Rachel Zillner, SAFE Credit Union

rachel_zillner1. How has Metro EDGE helped you grow as a young professional?

EDGE has expanded my personal and professional network in ways that have far surpassed my expectations. I work in community relations and one might assume that means I have the opportunity to meet a lot of people, and I do. But, this is different, I’ve built relationships with folks outside of my center of influence. EDGE has been and continues to be the only group I’ve worked with that gives back 3 hours, for every hour I put into it. The members are strong, motivated, creative, hopeful, and visionary people. When you surround yourself with passionately committee individuals, growth is inevitable.

2. What would you say are your best three leadership strategies?

  • Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself
  • Constantly focus on your personal brand and bring awareness to others on how their actions impact their brand
  • Keep it real! It’s all about transparency and emotional intelligence – this means be open and easy enough to speak with that people can communicate, without fear that you’re doing something they don’t like or agree with

3. Who is your mentor? What have they taught you?

I’ve had a handful of very special mentors in my life, outside of my family, Jim Allen, COO of SAFE Credit Union has been my mentor and guide for the past 7+ years. Jim’s taught me to not only consider the bigger picture but to invite others to participate. We all like to think we are inclusive, but it’s really hard work to be inclusive. And it’s much harder work to spend time rallying the support of your peers, and those above you, on issues that are important to you.

We all know that relationships matter but Jim models what it looks like to “be human”. I used to be soo efficient. I’d jump into a meeting, get the business chat over and get out. I’ve learned to spend time really getting to know the people I work with and my life is enriched because of it. People are incredible. We all have things that are dear to us and stuff outside of work. Understanding this concept has made me a better human. I live a very full life and I’m aware of how people are impacted by my words and actions. It’s humbling and harder than just getting it done, but this way of conducting business and living life, creates more awareness and meaning into your work and your personal life. Jim’s made me a better boss and a better person.

4. How important has it been for you to find and network with groups of young professionals?

My dad owned a limousine business growing up and I had to be an adult, running the administrative side of the business, starting at age 12. I learned how to act “older” and be around business professionals much sooner than most. With that history, I tend to lean in and build relationships with folks 15-20 years ahead of me in life. I’ve always felt like I have an “old soul”. Spending time with EDGE folks and networking with young professionals keeps me from getting “adultitis” and reminds me to get out and have FUN! The more responsibility we take on, it seems we forget to be FUN. EDGE helps me stay dialed into all the awesome-ness happening in our region; on the leading EDGE of new cool things to do, and provides fresh perspective to think about the old ways of doing things. This brings my life balance… so yeah I think it’s been pretty important.

5. What motivates you to get out of bed and go to work?

First, I love my job, and if you don’t love your job – get a new one! It’s easy to go to work every day for me, I work 7 days a week. Work is a means to enjoy my life, which I define as experiences with my immediate family (hubby David) and my daughters (Paisley 3, and Pepper 4) and extended family and friends. We love to travel, so I’m always thinking of the next big trip or weekend getaways that we can plan and partake in. But mostly, I work to retire……… or as I would define it……. to work only when I want to.

We have a plan to retire in 10 years or less. Every morning, I stare at my vision board, it keeps me focused on my short and long term goals. I work toward those goals and envision what it will be like spending summers abroad, while the kids are out of school. Then, seeing the world with my husband, after our kids are in college and are tired of living with us all the time.

Currently, my focus is on how I can leverage EDGE and our powerful group of YPs to create a better Sacramento. To deliver on what we need……better transportation, better solutions for the homeless, and activating our region in ways that are attractive to millennials and families. That’s a big puzzle to dream and meditate on – Definitely worth getting out of bed for.


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