528 – Secrets to Longevity in the Workplace from legend Shirley Norris (age 92)
Hosts: Trish McFarlane, Karen Steed
Guest: Shirley Norris, Transportation Project Manager, MoDOT
This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Nearly one-third of U.S. employees say their work schedule still remains unpredictable as a result of the pandemic, a factor they report as having a significant effect on their overall well-being – from causing financial stress, to feeling disconnected from family friends. And, this appears to be affecting younger generations the most.To learn more about these findings, and how you can optimize work scheduling to help better support your employees, visit payx.me/schedules today.
This week, we met with Shirley Norris from MoDOT, to talk about changes in the workplace through time.
– As the oldest full-time employee in Missouri, Shirley shared a little about how she got started in engineering
– Hurdles faced getting into college, and navigating a male dominated field
– Changes she has seen in the workforce over the years
– The importance of Women in Leadership, and her advice for young women especially in STEM careers
– Teamwork, and how we all make a difference
Thank you, Shirley, for joining the show today! Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get your podcasts.
For career opportunities at MoDOT, check out their website https://mocareers.mo.gov/hiretrue/mo/transportation/index.html
Welcome to At Work in America, sponsored by Paychex. We welcome a wide and exceptionally impressive array of guests, business leaders, HR leaders, academics, practitioners, consultants and authors to talk about the most timely, relevant and challenging issues that are influencing the workplace today. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane Steed.
Well, hello, we have a great show in store for you today. We’re going to be talking with Shirley Norris, the transportation project manager at the Missouri Department of Transportation about the changes that she has seen in the workplace over her time in the workforce. Before that, I want to make a quick note though, and say that Steve Boese is not joining us today. He is actually at an airport as we record this, and I am joined here today by Karen steed. Hey, Karen.
Karen Steed 1:30
Hey, Trish, it is so good to be here. It has been ages since I’ve been on the show.
It really has. And you know, this is actually, I sort of teased out that we have Steve over at the airport as we speak getting on a flight. But this really was a show that made sense to have you on with me, because this was a story that you found very compelling. We live just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. You’re in Red Bud, Illinois, and I’m in Waterloo, Illinois. So do you maybe want to just give a quick little shout out to how you kind of heard about Shirley before we bring her on?
Karen Steed 2:06
Absolutely. So like you said, we’re kind of in the St. Louis area, right. And so on Facebook, I use that as my news and MoDOT is one of the places that I follow. Just because we’re St. Louis you never know what’s going to be happening with our roads and bridges. And you know what direction to take each day whenever you’re going somewhere. So across Facebook, I just saw this great post about this wonderful lady and just her story, and really kind of fell in love with it. From the moment I saw it and just wanted to know a little bit more about her experience from college to the workplace and anything in between.
Well, good. Well, before we bring Shirley on I’m gonna give a quick little bio so that everyone can get up to speed on her background. Shirley Norris actually grew up in South St. Louis, I’d love to ask her about that I did as well, and then moved to South County as Karen did. But she went on to earn her Bachelor of Engineering degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1951. She started working for MoDOT, as an engineer in 1977. And more than 45 years later, as the department’s oldest employee, she is still keeping up with her everyday job duties. And managing major projects, surely is responsible for achieving major project goals by making sure the construction projects stay within budget and on schedule. I definitely want to ask about that. Because as you mentioned bridges, especially when you’re trying to get from Illinois, back to Missouri, Shirley is probably in charge of a lot of the things that impact us every day. In her spare time she enjoys hobbies, such as knitting, crocheting, crossword puzzles, and watching sports. Her favorite teams are the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. See, she fits right in with the show. Right?
Karen Steed 3:53
We have a great sports community.
Very good. So welcome to the show. Shirley.
Shirley Norris 3:59
Thank you, and welcome to you. And thank you again for having me.
Well, you know what we’re so excited. And I think to just because it’s a local connection for Karen and I. But more importantly, because we try and do shows that really highlight what it’s like to work in America today. And obviously, your background is very rich in terms of entering a male dominated field, being an employee for so long. And so we’re gonna dive into some of those things. But before we do, could you maybe just give our listeners kind of a little bit, a little bit deeper dive into who you are and your work that you’re doing with MoDOT?
Shirley Norris 4:39
Well, my official title is transportation project manager. And the job duty entails being in charge or being the engineer record for contract plans that go out for bids, and therefore I work with a in house team aim of design folks, along with an area team, that uncut encompasses all of the departments involved, traffic, traffic maintenance, everything that goes into the the design of a good set a good billable set of contract plan. So that’s what I officially do.
You know, you’ve been there for a number of years. Right? And can you maybe talk a little bit about what got you interested in engineering? And more specifically, maybe in working with MoDOT, other jobs before that, or was this kind of where you’ve landed in state over the years?
Shirley Norris 5:43
It’s a rather strange story. But I guess everybody’s life story is a bit strange in some ways. What happened was I did grow up in St. Louis. And I went to Southwest High School, which may or may not have been around when you all were there. But I was always interested in math and science. And that’s really not in the late 40s, what girls were supposed to be interested in, right? My father was my role model. He had to drive by to school to go to work to help with family. He was dedicated, that I get an education, secondary and tertiary education, and we’ll do anything he could to be behind me. So in high school, I was not encouraged to be interested in math, science. But I am of German extraction, and therefore I am a little bit bullheaded. And so I said, Okay, fine. I got it. But I’m still interested. Well, my dad had a branch office do his business in Nashville, Tennessee. And being an only child, and my mother traveled with him. Oh, he traveled the South, a lot for his business all the time. And we traveled with him in the summer. And when I was, I guess, a junior in high school, we stopped by Nashville, and business friend of his had a daughter that was a student at the time. And she showed me around the campus, and I just really fell in love with it.
Shirley Norris 7:41
When the time came, it was a little different environment in those days. Of course, not everybody, especially women, in the late 40s. Were even privileged to go to college. I mean, they just didn’t, I put in an application to Vanderbilt. And I also put in an application and do what was known what we know, knew then is Rolla School of Mines, which is what science and technology now. And I also put it in Northwestern, I got a no from Vanderbilt. And I got a Yes, from Rolla and a yes from Northwestern. My dad, when he was back in Nashville, told his friend about it. And his daughter said, that’s not right. At the time, the structure our universities was quite different to and we had a dean of every school but we also had a Dean of Women and the Dean of Men. And so she went to the Dean of Women, and said, Why did this girl not get in? She said, I never saw her application, because the dean of engineering just didn’t send it over here. So she was quite ahead of her time.
Shirley Norris 9:03
And long story short, raucous must have been raised. So the stars all kind of lined up. As luck would have it. There was a girl. She was the daughter of the President of Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech was still a man’s only University at that college at that time. He had five children. The fifth was a girl and he couldn’t admit her to Georgia Tech. So he picked Vanderbilt and because he was admitting her then he had to admit us a nice day us because there was a third girl from Chattanooga, but she did not finish. So it’s a strange story, but the stars all lined up and I got there.
Karen Steed 9:54
That’s so interesting, Shirley now, did that experience and with everything you saw going into college and all the difficulties you faced there, did that kind of set you up for how you would have to navigate the career than working in a male dominated workplace?
Shirley Norris 10:12
Absolutely, absolutely. Because if you have a passion for something you can do most anything you want to do, you just have to figure out how to do it. But you also have to remember that we were just coming out of World War Two at that time. And one of the reasons I truly believe that the dean of engineering was an interested in women course, it wasn’t, it wasn’t the fad at the time. Our it wasn’t a law or anything else. But I think there were so many veterans coming back to getting education on the GI Bill, that why wouldn’t you just serve those people, you know, on the GA with a GI loans. As a matter of fact, the 1947 class freshman class at Vanderbilt was the first class in five years or four years that had actuals High School senior graduates in their freshman class, up until that time, for several years, they were all older people returning veterans.
Yeah, that’s so interesting, just how, you know, we kind of don’t learn that in school. Right and I don’t necessarily hear that those were some of the challenges that that, you know, education was facing due to war due to, you know, just other things that were sort of making those polls. Do you think that in the time that you’ve sort of whether it was in college or in your career, you know, one of the things that we hear a lot of from organizations, is this, this inequity in pay and opportunities for young women especially? And I actually, before I get to my question, specifically, just today was listening to NPR and they were talking about how women who are 50 and older, so I’m 51. They’re talking about how we are now in the group of women who are being paid even less than what younger women are being paid compared to men. I’d love to just hear your perspective on on Pay Equity over the last, you know, 45-50 years of being in the workforce, and or has that even been something that was talked about until recently?
Shirley Norris 12:39
I really, I think you hear that there in your last sentence. I don’t think it was openly talked about much. Up until recently. However, I will tell you that working for a state, taxpayer, you know, agency, the money issue is all in the legislature’s hands. We don’t they don’t sit it’s not like the private side at all. And okay, you know, MoDOT gave me the opportunity, after all those years, and that are being out of school and so forth, that I’ve always been very, very grateful to them for. And I really, I really don’t think about the pay inequity too much. Because I know where how our salaries are set. And I do know, right now, we’re losing, literally dozens of young people going to the private side because of that.
Could you talk a little bit maybe to some of the younger listeners out there who might be considering going to college and studying, whether it’s engineering, specifically civil engineering, or maybe just they don’t know that yet. Maybe they’re just interested in math and science, like you were, what kind of advice would you give someone, maybe a younger woman, on getting into not just the field that you did, but maybe even working in the private sector?
Shirley Norris 14:15
Here’s the advice that I’d give you. Don’t let anybody discourage you. Don’t look at the bedside. Again, I’ll mention I’ve learned over the years. The people that are happiest at work, are the ones who have a passion for what they’re doing. If your work is not fun, or rewarding, then you’re in the wrong business. So don’t give up. And if you have a passion for it, just keep on truckin.
Karen Steed 14:48
That is great advice. Well, I kind of want to look at you know, we talk a lot about the future of work, especially now you know, since going through the pandemic, and all the change Just just that we’ve seen in the last few years, but, you know, being with MoDOT, for the last 45 years, you know, I’m sure that you’ve seen the way we do work evolve, right? Even just in the last five years, probably, but, you know, what are some of the major changes that you’ve seen, you know, either for good or for bad, what stands out to you?
Shirley Norris 15:24
Well, when I first came to MoDOT in 1977, we were very top down organization, everything was decided, let’s put it that way. In the Jefferson City, main office, central office, whatever, you know, the division office, over time, the whole work industry changed. And the key words became employee empowerment, and employee development. So I was very privileged in the late 80s, and early 90s, to be chosen to lead our work on a team of people statewide, that taught what we call quality improvement. And that was focused on teamwork, employee empowerment, break down, the silos have everything equal across the board. And it changed our business and our work tremendously. I must say, at Vanderbilt, I did learn a lot about teamwork. I didn’t realize that’s what I was learning until actually, it hit me when I came to work for MoDOT. Because I could see that there wasn’t a lot of teamwork there. Very, very dedicated to teamwork, more eyes, more thoughts, more, more time gives a better quality product, it also gives you buy in, instead of being segmented or separated, you just do it because you have to be there. I don’t want anybody to come to my core team meetings, if they’re not interested in if you got, if you got other things to do, then you’re wasting your time. So I’m very, very, very dedicated to teamwork, and safety. I’m a big safety proponent. Too much, too much driving distracted and all that business. But that’s what I see is biggest difference in when I first started here.
I’m glad that you mentioned teamwork that comes up a lot when we talk on all different types of industries, obviously, and same with safety, right? It’s something that’s very important to leaders and to employees nowadays, regardless of sort of what industry you’re in. Do you think that there are things that workers could be doing more to build teamwork skills? You sounds like you’ve got that naturally, without even necessarily knowing it at Vanderbilt? What about do you do you hire employees who maybe don’t have that traditional sort of college entrance into working where you do? Maybe they’ve gone through the military themselves and then joined? Or maybe they’ve gone through? I don’t know, a trade school or something and join it? Are there other ways that you’re seeing them come in with that? The teamwork skills?
Shirley Norris 18:30
No, not really. We have trouble because of our payscale. Getting recent calling college graduates of course, I’ll just, I’ll just put this in. Obviously, I’ve worked with several generations of people. And I laughingly but truthfully tell you that my bosses have been younger than my children for many, many years. So I have been, I consider it a privilege to be able to observe the difference in the generations. I don’t look at it as a gap. I look at it as a difference coming down through what all those names are for those generations. They communicate differently. It’s a different way. I hardly had a telephone when I was growing up, let alone a cell phone, you know. And computer look, I went all the way through college using the slide rule. And when I say slide rule around here, somebody’s gonna say what? And I just say Google it up, you’ll find out what it is you know. So, so that then in itself tells you a huge difference in the communication. I am very dedicated to that. communicating. And that’s one of the things that pandemic has stopped us from doing, especially face to face. Thank heavens for technology. Thank heavens, I’ve got enough people around me, when I get stuck on a computer to answer the question. It’s a wonder to me sometimes I even know how to open it or turn it on. Because it’s mystifying in some ways, you know. But the difference I see is, if we start an email chain, and we’re trying to solve a problem, we get nowhere. I pick up the phone or get a team’s meeting together. 20 minutes later, we got the problem. So why, because we talked about it, communicate. And when I say communicate, I don’t mean just with your fingers on a cell phone, or a keyboard, talk to each other. They know when they send me an email, I’m gonna get up out of my chair, and walk back there and talk to him.
I think that’s a good one. I was much like you and I think Karen would agree. You know, I was raised, working for people who were in the baby boomer generation, or the senior generation, I think it was called before then it was very much about respect. It was about picking up the phone, it was about if I needed I worked at in a public, large public accounting firm in St. Louis PWC. And we would go walk down the hall, if we wanted to speak with a partner, we would we were told, and I was young, but that was sort of how it was. And it was definitely about offering respect to the people who are in leadership positions and that sort of thing. And then, as I’ve grown up and become a leader, myself, it’s not necessarily that way. I have children, I have twins that are getting ready to graduate high school. Karen has a daughter who’s also graduating high school next month as well. And so it’s interesting to me, you make a good point, they’re always on their phones, they’re always texting or using a social media channel, but they’re not actually picking up the phone and talking or going in person. Are there people yet on your actual work team who are, say maybe 20 to 30 years old, who are really struggling with kind of communicating then more face to face? Like how is that working out when they actually get the job?
Shirley Norris 22:33
Well, internally, we sit in groups and design group for the different areas in St. Louis in this district. Okay, and so they get to know each other, like socially also. We’re a family. My mom, dad, family, I no doubt see more than my biological family, especially at the end the pandemic, no, but they get to know each other. But they still seem to think that professionally, they don’t communicate all their concerns, necessarily. That’s what I observed. And I find out that I can pull the old person thing once in a while. I just go back and say, I’m a little confused here. And somebody will whisper watch out when she says she’s confused.
That means you’re not.
Shirley Norris 23:40
Yes, with all the technology, they hesitate to communicate. Again, it’s just about course, you can tell I don’t mind talking, you know, it’s part of life. So, I tell you, what I’ve also found is, this just was pointing I haven’t gotten to see, I have four little great grandsons, their babies, but they don’t live here. They don’t live in St. Louis. So I see him on Snapchat a lot, which is wonderful, and very, very good of their parents to do that. But what I see when I am privileged to be around them, is the difference in how the technology is going to affect these babies. Even more so than your teenagers. Right? They want it. I mean, they sit and play with things that I never dreamed existed, you know, which gets them used to a keyboard which gets them used to using their fingers differently. It’s just, it’s like, what are you doing with that child? But, but that’s just where technology has taken us. And they better be ready for it.
Karen Steed 25:01
You know, it’s a whole different world, you know, like, the the environment that our kids are growing up in is very different than, than what we know, I know I hear it a lot from our parents is, you know, they feel like it’s not their world anymore. And I said, it’s not even ours anymore, right? It’s, it’s already going down to the younger generations. And you’ve talked a little bit about, you know, how the, your MoDOT team is your family, and all of that. But how do you feel? You know, being you are the oldest full time employee in Missouri? How do you feel that ageing workers are treated in the workplace?
Shirley Norris 25:41
I have always felt nothing but the utmost kindness, care and respect around here. I cannot tell you that I have seen anything differently. I don’t know how old I think there are some feet. Well, there are some people that have already retired and come back we have 1000 hour program, I have time program. But even they are in their mid 60s, you know, because they retire at 62. Oh, by the way, my oldest daughter retired three years ago. That’s a big joke around here.
You know, a bit longer. Yeah, it’s interesting, because, you know, our dad, he’s almost 82. And he retired from a very long career, working in zinc refinery, and stayed home for like, a year or two, I’m so bored. He went back to work. And like his second career, he worked at Wilkie window and doors. Yeah. wound up being like another 15 or 20 years like so. It’s interesting to me that I do feel like people who are, you know, definitely say 65 and older, have sometimes a different work ethic to and again, I just in that in that NPR story, I was hearing them talking about just the fact that so many people are now delaying retirement. Do you feel like at mo dot there is opportunity, then it sounds like you have the 1000 hour program? Or is there any encouragement for people to stay working longer than maybe 62? Or whatever the traditional retirement age would have been? Are there opportunities for them?
Shirley Norris 27:23
I’m really not aware of anything. Obviously, I don’t go down and talk about retirement because it’s not on my bucket list. You know? I just, I just think sometimes people burn out. And that’s the end of it, you know, but sometimes it’s just a matter of family, or whatever, or finances.
What do you enjoy about work? Why would you say it’s not on your bucket list to retire? What do you most, sort of get back and make your heart happy from from being at work?
Shirley Norris 28:02
The environment, the atmosphere, obviously, I’ve, my kids are all grown and my grandkids are almost all grown. So and I’ve been widowed for a long, long time. So I’m used to being alone, you know, now I have good neighbors and their real sweethearts and so forth. And my local kids come to see me except for the pandemic. But it’s a it’s an atmosphere. And what I get out of it, is a sense of, look, we had, we had issues, we had challenges, we had things and look, we got it done. Yay, you know, is just an accomplishment.
That’s good. I was gonna say we need to take a quick break, and recognize our sponsor, and then we’ll get back to the discussion. This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by our friends at Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Nearly 1/3 of all employees say that their work schedule still remains unpredictable. As a result of the pandemic, a factor they report is having a significant effect on their overall well being, from causing financial stress to feeling disconnected from family and friends. And this appears to be affecting our younger generations the most, to learn more about all the findings and how you can optimize work scheduling to help better support your employees visit, payx.me/schedules today, and we will put a link to that in the show notes.
Karen Steed 29:47
Shirley, I have I have a question here. So I did a little reading about you. And one of the things that we’ve learned I mean, even just with talking to you today, right, you’ve achieved many goals over the years. and all of the things that you’ve done, but you did receive an award not too long ago, which was that just called the Trailblazer award by MoDOT. Can you tell us a little bit about what that award was for and and how you got it?
Shirley Norris 30:14
Well, it’s an internal thing. And I don’t know who decided to do it because it was a surprise to me, it was a huge surprise to me. They look at my life story as trailblazing, and I never really thought about it. And it’s just me, it’s just like I told you is just what I wanted to do and bullheaded that I am, what I was lucky enough to do. But to be recognized by your peers is, is something else again, it’s just awe inspiring, you know, and I’ve got it here in my office, you know, I look at it every day and and really say thanks for it. That was about five years ago, I think. And of course, we haven’t had a meeting the last two years or so. And now I’m on a committee to select the next one every year or so. And it has, it has a special meaning and it’s a woman’s organization. So it does encourage the females in our organization to search out their own passions and, and, and their own promotions. You know, I was done. I never heard of such a thing before at the time, you know,
I think it’s really important that they’re recognizing the good work you’ve done. And I do think it’s it’s trailblazing the fact that you sort of had that support early on from your father, to encourage you to pursue your dreams to make make those opportunities available to you. Obviously, that’s still something today that not all students have. Right. And so we’re still kind of fighting that battle of getting really all kids those opportunities, but especially young women, you know, encouraging them and there are options for them. What, what do you maybe what do you think of times when you talk with either, you know, your your children who might those that still might be in the workforce, or even your grandchildren? You know, who are obviously in the workforce? Do they ever come to you and ask for any advice just on on on your longevity? Or any advice at all on what they can be doing to kind of be trailblazers in their own right? Do you ever get that kind of a question?
Shirley Norris 32:49
Well, I get, I’ve always adopted a policy in my family. If you want my opinion on something, you will have to ask for it. I am not giving you my opinion. My mother was just the opposite. So I decided, you know, she was always had an opinion. And I know I didn’t ask you so you know, don’t do I don’t do that. But when they do come to me and ask, it’s usually about about an experience I’ve had or something that I can maybe counsel them on or so forth. Yeah. That the local ones, particularly of course, being some of them are in Denver, some of them are in Kansas City. That makes it a little harder, you know, but yes, they do. But I don’t know. But speaking of goals, I that’s another thing I’ve always found it, I guess you might say necessary in my life to have a goal. You know, I have a long term goal, or bucket list, if you will. Some of it’s never gonna happen. But some of it does. And my dad worked till full time till he was 86. So my goal my mother never worked out of the home I did took very good care of us. And so my goal originally was to work as long as my dad did. Well, when it got to that I had to set another goal because I reached a six. And then I got to 88. And then I thought so somebody said to me after I passed 92 and 45 years within a couple of days of each other. So just think if you stayed at MoDOT two more years, you would have worked half your life there. I said you know Well, I need to go. That’s my new goal. So I’m not looking at retirement till two more years from now.
I think that’s good to always have goals. Yes. Now, you mentioned your bucket list a couple times and these, there might not be things you get to but what what are some, if you don’t mind sharing? What are some of the most fun or crazy or, you know, just kind of out there? What what is it that you would just love to do that you just like never done?
Shirley Norris 35:28
I would love to go to India, and ride on an elephant. That’s what I love to do. I love elephants. Boy, I love a lot of animals and birds and butterflies and everything. But, but I would I just love elephants. And I’ve always wanted to now, back as a young kid at the St. Louis Zoo, there was an elephant we rode Miss Jim, I don’t know if any of you have ever heard about. Remember that? Oh, this was back in the 30s. She’s been gone a long time. But I guess I got my love of the offense from that. Right. And I’ve always thought wouldn’t it be neat to go to India and actually write on the back of an elephant? Right? Yeah. With him. The other thing I love. I love music I love you know, do you have done a lot of that. And I love going to the fox back before the Fox was renovated in the 70s. It was, you know, back in that era, right. And even when I moved back to St. Louis in the 70s, after was renovated. I would always like to been an usher. But as I’ve gotten older, I thought that was pretty neat idea just Oh, sure. And you get to see the shows, you know, but I just at 92 I don’t walk as well as I used to. I don’t know whether that’s a good option anymore.
Maybe they could pull some strings and let you be like an honorary usher for a day or something. Right? Have you are you need to go out to the zoo, they need to bring you on for a day. So you can work with the elephants maybe I don’t know if they’d let you ride them. But they could certainly let you probably.
Shirley Norris 37:27
They don’t even have elephant shows anymore. I know you used to and the older.
But do you travel much before the pandemic? Do you like to travel? Is that something you do?
Shirley Norris 37:39
I’m not noted for taking much vacation. But you know, I lived in Colorado for 14 years.
Oh, where did you live?
Shirley Norris 37:50
On the western slope in Rifle? Do you know where that is?
Yes, my I do. My boyfriend lives in Fort Collins. So I’m in Colorado every month, at least for a little bit.
Shirley Norris 38:01
Oh, yeah. My husband was a chemical engineer with Union Carbide mudras out there. So where was I? I was talking, travel, you’re talking travel. So I met some wonderful people out there at the time. And in fact, a lady that I knew from going to church and being active in the church was a babysitter for my two older kids. And we got to the point where we reconnected and my oldest daughter, and myself and two of them have done 21 trips to national parks. We started way back. And I would take a week or 10 days vacation. Not take the computer with me. No work. No nothing. Just fun with friends. So yes, I’ve been to lots and lots of State Park are two friends in Colorado. If you can believe there’s anybody older than me they are so they they aren’t able anymore. And I’m not sure how able I would be. Although my daughter says hey, we can always put you in a wheelchair and get bored at first so that yeah, we can we can try that. I don’t see that coming up anytime soon. But yes, I’ve had some wonderful wonderful trips with those with my daughter and, and our two friends. It’s just been beautiful, beautiful national parks.
That’s great. Very good. So interesting.
Karen Steed 39:57
I had one quick thing that I just wanted her to talk about really quick if she would because I noticed something that you’ve you’re wearing. And I believe that had some significance to a story that you’ve shared before. And if you would just share that with us. So you’ve got the starfish pin on.
Shirley Norris 40:14
That’s great. And that comes from the days of quality improvement training that I was lucky enough to be involved with. And during that first day of training, we showed a video about, you know, we laid out what we were going to do, because it was five days of training. And we laid out, you know, kind of what we were going to do. And we show this video, the object of the thing was there was a young man walking down a beach, and he was picking up and tossing something back into the ocean. And an older gentleman comes by and says, What are you doing? And he says, I’m throwing the starfish back in the ocean. He says, Oh, that won’t do any good. That won’t help anything. He said, That won’t do any, make a difference to anybody. He said it will to that one. And so we gave a starfish pen to everyone that took the training. To me, it means I can still make a difference.
Karen Steed 41:24
That’s a wonderful story.
Shirley Norris 41:26
And just in case I forget it at home, here’s one I keep at the office, too.
You know, I think you’ve given us so many little nuggets for the listeners to think about today. I think that’s a perfect way to kind of kind of wrap is with that idea that we are all here still to make a difference, right? At any age, at any stage of our career. To show up, I love that you shared with us about doing what you love, having passion for what you’re doing. And I think that a lot of people can think about what their what their work is and how they can actually make a difference. So we’re so grateful you came on to talk with us today.
Shirley Norris 42:09
I’m so pleased to be here it was it’s always fun to talk to people.
I know you’re a natural you. Shirley, you need a podcast. You need to be out there.
Shirley Norris 42:21
No, thank you, it’s not on my bucket list. No.
Okay. Okay. Well, feel free to come back anytime, though and join us because this has been really just interesting. It’s been inspirational for me, and I’m sure for Karen as well. And and thank you just personally for all of your work that you’re doing that impacts the roads that Karen and I use every day really it’s it’s certainly a big task, as I’m sure it is in any state but definitely in Missouri, there’s always projects going on and and you’re certainly managing a large chunk of those. So we were really appreciate your work.
Shirley Norris 43:03
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.
Good. Well, Karen, thank you for joining. This has been fun doing an episode with you while Steve’s out and about.
Karen Steed 43:15
Thank you for having me. I may have to have him travel more often.
We need to do this more often together. So at any rate, I want to also just another thank you to our friends at Paychex for sponsoring our show, for making these episodes of At Work in America and bringing the stories to you all possible. We want to thank all of the listeners for joining us on today’s episode, we will be sharing links to all of the resources that we discussed today. Additional information on in the show notes about MoDOT about how you can can join and be a part of that or certainly look into the Department of Transportation opportunities in the state that you live in.
We will just see you back here on the next episode. So thank you again to Shirley. Thank you Karen. And be sure to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Network of podcasts wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Bye for now.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai