I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew, Author, Speaker, Consultant. She is currently Director of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. She is the author of two workbooks for women, Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last and Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve been in nonprofit management for more than twenty-five years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with small agencies, national and international organizations. I’ve learned that relationships are critical and that stories are so important to not only the success of an organization but our success as individuals. Our stories connect us to one another and impact our relationships. When I started my research for my dissertation with a group of diverse women on social capital, I realized this more and more. I wrote both books based on experiences in my life and the stories of others. I believe that our narratives have power to transform and even contribute to the health of our relationships and the kinds of relationships that we have with others personally and professionally.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I started my consulting company in 1995 after dealing with a very difficult boss. That situation gave me the courage to walk out and begin building my client base. I think the most interesting story was dealing with clients very early in my career who thought they could take advantage of me because of my age. It was interesting that although I had to deal with issues of race and gender, I found that age became a more prominent issue in proving my ability and experience.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My work stands out because of my experience, my educational background and my lens on the importance of relationships. I believe I’m effective because I am able to problem solve quickly and connect others to relationships that can enhance and enrich the work of my client or those I serve as a leader. One of my clients recently approached me with a situation of a challenging colleague. I immediately had in my network a resource that could help them. It not only brought value to them but it also elevated my value. I am clear on my lane and what I can and cannot do in my career. I surround myself with individuals that can add value to my journey and to the work I am involved with daily.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
My daughter is about to graduate from high school and I’m in the process of writing a book based on the many experiences that I have had as a mother and what I’d love for daughters to know as they navigate this next phase of moving to adulthood.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Learn to listen. Being a relational leader is critical. Your team brings their personal and professional experiences to the table daily. Those experiences shape the way they see the world and interact with others. People are more than what they do. Be willing to learn what motivates them and what they want to get out of the experience. I spent and spend a lot of time mentoring and coaching. As I have become more comfortable with my own story — the good, the bad and the ugly, I find that I am more patient with others. I’ve realized that I’m wired differently and I can’t expect everyone in my space to live in the world in the same way that I do and just as I want patience and grace, I have to be willing to extend that to others recognizing that their stories and experiences are different than mine…. that’s absolutely okay.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I am so grateful for my mother. My mother didn’t have the opportunity to finish college and she’s pushed and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She’s always believed that I could be a doctor since I was a little girl and although I didn’t become a medical doctor, I got that PhD in my 40s! My mother sacrificed so much for me and I am thankful for her guidance and at this point in my life, her friendship.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
If anyone has ever glanced at my Facebook page or LinkedIn page, I spend a lot of time connecting people to resources and opportunities. I’ve been so blessed to have had so many wonderful opportunities that I try to do the same for others. As I mentioned earlier, I mentor a lot of young people. I am also co-founder of the first African American Women’s Giving Circle in Texas called HERitage Giving Fund (https://www.dallaswomensfdn.org/heritagegivingfund) and this is an opportunity to give back to organizations that aren’t often on the radar of major funders.
Can you share the top five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Diversity can increase a company’s bottom line in so many ways.
1. Diversity can access new ideas and approaches in the form of cultural and intellectual capital
2. The exchange of untapped networks and resources are significant. When I was conducting my research group, two women were unemployed. One was Anglo and the other was African American. They both experienced unemployment in different ways. One felt that she lost her identity. The other was trying to make sure that she could survive. Listening to their stories helped the group (as well as the two women) better understand their struggles but they both shared information that they both were unaware of due to their socio-cultural lens. Ultimately, they were able to help one another through the sharing of resources. It is so easy to connect to others that are similar that we miss opportunities for engagement that could provide a deeper understanding and more resources if we create the space for diversity.
3. Companies miss out on expanding their customer base when they fail to include different voices not only in planning/design, staffing as well as board and senior leadership to offer a unique perspective and varied insights. A lot of marketing mishaps, staffing conflicts and bad customer service decisions could be reduced if companies embraced difference on multiple levels. This is more than just hiring someone to fill a position but being devoted in bringing talent to the table and given a voice, power, and opportunities to impact leadership and policy.
4. Companies have to be committed to creating safe environments that value diversity beyond checking a box. There must be a willingness to deal with the uncomfortable situations and have the hard, courageous conversations even when it isn’t popular.
5. Companies must do more than creating vision statements with diversity as a focus but implement intentional internal and external (community engagement, corporate social responsibility, etc.) commitments and in the creation of measurable plans for growth in these areas. So many companies believe that engagement is just writing a check to under resourced communities is enough. It is about commitment and the willingness to roll up your sleeves, listen and work along side of those in those communities. It is also about making sure that the organization is committed at all levels internally and consistently measuring progress to make sure those goals are achieved.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
I love Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is such an inspiration because of her work ethic, her background (I grew up in Louisiana — the Deep South) and the determination to use her gifts to make a difference. I would love to learn from her — -she is my dream mentor! Her spiritual walk serves as such a foundation for all that she does and over the years, her pursuit of truth and being her best (not in competition with others) self is definitely something I’d love to spend time listening and learning from her beyond all of the Master Classes, Soul Sundays, articles in O magazine and Thought for Today newsletters that I’ve read! P.S. I also love Brene Brown — I’d love to be a research partner with her on social capital!!!
Originally published at medium.com