Episode 94: How to bring DEI training to the masses with Maren Miller and Nikki Murillo from Building Bridges

In the past, one’s “elevator pitch” lasted 30-60 seconds.

There was a reasonable expectation that one could hold someone’s attention for that period of time during which a longer conversation could be created.

These days, however, 30-60 seconds is an eternity. In the world of TikTok and Snapchat and Twitter, we now have roughly 7 seconds to capture your audience’s attention before they move on to something else.

That’s why you have to answer these questions immediately on your site:

  • What is this?
  • Who is it for?
  • How does it make their life better?
  • How do they get it? Or what should they do next?

Today’s guests on Relish THIS, Maren Miller and Nikki Murillo from Building Bridges are working to transform the world through DEI training. They see an opportunity to inspire both current and future leaders to embrace inclusivity in the workplace and beyond to shift perspectives and make the world a better place. They are doing amazing work in the space.

They are also doing a pretty good job of fleshing out their story on their site: demonstrating empathy and establishing authority, differentiating their services and processes, and leveraging social proof. But (at least on the date of our conversation) were missing an opportunity to nail the 7-second test to really throw the hook into those looking to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices in their organizations.

Just the nature of their work, which requires individuals to take a pretty hard look at their own privilege, requires overcoming some interesting challenges. We chatted through some sales ideas, ways to create some sparks in their INSPIRE phase activities, and more.

This was a really fun conversation and I hope you can check out the show.

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Maren: Well, it’s not even that you have to start, but like, what is the conversation? Like, are you even having a conversation around it of like, why do we do this? What is, what is it in? You know, like, is this working for us and why? Who’s, and so there’s just some of that too. Like it’s, it’s not even the right or wrong, it’s the like, what are, are you even talking about this or are you just rightly doing things because it’s always been that way?

Stu: Are

Nikki: you

Stu: looking for ways to shorten your marketing learning curve and help your organization survive

Nikki: and. Welcome to Relish This, the Purpose Marketing Podcast, a show for purpose focused leaders who

Stu: want to use marketing techniques to fuel their organization’s growth. If you’re a returning listener and you haven’t subscribed already, we love

Nikki: to

Stu: have you.


Nikki: please consider leaving a review wherever you

Stu: listen to podcasts. Now, here’s

Nikki: your host, author, and marketing specialist, Stew Swine Fort.

Stu: Hey everybody. Stu here. My guests today have a really unique challenge in that they have some pretty big hurdles to overcome when. Trying to get their audience engaged with the services that they provide in DEI training.

They do some really great work to try to develop better, better thinking and, and different thinking among. Current leadership as well as to try to bring up today’s youth in a, in a way that really has a focus on dei and they do great work. Martin Miller and Nikki Marillo are, are part of the Shift program over at Building Bridges and they’re just doing some, some really great things.

We did identify some interesting opportunities for them to not only reframe their story or tell it a little bit more effectively, but also to try to kind of attack those objections that they get when they’re attempting to bring on new clients. It was a really fun discussion. We talked a lot about DEI in general, and then there are some, some real actionable items here during, during our talk that I think will be helpful for almost everyone out there to try and improve their story and, and really address the issues that people have with either supporting your organization or engaging with it.

I hope you enjoy our conversation. I had a lot of fun. Here we go, Mar and Nikki. How are you too? Doing well, thanks. Well, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. I’m very excited to learn more about what you’re doing over at Building Bridges. Tell us all a little bit about what, what you do over there.

Maren: Oh, where to begin? Building Bridges has actually been around for the past 25 years. It’s stemmed from working with and served for young adults, young women in the subject of Israeli Palestinian conflict Occupation. What brought together young women to get with those identities as well as some United.

Folks from the United States, and we have built over the 25 years a posture a way to bring out conversation dialogue. So conflict transformation, cross-cultural relationship building young buildings, skills and communication and empathy are our, our jam and kind of the core of what we do. And what has happened is that has looked different over time.

So that’s where we started. And now the last five years have actually started to focus on more locally here in Denver, Colorado. So deciding that what was happening in their first iteration needed to transfer abroad and more locally. And so we did the same here and spent the last five years that we’ve been working in the Denver Metro area working with young folks high school age, and then.

With that transfer here, also closely relating to and in relationship with hearing from these young folks that, you know, I’m doing this training, essentially coming to a summer intensive and working with folks monthly and then building up a change project at the end of the year. They are, were building up skills around identity development, around under understanding systems of oppression and gaining all this language and knowledge and hearing other narratives and experiences of their peers and then would come up against adults in their lives, their teachers or coworkers or whatever, and, and come up against folks who didn’t have those skills.

And so Shift was born, and that’s what Nikki and I are a part of is we just have two forms of programming now. We have Transform, which is our young adult programming, and we have shift. Which is our adult programming. And ultimately our streamline of that is we are building a movement of inclusive leaders and by by creating spaces for dialogue, by creating spaces for building communication skills and really delving into ultimately the hard conversations.

And yeah, so Shift has been through its own metamorphic in the last five years, especially with the Pandemic. We, you know, like many folks moved to being online and now partly why we’re here, I think today is 2022 happened and we’re finding ourselves in a, another new kind of land of, of DEI of nonprofit work.

What is it to engage organizations in the conversation of intersectionality of race, gender, what is it to be long and be quote unquote professional and create a culture that is as inclusive as possible so folks can really thrive and be their full selves in whatever context that they’re in.

Stu: Yeah, it’s it, it’s an interesting landscape right now, I think.

And and it’s really great to hear how you’re, you’re trying to put together language, at least to get, get those conversations started. Because I think that, I think there’s a large percentage of the population that just don’t even really have a great understanding of, of how to start talking about things.

And and a lot of, a lot of people have, have, you know, taken a. An adversity sort of approach to that which is, which is not great to see, but but it, it does feel like, like there’s movement and, and I’m, I’m just excited to hear how, how you’re a part of that and how you’re bringing all that, all that knowledge that you’ve gained through the Israeli Palestinian conflict and , how you’re applying some of that to, to some of this new, this, this new shift that we’re experiencing.

Mm-hmm. , how did you make that transition? What, what were some of the things that, was it just you, you saw an opportunity or was there a natural sort of progression there? Or how did, how did that, how did that change come about?

Maren: When we made the shift from being more local and focused in Denver mm-hmm.

well that was before my time at Building Bridges. We had some of our colleagues Yeah. Ultimately felt, you know, I believe that in. It was a big shift in the fact that yeah, like what we were doing and then moving to this ultimately, you know, we lost donors, we lost followers. There were, there was a huge community that was built around this one way of, of being right.

And mm-hmm , it made sense again that what we were learning, that folks in, in that location were gonna be able to be closer to really navigating the conversation and the folks who were being impacted the most and ultimately was why. Okay. So then we need to do the same to, and really focus on young folks here in the United States because there is plenty going on.

To navigate when it comes to understanding self and understanding systems and coming up against racism, sexism, all the isms, and you know, what do you, what do you do with that? And there, I think there’s a bigger conversation that is more and more happening specifically in schools around it, right?

But we’re also seeing another like form of backlash of that around CRT and all of that. That, but the kind of, the base of what we do is, yeah, building dialogue skills. What is it to listen? What is it to ask questions? What is it to learn? Be able to really start considering why, or, you know, what’s happening in this group and what am I, what will I be able to learn versus.

What have I then conditioned to do as a person to maybe try and be the all knower or say, say all the right things. What if we’re just human being, trying to be human beings navigating this together? And we’ve experienced some really beautiful conversations, some really hard conversations, whether it was with our young folks are with, with adults.

Stu: Yeah, I bet there’s a lot of, a lot of challenges going on right now in terms of people really understanding it and understanding the shift that is happening. And it sounded, sounds to me like you, you had some backlash when you, when, when you made this adjustment in, in your focus. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Is that something that you, that happened before you, you joined building bridges or, or is that something that you have an understanding. ,

Maren: Yeah. Again, now, I don’t know if you know, there, there’s just a, there was a certain pivot, and so with that pivot with this new vision of we are actually going to center racial equity in what we do was, was kind, was one of those big spots.

I, again, wasn’t a part of those conversations, but have, have heard through other colleagues that that was the case. And so it’s the last five years that we’ve been evolving in what is it to be, to have our conversations centered around racial equity. And we’ve learned a whole bunch along the way as well that we lean into what we call contact theory.

We lean into group development theory and have learned the hard way in some scenarios of, of what is it to be really intentional about who’s in the room and when is it maybe a time to have affinity spaces? And so that’s also what is a a main thing that we do with the adults, with our adult programming.

I’m the community training manager and we have been offering trainings to the greater. Community and those have specifically been affinity spaces as we’ve come up. Specifically seen white folks in leadership and white folks in general. Just needing a little bit more before we can go into some other conversations of intersectionality or other conversations of gender dynamics or other forms of power that exist within a group.

What is it to make sure that we have that base or that foundation before we complicate it even

Stu: more? Right before you throw, throw it into, to a mix of a whole bunch of people. Yeah. Cuz when we

Maren: talk about dei right, it’s not just diversity, it’s not just race. Right. But cause it is a, it is a plethora of things to be consider, to consider to be as inclusive as possible.

And it’s not, it’s not easy to do.

Stu: Right. Do you feel like the challenges there are because of, of this historical privilege that. that either, either white folks don’t have the language around or just they don’t, they don’t understand that that position that, that they’ve held, you know, just because of the, of, of the nature of their birth.

Maren: Yeah. I, I’m, that was my experience as well as a white person, as I was a former teacher for 10 years. And it wasn’t until the end of my career that I got a significant amount of training and support and opportunity to also be in dialogue and to kind of, and to be messy about it. And to really start to break down the, the very kind of narrow experience that I, you know, I have the identities and experiences that I have, and was it, what is it for me to, to start to break out of that, that, that.

To the possibility that other folks are experiencing the world in different ways. And it’s not, it’s not as simple as that. There’s a good people and bad people out there. Mm-hmm. , there’s systems that have been set up and that from the inception of our country, things are still affecting people today.

Like, and that’s, and what do I do to rectify the history that I wasn’t taught or the very skewed narratives that I did consume? How do I get better at just being curious and question everything that I think I know that’s a hard place for anybody, let alone Yeah. Specifically white folks in kind of best reckoning.

And it was interesting to really see such a, you know, be a part of a, what, what is a predictable pattern now is some really like an expansion of, of engagement. Two years ago in 2020 around George Floyd’s murder and like people were. Knocking down our, our door and wanting to incorporate this in their work.

And you know, that was itself as a small nonprofit, like exciting and also really hard. Shift is our social enterprise piece and Transform is our kind of more traditional nonprofit with covered by grants. And yeah, so there’s been this interesting. Experience of watching the, the the engagement slowly trickle down, and I won’t maybe past a Nicky of what feels like 2022, like the struck 2022 and it was like, I don’t know, crickets, , like just, it was, there was a, something in the air.

Something changed drastically around what we had been experiencing and prepping for as regards to client work and community trainings. And it’s been in yeah, messy to navigate the last six months.

Stu: Interesting. Mm-hmm. . So Nick, you’re the interim executive director of, of building bridges and shift and, and transform.

Correct. It’s all under the one. Yeah.

Nikki: So yeah, our, our shift in transform programs are our, are two you know, Big programs. So trans, like Martin said, our transform program is kind of our flagship. That’s what we’re mostly known for. And then our shift program was sort of born out of that. And yeah. And, and together it is all building bridges.

And I am have been the interim executive director for about a, about a month or so now.

Stu: Oh, wow. So very, very short, short tenure. So far. So far. Yeah. . Well, it sounds like you’re coming in into this mix in, in some interesting, interesting times for, for building bridges. Yeah. What, what have been, what have been some of the more challenging aspects of, of this new role that you’re, that you’re filling right now?

Nikki: Yeah. You know, I, I think going back a little bit to what, to what Martin was just saying around the, you know, we had, we had all kinds of plans for 2022. We had planned out. Community trainings for the whole year. We had, you know, started looking at the, the, the social enterprise piece for our client contract work that we, that we try to engage in is, you know, we, we were starting to plan out for that and, and then all of a sudden we were just finding that there was a shift in the mood and we were, we were still getting quite a, quite a bit of interest from other nonprofits and, and organizations who were interested in, you know, DEI work.

That’s kind of the mm-hmm. , the kitchy term, Right. The dei trainings, DEI workshops. And we were, so we were sort of fielding all these questions of like, well, what do you all do and what could we expect and how much does it cost? And part of our, our leap for this year was sort. Streamlining and I, I sort of getting more organized in, in what we offer, how we offer it and how we engage with clients, how we engage with, with, in folks in the community who are interested in doing this work.

And so we, we were eager to, you know, get some folks in the door so that we could actually practice some of these, you know, processes that we were putting into place. Mm-hmm. . And what we have found is that the, so lots of budgetary restrictions and limitations, folks who are eager and interested in doing trainings, workshops, providing professional personal development for their staff.

But, but there’s, but they have no money. There’s no money in their budget. They’ve spent it all. And you know, in the, in the last two years, the 20 20, 20 21 budget years. And so now they’re here in 2022 and they’re like, Well, we want more work. We know we need more work, but, but we don’t have any money.

And so you know, we’re, we’ve been trying to get really creative with like, Okay, well what do you like, what, what do you want out of this time? Like, what is it that you’re hoping to accomplish? And, and what can we, where can we start? Where’s like, step one, knowing that we, one of the pieces that we try to really hone in on is long term work, right?

That, that this, the, the DEI work, the, the work of racial equity is not is not a one time training. It’s, it’s not a you know, a two hour workshop. It’s, it’s a long term sustainable plan and strategy. And. , we, so we build everything that we do with that in mind. And so we recognize that folks are, you know, maybe have no longer have the, you know, the, the line items specifically for this work.

And so they’re kind of having to pull from different areas. And so we’re, you know, we just try to work with folks of like, where can we start? Where’s step one? Maybe let’s get some coaching hours in mm-hmm. , maybe let’s get, you know a three part series in let’s, you know, let’s, let’s see where we can sort of start to make an inroad and then work with a sort of walk alongside these organizations to help, you know, create that long term plan.

In, in the making, I guess as we’re, as we’re building the plan in flight Right, right.

Stu: As they say, do. So how, it sounds like there’s been budget, budget cuts that have, have affected you. So you have a, a few mechanisms by which you’re, you’re, you get revenue, I’m assuming donations, Grants, Yeah. And then, and then is it pay paper service?

Is is, is that a Yeah, our clan. Our

Nikki: clan were work is, is pay for service. We do have a lot of grants that we have that we typically pursue. And we’re also seeing a shift in, in that as well, which has been really interesting. We, we work with a grant writer who who has been with us and in it with us for a long time, knows us well, and she herself is even saying that she’s noticing a shift in some of the, the funders and, and the folks who are getting funded.

And so yeah, we, we’ve had a hard, we’ve had a hard time. with that as well this year.

Maren: Well, and we’ve also, our transform is essentially supported by grants. It was more this year, again, another plan of ours was to get shift supported a little bit more. Mm-hmm. . Um, In order to be able to maybe pick or choose who we worked with or worked with work.

Some of the, you know, folks who are maybe small along the lines of us, of a very small team, really wanting to do this work, wanna strategize, maybe even work. You know, the other thing that we’ve been moving into this year is being a worker led co-op. And so that has just been also us, you know, a parallel to all the work that we’re doing externally.

We’ve been trying to do it internally and that’s been hard. , you know, and our capacity is lower and so it’s, you know, we’re trying, also trying to mitigate what is it to do? Go, go slow to go fast and do this as ourselves, as well as be able to support others in that. It’s also that, you know, we’ve got one side of the folks are willing to send share money with young adults, which is wonderful.

And what is it for us to be able to, cuz there is, there’s so many folks who still could benefit from, from a whole bunch of these conversations.

Stu: Yeah, for sure. Do you, so I’m, I’m trying to come up with some ideas here for you. It sounds to me like there the sales cycle may have extended quite a bit, which is not helpful when you’re used to it being, you know, two months or three months or, or whatever, however long you’re used to.

And then having that you know, be stretched out for quite some time. And it sounds like you’re trying to make changes to allow it to be as, as affordable. For, for people as possible. Have you identified what the, you know, what, what the, I, I don’t what the cost of action or non action is for, for people.

Like what’s, what, what’s at stake for, for your clients, particularly in the, in, in, in the shift world? I guess that’s a,

Nikki: that’s a really interesting question. I, I’m not sure that, at least I have really considered the cost of not other than I think a lot of folks who come to us are well, I, I, I guess I would say it’s maybe half, half and half that there are folks who come to us who are either looking to make some changes.

They wanna, they make, wanna make some changes to their hiring processes. They wanna make some changes to their. You know, staff culture, they, they, they’re interested in, in kind of growing from the learn from the learnings that they’ve, they’ve gained over the last however many years. And, and then there are another handful of folks that have come to us potentially because some, something happened, There’s some kind of mm-hmm.

crisis, some kind of exodus of staff members or, or things that have sort of exposed themselves to be concerning to, you know, leaders of an organization. And you know, one of the, I think one of the pieces that we have found is a, is a really good starting point, not only for us, but for an organization, is to focus in on the leadership and really try to understand like what.

What is happening among the folks who hold the most power in this, in this organization? What, what are their norms? What are their, their, you know, ideologies? What are, what is, what is holding this, this sort of culture in place based on these folks who, who are in leadership positions? And I guess kind of going back to this idea of, of what is the cost of not, you know, it, it’s really kind of getting sort of stuck in, in what has been, what, you know, what is, and, and not being able to dream about what could be and finding these other ways of being in existing.

And I think that’s part of what we’re, we’re trying to do internally with, with building bridges and our shift in governance to more of a, a co-op model. And it’s interesting, we’ve had a couple. Clients or prospective clients who have come to us saying, we’re actually trying out shared leadership, or we’re trying to figure out what it means to be, you know, have, have co-executive directors.

We’re trying to figure out what, you know, this this new governance model looks like for us. Mm-hmm. . And we’re like, well, us too. And so we may just a few steps ahead or in a different place. So let’s, let’s see what we can offer in that respect as well. And so again, it’s, it’s really just about trying to open up these opportunities for dreaming of other ways of being and sort of starting to dismantle the notion of, you know, of what, what is the, the quote unquote norm in the workplace and what, you know, professionalism means and all of those kinds of, those ideas.

Stu: Yeah, it’s interesting you’re doing that. Like you said earlier, you’re kind of building, building the, the plane as you’re, as you’re flying it. You know, there are a couple things that I’m seeing on the site that, that potentially could be, Could be helpful and, and that is really starting to deliver content on a regular basis that speaks to those ki types of needs and challenges.

You know, where I was going, I think with, with my initial question and as I, as, as you were talking, I was kind of digging into a few things here on the site that I see, but you know, my original question was, is essentially if you can establish, and particularly if you can get, get the person to establish for themselves what, what the, the cost, what the benefit of action is, or what the cost of inaction is, then you’ve established what a value I is for them.

And, and even if they start off like, you know, kind of wishy washy about it, if you can get them to and this is, this is kind of a sales technique, but if you can, if you can get them to, to out loud, you know, put a dollar figure on. On what it’s costing them to, you know, to lose, lose teammates or not be able to, to hire as quickly as as they would like to you know, to have these open positions in their, in their In their organizations or, or businesses, you know, if, if you can get them to establish that value then that gives you a starting point for, you know, what, what it would, what it would require from an investment standpoint with you to help fix that problem and to, you know, to plug that leak.

And, and once you’ve, you know, once you’ve kind of gotten down to brass tax on that, it makes it a lot easier to, for them to understand why they’re making that investment. And until you, until you’re able to do that, it, it does feel like one of these things that they’re like, Well, do I, you know, do I really need to get, you know, do I really need to get this, this tooth fixed now?

Or can I, you know, can I wait on it? And And, and there’s, like I said, like I mentioned earlier, there’s opportunity cost as well as, as, you know, actual, actual cost. And so the longer that it takes to plug that leak, the, the longer, you know, the longer they’re just going to be hemorrhaging you know, money or, or opportunity.

And so, you know, there’s certainly a lot of companies out there really seeking to plug a, a, a, a significant hole in, in their DEI practices. They’ve been called out on this. They’re getting you know, grief in the media. And, and so those companies I think obviously would, would benefit if they’re taking it seriously, would benefit from your, from your expertise in that, in that area to just help them with that problem immediately.

And then there are other. There are other organizations that are probably already moving, you know, the, the direction of, of improved you know, diversity equity and inclusion, but maybe they just want a little help getting there. And so kind of figuring out how to identify you know, those people who have an urgent need that’s, that’s, you know, critical versus those who, who have an, an express need that’s more of a, of a desired, a desired goal.

You know, and just having a good understanding of who those groups are would be something to, to entertain, I think, on your end.

Nikki: Yeah. I, I think another, another piece that we have started to think about too are , and this is, this is in from support from one a coach that we’ve been working with around how to, like, how to envision, you know, what our ideal client is and mm-hmm.

One of those pieces has been trying to figure out what are, what are the limiting beliefs that they might hold that are stopping them from taking this opportunity that you’re, that you’re putting in front of them?

Stu: Yeah, yeah. Like, how painful is this going to be? Yeah, exactly. Not only from a, not only from an investment standpoint, but how much time is it gonna take?

And also how, how much her, are they gonna have to look into the, the depths of their being and see how, you know, how a lot of the stuff that they believe that, that they have achieved might be built on, on On , on the, the keeping down of other people and, and how’s that gonna make them feel? You know, I think that that starting to develop a content program around those types of things would, would be helpful.

You know, I’m, I’m guessing that you have seen kind of some common. There, there’s probably a, a little bit of a common journey. It’s kind of like that you know, the six steps of, of of, of what’s the, I’m trying to, I’m losing the, losing the thread on, on what this is called, but like the six steps, steps of, of understanding or of of acceptance, right?

Where you, you know, you, you’re angry and then you’re, and then you’re in denial and then you, you know, you kind of move through all these steps. And my guess is that, that a lot of people kind of have a similar journey when they first, first start, when they first embark on, on this, this exploration around, around DEI and, and how to improve the, improve that in their own organizations.

So maybe, you know, even just creating content around that, like, Hey, you know, we, we know that this is gonna be. There’s gonna be some challenging steps here, and here’s here’s how we see people you know, typically engaging with, with this process. So don’t, you know, don’t be alarmed when this happens to you, where, you know, at some point you’re, you might feel really sad about , about where, where you are, and that’s okay, because that’s part of the, part of the process.

And just allowing people to have, have a really strong understanding of, of what this is gonna be like. And and just putting it out there will help. And then, and then letting people know that they’re not the first people to, to go through this, that this isn’t a unique experience. You know that they’re not alone.


Nikki: Yeah, definitely. I think that what, what you’re talking about is like, yeah, that acknowledgement of grief, right? That like, in some ways you kind of have to be willing to. L lose a, an a, an idea that you were maybe holding onto that was, that was sort of comforting in some ways, but maybe holding you back in other ways.

And I think one of the, you know, we’ve over time have definitely learned to refine our the time that we do have in front of prospective clients, right? Like we, we usually do a, a one hour screen call when someone reaches out and says, Hey, we’re interested in working with you. We say, Great, let’s set up a, a screen call.

We we’re on, on a Zoom call for an hour, and we really, we really spent try to spend a lot of that time hearing from them. But then we also recognize that we have a very great opportunity to set up what they can expect from us to sort of like say, All right, if this is a good fit, here’s here’s what you can expect.

Both in a sense of like, we don’t wanna. We’re, we’re not gonna promise like a nice pretty bow at the end, , like, everything’s gonna be wrapped up in a nice box and, and, and it’s gonna feel like butterflies and rainbows. It’s, it’s just not, it’s not gonna be that way. And we want to be gracious and, and kind and thoughtful and empathetic to the process.

Right? Right. And so folks who are usually coming to us seeking that support or have maybe already gone through their own level of acceptance or anger, denial around grief mm-hmm. , and it’s the rest of the team that is maybe needing some support with like how to navigate that and how to even be aware that that might be a possibility,

So yeah, trying to sort of hold all of the different experiences that might come.

Stu: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a little tough to sell this idea that, that, that you’re, that you’re never going to be done with this. Yeah. Thank you. Part of the program. You know, I, I’ve, I do a lot of coaching work both personally, you know, for myself, but also also with clients.

And, and one of the things that, that is an interesting a piece of the equation is the idea that, that, you know, I have you know, 50 plus years of, of doing things a certain way and it’s worked for me, right? And I don’t, I’ve, I’ve never done it this other way. And so it, it’s scary to, to, to let go of the, of, of maybe some of the, you know, negative ways that I’ve gotten to where I am, but they’ve worked for me and, and go explore.

You know, a new, a new way of thinking about how to, how to navigate my daily existence or my client’s daily existence, helping them with that. But you know, the understanding that you can always go back to the way it was and that you always will be going back to the way it was, is gonna be a constant you know, noticing, making adjustments and, and, and revising the, the way you’re behaving or the, or what, how you’re being you know, it can be a real challenge.

It’s, it is one of the, there’s

Maren: a reason that a lot of folks don’t engage in this or engage in it and then back out of it.

Stu: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it shines, you know, sometimes not very happy making light on , on, on, you know, where, where one is, it’s, you know, it’s like you’ve that old saying, you, you think you hit a home run, but you actually started on third base kind of deal.

Right. You know, coming to grips with that is I think one of those things that is a little bit of a tough sell probably for you, but the more material that you can put out there around that and the more reinforcement of you know, so social proof that this though sometimes painful from an introspective standpoint is, is valuable and worth it as well as fruitful.

I think that those are, those are some of the things that I would be encouraging you to, to be putting forward as much as possible. Just acknowledging that, that people are taking a big step here that it’s, you know, perhaps a step that’s long overdue, but. You know, just, just allowing them to, to feel good about taking that first step and, and, and that, that it is gonna be a work in progress, but, but it’s all worth it.

Right? In terms of, of, of being able to live in a, in a more productive more inclusive, happier happier. .

Maren: Yeah. And I think that’s, I mean, it’s one thing to read the book or listen to the podcast, right? But it’s another thing to try and navigate the nuance and intersectionality of identities and power and privilege and all, You know, like all of this is so nuanced and messy and like it’s one thing to do that within oneself, but then to try and do that with a group, whether it, you know, whether it’s a group that’s all in or not, I think that’s what’s been interesting as a building Bridges staff.

Like, we’re all into this. We’re all wanting to do this. This is how we. Is to make sure that we’re going slow to go fast, that we’re using mirroring, that we’re, you know, like we have certain group norms and tools and just ways that we are attempting to live this out together. And and it still is, still can be hard for us.

Right. So it makes sense that it would still feel hard for others. I think the other thing that we’re seeing too is the potential that there is a great maybe shift for better or worse that folks are hiring this work in, in house a little bit more. Mm-hmm. . But what are but yeah, just, and so what does that mean for us then to, I think that’s other conversations we’re having too of, So if that’s the case, then still then how can we support your DEI committee or how can we support mm-hmm.

your DEI team, because like you said, it it is, it’s it is. What we try and keep normalizing for folks is it’s, There are things you can do today, next week, next month. Yes. And what is your five year plan? Right? What is your 10 year plan? What are you actually trying to create with your team? How do you want people to feel?

How do you want people to be able to be themselves and share that and and create space for that? I think that’s what we keep trying to push people to do that. It’s okay to push that boundary of what is professionalism. We are people and it is, it’s personal before it’s professional. And that’s what keeps being is hard to do with adults as well, is we’re trying to build up emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, and opening folks up to that.

There’s just these various ways of being, various ways of interacting, various ways of, of seeing the world and how are we just opening ourselves up to all the possibilities. .

Stu: Right. It’s, it’s around vulnerability too. Yes. It, it seems like, and, and yeah, there’s an authenticity and a vulnerability piece in here, which is, which are two things that historically have not been ever present in, in the workforce, Right?

Yes. Like you’ve, were, I, I know that, you know, I, I started my career in, in the, in the early nineties, you know, but coming out of the eighties where, you know, you were taught as a leader, you never showed any weakness and you, you know, everything was, was rah. And, and, and it’s really interesting and fun to see that starting to change a little bit, but it, you know, it’s been slow, slow going for sure.

In terms of, of, of some of those changes. And and so this is, you know, this is just a similar a similar situation where you have people who have. Have been successful doing it one way for however long, and all of a sudden the suggestion is, is that they have to start doing it a different way. And there’s a, there’s a lot of resistance to that, to that kind of change.

Well, it’s not

Maren: even that you have to start, but like, what is the conversa? Like, are you even having a conversation around it of like, why do we do this? What is, what is it in? You know, like, is this working for us and why? Who’s right? And so there’s just some of that too. Like it’s, it’s not even the right or wrong, it’s the like, what are, are you even talking about this?

Or are you just remotely doing things because it’s always been that way?

Stu: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s yeah, it’s entrenched for sure. I, I really do like a lot of the language that you’re using, at least on the homepage, I think that you’re on to you know, you do a good job of, of demonstrating empathy of, of, of showing how the program works and how you know, what people can expect.

I think that, that the kind of the, you know, the bones of the homepage content are, are pretty good. You could probably ex expand on things a little bit there in terms of helping to tell that story a little bit more. You know, I think if, if there were a few things that I. That I would suggest are, are, are probably you know, the, the lowest hanging fruit for, for kind of driving immediate signups or driving immediate revenue.

It’s what, it’s in the, in the phase that we call the inspire phase of, of the project or of the, of the stakeholder life cycle rather. And in the inspire phase, essentially you’re trying to get people to do repeat business with you. Mm-hmm. . So going back to the well and saying, Hey, you know, you went through our program a couple, couple years ago, or six months ago we have, you know, something new here that that might be interesting for you.

Or, or even just getting those conversations rekindled by, you know, asking them questions about the program. What, what would they like to see, What, what was missing that they, they wish that they. That you had or, or what was their favorite part of it? And, and essentially you know, I look at, I look at marketing as, as relationship building and, and relationships are built through interactions over time.

And, and, and so the, the more that you can can dive into those interactions and, and get them, you know, rekindled the more opportunity you have to not only bring people back into the fold and have them take, you know, a subsequent training or, or extend their training or you know, or go that route or get them to refer people or at least write reviews that are that help touch on some of those major pain points and major fears that, that you bump up against when you’re, when you’re talking to people about starting a program.

So you know, those are certainly a few places that I think I would lean into for sure, in terms of, of, of trying to, to drive immediate engagements and, and and revenue and, and project starts for you.

Maren: Yep. ,

Stu: do you, have you explored that on We

Maren: have. I think that’s also like what we’re kind of rectifying, right?

Is that for a, well, one that we have, we, we are so relationship based that that is what we really ha heavily lean on for better or worse in terms of business, right? That we do get one on one referrals or it’s folks who we know and therefore we’re telling them about us like a. You know, this has always been an issue for the last five years as a, as a building Bridges staff member of like, how do you explain to people what it is?

And a whole, For a long time it was like, well, you just have to come and experience it. Sure. Because once you’re in it, once you’re in this this space where people are sharing or where you are being asked to consider something you’ve never considered, or you are hearing multiple perspectives and you are learning new communication skills, you’ve never, you know, like for me that.

Actually my journey. I moved to Colorado five years ago and was a adult participant myself in our facilitator training. And at that point I had had a lot of racial equity training that I was coming in with, but I was able to really delve into intersectionality and the nuance and, and it impacted me in a huge way that then I became a young adult facilitator and then they, you know, I just, I’ve been orbiting building bridges and now you know, have been staffed for the last two years.

And yeah, so there’s that of. How do the continued question of how do we explain it? How do we, But also coming out of really busy two years, like literally trying to keep up with everything and not really having to do this right. And then now like, oh boy, like what? Okay, well we didn’t even have time to take down stories to get people, you know, we’re, we’re going back to people and trying to get testimonials, but folks, like that’s feeling hard.

So like, man, we should have done that right away. Like how to, again, like some of this is all, we started to think about the process given what we experienced over the last two years, but now to like, to actually do it has felt hard and discombobulating in a lot of different ways of Yeah. What is happening?

Is it because we did our governance transfer? Is it because it’s just 2022? Is it because, I don’t know, there’s just, there were so many questions of what is happening.

Stu: Right. Yeah. Right. Yeah. It’s interesting to try to navigate that and, and particularly when there’s so many variables that you, you don’t know which, which lever to pull.

Yeah. And, and, you know, we talked about this a little bit a while ago. It’s, it comes back to authenticity and vulnerability. And I think that that understanding that you ran a little bit before you, before you learn to crawl or walk even is okay. And it, and it’s okay to actually say that when you, when you reach out to people, say, Hey, you know, we feel a little embarrassed about, about this, that we didn’t do this earlier.

And now we’re finding ourselves in a bit of a, a bit of a conundrum where, where we’re trying to navigate some, some interesting times in, in this space. And, and we’d love to. To, you know, to, to tap into your experience of working with us and, and get a, a testimonial from you. And, and, you know, really just, just laying it out there like, Hey, you know, I, I know this is kind of weird.

We probably should have, should have. It’s, it’s been a while, but you know, but, but we’re doing our best here. , Right? And would love your help. And, and, you know, being a nonprofit, I think really, you know, that that does not hurt you at all, at all in this space because people do understand how, how you know, resource challenged nonprofits can be.

But I, I would just come at that from, you know, really from that space of, of vulnerability and authenticity. Like, Hey, I, you know, I have a favor to ask, and I know that this is a little weird. We haven’t talked in a couple years, but but here’s, here’s the deal, right? And, and I think people will, would, would respond to that.

And I think that the ones who, who will respond, you’ll get a really. V very positive response around. And the ones who, who, you know, think that was a little, a little odd or whatever, they probably just won’t respond. I don’t think that you’ll get any like negative blowback on, on, on doing that. And, and just, just kind of putting that out there in terms of telling the story, in terms of the how There’s, there’s a framework that, that, again, I think you’re doing a, actually have the kind of the bones of a pretty, pretty good approach to telling the story.

But you might look into a framework called Story Brand. There’s a gentleman named Donald Miller who has a, a big team that, that has you know, they’ll, they’ll help you with this kind of stuff. Mm-hmm. , however you know, it’s not that it’s not that complex. And I believe the name of his book is Building, Building a Story Brand.

I’ll look that up for you and share it with you. And I’ll share that in the, in the show notes as well. My, my brain is not latching onto that one right at the moment. However, there’s a great book that kind of walks you through the process. Mm-hmm. . One of the things that I believe your site would benefit from kind of immediately is this idea of how do we tell this seven second story?

How do we get people’s attention in, in, you know, seven to 10 seconds to answer the questions? What is this? Who is it for? How does it make their life better? And how do you, how do they get it? Yeah. Right now, I think, and, and if you, you know, listen to Donald Miller. I think you’re being a little so on the continuum of clear to clever, I think that you’re probably landing a little bit too far in the clever side of that continuum and might wanna pull it back to clear.

So instead of shift perspectives, transform the world, maybe think about, you know, DEI leadership training. That help shift perspectives and transform the world or something like that. So you can keep a lot of that. But, but really kind of pull back into the, you know, what, what is this exactly? So that if I have seven seconds, I’ve somehow managed to make it to your site and I have just a moment to try and figure out if I wanna stay here or not.

You, you really throw the hook into me pretty hard in terms of making me understand exactly what this is, who it’s for, and how it makes my life better. You have the, how do you get it in terms of the find your program or donate today. But but I, I think I would just kind of re-craft that because essentially you’re just buying time at this early stages of the, of, of that kind of attract phase.

Maren: Yeah. I mean this is actually a new website for us too, because it’s just also been like, Again, our history of transform is more well known. And then how do we better on the website? Like, explain that there are these two entities, that there are these two programs.

Stu: Yeah. And that’s segmentation, right? Where you’re bringing people in and you’re saying this is for, for adults.

The Transform program is is for, for adult, or the Shift program is for adults rather. Mm-hmm. and the Transform program is for, is for future leaders. So at that point you might think about segmenting those audiences. And you could even ask that question. You know, I’m, I’m an adult leader seeking to, to shift you know, to shift my perspective or I’m, I’m a, a future leader.

You know, looking for ways to, to to, you know, to lead, to lead everyone into the, into the next phase of. Of of interaction and engagement or something like that. And that ran out of words there. But but that might be, you know, tho that might be your, how do I get this? You might be start trying to actually segment your audiences and, and move people into one or one or the other of those buckets.


Nikki: one of the, one of the other things that we have toyed around with is and I don’t know, I don’t know. Well, I’ll, I’ll just say it. So we, what we were talking about previously was kind of along the lines of like an FAQ page, which mm-hmm. , which we have on there for at least on our shift page. But like for folks who are not sure if, I guess are not sure, maybe they’re new to this DEI work or they’re not sure, like, How, what they need, but they know they need something and, or, or, you know, getting, getting some some words on the, on the website that are like, you know, are, are you, are you the head of your DEI committee at your organization?

Are you mm-hmm. executive director who is trying to like, find new ways to engage your staff? Are you, you know, et cetera, mm-hmm. and not sure how much that would harder help us with like, targeting some specific folks based on who we have worked with to help sort of paint a little bit more of a picture that like maybe as someone who has seven seconds to come to our website and seize that, maybe they are one of those people, Is that enough of a hook to kind of get them in?

Or is that a little, maybe too specific and we need to keep it more broad? .

Stu: You know, it’s interesting actually, when you started talking about that, I was thinking that one of the things that might work well for you is to create kind of a, kind of a, a questionnaire like, is this, is this for me? Mm. And and depending upon how you built that, there are a bunch of different ways to, to kind of build even a threaded kind of questionnaire that, that asks different questions depending upon the answers that, that you, that you received from, from, from the previous answer.

So, you know, you could, you could set that up in a way that lets people answer, let’s say five or even 10 questions to, to kind of give them their DEI score or, or give them an understanding of, of whether or not this program. Or is is right for them or what, what they would probably be able to expect from it.

Mm-hmm. . And, and I can share, we have one that’s kind of a marketing a marketing questionnaire. It’s not threaded like what I was talking about, so it wouldn’t, it doesn’t necessarily ask different questions depending upon the answers that you just gave. But I, I think it might be able to sponsor some interest.

You kind of get a score at the end and and you know that that tells. Maybe your, you know, your, your overall health and what what might come next in terms of, of you know, a, a marketing engagement. So, you know, similarly I think that you might be able to do something in, in the DEI space in terms of just asking some, some questions that you might ask.

You know, me. If I were to come to you and say, Hey, I, I think I need this, but I’m not sure you know, what are the, what are the five or so questions that you might ask me to, to give me a, a better understanding of, of where I sit and, and do that in a nonjudgmental way. But but definitely, yeah, you know, give people the, cuz I would say even, even someone who scores a hundred you know, probably could benefit from your services in some, in some capacity in terms of like ongoing accountability or ongoing coaching and you know, and, and assessment or, you know, something like that just to make sure that people don’t, you know, backslide or something.

Nikki: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I, I like, I like that idea. Because it’s, it feels, it feels sort of similar to what we maybe do in, in our screening in our screen call process, right? Mm-hmm. . And so that’s where we kind of get in front of folks and can have a conversation. And then we also have. An like an interest form.

So if somebody who’s that’s potentially interested in working with us we have, you know, a questionnaire that they, that they fill out. But I think having that it feels like it’s not as, it’s not as accessible as it could be. And so maybe putting that a little bit more forward on the website or more Yeah.

More accessible for folks to, to, to engage with so that we are kind of providing that additional, you know, this is a, this is a resource or something for you to think about. Think about your answers to these questions and what does this mean for you?

Stu: Yeah. Like what you know, and, and just provide them with a, you know, what’s your dei.

which are DEI score and for lack of a better way to, to frame that. But you know, if, if somebody comes in and says, Well, I think I’m pretty good, and then they score a 30 out of a hundred, then, then they might be like, Well, wasn’t as good as I thought I was and I have some room for improvement. Maybe I need to talk with, talk with this team and, and see how we can, can move things the right direction.

Our own

Maren: little Idi Nikki .

Stu: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. But I’ll share a couple things with you after the, after our, our discussion today as well as with the, with the, the rest of the listeners to maybe spawn some ideas there. But but I think that those are, are a couple, couple things that I would, I would track down and, and explore in order to, to kind of help lay the groundwork.

I mean, one of the things that’s. You know, it’s a, definitely a mindset shift. It’s always frustrating when you’re not as busy you know, serving your clients as you would like to be, but but being able to take advantage of, of that downtime is, is also kind of a, a blessing. So I know that, that, you know, it can be very frustrating when you wanna be, what you wanna be busy or serving.

But this could be a time that you start to catch back up with, with some of the people who’ve gone through your programs in the past, as well as build out some of these tools that can help help bring people into the, into the mix in the next few months. Definitely. Yeah. Definitely. Well, I can’t believe it’s been an hour that we’ve been chatting.

This is amazing. I’ve really had a great time talking with you both and learning more about what, what you’re up to at building Bridges and all the good work that you’re doing. How can people find out more about your programs?

Nikki: You can definitely check out our website. Like Mar said, it is new to us and so it’s it’s real pretty.

And that is building Bridges shift.org.

Maren: Yeah. Don’t go to Billy Bridges. That’ll bring you to a company in Europe. That’s not us. . We don’t, we don’t actually build bridges.

Stu: Well, you build metaphorical bridges, right? Yes, exactly. . Exactly. Well, I will show that in the show notes. I really appreciate you both being on the show today.

It’s, it’s it’s just so much fun having these conversations and, and I love talking about things with people and, and learning more about their organizations. I also like to try to inspire action after our conversations. If, if you had people who were listening to the show take any action after after listening to us today, what would you have them do?

Maren: fill out our interest form. .

Nikki: Yeah, that’s a good, that’s a good question. I think one thing that Mar said earlier, Go slow to go fast. That’s I feel like we should, I’m sure it’s trademarked somewhere, but I feel like we should trademark sticker. That’s like very much a a building Bridges core value is go slow to go fast.

There is so much that is pushing us through this existence to just keep going forward and keep moving and keep going. That it’s, I I wanna encourage folks to like, pause Yeah. And take us, take a beat to just be aware of yourself, of your environment, your surroundings, your community, and, and. Really examining what is the next right step.

And, and hopefully that brings you to b to us to building the next right step. But if it doesn’t find that next right step for you cuz reflection is important and action, like you said, do is is also really important. So how do we bring those two together?

Stu: I love it. I will share that with everybody.

Thank you both so much for being on the show. Again, everyone go check out building bridges shift.org and you know, get your DEI game game moving the right direction. Thank you both so much for being on the show. Thanks, bye. And there you have it. Another great episode of Relish This. Thanks again for listening.

You can find past episodes of the show@relishthis.org. And remember, if you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. For more information on purpose marketing, Grab your free copy of my book, Mission Uncomfortable, How Nonprofits Can Embrace Purpose Driven Marketing to Survive and Thrive.

Get your copy now@missionuncomfortablebook.com. Thanks again for listening. Come back next week, won’t you?