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Black History Month Profile: Enrollment Advisor, Bernard Clark

February 21, 2023

Get to Know Noodle Enrollment Advisor, Bernard Clark

Great leaders around you can often see things in you that you cannot see in yourself which beckons one to leadership positions.

‍Bernard Clark is a Noodle Enrollment Advisor. Originally raised in south central Los Angeles, he spent some time in the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologic Technician before earning his Sociology degree from Arizona State University. He shares that education has helped him throughout his career while he navigated various professional opportunities. Here at Noodle he supports the Enrollment Team with his leadership arsenal which includes empathy, active listening and participation. Read more about Bernard’s story and experiences below! 

What elements or traits does a great leader exhibit?

A great leader leads by example, listens, fights for their people and seeks input from others. I believe a great leader also is an empathetic leader who’s supportive and helps people achieve their goals. Great leaders are also great motivators for others. I think all great leaders know how to incorporate many ideas and seek to understand others. It also helps to be fun and available to people as well! 

When you think of great leadership, who comes to mind? Why?

On a universal level Gandhi because he stood for equity, peace and service to humanity. Gandhi became a strong influence in my life after reading his autobiographical reflections book, All Men Are Brothers. It should also be noted that his book is not just about men—his lessons can be applied to everyone. 

How has your personal leadership style evolved? 

I guess you could say the foundation of my leadership style evolved from an early age due to my parents getting me involved with Cub Scouts, where my mother was a Den Mother and then the Boy Scouts, where my dad was a Scout Master.  Being involved in the Boy Scouts,  I received the highest awards as both a Cub Scout (the Arrow of Light) and Boy Scout (Eagle Award).   Without realizing it at the time, I began to see and experience leadership roles that helped shape who I am today. Upon graduating from high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life so I took a leap of faith and joined the U.S. Navy. My experience truly opened my eyes to the world—different people, places and ways of life. It humbled me and allowed me to observe some amazing— and some not so amazing— leaders along the way. 

Some traits of leadership I learned during my Navy journey were dedication, integrity, honor, courage, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, persistence—just to name a few! Being optimistic and having faith in God were things I also leaned into. After the military I decided to attend college— still unsure of what I really wanted to do as a career. During  my senior year I interviewed with several corporations through ASU’s career services just to see what’s out there. Immediately after graduating college I became a sales rep with Coca-Cola.  I knew nothing about sales and didn’t have a background for it. I was shocked they offered me a position.  The Coca-Cola people told me that “even though you don’t have the experience or background for this position we believe you have the characteristics for it. And as long as we have someone with the right characteristics, we can teach them how to be a successful sales rep.”  So that’s how my career got started. Over the span of 20+ years I was a sales representative in various industries such as retail, pharmaceuticals, and a few others.  

I still make time to develop my personal leadership skills. I love to attend different lectures and read books that teach me more about leadership. Some books that have been impactful for me are Think and Grow Rich by Dennis Kimbro, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey, Success is a Choice by Rick Pitino, It’s Not Over Until You Win by Les Brown, The People Principle by Ron Willingham and a personal favorite, The Art of Living Consciously by Nathaniel Branden. I have always tried to lead by example, often not even seeking ‘leadership’ personally. Great leaders around you can often see things in you that you cannot see in yourself which beckons one to leadership positions.

What is it about your background or career experiences that successfully positioned you for your role at Noodle? Describe that role.

The theme to my success over the years has been simply knowing how to talk to people.  I believe throughout the years of my life and career this is the common denominator. This means being authentic, empathic and exhibiting passion and compassion!  I believe caring involves the ability to turn off my “always already thinking” and just be present with someone I’m speaking with. Using  my active listening skills and asking questions so I can be clear on what they are communicating— instead of assuming I know what they are talking about based on my own experiences.

How do you support the success of your team?

I’m fortunate to have teammates that I have already worked with before with another organization prior to joining Noodle. They were here before me so they knew what I could potentially bring to the table. But I would like to believe I support my team in a number of ways: leading by example, maturity, knowledge, good communication skills, friendship, professionalism, fun,  and active participation.  When it comes down to it really just being a good teammate and helping out whenever I can.

Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places or experiences.

I feel extremely blessed to live the life I have. I have lived and traveled to a lot of places and done a lot of things.  I remember the first time I discovered how diverse people are and how differently they experience life. Unfortunately, I had to learn why diversity is important in negative ways through some of my educational experiences. All of my primary education and most of my secondary education was at public schools in south central Los Angeles. When I was young, my family moved from our predominantly Black community in South LA to a suburban and mostly white area right outside of Long Beach. There are many stories I can share,  but what really rocked my world was for the first time I would see racial slurs scratched on bathroom walls. This is also where I also heard jokes about people from other countries and races, sexualities, class statuses and more.  

This type of negative exposure at an early age had already reinforced in me the need for diversity.  For me, it’s about seeking to understand instead of being heard. This is not just a black and white issue.  It applies to anyone of any gender, rich or poor, gay or straight, religious background, immigrants, etc. My life experiences have enabled me to talk to anyone because we all have common ground if we can just open our minds, hearts and most importantly just listen to each other.

What are some of the most effective tools in your leadership arsenal?

This is an easy one for me to answer. Lou Holtz writes in his book “Winning Every Day”–and I’m paraphrasing here— “God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we talk.” I believe to be a leader you must first  establish  goals.  Being a good leader is how you accomplish those goals.  Accomplishing goals is where great leadership skills should be practiced. I’ve mentioned some of these in a previous answer but these are the tools I use in my leadership arsenal: listening, being present, asking questions, honesty, thinking outside the box, having empathy, being strategic and taking action! 

Please tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.

I have visited Africa three times.  The first trip was a 4 -week group exchange program to Nigeria sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. Each week I lived with a different family in different parts of Nigeria to experience their culture. I observed fresh water hole drilling in villages, assisted in administering polio vaccinations and observed ophthalmological hospital procedures.  The other two times were visits to Johannesburg, South Africa to assist with college graduation ceremonies for Concordia University, who I recruited for at that time.  The highlight of my trip there was visiting Nelson Mandela’s home in the township of Soweto and walking into his jail cell on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town.

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