The Positive Impact of Your Book on Others

Diversity Consultant and Author Rhodes Perry on the Unexpected Ways His Book Resonated With Readers Internationally

Invisible Stories Season 2 Episode 9 with Rhodes Perry

In today’s podcast I speak with the inspiring Rhodes Perry, entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Belonging At Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate An Inclusive Organization. With two decades of change management experience, Rhodes helps leaders from a broad range of sectors including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporations advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments by building psychological safety, trust and belonging in their organizations.

In this podcast, Rhodes talks about his journey to hybrid publishing, and how he found the support of the right people to be in his corner as his cheerleaders. Rhodes and I discuss:

  • The importance of having pre-readers who he trusted and admired to give honest feedback on the book before it went out into the world.
  • The unexpected and wonderful ways his book has resonated with readers globally.
  • How writing his own story led to further connection with trans and non-binary audiences, and how by sharing his views on the topic, he has helped others who relate to his voice, his perspective, and their shared experience.

Belonging At Work by Rhodes Perry

The world has taught so many of us to mistakenly believe that we’re undeserving of happiness or success, because of the simple fact of who we are.

“It’s virtually impossible to be successful in one’s work in any kind of group – be it a corporation, a deep-sea fishing crew, or a rock and roll band – without feeling a sense of belonging. Most of us have had the experience of working where we didn’t really fit in, and sure, we can pull in that paycheck for a while, make do, hang in there, but how long do those jobs ever last, especially if we want to be honest with ourselves or have a healthy work-life balance? It’s easy to say, ‘No job is ever perfect. You’re not supposed to like it; that’s why they call it work!’ But why settle for barely adequate productivity, creativity, or new hire return on investment when you can harness the synergy of belonging? Leaders and aspiring leaders who want to succeed should look to Rhodes Perry for inspiration and guidance. Belonging at Work really does matter” – Jamison Green, Ph.D., Author, Educator, Community Leader, and Corporate Executive

Belonging at Work empowers business leaders, change agents, visionaries, and those on their way to joining them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to build inclusive organizations. The personal stories, case studies, and practical strategies featured in the book offer everything you need to cultivate workplace cultures where all of your stakeholders can show up authentically and feel valued and respected for their contributions. Rhodes Perry’s visionary book serves as a blueprint for the future of work. His message inspires leaders at all levels within the organization to join the #BelongingMovement focused on positively impacting workplace cultures around the globe.

Belonging at Work helps you understand:

• What it means to belong.
• Why belonging matters to the future of work.
• How leaders can positively impact workplace culture.
• Where to find concrete strategies and connect with culture change thought leaders.
• Strategies to hold yourself accountable to be the change you want to see in the workplace.

Praise for Belonging At Work:

“Belonging at Work is long overdue. Rhodes Perry’s work is a testament to the power of living with authenticity at all hours of the day, at home and at work. Wherever you are in your journey of living an authentic, purposeful life, this book is a powerful tool that should be required reading in all workplaces that value diversity and full inclusion.”– James R. Nowlin, CEO of EGP Ventures, Keynote Speaker, and Best-Selling Author of The Purposeful Millionaire

“Rhodes Perry is an invaluable and important voice on our emerging understanding of what makes truly great workplace cultures: the ability for all of us to bring our full selves to work. He clearly lays out what gets in the way of this, particularly for those who are underrepresented, and historically undervalued, both from a personal lens of his LGBTQ experience, and on behalf of so many other lost and marginalized voices. Make no mistake, organizations and their bottom lines suffer from unexplored exclusionary practices. The book is full of practical examples of how we all have a role to play in redirecting the dynamics of exclusion, so that all in the workplace can thrive. A must read!” – Jennifer Brown, President & CEO, Jennifer Brown Consulting, and Best-Selling Author, Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change

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Key Takeaways

  • [00:00:26] Rhodes: [00:00:26] Sure. Well, uh, my name is Rhodes Perry. I use he, him, his pronouns and I am in the diversity equity and inclusion space. I often work with leaders, visionaries change makers who are really passionate about committing to principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, uh, folks who really want to build. [00:00:47] The organization’s built for tomorrow, uh, and may not be totally sure where to start. Or they may be one of the few people inside of their organizations who want that change and need some guidance on how to build, [00:01:00] um, more champions to make those kinds of changes. And I’ve been running my own business, doing this kind of work as a consultant for almost the past six years, five, six years. [00:01:11] So yeah, that feels really good. Um, we’re certainly in some really challenging times. Uh, times with large scale racial justice, uprisings, and more organizations making those commitments and recognizing that their audio kind of has to align with the video. So they’re these kind of lofty statements. Now there’s more pressure of people wanting to see action. [00:01:33] So it feels exciting to do the work. And, um, I know we’re going to be talking about my book belonging at work and. Uh, really grateful to have written that and to I’ve worked with your company to get that out there, because I feel like it’s a resource now that a lot of folks are turning to.
  • [00:02:19] Rhodes: [00:02:19] Yeah. So great question. And I think like most authors, many of us. Have more than a book in us. You know, I think I kind of download ideas by the day of like, Oh, here’s the three word title that Jen has coached me on. That could be great book. And, uh, so I knew, I knew very early on, even before I started my business, that I wanted to write a book.[00:02:41] Rhodes: Uh, I think it became clear after about the first year and a half that. One, you know, I had already, when I start and in my business, I was positioning myself as a thought leader. I had been doing this work nationally, so I really wanted to kind of download my approach, download kind of trends that I was [00:03:00] seeing, and also areas where a lot of leaders were struggling and just kind of share and put out in some, in a Written form a place to start, right? So if your organization doesn’t have the resources or even the internal support, how can you start thinking about doing this intentional culture change work now? Uh, and, and so I, I felt like from the day I started my business, I’m like, I should be writing this as I’m kind of writing all the other business documents just to get it out there. Um, And I was really fortunate to get connected with you early on in business, just in terms of how does an LGBTQ, the person start a business leading, you know, with both purpose, but being as authentic as we want to be in our own work. Uh, and you know, in a kind of connections in our masterminds, you were sharing your thoughts about starting your publishing company. I was like, okay. I like Jen, she’s amazing. I want to work with her in some way to figure out how to do the book piece. And I think at that time you had already written what, like [00:04:00] five books, or maybe you were on your sixth book at that point. So I was like, you know what you’re doing? So, um, I felt very fortunate. [00:04:07] To like both have the idea that then also surround myself with the right people of how to navigate. Do I want to go with a traditional publisher? Do I want to do this on my own? Are there other models that are out there? Yeah. You’re so thorough in everything that you do. So I was just, uh, I really appreciated that guidance around the decision making process itself, which you know, for different goals and what you want as an outcome for the book.[00:04:31] You know, each of those different pathways will lead you in a somewhat different direction. I think.
  • [7:15] Rhodes: I didn’t want to write something and just have it sit somewhere and maybe someone does a Google search. [00:07:20] Maybe they’re lucky enough to find it. So. I, I kind of landed somewhere in the middle. And that was, that was with your guidance of like, Hey, there’s this whole other thing of hybrid models, you know, where you can work with, you know, pros like yourself to kind of understand, um, Either kind of, you know, at a certain level of paying for services that you all could provide, or at least getting the information to do the self publishing side and, and still have a coach still have that support. [00:07:51] And that felt right to me that that kind of. Greatness, which I feel like that’s where I like living anyway is in this area of like, not that [00:08:00] either or, but you can have the book, uh, and that felt at least for what I want to accomplish with the book that felt right, because I wanted to write something that was a resource. [00:08:10] People could find it, it, and, um, and it was getting to the right audiences without me struggling with how do I market this? And, uh, and I think having that kind of coaching really. You know, kept me calm in addition to here’s how to do it in the process. You know, this kind of thing on that, on that personal side of putting something out there, which even if it’s a business book, there is a piece, a big piece of your heart and your own lived experiences that go into that. [00:08:39] And that feels really scary and vulnerable. And just to have people who’ve done it like yourself and your team, it’s like, okay, like I can do this. And. The hardest part truly is just hit that publish and put it out there.
  • [00:09:40] Rhodes: [00:09:40] Uh, well, it was, uh, to, to actually do it, to get to that point of publishing and putting it out there once on the other side of that, like hitting the button and it’s out. [00:09:50] Uh, it felt like a relief. It felt like, okay, like it’s there, you know? And now it’s up for, you know, it truly feels like a democratic [00:10:00] process. Now it’s up for the reader to read it. Review it and see, you know, did it have, you know, did I attain the goal, all that I originally set out to, to reach? And so, you know, that alone, you know, even kind of like with your coaching, even before the publish and you know, something that got the confidence up for me was having that team of pre-readers, you know, assembling the folks that. [00:10:23] You’re there, your mentors, there are people that you’ve learned from, there are people who are, you know, are learning from you, you know, like a whole, a whole blend and mix of, uh, important people, you know, at least in my life to, to experience the book before other folks. Had that opportunity and to get that kind of feedback, really quality, well, really quality critical feedback to make it stronger, but by and large people saying, wow, this is really well done. And I learned so much, and I learned so much about you through reading this in a way that I would have never learned had I not. Have this opportunity. So thank you. Uh, so that [00:11:00] gave a lot of confidence.
  • [00:11:23] Rhodes: And that to me was, uh, um, I will say it’s rewarding, but I feel like as an author, I should be able to describe this feeling, but, uh, um, I just. It’s just, it’s heartfelt, you know, it’s, uh, it inspires me to get over that fear in the future of continuing to do the writing, continuing to publish, because there’s, there’s a lot more that I know that I can share.
  • [00:13:17] Rhodes: A number of trans and nonbinary, people have reached out to say, thank you, thank you for sharing that, you know, this really resonated with me. And even for younger, younger, trans and nonbinary people who are so fortunate not to know that feeling, you know, um, and I hope that that’s growing, you know, every day, you know, um, just to, to really appreciate that history of, um, You know what the workplace was once like in, hopefully we’re turning, you know, we’re at a turning point where that becomes more of a distant memory. [00:13:52] Uh, that, that to me was really important. And one of the reasons why I wrote the book, um, the percentage of profit, uh, I [00:14:00] direct to local trans organizations focused on expanding economic opportunities for folks, um, uh, within trans and non binary communities.
  • [00:14:21] Rhodes: This book is available for people all around the world. And people from other cultures, you know, internationally are still resonating with some of the key themes in the book.[00:14:44] So yeah, that, that felt like that was completely unexpected and a pleasant surprise. And, um, And I feel like it’s just the beginning. I feel like in this moment, even though the book has been out since 2018, uh, people we’re still finding it and discovering it. [00:15:00] And right now I feel like it’s getting into resurgence because of the world.
  • [00:15:36] Rhodes: Marketing, you know, there’s a zillion, [00:16:00] different marketing books out there, but there’s, there’s one marketing book that was written by Jenn T grace about the LGBT community. [00:16:07] And that voice is just as important as Simon Sinek writing about your wire, what you know. So, um, so that gave me kind of the, um, I don’t know if it’s permission, but maybe more confidence of like my invisible story has the right to be seen. And it’s important that I kind of share my perspective on this because it could, it could really help someone who resonates with my voice, my perspective, maybe share similar experiences and has not seen a story like that out in the world.
  • [00:17:51] Rhodes: And similar for books, you know, it’s really important [00:18:00] for us, if we’re from an underrepresented community or maybe even our own individual experience feels like no one else in the world Can understand this, I can guarantee you someone else’s out there. And if you write it, you will be so surprised at the people who, who kind of get it. You know, they may not get your particular experience, but they could, they could speak a similar language and, uh, And who knows it might help you to build the kind of community that you’ve been waiting for. [00:18:27] So it’s, um, I know I went kind of all over there, but that’s a lot to say on that one.
  • [00:19:49] Rhodes: And, and I think like that piece, you know, kind of just circling back to when I was saying, you know, okay, so I’m another trans person writing about the workplace. And there, [00:20:00] it could be all 1.4 million trans nonbinary adults in the United States, plus, you know, writing our stories and still, I don’t think that it’s enough to make up for the number of stories of cisgender, as you say, like white, straight guys writing about their experiences of leadership in the workplace. [00:20:16] Right. So, um, so I’d say like, There’s room for all of us there’s room for all of us voices. And, and there’s an audience for you to, you know, so if you feel like, you know, you’re not that celebrity, you don’t have the following of 10 million people on Twitter or wherever you’re, you’re looking for kind of social, social proof of how. [00:20:38] Famous you are or not. Um, you know, if you put something out there, people will find it and, and, um, they’re gonna really appreciate you and the, the labor that you put into writing, um, and making sure that it’s exactly kind of framed as the way that you want it to, um, that’s [00:20:56] important.
  • [00:26:12] Rhodes: [00:26:12] Yeah, I think, um, I wish I knew entering the process that this is a starting place. You know, if you’re thinking about writing your first book, it’s not necessarily your only book. Right? So trust that the idea that you have for this book, Is good enough and that you will find that it will open the door if you want to take, accept the challenge. [00:26:39] I guess if you view it as a challenge or the invitation that there’s more to say, and that you have a whole lifetime to continue the path of being an author. And I would say it’s one of the most rewarding things when you accept that and that you’re open to it.

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