The Insider highlights men and women who offer tips and information on their given field.

This week we highlight Ray Deck III, Founding Director at Skookum Kids in Bellingham, Washington.

What is your current role and what does a ‘day-in-the-life’ look like for you?

I am the Founding Director at Skookum Kids, a non-profit focused on repairing the foster care system by eliminating the pain-points that make life unnecessarily difficult for foster parents.

One of the things that I love most about my job is that rarely do two days look the same.

I tend to alternate between "meetings days" and "office days" to stay efficient.  There's a huge amount of wasted time around switching between tasks, so I try to batch my work as much as possible. 

What excites you most about your work and why is it meaningful to you?

Ghandi said that the measure of any nation is the way it treats its weakest members. Here in the United States, we're far from perfect, but, in the foster care system, you can see our effort to care for a population that is both innocent and oppressed.

If that's not beautiful, I don't know what beauty is. And yet, the people who do that work are often exploited themselves.

At Skookum Kids, we work hard to take good care of the caregivers. It's a little like being the water-boy for Mother Theresa. I'm constantly serving and supporting some very generous and passionate people. 

What is one thing you wish young professionals knew before entering the professional world? 

One of the most valuable things you can learn is how to have a bad day. 

If you have a good plan and you execute on it faithfully, you'll accomplish the things that you set out to do. But along the way, there will be setbacks. There will be snags. There will be tragedy. And sometimes they will come in bunches. But a setback doesn't necessarily mean you have a bad plan.

Anybody who would achieve something of substance must learn how to experience a setback without quitting or taking out their frustration on the people around them.

Anything you would like to share with someone who is hoping to work in your industry or role?

There's a trend in the helping professions that concerns me greatly.

I think because we feel marginalized by other industries that are bigger and more glamorous, we don't take seriously input from folks outside our field. You don't need a Social Work degree to have something useful to contribute. We would do well to learn from other industries like tech, engineering, retail, and hospitality. In each of these disciplines there are bits of commonly accepted wisdom, that we would be wise to learn from and apply. 

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