The Heather Sager Show

Listening, Learning and Acting in the Way of a Change-Maker with Erica Courdae

July 29, 2020 Heather Sager Episode 48
The Heather Sager Show
Listening, Learning and Acting in the Way of a Change-Maker with Erica Courdae
Show Notes Transcript

Today I’m sharing with you my interview with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant Erica Courdae. We’re talking about the importance of leaders creating inclusive communities, especially as online entrepreneurs.

Episode Highlights

  • The role of values in business and the conversation on diversity
  • Why one sided conversations don’t serve you (or your audience)
  • What exactly is tokenism and are you unintentionally using it?
  • Black out Tuesday is over, now what?
  • Should you be changing your website graphics, slide decks and social media feeds to showcase diversity?
  • Why “should you* questions are really the wrong kind of questions
  • What lessons can we learn from influencer missteps these last few months?
  • Calling out shame in the conversation

Get the full show notes & all the links here.

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Heather:

Considering the conversations going online, where people have been, we talked about being called out, but also thinking maybe not even that forward, maybe we're facilitating a session or we're doing a podcast interview, or someone says something that is not the best way to say it, right, or it's offensive or insert whatever scenario here. Do you have a recommendation around, how do you handle that with grace on hearing feedback from other people that you've missed the mark? The first step is to shut up, and that's a hard stop forward . I love it because there is a point to where, as a podcast I listened to when she says this so eloquently, 'STFU' is free and it is. There is a point to where more people need to understand that because when you have a misstep or a transgression and you're determined to double down on it in order to, Oh no, that's not who I am, and I don't want you to think that that's what I do, or you don't know me or 'insert centering comment here' that is effectively victim shaming and trying to absolve yourself of any responsibility whatsoever. Let alone taking ownership to actually then make amends, you know , and allow that acknowledgement to be there, to then figure out what do I need to learn to go forward that I will do for myself not to require someone else to do that emotional labor for you, but none of that can happen for you to be able to go through that process and then understand that I can continue from here, and that this moment does not have to define me if I don't make it have to be that. There's something to be said for that, because I saw a lot of people doing things that made it worse because they wouldn't stop talking. You weren't listening. You didn't hear anything. You were so worried about having to intellectualize or talk your way out of this, or gaslight your way through the actions that you took, that you didn't hear, the actual harm that you caused, and then you just continue to cause harm. Stop talking and listen.

Speaker 2:

Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to have a way with words? They have this spark that lights you up when you're near them, they have the It factor. And while most people think it's something that only a few are born with, I believe that you can find it so it can become your superpower to grow your business. It's about you bringing your brand to life by becoming a magnetic communicator in person and on camera, showing up with confidence, authenticity, and inspiration. So are you ready to become magnetic? I thought so. I'm Heather Sager and I'd like to welcome you to Finding Your It Factor.

Heather:

Welcome back to another episode of Finding Your It Factor. Today, I'm going to call it. This is a required listen for anyone who listens to the show. It is an episode that all of us need as we're running our online businesses and my guest today, Erica Courdae, she has so much incredible insight. I did not want this interview to end. I know you're going to enjoy it. I'm just going to jump right to it and give you the full formal bio of what you need to know about my guest. Erica Courdae has dedicated her life to expanding how others interact with the world through powerful conversations. As an entrepreneur and certified coach, her work is frequently focused on diversity, equity and inclusion often referred to as DEI, also imperfect allyship and imposter syndrome. This work has taken her across the country onto stages and into communities as a keynote speaker and educator. Erica also has a podcast that features open conversation and dialogue about the topics of her work. It's called Pause On The Play and it's super good. There's a link down in the show notes, go check it out. Her support and leadership facilitates engaged conversations within six figure communities, international podcasts , and the live events to connect people and create change. Now you may have heard Erica on a very well known podcast here recently. She was on Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield. I highly recommend listening to that episode for a better understanding around diversity, equity and inclusion and what we need to be thinking about in business. Today's episode is going to go at a little bit of a different direction. If you've listened to Erica already on that one, stay tuned because I think you're going to be very intrigued about the conversation today. We're talking about this idea of building community. I often talk about you as a speaker, building an audience and speaking to an audience. I think what Erica does today is helped shift your perspective around the term audience and instead of thinking about how you deliver information as a one way message, think from a stage to a crowd. What if we shifted how we engage people from audiences to communities and thinking a lot more around how we're listening, how are messages sitting within the minds of other people, how other people are receiving our message. What I think is the most important thing we talk about today, which is how do we get clear on what we stand for and how do we infuse values, our values, from just things that we maybe don't even think about it all, but get a lot more intentional of determining what our values are and making them explicit. We're going to get into all this plus a lot more. I very much enjoyed my time with Erica and I know you will too . Now, if you liked this episode, please, please, please be sure to share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag both Erica and I. Our links are both in the show notes. Let's just jump in. Guys, let's just do it. It's so good. I'll see you in the interview. All right , guys. We'll welcome back to another episode of Finding Your It Factor. I'm super thrilled for this week. I know I'd say that every week, but I am really thrilled for you guys to meet Erica. Let me just jump right to it, Erica. Welcome to the show.

Erica Courdae:

Hello, hello. Thank you for having me.

Heather:

Of course, I feel like I've already gotten to know you so well in the last month . I think our first session when we met each other was almost a month ago to the date that we're recording this. I feel like we become very fast friends and I can't wait to not only dig into the conversation around what it is that you do, but also have a little bit of a different discussion today related to my audience and the idea of speaking and building a brand online and creating community, which is not what I intended this episode to be about, but after our last call that you and I had, I knew it was everything this episode needed to be. Before I jump into it, why don't you give the audience just a little glimpse around what, who you are and what you do, and then I want to dive in a little bit to the story around how you got into this work.

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely, so my name is Erica Courdae. I am a coaching consultant and the lense that I do it through is through DEI. The reason that I kind of frame it that way is because even though diversity, equity and inclusion are very, very important things to dig into. I also believe in taking care of the entire person from a holistic place, so actually being able to go and evaluate your values, how you're leading, taking them from implicit to explicit in all areas of your life. But I think that it's very important to acknowledge that you are a whole human being and what it looks like to not only do the work, but how to take care of yourself as you do it and to go through all of the things that inform, all of those decisions individually and collectively.

Heather:

I love, I love that. And I think that's one of the things that made you stand out and resonate with me and my values right away is this idea that I think a lot of times in our businesses and in our lives, we get really focused on one specific area that we want to improve or that we want to work on. Our life, and our bodies and our minds don't work in silos. You have to really be thinking about your whole person, and that's what I love. I think what you do touches all of those things. You often talk about if you're going to do any work around diversity inclusion, anti-racism it has to be both in the business and in your life, because for most of us as business owners, they really are one in the same. I I'm curious, I know I was surprised and super excited to find out about your background working for, it was like 20 years in the beauty industry. Tell us a little bit about how like that business and then how you moved into DEI work.

Erica Courdae:

I have and I'm currently still in the beauty business. I still have a salon and it's been over 23 years and so even though I'm only 12. I started in, just kind of going to hair school and then I started in apprenticeship. The beauty of me getting out of school and then going into the apprenticeship was that it started this kind of beautiful transition of me being able to hold so many positions within the industry that I had a really good grasp on what it looked like, and so whether that was being a cosmetology instructor at a Paul Mitchell school, whether that was being , an assistant manager, a manager. I still do currently have my own salon, having an entire arm of my brand that focuses on weddings, and onsite events and photo shoots. I have held all of these spaces, and so therefore I've had interactions with people to understand all of the nuances that can tend to show up and it's different little iterations around. What does it look like to be employed by someone that doesn't understand what your clients need, literally from a literal product standpoint? What does it look like to have clients that hold high ranking positions in places like government and yet they can't be their whole selves, IE, I can't wear my natural hair because I don't want someone to choose to view me differently or to undermine my authority. What it looks like to have shorter hair and how somehow that is indicative of your worth with the lack thereof and I say full air quotes on that. Just seeing how weddings for example, are supposed to be this happy day and yet people would come in and they focus on what's wrong with them. A large part of that led me to this place of rebranding a few years ago and one of the main things that I led within that rebrand was our stance in not only serving, but advocating for same sex couples, because it wasn't okay to decide that somebody else's love was not valid because it didn't look the way that you needed it to. It also led to the place of like somebody that's not getting married at 22, maybe you're not tall, white, thin, heteronormative, maybe this is your second time, you want to wear a red dress, you both have kids like it's, you know, interfaith , like you name it. We were like, yeah, we want all the things like, were those flying, like some people like the whole flying the freak flag. I'm like, I'm a fry , whatever flag it is, all the colors and all the things on it. It absolutely informed when I finally decided to begin my coaching course, which the reality is anybody that has ever gone and gotten their hair done and been there for any length of time or has accompany somebody understands that this is a therapy session. There is a lot of like, let me tell you all my stuff. I have to lay it all out. I've known you for so long. I trust you and so I've seen what it looks like for people to be vulnerable with me. I've coached people before I even knew what coaching was. When I actually took that step to formalize my education and to step into that space, it really was just an extension of something that not only had I been doing it all my life, because it's an innate thing for me, but it was a large part of my life professionally because you can't do hair and you don't have that conversation in that support piece being there at least not a hairdresser worth your salt, that's just me. It's informed how I stepped into coaching and then kind of, I hate the whole niching down, but I'm going to go with it for the sake of example. In that really being able to talk about seeing the entire person and then being able to bring themselves and that it's safe to do so and what it looks like to create equity in a small business spaces so that we are impacting financial equity. We are able to make shifts that as we are watching social uprising happen, you know, right in front of our very eyes. we're seeing , hopefully, the effects that will begin to create top down. Top down doesn't matter if the bottom doesn't want to listen. It doesn't meet. There has to be this space of also beginning to have these conversations in a way that like you are doing your part of what it looks like when the systems come down, that you are now complicit in what is more, it's better suited for equity for all. But you need both pieces to work because when we watch foolish people's storm capitals , because they want to go get a haircut. That's what happens when people don't want to listen to the rules, so you need both. What I do is my impact in , you know, how do you listen, and learn and act in a different way in order to actually be a change maker?

Heather:

I got chills and a little teary. I see we're talking there for just a moment, because I was reminded of a phrase I use a lot is this idea of, it's my audience and thinking about speaking on stages. We talk about stepping into the spotlight. I often talk about this idea that some of us were born with this desire to be on stage, to step in the spotlight, to share our message, to do something big. Other people, others are going, some of us are going, Man, I don't know that that stage really seems like something that I want to be on, but there's bigger work that we know we're here for. I say that some people are called into the spotlight. I knew this from the very first moment that I saw one of your videos on Instagram. I'm like this girl is being called into the spotlight. You're being called into the work. I love that you just talked about there's that bigger overarching message that needs to be addressed, but you saw through a very specific lens of your story and the work in that chair every single day in that beauty chair. It's just so beautiful, and it goes back to everything that you said in the beginning of why you do the work that you do right now, which is it's a full person kind of work. You mentioned, you said this word a couple times now that it really comes anchored back to your values. I know that's something that you heavily lean into when you work with businesses around that. Let's talk a little bit about this idea of values. I think it's a term that quite frankly, is overused in business. It's something that I feel like everyone thinks they need, but it's a check the box kind of thing. I want to hear from you around where a value fits in to the conversation in your work, but also I think value stems so many different facets in business and the decisions we make.

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely. The interesting part is I think there's this space of acknowledging what you value if you're thinking about, you know, valuing people as individuals. You're valuing their perspective, you're valuing the context that they provide, the insight that they share with you, of their family of origins learned experiences, things of that nature but then there's this space of what are your values? I say plural because yes, there's normally more than one thing. There's a space of what is it for your business or your brand, and what is it for you as an individual? Because I think that what can happen is, is we can conflate the two partially. It's just the fact that we can over identify with our business in a way that is not necessarily healthy, but then there's also this space of it's all the same and that can end up being a way to negate actually identifying what it is explicitly and stating that. When you, for example, I have a client who one of her values is , like travel and adventure. This is something that informs what she does and how she does it and the spaces that she moves into and the people that she serves and how she does that, but that didn't necessarily fit into her brand. And so it may inform that she does, but it didn't necessarily have anything to do with the fact that, you know, having that courage to actually not only talk about your story, but to own it and to lead with that, that was more important for her. I think it's important to be able to identify what are your values, what are the values of your brand, which is going to inform everything that you do, who works with you, who you employ, you know. I was trying to remind people when we think about, you know, who you employ or who you're working with, from the staff point of view, the inside. This is everybody, this is your copywriter. These are your coaches. These are the VA, this this isn't just the people that you employ. This is everybody that is contributing to that collective whole. That is the goal of what you are creating. And so you want to be able to have it clear, what is it that you are leading with? What is it that you informed the choices that you make within that business and that everyone there has to take those things through that lens and what can happen that we was very clearly go awry. Sadly, after the murder of George Floyd was people not clearly knowing what to do and how to act and what they stood for. One of the examples was blackout Tuesday and people didn't really know how to react and not only were they going with the, you know , kind of, operative that was given to them by somebody else, but they also didn't clearly know, well, what do I stand for? When someone comes here, is my stance visible? Are my ethics embroiled in everything that I do in a way that if they scroll back three rows , that they're not going to be like, wait a minute, there's no diversity here. I smell a fake. What's happening ? Because there were a lot of people that's like, I'm going to do all this stuff and then it was like, wait, wait. Now all the diversity just went away because now it didn't matter anymore and I'm using air quotes. If you stand for something, it needs to be a part of what you do and how you do it on a consistent basis, not just when it's cool, not just when you're afraid of being called out, not just when it's, you know, last thing to do at the moment. This is consistent action. No matter what side of the earth the sun is shining on. Period.

Heather:

Yes, all the yes with that. I think in those moments of high levels of discomfort, like think about like blackout Tuesday as the example. You and I talked about this on the call that we had last month. That was the day that, like other people going, Oh my God, like, what do you do? Do you react? This fear of how you'll be perceived by others? Like there were so many weird things to navigate and a lot of it, it comes back to these, could be avoidable if you are really clear around what you stand for, and you're bringing that into your brand. I think it's really fascinating . I want hit on what you said, because it really, it stuck really true for me. And this, when you talk about how, oftentimes, especially when we build personal brand based businesses, we identify our brand and our values is one and the same. We wrap up so much of our identity in our business brand or professional brand and they really are two different things. I think whether it's in business, whether it's in the conversations around Blackout Tuesday, Black Lives Matter, when those conversations became the forefront here just a couple of months ago. I think that really ripped people apart because I think a lot of people were struggling between what they believe personally versus what they felt their business should believe, and they were struggling around how do they bring those two things together. I'm curious, just your thoughts around that idea of, is it really about, especially people who have personal brands online? Is there the ability for them to separate certain things or are there certain issues or certain values that have to be infused in order for them to be authentic? The first thing is that concept of should. There was this thing of like, I should be amplifying black voices. I should have the black square. I should have more black woman on my podcast. It's like, okay, but is that how you operate?

Erica Courdae:

Do you actually hold a value that is reflective of these actions? There is a place of acknowledging what your values are and if those values don't have specific values included that you think should be there, diversity, inclusivity , diversity , lack of misogyny existing, whatever that is, like 'insert thing here.' If that doesn't exist, I would ask you to dig a little deeper but the reality is that, that might be all that there is, and that's okay too. But you need to be honest about that so that therefore people can decide whether or not to take in your content, to subscribe to what it is that you say, and to identify themselves with you and what you are building. We watched a number of specifically white female business leaders that maybe didn't hold the values as high as they should, I will air quotes again, 'should have', or 'could have' in a way that was more conducive to everybody that was in there following. What happened was everybody then was like, wait, wait. I believe in diversity. And it's like, do you? I think it's important to acknowledge whether or not you actually do or do not believe in certain things. And if you don't, you need to be upfront with that. Just as much as you need to be upfront with the fact that you do. Whatever it is, that is the cornerstone of what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. It needs to be said clearly, plainly and straight to the point. People shouldn't have to guess what you support. People shouldn't have to guess if they're going to be represented in what you provide. The question really just gets this place of, do you believe or stand for something that maybe you haven't been explicit in? And if you do, how do you move to a place that you can be more explicit about that? And if not, what does that mean, because I don't think that you have to do it. Do I want more people to do it? Absolutely. But it's not up to me to dictate your path. It's not up to me to decide how you have to move through life, but it is up to me to be able to say that I don't want to feel bamboozled when I buy someone's product, because you stuck up the photo with the black hand in it to seem like you were cool. Like, I want to know that what I'm seeing, hearing and getting from you is authentic and that's actually what it is and then let me make my decision.

Heather:

I love the bamboozled. It's interesting that, as you were talking about that idea around values, the picture that came to my mind, it wasn't really a picture, but just some phrasing around this idea that you can respect the value of diversity inclusion, meaning that you can be like, Oh yeah, that's a good thing but it doesn't mean that you embody it. There's a difference between it being on the shelf and fully embracing it and making that part of your business. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I feel like there are some people who are not ready to explicitly say that for whatever their reasons are, but there's difference between that. It's just the, respecting it, is that harmful?

Erica Courdae:

I'm glad that you mentioned that because I think that there are some people that now feel as though they need to go to their values page on their website and put diversity and inclusion on it. I'm like, wait, if that is it actually, if that's not accurate and you're just doing it because it's like , I'm good. I'm saying don't come after me. No, that is not the thing to do. I think that when you identify your values. I think that i t is one thing to be explicit in your values. It is another to tell yourself that being explicit in your values means that your values have to be specific values stated as they are. In the sense of, I think that if, you know, for a fact that, and so I have a client and she's claimed me publicly, so it's okay if I mentioned her. Ending entrepreneurial poverty is a big thing for her. Seeing how many women start businesses and they're not able to sustain them. They're not able to get above a certain income levels and how too large of an amount of that number are black women. For her, like it's a value to end entrepreneurial poverty, but that in itself has the diversity and equity pieces in it. If you look at her values and they don't explicitly say for example, and I'm using her as an example, because you could put this in with any entrepreneur. If they didn't explicitly say diversity or equity to them, the reality is that there are certain values that are going to have specific things embroiled in them. If you look at ending the pay gap between men and women, there's going to be a certain amount of equity that is embroiled in that. But I do also know that using the feminist movement, for example, you do have to be explicit because the feminist movement at its core is not actually for all women, it is made for white women. I have a number of articles to support this. Feel free to contact me if you'd like me to share. I think that there is a place to where being able to identify those values, you're also identifying what they are in action and what are the pieces that feed into it because, you know, ending the wage gap. Yeah. That's just a couple of words, but what does that mean? What do you do for that? Sometimes people get so stuck on identifying the word or the phrase that they don't then go to the next step is. What is this an action? How do you actually do this thing that contributes to the being that you inhabit? In order to actually get to that state of being, you have to identify the thing and what it looks like as an action. Don't get so wrapped up in, what's the word, what's the action, what are you doing, who are you doing it for, how do you showcase that? Be more like wrapped into that piece, than the box ticking. That doesn't actually do anything

Heather:

The idea around the action thing, I think that's the rabbit hole that I think entrepreneurial-ism, you're talking about that here with your specific client. I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with that as they try to name themselves, they try to name what they do, they name their, we joked about the niche earlier. We get so caught up in labeling and the words we use and the marketing messages, but really it comes down to the action. I like how you put that around, can you actually visualize what actions you be taking to make that value come to life ?

Erica Courdae:

Correct, correct.

Heather:

I love that phrasing there. You know, one of the re-frame that you, Oh, side note, before I forget on this. Your topic around feminism, talking about the like uncomfortable conversations, we want to have, like I want those articles. I want you to send me some of those. I want to put them in the show notes because, personally, I want as a white woman, like I'm doing my own work right now that you and I had been working on a little bit around how, how do I start looking at things in a different lens that I've never looked at before? Anyway , I want those. I'm sure, I 'm sure you've heard a little ear of some other people t oo. What do we need to read now? I want to read all the things. We're all going down that there, but what I want to talk about is one of the re-frames that happened on our last call that you and I had. Let me be explicit with my audience when I mentioned the calls with Erica. I hired Erica to come into my business. I'm not proud of the timing on this, but I also feel like sometimes life creates opportunities for us to work on things we need to work on that we should have worked on earlier, but timing is a, it's timing, it's what we make it. I remember I found your Instagram video probably within 24 hours of the Blackout Tuesday. I remember I watched a lot of videos as many other people did. I w atched a lot of people that week. I remember there wa s s omething about your video and just the way that you communicated. As a speaking coach, I'm like, I like her speaking style. I like her. I clicked on your link and bio, and immediately you had a, book a, 'ask me anything' session. I'm like, yup and it was like four weeks out on your calendar. I'm like, I have to get it on this now, so I b ook that session. You and I h ad that now probably about a month ago. I booked the 'ask me anything' session. We've now had two sessions, you and I, and trying to figure out how to not only do my own work personally and in business, but also one of the things that's really important for me is I help entrepreneurs share their messages on stages. Part of my values that I'm unpacking is figuring out how do I bring that beyond. I've been focused around women with invisible disabilities. As I have with the hearing loss, I've been focused on more women being represented on stages, but I had never focused explicitly on diversity by backgrounds, skin, colors, race, anything beyond those two things. I realized that there's alignment in my values of having more voices be heard, but I need to be far more intentional and explicit with who I'm working with because there are so many more messages that need to be shared. That was a big reason of why I'm working with you a big reason of why I wanted you here today, because I think when people take the stage, we're so used to our conversations, being one sided , where we push out our ideas and you help me understand that really it's less about the one-sided conversation and more about creating community with the audiences that you speak with. I just throw a lot out there for a second, but can you unpack that a little bit about this shift in thinking, what if we didn't consider it as our audience, but rather our community, what becomes possible with that shift?

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely. One of the first things that comes to mind is when we think about community, it then kind of makes it inherently feel like this is space that we inhabit as well, and that the wellbeing is a shared concept, and so your wellbeing and their wellbeing goes hand in hand. There's a piece of the community aspect that when you consider it from that place, you're able to understand that someone else's lack of access, lact lack of visibility, lack of resources, it impacts you as well. Being able to look at people as a part of a community, humanizes them, and then being able to have the same, you know, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness types of concepts. It humanizes them in a way that you're seeing them as individuals that are simply wanting to be able to take advantage of the things that you take for granted and have them easily accessible. But it also puts you in a place of being able to humanize them in a way that you don't other them and their experiences. You don't other their problems. It all of a sudden it's like, wait. If this is what happens to me, but then when it happens to them, it doesn't look like that. Why? That's not okay. That can change things. I think that same type of concept changes what can happen when you think about speaking and based on the fact that as we are recording and likely when this comes out, we will still be in captivity. There is t he concept of what it looks like currently. Even though we're not able to be in person as we had the luxury to before, that we didn't even realize it was a luxury. We took it for granted. I'm going say that based in my own hand fully. There was this place of , really thinking about speaking is standing on a stage, if all these lights on you and you're speaking into this black void and you're like, I can't see anybody, but I know there's people there. Yeah, they can hear me, but they can't actually say anything back. It very much feels like one way communication, which is an audience. They're listening. That energy that they're exuding, the thoughts that are coming up, the awareness that you're triggering, they can't share that with you in that type of space, which is why for me, and I've spoken on stages and at the same time, I like the concept of being able to be to have access to the people that I'm speaking to, to be able to have that moment where you can share the mic and tell me what came up for you, what was it that came to mind, what experiences have you had, and you're able to not only give voice to where you are with it, but you're also able to likely be able to give words to something that someone else was experiencing that maybe they couldn't language. At that point, it then becomes two way dialogue , because both people are talking, both people are listening. Information is being shared. That conduit has been activated, and that's a very different place of continuing that concept of humanizing people versus othering them and understanding that there is an entire space that exists outside of what your normal is. It is just as normal, even though it's not your normal. It's important to really value and share what it is to create community. When people listen to you, appreciate them giving you that space in their time. When people want you to share your particular way of doing things and processing things, and they are listening and wanting to have that conduit activated with you, that's a gift. You want to be able to show a certain amount of reciprocity and appreciation by listening and participating. And that's, what's so important and necessary with creating community, as opposed to the one way communication of an audience.

Heather:

I love that question that you used with an audience that would be great is what came up for you. That idea when you have the ability, when it's a smaller group, or let's say right now, virtually you're in a zoom room and you can actually see faces, checking in with people. It's not such a pointed question where you're guiding what you want their outcome, but what came up for you. It's this beautiful thing that happens is when you deliver information, people experience it. And as you said , it activates things for them. I think sometimes it's about, as a speaker, letting go that the way you view something or the way you want something to land for others, is just letting go of that outcome and letting it live and come to life in that other person. You just reminded me of that . I think that's where the most beautiful message delivery comes from is when you let it go and allow them to experience it fully.

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely, because when you hold it so tightly and you relegate it to having to exist in the bubble that you have deemed worthy, and yet you are not allowing it to breathe. You're not allowing it to actually exist in whatever form is most necessary therapeutic or of support to that person in that moment. Then when will you be on the other side of someone putting you in that position, when you don't have access to what you need in that moment, the support that's going to facilitate your expansion, you moving to the next place, you being able to take that next breath, whatever that thing is. And so, again, that conduit. If you aren't able to give it, you have to understand that there's going to be a point that you're not going to be able to receive it. In order to be able to receive it, you have to give i t. It's like t hat person. That's like, I love giving gifts, but you never r eceive them. You're breaking the conduit. You have to let it work in its entirety in order for it to actually do its job.

Heather:

Yeah, it's the idea around of humility. I like this idea of like competence paired with humility is that oftentimes when you want to be seen as the expert or the person in charge in the front of the room, if you don't have that humility factor to be willing to hear how your message lands, or maybe how your message misses the mark. I mean, you're not really in service to others. It's a really beautiful way to put it.

Erica Courdae:

Yeah, I agree. It makes me think of like my son. He's like, mommy, I know everything. I'm like a smart man knows nothing, kid. There's that place of whatever it is, no matter how large, or small, or impactful it may feel in that moment, allowing yourself to be able to consider what you haven't previously or what maybe is a re-frame or what's just different or new, or I never heard it that way before. Just being open.

Heather:

Do you have any recommendations, I'm gonna put you on the spot here for a second, but considering the conversations going online where people have been, we talked about being called out, but also thinking maybe not even that forward, maybe we're facilitating a session or we're doing a podcast interview, or someone says something that is not the best way to say it, right, or i t's offensive or 'insert whatever scenario' here. Do you have a recommendation around how do you handle that with grace on hearing feedback from other people that you've missed the mark?

Erica Courdae:

The first step is to shut up and that's a hard stop because there is a point to where , there's a podcast I listened to when she says this so eloquently, 'STFU' is free and it is. There is a point to where more people need to understand that because when you have a misstep or a transgression and you're determined to double down on it in order to, Oh no, that's not who I am. I don't want you to think that that's what I do or you don't know me or 'insert centering comment' here that is effectively victim shaming and trying to absolve yourself of any responsibility whatsoever. Let alone taking ownership to actually then make amends, you know, allow that acknowledgement to be there, to then figure out what do I need to learn to go forward that I will do for myself not to require someone else to do that emotional labor for you. But none of that can happen for you to be able to go through that process and then understand that I can continue from here and that this moment does not have to define me if I don't, you know, make it, have to be that. There's something to be said for that, because I saw a lot of people doing things that made it worse because they wouldn't stop talking. You weren't listening. You didn't hear anything. You were so worried about having to intellectualize or talk your way out of this, or gaslight your way through the actions that you took, that you didn't hear, the actual harm that you caused, and then you just continue to cause harm. Stop talking and listen, more listening would change the landscape as a whole and not just the like the mom's chastising you, but from a place of actually hearing people. Actually taking the time to understand what's being said, even if you don't fully understand it yet. Hold the space in a capacity for that possibility.

Heather:

Beautifully said. I think that the active listening is, I think something that most of us suck at. I think most of us suck at and I think this has been a learning opportunity for many myself included around, be more aware of the lack of listening and just give space. Give space for it. What if this became the time where you actually put into practice listening skills?

Erica Courdae:

Well, the interesting thing is that, so like when I started my coaching course, it completely shifted how most of us listen in the sense that we're taught to listen. And as we're listening to be thinking of the reply, or how to have the answer, how to come back with the witty rebuttal. That's not the point. The point is to actually listen, process and then speak, which is where sometimes you can have that pause that some people think it's awkward. It's not awkward. That's leaving the space for like, are you actually done or were you processing before I step in? If you have invited me to do so, you know, put my take on this. You also have to have that awareness to understand that when that happens, what are some of the correlations when that happens? Are you often the person that's trying to convince someone that, that wasn't what you did if it's a woman? Do you frequently do that if it's a woman of color? Do you frequently do that if someone is non-binary? You can't just wrap their entire existence up in your head, and so therefore 'course what you're saying, can't make sense. I can't make sense of you.

Heather:

I think that it's important to acknowledge where unconscious biases can pop up and just that programming that has you respond to people in a specific way, like I've had conversations with clients around how certain sales tactics resonated with them and how it may have resonated from a woman of color versus a woman that's white.

Erica Courdae:

Being able to identify where any unconscious biases are popping up, being able to identify is it wrapped in the societal boxes of you have to be this type of woman in order to be respected, like just being able to see like when this comes up. I respond in this way or react in this way, what usually goes along with that ? What is it that has triggered me to feel as though I must defend my honor in this moment? Like, you're about to slap somebody with a glove and go to a duel because you're now offended. What is just happened that you now have to get indignant and dig your heels in and double down on the foolishness.

Heather:

I have so many thoughts going through my head right now in a couple different ways, but I'm wondering if this might be a really awkward, but interesting time for people to be recording themselves, like when they're having conversations in zoom rooms or they're facilitating a workshop, or I tell people to record themselves whenever, but just that idea of like what triggered you to go to battle? I mean, add the conversation around diversity like that's going to open up like a whole new gate where people get defensive, but it even happens in just some simple things when people argue with you around your business process. It's just the awareness of being reactive and defensive and not listening. I think that is something that we all have a much bigger opportunity to just to understand where that happens, but we'll make sure, I think coming back to it, make sure that it's, if you're going to die on your sword, like if you're going to go to battle, like, is that actually an alignment with your values? Is it something that you actually care about? Or are you more worried about how you're going to look.

Erica Courdae:

Yes, and that facade is, it's not going to cover you as you die on that sword. It's just not, and this is where having that awareness almost playing in the background. That's just kind of like, Oh, wait a minute. What was that? I think that that's an important thing to be able to acknowledge what's coming up and how are you responding to a certain stimulus and being able to acknowledge the concept of like, is this mine or is this someone else's like. I think when we think about the stories that we're told, it's important to acknowledge is that story in your voice or someone else's because if it's not yours, it's important to acknowledge that this was given to me and I've carried it, but I don't know that I want to continue carrying it. That's a piece of that awareness that then allows you to decide what happens next. You have to actively, you know, and actually decide like, okay, I see you. I no longer want you to take up free space in my head, like you can't live here rent for you . This is not going to happen anymore. What does that mean? What supporting factors need to shift along with it in the sense of what made you think that if you're a man, what made you think that it was okay to tell a woman off that gave you a suggestion about your email funnel? What was it that made you feel as though, how would she know? Who is she to tell me?

Heather:

Beginning to notice it and say , uh , yeah, like I can feel offended, but it's another to notice that the offense actually didn't have anything to do with the offense. It's so powerful and it's so uncomfortable to think about it, right? Because none of us want to take ownership around maybe where our own attachments to the meaning of things are actually what's causing us to be angry, but usually that's where it stems from. It's hard to notice that, but when you put the energy into noticing, that's when you actually can start making change.

Erica Courdae:

Yes, you can't do anything with no awareness because then what are you paying attention to?

Heather:

Yeah, I agree. Okay. I want to go, I want to go down a little bit of a different path here for a moment 'cause it's something that you helped me with with a really good insight. I'm going to talk about the the term tokenism. something that's coming up a lot right now, especially in the online space. I just saw a popular email marketer talking about this this week. One of the questions is coming up, primarily, from white women coaches, online course creators who are now knowing, Oh, crap, my website or my slide deck, or my 'insert any kind of marketing material' is with white women who look like me and then what happens, but here's the grapple and this is what I had asked you about. I loved your insight on this. I was going, I don't want to change it 'cause I feel like changing it feels yucky 'cause now it feels like it's based off of the timing of the conversation versus what I actually have changed it earlier. I want you to talk a little bit about this piece because I think as an awkward piece, nobody wants to talk about, but we do need to talk about it and it does need to change, but it needs to change for the right reasons.

Erica Courdae:

Correct. The first thing I want to acknowledge is that when we think of tokenism, the easiest way to conceptualize it, when it comes to online small businesses, or entrepreneurs, or speakers is the concept of having an online parking lot. That is your website, your social media and all of a sudden you realize, wait, all the cars here are white. I'm going to put a black car in there and we're good. And it's like, but why, I don't know why this is here. The challenge comes up when it is this ancillary thing that is just floating. It's not attached to anything it's not tethered or grounded in anything and there's no actual purpose as to why it's there. And so putting that there only leads to more questions of why is this here? Who are you? I don't know that I truly understand this brand and who this individual is and whether or not I want to listen to what they have to say, because when you decide to shift your imagery , or any of your messaging, whether it's visual or verbal, the talks that you're having, you can't pop a black character in here, pop a gay character in here. That's not how that works because what's the context to the story. What is the context of the services that you offer, who you work with on the internal side of your brand, who is it that you give your money to as an entrepreneur, the coaches or other pieces of your supply chain that you're actually fueling with your funds? Who is it that you serve as your client base? If there is no diversity in skin color, age, any other type of demographic or societal indicators, you can't all of a sudden pop that in and think that that fixes the challenge. It starts by saying, if this is what I want to change, is this what I want to change first? And if so, why? I think it's important to acknowledge maybe why it hasn't happened. Just to be able to give yourself some understanding, to be able to maybe say, okay, I haven't done it because I didn't know how. I haven't done it because I don't work with that many black women or I haven't done it because I couldn't find stock photos, and so those types of comments. Let's say the last one, for example, you couldn't find stock photos. Okay. Does that mean that you couldn't find photos that represented your clients being that maybe you don't work with them in person and a lot of it's online or is it that you work with people online and offline, but you don't have any images that actually represent the people that you work with being diverse because they're all white. When you're working with these people, there is no actual diversity here. Images are not going to all of a sudden create something that isn't there. That's not how that works. It's important to be able to figure out if this is what you want to change, what are you changing? Who are you changing it for? Why are you changing it? And what does it look like to be able to shift your business to actually support this? If this is what you want to do, are you listening to the voices of the people that you say that you want to support? Are you actually understanding of their specific so that you can take that into consideration with what you provide? If you're a speaker and you're speaking about growing up in a diverse community as a child and how that influenced you beginning , you know, your entrepreneurial journey as an adult, but there's no diversity anywhere else. It feels kind of weird that you're going to pull that out when it's going to get you the cookies all of a sudden. I guess they are good. No, what's the purpose, why like this needs to be more deeply rooted into what you're doing, but you have to do the work first to understand like, why am I doing this and can I actually do this? Is this really what I want to do because I don't want people to hop on. And then it's like, Oh, I don't have to do that anymore. I'm just going to go back behind my shield of being born in a white body in America and ignore all those other things. Let's not play that game. If you're going to do it, do it. But you know, know your why.

Heather:

I think that piece there on like the knowing your why, this right now, we're a few months at the time of this recording, we're about eight weeks past the like epitome when the conversations really came in online, around Blackout Tuesday. I bring this up because I think maybe a month ago, a lot of people were making those actions, maybe not in alignment with their core why, but based off of what you said earlier around what they quote- unquote should do. I feel like the next, whatever happens next is a really good opportunity to re-explore the why, re-explore the values and then make strategic decisions in your business, in your life that align with that. They're not a knee jerk reaction. As you and I were talking, I had a little moment of brilliance. I wrote down on my piece of paper based off what you said in it. I wrote down authenticity is the action of your values. You were saying earlier around like the difference between having values on paper versus in like actually taking action of what they represent. I think a lot of this conversation goes back around authenticity, like, do you believe it and is that feel in alignment with you? I know in that specific conversation with what you and I talked about, I didn't end up changing any of the pictures on the specific webpage I was dressing because it was all photos of me and it would be weird to put other photos on there just because, I felt I quote-unquote, 'should.'. However, thinking about, I think for a lot of people listening, thinking about who's in your community now, and that kind of community that you want to represent, how do you represent them in the images? That was something that you really helped me understand. Could you talk about that just for a sec?

Erica Courdae:

Well, and I think that, yes, exactly what you said. You want your kind of online billboards to be that representation of the actual groups that you hold space for. If you want that to shift, then I think there's that space to begin having the dialogue and asking those questions as to maybe why , certain people aren't aren't attracted to you or your message. Is it that they don't see themselves reflected? Is it that they don't want or need what you have? Is it that you don't actually provide a safe space where they feel as though there'll be seen and heard? It's not always that they don't have the money to pay for you. They just might not want to give you their money. I think that they don't have money is a cap out, and that's a way of being the C student that's so badly wants to be the A- and you can't get there and you want to put the ownership on someone else. You won't study harder. You'll just say, Oh, it's not my fault, circumstances. Nope. I was like, no, that's you. What is your responsibility here to be able to do the work? What does it look like to begin to evolve your ethics and integrate them into everything else that you do from implicit to explicit and doing it in a way that you are allowing people to see the welcome mat and to know that they can walk in that they're invited in. I think that doing that in more of a slow burn is better than like, I'm just going to whip it out and put all black women. It's like, that's a lie. Don't do that. That's not true, like that's pandering. That is tokenism. That is virtue signaling. How many other words can I put on? Like that is not the thing to do. If everything changes overnight, you can also put people in shock. They're like, wait, I don't even know where I am. There's this place of being able to allow people to see your evolution and to have a front row seat in it, because then they buy into who you are and how you operate and they can possibly see themselves as a recipient of what you provide in your message and the space that you hold, because they're like, yeah , they're cool. They get it. All right . I can do this. I can do this. It's very different than I'm gonna change everything and then you're going to show up and then in three weeks, you're going to be like, Oh, hell, I don't know who this person is. Now I need my money back. I can't do this. This is terrible, like don't do the bait and switch. That's terrible .

Heather:

We don't like that in any aspect of businesses, especially, around this topic. You know , thinking about this, I know a lot of people are listening and going, Man, she's cool. I like her. I like her style. I like what she's talking about. You've talked about this idea of moving from implicit to explicit. I know you have a workshop on this. I know this because I'm coming to it. That's happened in live this week, but you're doing these often. Can you talk a little bit about your masterclass? What that looks like? 'Cause I think there might be some other people who are interested in taking this .

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely, just to give everybody an idea, we had it last week or having it this week and the one in September, like soon as we announced it , it was already down two seats. They go quickly because we hold space for just six people in the room. It's for CEOs because this is your space to be able to go through what you believe in what you stand for, what you stand against. Being able to understand more about the clients that you're currently serving, the people that you want to serve, how you can serve them better, but really being able to get a good grasp on how you can actually go from allowing your values to be something that lives in your head, to something tangible that you can communicate to those on your team, that help you to bring that into flourishing , with everything that you do. How is it that people can come and learn more about you and know that this actually does matter. This is who you are, and this is an inherent part of how you operate. I think everything that happened really reminded us that allowing these things to be implicit, and Oh yeah, people know. No, they don't. No, they don't. It's doing yourself and them a disservice to not be open and honest about it. It does you a disservice because then again, like we talked about in the beginning, it's harder to know how to respond and to act when certain things come up. It's hard to understand who it is that you actually do like and enjoy and are energized by working with. Who is going to be able to truly get the benefit of working with you? Those things can't happen if these values aren't explicit and that changes everything. The next one we have is coming up in September. I believe it's September 16th. We like to be able to again, give the CEO space to do this and then from there you can go back, disseminate it to your team and be able to integrate it into everything else that you do. This is your space to be in the room with like-minded people that are trying to do the same thing. You can actually be like, I don't know. I'm trying to figure it out and I need support. And that's okay because you don't have to be the authority in all spaces at all times. There has to be space for you to be human and to figure out what it looks like to evolve and to be the next best version of yourself, and that can't happen if you don't have the opportunity to actually do that.

Heather:

Yeah. Thank you for creating the space for that. I'm really looking forward to the workshop. I think the timing is a beautiful thing, but I think related to the conversations happening over the last few months , it's great timing with that. I think furthermore, I think the idea of getting clear on your values, so you know how to make the right kinds of decisions in your business and get more intentional with building your community and building the kind of community that you want to have. It's a beautiful thing. I'm really looking forward to it. I know it's a small, small group, so there are other people listening. They might not get in, or they might not have space for it, but you do offer these kinds of conversations on your podcast . Can you talk a little bit about Pause On The play? I love that show.

Erica Courdae:

Absolutely, Pause On The Play is my podcast and my business partner is my co-host, India Jackson, and all the gloves come off. We talk very openly, very honestly, very candidly. We talk about exactly what it looks like to have these exact things happening, but what it looks like for you as an individual, what it looks like for you as a business owner, how does this show up in your business? How does this impact and influence your life? Again, that whole life taking care of the whole person, we engage all of those pieces. It's a space to where if you want to be a fly on the wall to kind of have some things to consider, and you really are just like, I know that I need to do the work and I'm nervous and I'm not sure what to do. I don't know what's next, or I don't know who's the best person for me. You get an opportunity to hear just like you did today. What it's like to work with me or what it's like to work with India and I together to decide if that is the best choice for you and full transparency, I don't care who you do the work with. Just do the work.

Heather:

Yes, Amen to that. I think for a lot of entrepreneurs that are listening, if you're a quote-unquote solopreneur, some people might put themselves in the backend of going, Oh my gosh, I don't have a team. I don't need to be doing this yet. I'm just going to call BS on that one. I technically am a solopreneur. I have a virtual assistant. Yes. I have some contractors in my business. I think like now is the best time to do it because I think what you taught, well, we always should be doing it. There shouldn't be a quote-unquote time where it's the only time we do it. I think what you said earlier around this idea that it's the whole person, there's the business and the individual and they come together. You may as well untangle those two things now and get really clear on both so that you can grow in the way that you want to grow in your business, but also in your life and really owning the kind of person that you want to be. The values that you stand for. It's only going to do improvement in your life. I highly recommend that everybody not just read books, not just listen to podcasts, but actually invest your time and financial resources into doing this work because that's, it's just so important. That's so important. I can't say it enough.

Erica Courdae:

I agree, fully agree.

Heather:

Okay, Erica, I value you. Also, I've kept you for a long time today. We're gonna wrap this up here. As we come to a close on the interview today, there's a couple of questions that I like to ask everyone so I'm going to fire you. Number one, the name of the show is Finding Your It Factor. I'm curious for you. What would you say is your It factor in your online business?

Erica Courdae:

The fact that the way that I approach DEI work and anti-racism work is not based in shame. I don't think that everyone bases it in shame, but I think often the way that people process having to do this work is about I'm going to feel like a terrible human when I start this. You can receive awareness and process feelings. Understand that any shame that you might feel comes from the attention that you need to give to something, but it is not because someone cracked the whip on you and put their leather boot on your neck as a diversity dominatrix and told you you're a terrible white person and you need to fix yourself . I don't tend to do that. And I think that it is possible to shift without having to have someone employ you based on them shaming you.

Heather:

That's powerful words. Okay. I'm not going to do follow up questions because that's so good. We're going to wrap it up there. Before we put it in there, is there any additional words of wisdom that you'd like to share with our audience today?

Erica Courdae:

Just keep moving, like imperfect allyship, imperfect action. Like an imperfect allyship is a part of imperfect action. Just keep moving .

Heather:

So beautiful. So beautiful. All right, guys, I'm going to connect to all of the places where you can connect with Erica. She's on Instagram. I love following her Instagram stories. You post to my GTV here and there and then also her podcasts along with India Jackson. It is really, really good. Ericacourdae.com, also all the links to connect with her are in the show notes. Erica, thank you so much for spending your time with me here today. I value you so much and I know my audience is going to love this episode.

Erica Courdae:

Thank you so much, Heather and I invite everyone to come talk with me. Let me know your thoughts.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Heather:

Guys, thanks so much for listening to Finding Your It Factor. And hey, if you have a talk coming up, you have to check out my free resource. It's called Nail Your Next Talk. 10 must ask questions before taking the stage so you can show up as an authority and turn that talk into future business. These are the questions that I use myself to prepare for my life talks, and they're going to help you ask the right questions of the person who booked you for the event. So the meeting planner or the client, and it's going to help you serve your audience to the best way possible. It's going to help you anticipate potential tech or 80 snags. Turn the Q&A time into a strategic place for content and make this speaking opportunity, a lead generator for your business. So go get it. What are you waiting for? It's over at heathersager.com/ 10Questions

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] .