Create a culture where speaking truth to power is safe — we live in a world where a reality show star took “You’re Fired” to the White House. People are afraid of the repercussions and stay quiet in the face of injustice. We can create a culture where speaking up, holding leaders accountable is celebrated instead of scorned. Leaders who can accept feedback from their teams are the ones to follow.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Mundell. At 43, Lauren found cannabis and it started to unlock parts of her she was afraid to look at before. At 45, on that beach in Clearwater, she decided to change her life. Her upcoming book is mostly about what happened since that summer of 2018. The goal for this book is for it to help other people understand that living on the hamster wheel trying to build more, earn more, get more is not a remedy for the empty feeling inside. Only you can help fill up that emptiness. And, in order to do that, you have to go on a journey to become whole.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Port Washington, NY. My mother is a retired English teacher and we were raised Jewish in a town where Jews made up a larger percentage of the population than average. My parents divorced when I was 8 and my sister and I lived primarily with our mother. My father remarried and I have a half-sister and brother. My parents were the generation to get out of Queens and move to the suburbs. My father was a successful Public Relations agency owner.
I grew up in a very “Jack & Diane” wannabe world. The greatest, most culturally diverse city loomed across the Long Island sound but we mostly stayed in our little suburban world. I was raised liberal, but there wasn’t enough diversity in my town to really understand what inclusion even meant. Now, the town is more diverse, but in the 80s besides being rife with Ashkenazi Jews who were busily assimilating into NY culture, it was mostly white. My Asian friend was adopted by Jewish parents. The few Black kids were our friends, but also kept together. I was taught by my parents not to see color. It always felt strange.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last” had a profound impact on me. Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
At the time I read the book, I was grappling with the pressures of working for a publicly traded company. We were not making projections and I was having to make decisions about my team’s employment. It was weighing heavy on me to have to let go of junior staff making so much less while retaining the big ticket salaries of the leadership (me included). The book showed another way; choices that companies could make to take care of their employees first. This book and subsequently, “The Infinite Game” have helped me think differently about how to lead my company. Leaders Eat Last pretty much sums it up.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” — Brené Brown
Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
When I first started sharing my passion for the cannabis plant and industry on social media, I was met with a lot of “concern.” The people who had the guts to say it to my face echoed the sentiments of those who were only brave enough to gossip about me. Had I lost my mind? No, just like everyone thought I was crazy for going on fitness retreats in 2009 or tapping fitness influencers in 2013, I’m just ahead. I feel something in my gut, and it seems impossible not to follow it. I’ve been right, a lot. So, I have to remember that it’s lonely in the arena, shut out the noise and play my best.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is earned by consistently proving your willingness to meet challenges and weather storms on behalf of and with the people you serve. A leader is someone who has followers because she has earned their trust.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
I have started organizing my whole life to help me manage the stress of everyday life. I was never a morning person, but 7AM yoga really does a body good. I am a high energy person and if I don’t let off the steam, I can have too much and come on too strong. I used to manage this with high heart-rate cardio and weightlifting. After my body stopped putting up with what I was putting it through, I downshifted to daily meditation and hiking. If it’s been a stressful week, a Friday hike might be straight uphill, leaving me breathless. Or, a quiet path in the woods to listen to my breath.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality, and inclusion.
This is, of course, a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
Racism is the number one problem in our country. It was easy to hide from it when Obama was President. How could we be racist if a Black family lived in the White House? But, that dark day in 2016 when Trump beat Hillary, racism became mainstream, and that’s why we find ourselves here today. When George Floyd’s murder was broadcast on the internet during this Covid time of intense stress, the dam officially broke. Racism is not something we can hide from. And most of all, we can’t hide from admitting that it’s present to some degree in all of us.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
In my Corporate America days, I thought I was doing the “right thing.” I was one of the first people in my organization to take an “Unconscious Bias Training.” In this training, we learned why we might be unconsciously judging others. And, all of us were amazed by how biased we were. The group taking the training was particularly diverse. A Black colleague who worked on the D&I team was shocked by her own bias. As was I. Learning that bias was something we actively have to combat was further solidified when we read Ibram X Kendi’s “How to Be an Anti-Racist” this summer as a part of my monthly Hi-Curious Book Club. Professor Kendi teaches that racism exists in all of us, black and white and all colors. We can be racist to ourselves without even knowing it. I think the key is to always be working on it and meet each person as an individual to be learned about.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
It’s important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team so that its diverse workforce feels represented. It’s imperative that this become the expectation; that the leadership represent the culture of its stakeholders (employees, customers, owners).
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
1.Admit that racism is a problem — As Ibram X Kendi writes, “No one becomes ‘not racist’…We can only strive to be ‘anti-racist’ on a daily basis and continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.” Once we start working to undo the damage done by white supremacy, we can start to heal. It feels like this is starting to happen now. We are cracking open; no longer able to deny our racist heritage and how it led us here.
2.Teach children about world diversity and culture from the point of view of those people, not ours. — Through Covid, we’ve learned that bringing learning home is possible. It’s also possible to make the world smaller for our children by inviting teachers from all over the world to share their cultures. Showing children the magic of other cultures without white-washing it through the American school district will break down walls.
3.Build business and organizations that share like-mindedness, but make it safe to disagree. The Hi-Curious Network brings all cultures and countries (as we grow) together under the common bond of the cannabis plant. We’re all different, but we all believe in the plant’s potential to help the world be more well. Our community is filled with human beings of all kinds. We listen to each other and learn from one another. From our Black 70-year old member Patricia @canna_boomer to our white, 21 year-old resistance leader in the making Sara, @smoking.daze, we know that we can use cannabis to help us have difficult conversations and bring empathy to every situation.
4.Create a culture where speaking truth to power is safe — we live in a world where a reality show star took “You’re Fired” to the White House. People are afraid of the repercussions and stay quiet in the face of injustice. We can create a culture where speaking up, holding leaders accountable is celebrated instead of scorned. Leaders who can accept feedback from their teams are the ones to follow.
5.Hold the people in our lives accountable. — it starts at home. Every family has the things they say. Even if you didn’t grow up with Archie Bunker, you’ve been around that senior leader at your company who still says “Oriental” and gets away with it. It’s easier to let a comment slide and change the subject. But, we can’t do that anymore. It may mean some big fights among families. But, when you call the people in your lives on their bullshit, they’ll probably hear you (even if they don’t listen right away).
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain it?
We may not see resolution in my lifetime. But, the fact that the conversation is on the table, out loud, and no longer the elephant in the room makes me feel encouraged that we can chart a course to resolution. I don’t think humanity will ever live in a utopia. But, we can try to build it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would very much like to consume cannabis with Simon Sinek. He has been an incredible inspiration to my work and I have been building my company on his tenets and teachings. I would love to spend time talking about “The Infinite Game” and how to apply it to the Cannabis Industry.
How can our readers follow you online?
Lauren Mundell on LinkedIn
@hi.curious on Instagram
Download the Hi-Curious App on IOS or Google Play.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your