Empowering Women And People Of Color In The Workplace

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Marketing Podcast with Kimberly Brown

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Kimberly A. Brown. Kimberly is a career and leadership development expert a speaker and podcast host whose mission is to empower women and people of color in the workplace. Her personal and professional development company, Manifest Yourself, provides in-person and virtual workshops, training, and coaching to professionals looking to lead a dynamic career and life.

Key Takeaway:

Kimberly A. Brown’s mission is to empower women and people of color in the workplace. Her personal and professional development company provides in-person and virtual workshops, trainings, and coaching to professionals looking to lead a dynamic career and life.

In this episode, Kimberly shares how mentorships and sponsorships can help arm and propel women forward in a world full of challenges that women of color particularly face as they navigate their corporate careers and life.

Questions I ask Kimberly Brown:

  • [1:52] We’re finishing up the national mentoring month and getting ready to enter black history month as we’re recording this. Your work is focused on helping empower persons of color in the workplace – can you talk about the crossroad of these two monthly celebrations for you?
  • [2:57] What is inherently creating the disadvantage for both women and particularly women of color?
  • [4:22] Would you go as far as saying everyone needs a mentor?
  • [6:27] How do you identify a mentor?
  • [8:02] It’s become pretty popular in leadership circles to talk about coaching as a skill of a leader, how would you distinguish between mentoring and coaching?
  • [9:26] What are some tips for somebody to be successful as a mentor?
  • [11:35] Are there tangible benefits to being a mentor?
  • [12:53] Is there a mentorship format in a practical sense that you’ve seen work the best?
  • [16:00] Can your boss be your mentor?
  • [16:33] Do you think it is a necessity for black professionals particularly to have a mentor?
  • [17:27] Does the black professional have to navigate their career in a whole different way?
  • [19:37] Did you as a black professional feel an undue responsibility to help other black professionals?
  • [21:03] Where can people find out more about your work and perhaps pick up a copy of your book?

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John Jantsch (00:00): Today's episode is brought to you in part by Success Story, hosted by Scott D Clary and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Success Story is one of the most successful, useful podcasts in the world. They feature Q and A sessions with successful business leaders, keynote presentations and conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship. A recent episode had Terry Jones, the CEO of Travelocity and the chairman of kayak.com. Talking all about disrupting existing industries with technologies so much for us to, to think about and learn in that episode. So listen to this Success Story podcast, wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:54): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Kimberly A. Brown. She is a career in leadership development expert, a speaker and podcast host, whose mission is to empower women and people of color in the workplace. Her personal professional development company manifest yourself, provides in-person and virtual workshops, trainings, and coaching to professionals looking to lead a dynamic career and life. So Kimberly, welcome to the show.

Kimberly Brown (01:26): Thank you so much for having me.

John Jantsch (01:28): So we are just fi you and I are recording this in January of 2022. And upon when people listen, uh, to this, we are just finishing up national mentoring month and we are getting ready to enter black history months. So I feel like there's a bit of a, of crossroads for you for you because you do a lot of teaching around mentoring. And, and as I stated in your profile, you certainly, uh, work to help empower persons of color in the workplace. So maybe talk a little bit about kind of the crossroad of those crossroads of those two ideas or those two. No, definitely monthly celebrations.

Kimberly Brown (02:01): Yes. I'd even go as far as to say that, I feel like Q1, I think from mentoring month black history month and women's history month, they're probably some of my busiest month because when we think about when we take the intersection of mentoring studies show that women and people of color, one of the reasons why it's so hard for them to navigate the world of work sometimes is because lack of mentorship and sponsorship, not having those critical relationships in the place that help them move, how they need to move, whether it's having the knowledge of the particular industry or the insider information to help them move through or how to navigate tough conversations with their boss, or like Carla Harris says that person who's bringing their paper into the room when you're not invited to the room that you're eligible then for promotions or folks are having those conversations about you. I, I totally agree. There's so much intersection there with all three of these months in Q1. yeah. For a lot

John Jantsch (02:52): Of the work that I may be asking you a question that is obvious, but I'd love to hear your kind of take on it. Why do you, why do you suppose both women and persons of color, particularly women of color, you know, have that disadvantage? What, what, what what's sort of inherent in creating that disadvantage?

Kimberly Brown (03:08): So there are so many things I think we can obviously go down bias, unconscious and conscious bias in the workplace. We can talk about microaggressions. We can talk about racism. We can talk about out sexism. We can a hundred percent touch upon those things because those are all true and all valid. I think on the other side of that, I think that there's a notion, especially for people of color in the workplace, that you kind of, you put your head down and you just work hard and the opportunity will come. That's all you have to do in my book, I talk a lot about my father and he is a veteran. He worked his way up from a male sort all the way to postmaster general in the state of Connecticut. And he always told me, you know, Kimmy just like, put your head down, work hard and you'll get there.

Kimberly Brown (03:47): But there's an element of playing the game that I think is missing for a lot of women and people of color where they may not understand what is the game to be played and how do I play it in a way that is authentic and doesn feel, um, icky right in the workplace. Like sometimes you have to learn how to play those things. And especially if you are first gen or your parents haven't operated, or your cousins, your brothers, your sisters, haven't operated in some of these traditionally corporate atmospheres. You may have no idea. Yeah. How to play that game. And that's where mentorship and sponsorship is so crucial.

John Jantsch (04:20): So would you go as far as saying everyone needs a

Kimberly Brown (04:24): Mentor? Yes. A hundred per 110%. I think I break down four different key relationships that any professional needs in the workplace in my book. But when we talk about mentorship and I think I'm gonna touch on sponsorship too, because I think that sometimes people think that it's exactly the same thing, but it's a little D I think mentors of the folks who've been there done that they're able to help you in your role because they've most likely been in your role or they're in a role you'd like to be in. So they're literally showing you the ropes because it's what they've done. And that is crucial to anyone at all times, to have someone who's been there, done that who can show you the ropes, the next piece, I think that people also look for sponsors for is that connectivity connecting to different jobs, opportunities to people.

Kimberly Brown (05:07): And that's where the word sponsorships are to come into play and sponsors like Carla Harris says, she's a MD at, um, Morgan Stanley. That's the person who could bring your paper into the room. Or I explain to my clients and say, that is the person who can literally pick you up from where you are and bring you to where you rightfully belong, because they have power and influence. I separate those two things because not every mentor has power and influence. When you need to determine where power is. I ask my clients to think about, well, who makes the final decision? Who can you go to in your organization? And they get to say yes or no, and it's done. And if that person has to go to someone else or someone else or someone else, then they may have some power. But in an ideal world, you want the person who could say yes or no. If they say to hire you, they say to move you forward or to interview you, that person's influence is high enough where it's a no brainer.

John Jantsch (06:01): I think in some cases it's probably pretty easy to identify a sponsor in some organizations, but I would think harder to identify somebody who could actually truly be a mentor. So how do you, how do you advise people go about five? You know? Cause I, I think sometimes people will go, oh, this person has power. I'll just have them be my mentor. But there's a skillset probably that is involved in being a mentor that goes beyond, you know, the scope of your power. So how do you identify that mentor?

Kimberly Brown (06:31): So when you're thinking about finding a mentor, I think a there's finding someone who's doing something you'd like to do. Yeah. Where are they? Are they doing something that is of interest to you, a role that you'd like to have, but then I think you have to almost interview your mentors. Mm-hmm, not everyone is going to be a great fit for a multitude of reasons. When I'm coaching mentors on how to be great mentors. One of the things I say is like, you need to be accessible. How much time do you have, where you're able to give back to this person? What are you looking to help that person achieve to do? Are you open to holding them accountable for certain things? Or are you looking to kind of just, you know, have some good conversations, all of that is fine, but it's important for the mentor to understand what it is they want.

Kimberly Brown (07:13): And it's important for the mentee to ask for what they need. So when you have these coffee chat conversations, invite a few people to have a brief coffee, 15 to 20 minutes to get to know them and see if they even have the time. Now you don't necessarily have to say, will you be my mentor? Cause that sometimes can feel a little heavy, but you can ask, like, would you mind if I follow up with you periodically about my own career and ask for some insights and advice and do they have the time? And do you feel like it's that fit for you? The relationship should feel, I don't wanna use the word safe, but it should feel comfortable, yet challenging, comfortable, where you're open to really sharing whatever it is you need to share. But challenging in that they are open to challenging the ways that you look at things, how you wanna do things and you feel that those are beneficial to your own growth.

John Jantsch (08:04): It it's become pretty popular in leadership circles to talk about coaching as a skill of a leader, uh, how would you dis between mentoring and coaching?

Kimberly Brown (08:15): So coaching, the big difference is that it's teaching you a fundamental skill mentoring sometimes could be more advice. It could be just like having conversations that make you feel better, helping you navigate and make some quick decisions. But coaching is physically teaching you how to do something. A tangible example I'd give to someone is when I was in higher education. So I was in higher ed for almost 10 years. In the final stage of interviews, you always had to do a presentation. Once you got to more senior roles, I had mentors who would be able to coach me and literally have me walk through that presentation. Give me feedback, review my deck in the workplace. I'm someone who always struggles with Excel. I don't care how many YouTube videos you tell me to watch. I have people who will help me do that pivot table, help me look at the data and put it into a presentation that is tangible. Teaching me how to do something versus a mentor. You may call them more to talk about like talk you down off the cliff. When you feel like you've got all the nerves or they help you identify roles, but it's not super tangible. Now a mentor can be a coach, but not every coach can be a mentor in the same way the sponsorship goes too. Yeah.

John Jantsch (09:24): All right. So let's uh, flip the role to the mentor. We've been talking mostly about the mentee. I think I, I, what, what are some tips for somebody to be successful as a mentor, particularly? I'm sure there are a lot of people that are out there saying, I know I should do this. I know I can do this, but you know, it's like, I've never done it before.

Kimberly Brown (09:41): So I would challenge people to think that you may be doing it already. Right? Many people in the workplace place feel that their manager is their mentor. And that may be the case for some, as much as it may not be for some others. But if you're looking to be a mentor toward, as someone, I would first start to seek out opportunities where you are. So are you involved in professional associations? Are there any rising stars that you see in your workplace? That's something I always tell people to look for. Is there someone in your workplace where you're like, Ooh, I know that they will be the next me where I know that with a little, little tweaking here, I know I can help them. You can identify those folks that reach out and say, would you be open to me helping you in any way, shape or form?

Kimberly Brown (10:23): When I worked in corporate America, I was big on doing that. I just love to help people not make the mistakes that I did in all honesty. And if I saw someone who I knew I could help a little bit, I would just reach out and say, Hey, would you be willing to having some conversations? Is there any way I can help you in your career? But I think the biggest thing that I would share is that accessibility is that you need to make sure that your mentee has access to you in whatever medium feels great. Some people are good for a text or a phone call, some want to have a quarterly chat, but they need to have that access us in order to learn from you. So if you don't have the bandwidth to give access, it's a little bit harder to mentor.

Kimberly Brown (11:02): And then I would probably recommend that if your company has fireside chats or they have great employee resource groups where you're able to do a, a talk that may be a great way to give back, you may not be open to or have the accessibility to have a whole bunch of mentees and try to make sure you don't take on too many. I think when you're in certain roles, especially I've seen so frequently women of color, if there's not many women of color at certain levels in the organization, there's one of you in how many people who want access, determine what is the best way for you to be able to give back in a way that feels good for you, but isn't too overwhelming.

John Jantsch (11:38): So we've been talking about a lot of the benefits to the mentee. I mean, do you find that there are tangible benefits, particularly that person is thinking, oh, do I really have time to to devote to this, that mentor that might be thinking of that? Do you find that there are tangible benefits back to the mentor?

Kimberly Brown (11:54): I think we'd have to like clarify tangible, but I'd say that it's always great to get back in an organization. Sure. It's, it's a great way to get back to younger talent. It's a great way to pipeline talent. Great. For succession planning from an organization standpoint, you could say that, but I'd also just say in all honesty, it feels really good. Yeah. I tell my mentees, the only thing they have to give back to me is their success. Like, and not in a, like, you need to say that Kimberly Brown helped you get here. but in a you listened to the advice that I gave, you took the feedback and you executed at a high level and it helped you make your next move. That's honestly, the reason why I'm in career leadership, the first time I saw someone get a job as a direct result of my coaching, I was hooked absolutely positively hooked.

John Jantsch (12:40): Yeah. I guess, I guess one of the benefits that I'm just using my personal experience is that particularly when you get in a leadership role and people keep telling you that, like you're a big deal. , you know, sometimes you lose empathy for what it was like. Yes. You know, when you were trying to keeps you grounded. It does. It does. I really think that's one of the, probably one of the benefits that I've seen. Is there a format I know you've talked about, do you have the time, what does the person need, but is there a format for doing this on a practical sense that you've seen, worked about? So meeting like monthly meetings or just very informal, or just call me when you need, I mean, is there a format that I I'm sure differs with every person, but is there a format you've seen that kind of seems to work pretty well?

Kimberly Brown (13:21): That's a really, really great question. And I think it also differs between every single mentee and what their actual needs are. So I could see someone who is gunning for a promotion, right? They know that this is their year. They need to, to put all this work in to make sure they get promoted in the end of the year. It probably would be beneficial for that person to check in once a month, probably once a month, if there is a goal in mind. But I think the mentee and the mentor need to just really work out what that looks like, whether it's quarterly meetings, monthly meetings, depending upon the goals, making sure that there's a little bit of access. If there's something really timely, I know I've called of my mentors. Like, Hey, I just got this opportunity. I have no idea what to do.

Kimberly Brown (14:00): Can you hop on a call this week? So I think it's just having a little bit of flexibility, just defining what that means. If you're fortunate enough, some companies, um, or organizations have formal mentoring programs. So they might outline that for you, that you talk once a month, you have a private community where you can with each other. But if you are just, I'm kind of developing your own mentoring relationship, it's just figure out what works for you. But I would just say consistent cadence of meetings. So you know that you can hold the person accountable.

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John Jantsch (15:55): trick question, direct report. Be your mentor.

Kimberly Brown (15:58): Can your direct report? You mean like reverse mentoring?

John Jantsch (16:01): No, no, I, I guess I said that the wrong way. Can your boss be your mentor? I think so.

Kimberly Brown (16:05): yeah. I hundred percent think so. I think sometimes it can get a little bit tricky because one of the things, when I talk about the key relationships that you need in my book, I always say that you need internal and external to your company. Right? Right. So there's a level of vulnerability that may not be appropriate for your boss, because remember your boss is doing your performance, appraisal. They all those salary decisions. There may be some things there that it may be better for you to have an external mentor or at least someone who's external to your immediate team or department.

John Jantsch (16:36): All right. So you basically, we started out saying that everyone should have a mentor, but I suspect you have an opinion on the necessity, particularly for black professionals.

Kimberly Brown (16:47): I think it is more than mandatory. You need a mentor and you need a sponsor. Um, you need to have these Q relationships to help you navigate the world of work, to help you see blind spots. I, every professional you need insider information and by insider information, I mean the things that are happening behind the scenes in the workplace that you may not be privy to. And that's where mentorship and sponsorship and just good relationships in general really helps you. It's not enough to just do great work and put your head down the way we think it may be, but you, you gotta do a little, you gotta play the game, you gotta play the game. You need to have people in different places to give you all of the information that's needed so that you can have a much smoother process as you're navigating your career.

John Jantsch (17:29): Do you? And this is a tough question for me to, as an old white person to, to ask. So hopefully take it in the right, uh, spirit, but is, does the black professional have to navigate in a whole different way? I mean, do they, do they need to have a different plan?

John Jantsch (17:50): I think there needs to be a different level of awareness. And I first, let me just commend you. I appreciate you asking the question, asking the hard questions. Cause I think as non people of color in the workplace, we know that it's the majority, right? So we need people to be self aware and ask the right questions. I think that, yes, I think there are a hundred percent, some nuances, a hundred percent things that will come up in the workplace because microaggressions bias. Those things happen every day. I wish I could look at my own career and say that things have never happened, but it a hundred percent has, and it impacts how you navigate the world of work. So I think it's really crucial, um, that you have some of these things in place, but I think I'll take your question one step further and just also add that as we're talking about mentorship and sponsorship, not all of your mentors have to look like you. Yeah. I think there's a misconception sometimes that, okay, I'm a black woman. I need to have black women mentors. Yeah. That mentor who I talked about earlier, who also coached me for my deck. That was a white male. Yeah. Um, an older white male. Mind you, I think he's at least 30, 30 plus years older than me. Oh, I thought you were gonna say, I thought you were gonna call 30 older no, no, no, no.

Kimberly Brown (18:54): no, no, no. He was at least 30 plus years older than me and I credit my success in almost all of my interviews to that man to this day because he grilled me and fine tuned my decks and helped me almost more than any other person and then higher education as I was building my career. So I don't think all of your mentors have to look like you. I think it's great to have a well-rounded network, whether that's race, ethnicity, gender levels, even seniority levels of seniority you need at all to make sure that you have connections where they need to be, and you don't have as many blind spots.

John Jantsch (19:28): Well, I think we all benefit from diversity. I mean that really what you're kind of talking about. I mean that, that, yes, actually seeing people outside of your industry completely can have a whole different view of yes of now. Now having said that, did you, as a black professional feel an undue responsibility to help other black

Kimberly Brown (19:44): Professionals a hundred percent? Yeah. A hundred percent. When I think about myself navigate the world of work, I think, well, me back up a little bit more. So I am born and raised in a very small town in Connecticut where I was the only minority K through 12. There were no other black people ever in my grade and barely a handful in my town. So I'm very used to being the only in many situations. And I know that's not the case for everyone. I literally was raised that way for 18 plus years of my life. So it's, I'm used to that, but for many professionals they may not be. So I definitely feel a sense of responsibility to give back and to assist and to help people not fall into any pitfalls that happen. I think making the transition into the world of work we're talking about from college into you, your first job is one major transition where there's so many things, but then all there are, is a bunch of transitions after that.

Kimberly Brown (20:39): Like your first leadership role, your first C-suite role, moving to a new industry, all of these first, it's always great to mean. I'm someone where I'm always looking to see if I can help. I love finding those rising stars. And I know maybe some of my, my mentees are listening when I share this podcast, when it goes live, they know, and they'll be able to say like, yeah, Kimberly saw me at a call and heard me say something and immediately slacked me and said, Hey, we should have a coffee chat. I wanna know how I can support you. I've always been that person.

John Jantsch (21:02): Awesome. Well, Kimberly, thanks so much for stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast. You wanna tell people where they can find out more about your work and uh, perhaps pick up a copy of your book.

Kimberly Brown (21:12): Yes. So you can go to Kimberly B online.com. My name is also Kimberly B online of every single social media platform. You can find me and the name of my book is next move, best move, transitioning into a career love available, wherever books are sold.

John Jantsch (21:27): Awesome. Well again, uh, thanks for stopping by was such, uh, great to chat with you and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days when we're back out there on the road again. Yes, please.

John Jantsch (21:36): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in and you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could for the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients, and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That's right. Check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at ducttapemarketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your client's tab.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast NetworkWix, and AgoraPulse.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.



Wix is the industry-leading eCommerce platform with a  future-ready, customizable robust solution for merchants who mean business. Wix eCommerce is the complete solution for entrepreneurs, omnichannel retailers, and brands who wish to launch, run and scale their online stores successfully. Go to Wix.com/ecommerce today and join over 700,000 active stores selling worldwide with Wix eCommerce.


The show’s brought to you by Confessions of a Social Media Manager presented by Agorapulse. It’s a weekly interview show where they talk to social media managers across the globe about what it’s really like to do social media for the world’s biggest brands. It promises expert knowledge, reveals a few mistakes, and raw insights into one of the fastest-growing, moving industries on the planet. Listen now on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.





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