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What Inclusive, Diverse, & "Authentic" Content Can Look Like For Your Marketing with Alyssa Hall

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When Jen looked at her business hard in 2020, she saw a white woman talking primarily to white people.

Creating an anti-racist, inclusive, diverse community was a priority for Jen – but if you looked at her business, you’d NEVER have known that.

In 2021, Jen joined a 6-month coaching program on anti-racist leadership to examine her biases learn how to create more inclusive, diverse community.

What she learned was:

• inclusivity is a HUGE topic ranging BEYOND race & skin color –

• she wasn’t the only white woman afraid to say the wrong thing in her marketing & being cancelled

• doing this work made her question what’s “professional” and “authentic” anyway!

 

Creating more INCLUSIVE content in our marketing is a way to serve more people – obviously. But how do we do it WELL?

Today, Jen interviews anti-racist leadership coach Alyssa Hall about how we can begin thinking about inclusivity, diversity, authenticity, and professionalism in new ways…

In the conversation there are so many great examples, realistic ways to approach this in your own content marketing, and mind-shifts that will make you feel empowered rather than like “I’m doing it wrong” –

Which – honestly – is how Jen felt most of the time until she joined Alyssa’s program!

The work Jen did with Alyssa was personally life-changing, and we hope that this episode helps you uncover ways to be inclusive in your content marketing and beyond.

 

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Full Transcript

Jen Liddy  

I am really glad you're here today, because you may have had this thing happen to you with your marketing, or your content where you're like: I need to show up, and I need to be professional and I need to be authentic and I need to make sure I include everybody. You might not know how the eff to do that and you might be feeling like, what does it even mean to be professional? What if I don't show up with makeup on? What if I don't show up with my hair done? What if I don't show up with the most perfect outfit? What if I say something wrong?

These are some of the reasons that it is really hard for women to show up in social media, to show up in marketing, whatever they're doing, especially that we are being seen on video so much these days. Today, I'm really excited to introduce you to an expert in the field of anti racism and leadership. Her name is Alyssa Hall and Alyssa is an African American, Cuban woman. I worked with her personally in her program last year. I knew the entire time I was working with her that I really wanted to have this conversation on my podcast. We're going to talk about so much amazing, true, honest, no bullshit stuff. I'm gonna let her talk to you about who she is, and her expertise.

Alyssa, I hope that introduction did a little bit of justice to all of the work that you do, and how much you helped me personally, in my growth in trying to create a more inclusive, diverse, equitable business as a leader. Thank you for being here.

Alyssa Hall 

Thank you so much for having me. As Jen mentioned, a lot of my work really stems in anti racism and leadership and how both of those two things mesh together, and marketing and more so inclusive marketing, and like what Jen mentioned, being authentic, it's a really interesting thing that I feel like people don't realize falls into that bubble, when we're trying to understand what does it mean to have an anti racist business or an anti racist space?

There's a lot of internal mindset stuff that we have to get through in order to make our spaces diverse and safe and inclusive.

I'm just really excited for the conversation today.

Jen Liddy  

Part of me wants to ask you why it's so important to have a diverse and inclusive business.

I feel like in 2022, we shouldn't be having to have that. I also feel like if you're listening to this podcast, and you feel like, Oh, we're talking about anti racism today, so I'm going to click off and this isn't the podcast for you anyway.

Can you just talk about like, why are they talking about the why behind your work?

Alyssa Hall  

The main way that I think about my work is that a lot of us as business owners, when we think of the mission of our business, or even, it doesn't even have to be that grand. It could even just think about who it is that we want to serve, we're thinking about the transformation that we want them to have, we think about the way that we want our work to affect their lives.

What my work does is it expands who we're talking about, the way that we have been brought up in this society is to specifically look at White people as the default everyone else as other. Therefore, everyone has to come in and fit into our mold in order to do whatever it is that they need to do. The way that I do my work is sort of expanding that so that there is no other, there is no default. It's about bringing people in in an actual inclusive way, not just including them because of their fear, but including them in a way that is making sure that they feel psychologically safe, making sure that they're feeling heard and listened to. That sounds like a bunch of different levels. I hope that makes sense.

Jen Liddy

Can you talk about when people meet you for the first time or they seek you out for the first time? What are they struggling with in terms of creating inclusivity in their marketing and their content?

Alyssa Hall  

The big thing is how. Many people are just like, Okay, but how do I question  and a lot of times it's like, Oh, can we just do like a one off session, but can you tell me how I can do you have a workshop and you can tell me how and it's like, there are so many things that are involved in this conversation. It all comes from a good space. It's all like, I want to make sure that people know that I care that people know that I'm a safe space.

We first need to always break down what even is the safe space? Do you actually have a safe space or do you want to have a space, what are even the intentions behind the work too? There's so much stuff that gets broken down. The main reason why people come as well is okay, but please tell me how I'm lost, I'm confused and I want to do this, I just don't know where to start.

Jen Liddy

Right. I want to be inclusive. I want to have an anti racist business. I don't know how, so tell me how. When I started working in your program last year, which I believe last May, you can't get to the house until you break down a whole bunch of these foundational things.

Alyssa Hall  

Right

Jen Liddy

When we say inclusive business, what are we when we say inclusive marketing, when we say inclusive content? What is what comes to mind for you?

Alyssa Hall

What comes to mind? I’m laughing because I'm remembering specifically in our cohort when we first started talking about what inclusivity means. I use this example that I did not create. There was an example that Trudy LeBron created and I use it all the time, whenever I describe inclusivity, where she talks about when you invite a vegan to a barbecue, and if they come and there is no food that they can actually eat, are you being inclusive orr are you just looking at diversity?

Inclusivity would be acknowledging the fact that when they get there, they have to eat, just like everyone else is able to eat. What can we change to make sure that they are getting the exact same experience as everyone else, and they're not going home with a migraine, they're not now having to buy food after the barbecue and feeling like they have to be silent and not say anything, just so that they can continue to feel quote, unquote, included. When we spoke about it in our cohort, I remember we were talking about gluten free and like all of these other things. What's amazing about inclusivity is that one change for that one specific person, a lot of times can support other people as well, without us realizing it.

Jen Liddy

What does this look like in our marketing content? How do we be more inclusive, without pandering, without getting canceled, without saying the wrong thing. This is what white people are afraid of. How do we be inclusive and be honest, so that people of color who don't look like me, this was a big thing.

This was why I joined your program. I wanted to know as a white woman who had looked around and all of her marketing was like, Holy shit, I've only been talking to white people. I only know white people. How can I learn more about this and you created a really incredible space for us to unpack all this stuff. I learned a ton about inclusive marketing, which is why I'm having you here, for our listeners, what the hell does that look like?

Alyssa Hall

Yes and I love that you use specific words to like without pandering. I feel like this is a very fine line between pandering and being super, super weird. I know you're talking about because it says it's awkward. Compared to actually speaking to people and this is where I feel like you and I connected Jen in terms of the way that we think about marketing, the way that I talk about it is like, are you speaking to people like in their soul? Are they feeling like, oh, you really understand me? All the different facets of things that come with me to this issue.

An example that I like to use is, if we have a business, then it's about having people feel more confident showing up on live. We're just talking about the lack of confidence piece and we're not acknowledging even just what I'm thinking about even like women. You mentioned something at the top of the episode like, a woman who decides to not wear makeup, a woman who's like is my hair perfectly done. These are additional layers that society has created norms for and if we're not addressing that, and we're just talking about you just lacking confidence, let's strengthen up that confidence. Then we're not acknowledging the full gamut of what's going on and having that person show up online or whatever problem we're solving.

Jen Liddy

No, it's a great point. Because when we're creating marketing, we often create it from our set of strengths. If you're great on video, and you are competent on video, and you create on video in your marketing, and I'm not even talking about the words that you're using, like just the platform that you're using. Now, you're kind of saying to the other people who prefer listening or who prefer reading, you're like, this is how I'm creating content. You're kind of like, Oh, it's a whole bunch of people I'm not going to reach. That's just an example of how that is a non inclusive way. I'm not like we're human, I aren't even talking about black and white here, we're talking about human to human or the way that our different brain styles work even.

One of the things that I took away from our experience in your group was inclusivity is not just the black, white version of it. We have to think about people's learning styles, their listening style, the way that they like to consume, how long can it be? How short can it be? One of the big takeaways was inclusivity requires intention. Inclusivity requires you to think about how might this be received by somebody else.

Alyssa Hall

Yes. That's like my favorite piece of inclusivity work is free. A lot of people come to me, obviously, for anti racism, but we can really open up the space into what it is that we're actually talking about. I had a client the other day, who's like, I changed the length of my videos in my course, or I made the length of the videos in my course, to be like, 15-20 minutes, because my audience are people who also have another job while they're trying to create this business. I know, all I had at the end of the day was 20 minutes. I'm not going to make these hour long videos. That's another deeper layer of really being intentional for the people that we want to serve.

Jen Liddy  

Yeah, I love that. When we're talking about intentionality, and inclusivity, what are some of the things that people get really confused about? What are the stumbling blocks when they are trying to get people to want to be intentional, they want to ultimately serve as many people as possible, they want to be inclusive, but especially white people are like, Oh, my God, we don't know, we don't want to screw up. What are some of the stumbling blocks that we can help with identify and then maybe move through?

Alyssa Hall  

Yes. Some two of the biggest, like, they're not even stumbling blocks, or like roadblocks. One of them is exactly what you said, this deep fear of being wrong. Compared to saying, I know, I'm going to mess up, eventually and I also know that this is not a function of my personality. If I mess up in this way, we have been in this society and been raised by this binary, where it's like, Oh, if you like what I'm thinking about in school, if you raise your hand and you get the answer wrong, it's not Oh, she did the math wrong, tt's, oh, she's dumb. Bringing that to this work it's that same exact thing. What happened? Like me in school, I would just not even raise my hand. I knew all the answers. I had to double, triple, quadruple check in my head. Someone else would say the answer, and then I'd be mad at myself for not raising my hand. It's the same thing here.

When we're so afraid of being wrong, it's not only about what it says about us, a lot of times it's about I don't want to harm someone else. Even thinking about what it is that harmed someone else. Nine times out of 10 with what I've noticed, it's like, not only the initial harm, but then what happens afterwards, is really where that big piece of harm happens.

Jen Liddy  

Like a defensiveness or shutting down of a group or like an ignored, all of those kinds of responses rather than taking ownership of it, or like I could have done better or teach me I need to learn better, that kind of thing.

Alyssa Hall

Yes. I have really just been just happy for humanity and like to say that, as we're recording this, this was like, a few days after the incident at the Oscars. A lot of people have been making, like think pieces or whatever about what has happened. Even more importantly, what I have seen, especially on LinkedIn, isn't like, I'll just be scrolling and then the first chunk of this post is saying like, edited to add.

This group of people have told me that what I've said is insensitive, and it has racist undertones, blah, blah, blah. I've also been told to leave the post up so that it can serve as a learning tool, all of these things. That's huge, compared to what our typical defense is, when we're so afraid that we will delete the thing, we will run away and some people double down, like all of those things cause way more harm than what I've been seeing now. Does that make sense?

Jen Liddy

It does, because it's like permission, a shift you're seeing is permission to be in progress rather than permission expecting yourself to be perfect. If you expect yourself to be perfect in your marketing, you're going to screw it up. It's like you're going to be paralyzed, because you're going to screw it up at some point. You're climbing yourself, if you're not giving yourself permission to be in progress, like you're seeing.

Alyssa Hall  

Yes, oh, my gosh. You know, you saying that is reminding me of whenever, at least for myself, whenever at the beginning, I would write marketing, in general, I'd be like, this is the one post that has to make me money. You're trying for this post to be perfect and then you're not even letting yourself get the damn post out. Then it just never comes out compared to this post is a part of a process, it is a part of progress. It allows you to do things and learn from them, and do better.

Jen Liddy  

 I like that a lot. That is just like, oh, we can take a collective breath because on our way to inclusivity, we have to be gentle with ourselves. We have to know especially white as white people, we have to know, we are learning, we have not lived this experience, we're gonna bump up against ourselves, we're gonna bump up against other things, we're going to be judged, we're going to be called in and we're going to be called out. If we are not willing to do that journey, then there's a whole bunch of people that we can't really call into work with us.

Alyssa Hall  

When I think of it, I'm like, that's a lot of people that are just not able to feel safe and comfortable in the space. What I've noticed too, is sometimes there are people who have like, already diverse clientele. Are they feeling psychologically safe enough to bring up all the different layers of what's actually going on or are they only bringing up the small micro thing, and not everything else that comes with it.

Jen Liddy  

It's because there's a lot it's very nuanced. I learned that in your group. I think this is a great place to kind of pivot to talk about  inclusivity is obviously important. We've talked about ways to think about inclusivity and to try to experiment with it, and to be gentle with ourselves as we do it.

A lot of this requires us to be and I'm putting air quotes around this. Authentic. Now, we need to deal with this hateful word that we're all like, what does it mean to be authentic at this point? Like in an Instagram world, in an Instagram real world? What the hell does it mean to be authentic? What are your thoughts on this?

Alyssa Hall

Oh my gosh, I love how you even brought up like, in an Instagram real world, because literally all Instagram reels at this moment is just, we're all doing this little performance. We just, we move on, I'm over. I feel like when we were talking about authenticity, it was like vulnerability, and triggering vulnerability, there have been, especially in the coaching industry, there have been so many people's life stories I did not need to read about.

Jen Liddy  

I just didn't need to know about people. It's okay. I don't need to know that. I love that.

Alyssa Hall  

It's just been odd. That has been Oh, I'm being authentic and it's like, no, you're giving us your trauma. At the end of it, you're talking about how your program teaches certain tools. Just very different compared to being your full self meaning like letting your personality shine.It's hard especially as women for us to do that but especially even more if building this business is a career change for you. You've been in some type of industry, especially corporate, where you have to put on the suit, you have to do the thing. That is what we've defined as professional compared to now doing the mindset work of redefining professional so that you allow yourself to show your full personality and what you're doing.

Jen Liddy  

Can you talk a little bit about how specifically as a woman of color, this bullshit of authenticity affects people of color?

Alyssa Hall  

Yes. I don't remember where I saw it. Essentially, when it comes to women of color, being authentic, it's like be authentic as long as you still fit what is comfortable for us. If you are outside of what's comfortable for us then please mold yourself into this. Jumping back to like what we were taught as authentic before like the sharing of the trauma stories, the the stretch marks stuff, the breastfeeding stuff, all of these like, and not that they're bad, but it's more so vulnerability compared to authenticity. For me, authenticity is showing up in a way that feels like me whether that be today I don't have my nails. Usually I have on like these like long, crazy fun nails.

Jen Liddy  

I noticed you didn’t have them run today. She doesn't feel like it today, right? She doesn't feel like it

Alyssa Hall

In the middle of packing, I'm like, I don't want to worry about anything. Other than that, I really like to make it a point to show up as my full self because I know other people don't have that luxury to do that. I want to always actively break down for people. What does professional look like even now, for the last 10 months or so I've been wearing my hair naturally. This was not a conscious decision but here we are 10 months later, and we're still doing it. Even understanding like reshaping my own thoughts about that. What am I defining as professional? What am I defining as looking up kept or whatever. These are all the different types of mental gymnastics that women of color have to deal with compared to a white woman ,a messy bun has now been okay.

Jen Liddy

It's normalized. There's just all of these extra layers that I imagine, you know, as a white woman, I know how exhausting all the bullshit is of running a business and marketing yourself and also trying to have a life and keep up your relationship and I'm a mom, too, right? All of this is exhausting. You're just saying there's additional layers that we need to consider in order to be inclusive. I'm trying to be authentic, and it just can take a lot out of us.

Alyssa Hall  

Right.  I'm even thinking about what our cultural norms that have long since been seen as not inappropriate, but unprofessional, that we may want to be able to express in what we're doing and how does that now affect us from showing up authentic when only a certain part of us is allowed to be shown in this authenticity conversation.

Jen Liddy  

Let’s move into the idea about professionalism. I think these kinds of things really suit our seamless spectrum of things we need to consider. What does professional mean to you before you really started kind of embracing this work that you're doing? What is the white version of being professional  mean?

Alyssa Hall  

Yes. It's very interesting, mainly because of the professional background that I came from before doing this. I was in the restaurant industry for I don't remember how many years now at this point, all these years are melting together. I was there for a very long time. I remember one time either going to a job interview or being at a job and someone saying that if a woman shows up to a job interview without makeup, then that means that she doesn't care about the job. I'm just like, I am someone who has never really liked makeup. That was always something that resonated with me. Like I said, showing up with a full face of makeup, making sure that even the tone in the way that I'm speaking is more palatable. The way that I'm dressing making sure that it is like you can't really see much of anything like I have always had like natural curves. Making sure that those curves you cannot see them and whatever it is that I'm wearing. A lot of dark colors. I'm realizing this now, like there was just so much dark clothing and it's just business casual. Even like when I see people talk about business casual now I'm like, Damn, you're wearing some cute stuff. What is happening? Bear do like the Petland tops and he black slacks and  it was just very much like having to put on this costume in order to be able to go to work.

Jen Liddy  

 It was like a boring business, you know. Professional means tamping down who you are so that you can fit in.

Alyssa Hall

Exactly. A lot of the places that I would work, I would usually be the youngest person there until I entered. I'm trying to figure out how to say this. Aside from being in the restaurant industry, I also like doing receptionist stuff here and there. When I was in the receptionist jobs, I was typically the youngest person there. Even more so like dampering down my personality, the things that I found fun and interesting. I could not bring that in there either. It was just a very strange thing now that I think about it being so removed compared to how I exist in professionalism. Now, it's just like, wow, of course, if you're in this space for so long. It was normalized.. It's so normalized.

Jen Liddy

I just want to say thank you for unpacking a lot of the stuff. I feel like we have not even barely touched the surface of the iceberg, the tip of the iceberg. If somebody who's like thinking,I get inclusivity, and I get authenticity, let's not bleed all over the internet. I get that I get to create my own version of professionalism. What are a couple of big takeaways or even little shifts that we can start to do to weave this work into our content and our marketing and how we run our businesses?

Alyssa Hall

I think one of the very big things for me is noticing what are some of the qualifiers that you're telling yourself are required for people to take you seriously, that's how I translated it when I was coming into this work. I was like in order for people to take me seriously, I have to do bla bla, bla, bla, bla, all the things that I listed. Really challenge that does that have to do with the content that you're sharing the expertise that I know that you have, or else you wouldn't be doing any of the stuff that you're doing. I'm really starting to challenge a lot of the internalized societal messaging that we have for ourselves first, then we can really broaden the way that we're seeing other people and creating more inclusive spaces.

Jen Liddy

 There's a coach that I used to listen to and watch, and everything around her was incredibly pristine, white, and every single video she did was at this desk, and everything around her was in the perfect place. She always had the perfect hair, and she had the perfect nails. This was at the beginning of my journey into coaching and I was like, oh, that's what coaches look like, that's how I should be. I'm just not that way. I'm kind of messy and I I like to travel so right now I'm in like the bedroom at my parents house in Charlotte, North Carolina. I think I have my shit together pretty well, but I don't have my shit together to the nth degree. Most of us don't. Essentially, if I am a woman of privilege, I am thinking like, oh, I need to even step it up, how do people who have been struggling with way more shit than I could ever even friggin imagine? What are rungs on the ladder are they trying to climb? That's I think just things that we need to start thinking about, so that we can meet everybody where they are and include them via our content and marketing.

Alyssa Hall

Yes. Even thinking about how that holds people back. That's all I was thinking about when you were saying that just like, when we have these shoulds, and we don't check them. How often are you holding yourself back?

Jen Liddy  

Yes. That's huge. I remember her even talking about the store that she shopped in, and I was like, Oh, maybe I should shop at that store. It's like, what's the matter with me? How can I show up? If I'm not even going to be myself in my marketing, how can anybody trust me to come into my programs?

Alyssa Hall

That's the big thing. I feel like when people ask why does authenticity, even a part of the conversation of anti racism, that's it. We need to just know who you are as a fundamental human in order to trust you with what's going on with us. We need until we break that down as to why that's important, especially for a lot of us to work with people one on one. Trust is huge.

Jen Liddy  

Yes. It doesn't come quickly or easily. On this journey, it is really bumpy, and it is uncomfortable, and you need a safe space for yourself. As you're learning as a white person to become more inclusive in your marketing and your content. The other thing I just want to touch on this briefly, we have been talking a lot about content and marketing, but then when people get inside your program, they also need to be made sure that there is safety and inclusivity there. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Alyssa Hall

I think this is another thing that gets missed. When we think of anti racism, we're thinking of the outside stuff, like the people that are coming in, are we talking to the people, but like you said, once they get in, has that space been curated for them to thrive, just like everyone else that is in there. That's the big, big thing that I think a lot of us are missing, when it comes to creating that safe space, it's when we have a community involved. Have we really done that internal leadership work, to be able to ensure the safety of that community?

We can't necessarily force people to think a certain way or change people's minds about things, especially if it literally has nothing to do with the work that you're doing. What we can do is show up as a leader in moments where it's necessary, we can also curate the space in terms of what we're talking about. If we're going to be talking about the example that I use, like, oh, showing up on live and the confidence to do that, are we also talking about the reasons why it may be difficult for certain people to feel that confidence? What barriers do they have to cross? Like for women, we spoke about that. Then the intersectionality, it's okay for women of color, what does that look like? For trans women, what does that look like? Are we talking about that in our program or are we just waiting for someone else to bring it up hopefully? Those are certain ways that we can create that inclusivity and safety within the work that then within the programs that we've created.

Jen Liddy  

I just want to make it really clear. How can people follow you to start to learn more about everything we've been talking about? Where's the best channel for you?

Alyssa Hall

The best way to follow me is on Instagram at AR leadership. I've started hanging out on LinkedIn as well. I have a really plain Jane name, you're not going to find me just from the names.

Jen Liddy

I’ll put the link to your LinkedIn in our show notes

Alyssa Hall  

Perfect.

Jen Liddy

LinkedIn does not make it easy to find people they're like the list on the dash Hall dash 556. Thanks to LinkedIn, we couldn't have done this a little bit easier. Seriously.

Alyssa Hall  

It reminds me of the old MySpace handles

Jen Liddy  

If people want to find out how to work with you, just go to alyssahallcoaching.com.

Alyssa Hall

Yep. Every single thing is there.

Jen Liddy  

I have a question. Do you still offer that private podcast about your antiracist and inclusivity coaching?

Alyssa Hall

Yes, I do. I still have that. I have a podcast. There are I think like 16 or so episodes of just anti-racism and it's really packed. I'd recommend that.

Jen Liddy  

That's how I found you first back in the day when it got shared with me. Who knows who shared it with me, but I really want to share it with my audience. Can people get that at alyssahallcoaching.com ? Is there an opt in there for that?

Alyssa Hall

Yes, it's at the very, very tippy top of the page. The lettering is quite small, but it is there.

Jen Liddy  

As a content coach, I would say make that bigger. Go back and make it bigger. Mostly, I want to say thank you so much for all of the gems that you dropped today. Is there anything else that I didn't ask that I should have asked?

Alyssa Hall  

I feel like this was a really good entry point for a lot of people to start just percolating in their brain of like , oh let me shift the way that I've been looking at anti racism work and inclusivity in my part in that, compared to I feel like honing in on the diversity piece and not really seeing all the things that lead up to that.

Jen Liddy  

I love it. Thanks, Alyssa. If you are listening today, I want to say thanks for joining, and thanks for staying to the end. It's a great topic. It's an important topic. Go check out Alyssa, you'll learn a lot from her and she is so accessible. I just really appreciate the work that I did with her. Thanks again, Alyssa, appreciate you.

Alyssa Hall  

Of course. Thanks for having me.

Jen Liddy

My pleasure. Bye.

Alyssa Hall

Bye.

 

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