In two back-to-back episodes of the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, two highly successful businesswomen of color (Ash Prasad and Joy Fowler) described workplaces where they did not feel safe and did not feel they would be accepted as themselves. And it broke my heart. Why do workplaces have to be so toxic and cutthroat?

News flash! They don’t have to be! It’s not that complicated to create an organization that values and centers kindness, but you have to be deliberate about it. In this article I outline eight ways to do that.

In the past couple of months, I’ve interviewed more fascinating people on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast:

  • Dr. Kris Gowen grieved her best friend's death by singing karaoke in every U.S. state. Kris is not only on the U.S. national karaoke team, but she is also a sex educator. We talked about friendship, grief, and sex! Read more here.

  • Stephanie Coren has survived more abuse, trauma, and health issues than anyone should endure...she consoled herself with drugs and alcohol before therapy, hospitalization, and recovery saved her life the first time. Read more here.

  • Katrina Nilsson-Gorman found healing in the forest after experiencing multiple traumas, including being raped in India. She found healing in the forest and now helps others become restored by connecting to the land as a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Read more here.

  • Annette Stixrud has spent her life serving and advocating for those without a voice. I enjoyed her stories about becoming an independent woman, facing down "the man" over and over again, traveling and living in many countries, and meeting Mother Teresa. Read more here.

  • Ash Prasad, inclusion advocate and author of How to Write Inclusively, and I talked about how to create more equitable and welcoming workspaces, in addition to how to create inclusive shows and movies. Read more here.

  • Joy Fowler’s young son Amir passed away in 2012, and she and her husband Allen founded a foundation for special needs children in his honor. We talked about diversity and inclusion and working in finance as a Black woman from New York. Read more here.

  • Jasnam Daya Singh, Brazilian immigrant, Sikh, and concert and jazz pianist and brilliant composer, shared his immigrant story and why he chose to become a Sikh. Read more here.

My friend Charles Jackson II, who interviewed me back in July and who I interviewed in September for my “Three Men of Color, Redefining Fatherhood” series, interviewed me again for his new “Race Talks, Uncut” show.

Befriending Charles and so many other amazing people from afar through podcasting and business building has been one of the gifts of the pandemic for me. Although we are very different, we share the same views of the world and the same values. Another interesting thing is he works for Jacobs, the company that acquired my employer of 28 years!

Given the fraught history of white women and Black men, I feel grateful and honored to call Charles my dear friend and have these coast-to-coast conversations, discussing race, racism, policing, parenting, Portland protests, representation, and dealing with racism in the workplace.

Charles is working on a book, Low Down Good for Nothing: An Uncensored Account of the Black Man in America, and I’m very much looking forward to buying and reading it!

In October, I had a great conversation with Amy Waterman of Your Brilliance about anti-racism and communication at work. I've been writing and speaking about racism and social justice more than ever in the last several months. As a small business owner, I feel a freedom to express what's on my heart now that I never felt when I was working for a company. I want to attract clients who share my social responsibility values.

I offered practical tips and tools for companies and individuals to think before we speak, move corporate social responsibility from policy to action, promote anti-racism at work, solicit feedback, and constructively deal with the inevitable missteps. You can watch the video here.

Coming in January, I'm launching a series of video courses about demystifying LinkedIn. Stay tuned for more information in the next month!

I haven't hugged my parents for nine months, and I've hugged my adult son only once during that period. As we enter the holiday season, this pandemic is growing more difficult by the day. What steps are you taking to care for your heart and soul?

Not long after the pandemic halted all my extrovert-loving activities, I created a plan to help those of us who are struggling. I'm sharing it again now as we enter the holiday season. By taking a few simple steps each day, it can help improve our overall outlook and get us through the next several months until the world can open up again.

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