“Not Everyone Will Get It”, With Douglas Brown and Kryss Shane of ThisIsKryss.com

Not Everyone Will Get It- No matter how strongly you believe in what you do, some will disagree. Learn to figure out what is constructive and makes you better and what is negativity (or envy) and act accordingly; this improves your business and keeps your mental health going strong. As a part of my series called […]

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Not Everyone Will Get It- No matter how strongly you believe in what you do, some will disagree. Learn to figure out what is constructive and makes you better and what is negativity (or envy) and act accordingly; this improves your business and keeps your mental health going strong.


As a part of my series called “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Consulting Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing interviewing Kryss Shane.

Kryss Shane MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW (she/her) is the owner of ThisIsKryss.com. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 New Release Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders, which provides best practices and professional guidance for creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, including creating safer working environments, updating company policies, enhancing continuing education and training, and better supporting LGBT+ people in the workplace training and other tangible ways to support LGBT+ people in the workplace. Kryss has over 25 years of experience guiding the world’s top leaders in business, education and community via individual, small group and full-staff trainings. She is also the author of The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion, the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive.

Kryss has been featured as America’s go-to Leading LGBT+ Expert in The New York Times, ABC News, Yahoo!, and CNN. Her writing has also appeared in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, Huffington Post, International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership, The New Social Worker Magazine, and many more.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in small town Ohio, I was someone who was always the support person and the go-to person for my friends, but I never considered making a career of it until much later. I was always a believer in equality, and this led me to begin to become mindful of ways in which minority groups weren’t represented in my middle school and high school textbooks and in the media, I was enjoying. This led me to speak up a lot in class, asking questions that many teachers had no answers to because their education also lacked inclusion. I never saw myself as any sort of ally or activist or educator, I thought those were people who were much older and fancier than I was because those titles seemed reserved for these storied activists like Malcolm X or Marsha P. Johnson, larger than life individuals, not someone from small town Ohio!

Anyway, as I became increasingly more aware of the discrimination against LGBT+ people and people within the intersectionality (since any person of any background or identity can also be LGBT+ identified), I began to realize this problem in my community and in families. This led me to earn my bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University in Human Development and Family Sciences.

Simultaneously, I was volunteering a ton with LGBT+ organizations. Over time, my volunteer work grew, and many began asking why I didn’t do this as my profession. It hadn’t dawned on me before then that I could. This realization sent me into my first master’s degree program, where I graduated from Barry University in Social Work, where I focused my studies on LGBT+ issues. As years passed though, I was always bothered by how often textbooks in schools still lack representation of marginalized groups. This led me to go back to school, where I earned my 2nd master’s degree, from Western Governors University in Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction. I am currently working toward my doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of the Cumberlands, where I get to bring my LGBT+ work through the lens of leaders in our world, thus making me better at educating others and teaching them how to improve their allyship and activism. I am also working in undergraduate and graduate social work departments Columbia University and Brandman University, and writing articles, book chapters, and books that focus on the minority populations that have been too long left out. That includes Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders, which provides best practices and professional guidance for creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces, including creating safer working environments, updating company policies, enhancing continuing education and training, and better supporting LGBT+ people in the workplace training and other tangible ways to support LGBT+ people in the workplace.

I still don’t see myself as ever being able to be at the likes of some of those incredible leaders but now I get the privilege of being surrounded by people like Andrea Shorter, Dimitri Moise, and Jazz Jennings, which only further inspires me every day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

I always hope that the most interesting story is the one yet to come! That said, I’ve been told more than once that something I wrote helped someone heal and I’ve been told that something I said was repeated or posted to social media to help spread the message. Those two compliments are pretty much EVERYTHING to an author/educator!

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? Can you share a story about that?

Oh wow… ya know, there’s a group of moms of trans youth who come to mind. I’d been doing my work for a long time but from a bit of a distance; there was a sort of wall between myself and the audience. I think this comes from a clear understanding of client boundaries. About 15 years or so ago, I connected with one of the moms who was also doing this work (Jeanette Jennings, of TLC’s “I Am Jazz”). We connected on such a deep friendship level (as I did with her daughter Jazz) that it opened my mind to considering why I’d been keeping myself so separated. In the years since, I’ve been lucky enough to get to be invited to join a small but mighty group of women whose hearts are not only big enough to accept and affirm their own children but to accept and affirm me both as a person and as someone doing the work I am doing. Their role as my friends along with them allowing me a front row seat to how mothering can be done so beautifully has really been both a gift and a confirmation that the work I do and the person I am (and am becoming) is exactly as it is meant to be.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“We are in a race between education and catastrophe” -Janet Jackson

No one pays enough attention to Black women and, in this case, this Black woman was quite clear in this messaging more than 30 years. Yet here we are, some of us still shocked that ignorance leads to violence, to denying science, to horrific legal battles, and to the degradation of our society the more rampant it is. This reminds me why it matters that we show up, why it matters that we work so hard to be heard, and why every lightbulb moment we create lessens the ignorance in the world.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

My work addresses the pain point of LGBT+ inclusion… while many companies discuss this, I come at it from a focus largely on those newer to the idea and those who are reluctant to either speak openly about their confusion of it all or their embarrassment about not being experts in this field. I provide approachable manageable information without any shame or without expectation that the audience is already halfway to expert-levels.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My work comes from a unique mix of formal education ranging from mental health to education to adult learners to remote engagement of audiences. In addition, it spans my life experiences of living all over the nation, truly engaging in a variety of American cultures. Lastly, I absorb from those I learn from and find ways to add that work into my own. For example, when I learn from Daniel J. Watts and Andrea Shorter about being Black in America, my own work improves because I become improved through their education of me. I am both lucky and intentional about surrounding myself with people who educate in areas I do not, which keeps my work evolving and always makes me a better provider for my own audiences!

When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?

I was driven by my own recognition of my ignorance. I realized that my own lack of knowledge meant I was likely mistreating people because I didn’t know I was and my heart knew that, if I did not grow and change, I would be a person causing scars on others hearts. After decades of work on myself (which is forever occurring), I began to work to help others to not allow their ignorance to harm people either.

What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?

Yes AND… yes, those motivations still drive me. AND the more harm, the more biases, the more hateful bills become laws, the more I see the impact, the more I feel the impact, the higher the suicide rates go, and the more driven I become to use every bit of my privileges (earned and gifted) to counter the harm and increase the kindness.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Always! In addition to my 2nd book just coming out, I am always working as a curriculum consultant, writing or reviewing work and textbooks for inclusion. Plus, I am teaching at a number of universities. Lastly, I am in the last months of earning a PhD in Leadership! I plan to continue to use all of my education and experience to guide others toward a more inclusive society!

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

This is unique to each type of business! For me, it’s in seeking out people or companies wanting to do better regarding LGBT+ inclusion either because their hearts/minds are opening, because laws have changed, or because they see the profit potential. I also think it’s important to be consistent; if your business claims to support something but donates money to the opposite, if your social media claims to be kind but is often combative, or if your employees’ behavior goes counter to your efforts, your potential clients will see this and walk away.

Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

1. Get Educated and Keep Getting Educated- You can’t help if you are ignorant. Seek out authors and speakers and activists and listen. If it hurts you to hear it, dig deep into whether this is hitting a truth you haven’t yet examined. Be brave and examine it. When you know better, you can do better. When you know yourself better, you can be better. [author’s note: Kryss’ books, “Creating an LGBT+ Inclusive Workplace: The Practical Resource Guide for Business Leaders” and “The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion” offer guides for anyone working in business or education or raising children.]

2. Shut Up- When people in a marginalized community are kind enough to share their experiences and their stories with you, listen. Do not turn it into a story about you or try to be “devil’s advocate.” It’s a gift they are giving to you, be grateful and be quiet so you can take it in.

3. Make a Payment- We have to stop expecting people in marginalized communities to offer guidance or quotes or work for free. That includes when they are your customers. Showing that you value them and their work is vital to being a part of ending systemic racism in the workplace, in academia, and in society.

4. Use Your Privilege- Figure out what aspects of your life and your business give you a break in life and use them to support others without that access. Maybe this means mentoring someone, maybe it means donating money, maybe you show up to protest, maybe you write letters or emails to politicians in support of inclusive laws. Whether it’s financial, time, passion, writing skills, knowledge, or anything else in your wheelhouse of awesome or in your categories of privilege, participate in supporting those who are working toward change.

5. Stop Assuming- Black people and Brown people and LGBT+ people are not simply skin colors, sexual orientations, or gender identities. They are full whole people. Do not assume that every person with this identity wants to speak on behalf of everyone. Do not assume that everyone in a marginalized community wants to talk about their identity. Don’t assume that a person’s professional expertise is in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Get to know a person as a whole person, not as a walking talking representation of just one facet of who they are or as a poster child for one aspect of how they identify.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Consulting Business”. Please share a story or an example for each.

It’s a Process- It’s great to earn big bucks but most don’t, especially at the beginning. Plan your budget accordingly. Know you’ll need a website and supplies and tools to get going.

You’ll Work a Lot for Free- Even if you properly charge your clients, your business requires your thoughts and time to keep it going and growing. There are very few “40 hour weeks” or weeks off when you’re a consultant, especially if you work solo.

Not Everyone Will Get It- No matter how strongly you believe in what you do, some will disagree. Learn to figure out what is constructive and makes you better and what is negativity (or envy) and act accordingly; this improves your business and keeps your mental health going strong.

Accept the Consequences- If you choose to speak negatively on social media, your business will likely be impacted. If you choose to support a political cause, your business will be impacted. Decide what is worth the impact, decide what you stand for. Then be consistent.

Figure Out Your Finances- While it’s easy to want to pour every penny into your business, you need to pay your bills, you need to eat. Whether you watch and learn from Gail Vaz-Oxlade or from someone in your personal life, knowing how much you can spend on anything (including on your business) is crucial to not overspending and to knowing when you can spend more or when you may need to close your doors, reexamine your process, and pivot to something that brings you income.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My whole life’s work focuses on inclusion within everything around us. That said, I don’t need to inspire my own movement, I truly believe we will have resolution as we continue to dismantle systemic oppression. Fredrick Joseph, Indya Moore, MJ Rodriguez, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, Dimitri Moise, Laverne Cox, Daniel J. Watts are all within a giant overarching movement. They all give me hope because I know they won’t stop until we reach out goals. I won’t stop either. I am so proud to fight alongside them!

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There are so many in the activism world whom I’d love to have that time with. I think it would be unfair of me to name a Black person, as right now they are so busy in the movement along with still having to deal with the grief and the stress and the fear of existing while Black in America and then any down time isn’t my place to ask for. For me then, I think it’d be very cool to sit down with Dr. Biden. She has been incredibly vocal in her support of so many communities within the world of education and she always does an excellent job balancing when to use her platform and privilege to speak and when to use it to amplify the voices of others.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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