The Waymakers: Creating A Culture Of Diversity, Equality, And Inclusion Through Leadership With Tara Jaye Frank

TTD 31 | Culture


The new generation is now looking for more than just a place to work. They are looking for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture. How do companies achieve that? Here to discuss this in depth is Tara Jaye Frank. Tara is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and leadership experience designer that helps organizations define a vision and develop strategies to advance their culture and leadership goals. In this episode, she joins Dr. Patty Ann Tublin to discuss how leadership bleeds through your organization with insights from her book, The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence. Tara also offers valuable advice for leaders on promoting and creating a safe space for their subordinates and colleagues. Tune in to learn more.

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The Waymakers: Creating A Culture Of Diversity, Equality, And Inclusion Through Leadership With Tara Jaye Frank

Welcome to this episode. I cannot tell you how excited I am for our guest. She is going to wow you. Before we go any further, since I know you’re going to love this episode, if you’re a first-time reader, make sure you like, comment, share, and subscribe to the show. We have an incredible and powerful woman who is changing lives as she changes the leadership of companies.

She has provided strategies and systems that drive the workplace. I know this is the buzz term but she has been talking about equity and inclusion for years as she was an executive for the company every woman has heard of. If you want to stay in your intimate relationships, you’ve heard of them too, Hallmark.

She is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and leadership experience designer that helps leaders and organizations define a vision and develop strategies to advance their culture and leadership goals. She has come out with a book called The Waymakers. When this episode is over, you will be able to Google and find out so much more about her but for now, buckle up because Tara Jaye Frank is about to take us for a ride.

Welcome, Tara. Thank you so much for agreeing to be on this show.

Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m all revved up. I’m ready to go.

We talked a little bit because I love to talk to people. You have such an interesting background. Tell us how you got to where you are now.

Is it how I got to where I am, physically or professionally?

It’s whatever you want to talk about.

I was born in Bedford, Massachusetts. I went to school at a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. I went to Spelman. I spent seventeen years in Kansas City at Hallmark Cards. I was there for 21 years but I lived in Kansas City for 17.

Is that where that corporate is?

That’s in Kansas City, Missouri. I moved to Dallas, Texas. I live in Dallas with my husband and 2 of our 6 children and 3 dogs. I essentially run my consultancy where I work with high-level executives, helping them to 1) Better understand their workplace culture, 2) Find an aspirational culture, and then 3) Build a bridge between those two points. That’s how I have traveled through this country logistically. The professional story is a lot more complicated.

You traveled as you were creating your brand because who you are now is the compound of who you were in the past. There’s so much to talk about. Let’s talk about Hallmark. For example, I love Valentine’s Day. I know it’s made up. Hallmark made Valentine’s Day up. I know it’s fake but it worked. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I love it. That’s probably because of Hallmark. How did you end up at Hallmark out of school? How did you stay there and climb the corporate ladder?

Interestingly, I started writing poetry when I was six years old.

She’s a poet too. What does this woman not do?

That’s what led me into my Hallmark career. I was writing from a very young age. I had my poem published in the newspaper at six. It was terrible, but still.

What was it about?

It was called Fish in the Water.

Do you remember it? Can you recite it?

It started with, “Fish in the water, fish in the pond when little fish was just born. One little fish was sleeping, the other little fish was weeping. One little fish was trying, the other little fish was dying.” It’s very sad.

It shapes your views of the world and frames situations if you listen long and intently enough.

That can be so deep if you look at it. It’s the whole circle of life.

Here’s the thing, though. We’re laughing but you asked an important question about how I got to where I am. The truth of the matter is from a very young age, I was also introspective and reflective about everything, people, how people interacted with one another, and what made people happy and sad. By the time I was fourteen, I already knew I wanted to work and write greeting cards for Hallmark. That’s what I wanted to do.

When I went to Spelman, I was an English major. It was junior year. Mind you, the internet was not a thing when I first went to college. I didn’t know where Hallmark was. I knew I wanted to end up there but I didn’t know where in the country it was or how to get to the people who were there. In my junior year at Spelman, I was sitting in my Shakespeare class. My professor, Dr. Christine Sizemore, starts reading the announcements.

She’s reading them and I hear her say, “Hallmark Cards will be here on such-and-such date recruiting for interns.” I was like, “She’s talking to me.” As soon as class was over, I ran to the career placement center and said, “I understand Hallmark will be here. I’ve wanted to work there forever. Can I be their tour guide? Can I have lunch with them?” They allowed me to do that and quite literally, the rest was history. I got the internship between my junior and senior years as a greeting card writer.

You were writing. You weren’t getting coffee.

I started as a writer.

A lot of internships are getting coffee.

I had such a beautiful internship for that reason, honestly. We did real work. That summer between junior and senior year, I got the highest number of writing acceptances any writing intern had ever received to that point. It was fewer than twenty. That summer, I got 61 acceptances. I was offered a job the August of my senior year. I spent my entire senior year pretty much waiting to graduate so that I could go start my dream job.

You never went to a keg party.


That is amazing and incredible. You’re making light of it. It might even be a little less difficult back in the day but you were already ahead of the curve. People didn’t realize how important internships were to getting that first job offer off of school but you knew how to develop the relationships. You did what anybody successful does, “I’ll do anything.”

What can I do? How do I position myself near the people who made the decisions and could change my future?

Where did that wisdom at such a young age come from? That’s wisdom. Mastery is wisdom applied to life.

I wish I could answer that question with clarity for you. My mother always used to say to me when I was young, “You’ve been here before.” That was the way older people saw us.

You’re an old soul.

First of all, I spent a lot of time around adults. I was not a very social little person. I characterize it as shy then. I learned later that it was anxiety. I was attached to my mother pretty much all the time. I went where she went and overheard conversations she had.

TTD 31 | Culture
The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence

Were you an only child?

I had two older brothers. I was always listening. That’s probably the only thing I can point to. I believe that I have an innate gift for language and shaping that language.

I interviewed somebody pretty successful but I can’t remember who it was. I asked him a similar question but not exactly the way I asked you. I said it much less eloquently like, “How did you get so smart?” What he told me was he came from a very traditional, old school, and stereotypical Italian family. He said, “We used to be at the beach all the time. I used to always be around my mother and all her sisters and my aunts. I used to listen.” It’s exactly what you said. He learned so much wisdom.

You pick that up. It shapes your views of the world and frames situations for you if you listen long and intently enough. I was always curious, and I still am. That’s what allows me to do the work I do. It’s that curiosity.

You get into Hallmark and catapult yourself up the food chain. We will get to your book but I want people to see how this doesn’t happen overnight. What are some of the things that sucked about being there? Even for you, there must have been days when you went home and you were like, “What on God’s green Earth am I doing here? How can that person be so insensitive, stupid, and a moron? How did they get to where they are being who they are?”

I hope you believe me when I say that I had very few of those moments in my Hallmark career. Generally, Hallmarkers, as we called ourselves, are among the nicest people I’ve ever met.

What a great compliment for company culture.

They’re very nice people, generally speaking. They’re warm, open, and caring. That is the nature of the business, so it’s not that surprising. However, nice isn’t always what we need in our leaders at every stage of the game. Sometimes what we need in our leaders is transparency, directness, coaching, courage, and risk-taking. There were times in my career certainly when I felt I wasn’t getting exactly what I needed but it was never the whole, “That person is such a jerk.” There were few jerks in that culture. Quite honestly, when they were jerks, they didn’t last long. The culture was not tolerant of that.

That’s great but I’m going to get to the dirt. Share one time when what you were presented with or the situation that you were in did not give you and was not compatible with what you needed to succeed.

When I was about 25, I was the editorial director for a product line that we created in partnership with Dr. Maya Angelou. I was essentially her voice or translator. I was her editorial partner. I took very much to heart my responsibility to translate her writing and poetry into greeting card format. At Hallmark, you work with art directors. Word people work with visual people. Everything is partner-based. I had an art director who had been at Hallmark a lot longer than I had been there.

She was experienced and brilliant but in this partnership where I focused on the words and she focused on the visuals, she was used to making all of the visual calls. All the visual calls would certainly be icons and colors but also fonts, text layout, and all of that. In this case, because the product line was based on a poet and the font you choose and the way you layout poetry affects the tone, mood, and overall feel of it, I had asked to be able to weigh into the text, lettering, and layout decisions.

I asked for that because I knew that mattered in terms of how people were going to receive the words on the other end. She was like, “Okay,” but then, time and again, she continued to make these calls without me. I asked a couple of more times, “Please don’t make the calls without me. It’s important that I weigh in.” She refused to do it. I called her and asked her if we could talk in the conference room.

We went into the conference room and I said, “I’ve asked repeatedly if I can be engaged in this decision-making process. Please help me understand why you did not include me in that process. Is there something that I’m doing? Is there something I can do differently? This is important.” She broke down crying, which is something that happens quite honestly to Black women at work a lot. When we name our boundary, sometimes people on the other side get emotional.

It’s not just Black women. That has been my experience in coaching executive women.

If you look at the research, Black women report having this happen to them at much higher rates but I can completely see how it may happen to anyone. She melted down. In my mind, I’m simply asking for mutual respect.

Was she a Black woman?

She was a White woman.

The leadership of the future is equitable and inclusive.

I wanted to make sure because you were going from her melting down and crying and then you talked about Black women melting down and crying. I thought there was a connection.

This happens to Black women when we try to express a boundary at work. That went south.

What do you mean by that? Couldn’t you continue to work together with her?

We worked together because we had a job to do and we were both responsible for that.

Did she include you in the decisions?

Moving forward, she did include me in the decisions begrudgingly but honestly, at that point, I was okay with that. I needed to be included in the decisions more than I needed her to do it happily.

I get that as someone who reads poetry a lot. I know enough about poetry to know that presentation is part of what resonates with the reader.

Think about the line breaks and how important they are. When you read good poetry, those line breaks are so intentional.

When you read a book, there are different paragraphs. There are different forms of writing poetry, like haiku. That’s about all I know. The format suggests how it shows up. I get that.

There were a few of those but there wasn’t a ton. I generally had a great experience but it wasn’t necessarily a place where we had hard conversations as often as we probably should have.

That’s consistent in corporate areas.

I find Midwestern companies especially.

Where is Hallmark?

Kansas City.

Let’s fast-forward. I don’t know the story behind you leaving Hallmark to move to Dallas. I would imagine you could work remotely in Hallmark.

It was a pointed story, to be honest with you. I had gotten divorced. I had three young children. I reconnected with someone that I had been friends with in college. We decided we wanted to get married. It was on Facebook. He will say it was on Myspace but that’s not how I remember it. We decided we wanted to blend families. That was going to necessitate a move.

TTD 31 | Culture
Culture: If you want to attract talent in the future and retain that talent, you have to lead in ways that create safe spaces for every single person to bring the whole of who they are to work but also to contribute fully and unleash that potential.

It’s a long-distance relationship.

Yeah, for a while. We did long-distance for two years. We got married and I moved to Dallas. I honestly assumed I was going to have to leave Hallmark because Hallmark is a privately-owned or family-owned company. It’s deeply entrenched in Kansas City. It’s very focused on and invested in the community. There were all beautiful things but there weren’t many executives who could do their jobs from other places.

At what point in the company were you? What was your title at that point?

I was the Vice President. I was on a trajectory to Corporate Officer at the time that I decided to move to Dallas. I knew that I was on that trajectory but I didn’t know how long it would be before that opportunity would become available. I had been working toward it but I realized I had an important choice to make, either re-establish my family for myself and my children, which was a priority for me or don’t do that in exactly that way and keep moving until I got to Corporate Officer. I chose to focus on my family. I did share the information that I was going to move to Dallas. I knew that my career path would change as a result. I didn’t realize that I had told them that I was about six months from that Corporate Officer job.

They told you that once you gave them your decision.

I knew because six months after I shared my decision, that job became available, the one that I had been working toward.

They didn’t tell you that it might be opening up sooner than you thought. This is a moot point. It’s so hypothetical. Let’s play. Do you think it might have changed your decision?

No. I would have made the same decision. It would have just been more painful.

They wouldn’t let you work remotely.

That was divine intervention, in a way. I think about it because of the fact that I didn’t know freed me to make the best decision for my life. When I think about how my life is, I have zero regrets. At that time, if I had known, that would have been hard for me.

As two women that are thought leaders, we don’t care about the stereotypes. That’s irrelevant to me except for the fact that it’s relevant to everybody else. That’s their problem, not mine. That’s a gross oversimplification. I have to ask this question. I’m wondering if you can share with us why you felt you had to make a move for his career as opposed to him moving to Kansas City. You’re a rock star. You are setting the world on fire.

We discussed and debated that. Number one, Dallas held more opportunities for me big picture and longer-term than a place like Kansas City, which is a smaller and much more insulated metro. Everybody knows each other.

As a native New Yorker, I get the big city appeal.

That’s one. The second part is some of the children had family in Dallas already. There were grandparents and other parents here, like a step-parent whose family was here in Dallas. The kids already had families. It made the most sense.

When you were in Kansas City, was it just you and the children? Were you pulling the single mom gig?

My ex-husband was there with his wife at the time that I made that decision but she had family in Dallas. When I thought about all the connections for the children, Dallas made more sense.

Geniuses can make hard things look easy.

We work with all executives but we’re trying to lift the women executives and we face different challenges than men. Like it or not, it’s true. Did you have to get his permission because of the divorce agreement to move the children out of state?

There was a process.

For the readers, it’s the first time I saw Tara be less than platinum in her expression. You did it like everything else. You’re in Dallas. You’re not a big sports fan but I am. There’s my beloved Dallas Cowboys. Take us from Dallas to where you are now.

I’ve been in Dallas for years. When I first moved here, I was still working for Hallmark in a different capacity. I was the Corporate Culture Advisor.

You were bumped off that C-Suite track.

I left that track.

I don’t think you would not have wanted to leave that track voluntarily.

I knew when I decided to move that I was not going to be on it. I was doing an in-house consulting arrangement for a little bit. Meanwhile, I was building my network and thought leadership platform, sharing my ideas and perspectives on places like LinkedIn, and starting to write more. I started a consultancy. I initially was doing leadership development work primarily with women. I realized that there were a lot more opportunities to do that with a lot of people who existed on what I call dimensions of difference, whether it’s women, people of color, or anybody who doesn’t necessarily represent the leadership norm.

Is the term dimensions of a difference yours?

That’s the way that I talk about it. I can’t say that I have never heard it before. It’s leadership development. I started working with executives on culture work because I’m so passionate about culture. Here’s what I realized. In leadership development, where I was helping individual women, for instance, to develop their capacity to lead, I hit this wall where I recognized that I could develop those women until I was blue in the face, but if the soil or the culture within which they were attempting to lead was not supportive, we were only going to get so far.

I shifted to culture work because I felt like if you have a vine in a vineyard, my opportunity to impact the vineyard was more sustainable and would support the women in ways that didn’t require me to teach them how to be different than they were. I shifted to culture work for that reason and I have loved it ever since.

You didn’t use the term, but you’re addressing your work in inclusivity, so go there with that. Talk about The Waymakers. I’ll tell you what I was struck about your work. In your book, you talk about how you like to look at it because you are talking about equity, diversity, and inclusion. You were ahead of the curve. Now it’s the buzzword.

Honestly, I work with companies. I’m not so sure how much is real and how much is talk. A little sidebar, I might get myself into trouble with this but I have to tell you one thing. I find it so disingenuous when companies have male keynote speakers lead the women’s initiatives, even on how to have men be champions of change for women. Are you kidding me? That’s my little two-second rant.

If you want to deal with the differences and create empathy, you want someone that’s walking the talk and has experienced it so they can bring somebody into the fold. Even though they don’t have that experience, you can create empathy and be seen, heard, and understood. You talk about your book not just being about equity and inclusion. Here’s the point I love. You say it’s about leadership. Connect the dots on how you define leadership and what part of leadership is overarching for equity and inclusion.

The way we used to think or some companies still are thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion is as though they have multiple priorities. One is about the business, talent, and the right process. They also have this other pillar that’s about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of them are still looking at it that way.

Because they’re looking at it that way, they’re making decisions about what’s most important when they are putting these things in a hierarchy. They’re deciding, “I’m going to get to that later. I’m going to do a little on that and then more on this.” What I believe is that leaders of the future must be equitable and inclusive or they will not be able to attract or retain talent.

TTD 31 | Culture
Culture: Anybody can be a waymaker if they have insight, access, or know of opportunities that might benefit another person who has been left out or removed from those critical factors that create healthy careers.

As I’m sure you know, 85% of Generation Z says that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is very important to them, not just a little. If you want to attract talent in the future and retain that talent, you have to lead in ways that create safe spaces for every single person to bring the whole of who they are to work but also to contribute fully and unleash that potential. To me, the leadership of the future is equitable and inclusive.

In other words, you can’t be a leader without this aspect of your leadership. As you say it, Tara, I’m sitting here thinking, “In most things like common sense, it’s the least common of senses.” In The Waymakers, you talk about a strategy or a system that you created to bring this into the workplace. Share with us three invaluable tips to be a waymaker in the land of waymakers.

The first thing I would say is that anybody can be a waymaker if they have insight, access, or know of opportunities that might benefit another person who has been left out or removed from those critical factors that create healthy careers. The way I think about this is in any entity, there is a circle of power. Whoever is in power has the insight, unwritten rules, stakes in the ground, access, power networks, knowledge centers, and opportunity. We’re talking about proximity bias and affinity bias. The more different you are from the people in power, the further removed you are from all those things.

Leaders who have any of those things and that information can reach out, draw in, and share those things intentionally. Waymaking or leading more equitably and inclusively is not about looking at people who are different and saying, “Look at those poor people. I feel so bad for them. I’m going to go be nice to them and buy them pizza on Friday.” It’s about making sure that they’re visible in the important conversations, decision-making, products, marketing, communications, and levels of leadership.

It’s making sure they’re respected not only for who they are, which is great, but also for what they know and what they can do. It’s making sure they’re valued with pay and opportunity but also appreciation. It’s making sure they feel protected and psychologically safe. They can bring up their big ideas and push back on the status quo. The three things I tell people they should do is get an honest assessment of what their people are experiencing at work, not what they feel or think.

The higher up you go in a company, the more removed you are from reality.

They can do experience surveys.

The NPS score blows my mind. You ask one question and get a number. Talk about that experiential survey because I was also struck by your commitment cycle. To me, you simplified how to create core values. You screamed up core values to me.

I like to make things easy.

If you’re a genius, you have to make it look hard. Otherwise, if you make it look easy, then people know you’re not such a genius.

Geniuses can make hard things look easy.

I helped so many companies create their core values. It’s so complicated. Talk about the commitment cycle, the experiential cycle, or both of them at some point. Discuss them because they’re brilliant.

Thank you so much. To go in on the experience survey, I’m going to share an analogy that helps people get it. A lot of companies do employee engagement surveys. The issue with some of those questions is they ask questions on the level of the sentiment. For instance, let’s say you’re in a long-term partnership and you decide that you’re going to leave that person. The leaving of the person is the outcome.

If you left because you didn’t trust them, then not trusting them is the sentiment but there were experiences you had with that person that made you not trust them. In our workplaces, we ask, “Do you believe we care about diversity and inclusion? Do you think your manager cares about you?” When we ask questions like that, we’re asking sentiment-based questions. We’re not finding out what people are experiencing every day that leads them to the given sentiment that leads them to exit.

Experience surveys ask better questions. They say things like, “Answer yes or no or to what degree?” “I receive productive feedback on my performance. I believe my manager knows what I am contributing.” These are the kinds of things that lead to whether we feel seen, respected, valued, and protected. Getting a sense of the experience is important. We can do that with surveys but we can also do it with listening sessions and conversations with people.

Let’s go back to the experience. I might get myself into trouble but I always have to be honest because I don’t know any other way to be. I tell executives and people I coach this, “An exit interview is nonsense. Do not tell them anything in an exit interview unless they’re paying you as a consultant because if they cared about what you thought, you might not be exiting.”

We know there are real external factors at play, but ultimately, most of the time, we have choices.

That’s my first thing. I’m brutally honest. To go along the lines of what you said, which I love, I’ll give you an example that’s not as eloquent as what you said, “I’m leaving because you don’t trust me.” That tells you nothing. What I say to people is, “I’m leaving because you don’t trust me, as evidenced by,” so we’re saying the same thing.

We’re saying people need to focus more on the evidence and the experience than they do on the sentiment.

Especially when you’re talking about feelings, you can feel a certain way but to quantify the feeling has to be evident. That’s a whole other conversation.

I get exactly where you’re going. That is precisely the way I talk about it with people. I was working with one company. They showed me their inclusion index, which is the score on inclusion-specific questions in their engagement survey. They were high. We also did an experience survey. When they saw the results of the experience survey, they were completely counter to what their inclusion index would suggest. That’s because you can ask me, “Do you feel safe talking about race at work?”

I can say yes, and then what I would say to you as a consultant is, “So what if I feel comfortable talking about race at work?” That doesn’t mean I feel I have an equal chance to succeed, I’m getting the coaching I need, I feel like people trust me to do a good job or any of that. That’s what I’m trying to break down for leaders. Stop asking questions that don’t take you anywhere. Instead, get a good sense of what people are experiencing and how those experiences are impacting their emotions.

It also suggests that it’s an either-or. It’s a false choice. Most of life is not yes or no. Almost all of life is lived in the gray. To what degree of gray on the spectrum do you lie? There’s the commitment cycle.

The commitment cycle is my favorite way to get, especially for high-level leaders who usually like to get in there and get out. You know because you work with them too. They’re not super patient when you bring them together and talk about things like this.

I feel they don’t understand the ROI. If they understand ROI, they would have those sleeves rolled up and be digging in the trenches, which also shows part of the work. If they believe that diversity and women complement each other, that’s the superpower, not trying to be the same. It’s the difference.

It’s true. It makes everything better. It makes your decisions better and creates better outcomes. We know that on certain kinds of diversity. Diversity of thought is easier for us sometimes to say, “If somebody is a fixer and a visionary,” we can look at that and say, “That gets you to a better place,” but somehow, with lived experiences, we don’t think that’s as valuable, especially CPG companies. It’s extraordinarily valuable because most of these high-level leaders have an extremely narrow lens.

With that aside, the commitment cycle is a straightforward and even fun, to be honest, way to visualize the future. I ask them out front, “If two years from now you were exactly the company you wanted to be, what would that look like, feel like, and be like?” I ask them to share words and phrases that describe their ideal workplace culture.

When they do that, I write it all down and read it back to them as though it were some perfectly articulated statement, even though it’s not because I’m a poet underneath all of this stuff and it’s not hard for me to do that. I say, “If we want to achieve that, how do you have to behave? What are you going to have to say and do differently to get there?” They share a bunch of behaviors but then it gets powerful to your point because we ask everybody in this space, “What do you individually need to behave that way?”

If people are asking you to trust more and listen better, what do you need to do? Each person has to answer. Lastly, what are you willing to commit to in service of this shared vision? It gets people all around the cycle, from defining their preferred culture to naming the new or evolved behaviors and being specific about what they’re going to need and, ultimately what they’re willing to commit. There’s accountability built into the process.

Let’s talk about the piece that I always hop on. Whenever anybody loves to complain, either a personal or business relationship, they’re not trustworthy. Let’s go with trust. I don’t trust them. They don’t trust me. I don’t know why they don’t trust me. My first question is always, “Are you trustworthy?” Honestly, it’s not such a genius question. It’s Captain Obvious but the pause or the silence can be deafening. The other piece is, “Are you trusting? Are you worthy of someone’s trust? Are you willing to trust them?”

Whenever you talk about what you want when it comes to change or anything in life, if I’m giving a keynote, I say, “Pick up your phone, take a selfie, and put it away. Five minutes later, come back to it. Who’s responsible for how your life works?” If you want to change, what are you willing to do to take personal responsibility for it? If you’re in a fight or you’re in an antagonistic relationship with people at work, there’s no such thing as a one-handed clap. You play some role in that, even if it’s only 1%. I can’t fight with someone that won’t fight with me.

That is a whole word. The way I usually talk about it is I ask people this. Here’s where I get it a lot, “This is the feedback I got. They said this is about me.” Those thoughts and beliefs bring up all these emotions. I usually say, “Ask yourself first. Is any part of that true?” You might feel like your answer is no but you always have to first ask yourself, which is your question about, “Are you trustworthy?” Is any part of that true? That should always be your very first question before you get hijacked and go all the way down the road on it.

The other thing that I bring into it, which is interesting, is Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Boundaries. I realize being responsible for your choices and outcomes doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no real external factors at play. We know there are real external factors at play, but ultimately, most of the time, we have choices. We may not be able to change the circumstance we’re in but we can change our circumstances.

TTD 31 | Culture
Culture: If anybody is out there and wants to create a more equitable and inclusive culture, you’re not going to do it by sitting on the fence, watching it, and wishing it would be different. The only way we get to anything great is together and with intention.

We have a choice to be in that circumstance or not.

I’m talking about the workplace. That’s not true.

You have a choice to walk, not right away and not exactly. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Talk about boundaries. Sometimes I feel like women have a more difficult time with this because we have a difficult time saying no because we’re afraid we won’t be liked even though it’s not a popularity contest. It’s nice to be liked but you have to be respected.

Women do not respect their boundaries at times. It’s not a more to a type of statement. It can be in a benign little way. For example, let’s say we’re in a work setting. You and I are in the middle of a conference call. I get that ping notification, which you shouldn’t have on during a conference call but let’s say you do. It says, “Can you help me with this?” Women will think, “It’s almost 4:00. I want to be done at 5:00. I’ve got to pick up the kids,” and then, “Sure. When I’m done.”

You stay late and then run late or your work doesn’t get done. Where were your boundaries? A man will say, “I don’t have time.” It’s a generalization. You have six kids. I have four kids. Kids were the best thing for me to create boundaries because for years, I would have to leave work at 2:00, go pick the kids up from school, bring them home, and then go back to work. It was a great lesson in setting boundaries.

You don’t have a choice. There are circumstances where you have to set them. When you become a leader, you recognize the power of setting boundaries successfully because it models that for other people. I’ve always taken that very much to heart. The way I set boundaries for myself is the way that my team will probably set boundaries for themselves because they’re following my lead and trying to understand the norms. We have a major responsibility to make way for other people consciously and intentionally but also by how we live and lead every single day.

I have 1 or 2 more questions. The first question is, what’s the last book you’ve reread? Why?

One of my favorite books is Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly. I don’t often read the entire thing again because it’s a very long book, but I refer to it and skim through it often. If you haven’t read it, you should read it. It is a brilliant piece of work. It’s well-researched. It goes back in history, talking about women’s rights and the state of women in the world. It helps us understand how women’s lives and work have evolved over time. More importantly, it calls our attention to some of the risks that are in front of us if we don’t lead and live a little bit more consciously.

As women or as a society that doesn’t value women?

It’s as a society in general. For women, it’s one of those books you read where you’re like, “I’m not crazy.” It’s very validating and brilliantly written with great stories. Soraya tells a story of when her daughter was young and in preschool or something like that. Every day she would go in and build this castle. I hate to give it away but I’m going to tell you because there are so many other great stories too. She goes and builds this castle. This little boy, day after day, would come and knock the castle down.

Her daughter would come home crying, “He knocked my castle down.” She would go in the next day and build the castle again. Finally, Soraya went in to talk to the teacher and the parents about why he was knocking this castle down. Everybody was like, “He’s being a boy. He can’t help himself. He sees this beautiful castle and feels the need to knock it down. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”

She talks about what a powerful moment that was for her as a mother to recognize that she needed to help her daughter set boundaries and honor her own boundaries. If she was convincing her daughter at that moment to accept someone’s destruction of her hard work because he can’t help himself, what other messages might that send her in the future? It’s so good.

In my second book, Money Can Buy You Happiness: Secrets Women Need to Know to Get Paid What They Are Worth!, I talk about the ten reasons why women don’t get paid what they’re worth. Spoiler alert, the number one reason is we don’t ask. Boys and girls are raised differently. We’re raised to wait, “Wait in line. Wait your turn. Wait for the boy to call. Wait for your work to be noticed. Wait to get the promotion.” You will be waiting for Godot.

In terms of behavior, there is a difference between testosterone and estrogen. I’m not going to get into that. When a boy acts aggressively, “Boys will be boys.” When a girl acts aggressively, “Sweetheart, come here. That’s not ladylike.” I’m not that old but I was the first girl on my block because I was raised in Brooklyn to wear high-top black Converse sneakers with the star on the side. It was scandalous. My parents, bless them, didn’t see the big deal in it.

To this day, there’s a part of me that doesn’t understand, “You have a penis and I don’t, so?” There’s a part of me that doesn’t get it. Growing up, I’m like, “I want to play basketball. I can’t play basketball in Mary Janes or whatever the hell they were called. I need sneakers. There were no girls’ sneakers. I’ll wear the boys’ sneakers.” It’s exactly what you’re saying. What is the one most important thing in life that you’ve learned in all the incredible things that you’ve done that you want the readers to know and they have to know?

I want to share what I’ve learned. The only way we get to a better outcome, whatever that outcome is, is by getting off the fence and into the arena. I have learned that when I aspire to greater heights, I want to try to achieve something, learn something, or meet someone that is sitting back in my safe place, watching it from a distance and hoping for it, is never going to get me there.

The only way we get to a better outcome, whatever that outcome is, is by getting off the fence and into the arena.

It honestly is the same lesson that’s in The Waymakers book. If anybody is out there and they want to create a more equitable and inclusive culture, you’re not going to do it by sitting on the fence, watching it, and wishing it would be different. The only way we get to anything great is together and with intention.

Some basketball star said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Don’t play into that limited belief.” Get in the game and give it your all. How can people learn more or find out more about you? They have to get your The Waymakers book. Please, where should they go?

You can find The Waymakers on Amazon or anywhere books are sold online. They can also find me at I’m active on LinkedIn as well. Those are probably the best places to find me.

Thank you so much, Tara, for being an incredible guest. That concludes this episode, restoring trust and enriching significant relationships. As promised, Tara took us for a ride. Make sure you like, comment, share and subscribe to this show. We will see you next time. Be well.


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About Tara Jaye Frank

As a sought-after consultant, speaker, and leadership experience designer, Tara Jaye Frank helps leaders and organizations define a vision and develop strategies to advance their culture and leadership goals. In 2015, she published her first book titled Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose – a practical tool to help emerging leaders reach their own professional high grounds. Today, Tara works closely with member organizations like Network of Executive Women, The Executive Leadership Council, and PGA of America to create content and facilitate diversity and inclusion-based learning experiences through conferences, intensive leadership programs, workshops, panel design and moderation, and keynote addresses. She also works with global Fortune 500 companies to support national and international women’s leadership initiatives, the size and scope of which vary from team-specific to enterprise-wide. Before founding TJF Career Modeling LLC, Tara spent 21 years at Hallmark Cards, Inc., where she was the company’s first Black female vice president, and at the time of her promotion to executive management, the youngest person to rise into senior leadership in Hallmark’s history. While her leadership contributions spanned creative, innovation, multicultural strategy, and corporate culture, her passion for talent development has been a constant in a sea of powerfully diverse experiences.

Just before her departure from one of America’s most beloved brands, Tara served as Corporate Culture Advisor for Hallmark’s President. Tara is also the visionary behind #MoreThan: A Movement, a non-profit recently founded to facilitate deeper understanding between disconnected people. #MoreThan combines media outreach, apparel, and scholarships and communication curriculum to build bridges across emotional distance and increase our collective power for good. Tara holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College in Atlanta, is certified in EQi emotional intelligence theory and tools, and is a member of The Executive Leadership Council – the preeminent member organization for the development of global Black leaders. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and serves as a Board Director for Children International, a global non-profit whose aim is to eradicate childhood poverty. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband John, four of their six children, and their two dogs.

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