Kicking off the New Year, Zach talks a bit about his experiences last year and his collective vision for Living Corporate in 2022. Make sure you check out our shows, learning content, and merch in the links below.
Want to know more about our LinkedIn Learning courses? Check them out!
We’re proud to feature a wide variety of content – access it here.
Interested in our web shows? Here’s their landing page.
Check out Living Corporate’s merch!
Interested in supporting Living Corporate? Check out our Support page.
(00:59): What is up y›all it is Zach of Living Corporate. And yo, happy new year. Happy new year. If you are listening to this, it means that you made it to 2022. And I am going to tell you something, 2021 was hectic, traumatic, harmful for a lot of us, just anxiety, inducing, exhausting, all the words. It was all the things. And I am not immune from that. I am so thankful just to be here. So first off, I just want to say, if you are listening to this, Hey, it is good to see you. It is interesting, we had some plans for Living Corporate, I was talking to Aaron, trying to think about, do we want to do what we did last winter break and drop content every day? We were thinking through some ideas and we came to the agreement that we were actually going to take a break.
(01:57): So shout out to Tristan who did continue to give us some tips, but you noticed that we did not really go too, too crazy on the content during the holiday break, because we really wanted everyone to take a break. And so, this episode, it is really going to be me just talking to you all because there is a lot of things happening this year that I am excited to share. I will not share everything on our very first pod of 2022. In terms of like our official flagship show pod, I will not share everything, but I will share a few things.
(02:30): So first thing is that we came off of the last year with a lot of new shows. Between Liberated Love Notes to The Leadership Range, to The Access Point, which is really continuing forward as a podcast, to The Break Room to The Group Chat with Vonda Page. Shout out to Vonda Page and all the work that you are doing. Incredible, cannot wait for everyone to engage your content, to engage your conversations, phenomenal work that you are doing. Shout out to you. Thank you so much.
(02:59): But a lot of content, we revved up a lot and I am really excited and proud of the engagement that we were able to achieve in a fairly short amount of time. So thank you for listening. Thank you for participating. Thank you for supporting us and giving us what we need as we have conversations behind the scenes, as we explore different avenues of partnership and just different creative ideas in how we can expand and continue to grow. So thank you for that.
(03:28): And thank you, shout out to Justin, who is leading The Access Point. And then, of course, our incredible host over there, thank you so much. It was a lot though. Here is my point. We had this vision. Let me be more specific, let me be honest, I had a vision. Even some years ago, back when we first launched this, that Living Corporate would not just be a monthly pod. Initially there was some folks who were here who were, we just want this to be like a monthly pod. Maybe. We kind of just dropped something every now and then. Maybe we are like Beyoncé, we drop random content. I am like, look, Beyoncé can drop random content and get crazy buzz because she is Beyoncé. We are a fledgling startup pod. So we need to actually drop more content than that. So we had a whole conversation about that. But the point is that, my vision from the jump was always for us to be a real network, to be a true media network with multiple shows and different types of content. Which is why you have seen Living Corporate go from being a once a week pod, to a multiday, multiple times a week pod. And then you have also seen us expand to these other shows that I just talked about.
(04:33): And it was a lot. And it was a lot in a great way. And so, we are at a place now where you are going to see a bit of a seasoned for all of our shows, besides Living Corporate flagship. The rest of the show is going to be coming back later this spring, which we are really excited about. But we really want to make sure that we give everyone space to really rest, and then come back. Plus, it takes time to record stuff and we do not want things to be super stale. And so, as I think about Living Corporate this year, and I think about where we are going, and what we are going to be doing, and what kind of content you can expect from us, there is a few things.
(05:08): First off for those who follow me on socials, for those who had conversations with me if you see me posting anywhere, you see I am talking a lot about the ecosystem of diversity, equity,and inclusion. Frankly, if you have listened to the last few episodes last season, as we were wrapping up the end of the year, you heard me continue to ask, let us talk about this landscape that we are in and where do you predict this space going, this work going? Do you see it even sustaining? Do you think it might go away? You have heard me ask those questions. And frankly, now that I have pivoted from being a DEI consultant in a big four consulting firms, to really a DEI executive in tech. The way that I am looking at DEI is even more just tactical and in the weeds, as it pertains to, I am seeing cross points further and further. More than I did, frankly, the past few years. This past, I would say six to eight months has been really, really pushing me to just see things a bit deeper.
(06:09): And so, as we think about what Living Corporate is going to be historically our content has been evergreen. And that is been by design. We want to make sure that we have conversations that you can go to our website, living-corporate.com, or livingcorporate.co, or livingcorporate.tv, livingcorporate.org, livingcorporate.us. We have all the living corporate domains. But when you go to our website, if you type in anything, you are going to get content, that is going to be relevant to today as it was relevant six months ago, a year ago, two years ago.
(06:41): Again our ultimate vision around that and the purpose of that was for us to really have an ever growing living library of diversity, equity, and inclusion thought leadership. And that is not really going to change. And that Living Corporate has, and will continue to exist as a living data base of thought leadership around diversity, equity, and inclusion from the perspective of black and brown people. And frankly, like there is no other space that you are going to engage that has anything similar to that, as it pertains to scale and scope, and breadth, and depth, frankly. Truly, I am genuinely proud of just the scale of our conversations, who we are having those conversations with, and how frank and honest we are being in those conversations, that center and amplify black and brown people at work.
(07:24): What I will say though, is I say all that context around my background and where I have been getting pushed the last six to eight months is, you can expect week to week there will be more current event commentary as it pertains to tech, diversity, equity, and inclusion. And just the intersections of corporate America and the experiences of black and brown people. So I am going to be pulling articles. I am going to be looking at maybe some EEOC cases. I am going to be just talking more current events. There is going to be a current events section to each of our shows. Of course, we are always going to have an interview. That is never the going to change, but I want to make sure that we do a bit more finger on the pulse. And so, I am really excited about that. And so, you can expect that from me, from Living Corporate, as we move forward.
(08:12): Honestly, shout outs to again, Vonda Page and The Break Room, because those two shows, specifically, Che Group chat, and The Break Room, they have done that and are doing it well. They will look at a headline, they will pull out something from the last month or two. They will pull out something from the last week or so, and really expound on that, or leverage that to talk about whatever it is that they are really looking to really dive in on. And I am just really thankful that, we have a group of folks here, of creators who are passionate about the experiences of historically marginalized people at work. And they are leaning in and talking about it in very fresh, honest, and relevant ways.
(08:49): So, again, it is a bit of an update. I do not know if it is a radical change, but it is a bit of a shift in how you can expect the content. Like I said, our content has been historically pure evergreen. There is always going to be evergreen elements to our content. And, you are going to now start hearing more current events, analysis and, updates, and things of that nature. The other thing I want to talk to you all about is that, Living Corporate, we continue to grow and change. One of the things as I think about 2022, I am looking for writers. Shout out to Madison Butler. Madison is a phenomenal writer. And she has provided great content for us.
(09:25): I am looking for like three, four more. I am not looking for anyone to work for free. So just make sure if you are interested in learning more, and would like to join our writing team. Feel free to send me a DM @livingcorp_pod on Twitter. Or you can DM me on Instagram @livingcorporate. Straight up like that. Or, if you would like to email us, you can do that too at firstname.lastname@example.org. All right. So we got a few different ways. I could give some more emails, but I am not. So you got three different options there and the links and stuff will be in the show notes if you want to just delve in a little bit more.
(10:03): The third thing I want to talk about is like my journey. I share a little bit from time to time about the things that I have gone through, but I do not really ever go into super detail. You have never heard me name names. You have never heard me just go into extreme detail about my own trauma, or just whatever. I have not done that, and that is by choice, of course. But I will share a little bit about where I was this time, last January, and where I am today. In an effort to help hopefully, encourage anyone that is gone through racialized trauma and bullshit at their job.
(10:41): So let me start by saying, this time, last year I was coming off of my holiday break, I was still in consulting. And it was interesting, because at that time, everyone at my level was getting a raise. They were getting a raise because raises were on hold, from the previous year because of the economy, blah, blah, blah. So they paused raises. And so, I looked at my check expecting a raise and I did not see a raise. I hit up HR and I was like, Hey, why did I not get a raise? And they said, oh, well you were not submitted get a raise. You were never submitted to get one in the first place. And I was like, well, how is that possible? And they said, well, you were not eligible to get a raise because you went on paternity leave. And I said, that is ethical? You can do that? My performance was strong before I went on maternity leave, so, is that what everybody does? And they got quiet. Of course, no, that was not a hard and fast rule. Someone just made that decision.
(11:43): And between January to March, I was fighting HR, my quote unquote management leadership, quote, unquote. Leadership is a very loose word I am using here, to help me understand why I did not get my raise. And what was going to be done to right size this because of wages that I was missing out on? They had no answers. They did some type of internal investigation that they did not finish in time, by the time I left. But needless to say, I was very isolated in that season. I was very much so on an island. Meanwhile, while I am fighting HR and fighting my leadership in this arena, I am also having to put on a very confident, strong and brave face with clients, so I can actually continue to keep my job.
(12:34): Consulting is very performative. It is about how you show up, how you. Look mind you, I am watching my daughter by myself for half the day. I am in pretty, pretty bad shape mentally at this point. But no one knows that. No one knows that unless I tell them because I sound like this. And, for the most part, I did not turn my camera on. And I would give any excuse. Oh my WiFi is bad. Oh, my daughter threw up on me, blah, blah, blah. But I remember feeling really alone. I remember feeling like there was no hope and I remember feeling like I could not trust anybody. It is interesting, we are going to talk about this more this year. Living Corporate has been around for a couple years, we are going to talk a bit more this year about, how black and brown people sabotage one another by refusing to speak up and support one another in the name of their own survival.
(13:31): There were folks who behind the scenes were very much so Wakanda forever, yo I am down. We can do whatever, you know, sounded like young Kwame Tures out there, but, when the rubber hit the road, they were silent. And so, there is a certain level of abandonment I remember in that season that I felt. Just not feeling seen, or heard, or respected at all, at my job. Now, mind you, at the same time, Living Corporate got featured on CBS This Morning. So it was a weird juxtaposition to feel so disrespected, so ignored, so visibly invisible, in one arena and then feel so hyper seen in another.
(14:17): Two weeks later, Pfizer reaches out, they want to do a campaign with Living Corporate. Fast forward a couple months, another tech company reaches out, they want to do a campaign. Fast forward another couple weeks after that another company reaches out, they want to do a campaign. And so, things were moving forward, but I am going to tell you all, I was so distraught for the first lsix months of last year from the nonsense I was dealing with at my job. Mind you, this is the same job that, the previous year, I had some challenges at documented racial discrimination, documented and proven harassment, documented and proven, validated by their own investigations, retaliation.
(15:02): They themselves admitted that they treated me wrongly. So, this was an abusive context. And it is frustrating as I look back because as phenomenal as certain parts of my year in 2021 were, it was hard to even take joy in those moments because my nine to five job was so distractingly traumatic. It was so distractingly abusive. And I did not share all of this at the time. And there is an anniversary coming later this year. I will not say what the anniversary is, but when it comes, we will come back to this. We will do like a part two to this.
(15:39): I did not share all these things at the time, because I did not even know how to articulate everything. Think about the fact that I went from, hear what I am saying, this timeline. So, I am fighting human resources. I am fighting my quote, unquote leadership against documented instances of discrimination, against inequitable treatment, against withholding pay. I am also on CBS this morning. And then, I also transitioned to a new job. Like, yo, that is a lot. I had very little, if any break last year. I went from traumatic racialized, racist work environment, incredible growth to Living Corporate, incredible new job with no real vacation, no real time to breathe. No real time to process. I had to just to continue to run. This past winter break, this holiday break is really the first time I have had to actually breathe and process the wonkiness, the absurdity, that was 2021.
(16:40): And so, I share all this just to say, I get it. And I think it is hard for folks to really, unless they are in it or who have experienced it to understand, that for black and brown folks, especially high performing people, A Type personalities, overachieving insecure, people like myself. I am very self conscious. Like several people, I am a people pleaser. I want to make sure that I do not let folks down. I want to make sure I am doing the best I can do. Your job can be so consuming. And the reason that we even made some of this other content around The Break Room, and even, you hear me talk about mental health, and mental wellness, and self-care is because that is not healthy. It is not healthy for your job to dictate so much of your mental. At the same time, I am not going to get on this podcast and wag my finger at you for doing that, because the very nature of capitalism is for this job to be consuming. White supremacy culture is stretched and shaped around perfectionism. So yes, you are going to grind. You are going to work long hours. You are going to hope that you eventually are able to grab that carrot. It is part of this whole system, it is part of this whole thing.
(17:55): Therapy is resistance. It is activism, it is revolutionary. And that you are focusing and trying to recenter yourself as opposed to production and you being a machine that just produces. You are pushing against that every day. That is the fight. And so, it is tough. It is tough, because yes, you should not let your job consume so much of you. At the same time. I am not going to sit back and act like that is not an easy trap to fall into. And the reason why Living Corporate exists is because I know, that for so many people listening, most of their life is their job. And so, if you are going to be in these places, in these spaces, and that is everyone listening to this, we have a right to challenge these system so they can change.
(18:51): I will never come on Living Corporate or any platform, you have seen me promote other things, part of my nine to five, things that I have built in other places. I will never come on here and give you any type of content that teaches you how to cope with oppression. That is not it for me. That is white supremacists. You can engage a bunch of different platforms that are going to teach you how to cope and be a good slave. That will not be what you get over here. I am going to talk about individual responsibility. And I am always going to challenge and look at systems and structures because, frankly, black and brown people do not need a bunch of mentorship or chastising about individual responsibility. Black folks specifically, are some of the most internally critical groups of people in the world. We will hold ourselves accountable to the point where white folks will not have to do anything.
(19:43): They can just put one of us in charge of the rest of us to keep us all in line. Pull your pants up. Hey, stop saying, ask that way, Hey, learn how to do Excel better, that way you will get promoted. We see it all the time. We see it all the time. And that is why you see most of these black folks, especially in these professional services spaces, 99% of them are step [inaudible 00:20:02]. They are positioned to keep the other field hands in line. Like that is what they are. And I would not be a part part of that chorus. Again, you can hear that anywhere else, you can just type in whatever. You can hear it, it is okay. You will not get that here.
(20:18): And I am sharing all this, just to say, last year was such a harsh, reinforcement as to why Living Corporate is important. And a harsh reinforcement as to why community is important, and why your tribe is important. I am really excited about this year. I am excited about bringing things that I am learning, as I continue in my career. Bringing super dope conversations. And also, just talking more about current events and challenging those systems more outright, even than we have in the past. I am not saying that we have really pulled our punches. We have not, but there is more that we can do. I honestly figured that this whole DEI space would kind of be, I do not know, not die down, but I guess I am still surprised, honestly. And forgive me for being surprised but I am. I am surprised that certain mistakes are still being made in such public forums and ways. And I look at it and I go, dang, okay, we have more work to do. There is still more content for us to create because you are all still out here, oppressing, historically marginalized people. You all are still out here acting a whole donkey, on the internet. It is very strange. And you are harming people left and right. I mean, there is multimillion dollar losses being closed every other day. It is just ridiculous.
(21:38): So again, if you are listening to this and you are in a situation where you feel trapped or you feel just stuck, you feel like you do not have any resource. You feel like you do not have any options. You are looking for another job, feel free to email, email@example.com. I would love to be a point of support for you. I know plenty of recruiters. I know plenty of coaches. Let us make sure we get you support and the help you need. Let us not be in 2022 in the same toxic work environment. Trust me, as someone who is in a genuinely dark and bad place, up until last summer, I can tell you it is not sustainable. It is not good for you. And you deserve better for yourself. You owe it to yourself. Let us not talk about your family and your loved ones. You owe it to yourself.
(22:28): It is a brand new year. I think one thing that this pandemic has continued to remind me is that life is really fragile. It is really, really short. So short frankly, that you kind of question, should you be working at all? Should you be doing any work? Like people you could die like today. It is just so eerie and then with this new variant folks are getting sick left and right. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Not to mention the effects of long COVID and the impact this has on folks with other chronic illnesses or diseases who cannot get the care they need because hospitals are overwhelmed. It is ridiculous. Shout out to The Black Starks, we have got to have you back. Please, Dr. Black Starks if you are all hearing this, please come back. And I am going to hit you all up too. But I am just saying, I want you all to know that I appreciate you all. I really do love you all. Please. I am excited. I want you all to come back this year so we can talk more about just all the implications of COVID for historically marginalized communities.
(23:23): Anyway, you owe it to yourself to be in a situation and environment that is not actively harming and maligning you every day. That is not gaslighting you every day, or attempting to Gaslight you. That is not undermining or dismissing your perspective. That is not questioning your intelligence, that is not outright lying. And, I will say this, I used to believe, because I am a former HR manager. Before I got into consulting, I was HR manager. I was an HR business partner, blah, blah, blah. And I would always be, documentation, documentation, documentation. One thing that I have realized is that white institutions, particularly, again like white supremacist, do not actually care about documentation. They are not going to fix anything. You could have anything. You could have documentation on anything. They only care about the documentation if you are about to go sue them. They are not going to actually just really do right by you. They do not care. And sometimes I have seen situations, I have been in situations where I have had people dead to rights via documentation and they just ignore it.
(24:33): So, my point is, it is not always even worth trying to fight and battle with these places. It is not. And you look at the market, right now, the best thing to the best way to show them that you mean what you say is to leave. Leave loud if you want, leave a big resignation letter, send it, put it on Reddit, whatever, like do whatever you want to do. Put it on TikTok. People quit in real spicy ways, but leave is my point.? It is very similar to like a relationship. You say, yo, look, I cannot keep putting up with you disrespecting me. I cannot keep putting up with you treating me like this. They are only going to hear you so much, because you are still there. They are going to really hear you when you leave. And so, again, point of encouragement, sharing a little bit of my story, there will be a part two to this a little bit later this year. We will come back. But all of this to say, happy new year. I care about you. I appreciate you. Thank you so much for supporting Living Corporate. We have a lot of stuff going on.
(25:36): While we are on our season breaks for The Access Point, and The Break Room, and Liberated Love Notes, make sure you check out The Group Chat. Make sure you check out our merch, make sure you check out our content on LinkedIn Learning. Flip it to a manager or three, share it with them. Real talk, it is good content. And it is very digestible. It is not super long, it is audio. They do not have to be stuck on a video. And yes, give us five stars on Apple Podcast. Until next time, this has been Zach and you are listening to Living Corporate. Peace.