Podcast Special Guest, Tracy Todorovich

Tracy Todorovich
Episode 18

Pour a cup of tea and listen to Tracy Todorovich, Strategy Activation Executive for Adventist Health, chat with host Japhet De Oliveira about the danger of driving with spiders, how Frank Dupper influenced her leadership style, the ability to visually translate complex ideas, and the unique way she knows that she’ll be called next during a round of golf.
Libsyn Podcast
"The first vaccine that I got ... It almost brought tears to my eyes, because I felt like we were going to turn the corner on this craziness."

Narrator: Welcome, friends, to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. Join your host Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today, and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, welcome to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast for all of our regular viewers. I'd say viewers, but you actually only get to hear us. So, see, unedited, that's what I was trying to say. Sometimes I even make mistakes, beautiful mistakes, beautiful mistakes. So all of our regular listeners, you know exactly how this works. We have a hundred questions. The first 10 I ask to our guest and the 11 to a hundred, our guest gets to ask a number, and pick a number, and then we dive inside there. The purpose of this of course, is that you just have to imagine a cup of tea between the two of us. We're sitting down having a chin wag, having a little conversation and catching up on stories and experiences that shape us. That's what's beautiful about this. So without much further ado, we're going to dive in and enjoy this moment here. And let's begin with the first question. Would you share your name, and just out of curiosity, has anybody ever slaughtered it, mispronounced it? And yeah, why don't we start with that one?

Tracy Todorovich: Yes. Interesting story. My name is Tracy Todorovich. I married that name. My maiden name was Victorino, so hyphenating was never an option. Yes, people have slaughtered that name. I play a lot of golf, that's my hobby. And I can always tell when they're calling you to the tee, because they'll say, "Next up on the tee," and there's a very long pause of how they're going to say my last name.

Japhet De Oliveira: Todorovich. This is brilliant. I do like the fact that there's a pause though. It means that they're giving it the dramatic effect.

Tracy Todorovich: Yes, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Also, because I heard that you are ridiculous on a golf course. By ridiculous, I mean absolutely amazing.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, thank you. Thank you to whoever said that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah. A couple of people now, they're threatened.

Tracy Todorovich: I can be ridiculous, on the ridiculous side.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK, all right. Well, it was fancy, fancy. Well, Tracy, I'm really glad that you're part of this and you're able to dive in with us. So why don't you share with us what you do for work?

Tracy Todorovich: I am currently the strategy activation executive, and that is a title that I have earned over my 41-year career with Adventist Health.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Tracy Todorovich: Over the last 20 years, I have been working in the strategic planning activation space.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. 41 years. I was going to ask you how long you've done this role, but 41 years. So my goodness, you're only 42 years old. You've done really well.

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, flattery will get you everywhere.

Japhet De Oliveira: I actually thought it was really funny, the way that first of all, that you mentioned how you married the name. I wondered how your husband felt about that. But that's another thing.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, I had always told my mom that I was going to marry a man with a short name because Victorino is quite long. And so, Smith, Jones, that would have been great. But no, I fell in love with a man with a very long last name.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. Hey Tracy, what's your morning drink of choice? Is it a water? A green liquid smoothie, is it coffee, is it tea? What do you begin your day with?

Tracy Todorovich:  It's a combo of both. I start off with a green smoothie that has spinach, lettuce, avocado, lemon, a little cayenne and mint. And then I progress to a cup of very strong coffee.

Japhet De Oliveira: You overdid it with the mint, I think.

Tracy Todorovich: Really? Not a mint person?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, no. I love mint, I was teasing. And a strong coffee straight afterwards, is it black coffee, or?

Tracy Todorovich: A little coconut creamer and a little bit of natural sweetener.

Japhet De OliveiraOh, OK. Nice, nice, good, good. That actually sounds, I like how you line those two up. It's a combination, do you ever mix them together?

Tracy Todorovich: Not intentionally.

Japhet De Oliveira: Not intentionally, that's good. Tracy, tell me, tell us, where were you born?

Tracy Todorovich: I was born in Tacoma, Washington. My dad was in the army there.

Japhet De Oliveira: I've driven through there many times, hung out a couple of times. My wife's from Seattle. So just up the road. Beautiful. And have you been back there since you were born to visit?

Tracy Todorovich: Well, my parents moved to Angwin in California when I was 17 months old, and I had not been back to Washington state until a couple of summers ago my husband and I took a vacation up there. He's from Portland, so we did the Seattle and Portland loop.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah. Oh, that's fantastic. Good, so when you were a kid, did you imagine strategy was going to be your job one day?

Tracy Todorovich: No, I was more interested in, I was a tomboy growing up, so I was more interested in playing games, playing baseball, riding my bike, running around, doing the silly stuff that kids do.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's correct. That's correct. Oh, super. All right. And let's talk a little bit about personality. Would people describe you as an extrovert, an introvert, and you agree?

Tracy Todorovich: That's an interesting question. I've always thought myself as an introvert. I'm slow to offer an opinion. I have to chew on things before I say anything, but I think people view me as social and friendly, but I don't know where I fit on the extrovert spectrum, I don't consider myself one.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, that's good. That's actually a good description. I like it, I like it. What about habits? Are you an early riser or a night owl?

Tracy Todorovich: Well, I commuted about a hundred miles a day for 30 years. I live in Santa Clara, then I would commute down in to White Memorial every day for a while. So in order to beat the traffic, I actually was a mid-morning person, but because of the commute, I became an early riser.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Tracy Todorovich: And now that we're working remotely and I'm working in a home office, it took a long time to get out of the automatic wake up at 4:30.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good combination, good switch. I like it, I like it. All right, first thing this morning, when you woke up, what was the first thing you thought about this morning?

Tracy Todorovich: What have my cats torn up in the house?

Japhet De Oliveira: If that's the first thought, maybe you should have a chat about having those cats.

Tracy Todorovich: Actually, quite frankly, today the first thing I thought is, oh, no, I have to do a podcast.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, it's brilliant. I'm so glad you agreed to do this. This is great. I love people learning more about you, you're a lot of fun and strategy and life and so this is great. All right, let's talk about leadership, a leadership question. Are you a backseat driver?

Tracy Todorovich: I used to think I was, but as I have sort of matured in the processes that I lead and I've had some really strong mentors in my career. I feel like I'm more of what a leader should be. Right? So actually leading from a leaders-eat-last kind of philosophy, making sure that your team is being fed and has all the tools to do their job effectively and doing some coaching. So I would say yeah, leading from behind, but with that intention about making sure that your team is OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. Love that. Good. All right. So we get to open the floor up now and we go from 11 to a hundred and obviously 100 is the hardest and most vulnerable, most open, 11 is the lightest and friendliest.

Tracy Todorovich: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: And you get to pick a number.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, let's ease into this.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, 99?

Tracy Todorovich: Let's start with 15.

Japhet De Oliveira: Fifteen, all right. There are many people who've actually just chosen 11, so I'm surprised. All right, 15 it is.

Tracy Todorovich: Well I figured that. So I didn't want to be too normal.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, 15 it is. What is the one thing that you always misplace?

Tracy Todorovich: My reading glasses.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's frustrating.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: How many do you have?

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, scattered through the house and my car, probably about 20 pairs, but you never can find them. So now I keep them either on my head, what I should do is buy one of those chains that keep it around your neck. Right?

Japhet De Oliveira: A chain, that actually is classic. All right, all right. Good. Beautiful. All right, where do you want to after 15, up or down?

Tracy Todorovich: Let's go in five point increments, go to 20.

Japhet De Oliveira: Increments, very strategic.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah I know, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, 20.

Tracy Todorovich: Occupational hazard.

Japhet De Oliveira: Tell us about something that you would rate 10 out of 10?

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, wow.

Japhet De Oliveira: Such a great strategic question.

Tracy Todorovich: It really is. My grandmother's cooking. My grandmother had a lunch wagon in Hawaii and she was sort of ahead of her time, the big food truck craze.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah.

Tracy Todorovich: But she was an awesome cook. And she tried to give me some of her knowledge in that regard. And I would like to think she has built the foundation of a burgeoning chef, but my grandmother's cooking was awesome.

Japhet De Oliveira: I actually do believe that great cooks, it is an art. It's a gift and an art. And I'm just in awe of people who know how to bring, who don't have this recipe in their head, they just kind of create it.

Tracy Todorovich: And she was that way. I asked her for a recipe for one of the dishes that I really loved and she's like, "Well, you just do this, that, and the other." And it's like, well me, being the planner, but even back then, how much? She couldn't tell me.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I hear you. I hear you. All right. After 20?

Tracy Todorovich: Twenty-five.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, it really is. All right, all right. Share the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, wow. I would have to say recently in this time of pandemic, just basically the first vaccine that I got. Your, the recent choose hope dialogue, it almost brought tears to my eyes because I felt like we are going to turn the corner on this craziness.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes. No, I'm with you, I'm with you on that. I think that was that one particular lady, as well, in that film where she shared that moment, about how much it meant to her. Yeah, I'm with you. Yeah. Beautiful. Beautiful. All right. Do you want to go another five? Increments of five?

Tracy Todorovich: Sure. Are we going to run out?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, we're doing great, 30. Tell us, because I can count in fives really comfortably. That's great. I figure I'm doing fine. Tell us about something that you're really looking forward to?

Tracy Todorovich: Long-term I'm looking forward to a really nice retirement. It's not impending, but planning for where are you going to retire. Being closer to family, probably gearing down a bit in the work that you do. But like I say, it's not impending, but thinking about the possibilities of retirement.

Japhet De Oliveira: Beautiful, beautiful. Love that. All right. I'm going to say 35, but you can change the numbers at any time, right? Thirty-five.

Tracy Todorovich: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Share a special interest, unique talent that you have?

Tracy Todorovich: Oh man.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh yeah.

Tracy Todorovich: I consider myself very ordinary. Okay, a talent that I have and that people tell me that I have is the ability to visually translate complex ideas into understandable, even layman's terms.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yep, yep.

Tracy Todorovich: And that's really important in the work that I do because we can get all up in our plan speak and all these complicated terms, and if the people on the other end aren't understanding what you're saying, that's a problem.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's a great gift and that's a great talent. Lovely. Lovely. All right, 40, good with that?

Tracy Todorovich: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Tell us about a time that you failed?

Tracy Todorovich: That's easy. I won't get into the details, but I was double-booked on some pretty important things and I chose wrongly. And the fallout from that came someone I have worked with for a very long time and respected. And she had a way of just in very certain words telling me that I had disappointed her. And for me, that really meant that I had failed at making the proper decision and supporting the team at large. Which is devastating, quite frankly.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I hear you. I hear you. Yeah, that's good. That's good and insightful, as well. And amazing, so quick to think about that, as well. All right, 45 then.

Tracy Todorovich: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: When people come to you for help, what are they usually asking for, Tracy?

Tracy Todorovich: To go back to my unique gift, make sense of some pile of information, and really...

Japhet De Oliveira: A pile of information?

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah. It's like, "Help me understand this. How can I communicate this better?" Communicate for understanding as opposed to this sort of stream of consciousness kind of blah, that comes out when you try to communicate complicated and disconnected things.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Yeah, I would add to that also, and for those of you who know Tracy, you would agree with me, as well, on this. And those who don't, our listeners, I would say that the other thing you should know about Tracy is that she actually cares, deeply cares about translating that, as well. So she will take your idea and she'll help you with it, but she actually cares about translating you, as well. And so, yeah, I'm with you Tracy, I think you do an excellent job about hearing those.

Tracy Todorovich: Thank you. And I think it also comes from a place of deficit. For instance, I had to get good at that visual translation because I'm a horrible graph reader, right? When someone flashes a graph up on the screen, it's just like, I don't know what that is telling me.

Japhet De Oliveira: You're not alone.

Tracy Todorovich: So I better find out what it's telling me and then try to figure out a way that no one else has that same thought.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. We learn from the pain of what we see to make something more beautiful. Oh, that's good, I like that. Great. 50, good?

Tracy Todorovich: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: Share about who has influenced you professionally?

Tracy Todorovich: In the 41 years I have been in Adventist Health, I've had the opportunity to really learn from a handful of people. And I would have to say one of the founding fathers of our system, Frank Dupper. I worked very early on in my career with him and just, his connection with people and his caring presence helped me in terms of now how I lead people.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful, that's beautiful. Well then let's go to 55 then.

Tracy Todorovich: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Are you ready? Share about something that frightens you.

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, well I hate spiders.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Tracy Todorovich: I have an interesting story about a spider.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah? Oh, do tell?

Tracy Todorovich: I used to have a little convertible BMW, and on my way commuting to White Memorial one morning, I look up, I had the top down with the windows up. And I look over and I see this spider crawling up my window. So I go to flick it out and it, instead of going out, it lands on my lap and I immediately rear-ended the car in front of me.

Japhet De Oliveira: And that's why you went to White Memorial Hospital.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, it didn't occur to me that anything was wrong with my car. So I just drove to White Memorial. And when I couldn't put the top up, because it had popped the back little roll bars, I decided I'd look at the front of my car. So I don't know if that's the kind of thing you want to hear about, but yeah, I hate spiders. Snakes I can do, spiders, oh, that's it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Not everyone's the same way, but they may be the other way around, but OK. OK, good. All right. Ready for number 60?

Tracy Todorovich: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. When in life have you felt most alone?

Tracy Todorovich: Boy, probably many years ago before I had established my best friend at work, there were some changes in the organization and not knowing my place going forward, that was pretty hard. Not knowing where you fit, or am I going to be able to achieve this 41-year career with the same organization?

Japhet De Oliveira: A sense of belonging? Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. That's good. That's good. Thanks for sharing. Actually, it hits many people at different points in their life, but I'm sure lots of people can relate to that in different places.

Tracy Todorovich: But for the most part, I've always felt part of the larger organization and a very important part of a team. And I have to credit that with the people that I have been led by.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Good. Number 70, good?

Tracy Todorovich: OK, sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: Tell us about one thing that you're determined to accomplish?

Tracy Todorovich: I am determined to reduce my handicap. No, I am determined to be a better listener. Sometimes it's very difficult and we just had a thing...

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, we did.

Tracy Todorovich: With Joyce on active listening, and boy, did that shine a light on some of the things that I need to work on.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good, that's really good. Yeah, I actually enjoyed the breakout rooms, as well.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, those were great as well. Yeah, that's good. I'm going to put my phone down.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, it was funny because in one of the rooms that I was in, there was evidence of that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, dear. No, it's true. It's true. All right, 80, good? How would you like to change in the future?

Tracy Todorovich: I think being more well-read. I think we can learn a lot from just going beyond the stuff that Wikipedia gives you. Right? So really intentionally picking an area of growth maybe, and it could be a growth within my career or just in social mechanism, whatever it is. But to become more well-read. The art of reading books has, I think, taken a hit with all the information available to you so immediately. So, I recently bought a book that I remember reading, remember, did you have bookmobiles come to your town?

Japhet De Oliveira: No, we didn't. No.

Tracy Todorovich: So I lived, well, Angwin is a very small town and we used to have a bookmobile come through.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah, the ice cream vans.

Tracy Todorovich: And I remember reading one particular book. It was a silly book, but it really had an impact on how I was feeling at the time. So I Googled it to see if it was even still in print, and I actually bought one that had been used. So it came, I haven't read it again, but it's sitting on my shelf and it's a reminder that I need to read.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's, that's fantastic. That's fantastic. My wife and I have this thing about books. Well, and how our home is dominated with her books. And then I keep all my books at my office and because there's no space for my books and that's another story for another day. Do you know what I realized? I can count in fives, but I missed 75.

Tracy Todorovich: OK, well let's go back to 75.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah, I'm very good. I'm doing a brilliant job of this. And so let's go to 75, shall we?

Tracy Todorovich: What's one thing you want to improve going forward, Japhet?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah, I want to learn how to count in fives. Do you remember the first item that you purchased with your own money and if so, what was it and why did you buy it?

Tracy Todorovich: Oh yeah, a pair of, oh, this is going to date me, moccasins.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh? That's cool.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah, I remember we had to drive quite a ways to get to a mall or a department store. So generally Thursday night was the night my dad piled us in the car and we drove to Napa. We had a Taco Bell meal, and this is back when tacos cost 25 cents at Taco Bell. And then he would take us shopping at Mervyn's, and I don't think that store even exists anymore. But the rage then where these crazy little suede moccasins that you wore. And I remember I bought my first pair.

Japhet De Oliveira: Big deal.

Tracy Todorovich: Big deal, yeah. Now I look back at those pictures and think, what was I thinking?

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, no. But it's a big deal, it's a big deal. All right. 85, ready?

Tracy Todorovich: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: Describe a role model you aspire to be like?

Tracy Todorovich: I think that I would like to be more like the content of some Simon Sinek's books. I don't know if you've read him.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yep, I have.

Tracy Todorovich: But he is a proponent of always start with why, understanding.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Tracy Todorovich: I think living into those sort of tenets of really understanding the why and understanding where you need to end up is probably, I don't know anything about him personally, but I do understand his writings. And I think we probably line up that way philosophically.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. No, that's good. I like it. All right. 90.

Tracy Todorovich: Did we do 85?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yep, we did.

Tracy Todorovich: Oh, wow.

Japhet De Oliveira: Describe a role model. Yeah, you did.

Tracy Todorovich: OK, 90, here we go.

Japhet De Oliveira: We're at 90, you're like, "It's close."

Tracy Todorovich: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK, here we go. Tell us about how you overcame a seemingly insurmountable obstacle?

Tracy Todorovich: I can't remember a time when, I guess the ability to manage time is kind of that, right? So my nature is to take on more projects because I really feel like I can contribute to and help someone make their life easier, better, easier to understand, whatever the case may be. So I think overcoming the always saying yes and learning when to say no is probably a big hurdle simply, because in my mind, I want to be as valuable and helpful as possible. And so sometimes just cultivating the ability to say no appropriately, nicely.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes.

Tracy Todorovich: Right?

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That is good. Good wisdom, as well. All right, we're down to our final two questions. Do you want to go with 95 and a hundred?

Tracy Todorovich: Sure. Why not?

Japhet De Oliveira: All right.

Tracy Todorovich: All I can do is say pass.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, here we go. All right, 95 then. Tell us about how you see your faith and life intersecting.

Tracy Todorovich: Growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist church as I did, I think that the ability to think outside your faith, and when that other faith intersects with your life, you're more open to it. And when you're open and have that basic understanding of the differences and the divergent philosophies and thinking and ways, I think it only enriches your foundation, right? So I've never thought of myself as a particularly religious, spiritual person, but I do believe underneath it all, it provides you the foundation to confront life as it comes to you. Right? So learning from the other faiths, I think is probably the best way to say how it intersects with my life.

Japhet De Oliveira: I like that, that is really good. That's really good. All right. Our last question, I'll ask this one.

Tracy Todorovich: Has anybody else gone this direction?

Japhet De Oliveira: What, in multiples of five? No one.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah, and taken 100, or have people?

Japhet De Oliveira: I would say that actually a few people have asked the question 100, but majority have not.

Tracy Todorovich: OK. How brave am I? No, go for it.

Japhet De Oliveira: And so here it is. Tell us about one question that you just don't want to answer?

Tracy Todorovich: Wow. I think I'm a pretty open person. Maybe this is a cop out, but I think I'm a pretty open person and we'll answer anything to the best of my ability and where I have some knowledge of, I guess. I guess I've never met a question I didn't like or didn't answer.

Japhet De Oliveira: That actually seems incredibly true. What I know of you personally and professionally, I would concur with that.

Tracy Todorovich: Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: I think that you are a very, you mentioned the whole thing about being a more active listener, but I actually think you are really proactive and you are a really good active listener.

Tracy Todorovich: Well, thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: And, but yeah, I would say the same is true.

Tracy Todorovich: We can all improve in things, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: I don't think you shy away from things. Yeah, yeah. Well, my handicap for sure could improve a lot.

Tracy Todorovich: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's true about you, Tracy, I think that if there was a complex thing that people asked you, you would not shy away from it. And what's brave about you is that you may not know the answer, but you would not shy away from it.

Tracy Todorovich: And I think that comes from the years of experience. It's like don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something, but you better go find out what it is so that you're well-versed and can do something about it.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. That's beautiful. And sometimes I also think that there are times that we actually will never know the answers to some things.

Tracy Todorovich: Exactly, and we have to be comfortable with that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes. Well, our time is up. It has been an absolute pleasure to have a good cup of tea, effectively, metaphorically across this podcast with you, Tracy. I want to thank you for your time and sharing a few of the stories and experiences of your life, peppered through your life through these random questions. And I also want to encourage everybody who's listening to do the same, share your stories and experiences with your friends and community because you learn and you actually will encourage others, as well. And your experiences and stories are worth transforming lives. God bless you and look after you, and Tracy, God bless you, too.

Tracy Todorovich: Thank you. Thank you for making this easy.

Japhet De Oliveira: Our pleasure, our pleasure.

Tracy Todorovich: All right.

Japhet De Oliveira: It was you, as well.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story & Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch and submit your story and experience at adventisthealth.org/story. The Story & Experience Podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health for the Office of Culture.