Changemaker Chats DC had the honor of hosting Ambassador Brazeal and learning from the lessons she has taken away from her career. And what’s one of the most important takeaways? Having fun but also speaking your truth! While our team at Changemaker Chats DC hesitates to speak for all the ladies in our network, it’s safe to say that what Ambassador Brazeal shared – both personally and professionally – is inspiring, touching, and totally imbued with her style of ‘polite directness.’ Below are some of the takeaways.
“Have fun. It goes too fast.” –Ambassador Brazeal
Change things up. There are two types of folks in this world: conservators and changers. Conservators look to keep their job content “as is,” static, with no problems, innovation or even forward progress. It’s more fun to be a changer – look for ways to adapt your job description and life to what’s interesting for you and valuable to the overall mission. Be an activist. Try to work around people who always use phrases such as “this isn’t possible,” or “we’ve tried this before.”
Don’t obsess over it. You’ll never know if you didn’t get that invitation to a meeting or job offer because you are a woman, black, tall, etc. So, don’t obsess over it. And if you don’t obsess over it, it’s harder to take personally. You are then free to be your authentic self. Remember that everyone is going through their own challenges – so you don’t know what is truly driving another person’s behavior.
Work the system. Work in a bureaucracy? Frustrated by how others are treating you? Remember, you can work the system creatively, and have fun while doing it. For example, Ambassador Brazeal shared a great anecdote on forming cross-functional friendships and allies to push their agendas forward. Not only were they able to meet their objectives, she formed a lifelong friend in the process. To work the system you have to educate yourself about the system in order to go around, over or under the system.
Speak up. You should always speak up. Do so politely, but firmly. There’s always space for you to add your thoughts and experiences. Ambassador Brazeal shared a story in which a colleague used a pejorative term. Ambassador Brazeal quickly stated that no one is to use that term in her presence – because if you say that in front of her, what would you say about her when she isn’t around? White privilege is real, and there’s a tendency for white people to excuse one another as “nice people..” Nice people can still have racist inclinations… and white people especially need to be in the dialogue and set expectations too.
Thanks you Ambassador Brazeal for being our speaker this month. We can’t imagine a more fitting Changemaker.