Last Word with Marlou Wegener
Who do you admire? Recently, I have been thinking a lot about one of my uncles, Uncle Raymond Biermann. He and my father were in a dairy farm partnership when I was growing up, and Uncle Raymond gave me special gifts and had me go with him when he ran errands in town.
My most prized possession was a necklace he gave me when Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. The world stood still for that moment, and he had all of our family over to watch the landing on television.
Due to some unfortunate family dynamics, I wasn’t around Uncle Raymond during my high school, college and young adult years. When we reconnected, it was wonderful and I learned so much about him. He was a POW in World War II and had the resilience that I wish I would have just a portion of.
When he passed, he had planned that the United States flag be presented to me during the military honors at his service. I will cherish the flag and the lessons he taught me.
What are you most proud of? I am the most proud of my three children, Amanda, Adam and Austin. They have all grown into responsible, caring and giving adults. I have two incredible daughters-in-law, Victoria and Katy, who I claim as my own and will go to bat for them anytime, anywhere. Certainly I would be remiss if I didn’t note that these awesome children have blessed me with the most beautiful grandsons ever—Brady, Corban and Otto. Of course, in anticipation of additional grandchildren, they too, will be the most beautiful grandchildren ever.
What are you most proud of at BCBSKS? I have had the privilege of working at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas for almost 25 years. I am proud of the employees—many that have longer tenure than myself. That in itself speaks volumes about Blue Cross being a great employer in Kansas. Our employees are good, hard working, ethical and giving people.
What book are you reading? I am currently reading “Big Little Lies” by Liane Morarity for personal escape, and “Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner for professional reading. I do my best to read in every spare moment, but it is challenging, and I have a LONG “want to read” list. I am encouraged and supported by a sisterhood of superb girlfriends in a book club, called 5:05. Even if I don’t get the designated book of the month read prior to our gathering, they still accept me and don’t judge.
Leadership advice? Leadership is an ongoing journey, not a destination. Always keep fine tuning your leadership skills by reading, having mentors, and watching and learning from others you admire in leadership roles.
What is something unique about you? I have a decent sense of humor and quick wit. I am enthralled with the television show, “Last Comic Standing,” and think to myself, “Could I get on that show somehow?” I also can sing.
What does the business community need to know about domestic violence? Businesses need to understand that the probability of having a domestic violence victim and/or a batterer working for you is high. The impact to the bottom line is real. Domestic violence is the most complex and complicated issue I have encountered. Businesses need to educate themselves on the issue. You cannot simplify a situation by asking “Why in the world doesn’t the victim leave?” That is not even the tip of the iceberg. There are wonderful resources in Topeka and in Kansas to assist with education and guide you in what you can do as an employer for both victims and perpetrators.
Back to being proud of efforts at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, we were a pioneer in Kansas addressing this issue as it relates to the workplace. We would be glad to visit with you as a starting point.
What do you know for sure? I know that life is short and whizzing by. Tell those you love that you love them. I am trying to do a much better job of that. I know that for what I perceive as problems and challenges in my life, there are so many others with worse, and even devastating, issues. Be positive and think positive; however, having a few confidantes to pour your heart and soul out to is beneficial and necessary.