Episode 23: Tiana Conley, Vice President at Kellogg’s, Talks Leadership, Allyship, and How a Better World Starts at The Breakfast Table

From a young age, Tiana didn’t fit into any single box. The daughter of a South Asian mother and an African American father, Tiana’s parents taught her the importance of self-acceptance. This mindset helped propel her into a successful career at some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark. Today, Tiana is helping to reverse the systemic racism that plagues everything from our C-suites to our food system in her role as Vice President of Global Cereal at Kellogg’s.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

3:29 – The Opportunity For Our Country – “We had a historic election. We had a historic turnout for this election. And no matter what side you’re on or who you voted for, hopefully everybody is pretty excited and pretty passionate about the opportunity our country has here in the United States – to have the first ever female Vice President, especially a woman of color in that leadership position. It’s such an amazing milestone for our country.” -KS

13:14 – Intersectionality – “One of my favorite words is intersectionality, and I think that Kamala really captures that extraordinarily well. And it’s something that I felt in my personal life being someone who is a woman, like Kamala, being someone who is black, like Kamala, being someone who is of Asian descent, the child of an Asian immigrant. I’m also South Asian – my mom is from the Philippines – so that is something else that’s very similar to Kamala. To have someone that perfectly fits that intersectionality, that is quite so rare but becoming less rare, and to see that person occupy the highest office we’ve ever seen in the United States of America was absolutely incredible.” -TC

23:00 – Creating A Lane To Fit In – “I remember when I was in first grade, Matt Oberley asked me why I was brown. I told him it was because I fell in mud because I was so embarrassed in some way, or so insecure, or so unknowing at that time where I didn’t really want to be different. And to some extent that stayed with me all the way through high school where I wasn’t comfortable being brown. It was always something that I either had to make into a joke or spin into something but I was always wishing I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I got into college and saw other people like me or people I identify with – who played sports and did things like I did – who helped me rediscover my own heritage and be confident and excited about who I was.” -KS

39:54 – Working With A Purpose – “For me there has to be a component of purpose in what I do. I’ve reached a point where I understand that in order to be motivated I have to know that what I’m doing is not just for a paycheck, and that there’s a deeper impact that I’m having on people, on society, and what I’m doing and how I’m spending my time.” -TC

49:46 – The Importance Of Allyship – “My thoughts around allyship are perhaps slightly unconventional in the sense that I don’t see allyship as a noun, I see allyship as a verb. Allyship is not an award to be granted or a badge to be worn – that’s silly to me because it centers on you, the ally, versus the person you ‘re supposed to be lifting up. Allyship requires you giving up something to advocate on behalf of someone else. If you’re not struggling in your allyship journey, you’re doing it wrong. If it feels easy, you’re probably doing it wrong.” -TC

55:38 – Kash’s One Big Thing – “For me, the thing that stuck with me from the conversation was that if you really want to be an ally. If you really want to show that you care about someone else in a meaningful way, with action behind it, you’ve gotta give up something from yourself. You’ve gotta sacrifice something. To truly make a difference and make an impact for someone else we have to give up something of our own. Life has to get harder for us to make it easier for someone else. And that’s a powerful powerful insight, it’s simple but powerful and most people overlook it. And if we all embrace that attitude, and embrace that understanding that we are going to take a hit, we are going to cut back, we are going to lose a little something, but in the process someone else is going to gain, and someone else’s life is going to be better – their experiences are going to improve – that’s an amazing place for our communities and our society to be.” -KS

Episode 21: Prejudice Starts Before Preschool: Allison Baker, Former Director of Nutrition at Kroger and Founder of Hazel + Dot, Shares How Her Passion for Wellness Grew Into a Purpose for Inclusion

Five years into her career as the Director of Nutrition for The Kroger Co. – America’s largest grocer – Allison Baker adopted Dottie, a two-year-old toddler from Southern India who was born without her left arm. Through her journey as a mother of a brown-skinned, immigrant, female born with a disability, Allison has come face to face with privilege, challenge, and adversity. She’s learned the true meaning of “D&I”, and what it takes to scale that strategy across corporate America. Now, she’s committed to helping change the definition of “normal and good” to include every person, of every color, with every ability level.

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

7:10 The Impact of Online Bullying. “Everybody has experienced some type of bullying, whether it’s how they look, or how they dressed, or what they were good at or not good at – But now, it’s extended so far into the social media space where you can hide behind accounts, or fake accounts, or acronyms, and you can really sling some painful arrows at people. And when I think about the effect that has on young people, it’s really disheartening.” -KS

30:58 Lighting the Spark Inside of You. “If you ask my friends they say, ‘You’ve always wanted to do this.’ Which I don’t even remember exactly when, but one of the things I think about a lot is my dad – He was part of a group that did volunteer work and one of the events that they always went to was St Joseph Orphanage’s 5k run. I used to go there and we would hand out water to the runners. It was just seeing these people with disabilities, and honestly seeing my dad be kind to them, and seeing everyone that was there be kind to them, and just seeing that happen in front of me. I think those things make a humongous difference. It gives you the courage to say ‘I could help someone like this because I’ve had that exposure.’ and it lights that spark in you.” -AB

39:24 Leaving Corporate America for a Startup. “I had a list of things I was looking for in whatever was ‘next.’ One really important thing to me was that I wanted to start moving out of the subject matter expertise bucket – of ‘I came from nutrition, that’s my background.’ – into more of the higher order stuff like partnerships and business development. I really liked working on the projects that were bringing two totally different entities together and trying to make something happen. I realized that was really my passion. The other thing is that I was really wanting to work with an international business and honestly, was very interested in the startup lifestyle. I had been working really closely with your team and you guys have that startup grind. I remember one of your team members – we were working on something at 1am – looked at me and he’s like, ‘Do you usually work this late?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ It’s just part of my DNA. I was working for a big company but I was really more, at heart, of a startup person.” -AB

44:40 Changing What Is “Normal” and “Good.” “If you think about when we develop prejudice it’s because something is going outside our view of what is normal or good. And what defines our view of what is normal or good – childhood is obviously a big part of it like we spoke about earlier – but also what I just call the cloud of messages that surrounds us all the time. And who builds that cloud of messages? Honestly, it’s the big companies that run the world. And so they are defining what normal and good is whether they mean to or not. What I really believe is when you start to change what’s in that cloud – you go to a store, you go to a website, you look at an advertisement and you see someone missing an arm, and you see someone in a wheelchair, and you see someone who’s a person of color, and you see someone who has Down’s Syndrome, which is starting to happen – you start to change that center of what is normal and good.” -AB

45:55 Connecting Passion and Purpose. “When I look at your journey and a lot of the journeys of leaders that I’ve come into contact with, it’s usually that time – six, seven, eight, ten years into your career – where you start to really think about passion and purpose from your own perspective. And obviously, what you’ve learned and experienced with Dottie, your daughter, who was born without an arm, and you know the challenges that she’s going to have to face – as well as being a woman, as well as being a minority, and an immigrant – it’s a point of your life where you’re like, ‘You know what, I want to go do something I believe in. I want to go pour my passion, and my time, and my effort into something that I truly believe the world needs.'”  -KS

59:00 Kash’s One Big Thing. “With everything happening, this is the time, this is the generation that needs to finally put a stake in the ground and say, “We’re going to do it different.” Because there is a portion of our population that grew up in the 60’s, and 50’s, and 40’s, and they’re aging right now. They grew up with this and this is what they believe. It’s a little bit of hatred seeded into them, but they’re not going to be around much longer. Those folks that grew up during those times – Your time is up boys and girls, if you believe that. We’re coming and I’m going to be on the front edge, but there’s a younger group that doesn’t believe in that same bullshit. You have a few more years left and then the whole army of people who believe in unity, diversity, and inclusion is coming, and to me that’s the exciting part. It’s a different time and those of you out there that are still like that, we’re coming for you.” -KS

Episode 13: Creativity Will Never Die – Andrea Diquez, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi NY, Talks Global Growth, Working With Big Companies, and What’s Got Her Very Angry

Born in Venezuela, Andrea Diquez moved to New York City with a passion for theater. A few months later, she was in the throws at one of the largest and most successful Advertising Agencies in the world. Twenty-five years and numerous big accounts later – including Tide, Coca-Cola, and Toyota – she runs the company. She continues to lead with passion, optimism and positivity, and a contagious desire to do great work. 

On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:

8:31 Brands speaking up. “Sixty-eight percent of consumers say that they find it helpful when companies or brands are addressing coronavirus in advertising. Sixty-two percent of consumers say that when companies or brands are addressing the current crisis, that means that the brands have the consumers’ best interests at heart. Even though it’s a time when people, brands, leaders, marketing directors, and CEOs are a little nervous about taking these courageous and bold steps with their marketing and advertising, the data tells us that’s what people want. That’s what consumers want to see, what they expect. In a lot of ways, not saying something right now says more about you as a brand and a company than anything else.” -KS

17:58 Passion for the client’s brand. “You have to love the brand that you’re working on. I’m not going to come up with stuff that is going to destroy the brand or kill the brand. I’m actually on the same page as the client – when I work on a brand, I give it my all, as if it was mine. I really take care of it, and I get the team to take care of it and love it. Regardless of the brand. With all the brands that I’ve worked on, some are more difficult than others, but if you love it and you nurture it, then good stuff happens. Sometimes it takes two, three, four years, but it happens…I love the brands I work on and I really dedicate time to being part of the work.” -AD

29:46 Andrea on being herself. “I’ve never not been myself. My bosses have always been okay with that…I love that all my bosses have let me be who I am. Sometimes they’re a little scared, I think, but they’ve let me be who I am and that’s great. That’s why I’ve been successful. People ask me, ‘Was it hard being Venezuelan and getting to where you are?’ No – I’m here because I’m Venezuelan. I’m different. And people embrace those differences, and they were okay with it. They figured that by adding me to the mix things would become even better. I was very lucky with all my bosses, I still am.” -AD

32:19 Adding value to the client. “The last thing I wanted to be at our sister company, BSB Group International, is a “Yes sir, no sir” agency. I don’t want to just be executing what the client says to do. I always want to be able to have a point of view, have our personal passion, and expertise. I want to be able to say, as embedded strategic business partners, ‘Here’s what we recommend and why we believe in it so much.’ That’s something that I learned from you and from the Saatchi team.” – KS

38:34 Maintaining consistency with change. “When clients change, the first thing I do is try to understand a little bit what the client is – who the person is, where they come from, what they’re used to seeing. If it’s another company, it’s another company, if it’s the same company in another country or with another brand, I try to really understand a little bit of the background and understand where they’re coming from and what their forte is. That’s how we start our relationship in an orientation on what we do. It’s focused on what that person’s strength is. Or, I’m never scared of saying, ‘I don’t know too much about this, but this is a challenge we had and here’s how your people helped us.’ And always demonstrating that we love the brand, we know the brand, and we share the passion for growing the brand. And we’re there to build it with them.” -AD

44:08 The Triple Win. “For us, we always believe in the triple win: it’s a win for the customer, meaning it’s adding value to the customer; it’s a win for the business, meaning it’s driving revenue or profit; and it’s a win for the client, and for that in the corporate world it actually means that they’re ascending, that they’re getting promoted and getting recognized. Some folks on my team were like, ‘Well that means that we’re going to lose some of those clients that we have great relationships with.’ But that’s what we want – as long as we’re losing them because they’re going up and they’re ascending, whether it’s at that company or somewhere else, then we did something right and we’re on the right side of it. Then our challenge is to do that again with the next crop that comes in.” -KS

1:21:33 Kash’s One Big Thing. “You can’t talk about it unless you’re about it behind your own closed doors, inside your own company. A lot of brands are coming to the forefront right now saying, ‘We want to take a stance, we have an opinion, we want to join the conversation of what’s happening today in our society and our culture.’ There are so many issues that have been pushed to the forefront. But you can’t talk about it in a credible or authentic way if you haven’t addressed it within your own household, family, or company. You can’t talk about diversity if you don’t have a leadership team that’s diverse or if you don’t have a marketing strategy that connects with multiple cultures and multiple types of people. That’s so important. Before we talk about what we can do and how we can evolve our communications externally, we need to take this as an opportunity to look at ourselves and reevaluate how we’ve been running our companies, businesses, households, and families. That’s the opportunity we have today – use all the issues, conflict, and conversation that’s in front of us as a mirror to look at ourselves, what we control, and the fingerprints that we leave on everything we touch. And make sure that we feel great about that impact before we decide how we’re going to market ourselves. That call to action of authenticity and realness is so important.” -KS