Creating Your Destiny Through Connection
One rainy day in Baltimore, a shy, little girl sat down in front of a glaring television screen to eat her breakfast. A powerful African-American woman commanded the stage with a beaming smile and waved to the crowd. As the woman interviewed guests and shared her personal story with the audience, the little girl grew stronger, more courageous, and most of all — more curious.
Rachel Druckenmiller began her career staring down the brightly lit television set in the living room of her parent’s home, under the guidance of one — Miss Oprah Winfrey. Her life began, and continues to thrive, on the power of storytelling. As the millennial daughter of two entrepreneurs, Rachel, the Director of Wellbeing for the Alera Group, has seen firsthand how the workplace can impact many other aspects of one’s life. After winning the title of WELCOA’s Top Health Promotion Professional in 2015, she has committed her career to encouraging organizations and employees to think outside the wellness box and to share their personal story of wellness at work.
Through a variety of setbacks as a young child and health issues continuing through her teenage and college years, Rachel had a hard time being authentic in her interactions with her clients and even her friends.
“70% of my career has been in the wellness space so I always felt like I needed to be a ‘picture perfect image of a wellness person’. I had issues with my weight and was malnourished, so I didn’t let anyone see the imperfect sides of me.”
Despite these trials and tribulations, Rachel found a way to connect with the people around her. She said, “I took things that would have otherwise been discouraging and that could have shut me down and used them as ways to connect with people.” As a lifelong learner, her ambition for education and devout curiosity led her down a path, only she would have dreamed.
“My parents are both entrepreneurs who told me to make up what you do and find someone to pay you for it. I just keep making up my job and reinventing myself. I went from creating health newsletters and leading walking challenges to speaking about the power of connection.”
Driven by her parent’s zest for life, Rachel has continued to forge her own path to distinguished thought leadership through the impact of human connection. “It’s really hard to differentiate yourself in this industry as being fundamentally different than someone else. I try to redefine success through the confines of connection.” Working with organizations through her firm, the Alera Group, she challenges her clients to ask their employees important questions about their purpose in life, not just if they want to be healthy. Rachel asks questions about meaning, misunderstanding, perception, confidence, and growth.
In 2015, the Wellness Council of America launched its inaugural Top Health Promotion Professionals contest. A long time patron of the organization, Rachel applied with just a day to spare. Out of over 200 applicants, she was selected as the winner. In the months that followed, her career took off. She was asked to speak at the WELCOA Summit and spoke about rehumanizing the workplace. She spoke for the first time about human connection and said, “We need to get away from being prescriptive, through being curious and inquisitive and leaving our assumptions at the door. Expanding our definitions of wellness beyond the physical body.” Reflecting today, she said, “I still believe that to this day.” This sentiment transcends the scope of Rachel’s work into the field of wellness as a whole.
As the third annual contest kicks off this March, we wanted to know what advice she could give to this year’s hopefuls. Following her own success, she said, “What compelled the judges the most, was my vision for the future. Everyone’s going to submit data and numbers of all the impressive stuff they’ve done. Don’t read what everyone else is saying. Use your own words about why you care. Tell your story.”