26. Anti-Racism and Allyship with Alyssa Hall

June 21, 2022

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Have you ever hit ally burnout?

Being a financial feminist is recognizing the ways in which unjust systems affect the way we handle money.

This is why anti-racism work is a key part of how we show up as allies to communities greater affected by these systems.

After the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Anti-Racism became a buzzword in every major corporation across America. But many companies ended up simply posting black squares and building marketing campaigns without actually changing anything internally or externally.

Alyssa Hall was baffled. It was clear to her where companies and individuals were making preventable missteps in their response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and in that moment, she knew she could help.

Today, Tori sits down with Alyssa, an anti-racism consultant and leadership coach who works with businesses and individuals to re-build their companies on new structures founded with anti-racism as a core principle, to talk about how we as allies can make our anti-racism efforts more sustainable. 

This is an incredible episode for business owners and individuals alike who have struggled with how to make a true impact without burning out as an ally.

About Alyssa

Alyssa Hall is an anti-racism consultant and executive coach. Upon completing her training at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), she began her journey of coaching corporate leaders and business owners on mindset and leadership. She now uses those same skills to work with coaches and other service providers to become active in the anti-racist movement. 

Her main area of focus is strengthening the leadership skills needed in promoting an anti-racist environment. In addition, she ensures her clients continually uphold their values of diversity, equity, and inclusivity, which in turn brings them greater success in their lives and their businesses.




Join the School for Anti-Racist Leadership

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Tori Dunlap (00:00:00):

Hello, financial feminists. Welcome back. I know it’s hard to believe, but we have been doing almost two months of new episodes. We now have more new episodes in this period than we did last time. The first season, we only recorded six weeks of episodes. So we have now been podcasting for the longest consecutive time, which is very exciting for our team and hopefully you’re enjoying it. So if you’re liking the new format, if you’re liking the guests we’ve had, if you’re like, “I love this show and I wish more people would listen.” Best thing you can do besides directly sharing this with your friends and family, which I heartily encourage, is to rate and review us on your preferred podcasting platform. We very much appreciate it. It helps keep our show running. Helps us continue to be able to give you six episodes a month.

Tori (00:00:42):

So we appreciate your support. Your reviews help us climb in the charts. And that’s one of the best ways to spread our mission of financial feminism. We also, literally guys, I check reviews every day. I don’t know if y’all realize this. I literally go to Apple Podcasts. I go to like our back end and I’m literally like, what review did we get today? And we love it when there’s nice reviews and we hate it when there’s mean reviews. So if you love this podcast, leave us a review. And if you hate this podcast, say nothing. Say nothing. It’s great. Say nothing.

Tori (00:01:11):

Team, if you saw the word anti-racist today and you were… Especially a white person, I’m going to guilt you into staying. You must stay. This is required. This is a required education for you as a fellow white person. This is required education. Guilting aside, this is an important episode for everybody and anybody. This is going to be as light of an episode as we can do about anti-racism because we want to make this conversation accessible to you.

Tori (00:01:38):

And when we talk about financial feminism what we’re really talking about is how systemic oppression affects how we manage our money. So this is why it’s so important to be actively anti-racist as a key to our financial feminist journey. So today I’m so excited to welcome Alyssa Hall. She is here to help us practice our anti-racism in a sustainable way. Alyssa Hall is an anti-racism coach, a mother, and a proud Cuban and African American woman. She works with coaches and other service providers on their journey to becoming actively anti-racist helping them become better allies and working with them on making anti-racism a foundational piece of their business.

Tori (00:02:12):

In today’s conversation. We talk about what got her into anti-racism work. Some common pitfalls she sees not only in businesses, but also in individuals and also how she makes her anti-racism work, feel sustainable so that we can have a maximum impact. I remember as I’m sure a lot of white people did back in 2020, feeling like you have to do everything and then feeling eventually overwhelmed and potentially even doing nothing. Anti-racism is a practice that is lifelong. You don’t get to check it off a to-do list. It’s something that we’re constantly doing and it’s constantly ebbing and flowing.

Tori (00:02:45):

And so in order to keep this practice, something we’re doing for our entire lives, Alyssa is really great at making that practice sustainable and really accessible. I really highly recommend this interview for business owners, but even if you’re not a business owner, you will glean so much. And again, especially white people this is a conversation that you need to listen up to. So without further ado, please welcome Alyssa Hall.

Tori (00:03:24):

It is so funny to me that you’re in Brooklyn and that I just missed you. We could have done this in person. We just discovered before we started recording that Alyssa has been in BK for the last week. And I’m also in BK. And for some reason we did not know and we could’ve chat in person. Are you in FiDi right now? Did you say that, you’re on Wall Street right now?

Alyssa Hall (00:03:48):

Yep. And it’s so funny. When I found out that I was coming down here, I was like, is she in Brooklyn? No, not Brooklyn. Is she in New York? But I’m like, that’s me being self-centered I think everyone’s in New York. And then I’m like, let me not even ask, because that can just be odd. And then I’m like, oh no, she’s on west coast.

Tori (00:04:06):

Normally yes.

Alyssa (00:04:06):

Forget it.

Tori (00:04:07):

Normally, yes. No, I am living out my childhood dream of living in New York. And [inaudible 00:04:13] six weeks. And I’m doing the thing where like I thought, okay, I can never live in New York because I can’t live in Manhattan. I just can’t do it, I can’t live in the city, but this is the first time I’ve actually spent really any significant time in Brooklyn. And I’m like, I could live here. What does this mean for me and my identity.

Alyssa (00:04:28):

Do it.

Tori (00:04:29):

I know I’m like… I love Seattle though. And so I’m like the ideal situation is that I, at some point could somehow split my time between here and Seattle, but New York is expensive, and Seattle’s expensive. They’re both very expensive.

Alyssa (00:04:44):

That’s my long term goal too. Honestly.

Tori (00:04:45):

It’s so expensive. Or it’s either you’re paying… Well, regardless. I was going to say, you’re paying either a ton of money or you live with six people, but I think it’s still expensive even if you live with six people.

Alyssa (00:04:59):

It is.

Tori (00:05:01):

Yep. There’s no happy medium to that. Have you seen the Wall Street bull yet? Have you seen that monstrosity?

Alyssa (00:05:09):

That’s the wild thing. So I never came down to Wall Street unless I was working there. And when I used to work in Wall Street for a very short amount of time, I used to work in that area with the bull. So I was like, “Oh, that’s so cute.” But I’m just like, no. And then when I booked the hotel and it said Wall Street, apparently there’s a whole other side of Wall Street that I never knew about. I didn’t care about, I still don’t care about it’s boring down here. But yeah, I’m not on that side of Wall Street.

Tori (00:05:39):

It’s so interesting. Actually, I have a part about this in my book, but the interesting thing about the bull, if you’ve gone up to the bull, you’ll see, it is like tourists will come and you’re supposed to rub the bull’s testicles for financial prosperity. Literally, and because the bull is huge.

Alyssa (00:05:59):

It is.

Tori (00:05:59):

So therefore its private parts are also huge. It’s balls are massive. And so you literally have all these tourists just like rubbing and grabbing the bulls testicles to the point where the testicles are now a different color. The scrotum is a different color because all of the oil on people’s hands. And I’m like, no wonder people don’t feel comfortable investing, no wonder women and other marginalized groups don’t feel comfortable investing when it’s like the most masculine representation.

Alyssa (00:06:30):

Oh my gosh. Because I worked down there, I would see that people were always like taking pictures, but I’m a New Yorker. So I’m just like these fucking tourists. I didn’t know what the story behind it was. My daughter is obsessed with like the fearless girl. She has like a picture with the fearless girl. I don’t know the story behind it. I’m sure you know.

Tori (00:06:52):

At least it’s not there staring down the bull anymore. I think it’s somewhere else. I think they relocated it, but it’s one of those things and I’d actually, we’d love to talk to you about this. It’s one of those things, I think there’s so much positives, but there’s also been some like pushback on it where like, why is it a girl? As opposed to a woman, and the fact that unfortunately I think it got like damaged, there were people who came and vandalized it. But I’m sure somebody’s vandalized the bull at some point, but there wasn’t the same pushback. So it’s really interesting because it’s like it’s means and stands for so much, but it’s also slightly complicated.

Alyssa (00:07:34):

Right. That is so… It’s very odd. And I feel like it’s these little small things that you’re always talking about. All these like small, societal norms that ju
st implant seeds into our brain about how we think about ourselves, how we think about certain things and for it to be specifically a little girl facing after this huge bull that signifies financial success. It’s just an odd thing.

Tori (00:08:04):

Right. I mean, part of me is like, I love that of this little, I don’t know, seven, eight year old girl was powerful and like that’s beautiful. And in a lot of ways it’s like… I don’t know. It’s complicated and it’s not there anymore. It’s somewhere else. It’s not there. I don’t remember why they took it down. I should go research and see why, but it’s not there anymore.

Alyssa (00:08:28):

That’s so interesting. I’m trying to remember when my mom took my daughter to see the fearless girl. I’m like, did they come all the way down here? Or was it somewhere else already? That’s so interesting.

Tori (00:08:39):

Yeah. Because it used to stare like right down the bull. I mean I was down there last week and it’s not there and it hasn’t been for a while, so I’m sure it’s somewhere else. I just don’t know where they put it.

Alyssa (00:08:50):

That is so interesting.

Tori (00:08:53):

It’s really interesting. I’m so excited. You’re I’m just going to dive right into it for people who don’t know, what does an anti-racism coach do and like what is your typical day in the life?

Alyssa (00:09:06):

Yes. So you’re catching me on a very fun time. Today’s what Friday? And I’ve already done four like team trainings this week, as well as working one on one with clients. And what that actually looks like is particularly in the way that I do the work. It’s anti-racism consulting in terms of going into people’s businesses and really helping them see like where can we make this more inclusive? Where can we make this more equitable? And at the same time, sometimes teaching people about some of these societal norms patriarchal stuff, white supremacy culture. How are we repeating these things in our businesses and how can we do the exact opposite? And that can sometimes be hard for people and it can also bring up a lot of stuff for people. So on top of that, what I also do is coach them through that.

Alyssa (00:10:04):

So I’m also what I call a leadership coach. Because I feel like leadership very much sets the tone for everything else in the business. And when we go into a business or even when we get like a managerial job, we just want the job. We just want to do the work that we want to do, that does not necessarily mean we know exactly what we need to do in order to be an inclusive leader. So a lot of times that looks like working one on one with the CEO. Sometimes that looks like training the team as to how anti-racism fits into the work that they’re doing. They may not be able to see that. I think a lot of us don’t really see that and doing a mesh of that. So that we’re all on the same page. And the work that we’re doing is based off of the values of the business.

Tori (00:10:54):

Yeah. I think one of the interesting things I found when I was working a corporate job and then now running my own company is that a lot of people get promoted to managerial roles because they’re good at their job. Not because necessarily they’re good managers. And that’s something that I just wish more people realized is you should get promoted, yes, because you are doing good work. But if you’re moving into a managerial role. Really your primary focus at that point is not doing this the typical day to day work, your focus is managing other people and becoming a leader who is hopefully inclusive in all of these things.

Tori (00:11:35):

I saw people who got promoted, who were really good at their day to day work, but weren’t really great at managing people. And weren’t really great at that oversight. Versus the couple times I did see people be really good managers, that was the primary focus of their work rather than the tasks at hand. So, do you find a lot of organizations are doing that kind of promoting people based on their work rather than how well they can execute as a leader? Like what sort of challenges does that cause or what sort of challenges do you have to overcome then?

Alyssa (00:12:10):

Yeah, I see that with like quote unquote, regular corporate businesses where there’s a huge staff. And then also just thinking about like, even just myself as a CEO and just a lot of other like entrepreneurs, we kind of do the same thing. We’re like, hey, I have this mission that I want to do. We’re going to do that. I need to hire people. Well I need to hire people because I can’t do everything. And now we’re in this leadership role and all we wanted to do in the world was the work we wanted to do, but it necessitated hiring people.

Tori (00:12:46):

Right. And so it’s… Yeah, even as a CEO. And that’s part of the challenge that I’m findi
ng is how do I move less into the doing the day to day work and more doing the high level, either strategy or making sure that my team have the tools they need to not only perform well and to be well taken care of, but also feel like they’re inclusive. They have the resources to create content around that. No, that’s very interesting.

Alyssa (00:13:17):

Right. And like to answer your question about like, what are some of the issues that come from that is that we just almost like regurgitate whatever it is that we’re taught. And so if what we’re taught or what we see as like the best way to lead a team or the best way to get people to get motivated about their work is just what we’ve come up with in our heads or what we’ve seen other people do. It just continues the cycle of all these things that we actually don’t want to see in the world, but we aren’t able to make that connection.

Tori (00:13:53):

It’s like parenting. It’s like you end up-

Alyssa (00:13:55):


Tori (00:13:56):

… defaulting to like what you saw from your parents for both good and bad.

Alyssa (00:14:02):

Yes. Exactly. That’s the example I was going to use, but I’m like, I don’t know if everyone can relate to that, but that’s exactly what it is.

Tori (00:14:07):

I mean I don’t have a kid, but I feel like my business is a kid in a lot of ways. I’m like I have 3 million children. How do I take care of all of them?

Alyssa (00:14:15):


Tori (00:14:16):

What was your background before you started coaching?

Alyssa (00:14:19):

Before I started coaching, I was in the restaurant industry for seven, eight years. And that was just my little part-time job so that I could go to school and do what I actually wanted to do. And what I actually was like preparing my life to be was to be a doctor at first. And then after having my daughter and just being realistic about what is that thing that doctors do residency. Residency, I was like, how am I going to be the mom that I want to be? And also be like slaving my life away in residency for the amount of time that I was going to have to be in residency for.

Tori (00:15:07):

It’s a massive commitment. Massive.

Alyssa (00:15:09):

It’s crazy. It is so wild. And I was just like you know what… At the time I was like, I wanted to be a psychiatrist and I was like, let me just step one rung down. And I’m just going to be a therapist. And that was my goal. But I was in restaurants for so long. And then I tried to like do some office jobs and that’s when I was like working in Wall Street. And I was like, I hate my everyday life actually. This is terrible. And then I shifted into coaching because I’m like, that’s one rundown from therapy now that’s like baby therapy. And I still get to do the work that I love. So that’s like the path that led me here.

Tori (00:15:49):

Yeah. Residency, I didn’t realize that psychiatrists had to do residency, but I guess that makes sense. And residency typically you don’t know where you’re going. You’re assigned, which is a lot of instability, things you can’t control, unpredictability.

Alyssa (00:16:09):

Right. And the schedules of just all right, so now you have to do some overnights. Now you have to do this. Now you have to do that. And I’m like, if I, at the time I’m going to have like a four year old. I want to be there as much as I possibly can. Those specific years don’t come back. So I’m just like, I’m not going to spend it in residency. And then being too tired when I come back home. That whole industry is just kind of wild the way that we’re expected to perform.

Tori (00:16:40):

Right. Well, and it also sounds like it’s built for one person, which is it probably a straight white man, but specifically a single person. Somebody who doesn’t have a lot of commitments, who doesn’t have to raise another person. Who doesn’t have many responsibilities outside of get your degree, do your work. That’s sup
er tricky. You identify as Cuban. I want to clarify, and we’ll cut this. Do you identify as black or African American?

Alyssa (00:17:12):

That’s a beautiful… That’s a very…

Tori (00:17:15):

We can also keep it. Do you identify as black, African American. Because in our notes, it’s African American, but I have heard a lot of pushback against that because not all black people of course are African American.

Alyssa (00:17:25):

Yes. So being a child of the 90s, I feel like the way that I had always introduced myself growing up was I’m black and Cuban. And to me, black meant African American. And it wasn’t until I got to adulthood that I realized black is not just African American, black is all of these other different things. And I used to get so frustrated when I was younger where I’d be like, “Oh yeah, I’m black and Cuban.” They’re like, “Oh, that’s the same thing.” And I’m like, “It’s not the same thing. What are you talking about? It’s two different languages. What do you mean?”

Alyssa (00:18:04):

And it’s because by definition of black was African American. So now I’m like, all right, well, people can see that I’m black, but I need them to know these two cultures that I hold very dear to me. So now I’ve had to like train myself to say African American and Cuban. But for someone who is just one thing, it really makes sense to just say black. Compared to, for me, I’m like, I need you to know specifically exactly where I’m from.

Tori (00:18:34):

Yeah. So for you, it’s African American and Cuban, not black and Cuban.

Alyssa (00:18:39):

I mean, kind of the same quote unquote, but the way that I would introduce myself for clarity purposes, I would say African American and Cuban.

Tori (00:18:49):

Because it’s more specific. Is that the idea?

Alyssa (00:18:52):

Exactly. And I think the reason why that comes up a lot for me is because being… I don’t even know if I’d call myself like multiracial, but like multicultural. I’ve always had questions of just like, oh, which one do you feel like more though? You have to choose. And I’m like, I’m both. Both. There’s no-

Tori (00:19:14):

I can be multidimensional.

Alyssa (00:19:18):

It’s not like, do you like apples more than oranges? Both. It’s both. So I think that’s why I particularly am so specific.

Tori (00:19:29):

How do you feel like both of those identities inform your work?

Alyssa (00:19:33):

I feel like it has truly allowed me to see the world in just a multitude of ways. Just being Cuban and even more so being the child of an immigrant, understanding how they had to exist. And not even just like, oh, the sacrifices that they’ve made, but literally the privileges that they did not have, as a result of having to leave a country that they never really cared to leave.

Alyssa (00:20:06):

And really also seeing what racism and prejudice looks like from the Latina point of view. I’ve never seen it in terms of the way that my… Having to see my grandparents experience it. But I remember like visiting my grandparents in the hospital, this is like way before they passed. They’d be there for like being sick for something. And since they spoke English and since my mom is completely fluent, she came here when she was four. They never had any trouble with like nurses or doctors or anything. But then they would have a roommate and this isn’t a primarily Hispanic neighborhood. And they’d have a roommate who only spoke Spanish. And the nurses would be treating them differently. It’d be the same nurse treating that patient differently. And at the time I had still wanted to be a doctor. So I was just like, when I become a doctor, I’m going to be the most fluent doctor because these patients need an advocate.

Tori (00:21:08):

Do you feel like that’s what started it for you?

Alyssa (00:21:09):

It is. Definitely like my first major in college was Spanish translation and interpretation. I was very much about this life without having the words for it. And then being also African American and being dark skinned, also realizing what that type of racism and prejudice looks like.

Alyssa (00:21:32):

I never really had conversations at home about racism, but as I again became an adult and spoke more to my cousins and just noticed the way that people were interacting towards me, I was able to like start putting two and two together. I remember even working down in Wall Street, I’d be like walking to do stuff. I don’t know, just walking in the street.

Alyssa (00:21:54):

And I remember having the thought of just like, I feel like I’m invisible to white people and I’m like, I don’t know how that even makes sense because I’m darker than them. So they should be able to see me. Maybe it’s my height. I don’t understand. And this was the effect of like microaggressions without me even having the word for that. So as I started learning more, I was like putting all these pieces together and I’m just like, oh, okay. So both of those experiences deeply informed my work.

Tori (00:22:31):

So you talked about how it seemed like, I don’t know, individual society wanted to put you in a box, that you were either Cuban or you were African American. Do you feel like there was that same pushback from either Cubans or African Americans to kind of pick?

Alyssa (00:22:47):

That’s a really, really good question. And I’m going to say no, mostly because being in specifically New York, I never really met any other Cubans except for people in my family to the fact where, to this day, when I meet a Cuban, I’m like, “Oh, my God.” It’s very exciting for me. And on my whenever I’m around African Americans, it was more like, “Oh, you’re an Oreo. Oh, you talk white, you act white.” So it’s just like, I never really heard that specific thing from them. It would really be just like other random people that didn’t know me well.

Tori (00:23:32):

Yeah. I’ve talked to plenty of friends who are people of color and they talk about how you’re never white enough and you’re never black enough or Asian enough if you have immigrated. Or if you are some combination of still a person of color, but have lived in America for a while or have had… Maybe their grandparents immigrated. And so yeah, I found that’s a really interesting dichotomy that, of course, I don’t have to deal with personally, but I think is really fascinating of like, you’ve never fully assimilated. But also, you can’t like go quote unquote go back to the culture that you were born into or that your parents or grandparents partake in. And I think that’s really interesting.

Alyssa (00:24:16):

Yeah. Because it’s almost like it’s just never enough. And it is just this weird thing. And I think I that’s what I had to come to terms with of just like, even with me telling myself, even when I started doing this work, I’m just like, who am I to do this? I’m not black enough to do this work. And then it’s just like, first of all, you experience the world every day as a black woman, let’s get that correct. But then also it’s about realizing that no culture is a monolith. So for me to say, I’m not black enough, then that means I am looking at black culture or black people as everyone has the exact same experience. And I have not had that exact same experience.

Tori (00:24:59):

Sure. It’s constant comparison. It’s like a constant like me juxtaposed with somebody else. Or with a culture that I may or may not feel I identify as, which I think is really interesting.

Alyssa (00:25:15):

Very, very interesting.

Tori (00:25:19):

You were kind enough to talk to our team, what was it, a couple months ago. And you spoke about how our systemic problems just as a society can also be rooted of course, in a company, if you were starting from the ground up, starting a company or establishing what an organization would look like, what systems would you set in place in order to make that organization welcoming towards marginalized communities? And is it different than the sort of strategy you’d take with an already established company?

Alyssa (00:25:54):

Yeah. I think I’ll answer the second question first and then go back to the first one. I think the difference for me in the way that I work with companies is when they are like just starting, there is sometimes less of an urgency because we’re doing the thing, it’s there, we’re creating. Unless there’s like a financial urgency, then that creates that. But I typically try not to even get into that, because this work… There’s no way to have urgency with it. But with a fully established company, sometimes there is a sense of urgency in terms of, but we’ve already set this in place and we have people like our team enacting on this every single day. Now we need to like deconstruct the whol
e thing. And now also really have our team buy into what we’re doing now. And then sometimes that can really show some things.

Alyssa (00:26:49):

It’s like, oh, maybe this person that we hired a year ago is not actually right for our team in terms of the way that they are enacting our mission. Maybe our mission is not as important to them and they aren’t willing to bend and shift in the way that we want them to. But rewinding back to the first question, I feel like the main thing is… And I talk about teams a lot because I feel like they are representative of us.

Alyssa (00:27:16):

We can have our own values and what’s important to us. But first of all, we need to figure out like, what is it that this person is doing and how do our values show out there? And on top of that, we need to break down some of these internal connections in our own self. So when we’re thinking about what does it mean for someone to be a good team member? What does professionalism look like for us? What are all of these things that are quote unquote normal, but actually have patriarchal roots? And we need to break all of that stuff down before we even like put pen to paper and make another decision.

Tori (00:27:55):

Right. I think about the word culture fit. And I saw it at my last job again, well intentioned. It was like, we’re trying to find somebody who shares our values and is fun to get along with. I think the unintended consequence though, potentially is when you say culture fit and your whole culture is white or straight or all men or cisgendered. Then immediately what happens is that you have the unconscious bias of, oh, we’re hiring other people who look like us.

Alyssa (00:28:26):

Yes. And even deeper than that, because sometimes they can move past that and realize, oh, we want to diversify that. But you’re still trying to hire people who act like you. And that is where we get into this problem where they’re just like, I don’t understand what the problem is.

Alyssa (00:28:45):

And it’s like, well, because if you are saying like the way that someone can show us that they are a team player, because I feel like that’s a big word that’s used all the damn time. A team player is someone who deals with someone’s nonsense when they are yelling at them. Is someone who is going out every single Friday night and quote unquote networking while y’all are at the bar. All of these things that literally have nothing to do with the job function but you are qualifying that as like, oh this is what someone is as a team player. This is what it means for someone to look and be professional. This is what it looks like for even someone to be qualified for the job. That’s something I’m noticing a lot too. Jobs are less willing to take transferable skills. Instead they want the complete solid three to five years of experience. You’re getting paid 65,000.

Tori (00:29:44):

Right. Well, and also back to the your story about residency, it’s like, okay, if we’re looking for a team player, maybe it’s who can work flexible hours. And a lot of companies say they don’t do this, but they do. They’re looking at like who has their butt in the chair for longest. Or who’s online for the longest time. And if you are taking care of children, if you’re taking care of ailing family members, if something else is going on in your life, which our lives are complex, you’re very rarely able to put in long hours and you shouldn’t. But there’s that expectation. As if you are a team player who are able to go above and beyond and it’s like sometimes no, I literally physically can’t.

Alyssa (00:30:24):

Right. And that messes with people’s mindsets so hard. Even you saying that I’m thinking back to like my restaurant days, I was a host. And they were like, “All right. So to be head host, one of the things that’s very important is that we need to see that you’re like picking up shifts when other people can’t work.” And so the way that I define that in my head is if I am not physically doing something else, then I will pick up a shift.

Tori (00:30:50):

If I don’t have something on my calendar I have to. As opposed to no, maybe I just need a break. I’m learning that myself. Is this like, I literally have had to schedule break time. Sharise, who’s our admin assistant knows this. I’ve literally had to go in and be like, “Sharise I need you to block this time on my calendar or else I will not do it.” I just won’t take time.

Alyssa (00:31:09):

Yeah. It’s terrible. It’s the worst.

Tori (00:31:14):

I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the classic like trying to navigate how to take off time and rest in a capital society where I’m like, okay, my happy medium is we’ll actually put a calendar invite that says like I’m off, I’m off for this two hours.

Alyssa (00:31:31):

Yeah. And honestly it comes back to what y
ou mentioned before about like the child raising of just you’re doing the same thing that was done to you. So if this is our norm, when we were trying to get to leadership, now that we’re a leader, we’re like, well, this is how it is, I guess.

Tori (00:31:48):

That’s all you’ve known. Right. And unless you’re committed to learning something different, that’s what you’re going to keep doing. Unless you realize like, oh, it’s broke. I need to fix it. Or there’s things I could do better. You’re just going to keep doing it.

Alyssa (00:32:00):

Exactly. And what makes it so difficult is they’re like, okay, well I’ve already defined someone who’s hardworking as someone who comes in on their days off and who stays later. How do I now shift my own mental definition of hardworking so that when I do do something else, I’m not panicking that no one’s being hardworking.

Tori (00:32:24):

Right. Well, and I think it’s even back further in terms of like the definition or implementing an inclusivity is if it’s not your lived experience and you haven’t actively worked to learn somebody else’s lived experience, it doesn’t exist for you. And when I was growing up right, as a white person there were certain things I was never exposed to that I didn’t even know were a thing.

Tori (00:32:45):

And then you start having more conversations, and you start reading more like I was literally rereading like a New York times article that I had read a couple years ago came up on Facebook for me, of like you posted this whatever four years ago. And it was all about how a lot of companies who go cashless, it’s a form of discrimination. Because if you’re a company or a store or a business that only accepts credit cards, you are excluding a huge subset of the population who don’t have the credit score to qualify or can only use cash.

Tori (00:33:21):

And there’s a variety of different reasons for that. But typically those people are black and brown. And I grew up in a family who has been very frugal and worked really hard, but also is middle class and white. And my parents only use credit cards. They very rarely carry cash. And that’s something that I’ve learned as a smart thing to do because it builds your credit and you’re able to get points and all of those things.

Tori (00:33:45):

And so that had not even occurred to me because I didn’t grow up with it. And then you read more and you’re like, “Oh, fuck. That’s like outside of my experience.” So when you’re, I think, just trying to be more inclusive in general one of the things that happens is you have to realize like what has not even existed in your world yet? I’ve realized that too. But if you work at an organization that is unwilling to do that, because it’s either the way we’ve always done it or you don’t literally see that there’s a problem or something different that needs to happen you just don’t know.

Alyssa (00:34:23):

Right. And that’s, I feel like the biggest thing is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And something that I say not very often, but I truly, truly believe that anti-racism work fixes so many other business problems that people didn’t even realize were even interconnected. And it’s like, literally just hiring this one person can allow you to see like why turnover is so high. Why all of these different other problems that you have that you calling yourself a good person, you’re like, “I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m trying to do all the things.” And it’s because of this huge, huge blind spot.

Tori (00:35:08):

And I think sometimes it’s an intentional blind spot versus sometimes it’s just, you haven’t been exposed to it. And I think, at least the way I’ve tried to operate and it’s a continued practice is like, yes, I don’t know what I don’t know. So let me go learn. Let me go try to figure out what I don’t know and try to understand how that fits in with my own lived experience.

Tori (00:35:38):

You credit the corporate response to the Black Lives Matter resurgence in the summer of 2020 as why you decided to be an anti-racist coach. What about that response felt completely off the mark and how can companies recognize when they’re being performative versus actually making some sort of impact or change?

Alyssa (00:36:04):

Yes, that was a wild time to be active on the internet. Because what’s wild is that like right before the corporate response, there was just this, this flailing, this constant flailing that was happening. And I was-

Tori (00:36:25):

I saw it, and unfortunately there was a couple missteps that we made too. Where it’s like untreaded waters and you’re like, okay, okay.

Alyssa (00:36:35):


Tori (00:36:38):

Corporate flailing. That’s very funny. It’s a very good way to put that.

Alyssa (00:36:43):

I’m sitting here at home and I’m just like, “Are y’all okay.” That’s what was going on for me.

Tori (00:36:54):

You posted a black square and we solved racism. Way to go guys. We did it. We did it. Racism is over. It’s done.

Alyssa (00:37:09):

And what was wild about it for me too, is just like, as I’ve mentioned I’m someone who is hyper focused on a problem. I’m sitting here going to visit my grandmother in the hospital, but I’m very much noticing how the nurse is treating the next person. Come on. My mom is like, “Everyone is like this.” And because of that one moment in the hospital, I was like, my major’s going to be Spanish translation and interpretation. I’m thinking everyone is like this. So when all of this happened-

Tori (00:37:44):

Beautifully empathetic, by the way. Beautifully empathetic.

Alyssa (00:37:51):

Thank you. And I’m like, wait, no one else is like this. That was my main thought. And so I’m just like, oh wow. These people, they need help. I thought everyone else was just doing this.

Tori (00:38:07):

It was so funny.

Alyssa (00:38:07):

It’s true.

Tori (00:38:07):

No it’s…

Alyssa (00:38:21):

So that’s how I got into this. Because I was like, oh, well I guess what I’ve been doing or just been thinking about, this isn’t the norm. So let me just help these people out. Because it was a lot.

Tori (00:38:34):

Yeah. So for you, black square was the obvious one. What other things in summer of 2020 where you’re like, oh dear God.

Alyssa (00:38:44):

The biggest thing that just came up for me was so many white people talking about their trauma as it relates to racism. But not even like in the sense of, “I used to be racist. And let me tell you this whole story. My grandfather used to be racist. Let me tell you this whole story.” And I’m like, “Girl, no. This is not necessary.” And the stories I’m telling you are not from like larger corporate companies. This is more from like entrepreneurs and it’s just-

Tori (00:39:21):

The Instagram influencers.

Alyssa (00:39:24):

Yes. And it was just quite, quite wild. I’m like, girl you’re a health and wellness coach. Why are we getting into your grandpa and how racist he was. I don’t need to know that. And from like the corporate response I had known prior to all of this a little bit of how problematic for example, Amazon was.

Alyssa (00:39:46):

And so like I’ve had like a friend and a family member who worked for an Amazon warehouse here in New York. And so I was just like, what are these working conditions? What do they have y’all doing? Oh my gosh. And so when Amazon’s financial corporate response came out, I’m just like, how are you going to sit here and donate all this money as if you care. But then the black and brown employees, because the pay of this was minimum wage. And they’re doing all of this work and nothing’s changing. And that also clicked for me too, of just like, oh wow. What we’re seeing on the outside is literally nothing like it is on the inside. Even these big companies need this type of support.

Tori (00:40:41):

Well, and
they probably have actually a bigger impact if they overhauled the stuff that was going on internally, even if you never saw it, but then it becomes a PR move.

Alyssa (00:40:50):

Exactly, exactly. All that money that y’all are donating here. If we just like turned it around and created better working conditions and paid people better and gave people all the things that they need that money would be more impactful, but it wouldn’t have that big public response.

Tori (00:41:13):

Yeah. We may have talked about this before, but something that I am constantly thinking about, how do we applaud progress while being like this should have happened so long ago? I think about very specifically, because it has affected me is like the Victoria’s Secret response a couple years ago where they’re like, we don’t want fat people on our runway. And we don’t want trans women on our runway.

Tori (00:41:41):

And then they completely did a 180 and overhauled everything. And now you see curvy women and now you see, I think they have trans women or disabled women. And I’m all for it. I’m happy to see it, but I’m also like, it feels like you’ve just done this because you know now it’s expected and popular. But at the same time isn’t that how we’ve always gotten change is by demanding change. So I’ve been struggling with this. And I would love your perspective both as a coach and you personally of like, how do we applaud progress also being like, this is potentially some bullshit and also this should have happened a long time ago.

Alyssa (00:42:20):

Yeah, I’ll answer from the perspective of just a consumer. And then I’ll answer from the perspective of a coach. As a human I’ve personally quote, unquote canceled Victoria’s Secret. A long time ago. Way before all that. Because I’m just like it’s so… For me, it was even just frustrating, like “How is it that y’all are a bra store? And I can’t get my size bra.” What is-

Tori (00:42:44):

That’s literally me. I wear a 34G. I can’t walk into Victoria’s Secret and get jack shit.

Alyssa (00:42:49):


Tori (00:42:49):

And maybe now I can potentially, but I have to order it still online.

Alyssa (00:42:54):


Tori (00:42:55):

And also the runway for so many years. The runway was not for women. The runway was to sell sex to men.

Alyssa (00:43:02):

Exactly. Exactly.

Tori (00:43:04):

Like it was male gaze bullshit. And of course I’m picking on Victoria’s Secret, but there’s of course with black and brown people, there’s so many examples of this, of like, again, “Hi, we’re now hiring black and brown people. We have a DEI department.” There’s all these things where you’re like, “Yay.” But also where was this forever ago?

Alyssa (00:43:26):

Right. And I think the stance that I’ve took on it is like clapping in the background. I’m happy for y’all. I’m going to be happy for y’all from a distance. That’s me as a consumer. And I feel like every consumer, y’all can like figure out for each company, because a lot of companies have done things. And I feel like you can-

Tori (00:43:49):

I just watched the Abercrombie and Fitch documentary.

Alyssa (00:43:51):

I was thinking about them.

Tori (00:43:54):

Yeah. If you haven’t seen it, we’ll link it. It’s on Netflix. It’s a very good use of your time. Because I was a little too young. I missed like the Abercrombie obsession. But apparently yeah, for many, many, many years, they pretty much publicly discriminated against anyone who wasn’t white and beautiful. And now if you go to the Abercrombie website there’s almost, I would not say… I was about to say too much div
ersity. I don’t mean it in that way. I just mean it was like it… You go on the website and there’s so much. Where they’re almost like, “Oh, we’re overcompensating.”

Alyssa (00:44:27):


Tori (00:44:28):

But at the same time I run a business and I know that like you have to… You do this both because it’s the right thing to do. And you also do it because you hope people see themselves in the business that you’re running. I mean, we’re not going to solve this problem, but this is the thing I’m constantly thinking about is it’s like, again, how do you… I guess it’s really, how do you, of course, be inclusive while not being performative, but also knowing you need to run a business.

Alyssa (00:44:53):


Tori (00:44:54):

And then again how do you make progress knowing that like this should have happened a long time ago?

Alyssa (00:45:00):

Yes. And you’ve actually hit the nail on the head from like coach side Alyssa now. It’s like, is this just a new coat of paint? Are y’all just being performative or have changes actually happened? These models that you’re hiring? Was it just for this one thing or are they-

Tori (00:45:18):

Did you compensate them fairly?

Alyssa (00:45:20):

Exactly. Exactly. There’s so many different things that have to go along with these public changes. And so really understanding the underneath of all of that. That’s where you can see, okay, this person or this business, this company actually changed compared to, oh cool they took some new pictures now. Great. But I’m also super happy for the models. That makes me so ecstatic to see… I remember being in Times Square back when I lived in New York when American Eagle like started like showing stretch marks. Seeing that on like a huge billboard on Times Square that, I was elated. And I don’t know if there’s anything problematic with them, I don’t know. But understanding that even sometimes the code of paint has an impact, but do we give this person a pass? Do we like start interacting with them again? It really depends on what’s going on inside.

Tori (00:46:21):

Right. It’s like, who deserves the cookie? You don’t get a cookie for showing stretch marks, but maybe you get half the cookie. We’ll give you an oatmeal raisin cookie. It’s not as good. But we’ll give you an oatmeal raisin cookie. Yeah. No, and I think… It’s just really interesting because yeah it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot. Both as somebody who’s currently running a business, but also just feeling like, okay, a lot of things seem to be changing, but are they actually, and also what took everybody so long?

Alyssa (00:46:55):

That’s another thing too. And I feel like that’s why specifically with the work that I do, there’s no way I can just come into a business and say, “Hey, change X, Y, and Z.” That’s cool. They can change it. But if their mindset has not changed with that, then we’re actually doing more harm than good. An example that I can think of is like, “Hey you know what? Your employees never see customers. So why do they have to come in here in a suit?” And then the CEO’s like that’s a good idea, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, okay, casual dress every day, no dress code. And they’re like good idea. But if Tom comes in with shorts and he doesn’t say anything, and Jessica comes in with shorts and he’s like, oh, she thinks she wants to go to the beach. She’s going to be lazy all day. That’s a mindset thing that needs to change with that action. So with a lot of these larger companies, did that mindset change as well. And is that showing in the other things that they may be doing?

Tori (00:48:00):

Yeah. Can you talk about how a lot of companies are trying to figure out what they deem looking professional in the workplace and how that is often very prejudiced against black people, specifically black women?

Alyssa (00:48:15):

Yes. It’s so ridiculous. And the interesting part to me is that it is really widespread. It is completely widespread. I remember even working at this one restaurant and I remember hearing someone say, I think it was like a manager say like, “Well, I mean, if a woman comes to an interview without wearing makeup, then she clearly doesn’t care about the job.”

Alyssa (00:48:40):

And I’m like, what in the hell… What does that have to do with anything? I don’t understand. And that’s literally just the restaurant industry. In other places, it is your hair. If people could see me right now, everything that I’m doing right now, the exact op
posite. I have really big hoop earrings, I have on like just fun costume jewelry, I have on natural hair, long pink nails. All of these things that are things that if I were to walk into a corporate space, I would literally not get the job, even if I am overqualified. Just because all of these things are deemed as unprofessional.

Alyssa (00:49:31):

And what it really is saying, specifically with the things that I’ve mentioned. The hair, the hoops, the nails, it’s because it actually roots into… It roots into racism. It roots into, oh, all of those things mean that this person is ghetto, which means that this person will not be able to perform. Which means that they’re going to be lazy. They won’t know how to talk to people. All of these different things, just because I’m expressing myself and letting my hair grow out of its scalp in the way that it grows out of its scalp.

Tori (00:50:05):

The audacity, Alyssa. Jesus, the audacity. Well, and I think that’s one of the beautiful things and we’ll link it again about the Crown Act. The Crown Act is working to make it illegal specifically to discriminate against typically black and brown hair, but black specifically, of natural hair, not having your hair whitewashed.

Alyssa (00:50:27):

Literally. And the thing too is like, even when, let’s say like the person is allowed to work there, they’re still allowed to do all the things. This isn’t something I’ve personally experienced because I’m a very new, natural. Literally just a year I’ve been natural, but like the, “Oh, can I touch your hair? Oh, let me see it. Let me feel it. Let me…” All of that. That is just a mental weight, but why? It’s because like, this is something that they’ve quote unquote never seen before. And when we’re continuing to just perpetuate all of these things, when we have all these different rules in place, and we also don’t know how to check microaggressions.

Tori (00:51:09):

Right. This is actually a perfect transition to my question. What are some biases, prejudices that are common, both in the workplace and out that people should examine and take a look at? You just named a couple. What we deem professional. Hi, can I touch your hair? What are some other things that you’ve either personally seen or even seen in your work as a coach?

Alyssa (00:51:31):

Yeah. I feel like there are so many that have, again, just become normalized because of just, this is society that we’ve lived in. For someone who quote unquote does not look either white American or African American. It’s like, “Oh, where are you from?” “Chicago.” “Oh, where are you really from?” What are you saying? What are you asking? There are so many things that can come from a place of either trying to connect with somebody. So like picking up their lingo or what you assume to be their lingo. That’s something that I have experienced and it’s just, it’s so odd. It is very, very odd. Trying to talk to me in AAV, African American, vernacular English, just assuming that’s how I talk. Or it’s so many different things. And a lot of it comes from a nice place. But it’s very uncomfortable and it leads with a ton of assumptions.

Alyssa (00:52:38):

And I think that’s the big thing with microaggressions. They all come with a certain assumption with how you should treat people. My co-parent used to work in fine dining. And we were like talking about microaggressions not too long ago. And he was saying, one that he would see all the time is whenever a black family or a couple or a person would come into the restaurant, then all the other servers would be like, “Oh, so what are you celebrating?” Under the assumption that it’s a Tuesday and I’m hungry. That’s what I’m here for.

Alyssa (00:53:16):

When he said that, I’m just like, I don’t always go to fancy restaurants because the food portions are too small and it gets me annoyed. But when I have gone, it was to celebrate a thing. So I’m just like, oh shit, people get the same question on a random Tuesday. And if they’re wealthy, they do that often. So you can imagine-

Tori (00:53:39):

Right. Because the assumption is this is something that is a splurge for you.

Alyssa (00:53:44):


Tori (00:53:44):

Because you don’t have money. Oh, boy. Also I’m with you on the small portions. I’m like, if I’m paying $50 for a plate, please give me enough food where I don’t have to go get a burger.

Alyssa (00:53:55):

I’m begging. That’s all I literally ask. I want to be full.

Tori (00:54:01):

And if you’r
e using tweezers to put food on a plate, that’s fine. But like that’s probably a bad sign. I’m like give me more food than that please. I don’t love Olive Garden anymore, but I want that level of [inaudible 00:54:19]. Soup, salad, breadsticks. Let’s fucking go.

Alyssa (00:54:24):

I’m very much used to being in the Bronx and going to like the local Spanish spot. And they’re like, “Oh, we have a lunch special for $7.” And we’re like, cool. It is the biggest platter of food.

Tori (00:54:37):

Right. It’s also a dinner special. You’ve got dinner there, too.

Alyssa (00:54:40):

You have lunch and dinner in there. And you spent $7 and you’re full. I’m not asking for that specifically. But I want to be that level of full.

Tori (00:54:48):

There have been several studies claiming that historical diversity training just doesn’t work. And you, in your own work, reject the traditional way of DEI training. How are you building a new model that’s successful, sustainable. And what prompted your thinking of like, okay, if it’s not working let’s try something else.

Alyssa (00:55:19):

Yeah. I think it was because I did coach training before I pivoted to this work. So I was really bringing in my tools as a coach of just realizing, especially because of the flailing of June, 2020. That’s when I realized it goes deeper than tell me what to do. It’s more of just like, I don’t even know what’s happening. Am I a bad person? Now I need to like shift the way that I’m thinking.

Alyssa (00:55:52):

And I even realized that with some of the people who like go against Black Lives Matter. It really comes from a foundational place of what you are saying is the exact opposite of what I’ve been grown to see and understand and all of these different things. And these are also people who own businesses and who have a large impact. And the way that I do my work is to really see… And I’m not saying traditional DEI work doesn’t do this, but really focusing on the human behind the decision making. Because we can create plans, we can do all of this stuff and then we can then say, oh, it’s because it’s not important to them. You know how much stuff I drop the ball on, even if it’s important to me? That’s not the problem. The actual problem-

Tori (00:56:47):

Yeah. Thanks for saying that.

Alyssa (00:56:48):

Thank you. Because when we do that we’re then villainizing someone else. And again, there are people who deserve to be villainized. I’m not talk about them. But when we do DEI work in that way, then it becomes unsustainable for the person who has to enact on all of these things. If we, going back to the example of the dress code. If the CEO beforehand was like, “Well, so and so comes in a suit every day. That’s how I know they are addressing for the job that they want. They are serious, blah, blah, blah.” And if now everyone is coming with sun dresses and shorts and like white tees, then how does he now learn how to figure out who is serious for the job? And then it’ll cause a lot of mental stress and he may just end up taking it away. Because then he is like, “Oh, you see, everyone is too lax. So we can’t do this.” So we have to like really work on the person who is making the decisions so that they can now see everything in a different view.

Tori (00:57:59):

Yeah. You and I have talked about this before. I think there’s no, of course, quote unquote right way to do this. But I feel like there’s kind of two camps of like the… And again, no right way, but there are certain groups of people who are DEI experts or who are focused on anti-racism, who are like white people are fucking it up and like I’m really mad and I’m going to call you out. And then there’s the other camp that’s like, that will turn white people off. And that will make them like curl up in a ball. So let’s not do that. And I see merit to both of those things. Because again, I can’t speak to the experience of a black woman, but I can speak to my experience as a woman.

Tori (00:58:46):

And there’s so many times where I’m like “Men. They’re all trash and I hate it and I want to burn it all to the ground.” And like, “I’m going to call you out on your shit.” And then there’s other times where I’m like, “Hi, let’s have a conversation about how masculinity is hurting you. Toxic masculinity is hurting you just as much as it’s hurting me.”

Alyssa (00:59:03):


Tori (00:59:04):

Let’s talk about that. So why that distinction or can you have both, can you have the Venn diagram of like I’m super angry and
we’re going to like burn some shit to the ground and I don’t care if you’re comfortable white people because you’ve been comfortable forever. Can you pair that with, hi, if I do that, I know I’m potentially losing you because you’re fragile. Is there a medium between those? Should there be a medium? Can we just burn it all the ground? I don’t know.

Alyssa (00:59:36):

Yeah. I feel like there is a beautiful medium that I have not found yet only because I have very conflict adverse. Literally, it’s hard for me to work with someone who doesn’t have self-awareness because I need to borrow some of what those other people have to be able to say, “Listen, you are saying this, but you are doing this.” Period. The end, there is no discussion. I need to learn how to borrow some of that. But for now I’m just like, if you don’t have self-awareness I just, we can’t do that right now.

Alyssa (01:00:17):

But at the same time, because of the way that I do this work, there needs to be a level of safety. There has to be a level of psychological safety for that person to even go inside their brain. One thing that I do with my clients is I’m like in this container, you are allowed to say whatever you want because when it comes out of your mouth, then you can have that awareness and then we can work through that.

Alyssa (01:00:46):

But if you have all of these thoughts in the back of your head and you’re just sitting with me in a session, just nodding all day, those thoughts didn’t go away. But there needs to be a level of safety for them to be able to even do that. So I feel like that’s where that medium comes from. But at the same time, it really comes from my background.

Alyssa (01:01:04):

It took me a while to even understand what the hell was going on with me. I mentioned before, I was like, am I invisible to white people? Is it because I’m short? What’s going on. I didn’t even realize all the microaggressions compared to people who’ve been aware all of their lives or even who are older than me. So their tolerance level is just… It’s a fine line. And so sitting in a coaching session with someone telling you all of their prejudiced thoughts, they don’t have the capacity to do that. And they’re over that point by now.

Tori (01:01:41):

Yeah. And you can’t fault them.

Alyssa (01:01:43):

Exactly. Exactly.

Tori (01:01:47):

I’ll go out on the limb and be vulnerable. And I have a question both as a person and also I think will be helpful for our listeners. I am fine digging into conflict, especially with men who are being shitty to me online. I’m like, I’ll fuck this up. I don’t care, let’s go. However, as a real life embodiment of Leslie Knope, from Parks and Recreation, I want everybody to love me.

Tori (01:02:07):

A lot of people don’t realize this because I come off my online persona’s, very fuck it up. And I feel that way a lot of the time. But I think actually my default state is “No, just I want you to love me and I want to love people. And I’m trying, I’m trying.” And I am just not great at taking feedback. And it’s been something that I’m constantly working on learning how to take feedback and learning how to implement it in my life in a way that doesn’t shut me down and make me really, really defensive.

Tori (01:02:37):

So both for myself and for anybody listening, if you do get called in, called out, or if somebody says something to you about your behavior, about your words, how can you take that feedback in a way that honors that person’s experience and actually helps you change your behavior, change the things you’re saying.

Alyssa (01:02:58):

Yes. That is honestly one of the most important things to be able to do. Because I feel like when people think of anti-racism work, it’s like, okay, because I want to make sure I don’t hurt anyone. I want to make sure that I’m safe. And it’s like, we are also human and we cannot know everything. And so there will be a time when we do mess up.

Tori (01:03:21):

It’s happened to me before and I’m sure it’ll happen again.

Alyssa (01:03:22):

Exactly, exactly. And I continuously mess up in random other things in life. And what I have to also remember too, is that we need to release the binary of good and bad. Because I think underneath all of that, it’s really, I want to make sure people know I’m a good person. And that’s a lot.

Tori (01:03:50):

Yeah. It’s a lot, especially when you’re trying to run a business based on somebody’s approval of you.

Alyssa (01:03:54):

Yes. Yes. Because then the problem becomes, let’s say we make a mistake. And our main thought is like, I want to make sure that they know that I’m… We don’t say I want them to make sure they know I’m a good person. I want to make sure they know my intentions.

Tori (01:04:11):

But that’s the motivation.

Alyssa (01:04:12):

Exactly, exactly. And so most of the time we’re spending our existence, trying to prove that we’re a good person instead of being able to take responsibility, that I am still a good person, all of those other good things in life now don’t get erased. My intentions don’t get erased, but I need to acknowledge the fact that regardless of my intentions, I have still harmed this person in this way. I have said something that is not okay, I’ve done something that’s racist, that’s prejudiced, whatever. And that does not disqualify the fact that I’m a good person. So instead of spending this time trying to prove to myself or to them that I’m a good person, I’m going to focus more on repairing whatever it is that I’ve done.

Tori (01:05:02):

I think for me in 2020 the word racism or the word racist took on like a different definition. Because I think for a lot of white people it was like, I’m not racist. And it’s like, we actually all kind of are like. Because just like all a little sexist, we’re all a little racist because we grew up in a society that is racist or is sexist or is ableist.

Tori (01:05:24):

And so I, of course, don’t want to be racist. However, we grew up in a system that constantly was. So the sometimes conscious, most of the time unconscious bias is based on the society that you grew up in. And so I feel like one of the things that’s been helpful for me is understanding like I am trying, of course, to not choose racism. Sometimes subconsciously or unconsciously that happens.

Tori (01:05:54):

And then it’s like, okay, how do I respond to it in a way that hopefully changes my thoughts or my behavior. And also understanding that it’s a consequence of the system that exists. Rather than often my own choice to be racist or not racist. And I feel like that was a eye opening thing for me was that like, nope, these things exist. And again, you’re not like a bad person, but you have this unconscious bias that is sometimes very conscious and sometimes not so conscious at all.

Alyssa (01:06:26):

Exactly. Exactly. Even like going back to the server, who’s asking, “Oh, what occasion are you here for?” They’re not a terrible person. Their intention is to like create a connection, to be warm, to be welcoming.

Tori (01:06:39):

To have a conversation.

Alyssa (01:06:41):

Right. But where that question comes from, it comes from a racist idea that has been perpetuated in society.

Tori (01:06:50):

Trying to get better at taking feedback. Constant thing for me.

Alyssa (01:06:54):

That’s hard. It’s very hard. And I’m bad at that, very bad. But I try to like reframe my brain, what is the purpose of the feedback? At work I’m so good at taking feedback because I’m just like, okay, good. This is what’s going to get me to the promotion and get me more money. But anywhere else I need to reframe what is the purpose of the feedback? So that I can have a better relationship with this person. So it’s like all of these different ways that don’t fall down on, “Oh my God, I’m a bad person.”

Tori (01:07:31):

Yeah. That’s really thoughtful Alyssa, because it didn’t occur to me until just now, when you said that, feedback in general is hard for me. But feedback when I was working a corporate job was easier because it was slightly less personal. I have put so much of myself… I do consider this company my child. And so it is so much, and we’re doing a little bit of separation between her what Her First $100K is and who I am. Because they’ve been very intermeshed, but it’s very hard not to take it personally, because now my work is, my life is my life’s work. So that’s a really great distinction of realizing like, oh, part of the reason feedback’s really hard in my work is because now this is the thing I care about the most and feels so personal to me.

Alyssa (01:08:16):


Tori (01:08:17):

I loved this example of a client of yours where you decided to incorporate watching black romcoms as part of her anti-racist work. Can you talk about that? And can you like elaborate on like ways we can try to make this work, focus on like black joy and black beauty, rather than everything sucks and it’s all awful.

Alyssa (01:08:46):

Literally yes. It’s very funny. I like a year ago I had wrote an email to my list saying, don’t ask me if I’ve watched certain movies because I have not. And I will not, because I’m not going to sit here while doing anti-racism work, watching black trauma. Maybe 30 years from now if I’m doing something different, I’ll pop it in. But like, don’t ask me if I… I have not and I will not. And I think that’s what every… That’s another like flag for like summer 2020. It’s just like, what the hell are y’all doing? That’s another thing of like, are y’all okay. Because there was just this deep dive into, let me immerse myself in trauma. Let me just buy all of these thick-ass history books. And I haven’t picked up a history book since 12th grade.

Tori (01:09:46):

Because we’re trying to understand. We’re trying to understand. And we’re trying to do 20, 30 years of work that we haven’t done. And haven’t been required to do in a month.

Alyssa (01:09:59):

Literally in a month. And let me like join all these book clubs, let me do all these things. And it’s just like, ma’am you don’t have the actual time to do all of that. And here’s the thing too. When I work with entrepreneurs, I’m typically working with them like with coaches a lot of the times, if it’s an entrepreneur. And so it’s like, you’re not going to learn more about your black clients by watching 12 Years a Slave. It does not connect. So what you need to understand is less about, tell me about history. You can learn about history, especially if that’s your jam, please keep doing that. But if you’re trying to understand, how do I become a better ally? How do I have an anti-racist business? How do I do all of these things? Reading all of these deep historical books and watching all of this is not going to do anything.

Alyssa (01:10:55):

So instead you really need to understand what black life is now and how all of these systemic things are affecting us in regular day to day things. And that’s where the list of the black romcoms came in. Because I’m just like do a thing that you like to do so that you can always keep up with it. So it’s sustainable. If you don’t like to read, then don’t create a book list. You’re never going to get to the book list. If you like to watch things, then do that. And what that client was able to do was from watching all of these movies, you’re able to pick things out. And I feel like what people really need to understand about black life is that we still have regular everyday life. These are things that also just happen every day. And she was-

Tori (01:11:45):

Well, for me, it almost feels like it didn’t count unless it was like the heavy stuff.

Alyssa (01:11:50):

Yes. And I feel like you have to be conscious.

Tori (01:11:57):

I put count in quotes, by the way, you can’t see me. I put count in quotes. I’m sorry to cut you off. I want to clarify. I put count in quotes.

Alyssa (01:12:03):

I realize people can’t see this.

Tori (01:12:06):

I know. And I went, I was like, oh, that’s going to make no sense unless you put count in quotes. Sorry, go ahead.

Alyssa (01:12:11):

Yes. No, and one of the movies that either she watched or was on her list, I ended up watching a couple months ago. It’s called Love Jones. It’s a classic black romcom. And it’s just a regular romcom about, I think she’s like an artist or a photographer, something like that.

Alyssa (01:12:27):

And she’s just doing the romcom things. But there’s like a couple of scenes where she’s like looking for a job. And every time she goes into a job interview, there’s a white man interviewing her. And he’s like… She was a photographer. Oh these photos, “They’re a bit urban. I don’t know if they’re going to fit in to our magazine here, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Alyssa (01:12:53):

And then at the end of the movie, she gets hired, I think by like Ebony Magazine, something like that. But you’re watching a romcom, but you’re seeing how does this affect a human in everyday life? What are the themes that I can take away from this? How I can understand how something like this would affect someone. And then y’all get to research that. You can say, why did that interaction happen? What did that person mean when they said it was urban, then you can go down and research historical stuff. But it has a connection, not just randomness.

Tori (01:13:29):

Yeah. I am a huge fan of The Office. I’ve seen seasons 3, 4, 5 of The Office 20 times. I took a shower this morning… I take showers and I listened to The Office because I’ve seen it so many times. I don’t even have to see it. And The Office is not perfect. And was made mostly by white people.

Alyssa (01:13:46):


Tori (01:13:47):

However, there are so many really interesting, especially early 2000s moments of discussing race, discussing diversity. And so I think about that of like one of my favorite things to consume. If I sit down and watch an episode of The Office, especially an episode around one of those topics, I’m probably going to learn something. Michael does call Stanley urban and I’m putting urban in quotes all the time. Or I’m trying to think… Have you seen The Office?

Alyssa (01:14:13):

I saw the first like two episodes of season one. And it was just, I couldn’t watch anymore, but I’ve heard-

Tori (01:14:20):

It’s very cringey.

Alyssa (01:14:21):

It’s so painful. I’ve heard it gets better though.

Tori (01:14:24):

It’s a certain kind of humor. It does. And it’s also, it’s purposely cringey. But there’s an episode where Toby who’s the director of HR is trying to buy his daughter the big gift for Christmas and it’s called Princess Unicorn, “My horn can pierce the sky.” And he goes to Darrell, who’s the manager of the warehouse and Darrell’s a black man and Darrell has bought the last doll and he’s like, “I need to buy your doll off of you.” And he ends up buying Darrell’s doll for his white daughter and the doll is black. And so it’s this really uncomfortable moment where Toby gets the doll and Darrell’s like, “What’s wrong with the doll?” And he’s like, “Nothing. It’s perfect. It’s perfect.” And so just like these moments like that. I think of that, of course there’s so much stuff we got to work through that’s really heavy and I think important for us as white people to do.

Tori (01:15:16):

But also I love that approach of like, how can you make this something sustainable and based off of something that you’re either already consuming or that you’re interested in. Because yeah, I don’t read historical fiction or even historical non-fiction like, I’m not doing that. So I’m not picking up the 600 page anthology about the civil war or about… Like I’m not going to do that, but there’s a bunch of other things I can do. I tell people about that with money too. It’s like, if you don’t like spreadsheets, you’re not going to follow a budget that uses spreadsheets.

Alyssa (01:15:50):


Tori (01:15:50):

So find something else.

Alyssa (01:15:51):

And for me, I’m like, that’s me taking the like holistic human approach. I’m not going to tell you to do something that you don’t want to do and say, “Well, they didn’t care enough.” It’s not sustainable for who they are. So let’s create a way that is sustainable and is opening their eyes as long as they are doing it in a way that’s actually like paying close attention.

Alyssa (01:16:18):

And I think another thing too, even when being able to see things play out. You see this woman go to the interview, get deflated. So you’re like, so now what effect does that have on her more than just, she didn’t get that job, what else happens? And you get to see again from a human perspective, how prejudice and racism actually currently affects people today, compared to like the people who are like, “Well, slavery ended like 12 years ago. So what’s the problem.” It’s very, very different.

Tori (01:16:52):

Yeah. I just watched the episode of New Girl where Winston who’s one of the black characters talks about becoming a cop and all of the levels of thought and finagling that he has to do of like having these two identities of a black man, who’s also a cop. And you’re getting a little bit of that even in just the regular media you’re watching.

Alyssa (01:17:13):

Exactly. I think just the main thing is really, instead of trying to… I feel like a lot of us try to like opt ourselves out of the work in terms of, I already know everything. I know a lot, I’ve done a lot of learning and reading. And not to say that you haven’t, I’m pretty sure that you have. But understanding how we need to really zoom in on how these societal things are playing in our day to day life. It’s more than understanding what to say, what not to say. It’s really about how are we shifting the way that we’re viewing the world and how is that playing into our businesses, our teams, all of that. And a lot of times outside help is needed. So instead of saying, “Oh, I already did that.” Really ask yourself what more do I need to do? How can I be doing better? How is this relating to me?

Tori (01:18:07):

Yeah. And I feel like for me, what I teach about like financial feminism is there’s no like finish line. It’s a lifestyle that you have to constantly incorporate and you’re sometimes going to do really well. And sometimes you’re going to mess up and you just got to keep going. And you know, for me personally that’s the realization of like, oh anti-racism work is not something I can check off the to-do list at the end of the day, it’s something that you’re doing and struggling at and sometimes doing all right at for the rest of your life.

Alyssa (01:18:37):

I kind of compare it to like recycling or like climate stuff.

Tori (01:18:42):

Sure, or going to the gym.

Alyssa (01:18:43):

Right. I can’t learn about… Okay, Coke cans go in the recycling. I need to understand aluminum goes into the recycling. I need to understand what reduce, reuse, recycle. What does that actually mean? I need to understand that and enact that every single day. But if I only know the basics, then I can’t apply it more.

Tori (01:19:05):

Yeah, totally. It’s a very thoughtful way to put it. Where can people find you?

Alyssa (01:19:09):

You all can find me on Instagram at AR Leadership, as well as on LinkedIn @AlyssaHall, there’s going to be a lot of Alyssa Halls, but you’ll find me.

Tori (01:19:19):

You’ll find her. I love it. Thank you for being here and thank you for the work that you do.

Alyssa (01:19:29):

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Tori (01:19:30):

I’m so grateful to Alyssa who fun fact actually had to record this twice due to a technical issue. We compensated her for her time. We were so sorry. And she was such a trooper. So please follow Alyssa on her social media. And if you are a coach or a small business owner, she has one on one coaching and workshops. We’ve linked all of that information in the show notes.

Tori (01:19:53):

We spend so much time every week our team spends so much time on show notes, every single episode. So if you’ve liked any of the conversations and you want to learn more, if you’ve gone, “Oh, that was a really good intro to a topic. I want to learn more. I want to deep dive.” We provide resources, education in the show notes as a way to continue learning and growing past just an hour commitment to listening to podcast episodes. So please take advantage of all of the work our team does and go read those show notes. Again, linked in the description.

Tori (01:20:24):

Thank you as always for being here. Thank you for your openness and willingness to have conversations like these and to show up even when we’re uncomfortable. It’s something I’m trying to learn and get better at is showing up even when it’s uncomfortable to be there. And again, financial feminism is not just about personal finance. It’s not just about getting your own financial shit together, but by using our tools and strategies and money and financial power to start changing the world and making it more equitable. So thank you as always for being here. We can’t wait to see you next week. Have a great day financial feminists. I’ll talk to you soon.

Tori (01:20:58):

Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist a Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alina Helser, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning and Ana Alexandria. Research by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolf and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about financial feminist, Her First $100K, our guests and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.


Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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