn't hire him? And I was not willing to tell those two stories.

So I went back and I said to the budget officer, I said, create another position. She said, oh, we didn't go to the process. We don't have the money. I said, there is always money it’s just how you prioritize it. I am not turning away either one of these.

So the first, the reason I'm telling you this story is because I don't necessarily accept the premise that I have to choose one, that I can't make this decision or that decision, or that these won't go together. Right? Because when you're in a position of influence and consequence, you can change that premise. So I don't necessarily start with oh woe is me, what am I going to do? I can't do this, right?

And then if I get to where then I have to make a hard decision, and I can't make that change, or I can't I can't pick both or whatever it might be or one is mutually exclusive of the other, you know, if you do this one, then that means this one can, right? Then I do a lot more work.

I do a lot more work with regard to figuring out the consequences, talking to people ultimately, making a decision.

The thing is that I am not shy or reserved about ultimately making a decision or making a hard decision. I won't go in through go to analysis paralysis, but I will take the time to get all of the information and make the best decision that I can, you know. So it is about listening to people. And in the end, I own it. In the end I'm not I'm not shy about owning the decision.

One time we had a hiring process and I was meeting with the faculty and the screening committee, and I was explaining to them what happens at the last level, because they had been working with other presidents and I said, at the last level, it really is an interview with me, you have a right to be in there to observe. I asked you to participate because that way it's not awkward for the candidates. But it is an interview with me. And ultimately I will ask for your information and your input, but ultimately I will make the decision. And the faculty member said to me that was in there who had been on lots of committees, she said, you mean we don't vote? I said absolutely not. This is my responsibility is part of the accreditation standards that I'm responsible for the hiring and development of employees, and making sure that people come in and have the qualifications of those people to have. And I am not willing to abrogate that responsibility. So absolutely, no, we do not vote.

It was a surprised, right? Not the popular decision, either. You know, there was talk about it, and people, you know, went back to the departments and they didn't know whether they want to serve on committees, up to you. But I'm not willing to abrogate that responsibility. So I'm not shy about making a decision. I own it. And sometimes those decisions are the right decision. And whew, you know, we got it right. And so and we don't always get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong. You know, sometimes we get wrong,

Naomi Castro

What do you do? So if you if you make a decision, and then maybe a few months later you do some of that mirror work and you go, oh, or maybe it's a window, and you say, wow, that was that was the wrong move? What do you do?

Regina Stanback Stroud

A couple of things. And I can, I'm thinking of one particular instance. So I'll talk about it in the context of that particular instance. Although it may not necessarily apply to, you know, generic.

I made a hire. It was the biggest hiring mistake in my profession. It took me a few weeks to recognize it. It was such a shock.

And what I've realized is that everybody around me that knew before I did that this was a mistake, was trying to be supportive of my decision. And that was people who were, you know, on my executive level people who were in the faculty ranks people who were staff, it was a means of

supporting me that they that I did not know the horrors of the impact decision, right?

And then ultimately, I learned it. And well, ultimately I started seeing things and I started talking to asking for information. And that's when I learned it. And then I was just as quick to make the next decision, which was meaning, help them move on. That means I had to be smart, I had to get the human resources stuff all taken care of. I had to figure out a way to work with the people so that I'm not destroying that person. But just help them recognize this is not a good fit for either one of us. Neither one of us are happy with what's happening, right?

Okay, it's a couple of things. One, I love to eat. I'm just telling you, I love to eat. I like good food. So I love to cook. So I like good food. I like to try different foods. I like to try the things that I cook and this didn't work out so then I try something else etc. So my guilty pleasure is around preparing, serving, eating, doing anything with food, you know, socializing around food, I love food. I love with food, I care with food. I do everything with food, right?ght? And I said that out loud. And I said it publicly so that people would feel comfortable in the future to come in to say the same good decision. Right, and they would see that as not necessarily means of lack of support for them to say that. So I admitted it out loud, publicly honored the work that had been done, but I also with some care, tried to take care of the person that was in in that that was involved in it because that's a that that impacts your life.

Naomi Castro

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. And again, back to the not having opponents or enemies. Just this is this was not a right fit.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Absolutely not.

Naomi Castro

Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. So one of the books that was recommended by another interview in this series was, is Radical Candor. The author talks quite a lot about helping your staff to also engage in radical candor with you, and being receptive to that. And yeah, it's it's a whole thing. It's a whole thing. But yeah, it's been very helpful for me,

Regina Stanback Stroud

And I've experienced different levels I experience. People not really wanting to say certain things because they are being supportive. And I've experienced people in my face about certain things.

Naomi Castro

Oh yeah.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Because they feel it's their right or their entitlement to do so. And what I try to do is I try to be, I try to create a situation where people will be honest with me. But I'm not willing, I am not willing all in the interest of honesty and taking things etc. I am not willing to take abuse.

Naomi Castro

Absolutely.

Regina Stanback Stroud

I am not willing to be abused or mistreated. I'm willing to be to be treated in ways that I treat other people. Yeah.

Naomi Castro

Which goes back to talking about ideas and viewpoints.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yeah.

Naomi Castro

And, you know, procedures but not the individual. Yeah, yeah.

Regina Stanback Stroud

I am known to play to win. I am, I am a woman on a mission on many, many things. And I don't feel like I have the luxury of mediocrity. I feel like I have to be intentional and deliberate around many, many issues. So I do play to win and what I mean by that it doesn't I don't mean it in like, you know, competitive, we are better than you, etc. I mean, I play to succeed, you know? I'm not hesitant. Play to win is a term that we use in cards is a game We played in the south called Bid Whist and you know, you can't be shy about, you know, pulling trump, you have to play to win, right? So you don't like put out your king so that you know, etc, you if you get the issue, put it out there, right?

So it's a term that I grew up with and play to win, you know, like, don't don't be apologetic about being in leadership.

Naomi Castro

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. We have just a few more questions. And then and we're going to do some of these are going to be a little rapid-fire. But is there a book that you find that you've been recommending quite a lot lately or a podcast?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Well, the book that I have been recommended is Lencioni, so Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Naomi Castro

Excellent.

Regina Stanback Stroud

But the last three recommendations that I gave, were Stamped from the Beginning, because I believe in understanding critical race, literacy, you know, so Stamped from the Beginning is something that I think every executive needs to learn read because people don't know our history in these United States.

Naomi Castro

And then do you have so this is more of a like a life hack kind of a thing? Do you have a particular routine in the morning or at the end of the day that you attribute to helping set your intentions or, you know, anything?

Regina Stanback Stroud

So, I used to have a routine when I worked that is different than my routine now, when I'm retired and running this consultancy.

Naomi Castro

That is good to hear.

Regina Stanback Stroud

So, when I worked my routine, I'm ashamed to say I had no routine in the morning that would be you would be able to refer to as oh, this is when this leader did reflection and planned out her day, you know? My routine was to get up, get out of here and get into that institution and be available right? And sometimes I hit the ground running and I didn't have time to breathe and that was constant all the time. There wasn't time for self-reflections, there wasn't time to think that wasn't time to prepare, you know, that just was the reality of the work. And I started trying to do certain things in order to have that kind of time. Literally scheduling think time, and bathroom time and lunch times, literally scheduling on the calendar.

And then when I would get home, that would be the time when I saw the love of my life and that I could, you know, we could debrief on the day or we could binge watch, you know? So that I would escape and I will admit that after this election, I did, I had to do a lot of escaping, you know, I had to like, escape from the news. I used to watch Rachel Maddow a lot, but I even get to where I couldn't, I couldn't hear it anymore to learn what was happening.

So I had to get I had to fortify myself in order to be able to stay abreast with what was going on. So that when I worked, I did those and it did change because it used to be that I took a lot of work home. But in my presidency, I made a conscious decision to stand up and walk out at 4:30. So in other words, set some boundaries on it and very seldom took work home. Very seldom. So I wasn't up writing the grant and you know, those types of things.

Now that I'm retired, my routine is a little different. So one of the things that I have to do, because if I don't do it before I come downstairs is I have to shower and get dressed before I come downstairs. Otherwise, it might not happen today. If I don't have any place to go and be out, for real, right? Just because I get down here and I get involved in the things that I'm doing. So before you came this morning, I came down, had coffee, I'm in my robe, and I got involved. I had to do some French homework. So I've been doing French homework since seven o'clock this morning till you arrived at the door, right?

So it wasn't there was a snow ball’s chance that I get out of this robe in order to in order to start the day. So I am conscious and deliberate about making sure that I get up, hop out of the bed, get in the shower, and before I come downstairs. I, my routine during the day is I schedule very specific time around work. I have clients for an example.

So I try to schedule time so that I can be prepared for the clients as well as meet with the clients and then, you know, do work for the clients once I'm no longer meeting with them. And then in the evening it’s similar, once Linda gets home, I try to make sure all of that is done. And then that my attention is, you know, with her with my family, that we're calling Camille to see her on doodle so that she can, you know, ignore us whatever it might be that she's doing for the day because she's got the new toy, you know, it's those types of things.

Naomi Castro

Camille is your beautiful granddaughter.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Absolutely.

Naomi Castro

So I'm going to do a series rapid-fire questions. Oh actually wait before we do the rapid-fire. Is there any song or type of music that you're listening to more these days?

Regina Stanback Stroud

I've listened to a lot of I listened to a lot of music, that, I listened to French music. I listened to, you know, R&B, I listen to rap. I listen to just about anything other than country music. And it's just because, you know, I come from the segregated south and country music means something differently. It has a different space in different place in in my life. So I'm not, I'm not that connected to that. So I listened to a lot of different kinds of music.

Some of my favorite music is along the tracks of Escobar, Damien Escobar, who's a violinist. He's actually a rap-artists that is a classical virus. And he plays contemporary music and on violin is phenomenal. So Damien Escobar, but I also listened to the genre like Maxwell, you know?

Naomi Castro

Excellent Yeah, very eclectic. Okay rapid-fire. Don't, don't think about it too much coffee or tea?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Coffee.

Naomi Castro

Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Neither one.

Naomi Castro

Who would you put in instead?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Oh Damien Escobar

Naomi Castro

There we go, nice. Well, favorite flavor of ice cream?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Chocolate.

Naomi Castro

Best $100 you've ever spent?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Passport.

Naomi Castro

They’re more than $100 now.

Regina Stanback Stroud

That’s right.

Naomi Castro

And last one, do you have a guilty pleasure?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Yeah. Yeah. I have lots of guilty pleasures, to be honest.

Okay, it's a couple of things. One, I love to eat. I'm just telling you, I love to eat. I like I like good food. So I love to cook. So I like good food. I like to try different foods. I like to try the things that I cook and this didn't work out so then I try something else etc. So my guilty pleasure is around preparing, serving, eating, doing anything with food, you know, socializing around food, I love food. I love with food, I care with food. I do everything with food, right?

Naomi Castro

Fantastic.

Regina Stanback Stroud

Okay, the but the other guilty pleasure I have is, as I love to binge watch. I do. We just finished The Handmaid's Tale. It all started with a long time ago when Linda and I first started seeing each other neither one of us watch TV. She didn't own a TV and I had one but it wasn't plugged in. That's how that's how it was. And we made the mistake of watching 24. That was when you went to the to Blockbuster and get the series and came back and then had to go back and get the next one because somebody hit number six checked out and all that kind of stuff. We watch 24 and every time that little clock will come on and say doo, doo, doo, doo. We say, watch another one?

So we would binge watch. That was our first experience binge watching where you don't even like take your pajamas off for the weekend. We binge watch three o'clock in the morning, want to watch another one? But now we a little bit more sophisticated with our watching but we still we love to. I love to binge watch, I'll say it like that.

Naomi Castro

Fantastic and you mentioned Handmaid's Tale but any anything else?

Regina Stanback Stroud

Oh we watch Succession, now Handmaid's Tale, Wentworth, you know the Australian series and the British series are pretty good. Any of the detective series we don't do, like I have a hard time with the murders with murder series and stuff. But just any of those where you know some some of them have the kind of strong women series or the femme fatales series, you know tons of them.

Naomi Castro

Excellent. Regina, thank you so much for spending some time with me this morning. This has been wonderful.

Regina Stanback Stroud

It's been my pleasure.

Naomi Castro: The books Regina recommended and the organization's she mentions are all in the shownotes. There's also a link to Damien Escobar. He's the New York crossover violinist whose style marries classical, R&B, jazz and hip hop. And you can also check out the transcripts at Castropod.com.

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