Lee: Well, hi there, my friend, thank you so much for being on the Coach with Clarity Podcast. I am so excited to have you here today.
Alyssa: Yes, I'm so excited to be here, this is gonna be a lot of fun.
Lee: I have been looking forward to this conversation for a long time. But before we get into it, let's start by introducing you to everyone who is listening in. So tell us a little bit about who you are and how you serve the world.
Alyssa: Yes, so my name is Alyssa. I am an anti-racist leadership coach, and what that really means for me is I help coaches and other service providers implement anti-racism into their lives and business. And where the leadership piece comes in, is that when we think of anti-racism and DEI, there's a lot of action involved, but just knowing as a coach, usually, when people try to take action, there's a lot of internal mindset stuff that pops up, that makes it difficult to take those actions for whatever reason. So as well as coaching my clients on those struggles, I also help them understand what's going on. So it's like educating, coaching, mindset, all that for the purpose of creating an anti-racist business.
Lee: Excellent, and I am so excited to dive into all of that with you today. And I'm thinking that maybe the best place for us to start is kind of defining what it is we're actually talking about. Because I have seen certainly over the last six to nine months an increase in the use of the terms anti-racist, DEI, which stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I'm thinking why don't we go ahead and like just start from a strong foundation and talk about what that actually means, both in general, but then also, especially in the space of coaching. So from your perspective, let's start with DEI – what is that? What does that mean? And how do those words differ from each other?
Alyssa: Yes. I'm glad that you even said like, how do they differ from each other, because usually when people talk about it, it's like this one big thing, and it's really not. So when people think of, “Oh, I have a diverse business, I'm fine”, and that usually looks like the people that you're serving, or the people that are also working with you in your business, that's just like the numbers is what I think of when I think of diversity. However, diversity is literally just one piece of it. So then thinking about inclusion, you have these people that are in here, however, is this a space that they will be able to grow and thrive as well as every other person in there? And someone told me a, what was it? Someone gave me an example of what this looks like from another anti-racism educator, Trudi LeBron, and I just have to bring it here because it's it really highlights what it means. And it's like you saying, “Yeah, I'm going to have a barbecue”, and you invite everyone, and you say, like, “everyone is invited”. It's great. And you have a group of vegans, and they're just like, “okay, so where's the vegan food?”, and you're just like, “Oh, well, we don't have vegan food, but we wanted to bring you to the barbecue anyway”. So they’re gonna be – they're not gonna starve – and it's just like, that's what that really looks like, the barbecue is diverse, but is it being inclusive? No. And when we look at our businesses, it's hard to be able to really understand what that really looks like, but there are certain ways to understand what inclusivity actually means, especially as coaches. I feel like that really means understanding the different types of issues that your clients are going to be bringing to you. Like, even if you're a career coach, what does it look like for a Black woman to be trying to get a career? What does it look like for her to be in an interview? What are some issues that she's going to be facing in an interview? If you bring that client in and you don't know that, then that's not being inclusive – does that make sense?
Lee: That makes total sense, and also shout out to Trudi Lebron. I'm a huge fan of her and her work, I highly recommend the podcast that she co-hosts, “That's Not How That Works”, so good. And I've actually been a part of Trudi's Amplified Impact mastermind for the last six months and so like, oh, she's got some good stuff and that so that metaphor that you mentioned, I think is really helpful. So diversity, we're really looking at numbers, inclusivity is more about the environment that you're creating. Is it, is it not just welcoming but does it support, actively support, the people that you're inviting in. Let's talk about that third term that gets kind of into DEI, which is equity, and I think that that may be the most complex of all, at least from my perspective. And so I'd love to hear your thoughts about what equity means, and how we live that out.
Alyssa: Yes. So when I think of equity I think of, but can they get in. And that is another like, especially for coaches, I think it's very, very important to understand what that looks like, because a lot of the sales tactics that coaches are taught to use aren't always equitable. And what that can do is it puts a lot of shame on the client that is unable to get in, but is being told that they should just be able to get in. And really understanding what that looks like, and why there needs to be different methods of being invited to the party, I guess we're going to say, for different types of people and what that looks like. And then on the flip side too that, I think, is important when thinking about just the DEI as a whole. It's like, okay, you bring that person in, will that person also be supported? Like for a lot of people, when they think of equity, they just like, throw on a scholarship. And it's like, okay, cool, but the person who is in there from a scholarship, are they at the same exact level as the person who paid $10,000 in full, to get into whatever the program is, and being able to support each person at the level that they're in. So I feel like equity gets super tricky because we think of equality of everyone's doing the same thing, but equity is more of meeting people where they are so they can get it too.
Lee: I think that's such a helpful way to define it. So equity is really about access, like do people have the access that they need in order to take advantage of whatever it is you're offering? And then within the offer itself, Is it inclusive? Would someone feel welcome and supported? And then, of course, diversity is, is strict numbers, like, how many people are you serving? And what is the composition of your programs, of your coaching, that sort of thing? So does that sound like a summary of DEI? Are we on the right track here?
Alyssa: That is perfect.
Lee: Awesome. Awesome. So the other term I want to be really clear about that you use to was anti-racism or anti-racist? Tell me a little more about that?
Alyssa: Yes. Okay. So I think, even like when I use the term, and I feel like I want people to understand this too, anti-racist, as a term, when I say like, being an anti-racist, or having an anti-racist business, the word that should be coming before that is actively anti-racist. And versus what we're pretty much used to is just being non-racist, which is like, racism is not allowed here. I think that's really, just really like racism is not allowed here, and when we think of racism, we think of like very outward grotesque things. But when I think of anti-racism, it's a whole other level of, not only is racism not allowed here, but the space that we're creating, we're also not taking these themes and these teachings that are racist, and we're creating the space where we can uplift out of that. And I feel like that was a very convoluted description, but…
Lee: No, no, and actually, as you were speaking, what was coming to my mind was the image of a spectrum. And on one end of the spectrum, we have overtly grotesque racist acts, right? Like just, that's racism. And then in the middle, it's this kind of non-racist zone, where it's like, well, I'm not a racist, and racism isn't allowed here. But then we need to keep going on that spectrum, which is actively fighting racism and creating spaces that promote everything we talked about before diversity, equity, and inclusivity. So anti-racism is like you are doing the work, and that's why I love what you said about putting the word active in front of it.
Alyssa: Right, exactly, and the thing that comes in too with shifting from non-racism to anti-racism is this sense of understanding the different nuances of racism and how that can pop up as well because I feel like that's a thing that makes it that we have to be active, we have to actively be learning, we have to actively create structures so that we're not playing into the regular racist existence that we were all brought up in. And so we're going to create something different, that allows for growth and flourishing and, and all that for everyone.
Lee: Yes, yes, and so that goes back to what you were saying earlier about the work that you do, where you are supporting coaches in particular, who want to take action and who yet maybe having some mindset issues that come up. And I'd like to talk about that with you because I suspect, many of the coaches who are listening to this show right now can really identify with that they want to take an anti-racist stance in their work, they want to ensure that they're being equitable and inclusive, they have little idea how to do that. And so there's some guilt and even some shame that emerges around that, which really blocks them from taking action. So I'd love to kind of hear your take on first steps that coaches should take on this journey, and also how you partner with them to do that kind of work.
Alyssa: Yes, so I feel like the first steps that people should take are, first of all, and as coaches, we know that our emotions are here for a reason. And when we add a level of shame on top of our emotions, it just makes it stay even longer, and it just amplifies everything. So really noticing, like when you're doing that for yourself, of adding this extra level of shame, on top of feeling upset and feeling frustrated, and feeling maybe confused, and feeling like you have to look at the world, like a different lens, and understanding that it's okay. And the reason why that's okay is because, if you're at least living in the US, this is how our whole existence has been curated. It's been curated for us to look at the world a certain way. So now when all of this is happening, and like the veil is removed, it's just like, oh, my God, what is going on? And not really understanding what to do now, and how to move forward with what the world is actually like, and how you can actually be able to help just from being yourself. And I think that's like one of the key things that I help my clients do is not go out and do all these different things, which is what I feel like a lot of people were doing back in June, which is, “oh, let me go volunteer here, and let me just try to create this thing here, and let me go help over there”
Lee: “Let me join this book club!” Can we talk about the book club?
Alyssa: The amount and you know, what's actually funny about the book clubs too, is that there are so many book clubs started in June, but like as the week's go on, the amount of people that were actually actively involved, most of them are gone.
Alyssa: And it's like this is why there has to be a more active action being taken, not just with you doing outside things, because that's not sustainable. It's not sustainable to say, I'm going to add on to my busy schedule, this other extra thing that I'm going to now be fully 100% involved in. But it's more impactful to look at where you already are existing. If you're already on your son's PTA board, what can you do on the PTA board? If you already have a business, what changes can you make in your business to make it more equitable and inclusive, to bring in the diversity? Notice that. Is that diverse first?
Lee: Yes, I wish, I want to take a highlighter and like highlight everything you just said, because I think this is so important. This idea that DEI work and working towards being an anti-racist, shouldn't be additive. It should be included in what you're already doing. I think that is so important, and probably why a lot of these book clubs petered out or this idea of, “Oh, I'm going to volunteer here or donate here”. It just kind of stopped because it became one more thing versus incorporating it into the work you're already doing. I think that is such a gem. Thank you for highlighting that.
Alyssa: Yeah, and I think that's where a lot of people got stuck, like what you were saying, it's because you're trying to exist as a human. We're all just trying to do our best. We're all just trying to make it day by day and be happy and exist and in a pandemic, and all of these things. And in order for this work to be impactful, it has to be sustainable. So like, I know a bunch of people, and I'm thinking like even celebrities or like companies, they donated hundreds of tens of thousands of dollars in June, which is great, but are they still doing that in December? And if you're not going to be able to sustain something, then it just peter or patters away, and maybe like, let's say, five years from now, that $10,000 that they donated in June is already gone, but nothing else is happening. So it's important to understand the sustainability piece so that you're able to continue doing this work. And it just becomes a part of what you're doing. And not this, this checklist thing that you have to remember.
Lee: Right, right, because we don't want it becoming a trend or a fad, like anti-racism work is not a fad. This, we're in it for the long haul. So let's talk about what that looks like, especially for coaches who want to bring this into their work, they want to embody it, and are just feeling a little lost about what that actually looks like. Where do you start with your clients?
Alyssa: So I start with them, of just helping them process, whatever feelings are coming up, and that's really just the long term thing to do that the entire time. Just really noticing what's coming up and why that's coming up. But something that I've really, really highlighted with my clients is being able to diversify your life. And again, doing it in a sustainable way because what I was talking about before, I'm just like, the way that we've been existing, this world has been curated for us to see things in one way. And when we're continuing to see the world in that one way, and now just adding on books about anti-racism. That's important, we need to learn about racism, we need to learn about history, that's good, but we also need to learn about the people. And you need to understand the people, if you're going to serve the people, and what different issues look like for them. So what I have my clients do is one of them, oh my gosh, she loves rom-coms. So she has curated a list of 40 different Black rom-coms, and her and her friend called the project Rom-coms for Justice, and I love it.
Lee: I do too.
Alyssa: And it's like, the reason for that is because she's a career coach. So she's watching these regular rom-coms, and it doesn't feel like an added extra thing but now she's understanding what Black life is, and not from the point of view of whatever popular movie, but from classic Black movies that really show off and highlight the culture and highlight the issues that we go through and what our regular life is like. And she watches the movies and she'll like notice something that's different for her, and then she'll go off and start researching whatever that thing was. And that alone has helped her understand some other issues that her clients would be bringing to her because she's able to be involved in that space. I like to read, so that's another way that I tell my clients to try to diversify their existence. But all of that is literally just like step one that's like the learning, listening, understanding phase. And then after that, it's about understanding, what do you want your business to look like? How do you want to incorporate this into your business? And dealing with the leadership issues that may come up. One of my clients I'm working with, we're working on like people pleasing, for example, and what does people pleasing have to do with anti-racism? Well, a lot of people, they stay silent because of the people pleasing that comes up. A lot of people if you are going to have like a group program, and someone's being not racist, but they're being a little problematic, and it's uncomfortable for everyone else. That dynamic is very uncomfortable to try to figure out a way to make that situation more comfortable because it's a person, it's a person that's paying you, and there's like almost like quote unquote, an audience watching. So understanding how to approach that situation for the betterment of everyone else in the group that again, like falls back on people pleasing. But that's just like one of the mindset issues that I see a lot with coaches in in doing this work.
Lee: That's really interesting. I'm sitting here kind of nodding because I have been part of groups where that's happened, and also let's be honest, I lead my own groups and whenever conflict arises, whether it's related to issues of race and diversity or something else, conflicts, not always easy for us to navigate. And I can see how it would feel particularly stressful for someone when it's around an issue that they're still working through as well, like, what does it look like to be anti-racist? So I think that's why I appreciate that, first and foremost, you come from a place of compassion and of normalizing emotions and saying, “yes, of course, we feel this way, this is exactly how we were supposed to feel because that's what the social constructs have created for us”. Okay, so now that you're aware, though, now that the blindfold is off, and you can see this for what it is, where do you want to go from here? So it's not about shaming you for having those feelings or those past experiences, but it is about not letting you off the hook and saying, “Okay, you got to create change now, what does that look like?”.
Alyssa: Right, right, exactly. And I feel like that's where, I feel like all my clients are so excited about that, all right, let's do the thing. And it's just like, right now we're creating the plan, and then we're going to work on all this stuff that will come up. And even like with diversifying your clientele, I have another client who's like, they feel very anxious about showing their full selves on social media. And that's a part of diversifying your clients, if they don't know what you stand for, if they don't know anything about you, other than you’re great career coach. And that's like the very last step. I'm not doing that, like day one. That's about like, okay, you've gone through all of this, you understand this, this work, your business is a safe space, you are a safe space. Now we have to work on you really putting yourself out there, as these are values that are important to me. And this is me. And when you come into my business, this is what you're going to get my full self and all of my values as well.
Lee: Yes. And I'll share too, what's coming up for me is that as I continue to do this work, within my own practice, it is this kind of back and forth between putting myself out there, owning my values, and also being like, what do people think, you know? And then it's like, okay, how do I step into my values, and then also detach myself from the outcome and from judgment? Either way, you know, is she doing too much? Is she not doing enough? And it's like, you know, I can't control that, right? All I can control are my values, and how I take those values and bring them forth in my business and how I take action on it. And I don't care what you're doing, there's going to be someone out there who doesn't think you're doing it the right way. And at the end of the day, if you can just return to this is what drives me, this is what's motivating me, I'm doing the work, I'm getting the support, I'm not going in blind. And at the end of the day, you know, I can feel good about that, regardless of how I'm viewed from other people. Does that, does that make sense, kind of with this idea of visibility and so forth?
Alyssa: Yes, yes. And I feel like that highlights it perfectly, because regardless, and I feel like you just brought up something else too. Like when we're doing this work, and we're putting ourselves out there, especially if you are a White coach, and you're going to be bringing this as a part of your values and your business. There will be times where you're going to be corrected, there will be times where people aren't going to like what you're saying, and being able to appropriately respond and appropriately understand what's going on, and managing your feelings too – that is very, very important. And that's something that I help my clients with too, because like you said, it's going to happen, so you need to be prepared for when it does.
Lee: Yes. Oh, this is so good, because what we don't want to do is center our own response, right? Like, “oh, I made a mistake, oh my gosh, I'm such a terrible person. I'm so sorry. Oh, I just- I- I-”, like it's all about me, right? When that really just kind of perpetuates the whole problem, and so it is this balance of owning what I've said or done acknowledging my own emotions and thoughts that come with it, and yet not allowing that to like, drive the conversation like centering the person whose voice really needs to be heard. It's not my voice of, “I'm so sorry, poor me”, it's the other person's voice, right?
Lee: That's not always easy to do. That's that internal work that I think you were talking about before of understanding the thoughts and feelings that are coming up within you. And being present and aware of them, and yet also maintaining your focus on your client on the person who's in front of you. Because as coaches, that's our responsibility is yes, we are a person too, we need to understand what's going on within us, but that's not driving the ship here, not when we're working with clients.
Alyssa: Exactly, exactly. And what I love about really just doing this work is that it's easily transferable, like from your business to your life, and back and forth, like these skills, you're going to use them everywhere, like even just that conversation of understanding how to react when you've unintentionally hurt someone is really like the the overarching conversation. That is huge, and that is a skill that a lot – we're not taught that. We're not taught that skill. But it is so so important. It's very important when it comes to racism, but it's very important in other areas of your life, too. So just really seeing that connection is so important.
Lee: Excellent, excellent. Yeah, I'm sitting here thinking about how, at least in the entrepreneurial space, we see a lot of messaging around, mistakes aren't bad, we learn from our mistakes, we have to fail, the only way we can succeed is if we learn from our failures. And I think what I'm hearing is we need to be taking that same mindset into our anti-racist work too and understand that, at some point, every single one of us is going to screw up, we're going to make a mistake, we're going to have a failure. What do we do after that? You know, because if we're spending so much time trying to avoid making mistakes, then we're probably going to be avoiding taking action. And that's not what we want to do, we want to be taking action. So how can we bring that same mentality of Learn from your failures into our anti-racist work? I just, I'm sensing that there's a connection there. Do you see that too?
Alyssa: Yes, 100%. And that is like, when I noticed people not taking action, it's like on two spectrums. It's one, the person who feels like they're already doing the action, and it's really like what I spoke about before of like, they're on like the step one, and they don't realize that that's only step one. And then the second person is exactly what you mentioned, of not wanting to make that mistake, because what we've seen, like canceled culture is a thing, right? And everyone is afraid of their business imploding, just from like making a mistake, even if it's extremely harmful. But I feel like it's really important to highlight too, a lot of people that have made huge mistakes, big name people made huge mistakes in June, they still have a thriving business, they're still making billions of dollars, they're good, they were able to – well, some of them – were able to learn from the mistake and correct it. Others just went about their merry way and people forgot. But understanding that you need to be able to be okay with making those mistakes, and knowing that if you are involved with a coach, while you're doing this work, you'll have the means to be able to bounce back in a way that is helpful for everyone involved, even the person that may have been hurt.
Lee: I think what you just said is really important because this is not work that should be done alone. Especially if you do not have a lot of familiarity or background in DEI work. Or even if you do, like this is not work that should be done alone. And this is where partnering with someone like you to do the work, both the internal work, the inner reflection, as well as the external work, of how do I want this showing up in my business and in my life, because both are important. They're interconnected, they both need to be present, but if you're trying to do it on your own, then you are – you're missing out -you're not going to have that objective outside viewpoint that can really serve you and facilitate your growth.
Alyssa: Exactly, exactly. And I think, I don't know, I remember if you mentioned it before we hopped on or like at the very beginning, but like you don't know what you don't know. And there are so many people that I see that are like, everyone is well meaning I'm pretty sure if you're listening to this podcast, you're not just like a terrible human being, but you don't know what you don't know. And just really being realistic with that fact that a lot of people didn't know that the way that they were showing up was harmful. And then June really highlighted a lot of things, and yes, there was some awareness that was made in June, but you still don't know what you don't know. There's still more things that are coming up in your business, how you're showing up, how you're working with clients, that's the really important one. And…can I just highlight that real quick because it's like….
Lee: Yes, please.
Alyssa: Really understanding that your clients aren't always going to know that what you're doing is harmful. They are not the experts in – they can be a Black client – they are still not an expert in coaching, they're not an expert in DEI work, they’re not an expert in anti-racism. So we can't just go around, just continuing to do things and saying like, “oh, well, no one has complained, it's fine”. They just may not know exactly what's going on, and that's how I was for a very long time as well, just because I'm Black and have experienced these things. I couldn't put a name to it, I didn't know what was going on. Some things just felt uncomfortable. Other times, especially when it comes to coaching, you can have clients that you're treating in the same way you're doing the same exact practice with, but some clients are thriving, and others aren't. And they don't know that they're not thriving, they don't know, compared to the other clients that you have, that they're not getting the same level of results. So you can't expect your clients to really tell you, “Hey, this is spiritual bypassing that you're doing with me”. They don't know!
Lee: Yeah, and it's certainly not their job to be calling you out either.
Lee: Right, but I think, and I think it was Ibram X. Kendi, who was talking about how racism is almost like it's, it's in the air we breathe, all of us, we are all a part of this, regardless of how we identify, because this is baked into our society. So yes, things are going on that are racist that we may not know, because we're looking through the lens of this is accepted behavior. That is something I have had to do a lot of work around both in coaching and as a psychotherapist, because a lot of psychology has white supremacy baked into it, you know, and to tease that out, and then to understand how that influences the coaching industry – that takes a lot of work. And it's not something that we can necessarily see right off the bat, because we have been told to look at it in this one way. versus this other perspective that I think working with a DEI expert, a DEI coach can help you refine, you can start to kind of see, “Oh, I was looking at it from this perspective, but wow, when I look at it from over here, I see it now”. And I wouldn't have seen it had I not partnered with someone to do that kind of work.
Alyssa: Exactly. And I feel like whenever I think of, I always get the question of like, “oh, why do you, why are you doing this work? Isn't it uncomfortable? Isn't it like not fun or whatever?”. And I'm always thinking about the clients that my clients will serve, and I want those clients to feel comfortable. I want those clients to have an amazing experience because I know if you're listening to this, you want to be an amazing coach, and you possibly already are, but if you aren't using tools that are helpful for all people, then your clients aren't going to get that experience. And it's like, and that's just like on one end of the spectrum, it could just be not very helpful, and on the other end of the spectrum, it can be extremely harmful. I've had extremely harmful experiences, and I'm like, I don't want that, and it was with a therapist. So it's not like the person didn't know what they were doing in terms of like, “oh, maybe they're not a good whatever”, no, she went to school. And that's what she learned in school and understanding how your viewpoints of certain groups of people, your biases, unconscious biases, they will come up even if you don't know that they are.
Lee: Yes, and that's why we have to do the work. This has been such a phenomenal conversation. Alyssa, I'm so grateful for you coming on the show. I am especially excited because in February of 2021 you are going to be the featured guest expert for the Coach with Clarity Membership. So we're going to get even more wisdom from you then. My members are already really excited. Those of you listening if you want in on it, head to CoachwithClarity.com/membership to learn more. And I also want you going to learn more about Alyssa and the work that she does. So Alyssa, where can people find you? How can they connect with you after this episode?
Lee: Excellent. We will have links to all of that in the show notes so be sure to check out the show notes and connect with Alyssa after. Thank you again for coming on the show. I have so enjoyed our conversation today.
Alyssa: Yes, me too. This was, I knew it was gonna be fun and you delivered!
Lee: No, my friend, you delivered! Thank you again for coming on the show.
Alyssa: Of course.
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Again, I am so grateful to Alyssa for coming on the show. She and I connected several months ago in a few different Facebook groups that we're both members of, and I just really connected with her spirit and her energy and the way she views DEI work and how she supports coaches. So if you are a coach who is wanting to deepen your understanding around the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion and really examine how to bring them out in your own life and in your business and in your coaching work, I cannot recommend Alyssa highly enough. You definitely need to head to her website, AlyssaHallCoaching.com
or find her on Instagram
. I can tell you she dropped some amazing stories, so definitely give her a follow over there. And while you're over on Instagram, come find me! I'm @CoachwithClarity
and let me know what you thought of today's show. And as I mentioned during the interview, Alyssa is going to be the guest expert trainer for February 2021 and she is going to be doing a deep dive into what it means to be an anti-racist coach and how to live out the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in your business. So if that is something that you want support with definitely check out the Coach with Clarity Membership
, and we would love to have you join us for the February training and everything that comes with Membership – the hot seat coaching calls, the Q&A sessions, the co-working sessions, and the community of intuitive active coaches who are there to cheer you on and support you in your coaching journey every step of the way. Just head to CoachwithClarity.com/membership
to learn more. All right, my friends. That is it for me this week, but I will be right back in your podcast feed next week with another episode of the show. So until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, encouraging you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.