[00:00:00] Welcome to Out of Curiosity. Consider us your field guide for Queer Pride. You will hear from the best of the best in terms of queer business leaders, queer relationship experts, the activist working to protect us all and everyday LGBTQ plus people, but have figured a few things out so you don't have to, out of curiosity is brought to you by the Pride and Joy Foundation.
Let's do this.
Welcome back to Out of Curiosity, the podcast for Pride and Joy Foundation. I am your host, Elena Joy pronoun. She, her Pride and Joy Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent suicide in homelessness in the LGBTQ plus community. One way we do that is by amplifying the voices of those creating intentional change in our.
Our guest today is one of those change makers. Ebony Bell is the founder [00:01:00] and editor of Tagg Magazine and award-winning print publication and media companies serving l LGBTQ women across the country. Washington Business Journal has named Tagg Magazine, one of the top 25 LT Q owned companies. Her list of impact and accolades are a mile long, including starting a student group for LGBTQ people of color while attending University of Maryland College Park, and 20 years later, the group is still going strong.
That's the kind of impact and difference Ebony makes for her community and the people she loves. In today's conversation, we're going to dive deeper into what and who made Ebony into who she is today. What community members supported her rise, and what barriers did she have to break through? If she could speak to her younger self, what would she say?
Family. I invite you to explore if you see yourself in any of Ebony's stories. What does that teach you about your current [00:02:00] experience and where you're heading in the future? All right, let's do. Welcome to our podcast, outta curiosity. We're so excited to have you here and very excited for our guest today is Ebony Bell, the editor of Tagg Magazine.
I we're just gonna get right into it because this is a really incredible opportunity to speak with an incredible leader in the LGBTQ plus community. So, Ebony, thank you so much for being here today. Will you tell our audience a little bit about who you are and what you're doing these. Sure. Well, uh, first thank you for having me and taking the time to, to speak with me.
Looking forward to the conversation. As you said, my name is Ebony Bell Pronouns. She her, uh, currently I am the owner and editor of Tagg Magazine. We are the country's, uh, leading L G B T Q Women's Print Publication, uh, as well as website. Uh, and so I've been doing that for 10 years. We'll be turning 10 September, 2022.
So that's super [00:03:00] exciting to be celebrating such a milestone. Uh, and then in addition to running Tagg Magazine, I also am a keynote speaker, uh, that travels across the country speaking at colleges and, and companies about diversity, allyship, and inclusion. Love it. Yes. We very much run in similar circles and I'm so excited that we get to connect today.
And for today's conversation, what we're really focusing on is kind of how are we supporting our emerging LGBTQ plus leaders? And so what we're doing with these conversations is finding out what worked well for our current leaders and what didn't. As great. Right? So we really wanna empower our managers that are in corporate America, that are seeing our rising L G LGBTQ leaders and trying to figure out how can we really support them in effective ways.
Mm-hmm. So that's the basis of these conversations. So from that, can you tell me a little bit about what were you thinking your career was gonna be like when you were like 18 to [00:04:00] 25? What were you like pointing toward? This is easy for me cuz I, I tell people this all the time that I thought I was gonna be, uh, writing jingles and, uh, doing advertising campaigns.
Like legitimately that's what I wanted to do. There is, you know, with running a magazine, as you can imagine, uh, you know, I, I love the creative. Industry. Uh, and I was always coming up with songs and jingles. I still do now. I still do now. And so I thought I was gonna work at ad agency. Like I wanted to be that person that, uh, some product comes to us and it's like, Hey, we want you to lay out how the look is gonna be or how this commercial is gonna be.
And I got really excited about that. I actually wanted. Majoring in advertising and marketing, creating my own major at University of Maryland College Park cuz that's the direction, uh, that I thought I was gonna go. Uh, so yeah, I really thought I'd be working with an ad agency, possibly [00:05:00] doing g uh, doing jingles and uh, some sort of creative ad campaigns.
I love it. That is amazing. So tell me, let's contrast that to what you do now. Tell me about maybe a day in the life, like what are you typically doing day to day? Uh, well, definitely not doing jingles. Uh, that is not, uh, what I am doing. Um, though I, in my mind, I, I still do it, uh, maybe around the house, but in real life, oh, a typical day, sometimes that's really hard for me to answer because it, it, it just depends on the day.
Uh, you know, I think we're in a different. Time as far as, not even just covid and stuff, but just with technology and things like that, that we're not so much in a nine to five sit down in a desk office setting. Here are my task for me. It can be anything related to the magazine or speaking. Those are two separate things.
So one average day can [00:06:00] be, for example, Us working on advertising, getting sales for the 10th anniversary issue, and uh, coming up with our content, what's that gonna look like? Making assignments, uh, literally just assign a couple articles to people. I don't really write as much as I assign it to people, but every now and then I might write myself or I am always polishing up those keynote presentations and talking to potential clients that I'm gonna speak with.
Uh, so there can be a day. There could be an interview, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. Or whatever the case might be. Uh, so I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but I feel like every day is really different. One, depending on who I'm speaking with and what the project or goal of the week is. So if this was a week where we had a print publication coming out, I could tell you right now, priority would.
Edits, uh, and laying out the pages that would be priority for the week. But once we put [00:07:00] it to bed, it's on to the next, what's the next task? What's the next issue? So that's not really super exciting, but it just depends on the day, you know, what we have going on. Do you feel like that cycle, having those print issues and having that cycle of like, okay, we've gotta get it from concept to editing and feedback, and then to bed, right, to get printed, distributed, and then the, the cycle starts over again.
Does that work for you? Like, is that part of your success? Is that that cycle resonates with you? I think it's part of our success and, and part of my insanity, if that makes any, if that makes any sense. You know how they say the definition of insanity is going the same uhhuh, but it also is success, right?
It keeps us, you know, it keeps us on task. We have a timeline, we have deadlines. That's any major project or plan that you have. You wanna set a goal, you wanna set plans, [00:08:00] you wanna set deadlines. So of course I think it obviously works to our advanTagge. And you know, we're bimonthly and we always say, Hey, it's gonna be out by the 15th of this month, every other month.
Boom, boom, boom, boom. And we have to stick to that schedule. And then I joke about the insanity part. Because it's like that moment that I think we all can kind of relate to. Like, oh my God, I just did this and do I, I have to do it again. You know what I mean? Yes. Uh, don't, and don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do.
I wouldn't have been doing this for 10 years, but sometimes I'm like, oh my goodness, I can't, you know, and we're bimonthly. There are people who do weekly or monthlys, you know what I mean? Uh, but it's just amazing to me how sometimes I'm just. I can't believe I've done this for 10 years. You know? So I think there's a little bit of insanity there, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Right. That makes total sense. That makes total sense. I have so many questions for you, but let's start with, give me like a high level view of how you [00:09:00] went from, I'm gonna be an advertising and marketing to now you're running a magazine. Honestly, I think it started. When I got really involved in the L G B T Q community, uh, when I was on campus at University of Maryland College Park, I feel like I've always had this entrepreneurial spirit.
I don't think I realized that until like later on in life, you know how you like look back in life and you're like, wow, because of this, that's probably why I'm here because I did this, you know, this opened up the door for that, or whatever the case might be. So I feel like I've always had that, like I created.
University of Maryland, the, uh, true colors in Maryland. It was their, uh, I started l g LGBTQ group for people of color. They didn't even have that. It still goes on today. Right. So those are the kind of things that I started. Creating. I was a drag king when I first came out into the LGBTQ community 20 years ago.
I was, so that's what really got me [00:10:00] in. Then I decided to do the queer women's prom and then turn it into a, a capital queer prom for everyone. And so I think what was happening was I liked creating things and spaces for the L G LGBTQ community, and I think I. Really, when I think about it, I think I just really fell in love with my community and, and who I was, and I think that's what.
Probably put me on the path to where I am now on this trajectory of sorts. So I went from, I'm gonna be going marketing and advertising to what can I do in my community because I really love this. I'm having a good time, and I love creating spaces I love. Standing back at prom on the balcony and looking at all these people having a great time and knowing that I contributed to that.
And I also was able to give to a nonprofit. It sounds weird, but I think it, I fell in love with [00:11:00] my community in serving my community that I feel like there was something, you know, call it what you want, what you believe in, whether it's God or the universe, but I feel like this was the point, uh, or this is where I was being led towards when I didn't even know.
Yeah, absolutely. And it makes me think about the fact that, so we also run Pride and Joy publishing. So we have our toe, our baby toe in the publishing world. But in the research that I've done, 97% of the publishing world is white and straight. Have you found those obstacles or have you been able to avoid them because you have such a targeted audience?
Great question. And I say it's a great question because it is literally why we exist, literally. So that's why I'm like, I love this question and I believe in representation and visibility because I've seen how powerful it is and we started. The magazine because, uh, locally here, [00:12:00] so I'm in Washington DC so we started the publication here locally and then a few years later it's national, but we, or at least I can't say for everybody else or on my team, but you would open up.
Our publications that, and when I say our, I mean l g, BT q mm-hmm. Uh, and all you would see is majority white gay men that's also who was behind the publications. And listen, this has nothing to do with being anti-white. Right. I, I don't care about that. You usually go with what you know, and if that's who's paying your bills and, and that's who your advertisers are, I completely understand that.
But where were the queer women? Where were the queer women of color? The people who look like me? I remember doing a presentation, my first presentation after starting Tagg to talk about Tagg. And I literally picked up one of those magazines on the way. I didn't even look at it. You didn't have to. Yeah. And I promised it wasn't [00:13:00] even like I need, I need to be very clear.
Okay. I don't know who's gonna listen to this, but I have great relationships like with, with everyone and all the above. We're all friends, but I picked it up. And at the beginning of the presentation, I just asked somebody, uh, I said, Hey, just do me a favor count in the first 10 pages how many women you see.
Then go back and count how many men you see. It was 33 men and three women in the first 10 pages. And as you can imagine, majority were white gay men. And I said, boom. That's why I started Tagg Magazine. So when I said this was a great question, it really is. It, it literally was the reason I started it. I believe that if there are people that will not tell our stories, then we gotta do it.
We gotta do it ourselves. I, I hope when. That time comes, Tagg ends. Maybe I leave. I don't really know. Right, right. We don't know what, well, hopefully it's another 10 years of success and all of that, but when that moment does [00:14:00] come, what I hope is that we left an imprint and the L G B T Q community. Yeah. We were able to uplift and elevate the voices of queer women and share those stories that nobody else was telling.
I always say, I hope there's some young person that like. Picks us up. Maybe there was just some random old issue and they can see all the people that came before them. But of course I see that still right today with 2022, that there are a lot of white gay men behind these publications. You know, I'm part of a, a publisher's group and I'm very much the only black person and one of a few queer women as well.
But the way that I look at it is I'm at the table. And I can't remember what that great quote is or that saying is when they say, you know, if you're not invited to the table, then bring your own chair. And that's exactly what I feel like I've done and what my team has done. There's definitely a problem right in the industry that we're not seeing more diversity.
But [00:15:00] what I was not gonna do was wait for it. Mm. Yes, yes, yes to all of that, for sure. That's so much of what we stand for as well and why we create what we create because it's not there and it needs to be if we're gonna create change. I'm wondering, as you went on this journey to starting Tagg and building Tagg to the success that it is today, were there any game-changing people for you, whether that was positive or.
Were there circumstances or people that pivoted the trajectory towards where you wanted to go, whether that was negative or positive? Ooh, yeah, I would say so. We'll go with positive. Honestly, it really might sound cheesy, but I wanna make sure that I say it because. I hope the right people are listening as far as when we think of mentorship and when we think about being [00:16:00] out and just visible as who we are as parents, as business owners, CEOs, whatever.
The reason I'm saying this is because I think it's the people who first thought ads when we didn't even have anything to show. We had nothing to show. We were just like, Hey, we're gonna do. Who knows, right? It could have failed, I could have taken your money and, and never done anything. Or the people that said, here, I want to sponsor this.
I remember, um, Jamie Leads, how can I forget? Chef Jamie Lee. She has Hanks Oyster Bar here in the DC area, several locations, uh, lesbian, uh, chef, and we've actually done a few stories on her. And I'll never forget, I was doing the capital career prom, and it was the first time. And keep in mind when I am telling this story, this is Tagg didn't even start yet, but why I'm sharing it is because I think it just shows the power of when people believe in [00:17:00] you, and it sounds cheesy.
But it's everything. And uh, I remember walking in to her new location and it was a little bit, I think right before Tagg was starting or when I started it because we kind of opened around or started around the same time. But at this point I was doing the prom and I remember I was totally green, totally kind of outta my element.
I was literally doing door-to-door sales, trying to get sponsors walking up the neighborhood of DC and dup. Area with a little c v s folder with some information in it. You know what I mean? It wasn't like, it wasn't great. Uh, it's not what I would present today. Right, right. I was young. Uh, and so I remember walking in there and, you know, she's busy and they're doing things and I'm giving her my pitch, and she's kind of like, yeah, okay.
And, you know, you can kind of tell again, she has things going on and then she eventually goes to the back and I'm just waiting there and I'm thinking to myself, I'm like, [00:18:00] Why didn't she tell me to just go like, why does she have me standing here? And I'm like, am I supposed to go? What's going on? And she comes out with a check for just 500 bucks and she's like, here.
And fast forward, we've been working together ever since. She's been a huge cheerleader and in my life we've partnered up for events. But fast forward, she said to me, she said, I saw something in you. Like I knew. There was more there and I just wanted to support it. And again, that has nothing to do with Tagg.
Right. But it's because of these sort of people. Yes. That bleeds in me, that pushed me, that saw something in myself when sometimes I didn't see it myself. And sometimes it happens. Sometimes we need those, those people in our lives, you know what I mean? I'm sorry, you think I'm crying and I'm not, I'm actually water, but I'm shocked.
I did not cry. But I mean, it just, it, it makes me emotional also, but I think that is literally, [00:19:00] Reason for Tagg success and having people along the way, cuz this isn't easy being an entrepreneur, being in the media and publishing industry, it's not like it's a billion dollar, you know what I mean? Business here.
Mm-hmm. Right. That we all have, it's a hard industry and sometimes, uh, it can sometimes feel lonely, like you're by yourself as far as being an entrepreneur. Sometimes you, uh, have up months and down. You question everything, you probably deal with every emotion you possibly could ever have in your entire life.
But it's those messages of, uh, from whether it's readers or advertisers to supporters that are just like, Here. Keep going. Keep going because I read this article and I needed this. Mm-hmm. You know, I needed this article, I needed this, you know, whatever the case might be. And I think that it's actually a pivotal theme in this research that I'm doing is that oftentimes our, [00:20:00] our community grows up trying to play small.
Right. Trying to not attract attention and not really believing in our full potential because we don't see a ton of people around us that are like us living their full potential. Right. And I feel like it has been pivotal for so many people that I've interviewed that there was. Someone who saw the potential in them and supported that either through energy or time or money or whatever it was that helped the L G B T Q individual realize like, all right, I got this.
Like someone else believes in me. I know I can do this because of that, and it sets up this domino effect, right? Like, like you said, Tagg wasn't even started yet, but it was know. Here's the successful community member that believes in me enough to gimme a $500 check for this event. Right? Like that trajectory can really set you on an an incredible path.
Yeah, it did, and I don't really talk about it that often, but a year into Tagg, I bought out my business partner and that's never fun. And it was a [00:21:00] little bit. You know, difficult and tension, everything. And again, another thing I need to make clear is I'm so grateful for, to that woman, so grateful for her cuz I know it Tagg wouldn't have happened if it wasn't, uh, cause of her.
But I remember. Being in, cause I had left my job full-time to do this cuz I knew I couldn't do it and try to have another job. Uh, I always tell people that it's kind of hard to have a try your own business but also be working full-time. And I knew I couldn't have been successful if I did that. And so I'm barely running on any money at this point a year in, and I'm trying to figure out how am I gonna buy her out and how long is it gonna be?
What am I doing? And there were maybe three people that just I've run in circles with that. They've seen me do fundraisers or they've done it with me or whatever, and they said, how much more do you need? They said, don't even give it back to [00:22:00] us. We see what you're doing here. We see the potential, and you can absolutely do this by yourself.
That's huge. That was a pivotal moment because those were strangers, right? Not just my friends and family. I shouldn't even say strangers. I mean, they were friends and colleagues, but you know what I mean? Yeah. Not like the besties. Right. And just people saying, I see you. That's amazing. It's really amazing.
Pivotal for sure. There's no doubt about. Hey fam, are you lgbtq plus and looking to increase your impact on the world? Pride and Joy Foundation hosts two programs a year to help make that happen. Keynote Queers is a public speaking program just for our family and outright authors is a path to publishing program for LGBTQ plus authors of non-fiction.
Both are designed to get your voice and your power into our world. Check them out on our website or in the show notes out of [00:23:00] curiosity.com. Tell me about how many at Tagg you. I assume you might have employees or you might have subcontractors that you're using, but you have a team that you are having to manage.
Tell me about how that experience has been like, because I'm not sure if you had managing experience prior to Tagg or if you've kind of grown up in your leadership potential during Tagg, but tell me a little bit about how that has gone for. Yeah, so I, I've had managerial experience before, so I used to work at like the Chronicle Higher Education as a advertising rep manager.
You know, there goes the advertising, uh, right there and things like that. But I, I really do think that I've. Learned to become a better leader and manager because of Tagg. I was not perfect at all and probably still am not perfect. Right. Uh, and that's okay. I feel like I'm still learning. There are things I.
Wish I could go back to, uh, but I also think I was [00:24:00] young and, you know, trying to figure it all out from being a huge micromanager several years ago to now being like, y'all do what you want. Enjoy yourselves. You know what I mean? It's just such a, and I, you know, I'm not saying just do what you want, I'm, I'm joking, but essentially like delegation is my best friend and I trust my team.
You know, it's not even like, oh, I don't want to do it. It's more that I trust. And that's a huge thing is we have to trust our team. We brought them on for a reason and we have to trust them. And it took me a while to really grasp that because I felt like, okay, well you are representing Taggging, you gotta be on your Ps and Qs, and what, what do you have going on here?
What happened with this? Or, you know, uh, and not that I was tying or anything like that, but I, I, because it's your baby, you're super protective of it. Yeah. But then I had to keep telling, You have these people for a reason. You hired them for a reason, they came to you for a [00:25:00] reason, and you have to trust that.
And I don't know if I ever would've really got that if it wasn't for, uh, heading up Tagg and managing a team. I, uh, even had to talk to people. You know, I, um, I don't know if, uh, you really believe in zodiac signs and things like that, but, uh, Capricorns listen. We are the best. I just wanna put that out there.
We are the best and clearly, very humble. No, but we're definitely very like work focused, right? We are very like career driven type of people and sometimes I think the way that I would talk to people wasn't even nasty. It's just very matter of fact. And I remember one of the people that used to work with us a long time ago, uh, and wrote for us, she was like, do you know how you kind of talk to people?
And I was so grateful for that because I feel like if somebody had to said that to me even a few years before that, I probably would've got defensive. [00:26:00] And I think it's really easy for managers and leaders to to be. Uh, but we have to open ourselves up. That's another thing with cap recordings. It's hard for us to have people tell us about ourselves and what we're doing wrong.
It's like, oh, it's our worst nightmare. But it's also been, uh, rewarding, really rewarding. And so I feel like I've definitely grown because of Tagg, because that conversation that she had with me, I was able to catch myself, you know? And even tell people, Hey, listen, if I'm talking a certain way or whatever, say something to me because sometimes I don't nec, I may not mean it or have, uh, any bad intentions, but I'm learning here.
I want you to be happy. I want you to be successful and thrive while you're here with Tagg. And the last thing I. Is to be part of you not thriving. And so I think I've definitely learned a lot, a lot. And again, whoever is listening to this, [00:27:00] you know, if you're a leader, if you're a manager, we gotta get out of that.
You know, we're perfect. We know everything, a mentality, cuz at the end of the day we don't, there are gonna be people that come in with different experiences and we gotta listen to them. A lot of those different experiences can lead to success within your. And I think people don't realize that, you know, I talk about diversity and I talk about diversity being, uh, successful for your business and diversity being the future.
And when I say diversity, I don't just mean how you look, I mean your experience, your mind. Diverse minds, diverse voices. And I'm grateful that I've got to experience exactly what I preach when I go out and talk about. But it literally experienced it within my own company. Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, I feel like that was a very long answer.
Uh, no. That's exactly the path I wanted to go down because now here you are, like you've grown up a bit right? In your leadership and in your experience, and now you are [00:28:00] managing these young. Gen Zers that are coming into the workforce and wanting to contribute and wanting to make an impact. And you're kind of seeing them now and managing like, okay, how can I help them fulfill their potential?
How can I help them avoid the mistakes that I made at their age? Right? Yeah. Yeah. And I, and to me, that's the thing. Like you, I want every single one of the people I work with to succeed. Obviously I want them to succeed and grow within Tagg. But if or when they decide to leave and and move on, I would wanna make sure that they continue to thrive and grow like I want better for them always.
Whether that's better within Tagg or better out in the future. And I feel like every. Manager and leader should have that mentality. Not, and I'm not saying, oh, get ready for them to leave. Right, right, right. I think [00:29:00] there are things that you can do to make sure you create a great work environment, uh, that you don't have high turnover and things like that.
Right. And honestly, I, I've probably over the past few years have had my best team and like folks that have been with me for years now, uh, at the beginning I can't quite say that, but I also think we're trying to find ourselves a little bit too, but I. Every manager and leader should have that in mind.
Like, how can you grow and thrive in here? Because when you're growing and thriving, you're happy, you're feeling good, and that's exactly the people that you want working for you. I want someone excited to write for us. You know what I mean? And then give us pitch after pitch after pitch, because this is their passion and this is what they want to do.
And they wanna one day be a feature cover for Times Magazine. Great. If that means that you gotta start here with. Great. And I can look at you one day and say, this person used to work with us. Amazing. Amazing. And I, everyone should have that mentality. Like I, I was, uh, [00:30:00] in a meeting with, uh, some like fellow speakers and people like that, and they were talking about how maybe some people will.
Potentially, uh, you know, when they've been in jobs or corporate America, uh, and they'll see people completely just like blacklist you or when you had a great relationship, but as soon as you say you're leaving, they don't want to talk to you anymore. They forget who you are or all the things you did for them.
We can't do that to people. We can't do that. We talk about not burning bridges. It goes both ways. Mm-hmm. We cannot do that to people cuz you just never, you never know. So yeah, I wanted to make sure that I said that. Yes, I can definitely, definitely see that. Looking back at when you made that change, when you decided to leave your full-time job to start this company and, and you've noted that you've always had an entrepreneurial spirit and that that's kind of the direction you were heading to, if that hadn't been the.
Was there anything your corporate job could [00:31:00] have done to keep you there? Or what would've been the major things that they could have done to keep you there? Hmm. I think the first thing is listening. Yeah. Uh, I know that sounds really simple. Mm-hmm. Uh, but I talk about empathy and listening all the time, and it's something, unfortunately, we just tend to lack, uh, as a, as as humans sometimes.
But I would say listening, and that doesn't mean because I'm saying it, it should be. Right. Let me make sure that I'm clear about that. You know, when you sit down with your boss, uh, or whoever, and you're like, look, I think this system isn't working for us. I think if we did this, this, and this, can, you know, whatever.
And they might say, we can't do that, right? Mm-hmm. And that's okay. So when I say, listen, I don't mean that you have to agree. Right. Sure. With everything I'm saying and because I said it, it should be done. And that's listening. I think you can [00:32:00] listen and understand even when you can't actually implement the things a person is saying.
Like sometimes you just wanna be heard. Right? And there's a science to that to say, Hey listen, I hear you, uh, and I understand it. I see what you're talking about. Yeah. And I will communi. And it's possible we may not be able to do it, but thank you for bringing it to my attention and I need you to know I will be talking to whoever about this and let's see what we can do.
Maybe there's some compromise we can come, uh, come to or whatever. And I think the listening for sure, um, I remember, uh, the last place I was and I'm, I'm not gonna say, uh, where I came from, uh, for obvious reasons, but I remember. There was another black lesbian that happened to be like at the company with me, which is like never happens, ever.
And we, we totally got along. We, uh, and everything, but she would get [00:33:00] called me sometimes and somebody would call her.
Microaggression. I can't say it enough. We could have been working on this, but even back then, companies weren't having the conversations that we have now. People didn't even know what microaggressions are. No. People who didn't understand that asking a black coworker to touch their hair is inappropriate.
So things like that. Things like just assuming because this is a black person with short haircut. Oh, that must be so-and-so when it's really me. You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. I know that seems silly, right? No. Uh, but imagine going through that all the time. It's exhausting. It is exhausting to feel like you're not seen and you're just an other, and people just need to do better.
So I would say listening and, and doing better and calling out microaggressions and, and maybe trainings. But again, even back then, [00:34:00] even 10 years ago, We weren't having these same conversations that I'm going into companies in half yes, talking about those things, but we're now in 2022 and the people that are listening to this, you do have that opportunity to do it.
If you aren't having trainings for speakers coming in, this is the time to do it if you want. Have a diverse, uh, diverse, I guess, uh, company. Then you have to start having conversations. You have to start listening to people. You can't force it, you can't tokenize. You have to really put in the work. Uh, I can't say that enough, and people see that.
I always say to people, everyone wants to be seen and heard, period. I don't care who you are. Somebody can tell you they don't wanna be seen and heard. They're lying. They are. They're lying. We all wanna be seen and heard in some. And if you don't feel seen and heard in the place you're working, you're [00:35:00] not gonna last there very long.
And the, literally, those are the two things that I just got finished saying, uh, is being seen and heard, um, I'm sure would've probably helped. And being paid more probably would've helped as well. Absolutely. So wasn't the reason, uh, that I left, I just, I left because I was passionate about starting this magazine.
Mm. If that wasn't happening. Mm-hmm. I would say being seen and heard is probably. The best thing that could have happened for me if I had to stayed at that job. That makes total sense. And, and I love that that was first up, because I think it's so easy for C-Suites to think, okay, well what the people want are, you know, extra snacks in the break room and a ping pong table and more paid time off and Right.
And that's all, it's, it's hard to explain like that's the. That's not the meet that's gonna keep the right people here. That's gonna maybe keep [00:36:00] some people there, but they're not gonna be your quality staff, right? Like that's not gonna be the people that's gonna take you to the next level, which is the point, right?
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, definitely. And again, when I say listen, like ears to the ground, right? It seems. Again, silly, but just what are people saying and how can you make sure that people's experience is a positive one? I, our, my assistant editor last year, we were sitting down and going through, you know, our plan for the year and, and she was like, listen, We gotta figure out the budget and stuff.
She's like, you gotta pay your rider more, more than you're paying them now. And I was like, more, more than this. And listen, I'm open and honest. These are conversations we have all the time, but it really makes. A difference. It, I mean, little things, right? There's so much more than just paying people more.
But that's just an example. Uh, and I can't tell you how much of a difference it's made [00:37:00] where more people want to write, more people are pitching and we're getting. Fantastic article ideas and our traffic online has increased 30% this year since last year. And again, I go right back to this is all because I listened and, and had empathy and understood and, and realized, you know, people need to be supported in all ways.
And if this is gonna be. If this is going to continue, uh, or allow me to have a solid team, uh, and continue to have a solid team and people are happy, and again, people are thriving, they're getting paid. Nice, all of that, it's worth it. It's worth it. Oh my gosh. I love that moment. A, a team meeting, right?
With staff at the beginning of the year to set, okay, this is gonna be hard, but if we can make this a priority, we think it's gonna pay off. So you did it and literally, if only, if the only outcome was an [00:38:00] increase of 30% website traffic in seven months, like. Is incredible. And there are companies all over the planet that would give their right arm for that.
Like yeah, totally. Absolutely amazing. And what's interesting to me is I feel like I'm just realizing this in this conversation, like I think I realized it, but like saying it out loud, I'm like, oh yeah, we did pay this and then this happened. So it's just really cool to see that correlation in real.
Powerful. I feel like you had such a mic drop moment when you said it's exhausting to not be seen every single day. It's exhausting to not be heard every single day. I feel like that is the gem that I'm getting out of this conversation is that that's so relatable. I think there's so many managers out there that are exhausted and they know that feeling right, and then to think I might be causing that feeling in my staff if they're not feeling seen.
They're not feeling heard. I think that's so powerful. So thank you so much for that. I think I just have one last question [00:39:00] for you, and it's a doozy, so take your time. But if you had 22 year old Ebony in front of you right now, what would you tell her? 22 year old me Oof.
I feel like there's a few things I would say. Uh, the first, and I, again, I know this is a Capricorn to me, first thing I would say is start saving your money and being smart. Now, uh, hands down, I would absolutely say that, and I'm also saying that because there's a lot of education, uh, uh, finance, education that needs to be done within black and brown communities.
Period. Uh, a lot of that is because it's been left, we've been left outta conversations and still are when it comes to basic financial education and some stocks, things like that. We've been left out and some of us have not. Understood how to manage money or how to grow money and interest and things like that.
Uh, so I would absolutely say that to [00:40:00] myself, how to like, sit down and really figure it out, get a budget, and start talking away money and being smarter about what you're doing no matter where you are. Uh, but it's a, it's a thing and it's something that really should be discussed. So if there are any financial, uh, planners, advisors listening right now, take that.
Right now, communities need you. The second thing I will probably say to myself is, you are enough. You are enough. I, I think that's the best, the best way to say it. I, I think it's something that I would probably need to hear. Yep. It makes such a difference when you can get to that point where you, you're not trying to believe it or hoping to believe it, but you know it.
That is a massive game changer in life, and I wish our kids could get there in their early twenties. I wish I could have gotten there in my early twenties. Right. And I'm just so grateful I'm there now because I feel like. It [00:41:00] was that game changer for me and I wish it didn't take the experiences that it took for me to get there.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. But you know, and I'm, I'm realizing it is somewhat normal as I talk to more people, you know how they say, oh, your twenties is for this, you know, having fun. Figure it out in your thirties, you get a little bit more, you know, focused and settled, and then you hit 40, you're like, boom.
And that's exactly how I feel. I feel like I hit late thirties and was like, boom, let's like ready to go. Like, I have my ish together and like, whatever. And I'm, I'm seeing that more and more. But like you said, I, I wish right that I had had that and I think. I wonder, you know, or here's my theory just as L G B T Q people, I, I think depending on who we are, especially those that are older, uh, and didn't get to see that representation.
When we were growing up, we had a little bit slower start to life than our, uh, heterosexual counterparts. Uh, and so sometimes I think we also have to be [00:42:00] easy on ourselves and give ourselves some grace. I think. Telling myself that because there are times that I go back and I'm like, I wish I had done this.
Why didn't I do this? You know what I mean? But I just. I didn't, I didn't have the maybe support. I didn't have somebody tell me I was enough. I didn't have the right tools, the right language, the right whatever. So I think we have to learn to give ourselves some grace, cuz sometimes I think we have a little bit of a slower start.
Uh, and not because we are slow or stupid or whatever. It's because. While all of our friends have already figured their stuff out and know who they are, who they're attracted to, whatever, we're still hiding and trying to figure out who we are, you know? And it took a while. That's right. It takes a minute.
But I feel like when we get. When we get through that experience, we're ahead. As far as authenticity, as far as trusting our intuition, as far as trusting our networks, you know what I mean? Like, I feel like our [00:43:00] journey is longer, and some could say harder, but when we get through it, I feel like we've had an incredible headstart.
Yeah, you're, I love how you said that. I absolutely feel that way. Like you remember that whole campaign. It gets better, like Yeah, it really does. It really does. So that campaign was everything, and I feel like I'm, I'm finally understanding it, if that makes any sense. Like, of course I understood it, but like I'm standing in it like, yeah, it does, you know?
Yeah. Living. Breathing gets better. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Thank you so much, Ebony. This was really incredible. I really appreciate your time and sharing all of these stories with us, and I'm so excited to see what our audience can do with this information and how it will impact lives. L G B T Q lives in their careers, but also in their, in their lives and their journeys towards authenticity and, [00:44:00] and it getting.
That's great. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me and, and thank you for having these conversations. Oh, I loved getting to know Ebony and her journey. What pieces of her history resonated with you? This interview took place in 2022. As part of a research project. I was interviewing a series of established LGBTQ plus business leaders to figure out what had their past managers done to really support their success and what missteps had been made that had actually impeded their progress.
Several themes emerged from these interviews. It was incredible, and I explained them all in my white paper. It's called Supporting Emerging LGBTQ plus Leaders, and you can download your own copy [email protected] That's underestimated leaders.com. It's full of amazing stories, tips, and tricks for all of us, and quite a few of the stories that you heard today made it into that [00:45:00] paper, along with incredible stories from other business leaders as well.
I think you'll really enjoy it and I'd love to hear what you think. And as always, all of the resources that we discussed in this episode will be in the show notes. We know that there are so many incredible queer podcasts to choose from. And we truly appreciate you joining us here today. We hope you'll subscribe and share this episode with your community Pride and Joy Foundation.
We envision a world where every lgbtq plus person is heard, housed, and mentally healthy. We pursue that by lifting your voice, increasing your power. I'm your host, Elena Joy. Until next time, be good to yourselves. Spam. I appreciate.