In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 15, 2022

Danielle Teal on lasting power of kindness, double chocolate chip cookies, more

By In the Loop
Danielle Teal

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.


You see them at bedsides. Behind desks. You may spot them walking down a hall or sprinting across a lobby, or talking quietly with a patient and family. They may be friends, teammates or someone you know only by sight. But you're glad they're here. And it's reassuring to know that the health of our patients, our colleagues and the institution itself rests in their capable, friendly, earnest, caring and compassionate hands.

Join us in celebrating them, and let us know if you'd like to see one of your colleagues featured here.


Danielle Teal's first encounter with Mayo Clinic staff was when she was working at a church in Rochester. When Mayo staff came in to pay for parking at the church, Teal was impressed by their professionalism and kindness.

Those encounters made Teal want to work at Mayo, and she got in the door through a temp agency. She made an impression because she was hired into a permanent role after three months.

"I was so excited to become a Mayo Clinic employee," says Teal, who is now a senior program coordinator for Physician Well-Being, and the Joy at Mayo Clinic initiative. "I think I skipped down the hallways that day and probably hugged every single person I came in contact with."

Her enthusiasm for working at Mayo Clinic continues to this day.

"I feel that Mayo Clinic is unique in its community-within-a-community culture," she says. "I love getting to know new employees or seeing familiar faces pop up in meetings. I enjoy hearing feedback from patients on how their care is exceptional and their unique stories of hope. There is nothing more invigorating and seeds the commitment to our mission than the bond we all share in putting the needs of the patient first."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: The double chocolate chip cookies in the cafeteria. Do they still have those? Since I am working remotely now, I am not sure. I miss those delectable nuggets of joy-inducing deliciousness.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Take care of our staff and contribute to their joy and well-being. My job is to help teams better understand the current climate and ways they can enhance team well-being and joy.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): I love books. I recommend "The Book of Joy," by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, et al. The reason I recommend this one is that two incredible thought leaders discuss what really cultivates joy and how we can all experience joy, even amid challenges like a pandemic. They also home in on the difference between transactional and transformational moments that lead to sustained joy.

And "Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy," by Robie Rogge and Dian Smith. This is a journal, but I use it for team huddles and as a resource for individuals or leaders to gain inspiration on connection and discussions around what leads to joy.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: Even as a single parent, I can get my three college degrees and continue to learn and grow in my career while sustaining my family. I have had a great support system and mentorship at Mayo Clinic from incredible colleagues and leaders who believed in me. I am extremely grateful for that.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: "You're never too old to go back and get your college degree." I had a colleague who had finished her college degree in her 40s. While I had not yet reached that age bracket, I knew that if I didn't try, I may never finish. I finished my master's degree amid the pandemic in 2020. Between my kids' distance learning, working full time and finishing grad school, I was crawling to the finish line. It was worth it. My capstone project was "Joy at Work."

Most memorable Mayo moment: Giving talks to departments about radical kindness and how we can all elevate how we view and carry out kindness.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: "Put Your Hearts Up" by Ariana Grande. I think we should do a Mayo Clinic TikTok staff dance to this song.

Favorite space on campus this month: The Peace Plaza. I love taking my kids downtown to dance around in the splash pad or have lunch with a colleague.

People who inspire me: My grandparents raised me and taught us what kindness really meant. To be kind is to advocate and speak up, even when it's uncomfortable; to be present and protect the most vulnerable; and to be observant and jump in when someone needs help. They emulated it through their heroic act of taking in four grandchildren and raising us. We also went with them when they helped others.

I get those core values from them. I am also inspired by human-centric leadership at Mayo Clinic. Those who exhibit these qualities and that I glean from are Eric Cleveland, Dr. J. Taylor Hays and Dr. Colin West. I get the privilege of working with these leaders daily and learn something new every day. They inspire me to do my best work and keep the people at the core of all we do.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Presenting at the referring physician retreat about joy at work with my colleague, Kelly J. Williams. Kelly and I work closely together and have a blast. I feel really lucky to work with people who make joy a priority and care deeply for our staff.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W. Why? I am going to derail this a bit and say Sister Generose. She is quoted as saying "Values are caught, not taught." In a world where there is so much going on with uncertainty, disruption and a lack of peace, I believe that having aligned values seeded in kindness, gratitude, compassion, and care for others and self is such a critical anecdote to unrest. We see these sorts of values daily at Mayo Clinic.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: Staff are working directly and indirectly to ensure their experience is exceptional. Sometimes we cannot see all that goes into how our patients are cared for, and a lot gets done behind the scenes. But the end results provide the best care possible, and hope is infused from our front-line staff.


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Tags: In a Word, Staff Stories

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