Caroline shares ideas and resources for the AAPI community and allies.
Since I last wrote, there have been more terrible things happening in the US like more mass shootings, continued violence on Asian Americans, and sigh…“accidental” and violent deaths of young Black and Brown Americans. In the midst of all the devastating things that I’m trying to process, I also want to share some positive news. I gratefully received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and I was able to send my kids off to full-day, in-person learning. I am also starting to daydream of in-person work, social events, and trips that might be possible this summer and beyond. I'm also grateful for this week's verdict that brought accountability for the murder of George Floyd and I am happy to see the vaccination rate going up in the country. With everything going on, I can’t help but feel hopeful and also strangely unsettled. If you can relate, please read my notes from last month on “Managing Transitions.”
Getting my first dose of the vaccine
Photo credit: Chong Oh
In the meantime, my work in the land of Zoom this month has been busy and rewarding. It has required me to bring a lot of my personal self, as an Asian American woman, to the table. And by doing so, I feel like I’m at least helping to be a part of the solution and support system for those that are dealing with some of the hard things we are grappling with in the world. Here are a few that I want to share with you.
Common Impact’s Women in Leadership Spotlight
Common Impact, a nonprofit organization that supports the work of other nonprofits, as well as engages with corporate employees in challenging volunteer opportunities that develop their skills and unlock successful purpose-driven careers, reached out to highlight me on its blog post, Women in Leadership Spotlight last month.
The written piece was a belated thank you letter to my mentors, colleagues, and friends who believed in me before I felt confident enough to lead. It also serves as a reflection of how I continue to evolve, identify, and overcome my internal conflicts to try to reach my full potential. To quote myself, (OK this is embarrassing. Haha.)
“It’s not easy to separate the intersectionality of gender, race, and class that contribute to bias in the workplace. I am someone who has internalized these dynamics as part of my effort to “assimilate” as a teenage immigrant and thrive within the constraints that the American workplace has put on women. “You get what you get and don’t get upset” is the kind of attitude I lived with for a long time and now try to undo as a woman leader and mother.”
Thank you to Danielle Holly, Emily Patrick, and the Common Impact team for sharing my story.
The continued attacks on Asian Americans have many employers looking for ways to support their Asian American employees and I was invited to host three different safe space conversations this month. One event was held for over 70 scientists of various backgrounds and two other meetings were “closed” conversations for Asian American communities at a tech company.
In facilitating these conversations, I reflected on the fact that over the years, I have sometimes personally prided myself on not letting the “small stuff” get to me, but instead acting as if aggressive slurs and occasional acts of violence, as well as microaggressions I experience only make me stronger. I find that the younger generation of Asian Americans, who are not afraid to take up space and speak out about the injustice and need for change as well as the other communities of color that are reaching out, incredibly inspiring and moving. I feel grateful that I was able to show up for the Asian American communities and our allies in this way, and plan to do more work in this area as long as there is a need.
In my research for the above events, I took HollaBack!’s bystander training. Currently, the training that is specific to anti-Asian American violence is sold out, but even their general anti-harassment training will provide a helpful and practical framework. You can also learn the group’s 5D's framework here. The 5D's are Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.
If you would like to see links to the full list of learning and action resources I've gathered so far, please let me know and I will send them your way. I would also love to hear what has helped you so I can continue to learn in this area.
Before I head off for the month, I want to share the framework I borrowed from the book, “Death by Meeting,” to help some of my clients think about how they can structure their meetings for the best results. As we think about how to reimagine our post COVID work world, one thing that has plagued so many people, before and during the COVID world, is back-to-back, inefficient, ineffective, and never-ending meetings.
If having better meetings interests you, I would be happy to send you a book (I have two reserved copies), a summary, or talk it through with you during our next meeting. One big takeaway that resonates with most of my clients is that it is a mistake to have one type of meeting for all the different types of decisions and conversations they are trying to tackle. Death by Meeting recommends four types of meetings for a team to implement as follows, comparing them to different types of TV programming.
Daily Check-in (5-10 minutes in length) -to clarify expectations and align the team. This type of meeting would be comparable to few minutes of cable TV headline news you would skim at the beginning of each day.
Weekly Tactical (45-90 minutes) -to resolve urgent tactical issues. This type of meeting would be comparable to a weekly TV sitcom or crime drama series.
Monthly Strategic (2-4 hours) -to deeply discuss and decide on 1-2 critical issues impacting the organization. This type of meeting would be comparable to a feature-length film.
Quarterly Off-site Review (1-2 days) -to holistically review the organization's strategic plan and goals. This type of meeting would be comparable to a multi-part film or mini-series.
Revisiting this book made me want to adopt these concepts for debating and making important decisions for my family too. This book would pair beautifully with The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which dives deeper into how to gather and meet in a meaningful and impactful way. Here are my takeaways on the book from a couple of years ago.
As always, please write back and let me know what you are up to. Stay well and talk to you soon!