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!
Why is it so difficult to genuinely care about our colleagues?
After the events of last week, the Insurrection at Capitol Hill, I was surprised by how many people reacted by saying don’t ask me how I feel about it. Conflict is hard, but it is also an opportunity for growth- if we allow it to be. That means being honest about what this moment was for all of us and not hiding behind the rhetoric.
I know that conversations can sometimes make us feel like there’s no point, we’ve had the same conversations over and over again. Screaming at the top of our lungs saying Racism is a real thing in the US, not a figment of our imagination.
I don’t think anyone can look at those rioters and say there wasn’t anger there, blame and hate. In whatever they got swept into the mob mentality, it was too late for many of them to know how to say no, and they should be met with consequences.
But for the rest of us, there’s another choice entirely.
Xenophobia aside, we have gotten to a place in the US where we can not genuinely care for each other. We cannot genuinely and authentically learn from each other. We cannot share hopes and visions for a better tomorrow.
That’s the lie we have been told.
There is no greatest shared experience than our humanity. We all hurt, we all want consoling and we want others to care about what we care about- it’s human nature.
Bringing Humanity Back into our Work
I don’t know when it was decided that we were all meant to be stone-faced cold-hearted cogs in the machine, unfeeling during our 9-5s even through adversity.
I admit, whenever I felt emotional at work- I hid out in the bathroom until the moment passed. But why? Why is it inappropriate to care about our fellow human beings that we work with? Especially when we spend more time with them than our own families? To me, it doesn’t make sense.
Professionalism, shouldn’t mean we can’t have intentional conversations about the state of the world. We need to because the world affects us all. If you need a mediator, find one.
But understand this, no matter the political affiliations, everyone was affected by what happened at the Capitol. We all experienced a collective trauma and if you watch the news at all- it may be on continuous loop.
If you need guidance in having Intentional Conversations for Change check this out!
3 Signs That You May Need to Ask for Help
This is hard, because we have all been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness- it’s not. It’s a sign of personal awareness, knowing our limitations.
If you feel anxious, can’t concentrate and find it hard to stay on task- it may be time to ask for help.
Trauma, and we cannot say this moment in history is not a collective acute trauma and until we feel safe, it will continue to harm those most vulnerable.
Feelings of being unsafe in your bodies or relationships
If you’re feeling the way I am, it can be difficult to understand the state of the world right now. Feeling as if you are not safe from your anxious thoughts, relationships with those around you are affected and you may be wary of those around you. Do what you need to keep your energy and yourself safe, whatever that means for you.
We need to remember and mourn for what was lost
The process of grieving looks a little different for everyone. Some of us ignore it and push on, some of us focus on work and never look back, some of us find ourselves incapable of moving forward. What if there was an alternative?
We need to acknowledge what was lost: From the lives lost. A sense of safety in democracy. The naïveté that some had in assuming it couldn’t get worse, and therefore enabling the behaviors that led to this moment.
It’s ok to mourn for the loss of what we thought our world was.
Reconnecting and Integrating with a New Sense of Self
Who we were as a nation on January 5, 2021 is not the same as who are post-January 6, 2021. In the same way, we cannot go back to pre-Covid times and we shouldn’t want to. So many of us shy away from using conflict as an opportunity for growth, in ways that do not resolve anything but rather pushes down trauma so that it bubbles in destructive ways later.
Every time some thing happens that is traumatic and a source of pain or conflict, we have the habit of ignoring the conflict and finding immediate solutions to make the pain go away. While it may feel good in the moment, the pain has not been resolved- the hurt still lies there just below the surface.
Instead of ignoring the signs of trauma, reconnect and integrate with who you might be now. Are you a person that still supports the divisive rhetoric that could incite a mob to break into the Capitol Building? Are you a person that still refuses to acknowledge the deep divide between how people of color are treated by law enforcement is different, especially at scale? Are you a person that still believes the simplified versions of catchy lies that have no scientific backing or proof to stand on?
I know that I am a different version of myself in 2021 and I have not been able to focus as much as I was planning to thus far. I have not been to walk away from the ongoings on the news but the sake of my sanity, I need to.
These are things I am personally doing, in trying to heal from reliving the trauma of Capitol Hill.
Do not let the News be the first thing you listen to in the morning
Instead, I start my day with meditation and prayer. I am really loving the Insight Timer app. It has tons of teachers and guided meditations for all your needs.
Allow Movement to Get You Out of Your Head
I’m a big fan of movement to help you do something that’s not just cerebral. I spend the majority of my day thinking, I’m sure we all do, on what to write about, what to make for dinner, which marketing tool is better etc. Movement helps us to change our train of thought. In the same way, that we can lose our focus when the phone rings- we can use our brain’s ‘stop function‘ to distract ourselves for a bit.
That’s why I often play loud dance music and dance with my daughter or Zumba for the hell of it!
Do Something Fun
If Zumba isn’t your jam, try something you do find enjoyable. Spend time reading, creating art, doodling. Something that uses the creative parts of our brains. One of my favorite is drawing with my daughter and making cards for my 91-year old grandmother. If you can learn to get silly and step away from the hurt, it can help you on your journey of healing. But know that it’s temporary, but that’s ok. That’s what makes Joy special.
As we in Montreal, go into another lockdown, I’m practicing these not only to keep my monsters at bay but also because I’m worried. Not only for myself and what it means to be a US Citizen these days, but also for my daughter and what kind of world we are creating for her.
It may be too late for some, but I’m hoping reason will triumph in the end.
That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.
This holiday season will be difficult for everyone. There’s no doubt. Whether you’re staying home for safety’s sake or being forced to by the government of where you live. The holidays have never looked like this.
Even the years I spent in China, a country that saves its cheer for Chinese New Year, I could usually find a group of friends and a home or a karaoke to celebrate Christmas in. This year, however, the cheer has fizzled out of the grandeur that normally is the festivities this year.
I, for one can’t go home for Christmas, the border is still closed between the US and Canada. So my mother’s infamous Christmas party decorations and merriment will have to wait until next year. Replaced by my sad little tree and twinkle lights. Honestly, there’s no comparison but there’s also no presents because my husband doesn’t understand the concept of waiting to unwrap gifts and has opened every package that’s arrived- there goes the surprise!
We’ve been lucky and grateful in this year for many reasons, we’ve struggled but we’ve managed, others may be not.
Last summer when I started hosting the Beyond BLM: Actionable Steps for Change series, one of the panelists mentioned that no one had checked in with her just to see if she was ok, and it would have been incredible if someone had. When she felt she could handle going public, she did and the comments and calls of support followed, but the toll on her emotional and mental health had already occurred.
The holiday season is always one that is filled with a tinge of darkness just beneath the surface. We all get distracted by the holiday movies, the dinners and parties but loneliness is especially high during the holidays. I imagine this year, numbers will peak. Especially for those that may be quarantining alone.
Mental health has already become precarious in 2020. According to the Mental Health America, The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. Even in Canada, pre-Covid, 1 in 5 Canadians needed help with mental illness, according to the Canada Mental Health Association.
Don’t let the year finish without reaching out, if you do need help or even if you don’t. The worst feeling of regret is always wishing you had reached out to those you thought might be struggling.
Last week, I reached out to an old friend and she admitted that while she was at work all day, she found her off time had little activity and she was glad for the conversation. What was supposed to be a 30 minute discovery call ended up being an hour and a half, let’s talk about everything call.
I remember that feeling from the start of the pandemic when we saw no one, didn’t leave except for the weekly grocery run. My husband and I had to learn to speak deeply to each other again, not having done that in a while. Another reason to be grateful this year.
But reach out and genuinely speak with one person this year, it might benefit you more than you realize.
And if you need more than just a helping hand reach out to those services that offer more. There is no shame in realizing you need help, we all do in different ways.
This Is What Happens on Clubhouse… 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 … Read more
Is This The Possibility for Change… 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 … Read more
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 … Read more
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