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EPISODE 5 | July 27, 2022

The Power and Potential of Authentic Connection

With Carlos Correcha-Price, Janaye Ingram, Donald Knight, Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel, Delicia Tan and Dani Jackson Smith


True connections must first be rooted in trust. In our latest Authentic 365 podcast episode, our hosts Dani Jackson Smith and Delicia Tan are joined by a panel of external experts to discuss the power and potential of authentic connection and how it can help build bridges to partnerships, sponsorships, new opportunities and more.


Episode Transcript

Dani Jackson Smith [00:00:01] It's who you are to work after hours and back at home. Exploring every layer. Finding out what makes you uniquely you. And letting that shine back out into the world. It's authentic. 365 A podcast that takes a glimpse into how some of the most inspiring people among us express themselves and make magic happen. I'm your host, Dani Jackson Smith, VP at Edelman by day, community enthusiast and lover of the people, always. For a global day of belonging, me and my fellow co-host, the newly appointed Edelman, Hong Kong CEO Delicia Tan, explored the power and potential of authentic connection with an all star panel. This conversation highlights the process of building true connections and how to remain authentic as they shift at different phases in your career. Our guests include Carlos Correcha-Price, Chief Communications and marketing officer at Image Digital Health Care. Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb. Donald Knight Chief People Officer at Green House Software. And Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel, intellectual property, lawyer and partner and registered trademark agent at Gowling, WPLG.  

Delicia Tan [00:01:21] I'll kick off with our first question. True connections must first be rooted in trust. What are some of the ways that you've worked to build trust with colleagues, partners, or even communities? Perhaps, natalie, would you like to get the ball rolling?  

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel [00:01:36] I work as an attorney in an international law firm, and there are so many different kinds of relationships in that environment where building trust and connections are so important. One connection that I do dedicate a lot of time to is building connections with associates who are junior to me. I try not to be just that work provider, but I try to be a mentor by action and not just by name. What I mean by that is, as I was growing up in this law firm, I had those formal mentors that were assigned to me. But then I chose who those informal mentors would be, and those were people that I trusted. And so what I do to try and be an effective mentor is make it known that both my physical and virtual door is always open. I reach out to them for catch up sessions. I get them involved in interesting initiatives and look for ways to advance them by maybe sending a note to management on what a great job they've done or nominating them for awards. Internal and external to the firm. And these kinds of connections are so crucial in such a high stress environment, because you need to feel like you're a part of a team. And it increases morale and keeps people in this field of law where we're seeing the great resignation and so many people leaving. So I do really value and spend a lot of time on that kind of relationship. But what I wanted to talk about a little today is this new way of making connections that I started with two of my partners. We started a LinkedIn newsletter called Taking Up Space. We're three female, diverse partners with seven kids between us, and we all have distinct experiences about being diverse women, trying to make it in our careers, about parenting. And over the years, we noticed there's a lot of obstacles, a lot of struggles and inequity in the field of law. But we really didn't do anything or say anything, and we just wanted to fit in and not really show we're different because we're just sort of grateful to be part of this profession. But we finally had the courage this year to launch this newsletter without getting express permission from our law firm to do it and to just break the silence on being open and honest about the struggles that we faced and continue to face being diverse, female partners in a large law firm. We talk about our successes, but also setbacks and give advice to a younger audience. And I have to say, being transparent and open about our struggles in a profession that doesn't really encourage that was scary. We were worried about backlash from our firm and from the profession as a whole, but we decided that this is what we're going to do as our own personal brand and being authentic and really trying to effect change. And we would go for it, and it's turned out to be a pretty gratifying experience. We connected with so many people because of this newsletter. I think we brought humanity back into law, and we've just connected with women and men and those people junior to us and and former clients and now new clients, which I can speak about a little bit later. But that was this new way of forming connections that I think was pretty pivotal in my career this year.  

Delicia Tan [00:05:29] Most definitely. I think that's really cool that, you know, you took the opportunity and really then seize that that space to really not ask for permission, but to really do what was right in terms of making that connection and driving that further, which is related to another question that love to ask Janaye. Janaye, sometimes people may feel led to assimilate or mask who they are to build connections. What are your thoughts on this and why is authenticity important?  

Janaye Ingram [00:06:00] Yeah. Well, thank you for that question, though. I think it's it's it's a hard thing when people feel like they can't be authentic. Right. They have to they have to show up in a different way. And specifically, I think when a lot of times when it comes to marginalized folks, you feel like you cannot show up and be your true self. You have to somehow pretend that the aspects of you that make you different or unique within the larger majority, you need to minimize those things. And I actually think that that's really a detriment. I think when we explore and showcase the things that make us unique and the things that make us different and live as our authentic selves. That really is a strength because it allows people to to learn and to discover things about themselves, things about you. And so I encourage people not to try to minimize the aspects of themselves that are different or, you know, even things that we're working on. Quite frankly, I think when I think about authenticity, I think the things that make someone truly authentic and make people feel like someone is truly authentic is being vulnerable. And that includes talking about your weaknesses, not just talking about your strengths and showcasing the things that you're really proud of, but also acknowledging that, hey, we're all human and we all have things that we want to work on. And so leaning into that, being vulnerable, saying when you make a mistake, being big enough to own up to that, I think it's about being honest. And I know sometimes when we talk about being honest, especially in work, you might get a project or your boss might ask you to do something that you really don't want to do. And I think even in those instances, there are ways that you can be honest. There are ways that you can have the honest conversation and share. You know, this is not something that I am, you know, really excited to do, but I understand the need for it. And so I'm willing to jump in and do the thing that you've asked me to do, even though I might not feel like it's a strength of mine. And so things like that, where, where we're able to be honest and we're able to say, you know, even even when we don't want to do something, we're able to share that in a, in a non brutal way. We talk about brutal honesty. Honesty doesn't have to be brutal. Honesty can be handled in a delicate way. It can be handled with tact. But I think honesty is another part of being authentic. And the last one, the last thing that I think about when I think about authenticity is managing expectations. And there's this whole notion of, you know, don't don't, don't under-promise and or sorry, don't overpromise and under-deliver. You want to do the opposite. You want to show up in a way that's bigger. But I think even more than that, I would actually say it's about managing those expectations and helping people understand what you can and what you can't do. And not saying, Oh, I'll do, you know, I'll give you the moon and the stars and really you can't deliver on that. So I think for people who feel like they cannot show up in and be their true selves, it really limits their ability to be authentic. And I think that that comes at a cost because when people think that you're not authentic, it impacts the way that they treat you, it impacts the way that they deal with you. And I think it potentially even limits the opportunities that you have, the growth that you can have. So tapping into your authentic self and really recognizing that there's strength and power in even the weakest part of the thing that you think is the weakest part of you, their strength even in that and in acknowledging that and it will allow you to go a lot further.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:09:43] That is powerful. I love the words that I'm hearing already in terms of honesty and courage. Carlos, question for you, or at least to start off with you, we know that connections and relationships change over time. And so when we consider authenticity and having courage and honesty, how do you see those connections evolving and shifting, and what's a situation where you had to navigate something like that?  

Carlos Correcha-Price [00:10:09] So, look, I mean, I think the more things change, the less they change in a way for relationships. I mean, I think relationships take real hard work. And, you know, what I do see shifting over time is the inability for people to connect at a deeper level. I think if we kind of try to create a parallel to the world of consulting, which most of us, you know, are or have been, there is this idea of being, you know, good, generalist. You go one mile wide and one inch deep and you become this pseudo expert in a number of different things. But that doesn't work for relationships. Relationships take a lot of work, and you have to go one mile deep, one inch wide with every single person that you come across. And I find that social media, in a way, creates an ocean. But but in a way, we're deluding that ocean in the in our ability to, you know, to really dig. And find out, you know, who is the person that we're relating to. So if I go back to, you know, to my years at Edelman and in other places, I find that really trying to figure out who the person is that you're relating to. Not the manager, not the colleague, not the peer, but who the person is can get you really, really, really far. And what I mean by that is, you know, something Janaye spoke to, which is vulnerability. I think that is everyone's superpower. And what a tremendous moment to be alive for for all of us in that we're able to speak our truth and that we're rewarded for that in many ways. You know, in some quarters you may not be. But, you know, I think there is an openness to this type of conversation and this ability for people to be their authentic selves, not only at home, but outside in their communities and and at work. So I would seize the moment if that was, you know, the environment in which I grew up with, you know, over two decades ago in the professional world, I feel like I would have done so much better. And I just think that if you bring that to every relationship that you can and you go that one mile day, you'll be able to, you know, to really extract from it the best possible outcome that you can. You don't need to have 2 million followers. You don't need to have five. You don't need to have 100. But if you have a core group of people who really know who you are, those people can lift you up. And then as you go forward in your career and in your personal relationships, you should do the same for others.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:12:32] I love that. That doesn't matter if you have a million followers or if you have, you know, ten great friends. We still have the power to impact and have influence. Donald, I want to pivot this same question to you, but thinking about something you said yesterday about the melting, right, like how we consider the world, the U.S., a melting pot. But you had something really special that you added yesterday.  

Donald Knight [00:12:55] So we often talk about America through this lens of being a melting pot. And I think one of the dilemmas that I have in that I've started to watch as I've gotten older is this idea that communities are not melting with one another. Right. And so they have some of the problems that we have today that we've had 100 years ago is simply based on the fact that we haven't taken the time to create proximity with other people and build bridges with other communities. It is very easy for folks to self segregate based on interests and even based on ethnicity and things of that nature. And so I really try to challenge folks around us to be people first and to think about how are you melting with other communities? Because that's where you find that folks feel comfortable or more comfortable being the most authentic self. And at least for me, like at each place that I've been able to work at, I find that there are people who have, in my opinion, created these spaces for me to be authentic in the way I try to try to like put that in the words is like it's like oxygen being around those people. So folks like Trisch that if Trisch ever calls me, I'm always going to do whatever Trish wants me to do because she's oxygen for me. Paul Saiedi is oxygen for me. Cynthia Negron is oxygen for me. But the reason why is because they took time to create proximity with me and they found ways to say, Hey, look, I know we're from different parts of the community, but what we're going to do is we're going to find ways to melt with one another. And to me, that's beautiful. Now, I'm not originally from New Orleans, but for those that have been there, you know what a good gumbo tastes like. And the beautiful thing about gumbo is that all those ingredients are mixed together. And so that's how I kind of view the world. If you look at the world through that lens, it's like all of our communities are different ingredients, but once we start to melt together, oh, my goodness, bon appetit is a phenomenal, phenomenal gumbo. So that's what I would challenge other people to do here.  

Delicia Tan [00:14:47] Here Here, Donald, and we all like a nice, warm bowl of gumbo that really envelopes you and really nourishes mind, body and soul. Right. So again, building on that. Natalie, back to you again. How do you see building trust impacting our internal corporate communities and client relationships? So really building on what Donald is talking about, the people who provide the oxygen for others within that same organization.  

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel [00:15:14] Yeah. So in terms of building trust and and how that really impacts our communities and client relationships, I think that, you know, just going back to to the newsletter and everything I've done recently is, is because of what I've learned through this newsletter and, and people all of a sudden building trust in, in me because and my partners because we're being vulnerable and we're showing our struggles is that people just start to trust us more. We have women that have come to me and said, you know, just coming back from maternity leave, saying I just don't I didn't think I could do this and I don't think I can do it anymore. I'm really struggling. And then when I read your newsletter, I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you know, they just relate to me. Similarly, I've had after I wrote an article about my parents and their immigration story and how they've had a positive impact in my life and in my career, I had someone internal say, Well, I think you should run for management firm because we need good people in in these high roles. And I'm so far away from ever being in management. And so that was just eye opening for me. And then lastly, I had a former client who he read the article about my parents and what I said about my dad, and he said, I hope one day my daughter talks about me like that. And within weeks, I became a current client. You sent a big mandate to me. So I think like building trust and vulnerability and opening yourself up to people, they will. It causes an impact in the sense that you are for women, you're opening your you're you're providing hope and inspiration. And then for clients, they just it'll allow for good opportunities for you because they know that they can trust you.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:17:36] Yeah, I think that's a really good point. Just in terms of opening up and creating that vulnerability, I think it can be really challenging at times to even know how you want to open up or what you want to talk about or where you want to start. Donald, question for you, in terms of advocates and accomplices and allyship, what does that look like and how is authenticity and trust wrapped into being a good ally, a good accomplice, creating space for others? Right. Just interested in that sort of balance because we're wanting to be vulnerable. We're wanting to connect.  

Donald Knight [00:18:12] Yeah, it's a phenomenal question. By the way, I'm stealing that question for our people team conversations. I just wanted you to know that I think it's a phenomenal question. I believe there's three types of people in those different groups. I believe advocates are folks that will build a bridge for you to cross. I believe accomplices are people who are willing and courageous enough to cross the bridge with you. And I believe allies recognize that on the journey that we've been on, that we might not have had bridges in the first place. And when I look at my own life and I think about like how folks have poured into me, that has been the reason why I look for ways to pour into others, because I've had people who have literally created bridges for me to be able to grow in my career and even grow in my personal life. I've seen people who have been courageous enough to walk through some of the most difficult times in my career with me as an accomplice. And last but certainly not least, I've been able to see leaders who may come from different backgrounds, and they recognize that their journey might have had less headwinds than what I might have had. And so from that perspective, I think I've personally benefited from that. I've also started to look at my own career and only invest in companies that have those three people present. And I'm in an in a in an abundance. So many other reasons why I joined Edelman in the first place is because I recognize that there are people there. Part of the reason why I left Edelman and joined Greenhouse is because it's baked into everything that we do, right? So at Greenhouse, we recognize that many of the reasons why people can't be their authentic self inside of an organization is based on a flawed hiring process. And so our founders sought out to create a hiring process that eliminates or minimizes as much bias in the hiring process as possible. And so what ends up happening is at the core of our product is this process of belonging and how do we have structured interviewing that doesn't allow for Carlos to have a different experience than Jim? Or how do we make sure that Jenny is also seeing her strengths highlighted and illustrated in questions as opposed to see them as flaws? And so that is the major reason why I have joined this organization. And we continue to look for ways to not only enhance that product, but add additional products that allow for folks to be able to see advocates, accomplices and allies. The last, but certainly not least, I would point out, is we recently just changed our workforce diversity goals. And part of what we called out is this thought process around allyship. And the reason for that is if you start to look. The make up of the countries at least that we actively have talent today, which is primarily in the U.S. and in Ireland. What we found is that like everybody that some companies may call underreport underrepresented communities. Like they don't necessarily make up the majority of our population. And so there's a huge responsibility here, right, to like not only educate folks on what allyship looks like, but like continuously engage them and then give them an opportunity to measure the success of the impact that they're making. So that's how I would answer that question. Danny, I hope that was pretty straightforward.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:21:35] That was spectacular. And if you're still in our question, I am stealing your answer, just so you know.  

Janaye Ingram [00:21:41] Could I jump in on this one? Thank you. Yeah, this I love this question and I love Donald's answer. And it really, you know, so much of the work that I've done even prior to Airbnb around advocacy and activism has is really, you know, excited by this question, particularly the notion of. Allyship, which is so incredibly important. And we're talking a lot about allyship right now within corporate spaces within the world. Quite frankly, people want to understand how to be great allies and allyship is so important. And I think the way that Donald framed it of understanding, you know, where a bridge might not have existed, understanding the headwinds that, you know, certain people have faced in their life that may have prevented them from getting to certain places or maybe made it made it more challenging, even though they persisted and they went forward and they accomplished a thing. The thing that I really want people to walk away from in this conversation, though, and this is the activist in me screaming is that, just acknowledging that is not enough. If your actions do not change, because if you say, I recognize that so-and-so had it harder and that is the period that comes at the end of the sentence. I want you to step further. I want you to move to that advocacy role and think about the ways in which you can start building that bridge for that person. What are the things that you can do that help remove some of those barriers that that person might have in the future? I want you to start thinking about being an accomplice. I want you to start saying, how can I sponsor somebody, not just mentor someone? We talk a lot about mentorship, which is important. Mentorship is incredibly important. But sponsorship giving someone air cover. Promoting them when they're not even in the room. Giving them opportunities that they didn't even know were a reality for them. How can we do that? How can we step beyond just that allyship? And there's one that you didn't ask about, but I'm going to insert it here because I think it's important. And that's the role of coconspirator. You're not just going to walk with me. You're not just going to build that bridge. But you're going to think with me and you're going to design the future that I see for myself, with me, and you're going to leverage your own power to do it. That coconspirator role. That's that's. I'll admit it's next level and it's it's tough to get to. But I think allyship is important. And we want people to be allies. But I want you to take your allyship a step further, because if we're truly going to embrace this notion of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, the goal of belonging is the thing we really have to move beyond just saying. I acknowledge that you've had a challenging road before you and say, I'm going to help you overcome some of these obstacles. I'm going to use the privilege that I have to make sure that maybe if I can't help you, I'm going to help someone else who might be like you or might be different from you. But I'm going to help someone else. And that's the thing that the activist in me was screaming right now. But I love this question and I love this answer, so just really excited to add to that.  

Delicia Tan [00:25:05] Indeed, Janaye. It definitely something that that's truly inspiring and something to aspire to. Carlos If I could get you to build on that, what do you think the elements of moving from allyship to advocacy would be and how do we create safe spaces for people to be able to do so within the workplace?  

Carlos Correcha-Price [00:25:26] Yeah, awesome. I was I was really excited to jump in, but then I figured, okay, well, we're all too passionate about the bridge building. So, so here's what I'll say about the bridge and on about, you know, where you know where to go with with that idea. I mean, I love the analogy. I love like, you know, how all these different kind of pieces interconnect. But I think at the at the, you know, at the core of it is is intention. And I think, you know, bridge to Nowhere, still a bridge to nowhere. Right. You have to be intentional about what it is, you know, that you need about what it is that you're asking for and about what it is that you're willing to do for others. Right. The moment that you don't have that authentic conversation, that realization about what it is that you're seeking, then it becomes, you know, a little bit of of a sleeping over a slippery slope. Right. In the sense that, you know, even those who mean the best for you are going to be unable to help you unless they have the clarity of thought about what it is that they need to do for you. Right, so if I could go back to, you know, many years in my career. I mean, I wish I had the clarity. I wish I had, you know, that intention behind some of those relationships. And I think I've been able to, you know, to grow up and develop that over time. And as I, you know, kind of now mentor others. You know, I'm very, very clear in my first question about what it is that we are doing together. Right. Why do you need from me? And then once I have that clarity of thought, then I can go in and do it right. You know, my biggest fear is that as I grow into my career, I get in the elevator. Well, I mean, for the past couple of years, the virtual elevator and the people were not telling me things anymore. Right. And then I at that point, I knew that something had happened, right? I knew that something had shifted and that I needed to figure out a way to break through it so that people would tell me things. So I would encourage all of you as you walk into that elevator with those who can play any of these, you know, three roles, or they got coconspirator one, you know, be intentional about what it is that you want and then communicate it openly so that, you know, the moment that that elevator opens, right, and you go to your separate ways, everyone is clear about where do you need to go from there? So that's the best way that I would. As for that question, you know, I think, you know, be true to your goals, be true to what it is that you're there to provide for others and then be true to the ask. Right. There's nothing wrong with asking. There's nothing wrong with wanting. Right. What's wrong with is, you know what's wrong oftentimes in. This up, some of these interactions is the lack of transparency about what it is that the parties are out to get from one another.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:28:16] Yeah, I think that level of transparency is something that we need to continue to lean into and examine with ourselves. Right, because that transparency is the vulnerability. Right. And the more you do it, it becomes more of a superpower. So I do want to you know, Natalie, we're looking at how do we draw that connection at different levels, right? As a manager with your employees, as a company, but also outside of that.  

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel [00:28:39] Yeah. So it's this it's so much more about for me right now and my purpose and my intentions is more it's so much more than just my work and and what happens in my career. It's, it's it's creating the impact and inspiration that I never had growing up. I was always hiding who I really was and just being a workforce and doing my work. And and I feel like now that I've reached a certain level and I feel like I've succeeded, even though I struggled along the way, that I can have an impact to help diverse people in this field. There's not a lot of diversity, especially in the field that I'm in and intellectual property and and in intellectual property, you usually, usually have to have a science and engineering background to get into the field. And so I would say there's probably maybe 20% women that actually make the partner level. And so having three diverse female partners speak about their careers and give advice about how to advance and how to be true to yourself has created an impact. I'm hoping it's still in the process. I mean, we just started in January, but I feel like it's it's creating an impact in the field generally within intellectual property and the legal field. So I guess, yeah, that's that's outside of my corporate community. That's the impact I'm hoping about being building trust with my peers and in the community.  

Janaye Ingram [00:30:34] Well, I think, you know, getting engaged outside of work is something that is definitely critical. Right. People want to to be seen and heard and they want to see and hear people who look like them, who have similar experiences. I think so much of what Natalie is talking about and how her newsletter sort of took off is because there were women who didn't feel seen or heard that, saw her, heard her stories, and it resonated. And I think so much of that exists outside of what we're talking about in the workplace. It exists within local communities, it exists within, you know, similar type communities within the broader community. And so it's really about creating that opportunity for yourself to meet other people, but also to advocate on the issues that you're passionate about, that you care about. Those things don't just exist. Any issue that you're confronting or any problem that you're trying to solve doesn't just exist within the halls of whether they're virtual halls or real halls of your workplace. They exist in the world. And I think for us it's about stepping out into the world and also carrying that work forward, not just again during our 9 to 5 or nine to whatever hours you work, but really, you know, embracing it within our lives. And I think through that, we're able to amplify the voices that aren't being heard, the people who may have been further marginalized, who aren't experiencing, you know, the same level of privilege that we might be. And so it's creating those bridges. To go back to our previous analogy.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:32:11] I love that it's funny because part of my motto has always been build a bridge. And so like I've heard building bridges on this call so many times, it is such a strong affirmation.  

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel [00:32:21] It's so ironic because I used to be a civil engineer in my previous life and I actually designed and built bridges.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:32:28] So yeah, it's such a great metaphor, right? Because there's there are sometimes obstacles we need to cross or just connections that we need to make, that they need care, they need attention. All of the things that you guys have been bringing up, I think is so crucial and so vital.  

Donald Knight [00:32:43] Part of creating that proximity are building bridges outside of the workplace means we have to do what Carlos said is and that's be intentional. So one of the things that we do here in Atlanta is we host me and this young lady named Robin, who works at Equifax. She's the CEO of Equifax International. We host these things called proximity dinners, where we literally invite one person who we have proximity with, but they don't know anybody else. And then when they get there now they're forced to create proximity with others. And so you've had people who were like phenomenal an esthetician sitting next to people who are like VP's, sitting next to like celebrity barbers. And so you're we're intentionally curating this space for proximity and bridge building to happen. I totally challenge people to do that because even in doing so, what we found is that in choosing your favorite restaurant, you may go to restaurants that don't allow you to really see the full fabric of the community. So we're even intentional about what spaces we choose to dine in when we're trying to create bridge building. And so for me, like, that's huge because if you only do this at work, that's an issue like the pandemic has showed us that work and regular life are now very much blended. And so I would challenge us their authenticity. I don't think I can do authenticity in three words, but I promise it'll be a one liner. Like for me personally, authenticity is a daily effort for me to release who I believe the world wants me to be and really embrace who I truly am. And like every day that some days are easier than others, but to me it's more of an action. It's something I have to wake up every day and be very intentional.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:34:16] Powerful. Powerful. Carlos, how would you define authenticity?  

Carlos Correcha-Price [00:34:21] I mean, for me, as self-aware it is. I mean, there's a story, right? It probably wouldn't make as much sense in English, but I'll try it. So, you know, when there are stray dogs in the streets. So this is like taking me back to, you know, to Colombia maybe three decades ago. And the story goes that there's all these stray dogs, right? This pack of dogs that are stray, and then they're just kind of walking the streets. And all of a sudden comes animal control, right? And they're all only picking up dogs and then they're chasing these dogs. And these dogs are is running and running a running, running. And then a cat sees all these dogs running and the cat starts running with them. Right. And then they run four blocks and all of a sudden the cat just stops and then says, What am I running for? I'm a cat. Right. He wasn't a dog. He wasn't going to get picked up. And then the moral of the story is that, you know, oftentimes we're running to something or running from something. But the self-awareness about what it is that we're in that race is what's key. And and I think that authenticity is about, you know, stopping and having the wherewithal to, you know, to really dig deep and say, okay, well, you know, what is it that I what is it that I that I mean, how do I belong and how do I choose to belong? Right, And, you know, I kind of wanted to continue to run with those dogs, like more power to it, if that's how he identifies himself as. But at the end of the day, you cannot have authenticity without the ability for you to, you know, to really, you know, kind of figure that piece out. I would encourage everyone to, you know, to spend some time, you know, doing so often times, you know, we just get, you know, kind of pushed, you know, along with, you know, everyone else in, you know, in all these different expectations that are there for us to, you know, to fulfill, you know, whether they're societal or cultural or whatnot. And I just think that, you know, the superpower that, you know, we will all be able to, you know, tap into to reach our fullest potential is that vulnerability and that ability to, you know, to just understand, you know, who it is that we that we are at the core.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:36:29] All right. Janaye and then Natalie, same question.  

Janaye Ingram [00:36:32] Yeah, authenticity for me is really being introspective and tapping into who I am at the core, who God has designed me to be, and tapping into that creative creator energy. But more importantly, it is about allowing that person. And Donald kind of said it said something similar, allowing that person to come forth into the world regardless of what society tells me I am limited to do or limits me and places on me regardless of how other people encounter me, knowing who I am, who I am, and how I am showing up and just living and walking in that every single day. So that is what authenticity means to me and Natalie. Yeah. So I think we're all in agreement here. I think it's that first step of really figuring out and knowing who you are, and that's actually not always easy. It took me it took me a while to figure out who I was and then and then just telling the world who you are in terms of your beliefs, values, positions, principles. Don't be afraid or be ashamed to tell the world who you are. It took me a long time, just like we work as lawyers, probably like every single day. And it took me a long time to tell my work provider to go senior to be, Oh, I can't work Sunday mornings because I go to church, you know, now I'm just. Like three church Sunday mornings. I can't I don't I can't. I can't work, you know. So I just people need to know who I am and I'm not ashamed to show it.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:38:16] I love that. And one of the things that resonated with me as you guys are talking is that who you are and understanding that who you are today may be very different than you were yesterday and will definitely continue to transform in the future. Aside from your core values, there just may be other things that sort of ebb and flow.  

Janaye Ingram [00:38:34] For anyone on the panel, what are some positive indicators that authenticity is being embraced in the workplace? Donald, perhaps if I could point to you first and for anyone else to jump in on that.  

Donald Knight [00:38:47] Absolutely. So I I've said this before. I believe it starts with the hiring process. But to make sure that it's present, like so many times, I've had some friends that have gone through an interview process and then they join an organization. They were like, This is not what I signed up for. Like it was completely different. I think part of it is just reading like glass door or places like that, but it's actually going a step further. And personally I believe in two way street conversations. And so asking folks there to really speak about the culture, like if if you see folks, if they use words like assimilation as opposed to acclimating like probably a sign that they don't necessarily want folks to embrace who they truly are. I think the other thing that I also recognize is, like I asked folks like, how are you creating these spaces for others? And what I have found is by asking that and A, it's very telling to see what they believe to be an inclusive space for people to feel like they belong. But it's I think it's one that it's on us. The average person spends 90000 hours working before they retire, and so that equates to about a third of your life. You should be very intentional where you spend a third of your life, and you should you should go beyond the regular, structured interview process and ask other folks inside of the business, tell me about that space. Tell me how you're able to be authentic. Tell me how they make you feel like you belong. Because that's why I have found the best places for me to work, especially, you know, here recently. So that that that would be my $0.02 for other folks.  

Carlos Correcha-Price [00:40:30] If I could jump on this super quick. I mean, I just think you don't have to look very, very far for some of these indicators. I mean, just just look at this call, right, that the company that you work for, Great, is creating a space to have this conversation. I mean, to me, that that's magnificent. And there's four other organizations there that felt like this was important enough, you know, to stop doing whatever it is that we were doing to come and talk about this. So, you know, I feel like if you can multiply this, you know, by, you know, any any number out there, then then we're doing something right. And and I feel like the world is opening up to do this sort of thing, you know? And I feel like, you know, you are now on the receiving end, you know, on this panel. But I think you have a responsibility of, you know, passing the ball forward.  

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel [00:41:22] I just like to jump in, too. I think some really good indicators of a of a workplace that embraces authenticity is to just look at the leadership. And if you look at the leadership and you see a diversity in leadership, you you become aware of that that that company or that law firm do embrace authenticity. And we recently at our firm had a huge overhaul in our leadership. And and so I see a lot of good positive change here because of that.  

Delicia Tan [00:41:57] Indeed. And so besides leading by example, how do you encourage authenticity in other people on your team or other leaders? Janaye, perhaps.  

Janaye Ingram [00:42:07] I'll have I'm happy to jump in on this one. It's interesting. I started or I should say I graduated with a bachelor's in psychology from undergrad. And it wasn't until I became a people manager that I realized this was like the best decision of my life to study psychology because it comes in so handy. I think so much of of sort of addressing authenticity or any other sort of issue that comes up, I don't want to say issue, but any other topic that comes up when you're leading people really starts by understanding who the people are, right? Like people exist in the world. They don't just come to work and leave the home part of themselves at home. They bring their whole self to work and that whole self comes with a lot of extra baggage, things that happened in their childhood that shaped them, things that happened in their home life, things that happen, you know, in other relationships. And so for me, it really is about. In addition to leading by example, it's about understanding who that person is and what are the things that are preventing them from being authentic. When you're listening and you're listening to understand, not necessarily to respond and really tapping into who that person is. I think that you will find the things that are preventing them from being authentic, if that is something that that's an issue with them. And then you can, through other means, maybe not directly or maybe directly, try to address those issues to allow their authentic self to come to the forefront. But it really is about listening, understanding who the person is and really tapping into the aspects of them that really help them flower. Really help them develop and grow.  

Dani Jackson Smith [00:43:54] That's right. It's about listening to learn from one another so that we can work better together and create spaces where everyone feels comfortable bringing their true self. There is tremendous power and potential in authentic connections. They create incredible outcomes that drive compassion, collaboration, community and change. There were many jewels of knowledge shared in this conversation. Here are a few insights that we can take away in building authentic connection as we close. Knowing who you are and then telling the world who you are is a first step. Understand that vulnerability is not weakness. It is power. Ask yourself and those around you. How are you melting with others? Are you creating spaces and proximity for others in your day to day work? Lastly, acknowledgment and recognition of disparities or inequities is not enough. Action is absolutely required, and that's a wrap for this episode. Many thanks to you for working with us. And until next time, keep it authentic. All day. Every day. Authentic 365 is brought to you by global communications firm Edelman.  

About the Speakers

Carlos Correcha-Price, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, eMed —

Carlos Correcha-Price is responsible for global communications, marketing and public affairs for eMed.   

Prior to joining eMed, Carlos served as United States CEO for one of Europe’s most prestigious strategic communications firms with oversight of U.S. market expansion, M&A strategy, and operations in Miami, New York and Washington, DC. Prior to his former role, Carlos had a decade and a half career with Edelman, the world’s largest communications firm where he held senior-level positions in Washington, D.C., São Paulo, Bogota and Miami.   

As a consultant, Carlos has advised dozens of fortune-500 C-suite executives on communications strategy, issue mitigation and crisis response; and has worked on award-winning programs for sovereign governments and corporations on image and reputation-building campaigns.   

Carlos is Member of the Board of Directors for Intrahealth International, Intrahealth Kenya, and a national Member of the Advisory Board for the Hispanic Public Relations Association of America.

Donald Knight, Chief People Officer, Greenhouse Software —

Donald Knight is Chief People Officer at Greenhouse Software. He leads with a people-first mentality hoping to unlock the potential of Greenhouse talent globally. With a laser focus on the connection between people and the processes that serve them, Donald and his team create proximity by building bridges focusing on enhanced experiences that nurture culture and develop people.

In his role leading the People team, Donald works to help Greenhouse create an environment for people to do the best work of their lives. He is responsible for providing global strategy and leadership in developing, overseeing, and administering people programs. With expansion top of mind, the team delivers a scalable people strategy that enables the organization to expand globally. Before Greenhouse, Donald served as Senior Vice President of Global Talent for Edelman. He helped shape the HR brand as a proactive, insightful, and collaborative solution provider in this role. Donald has held numerous senior leadership roles for Southern Company Gas, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), and the Defense Commissary Agency. A native of Virginia, Donald holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in human resource management from the University of Richmond. Donald is also a graduate of the project leadership program at the engineering school of Cornell University for business executives. He and his family reside in the Greater Atlanta area.

Janaye Ingram, Director, Community Partner Programs & Engagement, Airbnb —

Janaye Ingram has spent her career empowering people and creating change for marginalized communities. She has engaged communities throughout the United States and internationally on issues like civil rights, voting rights & democracy, health care, education, economic empowerment, women's rights and activism. Her professional experiences in corporate community engagement, grassroots organizing and advocacy, fundraising, program design, government relations and organizational communications have allowed her to interact with the many facets of addressing complex societal problems.

Through her work, she has become a sought after speaker and media commentator and has been the recipient of various awards and honors for her work. But most importantly, she has found ways to inspire others to create change and take action.

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel, Gowling WLG partner —

Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel is a Toronto-based Gowling WLG partner specializing in trademark prosecution, strategic global trademark portfolio management, trademark litigation and transactional intellectual property work.

Given the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2018, Natalie has also developed a niche practice at Gowling WLG in the cannabis sector. She assists Canadian cannabis clients in developing brand strategies and with their manufacturing and licensing transactions. She also serves on INTA’s Emerging Issues committee as Chair of the Cannabis subcommittee.

Natalie is active in D&I initiatives inside and outside her firm. She is a member of Gowling WLG’s Toronto Anti-Racism Action Committee (TARAC), focusing on recruitment and retention initiatives. She is also leading Gowling WLG’s first ever Black Undergraduate Law Internship Program for 2022, called “Avenue”, with a goal of helping Black undergraduate students in Canada gain real-world experience in the legal industry. Outside of her Gowling WLG activities, Natalie co-founded the Middle Eastern Canadian Women Lawyers Network and started a LinkedIn newsletter with two of her colleagues called Taking Up Space.

Natalie was most recently ranked in World Trademark Review 1000 (2022), Best Lawyers in Canada (2022), the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory (2022) for Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Litigation, and the 2021 edition of Legal 500 Canada (Cannabis).

Delicia Tan, Managing Director of Client Innovation and Growth, Edelman —

Delicia Tan is the Managing Director of Client Innovation and Growth.  She also leads the 30-strong Reputation Practice at Edelman Singapore.

With more than 20 years of integrated marketing communications experience across the Asia Pacific region, Delicia is a Senior Client Strategist for key regional and global clients based in Singapore.  She is also Edelman’s APAC Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Outside of the office, she’s a supporter of the Arts, ally of the LGBTQ+ community, wife, daughter and cat mom.

Dani Jackson, VP, Influencer and Multicultural Marketing, Edelman —

Made in Chicago and matured in New York City, Dani Jackson is a multi-faceted cultural enthusiast and storyteller that is obsessed with curating spaces that build community. As a VP of Influence, Dani takes a people first approach to developing strategies and partnerships that connect brands with the core values of the communities that they seek to serve. With over a decade in the industry, she harnesses her experience in production, multicultural marketing and DE&I to provide clients with top-notch counsel.

Dani has been recognized for her leadership, winning the ADCOLOR 2021 Rockstar Award and the Chicago Ad Federation Rising Star Award. Outside of the office Dani is a filmmaker and works with diverse artists committed to making a difference in society through her endeavor, The Cre8tors.