Friday, October 31, 2014

An Interview with Grace Wilhelm in Executive Lifestyles

This is an article that was published in Executive Lifestyles this week by Jane Wong about Counselor Games.  
Executive Lifestyles

Work hard, Play hard!  
What’s the philosophy behind this?  Stress management? Bingo!  

And same for our children and students nowadays. When you are thinking how to cut down their spending on getting new toys, do you realize we can use everyday games to make unforgettable and creative techniques that can improve their socialization and communication skills too?

This week we have Grace Wilhelm to tell us how she turns the “game strategies” into her business while solving the student’s problems on anger and communication management.

Jane: Hello Grace, can you tell us about yourself and your business?

Grace: I am a national board certified counselor with over 20 years experience in school and mental health counseling. Over the years I have designed and perfected how to use play therapy techniques and integrate them into everyday, familiar games to teach students the strategies for stress management, anger control, building relationships, study and organizational skills, decision making, making friends and more. Some of the games used include: Don’t Break the Ice, Barrel of Monkeys, Jumpin’ Monkeys, Topple and Pick-up Sticks. Over twenty games are used. .

Wow…. Put Play into Work?!  What motivated you to start this business?

Grace: As a speaker and presenter I am often asked to deliver my play therapy workshop, or present on a topic such as stress management and games or study skills and games. Presentations have been delivered locally, regionally and nationally. I have also presented as far as Papau New Guinea! When counselors or educators ask me what I am doing or how I am doing it, I am delighted and honored to share with them. Often they will ask for repeat demonstrations, a book, or video. I had none of that and not even a business card! So last year I started to put it all together with a Website, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, videographers, graphic designers and editors. There were some student workbooks I wrote for anger control and stress management and we tweaked them. We got permission from Hasbro and Pressman Toy Company to use their games in DVDs and other social media. Out of this came two DVDs: Games and Play to Enhance Counseling and Teaching Strategies, Volumes I and II. Educators can review the demonstrations or if they are unable to attend a presentation, they can see them here.

How does this different from the normal way of counseling at  school then? 

In the past, play therapy techniques were only used in mental health sessions and school counselors were managers of resources who did not do any counseling. The tables have turned and school counselors are more involved in counseling – not only academics and career, but helping with personal and social counseling in the school setting.

Let’s talk about business. What have you found to be your most effective way in finding the new clients?  

Speaking and presenting at conferences has helped put my name and practice in the fore front. I have been Keynote at different events on the state level and overseas. I have presented at parent groups, luncheons, and national conferences. Often I am asked to present or invited to write a proposal. It is a nice place to be and I feel very appreciated by my colleagues. In social media, my website, blog and LinkedIn have been the most effective.

What is a day in the life of you like?  

A typical day usually starts with reading about one hour, checking email and then doing some writing. Then I am off to work as a school counselor. When I get home, I connect with family and friends, finish work on some writing and/or consulting, relax with some reading or conversation and then go to bed..

I’m sure dealing with stress of some other people, you have to manage your own peace of mind too.  How did you handle the challenges that you encounter?

To handle to challenges, I have created a great team of people around me. I allow them to be creative and then let them go. They are my videographers, photographers, web designers, graphics designers, editors, and consultants. Although I do not have a full-time employee yet, my team is one of the best and so creative, talented, and helpful. I could never do this on my own. We listen to the input and feedback of each other and everyone gets the mission for educators and how it benefits students and the community in the long run.

How do you keep yourself motivated during the difficult times?

When things get a little difficult or challenging, I pull away from the work so I can get time to think. I will go for a walk, connect with friends for a get-together. Getting my mind off the difficult part for a couple of days allows me to return to the work with a fresh perspective. I also like to read motivational quotes or listen to webinars. I have some motivational books that stay close to me.

What will you recommend to those people who want to be their own boss?

Start with doing. It is because when you think too much, you may never start at all. Once you have started, think of better ways to grow your business and be true to yourself. So understand yourself. Once you’ve have found your pace, you get more confidence and then you will start and dare to dream big.

How do you see the “work-life” balance?

It is important to work hard and then play hard. I will take time to be with my family, enjoy elaborate family dinners, travel the world to see family as they are spread out that way, and connect with friends. I will actually write that time in my schedule because I don’t want anything to interfere with that time. I am a member of some clubs and interesting groups. I make a lot of effort to keep involved with them. They have nothing to do with my work, but I often find the new connections and people I meet contribute to a new idea or twist on something not thought of before. Balance in life also includes a spiritual connection. I connect with God through prayer and Scripture. I believe creativity comes from God and I am thankful for that and my relationship with Him.

What is the upcoming marketing plan that you want to share with us?

I am putting together some play therapy workshops on my own. I am starting with my local community and targeting parents, youth workers, and educators. From there I plan to spread out in my state and keep going. Right now I am using word of mouth and friends of friends to spread the word. The first workshops are small in order to work out kinks. We will get bigger from there. This is different than attending a conference or seminar where other people/organizers plan the event, venue, and marketing. I will speak or present to a room of 30 or 250. The workshops I am now planning are on my own. This includes the event, venue and marketing. It is a lot of work.

Thanks Grace again for her sharing.  You won’t realize that, this sweet lady Grace, who always talks about Play, Games etc, has two grandchildren already!  So what is the thing holding you up to start up your business?  Talk to us, and share with us what you have in mind!

How to get in touch with Grace?

Phone Number: +904.887.9629

Photo source: Grace Wilhelm

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