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Build High Performing Teams Podcast

Jul 14, 2020

In today’s episode, Anna interviews Alonzo Kelly, founder and CEO of Kelly Leadership.  As a sought after speaker and consultant, Alonzo leverages his corporate executive experience and 14 years as a coach and consultant to positively impact the world of work and leaders.

Alonzo shares advice on “Talking about Race and Other Taboo Topics At Work” and why it’s time we do it more and better.

Anna and Alonzo discuss:

  • How to prepare for talking about race in the workplace
  • How to create the change
  • The power of "being a witness"
  • How to create a safe place to talk about and understand different cultures




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“I've been using the anatomy of a tsunami [to explain what happened during the BLM movement]. So, out in the ocean, we've got these two things under incredible pressure, pressing up against each other, and then inevitably, something breaks and you have this ripple. And this ripple goes unchecked. So what was a 3 foot wave turns into 30, 30 turns into 300, and then it hits landfall. And at that point, there's really absolutely nothing you can do about it. So everything is about service recovery. So I feel like in the last month, this tsunami hit landfall. And it becomes impossible to not talk about all those things you prefer we not talk about at work, because we're in service recovery. We’re all in survival mode.” At minute 4:00, Alonzo shares how he visualizes the BLM movement. His analogy paints a picture in your mind that makes it easy to understand what happened, and why. 


“If I'm looking out and I see a flock of white sheep, all white, 100 of them, and one of them is black, for me to pretend like I don't see that denies that sheep. For everybody to pretend like they don't see that denies their experience with the world around them. 100 people walk by. I won't remember any of them, but the black one. So I don't know why we got to pretend like I don't see it. And so a lot of we don't we don't talk about race here. Well, then you've denied me. And it's really just that simple for me. It doesn't even have to be some of this stuff they think is uncomfortable. I just asked that you see me, I'll go back to the sheep. I'm a sheep. I'd like to be treated like sheep. And I need you to acknowledge that my experience as a sheep is different. And I have no idea why that turned into something taboo. I have no idea.” At 12:20, Alonzo emphasizes the importance of being able to talk about race, understand different experiences that different races go through, and make change. He wants people to understand and DO something about it. If we deny the conversation, we deny the humanity.

“I don't know how I would feel if I had a party and a bunch of people came to my party and didn't know my name. And here's what I mean by that; Martin is not his name. Harriet Tubman is not her name. Frederick Douglass is not his name. I could go on and on and on and on. So how about you honor these people by, at a minimum, learning what their real name is? How about that's my contribution. You can have the party, but at least know the name on the invitation.” At minute 36:20, Alonzo highlights the importance of understanding the past and knowing the truth behind Black History, in order to make the present better. 

Alonzo shared a lot of valuable information about how to address and be prepared to talk about taboo topics. He also gave a lot of helpful tips and insights for all of us, so make sure you stay tuned!

Don’t forget to connect and follow Alonzo through his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on LinkedIn. Check out his Youtube Channel

I hope you liked today’s episode. Please don’t forget to subscribe on all podcast platforms and while you’re there, please don’t forget to rate and review! I truly appreciate and love you, and can’t wait to see you in the next episode!

Check out Anxiety at Work: A Guide for COVID-19 and Beyond

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Peace & Progress,