283: DEI That Makes a Difference with Malia Lazu

28 Minutes Read

If you've ever wondered how to create a more diverse—not to mention profitable and fulfilling—team, this episode is for you.

Malia Lazu is the visionary founder of The Lazu Group, and has spent her life supporting diversity and urban entrepreneurship everywhere from the streets of Boston as a community organizer to the C-suite at Berkshire Bank.

In this wide-ranging podcast, Steve and Malia discuss key points found in her new book, From Intention to Impact, published by MIT Press. You will discover:

  • Where to begin with DEI work at your business, even if you are a lean team, so you can both make more money and create a more just world
  • What are the 3Ls and how they can help you authentically connect with any community you want to see reflected in your team
  • How to navigate the pushback that emerges with real change, i.e. cries of reverse discrimination or lowering the bar, so you can create real impact while growing your business


Connect with Malia on:
Instagram: @malialazu @theurbanlabz
LinkedIn: Malia Lazu and The Lazu Group
Buy the book: From Intention to Impact

If you want a supportive and experienced coach as you navigate the challenges and static of growing your business, Erin and Steve have openings for new VIP 1:1 clients. Learn more and book a consultation here.

Listen to this week's episode on Apple Podcasts here

Listen to it on Spotify here

Watch the video of our conversation:

Full Transcript

Steve Haase  0:00  
All right. Well, I am so excited to be here today with my friend, mentor, client, amazing human being and author, Malia Lazu of the Lazu group and many other things. We're going to talk about all of the amazing things that Malia has done, most recently, the author of this incredible book, From Intention to Impact. Through MIT Press. She is a lecturer at MIT Media Lab, and just a part of the Boston startup scale up financial, social justice scene, she's involved in so many amazing things. It is my honor and pleasure to be here with Malia Lazu, we're going to talk about her new book and how you as a business owner or leader of a lean team of something that you want to have a real impact with in your life and business can bring these principles to not just create more social justice and more justice in the world, but have a bigger impact in your business and life as well. Welcome Malia.

Malia Lazu  1:09  
Thank you so much for having me. It's so great to be on your podcast, and hello, everyone.

Steve Haase  1:17  
So let's begin at the beginning. What is the main thing that someone can do as a business owner or leader to start having an impact? Where Where should they begin other than buying your book and reading it cover to cover as I did, yes,

Malia Lazu  1:34  
and doing that several times, and out buying it for friends as well. So I think the biggest thing that you can do to have impact is start reflecting on how you value diversity within your own moral compass right within yourself. Because once you understand the value add of diversity, it becomes hard to not include, it becomes hard to not build belonging, it just, you know, diversity makes sense in so many places in our lives. And then this one, all of a sudden, we have an aha, you know, and if you really reflect on the value of diversity in your life, you'll be able to have an impact in anything you do.

Steve Haase  2:23  
What are some of the ways that that shows up for people, their value of diversity?

Malia Lazu  2:29  
You know, in the book, I talk a lot about curiosity. And I think, you know, understanding that other people have something to offer you, right? That they're just not an audience for your life. Right, but that there are actually ways to enhance your life. And, you know, in my research, I found this awesome, incredible definition of curiosity with the Cherokee Nation, and I'm going to paraphrase. But, you know, the idea is that your life becomes better by getting to know someone else, right, by being curious. And it's a core value of the Cherokee Nation. And I think it's, we would think it's a core value of ours. But we don't seem to prove that. So, you know, things like getting curious about who feed you write about what you eat, about why you eat it right about who has helped you live long, a long, wonderful life, right? When you start really looking at all of the cultures in this world that have contributed to build America, and build the United States. and Canada. All right, um, uh, you know, not being a citizen of Canada, you, you can help me understand what you all do. But I'm sure it's similar to what we do here. Right, like, you know, but we have this wonderful concept of the West, because of our global good or bad, right, but because of our global interconnectedness, and I think, is really valuing and starting to see like what our life would be if we weren't divers can really help you start seeing the bigger picture. Yeah.

Steve Haase  4:21  
And that's beautiful. It brings to mind the Buddhist teaching of codependent arising, that everything is connected with everything else. And, you know, we have this idea that we exist on an island all by ourselves, and we kind of bring our groups together as we'd like. But the real picture is much richer, and involves many other groups that we think of as not connected to us but fundamentally are part of our experience in a fundamental way. That's

Malia Lazu  4:51  
right. That's right. You know, and, and we can actually measure some of it right like we know But you know who and how railroads were built. So right, like we understand how cotton was picked, we understand, you know, who actually participated in our growth. And I think that's part of what makes it hard to talk about. But that's what makes it so important to talk about.

Steve Haase  5:20  
Absolutely. And just a point on the Canadian side of things, I came to this country by way of America, so I knew nothing about Canada, you just sort of figure it's a bunch of white people who all came here from England and France, but the reality is much more diverse. It's much more checkered in terms of real equity, right? People think well, Canada was the endpoint of the Underground Railroad and don't remember that there were plenty of people in Halifax shipping, African Americans who thought they were free or even who were free. Back to back to their back to the side. That's

Malia Lazu  5:56  
right. And you know, the healing that Canada is exploring around indigenous right and First Nations peoples. I actually love I so I'm a true crime like little aside, but I love true crime. I'm one of those people. And the Canadian broadcast company, the CBC has some great crime stories on the missing indigenous people, there were women, trans Indigenous women, like that's how I was able to see oh, wait, we're actually very similar because our narrative started from the same place, right? England and France, they had this idea of Manifest Destiny, right? They were doing their European enlightenment experiment. And so everyone else was a heathen, if mentioned at all. And that is what we're trying to deconstruct whether it's in ourselves, our business or our country. So

Steve Haase  6:49  
one of the things that really struck me from the book was the idea that diversity, equity inclusion is not just, you say, it's not just charity, I would even say it's not just the right thing to do. But it's also good for business. So how can you kind of fill in some of those points? You know, for the hardened capitalists out there, you

Malia Lazu  7:13  
lay it out? Right? It's almost like, it feels like there's when people listen, right? Or, you know, as you listen to these words, you may even put values on Well, we shouldn't be doing it because it's the right thing to do. Right listeners might be doing that like, but the fact of the matter is, is a lot of decisions we make in business are not because it's the right thing to do. And and I and I will, I will get into that conversation. Right? If we want to talk about responsible business great, we can go right back to dei as well, right? But this idea of, oh, well, we're doing it. Because we're, you know, the white saviors over a Allah charity, or, you know, we're doing it because I find it in my soul. It's the right thing for us to do. But I show up to work every day to get paid. And I may do things at work that I wouldn't do every day, you know, not that cross my moral line, right? But like, if I win the lottery, I'm not going to work. Like I work because I'm in a capitalist structure that requires my labor in order for me to pay for things. And the idea that that shouldn't be a notion in dei be misses the whole point of diversity in business, right? Like what? Deloitte what you know, Deloitte, McKinsey, these studies show is that diversity is profitable, whether it's about entering new markets, um, you know, or baseline profitability, right, Citi Bank has showed that bias is costing us $14 trillion. You know, these aren't numbers coming from the NAACP or from, you know, the National Organization of Women, right? These are numbers that are coming from the business sector, right, like the white boys that that do this, right. And what they're saying is, we are missing out, we are leaving money on the table, because we think straight white men are the ones who are the only ones who have the ideas. And when you hear it like that, yeah, we must be leave. There's no way we could be getting all the ideas, right. So we know with my book and really with a business that I do, as a black woman, yes, I want you to like me, because I'm human, and it's the right thing to do to feel that interconnectedness. But I don't like everyone right and like that's not why we come to this place. So value what I bring to business value the fact that we will make more money together and then let's you know, let's split that right Let's all live off of the profits. And and let's work our way Corporate ladders, right. But and so yeah, so that's where, you know, I think businesses and of any size, right I mean, these numbers don't just apply to Bank of America, right? If you're looking at entering new markets right now, you know, you should have people that speak different languages, right, you should have people who understand this new emerging America, you should have young people, right? Who understand what it means to build community through technology, right? You're going to need all that wherever you are in the world, in order to be able to reach your local or global economy, which you know, which you can have a reach app.

Steve Haase  10:46  
But and I love how you kind of point out the, the bias that we have, even in the idea that this is the right thing to do, or I should be doing this, because those ideas miss the fact that you are a badass. Like, like your mug says, Don't hire Malia because you should have a more diverse, you know, set of contractors with your company, hire her because she's absolutely amazing. And like seeing talents through that lens of am I you know, am I because of unconscious bias, seeing talent as only looking a certain way or acting a certain way talking a certain way coming from certain educational backgrounds? Probably yes. Right. I think that one of the powerful things in your book, like one of the starting points is acknowledging that racism exists and that it exists within you like it exists within all of us, we're kind of in this Millia and beginning from it's in there, how is it? You know, how is bias coming out from me? How am I building a life of unconscious bias? Hopefully, not terribly conscious, but like, you know, certainly everyone has it unconsciously, to some degree, is, is a powerful jumping off point. And without that you're going to feel on the sidelines of, you know, this kind of value creation, and and this cultural moment as well. That's

Malia Lazu  12:17  
right. That's right. You know, and you're missing out on the judge of life.

Steve Haase  12:22  
Don't miss out on the judge. It's

Malia Lazu  12:24  
always the judge whether it's in your business model, you know, and, you know, and that's one of the, it's, as I said before, it's common sense, right? Like your diet is diverse. Right? You're, you know, if you try to grow any food, right, like, you know, right, like, you know, it's you should grow for food in a diverse way, right? That's the best way to do agriculture. You know, we have a diverse ecosystem, you have a diverse family tree, right? Because that's how important biodiversity is right? And genetic differently, you know, so for us to all of a sudden say, it doesn't make sense here, I think shows that unconscious and implicit, right? We just have this narrative of who's smart, who's not who's good at dancing, who's not and we just move forward with that narrative like not actually questioning why that doesn't make sense anywhere else in our lives but here

Steve Haase  13:31  
so we began the conversation with

Malia Lazu  13:34  
maybe monogamy I don't want monogamous to come for me. That might be a fulfilling life too.

Steve Haase  13:47  
So So we began the conversation with what what should someone who is responsible for a lean team for a business do to begin or to kind of amplify their diversity efforts? And you responded with being curious about the importance of diversity? As someone is looking to build this into their business, right, if, if you're a small business small team, it seems like the pressures of the day that kind of necessities of keeping the organization going take up a lot of space, and the room for like, culture change and curiosity and listening and like the things that you say, will create a stronger organization in your, in your research and in your book. This almost feel like nice to have, like, how can someone shift their perspective on really bringing this work to the core of their business rather than to the someday at some point? Yeah,

Malia Lazu  14:50  
you know, this is, um, this is again, I think one of these like, false choices, right that we put ourselves opts in. So when I was starting my company, or even when I was at the bank, right, I didn't have problems bringing diversity and building belonging, right, whether I was starting my company or in a larger company. And the reason for that was I'm not the only kick ass women of color. I know. Right? Like, I know a lot of kickass women, I know a lot of kickass people of color, sometimes they come as a twofer, right, like, but because I have a diverse ecosystem, this idea of bringing in, you know, someone who can help us, you know, get into a Hispanic consumer market. And it's also, you know, great at the numbers for right, can be done. And so I think it becomes a choice because of a segregated ecosystem or networks, and then you have to make the choice. And, you know, I talk in the book a little bit about the seven stages, you know, and there are seven stages, and three of them are about pushback, because that is an example of what seems like legitimate pushback, but is actually based in white supremacist culture, right? The fact that you think it's a nice to have shows that you don't actually truly understand the value of what women bring, you know, of what people of color bring of what LGBTQ people with disabilities, right? So if you actually understood that women led teams have 21% more patents in Silicon Valley, then you wouldn't, you wouldn't, you would make the top as far as like, like, the priority would be there. And, and you would see it as an investments, right, because you know, that it will help you pay back your investors quicker. Right. So, you know, I think we also, you know, like, we're like, Well, you know, where's data and then the data is there, and we still don't do it, right. And again, it's about, do we truly understand the value, right. And I think for startups, or for Lean businesses, again, I have, like, Steve can tell you, you know, I'm a client, I have a lean business, and I try to make it leaner every day. You know, and, it's, but it's important to realize that, if you are looking for the best of the best, which you are, if you're lean, because that's how you can be lean, right? You know, you don't have space for bureaucracy and a lot of redundancy, right? Then you need to get the best of the best. And if you're sitting in a room of, you know, three straight white guys and a lady, right, like, you may actually not have the best of the best of the best. And it's not to judge you. Right? Like, I mean, you know, I mean, you know, we we talked about this, you know, for me, my company was, you know, and still is even in my vendors, but when I had staff was all women, you know, and I would joke around like, this is why I have white male vendors, right? Because like, I need a different experience, like, I need, you know, white men looking at my business, I need that lens. Right. And, and that's why I spent money on that, right? Because I have the diversity with me, right? What I didn't have was, you know, the the folks who built these roads, right, who are going to look at my business in a different way. And I understood the value of that right now. And I did not need to center it in my business in any way. Right? Like, because America, you know, the US capitalism centers that already but understanding the value, you know, I think even if you're a lean team, you understand what I want the best of the best. And I might actually even be able to get them for some equity. And you know, and what have you because they are lost Einstein, right. Everyone's going after the rose and like, no one's noticing the Hidden Figures, right, who are out there actually making building these

Steve Haase  19:15  
things? Yeah, that's, that's so powerful. And, exactly, I love how you point out that it's a false choice, right. And so one of the core points that you have in the book is about self reflection, honesty, with, with where you're at, and how you're seeing things. And so I would, just to kind of emphasize your point, you know, if you find yourself as a business owner, thinking, Well, I'd like to have more diversity, but I'm kind of busy right now. Reflect on, you know, is

Malia Lazu  19:48  
why do you need so much time? Yeah, right. And that's, you know, I want to like play that out. Because I think like people like oh, great, well, I am busy and so now I can add this on my time. You know, I, I'm a shitty entrepreneur list, right? Like, like, you know, this shit, like, Don't shame yourself with this conversation, right? Don't be and that's something I try to reinforce in the book, right? Like, that doesn't help anyone. Right? But it is interesting to think about, well, why would it take me so much time? To find competent people of color or competent, you know, women or, you know, attract them and retain them? Right? Why is that hard for my company? And you know, I talked about in the book, one of the first questions I asked my client is, why do you need me? Right? Why weren't you able to do this on your own? You're a nice person. Right? You like people? So what, why weren't you able to do this? Right? And, and it's because of systems institutions and implicit biases, right. And it's, you know, the stat that I found the book that was just, it was one of the stats that I had to, like, tax like my white friends, you know, like, I had to be like, do y'all know this? But it was 75% of white families, or white people polled said that they don't have one non white friend. And as someone who has white friends, like, I like if y'all are just courting, right, like, because y'all don't just have one, right? Like, I like I've met dope people of color through your network. Steve, right. Like, you know, who I didn't know, before I met you, right? So it was just the shocking stat of Who are these white people? Right? Like, like, who, and they're the Suburban, I'm not labeling, right. But there are people who don't have a chance to be in proximity with others. And, you know, I think about my mother, who was born and raised and Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, this beautiful like Lake town that became a permanent town. You'll think Levittown post World War Two, right? A lot of folks were moving there to get their white picket fence, you know, Catholic schools, right like that, that sort of neighborhood in New Jersey. My mom saw her first black person when she was five years old. And she ran into the house, and she said, look, it's a chocolate covered man, which we joke about, right like that. That was the that was like, the preface, right, for me being born. Um, but she didn't see a black person again. Until she went to North New Jersey. And that kind of day to day segregation. Right, um, for a child, right? I mean, because she saw black people once she was old enough to get out. Right. And she could take the bus, right, and she could go to places. But for her young lace, this was a completely foreign community, right? I mean, it might as well have been Africa. Um, and I think we don't understand how that still exists in my mom's not that old. Right? Like, that still exists today, I have cousins. Who might I mean, they might see more black people on TV. But they may only be seeing the garbage man. Right? They may only be seeing the laborers, and not understanding that the you know, person who invented the bypass surgery that their daddy got, right, or the first artificial heart, right? I think what was a black man? So, you know, that's, that's where it becomes hard. And where it becomes kind of time consuming, you know, because you may actually not know these folks. And but then that's the self reflection part. Right? Again, don't beat yourself up. But just where can you go? How can you expand? How can you make your life richer?

Steve Haase  24:03  
Well, exactly. And that's my experience of it as well, that the diversity that I have in my life is a key part of what makes it rich, and that the friends that I have, who don't look like me and don't share my background are an amazing source of, of not just information about the world, but like connection and and like the spark the Jewish, it's a big source of real, a real love and connection in my life is is people who are people who have much different experiences, who sometimes just because of how they look and also because of you know, their family and their historical background as well. Exactly.

Malia Lazu  24:47  
Getting to learn new things is fun.

Steve Haase  24:53  
On its own right, regardless of the business benefit. So I love that emphasis there that it might require are some work, it might require some time and effort to create those connections to build those bridges to find out where those communities exist. That's one thing you speak about in the book is there are communities of the people that you want to have in your business, find them. Yeah,

Malia Lazu  25:14  
if you want accountants, I tell you right now, there's an LGBTQ Accounting Association. There's a black cap Association, there's a lack, they know there was a woman, accountant Association, right? All of these places exist and becoming comfortable and just reaching out, you know, doing the three L's, right, which I talked about in my book, which you know that so the three L's, yeah, came about because after George Floyd, we were all you know, we were really, I mean, all of us were right, the white community was reeling as well. Well, parts of the white community that can overly give over credit, but it just took a lot of people as it should have, right, you shouldn't be able to watch that video and be like, I wonder what he did? Right? You should be outraged by that video. And so, you know, we were getting so many calls about like, oh, Malia, what can I do? What can I do? And as you know, because we were able to, you know, the narrative went there, right was like, well, you can first stop burdening us with helping you figure out what you can do. When this happens, you know, and we're reeling because ahmaud arbery, Breanna Taylor, I mean, how many was like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then George Floyd. And so listen, learn love, you know, became sort of like my emergency response. Right? It became like, what is it like seeing See Something, Say Something? Right? Like, what should I do? You should listen, learn love, right? Like, so the first L is listen, and that is just old school, like how your mom told you, you know, if you're talking, you're not listening. And listen to what these communities have been saying, right? There's a narrative of, you know, us black people, Canadian black people write for about 400 use. Right? So listen to that, what have they been saying? What are they saying today? How what is the same, they may be asking for some of the same things, right? Listen to that, and then come in to learn what you can do come in to learn about the community, right? But you've already done a little cultural understanding consideration, you recognize that these folks that have lived a different experience than you and therefore you need to learn about them. Right? You don't burden them with teaching you. Right, you learn about them, like any good traveler. And then you take loving action, not just action, you know, I think it's, um, I had to be wells maybe said, you know, don't don't mistake motion for progress. Um, there is action that lets the community know that you know, what they need, that you want to help them. And then there's action that helps you feel better about yourself. And I'm sure we've all been in relationships, where her you know, we are where we felt both right, where we felt, you know, a quote unquote, action to make you feel better, that really wasn't about making you feel better. And then you felt those actions that let you know, the person heard you. Right, that that they that they actually want to have you not feel that way anymore. Right. And that's loving action. And you know, whether you're a small company or a big company, you can take the action that's relevant to the community, right. You know, Jamie diamond, taking a knee and sticking his fist up in the air is not what the black community was asking for. Right? They were asking for the George Floyd police reform bill, which was the Michael Brown police reform bill, right, which was the Oscar Grant police reform bill, you know, to take it all the way back into the 2000s. Right, early 2000s. So this idea of, oh, you know, here's Juneteenth as a holiday, like the only reason why Juneteenth is a holiday and why you know, folks even know about Juneteenth because that was the next thing black people were doing after George Floyd was killed. Right? It was not reflected at all it was a reaction, it wasn't a response. So you want to learn from the community what you can do that will bring them relief that they are asking for, and then do those things. Right, like signing a pledge is great, but you're black employees, or folks you're trying to attract or you're black. Customers would rather see you do something, then sign a pledge, right? They would rather see you, you know, buy paper from a black vendor than sign a pledge because at least that one black vendors do it. All right, right getting a job. Like, we care more about that, than watching you do what conduct cause play? Yeah.

Steve Haase  30:23  
You know, when you talk about taking loving action, one of one of our themes is that business is a spiritual practice. And that means it has some element of transformation, where if you weren't awake to the needs of others, and you were taking action that was more about you, but to actually become aware of the needs of others, and to take actions that show, I see you, I hear you, I care about you. That is that is creating more love in the world. That is that is a spiritual practice through the vehicle of business,

Malia Lazu  31:02  
as well. And that's what I love, too, about the framework that you bring to this work, right? Because for most people, like, yes, there are some people in this world who are just about greed, and you know, want to be able to go to Mars and have us just send them the last bit of resources we have, so they can live and do all that stuff. And but most people, if you're starting a business, or even working at a company, you have a passion there, right? There's, you know, even if you're doing it to so that, you know, your kids can have a better life than you, right, like, if that's the motivation, and there is a passion, and there is you there. So at the end of the day, it shouldn't be a spiritual practice, right? Because you're showing up there. And relationship is the core of any, I don't care what you're selling, what you're doing. Whether it's relationships with your employees, your customers or your investors. Being good at building rich relationships, is, is good for business. And that takes a spiritual route, however, you want to define a spiritual practice, a higher practice, right? The best. The best people, right that we talk with, or that we have relationships with, right are probably the people that are the most grounded, right with themselves and with their power and tying right and tying that into however they define their interconnectedness, right? You're talking about how Buddha talks about it, right? But we all any culture, right? That there's this interconnectedness, this fifth note, that gets created when we start singing together, is that what it's called right, the fifth note, sure.

Steve Haase  32:55  
As a musician,

Malia Lazu  32:56  
it's the overtone co overtone that's what it's called, right?

Steve Haase  33:00  
I'm sure it's like, if you've got four people singing then there'll be a fifth note and that would be the right like there was

Malia Lazu  33:04  
Yeah, cuz I learned about that with acapella, like, if when they're singing, there's actually another that that comes in that isn't but yeah, you know, and, and that's spiritual. That overtime.

Steve Haase  33:20  
I love it. So earlier on when we were talking about ways to build these relationships, ways to create real diversity in your in your business. And of course, you go much further into what is equity, what is inclusion, what has been longing, because if you just have diversity, you still don't have that fifth note. It's just like, you got a bunch of people together, didn't they do my job? So there's a lot more to it. But I think one of the one of the points of pushback, you're kind of in those middle stages of the seven stages, is the idea of reverse discrimination. Well, if I'm out there hunting for all these, you know, people of color and all these females and all these people, for what, what about this straight white man, this is discrimination against me. And that's, you know, I hear those thoughts going through my own mind, as someone who, you know, tries to be an ally, what, what do we do about those thoughts, either within ourselves or in the teams around us? Yeah.

Malia Lazu  34:19  
And we first have to acknowledge and appreciate those thoughts, right? Like, when you're privileged equity can feel like a step down. Right? Um, and especially when you have a narrative that's telling you about your own new relevance, and not telling you to buck up and compete with the rest of the world, right? Like, that's a privilege unto itself, because I'm told about bootstraps and shit, right? I'm told to put on my big boy pants and that's business baby. That's how it works. So comfy. Oh, right. Like, you're you're right. We're literally talking about me. Every one who's not a straight white man, like, yeah, yeah, we are right, like, um, but once we understand that that's a knee jerk reaction because of the narrative in order to make the US or the Western European experiment work. You had to believe that about yourselves. How do you enslave human beings? Right? If not to believe you must be better than that. So understanding that that's the first reaction. But if you actually are managing a team right now, right, or you're trying to work your way up the ladder, don't you want a team around you? That's going to be 34% more profitable and 70% more likely to enter a new market? Right, like, in a no way replaces you? it betters. And now, does it mean that there's different people applying for jobs? So there's increased competition? Absolutely. So again, buck up soldier put on your big girl pants and compete. Right? And so, you know, I went when and that comes up for my clients all the time. And I will bring it up because, you know, I have a, you know, I have white men in my life that asked me this question, right? That are that really mean are like, Okay, I'm feeling away. And I want to be in my Can I be in my feelings as a straight white man for a second, of course, you can write Of course, you can. Ask yourself about your irrelevance, right? Ask yourself about that. Why are you worried? Right? Why does this make you feel like, you're going to be replaced? Right, um, and go through that, but you can't center? Right? I always say, like, I will help deconstruct white discomfort. But I'm not going to slow down, right? We're not going to actually call that legitimate pushback. Right. So, you know, Steve is feeling and I'm going to use you as an example. Steve is your friend. Right? Steve is feeling a certain kind of way. Great. Let's give Steve a space, not the space, right? Let's give Steve a space to reflect and maybe even invite Tad, and you know, Tom, right to come in. And let's bring in a white ally, coach. Right. And let's help white folks who are feeling like they're being made irrelevant. Let's help straight vivo, right. There's LGBTQ ally coaches, right? Let's help straight people understand why it's not as hard to work through a pronoun. Right? Um, let's you can have those spaces. I mean, I know for myself, right? Like, I have learnings as we evolve, right? Um, that that I need to do because as a straight white woman, I mean, black woman, I don't know at all either, right? I'm able bodied, I'm straight, I'm educated, like i There are things I need to learn as well, you know, so you want to be able to understand, you know, that you are going to have those feelings, you are going to come short. But the person you want to be right, you actually want to have a fulfilled amazing life. And working through these ideas of your only relevance at any level, will help you live a better life.

Steve Haase  38:34  
Absolutely. I think that's brilliant that, like, we would characterize that in the Superabound framework as your own static, right, that feeling that is kind of in between you and the vision that you have if the vision is more justice, more beauty, more connection in the world, and you're feeling but what about me? Why don't I become irrelevant? This is all too scary, that static and there's wisdom there but it shouldn't be in the driver's seat, but we don't want to center that or make it the main point of the conversation. But let's take some time discover the wisdom so that we can make it conscious and not let it impede the progress.

Malia Lazu  39:10  
That's right.

Steve Haase  39:14  
What should people know that they don't like what what question are people not asking right now about this conversation?

Malia Lazu  39:26  
You know, I think do I really want to do this? Part of what I tried to do in the book was really taken honest approach right? Because we need outcomes here. Right platitudes, you know, check boxes, you know, all of those things. They only work if we want this to be a sustainable Will notion Right? Or else we're gonna have to you just again, the seven stages, right you sort of stay in the first three stages, which is, you know, signing pledges and doing trainings. Right. And, and you don't actually work through the pushback. Um, and I think we always we start off with this question of, well, of course, I'm a nice person, I want to do this, you know, and so I mean, maybe the question is, how can my niceness help me be less bias? And really try to connect those two dots, because right now they're not connected? But people think they are. So you think because you're nice, you know, but you don't realize that even the very choice of where to live may have white supremacy in it. Right, so now, do you want to, you know, do I want to think about that about myself, you might not want to? And then if you don't, that's fine. But then don't say you're doing the work? You know, just say, I don't know, I might feel it's not too hard. I couldn't do it. Because then at least we know who we're working with. All right. One of the things I so appreciate about my white friends, you included is how you reflect on your own limitations, right, and your own the limitations of your own experience. And it's really nice, right to actually see that behavior model. It's by white people, right, by straight white men, right? Like, um, and I think, you know, especially, I mean, but we all have, right, we all have privilege, we all have bias, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, you know, I see the exhaustion sometimes, right? Like, sometimes it's exhausting. Um, and maybe we don't talk about that stuff enough, right. Maybe we need more spaces where, you know, allies can talk about, I mean, when we, you know, when I work with disability community, I feel so ableist and I come home, and I'm like, This is what white men feel, and use this as your empathy towards white men, because this is a big navigate. So, you know, the ones who want to do it right, are just like, Oh, God, it's even in the goddamn walk sign, right? Like, everywhere, you know, and it can get exhausting. So, you know, be having that honest conversation. You know, do I want to do this? Do I want to, you know, am I ready to maybe be called a racist or a sexist? Or, you know, how fragile Am I, I think these are questions that we more ask the questions of, how can I do it? We don't ask the questions of am. Am I the one do I have the talent? You know, one last thing about this? Because now I'm going to go on a little read. I'm sorry, but I we have common communities? When mass challenge first, we're starting to talk about two and this is things I said publicly. So you know, this isn't a you know, it's not a read, I haven't done publicly before. But when MassChallenge said that they were going to start doing diversity things. I asked them, Why do you think you're the right one to do

Steve Haase  43:26  
this? And they're a startup incubator based in Boston? Yes.

Malia Lazu  43:29  
Thank you, Steve. Yes, that helps with this conversation. And so they said, We're gonna go find all the diverse businesses and we're gonna lie, but they're gonna get you know, and they have this million dollar challenge or whatever it is, right. And while we're finding the black Google, first of all, they have yet to find the black Google. I'm at but second of all, I can't name more than two. And I can name one if you if I need to name one right now. But more than two black businesses that I know of that came out of mass challenge. Now, I'm not saying that more habits, I'm sure they have. But the point is, the reason why mass challenge actually didn't help the culture, right didn't help the community is because they thought that what they were doing was good enough. And all they needed was to get black bodies in there. And they wouldn't be able to do this work, you know, and that's just not how it works. You know, and I think these questions about what don't I know, where are my own inadequacies? Are we the right people to be doing this? Right? These are all my shins? What do I need to gain in order to be effective at this? How does this lead to professional development for my team? Right? These are the questions that you want to ask because if you don't have answers for those, you're not going to have answers for the pushback when someone says oh, so are we going to hire less qualified people because we got to hire the ladies. You Be like, no, actually most women are overqualified for the position they have. So we think we can poach, have a lady's. And that's what she'll say. Yeah.

Steve Haase  45:12  
Yeah, that's it's very grounding to have that introspection at the heart of it. Like, how, what am I willing to do for this? How much do I want to, again, not just like, do the right thing, but actually have a better experience of life, a better experience of business? In part, because you're doing the right thing, but also, in part, because it's just better. And I think that's, that's a big part of this conversation. I love that the pushback is right, within your framework, because I'm very aware of that all the people who, you know, say, Oh, we're being replaced, it's a it's a left wing conspiracy, you know, the weaponizing, the word work all the ways that you kind of, can shy away from like, oh, maybe I shouldn't be doing this. Right? There's, there's a lot of pushback,

Malia Lazu  46:02  
right? Like, the very idea of reverse racism, like, you obviously don't understand what racism is, if it can be reversed, right? So like, like prejudice is exists in all of us, right? Like, racism is about power. Right? So racism is that you can exclude me from a school because of my skin color. So the idea that black people or women could be, you know, reverse sexism, where? Where have I ever stopped men from doing anything, including taking rights in my book from my body away? Right, like, Where have black people ever stopped white people from doing anything, including shooting them down in the street, right? If we had any power? Trust me, it wouldn't be to stop Bob from getting his middle management job.

Steve Haase  47:01  
Well said, Bob, sorry,

Malia Lazu  47:03  
sorry. And Bob, and I have a step that Bob and I'm gonna say, That's what I was talking about. And I love him to death. And he is a white guy who, you know, jokes around with me and will be like, oh, please like what about us, you know, and so I, you know, I have that lovingly, and my family too. And as I told him, I'm Pete Bob

Steve Haase  47:21  
compete. Right. And I think, for me, the really energizing part of this is expecting the pushback and embracing the pushback, knowing that some of its going to come from within as we kind of resonate with some of those messages as being part of the privileged community in whatever ways you identify with that. I love how you point out that you have some of those as well with education able bodied, we had this conversation with our kids just this morning, it's like, becoming aware of our privilege allows us to be ready for the pushback, internal and external that we will experience on our path to to creating a better business and a better life is what we're actually talking about here.

Malia Lazu  48:02  
That's exactly

Steve Haase  48:06  
where can people go to get all things Malia, Intention to Impact?

Malia Lazu  48:11  
Yes, you can go to thelazugroup.com. And you can see the book and our cultural heritage calendar and different things we have for small businesses, you know, because we know, sometimes, you know, you're the chief cook, bottle washer and dei officer. So we have some great tech that can help you bring that into your company. And you know, you can also find me on all the socials @MaliaLazu. 
Steve Haase  49:28  
exactly. Well, Malia thank you so much for being here today and sharing the wonderful work that you've done. It's gonna help lots of leaders and business owners create better businesses better teams.

Malia Lazu  49:40  
Thank you so much, and thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. All right.