July 29, 2020

Listening, Learning & Acting in the Way of a Change-maker with Erica Courdae 

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Listening, Learning & Acting in the Way of a Change-maker with Erica Courdae 

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We talk a lot about speaking around here.

Crafting your talk, building an audience, connecting with an audience, speaking from live stages, live streams, cameras… the list goes on. 

It’s clear (at least I hope) that I’m passionate about helping online entrepreneurs use their voices to make a meaningful impact.

I had a lightbulb moment last month after a discussion with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant Erica Courdae, when I realized that I needed to better define the word “audience” when talking about speaking.

When picturing an audience, you most likely imagine a one-sided conversation. A microphone, maybe even a podium or a camera, separating us (the speaker) from them (the crowd). 

Us and them.

This separation happens beyond the stage. 

And while it’s true that one way conversations are at times necessary in business and life, today I want you to consider shifting away from one sided conversations to creating inclusive communities.

What if we joined or started conversations instead of delivering speeches?

What if we put more intention behind listening, learning and creating a safe place for others to do the same?

OK, this might be a little deep if you’re just here to learn how to book a speaking gig, but genuinely, I hope you’re open to this conversation because you are more than just a voice on a stage.

I want you to use your voice. I want you to give phenomenal speeches.

But I also want you to see the potential you have to make an even bigger impact.

As you level up in your online business journey, consider this:

“How will you listen, and learn and act in a different way to actually be a changemaker?” – Erica Courdae

Being a changemaker in 2020 includes having the courage to have conversations about racial injustice and stand for creating inclusive communities.

If you’re here for that, then you’ll enjoy my interview with Erica Courdae where we cover a variety of topics, including:

  • The role of values in business and the conversation on diversity
  • Why one sided conversations don’t serve you (or your audience)
  • What exactly is tokenism and are you unintentionally using it?
  • Black out Tuesday is over, now what?
  • Should you be changing your website graphics, slide decks and social media feeds to showcase diversity?
  • Why “should you* questions are really the wrong kind of questions
  • What lessons can we learn from influencer missteps these last few months?
  • Calling out shame in the conversation

Episode Show Notes

Where do values fit into the conversation?

(16:52) There’s a space of what is it for your business or your brand, and what is it for you as an individual? Because I think that what can happen is we can conflate the two partially. It’s just the fact that we can over identify with our business in a way that is not necessarily healthy, but then there’s also this space of it’s all the same and that can end up being a way to negate actually identifying what it is explicitly and stating that…

I think it’s important to be able to identify what are your values, what are the values of your brand, which is going to inform everything that you do, who works with you, who you employ, etc.

Importance of being clear in what you stand for (ie your values)

(20:29) This fear of how you’ll be perceived by others, like there were so many weird things to navigate and a lot of it comes back to these and could be avoidable if you are really clear around what you stand for, and you’re bringing that into your brand.

How do you bring your personal beliefs and your business brand together? Is there a need to separate certain issues or are there certain values that have to be infused in order for you to be authentic?

(23:57) Whatever it is, that is the cornerstone of what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. It needs to be said clearly, plainly and straight to the point. People shouldn’t have to guess what you support. People shouldn’t have to guess if they’re going to be represented in what you provide. 

In getting stuck with the labeling..

(29:22) We get so caught up in labeling and the words we use and the marketing messages, but really it comes down to the action. I like how you put that around, can you actually visualize what actions you are taking to make that value come to life? 

What’s necessary in creating a community?

(36:18) It’s important to really value and share what it is to create community. When people listen to you, appreciate them giving you that space in their time. When people want you to share your particular way of doing things and processing things, and they are listening and wanting to have that conduit activated with you, that’s a gift.

You want to be able to show a certain amount of reciprocity and appreciation by listening and participating. And that’s, what’s so important and necessary with creating community, as opposed to the one way communication of an audience. 

When it comes around hearing feedback from other people that you’ve missed the mark, how do you handle this with grace?

(42:14) Stop talking and listen. There is a point to where more people need to understand that because when you have a misstep or a transgression and you’re determined to double down on it in order to, Oh no, that’s not who I am, and I don’t want you to think that that’s what I do, or you don’t know me or ‘insert centering comment here’ that is effectively victim shaming and trying to absolve yourself of any responsibility whatsoever.

Let alone taking ownership to actually then make amends, you know, and allow that acknowledgement to be there, to then figure out what do I need to learn to go forward that I will do for myself not to require someone else to do that emotional labor for you, but none of that can happen for you to be able to go through that process and then understand that I can continue from here, and that this moment does not have to define me if I don’t make it have to be that.

In talking about tokenism in the online space and changing for the right reasons

(50:01) When we think of tokenism, the easiest way to conceptualize it, when it comes to online small businesses, or entrepreneurs, or speakers is the concept of having an online parking lot. That is your website, your social media and all of a sudden you realize, wait, all the cars here are white. I’m going to put a black car in there and we’re good.

And it’s like, but why, I don’t know why this is here. The challenge comes up when it is this ancillary thing that is just floating. It’s not attached to anything, it’s not tethered or grounded in anything and there’s no actual purpose as to why it’s there.

When you decide to shift your imagery or any of your messaging, whether it’s visual or verbal, the talks that you’re having, you can’t pop a black character or a gay character in here. That’s not how that works because what’s the context to the story?

What is the context of the services that you offer, who you work with on the internal side of your brand, who is it that you give your money to as an entrepreneur, the coaches or other pieces of your supply chain that you’re actually fueling with your funds? Who is it that you serve as your client base?

If there is no diversity in skin color, age, any other type of demographic or societal indicators, you can’t all of a sudden pop in [a photo] and think that that fixes the challenge.

It starts by saying, if this is what I want to change, is this what I want to change first? And if so, why?

What does it look like to begin to evolve your ethics and integrate them into everything else that you do from implicit to explicit and your responsibility to be able to do the work?

57:36 I think that doing that in more of a slow burn is better. If everything changes overnight, you can also put people in shock. They’re like, wait, I don’t even know where I am. There’s this place of being able to allow people to see your evolution and to have a front row seat in it, because then they buy into who you are and how you operate and they can possibly see themselves as a recipient of what you provide in your message and the space that you hold…It’s very different than I’m gonna change everything and then you’re going to show up and then in three weeks, you’re going to be like, Oh, hell, I don’t know who this person is. Now I need my money back. I can’t do this. This is terrible, like don’t do the bait and switch. 

Get the full episode transcript here.

To learn more about Erica and the work she and her team do, visit: 


Connect with Erica on Instagram

Listen to her podcast: Pause On The Play Podcast

Check out her interview on Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast Episode with Amy Porterfield – Ep # 318 Becoming an Imperfect Ally with Erica Courdae

About Erica Courdae

Erica Courdae has dedicated her life to expanding how others interact with the world through powerful conversations. As an entrepreneur + certified coach her work is frequently focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), imperfect allyship, and imposter syndrome. This work has taken her across the country onto stages and into communities as a key speaker and educator. Erica also has a podcast that features open conversation and dialogue on the topics of her work and more, Pause on the Play. Her support and leadership facilitates engaged conversations within 6 figure communities, international podcasts, and live events to connect people and create change. 

When asked about her “It Factor” Erica shared:

“The way that I approach DEI work and anti-racism work is not based in shame. I don’t think that everyone bases it on shame, but I think often the way that people process having to do this work is about I’m going to feel like a terrible human when I start this.

You can receive awareness and process feelings. Understand that any shame that you might feel comes from the attention that you need to give to something, but it is not because someone cracked the whip on you and put their leather boot on your neck as a diversity dominatrix and told you you’re a terrible white person and you need to fix yourself. I don’t tend to do that. And I think that it is possible to shift without having to have someone employ you based on them shaming you.”

The way Erica approaches community building and creating inclusive communities is through being explicit with your values. She and her business partner have a workshop coming up in September that I highly recommend (I attended the July session and it was extremely helpful).

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