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EP 05: Amplifying Black Voices in L&D, Finding Community, and Work-Life Balance
Episode 530th April 2024 • Learning Matters • ttcInnovations
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In this episode, join us as we chat with Mallori Steele, an Instructional Designer, entrepreneur, and community builder. Mallori shares her journey into Learning & Development (L&D) while living abroad, juggling motherhood and a quest for remote work. She discusses the importance of setting boundaries and self-care as a working mom.

Inspired by her experiences, Mallori founded the Badass Moms community, offering support and empowerment to mothers. She also sheds light on the need for diversity in L&D through initiatives like Black in L&D, promoting visibility for Black professionals and driving change.

Tune in for insights on taking risks, pursuing passions, and finding community in the L&D world. Whether you're new to the field or a seasoned pro, Mallori's wisdom will inspire your journey in Learning & Development.


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Welcome back to the Learning Matters podcast. I'm your host, Doug Wooldridge. We have a very exciting show today. We're joined by Mallory Steele. She's an instructional designer, entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Growductive Consulting, founder of Black in L &D, a professional community supporting and connecting over 4 ,000 black professionals in the talent, training and learning and development industry.

as well as founding the Learning Exchange that provides a nurturing space for first -time black speakers to foster their ability to take on the industry speaking circuit. She's going to walk us through how she got into the world of learning and development and talk about her newest event, the Badass Moms event that's coming up May 9th, a tribute to moms offering a space to connect, learn from inspiring women, and find your community. Let's get to the interview.

Thank you so much for joining the podcast with us today, Mallory, to start things off. How did you end up in L &D? And more importantly, how did you do it while living abroad? My story is so random and like non -traditional, I would say, but I thought about L &D for a while. I knew a lot of people in the space when I lived in Abu Dhabi, actually. And...

I didn't quite understand what they did. I knew that they were in the space house and I knew I was interested in their work. But at the time they're like, you know, you've been needed to agree to go back to school. My undergrad is in business. And so they're like, yeah, indeed. It's not going to work basically. And I just thought about it off and on. And then I was in Turkey. We ended up moving to Turkey and I was like, you know what? I'm just going to figure it out. Like how hard can it be? And I know to all the, all the long -term,

highly educated L &D professionals. This is no disrespect to you at all because I have so much respect for you guys, but that was my approach at the time. That's just how I am in general. Like how are I going to be out there? So I put my youngest son in Turkish daycare and he was the only little non -Turkish person there. And they loved it. He loved it. And I just started studying. I just studied. I watched a lot of videos. I read a lot.

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And it was incredibly overwhelming, but I just, I just dived in. I was like, I, I had the blessing at the time to not have to work and learn a new profession. Right. So that's a caveat. Like it's different for a lot of people. I also had the time my husband who was working, so I didn't have to bring any money at the time. So it was a very comfortable, safe space to say, let me just try to try this. And so that's what I did. And.

Um, yeah, just slowly but surely it worked out. I'm going to be honest. I'm so surprised that you've only been in L and D for a couple of years because, uh, when I was working for the talent acquisition team for TTC, I review a lot of portfolios and your portfolio absolutely blew me away. Um, yeah. So some of our listeners are just getting into the L and D space and are there any classes that you could suggest to them or maybe, uh,

courses or YouTube videos or anything like that that you could suggest? Yeah. You know, it's funny whenever people ask about resources, I'm always slightly hesitant because it always, it always translates to in my DOS, I see for like more specific. So I'm like, listen, I don't really draw the videos I watch. I will say at the time we were on one income and a very, very minimal income at the time.

moving to turkey was a pretty much a fifty percent cut of uh... that my excellent salary uh... because it was the opportunity opportunity outweigh the right income so i think that to say there was no money yeah but i think that they are very minimal money to like spend on things i do uh... uh... i'd definitely talk and i'll say that i'm not affiliated i did not receive any from from that but i took i don't force the academy yeah and for me

hort, cohort two, this was in:

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kind of took a liking to me and she's like, okay, you're good at this. Like you're good at that. Like you've never done it. So I was like, I've never done it. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm like, I just keep researching. I obviously take the course and the content from her course, but I also would like supplement with a bunch of other stuff. And to be honest with you, Doug, I never finished the course, right? It's like the time was like like time membership. And every time I felt like I was learning, I got fixated on one area and that didn't finish. And so I would go back and I would take.

go back to it when I needed it. So I never, in general, I never go through anything straight. I'm one of those people where I'm like, I'll open up direction psyche and I'll just skip to the part. Cause I feel like I need to know. I'm not looking step by step. I'm like, I feel like I know how to do the first 10 steps. How do I do this next, you know, 11, 12, 15. So, but Robin was like, do you want this offer? Do you want this job? Do you want, can you do this project? It was very, very low paying at the time. Very low paying.

And I said yes to everything. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I said yes. Yes. Yes. Like it didn't matter that could the money because I was like I'm just here to learn. And so honestly I feel like that was a benefit where I just learned everything because I was just hungry to learn everything. But most of myself I think I took a few like very cheap courses from you to me on instructional design. I at the time there wasn't as many YouTube videos. There's a lot more now. There's so much on now.

I think I read a lot of blogs. I can't I think what's interesting is so many different companies have like restructured or changed names. And so I don't know what's out there now. But because I haven't been looking, but I read a lot of blogs. And I want to say articulate had like an open blog, if you didn't have an account, you could still like read their blog. So I don't know how helpful it is. But that was my approach. I just

When I needed to know something, that's when I would look at it. I didn't do it like a succinct way. No, I think that's incredibly helpful because two things, not everyone takes courses the same way. And I think the beauty of the way that you took courses and really structured the beginning of your career for this is that you did things basically like learning in time, the time that you needed it, you learned it, you applied it. And really the main focus is that,

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you took opportunities when they came knocking. And I think that's a huge thing for folks that are just getting into this industry who may be coming from like higher education, maybe government side of things, not quite in that corporate spectrum, but just jumping into the deep end and seeing what happens is really going to make or break your career in this industry. So thank you for that. What, what was it like?

making the transition back from living abroad for several, several years to the states, especially during COVID. Yeah, the people who kind of know me or know of me, they know the living abroad story. I talk about it a lot. And I talk about it a lot because it has impacted so much of my worldview. It's impacted so much of how I just my experience. Like I am. I don't know a lot of things about living in America as an adult.

You're seeing that to learn the hard way. Like you have to renew your tags every year. I was like, oh, I got pulled over. Like, what are you doing? I was like, I thought it was automatic. Why do we have to do this? Just send me the new ones. Yeah, that's what I thought happened. I thought they just send it. I thought it was automatic. OK, so there's just things. I've been I laugh at myself because they're like, well, you're like, I obviously sound American. I obviously am now 40 years old. So you're a full grown woman. You should know.

What did you do with your tag? But the transition was more so initially just concerned with my kids, to be honest. Like it was like, I'll be fine. I've obviously lived here. I was born and raised in Cali, but my kids were born abroad and lived abroad. And so I don't know if I took the time to think about how I was transitioning and like how I was doing. But from the intent of getting into instructional design, which was like, I needed John.

that I can do remotely. I need a role I can do kind of on time and I need to freelance. And that was my focus and that's why I got back into, well that's why I decided to go into social design. Being an expat, especially what they call a trailing spouse living abroad. So you're there because your spouse has a contract. It's very hard to get jobs. It's very hard to get a job as a trailing spouse. And so that was kind of part of it. Like, okay, well, even if I do get a job, we're gonna eventually leave and go somewhere else. So.

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For that reason, it was like, I'm just going to freelance. And that was the focus. COVID hitting and having to come back to the States was a very wild story, the whole thing that happened. But coming back and saying, OK, do I get a job or do I keep freelancing? Because it was working. But it was different because our rent was covered abroad. There's things that's covered abroad. And coming back, it's like, oh, no, there's bills to pay. There's significant bills to pay.

Um, and lovely United States of America. So surprisingly to me, my business just kept doing really well. So I feel like, I don't know, Doug, there was no one or two things of how I transition. I feel like I, no one, life is happening. I think everybody dealt with COVID, right? Life is happening. This is, this is our new reality. Like just roll with it. Um, and I don't think, I think now people are probably.

and saying, am I okay? Am I okay after? Did I really make it out of here? Okay. No, are we good? Unfortunately for me, in that same timeframe, I went through a divorce and all that stuff happened, but there's always so much happening that I feel like I wasn't as mindful during the time to be able to give a good answer. How did I deal with this? No, it sounds like a massive whirlwind. A lot of folks are just -

focusing on their sourdough starter. This sounds a little more intense than that. No, I guess there's definitely no like just I'm going to learn to cook or I'm going to learn to like do pilates. It was like a major transition. Major transition. And speaking of transitions, how did you go from being like full -time mom to being a full -time mom who also has to work a full -time job? Yeah.

So I give so much credit to moms in general. I just feel like from the moms who work through their pregnancies, I didn't do that. I don't know how you guys do it. I have so much respect and I want everyone who is not pregnant, have never been pregnant to just be sensitive to pregnant women at work. I don't know how they do it, but the blessing in disguise.

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of a divorce is that we co -parent. So I have my kids every other week. And so I can't say I'm similar to other moms who have their kids full -time and they went from full -time home or whatever it is to full -time working mom and the motherhood duties never end. So it's a little bit different for me because I have a very busy, busy week and then it calms down and I get to recover. And then...

I then have a week later another busy week with my kids. So I feel like I've, it's been trial and error. I feel like I've done things in some grace. I think I've, my kids have given me a lot of grace, but the working from home is the biggest benefit to me. Like the idea of going into work as a single mom, and this is just like a little plug to anybody listening who has control over remote work is like, let the people work.

home. Yes, yes. Not everyone wants to and that's I get it. It's fine. They want to be they love the the energy of an office, right? The the buzz of it. The relationship building all that. I enjoy that too, to an extent, but having the benefit to say, my kid is sick. Yeah. And I don't have to figure something out. And I don't have to, you know, go to the doctor to get a doctor's note when I'm like, they just need to rest. And now they're worse because we're in a freaking hospital. Right. Sure.

You know, it's like those small things of like, it just being able to like pop in and do some laundry, you know, push the laundry over or like throw something, you know, in the oven and just, it's very helpful to be able to work from home. And I feel like that's a benefit to me of going from stay at home mom to full time working mom. But honestly, the biggest challenge is probably just my little, usually my youngest son, the little comments of like, you're always working, you're always on your computer.

And that's the downside of working from home because that's what it looks like, especially during the summer. Right. It looked like you're always on your computer. I'm like, actually, I just want to just longed on, but you want a smoothie. So because of that, that you're complaining. So, yeah, I feel like I want to give you better answers, Doug. But honestly, that's that's the truth of it. It's I don't have it as hard as a lot of moms because I don't have my kids full time. And so it gives a little bit of a break. Well, that's

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segues perfectly into a little community question that we have from one of our Learning Matters listeners is, what do you do to get away from the craziness of work? So is there any advice that you can give to our listeners on how to keep a balance, try to keep a balance of that personal time and that work time when you're trying to run a business, when you're trying to schedule events and do all these massive things? So I'll say, I think I have very good boundaries.

because I only have a certain amount of energy and then I'm done. Love it. Yes. Yeah, I only have a certain amount where I'm creative and I'm excited and I enjoy it. And then when I'm, when it's gone, like you can't fake it, you can't force it. And so I'm like, I'll just be done and I'll go for a walk or I'll do whatever. What I, where I struggle is that, and I think a lot of moms feel this way. And there's a turn for it. I saw on TikTok last year where you just kind of like, it's not, it's,

It's not do a scrolling, but it's something scrolling where you're just, you're just there. You're not really, you're not really classically looking into your mind and stuff, but you're just like going through the motions. Yes. And so I, where I struggle is that as far as like, I can, I can have the boundaries work is not an issue. I can stop work and I'll get to this later. I'm one of those people I can get, I can get back online late at night if I need to.

To give myself a break or I can wake up early. So I don't have an issues with like that Balancing the balance balancing the boundaries of work when I take the time away. It's like to do things that's actually Mentally emotionally physically healthy versus like I just want to lay here. Yeah. Yeah, just want to do nothing and I think As a mom like we wouldn't tell our kids that it's like okay go get up you do something be pretty yeah, I go to the

But I'm like, I'm not doing that. I just, I just want to do that thing. I want to hear nothing. I want to see that do nothing. And so that's where I'm like, I want to give back, especially in the winter Doug. Oh my gosh. Don't ask me to go anywhere. Um, right. So I want to do better at saying, okay, I am having this time to myself. I have the balance, but what am I actually doing with it? And you know, listen, you guys tell me your tips. These are the things I would love to say, Oh, I'm going to, I'm going to take a pottery class, but the idea of committing myself to these things.

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on a day that I'm like, I actually don't want to do, I don't want to drive anywhere. I just want to cuddle up in a blanket with a little space here and watch Netflix. So, but also I think that's okay too. So I've given myself in this season to say, that's fine. Like if I want to do absolutely nothing, then I'm going to do absolutely nothing. And I apologize. And I think that's so important to be true to your actual feelings, what you want to do and do what you want to do.

And that way when you get back into the work, you do feel refreshed. You feel like, all right, I had my time to relax and wind. Now I can get back to the craziness that is life. I want you to tell me a little bit about Badass Moms. So what drove you to creating this gathering or this event for Badass Moms? You know, it's a combination of

feeling like I was a bad mom or feeling like that was implied to me in so many different ways. One, post divorce, right? It's like, okay, your divorce is hard in general. So anybody would send me an email like, yeah, it's hard. And it wasn't dramatic, there's nothing crazy, but it's hard and it's hard on kids and there's a lot of guilt there. And that's kind of followed me. And then obviously being a working mom or busy, there's like this guilt that just tries to come in.

But at the same time, I was like, well, yeah, I am. Like I am a bad mom. And then I was like, I am a badass mom. And like, because I do this, and I do this, and I do this, and I'm present for my kids. And I was feeling like I was off and on a bad mom. And so I obviously know a lot of other moms feel this way as well. And I was thinking, I was like, I really want to stick it together as moms and just talk and have conversations and as working moms to have that space.

And I was coming off the end of the learning exchange and I was like, I'm not going to do it maybe next year. And I just couldn't shake the feeling. I couldn't shake like, no, this is a year. Nothing is really done on a professional level for Mother's Day other than Mother's Day, right? To the moms. There's nothing specific to us. And I was like, okay. And I'm also a solutionist. So if something isn't there, or if I have an idea, then I'm like, well, I'll just do it.

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Right. I'm not I'm not quite someone that waits for other people to like, oh, somebody else to do it. I'm like, no, I'll do that. And so that's what this is. I just I wanted to have a space for moms, all kinds of moms, and to be able to come and have conversations about things that impact us, that we care about, that we may struggle with, and really for it to be an inspiration, because I'm a collector of stories. Somebody you appraise, and I love it. And I enjoy stories. And I feel like that's where.

I feel like I have been impacted the most where I don't have heroes or like key mentors per se, but I have a lot of people's stories that impacted me like the small in the smallest ways. And I feel like the more we share our stories, the more we share experiences, the highs, lows, good, bad. It helps people. And so I'm hoping from for moms and obviously people who aren't moms as well, but that's what it does is that it encourages and inspires people. You hopefully build a network or meet.

at least a couple of new people. And so, yeah, that was kind of, it's a multiple reasons, but I was like, okay, Mother's Day is a great time to do it. I was thinking about doing it in general, but I was like, okay, Mother's Day is a great excuse. And it seems like with social media platforms, we have all this access to the outside world, outside of our homes, but the true sense of community.

is lacking from there. So I think these type of events can really make that community possible, which is kind of what I think you're touching on there. Is that what drives you into putting these things together? Is it, and spending the unbelievable amount of hours into making these things a reality? Yeah, you know, I am incredibly community based. I always happen. It's just part of my core values. I don't think I could get rid of it if I tried. As much as there's times where I'm like, ugh.

You know, just worry about yourself, Mallory. I'm like, but the community. So it's just in my nature. And so I do feel like while social media is incredibly helpful, LinkedIn, I'm a LinkedIn girlie. That's where I'm at. I'm not really on other platforms right now, at least for this year. And so I feel like while LinkedIn is great, it's not really community based, even if you're in groups.

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and people tend to stick with who they know, right? Stick with who you know. And the space where, especially the way we're doing it is that it's an opportunity to meet other people, to engage with other people, and without worrying about are they gonna accept my connection, do we have to set up an individual coffee meeting? You know, it's just this, it's a different space to have community and have community however you want, right? I think that's important to say because,

Some people want to get together, they want to continue in person or continue to get together virtually. Some people want to have that person that they bounce ideas off with or those group of people. And other people just want to have people they know that if something comes up, they have connections with people they could talk to about issues or topics or concerns or work or whatever. And so the way you do community, I don't think is...

matters, right? So we're not dictating how you do community, but having the opportunity and the space to build community, I think is lacking in a way where you don't have to be so pinned up and so professional. Yeah. And, you know, like, you know, you're representing your company, like at conferences, there's certain highs where you kind of feel like, okay, I have to put on to an extent because of my title or my role or how people see me. And yeah, that may still be obviously the case. We know where you work, we know who you are, but

This type of community base ideally is meant to be more laid back and more authentic. At least that's my hope. Okay. And with that, I think it allows for better conversations, more truthful conversations, less guarded conversations. Yeah. Yes. For those of us who aren't badass moms, but we want to support the badass moms in our life and we want to learn from their expertise too. Are we allowed into this?

event or how do we support? Yes, it's funny because I'm like if you have a mama then you should be attending badass mom. Yeah, the registration is free with an option to pay so it's lovely if you if you pay into support but it's free right and so come like come register we're gonna do early registration or early access meaning not registering early access meaning you can join and like log in.

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Monday the 6th of May, although the event is not till the 9th of May. So it gives you some time to like go through some profiles and see who's attending and stuff like that. You can also like network beforehand. You can schedule meetings on there and like DM people. There's a lot you can kind of do before. And so the part for people who are not badass moms, you can still get so much out of it. We're talking about boundaries, we're talking about mindfulness, we're talking about entrepreneurship.

We're talking about some human design stuff. So there's a mix of topics and conversations. I will say this is not an L &D focused event at all. While there's a lot of L &D professionals, it's not an L &D for those who's like L &D, obviously, or if you're on this podcast, you know, but learning and development, because some people always think labor and delivery. So learn development, L &D. And yeah, I feel like it's...

It's meant to benefit moms, but if you're not a mom, I strongly believe it'll benefit you. And I feel like people need to listen to moms more. Yes. Anyways, it's, well. Mom knows best. Mom knows best. I always say that. I quote from the movie Tangle, even though she was not a good mom, but I quote from the movie Tangle to my kids, mother knows best, like all the time. Because, you know, I'm like, we do, we have this, you know, just intuition and we know, we don't know everything, but you know, we know.

I'll say that the entire event are all panels. And so that's something that's a little bit unique from what I've done in the past from organizing. And it's all panels intentionally because you get to hear multiple voices versus just having a presentation or having like a fireside chat. It's, I tried my best for diversity because I, it's part of, again, my core value, I value it. It's important to me. So it's diverse voices, experiences, backgrounds, opinions. And so, but it's all panels.

So just sharing that part. And then the final thing I'll say real quick is that if you can't make it on the ninth, right? You're like, oh, I can't make it. I'm booked out. I'm meeting some traveling, whatever it is. You'll have a month of replays. So you can go back for until June 9th and watch any of the videos. You can rewatch them. Very cool. Yeah, you'll have access. So we want you to have that. As long as you're registered before May 9th, you will have replay options. Gotcha.

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Yeah. And as someone who has helped more like struggled to produce like a virtual summit type of thing, can you tell me a little bit about Air Meet and why you decided to use this platform as opposed to other ones? Yeah, I'm so curious about the struggle part, Doug. But Air Meet, the first time I did a virtual event was the Learning Exchange in 2021. And I want to say I use Teams.


And yeah, anyway, so I just had to think back for a minute. I'd want to say I use Teams, which wasn't bad, but does not provide the community networking experience. Air Meet, well, you know, this is not paid at or anything like that. I really like Air Meet. I would love, Air Meet, if you would love to sponsor us or Mallory, hit us up. DMs are open.

Listen, they need you because I felt so many people ask me about Irrameet from doing events with them. So they have wonderful customer service. They have 24 hour customers, so the customer allowance service, which is nice. And they're incredibly responsive. And so for that reason alone, you're doing these type of virtual events and something is going wrong, but you can't get in touch with someone. It's an issue. I can't say anything has gone wrong, but it's just the fact that that's there.

So that's one. Two, depending on what tier you sign up for, Air Meet is great for my experience because we have speed networking options, right? So if you opt into speed networking, it'll connect you one -on -one with someone. There's a Fluid space that we have. So I'm also plugging Badass Mom. So we're going to have speed networking. We're going to have a Fluid space. A Fluid space is very like everybody, whoever is in this Fluid space, you can kind of move around virtually. Cool. And I talked to

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people so you can't hear everybody at once but the closer you get to someone that is like oh I'm having a conversation very similar how your yeah if you're in a conference and you walk over to someone so that's the fluid space and we'll have that and then they have networking lounges so think of it like again if we're having a networking event at a restaurant and you're at a table you're at the bar and I want to go talk to you that I go sit at that table and so there's all these different tables you can create a table if you want to name it something you're right you're like oh

We want to have a TTC table. Great. Like you create the table and then if people want to come sit at your table and get on camera and, you know, open up their mic, they can engage with you. The profiles, right? Being you could put all your stuff, your bio, your links, all that jazzing, your profile, but also the fact that people can DM you and you'll, I can't say they'll see it, but they have an opportunity to see it, which is, is an opportunity case on LinkedIn, right? LinkedIn, you kind of go to people's other folder.

if you're not connected with them. So that's an opportunity where you can connect. There's like a feed of what's happening if people are commenting in the feed, very much like a Facebook. So there's all these different things that you can do. If there's certain sessions that you're interested in, you can click it, add it to your calendar, and it'll add to your personal calendar so you have that reminder. But Air Meet is great. I feel like it's a great platform that makes things easier to plan a virtual. There's still a lot of work to do.

But it's relatively seamless to where also the UX UI of it. Okay, that's the other part. The UX UI is great. There's some things that could be improved, but they're working on it. And it's very user friendly. It's very responsive and user friendly. You can be on it from your phone, from your iPad, desktop, whatever. So I'm a fan. I'm a fan. And I've looked at a couple of them, a couple of platforms.

I've demoed a couple, so I do like Ear Meets. It sounds like an incredibly exciting tool that does make it seem very much more in -depth, like you're actually there as opposed to just passively listening to speakers or whatnot or doing breakout rooms and things that are just very well -known in all industries, but not...

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Doesn't really have that personal value to it doesn't really have that community value to it So that's awesome. I do want to take a moment to talk about black and L &D The link will be in the description If our listeners haven't already gone to this, please go to black and L &D on YouTube while I think that there's a Lot of fortune 500 companies that have finally started to realize and recognize the importance in DE &I

There's an incredible amount of works to still be done on the individual level all the way up to the top of the ladder to make sure that the cultural, the cultural experience of a corporation is focused on bringing in the best possible talent, no matter the color of skin, gender, what part of the world they come from. How did black and L and D come to be and where can folks go to support? Yes. So I'll answer the second question first. So to support.

Follow black and L and D. You do not have to be black to follow us into kind of engage. So on LinkedIn, we're black and L and D, social media, Facebook, Instagram, although it's pretty quiet. We only really post when there's something happening. But you can always follow us black and L and D. So we, I started black and L and D, which started off as.

t you talked about, which was:

It was odd space to be in because it was so, I don't wanna say it was polarized, but it was just so incredibly devastating and traumatizing and then for a lot of black people re -traumatizing. And so anyways, as somebody knew in L &D at the time, I would ask some questions or, you know, I'm in all the groups cause I'm here to learn. And I just felt like there was this energy that kind of felt like I was.

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sisterly overlooked or dismissed or ignored. And I had this one in particular experience on LinkedIn on a post where without going through a whole long story, I was, people were commenting and like on my thread, but not actually answering me or talking to me or answering my question. And I was just like, Oh, this could be a gender thing. It could be a black thing. I don't know, but it kind of cat, it just, it made the space for me to say like, let's just have a space that's safe.

Because I can't be the only one that's feeling like this. And I just want to be able to ask questions. I want to grow. I want to learn. I don't want to feel like I'm asking a stupid question, you know, and, and I want to be able to be vulnerable, but what I don't, what I know, what I don't know. And so that's where black and structural designers started. And it started as a Facebook group and a LinkedIn group. And really the whole point was just to ask questions. It was like, I just have questions. I just want to know, you know, what to do, what do you do or how does this work? And it's turned into its own thing. It's turned into an incompletely.

awesome community. So now we eventually I renamed it to black and L and D because as you know, not everybody are a structural designer. Yeah. And my my my awareness at the time was like, yes, we are. That's what everyone does in this space. And so now it was like, okay, let's try to represent all of us. And so the black and L and D came about and slowly but surely come turning into a nonprofit. It's taken some time, but we know we're going to get there. And

Yeah, we are a community of black professionals that are in the training, learning and development, talent development space all around the world. That's some people kind of all over, which is awesome. Not as much. I'd love to grow more. But if you have a colleague who's black in this space, tell them, because not everybody knows about black and L and D. Some people are very, you know, careful about like, I don't want to, I don't want to give you all business like that, but no, get in my business. Like share. Like share.

Let people know this space exists, this community exists. There's obviously so many communities. It's not meant to replace. It's just meant to be an added one. It's only black people in the group, in the private group, but outside of that, you're more than welcome to engage with us. I think we're about over 4 ,000, over 5 ,000 members. That's awesome. So.

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Yeah, yeah, I feel like it's it felt like it's grown. It's been awesome. It's been it kind of just does its own thing now because all the people finding in and people coming in and people who answer questions and ask questions and share information and some companies will DME and they'll keep post this job and black and L and D. So that's kind of a direction we want to be able to go where you know sometimes you know what I've heard is like it's hard to find talent and it's like well not really it's there. Yeah you gotta look you gotta dig a little bit.

last, the learning exchange,:

So this around the same time,:

I was looking at which ones I wanted to go to when I was interested in, and I just started noticing there's not many minority speakers at all. Not just Black, just in general. There's not that many minorities. And then I started noticing it's the same people at different. Because I was like, OK, that's interesting. And so I was asking around, and what I was learning was that either people are just

too scared to apply, right, to submit a proposal because they feel like they're not going to be chosen or they have submitted and they're consistently defined. So I was like, well, let's just build it. All right. Like let's let's build a virtual conference and let's feature black speakers. And that was the learning exchange. That was the point. That was the purpose. And it started off very small and it's still small, but it started off very small. I think we had maybe five, six, seven sessions.

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And then I decided to do it again last, so I did in 2021. And then last year, 2023, 2023, it was to my surprise, such a great event. And anybody can attend a learning exchange, right? It's literally, it's a virtual conference that is featuring black speakers covering a variety of topics. The reason why this exists, right? I really want to share it for the people who are like, why does this exist? Is that one,

In order to submit proposals at other conferences, a lot of them you have to have speaking experience. And in order to have speaking experience, you have to be provided an opportunity to have speaking experience. So it's this catch 22, right? So the learning exchange, you get the speaking experience and you get a recorded video or record everything. So you have something with a link to, right? So that's one. Two, for people who are just really nervous and too scared to even apply for bigger conferences.

It's like, this is a nice little initial every way, okay? This is a nice space, all to get into you. And it also, you still have to go through a proposal process. You still go through the full process. It's just a very niche group. And then three, it provides opportunities to hear from black perspectives. And we do not have the same perspective. We care about a lot of things, right? You and I have very similar perspective about fighters. We're not just fighters.

But there are so many things when you in work and how you view training, how you view learning. We have different perspectives and I just strongly believe in having inclusive voices being heard. So this doesn't solve the problem in conferences, okay? But it provides another avenue to say, hey, here are some, your voices you should hear and your perspectives that have something to say. And hopefully it's...

trickles into a seeing more diversity and these larger conferences and L and D spaces. So that's incredible. And one of the reasons that we started this podcast was to truly talk to actual leaders, people on the vanguard within this industry or within just entrepreneurship in general. And Mallory, you are a true leader in this industry. So.

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Really thank you for bringing your insight to the podcast. And before I get you out of here, I got one last question for you. If you had one piece of advice for a bad -ass mother or anyone who's out there that's looking to get started in a new career or a business, what would that be?

Do it. Yeah. Yeah, I would think do it. I'm a big like what's the worst that could happen? The worst you could tell me is no or the worst that'll happen is you know, it doesn't work out and then you just kind of start over so do it And try to see if you can do it with minimal Financial input it's possible because they allow space for experimentation without feeling like there's this financial burden, right and so do it try it um,

I would say from a business perspective, right, from a consulting perspective, really connect with other people who are consultants. It doesn't matter how big or how small or what business it is, because that's a whole different beast, right? That's not as easy as a do it. But I do feel like people who want to change careers or get into another career, you can always go back to higher ed. You can always go back to teaching. You can always go back to dentistry or whatever it is that you're doing.

But if you want to try something else, do it. And I will say, I'm in that moment now where I'm like, OK, I think I really want to move into professional and personal development focus versus client work in the path. How do I do that? So I'm just trying to do it. I want to create these spaces. I want to create these opportunities. And then do it scared. Yeah, yeah. You heard it here from Mallory, folks. Change is scary.

but you're never gonna learn anything. You're never going to experience new experiences without just jumping into the deep end. So with that very poignant remark, I think we'll end this podcast here for now. Anytime that you want to come back on the podcast, you are very welcome. And I hope that the Badass Moms event is super successful. I know it will be. I'm definitely gonna be at least there to support.

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All the badass moms. I know Debbie Woldridge our CEO is gonna be one of the panelists Should be really fun. We'll have all the links and such in the description folks, please join up sign up Jump into the deep end Let's make some let's make some change happen. So thank you so much Mallory. This has been really fun Thank you for having me. That's it for this week's episode

If you're interested in joining and supporting the Badass Moms event, there will be a link in the description. As Mallory said, this event is free for all to join. And if you're able to give a donation, also in the description are links to Black and L &D, as well as the learning exchange. We as an L &D community need to come together to help foster and support growth within this industry by supporting everyone and giving voice to those groups that have been overlooked, maybe by the color of their skin,

where they come from or the gender that they ascribe to. After all, that's what makes a community, right? See you next time.




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