By Dr. Karyn

I am a White privileged individual who is fully committed to racial equity and passionate to learn how to be a strong White ally. I want to use my platform to challenge anti-Black racism and equip leaders at work & home with practical tools in this movement towards change.

Hello DK Leadership Community,

This month has seen an awakening for many on the topic of anti-Black racism.  Many of us (especially those who are White) feel uncomfortable to discuss racism, so we usually don’t. We might not understand the nuances of the topic if we haven’t personally experienced racism. Perhaps we don’t know what to say and/or we are afraid to say the wrong thing.  And yet, as I shared in my last article, if we (meaning all of us – White, Black, Indigenous, People of Color) want to develop great leadership in ourselves, our families, and our teams at work, it’s essential that we lean in to understand the complexity of racism, to listen to and learn from each other.

Black leaders and organizers have spoken this month, and many are asking all of us, including White and non-Black folks, to raise our voices. I appreciated the Globe & Mail quote by Masai Ujiri, president of the NBA Raptors, in which he said “Your voice matters, especially when you are a leader or influential figure, and especially if you are White. Leaders have to be bold enough to state the obvious and call out racism.”

If what I’m saying seems obvious to you, whether because you have already done this work for yourself, or because you have experienced the oppression of racism and been denied privilege, then please be patient with those of us who are learning, and know that my intention is to try and contribute to this needed conversation, and hopefully bring clarity and tools to those who want to learn more.

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What is “White privilege?”

There are many layers to discussing racism, but today I want to start with the concept of “White privilege,” because as I spoke with many White and Black colleagues this week, I realized there is a lot of confusion about it.  Allow me to share my own story to help shed some light on this. Growing up, if you had asked me if I benefited from “White privilege,” I would have said “No.” Here’s why: I did not come from money or wealth and at the time this was my only measure for what privilege meant. Although my family life was filled with love and support, financially it seemed like we were barely getting by. My clothes were hand-me-downs until I could afford to buy my own, which I did by earning money at part-time jobs throughout high-school.  While I had to completely pay for my university and graduate studies on my own, my group of high school friends received cars for their birthday gifts and had their education fully paid for by parents.  To me, my friends were privileged, but I was not.

I had to work for everything I achieved, and while I am still proud of my hard-working background, I realize now that I was equating a lack of “class privilege” with having no privilege. Until recently I didn’t fully understand the term White privilege, and the benefits it endowed on me, and chances are there are people you know who also misunderstand it.

To really understand the difference between class privilege and White privilege, it’s helpful to read some definitions. Class privilege can be defined as “being born into a financially stable family” (Source: Duke University), while White privilege is an “unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed upon people solely because they are White” (Source: Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre).

Peggy McIntosh, who is an anti-racism activist, gives a great overview with this quote:


 “Having your White privilege mentioned doesn’t mean that you are being labelled as someone who is actively prejudiced toward non-White people. Instead, it is making the point that as a White person, you receive benefits from being the dominant ethnicity in society. 

Also, admitting that you have White privilege doesn’t conflict with your own acceptance of diversity.”

Peggy Macintosh, Ph.D
Ant-Racism Activist


The following statements are from Peggy McIntosh’s ground-breaking essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. There are dozens of questions she references in her work, but I recommend you start by asking yourself whether any of the following are true for you:

  • “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”
  • “I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.”
  • “I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.”
  • “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”
  • “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”
  • “I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.”
  • “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.”

How many did you say yes to?

So what is the impact of this racial conditioning?
The outcomes of this scenario are predictable. Many White people unconsciously or consciously learn: I belong. I matter. My voice is important. I’m special. I’m safe. I’m deserving.

Meanwhile, many Black people unconsciously or consciously are told: I don’t belong. I don’t matter. My voice is not important. I’m not safe. I’m inferior.

If you are White – stop for a minute. Before you challenge this theory (I’ve already heard lots of White folks tell me “yeah but…”), I encourage you to STOP and think about this. If you are unsure about it, ask a Black friend / colleague whether they would be willing to share their thoughts about the above paragraphWas this true for them? Listen. Don’t defend!

Another outcome: the topic of Racism or Racial Inequality is usually avoided within White communities, which makes it extremely difficult to challenge, debate or discuss with White people.  This is not the case within Black communities, where it is often spoken of, just not generally with their White friends.

For those of you who are non-White, you may get this right away. For those of us who are White, we likely have never thought of racial conditioning before unless it was pointed out to us, which only confirms our White privilege. We take our status for granted, and either assume it is the same for others, or avoid asking ourselves the uncomfortable questions that follow this line of thinking.

So What Can We Do?
For our White and non-Black readers, below are 7 Steps for yourself, your family and colleagues at work to help move forward.
For our Black readers and readers who do not have access or proximity to White privilege, share this list with your family, friends and colleagues at work – and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. As I learn and write more about anti-racism – from my White racially-conditioned worldview – I am certain my unconscious bias will emerge, and I will make mistakes along the way. Let me know when you see this; I welcome the accountability.

Step #1:          If You Are White, Acknowledge Your Privilege
If you are White, you need to deal with this.  Own it, do not defend or deflect it. Start thinking about how being White has benefited you, and by extension has oppressed others.  Robin DiAngelo is the best-selling author of the book “White Fragility” and she goes one step further, suggesting that White people “remove this claim from your vocabulary: ‘I’m not racist.’ … It’s liberating to start from the premise that there’s no way you could have avoided internalizing a racist worldview… It opens up everything on this journey.”  Here is a great video from her to further understand:
https://youtu.be/kzLT54QjclA

Step #2:          Stop Saying “I Don’t See Color”
This comment is extremely hurtful for many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and disregards White privilege.  Psychology Today writer Sam Louie says many People of Color will internalize this as “You don’t see me.” Instead, the goal needs to be to recognize the color, listen to their concerns, experiences, and real-world issues of racism, and then confront how to deal with it.

Step #3:          Talk Openly About White Privilege & Racism
Silence perpetuates racism. We need to push through the discomfort of discussing race. At home, discuss anti-Black racism with your kids. Share your experiences, including your bias that you have learned.  Here’s a great video, created by Vera Ahiyya, a kindergarten teacher from New York, to teach children about race:
https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Living/kindergarten-teacher-makes-video-teach-kids-race/story?id=71179262

At work, the same rule applies. We need to lean into this uncomfortable topic. Forbes writer Janice Gassam said “White privilege is one of the most polarizing topics a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) professional can bring up and it is often met with resistance and defensiveness. There needs to be a deeper understanding of what White privilege is, how it impacts an individual’s life in and out of the workplace and what those with this privilege can do to deconstruct systems of oppression.”

This needs to be an ongoing dialogue in our sphere of influence and social circles, remembering that this is a movement towards change – not a trendy news story.

Step #4:          Surround Yourself With Diversity
We cannot learn about racism if we only surround ourselves with the voices of White people.  We need to make sure our social and professional worlds have diversity so we can hear different perspectives. Do a quick check-in with yourself:

* At Home: How many really close friends do you have from a different race? Look at your wedding photos? Look at your social media pictures?
* At Work: How much diversity do you have in your organization? What about in management or in your senior teams?

And it’s important to avoid an attitude of tokenism here; the goal is not to check off the box that “I have a Black friend” or “We have _% Black colleagues”– but rather that you are prioritizing diversity because you genuinely value their voices, and want them at your boardroom / family dinner table to spend time and learn from. By taking this step you acknowledge you are missing out by not having diversity in your home and work life.

Step #5:          Change The Racism Question
If you really want to discuss racial equity with your family and teams at work, don’t discuss racism from a binary yes or no –“Are you racist” lens (which often makes many White people defensive) and instead shift to “how.” For example: 

How are we allowing racism to function in our family life?
Ex. We only read books written by White authors.
Ex. We don’t talk about racism as a family – it’s awkward.

How are we allowing racism to function in our business? With our teams? With our clients?
Ex. Our senior team is 95% White.
Ex. Over 80% of our clients are White entrepreneurs.
Knowing these answers, you can brainstorm what positive changes you will make at work and at home.

Step #6:          Be Committed To Racial Equity
Author Ibram X. Kendi says that “the heartbeat of racism is denial,” so it’s critical that we see this as a lifelong journey and commit to ongoing learning. Here are a couple of great books I would recommend:

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

You can watch a great interview by both of these scholars here:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/White-privilege-racism-ibram-x-kendi-robin-diangelo/

Step #7:          Focus On White Responsibility, Not White Guilt
We cannot control the color of our skin, but we can control how we respond today. Shift your focus from guilt (which is usually driven by thoughts such as “I should…”) to responsibility. Ask yourself: “How can I use my White privilege to help, empower, lift, and create more opportunities for People of Color (at home, in my community, with my team, at my business) because I want to, not because I have to”.

We are just scratching the surface on this topic. But for those (like me) who are new to the conversation, I hope these 7 Steps have equipped you with more understanding, empathy and confidence to discuss White privilege with your families and teams at work.

Together we are developing GREAT leaders – while we FACE uncomfortable yet critically important topics!

Sincerely,
Your Leadership & Relationship Coach,
Dr. Karyn

By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community,

Are you ready to step up and start designing how you want your 2020 to unfold?  Are you determined to not only set goals, but actually achieve themI hope so – since goalsetting is one of the best ways to build confidence, reduce stress, increase happiness, build relationships and help a person to really feel in control of their life!

So let’s get this out of the way: the sad truth about this topic is that very few people actually achieve their goals. Why? Many potential reasons – but I believe it’s mostly because they have not developed solid habits to support their goals.


Research says only 8% of people actually achieve their goals.

Source: Inc. Magazine


When I am teaching on this topic, I always describe “Goal-Setting” and “Habit-Training” as partners. Here is how it works:

  • The goal is what I want to accomplish (Ex. “I want to become more physically fit”)
  • The habits are the baby steps needed to execute the goal (Ex. “Going to bed by 10pm; Putting my clothes out the night before; Getting up at 6:30am for my workout)

I call it “Habit-Training” because it takes 3 weeks to break a habit and 3 weeks to make a new habit and you don’t want to take off the “Habit-Training-Wheels” before you are ready to run on auto-pilot. But once a person crosses that 6-week line, new behaviors have started to become routine, and they no longer require the same attention. When this happens, it saves a person time & energy PLUS they reap the benefit of their new habit – it’s incredibly energizing!

So for today, I want to suggest some habits that will help you to make your goals stick this year! There are so many I could suggest, but here are the top #6 I would encourage you to start with:

Habit #1:       Write Down Your Goals
It’s critical to write down your goals – just thinking about them is not enough. Write down your Top #10 Goals that you would like to achieve this year, and focus on making them “stretching but realistic” goals.

Habit #2:        Share Them With 1-2 People (At Work Or Home)
Sharing our goals is scary and powerful! Its scary – because we are being vulnerable with others (be sure to share with people who are trustworthy!). But it’s also powerful, because these 1-2 people can also be your accountability partners.

They can cheer you on when you take action and also respectfully ask you about it if you don’t. This type of sharing can work extremely well in both work and family cultures. It’s great for teambuilding – I’ve had many groups do this in organizations – and although people may often be reluctant at first – once they start sharing it changes the emotional energy. You can see people relax once they feel safe, and it’s powerful for team bonding!  And for family cultures – it’s energizing for family members to listen to what is important to each other.

Habit #3:        Post Them So You Can Look At Them Regularly
Every day we are bombarded with 100’s of demands on our time and attention. It’s easy to get distracted and lose track of our priorities, so it’s important to post your Top #10 Goals where you can easily see them.  My husband puts his on his phone. I have mine in a journal that goes with me EVERYWHERE! My kids put them on their computer, as well as on their bulletin board. We have to continually remind ourselves what is important to us, so we don’t become distracted!

Habit #4:        Focus On One Goal At A Time
Nothing kills goal-setting faster than feeling overwhelmed. It’s important that you make this EASY for yourself! So I strongly recommend that you only work on 1 goal at a time. Make sure to finish before moving on to your next goal.

Habit #5:        Focus On Easy FIRST
Look over your Top #10-12 Goals and start with the easiest one. It’s the hardest thing for most of us to just get started, but once you achieve your first goal – you will usually feel energized and excited. This new energy can then fuel you to tackle your next goal.

Habit #6         Review Your Goals Weekly & Hit Reset If Necessary
Our goals need our energy and time. They need a plan and attention. Try the habit of weekly reviewing your goals. What worked last week? What didn’t work? What do you need to change to help yourself move forward? For me, I’ve learned that taking 10 minutes on Sunday night is the ideal time. I can quickly review my goals, and identify my “one” goal for the coming week to keep myself focused. If I tried the goal the previous week and failed – no problem – I simply need to hit the re-set button. Stop. Study it. Ask myself, “Why didn’t I work towards the goal last-week?” Then problem-solve and try again.

The recipe is to stay focused, start with one goal, build in your accountability partners, and then tackle the next one. These simple habits will help the process become less overwhelming – and instead extremely energizing!

I hope these habits have inspired you to take action for 2020! Do you have other habits for making your goals stick?

I’d love to hear them! Email me at karyn@dkleadership.org.

Sincerely,
Your Leadership & Relationship Coach,
Dr. Karyn

By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community! 

It’s not easy to find workplace happiness today. Young people consistently report having a lot of anxiety when it comes to figuring out their “Dream Career” – and for good reason! Times have changed – when I was in high school (ok, now I’m aging myself!), most of my peers were considering between a few of maybe 20 common careers. New graduates today are faced with literally 100’s of options, with more being created every day! And while choice is usually a good thing, we are now living in an era of “too many choices”; many students feel the burden of having to “get it right” – first in choosing their education, but also in finding the right job, and it leaves them feeling overwhelmed, anxious and often too paralyzed to make any big decisions.


80% Of Current Students Are Uncertain About Their Major.

Source: New York Times


Plus, this is no longer just a ‘teen issue’ – this is impacting many adults as well! The average adult now can expect to have 11 careers (no longer just 1 like our parents may have experienced), and 77% of adults express dis-satisfaction with their life and career (Source: Globe & Mail). So it has become a critical question for many of us: How can I help myself and my teens / young adult children to be part of that 23% who love their life and career?
Thankfully, there are concrete answers to this question, and if it is a relevant concern for you or another family-member, I hope to get you started on the right path today!

Below I’ve listed 3 great tips to get you started, but before you read them I want to mention this:

If you need more help in this area – I have 2 options:

  1. Come hear me speak on the topic! I speak at dozens of educational conferences & schools every year (often it’s free for the adults / parents attending)
  2. Attend our “Strategic Career” Event (LIVE Webinar or Toronto Office). It’s an inspiring full-day event with 3 customized assessments to help you understand yourself and what careers fit you best! Our past students (high school / college / university / adults in transition) from 17 countries around the world give us rave reviews, with 96% rating it ‘outstanding’! (You can read more about this event and upcoming dates by clicking here)

Ok let’s dive-in with 3 simple tips to equip you (or your teens / adult children) to discover their Dream Career!

Tip #1:            Know Yourself

Who are you?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Dreamer or detail-oriented? How do you manage your time? When I interviewed 50+ Industry Leaders 3 years ago, nearly 75% of them said the first step to finding your Dream Career is to know yourself!  This is the foundational question. I did my first personality assessment when I was 21 and to be honest, I was skeptical. How could answering 100 questions on a form tell me anything about myself? But I was wrong! When I read through the 20-page custom document – it nailed me! It explained how I get my energy, how I make decisions, how I manage my time and even described how I respond to conflict. I appreciate anything that saves time – so yes, we could spend our entire lifetime trying to ‘get to know ourselves’ OR we could use high quality assessments designed to do it for us! It’s your choice…

Tip #2:             Learn Our SECRET Formula

So what’s the secret for finding your Dream Career? I have learned personally and through working with 100’s of leaders and organizations that it’s a combination of knowing your personality (what naturally energizes you) + knowing the industries that you are interested in + knowing your values!  Over 90% of the adults that have taken our course say it was our values assessment that gave them their ‘A-Hah Moment’. We need to know our values so we can make career decisions that will align with them!

Tip #3:             Know Where The Jobs Are

Once you know your career direction – the next step is to do your research on the job market.  Talk to industry experts in your field to hear their insights, suggestions and tips. Where are the jobs? What education would they recommend? What should a person do to give themselves a competitive edge in their industry? What schools would they recommend?  Every industry has their “Super Stars”. You need to track these people down, and then take initiative, pick up the phone or send an email, and ask for their input.  You’ll likely be surprised with how forthcoming they are with their knowledge!  Remember, information is powerful, and every piece you gather will bring you 1 step closer to reaching your Dream Career.

Do you have other tips for helping a person find their career direction? I’d love to hear them! Email me at karyn@dkleadership.org.

Sincerely,
Your Leadership & Relationship Coach
Dr. Karyn

By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community! 

The topic of resilience is everywhere. I was recently asked to speak at a conference that wanted to help build resilience in younger employees. That same week I was asked by 4 different parents how to build more resilience, or toughness in their kids.  As a Leadership Coach (for companies & families), I get asked about resilience a lot, and for good reason – difficulties in life and work are guaranteed! In our complex modern world, change is constant, rapid, disruptive and often unpredictable. Resilience, the capacity to recover quickly when something doesn’t go the way we want it to, is an essential tool for navigating these uncertain times, and it begins with having an optimistic mindset.


Harvard researchers have identified an optimistic mindset as the top factor for overcoming difficulty. They discovered people who never gave up interpreted their setbacks as temporary (“It’ll go away soon”), local (“It’s just one situation”) and changeable (“I can do something about it”).

Source: Harvard University


Researchers also suggest that learning optimism can prevent “learned helplessness” and even help manage depression and anxiety. Optimism is actually a core component of Emotional Intelligence – which research tells us is one of the greatest predictors of whether someone will be “successful” in their life and career.

The great news about this topic is that resilience is a muscle we can all develop and personally, it’s a skill I am passionate about teaching! Resilience empowers us to face life’s challenges head on so we can foster progress from our pain.  It helps us deal with unexpected challenges and changes in our lives, whether it’s a poor test score or the loss of a job or loved one. Below are 4 takeaways to build resilience; I hope these tips will inspire you, your team and your family.

Tip #1:            Expect Roadblocks & Failure

In one of my favorite books (it’s a classic), The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck challenges readers to learn to manage their failure by expecting it to happen. It sounds crazy, I know, but expecting life to be difficult is exactly what helps us move beyond disappointment, blaming and victim-hood.

Tip #2:             Focus On The Big Picture

Failure can feel discouraging, and it’s easy to get worked up over temporary setbacks. Don’t let small roadblocks make you lose sight of how they affect the larger picture. One sure way to keep a long-term perspective is to remember why you failed in the first place: you were trying to achieve something you care deeply about.

Tip #3:             Keep A Gratitude Journal

One of the superpowers of Great Leaders (at work & home) – is to tap into the secret weapon of gratitude. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years, but last year after reading more research on this topic, I increased my gratitude & meditation time to 30 minutes – 1 hour each day. It’s been a game-changer for me (just ask my family & team, since they noticed an immediate difference!) Why? Because focusing on things we are grateful for fuels optimism and mental toughness, it reduces stress and overall increases our emotional energy. Gratitude, simply put, helps us be the best version of ourselves. And the best news – its free and we can do it anywhere / anytime!

Tip #4:             Surround Yourself With “Realistic Optimists”
Staying objective can be tough to pull off on our own. That’s why it’s so critical to be around colleagues, team members, friends and family who will not only provide a hopeful perspective but also a healthy dose of realism. Personally, I have my inner “core group” of friends and family. They intimately know me, my strengths and weaknesses and have a powerful way to encourage me (optimistic) while still being honest (realistic) – an incredible combination!

Do you have other tips for helping a person build their resilience muscle? I’d love to hear them! Email me at karyn@dkleadership.org.

Sincerely,
Your Leadership & Relationship Coach
Dr. Karyn