3 Questions Under 3 Minutes
Dana Tallon and Brian Nickles, DDS Administrator, at Wheeler Ferris Wheel. The Ferris wheel is in the background and Nickles sits at café table in front of giant OKC letters. Throughout the video, people visiting the Ferris wheel stop and take photos on and in front of the giant letters.
Tallon: How did you come to DDS and how long have you worked there?
Nickles: Well I am a lifelong Oklahoman. I was raised in southeastern Oklahoma in the shadow of the world's highest hill in Poteau, Oklahoma. I went to the small school there, then went on to college at Carl Albert State College and then went to Northeastern State in Tahlequah.
I got a degree in business management and went into retail management at a Hastings music store. I quickly realized that that wasn't for me.
So I looked for opportunities and I was able to interview for the position of a disability examiner in 1991. Mr. Nance was the administrator at the time. I can remember my first ... or my interview when I went up to interview for the position, Paulette Stout, who is now Noel's assistant, was the one to greet me at the door. So I'll always remember that day, it kind of sticks out of my mind. But I've been with the DDS now for 26 years in a variety of roles: QA, DHU, policy and now the interim administrator. I really enjoyed my time here.
Tallon: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing DDS?
Nickles: Well, I think as you hear budget talks at both the state and the federal level, that's one of our biggest challenges that we have. And that is to continue to provide quality services to the public we serve with the limited resources that we have.
But that also really given some opportunities to consider what we do and how we do it. In technology we nearly need to leverage that in a way to continue to provide efficient service delivery. With the baby boomers retiring, we're getting a new workforce in the Millennials. They look at the workplace and the work environment a little bit differently, so we need to adapt what we do to really fit in and to make the DDS a more attractive workplace for that workforce in order to recruit and retain skilled individuals.
I think in the SSA disability program itself, individuals are living longer. Medical advances that we're making and those are all great things but SSA needs to look at the disability program the policies that they have in the procedure is to really ensure that they meet with what the current situation is in order to not only provide any benefits for individuals now, but also into the future.
Tallon: What is the one thing that has benefitted you the most in your approach to work?
Nickles: Well I just celebrated my 50th year and so as I look back, I think of some of the trials, the challenges that I've had in my personal life. I think that's helped me to understand myself a little bit better and maybe those around me.
I approach things from the perspective of that there's lessons to learn in it. Sometimes I may be the teacher, sometimes I may be the student but oftentimes I find that I'm both in any situation. That really there's an opportunity for learning and maybe some reciprocation of learning.
So that's really helped me in my approach to anything that comes to me both in work and as well in my personal life.
One thing that I've found is that the paradox of life is that it's both really too short and really too long to be miserable. I look for opportunities to grow, to learn and really just for a positive outcome in the situation that I face. (3 minute timer rings)
Nickles and Tallon board the Ferris wheel.
Brian: So what are we doing here? What is this?
Tallon: This is the bonus. This is the bonus.
Tallon: Brian, why the Ferris wheel?
Nickles: Why a Ferris wheel? Well, I think that's part of my approach to life as well, is to work hard and to play hard.
When I moved backed to OKC in 2009, one of the things I did was to buy a season pass to Frontier City. So Often times on my lunch hour I would just run over and ride a roller coaster real quick as a part of my lunch break. It just kind of bring up the day -- stresses of the day.
I don't know. I've always like amusement parks. I just thought this would be a fun place to do it.
Panoramic view from the Ferris wheel played in fast motion while lively polka music plays.