So what happens when you listen to someone share their story on clubhouse and it’s so powerful and real you can’t wait to hear more? You invite them to do an episode on your podcast and hope they say yes. In this episode I was able to interview Sola Adenakan, co-founder of St8cked media and BrazenTv, which focuses on social issues and putting women and POC behind the lens. Along with her newest project Transmit Media Podcast Network, the first Afro Latina owned social impact podcast network.
It’s a lot going on but she was gracious enough to speak with me and I’m so thankful for it, because her story is also just as compelling as the stories she films.
My name is Jessy Santana and I’m an organizational culture strategist, entrepreneur, mother. This is The Way We Work podcast, where we discuss all things at the intersection of knowledge-seeking curiosity, entrepreneurship and social impact.
Take a listen to the full Interview Here
This is what happens when you let go of fear or the narrative you can’t and just do. Clarity through action and we’ll all be manifesting powerful stories too.
I can’t wait to keep learning about Sola’s work and you should definitely check her out too. At her new project Transmit Media Podcast Network and all of her other incredible work.
This Week’s Rose Bud and Thorn
I am so excited that The Culture-Driven Leader academy is now live! And the first cohort will begin on Feb 15! If you’re interested make sure to check out the site here or on my IG @theway_wework you’ll find more information there.
All of this creating content, entrepreneurship takes a toll on your family and sometimes you don’t even realize how much. Maybe that’s why so many entrepreneurs are divorced. Someone once told me, there is no work life balance as an entrepreneur, you have to choose between work, family, friends, health or sleep. What’s your choice?
After that conversation with Sola, I’m just really looking forward to the rest of 2021, it won’t come easy and it won’t come fast but change inevitable and I just want to work with those that are ready. So if you’re with me, you know what to do.
If you liked the show make sure to like and subscribe and leave a review and don’t forget tell your friends to listen.
January 20th was Inauguration Day 2021, a day many have fought for, a day many prayed for and a day some hoped would never come. And while Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are making history in their own ways, it’s still just a day.
An important day, a historical day but a day nonetheless.
They have both made many promises that I hope will inspire and be held accountable for creating a catalyst for change but they are not the only source, by any means. Creating leadership that looks and feels like the population it represents is an admirable goal and leading by example is a powerful force for change but we still have so much work to do.
Even now, 3 in 4 Republicans believe Joe Biden didn’t win the election legitimately according to Newsweek.
How hard will it take to work together when they don’t feel you belong?
It makes it that much harder to do anything: to encourage innovation, create any meaningful change, and be able to be empowered enough to bring initiatives to the forefront.
Biden’s ‘Healing of America’s Soul’, will feel resistance when many don’t believe his legitimacy. But the way will be paved a little bit smoother with a slight margin in Congress but a return to bipartisanship. Which is basically the buy-in he needs in order to make things happen his way, but there still needs to be a lot of work done to mend those relationships because Trump’s rhetoric has really damaged them, the collaborative spirit and even the idea of progression doesn’t need to be an uphill battle.
So then what? What’s the point of progress if since Obama, things have been done to reverse a lot of what he did. Trump’s election, in fact, was a reaction to Obama. And in his first days, Biden reversed Trump policies as well. So is this what reactionary politics looks like?
So where do we go from here?
Let’s not forget this moment…
It was like the release of a breath you didn’t know you were holding.
Now that’s there’s talks of the vaccine, a sense of normalcy seems to be within sight, but don’t forget what we learned in 2020.
It’s possible to change, traditional industries were quick to adapt to work at home situations, given that they didn’t believe it was possible before.
People will no longer stand for performative Inclusion and Belonging efforts, this means…
–Volunteer Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion piled on top of your workload? With no pay and no help?
– Working on initiatives that are siloed in HR and don’t apply to the organization as a whole?
–Creating data backed, employee-driven resources that sit on someone’s desk collecting dust?
This is what happens if we don’t take this opportunity to fundamentally change and make progress in our organizations, how we show up for ourselves and those we work with.
What happens if we don’t use this opportunity for Change
The burden of creating organizational change should not fall on your marginalized employees. That not only creates emotional and mental burdens they may not be prepared for, but it increases the isolation and the feeling of exclusion.
In regards to the bottom line?
Higher Absenteeism, Lack of Engagement, Loss of Productivity, Higher Turnover
That’s billions of dollars in refusing to fix the actual problem. It’s not the pipeline, it’s not the skill set, it’s the toxic work cultures we idealize that do not create Brave Spaces of Intentional Inclusivity and Fierce Belonging.
If you’re interested in using the momentum of this moment and embrace change in your organization- reach out!
What happens when today looks the same as yesterday, can we call it change?
This is the second half of my interview with Mari Corona, artist, photographer and writer from LivinginMommyWood and Visions by Mari– Do check out her work, it’s stunning!
How do we heal as a community? Healing our communities first then dealing with the oppressive systems. A novel idea? I’m not sure but I know that I love the concept, because I, too, need to heal from being ostracized and outcast from my community.
It’s not enough to simply create spaces of inclusion, because inevitably there will be some that don’t want to authentically share their stories with those that have not only benefited from the system but in many ways have used the system to oppress others.
In understanding how my need for assimilation has made it in some ways easier to navigate in white spaces. If you can’t beat them, join them? I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one. The only one that gets home and removes the burden of their “white voice” or corporate persona for their true self- whatever that might be.
This in-between area of not belonging to neither here nor there. I found myself being too brown for some people, not brown enough for others.
If you don’t know better, how can you do better?
We have this opportunity in front of us, that are so much different than our parents, different than our ancestors. One of my friends like to say, “We are the dreams of our ancestors”, and I love that! There’s no way in hell that our ancestors, having lived the lives they had could have ever envisioned the lives we are now living. But what it means when we are on our own healing journeys, it is up to us to reach out and learn how to grow and heal, because that burden that was imposed upon us by our parents, grandparents, etc is seen in the ways we as a community, we as people, understand the world.
Even if you don’t know exactly what the trauma is, I know that as good-intentioned as you may be, there is something in your collective understanding of the world that makes it difficult to process or it makes it so that we are habitually pulling out a negative behavior.
Maybe it was a trauma instilled in us as a child, when we first learned something was wrong. Or maybe it was a trauma we dealt with as a youth, maybe in school or with other children in the playground, where we felt there was something wrong with me. Or maybe it was in young adulthood where our self-worth began to crumble when we began to judge ourselves by others’ standards.
However you came to be whoever you are in this world, I encourage you to explore, to rediscover who you were meant to be because at the end of the day if you are better as a person, as a leader, as whatever it is you are in this world or however you present yourself in this world you are only going to improve those around you as well.
Podcast episode interview with Mari Corona, of Living in MommyWood
This week I’m so excited! I am doing an interview Mari Corona, photographer and writer who empowers, motivates and inspires through images and words. So powerful! But that’s not the only reason- she’s also a strong advocate of Holistic Wellness, Self-Care & Creativity & using these mediums as Art Healing Therapy tools for manifesting her Best life.
And that’s what we’re getting into this week.
If you’d rather listen to the episode because it is so powerful, you can take a listen from the link below!
So you know there’s a lot to unpack.
This is a conversation that is full of truth, vulnerability, and intentionally aligning with who you are meant to be through the art of healing.
And that deserves a full break down and a full breadth of insight and peeling apart the layers.
And because today was the 46th Inauguration and we now have our first Madam Vice President I thought I’d share with you a letter I wrote for my daughter.
A Letter to my Daughter, on this Most Historic Day: Kamala Harris, a Woman of Color is Madam Vice President!
Today, was the Inauguration of the 46th president of the United States. While that’s significant, it’s not usually earth-shattering in my world.
But this time it’s different. This time there’s hope on the horizon.
For one, we are stepping out of the fog that was the 45th President, full of divisive language and rhetoric that created dangerous factions of unrest.
It was a constant test of just doing the next right thing- just like Anna says.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it sometimes took a source of strength I don’t think most are capable of exerting, so we fell into the norm of combative discourse.
The constant arguing and fighting was incessant. Maybe that word is too big but it was just constant.
But do you know what today means?
Today means that darkness has not won, it has not stayed. We proved we are capable of falling and getting back up.
There’s a healing that needs to happen, not just within the US but worldwide.
It’s a powerful feeling when you’re able to look back on the other side of trauma. We as people carry that around us, for so long. We feel resentful, angry, triggered by so much these days but those wounds didn’t begin in adulthood. They may not have even begun in your lifetime.
If you haven’t seen Frozen, just listen to the song The Next Right Thing from Frozen 2- it’s deep in the way you can express trauma and depression to children.
Just do the next right thing. Take a step, step again. It is all that I can to do. The next right thing. I won’t look too far ahead. It’s too much for me to take
Anna, The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Let’s All Do The Next Right Thing
Change doesn’t happen overnight, if it’s true, impactful and heals- it’s going to take time. That’s why it’s so important to heal before we move forward. And I mean really heal, not tout to the masses that they need unity. That’s just hiding the real problem underneath rhetoric without doing the real work.
Healing is uncomfortable and hard, because you have to pick at scabs you thought had healed but you just forgot about them. Or tried to, but I’m sure they came up in other ways. In lashing out at others, mistrust, hate, living with an angry cloud overhead.
I really believe we all resonate at a vibration unbeknownst to us, learned behavior molds and shapes how that vibration grows but when you are doing the work of healing, it really is beautiful on the other side.
Today we’re talking healing from trauma, we’re talking affirmations and prayer and manifestation for a better 2021 going forward.
If you’re interested in listening to the podcast version, click below!
Are we ready for change?
Today we’re talking healing from trauma, were talking affirmations and prayer and manifestation for a better 2021 going forward.
My name is Jessy Santana and I’m an organizational culture strategist, entrepreneur, mother. This is The Way We Work podcast, where we discuss all things at the intersection of knowledge-seeking curiosity, entrepreneurship and social impact.
After what happened last week at the Capitol Hill, if you call it insurrection, domestic terrorism, lunacy, misguided patriotism or outright xenophibic racism- it was a lot.
For me, watching it was so triggering. Literally, watching an open attack on what would normally have been a very boring process. Watching it and staying glued to the screen brought me back to high school, where we spent the entire day watching the Twin Towers fall and the devastation that followed. The visceral imagery of that mob full of anger and hate just broke my heart in a way I wasn’t ready for. Obviously not on the same scale but the trauma felt the same.
It also didn’t help that I had to also explain what has happening to my Chinese husband and Mother in law. And of course, the constitutional reasons as to why they were allowed to be there in the first place and the institutional racism and mismanagement that could have prevented it from happening. It was the most exhaustive American Government class I didn’t know I was going to give.
Fast forward and we’ve got impeachment again, as a form of accountability but does it really matter to someone that doesn’t seem to care or feel remorse for the situation. And without someone wanting to change can they really do so?
So a wonderful way to start the new year and I had such high hopes for the peaceful transition as its been called. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll be written in the history books and hope that they were on the right side. Moving on because I don’t have the energy to peel away the layers and layers of bullshit.
If we have never met before you may not know this about me but I am insatiably curious which has its benefits but also it’s faults. I am amazing at trivia- full of knowledge that doesn’t do much for the average person. But I am driven to learn for learning sake and the problem is that I can pour so much of myself into my learning that is sometimes doesn’t have a purpose it doesn’t Benefit me in whatever in someway I just learned this new random knowledge or skills. But this year I’ve decided to be intentional because I am more conscious of my time and my energy and I cannot give it away.
I came across a beautiful NYT article on “How to Rewire Your Traumatized Brain”, that spoke about a book entitled The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” by Bessel van der Kolk, as a way for the author to understand her visceral reactions, her words, to the process of remembering her trauma.
“Dr. van der Kolk wrote on the three avenues for recovery: “top down, by talking, (re-) connecting with others, and allowing ourselves to know and understand what is going on with us”; “taking medicines that shut down inappropriate alarm reactions”; and “bottom up, by allowing the body to have experiences that deeply and viscerally contradict the helplessness, rage, or collapse that result from trauma.” Survivors usually need some combination of the three methods, writes Dr. van der Kolk, but the latter — the mind-body connection — is most neglected. His work is predicated on integrating body-focused treatments into trauma recovery work, like yoga, role-play, dance and meditation. Another method he suggests is writing and keeping a journal.”
This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 2020 and into 2021.
Especially as we start another round of lockdowns and curfews here in Montreal, I have noticed my greater level of resistance and anxiety.
These Are Things I’m Doing to Heal from Trauma
I meditate and pray. It sounds simple but it’s harder than it sounds. Sitting in silence is harder than it seems. Letting your mind wander and come back to your breath or using guided meditation. One of my new favorite apps is insight timer and there’s thousands of teachers and free courses or short audios that can help with anything from anxiety to sleep. It’s really amazing.
I also am a big believer in writing. Getting the thoughts out of your brain as if you were emptying a jar to be reused again but at least the thoughts got out. My favorite time to journal is in the quiet of the morning. If I can get some writing done before the rest of the house is awake- it makes me so much productive and at ease.
Movement- like Dr. Van der Kolk describes you just need something physical to get you out of your mind. Don’t sit in it. Or if you have find a way to get out. This one is harder because hibernation has set in but just find 30 minutes somewhere. They don’t have to be consecutive. Just 10 minutes here and there and you’ll be gold. For me, blasting some good dance music and doing some Zumba moves or dancing with my husband and daughter definitely clear the cobwebs. How could it not?
Some other things I do are affirmations. These are sayings or phrases you repeat in order to restructure your thinking. That’s how I see it anyway. It’s powerful once you start allowing yourself to begin the journey of healing. It sounds ridiculous but sometimes the affirmations we have already said to ourselves so many times before- this is just how I am, if you’re not for me then you’re against, I’m not good enough.
Those are all harmful affirmations that we tell ourselves over and over until they become truth. And once you allow yourself to begin believing even before you believe, to start working towards this mindset things are just going to start happening.
So if you head over to my IG @theway_wework you’ll see some of the healing affirmations I have been using and I’ll also post it on the website, here!
What are manifestations? Manifestations are the action that we take upon the positive affirmations that we tell her selves. Again Affirmations are sometimes called mantras sometimes or called prayers sometimes they’re the negative misnomers or stereotypes that we start to believe about ourselves. We say things like this is how I am or I can never change or one of the worst ones there’s something wrong with me.
We can all acknowledge that nobody’s perfect but for some reason there has been an a simulated idea of perfection that has caused us to believe in an ideal an ideal of relationship, and ideal of what we should look like, and ideal of who we are meant to be. And the problem with ideals is it they are unachievable by nature that’s what makes them ideal. Nobody sees the blood sweat and tears that happens before they walk on stage.
Nobody sees the depression or the days of not getting out of bed because it’s just too hard. Nobody seems to want to talk about the times where we over consumedOn things that we know are bad for us but we chose them anyway.
Once you start positive affirmations and you start telling yourself good will happen, I am enough, I can heal again and again until you believe it. You will start doing things in your best interest by default because that default will be reprogrammed.
You are rewriting the foundational work on which to build a more resilient and powerful you. I believe it because it’s working for me.
We are all works in progress but if we work on ourselves to heal in our own bodies. The outside world can bring about its worst but human potential will be limitless. We just have to understand it won’t be easy, it will hurt and it may seem easier to give up but the transformation on the other side is where the real magic begins.
Yesterday, was a dark day in American History, no matter where you were entertainment was halted as a seemingly normal business day where the state of affairs was meant to be bumpy but proceed with very little fanfare. That was not the case as during the middle of proceedings and even in mid-sentence pro-Trump supporters gained access to the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
While it was shocking, was it surprising?
What happens when you force-feed individuals political rhetoric that subverts, hides and even outright lies? What happened yesterday was the culmination of deep-rooted hate, misinformation, and baseless lies filtered through algorithms whose sole purpose is to match like to like (meaning based on your online persona, they handhold you to places of distrust).
Like 9/11, this is a traumatic event and for me, that same feeling of shock and heartbreak over institutions and safety. The triggers are all there: incessantly watching the news all day for fear of missing something important (we spent the day watching and I had to explain the historical, cultural, and political significance of the moment to my Chinese-born family), reaching out to family and friends to try and understand the chaos, and trying to cope using better mental health practices (which I wish I had known then).
What Happens Now
This morning, there’s more coverage trying to make sense of the what, how, and who and every possible angle of what occurred yesterday.
Understand this: There are people throughout the world who saw the events yesterday as a collectively triggering and traumatic event.
For people who may have first-hand knowledge of riots and toppled governments. For people that see what is occurring in the US as another notch in the continuous onslaught of hate and exclusion. For people like me, that work in Inclusion and Belonging, and think of our children and the work we do may not be enough, not nearly enough.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Look Within and Reach Out
Know that yesterday’s events were an act of hate- plain and simple. I had trouble sleeping so this morning wrote a letter to my daughter on my personal blog because I worry about the kind of world we are creating for her.
If you need help to process, like I do- reach out. There are so many of us that are simply in shock, not surprise, but still shocked.
If you have access to mental health services or a counselor or therapist- reach out.
If you are impacted, let your employer know because they should also be reaching out- no matter who you are.
Employers Reach out to your Employees
Sometimes we get caught up in our titles and create this division of authority that separates us, but we are all people. People with feelings, ideas, and different understanding of the way the world works but no matter your political affiliations- we are people.
And just beneath the surface of all that hate- is hurt.
We need to stop pretending and spreading this false narrative that strength means aggression, that we need to be take from others in order to have, and we need to hurt others in order to heal ourselves.
Sorry, it does not work that way.
Know that you will lower levels of efficiency today, less engagement and more emotional and mental distress amongst your employees because we all experienced trauma and have yet to have processed it.
I am not a mental health professional, but I know being silent on this will cost you.
I leave with these words from Seth Meyers, who was angered and shaken by yesterday’s events.
After some much needed emotional and mental healing I’m back and rejuvenated for this new year of the culture-driven leader!
If you’d rather listen to the podcast- click on the link below!
This time of year is always filled with new plans, new goals and passions we want to make happen this year because this will be the year different from all years before it right?
I’m a big fan of shaking the cobwebs and learning from what didn’t work before and how we might improve? So what’s the obsession with resolutions? Is it appropriate when we may not know what the year may hold? This year or any year? How different are we on January 1st from December 31st?
That amount of pressure to put on ourselves and those around us never sat well with me but what we can do is understand where we are and where we want to be and how to get there.
In this week’s episode we’re doing a deep dive into behavior change. What does it look like and if we can achieve it?
My Plans…are you in?
Things I’m working on and how you can be a part of the process but first, some strategies for intention setting instead of resolutions we’ll never hear from again.
Making decisions can be difficult for many when we have so many options in front of us. The dental care aisle is my worst nightmare with it’s myriad of choices that differ very little from each other. Mint or spearmint? Green or blue? Does it really matter?
But when it comes to hard decisions actual decisions that impact your life from what to study, what industry to go for work, if the job is worth the micro aggressions or the slow mediocre promotional track?
According to Ruth Chang, a philosopher and a professor of jurisprudence at Oxford University, she has this theory on decision making that I love.
First, what’s the difference between a big choice and a hard choice?
Big Choice: Life-saving surgery is big but not usually hard if you want to continue living. Right?
Hard Choice: Two decisions that are very similar- two jobs, living in two different cities, etc. Both have pros and cons but neither is definitively better than the other, but choosing one and committing to it is the part that makes it hard.
While choosing one and wistfully regretting not taking the road less traveled makes the decision process unbearable.and for many it makes us live life with a feeling of regret or contemplating if we’ve made the right choice for ourselves.
This insecurity in decisionmaking is a long believed stereotype of millennials among others but can often derail us completely if not riddle us with anxiety over our big life decisions.
Be the Author of your life. Author being an acronym for
A is ascertain what’s important. Who’s opinion matters such as your parents or if there’s a certain goal or career type you’re looking to achieve. Totally get both of those angles.
U is for understand the pros and cons with respect to what matters. But remember these are options that may be similar in standing so finding those deep pros and cons may be more difficult than we realize.
T is for tally up the pros and cons, another not small feat depending on the hard decision.
H is for hone in on the fact that it’s a hard choice- the options are on par with each other no option is definitively better than another. Choosing a promotion in Germany vs taking the same position at another company for some may be relatively similar depending on career plans but they are both relatively great options as long as you keep A in mind.
O is for open yourself up to the possibility of making a commitment, this is where Chang lays it down. Commitment in making a choice makes all the difference.
R is for remake yourself as someone who or realize yourself as someone who has committed to a choice. If you choose the Germany position, you would have to be a person that has committed to agreeing to a promotion in Germany versus being a person that takes the same job at another organization. Neither is bad but they both have very different potential realities.
As a person that spent 6 years in a foreign country I know this very near and dear to my heart. Had I stayed, I might be in the same circles that I was in before I left like most people I found from back home. But the alternative? Let me to meet my husband, now have a daughter and be with you now living in my 4 country.
What I love about this strategy for decisionmaking is that she’s not telling you what to do- that’s up to you. But what she is saying is that commitment is key. Realize yourself as a person that is this person.
How does this relate to new year plans and behaviour?
We all know that intention is only a piece of the puzzle. You hope to make a change this year? Great but how can you actually do so? You have to commit to that change.
Easier said than done right?
Of course, everything that requires introspection and commitment always is.
So what if we took that same level of commitment for something we wanted to achieve this year? It can be anything but it should be something you actually want and are willing to commit to.
It doesn’t have to be big. Start small. Use those smart goals we all know about.
Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound.
I was able to achieve so much of what I planned on in 2020 because I started prioritizing and learning strategic methods of working on the one thing.
Highly suggest it because the truth is not all lists are created equal, learning to prioritize and figuring out what works best for you is the number one way to learn how to change behavior. It doesn’t happen all at once, it may not happen as quickly as you hoped but if you commit and allow yourself to learn from the process, it’ll make all the difference.
For Organizations and Employees
Another note as employees return from holidays and staycations because let’s face it where did we go? But anyway, remember all those commitments and intentions that companies set out for themselves last year? Increasing and retaining more diverse talent, working to close the gender equity gap, equal pay for equal work, promoting more people of color to c-suite, etc. At the bare minimum releasing their diversity numbers so you know who you’re getting into bed with.
Now that the new year has started remind them that those intentions still need to be held accountable. DEI is not new but its priority has slipped from many organizations’ front page.
It happens to the best of us, we move on- especially when we are not directly impacted by it. We need to make sure to remind our employers and the organizations we work in that it matters to all of us because inclusion is not only the burden of people of color or marginalized peoples. It really is the responsibility of everyone.
We all know innovation happens when we bring in new ideas our products speak to our customers in better ways, our bottom line increases because at the end of the day inclusion means being intentional and choosing to remake yourself as the person or your organization as that which has made the commitment to inclusion and not regretting that choice. Because the alternative no longer exists.
If you’re interested in the worst case of online misogyny I’ve ever seen professionally- scroll down to the last section.
It Was Good Until It Wasn’t…
If you don’t know the Web Summit conference, you might want to get on board. Luckily for me, it was online this year and I was able to attend from my living room. It’s all about tech, startups, business, and this year- I don’t know if it was me or what but the AI talk was everywhere!
This reaction right here!
If you don’t understand AI, you’re not alone
AI seemed to be a big hot topic at the Web Summit conference this winter and everything from startups and politics were talking about it. It’s the flashy new toy on the trendy tech block.
This is the easiest way to understand it that I’ve come across, it’s data management. Pure and simple. It’s taking heaps and heaps of data and compiling, organizing, and applying it to whatever it is that you want it to do- the idea that eventually it will become an autonomous compiling and applying.
This is the thing I don’t understand- why hide it in secrecy? If you can’t explain to someone in a way that they understand you are creating a level of exclusivity that is inherently discriminatory. If you laugh at someone trying to understand the applications of AI that may benefit their entrepreneurial aspirations- the buck stops there. Right?
I don’t know- something about that just rubbed me the wrong way. Especially when it came to online networking- speed networking by the way that made it good if you weren’t clicking because you didn’t have to and also good in figuring out quickly if you wanted to continue the conversation.
For me, it was a great way to validate some things- I was able to quickly introduce myself and judge reactions to what words I used. (Always a research at heart).
My Online Roundtable Experience
This was fun! I was on a panel on Leading your Organization with Empathy and Abundance. It was riveting- you know I’m a big fan of empathy at work! We had an engaging discussion led by Danielle DeRuiter Williams, from the Justice Collective in the US, on intersectional inclusivity, what companies were doing right in 2020, and what they still needed to be doing moving into 2021.
We covered neurodiversity, flex scheduling, mental health and accessibility! It was a lot for an hour but everyone was contributing left and right and doing so in a way that inspired me! I was so glad to be a part of it.
There were other panels: Inclusion in Tech, AI possibilities, etc. There is so much happening right now in people trying to create change in the tech industry which is amazing to see, but let not the momentum fizzle out.
Even the speed networking mingle, was entertaining- if it was on the verge of awkward at least it was only 3 minutes and if you were enjoying the conversation you had the option to connect and if they felt the same way you would be given each others’ contact.
Some Parts that Always Disappoint
Pre-recorded interviews are boooooring! There’s little engagement unless you count people in the chat complaining about the fact the video was pre-recorded. Once they move on from that there tends to be criticism- no point in keeping it quiet, the speaker isn’t going to see it.
In order to make up for it, there were often Q&As after the pre-recorded session which was live but depending on the notoriety of person, some or most Q&As like Microsoft or Facebook still left much to be desired. Which was understandable, it’s not like the audience always get their questions answered in person at the conferences.
The Greatest Disappointment
This was something that although it’s talked about in many circles I had yet to experience it, not having had to pitch in front of investors before. Throughout the conference, several startups pitched their ideas throughout various portions. There was one block that was all about the 40 word pitch. Man, condensing your startup’s business into 40 words? That is a feat unto itself.
There was a healthcare startup led by a male founder, who pitched to an all-male judge panel. Now that is not the biggest issue, I get the numbers are not in our favor for much diversity in VC firms but the kicker was that after the healthcare application and the judges questions were presented i.e. their interest in the startup or their reservations.
The second startup was a female founder speaking on recycled fashion- and immediately the mood changed for the judges. They were no longer jovial and with an air of ease. The founder, albeit was very excited about her venture and it showed, the judges’ response? Make an off-putting remark about being a zodiac sign- apparently making a joke in some way of the founder?
It was the most disgusting display of professional misogyny I have ever seen!
It was like they forgot they were on-screen and had slipped into private boys clubs where girls weren’t allowed and with a clearing of the throat remembered where they were. They then proceeded to ask completely ridiculous questions predicated on the fact that none of them knew anything about fashion-duh! I could tell by their polo-induced comas. And the second hesitation was that they weren’t sure of the validity of recycled fashion and whether or not people would be into it.
Really? Ever heard of Rent the Runway or Posh? and others I’m sure.
It was as if they heard fashion, saw it was a woman and grumbled to themselves, “Oh no no no, can’t touch that- fashion doesn’t affect everyone.” I’m hearing the voice of that Oh no no laugh meme that was flying around a while back.
It was like seeing a real life pig fly across the sky- I’d heard the expression but didn’t believe it really existed.
Now I’m not an expert on body language but since being at home for 9-10 months, a year- I’m not sure. But it’s made me super paranoid about my background and surroundings- something I take note of while I’m on a call- oh and how I’m presenting myself, if I’m not the one talking. No booger scratches here please 🤦🏽♀️!
Other than that it was a great opportunity to learn all about Europe’s tech, its limitations and opportunities and to meet and speak with people I normally would not have come across. It’s always a learning experience I love.
If you want to stay connected, check out our social on IG and Twitter @theway_wework and if you have any questions email us at TheWayWeWorkOfficial@gmail.com
Would love to hear from you!
Yours in kind,
Jessy Santana, Founder & Principal, The Way We Work
It’s November! And we are so close to the end of the year- It’ll be here before we know it! And although this year has felt like the longest year known to man- I promise it circled the same amount of times around the sun.
So instead of focusing on the discomfort, the negativity that may still be trying to seep in, I’m interested in looking up and forward- and these are just some of the things I’ve recently loved, kind of hated (you’ll see why) but still learned from, and thought you might enjoy too- especially since I’m told we’re still in this together!
So what else do we need for the end of the year, the beginning of winter (we just had our first snowfall this week and I wasn’t ready for it!), and all the things that will envelop us in warmth until the beginning of 2021?
If you’re late to the social justice train and opted out this summer- maybe it’s time for a reality check. It’s always a good idea to curl up with a good book that makes you think and just a bit uncomfortable- let’s face it we need to rock the boat!
We need a little deep thinking and discomfort- even if it’s with ourselves and this book delivers!
It puts things into perspective about why the conversation is difficult to begin with and why some opt-out but with 2020 bringing into light all kinds of social injustices I don’t know that we can really opt-out anymore.
If you’re more of a Netflix fan, Over the Moon, a movie about a Chinese family dealing with loss, a little girl believing in something and the idea that family can change- and if you’re seperated from yours it’s a nice movie about believing in yourself and family.
And if you’re still on the fence about things maybe this will help you, The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden by Frontline. This docu-series didn’t illuminate things that I hadn’t heard before but it’s a great piece on these two different men who are running for office in a competition for the highest office in the land.
Great Voices to Listen to!
This post by Patrice Palmer on Linkedin gave me the all the feels when it comes to what they describe as Accomplice and how are they different from Allies. There are many right now that disagree on the words but the sentiment is the same- we don’t have the time to sit around and wait for change to happen, we need people who are going to Pull Up!
One of my favorite songs right now is Know Your Worth by Khalid and Disclosure. The stand-alone single really holds up and with the lyric: Find someone who loves you at your worst. It really says a lot about what kind of relationships we need right now i.e. Ride or Die kind, especially during isolation.
I know it’s hard out there and things can seem bleak, but as my affirmation app this morning reminded me “Nobody but Me Decides How I Feel”.
This year has been full of deep change, some necessary others out of our control, but when we look back at this year I don’t want to say this was a lost opportunity. That we learned to survive yes, but that’s it. We didn’t learn to have hard conversations about what kind of culture we want to create within our corporate walls.
Instead, let’s take this opportunity to do just that! Learn to use this moment, full of change, uncertainty and potential to create and strategize what we want the future to look like.
So here are 5 conversations you should be having with your staff- right now! Don’t wait until 2021 to figure out how to move forward. By then it may already be too late!
1. What are our Problems?
This is an open call question that requires input either as a town hall, if people are feeling brave or as an anonymous survey. Please, please don’t single your employees of color to answer questions about race, identity, etc. The intention may be good, but the optics isn’t. While this may be an opportunity for open discussion and dialogue, you want to make sure you have the resources and the guidance you need for this happen, without the learning happening in one direction.
2. Who’s Leading the Charge?
Do not assume because someone is of a marginalized group that they want to be a part of the conversation. For some, the heightened scrutiny and attention may seem more like tokenism and will in the end be unproductive rather than the well-intentioned level playing field it needs to be.
3. Who’s at the table?
If you don’t have a Diversity and Inclusion position and you’re not sure where to start- find a resource. Whether it’s a consultant, a webinar, or even a book club, or fill the position with someone that knows what they are doing. Someone who has an interest is a great start, but if you’re promoting from within make sure that they have the resources in order to make their position impactful.
4. Do we need a full-time position?
I know it may seem a big undertaking for many companies in transition but the hard truth is that most companies need the position and if you’re not ready yet, to find a consultant they can work with that will guide you in the direction you should be going. Diversity and Inclusion is not new as a position but as we know most positions don’t have the full authority to exact change throughout an organization, or their positions are relegated to HR-centered positions (I have my own theories as to why this is wrong) but the brief is that in order to create in Inclusive environment, there needs to be a re-thinking of what the company’s strategies, processes, and operations need to do in order to change company culture. That may require more than just a department-specific function.
5. Are We Ready to get in the Trenches to Make Inclusion a Priority?
Like all departments of a company, I believe inclusion is just as important. If things go badly, you don’t cut operations or strategy, you learn to pivot. When 2020 changed how most traditional firms work, we didn’t just shutter our doors and give in. We paused, created a plan of action and dealt with the changes we could control. The same goes for Inclusion. It’s not a band-aid fix to a moment, it’s a long process that creates impactful change throughout an organization for years to come. It can lead us forward as a leader in our respective industries or like many that will not survive 2020, it can be the resistance to change that will ruin us. We cannot pretend we can go back to business pre-Covid, that past no longer exists. What we can do is understand this moment and create the innovation and strategy that will propel us forward through 2020 and beyond! This is not short-term work, it’s life’s work.
We have a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take a lot of un-learning, learning and uncomfortable conversations but if we’re willing to put in the work, creating a more inclusive and innovative corporate culture is within our reach!