I was born into a family of educators. My mother was an elementary school teacher for 25 years while my father was a teacher, a principal and an educational researcher for over 40 years. Having parents who were in the field of education had both its pros and cons. It seemed my life was filled with non-stop lessons that other kids didn’t have to deal with. Yet, unbeknownst to me at the time, my parents were actually showing me that they weren’t just teachers, they were my first life coaches. Before I even realized what soft skills or social skills were….I had acquired them.
These life-enhancing skills have been invaluable to me throughout my career. While in college at San Francisco State, I majored in Political Science and one of my professors suggested that because of my ability to connect with people, I should consider becoming a lobbyist once I was done with school. However, after working on several local and state campaigns and serving on multiple local community boards, I concluded politics was not for me and I landed in the banking industry after college.
I spent four years at Bank of America and it was there that I realized how beneficial it is to possess soft skills while working in Corporate America. I was promoted three times in two years (which was an exception to the rule) and I found myself overseeing the call center for Bank of America’s Merchant Services Division in San Francisco. The experience taught me that there is no substitution for effective communication, problem solving and the ability to collaborate effortlessly with others. My time at Bank of America was invaluable, and it prepared me for my next step in my journey.
” … there is no substitution for effective communication, problem solving and the ability to collaborate effortlessly with others.”
– Brian Baker
I relocated to Sacramento and began to put my soft skills to use at AT&T. My career at the company lasted for 21 years until took an early retirement in February 2018. The first 12 of years at AT&T could not have been better. I was promoted multiple times, and I received several awards as a Sales Executive, Regional Sales Director and Program Manager. Three times I was chosen as a President’s Club award winner, the highest award granted by the company for performance achievement. I was honored to have developed the careers of many people who would go on to become leaders in the business and I had the privilege of mentoring numerous people during my time at the company. But in 2008, my world came crashing down.
In the span of 23 months, I lost my grandfather, father, brother and grandmother.
In the darkest hours after those losses, I struggled to be a good husband, a good father, a good friend and a good colleague. I became distant and aloof, and quite frankly there were days that I wish I had not woken up. The skills my parents taught me, which had served me so well, were becoming nonexistent. I had become a shell of myself. As I fought through this difficult period in my life, I was thankful that most people viewed me through the lens of who I was prior to the loss of my family members. Candidly, there were days that I didn’t even like myself.
It was then that a friend of mine asked if I had ever heard of Emotional Intelligence. I told her I had not. As I began to read about EI, I quickly discovered that this could help me get back to being me. Much of the information I was reading about was very similar to what my parents had instilled in me. Self-awareness, empathy, communication, collaboration, awareness of others, all of those things were familiar. I slowly began to turn my life around. I started to understand what triggered certain emotions, and more importantly I started to address them before my emotions got the best of me. In many ways, it was EI that allowed me to course correct. I eventually began to once again become an engaged boss and colleague, a loving husband and father, and a good friend.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to give a TED Talk at AT&T and in honor of my father I titled the talk, “Manners Matter – Recapturing the Lost Art of Civility”. It was that TED Talk that inspired me to lay the groundwork for my company, Respectology, Inc. A big part of starting this business is to honor my parents by showing others how good ole fashion soft skills, life skills, people skills, and emotional intelligence are important tools to have in your tool box as you go through both your business career and your personal life,
Respectology’s Core Values:
Civility | Kindness | Courtesy | Politeness | Manners