Episode 1

full
Published on:

8th Mar 2022

CultureRoad™ Podcast - Episode 1: My CultureRoad

In today’s episode, CultureRoad™ creator and host DeEtta Jones is the subject of an up-close and personal interview, conducted by Personal Branding Strategist Aaja Corinne Magee. DeEtta Jones is a 32-year industry veteran, transformational leadership expert, and owner of DeEtta Jones and Associates, the go-to management training and strategic consulting firm for some of the world’s leading companies and institutions. Visit DeEttaJones.com for more information.

  • [04:00] - Identity through the lens of growing up bi-racial
  • [12:24] - The value and power of mentorship
  • [16:22] - DeEtta’s professional career
  • [33:14] - What CultureRoad™ is all about
  • [41:48] - Three practical steps to further your self-discovery journey

Key quotes:

  • “I have to put this in front of me. And I have to figure out how to work through it.” [08:36]
  • “I felt like she was the perfect example of generosity, love, and mentorship. And she poured into me without trying to make me into her.” [13:03]
  • “Don’t go small. Do not be tempted by the minutiae. Don’t be tempted by the polarization. There’s not ever only two options.” [21:02]
  • “When cultures change, which they do, we have to anchor to something. What I don’t want is for us to anchor to the pain and the trauma.” [33:26]
  • “I want CultureRoad™ to be a place where aspiration is what we focus on.” [34:27]
  • “What I want is to help create and hold space for people who also want to find where it is that we should go next, and then us build it together.” [34:39]
  • “Look for opportunities in your organization, in your community, in your daily practice to actually demonstrate the things that reflect your shared values.” [43:06]

This episode is brought to you by:

CultureRoad™, a live and on-demand digital learning solution powered by DeEtta Jones and Associates. CultureRoad™ is an easy-to-use subscription, delivering fresh content monthly and access to experts, to help professionals at all levels thrive in the contemporary workplace. Stay up-to-date with best practices on DEI, and acquire the necessary skills and tools to effectively lead, manage, and influence others. Get connected with this community of practice to further your professional development at cultureroad.com

Transcript
Aaja:

Welcome to the culture road podcast, the

place where we believe that diversity

Aaja:

equity and inclusion is a lifestyle.

Aaja:

Meet your host.

Aaja:

Jones, 32 year industry veteran

transformational leadership expert, and

Aaja:

the owner of Jones and associates,

the go-to management training and

Aaja:

strategic consulting firm for some of the

world's leading companies and institutions.

Aaja:

Tune in to this podcast for fresh

perspectives and hot topics and

Aaja:

current events that are shaping today's

society and the contemporary workplace.

DeEtta DeEtta:

Thank you.

DeEtta DeEtta:

Thank you so much.

DeEtta:

Wow!

DeEtta:

That cultural road podcast, episode one,

you know how you drink, dream things up.

DeEtta:

And then the moment finally comes.

DeEtta:

It's a really surreal feeling.

DeEtta:

You're in for a treat.

DeEtta:

For more than 30 years, my career

has taken me around the world and has

DeEtta:

allowed me the opportunity to peek inside

of well-known organizations, across

DeEtta:

industries like advertising and government

higher education publishing healthcare

DeEtta:

as fast as the span and as different as

each of the organizations are internally,

DeEtta:

each share similarities with regard

to the common issues that they face in

DeEtta:

adapting to the societal advancements

that have forced change in the work place.

DeEtta:

We are undoubtedly in a new world of work.

DeEtta:

One where old systems

are being challenged.

DeEtta:

Leadership is being held to greater

levels of accountability and where

DeEtta:

global crisis has taken a front seat

in the daily course of business, no

DeEtta:

longer can companies and managers

turned a blind eye to what is happening

DeEtta:

outside of the four walls of their work.

DeEtta:

Being in the know and understanding how

world issues and developments in popular

DeEtta:

culture are impacting their employees

is to their benefit and determining

DeEtta:

how to best navigate and transition.

DeEtta:

So how did I get here in today's episode?

DeEtta:

I want to talk to you about my

culture road, how my beginnings

DeEtta:

would lead one to believe that

I was least likely to candidate

DeEtta:

yet a divine path opened up

that led me to have a potential

DeEtta:

impact that I still hope to have.

DeEtta:

I'm joined by a personal branding,

strategist, Asia Kerryn McGee,

DeEtta:

who is going to help me pull this

story out so that I don't skip

DeEtta:

over any of the good stuff Asia.

DeEtta:

Welcome.

DeEtta:

And thank you for joining me today.

DeEtta:

Deetta I am incredibly excited.

DeEtta:

I had the opportunity to chat with you

just to learn your story firsthand.

DeEtta:

And I knew then that more people needed

to hear about the makings of this woman.

DeEtta:

And I'm really excited about

today's conversation because you

DeEtta:

know, many people see you here.

DeEtta:

Three decades later, the work

that you're doing impacting firms

DeEtta:

institutions on this global scale.

DeEtta:

Your story personally really fuels

this work and it's a greater mission

DeEtta:

and a bigger picture, um, that will

help people to really understand

DeEtta:

what this whole thing is about.

DeEtta:

So I want you to talk to us

about your beginnings before

DeEtta:

the DeEtta Jones and associates.

DeEtta:

Talk to us about your growing up.

DeEtta:

So I grew up in a little town

called Waukegan, Illinois.

DeEtta:

It was, uh, is a Northern

suburb outside of Chicago,

DeEtta:

about an hour away from Chicago.

DeEtta:

Um, and it was a small community

that was very segregated, uh,

DeEtta:

socioeconomically, racially.

DeEtta:

Uh, I was pretty isolated from a lot

of the kind of events that happened

DeEtta:

were happening around me and the.

DeEtta:

Um, I also grew up, um, for the

most part with, um, a mother

DeEtta:

and three younger sisters.

DeEtta:

Um, my mother worked a lot,

so I was often in a primary

DeEtta:

caregiver role and I moved a lot.

DeEtta:

My childhood was filled with moving

oftentimes back and forth, across state

DeEtta:

lines where I would change at elementary

schools sometimes seven times a week.

DeEtta:

So I had a lot of transition.

DeEtta:

I had a lot of uncertainty.

DeEtta:

I had a lot of questions about kind

of where do I fit and how do I belong?

DeEtta:

And what my role is in the world,

where I oftentimes felt like I

DeEtta:

was constantly in transition.

DeEtta:

Another aspect of my identity is

that my parents are, my mother

DeEtta:

is white and my father was black.

DeEtta:

And again, growing up in

towns and communities that

DeEtta:

were very racially segregate.

DeEtta:

The idea of me being biracial and

trying to really wrestle with what

DeEtta:

does that mean from an identity point

of view was something that I struggled

DeEtta:

with mightily as a young person.

DeEtta:

And it actually became the catalyst

for me starting to do this work,

DeEtta:

really try to interact, to figure

out my own identity and where I fit.

DeEtta:

Let's talk about that a little bit

more because I'm really want to

DeEtta:

put some real life scenarios like.

DeEtta:

Very general ways.

DeEtta:

How did identity play a role in the

different experiences that you had?

DeEtta:

Yeah, it's so, you

know, it's, it's tricky.

DeEtta:

My, my mother grew up

as one of many children.

DeEtta:

And she grew up, as I said, she's white,

but she grew up in communities that

DeEtta:

were primarily black and brown folks.

DeEtta:

And so she often felt kind

of outside of the cool group.

DeEtta:

And my father grew up in a little

town and called Mariana in Arkansas

DeEtta:

and he grew up in a very segregated,

racially, segregated experience as

DeEtta:

well, especially as a very young person.

DeEtta:

He also had a very, very large family

and the very large families I think

DeEtta:

are important because it's all you're

already trying to figure yourself out.

DeEtta:

And it's hard to have up close

parental relationships when

DeEtta:

you're one of 10 or one of 15.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And so to try to figure out their

identities in worlds that were really

DeEtta:

divided racially was probably just an

enormous amount of pressure for them.

DeEtta:

At some point, my father ended

up moving to the north, which

DeEtta:

is where he met my mother.

DeEtta:

He brought with him.

DeEtta:

I think a lot of those kind of messages

about what it means to be black that

DeEtta:

were very, um, present and pervasive in

the south at the time that he was there.

DeEtta:

And I think that he and my mother

actually found solace in each other

DeEtta:

because each of them were trying to

escape their own feelings of otherness.

DeEtta:

And from that place, that's where I came.

DeEtta:

And it's not about judging it,

but it definitely is hard to try

DeEtta:

to figure out my own identity.

DeEtta:

When both of my parents, I think

were wrestling with the issue

DeEtta:

themselves and try to figure out what

is my place in the world look like.

DeEtta:

So here's the other part.

DeEtta:

This is a long time ago.

DeEtta:

This was before Halle

Berry and tiger woods.

DeEtta:

And that were cool.

DeEtta:

And, you know, biracial was a thing and

it was, it, this was when it wasn't cool

DeEtta:

and people didn't have a spot for me.

DeEtta:

And when race riots were happening,

literally race riots were having.

DeEtta:

At my school and I had to pick a

side or where members of my own

DeEtta:

family would use racial slurs.

DeEtta:

And I had to try to figure

out is that about me?

DeEtta:

Do they hate me and my bad and my ugly

am I supposed to be in his family?

DeEtta:

And so a lot of those starting with

racial identity, uh, kind of questions

DeEtta:

started very early in my life.

DeEtta:

And then they trickled

into questions about.

DeEtta:

Gender about class.

DeEtta:

I grew up very poor about religion.

DeEtta:

I grew up Jehovah's witness,

which is definitely marginalized

DeEtta:

by mainstream society.

DeEtta:

So I had all of these identities

that I really was wrestling with for

DeEtta:

the vast majority of my young life.

DeEtta:

And I think that wrestle, um, allowed

me to as painful as it was allowed me

DeEtta:

to get to a place where I said, I have

to put this in front of me and I have

DeEtta:

to figure out how to work through it.

DeEtta:

And so that's where my journey with.

DeEtta:

Yeah, I want to hone in on that education

piece because your identity is being

DeEtta:

formed through your experiences at home.

DeEtta:

See your mother and

father, but also schools.

DeEtta:

So many children from diverse

backgrounds, and that creates a very

DeEtta:

stark reality for you oftentimes.

DeEtta:

And how did education even leading

up into your college years?

DeEtta:

I know you mentioned, um, even

coming from the background that

DeEtta:

you were in education, Furthered

education being a little bit taboo.

DeEtta:

Right?

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

So can you talk to us about identity and,

and your educational experiences and how

DeEtta:

things came to life during that time?

DeEtta:

Yeah, so I always educationally, I

always had a hard time just keeping up.

DeEtta:

I was in transition so much and

moving from school system to

DeEtta:

school system so much that I really

wrestled to just keep up academic.

DeEtta:

And academics weren't prioritized because

of the religious affiliation that I had.

DeEtta:

And the way that I was brought up

academics were important to kind of get

DeEtta:

through, but it wasn't the priority.

DeEtta:

It was instead that we were

really supposed to be focusing

DeEtta:

on kind of our spiritual journey.

DeEtta:

And so I didn't really prioritize

academics and I also didn't really have.

DeEtta:

Base.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

So that, by the time I kind of got to

a place where I was in high school, I

DeEtta:

was really struggling academically to

figure out like, what is it, what are the

DeEtta:

seminal works that I'm supposed to know?

DeEtta:

What is all the foundational stuff

related to math that I should be able

DeEtta:

to then apply at this next level.

DeEtta:

Um, and also at that point, when I was

in high school is when I also moved to

DeEtta:

Colorado and lived with my father and.

DeEtta:

The two of us, uh, just kind of

started over and try to navigate

DeEtta:

again, altogether new experiences.

DeEtta:

But that was the point at which I

also shifted from being in a primarily

DeEtta:

black environment in Illinois to a

primarily white environment in Colorado.

DeEtta:

And I had gone back and forth many times

over the years, but I made kind of a

DeEtta:

hard shift right around high school.

DeEtta:

So then trying to figure out, like,

how do I fit into this world that

DeEtta:

was altogether different than the

world that I had been in before.

DeEtta:

Um, and also succeed, right?

DeEtta:

How do I have myself have a true and

authentic place in this world that has

DeEtta:

not experienced people like me before

and also where I don't even know the

DeEtta:

rules of how it is to be successful

academically, socially, um, in this

DeEtta:

space, I was able to, um, find a

couple of people along the way, or

DeEtta:

they found me and said, you know what?

DeEtta:

I see a little something I want to help.

DeEtta:

And I don't know if it was PTA or

they just saw something, um, a kernel

DeEtta:

of something, but I ended up being

able to get a scholarship to college

DeEtta:

because of some of that generous help.

DeEtta:

Here's the thing that's

really interesting.

DeEtta:

And you alluded to it before college

was not on my radar before this.

DeEtta:

It was again because of

my religious upbringing.

DeEtta:

Not.

DeEtta:

I was not, not only not encouraged,

I was not allowed to go to college.

DeEtta:

I was supposed to get married,

get out, get a job, have children

DeEtta:

and continue on in my faith.

DeEtta:

And so to go to college was a pretty

significant undertaking, but there

DeEtta:

was something about me, this quest

for more knowledge, more exposure.

DeEtta:

Um, unquenchable curiosity that

I still have, and I felt like I

DeEtta:

needed to have that experience.

DeEtta:

I knew that there would be

something really important

DeEtta:

that I needed to experience.

DeEtta:

Yeah.

DeEtta:

And there was a mentor in college that

took you under her wing and she checked

DeEtta:

a lot of other boxes, which gave you a

bit of confidence in your own identity.

DeEtta:

Talk to us about that.

DeEtta:

So her name is Barb and she is

one of many mentors and angels

DeEtta:

who have been in my life.

DeEtta:

And.

DeEtta:

I, there was something really

amazing that Barb did that no

DeEtta:

one had really done until then.

DeEtta:

I felt for the first time

seen, you know, that feeling

DeEtta:

and she literally just saw me.

DeEtta:

She.

DeEtta:

Wasn't intrusive.

DeEtta:

She didn't make a big fuss about it.

DeEtta:

I didn't get the sense that she was taking

pity on me or that she saw me as exotic

DeEtta:

or, or, you know, kind of interesting

in ways that were more about her.

DeEtta:

It was truly about me.

DeEtta:

I felt like she was the perfect example

of generosity and love and mentorship.

DeEtta:

And she.

DeEtta:

Poured into me without

trying to make me into her.

DeEtta:

The other thing about Barb is that

she's incredibly different from me from

DeEtta:

her identities point of view, right?

DeEtta:

So we have a 20 year age gap.

DeEtta:

She identified at the time as lesbian.

DeEtta:

She still does, which was brand new for

me because I grew up in a religion where

DeEtta:

this was not even an option, right.

DeEtta:

In anything about, you know,

sexual orientation other than, uh,

DeEtta:

uh, straight was not even in a.

DeEtta:

And so I didn't really have

perspective about other ways in which

DeEtta:

identities played into people's lives.

DeEtta:

All I knew was I was this biracial

kid that didn't fit anywhere.

DeEtta:

I was poor.

DeEtta:

I was a Jehovah's witness.

DeEtta:

That's it?

DeEtta:

That's all I knew.

DeEtta:

And I also knew that I was just

constantly othered everywhere.

DeEtta:

I went and I didn't know

where I was supposed to be.

DeEtta:

And that's all I knew, but I

didn't really know how to explain.

DeEtta:

And Barb did, and Barb had

done this work and she had done

DeEtta:

her own really important work.

DeEtta:

And she was continuing to do that.

DeEtta:

And she just kind of gently walked

beside me, which was an absolute gift.

DeEtta:

And the other thing that she

did is that she introduced me to

DeEtta:

the field of interculturalism.

DeEtta:

So this is a field that she had been

studying and she had also studied

DeEtta:

deeply, um, topics related to leadership

and management in organizational

DeEtta:

settings and also in communities.

DeEtta:

And so I got to kind of sit side by side

with her and learn about things that were

DeEtta:

intellectually part of her own journey

and that I could not absorb enough.

DeEtta:

I was so in love with the idea of

understanding how cultures work, that

DeEtta:

there are actual constructs around

culture that are always present and

DeEtta:

that there are all these amazing things

that make up culture that I love about.

DeEtta:

And there are also some of these

things that are pretty painful

DeEtta:

sometimes, and that I was experiencing

and that she had experienced.

DeEtta:

And that also constitute a lot of the

ways in which people feel marginalized

DeEtta:

and are oppressed in the world.

DeEtta:

That was so powerful for me to actually

have a construct around and to put

DeEtta:

language to, and then practically to

think about now, how could this turn into.

DeEtta:

Um, knowledge, wisdom, practical

application that I could potentially

DeEtta:

bring into a career, but also that

I could help people bring into their

DeEtta:

own lives in really immediate ways

as in, in their workplace lives.

DeEtta:

So Barb, Barb opened up the world to me,

and she also modeled for me how it is

DeEtta:

that I want to be able to kind of gently

walk side by side with other people,

DeEtta:

without trying to turn them into me.

DeEtta:

But instead kind of creating a path

for people to go where they need.

DeEtta:

That is so good because it seems like

in college, the script flipped where

DeEtta:

your identity, at some point you felt

a little underneath it, trying to

DeEtta:

understand how to navigate it, but then

in college it became your superpower.

DeEtta:

Um, as Barb showed you

how to use it as an asset.

DeEtta:

And so interculturalism, it became a

career and led to a new career path.

DeEtta:

So I mean, crazy that college

was not on your radar.

DeEtta:

And then some pretty game

changing things happened.

DeEtta:

Post-college talk to us about that.

DeEtta:

Ah, so, you know, you know, there's

a, there's a part right at the end of

DeEtta:

my undergraduate career and my, um,

kind of next steps that was really

DeEtta:

powerful and it's more personal it's

involves like boy and involves a guy.

DeEtta:

I met someone who I absolutely adored

and it was, he became my boyfriend.

DeEtta:

We dated for a couple of years.

DeEtta:

It was a, it was another really

pivotal moment in my life because

DeEtta:

I had been through college really

heavily, um, doing a lot of activist

DeEtta:

work active in any cause I was in, I

was down, I was doing, I was marching.

DeEtta:

I was wearing my Malcolm X shirt.

DeEtta:

I just had so much in me.

DeEtta:

And I was spilling all over the place

with activism and it was wonderful

DeEtta:

and I'm so thankful for all of that.

DeEtta:

And then I got to a place where.

DeEtta:

I was like, there's something else,

but I'm not exactly sure what it was.

DeEtta:

And you know, that's great saying

like when the pupil is ready, the

DeEtta:

teacher will present themselves.

DeEtta:

I felt like this person became

that next PE teacher for me.

DeEtta:

And the thing that was different

about him is that he was white.

DeEtta:

And I have always, even though I'm

biracial, I've always identified

DeEtta:

myself with the black community

and I've always been identified

DeEtta:

as part of the black community.

DeEtta:

And so.

DeEtta:

I Al, but I also feel like small boxes

are not the right place for me to live in.

DeEtta:

And I needed something that just

pushed me a little bit further

DeEtta:

into deeper self exploration.

DeEtta:

And so I met this person and I

started this really amazing, almost

DeEtta:

spiritual transformation and journey

where I started reading and writing.

DeEtta:

I discovered Alice Walker and,

and Bob barley and Lenny Kravitz.

DeEtta:

And I started traveling

and taking road trips.

DeEtta:

I started meditating and doing

yoga and became vegetarian.

DeEtta:

Like I literally just started going

inward and then out and out and out where

DeEtta:

I started seeing the world as bigger

than just power and oppression, which

DeEtta:

is how I had spent so much of my college

career focusing on power and oppression.

DeEtta:

And now I really want it to

go to what is the aspiration?

DeEtta:

What is the world look like

and all of its beauty and glory

DeEtta:

and how do I understand it?

DeEtta:

So that.

DeEtta:

Integrate that into the

work that I want to do next.

DeEtta:

And that's that's that moment.

DeEtta:

And it was so powerful and

transformational after that.

DeEtta:

And through that stage, I also

had the great opportunity to be

DeEtta:

the director of the human rights

office for a city government.

DeEtta:

Um, and that was a wonderful,

amazing, another amazing, um, mentor

DeEtta:

and angel Alma who positioned.

DeEtta:

To have a really close relationships

with the then mayor of the city

DeEtta:

to help me navigate relationships.

DeEtta:

And then position me at 25 years old,

as crazy as the director of a human

DeEtta:

rights office, where I was literally,

um, investigating and hearing complaints

DeEtta:

of discrimination and helping people

navigate through those and being entrusted

DeEtta:

to do that important and incredibly

confidential and incredibly sensitive

DeEtta:

work, we helped to create policy.

DeEtta:

That made sure that hate crimes

against people from the LGBTQ plus

DeEtta:

communities are identified as such

and punished as such and being held

DeEtta:

accountable as such as hate crimes.

DeEtta:

So it allowed me to continue to

understand how I could have an impact

DeEtta:

beyond just the identities that were my

own personal identities or pain points

DeEtta:

or areas of trauma or oppression or

marginalization, and instead focus on

DeEtta:

where it is that I could think about how.

DeEtta:

Um, potential privilege that I have

turned into a way for me to have power and

DeEtta:

presence and, um, and make advancements.

DeEtta:

The other thing that happened

is shortly thereafter, I took a

DeEtta:

position in Washington DC with

an organization that was, uh, um,

DeEtta:

international it's, uh, it's called

the association of research libraries.

DeEtta:

And in that position, I got a

chance to travel all over the

DeEtta:

United States and Canada initially.

DeEtta:

But then within a year I was

traveling around the entire globe.

DeEtta:

And so I have pictures of myself on the

internet flying kites in tenement square

DeEtta:

or giving speeches and the Philippines

or in Taiwan or in Hong Kong or an

DeEtta:

Australia and New Zealand, New Zealand.

DeEtta:

And when I realized is that again, the

lenses that I had been bringing from the

DeEtta:

earlier parts of my life were too small.

DeEtta:

And I feel like every stage of

my journey has allowed me to.

DeEtta:

Really zoom out and to realize don't go

small, do not be tempted by the minutia.

DeEtta:

Don't be tempted by the polarization.

DeEtta:

There's not, there's not

ever only two options right.

DeEtta:

Left or right.

DeEtta:

Good or bad right or wrong

is never enough options.

DeEtta:

And so being able to travel the world and

have some of the most generous, humble,

DeEtta:

kind, beautiful people, also be some of

the poorest people on the entire planet.

DeEtta:

It reminds me.

DeEtta:

That the stuff that we kind of get

in the weeds about, or the stuff

DeEtta:

that might be pain points here.

DeEtta:

If we zoom out and if we tap into a

different part of ourselves, we could,

DeEtta:

we could accomplish so much more.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

There's so much in us.

DeEtta:

So was that like your turning

point where you said even the

DeEtta:

roles that I've held thus far, they

can't hold me any longer answers.

DeEtta:

DeEtta Jones and associates.

DeEtta:

Talk to us about that

turning point where you were.

DeEtta:

I see this mission, this path shows me

and now I have to create this space girl.

DeEtta:

No, I basically, I love this.

DeEtta:

I love this.

DeEtta:

You're like, and then, and I was

like, okay, we'll tell us that

DeEtta:

the organization reorganized.

DeEtta:

I had to say to all of my team,

y'all got to find another job.

DeEtta:

And I literally had to figure

out how to find another job.

DeEtta:

I had no idea what to do.

DeEtta:

And I said, I don't know what to do.

DeEtta:

I, I swear to you.

DeEtta:

I went out and got a real estate license.

DeEtta:

I said, I don't know what to do.

DeEtta:

Maybe I'll sell real estate.

DeEtta:

I'm terrible with directions.

DeEtta:

So I can't find a house with

Godness of the technology and

DeEtta:

ways wasn't invented then.

DeEtta:

And then I also am

terrible with paperwork.

DeEtta:

I'm not a detailed person.

DeEtta:

Don't give me paperwork.

DeEtta:

It was awful.

DeEtta:

I was the worst realtor on the planet.

DeEtta:

I sold myself a house and

then my phone started with.

DeEtta:

And all of the people who had given

speeches for done workshops for, or

DeEtta:

consulted with over the 10 years prior

started calling me and they just called

DeEtta:

and called and called and called.

DeEtta:

And I said, yes, yes, she has.

DeEtta:

Of course I'll help you.

DeEtta:

And it wasn't like I was

trying to, I didn't know.

DeEtta:

Something in my head, I literally

was just trying to help folks

DeEtta:

were saying, can you please help?

DeEtta:

Remember when you did that

thing, it was so powerful.

DeEtta:

It was helpful.

DeEtta:

And I was like, sure.

DeEtta:

Yeah, of course.

DeEtta:

And then next thing you know,

I was so busy that I thought,

DeEtta:

okay, let me just keep going.

DeEtta:

And that's how the Etta

Jones and associates started.

DeEtta:

And I wish that I had this grand vision.

DeEtta:

I would, it would be such an

interesting story, but I didn't,

DeEtta:

I was just trying to help.

DeEtta:

And the years went by and I have to say

over those years, I just dug in deep.

DeEtta:

I was, it was me on my own.

DeEtta:

I was just, I had to, every dollar I

earned was dollars that required me to

DeEtta:

get on a plane or to show up somewhere.

DeEtta:

So I was spending all of my time between

70 and 90% of my time traveling around

DeEtta:

and just trying to be of service and help.

DeEtta:

So much of my life was kind of disjointed.

DeEtta:

I didn't have a lot of flexibility

because I was constantly on planes.

DeEtta:

I was constantly depleted.

DeEtta:

I was constantly trying to

deliver for someone else.

DeEtta:

I, um, I always felt like

I needed to have the best.

DeEtta:

I always felt like I needed to show

up and bring 110% because I didn't

DeEtta:

have a big infrastructure around me.

DeEtta:

I didn't know if what I

was doing was actually.

DeEtta:

As good as it could be, or as good

as what somebody could've gotten,

DeEtta:

if they went somewhere else.

DeEtta:

I'll give you an example.

DeEtta:

A few years ago.

DeEtta:

Um, five or so at this point,

I was called by a university in

DeEtta:

Saudi Arabia and every year they

are, they were a relatively young

DeEtta:

university, about 10 or 11 years old.

DeEtta:

And they called me and said, every year

we do this leadership series for our top

DeEtta:

executives across the entire university.

DeEtta:

So the whole top layer of the university

goes through this executive development

DeEtta:

experience every year because they

bring in people from all over the.

DeEtta:

So it builds culture within their

institution, but it also makes sure

DeEtta:

that the people who are coming there

aren't feeling isolated from some

DeEtta:

of the kind of leading edge voices

and experiences that they could get

DeEtta:

maybe in one of their home countries.

DeEtta:

And I said, sure, absolutely.

DeEtta:

I'd love to do that.

DeEtta:

I was terrified.

DeEtta:

Um, but I said, can you give

me a little bit of perspective

DeEtta:

about who came last year?

DeEtta:

And they were like, oh, Oh, Harvard gala.

DeEtta:

And you want me to go next?

DeEtta:

Oh, got you.

DeEtta:

All right.

DeEtta:

Let's maybe I can just get a

sneak peek, like just tell me

DeEtta:

what y'all already covered.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And that's the kind of work that

I've been doing all of those

DeEtta:

years where people would come in.

DeEtta:

Can you do?

DeEtta:

And the stakes seem so high that I

just had to work so hard as I was just

DeEtta:

digging so deep to try to figure out,

like, what is the very best look like?

DeEtta:

What is the absolute, not

just contemporary best

DeEtta:

practice, but next practice.

DeEtta:

And what's always going to be

globally applicable, right?

DeEtta:

Because it's easy to get kind of

in the weeds of what I know in

DeEtta:

my region or in my own company.

DeEtta:

But when you're being called to work

at a global level, you gotta be able to

DeEtta:

pan out and you say, do these concepts

and do these ideas actually translate.

DeEtta:

So that's where you got a Johnson and

associates came from, is that for many

DeEtta:

years, actually about 15 years, it was

me kind of out doing my own journey and,

DeEtta:

uh, through the, through the, uh, through

the desert and exploring and building

DeEtta:

my own capacity and my own experience.

DeEtta:

And then just four or five years

ago, I said, you know what?

DeEtta:

I really think we need

to go to something else.

DeEtta:

Now we need to really transition to

something that actually models what it

DeEtta:

can and should look like when we totally

100% embrace the diversity that we preach.

DeEtta:

And so I started hiring and I

assembled and I assembled is

DeEtta:

probably not the right word.

DeEtta:

Pulled together.

DeEtta:

Um, this amazing group of people who

come from such extraordinarily different

DeEtta:

walks of life, their paths are different.

DeEtta:

Their identities are different the way

that they think and talk and act and

DeEtta:

operate are all different from each other.

DeEtta:

And we're kind of like this wonderful

experiment of if we're really

DeEtta:

going to be inclusive and we really

are going to value every voice.

DeEtta:

And we really are going to believe

that genius lives at the intersection.

DeEtta:

And also we know that it takes more work.

DeEtta:

Let's practice that amongst ourselves

first and that's who we are.

DeEtta:

And that's what we do.

DeEtta:

And that's what you get

Johns and associates is.

DeEtta:

I just feel like we need to

insert some claps, right?

DeEtta:

Like really, really good.

DeEtta:

And I love that even now I'm

learning things about you.

DeEtta:

I want to know.

DeEtta:

And this is a loaded question because

you've been in this industry for many,

DeEtta:

many, many years, even though you,

you don't look like it at all, but.

DeEtta:

Was a time or a few times where

you really felt like, I know

DeEtta:

I made impact in that space.

DeEtta:

Yeah.

DeEtta:

You know, what's interesting because

that one is such a, it's a, it's a, it's

DeEtta:

a hard question because the topic is

so big and broad and expansive, and the

DeEtta:

definition of impact is so subjective.

DeEtta:

So, but there have been, there have

been times where I feel like, okay,

DeEtta:

I'm really making impact or we're

making impact or something impactful is

DeEtta:

happening because we were able to have

some ability to touch it in some way.

DeEtta:

So earlier in my career, I created

something called the, um, leadership

DeEtta:

and career development pro.

DeEtta:

That I created when I was at

the association of research

DeEtta:

libraries, it's still in existence.

DeEtta:

I had to write a grant for the

very first time in my life.

DeEtta:

I didn't even know anything

about the grant writing process.

DeEtta:

I had to secure funds.

DeEtta:

I had to sell all of these.

DeEtta:

Um, executives from all of these

different, uh, academic libraries on

DeEtta:

the fact that this is a good idea.

DeEtta:

And also that it was theirs

so that they would support it.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

I totally said, this is your idea.

DeEtta:

Trust me, this is what you want.

DeEtta:

And I had to breathe life into it and

it was ridiculous, really difficult.

DeEtta:

It was ridiculously difficult.

DeEtta:

And for 10 years.

DeEtta:

And then even after I left the

association, I still kind of shepherded

DeEtta:

it along and just poured love into not

just the program, but to all of the

DeEtta:

people and the people who mentored and

the people that they went on to mentor

DeEtta:

and the way in which people went on.

DeEtta:

Create publications and become national

and global leaders and spokespeople

DeEtta:

and transforming the way knowledge is

distributed in the world and having

DeEtta:

impact that allows for knowledge to

flow more freely and more accessibly.

DeEtta:

I mean, it's just so wonderful to

see what has been born out of the

DeEtta:

amazing people who are able to be

more seen through that experience.

DeEtta:

I've had other experiences

that are similar to that.

DeEtta:

Um, over the course of my

career, where I've been able to.

DeEtta:

Create something I'll give an example.

DeEtta:

A few years ago, I was invited to be

a keynote speaker at a conference in

DeEtta:

Bahrain, and it was a conference that was

for the entire region, the middle east.

DeEtta:

So there were people from all

over the middle east, and I was

DeEtta:

invited as the keynote speaker.

DeEtta:

I'm not sure why.

DeEtta:

And maybe because of the work

that I had done in Saudi Arabia,

DeEtta:

And again, I was terrified.

DeEtta:

I had never been to Boston and I didn't

really have a sense of the audience.

DeEtta:

It was a very different experience for me.

DeEtta:

So I didn't know what to wear.

DeEtta:

I was a woman traveling, unaccompanied.

DeEtta:

How was I going to be received

where I'd be received?

DeEtta:

Well, would I be received

with seriousness?

DeEtta:

Right?

DeEtta:

What, uh, you know, all sorts of

different identities questions.

DeEtta:

Well, I get on stage and there's after

a lot of ceremony, a lot of very formal

DeEtta:

ceremony, a lot of it in languages,

altogether unfamiliar for me all, a

DeEtta:

lot of it, religious and I get onstage

and I'm introduced and I stay more.

DeEtta:

My formal thank yous.

DeEtta:

And then I give my speech and it's

about, it's about leadership and

DeEtta:

it's about identities and it's

about having our own authentic

DeEtta:

voice and bringing it into space.

DeEtta:

And th the, even though I was in the

middle east, the conference was a lot more

DeEtta:

split demographically than I imagined.

DeEtta:

There were kind of half and half men

and women, but everyone was dressed

DeEtta:

very traditionally and all of the women

were covered in some traditional way

DeEtta:

and some covered fully 100% veiled

where I couldn't even see their eyes.

DeEtta:

So I wasn't exactly sure if this was

resonating, if this was the right message.

DeEtta:

If I'm the right messenger after that,

There was a receiving line that took

DeEtta:

me an hour and a half to work through.

DeEtta:

There were people in line like this men

and women with tears streaming down their

DeEtta:

faces telling me how much I moved them

and embracing me and telling me you have

DeEtta:

shown me what it is possible for me to be.

DeEtta:

And the men saying, thank you so much.

DeEtta:

I had no idea.

DeEtta:

I had no idea.

DeEtta:

And, and for me, moments like that,

where I am able to step fully into a

DeEtta:

place of tremendous kind of fear and

insecurity and then push through it

DeEtta:

and then be able to have people say,

I see something that I would not have

DeEtta:

otherwise seen, and it makes me feel

whole, or it makes me feel hopeful is

DeEtta:

the most gratifying feeling in the.

DeEtta:

And so those are the kinds

of experiences that fuel me.

DeEtta:

And I don't have those experiences every

day, but I remember them as often as

DeEtta:

possible because that's what I want.

DeEtta:

I want people to focus on the

aspiration and I want to, wherever

DeEtta:

I can help to be a little bit of

the inspiration for that aspiration.

DeEtta:

Yeah.

DeEtta:

And, and truthfully, that's one of

the things I love about culture road,

DeEtta:

because you spent years going out on

your own and having these impact moments.

DeEtta:

But culture road is a vehicle for.

DeEtta:

Thought that idea to be widespread.

DeEtta:

And so let's talk a little bit

about the cultural solution because

DeEtta:

we have a cultural podcasts, but

it's actually named after a digital

DeEtta:

learning platform that DeEtta Jones

and associates recently launched.

DeEtta:

So why was now the time for

culture road to make a debut?

DeEtta:

Um, you know, we're, we're experiencing

a cultural collapse right now.

DeEtta:

That's it puts you find a point on it.

DeEtta:

Um, and when cultures change, which they

do, we have to anchor to something, right?

DeEtta:

So what I don't want is for us to

anchor to the pain and the trauma.

DeEtta:

I know that there is a huge

faction of people in the world

DeEtta:

who are very much aligned with a

denarius in the game of Thrones.

DeEtta:

You remember that last episode where

she's like, just burn it all down.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And I, and I felt her when she, when she

was burning it all down, I felt her, I

DeEtta:

felt, oh my goodness, I haven't felt it.

DeEtta:

And then, but then I could

not help at the moment.

DeEtta:

I thought, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

DeEtta:

And then what we're all standing in

the ashes then what, what happens

DeEtta:

once it's all burnt down and we're

all standing collectively in the

DeEtta:

ashes who will be served by that.

DeEtta:

And I don't want to be in that place.

DeEtta:

I can't help, but believe that

aspiration is a better place

DeEtta:

than trauma for us to anchor.

DeEtta:

And I want culture road to be a place

where aspiration is what we focus on.

DeEtta:

I don't have it all figured

out, but that ain't my job.

DeEtta:

I'm not, I'm not here

to figure it all out.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

What I want is to help create and

hold space for people who also.

DeEtta:

I want to find where it is that we should

go next and then us build it together.

DeEtta:

Right?

DeEtta:

And so cultural road is not a,

I'm going to give you the recipe.

DeEtta:

I'm going to tell you that these ideas

are good and those ideas are bad.

DeEtta:

I am not going to judge or blame.

DeEtta:

This is instead about us coming together

as a community of people who knows

DeEtta:

that the world is collapsing around us.

DeEtta:

And if we come together,

right, we can tap into.

DeEtta:

This beautiful set of shared values

that will carry us to the immediate and

DeEtta:

then also the not so immediate future

destination, that could be incredibly

DeEtta:

powerful, but we have to build it.

DeEtta:

We can't assume that it's

just going to manifest.

DeEtta:

We have to build it.

DeEtta:

And so cultural road also

has in it space for people.

DeEtta:

R anywhere along the continuum.

DeEtta:

Right?

DeEtta:

Because some people are like denarius.

DeEtta:

They're like, I want a burden

all down, but I'm curious, what

DeEtta:

are y'all doing over there?

DeEtta:

And there are other people who

are like, I don't even know what

DeEtta:

the heck y'all are talking about.

DeEtta:

I just, my, my employees telling

me I need to do something.

DeEtta:

Can somebody just give me a chance?

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And here's the other thing about the

folks who are asking for a checklist.

DeEtta:

Cool.

DeEtta:

Come on in.

DeEtta:

I'm going to give you a checklist and

I'm going to tell you when the time

DeEtta:

is right, that a checklist is not the

thing that you need that even asking

DeEtta:

for a checklist is kind of tone deaf.

DeEtta:

But for right now, if you need to get

started and you have decision-making

DeEtta:

ability, if you have authority, if

you have the ability to actually make

DeEtta:

something happen, that is going to be in

the service of our aspirational goals.

DeEtta:

Come on.

DeEtta:

And that's us figure it out together.

DeEtta:

But what I don't want is to marginalize

people who are trying their hardest,

DeEtta:

they just don't know what to do.

DeEtta:

And I don't want people who are, you

know, feeling like all this equity,

DeEtta:

diversity and inclusion stuff is a sham.

DeEtta:

I don't want them to feel

like I don't understand that.

DeEtta:

I get it, but I just know that we have to

have more than just two options and that

DeEtta:

trauma is not the place to sit and rest.

DeEtta:

We got to get out of that and

we got to find something else.

DeEtta:

And so that's what culture wrote is

it should be really, really practical.

DeEtta:

Yeah.

DeEtta:

It should be fun.

DeEtta:

It should be a space for people to

build and grow and develop and learn

DeEtta:

skills and apply them immediately.

DeEtta:

But it should also be a place where we.

DeEtta:

Feel scene where we feel safe, where we

feel like this is the place that I want

DeEtta:

to actually help me feel connected in

a world that's filled with disconnect

DeEtta:

and othering and marginalization.

DeEtta:

I just want to take a moment and just

acknowledge how powerful that is.

DeEtta:

If you were to go back to your

college years, and you said that

DeEtta:

your mentor made you feel seen, and

now you have created a safe space.

DeEtta:

To help others feel seen.

DeEtta:

To move into a greater work.

DeEtta:

That is extremely powerful.

DeEtta:

And one thing I also love

about culture road is that

DeEtta:

it's not just a moment in time.

DeEtta:

I think how, you know, DEI has

been approached as like we're going

DeEtta:

to have one half day training and

that's going to solve the world's

DeEtta:

crisis, but you are creating a

space for people to get it right.

DeEtta:

And getting it right.

DeEtta:

Doesn't just happen in four hours.

DeEtta:

It's collaborating.

DeEtta:

Heart conversation.

DeEtta:

This is going back and forth.

DeEtta:

It's us understanding other perspectives.

DeEtta:

And so culture road is a game changer.

DeEtta:

Every single part of my life.

DeEtta:

I describe as a journey and I

believe that this is all a journey.

DeEtta:

And so culture road has to be.

DeEtta:

This episodic learning or

exposure or a training.

DeEtta:

It's not about learning.

DeEtta:

None of that promotes learning.

DeEtta:

That's all kind of a checklist.

DeEtta:

I did it.

DeEtta:

It's done.

DeEtta:

But learning doesn't work like that.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

So if you even think about Malcolm

Gladwell's 10,000 hours, right.

DeEtta:

And how important it is for us to think

about, we are kind of restarting a

DeEtta:

lot of us in this new world of work.

DeEtta:

We're restarting our 10,000 hours, right?

DeEtta:

We're at the beginning of that, again,

as we're going into a wholly new space.

DeEtta:

And so what we need to do is

give ourselves the room to grow

DeEtta:

and learn and integrate and

process and practice over time.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And that's what culture road is.

DeEtta:

There's no different in and out.

DeEtta:

We come, we grow, we stay together

over time through the digital

DeEtta:

learning platform, which I know

you do live monthly sessions.

DeEtta:

You also have tons of content

and worksheets and all types of

DeEtta:

resources just to help people

work through those subjects.

DeEtta:

But also the podcasts.

DeEtta:

Like what is your vision for

the cultural brand at large two

DeEtta:

years from now 20 years from now?

DeEtta:

What type of impact do you

want it to have one society?

DeEtta:

Oh, good question.

DeEtta:

I want us to want this to, to not be,

um, following the popular path, finding

DeEtta:

something that's broken and jumping

on it, or finding someone who stepped

DeEtta:

outside of the line that I drew for you.

DeEtta:

And then I'm going to call them

out and I'm going to criticize

DeEtta:

them and I'm going to bash them.

DeEtta:

I do not bash.

DeEtta:

It is not happening.

DeEtta:

It is not who I am is not what I'm about.

DeEtta:

This, I want this to be a

place where we kind of tap

DeEtta:

into a higher vibration, right?

DeEtta:

That's the vibration I'm coming with.

DeEtta:

And if I bring guests who may be in a

different place, maybe the juxtaposition

DeEtta:

will be good for all of us, but the

goal is for over time, all of us, I hope

DeEtta:

to really start spending time really

tapping into that inner vibration.

DeEtta:

That is really about aspiration.

DeEtta:

It's about generosity.

DeEtta:

It's about growth and learning and

then figuring out how do we put

DeEtta:

those things in action practically

and in every parts of our lives.

DeEtta:

And so my goal is for people to feel

like they can come here and get their

DeEtta:

cuffs filled up a little bit at a time

to know that they're going to get a

DeEtta:

lot of smiles and know that there's

a lot of love coming through it.

DeEtta:

And to know that there's people who they

can join and be part of and contribute to.

DeEtta:

And, um, are always going to be kind

of working towards the same end goal.

DeEtta:

And that is really finding a community

of people who want to see the world

DeEtta:

to be in a healthy and whole place

where all of us are feeling seen.

DeEtta:

Well, my cup is full

from our conversation.

DeEtta:

Like literally, if you could just see

my insights, like they're glowing with

DeEtta:

inspiration, like truly, and I just

want you to leave listeners with some

DeEtta:

advice for their journey, for their.

DeEtta:

Right now with this moment you had,

um, some pivotal turning points in

DeEtta:

your life and self discovery that

really helped to well, really was

DeEtta:

a catalyst for where you are today.

DeEtta:

So give some sound practical advice.

DeEtta:

Um, the people are that are

trying to navigate where they are.

DeEtta:

What should they be doing right

now to, to kind of feel their next?

DeEtta:

I have to be honest.

DeEtta:

I think that the world

is so filled with noise.

DeEtta:

That this is the time to actually be

quiet to listen and to listen in here,

DeEtta:

I feel like we have so much wisdom

inside of us that we, um, we can't even

DeEtta:

hear, or that we doubt or that we judge

or that we dismiss because it doesn't

DeEtta:

align with all the noise that's around

us in the world, but the noise that's

DeEtta:

around us and the world is toxic.

DeEtta:

It's oppressive.

DeEtta:

Right?

DeEtta:

If it's telling you, judge somebody

cut somebody off here because of this.

DeEtta:

Mm.

DeEtta:

I don't think that that's

really the inner voice talking.

DeEtta:

So start there, start there always,

and then go back to that place

DeEtta:

over and over and over again,

because that place is right.

DeEtta:

And then find yourself in the

company of people who are like, Yeah.

DeEtta:

And who not just kind of

philosophically and intellectually,

DeEtta:

but also kind of spiritual.

DeEtta:

They have the same alignment.

DeEtta:

When I say spiritual, I mean that in any

shape or form, but kind of get it like,

DeEtta:

you know what, all this bashing, all

this negativity, all this smallness is

DeEtta:

not a good place because energy begets.

DeEtta:

And I'm not trying to be so Metta.

DeEtta:

I mean, very practically surround yourself

with people who are going to help you

DeEtta:

become the better version of yourself,

and then look for opportunities in

DeEtta:

your organization, in your community,

in your daily practice to, um, to

DeEtta:

actually demonstrate the things that,

um, reflect your values, that reflect

DeEtta:

your shared values, the language

that you use with people, the way you

DeEtta:

write an email, how you greet people.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

How it is that you review policies,

how you make decisions, how you

DeEtta:

go into negotiations, how it is

that you communicate out broadly

DeEtta:

about change in your organization.

DeEtta:

Think about all of the touch points

that we have in our lives for actually

DeEtta:

showing up in a way that really

reflects our values and do that often.

DeEtta:

And when you don't do that learn

and just make a little adjustment

DeEtta:

and get it right the next time.

DeEtta:

Right.

DeEtta:

And so I think that those are three

practical steps and none of them required.

DeEtta:

Us to have a huge amount of resources or

have a tremendous position of authority

DeEtta:

or power, but all of them can have

such tremendous impact if we actually

DeEtta:

start practicing them right away.

DeEtta:

Yeah.

DeEtta:

Literally, that's all I have to

say behind this interview data.

DeEtta:

Thank you for this conversation.

DeEtta:

And the people want more Viet.

DeEtta:

I know that they don't even

have to tell me, so tell us

DeEtta:

how we can connect with you.

DeEtta:

Where can we get I connect with you?

DeEtta:

You can always, always, always

connect with us at cultureroad.com

DeEtta:

come to culture road.com.

DeEtta:

We are there.

DeEtta:

We are live.

DeEtta:

We are active.

DeEtta:

We are involved where they're

synchronously and asynchronously.

DeEtta:

So we are always there and

we're always connected.

DeEtta:

Of.

DeEtta:

We also have, um, DeEtta jones.com,

which is a full suite of consulting

DeEtta:

services and, and, um, coaching

that we can absolutely connect with

DeEtta:

people in any way, shape or form.

DeEtta:

But we'd love to just be part of this

bigger community of people who were

DeEtta:

trying to really change the world.

DeEtta:

And, um, we'd love to have people reach

out and connect with us as actively as.

DeEtta:

That is a wrap for the culture

roll podcast, episode, one more

DeEtta:

juicy topics to come hot topics.

DeEtta:

Current events, the cultural podcast

is really a space where we do not

DeEtta:

shy away from the tough topics.

DeEtta:

And we are able to gain other

perspective just to help advance

DeEtta:

how we're thinking about things.

DeEtta:

And the cultural podcast is.

DeEtta:

For another episode coming up.

DeEtta:

And I know you got some of your colleagues

and girlfriends joining you for episode.

DeEtta:

Yes.

DeEtta:

We have a lively cast of characters

for episode two and some really, really

DeEtta:

smart, thoughtful folks who will be

guests in, uh, upcoming episodes.

DeEtta:

And then all the way through, we're

just going to make sure that we're

DeEtta:

always inviting people who have.

DeEtta:

Really interesting perspectives who have

a lot of personality who can really help

DeEtta:

us explore topics and get them bigger.

DeEtta:

And also we'd love to

hear from this nurse.

DeEtta:

So I'm really hoping that, you know,

we can get folks to tune in and

DeEtta:

talk to us and share some of their

ideas and give us some direction on

DeEtta:

future guests and the areas of focus.

DeEtta:

Absolutely.

DeEtta:

So sound off in those comments, let

us know what you thought about this

DeEtta:

introduction and future topics you

would like to listen to, but also

DeEtta:

make sure that you are screenshot in

this episode, sharing on social media,

DeEtta:

continuing the conversation in that space.

DeEtta:

We love to see you over in cyberspace.

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About the Podcast

CultureRoad
Learn from diverse experts in cutting conversations of today all through the lens of culture, inclusion, and anti-oppression.