Leading Inclusive and Virtual Teams in this New Reality with Jenn T. Grace and Jennifer Brown

[00:00:00] Jenn: [00:00:00] Hey, Jen, how are you? 

[00:00:03] Jennifer B: [00:00:03] Okay, Jen, grace, how are you? 

[00:00:05] Jenn: [00:00:05] I am doing well. So I am Jen grace. And you are Jennifer Brown, looking at 

[00:00:11] Jennifer B: [00:00:11] the dens, 

[00:00:13] Jenn: [00:00:13] realizing that it’s not clear under our photos who was, who, but you know, it is what it is. So here we are. About to have a discussion about including, um, leading inclusive and virtual teams in this new reality, a new landscape that I think so many people are trying to figure out how to do.

[00:00:30] So where, where would you like to start? Well, I think 

[00:00:34] Jennifer B: [00:00:34] we should talk about how long we’ve led virtual teams. You and I respectively, uh, and I also want to full disclosure say Jen gets credit. My first book, the publisher, my first book, uh, when you check her out and, you know, for any aspiring authors that don’t know about Jen’s author process, I would steer you her way immediately.

[00:00:53] Um, but yeah, so I’m so, but Jen I’ve led a virtual team. As long as I’ve been in business. I actually have never had [00:01:00] physical offices. We have been all over the country in the world. We have. You know, communicate in every which way. And so I think I have a lot to share, however, and perfectly things might have been executed, um, because I don’t have all the answers, but I also would love folks to chat in and, and, you know, let us know your ideas also as Jen and I talk.

[00:01:19] So, um, we’re all gonna get smarter together as we cope with this. And, and my thoughts and heart goes out to. Um, all of us in this time, whether we’re business owners, corporate people, virtual, you know, parents trying to make it work right now. Um, people with job insecurity. Um, so I just wanted to say that this is, um, an, an unprecedented time and, and yet there are opportunities in this new configuration that we can ensure that teaming is still happening in a way, my personal interest in a way that’s inclusive.

[00:01:51] And that we don’t put that to the side right now. Which is the danger, I think because it’s, so everything is so urgent. And so right now, and how are we going to survive? Right? [00:02:00] And so I would argue valuing diversity and inclusiveness in what we build to get through this and how we come out of it is more important than ever, because this is a time when the most.

[00:02:11] Vulnerable among us are extra vulnerable. 

[00:02:14] Jenn: [00:02:14] Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And yesterday I was on video calls pretty much my entire day, which is not uncommon for me because we do lead virtual teams. And, you know, we, we manage our businesses virtually, so I’m on video all the time and I found so much hope. In the conversations that I was having with a lot of people yesterday.

[00:02:33] So yes, we’re in just a really crummy time 

[00:02:37] Jennifer B: [00:02:37] for everybody. 

[00:02:37] Jenn: [00:02:37] And I know, you know, even just earlier today I was, I was posting just different. Hey, if you contact Amex, you can do this. If you contact us when you can do this. Because I think for many of us as small business owners, we’re trying to figure out how to save anything that we can right now.

[00:02:51] But at the same time, we can’t be shortsighted on just focusing on. How do we save? How do we cut back? How do we, how do we do all these things? We also [00:03:00] have to be thinking about how we’re leading and how we’re showing up for the people who are around us and who are supporting us as team members. And I think that’s really kind of the crux of the conversation that we want to have today.

[00:03:11] And also, as you had said, hopefully we get some questions from other people. Cause obviously, you know, you and I are just riffing here and kind of, you know, who knows where this conversation will take us. But, you know, if there are legitimate questions that people have and just kind of advice, because like you said, you’ve been running a virtual team for as long as you’ve been in business.

[00:03:27] I can say the same. I started my business back in 2008, technically, and then there’s, you know, a lot of different iterations that it took over the years, but I’ve been managing a virtual team for a solid decade at this point as have you. So, you know, I think we’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way.

[00:03:43] Cause I think there’s a lot of people out there right now that have never worked from home before. 

[00:03:48] Jennifer B: [00:03:48] Wow. 

[00:03:49] Jenn: [00:03:49] Why don’t we even just start with that, right? Because just the concept of working from home, I have been working from my house since 2009, so it’s been 11 years since I had working out of my home, my home [00:04:00] office, or at least I have no space kind of dedicated for it.

[00:04:02] But I remember sitting in my living room with the, with right behind me being like a TV and my family sitting on the couch while I was trying to get work done, you know? And I think that for some people, just that whole concept is so foreign of how can I just. Sit at my desk and actually be productive right now.

[00:04:19] What are your, what are your thoughts around that? 

[00:04:21] Jennifer B: [00:04:21] Gosh, I mean, if you’re lucky enough to have a separate space, you know, and you’re not, you don’t have chaos happening behind you like you. Um, but for, for other, you know, you can get those big headphones, right. And, and really work and tune things out and focus.

[00:04:35] Um, I do think it’s an unprecedented, um, time for. Strangely. And I was really been thinking about this, is this a time where actually we will be brought closer because there is not that wall anymore that we can maintain in terms of image in a physical workplace. Right. I think there’s some things we, there’s an image we’re cognizant of that we’d create.

[00:04:57] Right. And, and, um, this is a [00:05:00] time I think, to let each other into each other’s lives. Um, and we teach the, the iceberg right in there, the water line and you see 10% above and 90% below. Can we actually practice vulnerability and authenticity, greater authenticity with each other? Can we cover less? Can we be more honest about what we need?

[00:05:17] Can we be dare I say it more honest about how we’re doing mental health wise and, and you know, how we’re being impacted and, and also just not hide our lives from each other anymore because. That’s what we’ve gotten so good at doing in the workplace. And it’s, so it’s actually in a weird way, like so harmful when we don’t bring our full selves to work, because then we don’t have an opportunity to really see each other, know each other.

[00:05:40] And for people that do what I do to build strategies for what’s really going on for people, if everybody’s hiding all the time, there’s no way we can kind of quantify what people’s actual reality is. And so you have this like, Mismatch of resources and attention and priorities. And that’s kind of the gap I’ve been trying to solve any way before this crisis.

[00:06:00] [00:06:00] I’m thinking, I’m thinking like, how can we do this with each other? You know, how can we create more safety virtually and kind of trust each other more right now? 

[00:06:08] Jenn: [00:06:08] Do you think that from a, from a safety standpoint or, or a being used standpoint, obviously one of the drawbacks of being in a virtual environment is that.

[00:06:17] Unless you force yourself to have social interactions with others. There could be days that you go that you don’t physically see another human that’s other than your spouse or kids or something like that. That is a reality for many of us that that work from home. But do you think that from an inclusion standpoint, there is an opportunity for people to feel like they are able to be them their full selves while they’re working for.

[00:06:44] An employer or contracting for someone in that virtual environment, more so than maybe in that confined office space that they might be in. 

[00:06:54] Jennifer B: [00:06:54] I mean, I think so. So we’re, we’re deprived of. Some of the visual cues, I [00:07:00] feel like, and this sort of water cooler chat and casual sort of meeting after the meetings stuff.

[00:07:06] And yeah, we’re all kind of communicating back channels, right. With technology. So, you know, often I’ll be on calls and I’ll be having the conversation on the side with someone because, you know, we’re trying to figure out how to navigate for it through a conversation. Right. But that can also be interestingly kind of an exclusionary.

[00:07:24] Way of using technology to, in a virtual realm, um, to sort of, um, have like the, the meeting alongside the meeting, like the real decision makers or your, you know, sort of influencing and you’re not being inclusive. So I think there’s this like interesting opportunity to monitor team dynamics right now.

[00:07:43] And it doesn’t, it’s not just the job of the manager, but I actually think we all have an opportunity to say invite each other in. To make sure points are heard or responded to, or that somebody is encouraged to come to contribute. Um, introverts may hold back because. [00:08:00] You know, it’s hard, it’s harder maybe in a virtual team environment to raise your hand to, you know, to say something than in a physical office environment.

[00:08:07] I’m not sure. So we, so we just have to be like way sensitive to our colleagues, um, in a way I think that we’ll be sharpened in this environment where we could kind of be lazy about it. In a workplace because we had so many tools at our disposal to understand what’s really going on and now we’ve sort of been deprived of some, but then we also gain a bunch.

[00:08:29] So I’m kind of curious then, like what do you think, like, what do you think, what have you appreciated about running a virtual entirely virtual team from a relationship standpoint, productivity, standpoint, collaboration, like what do you prize about it that you wouldn’t trade. You 

[00:08:42] Jenn: [00:08:42] know, one of the things that I was thinking of as you were talking is that connection point with a virtual team, because I think, you know, if you have a meeting in an office space, you were saying like the meeting after the meeting where, you know, the decisions really being made, which, you know, obviously happens often.

[00:08:56] But I think in virtual environments, one of what I find to be a really critical [00:09:00] thing is really just actually taking the time to get to know the people on your team and having those moments where you’re just having that water cooler conversation where you’re getting to learn. About their family or what they’re interested in or what they’re doing.

[00:09:14] Because I think if we didn’t do that in a virtual environment, we’re really, really isolating people. Like if you really kind of think about it where, you know, especially if someone is coming from an in person environment to a virtual environment where they’re used to having, you know, even if they’re.

[00:09:28] Very surface level conversations with people. At least they’re used to having that base level interaction, even if they’re an introvert. So I think to me, it’s really important to like actually get to know the people that are working with you and for you, because if you don’t make that, if you, if we, as the leader and owner of the company do not make that effort.

[00:09:48] Why would we expect that the employee or contractor would make that effort? You know what I mean? 

[00:09:52] Jennifer B: [00:09:52] Yeah. Very true. I mean, tone is set at the top. Yeah. And I know you and I don’t like hierarchies and we’re not about that. Uh, but, [00:10:00] but, um, tone is set perhaps by the person with authority, I suppose. That is who we are a blessing and a curse at this time.

[00:10:10] Um, yeah. But, um, yeah, I agree that, um, but, but the colleagueship. Of this time too. I think the leader can’t do everything as well. And I, I really appreciate hearing how my team members are checking with each other, you know, how they are, we are all leaders, you know, we’re all leading, just like always, right.

[00:10:28] But I think that this will test it and we may pick up on different things that are going on for each other. Then the, the, the boss can’t always have the visibility and also by the way, You know, the, um, what do we say? The emperor has no clothes. There’s, there’s a certain level of information that the person technically in charge is never going to really have.

[00:10:45] I mean, you can, you can try, but there’s all kinds of other undercurrents going on and relationships that are being built. And I personally think that’s so incredible. I love to hear that the people are getting close on my team with each other, [00:11:00] that they’re checking in, that they know more, maybe personal details that I know.

[00:11:04] I don’t want to be greedy and say, I must be a part of everything. You know, I, it’s not enough, but it is for me. I see it as like building the container and making sure the house has the right, like, you know, the electricity bills are paid, you know, it’s, it’s comfortable and safe to live there. You know, there there’s common spaces, there’s whatever.

[00:11:24] Like, I mean, you can kind of extend the metaphor, but, um, but I think of it as providing the tools. Um, I think to my, some of my team uses technical tools that I don’t really use. Like they’re all on. Slack and I, I’m not in it. Um, so, and they’re, hopefully they’re not complaining about it, but can you enable, like, can we make sure that everybody, everybody has their own favorite tool?

[00:11:47] Like I’m kind of a Skype person, but I’m trying to push out of my comfort zone and be able to run my own zoom meetings, like, um, understand the backend of, of whatever anybody throws at me right now. And I think what a, what a great. [00:12:00] Time to have to like fail forward, not figure it out, have it be a mess, work your way through it.

[00:12:07] Still have people, you know, value what you’re trying to do. And, and really like, hold that space for each other to get much braver and be comfortable with making mistakes. Cause there’s going to be a lot of them. 

[00:12:17] Jenn: [00:12:17] Yeah. And I think communication is a lot of what you’re surfacing around right now, which is so important and finding those right tools.

[00:12:25] That work for you and your team. Like I know for you, Skype is kind of is your jam and anyone who needs to contact you, like that’s the way to do it for me. I really enjoy using Slack because then I can kind of communicate with, or, you know, around different kinds of threads. And I also think that just thinking about, you know, in a virtual environment, I feel like there’s a lot more communication in general.

[00:12:45] There’s a lot more emails. There’s more texting, there’s more slacking, scaping, however you’re doing it. So I think it’s a matter of how are you kind of containing that overwhelm for people who may not be used to that bombardment of information kind of coming at them from [00:13:00] every direction? Cause I feel like, you know, if I look at my monitors right now, I have three monitors.

[00:13:03] Number one. Okay, 

[00:13:05] Jennifer B: [00:13:05] of course you do. 

[00:13:07] Jenn: [00:13:07] And there’s like, you know, things everywhere. It’s like a, you know, like I’m, who knows what I’m going to be doing right now. There’s just so many things. But like I have my eye messages, I have Slack open. I have, um, you know, my email, like everything is visible and I feel like.

[00:13:19] For someone who’s used to sitting in their environment at work at their desk and they can just get up and walk over to their boss or walk over to their colleagues to say, Hey, let me just run something by you quickly. That’s probably, you know, I haven’t had that in a long time, but that, that has to be a really big adjustment for people we’re just now sitting at their desk in their home, or maybe they don’t even have a desk in their home.

[00:13:40] They’re sitting at their kitchen table. With kids and animals all around them, trying to figure out how do I actually focus and concentrate with what I have to get done, because it’s not like the work is changing, or I shouldn’t say that with some people’s jobs, the work still has to get done. So how are we doing it in a distraction free environment, which is, [00:14:00] I think a whole other kind of can of worm, which ties into this whole idea that we have to be more communicative with one another.

[00:14:06] More so now than I think ever before, even if you’re leading a virtual team, like you and I have been for a decade, I think it’s even more important for people who, you know, fellow business owner, friends of ours, who, you know, maybe, maybe everyone was in an office. And I think at the end of this businesses might decide, you know what?

[00:14:22] I actually didn’t need that office space or. They might see, Holy shit, this is imploding. Like I need my office space. Cause that’s the only way everything got done. So I think it can kind of go either way, but it’s, you know, stuff that we all have to be thinking about as small business owners, 

[00:14:36] Jennifer B: [00:14:36] as you make so many good points.

[00:14:38] I mean maybe with all the, the proliferation of tools. You know, maybe to simplify pokes are not used to this, let alone 10 different tools that everybody prefers. Um, you might want to centralize around one tool, one or two, right. And make sure everybody’s trained up on it and make sure you have the agreement that we’re all going to communicate here.

[00:14:56] Like we are, that’s our commitment. The other thing is ours. Jen. [00:15:00] I’m so curious, like I know you and are so comfortable with whenever you get the work done, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as you get it done, but like, and I think that it’s tricky with people with different hours and different time zones.

[00:15:14] Time zones were always tricky, but I think now we have flexible schedules. People are getting on at night. They may need answers. Somebody’s not online. So maybe like the ground rules, um, you know, investigating that as a new leave virtual team. Um, some folks will need to investigate, like I wonder for you, like, how do you balance people’s hours when they’re, they’re parenting their, your parenting?

[00:15:36] Um, there’s a school responsibility. There’s not school. 

[00:15:43] Jenn: [00:15:43] Gosh, but, um, 

[00:15:45] Jennifer B: [00:15:45] how do you navigate like the balance of productivity when people are sort of offline online, online, sometimes overlapping here, like. Yeah, how do we keep a through line in our businesses? 

[00:15:57] Jenn: [00:15:57] I think there’s, to me there’s kind of two components to it.

[00:15:59] It’s [00:16:00] number one, it goes back to the leadership and leading at the top. So if you’re setting, setting the standard for everyone else to say, these are my boundaries, this is when you know, this is generally speaking when I’m accessible and when I’m available. Then your team is likely going to follow suit with that.

[00:16:16] And I, and I’ll give an example of that in a second, but then I also think the piece of just communicating, right. Just knowing when people are working. I think those two things alone while very basic basic tips I think can be really important. And I think of my work schedule where. On, you know, I worked Sunday evenings usually, and I’m all out Mondays and Tuesdays where I am working, you know, 10, sometimes 12, even 14 hour days, because on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays, I am done working at 2:30 PM because it’s my time to be a parent.

[00:16:46] So I make that very clear to everyone on my team that I am prioritizing my family. Over my business on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. And I’m done working at two 30. It’s not to say that I’m not accessible, cause I I’m always accessible. I say, you know, if you need to reach me, [00:17:00] you know, contact me on Slack, Slack, send me a text if it’s really urgent.

[00:17:03] Cause I’m not going to go radio silent. But when I kind of lead forward saying, this is how I’m operating, how on earth could I ever. Say something to someone on my team. Like, no, you can’t go take that doctor’s appointment during the middle of the day or no, you have to work from nine to five. Like, you know, it just, it doesn’t make sense.

[00:17:20] So I think it’s how, we’re how we’re showing up and telling people. But then also just having, having a clear path to say, all right, If there’s three people who are responsible for certain tasks and they need to be coordinating we as the, the person that’s managing all of these people, or in some cases we’re not managing someone else is doing the managing for us, but we just need to make sure that people are available when they need to be available.

[00:17:42] So that way there’s not, you know, someone is now you’re never works on Thursdays. And that happens to be the day that all of the things. Things have to get done. I think it’s just a conversation of balance, but I also think thinking about people who are new to this environment, that might be really scary to think about like, You know, cause I can see myself if I [00:18:00] had, you know, a team that were all in an office space and just kind of used to knowing where everyone is and what people are doing.

[00:18:05] And then all of a sudden it’s like you set them free and now you just are like, I hope the work’s getting done. 

[00:18:10] Jennifer B: [00:18:10] Totally. 

[00:18:11] Jenn: [00:18:11] That’s going to be a really scary feeling. 

[00:18:13] Jennifer B: [00:18:13] There’s so much trust that has to be built. Um, we just instituted, uh, we call them one JBC calls and we have a weekly, everybody fills out a little dashboard.

[00:18:24] And we compile it into a deck and then we come together. In fact, I’m just about to have that meeting after this call, and everybody does a quick report on the week about what’s going on in their function. We did this sort of red, yellow, green thing for awhile around, like, how is it, um, how are things progressing?

[00:18:39] Where do you need help? Or are you running into problems? Um, what resources do you need? Where do you need help and partnership from other team members who maybe have extra bandwidth? So this whole thing, it’s weird. It’s kind of an intuitive thing as much as it is. It’s like can’t really be run on a spreadsheet.

[00:18:53] Um, it’s having a feel for your team. Like who’s working when, and, and, but maybe you want to [00:19:00] formalize it more like maybe, and we need to teach each other how we’re going to balance this in our lives. And we need to set those expectations and be clear to say, just like you did, here’s when I’m off the clock here, here, and here.

[00:19:14] And unless it’s texted me, if it’s urgent and I can pop on and do something for five minutes, but other than that, so how do we like. Setting those kinds of expectations with each other. I mean, it’s funny. It requires again, the, um, the vulnerability of saying like, here’s the cadence of my life. Like, what you’re saying is I’m not going to like lie and say, I’m busy.

[00:19:33] It’s it’s child duty, it’s parenting it’s this. And I, like I said earlier, it’s such an interesting opportunity to like, stop hiding so much of our lives together. And just say like, here I am in all of its glory, like, you know, here’s what I contend with on a daily basis. I don’t talk about it, but, um, Also like leaving room for folks who are struggling.

[00:19:54] Um, this is like a question. How do we send somebody maybe feeling isolated and struggling with [00:20:00] positivity? Um, maybe mental health issues. That they probably have been hiding, you know? And how do we, um, how do we sense that, you know, how do we, when we don’t have a lot of information or data and some of us may sort of be super resilient through this?

[00:20:16] Um, I know also like extroverts or connectors, right? So we’re going to get that. We’re going to get that, um, charge that we need. But, um, but I do wonder. How do I make sure? I think one-on-one check-ins for introverts is, is key. Um, and just like sort of gently pinging and checking in and making sure, um, and again, you’ve got to build trustless.

[00:20:39] Somebody will tell you if they’re struggling and hate me, just take a mental health day or whatever. So, um, I guess we all need to be, we it’s sort of, we’ve got to meet in the middle, you know, those of us who are trying to make sure everyone’s thriving. Yeah. Um, need some information that may feel really risky to share.

[00:20:59] And [00:21:00] then those of us who were struggling need to feel comfortable that if they leave and share that the net will appear so to speak that the organization will hold you. And that you’re a valuable member of this team and we can flex, like we can adjust. So like we, our bandwidths are all up in the air right now.

[00:21:15] So I think that this is a great opportunity to rebalance work, like who does what? And even my cross training, Jen, I was thinking, you know, Maybe a lot of us entrepreneurs at least are going to be impacted in terms of how many people we have on our team. Yeah. This has already happened for us. Um, sadly and I’m heartbroken.

[00:21:33] Um, so the question for me now is sort of key processes. Like how many people know how to do that. And if I have half time here and half time here, then do I cross train? And there’s a job sharing situation going on, or there’s a, almost a process sharing. Thing that I need to set up so that we’re, we have coverage coverage is going to be the challenge here.

[00:21:52] Um, I agree. I think a lot of us, and if our corporate teams start to be impacted in terms of size, we thought we were doing more with [00:22:00] less before. I mean, that was like the theme is the theme. Of working in the modern world. And now it’s just, I think it’s going to really be accelerated. 

[00:22:09] Jenn: [00:22:09] Yeah. I feel like you’ve just said so many things, so 

[00:22:13] Jennifer B: [00:22:13] sorry.

[00:22:15] Jenn: [00:22:15] We go back to a little bit what you were saying before. I think, I just think leading with empathy, I did a talk about this locally here in Hartford. Not that long ago that I feel like having empathy in general in business is critical and I think it’s more important now. Than ever before. I think it’s going to continue to be more important because I think you’re right about, especially about introverts, you know, like I definitely, like if we’re, we were talking about this the other day, just unlike an extrovert scale, I’m like, I’m probably like seven on the extrovert scale and I’m losing my mind and you’re like, you know, a 13.

[00:22:45] So I’m like, I can like, I, I, so I have empathy for friends who I know are more extroverted than me, but I think that it really it’s a matter of. Being there. And listening, going back to the communicating and learning about your team, I think just knowing who are the more introverted type and what [00:23:00] their communication styles are and allowing them to bring their flaws to the table.

[00:23:04] So Lord knows, we know, you know, percentage wise, so many people struggle with some sort of mental health, um, situation. So many people have anxiety or depression and. I think that we’re in a world, in an environment now, and maybe this isn’t the case with all businesses, but I feel fortunate that at least the business owner, friends that I have are very supportive of employees or contractors who fall into those categories, where they might have something that they’re struggling with.

[00:23:31] And that I think is something that you should be vulnerable about and be able to, obviously there’s especially employee, employer relationship. I’m sure there’s some gray area, which I’m not an expert on, but, um, Just being able to let your person say, listen, you know, I was having a rough day today. Do you mind if I, you know, do what I was going to do today, I’m going to do it tomorrow and said, cause I feel like I’m going to be my best self tomorrow.

[00:23:52] I just need like a data to get myself together. And if we think about. From the understanding when people were working in giving [00:24:00] them the freedom to know when they’re at their peak and their best for you. I think that’s really important too. 

[00:24:04] Jennifer B: [00:24:04] Oh, you just raised them. Jen, like time of day. I mean, when are we most productive?

[00:24:09] Some of us are night owls. Right? So how do we reconcile? And if you’re the boss, remember you do set a tone. You know, you carry, you cast a big shadow as we say, so your way shouldn’t be the high or the highway. Like it shouldn’t be neat. Biased right now, especially in terms of what you prefer. Yeah. Like 

[00:24:27] Jenn: [00:24:27] my working schedule, like I’m working at six 30 in the morning, almost, almost every day.

[00:24:32] So my day starts really early and I have people on my team. We’re not working until like 11 o’clock at night and I don’t care whenever it gets done, it gets done. Like for me to say, you have to work at 6:00 AM or for someone else to tell me I have to work at 11:00 PM. That just doesn’t work for anybody.

[00:24:47] So I think just this whole concept of. You know, this whole nine to five thing, just hasn’t worked for a long time and you and I both know there’s a lot of data and research out there that shows that it doesn’t really work well, but yet this is the world we live in and this [00:25:00] is how confined we are. But I think that that might be a good outcome.

[00:25:04] From all of this chaos right now is that maybe people are reevaluating the ways in which they’re working. And we have new opportunities for people who haven’t been in the space, the way that we’ve been to be able to say, yeah, maybe, maybe I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. And I think that’s a really kind of cool potential who knows how long it’s going to take before.

[00:25:21] We’re feeling hopeful and optimistic about that, because I think we’re still going to have to go through a lot of ugliness before we kind of. Surface back up to the top, but I think it’s just something to be mindful of is just really paying attention to the emotions of everyone that is around us and not tiptoeing around them, but just addressing them head on.

[00:25:39] I think that’s the best way to deal with it because I think it’s so easy to be like that person has, you know, that person’s going through something I’m not going to go. I’m not gonna, I’m not going to address it. I’m just going to ignore it. And it’s like, that person wants you to address it. You would feel better by having addressed it rather than just sweeping up the rug and nothing good comes from that.

[00:25:57] Jennifer B: [00:25:57] Definitely. I remember like there’s some [00:26:00] conversations, people are comfortable having an, a group virtual and then everyone is right. So we need to be reaching out to each other more and, you know, opening the door for more vulnerable conversations. How are you doing, um, Like I’d love to, you know, be your ally during this time.

[00:26:17] I do think, um, my message for like allies in the DEI world, the diversity context too, is remember that some folks already felt very marginalized in the workplaces as they were, which we never know if we’re going back to ever again, but we were struggling already with. Um, like LGBTQ people bringing our full selves to work.

[00:26:37] I mean, so half of us are closeted in the workplace and that’s last year statistic. Yeah. So this hiding behavior is no joke for a lot of us or the downplaying of a stigmatized identity, which is the definition of covering in the workplace all credit to Kenji Yoshino it who wasn’t Deloitte working with Deloitte at the time.

[00:26:56] But, um, so I mindful of that. [00:27:00] Those differences in isolation that were already being felt, being magnified in a virtual environment where nobody’s paying attention to this because right. We’re trying to get the work done. Um, so we’re focused on the task overly sort of rotated on the task, right. Um, so sort of let’s watch ourselves on that and let’s, let’s pay attention and continue to keep a focus and align open to colleagues who.

[00:27:27] Are bringing that experience and that lived experience into this new world and expecting perhaps the same judgements to be happening, maybe the same stereotyping, maybe the same exclusion, microaggressions, whatever it is. You know, I think this is if we can somehow. Use this opportunity to improve that.

[00:27:48] And I’m not quite clear what that looks like, except that the openness, the vulnerability, that the ability to maybe have vulnerable conversations we never had before is an opportunity for somebody who feels marginalized [00:28:00] and uncomfortable. To say, Hey, like actually yes, there is something that we could do that would make me feel more included or there is something that happens in our meetings that make me feel that I don’t have a voice or, um, actually, yes, my ideas are stolen and attributed to somebody else or like I could go on and on, I know we’ll get on my soap box.

[00:28:20] So, uh, or yes, like actually, you know, I am LGBTQ and here’s my family and my life, you know, like how cool. Would this be, if, and I know each, and like you said, I don’t want to make light of what we’re in, but, um, But I do think we, we all have to have something to hope for. So this is, I think these are nuggets.

[00:28:40] I hope that were helpful for our audience today. And we’re going to record, we are obviously recording this and we’re going to repost it everybody. And we’ve really love reactions and ideas and things you want us to talk about too, because like Jen and I have been in us for a decade, like there’s so much more, we didn’t have time to say today and who knows, maybe we make this a regular meeting.

[00:28:58] Jenn: [00:28:58] We could water knows. We have [00:29:00] a little, I feel like I don’t actually have extra time in all of this, but 

[00:29:04] Jennifer B: [00:29:04] I 

[00:29:05] Jenn: [00:29:05] get out my desk more time, but we did get a comment from Brooke who is a friend of mine, absolutely adore her. And she had commented that we’re absolutely right. That she definitely feels like she is more of herself while she’s working from home, but she does miss some of the socialization.

[00:29:21] So I think in Brooke is part of the LGBTQ community. So I think that. There really is kind of that opportunity in so many ways, potentially for people who, you know, maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to get that job at that place because they didn’t know how they would be treated or maybe, you know, so maybe, maybe there’s there really is a silver lining for more people to feel as your tagline is welcomed, valued, respected, and heard.

[00:29:45] You know, maybe, maybe we’re kind of like at a tipping point where. That’s more of an option for people which what a glorious outcome for marginalized communities, if that’s one of these kind of end results as a, as a, you know, outcome from just this 

[00:30:00] [00:29:59] Jennifer B: [00:29:59] madness that we’re in right now. I mean, in a way when you remove, when we have visual cues right now, right, because we’re on camera, but that’s not always going to be possible.

[00:30:07] You’re on conference calls, I think in a weird way, the biases that are identity triggers and others. May not be as triggered because maybe just, maybe we can be seen and interacted with just around our work and who we are regardless of what you see. And then, and then what you see, you know, triggering things, right.

[00:30:31] So we can be like more purely, I think, appreciated. And we can M in the virtual world, we can show up as whoever we want to be, 

[00:30:38] Jenn: [00:30:38] you know? And 

[00:30:39] Jennifer B: [00:30:39] I’m so mindful of, you know, my friends, like all my friends in the LGBTQ community where we’re constantly like. You know, maybe we’re gender fluid and like we’re coping with so much confusion and, and things that come at us.

[00:30:52] Right. Because they, people are so thrown off by how we express ourselves. Yeah. And, um, I’m so mindful that like, w like what if, what a [00:31:00] world to be able to just 

[00:31:01] Jenn: [00:31:01] be voice on the phone and just, 

[00:31:03] Jennifer B: [00:31:03] right. So in a way, like, I always say we’re so powerless against our biases, and it’s such a sad reality. It’s how we’re wired.

[00:31:11] Um, and you have to be really, really on it all the time to sort of short that, those shift yourself, do it differently, spot it when it happens, do it again, you know, literally they’re they sort of drive us in a really sad sort of primitive way. And so, you know, let’s revisit all of that. Let’s use this as an opportunity to truly see into the heart and the mind of everybody we work with.

[00:31:37] And let’s, let’s see if I can make this an opportunity to grow. Yeah. 

[00:31:42] Jenn: [00:31:42] Oh, I love that. I have so many other things I can say, but I feel like that’s just a nice, nice period at the end of this conversation. So I think it would be great. Cause I know that we’re, I can see some, some comments coming in from mutual friends of ours that, you know, we’re saying this is great and which is so kind.

[00:31:58] Um, so as we said, this will be [00:32:00] available in a replay, but Jen, I think we should do this again. And I have a lot of just other. Suggestions and recommendations as you were talking around like processes and time management and things like that, that might be beneficial for people. So perhaps we can do a recording next week when we can find some mutual time since your calendar is the one that’s always challenging, but guess what?

[00:32:20] Your home guess what? 

[00:32:21] Jennifer B: [00:32:21] I’m not. 

[00:32:23] Jenn: [00:32:23] So, 

[00:32:24] Jennifer B: [00:32:24] but I’m the extrovert. So Simon, if I can mention one thing, I’m launching a daily, I know Genesis. Talk about connection daily, daily, like community Collin at noon Eastern tomorrow. I’m sorry, next week. Every single day, next week to essence. So we’re going to share the zoom link and I’m just going to pop on zoom for an hour and you can come say hi, you can, you know, we could chat about authorizing and working with Jen on her program for devel author development.

[00:32:53] Um, we can talk about any, you know, anything people want to. And I would really like to being the chronic extrovert that I am. I, [00:33:00] I feel the need. For my people and to be reminded how strong and beautiful this community is because we are, and also to hold space for each other, as we roll through the punches of prides being canceled, um, a lot of this community will be hugely impacted financially, um, uh, nonprofits and advocacy organizations and activists, and it like makes my heart hurt.

[00:33:25] So, you know, I just want to be there. And I want to know what’s on everybody’s hearts and minds. And so please like, if any Jen of any of your community wants to come out and join me, like, I’ll give that link for the, um, in the comments. 

[00:33:37] Jenn: [00:33:37] Yeah, I was just going to ask you how do people find out about that?

[00:33:39] So we’ll make sure that’s in the comments and in the description for this. Um, additionally, I am running a 30 day writing challenge because again, similar to what you’re saying, I want people to refocus and think through, you know, what can they be doing now? That’s actually productive and planting seeds.

[00:33:54] For their business leader, because we can’t just put our heads in the sand and pretend this is going to blow over. We have to really be [00:34:00] thinking about what that looks like. And for me, as someone who works with books all day, um, you know, that’s, I’m doing the writing challenge today’s day two. So you’ll see my face again with the same outfit on a little bit later, my second day tip, but I also am doing kind of an office hours on Fridays at 1:00 PM Eastern time.

[00:34:16] Where anyone who has questions around their book writing, or as you said, it can really be anything. Like if you just feel like you need a safe space to just come and talk, because you’re feeling isolated, just come on over. So I’ll include that information as well. In the, in the description, 

[00:34:30] Jennifer B: [00:34:30] you were such a good resource, Jen, like, please, anyone who’s listening to this, even if the book is just the twinkle in your eye, and you think who has something to say, and you have an incredible story, which so many people do have in our world, please.

[00:34:42] Dial into that on Friday and just, you know, even you don’t have to be practical about it. It can just be with your name. It can be a craving to be seen and heard that may manifest in a book someday. I mean, that’s literally, I think what’s so needed in our world is our stories. Right. And Jen facilitates that in [00:35:00] a really beautiful way.

[00:35:01] Jenn: [00:35:01] Thank you. I feel like I may as well just pay you for it to be my spokesperson. 

[00:35:05] Jennifer B: [00:35:05] I do refer a lot of folks. 

[00:35:07] Jenn: [00:35:07] You definitely do. Amazing. One of which is watching this Fiona. Hello, Fiona. I love the door and she says, love you both. Thank you for this. So 

[00:35:15] Jennifer B: [00:35:15] thank you. 

[00:35:16] Jenn: [00:35:16] Yeah. And John has said that we should do this again.

[00:35:18] So I think we’ll do it again. 

[00:35:22] Jennifer B: [00:35:22] We’ll do it again. Maybe we’ll invite some of you on, we’ll put you down in the bottom of the screen and Oh, I have a bird events kind of thing going on. 

[00:35:29] Jenn: [00:35:29] I have some good ideas about that. So yeah, you’ll see our faces again next week at some point. It sounds good. 

[00:35:34] Jennifer B: [00:35:34] All right.

[00:35:36] Jenn: [00:35:36] Appreciate it. 

[00:35:37] Jennifer B: [00:35:37] Alright. Hang in there. 

[00:35:39] Jenn: [00:35:39] You too.