Season 3 |

Brittany VanderWall – Leaders have a strong vision and aren’t afraid to fail

April 13, 2017 | Brittany VanderWall

Brittany VanderWall is the District Forester at Presque Isle Conservation District in Michigan. The very first people who shaped Brittany’s view on leadership were mentors from school. Brittany draws the connection between good leaders and good music directors; both need to paint a very clear vision for their teams so that everyone can work together to achieve a common goal. She says that at the end of the day, it’s about recognizing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, so that you can put them in a position to win. Brittany also speaks to a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. in this episode, which was that a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Key Takeaways:

[3:00] How did Brittany get started in forestry?

[5:40] What does Brittany like the most about working outdoors?

[7:20] What have been some of the biggest surprises with the public?

[9:10] What was Brittany’s first leadership role like?

[11:25] What has Brittany learned about teamwork?

[14:00] Brittany talks about some of her important mentors!

[16:55] It’s so easy to put your mentors on a pedestal, but really, they’re just regular people.

[18:35] Just like leaders, the band director has to paint a vision for the band, so that they can achieve both harmony and formation.

[22:35] Tom’s band director would always say, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a big one.”

[23:50] What has Brittany’s experience been like as a professional in the field?

[27:00] It’s important to have a conversation about the two genders, but it’s also important to find a jumping off point and work together on some of the issues, instead of dwelling on the differences.

[31:25] What is Brittany most proud of in her career?

[37:50] Don’t fixate on those daunting goals. Make incremental changes and steps toward those big goals. It’s an easier pill to swallow!

[41:25] Brittany’s favorite ‘leadership’ movie is How To Train Your Dragon.

[47:45] If you don’t try, you’ll never know if you’re good at it or not! Show up, try, and see what happens.

[48:50] Tom’s Leadership Tip of the Week!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Read more about the Presque Isle Conservation District here

Connect with Brittany on LinkedIn here

Read about Brittany and the Michigan Tree Farm Committee here

Read more about Brittany earning the 2019 National Leadership Award from the American Tree Farm System here

How to Train Your Dragon (the movie) by Dreamworks

Brittany receiving the 2019 National Leadership Award of the American Tree Farm System from (l) Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, and (r) Vicki Christansen, Chief of the US Forest Service




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