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Are you a CEO, a founder or a leader in the C suite? Did you have to let go of half your employees in 2020 or some of your senior leadership team? Or are you going through a huge reorganization of your business and trying to figure out how to be skillful, navigate racial inequities at work? And lets throw another piece into the mix, it’s the middle of a pandemic! It sounds like a movie, but its not. You are not alone my friend.
Our topic for today is conscious entrepreneurship with Suzi Sosa. Suzi is CEO and co-founder of Verb, a learning development platform, a loving mom, a friend, a sister, and a social entrepreneur. In this interview, we are going deep into three timely topics, each of which will provide you with applicable action steps to lead more consciously at work and in your life. We explore the fear mindset that Suzi grew up with and how she chooses to shift that story by staying awake, trusting, and surrendering. We also examine the inner game skills that Suzi relied on in the last year to be the conscious inclusive leader that she is. Lastly, how she responded skillfully in the midst of a difficult conversation and conflict around anti-racism with her team members. Suzi articulates how she did it and how she is continuing to learn and grow. Tune in to this insightful episode today!
Leading from Wholeness Executive Coaching
Leading from Wholeness Learning and Development Resources
Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World by Carley Hauck
Resources mentioned in this episode:
The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer
The Healing Organization: Awakening the Conscious of Business to Help Heal the World by Rajendra Sisodia and Michael J. Gelb
The Imperfect Shownotes
Carley Hauck 0:01
Hi, this is Carley Hauck and welcome to season four of the SHINE podcast. This is the last interview of the season. This podcast is all about the intersection of three things: conscious, inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams, and awareness practices.
Before I tell you about our topic today, can you go over to Apple podcasts, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any of our incredible interviews. I have many wonderful folks lined up for season five, which will end out 2021. And it would help so much if you could write a positive review, it helps folks find us and supports sharing the light. Thank you so much.
Our topic for today is conscious entrepreneurship with Suzi Sosa. Are you a CEO, a founder or a leader in the C suite? Did you have to let go of half your employees and 2020 or some of your senior leadership team? Or are you going through a huge reorganization of your business and trying to figure out how to be skillful, navigate racial inequities at work. And it’s the middle of a pandemic? Sounds like a movie. You are not alone my friend.
Meet one of my favorite humans and conscious inclusive leaders Suzi Sosa. Suzi is CEO and co-founder of Verb, a learning development platform, a loving mom, a friend, a sister, a social entrepreneur. In this interview, we are going deep into three things. And you will be able to really take away some applicable action steps to lead more consciously at work and in your life.
Number one, how Suzi grew up with this narrative that if you aren’t vigilant, on it all the time, your life is gonna fall apart, you’ll be destitute. That’s a lot of fear mindset. Learn how she chooses to shift that story by staying awake, taking one step at a time, trusting and surrendering the path.
Number two, what inner game skills has Suzi relied on in the last year to be the conscious inclusive leader that she is? Number three- how do you respond skillfully in the midst of a difficult conversation and conflict around anti racism with your team members? Suzi will articulate how she did it. And it’s continuing to learn and grow. It’s always a choice in practice. These are just some of the nuggets I loved out of this interview. I’m excited to share it with you. Thanks for being here.
Carley Hauck 03:37
Suzi, I feel so delighted to have you on the SHINE podcast. Thank you for being here.
Suzi Sosa 03:42
Oh, thank you for having me. It’s great to be with you.
Carley Hauck 03:45
So everyone, this is my friend Suzi Sosa who is the co-founder and CEO of Verb. And I can’t wait for you to hear her story and let her shine her beautiful light. So Suzi, one of the first questions that I often ask folks to come on to the podcast is what does conscious inclusive leadership and business mean to you?
Suzi Sosa 04:16
Hmm. Why I think the word conscious is the first one that means the most to me, which is really about waking up. And that’s actually something that I found in my inner work is actually my life’s purpose is to wake people up. And to be conscious of what’s happening. I think that, you know, a lot of us go around life in a kind of non state, we do things by default. There’s a sort of obvious way to do things. And to me, to be a conscious leader means you’re not just walking around running your company in the obvious default way, you’re actually fully present in, you know, mind body spirit.
And asking yourself, you know, is this the way that I want to do things? Is this what is best for me? Is this what’s best for my people? Is this what’s best for the customers? Is this what’s best for the planet? So that’s what conscious leadership is, to me, it’s awake, right? It’s fully present.
And I think inclusive leadership is a very natural derivative of that, that when you wake up, and you look around at what you’re doing, as a business leader, you become aware that not everybody is experiencing the same level of inclusion. And that’s hurting your business. So you, I believe, then start to think about, okay, what does it take for me to create the kind of company that you know, is holistic, is healing and welcomes all. So conscious and inclusive business as one that’s being very intentional about how it shows up, what it wants to do, how it interacts with all of its stakeholders, it’s serving something higher than financial motive. And, you know, it’s really driven by that kind of stakeholder model, where it’s not just providing benefit to one singular group of shareholders, but it’s really thinking about the inclusivity of all different kinds of stakeholders that it impacts.
Carley Hauck 06:40
Wonderful, thank you. So I hear part of it is waking up. It’s really taking into account all the people that the business is impacting, and really looking to see how it can bring an inclusive, maybe lens, to all the stakeholders, just kind of summarizing some of those key points. And I heard, more importantly, that your purpose is to wake people up. So I want to go into that a little bit. How are you waking people up? Right now?
Suzi Sosa 07:13
In this conversation with you, hopefully, someone will listen to this. And oh, I’ve never thought of that before. Right now, my fulfillment of my life’s purpose is as the CEO of a company called Verb. And we provide leadership training through an online platform. And we focus specifically on the conscious skills that you write about, in SHINE, that we call, at Verb, we call them human centered leadership skills. And they include things like self awareness, empathy, authenticity, self care.
And, so my, my vision, and my goal for Verb is that we offer this training through companies to their employees, and that people get exposed to the possibility of a different way of being through what we teach them on Verb, much like you do with your book. And that they kind of wake up to the possibility of showing up differently at work, but and in other aspects of their life, that maybe that self awareness, or that newfound mindfulness or newfound connection to compassion might also wake them up to how they are being with their children or with their partner with their neighbor, or whoever it might be.
So that’s my goal right now is to help people wake up to a life of greater fulfillment, joy, connection, by getting access to these personal power skills that maybe they didn’t really know about before.
Carley Hauck 8:58
And what I imagine is also inherent, even though you didn’t say it is maybe waking up to greater meaning, right? And even even like the purpose that you feel very connected to, you know, we are in such an important time, and you and I’ve had a lot of side conversations about this, but just the the opportunity and the responsibility that we have, as a humanity right now as a collective to really make the right decisions for the long term for the future generations.
And I think that right now, as we’re seeing in the workplace, this great resignation happening where 40% of folks are leaving their current roles in their jobs, mostly because either it wasn’t the right fit or it’s not the right team, or it’s void of real meaning and purpose. And when we have things hovering above us, like, you know, systemic racism and impending climate change and you know, climate catastrophe like it brings it home that what I am actually choosing right now has more impact than maybe any other time.
Suzi Sosa 10:15
Yeah. For sure, I think that, you know, everybody’s waking up to this a little bit. And in the last year and a half, when many people have felt, you know, that death was closer than ever before. Suddenly, you ask yourself, oh, gosh, well, if my time here is short, what do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to spend time with? How do I want my days to be? Who do I want to put myself in service to? If that’s what work is? Right? Do I want to be in service of selling a product that causes harm? Or do I want to be in service of a business that is doing good?
Carley Hauck 11:02
Wonderful? Well, I know that you started off, you know, in social entrepreneurship, and in many ways Verb is continuing that just, you know, it kind of in a different way and a different model. And for those folks that don’t know what social entrepreneurship is, and I know that you were, you know, part of co-creating the social entrepreneurship program at UT Austin, you were also recognized in 2014, as Ernst and Young was a social entrepreneur of the year. Could you tell folks what that is, and why that’s important to you?
Suzi Sosa 11:43
Yeah, I’d be happy to. And I’ll just tell a little bit of a story of how I got to it. Because I didn’t really know what it was in the beginning. I went to grad school to become a civil servant. I thought that was how I could support and help the most people, I was always clear that I wanted to be an agent of social change. And my second day of work was 9/11. I was working. I was working in the US Department of Commerce, giving grants to low income communities in the southwest and in the southwest region, based in Austin. And our budget was frozen, as the government kind of recalibrated how they wanted to respond to 9/11.
And I was young and idealistic and impatient. So I quit. I said, Well, you guys aren’t doing anything. And there’s a lot that needs to get done. And I ended up meeting an entrepreneur here in Austin, Texas, who had started one of the very first prepaid debit card companies called Netspend. And they were selling these prepaid cards to the working poor, mostly African American and Hispanic women who didn’t want to use traditional bank accounts because they were living paycheck to paycheck. And those overdraft fees might be what they would spend monthly on their utilities or on groceries. And so they couldn’t afford $40 of overdraft fees once or twice a month.
And I was captivated by this business, because it was actually serving a very needy population with a product that actually the federal government had been trying to figure out. They had been creating federal banking programs to help the unbanked, but they hadn’t been very successful in distribution. And so then this was in the early 2000s. And I started wandering around asking, why can’t we take the best of the nonprofit world and the best of the business world and bring them together, and I didn’t have a term for it at the time. But eventually, I stumbled on this, quote, social entrepreneurship community. And they were using terms like double bottom line and triple bottom line businesses, which meant that you would build a business that was held accountable not just to financial performance, but also to some kind of social impact goals. Or if it was triple bottom line, it would have financial goals, social impact goals, and environmental goals.
And so that was like my people. And I kind of dedicated myself to social entrepreneurship, both in terms of working with entrepreneurs in the for profit world, and also in the nonprofit world, looking at things like earned income models and helping nonprofits to become more scalable and more financially healthy and not always relying on donations. And it was very much a stepping stone to conscious capitalism and conscious leadership where I am now.
The piece that was missing for me in social entrepreneurship is actually the individual and personal piece. It was always focused on the structure of the business. So if you had a double bottom line business, you were a social entrepreneur. And it didn’t matter whether you were living a life of integrity, practicing responsibility, being authentic, creating trust, because no one was talking about the personal dimension. And it wasn’t until I arrived in the conscious capitalism community that they brought that layer in too. So there was accountability for how the business was organized, and accountability for how you as a leader show up and how you interact with your team.
Carley Hauck 15:28
Well, and they’re so integrated, right, like, you can’t have one without the other.
Suzi Sosa 15:36
Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen a lot of social enterprises that I don’t think are run consciously, where, you know, people are not given time for self care, or where there isn’t honesty and integrity. So there’s a bit of hypocrisy there, right. And so I think it’s really fantastic to, like, level up the game, it’s not just enough to have a social impact, or maybe, you know, have a positive environmental impact. There’s also the kind of how you show up as a human being that matters to?
Carley Hauck 16:08
Well, that’s a really great pivot, thank you for that answer, into, you know, how you are choosing to show up right now, at work as a leader of Verb, for your family, for your community. And in the last year and a half, we’ve all been going through quite a lot of volatility, of uncertainty of ambiguity of complexity. And I know that consciousness is something that’s a value to you, and you’ve already had various practices.
But I wonder, what are the practices that have really helped you stay strong? And we could say, awake and courageous at this time? And maybe even is there one that you are even growing more into leaning more into? So they’re kind of two separate questions like, what’s the base, now that you’ve had, because like, I even think about myself, you know, I wrote for four years on this inner game, which was really written for this time, you know, for this complex, uncertain time. And so I’m aware that thank goodness, I already had this foundation of practice for 20 plus years. And I’d been teaching it and facilitating it. And it never goes away. Like, it’s never like, Oh, I’m done. We just had this conversation, there are layers and layers and going into even deeper aspects of these capabilities of the skills.
Suzi Sosa 17:48
For sure. You know, the time when my conscious leadership was forged, was really, in 2013, I had decided to get divorced. And I had, at the time, a one year old and a three year old. And I started Verb, the same year. And unfortunately, you know, in the wake of my divorce, I was not in a very financially healthy position, I had quite a bit of debt, I think I had about $5,000 of savings, and a brand new company. And so there was a lot of resilience needed to navigate the trials and tribulations of the startup. And also just this whole new identity.
You know, I remember I used to think about myself as a divorcee, I can’t know what it all of that means. And it was in those early years as Verb floundered and as I really didn’t have any kind of safety net, that I had to build those skills of self awareness, like Who am I? And I’m no longer this wife, I’m no longer this, you know, partner, I have a whole new identity being created. And I’m having to manage very young kids, a brand new company and all of this uncertainty.
So like you, I feel grateful that I’ve had, you know, a decade of intense practice, and the last year called upon a lot of those skills. And when I, you know, first went through that period in 2012-2013, I think that, uh, at the time, I was learning how to toggle a lot between a couple of different energy states and one was kind of a self care. So for me, that’s been a mixture of meditation, exercise, healthy eating and rest. And when I go through periods of intense stress, I actually do tend to lean into that more and I get more regular with exercise more regular with cooking and, and then what that toggles between is actually kind of a warrior energy, which is about focus, prioritization, really figuring out what’s important making difficult decisions confronting things.
And so last year and 2020, I really relied back on those kind of two natures at times of, you know, really focusing more on caregiving, whether myself or with my team, and at other times really focusing on warrior energy and decisive leadership. Where I’m moving to now is I really was taken by Mickey Singer’s book, The Surrender Experiment, and this concept of really just surrendering to whatever’s happening, because I think that the inner game skills that I learned in the 2012-2013 period, and even that I relied on last year, are still trying to kind of muscle things a little bit, like, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m really gonna go intense into self care, you know, and there’s a bit of like, look at me how much I’m self caring. And now it’s like, I’m really gonna go into leadership and, and what I love about where you’re on exactly, and what I love about the practice of surrender is not muscling in anymore. And for me, that is really leaning into faith, abundance, the sense of trust that things are going to work out. And that’s like a higher order, way of being a conscious leader.
So it’s, it’s challenging, you know, I was raised in a family culture where the, you know, we were taught, if you’re not vigilant, your life will fall apart, you know, that the, that the universe tends toward chaos, isolation, disease, death, poverty, you know, basically, if you are not on it at all times, you’ll be, you know, destitute, dying, and under a bridge. And so it’s a choice I have to make to believe that the universe has got my back. And all I need to do is just like, stay awake, stay open, and keep walking in the path that is, you know, being revealed in front of me. So that’s, that’s my current focus and what I’m working on.
Carley Hauck 22:28
Hmm, thank you so much. That was a beautiful answer. And I just can really feel the depth of how you have experimented and your awareness of watching it. of, you know, we could say the masculine, the feminine, right, that Yin Yang, and then this surrendering, which I just kind of think of is like that middle point, where you’re just oh, this is this is what’s happening. Okay. This is how I’m choosing to show up right now.
Suzi Sosa 23:00
Yeah, and just stay in that place of curiosity, like, I’ve really been practicing, saying to myself, Oh, I can’t wait to see how this is gonna work out. You know, when I’m in a moment of uncertainty, and instead of worrying about it and ruminating on scenarios, Oh, I’m so curious to see how this is gonna work out.
Carley Hauck 23:20
I have some questions that I asked myself too, which just kind of turns it. It’s more that growth mindset of the possibility, which is like, Oh, I wonder what amazing opportunities are gonna come in my door, or I wonder what incredible team I’m going to join. Or I wonder how I’m going to be in service today? Or like, Where’s the magic interview today? You know, just all of those, I think, keeps it in a state of Unknowing but positive outlook. Yeah. Yeah. Great.
Well, I have so many more questions for you. So the next one I’d love to ask is, you know, I, I know that a few months ago, we were going to have a conversation just just to chat and talk informally and catch up and you emailed me and basically shared with me, from a very skillful way. Hey, Carley, um, you didn’t use these words, but essentially, like you weren’t in a good space to talk.
And that was because of a conflict that was happening within your team at Verb around the subject of anti racism. And you wanted to take time to reflect, to figure out how you wanted to show up and I wanted to ask you, how you were able to be authentic, about your views on that. To engage in more healthy conflict with your team around a topic that clearly you felt very passionate about, and we’re having a lot of feelings about depending on, you know, the conversations and maybe the different worldview and lived experiences that other folks were having, and then how you were able to maybe bring in some compassionate accountability and agreements, would you be willing to share more?
Suzi Sosa 25:22
Yes, you know, the conversation about race equity inclusion was another one of the very hard things that showed up for me in 2020. You know, my business last year was, you know, in a state of survival. And I was very focused on, you know, making it through what, at the time, you know, we didn’t have any visibility into how long this pandemic was going to last and what was going to happen to the economy afterward. So in June of 2020, we had started to expand our own DEI offerings inside of our product for our customers, because as a leadership development platform, it was obviously a topic that we needed to be supporting companies with.
And my team leadership team came to me as a group, and said, Hey, we don’t feel comfortable selling this when we’re not doing this work actively in the company. And, and my very first reaction was like, I don’t have time for this, you know, I felt like we were in survival mode. And I also was just confronted that you know, what, you know, you think, you know, our company is not not being run well. And it was very challenging, I had so much resistance to even wanting to take on learning about something new, and exploring my own blind spots, you know, coming up with a point of view, one of the things they wanted me to do was to write a statement about Verbs a point of view on racism after the murders last year, and I felt like overwhelmed.
Like, I didn’t know what my point of view was, I hadn’t really been reading about it, I hadn’t been thinking about it. And so that sparked a journey that we are on now to become an anti-racist company and support other companies and becoming anti-racist. And on the day, when you and I were supposed to have a call, we had our anti-racism working group had just met. And we, some of the group members had facilitated a conversation with the rest of us about how white supremacy, culture shows up at Verb.
And they we broke into small groups and so we broke into small groups, and then everybody reported out and I’m sitting there listening to my team members, speaking plainly about their experience of how the culture of white supremacy shows up at Verb- a company that I that I think of as being run as a conscious company, and we specialize in conscious leadership. And it was very intense. And confronting, and, and that’s why I couldn’t talk to you because I was like, I have to process this. Yeah, hold on a moment.
Carley Hauck 28:32
Yeah, be reflective, self manage, I felt very in support of you taking that time taking care of yourself. Yes.
We’re at the midway point of this wonderful interview. And I wanted to take just a few minutes to pause to take a little body break, breath, notice the tension in your body, maybe do some shoulder circles back, take some deep breaths, a little wiggle, a little sigh.
And I’d like to share an insight that I’ve been gathering in the last 1920 months since the pandemic started. I’ve been talking to lots of CEOs, founders, chro, Senior talent, folks, these are the people that I partner with when I’m brought in to support learning, leadership development, culture work. And what I knew when the pandemic hit was that these more extrinsic rewards of, you know, free cafeteria food and Amazon gift cards and shuttle buses that would bring all the commuters in Silicon Valley where I lived and served many industries and high growth startups for many years. That’s not available anymore. So because I’ve always known the need for learning leadership development, I knew that that was going to become the new priority. And that would be what would actually keep teams and companies thriving, engaged, connected, high performing and innovative.
And in the past, learning, leadership development and culture work was typically the first thing that was cut by the budget. But now, I see this recognition of companies in all industries that this is the thing that we need to invest in, and we need to invest in our people. And because I’ve supported so many different companies in the last decade, LinkedIn, Intuit, Pixar, Bank of the West, high growth startups, I’ve often been brought in for the reorg to implement new structure systems. And it is imperative that when we’re going through the reorg, which is what we’re all doing right now, all businesses all over the world, that there’s an assessment to see where is the psychological safety and trust in the teams and the leadership and the overall culture because if that’s not there, then any new systems, any new structures are not going to succeed.
And upskilling is really what we’re seeing is going to create this flourishing, hybrid distributed future of work. And the upskilling that I’ve really supported in many industries and companies, I call this the inner game or the power skills. These have everything to do with being a human centered leader and workplace. And they’re what I talk about in my new book SHINE. And they support the company to get ready for the new next. And by investing internally in your people, and upskilling in these capabilities for self awareness, emotional intelligence, empathy, agility, decision making, critical thinking, resilience, you’re creating an environment to nurture the best possible potential.
And you’re also giving your employees what they really want, which is learning and leadership and mentoring and coaching, and they’re not going to want to go anywhere else, they’re gonna want to stay. I would love to support you in the challenges that you and your business are facing right now. And I have a proven track record of success and a wealth of experience, and strategic know-how to do this. You can book a free consultation with me to learn more on how I and my team can support you in a more full time capacity. The link is in the show notes. Now back to the interview.
Suzi Sosa 33:13
But I think that, you know, how leaders respond to those moments is everything. And so when you, you know, ask me, you know, how do I help support, productive conflict, that Verb, it’s in the way that I respond in moments like that, right? And at the time, I intently listened, and I had my inner game skills, like, on on all cylinders, because there were so many moments in that conversation where the little voice in my head wanted to argue, rebut, you know, whatever respond or even sometimes just shut down in shame, you know, and it was like, stay open, stay open, listen, be present, hear what they’re saying. You know, and, and so it’s moments like those that create the like, kind of organizational history and culture that allow for other conflict for other voices to come up.
Carley Hauck 34:23
Well, and for transformation and healing, right? Like if we’re not willing to stay, and we go into that fight or flight response, right, the fight or the shutting down in the freezer, or just the freeze, right? And then there is that break, and it takes courage to be willing to stay to be with that level of discomfort. And, you know, stay open to it, stay in curiosity, you would use that word before. So where are you now?
Suzi Sosa 34:55
We, actually personally, what a transformation just for myself, like, I remember it starting out that I was appalled by the idea that I would ever call myself a racist, like, I am not a racist, you know, I was so sure of that. And now I know I was just, I am a racist, and I was racist, just unknowingly. You know, I was kind of oblivious. I don’t know if there’s a term, but I was kind of oblivious, racist, because I was not at all thinking about the experience of non-white people, in my company, in our in my neighborhood, in our country.
And so there was a great awakening for me. And also, I did, I joined some courses. So I kind of got deep into the learning part of the work, which gave me a level of enough confidence about the topic that I could start to form my own point of view, which is where things you know, for me to get exciting, because I’m not in a reaction mode, I’m actually in a creator mode. And now I can say, oh, who do I want to be in this conversation? Who do I want my company to be in this conversation? Like, what are we going to do? What are we going to stand for? How are we going to help?
And we have so far to go, you know, our anti-racism working group is now and just finished it’s eight months of working together, which, you know, in a 400, and then a 400 year history of what we’re trying to change. It’s, it’s like, nothing, it’s a blink. So we’re very, very early, but we’re developing some skill around it. And, and my goal, you know, you know, I want to change how people experience work at Verb on the day to day, and I want us to just build this practice of looking, looking, talking, asking ourselves, are we operating in a way that’s aligned with who we want to be and then you know, it’s an endless loop of, of looking and asking and changing and looking and asking and changing, I don’t think that we’re ever going to be done with the work. It’s just a practice that we’re building as a conscious company.
Carley Hauck 37:24
What I hear underneath that is that there has to be enough psychological safety and you being the leader, one of the core leaders, that is that is setting that that is modeling, hey, I’m open, I might be like, in discomfort, but I’m open to hearing what you have to say, and I’m gonna stay curious. And I want to hear, and then I’m actually gonna shift like, I’m gonna take it into consideration seriously, and I’m committed to this. And that is what I think, you know, creates that overall commitment by the company and the different experience totally for everyone. Wonderful.
Suzi Sosa 38:07
Yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s something that you can’t create in a moment you create through lots and lots of interaction. So I have one of the leaders on my team, who was the person who pushed me the most in the conversation about race, and she really had to go into an edge, you know, just to say the things to me, like, Hey, boss, you know, that like, this does not work or what you said here, or, you know, and so she made herself vulnerable to do that. And then the way I responded to that, you know, okay, she realized, okay, I can do this. So she could do it a little more. And, you know, that’s how it works, you know, at the individual level, not at the team level, and at the company level.
And one of the things that I’ve learned in this last year, that I found was the most effective if you want to give a steroids shot of psychological safety into your company, is to apologize. And think that real vulnerable, authentic apologies, have like such a ripple effect, right? They show what you’re, what you stand for, and what you’re committed to. They show as a leader that you’re willing to be vulnerable and admit that you made a mistake. And we all know that an environment where people can fail is very important for innovation and transformation. And it really shows that commitment to kind of doing something differently.
And so, you know, there have been a couple of moments in the past couple of years when there was a reason I needed to apologize and I do that now openly, you know, in front of the appropriate audience, depending on what happened. And it really creates like an extra boost, like others feel like oh, okay, you know she did that, then maybe I can take a risk and say this thing or I know that I can clean up something I did that didn’t go the way I planned.
Carley Hauck 40:17
Wonderful. Well, and what I hear you exercising in the apology is, you know self awareness, emotional intelligence, the growth mindset of resilience. But then also, you know, that authenticity where you’re taking personal responsibility, and you’re being humble. Hey, messy human here, how you doing?
Suzi Sosa 40:48
Yeah, totally. Yeah, it’s really uncomfortable. It’s, it’s, but it’s something that the more you do it, the better you get at it. And I think there’s a lot of freedom in recognizing that your actions don’t define you, you know, and that’s, it’s something again, that just takes practice to believe and to feel like, my actions don’t define me. And so when you do mess up, you can go and apologize and not have that mean that you are a lesser person, or should be relegated to shame or something like that.
Carley Hauck 41:21
Yeah, and I want to just mirror back what I just saw in your body, because not everybody will, nobody can see you, but I can. I’m the lucky one, I get to see Suzi. But when you just said that my actions don’t define me, your shoulders came back, your chest opened up, you’ve and kind of tilted your head up. Like there was sunshine beaming, you know, there is just a full expansion. And then you just kind of just shake off that shame, right? Like, I mean, that that’s what’s so powerful about mindfulness, right? Like, every moment is a unique moment, it will never be the same. And we can change at any moment.
So well, I could talk to you all day. One day, I’m sure we’ll have that opportunity. But time that we have right now I have two juicy questions for you left. So I’m speaking on this whole topic of, you know, diversity, inclusion, equity belonging, I know that you just did a powerful panel on creating a culture of belonging yesterday at the virtual conscious capitalism. And what were some broad strokes or takeaways that you could share? I mean, creating a culture of belonging in a remote distributed hybrid workforce. Whoo!
Suzi Sosa 42:47
Yeah. I think I call that the Black Diamond level challenge. So, you know, it’s one more worthy of taking on. I was actually just facilitating a conversation with my dear friend Kim Mans, who’s the founder and CEO of H3Diversity, and she has a really fantastic framework of head, heart and hands for approaching DEI. Yes, and Carley shaking her hands. And, and, and yesterday, what we really went deep into was the heart. And that belonging is really much more accessible when you connect to it from a heart center, you know, even before you get to the head. So what we did is we asked all the participants to go into pairs and think about a time when they were part of an organization where they felt they belonged. And what was that like? And what did that make available to you?
And it was things like, trust and expression and freedom and comfort and safety. And then a little bit later, we said, Now think about a time when you were somewhere where you felt you didn’t belong? And it could be in a foreign country or in another organization? And how did that impact what you brought, right? And in the people in their sharing, it was so real. And what I found interesting was the few of the people that shared. You know, one was a Jewish man who grew up in the military at a time when it was not common to have Jewish people in the military. And he was in a part of the US where he also didn’t feel very culturally welcome.
Another woman shared about being one of the first female CFOs in her generation and that she was often coached by mentors not to bring certain aspects of her womanhood to the job as a CFO. And so what became available to everyone is that this topic of belonging is not a conversation about race. It’s a conversation about our whole selves and what is it like to be able to bring If not your whole self, but Gosh, a whole heck of a lot of yourself. Right? A lot of your parts. Yes, exactly.
And, and I think one of the key takeaways was for all of us to just be, you know, a little more aware, and maybe even asking our people like, you know, do you feel that you get to bring your whole self to work and what would be needed for you to feel that you could bring more of yourself to work, because, like, in those two examples of, you know, her gender and his religion, there might be aspects of someone’s being that you’re not even aware that they don’t feel they can bring, right.
And so I think what my big takeaways from what Kim was sharing with everyone is one to start with the heart, and to really connect to our own personal experiences of feeling when we belong, and when we don’t. And then to get real curious about the people who are around you and what their experience is of belonging in your organization.
Carley Hauck 46:02
Beautiful, thank you, start with the heart, get really curious, share your own experience. And also, I think, be willing to be maybe a little bit more vulnerable, right, so that people do get to see you. And then you get to see like, can they meet you where you are, right.
Suzi Sosa 46:25
And I think there’s a bit of creativity that is going to be required too, because we’re all used to again, just going back to that unconscious leadership of doing things and kind of default way and maybe not even realizing that that may, those activities might undermine belonging. So for example, in my company, we used to celebrate a lot by going out drinking. And that was just a common thing, you know, you could have a great day or a great week, or close a deal, everyone goes to the bar. And in the conversation about inclusion, some of our team members shared that they always felt a bit excluded, because they, you know, had small kids at home, they couldn’t go to a bar, they didn’t feel comfortable at a bar they didn’t like drinking. And that caused us to have to get creative and say, Okay, well, are there other ways we can celebrate that are more inclusive?
And, you know, that’s a simple example. But I think there are a lot of other things that we were just doing as a kind of default mode as a company, because it’s the way I’ve always done it.
Carley Hauck 37:28
It’s the dominant culture, right? Like, like, let’s get unconscious. You know? I don’t, I don’t drink personally, either. So that’s, that’s where that comes from.
Suzi Sosa 47:43
Exactly. So I think that it’s gonna take for the grizzled gray leaders like me, it’s gonna take some curiosity and some open heartedness to explore doing things really differently than we’ve always done before.
Carley Hauck 47:58
Yeah, and I, for anybody that loves drinking, and it’s not a conscious or an unconscious thing that that remark was a little unskillful. So I’m just acknowledging that I hope that didn’t brush anybody the wrong way.
Okay, one more quick question. And the question that I have for you is, I know that part of the waking up and verb and, you know, the leadership that you put out into the world is motivated by social impact by this passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging. But I feel really curious, in this great awakening, unraveling of systems, of structures that we’re in to create a workplace in a world that works for everyone, and is really in harmony with the planet, so that we have a flourishing future. What do you think is really important in the next one to two years for leaders and companies to take action on now? Big question.
Suzi Sosa 49:07
Yeah, I know that it’s about expanding our view, and confronting some of these old norms. So for example, one of the questions we were all confronted with last year was whether as a company you should take a political stand for whether we should take a stand on racism and other social justice questions. And I think most companies in the past have said that we’re just business, we are not going to pine on politics or social questions, but that isn’t really a viable option anymore. We have to expand our view of the responsibility of business. We can’t just say, oh, all we do is make money. You know, no, don’t worry about us over here, because obviously the way we’re making money is deeply impacting our social structures, our environment and, and more.
So I would say the headline is, business has to expand its view of itself of its responsibility. You know that, to me means, you know, every company has to serve some higher purpose than profit. Like it, profit is not a goal. John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, who’s been an incredible mentor of mine who says, the purpose of a business is no more about making money than the purpose of a human body is to make red blood cells. You need those red blood cells to fulfill your life’s purpose. Business needs money to fulfill its life’s purpose. But making money can’t be the purpose.
And I believe that’s going to be every company, not just the social entrepreneurs or the conscious, conscious companies. And I think that business has to expand its view of its responsibility to employees, community and the planet. So a couple of years ago, years ago, a book came out called The Healing Organization, from a couple of authors in the conscious capitalism community. And they argued that it’s not enough to do no harm, that businesses actually have to step up and heal the harm of the past.
And so, you know, your employees are suffering from mental health issues, right now they are. And as a business leader, it is your responsibility to help them deal with that. Your business is present in a community that has wounds of systemic racism and poverty in it. And it is your responsibility to heal those, even though you may not have been around when the wounds were first created, and so forth. So I think there’s really, at the, you know, again, at the headline, it’s this expanded view of what business is, is meant to do, of what business is responsible for. And I hope that will buy us a shot at keeping capitalism because I really do believe that capitalism has the potential to to support our planet in terms of prosperity, and meeting human needs, but the way it’s been showing up, isn’t working. And it has to evolve.
Carley Hauck 52:24
Yeah. Yeah. If we could be more altruistically motivated, like an altruistic new economy, I did a podcast episode with a colleague and friend of mine several months back, and we talked all about, you know, the new incentives for a more just economy. Wow, I love that answer. And, you know, I love that you referenced The Healing Organization, because often, and I even write about this in my book, because I also really studied systems, you know, the organizational system of a company, but also the system of a human body. I think of myself as a healer, for business and for organizations. And I’m always brought in, when there is a massive imbalance, there is a dis-ease within the company that I’m being asked to intervene and solve for and create the pathway for healing.
So and I feel like, you know, in the remote hybrid, distributed workforce that we are evolving into Learning and Leadership Development, are going to be so important for how we communicate, how we innovate, how we collaborate, how we stay engaged, and I’m just so excited to see how Verb you know, is able to be part of that new future of learning. Suzi, it’s been so delightful to have you. I will leave you know, links to you in our show notes. How do people get in touch with you and stay connected?
Suzi Sosa 54:12
Yeah, I’ll share with you my email address and then certainly on LinkedIn, and you can follow us at Verb, but I would be happy to connect with anyone who’s listening and wants to chat. Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a treat to be able to talk about these things with you.
Carley Hauck 54:29
Oh, likewise, thank you for your authenticity.
Thank you Suzi. As always, our conversations are so nourishing and love your bold humility and deep authenticity. If you have questions or want to connect with Suzi, please use the link in the show notes to reach out. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends, families or colleagues, we are all in this together and sharing is caring.
If you have questions, comments or topics you would like me to address on the podcast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. And if you enjoy this episode, again, please write a positive review on your favorite podcast listening platform. Thank you for being part of this community. And until we meet again, for season five, be the light and shine the light.