Episode 123 – Unstoppable DEI Facilitator and Course Creator with Vanessa Womack
Our guest this time is Vanessa Womack who now lives in Richmond, VA. Vanessa grew up in Virginia, but moved to New York to attend college. After college she worked in the publishing world at McGraw Hill for five years. Wait until you hear what she sold for them, something that is today a relic, but I am not giving it away.
Vanessa clearly had a bit of the wanderlust bug as she eventually moved to California for jobs, then moved back to New York for a brief time and eventually settled down in Richmond.
In her life she has created and published several courses on DEI and Leadership. Also, she has written several books. She has worked for a number of nonprofit organizations and clearly has a passion for breaking through culture and inclusion barriers to help people realize much about themselves as well as others.
About the Guest:
Vanessa Womack is a facilitator in leadership, governance, DEI, soft skills, and team dynamics. As an experienced course designer, she developed the successful LinkedIn Learning course “Managing A Diverse Team” which launched in 2018 and has accumulated over 100,000 global learners. In addition to the course, Vanessa publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Pass It On, about diversity, leadership, and education on LinkedIn. She wrote the audio course on Listenable, “Practicing DEI Can Improve Organizational Culture”, launched in 2020. She completed a certificate for training from the University of South Florida – MUMA School of Business for DEI in the Workplace.
She has recently taken a contract position of DEI Coordinator for the Alliance for Building Better Medicine, which is part of the Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing (APRM) and Activation Capital. The APRM was launched to fast-track the development of a globally competitive essential medicines manufacturing hub across Central Virginia. The DEI Coordinator will be responsible for driving region-wide DEI strategy to support an inclusive culture for life sciences as part of the DEI plan component of the Build Back Better Regional Competition grant award from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Other experiences include being BoardSource Certified Governance Consultant; Lead Faculty-Area Chair in the School of Business at the University of Phoenix former local campus in Richmond, VA; coaching and facilitating career transitioning clients for future jobs and entrepreneurship; public speaker and radio show host, On Track with Vanessa Womack. Earlier in her career, after being an actual marrow donor, she became the local spokesperson in Virginia for the National Marrow Donor Program (now Be the Match) recruiting and promoting the marrow registry in Black communities. She has facilitated community dialogue through Initiatives of Change/Hope in the Cities’ presentation, Unpacking 2010 Census: The Realities of Race, Class, and Jurisdiction.
Vanessa earned her undergraduate degree from Baruch College (CUNY) and MBA from Averett University, (Danville, VA). She is a member of Leadership Metro Richmond (LQ 2006) in Richmond, Virginia.
Vanessa has published two multicultural STEM children’s books, ‘Bookie and Lil Ray: In the Game’ (2021) and ‘Emerald Jones: The Fashion Designer Diva’ (2020). She is the author of the novel, ‘Paint the Sky Purple’ (2010) and co-author, ‘The Female CEO: Pearls, Power & Passion’ (2014).
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:21
Welcome to another edition of unstoppable mindset mindset. If I could talk I’d be in wonderful shape. Please forgive me. Today, we get to meet Vanessa Womack, who is a facilitator and leadership, governance, diversity, equity and encourage inclusion and a lot of other kinds of things. And I don’t want to give it all away because she’s going to be able to tell her story much better than I do. Isn’t that usually the way of it? Vanessa, thanks very much for being here. And welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Vanessa Womack 01:50
Well, thanks, Michael, for this opportunity to be here. And now we tried this once but, you know, technical glitches happen. So we’re doing it again. Good to see you.
Michael Hingson 02:01
Well, it’s good to see you. And yeah, technology happens. And so we do what we do, but glad we’re here. So, lots to get to of course, but I’d like to start as usual. Tell me a little bit about you growing up and kind of where you came from, and all that kind of stuff.
Vanessa Womack 02:17
And okay, well, let’s see now. I grew up the in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a small city called Danville, Virginia. Where I grew up in a household I was, well, if you look at the, I guess the placement, I am the middle girl or middles girl of three, and I have a brother so and household with mom and dad, pretty typical, and not poor neighborhood. But we had such great values, Christian values, and we were very active in the community, finish high school there. And then started my first year at an HBCU, Tennessee State University. But I became what can I say? Not bored but adventurous and moved to New York City to finish my education at CUNY City University in New York Baruch College, and began my career mostly at corporate New York. My first job in New York was at McGraw Hill publishing company. And after that, I had many other jobs. Say, if you want to ask me about those pretty adventuresome.
Michael Hingson 03:54
Yeah, you’ve been involved in a lot of different things. Needless to say, well, so you said you started with McGraw Hill. What did you do there?
Vanessa Womack 04:02
I was in the classified not to give my age away. But yes, I am a. We’ve talked
Michael Hingson 04:09
about this before he asked
Vanessa Womack 04:10
me did I am a boomer. But I started in classified advertising in the early mid 70s, mid 70s, where I did the clippings for some of the magazines like chemical engineering business week. And I did that for a couple of years and then promoted to public affairs where I actually was the editor of the McGraw Hill directory, the worldwide directory, putting that together and even had opportunities to conduct tours in Rockefeller Center. When I was in public affairs, I would do tours for groups that would come in To visit McGraw Hill and the surrounding buildings, take them through the tunnels at Radio City Music Hall. Oh, yes. And one of the groups I remember either educators or students or even some on foreign visitors. There was even a group I hate to say that now I’m not going to hate to say it, but from Russia. So it was exciting to do that. And after that, I was at Saks Fifth Avenue. I even worked at the NFL and water publisher services.
Michael Hingson 05:43
So where you were in New York, did you ever eat at Hurley saloon?
Vanessa Womack 05:50
Yes, I think we talked about that. Yeah, yes. I think I had a drink there.
Michael Hingson 05:57
I’ll never, I’ll never forget one of the stories that I heard about Hurley’s. They leased the Hurley brothers leased the building in the 1890s. And they had 100 year lease. And then when Rockefeller Center was being built, they wanted to buy out Hurley’s and her least didn’t want to sell. And that’s why there’s this little four story building on one corner of all of that, but all of the reporters like the NBC reporters who worked in, dealt through Rockefeller Center and BC, would go down there and somehow they connected a phone line and a phone from the newsrooms to a phone behind the bar at Hurley’s and so they could be down at the bar and then come A call came in then somebody would get the reporters or whatever, and they get the calls and go to what they needed to do. But they could spend their time in hurleys. Ah, people are creative.
Vanessa Womack 06:56
Yes, yes, we are.
Michael Hingson 06:59
Well, and we talked, and we talked about, of course, talking about classifies I mentioned Conde Nast. And you know, again, another one where it was all about classifieds. And you know, whether it’s called classifieds or something else. The fact is that people are still selling advertising today.
Vanessa Womack 07:16
Oh, yes. That’s why I say I’m pretty old school, I remember. And there were, and there’s old fashioned fax machines, where we were communicate between the McGraw Hill offices, for instance, between New York and Philadelphia. So but, you know, we’ve come a long way in technology.
Michael Hingson 07:39
Yeah. Now we also have this thing about audiobooks, which course I’m very precious about unlike and I’m glad that most of the major publishers are doing a lot more with that. And it’s all electronic. So it’s a lot easier to create, and not store so much stuff, because it’s now all audio oriented, or even print books are oftentimes electronically oriented as well as print, but I think that there’s rightly so a group of people and it’s still a very large group that likes to hold a book of their hand and reprint and there’s a lot of value to that no matter what someone says a Kindle isn’t quite the same as a book.
Vanessa Womack 08:16
That’s, that’s true, but it’s fortunate that we have those options.
Michael Hingson 08:23
Yeah, well and being blind, a Braille device that can have on nonpermanent or refreshable Braille display and you can put a book file on it is still not the same as reading it with paper. But either way, reading is reading and it’s still a wonderful thing that we all get to be able to do.
Vanessa Womack 08:42
And I’ve enjoyed reading ever since I was a young child in elementary school. In fact, one of my I guess, what do you call it nicknames? Was said a bookworm?
Michael Hingson 09:00
That’s pretty cool.
Vanessa Womack 09:01
Yes, because I always said I liked. I enjoyed getting lost in the in the novels in the book service read. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 09:10
Yeah. And I still do today. And what did you want to be when you were growing up?
Vanessa Womack 09:16
Well, I wanted to be a court stenographer. Because of the business classes I had in high school. I wanted to be a court stenographer, but at one point, I also want to be an FBI agent. However, I was told either by the teachers that I was not the right color or was also a little girl or female, that I couldn’t. I would not be accepted in something like an FBI. So my mother encouraged me to go into business. And I took shorthand all the required business courses in high school and I took shorthand. And I thought, wow, court stenographer would be cool. But then my mom said, No, you need to go to college. So I did continue to take shorthand or practice it for a little while. And I thought was pretty cool. But I went to Tennessee State University for my freshman year and started my, I guess, my curriculum into business management or a bachelor’s in Business Administration.
Michael Hingson 10:40
Who influenced you most? Do you think while you’re growing up and so on, would it be your mom? Or is there another person who stood out even more?
Vanessa Womack 10:48
I think my mom course might my dad too. But my mom was, she was pretty straightforward. very conscientious about her children being better or being better. And succeeding in life. So she encouraged all of us. And I was very much influenced by her to continue my education. I mean, I was I was smart. But I mean, I didn’t know some things came better to me, like writing, which I enjoyed doing. And I enjoyed writing. And I still do I wish I had embarked on writing stories at earlier in life, so. But yes, my mother was a great influencer. And we are also I’m also from a family of faith. So I always have to give, give my God all the glory, and they can for bringing us all so far.
Michael Hingson 12:00
Yep, that’s, of course, extremely important to do and makes makes not only a lot of sense, but the reality is God is with us and in us and all around us. And more of us ought to recognize that. But you know, what, what can you do? That’s an individual choice.
Vanessa Womack 12:19
Yes. And it’s very sustaining. And it gives me and so many who are faithful hope, especially in these such troubling times.
Michael Hingson 12:30
Yeah. And a lot of ways my wife passed away in November. And
Vanessa Womack 12:37
I’m so sorry to hear that, because I remember she was there before going. Yeah, we tried this. Yes. Sorry to hear for sorry, for your loss. Well, her body
Michael Hingson 12:47
was just not keeping up as to 2020 22 went along. And as I tell people, the body doesn’t always keep up with the Spirit. But the other side of it is she’s still around here. And, and I know if I misbehave, I’m going to hear about it. Yeah, you got to keep on the straight and narrow somehow, which is fine.
Vanessa Womack 13:09
And it’s important to keep those who have left this are the ones we’ve loved, near and dear to us, because they are and will always be a part of us.
Michael Hingson 13:19
Well, I’m, as I tell people, you don’t move on from 40 years of marriage, but you move forward. And I think the difference is if you talk about moving on, and you’re going to leave it behind and forget it. And that is something that I will not allow myself to ever do and shouldn’t
Vanessa Womack 13:34
be very good at. I agree.
Michael Hingson 13:37
So what was growing up like in the South for you in terms of how did that affect or have any influence on what you’ve done and what you do with your life? Was the south an influence for you?
Vanessa Womack 13:51
Well, I had no choice to grow up where I was.
Michael Hingson 13:54
Yet South Korea course.
Vanessa Womack 13:57
I and it was a good childhood. It was full of fun. sene interesting things like being outside now is I don’t know if children get out and play like we did growing up. It was so free willing and and we could explore neighborhoods, we could go into the woods and pick blackberries. Bring them home and mom would make blackberry cobbler and we went to an elementary middle and high schools that were very, you know, they welcome in that especially in elementary was segregated and a segregated school but the teachers and the administration were so nurturing and then in middle school, or what we call back then Junior High in your head. Yes.
Michael Hingson 14:55
I always remember that. Oh, school. None at all. All
Vanessa Womack 15:00
Oh, yes, I still have a young mine and but back then it was at the beginning of the integration. And I walked to school. I mean, we had maybe one school bus. It wasn’t consistent on throughout the school year, but I walked to school, like all my other classmates from my segregated neighborhood. And, you know, I was a good student. There were some challenges. I remember when Martin Luther King died in a white classmate had some very awful things to say. And that resonated with me. I was like, This is not right. And, but this is how it is. And that was the awful thing about is like, you know, that’s just, that was just a word we grew up in. And high school, I excel and became very active with some of the student groups. Even with the marching band, I was didn’t play an instrument, I was one of the I guess you call a major nature it Yeah, majorettes. But I was very active. And my friends were black and white and Asian. So you, one becomes, you live in that world, and you say this, this is, this is who I am in this world. But how can I be effective? How can I make change and make a change meant to make friends and understand them and have them understand me, but it’s it was, it was a good time. Yet, it was transformative for me in such a way that it prepares me little prepares us for what we have to deal with what was still dealing with, when it comes to, I guess, diversity and being inclusive and accepting one another. When someone asked, I think you would ask me, What makes me qualified to be a Dei, a consultant is that I live the life. It’s the Skin I Live In. It’s, it’s the world in which we live in and having a voice to affect change. It’s so critical.
Michael Hingson 17:46
Well, it is and I love so many things about what you just been saying. I am always amazed at my own experiences, and they really coincide with yours. Somebody made some comment when we were much younger, and it stuck with us and sticks with us or somebody observed something where we were taught something, and how, especially as younger people, when we’re searching, and we hear something that really sticks with us. We we don’t forget it. And it’s unfortunate that somebody said something extremely negative about Martin Luther King, but at the same time, I think history has demonstrated the kind of person he was and the character that he had. But it is it is very true that history is history is. And I think it’s so important. We don’t forget that. You know, I collect old radio shows as a hobby. And I’m fascinated by the people who want to, for example, Ban Amos and Andy from radio collections. And they want to ban one thing or another and they say well, that’s not who we are. It is what we were. And there are other parts about it. Like I wrote one of the authorities on Amos and Andy once a email. Because when I was growing up, I actually first listened to a miss an ad on television. I had absolutely no idea that they were black. And one day Amis nanny was no longer around on TV. And it was years later that I found out that they were taken off here because people didn’t like the depiction of black people that Amos and Andy represented and while I appreciated that and and understand it, it is still what we were at the time. But then when I learned about that, and I went back and listen to old radio shows, mostly I didn’t hear overt references to being black. Oh yes, there were the accents and so on. But I never heard the really overt references. So I emailed this authority, and I said, so I don’t hear a lot of references to Amos and Andy on the radio being black. And she wrote back and she said, Well, when the show first started, and they came to New York, and one of the first questions, they asked us where to the dark people live. And she said, there were some references. But by 1937, references to color had completely gone away. And the reality is, it was a show that everyone listened to and love because of the quality of the humor, it had nothing to do, really with race, unless you allowed it to be. And so we really need to keep our history, because it teaches us so much.
Vanessa Womack 20:43
And I couldn’t agree with you more, because it is knowing that history, which is critical for us now, if you don’t know history, you’re doomed to repeat it. But I listened to Amos. I listen to this show on the radio when I was little. And it just it fascinated me to know that there were people, people of color negros, who were actually acting, and I thought that was very significant as a young, very young child to hear that. And then to see, as I was growing up in the 60s, we had black and white television, but to see some of those shows like Julia and some black actors who were on some of the sitcoms and also like, Maddix, gosh, to see actors get involved, it was very important. And then to know how far we’ve come now, because we, as a black and brown people, we want to we’ve advanced so much, and we want to we’re so capable, we have done so much. And we have been influenced and we’ve been encouraged to do even more now, which is exciting.
Michael Hingson 22:18
One of my favorite TV shows growing up was room 222. Do you remember that? Well, yes, I do. Yeah, that’s never any reference to race on that show. And it was a show again, that that provided good entertainment. If you chose to focus on skin color, then you did, but the reality is that wasn’t really any thing that was referenced in the in the show at all.
Vanessa Womack 22:50
Yeah, the focus is on you. Yes, your students then yeah. And relating to each other, helping each other that was that was the that should always should be the focus. And so anyway, it’s it’s disheartening now to read about books being banned, or talking about wokeness, which is just, you know, I don’t want to say silly, but it is ridiculous, athletic. If you take a word like that, and you just make it sound so horrible. If you’re not woke, then you must be asleep. You need to know what’s going on in the world, you need to be aware and that’s really what it’s all about being aware of how our society has disenfranchise so many people to the point where they can lead the racism and discrimination continues. And we should be well beyond that as a society as a as a country and not to go backwards but to go forward to and to embrace and each other is who we are. Anyway, I’ve try not to get on my soapbox, no,
Michael Hingson 24:12
it’s okay. And we should I one of my favorite books, and I think we’ve talked about it before is To Kill a Mockingbird or corpse which really is as dramatic a demonstration of how people were treated simply because of skin color, and the explorations of scout and learning about it. And, and of course, her father, then the movie, Gregory Peck, who did such a powerful job of dealing with that. how anyone could consider banning that book it. It makes me think that most of the people who want to do that are listening to someone and have never read the book and certainly have never processed it.
Vanessa Womack 24:55
Yes, I think those those folks who are a I think are living in fear of just afraid and afraid to knowing the truth.
Michael Hingson 25:09
Yeah, and that fear manifests itself in so many ways. And it is true that there’s a lot of fear. And there are so many people who still get away with things. And hopefully one of these days we can see reality kick in, and that the whole issue be addressed. And it isn’t just race. The one of the things about unstoppable mindset as a podcast as the tagline says, We’re inclusion, diversity in the unexpected meet. I worded that way because diversity has decided not to include disabilities in any way. Whereas inclusion, either you are going to truly be inclusive, or you’re not inclusive, and you can’t be inclusive. If you don’t include disabilities. Well, we’re partially inclusive, we don’t, we don’t pray, we’re not prejudices against race. But disabilities, you can’t leave out if you’re going to be inclusive. And so it’s it is a different animal. And it’s why I emphasize inclusion first. And the other part about it is societally speaking, technically speaking, and realistically speaking, everyone has a disability. And we’ve talked about at some on unstoppable mindset, one of the disabilities for most people is your light dependent, you don’t do well, if there isn’t a light on, and Thomas Edison and creating the light switch has invented a way for you to cover up the disability. But make no mistake, it’s there. And in reality, we we all have challenges. I was at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel around the time of the Oscars, and I checked in and my niece nephew and I were there and we dropped our luggage off in room and then we went downstairs, all of a sudden, people started screaming, and I said what’s going on? Turns out we had a power failure not only in the hotel, but in the blocks around it. And, of course, some of us said it was all Jimmy Kimmel’s fault, because he’s the host of the Oscars. This was the day before the Oscars. But but the reality is people didn’t know what to do with lighthouse. And just so many people had such a challenge didn’t bother me a bit. We all have challenges. And we should recognize that just because some challenges and some people’s challenges are different than ours doesn’t make them less than us.
Vanessa Womack 27:29
And I agree, and sometimes by instance said, we become so accustomed to things that or the way we live, or we just don’t understand how not having a disability or light or being able to maneuver out of a walk without the assistance of crutches or a wheelchair, we, we need to understand that. This is not something that people can not live with. We have to and we have to embrace those who may not be able to do the same things you are or I could do. And that needs to be in that word inclusive that needs to be recognized with organizations who say that yes, we are inclusive. But then you may ask, do you have? Do you provide accessibility on your website? Do you provide accessibility in your stairways in your office environments? And it doesn’t always, of course, have to be a physical disability. It could be autism, it could be some other neurodiversity. Yeah, yes. And you don’t visibly see that. So some people will just make assumptions that Oh, you’re okay. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Michael Hingson 29:18
And and then of course, we have the most significantly group of our significant group of people with disabilities at all, and that’s politicians, but their disability is self imposed. Oh, they’re fun to pick on though.
Vanessa Womack 29:33
Yeah, yeah. Pick on them anytime you want. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 29:37
But I’m an equal opportunity abuser you notice on me? Yes,
Vanessa Womack 29:39
I am. And say that to my to my students on an equal opportunity picker
Michael Hingson 29:43
honor. Many of them were born into it, and they’ve been losing ground as ever since as Fred Allen, the old radio comedian used to say, but that’s true of a lot of people these days, but you know what it is, what do you do? Have you had any real significant event So stand out in your life that have changed you or really have affected you.
Vanessa Womack 30:06
And I always said, besides be becoming a mother, that will do it. Definitely. There was an opportunity. And I had an opportunity I did, I was a bone marrow donor and saved the life of a little girl spin over 30 years ago. And Katrina’s her name, or was her name. She had been diagnosed with leukemia. And the National Marrow Donor Program at the time it was called now it’s called Be The Match. Yeah, had numerous campaigns, bone marrow recruitment campaigns in the Washington DC area, putting particularly focus on a teenager who a black teenager, little girl Well, young woman who needed a bone marrow transplant, and no one in her family matched and it became a national campaign to save Joanne. So many people came out from churches, community groups, businesses, to just give a tube of blood or to get into registry. And all of that happened during a time where I had just been married for I don’t even know if I was married, we were married a couple of years, a few years, and trying to have half a baby. But I submitted that blood sample for just to go in the registry. And lo and behold, a month or two later, I was called to as a preliminary match for another child, somewhere in the United States, went through all the required follow up tests and became the match for Katrina. And that was in 1991. And during the time that I was being prepped for the bone marrow extraction. Katrina was at the at the time, I didn’t know but she was on the other side of the country in Washington, Seattle, Washington, the prepped, removing all of her disease, bone marrow, and I was being prepped to have a my bone marrow are harvested. And during the time that I was they were doing tests in a hospital and I guess I have to give it away it was in Reader’s Digest. So story and Reader’s Digest. One of the blood tests for me came back that I was pregnant. very ill, and I was, and they said, you can’t donate narrow because the test says you’re positive for pregnancy. And I said, I am not pregnant. And they said, you have to decide. I mean, I I couldn’t stop the process because Katrina was already at death’s door. So anyway, I said, I am not changing my mind. I’m going to do this. And you can test me again tomorrow morning before the harvest starts. And they tested again, it was negative. So that whole experience of becoming a bone marrow donor and then having the fear Well, I wasn’t fearful. I knew I wasn’t pregnant. To go through with it. Regardless of that test result to say Katrina’s life, and that’s what happened, she survived almost 19 years after that donation and miracle of all miracles, she had a little girl which according to you know, medical statistics once you are you go through a bone marrow transplant you you you lose the ability for fertilization, having children, but she did she had a miracle baby that changed my life.
Michael Hingson 34:34
Why? Why is it that being pregnant is a problem? Do you know? Well,
Vanessa Womack 34:42
the actual harvest standing of the marrow at the time and this was the nut through a stem extract stem cells, but it was through the iliac crest crest the lower back. I think harvesting the bone marrow may have impacted the, the the fetus if there had been. So I don’t know how but they said it would it would be dangerous and they would not or could not do it if I was pregnant, but I really knew I was not pregnant.
Michael Hingson 35:19
But I gather you’re saying that today it’s different. And well, today they are you doing stem cells? And so yeah, different. Yeah. So
Vanessa Womack 35:28
I think it’d be different today. The process is dance since that time, and actually was a poster child for the bone marrow procreate?
Michael Hingson 35:40
Well, and you had children since then?
Vanessa Womack 35:42
Yes, I did. There you go. Yes. And they are adult children. Wonderful, wonderful children, one of each.
Michael Hingson 35:51
And they are probably as Mark Twain would say, so surprised at how much you’ve learned as they grew up.
Vanessa Womack 35:58
Then they might say he probably didn’t learn enough.
Michael Hingson 36:01
It’s possible to
Vanessa Womack 36:03
Yes. Yeah. They’re they’re very. They’re wonderful adult kids.
Michael Hingson 36:10
That is really great that you have been able to go through that experience. And obviously, it sticks with you. And it certainly takes courage to be a bone marrow, well, transfer person?
Vanessa Womack 36:25
Well, it did, it did. And that was something that happened well over 30 years ago. But I also had a new one, I want to say probably a more recent or relevant experience. And that relates to my current career as a LinkedIn learning instructor, when I did the course managing a diverse team. And to me, that was a professional career highlight.
Michael Hingson 36:58
Tell us about that, if you would, please.
Vanessa Womack 37:01
Sure the the course is managing a diverse team. And it is on the LinkedIn learning platform. It was recorded back in 2017, and released in 2018. Now it is in along with English in nine languages, which is kind of exciting to see so many global learners who respond that they’ve taken the course on the LinkedIn platform. And as you can imagine managing a diverse team, it talks about how, you know, team management and being inclusive in embracing the team members, given them opportunities to become voices, functional team members, and how to deal with the conflict, too. And how to deal deal with some precede disagreements that might be discriminatory or an ad, and are racists and how do you work with people who might have different opinions, but I think there are some lessons learned in the course that gives the learners the audience some good information and how to deal with certain situations on the team, how to embrace diversity, how to celebrate diversity, and how to deal with culture in, in the in the organization. So it’s called Managing a diverse team. And it’s been on the platform now for five, almost five years.
Michael Hingson 38:56
So what is your career today? And where do you work? Or do you focus mainly on the LinkedIn course or what?
Oh, no, that said, I, it’s it’s great that people did still take the course but professionally, I navigate in the space of leadership, DEIA, or on the leadership side, I do facilitation consulting for boards of directors in that space and roles and responsibilities, helping them understand what that is and how to work strategically with each other and in the governance. area, and then with the DEIA have been operating or doing consulting work in an exciting industry. that is growing and developing in this region of Virginia, Richmond Petersburg region, which is the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. And there are a cluster of businesses and educational institutions and biotech and biosciences organizations that are building that pharma industry here to make medicines more affordable, and to have that production in the United States, as opposed to outside the United States.
Michael Hingson 40:45
So you have your own company, or do you work for another company?
Vanessa Womack 40:49
Yeah, I have, I’m a small independent, I call myself a solopreneur.
Michael Hingson 40:56
There he goes.
Vanessa Womack 40:59
However, over the last two, three years, I’ve keep telling myself I need to hire someone, indeed, I do. Not to put a ton of spin on that, but
Michael Hingson 41:12
I get it. You do need
Vanessa Womack 41:18
to grow this solopreneur into more of a bonafide small business by hiring at least part time person to help grow the business. And that that is something I will be focusing on in the next several months to the next couple of years, just growing that part of the business to expand the services of whether it’s the governance piece or the diversity piece, beyond the pharma manufacturing industry, in the pharma manufacturing industry, the cluster that’s growing here in the Richmond Petersburg area, it is very important to in be inclusive in how we grow that industry to include communities of color, black and brown communities, communities that have been traditionally underrepresented in business growth and development. And that is going to be very important to provide that these in companies that are here, and those that come here, we hope to grow the region by bringing in more companies, that those companies would be diverse in their vendors and to create jobs that help these communities for employment, and to become more trained to build pathways into the jobs that would come at it the growth of the pharma manufacturing industry here.
Michael Hingson 43:10
How did you get involved in doing pharma kinds of things specifically?
Vanessa Womack 43:14
Well, let’s be clear. I’m not in the menu. Right. Right. Right, however, but
Michael Hingson 43:21
how did you get involved with them as clients specifically? I’m just curious,
Vanessa Womack 43:25
I’ll tell you, it was a heck I have to say it was a godson after I was separated from my full time job in 2021 thing, timing is everything. Yeah. It was time for me to start to look at growing my small gig, consulting solopreneur business. So I was putting out resumes responding to opportunities to bring in more income, and was approached or actually selected by this company called activation capital. And I am very grateful for them, because the President CEO of that organization, said, you know, interviewed me and follow up interview and offered me the consulting contract for the DEI a portion to grow that industry in this area. So it’s basically a startup with the Alliance for building better medicine to make medicine more affordable and to make medicine here in the United States.
Michael Hingson 44:48
And you’ve been doing it ever since.
Vanessa Womack 44:51
Yes, it’s been about a little over a year about a year that I’ve been doing the consulting work that I do have I’ve had other clients, particularly in the governance world, where I have the utmost for year have done some board a we called huddles, meet with the group in Kentucky. So it’s nice to have out of state clients. And that was that worked out really well and hope to continue to grow in that aspect too.
Michael Hingson 45:31
Are you going to overtime update the LinkedIn course? Or do you think it won’t need it? Or is it pretty evergreen the way it is?
Vanessa Womack 45:39
It’s pretty Evergreen. And I say that because LinkedIn, they they own the course. And they can they recently updated it. And as I had mentioned, it’s in different languages. So they have translated into so many languages, Spanish, German, Polish, Italian.
Michael Hingson 46:06
And you had to learn all those languages to run right guys. That is a really cool though, that that it’s appeared in so many languages. Well, you know, I know that you also are an author. Tell me about that.
Vanessa Womack 46:21
Oh, my gosh, yes. And let’s see my first book, my first novel, I should say, is a combination romance novel and a me what do you call it the growing up in your head? So one who is about a young woman who, who left Hall seven state to move to New York and really try to find her career? Sounds like everybody we’ve been talking. Yeah. So I’ll I did use a lot of my imagination, which made the whole process of writing so exciting. Literary license, yes. And that first book is called a paint the sky purple paper, Sky purple. And I had a writing coach at the time. And she said, Vanessa, you’re my first writing author client at the time, and I wrote the book and seven months, she said, I can’t believe you did seven months. That was only because I had a little more time and I was excited. And every weekend I would keep writing, keep writing. Anyway. That was my first novel, and I’m still trying to write this second one. But I did publish two children’s books on stem. The first one is Emerald Jones, the fashion designer diva, and Emerald downs ECERS. The children’s books are for grades three, through five for ages eight to 12. To encourage students and teachers to really promote STEM science, technology, engineering, math and steam art in the classroom. The Emerald Jones is about a little girl who wanted to become a fashion designer, but she wants to quit school. However, she was very good in math. And she was encouraged by her principal and teachers not to think about quitting school, but to advance her math skills. And she did. The other one. The other one is bookie, and little array in the game. And bookie and little array are rivals in school. However they find that they have something in common. They both like designing games or wanted to be a computer game designers. So there’s the technology, the engineer and the math skills that require that. So they bonded after some rivalry and became well at the end of the book. They become partners in a successful gaming business.
Michael Hingson 49:37
Cool. What’s your next book project going to be then?
Vanessa Womack 49:42
Well, I have been toying around with it with a couple of different ideas. I have one that has been sitting in the computer for the last several years, about to two friends who have been friends since early high school, and they have a disagreement. But they come back together in their adult years and doing a very chaotic disaster, so to speak, where one is trapped in a building, and the other one’s nearby to help her. And then they go on an adventure, not to give away most of the plot and they are there on an adventure to save not only family members, but save a company from really poisoning. It’s its clients and it had to do with a medical procedure or a a invention that goes wrong. And anyway, well, that
Michael Hingson 51:04
well, you’ll have to let us know when it comes out so that we can definitely put it up on unstoppable mindset. So what what’s next for you? What, what are your plans going forward?
Vanessa Womack 51:15
Well, I I am working on it, as I said to grow, Vanessa Womack, consulting LLC, that is really what I need to do to as we say the business scale up. And there’s another I guess I can call it a startup called broaden your board that would match boards, board of directors with people of color, or diverse to be more inclusive, to bring diverse candidates. That would be a good fit for their board to be, I guess, a match, bring the matches to them?
Michael Hingson 52:06
Well, I hope as you go forward, maybe in addition to color, and so on, you can think about disabilities and so on as being an option of of different Oh,
Vanessa Womack 52:16
absolutely. At boards. Absolutely. And when, when we’re, when we want to be inclusive, all that would be part of the, you know, the opportunity to find candidates, that would be a good tip for these boards.
Michael Hingson 52:33
Well, that definitely is a cool thing. And it sounds exciting, and I’m anxious to hear more about it as it grows, as well as when that new book comes out, let us know. And we’ll, we’ll make it well, we’ll have to have you back on Savile bind to talk about all that is as we go forward. But it is definitely exciting. And I’m really glad that we were able to, to spend the time and redo this. And I know you have to leave pretty soon. So we’ll go ahead and thank you for being here. And for all the things that we had to say any kind of last words of wisdom you want to tell to people before we end this.
Vanessa Womack 53:14
Now, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to be on the broadcast. And for those who have been or those who will be it’s a nice conversation to have to talk about the things that are, you know, life changing, or the important things in life to be in encouraging to, to have the opportunity to share different ideas. It is so important to have that connection. So thank you so much. I appreciate it. And when the book does come out, I’ll let you know
Michael Hingson 53:53
you should that will be great. How do people reach out to you if they want to maybe engage your services or learn more about what you do?
Vanessa Womack 54:02
Now, there’s my website, Vanessa womack.com. Very easy to remember. Can you spell please V A N E S S A W O M A C K.com They are so so the LinkedIn you can always reach out to me at LinkedIn. You can find me at the Vanessa Womack on LinkedIn or look for the course managing a diverse team. I’ll also want to put up put a plug there that right now it’s free. So if you want to take manage a diverse team, it’s free for just a little bit longer. I can’t say how much longer but you can go on and search for it and take it
Michael Hingson 54:53
well thank you very much for being here with us and for all the interesting things the fun things that we’ve had a chance to talk about and definitely you got to come back on again, when you’ve got books and other things all set to talk about, we would love to have you be back on here with us again, and I want to thank you for listening to us. You can reach out to Vanessa, we would love that. And you can certainly reach out to me, I want to know what you think about our podcast today. Please email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I as accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or you can visit www dot Michael hingson.com. And click on podcasts and go there and listen to more episodes of unstoppable mindset. Or you can find them wherever you find any kind of podcast. So iTunes and Spotify and I heart and all those other kinds of places. We really appreciate you taking the time and we do want to hear from you. We want to hear your thoughts, your comments on this or any of our podcasts. And of course if you know anyone in Vanessa as well if you know anyone who might be a good guest to come on and stop by and said please let us know. We’d love to hear from you about that. And once more. Vanessa, thanks very much for being here with us today. And let’s do it again soon.
Vanessa Womack 56:14
Okay, very good. You take care and everybody else please take care out there.
Michael Hingson 56:24
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.