Constantly Learning and Adapting – Dr., Commander Mary Kelly

“We owe it to ourselves and the people around us to be as great as we can.” Mary Kelly

The brain is a central determinant of how people perform. Consequently, people can be able to improve their quality of life by altering their thinking and eliminating the negative beliefs and perspective that limit them. Our guest today, Mary Kelly has years of experiences educating and coaching people to reach their full potential and says that constant learning and adapting is key if we are to trust our brains to guide us effectively.

Dr. Mary Kelly is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and spent over 20 years on active duty in intelligence and logistics. She retired from the Navy as a commander. She has masters’ degrees in history and economics, and a PhD in economics. With over 20 years combined teaching experience at both the Naval Academy and at Hawaii Pacific University, she taught economics, finance, history, and management. She has extensive experience in business coaching, management, economics, finance, banking, insurance, real estate, government, organizational leadership, communication, business growth, teamwork, strategic planning, human resources, customer service, time management, and project development.

Mary has a track record for success as an organizational change agent. In her role as a human resources director, Dr. Kelly developed a business model for the computer and telecommunications organization for personnel hiring, training and retention that was adopted globally by the U. S. Navy. Managing culturally diverse teams, she orchestrated organizational changes for over 3,000 personnel for 2 military base closures. Her ability to problem-solve and provide innovative solutions enabled her to transform the Navy’s largest pay and personnel organization from the lowest in customer satisfaction to the highest in the nation in 18 months, with 23% fewer employees and a 19% budget decrease.

As an educator, Dr. Kelly created a mandatory curriculum for a college student body of 4,500 students. During her teaching career, she developed 31 university courses in the areas of business management, economics, history, management, geography, political science, human resources, and international relations. Mary taught remote course work for multiple colleges while creating 4 distance learning courses using online lectures, webinars, interactive exercises, and podcasting. In addition to standard curriculums, Dr. Kelly coached 450 students on life skills and time-management. She created and taught wealth building and personal finance to students at the United States Naval Academy, resulting in a student body educated on budgeting and retirement planning before graduation.

As a speaker and presenter, Mary Kelly pulls from her diverse experience to provide keynote presentations that are engaging and compelling, leaving the audience wanting more. With a warm and sincere style, Mary takes her vast knowledge and provides an educational presentation that holds the interest of her audience. She is a popular speaker on topics of leadership, communication, financial planning, and management. As a communicator, she has chaired academic and military panels for economics, political science and historical conferences, and she has conducted over 2,200 seminars on financial, business, management and leadership topics.

In today’s episode, Mary will talk about her experiences working in the military and how she is helping people achieve greatness through education and coaching.

Listen in!

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  • Military services is a part of my family’s heritage and my siblings and we all went to the Naval Academy. [3:03]
  • Things that the Naval Academy taught me early on was, you get it done and you don’t waste time. [3:47
  • Time in our life is a finite number of unknown minutes and we cannot afford to waste it on things that don’t matter. [3:57]
  • We have to value our time and we have to get things done now. [4:22]
  • If you think about something and you want to get things done, you have to take some kind of action because things just don’t happen and this is where I think military training really helps. [4:27]
  • When we’re thinking about doing something, we oftentimes go to our family and our friends and and ask them what they think and I think that’s ridiculous and a little dumb. [5:19]
  • Your family remembers may not picture you as the CEO of your organization and friends often don’t push you to be your best self. [5:28]
  • I have to do my best potential because otherwise to not do that is kind of misusing the gifts and the opportunities that we have. [5:55]
  • Some days are harder than others but we still have to keep each other accountable and hold each other to a higher standard. [6:07]
  • What I loved about being in the military was the constant learning, changing and [7:26]
  • I was never that kid who knew what they wanted to be when they grow up so the military gave me all of these great job opportunities and I got to travel and see different things and meet new people. [7:38]
  • I got to learn about that really helped me figure out what I want to be and what I was good at. [8:02]
  • Working in the military helps us identify what our natural strengths are and then we can focus on what we’re great at. [8:55]
  • I love working with numbers and being in front of people talking and you and I both know for many people, that is terrifying for many people. [9:28]
  • I’ve been writing since I was a kid and while I was in the Navy, I co authored a couple books for leadership for the Naval Academy and some other groups. [11:16]
  • I had four books that I was participatory in before I launched my own which became the master World Book and is doing really well. [11:33]
  • One of the latest books, ‘The Five Minute Leadership Guide,’ is on how to improve your leadership, focus and your priorities and de stress and calm your brain in less than five minutes a day. [11:53]
  • I have learned to trust my brain and part of that is also knowing when i’m wrong and acknowledging that something isn’t doing what I want it to and looking for a way to make it better. [12:52]
  • Commercial break. [13:19]
  • My company is called productive leaders, because who wants an unproductive leader and yet, when we look around the workforce, we’ve got a lot of people who are unproductive. [14:24]
  • Almost 80% of our workers are not fully engaged and yet, less than half of them have any intention of leaving and this is not good. [14:52]
  • One of the things I try to do with my audiences is help our leaders reengage, reignite and remotivate their teams so that they stay focused. [15:05]
  • I get to talk to conferences and also work as a corporate and the idea is to improve all the things that are important to your employees. [15:20]
  • Many of us in the military go weeks and weeks and months and months and months without a day off, and nobody’s that worried about work life balance. [15:58]
  • You know what you’re doing is really important, you’ve got such a high sense of purpose and mission and vision, that you’re not too worried about your work life balance. [16:07]
  • For businesses, I focus on the bottom line and as an economist, if a business is not making profitability, then they’re going to be out of business. [16:13]
  • We’ve got to make sure that our businesses are taking the right steps in order to move forward and be wildly successful. [16:29]
  • A major problem is that people can’t get their brain to focus in one area and it’s really critical to have that because our brain derive satisfaction out of crossing things off our list. [18:13]
  • Right now, people are not getting that sense of accomplishment because they don’t feel like they have as much control over their time which leads to burnout and exhaustion. [18:41]
  • I like to focus on how we could alter our thinking and see how well equipped we are to deal with a crisis or changes around us. [19:43]
  • A lot of times when people say they are overwhelmed, it is just their brain that is disorganized. [21:28]
  • When I started my business, I created checklists for me, and then all of a sudden I realized people could use the lists. [21:49]
  • So I have these things I call the five minute business success solutions that are one page put together in a 12 month planner and that is available for your people totally free. [21:57]
  • Some people need a little revision of their business plan and these five-minute success plans can helps people get focused, stay focused, and get things done. [22:58]
  • It’s not easy and if it was easy, everybody would do it. [25:41]
  • The way to be successful in running a business is to set a schedule and figure out what you have to do in order to take that next step forward. [25:46]
  • Don’t get distracted by the little things but rather identify the important things and stay focused on what we’ve got to do next. [25:59]


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