Marla Wilson has spent her entire career in rehab hospitals, learning from great leaders who knew how to run a proper program. It was a journey that she started working with people with brain injuries at a rehab facility before transitioning over to business development and eventually running her own rehabilitation hospital.

When the CEO position at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Plano came open, Wilson told Local Profile that she thought, “‘What the heck, I think I know how to run a rehab hospital. I’m going to see if they’ll agree with me,’ and they did so. I’ve been here for almost two years now. It’s been an awesome journey.”

In early August, Wilson recounted some of this journey for Local Profile as part of our Local Leaders series on Facebook Live.

Wilson was the kind of child who always wanted to be part of something that she was good at or could potentially be the best at. Her parents told her that her dreams would take hard work and perseverance to reach, but she could do whatever she put her mind to. So never give up.

“I think it’s important to take it one step at a time,” Wilson said. “… So through trial and error you find what’s good for you. Once I find that I can do something and I can be the best at it, I set a goal, and I reach that goal. Once I reach that goal, then I reassess and say, ‘Ok, now where do I want to go?””

Wilson claimed that she is one of those people who has to believe in what she’s doing. For her to sell something, it has to be something that she feels is beneficial for others. “People always say I don’t have a very good poker face. They see whatever I’m thinking written on my face, so I have to really believe in something and be passionate about it.”

In her experience with business development, she has to build rapport with physicians, case managers, and patients and their families. She looks at selling as a process of building relationships rather than simply trying to promote a product.

“I think it applies whether or not you think you’re trying to sell something because even if you’re trying to get a job, you are selling yourself,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to build rapport and a relationship with your future employer.”

Other tips Wilson offered include:

  1. “As a female, you just got to have the confidence that you can do it, that you can be whatever you want to be. And even having kids, you just have to have some kind of work life balance to make it through. You just have to follow that dream.”
  2. “The whole school from home has been quite a challenge, but honestly, you gotta have a really good support system both at work and at home.”
  3. “We have ups and downs every day, especially with COVID in place. What helps me to be positive is to count your blessings, think about the awesome things that we have, and to be thankful.”
  4. “Really, the key (to keeping morale up) is communication. … There is an ever changing ebb and flow of restrictions and guidelines and everything else so I think communication has been huge to keep morale up. Not only me communicating what I know and things that we need to do to change but also to have a listening ear and an open door.”

Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)

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