The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount

Bonus EP: Advancing Women of Color with Best-Selling Author Minda Harts

September 30, 2021 Portia Mount Season 2 Episode 10
Bonus EP: Advancing Women of Color with Best-Selling Author Minda Harts
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
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The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
Bonus EP: Advancing Women of Color with Best-Selling Author Minda Harts
Sep 30, 2021 Season 2 Episode 10
Portia Mount

“Find spaces that celebrate you and not tolerate you” - Minda Harts

In this bonus episode of The Manifista Podcast, host Portia Mount sits down with New York Times bestselling author, Minda Harts. They talk about her new book, Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace, the follow-up to her bestselling book and corporate survival guide, The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table. They take a personal look at how Minda has used the pandemic to refine her priorities, how she balances her busy life as an author, keynote speaker and university lecturer, and the advice she has for all women. The future is female, let’s get started. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at

Resources Mentioned:
Minda Harts on IG
Minda Harts on Twitter
Minda Harts on LinkedIn
#SECURETHESEAT Podcast with Minda Harts

The Memo by Minda Harts
Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts (pre-order)
More Than Magic: Black and Brown Girls Claiming Their Space by Minda Harts (pre-order)
Dare To Lead by Brene Brown
Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab


Show Notes Transcript

“Find spaces that celebrate you and not tolerate you” - Minda Harts

In this bonus episode of The Manifista Podcast, host Portia Mount sits down with New York Times bestselling author, Minda Harts. They talk about her new book, Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace, the follow-up to her bestselling book and corporate survival guide, The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table. They take a personal look at how Minda has used the pandemic to refine her priorities, how she balances her busy life as an author, keynote speaker and university lecturer, and the advice she has for all women. The future is female, let’s get started. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at

Resources Mentioned:
Minda Harts on IG
Minda Harts on Twitter
Minda Harts on LinkedIn
#SECURETHESEAT Podcast with Minda Harts

The Memo by Minda Harts
Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts (pre-order)
More Than Magic: Black and Brown Girls Claiming Their Space by Minda Harts (pre-order)
Dare To Lead by Brene Brown
Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab



Portia Mount  0:00  

Minda Harts. Welcome to the Manifista Podcast. It is really great to have you here. 

Minda Harts  1:09  

Thank you for inviting me. So excited to be in conversation with you. 

Portia Mount  1:13  

I know you are pretty prolific, as well, of course, in real life, and as an author and a professor and entrepreneur. And I want to get to that in a moment, but we have been these last 18 months talking about the impact of the pandemic on women. I know you've seen the articles I have seen. And I'm curious how it's impacted you personally and professionally?

Minda Harts  1:52  

Yeah, that's a great question. So prior to the pandemic, I was on a book tour. So literally, March 2020, was the last like book event that I had done in person, I was literally leaving Las Vegas. And that was the last in person. And so I make a good portion of my income off of public speaking. So once public, so once companies were, you know, shut down due to no fault of their own, you know, this syndromic multiple pandemics happening at once. I really had to shift my business and also lean on my savings a little because a lot of companies were like, let's just wait and see because people weren't ready to shift directly to online offerings right away because people thought it was just going to be a short period of time. But yeah, so I really had to shift my business. 

Portia Mount  2:48  

We laugh at that now, don’t we?

Minda Harts  2:49  

Yeah, including myself. 

Portia Mount  2:49  

We laugh at that. Including myself. I know, I laugh at how naive I was, Minda that I thought, oh, this pandemic, like by the summer, it's all going to magically go away. And yet, here we are. It sounds like you really had to pivot. I know that that's a super overused word. But you had to pivot your business model. So what was the thinking process there? Because I know a lot of women who are entrepreneurs listening to this podcast, and literally saw their income evaporate. All those speaking engagements booked out, I know a number of my speaking engagements just evaporated though I work for a company full time. So talk a little bit about the thought process around how you handled that?

Minda Harts  3:37  

Thinking about it, I actually feel a little silly thinking about, feeling the way I did, because then I thought about all the women that were in the hospitality industry, right? There was no pivoting for them if you work, you know, in hotels or, you know, restaurants. And so for me, I was thankfully able to say okay, well, I still talk about equity in the workplace for you know, women of color, I can still do that online, right? I just have to now start to send my collateral and say, actually, I can do this online too. And once I started to do that, and still talk about The Memo online, and I started my own, I actually started doing live events on LinkedIn. And I was just continuing to push my information. And then people started saying, oh, I guess we can do this virtually. And then you started to see people start to have virtual things. So I'm really thankful that I was able to still, you know, that the year turned out good for my business, but I had to pivot really fast. Like I couldn't wait to see what happened. That started in March. I think by April, May I was doing online offerings.

Portia Mount  4:51  

Wow, I think that's it. Well, you know, I think it's a testament to just, you know, how ingenious it is to take all your content, go on LinkedIn live, which we will link to all of your, to all of your handles and to your website, because you are pretty prolific online. And I think it's a great model for women who are thinking about how they can continue to show up, even though we are all very much at home. I want to sort of move  to the next step and ask you a little bit about how you take care of yourself, your routine. I am obsessed, I have to tell you I have a nerdy obsession with people's routines. I can't explain it. Morning routines. But I think the key here is one of the things we know about successful women is they have figured out a system that works for themselves and so you are a writer, you are a lecturer, you're on TV, you are doing LinkedIn live. So you are juggling a lot. So I wonder if you could just take me through sort of how you think and plan your day and/or week?

Minda Harts  6:07  

Oh, great question. It's a lot of trial and error. Is how I have come to plan my day. But because I do a lot of different things, like you said, teaching and speaking and... I actually take all my meetings on Tuesdays and I take all my meetings, all my prep calls, all those sorts of things. So then the rest of the week, I can actually do the work. And I realized that I was burning myself out when I was trying to do all the things every day. So I really do map out my days, like, okay, Wednesdays are, you know, obviously, there are things that are thrown in there. And you can't always stick to the schedule. But for the most part, I savor those Tuesdays for meetings, so that I can free myself up to do other things. And then on Fridays, I keep it light because I do talk about a lot of heavy things during the week. So I also need that Friday to recover. So I kind of do, you know, go hard a little, slow it down. It's like that ebb and flow during the week so that I'm not completely burned out. And I am the type of person you probably have listeners who if you let us we would work every single day, 24 hours a day workaholic. Right? And so I knew that I couldn't give my best not having rest. So I definitely start hard in the week and then tease it out so that I can enjoy. And recently, I've started to actually carve out weekend time because before I'd work even on the weekends, and so now I really do savor this Sunday as the Sabbath to recharge into the week.

Portia Mount  7:46  

And so thank you for sharing that too. I think it's really important. And you know, I love that we are finally talking about the need for rest. And I think particularly as Black women we are used to going hard and showing up for people and not always showing up for ourselves. And so I think it's important for people to hear that, you know, people like Minda Harts actually don’t work on the weekend, or they take a day and they actually rest. I'm curious, any other systems or processes,  you have a fabulous virtual assistant, I love that. I don't know if she's virtual or not, you have a fabulous assistant. I love that  people are starting to find ways to offload certain kinds of work so they can focus on the core of their work. So I'm curious, what systems have worked? Or have you tried out that you have found worked for you in terms of your own productivity and managing your time? 

Minda Harts  8:50  

Yeah, that's a great question. So I would say I'm glad that you brought up Leo, great, great assistant, she really helps me. And I would say two things, getting help A, you know. And I actually…

Portia Mount 9:00

Amen, amen.

Minda Harts 9:10

That's the productivity hack. Because when you are a workaholic, get help because when you are a workaholic you tend to think that only you can do what you need done to get done or you can do you know you have a certain way that you do it even if the best right?

Portia Mount  9:21  

Stop talking about me Minda, stop talking about me. 

Minda Harts  9:28  

So I'm like you know what, I can't do all of this. Like I literally, I literally was on book tour, booking my own talks, doing the contract, trying to write my book, trying to consult like I was doing everything and I was shaking by the time I got to the stage because I was so tired. Right? And so I realized that you need help, right even and once I did find the right person. I mean, I felt like I put years back on my life because I was able to have this help and she's right there with me, I'm thankful for her. And actually, I was nervous about hiring her because I brought her on in March, right before things shut down. So I'm like, oh, no, how am I gonna, you know, how am I gonna afford this so long story short, you have to invest in yourself. And I kept her on. And I'm like, we still need to, I still need help regardless, right? So let's figure out how to make this work. And, and we've been working together for, you know, almost two years, she's been great. And I realized that she does things better than I can, and I'm more productive in other areas. And the last thing I'll say is, finding those apps that help you. For me it's Trello and Slack. Using some of those tools, you know, and again, I'm the type of person who, I don't have to do another thing. But sometimes you have to add another thing, so that it makes life a little bit easier for you.

Portia Mount  10:56  

I love that Minda, thank you for sharing that. Again, we're gonna link to these things, there's all kinds of amazing apps out there. But it’s great to hear, sort of what has worked for you. I want to underscore something you just said, because I think it's really, really important. And that's about investing in yourself. And you just said, you know, I didn’t know if I could afford it when you know, back in March, when this work went away. But I went ahead and did it. And I wonder if you, I wonder if being able to make those kinds of investments actually freed you up to be able to go out and earn the money that you wanted to earn? Counterintuitively sometimes you need to invest so you can go out and make more money, right?

Minda Harts  11:51  

You hit it, you hit it on the head. I mean, I'm thankful that I did it. Because to be honest, 2020 was the best year I've ever had in business. And I strongly believe it's because I had help to free me up to do my best work so that I can show up for the companies virtually. I can do the things I can be in 10 different places in one day right from my house, right? Which before I could not do, or I was slow on contracts or whatever the case may be. And Leo, my assistant, she very much allowed me to be able to do my work and add help. And then I actually added two more part time employees to help with other aspects because once I realized that I was free to do this, I'm like, Okay, well, I don't have to do the marketing too. I don't have to do these other things. So you don't you don't have to go like all the way like you know, stretch yourself thin but even if you say hey, can I afford five hours a week, can I afford seven hours a week just for a little bit of extra help, you'll see that you're able to do some of the best work of your career being free.

Portia Mount  13:01  

Amen. And I hope that, I know that women will hear this and there will probably be a lot of women who this message will resonate for, it resonates so much for me and I'm already thinking, what else can I outsource so that I can be a lot more productive? So speaking of other productivity hacks, do you have, do you exercise? Do you have a trainer? What does that look like? Like you are on a lot meaning we need you know, Minda Harts has to show up as Minda Harts a lot. What are you doing to sort of take care of like the body and soul part of your life? 

Minda Harts  13:47  

Oh, let me tell you, that's part of the success, right? Because I used to say well, if I'm working myself, I'm doing all these things, but I'm not healthy. I'm not going to be around to be able to enjoy you know seeing the fruits of my labor and so I was on the road prior to the pandemic a lot and so I wasn't eating I wasn't properly I wasn't able to work out like consistently and so I gained like 20 pounds and I'm people don't probably know this about me unless you meet me but I'm very petite and and I you know I had packed on all this weight so it starts to kind of like you know, mess with your with your psyche because you do have to like show up and you're not feeling your best, right whatever your best is. And I ended up when I got back in the house. You know, I said you know what, my health is just as important as my business. And so I'm gonna, I purchased a rowing machine because it's something that I really enjoy doing and so...

Portia Mount  14:44  

I remember when you posted about that on Twitter. So you did buy a rowing machine?

Minda Harts  14:50  

I bought it, it's right, you can't see it, but it's right next to me. And you know, I hit that and I was able to drop 15 of the 20 pounds that I had gained. And so it was one of those things where I was just like, really intentional, again, being able to say my business is important, but I am my business. So I'm going to invest in this way. And then I did attempt to do the meal prep. But there was so much, I just didn't find the right one that worked for me. So I kept on. I do enjoy cooking. So I kept that on my plate, but put other things off. So definitely put yourself first because we work so hard as women. And, you know, we can't do, again, we can't do our best work if we're not feeling good, right. And, and so that's important.

Portia Mount  15:36  

Absolutely. So this is a kind of great lead to talk about the work itself. And so in 2019, you published The Memo, which I think in some ways has become kind of a guidebook for black and women of color in corporate America, you know, I think I told you, I literally give it to every woman of color I've met, especially who's new coming into our company, but I've also given it to white colleagues as well, so they can understand what their team members might be experiencing. So question for you. What surprised you about the success of The Memo?

Minda Harts  16:20  

Yeah, you know, I'm still humbled by the success of The Memo. You know, I was mostly surprised that my story was someone else's story too right, even though we've been in different industries, maybe different ages, generations. But intergenerationally it was all of our story, right? This collective healing and trauma that and, and I didn't realize how me telling my story would also maybe help someone else realize that their story doesn't have to stop in this workplace trauma, right, that there's other things there and that they have the ability, maybe this table is not the right table, maybe the one across the street is better, right? Even though we've invested so much time. It's okay to walk away and find spaces that celebrate you and not tolerate you. And I think as black women, sometimes we feel like we're tolerated in a lot of spaces. And I just, I'm glad that The Memo reminded people that we deserve good workplaces, we deserve to be psychologically safe. And if I can do a little bit to help remind people that we deserve that, then that's the part that I was just really surprised, because sometimes when you're in it, you feel like you're so isolated, that it's only happening to you.

Portia Mount  17:35  

Yeah, I think that's right Minda. And, you know, I think your story did and does resonate for so many women. I know when I read it I thought, oh my God I've had this experience like this, this has happened to me. Andwe sort of learned that suck up, you know, being ignored or being talked down to. Or, you know, all the microaggressions that you talk about. We just we I think we're sort of been trained to think like that’s just how it is. And I think what I found so liberating about your book, and why I want other women to read it is because your underlying message of you deserve more, you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be safe, you deserve to be recognized, and paid, we can't say that enough right now, we can't say it enough. 

Minda Harts  18:31  

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for that. 

Portia Mount  18:36  

So looking back from the time you published The Memo to now, you know, I'm assuming you're going to reissue or update the book at some point soon. What new insights do you have that you think that have sort of struck you, like, you know what, I think I want to dig into this one a little bit more when I re-release the book?

Minda Harts  19:04  

Yeah, I think if I were to re-release the book I would probably talk more about how there's room for more than just one of us. I think sometimes even as women we don't experience the workplace the same and I think that sometimes when we get our seat we think oh, this is enough right. Kick my feet up, put my hands behind my back, behind my neck, but thinking about how we expand the table and bring other people along with us. And I think sometimes, you know, we joke sometimes about oh, you know, Bob is doing this or whatever have you in the workplace, but as women, how are we helping each other? Or how are we hurting each other in the workplace? And I think sometimes we can be just as toxic to one another on the road up the ladder. And so I would really love to dig into that because just because there hasn't, there's only been a few spaces doesn't mean we have to perpetuate that narrative. And I think that there's that scarcity model is still very prevalent amongst women. And I would really love to, to unpack that because we get to change that narrative. We don't have to uphold the patriarchy.

Portia Mount  20:13  

Amen Minda. I think it is an open secret, we can probably talk for hours about that alone of how we have experienced, we’ve seen women get to the top of the ladder and basically pull it up behind them. And, and it is how we uphold patriarchal cultures and attitudes, especially in well all spaces but particularly I would say in corporate spaces, so I hope you do explore that. I think you will have unlimited numbers of stories from people who have experienced that because it is real, but we can't make meaningful change unless we're willing to help. I think even more than one woman behind us, like, you have to put a system in place that allows women to succeed, and for the next woman to come up behind you. And so agree with you, I do think this scarcity mentality is real. And I also think that the scarcity mentality, I wonder what your thought about this is, because we have been traumatized. These spaces are, can be traumatic, and I think maybe this is a great lead into you talking about your book. And so women develop negative coping skills because we're experiencing trauma, we may not even know it. So you have a book coming out this fall called Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace. Who is this for? What inspired it? What do you want women to walk away with?

Minda Harts  21:52  

Yeah, this is like the big sister to The Memo, I would say. We go a lot deeper. We were just in the shallow end of the pool. Now we're going into the deep end. So I definitely tell people to, to put their life jackets on because we're dealing with some real stuff. But the book is really for… I wrote it at the center of thinking about the experiences of black women in the workplace, and women of color, but also our managers, our colleagues. Letting them know that we show up into the workplace, trying to do our work just like anybody else. But there's a lot of racial tension, a lot of racial aggression that many of us have to deal with while trying to do our jobs. And if you've been in any environment for any period of time, so my former life 15 years, there wasn't a day that went by where I was racially aggressed in some way, shape, or form, right. And you think about how toxic that is, with how you see yourself, how you move around in the world, what you bring home to your family, the person that you've become, and how that starts to morph and change us. You know, Dr. Martin Luther King said that racism distorts the personality, how can it not distort who we are becoming in the workplace, because we've been exposed to all that toxicity. And so for me, I was like, you know, what we need to heal, we have to address that these toxic environments have really been hard, it's been a burden that we shouldn't have had to carry. And it's time to release it because we can't take that with us any more into our lives. And so after hearing so many stories from people who wrote me, or I met after The Memo, I realized that we're still hurting. And this is where we have to address that pain. And I think for certain communities of color, we have been conditioned to not share our pain, not to not articulate that we are even in pain. And so the first step is, let's talk about the fact that we are in pain, right that some of these workplaces have caused us a lot of trauma, and any trauma is not good for you. And so I really want to unpack the racialized trauma that many of us wake up every day even in our homes now, virtually, and how our allies and managers can actually be part of making sure we make the workplace work for everybody.

Portia Mount  24:18  

Yeah, I'm very excited about that. So will that tour be virtual, kind of half and half in person virtual to promote the book?

Minda Harts  24:26  

So now because...

Portia Mount  24:29  

Or do you know?

Minda Harts  24:31  

So you know, now it was I was it's actually going to be all online now because of someone by the name of Delta variant and and their friends. So I think that now we're just gonna do it virtual but you know, please, I know that there'll be information in the show notes about my website. So and stay, stay connected. We'd love to have you there.

Portia Mount  24:54  

I will tell you I'm very excited about this book, I preordered it. What you do really well and I think is important is you've taken really painful topics, and have given permission, one by being vulnerable yourself, talking about your own experience, and then giving other people permission to talk about what's happened for them. So I do hope that not only black women, but also people who are privileged to lead women, black women and women of color will read it as well. Because so much that is happening in these workspaces, leaders are oblivious. They're oblivious or lack managerial courage to deal with it. I'm excited to see the reaction. I wonder if you could give us maybe a little taste of a particular concept you explore in the book? Just kind of as a mini preview of something you talked about in the book?

Minda Harts  26:16  

Yes. Well, there's two things that I'll share with you exclusively. So there's something in there that I have called the affirmation pyramid. So my whole thing is, do we have the tools we need when racial aggression happens? Right? So instead of pretending that it didn't happen, nobody said it. We're moving right along. How do we navigate even when it's happening? And so one of the things that I've put in the book is something that I call an affirmation pyramid, where when these things are happening, things we ask ourselves, to get us to the place we need to be that's good for us, right, so that we completely don't unravel or our whole day isn't ruined, you know, like, sometimes those things do and so affirming ourselves. I think sometimes in work culture, we're hoping that someone else saw it too, so that it can let us know that it did happen, right. But one of the things that I explore is that you don't need anybody else to tell you that you've been disrespected and harmed. You get to, your voice is enough, right. And I think for so long, we've been looking like, didn't they see this happening? Why didn't anyone say anything? Am I making this up? And it's like, no, no sis... 

Portia Mount  27:24  

Am I crazy like, did I see this?

Minda Harts  27:27  

Yeah, you know.

Portia Mount  27:28  

Exactly, like, did this happen? Am I crazy? Like that's the question. I'm crazy, aren't I?

Minda Harts  27:33  

Yes, it's not us right, it's all the environment, it's all these people who are upholding the system. So giving tools for ourselves. But then the other thing is also, I have something in the book called, I have a manager's pledge, and I'm asking managers to take this pledge to make sure that they are making safe spaces for black and brown women, women of color in the workplace, and what they're willing to do to make sure that that safe space is upheld. And so I do think there's some accountability that has to happen on our managers to make the workplace better and work for everyone. So I'm really doubling down on managers taking some responsibility for why these toxic behaviors run rampant in the workplace.

Portia Mount  28:16  

I love it. Minda I'm already predicting this is going to be a massive hit. And like, you're, I realized, probably you didn't plan on this timing. But in reality, the timing probably could not be better to have this conversation. So super excited, right within how to heal from racial trauma in the workplace. But as if you didn't have enough going on, you actually have a couple of other books ready to come out. Can you talk about your children's books and your young adult book?

Minda Harts  28:49  

Yes, I'm so excited. So like you said, Right Within and then the next book is More Than Magic: Black and Brown Girls Claiming Their Space. That comes out March 2022. And I just like I'm so excited for both books, but I'm so excited for our young girls to and our, you know, our young kings and queens and someone else I heard call them royals, to be able to have the language, to have the language to be able to say when you've been harmed, right, or have those difficult conversations, because as both of us know, we needed, we needed self advocacy skills way before we got into corporate America.

Portia Mount  29:32  

Oh my God, we don't even have enough time to talk about this one, Minda. We don't have enough time. Like I have been hustling that one since I was like seven years old.

Minda Harts  29:43  

Yes. So.

Portia Mount  29:45  

I’m exhausted, And I'm a Gen Xer. I'm exhausted.

Minda Harts  29:48  

Yes. Yes. So just some of the things that I realized even after writing The Memo, and I, you know, I'm like, you know what, some of these things, we actually had some stuff we needed to deal with way before that first job. You know, and I thought about some of like, the first time someone called me a racial name, you know, I was 12 years old. And that's, I still think about that even, you know, 100 years later, you know. And I didn't know how to deal with it, I have...

Portia Mount  30:16  

It never leaves, it never leaves, it never leaves you.

Minda Harts  30:19  

You know, and then, you know, just recently, you saw it on Twitter. But you know, one of my God children, their teacher had a confederate flag at their desk, and school just started and, you know, the potential trauma that, you know, he will have to deal with knowing that, I wonder why my teacher has this at her desk, you know what I mean? And so all of these things, you know, how do we have these conversations? At these ages to say, okay, this is not okay. And thankfully, he felt comfortable enough to tell his mother, you know what I mean, and go from there, but when you don't feel comfortable, what skills and tools do we have to make sure that we are okay, even at 13, 14, 15?

Portia Mount  31:05  

I love that. And yes, you know, following that on Twitter, you had half of the black mothers on Twitter ready to roll with you. And hit that school like it had never been hit before because I you know, and, I think you know, all the funny memes and stuff we were posting. But I also think it came from a place of like, that was me when I was 13.

Minda Harts  31:29  


Portia Mount  31:30  

Maybe the teacher didn't put a confederate flag on her desk, but she maybe never called on me, or she was harsher with me than she was with the white students. So I think we all kind of felt like we, you know, one thank goodness that he felt comfortable enough talking to his mother, but two it really does bring to light that we have to give our kids the tools one to affirm that they deserve to be heard and loved and listened to, but two that they can stand up for themselves, and advocate for themselves. So super excited about that book. 

Minda Harts  32:32  

Thank you. 

Portia Mount  32:34  

I wonder as you step back, and look at The Memo and Right Within and More Than Magic, is there? Is there a red thread here that goes through all of these three books that you are teasing out? I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that. What's your sort of thought process as your birthing, giving birth to these books?

Minda Harts  33:09  

Yeah, it goes back to, for me anyway, the work of like Audrey Lorde and Toni Morrison, they were very intentional about making space for us, right? They were unapologetic in their writings about calling out the things that harm us and putting us first and so my theme really in the thread that I loop is centering black and brown women and girls, like that's important because for many of our ancestors never got to fully experience being free, mentally, spiritually, financially, and all those things. And I want freedom to be an action for us, not just a word that we sometimes say. And so what would it look like if we all have the opportunity to be free, be our most authentic selves and, and we need people like yourself, like myself and those listening to make sure that it's centered, right? Our voices aren't always centered. And so if there's no other space, you can get it. I want people to know that you'll always find it in my work.

Portia Mount  34:12  

I think that is so, it's so powerful. I think about the journey where I have been following you for a couple of years. And you know, we're at this point where women are rethinking their careers completely right now. You left a corporate career, you know, have written now several books, you're teaching. And I'm curious if there was a plan here, was it organic? What just it's really interesting to hear you talk about, especially like the last year for yourself, but I'm just wondering, was this always in your intention to eventually to write and to teach and to leave corporate or was this more happenstance? 

Minda Harts  35:05  

Oh, yeah, Portia. That's a great question. I even asked myself most mornings. How did we get here Minda? How did this happen? Because it does feel kind of surreal at times. But it really was out of a pain point, like my career goals was never to be an entrepreneur. That was I wanted to be an intrapreneur, I wanted to be inside of corporate America, I wanted to one day be you know, maybe a CEO, like I wanted to really climb. That's where my ambition lied. And so I often say that my original dream was deferred due to bad characters in the workplace like, and that was not the plan, right. But I know that I was able to really turn my lemons into lemonade. And I'm thankful to God that in some of my darkest moments in corporate America, that I said, you know what I get, I can choose to stay in this pain, or I can turn it into something else, right? I can, I don't have to put a period on this traumatic story, I can expand it. And, and that's what I did. And I didn't know how to do that. I never thought I'd have I do a podcast, I never thought I'd start a company. I never thought I'd write any books. But when I thought about what was missing, I realized that it was content, right? It was content addressing some of these issues. And so that's when I just started, you know, with my, you know, my two fish and my loaf. And I was like, let me just do what I can, you know, even while I was still working in corporate America, I was still, you know, doing some of this work on the side. And so really, it was not my initial intention, but I'm thankful that we can have more than one dream.

Portia Mount  36:48  

Yeah, oh, I love that you share that too. Because I think that we forget, one you can do multiple things at one time. I've become a fan of the concept of a portfolio career where you develop multiple interests, and some of which will pay you, maybe some don’t. But I actually want to put a pin in something that you said, because it reminds me of a conversation that I had with Cindy Gallop whom I interviewed earlier in the season. And she talked about, you know, advertising guru, and now a sex tech entrepreneur business consultant and she talked about that like women, especially women of color should find that gap, find where the unmet need is, and go and do that for yourself. And that's kind of you, you found an unmet need, which is content around sort of the lives of black and women of color around this topic of healing and self actualization. So I think it’s pretty, it's pretty cool Minda.

Minda Harts  38:01  

Thank you, thank you, you know, for a long time, I was like, I don't know what I'm doing. And some days, I still don't know what I'm doing. But the one thing that you know, I keep in mind is that we have the power, and we don't have to give that away. So whatever it is that you might feel like someone is taking your power at any point, you get to reclaim that.

Portia Mount  38:22  

You get to reclaim it. I love that. And so I'm curious. So again, because we do have a lot of women who listen who are maybe thinking about their next big career step. What do you, what advice do you have for women who are standing at the crossroad so to speak, trying to figure out what's next?

Minda Harts  38:41  

Yeah, that's a great question. And I think we've all had to stand there and we may all have to stand there again. So first and foremost, you are not alone. Right? And let your curiosity be larger than your fear. I think sometimes our fears get in the way of what we're interested in doing. So let your curiosity trump that and that's basically what I did when I started out. I was scared. I'm like, well, I don't have as much experience as somebody else. I don't have, you know, tons of followers but I did have my story and I had my voice and sometimes all that's enough and so let your curiosity be larger than your fear and you know always bet on you.

Portia Mount  39:20  

Oh, that gives me chills too because I do think, whenever you're thinking about a change it is a scary time but I love the concept of letting your curiosity be bigger than your fear. So a little bit of a personal question. What's scaring you right now, besides the Delta variant?

Minda Harts  39:40  

Yeah, yeah.

Portia Mount  39:42  

That's scaring all of us. 

Minda Harts  39:44  

Oh, yeah, you know, actually my second book Right Within. I think that it's almost like you know, when you put out your sophomore album, right or your second album, and you're wondering will people get what you, get what you hope that they would out of it because I definitely feel like I put it all on the line for Right Within. And so I just hope that it really makes the workplace and individuals better. So that's like keeping me up like October 5th. I'm like, you know, it's like waking up every night and in those sweats like, is it here yet? And I am reminding myself, let your curiosity be bigger than your fear on this Minda. Just go for it, but you know, I'm excited about it. But it also is scary. But what I also know too, is it's nice to have those things because it pushes us right. And so I think if you haven't been scared, if you haven't been scared in a while you're doing something wrong.

Portia Mount  40:45  

Yeah. You're not, you're not stretching right. 

Minda Harts  40:50  

Yes, yeah. 

Portia Mount  40:51  

I'm like, I’m a huge believer that you should let certain things scare the, excuse my language, scare the shit out of you. And because, because the growth really is in that really scary place. So I can say I don't think you have anything to fear on Right Within. 

Minda Harts  41:09  

Thank you. 

Portia Mount  41:10  

Because I can't imagine, I can't imagine a more important topic right now. So I want to before we get to our lightning round of questions. I want to talk to you a little bit about the women of color equity initiative. I was reading a little bit about that on your website. As a black woman in corporate America, and in an executive role in corporate America, this seems so timely to me. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit about it?

Minda Harts  41:34  

Yep, thank you. So in 2018, I started the women of color equity initiative. And that was mostly because I realized that as black and brown women as women period, we're doing all the things right, I can tell you to do the 10 things to get ahead right now, right. And so you do those 10 things. But if you're not met with a business partner that can also give you those opportunities, then it's a lot of work for nothing, right? And so for me, I said, okay, there's all these great black and brown women who have these really amazing skills, they deserve that seat at the table, they deserve to, you know, aspire to the highest heights of their career aspirations. But if they don't have a space where they feel like they can do that at, and so the women of color equity initiative really is a sourcing database folks can go in there, you know, fill out the profile. And then as we meet with different, as my company has different partners who are looking for, you know, women of color, for example, right now, software engineers, there's companies who are looking for more black and brown software engineers, and they're being very intentional about that. And so we work with their managers and C-suite to say, hey, we have some great women inside the database, you should consider them you know, and we make the connection there. And it's just again, sometimes we don't have access to the opportunity and so it's creating that access.

Portia Mount  42:57  

Oh I love that. I hope you'll do that for board seats, because we know that black women and women of color are under-represented on corporate boards and there's a huge need for it there as well. And that's where a lot of the decisions get made is in that boardroom so the more of us who can be at the table at the board level is even better. How exciting.

Minda Harts  43:40  

Thank you, I agree.

Portia Mount  43:42  

So this is my favorite part of the pod and where I get a lot of feedback from listeners on, which is the lightning round. So let’s just jump into it, so Minda what is your motto or favorite saying that you live by?

Minda Harts  44:02  

Success is not a solo sport. That is my mantra.

Portia Mount  44:07  

Right on, right on. And I love that like we talked about getting that help, asking for help. Amen. What advice would you give 20 year old Minda?

Minda Harts  44:26  

Get a passport, travel, travel, travel. Like I know that sounds so crazy. But that's what I would say, you know, because there's so much to see in the world and you become so much more prepared for those tables and those rooms having exposure to other people, places and things.

Portia Mount  44:46  

I love that one. That’s great advice. What is a book that you find yourself reading or gifting repeatedly? I mean, I should add besides your own. What do you find yourself recommending your gifting repeatedly?

Minda Harts  45:04  

You know, actually, I gift a lot of Brene Brown's Dare To Lead. I think it's such a rich leadership book. And since I, you know, do engage with a lot of women leaders, it's a book that I definitely give out. And I also use it as part of my curriculum at NYU. 

Portia Mount  45:24  

Oh, that's awesome. I just got, someone actually gifted a copy of that book to me. And so I have been on a book buying spree this summer. I hope like everybody in the pandemic, I hope I can get to that one this fall, because I love Brene Brown. What's a new habit or belief you've adapted that's made a positive impact on your life?

Minda Harts  45:50  

Actually, I know this might sound cliche, but protecting my peace. So when there's people who tend to disrupt that, then I realized that I don't have to give that energy, you know. So for example, there's someone who always calls me every time they call me, it's something dramatic. And so I'm like, you know, I can have this conversation with you. And I have to get off like before, I would think that I had to listen to what people are doing or saying, but my space is my space. And I just feel like we have to be, that's, that's our currency. Right? Our mental health is our currency. And so for me, that is something that I'm very, very intentional with these days.

Portia Mount  46:30  

I love that Minda. And I have been reading Nedra Tawwabs book on boundaries. And I think that boundary setting is a huge part of protecting your pace. So yeah, underscore ditto, and praise hands on that one. 

Minda Harts  46:48  


Portia Mount  46:50  

What's the best investment of a hundred dollars you’ve made recently?

Minda Harts  46:57  

That's a great question. Some school supplies. There's a non-profit that helps underserved communities with school supplies. And so I was able to donate $100 to that recently, and so, hopefully, there's some good notebooks and binders and backpacks that are being utilized this week.

Portia Mount  47:20  

I love that. And I for sure feel like teachers, my sister is one in public school in Los Angeles, deserve all of our love right now. So underscore on the school supplies because particularly in public schools they tend to run very, very short on supplies. And they’re expensive too, so I love that. Anything else you'd like to share or you want listeners to walk away with?

Minda Harts  47:51  

Well, again, thank you for having me. I would just say that there's a quote that I love by Toni Morrison and she says, you are your best thing. And so just never forget that. I know some spaces and places have made us question that but know that you are your best thing and so do the things that make you feel that way each and every day as much as you can.

Portia Mount  48:14  

I love that. I think it's the perfect way to close. Minda Harts, thanks so much for your time today. I really look forward to seeing you out on the virtual road promoting Right Within. 

Minda Harts  48:28  

Yep, thank you so much.