Meet Your Consultant: John Pfeffer

Coming to OSTS 2021, John Pfeffer was new to the safety training scene. Little did he know his natural ability to connect with people would greatly benefit his teaching.

“[Connecting with people] was a much bigger part of the job than I first understood. And once I understood that, it just fell right into place.”

His love for acting and being on stage also helped him fall into the job nicely because he already liked being in front of people and talking.

“I personally had a really good mentor director. I learned so much, he just understood that not all of us are going to be famous actors on TV, but you can learn a lot from communicating effectively.”

His experience of being on stage taught him how to command attention when somebody’s not paying attention.  “As an actor, that’s my favorite thing, because [I’m thinking] that person will hear me. And I think it translates well.”

One of his favorite parts about teaching is the different kinds of people he gets to meet. “They all have different perspectives. Some are new, some are vets, some are on their way in and some are on their way out.”

“It’s so interesting to get a view on the same thing from different people,” he added.

Although John teaches many topics, including CPR/first aid and heat illness prevention, his favorite class to teach is traffic control. It gets him thinking differently outside of the class when he sees different traffic control setups while driving.  He teaches the class so often, somethings are just hard to ignore now. “It sticks out like a sore thumb when it’s good or bad. That’s what’s cool, seeing why it’s good or why it’s bad. And I think from teaching the class so often, based on that same idea, it’s so many different perspectives, different people approaching traffic from different ways.”

He said everyone has the same goal at the end of the day: getting home. “That’s probably the best part – everybody’s on the same page no matter where they come from on that idea.”

John started learning traffic control training from OSTS safety instructor, Wende Wylie. “I just saw how she approached the class. And it was fun taking that element and then making it my own.”

He mentions how they get along so well because they both effectively use humor, and being careful not to mislead the class or steer it in the wrong direction. “But it really helps drive home the point. I think she’s really good at that.”

Using humor to teach Traffic Control is also helpful because it’s such a dense topic. “There’s so much to it that it’s very easy to lose the person.”

John plans to teach Caltrans Traffic Control and Trenching in the future.