Haven Cockerham already failed at retirement once. He lives on a golf course though he doesn't play golf! Why did he fail? He doesn’t have time. Haven is continuously pushing himself to learn new things, be surrounded by new thinking, soak up ideas from younger generations and living in a community that challenges his mind and provides beautiful mountain and ocean landscapes.
Haven is a true change agent and a great storyteller. Haven tells us how he started in HR working with amazing mentors and Harvard professors. He blazed a trail in the automotive industry and showcased HR as a strategic, value-added business partner.
As a young man, Haven had to decide if he would move away from North Carolina and take a job at GM in a very conservative Indiana. Not many in his family moved away but his mom said “you need to follow where ever the opportunity takes you”. He did just that and has taken on challenges and risks during his career. Throughout it all, he learned and saw every opportunity as a moment to grow and expand. He draws on his courage and resilience to help him and also has a beautiful ability to be vulnerable and humble.
Haven founded Cockerham & Associates in Chicago in 2005 to provide strategic consulting and technology services in Human Resources and, Talent Management and Diversity & Inclusion. A distinguishing feature of Cockerham & Associates is its web-based Diversity & Inclusion solutions that enable clients to develop, aggregate and report the impact of its diversity strategies and operating plans for employee/business resource groups.
Prior to forming Cockerham & Associates, Haven was the Chief Human Resource Officer for R.R. Donnelley where he played a key role in the transformation of the company’s operating model and culture. He led the transformation of the human resources function to become a true business partner, focusing on high value processes and reducing delivery costs of human resource services. Additional corporate leadership roles include Chief Human Resources Officer for DTE Energy in Detroit and the Senior Human Resources Executive for Fisher Guide Division of General Motors.
Prior to his executive leadership positions, Haven held key assignments in manufacturing, labor relations, EEO, and executive compensation, policy development, employee relations and leadership development. Haven owned and operated a Chevrolet Dealership in South Carolina and has an MBA from the Michigan State Advanced Management Program.
Connect with Haven to learn more about him and his background:
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Keri [00:00:12] Welcome to the reCHARGE®, Your Life podcast with me, Dr. Keri Ohlrich and Kelly Guenther, we are thrilled to talk to people who have made a decision that reCHARGE® their lives often. They push themselves out of their comfort zones and took risks. We want to know about that decision point. Why did they make that decision? And most importantly, how can we learn from them? Kelly and I are passionate HR professionals and together we co-founded our HR consulting firm Abbracci Group. We have talked to amazing people throughout our careers and listen to them as they made decisions that changed their lives and knew that these inspirational stories would help others. And why did we call it reCHARGE®? It's based on a book I coauthored called The Way of the HR Warrior. And in it we have a leadership model CHARGE which stands for courage, humility, accuracy, resiliency, goal oriented and exemplary. We know that people used one or more of these qualities to help them make their decisions. And we want to learn from them now, sit back, listen and be inspired by these stories and then do something to reCHARGE® your life. Let's get to it.
Kelly [00:01:18] Hi, everyone, it's Kelly. We're so excited to have Haven Cockerham join our podcast Haven Cockerham founded Cockerham and Associates in Chicago in 2005 and provides strategic consulting and technology services and human resources and talent management, as well as diversity and inclusion. A distinguishing feature of Cockerham and Associates is its Web based diversity and inclusion solutions that enable clients to develop, aggregate and report the impact of its diversity strategies and operating plans for employee and business resource groups. Prior to forming Cockerham and Associates, Haven was the Chief Human Resource Officer for RR Donnelly, where he played a key role in the transformation of the company's operating model and culture. He led the transformation of the human resources function to become a true business partner, focusing on high value processes and reducing delivery costs of human resource services. Additional corporate leadership roles include Chief Human Resources Officer for Energy in Detroit and a senior human resources executive for Fisher Guy Division of General Motors. Prior to his executive leadership positions, he even held key assignments in manufacturing, labor relations, EEO and executive compensation, policy development, employee relations and leadership development. He even owned and operated a Chevrolet dealership in South Carolina, and he has an MBA from the Michigan State Advanced Management Program. So, Heyburn, we're so excited to chat with you. And one of our first questions that we always like to start our podcast by asking is what show, podcasts, book or blog do you go to when you want to push yourself and expand your thinking?
Haven [00:03:05] Well, thank you so much, first of all, for having me on this podcast. I look forward to our discussion together in response to the first question. I think I'll go back first. I'll go to the book first, because it is one that inspired my thinking early in my career, and especially as a change agent in the automotive industry and as one called a Change Masters. And it was written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter at the time that we were going through an auto industry, a tremendous transformation and challenges that we were facing from foreign automakers, we began to reexamine ourselves and our internal processes, how we treated people, how we interacted, how we did things, how we interact with customers. And in our case and HR a big part of that was how we interacted with the union and our employees on the line. And so Rosabeth excuse me, Moss Kanter was one not only a Harvard professor, but she was one who we engaged, who became a part of our team, and she just has written so much around change, innovation, how to let innovation show through that it was kind of a knackery point for me. And I still, from time to time, will go back to her writings and just to to refresh my thinking and to anchor myself around around that. The other thing that I do to reCHARGE® myself, many of you, if you hurt my bio, you you will surmise that I have already had an opportunity to retire once and the heavens failed that I decided to go into my own business. But one of the things that was a conscious decision of ours was to move to a community that would keep us engaged with new ideas, new thoughts, new concepts. And so we made a decision to retire in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the variety of health, technology and university perspectives so vibrant in this community that we leverage those a lot to make sure that we're being challenged. I think a big part of that, I give you an example, is we started our business around technology. We engaged in a program and that was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the University of North Carolina School of Business. And it was called Lunch UNCHR, and it was designed for new businesses, new startups and things of that nature. And we made a decision that we wanted to go. And obviously most we were the most senior. They represented in the endeavor, but the exposure's it gave us to young people and new thoughts and new ideas and things that might even enhance our thinking around how we go to market with our solutions was phenomenal. And we just instead of a blog or a show that I would reference, I would just say continuously putting ourselves in a position where we have opportunities to engage with a different generation, generally a younger generation, to keep our thinking push as well.
Keri [00:06:58] Welcome, Haven. Great. I'm so glad you're on our podcast and you've given us so much already. So let me I have so many questions I have to try to focus. And we're not even to the main one yet, Haven. OK, I. I love that you said you've already failed at retirement. So I said when you listen to why you moved to Chapel Hill, I can see why you failed at retirement. So if you try it again, you're going to fail again, because the fact that you are pushing yourself constantly, that it's, you know, what do we tell our kids? You are who you hang out with. And if you're going to hang with the ne'er do wells and the folks that are going to get you in trouble, your trouble, and you took that and you're like, listen, you could retire to just a golf course and that's all you do. And you might golf, that's fine. But if that's the only thing they have going on, it's not going to expand your brain. It's not going to push you. And so for you to move to Chapel Hill and make a very conscious effort to do that shows that you have always been this change agent. Always. And so what's the maybe the one or two things have been moving to Chapel Hill that even though you had this, hey, we're going to push ourselves where we're going to be around a younger generation, we're going to be more involved in this community. What are a couple of things that maybe surprised you by moving to Chapel Hill? What did you learn about yourself or just the community that you're like, wow, I didn't even think this would happen by moving.
Haven [00:08:28] Well, that's a that's a great question, because one of the things that happened when we moved here, keep in mind, this is my state that I grew up in North Carolina as well. So we're coming back to somewhat familiar territory. But we had never lived in Chapel Hill area. And there are things that were reinforced, all of the reasons that we chose to come here, including the fact that the air travel is very eventful and it's very easy. And that was good for a consultant. The thing that that that really surprised me, even though I knew it was the strength of the competitiveness among the different universities and the constituents in this area. You recognized Chapel Hill as being the home for university. The University of North Carolina with Duke University is only 15 minutes away at North Carolina State, maybe twenty five minutes the other way. So the intensity of the competition around this area was really much stronger then than I ever anticipated. The other thing, too, that the location that we chose to carry, it puts us right in the middle of the state, which gives us a good way to relax and HR reCHARGE® our mind and our brains, because we can be in the mountains in a very relaxed and scenic environment and two and a half hours and then going east the other direction in two hours will be on the ocean. And so we just had just a phenomenal community and everything that we thought we would get, we have. And I want to go back and respond to one of your comments in the intro leading into this question about playing golf. I thoroughly enjoy playing golf. I really do. And I want you to take this the right way. I actually live in the Gulf community. Yes, beautiful, one of the nicest courses in the area and I have not played it in two years. Oh, I know it's terrible. And I think it's partly to do with what's energizing me right now. Oh, you're absolutely right. I'm energized by the growth, the technology. And you have to keep one thing in mind when we talk about our company and our technology. I'm in the HR person, grew up, started manufacturing, works in manufacturing, but labor relations and HR. But the lion's share of my career is HR. And at a later a later stage in life to move to technology, not only starting the company itself, but actually learning elements of coding myself. So we actually so that keeps me busy. That charge is made. That keeps me up to 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning trying to figure out the algorithm. I know this computer can make this work. Let me figure out how. And those are the kind of things that keep me charged. And so when I say I've not had a chance to play golf, it's really just I have so many things that are really competing for my time now that I'll get to that and I might even get to it before this week is out.
Keri [00:12:24] I appreciate what you said about you go where the energy is too. And so you're like, hey, this is my this is where my energy is. And I'm going to work on this algorithm and I'm going to be up till 3:00 a.m. and because that's what's recharging me. And I appreciate that. What I just wanted to give a shout out to Doctor Professor Kantor is her books are so lovely. And just to say I can see why I started my HR career with Haven, I didn't know any better. Like a little baby duck that gets imprinted. Right. The guy imprint and I follow the mom and duck around Haven. I didn't know any better. So we had, what, three hundred people in HR Haven and we were doing change management.
Haven [00:13:06] Oh, absolutely.
Keri [00:13:07] Right. And so I thought because again, I didn't know any better. That's HR does little did I know how far ahead of the times we were the other places. Isn't that what you mean? You don't change the culture and you don't have HR business partners who are strategic and you're not using technology. And so now I really see because you're in automotive before RR Donnelly and working with someone of the stature of Dr. Kanfer and her wonderful ideas on change and just it's always been in you to be this change agent and constantly evolve and and just push thinking. And I think that's wonderful. I see. Where why, Donnelly, we're pushing ahead so much. It was so in you, Haven.
Haven [00:13:54] You know, Keri, let me let me build on that a little bit because I want to go even though we talked about Rosabeth Moss Cantor, let me go back maybe a little bit for her. I was in HR at General Motors and we had an opening for vice president of human resources. And in my General Motors was the largest corporation in the world at the time. And in all of General Motors, they had two vice presidents. One was over what you would traditionally call the labor relations side, and the other was over. Let's call it the salaried employees side. General Motors made a decision to shake up HR and they hired Stephen Fuller, who was a Harvard professor. No industry experience whatsoever to come in and not only shake up HR, but change the company as well. And it was fuller that interests deuced us to. Rosabeth Moss Kanter is Steve Fuller. If you talk about Minter's both I've had multiple, I have Minter's all over the place but they didn't know it and I didn't know what we were doing at the time, but they were my mentors. But even then in General Motors and when I left GM and did some other things and came back into industry and I was constantly here at HR folks talking about getting a seat at the table, I had no idea what they were talking about. I did, but I had never experienced what they were experiencing. Because when you work with a company like General Motors that has such a large labor force and if you look at the cost of building an automobile. The labor costs were second to steel and not far from steel. So anytime there was an issue of cost, quality, productivity, the HR leaders recall were at the table to talk about can we leverage our relationship with the union? Can we build trust with the union, with the union, build relationships with us? Can we work to bring about change? And so being at the table was really more of the central core of the strength of that organization. And I think the other thing that reinforces that, if you look at the the current CEO of General Motors, you have Mary, she actually came to HR as well. And now it wasn't that she came through HR and then rose to be the CEO of General Motors when they saw high potential talent leave the company with significant parts of the company. They gave them a stint and HR to understand the people side of the business. And so it's just an interesting environment that you just kind of reminded me of. Of that history and the genesis of all of this stuff as relates to change and change management.
Keri [00:17:34] Right. And I think even once you have that, it's your expectations just going in. You're like were strategic. And we were at the table. And of course, we are a value added. And so everyone it's kind of it forces everyone to rise you. And if and it's pretty obvious when they don't and you're like, well, this isn't the culture for me. So. So I really. I appreciate that. Thank you. So now the big question, what is the next change, the trajectory of your life?
Haven [00:18:10] Well, I wish I could say that was one, but maybe the other decisions were recorrect redirect and things of that nature. But I'd say going back as I completed my days in college, I'll tell you a little personal story. I'm the youngest of nine children from. Yeah, I know I felt that way, but nothing was ever left for me when I got to know the things I had that I had become creative and innovative and show some speed as well. But we were a very close knit family and we all were achievers. We valued academics, our families pushed. It is not just my family, but our cousins and relatives. My entire family did well there. And then as we as I finished college, I had the big decision to make of do I leave home so many? Because I went to college only 30 miles from where I grew up in high school. And that big decision was huge, leaving family leave in the comfort of friends and relatives, many of whom never left home and did very well. But then big decision. And I can remember having discussions with my mother about the I had two offers at General Motors coming out of college. And as I pondered that, I kind of talked it over with my mother thinking that she would say, if I don't leave, stay close by and so forth,.
Keri [00:19:54] You're the baby...you're the baby.
Haven [00:19:55] That's exactly that's exactly what happened. Well, on the other hand, she said she did not say any of that. She said, "I want you to follow wherever the opportunity takes you." And I said, OK, so you getting rid of me. So but it was it was so clear then as it is now. And then I took it, I said, well, this is the opportunity as I see it today. And I took it and I started a career and I went I went to General Motors in Indiana, which is not known to be the most liberal area of the country at all. And it was just my wife and I were newlyweds. We went out and we just started to to conquer the world in our minds as we saw it. But I think the same thing held true for me throughout my career. I can remember the days and GM where opportunities became available, maybe not the most desirable, not the most progressive parts of the organization, but I could sense the need and a challenge and I would take them. And I'll give you a very specific example. In my bio, it mentioned that I had moved to a fishing guide, which was a division of General Motors. It is it is the precursor to what is now Delphi. Hmm. And when Fisher body that I don't want to give you too much automotive stuff, but Fisher Body was a part of General Motors that built cars. They built the bodies, they worked with assembly. They put the paint in all of the major stuff together and they had about eighty five thousand employees around the globe and the lots of plants. And the person who had been sent out there, who was the replacement to Steve Fuller went out as a head of HR for this very large division. And he asked me if I would come out and be on his team. And I said out of all of the opportunities and places that I would consider going, Fisher Body would not be on that list. The reputation for treating people of color and treating people in general was not very. Good at all. Wow. And he said, that's why I want you to come out here. I want you to help me change this organization. And I said, if I come out, that's the only reason that I would join that company, your organization, he said, we have a deal. I said we got a deal. So I joined and it was some five or six years later. I don't know how many that the opening for Fisher Guy Division, the head of HR, the chief HR for that HR for that that division became available. And Al Warren stood for it. He had gotten promoted since he stepped forward and said Haven is the only person for that job now. And I said, oh, gee. And and this and this is this was they would have had 50 equivalents for all the major divisions of General Motors. But it was taking that risk earlier in my career, going into a place that made me uncomfortable, knowing that I would not be readily accepted. That really pushed me later on. I didn't take the job because I thought I would do something good for me, but I took the challenge. It worked extremely well when an opportunity became available. He went to bat and said Haven is the only person for this job and a person to whom I reported or would report actually that came to me before he accepted. Everybody accepted the deal, but he came to me later and said, hey, even I don't know you from Adam. That doesn't mean that you're not very good or extremely talented. I just don't know you. And if I were making the choice of who would take this job, it would be a traditional labor relations person. It would be somebody entirely different. I said, Bob, I appreciate your candor and your honesty on this. He said, by the way, there are two people I respect in this organization. More than any, and they both say that you are the guy for the job and even that's enough for me. Let's get busy. Wow. And I said it almost brings chills to you. Yeah. And and by the way, he had a test for me that day right after he said, let's get busy. He said, Now, this is what I want you to do first, which is intriguing. Hey, Dad, go ahead
Keri [00:25:11] No, go ahead and sorry.
Haven [00:25:12] I was going to say I've been around so long, I have stories about everything, so I'll let you get to your questions and maybe back off on some of the stories.
Keri [00:25:21] Oh, my God, I love the stories. I really mean storytelling. That's where you connect with people. That's where you learn your lessons. That's why storytelling so powerful. Well, I was thinking about what is it in you and what are some of those? We talk about the charge qualities, but what are some of those qualities that help you haven? Because you took on risk, moved away, you took a job in a culture where, like you don't like people very much, you don't like people who look like me, too. It's tough what some people might say, hey, when I'm out, I don't need it. I will stay here where it's safer and easier. What is it in you? What do you have? Like how do you push through? I'm sure there's fear. How do you push through that? How do you manage yourself to like. Nope, I'm going to move out of the house, even though thank goodness Mom appreciates it and is like, go away a little baby. I can, I can, you know, you need to follow your dreams. But what is it internally that you have to manage Haven to take on all these high risks?
Haven [00:26:25] You know, it's it's that's a great question because. Sometimes you there's one thing that you have when you think about looking back, in other words, I had a good mentor of mine did say, hey, man, never go back when you make a decision, just keep moving forward. But always in the back of your mind, you think about what your life was like before these opportunities start to open up. And you say, you know, if I had to go back, I could go in a decision that I make that works out. That's great. If it doesn't work out. The worst case is that I go back and go back home or relax or I do something else. And so in many respects, it's the lack of fear relative to what the future might be. Now, maybe you call it courage. I don't know. Or maybe just being naive.
Keri [00:27:29] I encourage naive and maybe a little insane.
Haven [00:27:33] And and it's and it's and because it is it is one of those things that to take a risk, you know, and there's another thing not to. Not to. But, you know, my family is very, very faith based as well. OK? And and we all have our own beliefs and that kind of input and a fundamental belief around faith. And if you truly have faith in a higher being. Mm hmm. And the question is, so what are we worried about? What am I being fearful of? Yeah. And just kind of push that aside and see where it takes you. You have taken that risk and and it works. It works for me. I will tell you that I've taken some crazy risk as an HR person, as an individual, as a person who was successful and in his career. And then the one that comes to mind is this whole decision to go out, to leave the comforts of a corporate environment, to go out to be a Chevrolet dealer and entrepreneur. And that is the insanity part, I mean, why would you give up something where your retirement is predicted? All you have to do is keep your nose clean. You're going to get a promotion here that you're going to make tons of money on and on and on. How would you give that up to go out and take that risk? I don't know. But I did. And it it taught me so much about business or about running a business, about running a business with negative cash flow, about how you value a business, how you buy a business, how you sell a business. All of those are things that I have learned by taking that risk. By the way, that was a failure in a traditional sense. I couldn't make that dealership go. I thought I was a superman of some sort, but the reality was reality and it had nothing to do with who I am or what I am. It was more about the structure of the business, but I tell people that was the best value I have ever had to leave that business to sell. And the failure was not one where I lost a business, but I sold it to somebody that had a bigger ego than I did. And they had to sell it to, by the way. So. So they are. But it's but it is it is really around those risk taking endeavors, shaking the fear. You know, the other thing, too, as an African-American, I had to develop. I had to let myself be a little vulnerable. I could not achieve in General Motors what I wanted to achieve by only aligning with other African-Americans, even though they are extremely powerful group of people, very talented. But you had to align and have some trust and let yourself be a little vulnerable with people who were not African-American, but who you knew you had to rely upon and build a relationship with and build trust with both ways and that kind of thing. So it's and I look at the other the resiliency is one that, you know, if you look at the framework to charge framework, I'd say courage, humility. Always try to put myself in the position of of of the of the underserved, if you will, under recognized been resilient. And I can remember some of our my mentors in the past commenting on the fact that my strength and fortitude and resiliency is very good. I, I don't give up very much. And on things we just keep knocking it, knocking, knocking at it to, to get what we want. But and then the goal orientation. It's a fun event for me because we all taught to get your goals set off, get clear on what it takes to achieve those goals. And don't let anyone talk you out of it. OK, and all of those great things and and generally I I go along with that, but there were occasions in my career where I set a goal. And I wanted to be in a different place or a different room, and the gold itself, the ultimate or I call it the North Star, did not change. But how you get there, might I? Yeah, because you can be very prescriptive on the step one, step two, step three, step four. And all of a sudden step an opportunity that named X, Y, Z shows up and you say where this come from and where you can examine it, you find that that is the opportunity that would give you more of what you need to achieve that North Star than anything else. So even though I think it's very, very powerful to be prescriptive in your goal setting, I think it's also very, very essential to be flexible enough to see an opportunity when it shows your way and it shows up at your doorstep, because if you're too rigid, you won't see it.
Keri [00:33:47] Yes, absolutely. Haven, you have so much and I you know, we always talk before the podcast with our own, and I'll never forget that, like, I don't know if I even have 15 minutes to fill. So I'm like, I'm and I'm like, I could talk another two hours before and I love it. You only got 15 minutes. Come on.
Haven [00:34:15] All right.
Keri [00:34:16] I will get right about these stories are amazing. And I usually get to voice advice you would give to people. But I heard such amazing grace already and I just wanted to touch on some of your advice. I'm sorry, but please go ahead. When you talked about that faith and just knowing that, you know what? Even if it fails, you kind of have my back and I have my faith and I have something bigger to believe in. That's very humbling, too. And so you're like, I can try it. And if it doesn't work, it's OK. And you said even about the car dealership, you're like, it's not about me. It's fine. I learned from it. And that perspective and giving yourself grace in just failing is so beautiful. And I feel like I wish more people haven would have that because they would try things and they might not be so stuck and feel so bad when they make a mistake or fail because it's just part of the process and there's something bigger out there anyway. It's OK. So ground level of faith or spirituality, but there is something bigger and knowing there's something bigger is so humbling to excellent.
Haven [00:35:28] Yes, absolutely.
Keri [00:35:29] Yeah. And then before we get to your advice, I have to call out your beautiful mention on being vulnerable and how difficult it is. But because you're vulnerable, especially to others who don't look like you, how hard that must have been, but how much that helped your career and opening up to people, the right people and showing you who you are and what you need can actually really help instead of having to protect yourself constantly, which a lot of us have to do sometimes. But when do you choose those moments to be vulnerable and how does that help you propel yourself in the future and just also not make you as say, as unhappy or stressed out because you can never share and you're always kind of in protection mode, fight or flight mode. So I really think vulnerability. So now I'll get to what other advice do you have for people when they are making decisions in their in their lives?
Haven [00:36:28] You know, and this one just really popped into my brain as you were making those last comments. So thank you so much for that, Keri. You know, one of the things that did two things. So I started my career early in the plant environment in Indiana. I met a lot of people. And when I moved on to corporate, it was a big deal in town. Somebody from Anderson, Indiana, has been called the General Motors corporate to serve on the HR staff. Fast forward six, 10 years later, 15 maybe as I encountered some of those individuals. The most. Pleasant thing that I heard them say is that Haven you the same guy you were not around, but inside and internally, you are the same guy that you were when we first met you and when we came to like you. So that's very, very powerful. And that was staying true to who I am, making sure that my values continued and I continued to treat other people the same way. One of the other things that some of those early experiences that I had that came back 10 or 15 years later. I share my goals with them, not in terms of sitting down and going through a goal presentation or things of that nature, but I could very clearly remember sharing with people that, you know, in 15, 20 years from now, sometime down the road, I want to be this or in fact, one person I mentioned in my early career, as I said, you know, I love to be a GM dealer one of these days. And I can remember the individual coming to a meeting in Detroit. And we had dinner and she raised with me this question. She said, Haven, whatever happened to your idea of becoming a dealer, Chevrolet dealer, she said, I have a friend who's a dealer in Indianapolis and he's doing very well. You have to talk to him. And it was that reminder that put the bug back in my ear. I hadn't forgotten it. Yes. Sometimes it gets on the back burner. Exactly. And it put that but square in front of me and said, now's the time. And then you start to put the wheels in motion. But the point is this. Don't be so secretive about your goals and your ambitions that people can't hear how they can help you. I mean, we've become so protective of this thing that will be ours that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are others who can help you achieve it if they only knew. And the only thing and we said it earlier, the only other thing is just this this risk taking. And I won't go dwell into it too much. We've talked about it, but make sure that your risks are measured risk. Yeah. The words not just risk that. I mean, there's a difference in a risk and just being crazy. Yes. That's so foolish. Right. Right. So, yeah, this is this is more of been establishing a calculated risk for your decisions and things of that nature. But make them when you make them keep looking for it, look forward at what it takes to make your decisions work rather than looking back, which is why they didn't work or who might be getting in the way. Release it and go forward. So there we are.
Keri [00:40:26] I would say tell him you have so much. I'm writing so many notes even because I know her so well that she's like and I love this idea and I love this idea. And I'm thinking, Kelly, maybe maybe I'm going to predict maybe the top two things that he even said, that being true to yourself and not kind of changing and being that authentic person that people still see from when you were maybe twenty five to fifty five means a lot to you. And as well as that sharing and vulnerability that is so key, especially hearing it from a male person haven, because sometimes men especially aren't vulnerable and don't share things in the corporate because that is not the way we we train them. But Kelly, what are some of the top things you have from from Haven?
Kelly [00:41:15] Well, I think, first of all, you're just a great storyteller in general. I mean, you have such a way of presenting. Ideas and things that you think, you know, we are going in, then all of a sudden you go in a different direction and it's a beautiful diversion. It just it's such a great lesson, I think, for all of us. And the fact that your mom said, I want you to follow wherever the opportunity takes you so beautiful because there are many who don't have the support of parents or who don't have any family members really, who give them that nudge to make you feel even more confident in yourself. I mean, I suspect you might have done it anyway. But knowing that she had your knowing that she was on board with you and and felt that you could do it is amazing. So, I mean, just thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story and the eloquence in which you shared it. I also loved the intentionality behind what you said to Al when you said if I if I came out, that's the only reason I would come, that you were so intentional. That left me with chills. To your point. It was again, I can I can almost see it play out in front of me. And how much courage you must have taken to to share that is is was there any fear in that at all or were you just like, you know, I'm so intentional about my my purpose and what I want to achieve? Was there any fear that you have in that?
Haven [00:42:46] No, no. I had no fear because I knew who I was. And I also knew that I was in the high potential group, the General Motors of that opportunity didn't come. Something else would. But the other opportunities may have been I couldn't think of a person. We talk about driving change who was so committed to driving changed and El Al Warren, I'll tell you how how intense this person was. This is an HR person who comes into Fisher body and at the first senior management meeting, he stands up. This eighty four thousand employees in this division of General Motors, she stands up in a major meeting, I was not there, but I was told and he told everybody in that role. You work for me, oh, this is HR. I decide your salary and I decide your bonuses. Except for the CEO, you work for me. And everybody's in the room, they say this guy is out of his mind, but he was absolutely right. He controlled their salary and their bonuses and so he got respect and was given license to do things that anybody who is less bold would never get away with, right? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it is this and I will tell you this. There is there is been no place in my career where I learned so much from so many different people than in General Motors. It was phenomenal and great, just great opportunity. So to answer your question, in terms of fear, not total fear, but you just don't know where the next opportunity would come. And this was a tremendous opportunity.
Kelly [00:44:59] Amazing. Amazing. Thank you for sharing. I mean, you've shared so much great information. There's so many quotables in this episode. I can't even stand it even. So, thank you so much for sharing your story, for being vulnerable. And honestly, you are such an inspiration that I can see people having this on repeat almost because of just the the intentionality and the belief you have in your craft to say, I can do this, I can do this work. So, again, if you would like to connect with Haven, please go ahead to do so on LinkedIn at Haven Cockerham. We'll have all of his information in our show notes for you. Haven, again, such a pleasure having you on our podcast. And we're so excited and grateful to you for having shared your story with us.
Haven [00:45:45] Kelly, Keri, thank you both so much. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and I enjoyed it. Thank you.
Kelly [00:45:53] Thank you for listening to the reCHARGE® Your Life podcast. Please sign up for our newsletter at Abbracci Group.com. And follow us on social media. You can find us on LinkedIn at Abbracci Group, Instagram at WarriorsofHR and Twitter at Warriors_HR. Remember to subscribe to our podcast, leave a review and please tell a friend and be sure to drop us a note on how you are reCHARGE® in your life. We can't wait to hear from you.