Training Direct Support Staff and Ladder Holders

Over the past few months I have not updated my blog but believe me I have been very busy behind the scenes and one of the areas that has taken a lot of my time is developing a program for direct support staff who work with people with disabilities. I am still quite amazed that I can hire a person who says, “yes I want to work with the disabled community so that I can make a difference…” and within four months they lose all enthusiasm and vigor.

Direct support staff are the ladder holders of the “Diffability” community.  What? What is a ladder holder? I’m very glad you asked… let me explain what I have learned from Dr. Chand, the author of “Who’s Holding Your ladder?”

Listen to Dr. Chand talk about the Two Types of Ladder Holders!!

Most of us are familiar with who moved the cheese, one minute management type books and dummy this and that. I am truly thankful for these powerful titles and authors and I am not saying anything negative about these titles. What I have discovered however is there is a really simple approach to leadership development that can make the simplest person understand where they are in reference to excellence in any organization.

It’s understanding the principle of the “Ladder Holder.” Who’s holding your ladder in your organization. For me it’s my Program managers, Coordinators and Direct Support Professionals. One of the issues connected to this thought is that many of the DSP staff I have come into contact with are not carrying themselves as Professionals in afield that merits a certification at all. Through conversations I have discovered how they say they are carrying themselves as part-time workers who “just do this or that.” With pride they say, “I do my job.” When I ask about the deeper mission of the work they do I get blank stares and confusion. So I ask the question again… “who are your ladder holders and do they know it?”  My goal for the next six months is to re-introduce them to the ladder. The Vision!

The second thing I am doing is, re-introducing them to the Visionary…  who’s on the ladder… and what are they doing on the ladder. Finally, I want to help them see themselves as ladder holders and then encourage with actions and support that will help them to be the best ladder holders in the industry.  Tall order for all of us!

Considering that I am a Ladder Holder too!


Turn off the Job Search & find Work!

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition

What do you do when you can’t seem to find a job? Go to work! What? Go to work… how do you do that? Well it’s part of shifting your focus from looking for a job towards making money with your skills, abilities and passions.  So many people who are on jobs wish they could just let go and go after their dreams but they get stuck because of the responsibilities of bills, family, etc. The reality is they defer the best years of their lives to go to a job they can’t stand or doing things on a job that drains their creativity instead of empowering their passion. For some a job is safe… it’s dependable… it’s a known existence… it’s rather predictable. As long as you have the job, you know exactly where to go most of the time, what to do and who to do it with. The risk is much lower. So what do you do when you have a burning desire to go after a dream but you are stuck?

Get unstuck! Turn on your imagination. Dream! then go take “One” step towards bring it to reality, every day.  Let’s explore…

I was talking to a business partner about making the shift from my job to the work that I enjoy the most… teaching and training others.   I had to truly take inventory of where I wanted to go in life. What I wanted to do to make a difference in this world. I made a decision to make the step by challenging myself with a local presentation. I put my pride on the line and contacted the “Training Coordinator.” I sent a simple e-mail stating how I had the ability to bring quality training to his organization and if he had a minute to look over my proposal.  It was a few days later that I received an e-mail response asking me to give him a call. I already anticipated the yes, which gave me the confidence to take another step. I sent a few dates and waited.

When we talked, I gave him a compelling reason to meet with me and look over the training presentation topics I could provide to the organization.  We agreed that I would go ahead and conduct a presentation with the idea that if it went well… we could continue but if it went sour… that was it. I took another step towards my desire to do what I love to do versus wait until I retire and then go after the dream. So many people are deferring their dreams instead of going after it! By shifting your focus, you will see that internally you will feel powerful. You will advance towards your truth.   If you want to know more about exactly how to live your dream and do what you love… leave a comment or e-mail me and I will share a few specific things that you can do to bring your dream into focus.

Here’s what Motivational Speaker Les Brown says about Taking a Risk!                      (shared from SuccessKey’s)

The next step is to set yourself up. Create real moments to do real things that are congruent with your dream.  As I said, Risk is better than fear. Fear keeps you stuck… risk allows you to take a chance on you. If you did a good job… you will find out how to do good work.  Feel the fear and do it anyway is a very positive way to look at it.

I don’t know exactly who said it first but even in the bible you can read a passage that says…  “Walk by Faith not by Sight. ”  

Turn off the Job Search and Go Do Your Work! 

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2012

Dwayne Ross stops by to say… 

This is just a small little post to ask everyone to not only have a wonderful New year’s Eve but truly be safe. There’s a lot coming in the next 12 months and I believe it is up to you to do something about every single area of your life. You can allow life to continue to act on you or you can take action in life.

Happy New Year New York!

Good comes with the bad, it’s the Ying and the Yang so don’t allow yourself to get stuck on the yang when it should be a Ying! For me I get my peace from the creator God. Some may say they need a higher power, universe or some other form, others say they are their own god, and somewhere in there is truth.

Be your Truth!  In 2012     Be!  

You were created for Purpose, On Purpose with Purpose…

        You were created for good not evil…       No mistakes! 


Thanks for stopping by

Please visit when you have a moment.

Employment vs. Work

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition

This a short post for the end of 2011.

As we begin to check our goal sheets and see where we are for 2011 it’s time to truly locate the real Goals. As an employed individual I am always engaged in work as well. Not that I don’t want to work all the time and quit my job, because the fact of the matter is my job is truly more sustainable right now than my work. Most of my work is done as a free service to the community or a small stipend when agencies don’t have the finance’s to pay the actual fees for a customized trainer. I create the training specifically for the organization.

In the “Shift Your Focus” series however I will talk mostly about Work instead of employment. The reason is simply because you may not always be able to locate a job but you can always find work. Someone always has something that needs to be done. Look around your neighborhood and you will see a fence that needs to be upgrades or fixed, a roof that needs repairs, a car that needs a wash and the list is endless. The Fastest Path to Creative Income is right outside the front door. Go Make More Money in 2012! Make Money? Yes! Make a dash for the cash. Ask your everyone around you, what do they need done! Then go do it. If you don’t have the skill to do it, maybe you can be the contractor and sub the work out. Go find the labor.

Example: Lets say you were asking folks about what it is they wanted and they said I need my carpet upgraded and hard wood floors put in… and you don’t know how to do this. Well you can get on the phone and locate two people who can. When you get three bids you will take the best bid with the best references… Get references! When you give your bid you add a few dollars for your finder’s fee. The small fee above what you negotiated will pay you, the actual workers and a little left over and the person needing the work gets his carpet upgraded and hard wood floors installed! Win win… all the way. What did it cost you? Did you go back to school?

The truth of the matter is that most people just want to complain about jobs and the lack thereof instead of going after the money.

One more thing… if you do something well, lets say you know how to organize things… then go organize. Let people know that’s what you do! start I-organize-things-for-you dot com (not a real site) Work is all around us. Don’t get caught in the economic mis-information of our congress etc. I watched a episode of Maude remember that show from the 70’s and guess what they were talking about? how the US economy was doing so bad and how Walter, Maude’s husband needed to file for bankruptcy because of what? the economy!

Go find Work… Create What you Want!

Leave me a comment DR.

More on Employing at Risk Populations…

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition

Employing At-Risk Populations:

In the last post, I stated you must help them (at risk people groups) Find their Work. What do you mean Dwayne? Here’s what I am saying.  When you work with a person who has perceived or very real barriers most of the time the case manager or others, will attempt to Remove the barrier.  That’s not a bad idea in and of itself, however it assumes you have the skill level to do so.  In the case of a person who may be schizophrenic, how do you remove such a barrier? What if the person is bi-polar? or has some other form of mental incapacity or “Diff-ability… ” What would you do? Where would you begin? I asked those attending one of the workshops to think out of the box. “Out of the Box” but what does it mean? I believe it means to look at solutions that are outside of the norms.

If the norm suggest for you to do what most people would do, then you must strive to do something else! something non-traditional. Not because you want to be a renegade, but because you will want to produce results that have not be obtained before even if all you do is discover another way “Not” to do a particular thing, in this case help this person with the barrier get a particular job.  I suggest you find their Work!  Jobs are usually based upon what the employer has already created and needs versus finding the person’s work, that is based upon his/her desires, interest and abilities. You are not filling a position, you are creating opportunity. The first steps for anything related to finding the person’s work is based upon discovering his or her truth. Discovering the “inner light” or “uniqueness.”  Every human being has been given from the manufacturer a uniqueness.

By tapping into what is unique for the person you can discover his /her work.  This is a step that will require asking a variety of questions from everyone around the person, everyone who has a stake in his/her success.  If the person has no family, you’ll need to find out who’s their the natural supports? Where do they hang out? who they hang around… What do they do with their time?  In some circles this is actually called the “Discovery phase” which has some specific attributes.  What type of environment is the person in or coming from? Who’s the most influential person in their life? By asking all of these questions and more, you will begin to see a theme emerge from their life. The “Thematic” approach allows you and the team (which you have assembled from all of the people mentioned) look into what makes the person successful. For instance; If the theme suggest that the person is; Caring… perhaps you can now look deeper into things that would give satisfaction but also meet the need to be Caring. Best practice suggest that you would then brain storm about this area until you and the person has identified at least 15 to 20 areas where the attribute of caring would be the foundation of the work performed. Look at the work, the person brings to the table… are they Creative? Are they a Good Organizer? Are they Musically Inclined? Do they enjoy making a difference?

I shared a story of a young lady Em who had a love for people, serving others… she started a “Coffee Shop.” (click here for more) This young lady had a number of things she could not do, but her team focused on what she enjoyed, what was easy for her, what was natural and what she wanted not what everyone else thought was right for her.  They found her Work!  Her team created an opportunity for her based upon what they  knew about her. It was created in her natural environment and it made sense.  Now I know everyone will not own a business and that’s okay. The fact is don’t go looking for a job for someone when you have done the other ten things… you will set them up to fail.  Know who they are, know where they want to go, know who they are around, know what they enjoy doing,  find out places where their work can be highlighted, take trips to see what people do and involve them in the process, create learning opportunities, set up a vocational profile, get the team on board including the parents, then… develop the job based upon their work.

Now you have discovered their “Fastest path to on-going cash.”  They will never need to look for a job again, because they have found their work.

For more information on this topic click here

Employing At Risk… Jobs not Jails

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition

I sat across from this young man listening to his story. It was pretty intense as he shared the facts of his hard life at age 14. He shared how he had murdered a man in cold blood as an act of revenge to a family member and how he had to be the trigger man because other family members were too old and would get life in prison without parole… but not him, maybe he would get 25 years or even less than that, after all he was a minor… he would get out… he was right. The facts were there staring him in the face and staring right at me. I was listening to “Juan” not his real name, but a real person none the less. He was at a major Workforce development conference with Father Boyle from East L.A. a place, I was all too familiar with as a young man myself, working for Douglas Aircraft Company where we had a training program dedicated to helping, “At-risk men and women” gain employment as Aircraft Production Mechanics.

This was not an orientation, Father Boyle was sharing his “Jobs not Jails” story and the young man presenting was talking about how he had a second chance at life. By being so young he was tried as an adult, sent to prison with hardened criminals and even saw family members inside the wall. The reality for him was he chose to listen to an older gentleman who was given a life sentence. The older man educated “Juan” about how to keep his self from becoming a part of the cell. He was At-risk for many things! He had to serve until 18 yrs old at a juvenile detention center, but on his 18th birthday, he was shipped to one of California’s most notorious criminal workshops… Folsom State Prison. He managed to survive, but now he was out and had to learn how to survive the streets all over again. He was 29 years old now and very far away from the 14 year old who walked into the gates.

His eyes were honest, his breathing was even as he told the story of how Father Boyle took him in and helped him gain a skill he could put to work! I raised my hand and asked, “May I visit the site of your center Father Boyle?” his answer was a resounding yes.  I made the visit later that year and saw an amazing wall mural.

Homeboy Industries Wall Mural

The answer for Juan was in the skills he obtained, and the work he was able to accomplish. Father Boyle believed in Jobs not Jails for anyone who wanted to get out of the gangs and make a new life for him or herself. No pressure, co coaching, no begging!

If you want to change… He made it happen and so can you!

The two of them spoke of other gang members who didn’t make it.. about people like “Chubby” not his real name and how some gang members had died in Father Boyle’s arms running from others after being shot in the streets. If anyone was at risk it was these young men who were looking for a better life, a way out and hand up! Father Boyle started the program back in 1988 that grew into an Industry! Homeboy Industries…

That was then….

I met him in San Jose’ California. He talked about how they started a bakery… did you ever ask the person who made your bread if they had a felony? They started a silk screening company… have you ever asked the company who mailed you the cool “T ” you are wearing , how much time they have done? A few years ago, they even started a “Garden in the back” to make herbs that would later go into their own seasonings and salads for the Cafe’… have you ever called the salad dressing company to ask, “How many gang members, welfare recipients, disabled employees do they have?” Sounds crazy right… so who’s really at risk?

Father Boyle created Work! Yes… I hear you, “but he call it jobs…” but the reality is the people are doing their work. Things they are good at, things they have an affinity towards, things they enjoy and the money comes secondarily. They have meaningful opportunities and that is all a person in the so called “at-risk” people group are asking for. They are saying, “Give me an opportunity to change my life and the lives of my family members and won’t let you down.”

This is Now!

In order to make an impact in the lives of others we must first see them the same as anyone else, people. You can not look at the risk, but at the person as an individual regardless of his or her background. The next thing is you must look into their hearts and help them find their Work. Finally, we must then Carve what they want, Customize what they are able to do or Create what they need.

“Be the Change you want to see in the world.”     Ghandi

By the way they have Homegirl Industries too.

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Employment for At Risk Populations 2nd Helping

Dwayne Ross provides staff development training for human service agencies and community organizations that seek to improve humanity.

Dwayne Ross continues to talk about “Employment for At-Risk Populations”

JOB!  Just enough to not get fired… Just Over Broke… Just to pay the bills… Just this and that.  Wow! spelled backwards Wow!

So is there a difference in what people consider a job versus the work they came into the world with? I believe it is and i don’t plan to convince you if you believe differently but In my next few lines, this truth is my foundation. Go get a job, dad said to Mike… If you don’t graduate from College you will never be able to get a good Job, said Mary to her grandson… Look young man, it’s time you learn about the facts of life… You Need a Job!  It’s universal in most cultures, grow up get a good education go get a good job. And we bought that hook line and sinker until we ran into the millionaire who drop out of college or should I dare say the Billionaire who’s name is represented by the success of nearly every computer in the Nation, Bill Gates. Was  it a job that he tapped into or was it something deeper? Now I am not saying education is not important because well it is but have you looked at general job descriptions lately…

“Must have an accredited degree from a known College or University recognized by the Board of Regents…”

“Now hiring, entry level position as a business administration clerk, must have BA in Business Administration; Salary starts at $21,100.00”

Twenty One Thousand Dollars per Year! Now of course this may be a small exaggeration but you get my point. The competition for some types of jobs are truly built on the skills of the person but what if you have an excellent programmer for you Software company but wherever he or she interfaces with the customer, there’s a conflict in personality or in some cases the person has very limited people skills… do you hire on ability or skill?

Take a look at this definition of Job.   A group of homogeneous tasks related by similarity of functions. Stuff people do.

When performed by an employee in an exchange for pay, a job consists of dutiesresponsibilities, and tasks (performance elements) that are (1) defined and specific, and (2) can be accomplished, quantified, measured, and rated. (copied from

In my introduction video clip, here’s what I said in Dallas to a group of professionals at a “No More Crumbs from the Table Session…”

Mr. Raul Fernandez, CEO of Proxima back in the 90’s made a very unique statement about people who are educated… he said, “It makes no Difference.” Now he did not say it was important, but he was letting everyone know that in his business, he could hire educated individuals who lacked common sense, had no ability to make things happen or even know how to start a conversation or he could look for the person who had the abilities he needed, transferable skills, or natural affinity and train or educate later.  A job is essentially something you Do… Work is something internal that you bring to everything you do. In his talk, being a No limit person author and speaker Wayne Dyer said it like this, “You bring it to everything that you touch… you don’t learn to be a good father, you already are a good father in every sense of the word.”  You are a piece of Work! lol.

let’s talk about Work in the next post. If you are enjoying this blog please leave a comment. I review all comments so please no spam comments.  Thanks…                                         DR.

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Employment for At-Risk Populations

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition. 

What is At-Risk?  At Risk for What?  Employment for at Risk Populations need not be a difficult task. So many workforce professionals try to fit people in the job instead of finding jobs that people have a natural affinity to be successful.  It’s a one case at a time approach based upon the gifts, talents and abilities as a foundation. The workshop challenged the attendees to make a positive contribution to the over all bottom line of any company while virtually eliminating the old stigmas, and attitudes associated with job development. Everyone was challenged to learn how to help those considered as at-risk, solve the problems for business owners, which will lead to employment or business development opportunities. Over 20 attendants came to share and gather a tool for their tool box with regards to working with challenging populations.


In today’s economic climate many companies are hiring people who are not only capable of meeting the job description but employers are also looking for generalist who can use their transferable skills to enhance the position they are hired into. With countless millions out of work, the market has become very competitive. In the past many companies would hire a person based upon personality match… but those days are far behind us. Employers are looking for the person who can “do it all”… Ability based.  

KEY: Companies that hire high risk people groups, like welfare recipients, ex-offenders, high school drop-outs, long term unemployed, Individuals with “diff-Abilities” even our wounded veterans face the potential risk that the individuals may be less productive or less skilled than other employees. It is hoped that by indentifying the abilities and focusing on the person not the risk, as well as tapping into governmental wage subsidies will compensate employers for this risk, (such as a tax credit) while providing at-risk populations the opportunity to develop new skills, enhance current abilities and experience necessary to secure long-term, unsubsidized employment.

Four keys to success for working with this population are;

Be Open!

Be Honest!

Be Supportive!

Be a Strategist!

Embracing the needs of your prospective employee allows you to create a team approach to employ-ability success.  It’s time to have an Encounter.  If you want to make a positive impact on the life of another who has major challenges then perhaps you may want to consider using what I call, EMPACT. 

Encounter, Motivation, Persuade, Answer, Commit and Track the results. The EMPACT process is designed to move the person from thinking about the barrier into a a strategic approach to moving through the barrier.  This approach challenges the specialist to focus on the outcome, desires and dreams instead of what they see or know about the person. If you get too focused on what the case file says about the person you may be tempted to make adjustments based upon biases, your own personal limitations and who knows what else. It’s not about You! it’s all about the individual.

The person you are working with. There are three things you may want to consider as you put this process into play… Will you Carve a place in the employment world with this person? Customize an opportunity? or Create something? It’s possible you may need to do all three until you get to the place where the person is at his or her place of employment or doing his or her Work!

 So is work the same thing as a Job?  

     Let’s talk about that in the next post!  

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Affirmations:Turn thoughts into Action

Dwayne Ross talks about Positive Affirmations; Why using Positive Affirmations can cause your mind to attract positive things into your life. Remove the limits, manifest change.

Over the past few years the book titled the Secret gained multi-million dollar recognition because people were looking for a way to bring better things into their lives and this book promised a simple path to getting that accomplished using positive affirmations. I actually watched the movie, my self. I read the bible and guess what?  It said the same thing… we can call something that isn’t actually in out lives right now, into our lives juts by making statements of faith.  In my workshops people say, “You are lying to yourself…” and I always need to break down why an affirmation is much more different than a lie. So once again… what is an affirmation? It’s words that are used a certain way, that when used and stated as a belief, will attract the very thing into your life. Now as I mentioned before… you can just talk a good talk but if it is not supported by an true belief, you are wasting words.

Create a 30 second Montage for your Affirmation.


Athletes use positive affirmations, business people and ordinary everyday people use them effectively to change their lives forever. Many people actually say very negative things that they start to believe and it has the opposite effect… negative things come true.

“I can’t win for losing…  if it ain’t one thing… it’s … If it wasn’t for bad luck I would not luck at….” You can finish the statements, because you have heard them stated in truth over and over again. It’s not scary or spooky, it’s a truth. Anything stated in the affirmative with absolute certainty will come to pass. It’s a power we all have that was given to us when we were created.

Caveat; If you evolved from a monkey… maybe not.

The words that are used over and over again help your mind identify EXACTLY what you want. It’s a type of laser focused thought, that allows your imagination, your brain to capture the words (we talk in pictures) and create actions that lead to the very thing we are repeating.  If you were climbing to the top of a mountain face, you may become weak or start to feel as if you can’t make it. By using the affirmation you will tell your self, ” I am easily standing at the top of this mountain.. or I am completing this climb effortlessly… of “I know I can, I know I can…” remember the book, “The Little Engine that could?” He was using an affirmation. It was spoken with conviction, belief, assurance, attention, desire and it was specific.

I Think I can... "As a Man Thinks... so is he."

If things are not working in your life right now, maybe it’s because you are Saying the things that are bringing you wrong results Change your words… change your life. 

Taking a time out for “DiffAbilities”

Dwayne Ross at the AFP Summit near Washington D.C.  

Hi Everyone,

I am taking a time out because this post is dedicated to what I am engaged in when I am not training….  Improving the lives of those with Disabilities who will now be called “DiffAbility” according to Tim Shriver CEO of Special Olympics who I met (picture not that good) where he has asked America to stop using the “R” word.

End the use of the "R" Word add Differbility

I sometimes use the word ‘diffability’ because it says different abilities and people do have different abilities. We all do. But some are especially different and — and deserve some special attention.
—Tim Shriver, “Willowbrook: The last Disgrace,” The Geraldo Rivera Show, January 6, 1997

People are persons with… versus a “label.”

Terms that are associated with people with a specific disability or DiffAbility… makes a very large difference. We can make change or be the change as Gandhi asked… be the change we want to see.

My goal with this post is to raise Social Awareness to stop the labeling of people with “DiffAbilities.”  Using the R word is similar in my culture as the N word, as an African American. We all know that people will continue to do many things that are hurtful as long as they are socially acceptable. Slavery was acceptable at one time in our history, just as killing babies who were born with what was termed as a Birth Defect. Some were Institutionalized for many years just because they were different.

It’s time to Celebrate their Abilities and embrace the DiffAbility. Care to join me?

Watch this:

If you have more time check out this amazing young man.
His name is Dylan of DK Arts when he was interviewed by BizKids.

It’s time that all of us look into the depth of our hearts and choose what’s right. What would Dylan’s life be like if he was cast to the side, placed in an Institution or if those around him continued to see him as a person without Value. Anything that is thought to have “no value” can easily be cast aside but when something is valued or someone is valued, we take notice and we make sure support is giving simply because it’s the right thing to do. Want to help this cause?
Leave a comment and Together we can make that Change!

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