Living Inclusion in a Diverse World

Episode 13 – JuvoHub Podcast

Our Host: Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social

Our Special Guest: Alycia Anderson

Alycia is on a mission to motivate and invoke change through the power of diversity and inclusion. She is an accomplished motivational speaker and the Vice President of Sales at Knock, an online marketing and sales management solution for multifamily rental properties. She studied Adapted Education at California State University, Chico, and continued on to receive her Master's Degree from KU Leuven, Belgium in Adapted Physical Activity emphasizing the benefits, practices, and principles of inclusion.

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Show Highlights

Notes from the host:

Diversity and inclusion is the responsibility of all leaders. The American Disabilities Act has been around for decades and yet talking about this is still a challenge for many. Alycia takes us on a journey that strips away the barriers around the conversation of people who have disabilities and how we frame inclusivity with love and respect.

Some questions we consider:

  • Why did you decide that you wanted to be a motivational speaker and educator?
  • The buzz word of the day is “inclusion” is that something new?
  • How can leaders teach better communication to their team?
  • What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

The key to inclusion is equal access and opportunity to life

Do the best that you can with what you have been given and go for it with a smile

Alycia Anderson – Vice President of Sales Knock

If you enjoyed this episode be sure to check out:

Jonathan Saar: Just before we get into our show today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about our sponsor. We really appreciate REAL HR, a Higginbotham company, being our sponsor once again for today's show. Today's show is Episode 13, an interview that I have with Alycia Anderson. I'm speechless, after just having this interview with her, trying to be able to gather my words together. So I think you're really going to ... Not think, I know you're going to absolutely enjoy this session. So many key phrases that she mentioned, one that just resonated so much with me and you're going to hear it for yourself, the key to inclusion is equal opportunity in life. The key to inclusion is equal opportunity in life.

Jonathan Saar: So we're going to dive into how diversity and inclusion is not just some PR check-the-box item. You're going to hear her take on what it takes to make that part of your corporate culture. So let's get into our show for today. Hello everyone, and welcome to Episode 13 of JuvoHub. JuvoHub is your Property Management Podcast to help you with self-education. I am so excited today to have with me, Alycia Anderson. Alycia is on a mission to motivate and invoke change through the power of diversity and inclusion. So just chew on that sentence just for a minute. We're really looking forward to her thoughts and I got some great questions for her. She is an accomplished Motivational Speaker and she's the Vice President of Sales at Knock, an online marketing and sales management solution for multi-family rental properties.

Jonathan Saar: We're going to talk about living inclusion in a diverse world. So just think about that topic for a minute, living inclusion in a diverse world. Alycia, welcome to the show, so glad to have you with us today.

Alycia Anderson: Thank you for having me, Jonathan. I'm super excited. I appreciate the opportunity.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, no. I ... [crosstalk 00:02:28]

Alycia Anderson: [crosstalk 00:02:28] And hello to your audience.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, I think our audience is just going to love this. You and I had some time before the show to kind of go over and prepare what we're going to chat about today. What a timely topic. I know you're going to get into who you are and what you do, so I'm not going to steal any of that. But in the atmosphere of where we are at today, diversity, inclusion, and your unique perspective on both of those. My first question for you. Your bio, we're going to talk about your website, you decided you wanted to be a motivational speaker, you decided you wanted to be an educator. What facilitated that? What brought that about?

Alycia Anderson: Good question. A life long of experience, honestly, but over time I have realized that I'm a bridge. I'm a bridge to share to people that might be interested or curious about how it might be to live a life like mine. I was born with my disability and I've lived my life from a wheelchair. The majority of my life has been public. I have lived my life on a virtual stage and people are always watching me. It's the random audience that's captivated by normal navigation of day to day, whether I'm pumping gas in my car, or shopping at the store, or a multitude of just mundane activities. When I was young, I hated it. It stressed me out that people were watching me, I was full of anxiety. But I know that when people are watching me, they're learning, and over time I've accepted that it's a responsibility.

Alycia Anderson: It's a huge responsibility and an honor of mine in my lifetime to share potential of possibility. So if I don't do it, who will? There's not a whole lot of people that are speaking that look like me. I feel like just by living my everyday life, I show people the value that everybody brings to the table. I do that through my speaking, and I amplify it through my message. I just want to open doors and widen doors, frankly, for people that follow me. I have a great life, I'm happy. This is all about past for me, present, and future. When you really dive into my story, the timing is pretty poignant, and it leads up to where I am today. I was born on the cusp of segregation of people with disabilities to inclusion.

Alycia Anderson: There were people that fought for me to have a chance and it's my duty to just sort of pay that forward in my life path. I just really want to try to highlight how we all can have a mark in this world. I'm just compelled to share my story, and broaden the lens of possibility, and show that inclusion can work. You mentioned I'm the VP of Sales at Knock, it's a multi-family tech platform that helps leasing agents connect renters with property managers and understand how their business is performing. I'm proud to be a part of an incredible team of innovators and an industry that's focused on diversity and celebrates it. Through employment and moving up the ladder in my profession, I have been one of the top performers.

Alycia Anderson: I am looked at as an advisor. I am endeared by my clients and realizing and understanding their needs in a comprehensive way has been an achievement. Yet there's so many achievements that are salted with adversity along the way, that people don't realize that you have to overcome. I've had to overcome to achieve the things that I have. It's things like things that we don't like to talk about, overcoming major medical issues, marginalization, discrimination, exclusion. All these things we need to tackle head on and understand that they're the hard things in life that you need to overcome. But they're the things in our experiences that make life so rich and interesting. Adaptability is key and overcoming all this stuff. I'm just on a mission, like you said, to inspire people to feel limitless in tackling these things and finding their fullest potential and knowing that it's possible.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, that's awesome. So much stuff resonated with me there, Alycia. No matter who we are, when we have certain challenges or insecurities, often it's like you want to not have the spotlight on you or you want to try and hide it in some way. But your approach, I've already gotten to know you, has made you who you are, what you are, how you are to your company, to your family, to your team, and is a great voice in a world where, and I know we're going to get into this in just a minute, people don't want to talk about those things, are afraid to talk about those things, and there's no reason for it. There is no reason for it. So, what a testimony to being able to bring issues and not being afraid to have that conversation with people.

Jonathan Saar: That's beautiful. So like in the title, what you and I kind of came up with and we hear it a lot today, inclusion. It seems to be like a buzzword right now, but it's nothing new. What do you think about that? People using that word? What's your history with that expression? Any comments or thoughts on that?

Alycia Anderson: Absolutely. Inclusion has been a part of my life since Day One, that is for sure. I was born an identical twin, one able-bodied, one with a disability, so we've been chasing after this idea of inclusion since literally we were born. Is it new? Absolutely not, no way. It's just starting to be recognized. I think inclusion was probably born in the 60s during the Civil Rights Movement. 56 years later, we're struggling with what it means still. We're struggling with who belongs in those categories. You're right, there's buzzwords inclusion, diversity, bias, allyship, belonging, equity, they go on and on and on. There's so many concepts around this theory today. They're all important but they're definitely buzzy.

Alycia Anderson: We're seeing companies and universities implementing programs and departments and job roles like VP of Diversity and Belonging, are you kidding? I can't even believe that's happening and it's exciting. But are we checking off a box or do we understand what we're actually trying to accomplish here? Inclusion, I think it's important to understand what it is. It's an act, it's the state of being included. It's the relationship between two groups where both are members of each.

Alycia Anderson: Inclusion is closely related to diversity, but they're muddied together a lot as one thing. I think it's important to understand that diversity is who we are, it focuses on what makes us different and unique, it's what makes the world go around, it's what makes it interesting. But inclusion is the deliberate act of including, it's an action. Diversity is who we are and inclusion is a deliberate action that we take. Inclusion is born out of inequity. It's when we start to realize that things are not fair, that they're not right, that we can specifically see clearly that people in specific groups that might be marginalized are not being included because of their difference.

Alycia Anderson: I think inclusion successfully is achieving environments where people are treated fairly and have equal access to opportunities, have equal access to life. Inclusion is a global concept, it's relatable by so many different layers. In my talks and in my messaging, how can I relate it? I relate to disability because that's my life, that's what I've lived in. I relate it to mobility, and varying abilities, and disability, however you want to name it or call it, and how I fit in with all of that in the world. But inclusion, overlaps for every group. It's really something that's for all of us. The world that we live in today is propelled by technology and the feeling that anything is possible at our fingertips, and it magnifies these inequities. It's forcing us to take a hard look. It's visible.

Alycia Anderson: Who are we? Where have we come? What do we have? How did we get there? In the way, on that path, how are we treating people? Who are we bringing along with us? So I just think that the key to inclusion is equal access to life. We're finally understanding, professionally and in life, that it brings interesting things, creativity, and forward thinking, and innovation, and well-rounded insight, and broadens perspectives. All along that road, we're just starting to understand it. We're starting to chip away at it. We're starting to care, our hearts are starting to become warm to it. I'm excited to be a part of this movement because disability is left out of the story a lot of the time. It's a huge part of the story because any of us can be in my situation for a day, a week, a year, forever as we're aging. It doesn't discriminate, color, race, gender, any of it. So, I want to seat at the table of realization of how important this stuff is for everybody, including me.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. You said something a moment ago, it bears repeating. I want to make sure. It's a quotable quote, "the key to inclusion is equal opportunity to life." Is that what you said? Yes.

Alycia Anderson: Yes, in life.

Jonathan Saar: Okay. "The key to inclusion is equal opportunity in life." So I just ... [inaudible 00:14:00]

Alycia Anderson: [inaudible 00:14:00] And that's with life, work, family, love, all of it. All of it.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. Yeah, that's amazing. The other thing I wrote down too, Alycia, I resonated with it because when you and I were talking about the show and getting ready and going over some of the material, in the industry that we're in, you would think that's not a big problem because in property management, we're trained for this. We're trained for the Fair Housing Act and the American Disabilities Act, yet it's still a challenge, like you mentioned, decades later.

Jonathan Saar: To be fair, I mean, obviously we have new generations of people that are coming into the workplace that have never been exposed to it. So it's not something that we know new employees are just going to inherit. As a matter of fact, in your situation, you're a pioneer. You're teaching ones who may have never been exposed to this topic before. For property management leaders, they can't expect that, because this topic has been around for so many years, their new employees are just going to organically understand the culture behind it. That it's not just PR, it's not just a policy. Here's our policy, we don't want to have any PR so we do this, no diversity and inclusion. This is our culture. This is the way of life. Fantastic, that was amazing.

Jonathan Saar: I was looking at your different speaking sessions and I know you touch on a lot of this in your sessions that you have for organizations. So if you can just kind of give us a sound bite, what do you tell leaders? What is your message when it comes to helping them communicate what you just said? What does that look like? What is the process for a leader to be able to address, take point in some aspects, and communicate that to their team? What are your thoughts?

Alycia Anderson: Communication is the key word. There's no magic recipe for this stuff other than communicating. I think from a leader's perspective, taking a hard assessment of themselves. Just like I said, they need to take a hard look at who they are, what they believe, how they got it, and most importantly, how they're going to project those feelings onto their team? They need to lead by example, believe what they're saying, not just check off a box. Why are we implementing these things? Why do we care about it? Shift goals to include everyone in processes, and maybe move away from 'the end justifies the means,' and realize that if we don't include everyone in the process we might not truly be reaching all of our ultimate goals.

Alycia Anderson: This may not be done tomorrow, it may take a lot of time. But the key factor is that everybody needs to have a seat at the table. We need to be able to get the thoughts, get feedback from everyone and ideas, and open up possibility, and possibly changing our end goals so we are including everyone and have that broader lens that we're looking forward. Leaders need to understand that inclusion is hard work. It is hard for you, it's hard for me. It's collective. It's uncomfortable. It's ongoing. It's effort. It takes teamwork. It takes collaboration. It takes adaptability. It takes being willing to relearn the things that we have been taught from the people before us, that maybe we need to open up our perspectives a little bit more. How do we do this?

Alycia Anderson: We start talking about it. We need to remove fear. Fear has been stopping the progression of inclusion in companies and in society forever because we're afraid that we're going to say the wrong thing. That's just the reality. So we need to be willing to make mistakes with our words and with our actions in the process. We're never going to be an expert on somebody else. We need to be willing to ask bold questions. We need to be willing to ask hard questions, even though we might have a slip up. Vice versa of that, whoever's receiving that needs to receive it, and be honest with their answers. Be willing to forgive if mistakes are made because that's how we're learning. Communication is key. It's like a dance, it takes two. It takes trust. It takes vulnerability. It takes practice. It takes a lot of work and it becomes a habit eventually, and we can execute it naturally.

Alycia Anderson: So over time, this breaks down these buzzwords, bias, and stigma, and stereotypes, whether they're conscious or not. There's scenarios in both that drive our decisions, that are making our decisions into what we're decided to do for tomorrow. The blocker on inclusion, we need to just allow the conversation to happen organically without worrying about judgment and really eliminating fear.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah.

Alycia Anderson: It opens up tomorrow. It opens up for a better tomorrow and a more inclusive society, workplace, world, whatever we're talking about.

Jonathan Saar: Exactly. Exactly, I like how you put it in from an educator standpoint. For instance, it's like a Training Director who may be listening to this, well, what do they do? They check the box. Okay. We did our sales training, we did our customer service training, we did our OSHA Safety, check, check, check. We can easily get into that mode, but this is a topic that is definitely not a check-the-box. Kind of a B-part to the question, and I think I might be answering it, but I would love your feedback on it. So if it's not a checkbox item, that means therefore, it's not just an annual course or an annual subject at the leadership conference. Creating an inclusive, diverse corporate culture is a daily thing, right? Am I hitting the mark?

Alycia Anderson: It's absolutely a daily thing. It's been a lifelong thing, it is constantly changing and growing as we understand and learn, and it becomes more natural. Diversity, there's never going to be a turnkey solution completely. There's going to be the manuals that you buy, but there's a humanity aspect of this that we all understand in our own way, from our own life experiences, from the past, moving into the future. We only can progress again as we're having communication that is always going to be different.

Jonathan Saar: Right.

Alycia Anderson: It's not turnkey, there's no way.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. So I guess my takeaway Alycia, from this, or one of many. I'm pretending for a moment, again, we'll put myself into the seat of those who listening. I've never brought this up to my team. I don't have a communication strategy for that as of today. But I'm listening to this show and now I know I need to have one, but the onus is on me. It's on me to understand that bigger picture, to understand the components of it. Again, not have that mindset of, "Okay, we've talked about it. Now we can move on. Go back to business as usual, go back to leasing apartments and so on." That's kind of like what I feel from this, and for our listeners, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do today?

Jonathan Saar: You finished listening to this show. We're going to send people to your website. What are you going to do about it, everyone? What is your next step to really understand diversity, inclusion and what it really means? Don't go away from this show, "Oh, well that was great." Take some steps and do something to create that culture within your organization now. Just take a deep breath. I mean, amazing Alycia, go ahead, go ahead. I think you've got another thought, you have it on your face.

Alycia Anderson: Yeah. I think the first step to all of this is stripping away the invisibility piece that we get hung up on with diversity. Find your way to the person, find your way to your team, and figure out what makes them tick. I have this saying, my dad always told me to do the best that I can with what I've been given and go for it with a smile. That's my motto, but I've stripped it down a little bit where I want people to see me for me. Just find your way to the person, find your way to their heart. What makes them tick? What makes them so unique to bring them into your organization? Acknowledge them for who they are, not what we think they might, can, or cannot do. We don't understand that until we've had the conversation. One person needs to be willing to try and the other person needs to be willing to share.

Alycia Anderson: It's just as simple as that. No one person can accomplish this on our own. I just think it's important to frame inclusivity. For me, its basis is heart, and love, and respect. What can we do for each other? How can we support our teams, enable pathways for people to grow no matter their background or that what diversity they might be coming from? The hardest part of all of this stuff is caring about the other person and putting forth the effort to find a solution, to talk about how we can include everyone, to talk about what makes each person tick, and what makes them feel comfortable and supported. Recognize that celebrating our differences as gifts, your team's differences as gifts, allows us to adapt and do change and to experience and see.

Alycia Anderson: See people for people, to see me for me. These biases, these stigmas, we cannot allow them to hold us back from allowing people to propel their careers, to move forward in life, because we believe something that just might not be true. We need to just start listening. We need to start listening without judgment. We need to have open arms. We need to have genuine love and curiosity about another person. It takes time and practice to push away these stereotypes and stigmas that come along with, for sure, this road that I'm on. So I just challenge leaders do the collective work that it takes, the conversation that it takes, the boldness that it takes to remove this invisibility, diversity, that we focus on so much and just find your way to the person. We adapt in that process, we need to be adaptable and we needed to communicate. It's just that simple.

Jonathan Saar: I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Man, this is just amazing. Beautiful Alycia, I'm so grateful to have you here on the show today. There's just so many takeaways, so many quotable quotes. I'm confident that everyone who listens to this is going to pick up that pen and paper, analyze everything that they're doing internally right now. We got to analyze ourselves, it starts with looking in the mirror. Look in the mirror, what are we doing today? How are we treating people? Reach the heart.

Jonathan Saar: Boy, it's just awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So my question to kind of close it out, always love to get the quotable sound bite so to speak from all of my guests on the show. You said a bunch, so if you have another one, this is going to be just icing on the cake. There's so many little tips that I took notes on here, but what's your top, if you have a tip that has served you well as an educator, what is it? You can repeat what you've already mentioned, but what is your go-to thought, quotes, tips, something along that line?

Alycia Anderson: I think it just goes back to my motto which is, "You got to do the best that you can with what you've been given and smile." We all have something that's hard. Mine is definitely more visible and there's, for sure, some really hard parts that I have to deal with but it makes life so beautiful. You just got to go for it in life. You just have to do the best that you can, and that's all I'm trying to do. If I can shed some light on this and open some doors for people that are going to follow me, I'm so happy. So, that's really my goal.

Jonathan Saar: Beautiful, beautiful. Well, there you have it friends. Alycia Anderson, Motivational Speaker, Vice-President of Sales at Knock. So Alycia, for those listening these will be in the show notes, but just tell us what's your website, your company website? How can people connect with you after the show?

Alycia Anderson: My website is alyciaanderson.com. That's Alycia with a Y, so A-L-Y-C-I-A Anderson with an O. There you can link to all of my social connections as well. I'm just open to bringing the human aspect to this conversation and companies, to really try to connect the dots a little bit more, and have a seat at the table, a conversation, make some change. We'll do it.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So everyone listening, make sure you check out her website. Make sure you check out Knock, an amazing multi-family company that is doing a lot for our industry, especially with all of the challenges we're having with leasing in a virtual environment. Be sure to check out their website, those will be in the show notes too. Thank you again, Alycia, wonderful to have you on the show, look forward to having you on a future episode. But until next time, thank you everyone for being here. This is Episode 13 of JuvoHub, the Podcast for Property Management and those who want to educate themselves. Our subject for today, living inclusion in a diverse world. So thank you everyone for being here, we'll see you next time. Thank you again, Alycia.

Alycia Anderson: Thank you.

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