Zach speaks with workplace & equity consultant Minda Harts, the best-selling author of The Memo and Right Within, to talk some about both of her books, The Memo and Right Within, dive deeper into her career journey and experience, and Minda shares her perspective and the landscape as she sees it from a D&I perspective, particularly the experience of Black women.
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Zach (00:58): What’s up y’all, it’s Zach with Living Corporate and yo, happy Black History Month. Shout out to all the black folks around the world, the African diaspora at large, as well as our American descendants of slavery. Shout out to us for being resilient, for being strong, for being brave, for being courageous, for being vulnerable, for being human. I continue to talk about our contributions. I mean, it’s interesting, I grew up and like a lot of folks, I was told that George Watson Carver invented peanut butter. And it wasn’t until I got older that I realized how deep black contributions were to every facet of our society.
(01:47): From healthcare, to science, to automotives, to cuisine, to art, to music, to literature, to literally everything. Fashion. Literally every aspect of life, black toys, video games, some voice acting, sitcoms, comedy, opera, dance. There’s literally nothing that we haven’t had our direct fingerprints on. I’m so thankful to be black. I’m thankful to be here this Black History Month to talk about us. To celebrate us. I don’t think it can be understated how our resilience continues to keep the world spinning.
(02:39): To that end, I’m really excited about the guest that we have for y’all today, Minda Hearts. Minda Hearts, you know, I love the fact that, Minda was on the podcast way before she was big. Before she was a name. She was just on the pod talking about her book, her first book. And so, we talked a bit about her journey. We talked about her experience. We talked about her perspective and the landscape as she sees it from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective, particularly the experience of black women, so we talked about that. And I just find our discussion so refreshing. Minda. Minda’s [inaudible 03:20[ the only. Right? I’m really excited about y’all checking out this conversation. And so, before we get there, we’re gonna tap in with Tristan.
Zach (06:36): Minda, welcome back to the show. How’s it going?
Minda (06:39): Good to see you, Zach. It’s going good. I can’t complain.
Zach (06:42): Minda, it’s like every time you come back, it’s like you bigger than the last time. You know what I’m saying?
Minda (06:49): I feel like there’s a Drake lyric in there somewhere for you to .[inaudible 00:06:51].
Zach (06:51): You lowkey kind of like that, like that, You Don’t Know song by JayZ. It’s like 1 million, 2 million, 3 million, four. Siteen notes.
Minda (06:59): I’m receiving that. I’m receiving that.
Zach (07:01): Gol-ly. I remember when, like, I remember the first time you was on Living Corporate, this was right before, you were just trying to get people to check a seat at the table. It wasn’t even like, whatever, it’s way before the verification stick. You know what I mean?
Minda (07:16): Yeah, way before. When I just wanted people to say like, Hey, I’m waving a flag. Look over here, check this out. But it is a blessing for sure.
Zach (07:25): You’re a whole author now.
Minda (07:28): Yes, I am. I’m leaning into that. It took me a while to accept that that is a title of mine, a one title that I carry and, I’m proud of that work. So, I own that title.
Zach (07:41): Now. You know, of course we punched this in, I do the intro before. This is the recording, we just jump into the interview, but you know it’s incredible, cuz first of all, you’ve been ‘that person’ for a minute. But, the grill, let’s talk about this grill. What inspired the bottom grill? And what’s the story behind that?
Minda (08:09): Yeah. I think it’s like a kid growing up in the eighties and nineties. You love hip hop, right? At least many black kids. And I always loved seeing my aunties with their gold in their mouth, when I was growing up. Cuz on my mom’s side, they’re from New Orleans. So, all of my great aunts, they have like one gold like outline on one of their tooth. When we’d go to a function, I’d be like, she’s a bad chick, you know? And so, I always had this like, when I get to her age, I’m gonna get some gold. And then, once I got to their age, I was like, oh, okay, wear gold to my corporate job, right? And then, I just started to think about authenticity and and how, even when I was in college, Paul Wall and all of those real songs. And I thought, you know, it’d be kind of fun to tap into this thing that I’ve always wanted to get. And because now they’re a little more fun, than just that one gold tooth that my aunties used to have. So, I thought, you know what, I’m gonna go for it. And I actually like it. It’s a vibe, Zach.
Zach (09:09): It’s a vibe. You look great. You know what I’m saying? I was like I said, is this is a flex? When I saw it I was like that is so, so dope. So now look, you know, I’m interviewing you, it’s the top of the year in 2022. Last year was a lot of just, just a lot of stuff happened. I,t was frankly chaotic for a lot of different people. I’m curious, what things became clear Minda, in 2021?
Minda (09:39): Yeah. That’s a good way to describe it. I mean, ywe see what we see on people’s social pages, but 2021 was a hard year personally, for me. I was dealing with a lot of like mental health issues. But what became really clear to me was that all of this is bigger than me, and what do I wanna leave behind? Who’s gonna be a beneficiary of my courage? And I can’t stop doing the work because I may not feel up to it today. Like our ancestors and our elders, they were tired all the time, but they knew that you and I would benefit from their work. And so, what became really important to me was to double down on the things that I know are true. Being a black woman in the workplace and be unapologetic about that, regardless. If people get with it. Cool. If they don’t, then this is not for them. And we’re gonna rock with those who are with the cause.
Zach (10:35): You know, I think that what your journey has continued to affirm from me is that there’s so much work to do still, in centering and amplifying black and brown women’s experiences. And that the gap, the equity gap is very, very, very broad. And, that experiences of all women of color are not the same. That black women have unique experiences. Latin, Hispanic, Latin X women have unique experience, South Asian have unique experiences. I’m curious, in this journey from a seat at the table, to write within. Have you had any type of reminders that, Hey look like yes, women of color, but also like there are unique experiences for black women. Has anything kind of refreshed you in that regard that, Hey, actually all these experiences are not the same?
Minda (11:41): Yeah, I have. Two things can be true at the same time. We can all be women in the workplace and experience that workplace very differently. And many of us can be oppressed, but again, our access to privilege is a little different than others. And when I wrote, Right Within, I was really, really intentional to say, I write for black women, but also, I know that there’s not a lot of content and a lot of voices that are amplified in the way that mine might be right now. So I’m gonna add women of color to this as well, because I want them to feel seen in the work that I do, but I speak from a black woman’s perspective. I speak culturally, to black women, but there are other women of color who feel a connection to black women, and to that marginalized experience. And so, I want people to feel like they have a seat at my table. And I hope that the work that I’m doing, and the work that you’re doing, and others will just show that there’s work to do for all intersections, all areas of ethnicities.
Zach (12:44): You know, it is curious, when you talk about your first book, The Seat At The Table, to Right Within: How To Heal From Racial Trauma In The Workplace, what was your journey in crafting and writing Right Within? Did you talk to different mental health experts? What did it look like? Did you have to go through any type of healing or therapy of your own? Talk to me about that journey to really put that book together.
Minda (13:19): Yeah. You know, it’s funny when I wrote the memo I thought, okay, well, this was, my first book, Zach, I thought this was gonna be like it. I’ve said what I’ve said. And, what I realized after that was that even though we’ve experienced these inqualities in the workplace, we still hold onto the trauma of those experiences. And I thought about my own experiences, even though whatever happened five years ago, 10 years ago, it still feels like it happened yesterday because I still sometimes hold onto those cuts. I still see. Those invisible cuts are the ones that hurt the most sometimes. And what I found was that even if our colleagues get the unconscious bias training, they get the whatever trainings, our healing cannot be tied to that. We have to figure out what is it that we need to release ourself from this racialized aggression that we never should have been exposed to, but we’re taking it into our lives?
Minda (14:12): We’re taking it home with us. Our partners, our kids, the people we love, they get this wounded version of us. And we don’t even know what the healthiest version of ourself is. And, when I was in corporate America, I started on that journey to healing. I started seeing a therapist and, I didn’t realize that I was experiencing anxiety, depression, a host of other issues, because of the work environment that I was in. I just thought it was me. I thought I was just going crazy. But it actually had to do with this environment, which was traumatic and, my body was reacting. And so, I talked about my journey to healing. I’m not healed. I say healing is not a one time event. It’s a lifestyle. I commit to that practice every day. And I talk to faith healers in Right Within, I talk to therapists. I have some frameworks that help me, continue to help me because, again, it’s the maintenance. We may still be working in toxic environments, but we can still heal while in hell.
Zach (15:11): Oooo, come on now, come on now. Heal, while in hell.
Minda (15:14): Yes.
Zach (15:16): All right now. Hmm, that’s a word. [inaudible 00:15:18] on pause. Sound man, put a flex bomb or something right there. Drop that. All right, you’ll get that in post. It’ll be great, man. [inaudible 00:15:30]. So now let’s talk a little bit about this next book, You are more than magi: The Black and Brown Girl’s guide To Finding Your Voice. So it’s interesting as I look at the book, it seems as if like your voice seems to grow bolder with each publication. And frankly, a bit more nuanced and even like intentional at the same time. Talk to me about the story behind this book. And it releases on April 5th, 2022, I’ll put the link in the show notes so you can preorder. But talk to me about the journey to write this particular book.
Minda (16:20): Yeah. You know, I thought about just the journey of being a black girl to becoming a black woman. And I used to think, oh, I was experiencing these things imposter syndrome, maybe scared to say my peace when somebody has offended me in the workplace. And I had to go back Zach, and say, you know what, this didn’t just happened when I entered corporate America, I was becoming this person because of some of the experiences I had as a teenager at junior high school. Being one of the only black kid, Zach, predominantly all the schools I had went to growing up. And so, I started to shrink myself, I started to code switch in ways that I didn’t even know I might have been doing. I started to see myself through the eyes of white people, instead of seeing them through seeing myself.
(17:05): And so, we take those versions of ourself and we bring it to corporate America. And I wanted to say, you know what, wait, let’s get back in the DeLorean, go back to the future. And if we could talk to our 13 and 14 year old selves, our 16 year old selves, what would they need to know so that when they get to corporate or they get to non-profit and get their first job, they already have the tools to show up and know they belong in every space they’re in? And if they do come across difficult personalities, then they have the understanding to have a dialogue, to either rectify it, create a solution with this person, or move on. But I don’t want them to wait until they’re 30 years old to say, I have agency. I want you to learn how to have it now.
Zach (17:50): So a couple things, of course, all of this resonates with, you’re talking to Zach from Living Corporate. Clearly all the things you’re talking about, resonate with me. But what I hear and what really I relate to is this idea of, understanding that it’s not even just the workplace, but like we’re black and brown folks, black folks in this particular context, we’re conditioned to limit, hide, kind of put our light under a bushel, so to speak, and to question and doubt ourselves. And I think that, man, that’s so, it’s just so true. And the trauma that comes from being silenced throughout your life, including in the workplace, it just compounds over time to the point where, you can look up, you be 37, 38, 52 years old, 57 years old, 65 years old. And you’ve never actually fully come to grips to who you are, what your voice is. You don’t even recognize yourself. You know what I mean?
(18:54): And, it’s so critical, right? I’ve had conversations with folks and with people of all ages. But it’s sad to me, when I meet people. Even my parents and I when we have conversations, I’m like, man, you know, you don’t have to deal with that. You can just tell them no. Like, hell no. You know what I’m saying? You’re grown, you know what I mean? And so, that last point you said around like, man, you don’t want be 30 waiting, just coming into your voice. Cuz you think about all of the all and not to be more, but life is so short and it’s fragile.
(19:28): And so, all the opportunities you could have missed. Or all the indignity you suffered, or all the whatever that you just have passed over, you can’t get those moments back. You can’t get that sign back. And then, lastly, I’ll say, is this idea around therapy and really understanding who, what are the impact of these things on your life? That’s so critical. I think about, for me, the past three years. Minda, I’ve been in therapy for some years and really getting clarity for me, on like, yo no, I actually have PTSD, and anxiety, and depression, and bipolar. There’s all these challenges that I’ve had either from just, genetically as a kid, but that have been like exponentially exacerbated as a result of racially traumatic work context and environments.
Zach (20:24): And so, now look, you’re always, you’re everywhere. I’m not gonna put your geoline right here right now [inaudible 00:20:31]. We talked off mike, about, where you at right now? But I’m saying, like you all over the place. You’re having conversations, you know what I mean? Hung out with, who was that? Oprah, last week. You’re talking to Barack and Michelle tomorrow. You’re meeting with Megan Markle. So Cardi B and them. So, I’m curious, as you look at the landscape of diversity, equity and inclusion and of this space, do you have concerns about the long-term viability of this? Do you feel as if this is like…? Do you feel like this is still a movement? Do you think it’s still a moment? I’m curious, just as you look at the landscape, what are you seeing?
Minda (21:14): Yeah, that’s a great question, Zach. I feel like we’re at the intersection of either it’s was a moment or it’s gonna be a movement. I think we’re at this really interesting place where it could still go either way. And I think voices like yours, voices like mine are trying to make sure it’s not just a moment. But the things that I hear in the emails I still get from women who are experiencing really, their dignity being stripped away daily, in these environments. After the year of George Floyd, after all the conversations. And I’m like, y’all still showing up like this, still talking crazy to people? So I’m optimistic on one point, but it’s gonna take some revolutionary acts to really create that momentum. So it’s no longer just having these conversations. We need some demonstration now. And I think a lot of black people in particular, are fed up.
(22:05): And so I think some of these companies are gonna have a hard time having us work there. So we’re gonna go to the ones or build our own, that really show us that racial justice is a core pillar here. And we’re gonna see, we don’t need glass door, cuz we’ll already know, that ain’t the place. And they’re gonna have to deal with the consequences of that. And I think that, in the next few years, I think we’ll see who the real, true, equitable who are striving toward equity? Cuz I know it takes a while. But, those who are really trying to do something and those who are just gonna keep talking about it.
Zach (22:42): Now, again. Your growth has been inspiring. Like I said, it’s like, I look, and I go dang, look, man, she just flexing again. There she is, that [inaudible 00:22:52] there go that lady. That’s see how I do? That’s what I say. I text, I nudge Candas, my wife, I tell her. I pick up Emery. I’m like Emery, look at the Tweet, look at what Minda do? Now, let’s talk a little bit about your production company. What is that about? And what inspired that? Like, what things are you excited about as you continue to build it?
Minda (23:14): Yeah. I’m really excited about Queen of Hearts Production. It’s actually something that a lot of people don’t know is, before I ever started writing about women of color in the workplace. When I was younger, like in my teens and early twenties, I used to love to write plays and scripts. That was like fun for me, just therapeutic. And so, I never ever saw myself doing either of the things I’m doing now, but I liked it. It wasn’t a creative outlet. And so, once I did, you know, write these books and start building space, I’m like, I wanna continue to tell the stories of black and brown women in the workplace, but in a different medium. I want to be able to bring them to screens or documentaries. And so, again, not waiting for our seat at the table, but creating our own table and chairs. And so, that’s what I decided to do with Queen of Hearts. And our first, I don’t know when this will air. But our first, my first production will be during Women’s History Month. So I’m working really hard to get something spun out for a little teaser.
Zach (24:16): So you gonna be like Tyler Perry Studios, but with better wigs though?
Minda (24:20): Much better wigs. Much…
Zach (24:22): Okay. Cuz the wigs.
Minda (24:23): I hope I have the career success of Tyler, but I’m definitely gonna make sure as a black woman who has, I’ve never worn any lace fronts, but has worn wigs and other things. I definitely understand the importance of having a good hair piece.
Zach (24:35): A hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. Respect to the success. And like two things can be true. Like you said earlier, we got you. So now, yes. And yeah, this is airing on Tuesday. So, you know what I mean? I’m excited about all of the things that you’re doing. As you look at this year and as you look at your own experiences of, Minda Hearts, especially over the last, I’m gonna say like three and a half, four years. What are things that continue to give you hope?
Minda (25:05): Yeah. What real gives me hope is the impact. The impact. I often say that I didn’t realize that my voice was tied to somebody else’s freedom.
Zach (25:15): Mmm.
Minda (25:16): And when I get tired Zach, or when I’m like uncertain of myself, I just say, remember, who’s waiting. Who’s gonna be a beneficiary of this Minda? And that’s what keeps me going. And that’s what gives me hope, because the messages that I get Zach, from even 60 year old women who are like, “After reading one of your books, I had the courage to go and have a conversation, or I had the courage to leave and find a new job. Or I had the courage to explore what healing looks like.” That is a game changer in some people’s lives, just giving themselves permission to investigate and interrogate what a better version of themself could be, unheard and unharmed. And that gives me hope knowing that, not any fame or fortune, but really the impact. Because that, at the end of the day is priceless.
Zach (26:03): Minda man, thank you so much for just being a guest. Thank you for all the work that you’re doing. Y’all make sure you check out all of Minda’s work. Click on the link in the show notes. All right. I ain’t gonna rattle off the billion different things you’re doing. I’m gonna give you space though. Any parting words or shoutouts before we let you go?
Minda (26:23): Oh, well I just wanna thank you for always pulling up and supporting me. I appreciate you as an ally, as a friend. And I am thinking of ways that I wanna loop you into some of the things that I’m doing. I will follow up outside of that, but I truly appreciate your voice and your work and the way you show up. That’s very important. And, shout out to everybody who has just ever supported me or wished me well. I appreciate that, cuz this work can be lonely. And it can be frustrating, but it can be really rewarding. And the last thing I’ll say is, I’m not rooting for everybody’s success. I’m rooting for your healing.
Zach (26:58): Hmm.
Minda (26:58): Healed. Then you’re go be successful.
Zach (27:02): Huh? Hold on now. Come on organs.
Minda (27:06): Yes.
Zach (27:06): Come on with your healing.
Minda (27:08): Tambourines. Okay? [inaudible 00:27:10].
Zach (27:10): Hey, put me in A flat. Keys? That’s incredible. Yes. And yes, also, you know what I’m saying? Shout out to everybody definitely supporting Minda. You know what I mean? So that little kafuffle on Twitter, I was about to have to roll up, pull out the ‘Ya [inaudible 00:27:25]’. I ain’t know what people was really trying to do. You know I’m playing now.
Minda (27:30): It wasn’t. I don’t think they knew what they were trying to do either.
Zach (27:38): Oh man. Minda, talk to you soon. I’m looking forward us connecting offline. And have a great week and take care of you.
Minda (27:45): You too. Thank you so much.
Zach (27:47): Peace.
Zach (27:55): Yo, I want to thank Minda again. Thank you so much for being a guest. Shout out to you. Make sure you check out her books, all the links in the show notes. Pre-order, do your thing. And, let’s make sure that we support black women. Like it’s easy to kind of retweet, buy a book. You know what I’m saying? If you can gift a book to somebody else. I’m excited about her work. I’m excited about her being our guest in the future as well.
(28:21): So, look, this has been Zach from Living Corporate. Thank you so much for all your support. Make sure you check us out on Apple Podcast. Give us five stars. Check out our merch. Check out our learning content on LinkedIn Learning. Until next time, y’all. Peace.