As part of The Startup Magazine’s Female Founder Interview series, today we present Minué Yoshida, owner of the New York-based Yoshida Academy which offers courses to help clients in mastering public speaking and leadership skills and diversity, equity and inclusion consulting.
The Academy hosts a series of experiential workshops for participants to know themselves, find and amplify their voices, and learn to deliver your unique message in an impactful, assertive, relevant and memorable way in order to gain confidence and achieve extraordinary results..
Minué also recently released her new book called “Inclusion Is a Verb: 5 Signs that your Company is Genuinely Inclusive, intended to educate and guide corporations, organizations, institutions, and individuals through the process of making inclusion a reality.
Let’s see what Minué has to share with us…
TSM: Can you tell us, in 10 words or less, what is the central message of your book, “Inclusion Is A Verb: 5 signs that your company is genuinely inclusive?”
Minué: “Inclusion Is a Verb” is intended to activate diversity, equity, and inclusion, from our households to our workplace, in order to generate justice, belonging and opportunities for all.
This book is unapologetically disruptive, sarcastic, and very pragmatic.
“Inclusion Is a Verb” has the mission to educate and generate awareness of main DEI gaps, provide a sense of direction, and guide corporations, organizations, institutions, and individuals through the process of making Inclusion a reality.
TSM: With a bit more detail, what are the main takeaways from the book?
Minué: When I think about WHY I had the desire to write this book, I knew that I couldn’t ignore the tug and more importantly the NEED that I felt to share my expertise with others. For years, I have been in the Diversity & Inclusion industry raising awareness for the Latinas in the US as I identify as an Asian-Latina.
Throughout my own story of resilience in this country, I’ve had the chance to meet many other people from all walks of life overcoming the same adversities and struggling for opportunities others got often without being qualified. With this book I hope to change that.
In this book we explore basic DEI definitions, as well as Pillars of Evolution and Progress. We introduce for the first time, a unique and comprehensive tool to measure just how inclusive their companies really are. This tool is called DEI Scorecard. Ideally, those companies with the best of intentions to discover how they are in terms of inclusiveness, get a sense of direction.
I introduce what it means to be a KOI Champion, or a leader that swims against the current with determination and vision. KOI Companies –Knowledgeable, Open, and Inclusive—are the type of companies that flourish and encourage their teams to be their authentic selves. In my book, I dive deep into offering best practices and ideas for companies to become genuinely more inclusive. I share 5 categories that represent this including representation, education, support, impact, and freedom.
While there have been many changes in our society, in this country and the world itself, it hasn’t been until the past 15 years that companies, organizations, and institutions have taken this to the core. The first step was to acknowledge our current diversity. The second step was identifying opportunities for all, the same opportunities, not seeking for equality, but equity. The third step is to take action, real tangible and applicable solutions to last a lifetime.
TSM: You’ve also successfully launched and run a learning company, Yoshida Academy. Tell us more about its mission.
Minué: YES! We have been in business for over 13+ years and we love what we do! Yoshida Academy offers courses to help clients in mastering public speaking and leadership skills and diversity, equity and inclusion consulting. As leaders and experts in our field, it was a duty to write something like Inclusion is a Verb to share this knowledge with readers.
Our mission is to be the home base for people to discover how to be confident, brave, and eloquent through individual and group coaching, consulting, and transformational learning experiences, both in-person and online. We are a multicultural company passionate about storytelling, wellbeing, leadership, inclusion, and opportunity. Our faculty and staff have harnessed their inner superheroes so that we can help others discover theirs.
TSM: So, it seems there are some common elements to both self-improvement and organizational improvement. From your perspective, is it that both processes involve taking action and also being stronger in communicating their messages?
Minué: Yes, that is right, both processes involve taking action. This is the essence of “Inclusion Is a Verb” that speaking about it doesn´t create the change. While I understand that we need planning, strategizing, and developing tactics, I think we spend a lot of time in “analysis-paralysis”.
I’ve been in so many conferences, seminars, etc. and I’ve found that people talk about DEI, but are not willing to do what it takes for their companies to change. Sadly, the issue is using the topic as something “done” in a checkbox list, and not as a real commitment to improve.
TSM: For your firm, where do you see the better business growth opportunities, in training for self-improvement or organizational values transformation?
Minué: We are convinced that one directly influences the other in such way that it can build or destroy it, yet they are both dependent on each other. If individuals from a company do not work on self-improvement, the company can spend millions in HR initiatives, Organizational programs, Communication Campaigns focused on the company´s values, etc. yet nothing is going to move because it´s the individual that moves it.
We see this so often! Companies spending time, effort, and money with “fancy” things for their employees, games and gimmicks to give the illusion that their employees are happy, yet they are missing the point with that is most important: employees to feel happy, valued, cherished, recognized, challenged, respected, and embraced.
Here are two examples.
Example 1. One of our clients is a global corporation with presence in almost every country in the world, they are in the tech industry and people rely on them for many things, from retail to find a place. Their offices are so much fun, it feels like being in Disneyland, their policies are flexible and their benefits are a dream come true. However, we coach some of their employees at high levels, and what we know is that they don’t know how to handle a microaggression, that their top leadership is not inclusive, that there is fear of retaliation if someone raises their hand to ask an uncomfortable question, and that they don´t feel like they are in a safe space to be themselves, because the culture is based on the need to “be cool” and to do your best to belong to an elite of employees that have been hired from Ivy League schools with extreme expectations.
So, while this company is focused on an environment that caters to the masses, the individuals suffer in their lonely space, affecting their performance, their emotional and mental health, and productivity.
Example 2. Another client that we have also works for a multinational company that has been around for many years. The company has a magnificent reputation and over a century of experience on the field. They want to be the number one company and have spent some resources on hiring very talented people, high achievers, extremely knowledgeable, driven, and motivated to the core. The issue here is the environment they are living in a daily basis is not conducive to the goals and dreams they see for themselves. This company’s values are not reflecting those of their employees and vice versa, there is no loyalty, no commitment from the company to their employees, everyone is “a number” that can be disposed at any time if the game doesn’t require them to be there. The job disappears, the business unit changes, etc. and employees know this.
Similar to the case above described, the end result is a mediocre performance, groups of angry people, unethical behaviors, and other failures of bigger magnitudes.
If organizations want to transform their workplace, they need to move in two parallel tracks that run simultaneously and cross paths at all times: Individual and Collective.
|Each person gets better every day, grow their skillset, become more confident and a powerful contributor||The company fosters an environment where extraordinary people can thrive|
For us, in Yoshida Academy, we see many growth opportunities for organizations. We provide training/learning life lasting solutions, delivered in one of these three modalities: Workshops, Annual Programs, and Executive Coaching.
TSM: Give us a bit more background on the Yoshida Academy launch. What was your first major hurdle in getting your first training projects launched?
Minué: We launched in 2020, right in the middle of a pandemic, when people thought it cannot be done, we made it happen. One of our biggest challenges of course was having to cancel the in-person events and workshops and focus on online events only.
TSM: As your company started growing, what additional challenges did you face in making it sustainable? Hiring? Getting visibility? Raising capital?
Minué: All the above! Hiring was tough because we didn’t make enough money to have full staff on board. However, we’ve discovered through time that we don’t need to have people working for us full time. We’ve been hiring our collaborators or contributors in a case by case basis, or as needed. Sometimes we need Graphic Designers, Producers, Photographers, Facilitators, etc. and we hire individuals who offer their services at a personal level or their companies.
TSM: Going back to your own early career, tell us a factor or two that most influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
Minué: There were many times when I felt that what I was doing was not enough, just never felt part of the groups I was working with. While I made a lot of friends, after a certain time, I didn’t feel belonging to the organizations I’ve been part of.
TSM: What do you say to someone that feels they’ve been dealt a bad hand in life and they’ll never be successful?
Minué: I would say that everyone has what they need to be successful. What people call “a bad hand” is really not it, it’s a matter of perspective. Before someone jumps and tells me that this is not true, defining what success is for each person is a first step. Everyone can be successful in their own ways and in how they define it for themselves.
TSM: Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Minué: Absolutely, yes! You can find me on most social media platforms as @MinueYoshida and @YoshidaAcademy. Please send me a message and let’s connect!