Mixin’ It Up with Karen Pinkos, City of El Cerrito, CA

Posted on July 18, 2015

For the second year in a row, ELGL will be co-hosting an event at the ICMA Conference. This year we’re bringing a couple of pianos and booking a much larger room. More than 500 local government professionals from all areas of local government will attend. Registration will continue until we reach maximum capacity. We recommend registering as soon as possible.

Let’s get prepared for the ELGL and ICMA “Mixing in Perfect Harmony” event by hearing from our guests.

Karen Pinkos – LinkedIn and Twitter


Assistant City Manager, El Cerrito, CA

If you could pick any three bands (dead or alive) as the opening act for the Dueling Pianos event, which would you choose?
 To be honest, I’m not really a fan of the dueling pianos thing, and an opening act would only make it worse.  I’m just coming for the beer. (there will be beer, right?)
(Complete the sentence) When I learned the ICMA Conference was being held in Seattle, I thought….
 I hope that the Mariners are playing at home during conference time so I can check another ballpark off my list…and as it turns out, they are!
 (Complete the sentence) I knew local government was the career for me when…..
 Modified sentence: “I always knew local government, in some way, was the career for me.”
Our #13Percent Initiative focuses on increasing diversity in the local government workforce. Give us your perspective — does local government have an issue? what, specifically, can we do to increase diversity in the workforce?
 Women Leading Government…It’s More Than Just a Number
Side note: I think we all need to be mindful of how we use the word “diversity”.  There are multiple elements that make a diverse workforce, and all of them deserve their own conversation: gender, race, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, self-identity, ability, age…not to mention, the intersectionality of these elements as well, which needs much more attention.  I think we need to start by recognizing our own bias in each of these elements, including making sure we don’t view “diversity” from a place of privilege instead of from the perspective of those who feel oppressed. But most importantly, let’s be careful to not dilute the various issues by lumping all of them together and calling it “diversity”…to me, that would be completely the opposite of what needs to be recognized in our workplaces, communities, and in society overall.
The Seahawks lost the Super Bowl by passing instead of running from the 1- YARD line. Give us your best tip(s) for rebounding from difficult situations.
No, no no no, NO.  That is NOT why the Seahawks lost.  No game is EVER lost or won on one play.  They lost because they didn’t put themselves in a better position to win before the last few plays of the game. They lost because their trash-talking defense blew a 10 point lead and failed to stop the (better) quarterback from scoring touchdowns in the fourth quarter. They lost because of poor time management.  Besides, if that pass had been caught (or even incomplete), Pete Carroll would have looked like a mad genius. And furthermore, while the odds were very good, there is no guarantee that Marshawn Lynch would have scored on a running play…there could have been a fumble, or a penalty, or the defense could have stuffed him.  There are NO sure things in sports, and that’s why they play the game. Same concept applies to real life.
So the lesson here begins before the difficult situation happens:

  • Put your team in the best position to be successful BEFORE the last minute, and manage your time wisely.monday-morning
  • Don’t sit back and rest on your laurels if you’re ahead, because momentum can change quickly.
  • Don’t rely on the premise that your team can make a comeback if you’re behind, because there are no guarantees.
  • Be strategic and have a plan B…although it can be okay to take a risk, because even if you fail at least you gave it your best shot (despite what all the Monday Morning Quarterbacks say).
  • There is a fine line between confident and arrogant. Know that and take it to heart, because it impacts how you execute your work.

And if you do lose, it’s okay, because you can’t—and won’t—win ’em all.  Take that loss, learn from your mistakes, and turn it into motivation for doing things better next time. The best life lessons come from facing adversity.  Of course, this does take some humility and the ability to self-reflect (I’m talking to you, Richard Sherman).  But remember, there is nobody on the planet who hasn’t screwed up or done something embarrassing, and guess what?  The world still turns.  You will survive.  And you will be a much better human for it.

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