Claudia Zacharias | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Claudia Zacharias


The Board of Certification/Accreditation is based in Owings Mills, Maryland. Founded in 1984, it’s an independent, not-for-profit agency dedicated to meeting the demands for quality patient care by offering highly-valued credentials in the fields of orthotics and prosthetics and durable medical equipment. BOC offers accreditation for practices, pharmacies and suppliers, and certifications for orthotic fitters, mastectomy fitters and DME specialists. The organization has received acclaim for innovation and customer service, earning seven Stevie Awards from the internationally recognized business awards competition.

The Mistake:

The mistake was viewing change as something negative.

I’ve been in the workforce for nearly 40 years, and for most of that time I had a “Let’s get things back to normal” perspective. When something happened that was a change, my perspective was, “How can we restore it to the way it was?”

In recent years, I realized that was a mistake. Change is actually normal, and when I embrace change I’m actually happier and more effective.

About a year ago my chief operating officer who had been here eight years gave me his notice. My initial thought was, “Oh no.” My COO was a guy who had a lot of strengths, and I thought I couldn’t find anyone like him again. I reminded myself, “OK, you’re resisting change. What could happen here? Something really good could happen out of this.”

We were a different organization eight years ago, and by taking a positive approach to change we had an opportunity to find somebody who would have the skills we needed now, as opposed to the skills we needed eight years ago. We found a fabulous individual and I reframed the position as a chief marketing officer because I wanted that special expertise. We did a total reorganization too.

I became more resilient and more comfortable with embracing change. Rather than trying to find another person with the same qualifications, I was able to change more things.

A personal situation also reflected this change in perspective. A few years back I wanted to relocate from Maryland to Florida for family reasons. My board of directors encouraged me to telecommute, and spend three weeks a month in Florida with one week spent in Maryland. My heart was rebelling against the change, and I acted like I was still living in Maryland but hanging out in Florida for three weeks a month. I even kept my same Maryland dentist and hairstylist.

During the one week a month I spent in Maryland, instead of pouring myself into face-to-face interactions with staff and colleagues, which I should have been doing, I instead spent my time getting my hair cut by the same person, going to dental appointments, and getting together with local friends. I realized that was making my time so hectic, and I wasn’t developing any community connections in Florida. It wasn’t making me happy.

I made a conscious effort to find a new dentist and hairstylist in Florida, I joined a professional women’s group and put more energy into finding new friends. By really fighting the change of moving to Florida, I robbed myself of the joy of recreating all the good things with new people and new situations in Florida. Even though people think that change is unsettling, I realized that I’m happier when I embrace change rather than fighting it.

When you shake up a snow globe you disrupt the snowflakes, but that’s where the beauty lies.

The Lesson:

Change can mean short-term adversity, but if you embrace change and don’t fight it, that can lead to long-term gain or long-term opportunities and advantages.

When you shake up a snow globe you disrupt the snowflakes, but that’s where the beauty lies. Everything’s going to settle back down and find its place, usually for the better. That disruption might give you opportunities that you hadn’t expected.

As a leader, your energy affects others. When you’re happy and confident that creates the same feeling in others. Your level of resiliency is probably the same level of resiliency that you’ll find in your teammates.

Because of this different perspective I have, it helps me exude a lot of confidence and helps people on the team also feel confident because I’m not feeling threatened or unhappy about change—I actually embrace it.

The Board of Certification/Accreditation is on Twitter at @BOCIntl.

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