Adam Torres and Dr. Lanise Block discuss creating change.
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Creating equitable change is the goal of many business owners. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Dr. Lanise Block, Founder & CEO at Sankore Consulting LLC. Explore what it takes to create change and her new book, Mission Matters: World’s Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Tips To Success (Business Leaders Edition Vol. 10).
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About Dr. Lanise Block
Dr. Lanise Block embarked on a business journey driven by a vision of empowering organizations to achieve courageous equity-based decisions and make a profound social justice impact. Dr. Lanise’s unique offering is rooted in expertise, innovation, and a deep understanding of the complex dynamics within organizations.
As a Diversity Equity Inclusion, Strategic Planning, and Innovation Consultant, she offers a distinct blend of skills. With a focus on strategic planning, she helps organizations align their DEI efforts with their broader goals, fostering a culture of inclusivity that drives positive change.
Dr. Lanise Block’s work is about more than just innovation—it is about justice. She is driven by the conviction that every individual, regardless of their background or identity, deserves equal opportunities and fair treatment. Dr. Lanise advocates for social justice, pushing leaders to make courageous decisions that dismantle systemic barriers and pave the way for true equity. She has developed a holistic perspective that acknowledges the intersectionality of diversity and recognizes the importance of considering all dimensions of identity. By understanding the intricacies and interconnectedness of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and more, she guides organizations towards comprehensive and authentic inclusion.
About Sankore Consulting LLC
Sankore Consulting LLC is an organization that provides robust solutions for corporate, educational, and organizational leaders struggling with the challenges of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as well as strategic planning. They are committed, through intensive research-based best practices, to deliver innovative ideas for inclusion and impact. Their focus is on organizational planning with an emphasis on diversity, inclusion, racial equity, and social justice.
Sankore is an ancient college within the University of Timbuktu in West Africa. The University of Sankore was known for being a highly organic and rigorous space for intellectual as well as practical thinking. They chose this name to pay homage and continue the legacy. Their logo includes the Adinkra Symbol which means “Aim High” or “Thinks Ahead”. This symbol reminds us to set goals. Adinkra Symbols originate from Ghana West Africa and are used to convey messages of uplift and heritage.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I want to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to learn more about joining our community, head on over to missionmatters. com forward slash community and, and apply. Okay. So today is a very special episode for those that have been listening to this show for a long time.
You know, I love celebrating our authors. You know, I love. Celebrating new books when they’re released. So today I have a, one of our new authors, Dr. Laniece Block on the line. She is founder and CEO over at Sankore Consulting. And first off, Hey, Laniece, I just want to say welcome back to the show. And congrats.
Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m delighted to be a part of this. Oh, my gosh. So we’ve been on this this book journey with each other for, I don’t know, a year, year plus now. Time flies when you’re having fun, but, and we’re going to get into that. And of course, I want to talk about your writing, your contribution to the book.
So your gifts will make room for you was the title of what Laniece wrote. But before we get into all of that we’ll start this episode, the way that we start them all with what we like to call our mission matters minute. Yeah. So Lenise, we at Mission Matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives and experts.
That’s our mission. Lenise. What mission matters to you? Mission matters to me is inclusion, innovation and impact. I believe that you must have innovation and. Inclusion to they go together to really make the impact that is needed for social justice. In our world, in our society, it’s the one of the major for formulas to combat inequity and promote social justice.
Yeah, love it. And love bringing mission based entrepreneurs and executives on the line to share, you know why they do what they do, how they’re doing it and really what we can all learn from that so that we all grow together. So again, great having you back on the show. And I guess before we get into the book before we get into I know you have another book that you’re also releasing.
So I love it. Love more more books. So developing a critical equity leadership identity. And that’s with Dr. Naomi Taylor. So we’ll get into this, of course, but before all of that, I don’t want to assume that maybe some of our newer listeners caught some of our previous work. So let’s just start off maybe with how you got started in the space.
Like where all that began for you. It all began for me this basically living, living, living life, but definitely a more intentional as I mentioned before, many times as an educator, being in a, being in the classroom, we’ve seen you know, firsthand the disparity with how the best students were the lives of my students in populations or in spaces rather where there wasn’t as adequate resources and, and Things like that.
And then I’m moving into leadership positions and seeing the you know, the underlying reasons why many, many cases there weren’t adequate resources and being a part of the team to help rectify some of that. And that kind of led me into the work of doing diversity, equity, inclusion in a more formal way.
And then after I start when that was kind of the basis of the platform, which I started my own business. I’ve been really wanting to work with organizational leaders to help them and help the organizations themselves really focus on what are the things that are needed to do the tools, the strategies, the mindsets that I needed to really promote diversity, equity, inclusion in the ecosystem to promote change.
And impact now as you’re kind of going through your career and as you mentioned, you’re, you’re kind of working to this buildup and you’re progressing. Was there a, was there a point or like, what was that point when you were like, you know, I have to, I have to do more. I have to start my own business. Like, do you remember that?
Oh yes. I think when, when I, Rick figured out that what I, what I was doing wasn’t getting the, the traction that I wanted, I was working in a big system and things just move along. It’s hard to move a gigantic boat in a great big system. So I, I think I, I decided I wanted to do something different. I felt like there were things that I, that I wanted to do that weren’t maybe what everybody else wanted to do.
I felt like I had. I wanted, I felt like there was a way that I could do things a little bit better. And so I wanted to move to developing my own sort of frameworks and procedures and ways of ways of doing things and working with organizations who were, who were ready, who are ready to do the work and who had.
the leadership on board and who were ready to dedicate resources and were interested. I really felt like that was the, you know, the sweet spot, people who were interested and poised. And I really wanted to do and work with those people, those groups and those organizations to make things happen in a more succinct way to get to get to get the ball rolling and to make make change happen.
In a way that was less about, you know, dragging things along and convincing everybody for everybody to get to agree. And then something happened and then change. We have to start back at the beginning, which often happens in a big system. So I wanted to work with in smaller, smaller systems where change can happen much more readily.
And be much more effective and much more thorough. This is where it takes so much. To make things make things happen. Yeah. And I see multiple attributes and things that you mentioned that a lot of the entrepreneurs that are watching this world, they’re probably chuckling like I am. It’s like, you know, I I wanted to do it my way.
I had a different way. I want to see more. I wanted more impact. I wanted the impact happen faster. I wanted, you know, I want to see the change in the value of my work taking place. So I feel like many people when we go into as being entrepreneurs, that’s one of the driving forces that cause us to, you know, take that leap into, you know, you know, and to and to make that step.
What would you tell to maybe some of the the and let’s just talk to the, let’s just say fresh group of entrepreneurs who maybe aren’t quite as far along as you are. What would you tell some of the new entrepreneurs, obviously with the benefit of hindsight when it comes to launching their business or their endeavor, and it doesn’t, it can be in the D.
E. N. I. Space or not either or Wow. I felt like I learned so many things, right. Right. But I’m still learning. I don’t by any means consider myself all are. I hope we all are. I hope we all are. If somebody’s like, I’m done learning. I don’t know. Good luck. I think having documenting processes, early in the game.
I feel like some things that I have processes have just been in my head. I’m starting. I’ve definitely learned to document them over overtime, but that’s definitely something that I, I wish I had known earlier. That’s something I would definitely, I definitely encourage people that I talk to now when they’re getting ready to start, start their own business.
And really understanding that what you have to offer someone, it can be beneficial to someone. And then you have to find. You know, your people. I was telling my my teenagers that, you know, you have to find when you go to high school to find your tribe, to find the people that you’re gonna hang out with, you know, I mean, so you have to find the people that that that want what you have to offer and then finding that niche in that match.
And once you find that find those people you really can really grow and you can really make make some tremendous impact and be really successful in that way. And so I, so I spent early, I spent a lot of time like molding myself to, to other things. And I really feel like now I have what I want to do and when my systems and things that I feel like are really, really great work, really great things, curriculum and things like that I have developed and I’m really trying to, you know, work with the people who are aligning that way.
So I think that’s both those those things are would be very helpful. All right. So let me say why I want to switch switch gears here a little bit. So I do, I do want to spend some time talking about this book. I’m so thrilled that you are a mission matters author and that you participated and to be able to get your message out to our audience.
Truly, it’s an honor and I’m humbled. I want to let’s just dive right in. So your gifts will make room for you. So a lot of different angles, a lot of different things you could have written about. Why this topic? Why now? fiRst, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this book. It was so many great authors this esteemed group of people.
Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing suite of people and it’s amazing sort of product that you have. I’m delighted to be a part of it as well Adam. So I think that one of the things that I have has been a theme really in my, in my life. And in my, especially in my professional journey, even in my personal journey, is I believe that, you know, there’s, there’s enough success and happiness for, for everyone that it’s not necessarily a finite amount and that scarcity is a, it’s often a fallacy that, you know, everybody has, has, it has available to you.
And I also believe further, that what you are endowed with, which you are, are given with are given that it is, is yours. And so you don’t have to think about it being less if you, if you treat it right, if you are, if you understand that it’s a precious gift that it will and treat it as such, then it will.
Open up doors for you to be, you know, who you are in the best space and the best time, and that you have, and you have to make sure that you are ready for your time and your space and treating your, your gift as it’s precious and that it is something to be honed and cared for. Then it’s like a light in that, that the people will see your light.
I mean, the, the opportunity will present is presented for, for presented self for to present itself for you. It’s actually a scripture and definitely identify as a Christian and definitely feeling like this is definitely a way that I have an attitude that I’ve lived my life and definitely like that has been true for me, the things that I have been endowed with, blessed with have been a way to.
Share with the people that have been who they’re for. And for me, and for the transactional relationship between that, and I definitely feel like as an entrepreneur, as a business person, going out on my own, definitely feel like that is something that I’ve had to be reminded of. Many times on this journey is trying to figure out what I was going to do next off and tell people sometimes I’m sitting at my sitting at my desk here and so many things happening.
I’m like, Oh, this is overwhelming. What am I going to do? Otherwise, I was like, where is where’s the business and trying to figure out where? How do I balance that? How do I make it more even? Right? And so always feeling like that, that it’s That is there’s there are provisions being being made in that process and that there will be room and the gifts that that are that I’ve been endowed with will make room and there will be opportunities for me if I continue to treat my gift as a um, thing to be cared for and thought of as special.
And then there was a room will be made for me. Yeah, I want to read a couple of the just the headlines here that are in the book and just for everybody watching this or listening to this, we’re not going to go through all these today. Why? Because, well, I want you to pick up the book, right? Like there’s, it goes deeper than even our conversation today, but I will give you a little bit of it.
So your gifts will make room for you will make room. An informed mindset is mandatory to achieve different results. You must be willing to be innovative. I don’t do one off speeches in potlucks. Love that section. And really the way you broke down this chapter, I mean, put procedures in place. How can individuals create equitable change the way you the way you broke down the chapter, I think was really good because it made it digestible.
But then it also kind of gave some some action there. So somebody can, you know, walk away and and and really, if there. If they’re interested, they can, they can take some steps forward. So that’s I thought it was a very useful chapter. Let’s I want to pick out maybe one or two of these. So I guess the first one I’ll pick out is to achieve different results.
You must be willing to be innovative. What does this mean to you? It means that you have to do some new things different so many times. I mean, you’ve heard it too. I’m sure. Yeah. In the idea that we, we, we’re doing something because it’s all, that’s how we’ve always done it. And we did. Oh, that’s like the, that’s the blow right there.
It’s how we’ve always done it. And I know you’re a. So as soon as you hear that, how do you keep from cringing? That’s rhetorical. You don’t have to answer that one. I don’t keep from doing, I cringe. I’m like, you know, we can’t, we have to let that, we have to, in many ways let that, let that go. And we have to keep, you know, it’s a common phrase, but you would, I mean, you’re probably not surprised by many people will also be surprised at how committed people are to doing this.
same thing. And it’s and it’s couched in in fear and insecurity and people don’t want to take a chance because there’s so many things that are caught up in that. And I absolutely understand that. And so we have to figure out a way. And when I speak with the leadership I have to, I talked with them about how do you make this a safe space right for for for change and for risk and for failure.
Really? Because oftentimes when you’re having, when you started innovation, there is this little, little, little hump that really as part of it, that it’s a, it’s a, it’s a dip in production. It’s a dip in and and the efficiency because the system has to take a while to adjust to the innovation. And sometimes people see that and right away they’re like, Oh, this is not working.
And you have to, yeah, You have to give the system time to adjust what is new. Yeah. And, and if you have to understand that in advance and be willing to, to, to write it out. And that’s often that it’s hard for people to, to understand and to, and to realize and to, and to be, be, be committed to. And so that’s something that you really have to.
Commit to and understand both as the leadership team and the people that they’re working with and then the overall team, the organization and understand that and then the other stakeholders as well. And so that’s why innovation is, is, is have an innovative mindset is, is critical. And you also, you have to do things differently.
We can’t keep doing the same things. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, It’s a common, common terminology and phrase, but it’s hard to get people to move and do those things differently, but I’m hopefully I’m at my work with them and helping them to understand that these are the elements need to be in place. And these are some some of the some key things.
Often I’m starting with some things that are low risk. And moving, moving like incrementally up that it helps make, make them see these, these things are doable and that can help soften the blow in some ways, doing more things that are much more impactful and then therefore more risk involved. But we help them along the way.
So that’s kind of where that, where that idea springs from. Oh man. It’s there’s so much to unpack in what you said, and one of the things that I, that I, I think about when I think about innovative companies or, or innovation in general is sometimes people only attribute that to like tech or like, you know, we talk chat GPT or like ai or how do we do this?
How do we innovate? But when you’re innovating, let’s just say within the de and I. space. Let’s say technology aside, can you tell us kind of how you go about this or what you’re what some of the thinking that you goes involved on your end in terms of innovation? Because I want to I want people to know that you don’t have to be in tech consultants, consulting, bringing new ideas like there’s a lot of different ways to innovate.
Right. There’s lots of different ways to innovate. Sometimes it’s simple as just for an act, for example changing the evaluation process. So if you are, if you’re committed to diversity, inclusion and because people, there’s a common phrase, people say people respect what you inspect. Right.
So I never heard that one. People respect what you inspect. I wish I knew that what you think is what you think is common is not common. That’s mine because I didn’t hear that one before. That’s why I had back in a long time ago. Mr. Court here. He used to say that all the time that and so that means that, you know, people are paying attention to what you’re what you evaluated.
So one of the things that often encourage people to do is if you are again committed to the first conclusion, make that part of your evaluation process. for leaders. Make that part of what to mean in order to be an effective leader. That’s, you know, you always have, you have these lists of things that they’re evaluated on.
Make that one of the things that you’re, you evaluate them, make, make, make, make that part of the rubric. And so they, they get, they’re committed to it. They have a vested interest in being, in demonstrating these particular qualities, these particular I behaviors. And so that’s, that’s, that’s an example of that.
Changing again, for instance the, the, the hiring screening. Strategies like making it so that there are specific things you’re doing to advertise for jobs in specific spaces where, you know, BIPOC people or people who are marginalized people, GLBTQ, or people who are experiencing disabilities, those people are, are those people.
Have those communities be very intentional about reaching about that kind of outreach. Those are some examples of of outreach doing things differently on this cost. Maybe cost a little bit more money. Maybe it requires having a different mindset and thinking about who, where are those places? Who are those people?
And so it requires a different way of thinking about that, a different way of going about things. Maybe you have to change your your process for post and writing a job, posting a job and your timeline. for how long it takes. Were you gonna open the search window for a job? And who are the interviewers?
All those things often will have to shift. So it’s like a, it’s like a effect. One thing leads to another. But that’s, but that’s again, part of the innovation process. Those are the things that one thing leads to another changing. Interview questions for answers might be another thing that you do as part of the innovation process.
And this leads to change. Who’s gonna write them? Thank you. Who is going to ask them? How are those, those things going to be evaluated? And they’re different people on your team to do these things. All of one thing often leads to another thing. It’s part of the process. And so that’s another and I feel like it’s all good things.
Once you do one thing, once you do one really great thing, it leads you down to other really great things. If you’re, if you’re doing it with, um, and office authenticity. Yeah, no, I love it. It’s and that cascading effect of what you’re talking about and allowing more and more, regardless of the space that you’re in.
But in your particular space, I feel like every time you you work with a new client, you do something new, like you’re you’re furthering that mission of D. E. N. I. And what that means and what that means for progress for all of us. So I really appreciate your work. Speaking of your work, let’s let’s spend some time here with the time we have left and talk a little bit more about the Sancore Consulting.
So maybe tell us a little bit more about your firm and what you do. So we focus on not diversity. Equity inclusion is the one, the one a major asset. But we also, as I just say, in addition to we focus on diverse on strategic planning and innovation. We do that with the design thinking like the more of the traditional form and then also liberatory design, which is design thinking paired with equity.
The design thing that the B school, which is created the The design thinking partnered with the national equity product project and created a liberatory design. This is a wonderful tool that I love to use. Also we I do logic modeling as part of my strategic process, strategic planning process with with organizations, helping them map out the things that they’re doing, the outputs, inputs, outcomes, all those things to help them see what they’re, what they’re doing.
Also the design sprints, which are much longer process in the work and recently recently got certified to be a a master workshopper. We’re learning some very specific skills about the laws of facilitation so that I’m equipped to facilitate using innovative strategies about really any topic you know, that, That can be done and with a variety of different things that writing different sort of tactics and procedures around innovation and, and, and creative thinking and problem solving.
And so how did, how is this delivered? Is it, is there some, is there an online component? Is it in office or in class? Like, tell us a little bit more about the delivery and how people engage. So both. So I, I, I have been because also, you know, I forgot to mention this. I also have a pretty, pretty strong expertise in educational technology.
I Also do adjunct professor at a couple of different universities in the Twin Cities. Actually, I’m teaching ed tech class for a university coming up this fall and in the spring. Anyways, you are busy. And so I also have, so I also teach culturally responsive teaching strategies to teachers as well.
So I forgot to mention that. Anyways, and so I do those, I do all of these things both in a in. virtual environment and in the face to face environment. So I’ve gotten really great at doing it virtually via zoom, gotten some, some, some strategies because I have a ed tech background. I have lots of different tools to do things and create engagement and do all those same things.
I want face to face online, but then also do things online, do things in the form of forms of workshops. I can do multiple, like I do series sometimes, sometimes organizations hiring me to do a series of things over like a year long process. Sometimes it’s like a shorter process, like maybe just a spring over a couple of, over a couple of months, that kind of thing where we, we, we have this engagement time.
And then, so it depends on the organization, what their needs are and the scope of how many people they want to work at, work with. where they are, where they begin and where they want to end. Those kinds of things we do is for instance, we have a equity audit process. And so there’s like Eight things you can have in there that put you out of the process.
And so the person wants, the organization wants all eight of those. That’s a much longer process, but if they only want maybe five of those options, it’s a shorter process. And so that’s, we try to be accommodating and responsive to what the organization leader organization wants to make it get the end that they, that they’re hoping for and get the information that they need.
But sometimes they need to, I help them understand that they, that the things that they. Think they want, they may be something different or either add or subtract something to get, get to where they really are wanting to go on. So that’s, that’s kind of a help with that as well. Yeah, no. I think that I want to now get into I’ve been holding back, but you have another book coming up, which I’m so excited to learn more about.
So developing a critical equity leadership identity pathway to courageous leadership pathways, courageous leadership. So Dr Naomi Taylor is who you’re working with. That’s your co author. Like, how did this project come about? So Dr Naomi Taylor and I both worked for the local school district. And she is, you know, a brilliant, great friend of mine.
And we were both working on working with a local, a different school. And we were talking about, you know, working with the school district. They need this group. They want to do the work. They’re, they’re interested in doing their work. They’re committed, but they just, they need something. They need something.
And we were like, Oh, you know, actually in the afternoon, I was like, Oh, they need a, equity leadership identity. And so we’re like, Oh, I’m like, yes, that’s exactly what they need. And so we went about developing a framework that, that, that, that was really about having these sort of five elements in these five steps that really helps people.
people understand what it is to to get to the point, which is the paragon, which is making courageous equity based decisions. Because we both saw in our careers, both, you know, you know, middle aged women who’s been who’s been in this work a very long time. See people who got who are very, very committed and who really want to do the work, but get to the, Get to the point, the crucifix of really making a change and get to the point where they’re really getting ready to make a really big impact and make that courageous equity based decisions.
And then they stop because they get pushback, they get resistance. They have an adversarial experience and then they shut down. They stop because they know they’re not equipped to go any further. And so in our framework our, I do the building process. We are. We are building them to say, giving the tools, the understanding, the information they need to so that when they get to that point, get to that apex forward and they go away, they’re able to make that courageous equity based decision and not stop and not fill those succumb.
to the resistance that we know will be there that we know is part of the process. And so we want to equip, better equip them to make those decisions and, and, and make that impact and not, you know, fall short as we have seen so many well intentioned leaders do. So that’s kind of the, the, the point of the intention of the book.
Oh, that’s amazing. And when, when I’m not, not holding you to this, is this a 2023 thing, 2024? When do you, when do you think we’re going to be live with this one? So yes, I feel like I feel like I’m writing my dissertation all over again because I keep It’s done. Oh, I’m thinking I want to add this to it.
So we thought it was done, you know, every month for the last eight months. And we keep thinking, oh, we’re going to add something to it. So right now, Adam, I feel like what is today? August and I feel like it’s done. And so hopefully that it really is done and we won’t think of something else to add to it in September.
But right now it’s done. All right. Well, I like I that I’m not holding you to that, but I definitely I definitely do appreciate you coming on the show today to promote not only of course the book that we released together that I’m so thrilled to talk about, but also, you know, your work at St.
Cory Consulting your new book that’s coming up. So if people are watching this or listening to this and they want to follow up and they want to continue to follow your journey and learn more, what’s the best way for them to do that? They can go to my website and schedule. There’s a, but this is schedule a consultation with me.
That’s the best way to understand, you know, what, what I’m doing and, and how to, how to connect when just have a, have a conversation with me. Also you can also sign up to join the our newsletter that we released monthly that has tips and hints about solutions and into innovation things like that.
And so those are the two kind of entry points to connect with us and definitely invite people to Engage in one or both of those ways. Fantastic. And we’ll, we’ll put that information in the show notes so that our audience can just, you know, click on the link and head right on over and speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with mission matters, we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and experts and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission, you know, what gets them motivated and.
Fired up to go out into the world and to make a difference. If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we welcome you hit that subscribe button. We have many more mission based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. Lenise again, thank you so much for coming on the show.
It really has been a pleasure and I look forward to continue to promote this book with you. Thanks again. Thank you. I appreciate your time.