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For Managers and Employees: How to Transform Your Diversity and Inclusion Program From Stagnation to Action

For Managers and Employees: How to Transform Your Diversity and Inclusion Program From Stagnation to Action

We are all aware of the Starbucks fiasco; over 800 stores are scheduled to shut down for unconscious bias training. While I commend actions being taken, I believe it’s a bandaid approach to solving an issue that takes more than one afternoon and a lot of well known people to plan and facilitate a training of this magnitude. Starbucks had the misfortune (or fortune - it’s all about perspective) of being in the spotlight for a short period of time, and they had to take immediate acton before sales plummeted even further, as a result. However, many more companies are facing the same kind of issues as Starbucks; they are just not getting amplified coverage for their actions. 

I have been thinking about this issue rather extensively and wondering if the topic of diversity and inclusion is just that, a topic that sounds good in theory but has gone sour when it comes to planning and implementing an effective strategy. While we are headed in a positive direction and some companies have implemented a policy or processare managers and employees really embracing the priority practices that come with understanding different perspectives? Implementation of a quality strategy takes commitment, time, and patience within all levels of an organization. 

Some food for thought on how to take action below. 

If you are in a management position or a part of a human resources team, here are three ways to get your company on the right track towards a corporate culture that embraces diversity and inclusion: 

1. Create a safe space for dialogue to take place: Encourage staff to provide ideas and reassure them that their feedback is confidential and will be taken into consideration to further the D&I strategy. 

2. Survey your employees: Conduct an anonymous survey to better understand employee perspectives on this issue. Ask them for ideas and do not assume you know what someone else is thinking.  

3. Offer Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities: Enhance the knowledge base of your employees through articles, trainings, workshops, and lunch and learns to encourage dialogue and additional learning to gain different perspectives on diversity.

 
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If you are an employee, here are three ways you can start impactful dialogue about diversity and inclusion within your company: 

1. Believe in Yourself:  First thing is first; realize you have a voice and a unique perspective to offer your company. If something is bothering you, speak to the appropriate representative within your company.  

2. Start Thoughtful Dialogue: With a unique perspective comes responsibility. Turn your complaints into productive conversations by discussing a problem followed up with an idea or potential solution. 

3. Limit the Gossiping: Gossip tends to manifest negativity, toxicity, and stagnation. If you hear colleagues complaining, choose to stay out of the conversation, or interject with a productive comment. 

Keep in mind that these tips are not quick fixes; it takes time for change to happen. It’s just a part of how we operate as human beings. We all have to start somewhere.

7 Ways To Build Customer Confidence and Obtain Referrals

7 Ways To Build Customer Confidence and Obtain Referrals

We all have instincts that make us feel receptive to a product or turn us away from an offer. The question is WHY we feel the way we do. 

Developing healthy relationships is necessary for life, but it is not easy. Diverse backgrounds contribute to the complexity of a situation, but everyone is human. The phrase, “treat people the way you would like to be treated” sounds cliche but transcends cultural boundaries. Think about your last positive and negative interaction with someone. Why did you feel that way? 

After countless meetings as a client and with clients, I have identified seven attributes that have enriched my personal life and have helped me build effective relationships. The common factor among the seven = respecting and valuing TIME, our most precious commodity.


1. Confidence: I always do my homework before speaking with a client by researching pertinent topics and reading articles that relate to the topic of interest. The information from my research is used to ask my client informed follow-up questions. In return, I expect to receive responses that will help me tailor my implementation plan. By asking thoughtful questions, my clients trust that I can get the job done because I have taken time to understand their situation. 


2. Trust: Trust is developed through responsive interaction and intuition. I listen to my clients' needs before providing a response or interjecting my perspective. Honest and constructive feedback is provided as necessary, and I take client confidentiality very seriously. Gossiping about someone or something is bad practice, can damage your reputation, and is a waste of time. 


3. Honesty: I ask for clarification or provide my interpretation of the issue if I do not fully understand the clients' perspective. When I am not familiar with a topic, I admit it. Pretending to sound intelligent about something out of my purview tends to have a negative effect on the quality of my product and with relationships moving forward. 


4. Respect: I typically begin initial email exchanges by writing, " Dear Mr./Ms.," or "Hello Mr./Ms.," if I do not know the person. Similarly, I may call someone Mr. or Ms. depending on the context of the situation. Earning respect takes time, but addressing your client with his/her proper title will only help your situation. 


5. My client is my priority: Regardless of my schedule, I always give 100% of my attention to a client meeting whether it is in person or over the phone. They need to feel like they are #1, because they are.  

Tip: Never tell your client, “It’s been so long since we talked, and I haven’t looked at your file in a while.” I have had some people say that to me in the past, and they are automatically red flagged on my list of referrals. 


6. Punctuality: Time is valuable commodity. I cannot stress this enough. If I attend a meeting in person, I estimate the amount of time it will take to arrive, and I take unforeseen traffic delays into account. If I am late, I notify my client as soon as possible. Generally speaking, I try not to postpone meetings more than two times.   


7. Mind My Manners: I put myself on mute when I am on a call so the sound of keyboard strokes do not interrupt the flow of conversation. When I meet with people in person, my phone is placed on silent in my bag, I have a notebook out, and I make appropriate eye contact with the person who is speaking. Each situation varies, and observing social cues are critical to building client confidence and trust. 

Take these seven attributes into account the next time you are receiving services, or you are scheduling a meeting with a client regardless cultural background. Paying attention to these mannerisms have saved me a substantial amount of time and I have gained a reputation that reflects my persona.

When in doubt, ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and treat your client with equal respect. 

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We All Have The Ability To Empower Mothers In The Workplace

We All Have The Ability To Empower Mothers In The Workplace

International Women’s Day, is certainly a day to celebrate the strength, beauty, and power of a woman. But what happens after that day? I am always fascinated by the ability of the general public to publicize a topic for a short period of time until the next best controversial topic arises. Personally, I am interested in ongoing, actionable conversation that takes place longer than one awesome day. On this International Women’s Day I had the pleasure of participating in the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup sponsored by Mindr, Nibble and Squeak, and United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. The goal: to hold global discussions about how we can make the world better for all moms, and how moms can make the world better for everyone. These discussions also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as shown below. 

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Meetups like this one were taking place around the world; Nigeria alone had approximately 40 meetups to discuss women’s issues relevant for their culture. Our group of 10 - 15 women in Washington DC discussed issues highly relevant to working mothers in the United States: maternity and family leave. We talked about how a culture change needs to happen at the workplace in order to accommodate this major familial lifestyle change.

Now for the big question, what can we do to take action to bring greater awareness to this issue? Here are some suggestions: 

1. Talk to your human resources representative to better understand the maternity leave policy. Ask questions, and follow up on unanswered questions. 

2. Men and women should talk to their partners to develop their own plan of action. Each person should value and take their personal and professional roles into account when having these conversations. 

3. This is a family issue, therefore men and women are affected by the family leave policy. Men should ask questions about paternity leave and advocate for time they need to ensure their family situation is in proper order. 

4. Set expectations for yourself and your workplace. Be clear about when you will be online/offline and when you will be in the office or work remotely. 

Every work environment is different, but effective communication and responsibility is key. Once you have taken steps to ensure a plan is in order, be open to the idea that your plan is bound to change upon execution. But, be honest with yourself and your team members about what you can handle. Trust the process, and tackle challenges using a solution oriented perspective. 

This is a very human centric issue. Your voice matters, and issues can only be resolved over time if we discuss them in a productive manner. 

For more information about the founding partners visit: 

Mindr

Nibble and Squeak

United Nations Foundation - Global Moms Challenge

Let’s make each day an awesome day! 

TREAT EACH DAY AS A FRESH START + BE READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT!

TREAT EACH DAY AS A FRESH START + BE READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT!

How Do I Know Who To Trust?

How Do I Know Who To Trust?

Ticket One Denied. Ticket Two denied. This has to be a mistake, we thought as we entered the Capital One stadium SUPER excited to attend a concert in Washington, DC. We were in utter disbelief as the ticket agent told us our tickets were counterfeit and wrote VOID in big black bold letters across the QR code. 

We bought those tickets from what seemed to be a legitimate seller. We talked to him, negotiated a fair plan for a transaction, and waited to receive an email from Ticketmaster Support before transferring funds. What seemed to be an honest transaction was nothing but a huge scam.

Here’s a snippet of our emotional roller coaster: immediate anger, followed by feeling pretty duped, onward to thinking this person was a highly sophisticated Craigslist scammer by avoiding any moves that would raise red flags. 

OUR EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER

OUR EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER

Given all of the above, I think the final two parts of this emotional roller coaster are worth delving into as lessons learned for future life experiences.

1. How we can trust people again?

This question rings true as we travel abroad and within our own neighborhoods. We live in a time where we are bombarded with terror threats, social media outlets, talking heads, and other questionable voices that our first instinct is to question a person’s motive before trusting. I understand this part of  human nature, but I do not accept. I try my best to flip the thought coin; to listen to perspective, have an open mind, and make decisions on how I feel about a person’s energy and how they resonate with me AFTER an interaction. I try, but as we know, each situation is unique. However, this does lead me to the second question we asked ourselves.

2. Did we have an instinct that we didn’t pay attention to?

Looking back on our experience, there was an inkling of doubt in our minds when the Ticketmaster app didn’t instantly upload our tickets to our account. We thought it was strange, but the email from Ticketmaster Support said it could take a few hours, and we had the ability to print the tickets out. The seller also was texting us asking why it was taking us so long to transfer funds upon receipt of these tickets, and that HE was going to report us to the police. The sense of urgency seemed strange, oddly making us feel like criminals.

Our Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t buy tickets on Craigslist.

2. One occurrence will not ruin my life forever.

3. I will continue to TRUST that little voice called my intuition. Once I learn how to trust myself, placing trust in people and situations will be a little easier.

These lessons are a part of life. The real trick is how we apply what we have learned at work, at home, when we are on vacation; and with essentially everything we do in our daily lives. 

TRUST YOUR INSTINCT - IT'S EVERYTHING.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCT - IT'S EVERYTHING.

What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

These days, the word 'mindfulness' comes up so much that it seems like more of a buzzword, a word that we should use to feel better somehow. I want to take this moment to share my perspective on what mindfulness means to me, and how I have integrated this concept into my life. Perhaps it will spark some thought about what mindfulness means for you.

There was a time in my life where I coasted through days not fully aware or grateful for all that I had. I never gave too much thought to getting out of bed on my own, or being able to walk down the stairs of my house to make a fresh cup of coffee. I guess I just took it for granted. But those simple things I took for granted are true miracles every day. Walking out of my house to feel the fresh air of a new day, or looking up at the sky to see big fluffy clouds were all things that I never paid attention to because I was too busy going to work or stressed out about life circumstances. My body was more reactive than proactive back then. 

It took a major car accident to help me understand the concept of mindfulness. In 2013, my car hydroplaned on I-40 in North Carolina, and was hit by three cars and an 18-wheeler head on. I will never forget seeing the truck driving towards me at 50+ miles per hour while I was sitting in my car, virtually helpless. I scrolled through the rolodex of my life in my mind and thought, "If I have to go today, I'll be okay. I've done everything I could have possibly done for my life up to this moment." My car was an absolute accordion, but I walked out of my car that night in complete and utter shock that I didn't have a scratch on me. 


How many moments do we go through life without awareness of our surroundings? 


Everyday (since that day) I wake up with enthusiasm for all that I am lucky enough to have in this world. I have a food, clothing, shelter, family and friends. I have the ability to take walks, to look up at the sky with awe and wonder like a little kid, and to taste food that I choose to eat (among many other things). My senses are alive, and I am happy without a doubt. 

It's this level of awareness that has sparked passion for what I do. It's this type of mindfulness that has elevated my passion for life, and how I interact with people at home and abroad. I try my best to let go of petty misunderstandings as humanly possible, because it's just not worth it in the end. 

Mindfulness has been the first step to making more thoughtful decisions in my life. For me, practicing mindfulness has translated into a healthier way to live, love, and forgive. 

The art of mindfulness starts by asking yourself this one question: what is one thing you are grateful for each day? Don't wait for a big circumstance in your life to take place to shift priorities. Make time to appreciate all that you have right now, in this moment. 

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions with Papilia

Each day I am astonished by how much I continue to learn through my experiences with Papilia. I am constantly reminded by how fascinating people are; add culture into the mix, and we are now dealing with another set of special circumstances which need to be acknowledged and understood. 

The original concept for Papilia was to provide business and leisure travelers with a customized packing list, culture etiquette tips, and shopping advice. The goal was to help each person feel confident and prepared for their trip prior to departure so they could focus on what actually matters when you travel: to absorb local culture, to develop meaningful relationships, and to create lasting memories. Our original mission was to, "Travel More. Worry Less."

Throughout this journey, I have listened to embarrassing travel-related faux pas, and "I probably shouldn't have done of that" moments from travelers. I spent time thinking about how Papilia's mission could impact the lives of travelers in a more thoughtful way, (in addition to the personalized traveler itinerary). After many months of brainstorming ideas, and reflecting upon global perceptions of culture in the United States and abroad, I came up with a solution that I'm really passionate about.

Papilia now offers customized cross-cultural and international etiquette training and coaching for businesses and individuals who want to improve upon their strategic international relationships or expand their portfolio to develop partnerships internationally. (Detail on these and other trainings are provided on Sophia's personal website and the Papilia website.) 

Our new mission, "Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions," addresses a greater need many people are facing and want to better understand. Cultural intricacies are complex, but they are key to successful interactions and will also facilitate a deeper appreciation for local culture and surroundings. 

These training and coaching sessions will also integrate a component that is near and dear to my heart. Mindfulness. In order to interact with other cultures, you have to be mindful of your own interactions. I will incorporate what I have learned from my yoga teacher training to create an experience that will enhance your professional and personal life if you are receptive to it.

Just an FYI: I have a Papilia site and a personal site. Feel free to contact me on either site. I will typically share professional development, personal lessons learned, and other valuable insights on my personal site. Papilia focuses on training and services with a greater focus on travel preparedness and travel inspiration.

I am so excited for this next phase. My ultimate goal is to empower you with the proper tools needed to succeed in any professional or personal setting. 

If you are interested in taking the next step or finding out more information: Please fill out this initial survey so I can understand your training or coaching needs.

If you aren't ready yet, I would love your feedback to my ONE ASK: What is your single biggest communication challenge? 

...and remember...

Culture makes us who we are.

Perception defines how we act.

Knowledge is power.

 

I look forward to hearing from you wherever you are in the world. 

Papilia Recommended Fall Hikes

Papilia Recommended Fall Hikes

You know Fall is here with the crispness in the air, changing fall leaves and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING! It's time to get out in the open, and appreciate all of this fall foliage that the season has to offer with these three Papilia recommended trails for you to enjoy.

Hessie Trailhead in Nederland, Colorado- Hessie Trailhead is a well worn hiking loop in Roosevelt National Forest and great for hiking lovers of all levels. It is a 40 minute drive from Boulder and shy over an hour from Denver. Hessie Trailhead is a popular 3.6 mile loop trail featuring a lake which also connects with other trails, see here. Dogs are welcome on this trail too!  Grab your hiking boots, dab on that sunscreen and bring plenty of water. If you hit this trail since you will be in high altitude, making water your best bet for a sustained good day in nature.

SUNSHINE PEAKING THROUGH THE ASPENS ALONG THE HESSIE TRAILHEAD, COLORADO

SUNSHINE PEAKING THROUGH THE ASPENS ALONG THE HESSIE TRAILHEAD, COLORADO

Billie Goat Trail in Washington DC- This 4.7 mile trail is one of the best known trails in Washington DC/Metro area; located in Maryland between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. Regardless of which section you choose (A-C), you are bound to hop over rocks and enjoy amazing views of nature. This map will guide you through all the ins and outs of the trail - so get ready for a relaxing hike filled with so much fun!

ROCK HOPPING ON THE BILLY GOAT TRAIL

ROCK HOPPING ON THE BILLY GOAT TRAIL

Max Patch near Hot Springs, NC- Max Patch is a 3.5 mile loop trail located near Hot Springs, North Carolina. You'll notice immediately that Max Patch looks a bit different from the neighboring mountains and that's because it was cleared of trees in the 1800s for sheep and cattle grazing. Its been well maintained in this way so that you can enjoy breathtaking 360 views of Pisgah National Forest.  This trail is good for all ages and dogs are welcome. We recommend bringing water, a picnic, or a snack to enjoy at the top.

THE MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OF THE MAX PATCH

THE MAGNIFICENT VIEWS OF THE MAX PATCH