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Being the Closing Keynote Speaker for #ALSHRM2021...Always Be Your Authentic Self

It was a memorable experience being the closing keynote speaker for the Alabama 2021 SHRM Conference. My message was to Always Be Your Authentic Self.

Here are a few impactful statements I made which were being discussed on social media platforms:

“I just talk, I am who I am, and that’s how I learned to be.”

“I was afraid of public speaking, I was nervous I would stutter or say the wrong thing, but Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) efforts created a safe space for me to start speaking.”

One of my attendee’s favorite takeaway from my #ALSHRM keynote was, “Embrace your vulnerabilities, do new things, and get uncomfortable.”

It is my mission, as the president and founder of AllThingzAP, to make sure individuals are always their true authentic selves. It’s essential to an organization’s success that diversity is celebrated, inclusion is embraced, and equity is valued. My passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, is a very personal one. For a quarter of my life, I was not comfortable in my own skin and felt like an outsider. I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Essentially, I was not being true to myself. Things have changed for me since coming out over fifteen years ago. It took time and patience, but I finally reached a point in my life where I said, “Who cares what others think of you; just be you.”

Organizations that embrace diversity open the door to endless possibilities that can drive professional and financial success. However, without inclusion, that door becomes revolving, and organizations may find their efforts as simply “talk” with very little action. Inclusion has an impact on an organization’s retention along with higher levels of engagement and civility.

In my keynote, we explored the use of storytelling as a tool to express our true authentic selves by sharing our experiences with one another. This allows for more transparency, better communication, greater understanding, encouraging civility, and more compassion and empathy. Storytelling is fundamental to every culture. Inclusion and authenticity require storytelling and being open to having uncomfortable conversations in our personal and professional lives. It is true that sharing stories makes us vulnerable, but this is where real trust starts. The shortest distance between two people is a story. We all have our own stories to tell. Let’s learn to share our powerful stories of diversity and inclusion.

Unique experiences are assets that make us better employees, better organizations and – by extension – better societies.

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