Episode 41 – Unstoppable Perception

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Episode Summary

Do you know anyone who has a so-called “disability”? How do you know?
This week I want you to meet Tiffany Noelle Brown. Tiffany has a PHD, she is a wife and mother, and, by most people’s standards, she has a disability as she happens to have a traumatic brain injury.

Tiffany will tell you her story of growing up in environments where she sensed she was different, not because of her traumatic brain injury, but due to other things she will discuss. You will hear how she used her observations to carve out a successful career helping others to recognize that difference is not a problem for them or others.

Personally, I very much enjoyed her insights. I had a wonderful time talking with Tiffany about various topics not only around disabilities, but also around the idea of being different. I hope you will like our episode and that you will let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for listening and I hope you will let me know your thoughts about our episode and the Unstoppable Mindset podcast by emailing me at michaelhi@accessibe.com.
About the Guest: 
Dr. TiffanyNoelle Brown, known as docT, is recognized internationally as a catalyst in embedding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI-B) concepts into our everyday lives, with actions everyone can take.  She is described as a master at awakening the unseen, more subtle aspects of inclusion in our awareness, actions, and social structures.  A colleague has dubbed her the Doctor of Inclusion.
She is an innovative, non-judgmental, compassionate leader in the field of DEI-B dedicated to creating impact through her Ah-Ha’s-to-Action methodology. She shines as a facilitator, guiding newbies and experts alike in individual and group settings through personalized coaching and speaking engagements. Acknowledging and respecting where clients are at without judgment, she compassionately guides clients in developing their own awareness, understanding, and healing, creating their own toolboxes to expand and support their DEI-B efforts.  Certified in healing methodologies, trauma-informed care, and nurturing parenting, she brings an understanding of the impacts of social factors on mind, body, and spirit, passionate that including you in your inclusion journey is a critical addition to the process.
Even before DEI-B was recognized and valued within the business and personal development worlds, docT has been a pioneer in the research, teaching, and coaching of DEI-B concepts. Her Master’s thesis, Doctoral Dissertation, and other published articles and presentations at professional associations focused on issues of inclusion/exclusion in the healthcare system.  Her work has impacted policy and furthered the application of DEI-B concepts within the healthcare and child welfare systems, at the organizational, state, and national levels. Her expertise and unique ability to shift paradigms in a nonjudgmental way have most recently been recognized by the Wisdom Playground, Proximity, and Colorado Foster Parent Association.  Even former students and clients have come back to share how interacting with docT has positively impacted their personal lives and work.
Her personal experiences have given her an even deeper understanding of DEI-B. For example, she attended schools where she was in the religious and racial minority.  She attended a “women’s college” and advocated for the rights of students and faculty who identified as LGBT, developing her passion for the importance of allyship.  She is the Mommy to an amazing kiddo, who came into her life through the foster care system. Embedded daily in trauma-informed parenting techniques, Tiffany is an amazing support and role model for her kiddo, helping her navigate issues of race, culture, and family. People are often surprised to find out that she is living with a traumatic brain injury.  This experience provides another lived experience of why and how we can do business differently to capture, engage, and provide platforms for people with neuro- and physical- (dis)abilities to contribute their gifts how and when they can and be fairly paid for their expertise.  
It is no surprise that Tiffany’s motto is the concept of ‘Ohana, which you can see embedded in her work.  Illustrated by the quote from Lilo and Stitch, “‘Ohana means family.  Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”  Understanding the word ‘Ohana is Hawaiian, she recognizes the literal translation to mean “family,” but the intention of the word means “community”.  Her Mom, albeit biased, of course, says that even as a little girl, Tiffany has always seen, advocated for, and empowered people that others discriminated against, left out or left behind.  “It is just who she is.” 

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.
accessiBe Links 
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Transcription Notes

UM Intro/Outro  00:04
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  01:24
Hi, and welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset, the podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. And it is that today we have as our guest, Tiffany Noelle Brown, who has an interesting story to tell lots of things to talk about. We’ll spend a bunch of time today I suspect talking about diversity, inclusion, and we will see what else we come up with. So Tiffany, welcome to unstoppable mindset.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  01:57
Thank you, I’m so glad to be here. I’m so privileged to be able to talk with you and really excited for your, for your audience to try to think of, you know, get be included in this conversation even.

Michael Hingson  02:16
So, so tell me a little bit about kind of you from the from the beginning, and what what eventually got you into this whole area of diversity and inclusion. Yes.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  02:29
So thank you for asking that I am. Even as a little kid, I remember, I was treated differently. And I got a lot more attention. And I wasn’t treated differently in a negative way, but in a positive way. And it actually made me really uncomfortable. People would pick me up all the time, they were constantly picking me to be on their teams, that kind of thing. And I could feel the energy and feel the hurt that others were experiencing. Once they say it again.

Michael Hingson  03:10
Why was that? What Why were you Why were you different?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  03:13
So I’m blond haired, blue eyed, Caucasian, I guess the stereotype and people just thought I was, you know, cute or whatever, I don’t know. But they would, you know, constantly, the adults would pick me up no matter what. And I could see the looks on other people’s faces. And now I’m recognizing that I have an intuitive quality of being able to sense and feel someone else’s emotion and really be in tune with that. And I hadn’t developed that at the time, but I could feel it and it made me feel badly and guilty for getting the attention that I was getting.

Michael Hingson  04:00
So other other kids weren’t getting that same attention.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  04:04
Yeah. And I think throughout my life, I was really sensitive to it when it came to my brother as people would on the on the baby. And people would refer to my brother as Tiffany’s brother rather than my being

Tiffany Noelle Brown  04:21
Chris’s sister. 

Michael Hingson  04:25
Got it? Well, so you you grew up what No, where did you grow up?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  04:31
I grew up in the Washington DC area. And I’ve been able to have the opportunity to move around in I’ve lived in most difference categorizations of how our country is Midwest, south, north northeast, Pacific, and now I live in the mountain region. Ah

Michael Hingson  04:59
well So you, you grew up. And I appreciate very much that you were, you’re sensitive to how people treated you so so tell me a little bit more about what you what you thought about that and how that kind of shaped your life and your direction.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  05:16
Very much. So I think, especially looking back on it, having studied, intentionally studied issues of inequality and bias. In my formal studies, looking back on it, I realized that maybe I was coming at it from a different perspective. But I was I was the one that noticed, I guess, my parents told me this, that I was one that noticed when someone was being left out. And the inclusion of different folks just was a part of my life, my best friend growing up was, was a boy. And that was kind of unusual in and of itself. And he had Japanese American and Jewish American Heritage. And that was not anything unusual for me. And so But growing up, even at my wedding, people would point out, oh, my gosh, you have the most multicultural wedding party that we’ve ever seen. And that, that was that’s just who I am, I guess. And it wasn’t until I was able to study it. And I found sociology, that I got it. 

Michael Hingson  06:48
Well, so you spend a lot of time talking about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, which is, which is interesting. How did you really come to want to focus your life on dealing with those issues?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  07:05
I think, even as I was in high school, originally, you have to choose what you want your major to be. And I wanted to be a physician, because that’s helping people and I didn’t really have a sense of other careers that could do that. And so I was taking, I also was doing health care administration, and it’s as my minor, and took a medical sociology class, just as an elective. And oh, my goodness, that one class changed my life. And I didn’t even know sociology existed, I’d never heard of it before. And I was like, wow, I don’t have to go to med school to do this. With and then this being, I saw a lot of inequalities and was learning more and more about inequalities and bias in the healthcare system, and decided that’s the path I wanted to go. And that’s where I ended up focusing my graduate work as well.

Michael Hingson  08:14
From a standpoint of intellectual pursuits, I mean, that that’s certainly understandable. But you’ve become very emotionally involved. So it goes far beyond just a career path or a learning path. What, what caused you to be I think, so emotionally steeped in doing this? You know what I’m saying?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  08:38
Yes, so, I had the intellectual and I came to it from the perspective of for the most part being in the majority of what we typically research as categories. And then I’ve had experiences where I was in the minority, and that there were characteristics that actually created barriers for me and my loved ones around me. For example, I I was a foster parent and became an adoptive parent to a kiddo who is biracial. And I was already very sensitive to the issues around race and ethnicity and gender. And now I’m living it. I’m not only sensitive and aware as an academic, I’m living it and living not only from an abstract theoretical level of how to, to categorize and understand the experience of someone who is in a minority category in multiple categories that overlap. But I am living trying to help her navigate that. And I’ll give you an example. When we went to the airport for the very first time with our kiddo, the person at security, taking our IDs and stuff, kept asking our kiddo who we were to her, he couldn’t understand not intentionally, he wasn’t intentionally trying to have the situation, because he was trying to protect a kiddo. But he kept asking her who we were to her. And she didn’t understand the question. And after a couple, like multiple times of being asked that, I jumped in and said, he’s wanting to know what you call us. And then she said, That’s my mommy and daddy. And we even went so far as getting a military ID for her earlier than what kids of military folks tend to get them at. Just so we would have some kind of formal identification that demonstrated that she’s connected to us.

Michael Hingson  11:24
When you explain what he was asking, and she answered him, What was his reaction?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  11:37
That’s a really great question. I know that there was a pause. And then he was like, okay, and it seemed to me, like he may have been a little bit embarrassed, but was very professional about it. Um, and again, I appreciate anyone who’s trying to protect kiddos from trafficking or anything like that. So I think that was the context with which he was asking that question. I was actually more concerned about the reaction my kiddo was having. I was watching her. And because she was really confused, and she was only five at the time.

Michael Hingson  12:16
Well, how old is she now?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  12:18
She’s 12. Now, between

Michael Hingson  12:24
the teenage years comeith soon.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  12:26
Yeah. And my family and friends have frequently said that situations like that, instead of blowing up that I give someone a different perspective without trying to do it in a way that’s embarrassing, or confrontational, I hope is helping to create space for perceiving situations in as as accommodating and understanding as possible.

Michael Hingson  13:05
So you, you’ve become, by definition, very concerned and interested in the concept of inclusion. What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion to you?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  13:22
To me, measuring diversity is a scientific and theoretical construct of categories. And, and I often try to think about it in terms of with diversity, we’re trying to measure and monitor areas where there’s intentional and unintentional bias, or overt discrimination. And you have to create categories by which to do that, to be able to show who’s not being treated fairly. And then the issue becomes that we start creating this cycle of by measuring it, it becomes more real, because it’s an actual concept that’s talked about and becomes a self perpetuating cycle of then you are categorizing people in and when your work is really trying to Uncategorized people if that makes sense, so that there is less unfair treatment or different treatment and inclusion to me, I tend to talk about my work in terms of inclusion, inclusion, for me as a strategy and a philosophy. So the philosophy being where we are intentional about trying to understand someone else’s perspective, noticing who’s being left doubt who’s at the table and being silenced, who’s not even thought of to be included in the first place? Whose voice is listened to the most? Those are the kinds of things that I tend to engage with. And then there are strategies of inclusions such as even smiling at someone when you see them acknowledging them.

Michael Hingson  15:24
Yeah. I think is it’s interesting. I don’t know how this comment fits directly into the model that you described, but I think it does. I have experienced lots of discussions and participated in meetings about diversity over the years. And one of the things that I generally see is, no matter how much discussion we have about diversity, there is at most lip service paid to discussing the concept of diversity, including people with disabilities. And that is a serious problem. Because diversity, I think, is as I put it, been warped to the point where disabilities don’t matter in the whole concept of diversity. I’ve been to console councils and conversations and meetings, talking about diversity and disability may be mentioned, like once or twice in the course of the day. Why is why is that? 

Tiffany Noelle Brown  16:39
I don’t know, as far as individuals and how they’re interacting,I think.

Michael Hingson  16:47
I’m thinking more as a group.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  16:49
Yeah, I think society in general, which influences group behavior, is the conversations that tend to happen, and initially were researched are around race and ethnicity and gender. And that’s most people’s touches with the concept of diversity. I agree with you that there are a lot of other categories where people are left out and not treated in the same way. And I mean, I can give examples, sometimes it’s because people assume that it’s obvious if it’s a disability that’s visible. And I can give an you know, an example in my life, people are always really surprised when I tell them that I have a brain injury, which can be classified as a disability. So the broad range of what disability is, and for me, I even have tried doing initiatives trying to break the stereotype of the disc part of disability and shifting it to alternate abilities or, you know, different abilities rather than dis abilities. And that, that shift in and of itself is difficult. And I was lucky enough to, to be able to partner with a former board member of mine, who happens to have cerebral palsy, and people assume all the time that she can’t think because she is in a wheelchair in a way that she’s not as mobile, and she does have trouble verbally articulating. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t contribute. And that’s one of the things, you know, just an example of trying to break through exactly that idea of how people think of what disability is how people think of what ability is, and diversity.

Michael Hingson  19:05
And that’s, I think the the crux of the issue. I have seriously disagreed with the concept of different ability or whatever, because the ability isn’t different. Maybe the way we manifest it, or the way we cause it to be utilized is different than what most people are used to, for example, yes, person in a wheelchair, uses a wheelchair and doesn’t walk. But as you point out ability is what ability is and so however it manifested if you start talking about it as different ability for example. It kind of covers up the real issue. So I’m all for changing the definition of disability and keeping it because I haven’t come up with Something else, unless we come up with some whole new word we’ve morphed, we’ve totally warped and morphed diversity. And it doesn’t tend to be an inclusive term anymore. And I think we need to make sure we don’t allow that to happen with the term inclusion. But I think that disability is, is not as bad a thing, if we really say, oh, all that means is that somebody is is different than you. But it doesn’t mean less, we can change that. That definition. In the in the educational system, for example, and in the professional world of blindness. Many people have adopted a terminology of your blind or your sight impaired or you’re visually impaired or you’re visually challenged. They’re uncomfortable with blind. But I but I believe that the reality is blindness does not mean a total lack of loss of eyesight. Blindness is a, if you will term that represents anyone whose eyesight has diminished to the point where they have to use alternatives to using their full, normal, not normal, but their full eyesight to be able to accomplish things. And if you have to use alternatives and different tools, then you are using the techniques of what a person who is blind ought to use. And so we’ve got to get over this idea of blind being a bad term. It’s the same concept with disability.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  21:48
Yes, I appreciate that so much. And I appreciate you, you pushing back and, and having us really think through even different ability, right? That’s not that that may not be the right terminology either. And, obviously, it’s not perfect, but like you said, sometimes you want to use disability, and sometimes it doesn’t make a fit. So I love that we have this podcast and the folks that are on it, and you out in the world really trying to figure out okay, well, you know, words matter. And going back to what you had asked me before, about why did groups use the categories that they use. And I think part of that has become a save your rear end kind of thing from a legal standpoint, and also checking boxes to demonstrate that, that they are paying attention to the categories that are being given to them. And that that can be harmful, as we’ve talked about, it can also be beneficial in that maybe there’s not a focus on every group, but maybe by focusing on one group that they’re focusing on it. My hope is that and I think their original idea would be that that would become part of the culture, that’s part of the creation where then it it kind of expands out where more and more people and their their different talents and abilities and quirks and personalities all can create better things. I think the issue is, that was the ideal of what was intended initially by these frameworks. I think it’s gotten stuck in that the the more holistic spreading of including more and more people hasn’t happened, we’ve remained stuck in focusing on certain categories.

Michael Hingson  24:20
Yeah, and we, we, we tend to like to put people in boxes, we’d like to put everything in boxes. Yes. And the problem is that when we start to do that, no matter who it is, we create limitations that ought not to be there. Yes, you’re in a box because you’re a woman, you’re in a box, for whatever reason, and society has made decisions about you because of the fact that you’re in that box. And yes, we are trying to break down the barriers. What I what I tend to see with disabilities is that, even though next to Well, it’s hard to say that women are a minority since they’re actually more women. But I bet you and I know what they mean in terms of included in power. But next next to women, disabilities as a collective, some is the next size minority down from that. The CDC says that 25% of all people have some sort of disability, and I’m sure that’s now been affected by COVID. Oh, yeah. And we’re going to start classifying people somewhere along the line, because of how they have been affected by COVID. And some have been very physically affected by COVID. And it is something that we need to deal with, we’ve got to figure out how to address this issue of stop putting people in so many boxes. Yeah. And recognize that we all have gifts, and we all ought to be able to use our gifts to their fullest extent. Yes.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  26:17
Yes, I love that so much. And a couple of, you know, highlights out of what you said is, I actually recently wrote a column and did a Facebook Live, and then I have a different version of it, that I am more than happy to post that, that talks about the different categories that I know that people see me as and how, even as I read off those categories of checkboxes, how does someone perceive of me and create that mental picture of me, as I say those things, and then if I say something that like creates a disjuncture of, oh, that doesn’t make sense. That we can start to see Oh, my goodness, like subtly, I didn’t realize that I was that I was doing that. Right. And I think what you’re talking about in terms of inclusion is exactly what I work on in terms of I see the need for categorization as we talked about the, it can also be very harmful. And for me, I’ll go back to kind of what my motto in life is, which is the word ohana. And the word ohana. If anyone has seen Lilo and Stitch they’ve, they’ve heard this quote that Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. Right? Well, that sounds like a great idea. But how in the world do we do that? In reality, and when you look at the actual intention of the Hawaiian, like, Hawaiian people’s understanding of this term, Ohana. In my conversations with some friends that are from Hawaii, they talk about it in terms of community. So I started shifting this quote, to Ohana means community. And community means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

Michael Hingson  28:27
Which is the way it should be.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  28:30
And I find also that this might be an example that people have said, shifts their perspective on even the word family, in that I consider my family, not only my biological family, the family that I married into, but I also include my kiddos biological family. And there are reasons to have safety measures. In some cases, but that doesn’t mean that they’re left behind or forgotten. I continue to I have a personal email that I communicate so that I can tell what’s safe or not. And I can pass on that information and be the go between. But then there’s the safety factor. And there’s the realistic of I don’t want there the connection between biological family and my kiddo to be completely severed even though in the legal sensitives.

Michael Hingson  29:41
And how is she dealing with all that?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  29:45
That’s shifted over time. Yeah, I’m, I’m much more of I’d rather keep the connection so that there’s a relationship there. With the understanding that typically kids that are adopted at some point are curious about their biological family and want to learn about them, I’d rather create an environment where it’s safe for my kiddo To learn more, but that there’s actually more accurate information and that her biological family trusts my spouse and I, and understands that we are trying to keep that connection so that when, when our kin is old enough, she can make the decision, whether she feels that she could reach out, or even possibly do something in person. And some of that has happened over time. There are some family members that we have been able to engage with in person. And there are some that that we are trying to bring together, for example, there’s a camp that we’re trying to bring together. The family members that are similar in age to my kiddo together in an environment where all the adults are, like, shaping that, you know, aren’t shaping that relationship development, if that makes sense, but it’s done in a way that’s safe, because there’s camp counselors that are trained in trauma and have experienced and in helping develop and nurture those relationships in a camp environment.

Michael Hingson  31:43
It’s it’s a process. I think you’ve you’ve verbalized it very well, it clearly is a process. And hopefully, she will appreciate the concept of ohana. And internal internalize it very well going forward when she is older. And of course, as she gets older and becomes more mature, then you’re offering the opportunity to make that happen.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  32:12
And I’d like to my goal is to, regardless of someone’s situation, create environments where that can happen. So that connections are fostered in ways that are positive and don’t cause harm to either side. Then I don’t even like the idea of taking sides. Yeah, yeah, my own statement. I’m like, reflecting of like, there’s not a side here, you know, I want to understand that people in her family have been through a lot of trauma to and have not had the opportunities that I’ve had, and have had significant barriers which have led to certain traumas, and that’s deeply embedded. And I don’t want to add another trauma onto that. That

Michael Hingson  33:08
That makes sense. I mean, that that is certainly a lofty and ideal goal, and certainly one that makes a lot of sense to do. Sometimes it’s hard to be Switzerland, but at the same time, it makes a lot of sense to do that.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  33:23
Yeah, especially with the dynamic of I am the one in power in this situation, to both sides, you know, and at the same time, as I’m trying to be as fair and open minded and inclusive. My number one priority is the health and safety of my kiddo.

Michael Hingson  33:47
So tell me a little bit more about what you do professionally. What, you’ve graduated from college, you’ve got a doctorate? No, do you actually did you get an MD as well?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  33:59
No, I don’t have an MD and it’s I love that you’re asking that question because people frequently will, because I focus in medicine and people like I consider myself a medical sociologist, even though my current work isn’t embedded in health care or well being or specific health stuff as it was when I was faculty at a med school. But people will constantly say you’re a doctor, but you’re not a doctor doctor.

Michael Hingson  34:32
And don’t show love it when they do that.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  34:34
Yes. And I’m like, I’m a doctor, but I’m not a physician. And that’s part of actually identity wise, why I tack the PhD at the end of my name and for a while I was you know, working within doc T PhD specifically because I didn’t want there to be a confusion Jim, that I was an MD, even though I was doing a lot within, right? Medical School and hospitals and community health, those kinds of things.

Michael Hingson  35:11
So no matter what it is, you got to be a doctor. So what else? So So what do you do now? professionally?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  35:20
Yes, so my work has really evolved into doing facilitation related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. And a lot of that, for me is in relation to not necessarily the policy end of things. But more in the application, the real application of creating more inclusive cultures, and making those institutionalized in policy and inhabit. And one of the things that I’m offering now is to other diversity, equity and inclusion professionals to provide them with support. And not only do I have this, the opportunity within my background to help support someone in that. And I used to be a director of continuous quality improvement, so I bring that aspect. But I’m also a holistic practitioner. So yes, not an MD, but I’m a holistic practitioner, I’m a Reiki Master, and engage in other holistic techniques as well. So I bridge medical, and holistic well being. And so for me, it’s not only moving forward, the ideas of depth, depth, diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging, in practice, but really supporting the people who are doing this work, because the work in and of itself is sometimes traumatizing, and it’s exhausting and high burnout. And we, we want to move. I personally, and I believe you do, too, based on what you’ve said is, we want to move this movement forward, and we can’t afford to lose people who are passionate about trying to move the needle for everyone.

Michael Hingson  37:24
When you say holistic, tell me a little bit more about that. Yes.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  37:29
So that also is I guess, a categorization trying to help people understand some people call it alternative medicine or health care. And again, the labels go with it. So I’m glad you’re asking me. For me, it’s, I take the social, all of what I know as a sociologist, and include practices of mind, body and spirit, recognizing that those individual processes and and ways of being are very much affected by the social construct, cut social context, by legislation, by societal culture, by organizational policy by one on one interactions. So all of that, is there kind of embedded together. And if you only do one piece, which I think is great that there are so many diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives and professionals and people just volunteering in this realm, that we want to provide the support for them to be able to do that in ways that are positive and not not so reactive. Where we’re taking care of each other, including taking care of ourselves.

Michael Hingson  39:03
How do you deal with someone you’re introduced to or a new person who doesn’t necessarily deal with diversity, equity, inclusion and so on? Well, how do you break through some of those barriers?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  39:19
I absolutely love that question. Of course, that you can see probably a spark in me right now. And you hear hear the change in my tone of voice. I love love, love teaching intro to sociology with the exception of grading, because I think the grading and assignments are actually what prevent people in this realm of trying to see diverse perspectives and practicing doing that. That that gets in the way of that expansion. But part of what I loved is exactly that. People. You know, my students the majority of the I’m not interested in sociology hadn’t heard of it kind of like when I first was introduced, I don’t care about it, you know, checking a box to graduate. And I’ve always seen it and tried. And I still do this today of how can I help someone see things from a different perspective in a way that’s non confrontational, and non judgmental, really trying to understand what’s going on in their story that leads them to that belief. And with that, a lot of it is really, from in a business or organizational perspective, it’s helping teach someone to facilitate a meeting, so that everyone’s voice is heard, equitably. And that, even perspectives that you don’t believe in, are treated without judgment, and finding ways to still add parts of each of those perspectives. And moving forward. In a, in an interactional perspective, I have developed, like, you know, a bunch of tools, one of which is where I just have a simple printout card, saying, you know, seven things you can do to include someone today. One is smile. One is wave one is, you know, just send someone a quick text, letting them know, you’re thinking of them picking up the phone and colons and not for any purpose other than how are you doing what’s going on with you, just that creating that connection. And when there’s connection, there’s, there’s a better opportunity for people to be included. And I really work to have people think intentionally about easier ways to be inclusive ways that are more practical that you can add in right away. Yeah.

Michael Hingson  42:17
I think we really is with most things, just need to make the effort and do it, whatever it is. And we, we tend to allow our perceptions of limitations be the thing that holds us back the most.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  42:36
Yes, and, actually, I’m an example of that, that I hold myself back. And it’s just literally been recently that I’ve been, okay, talking about the personal aspects of my life. That we’re, I’m embedded in living in categorizations that are different from the norm, and really even trying to move even trying to move what we’re doing to little kids. Yeah. And in the suicide prevention work that I’ve been a part of the sense of belonging has become a really big concept. And for me, this sense of belonging is is a critical piece. And for someone to have a sense of belonging, someone has to do some kind of action or some kind of connecting. where that person is in a situation to feel belong, like they belong.

Michael Hingson  43:53
Yeah, it is a two way street, right? So it is true that people need to be more open to those who they don’t necessarily understand or know. But the other side of it is those of us who are in the category of people who want to be known and understood, need to reach out and try to create an environment where people appreciate and understand and will help then create a welcoming environment. And that may be kind of a circular way of doing it. But the bottom line is we’re all on this the same earth and need to learn to get along and work together. Yes. Yeah. And that’s really the big thing.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  44:44
I mean, even looking in our larger geopolitics, all of that sense of identity, sometimes our sense of identity and the US them. dynamic of how we tend to talk about others, creates them as an other and creates that separation. And that obviously, as we’re seeing carried out in, in the world and our nation and our communities today, it’s it can have, like catastrophic consequences.

Michael Hingson  45:24
What do you do in your professional world? To help change that?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  45:33
That’s a, that’s a really great question. I see a lot of what I see the majority of what I do is creating ripples. well beyond any interaction that I’m having of helping people develop the skill sets, and understanding of someone different from them seeking out intentionally seeking out perspectives and cultural activities that are different from them. And that may sound over simplistic. It’s, if we’re intentional about it, for example, that say, you see some some type of cultural event going on, maybe go to it, and talk with the folks that are attending of why that events, important to them. And culture being a very broad word. Of course, for me that meaning just some kind of difference, right? So seeking out difference, creating connection with people who are different, does start to create comfort with difference over time. I guess, maybe I have that belief. And maybe that’s not a fair belief, and too simplistic. But growing up in such a diverse area, being in the DC area, I’m comfortable with difference. And I I intentionally seek out people who are different from me to be intentionally. An example, when I started the nonprofit on your own health, I intentionally put people on the board and invited them people to be on my board who I knew thought differently and had a different experience than I did. Because I wanted them to, to push me and challenged me just like we had a little bit earlier in the conversation about about the word different. And I’m comfortable with that. And sometimes I’m not comfortable with it. But I know it’s important. And so I work through my own discomfort. And luckily, we’ve never had arguments on our board, we had very different perspectives on certain topics. But there was not this Animus. And I, I know, that’s not as easy to do in some settings. And I, you know, in my own personal life, that’s part of why San Francisco is my favorite place I’ve ever lived, because I didn’t feel like I stood out, not in the sense of what I look like. But there’s so much diversity in San Francisco on a whole bunch range of issues, that that’s the most comfortable place, I’ve felt because I didn’t feel challenged, I felt that my uniqueness was celebrated and welcomed, and welcomed. Absolutely. And then when I moved to, you know, back to a location that’s in categorization, you know, very Caucasian majority of the people have higher education, degrees, and I felt really uncomfortable here again. And even if I fit into those categories, I didn’t like that.

Michael Hingson  49:43
Well, maybe God is just trying to help you expand your horizons and recognize that it’s, it’s not the worst thing in the world to be there either.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  49:53
Absolutely. It’s it’s not and I know that I’m here for a reason. And if that reason is, by interacting with me that it helps someone see a different point of view than that’s important. And I also feel that is that, especially for people who are in majority categories, or you know, aren’t having the same barriers, it’s really critical for people in those categories, and people who are in power, especially and have resources in those categories, to, to be able to say, it’s important and valuable to support and lift up and include perspectives, and people who are different from us.

Michael Hingson  51:04
I think you’ve given us lots to think about. And I hope that people will go away from this, thinking a little bit different about inclusion than maybe they haven’t certainly different about diversity. But I hope that people will take away some things to truly think about and intellectualize in their own lives about how maybe they can start to deal with people who are different than they. And you have, you’ve certainly worked to help create what we call here the concept of the unstoppable mindset where people believe they can move forward, not only people who are different, but people who may be more in line with what the so called normal person is, recognizing that in reality, we’re all more unstoppable if we work together.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  52:02
Absolutely. If thank you so much,

Michael Hingson  52:05
well, if people want to reach out to you, and learn more about what you do or contact you, for whatever reason, how will they do that?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  52:15
The quickest way would be through LinkedIn. And it’s the LinkedIn/IN/docT. And if you want to schedule a consultation, and talk about the situation that you’re in, and how I might be able to add value to that. That would be through the proximity platform in its prox.io/docT.

Michael Hingson  52:47
Do you have any courses or books or other things that people can read?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  52:54
Yes, I have some manuals that I’ve created, I have some tools that you can use right away. And I have a series of workshops that I’ve created. One specific workshop that I’m in the second phase of, of utilizing is one called repurposing your purpose. And that could be for folks that are getting burned out in their purpose. It could be for folks just starting up initiatives. And, of course, I focus on helping people be able to enact and really ignite the purpose that they are here for to make the world a better place for all. And how

Michael Hingson  53:52
do people get access to that? Is that through the prox.io? site? Or?

Tiffany Noelle Brown  53:56
Yes, yes, yes, through prox.io. And again, if you want to chat with me or get some of the other downloadable resources, just reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Michael Hingson  54:09
Cool. And again, it’s prox.io/docT. Yeah. Okay. Well, Tiffany, it has been wonderful to have you here and I’ve got lots to go think about. You know, every time I do a podcast, I learned things that I get to use in future podcasts and I don’t even necessarily know what they are but they come up is as we go forward. So I really enjoy what you have brought to us today. And I hope that everyone has has enjoyed this as much as I have. And we really appreciate you coming on and hopefully we’ll do this again.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  54:48
Awesome. I so appreciate it. Thank you all for for listening and you know, for Michael, both you and any of your listeners I would love to get your are, you know your thoughts and keep moving my own thinking forward. And you know, this is this is bright. So I would love to connect.

Michael Hingson  55:09
Let’s do it would love to. And definitely I want to stay in touch. So let us by all means do that. And again to all of you who are out there listening, thanks for doing so please give us a five star rating wherever you are listening to podcasts. And if you would like to comment on this podcast and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to reach out to me you can email me at Michaelhi@accessiBe.com that’s Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. And you can also go to our website where we have all the podcast information. It’s Michaelhingson.com M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. So again, Tiffany and well Brown, thanks for being here. And thank you all for coming and listening to us today.

Tiffany Noelle Brown  56:10
Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Michael Hingson  56:15
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.

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