Find a mutual connection. We are all connected by something. Take the time to find it with others. Whether we belong to the same family, work in the same company, live in the same neighborhood or share similar interests, we can all connect somehow. Use that connection to positively impact each other.
As part of our series about 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Enjoli Beato.
Michelle Enjoli is a bilingual international speaker and career coach who motivates and teaches strategies on how to successfully connect for career and business growth and development. She was a first-generation college student who was able to get her dream job before she graduated as a television producer. Since then, she has worked for global brands in television broadcasting and marketing like Univision, Telemundo, ABC, NBC and CBS, Mercedes-Benz USA and Delta Air Lines. In 2016, she created the first all-inclusive business resource group at Mercedes-Benz USA to connect leaders and professionals with each other for growth and development. She soon created her second dream job with the launch of Connect with Michelle Enjoli. Michelle has an idea worth sharing and will become a speaker at Southampton, England’s inaugural TEDx event this year. She is featured in a new book called “Hispanic Stars Rising. The New Face of Power” and is currently working on her first book.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in NJ in a town outside of New York City surrounded by a large Hispanic family. My first language was Spanish and I didn’t learn English until I entered kindergarten which made it an interesting year. I grew up in a very diverse environment filled with lots of laughter, love and support. I credit that as a contributing factor to why I pursued the career I did.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity about people and stories which made me an avid reader since I was a child. When it was time to make a decision about a career to pursue, I did some research and decided I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. I loved the idea of finding, creating and telling stories. It was a perfect match!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I have a few and they are all very exciting. I am currently working on my TEDx talk scheduled later this year, expanding my curriculum and writing a book. My goal with all of these projects is to motivate and inspire people to envision a future they might not be able to currently see for themselves.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My family has been the primary source of help and encouragement. I grew up in a very loving and supportive environment where I watched my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles work hard and give openly to others. I grew up watching people from all walks of life enter our home and become family. I learned from a very young age how to connect with others.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I have so many but here is a memorable one that I think can be found on tape somewhere. I was working on a live television segment for a morning show early in my career. It was a fashion show featuring Oscar Look a Like dresses and the casting and confirmation of models was my responsibility. On the morning of the segment, one model didn’t show up. I’m pretty sure I forgot to confirm her so, guess who ended up being the model? Yours truly! I had to think quickly and become one. This mistake taught me to think on my feet.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Yes! I read a book by Suzy Welch called 10–10–10 over a decade ago and I still use the principles I learned in this book today in my decision making. When I have a decision to make, I look at how the consequences of that decision will affect me in 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years. Based on that, I make the decision I think is best. I don’t like to sit on decisions and therefore this has helped me make plenty of decisions over the years.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Yes, I resonate most with one from Steve Jobs. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” I have lived by this quote my entire life and is the reason I have pursued three different avenues in my career. I began my career with my dream job and have continuously explored since then.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is the ability to inspire, motivate and connect with others. A great leader inspires others to create and believe in themselves. They also motivate others to improve in some way and have the ability to genuinely connect with others.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The polarization in our country has become so extreme that families have been torn apart. Erstwhile close friends have not spoken to each other because of strong partisan differences. This is likely a huge topic, but briefly, can you share your view on how this evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
I believe that it has evolved to this point due to differences in perspectives, communication styles, media consumption, information processing and how people manage their emotions.
I have no pretensions about bridging the divide between politicians, or between partisan media outlets. But I’d love to discuss the divide that is occurring between families, coworkers, and friends. Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your experience about how family or friends have become a bit alienated because of the partisan atmosphere?
I personally haven’t experienced alienation with anyone due to politics but know many others who have. The alienation has stemmed from the differences I mentioned above and the inability to communicate productively and be considerate of different perspectives.
In your opinion, what can be done to bridge the divide that has occurred in families? Can you please share a story or example?
I think the most productive thing that can be done is to make an effort to leave politics aside and reconnect with each other. Remember why you are connected and focus on nurturing that part of the relationship. The goal of any healthy relationship is to be able to have a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts and perspectives in a respectful way. If that cannot be done for some reason, focus on the commonalities.
How about the workplace, what can be done to bridge the partisan divide that has fractured relationships there? Can you please share a story or example?
As mentioned above, I think the most productive thing that can be done is to make an effort to leave politics aside and reconnect with each other. In professional situations, the connection might not be as deep as in a personal relationship but you are still connected to a purpose professionally. Remember why you are connected and focus on nurturing that part of the relationship. The goal of any healthy relationship is to be able to have a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts and perspectives in a respectful way. If that cannot be done for some reason, focus on the commonalities.
I think one of the causes of our divide comes from the fact that many of us see a political affiliation as the primary way to self-identify. But of course there are many other ways to self-identify. What do you think can be done to address this?
Personally, I feel like a political party should never be a source of self-identification. We should focus on who we are as individuals. We each have a unique set of perspectives, backgrounds, experiences and goals that should be the focus of our self-identification.
Much ink has been spilled about how social media companies and partisan media companies continue to make money off creating a split in our society. Sadly the cat is out of the bag and at least in the near term there is no turning back. Social media and partisan media have a vested interest in maintaining the divide, but as individuals none of us benefit by continuing this conflict. What can we do moving forward to not let social media divide us?
I think it is the responsibility of every individual to determine the role social media plays in their lives.
Social media is a tool that is a form of media which needs to be curated as you should do any form of media and do your own research.
What can we do moving forward to not let partisan media pundits divide us?
I think we must first understand that media pundits are part of a business with specific goals.
Whether we agree with their sentiments or not, we should take ownership of our behavior and emotions. We don’t have to agree with everyone but should respect differences in perspectives and opinions. We do have a choice in how of if we engage.
Sadly we have reached a fevered pitch where it seems that the greatest existential catastrophe that can happen to our country is that “the other side” seizes power. We tend to lose sight of the fact that as a society and as a planet we face more immediate dangers. What can we do to lower the ante a bit and not make every small election cycle a battle for the “very existence of our country”?
I think we need to redirect and focus our energy on the common thread between all of us. As you mentioned in your question, we all face dangers or have problems to solve that are much greater than a political debate. The responsible and productive thing to do is come together to discuss those and find solutions that can benefit us and future generations.
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
1. Have grace
We all have different perspectives and opinions based on the differences in our backgrounds and experiences. There is a reason we all don’t look, act or think alike. I think it’s best to first acknowledge that and try to learn more about those differences.
If you are interacting with someone who is expressing a different opinion or perspective than you, be graceful and show interest in learning more about why they feel the way they do.
2. Be curious
If you don’t understand something, ask questions in a thoughtful and productive manner. We all have a story to tell and something to learn from someone else.
We can all learn something from every conversation we have with others if we take the time to ask real questions.
3. Be authentic
Consistently reconnect with yourself and proceed to live and connect with others according to your values, goals and priorities.
We sometimes tend to lose a connection with ourselves throughout the course of our lives for many reasons.
It is important to take the time to reconnect often so we can live and find others to connect with.
4. Find a mutual connection
We are all connected by something. Take the time to find it with others.
Whether we belong to the same family, work in the same company, live in the same neighborhood or share similar interests, we can all connect somehow. Use that connection to positively impact each other.
4. Assist others
If there is an opportunity to assist someone, do so.
There is no greater unifier than helping someone else.
Simply put, is there anything else we can do to ‘just be nicer to each other’?
If we follow the 5 steps above, I think we can all make a difference in some way.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
I am naturally an optimistic person so my answer is yes but that will require individual and community efforts. I think there will be people who can resolve their issues and those that won’t be able to do so. Since we can’t control the actions of others, it’s best to focus on what we can do to improve the situation for ourselves.
If you could tell young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our society, like you, what would you tell them?
We all get one shot at life and that time is limited. If you want to live it purposefully, appreciate it, enjoy it and aim to make a difference.
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. 🙂
Yes, Brendon Burchard. He is a world class teacher, author and personal development coach. As a coaching student of his, I consider him to be a mentor and would love to meet him in person.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, and thank you so much for the time you spent on this interview. We wish you only continued success on your great work!