Podcast #17 Creating Equity

Are you tired of feeling like you've done everything in life that this society requires you to do to be successful, but still feel unfulfilled and undervalued?

My guest today is my client and friend, Vonne Jacobs. Vonne is principal and founder of Creating Equity LLC - a global strategic consulting firm that is committed to creating equity wherever they can in the world and every moment in every day and in every life they touch.

In today's episode, Vonne is sharing with us her life-altering disruption that brought her to where she is today. Working as a lawyer, she was tired of finding herself undervalued and unappreciated, and unable to shine in her career.

We talk about the changes in life that Vonne had to make and are so important for so many women, changes like making time for yourself, and putting yourself first. When we don't do that we lose who we are at our core, and we forget who we truly are. 

Vonne has created her own business, a business that is her heart and passion. Vonne works with women such as herself - black women, and more specifically, black women lawyers. She has found that black women in almost every profession have the same issues. And she now makes it her mission to help them understand their worth, give themselves the permission and space to figure out what they really want, and if they already know that, help them figure out how to get there.

So many women struggle with the same issues working in corporate America. Having been there herself, Vonne understands what women go through. The struggles they face working in a world where black women aren’t meant to exist, much less succeed. She is making it her mission to change these demeaning ways of society.

She is using her own personal experience to help the women that did all the things they thought they thought they were supposed to do.

Things like go school go to the right school, get a good job, work the way they are supposed to, and fine that their lives still haven’t turned out like they thought they would. She helps them realize that this isn’t a reflection of them or their intelligence. It’s a reflection of the country we live in and the industry we practice in. The patriarchal and racists, sexual societies.

There is so much value and inspiration to gain from hearing Vonne's story, and the impact she is creating for women in our society! I hope you enjoy this conversation.

In closing, remember that YOU are worthy of a disruption in your life! And if you’re interested in working with Vonne she would love to help you discover who you truly are and see who you were truly meant to be.

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*Note- The Brand Disruptors Podcast is produced for the ear and made to be heard not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it in print.

Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hello, and welcome to today's episode of brand disruptors. I am Mila macho host, and I'm here today with my client and friend Von Jacobs Von tell the folks in the audience about you and say, hello.

Speaker 2 (00:18):
Hi everybody. I am Vaughn Jacobs. I am the principal and founder of creating equity LLC, which is a global strategic consulting firm that is committed to creating equity wherever we can in the world. And every moment in every day in every life we touch,

Speaker 1 (00:35):
Oh my goodness. Like what a mission, tell me, like, how did you get to, like, I want to create equity everywhere I go. How did you even get to that?

Speaker 2 (00:47):
You know, my my dad would say that I've always been that person ever since I was a little kid. I've always wanted people to be treated fairly. And the older I got and the more I saw the world and how that didn't happen on a regular basis, at least not in the way that I wanted it to. When I was deciding what I wanted my company to be and what I wanted to do with my time and my energy and my talent, I kind of just went back to that core value of everybody having a fair shot. And for me, that's, that's a core value of equity. And so using the skills that I have and the training that I have, I want to take every opportunity to create equity for every person I can. And that's just kind of how I'm built, honestly.

Speaker 1 (01:36):
And that is so refreshing. How you kind of like went back to your roots to think about what it is that I truly cared about as a kid. What is it that I want to bring forth in the world and for people, the people in the back. Cause that's what I'm talking to right now. Like for the people in the back, explain the difference between equality and equity.

Speaker 2 (01:56):
Okay. So quality would be, for example, if everybody in the country got $10,000 now, for somebody who has $0, that's a big boost and that's great. And that gets you this much off this much off the ground. But if I already have a million dollars, $10,000, I can go make a break my day. Right? So a quality is to say, let's give everybody the same thing. Equity is to say, let's give everyone what they need so that they have the same opportunity to achieve. And so equity requires us to actually look at where people are starting, what are the systems and infrastructures and things that are in their way that are preventing them from achieving and actually leveling that so that every person has an opportunity to achieve.

Speaker 1 (02:44):
And we have like so many inequities going on here in the U S right. And one of the ones that we talk about all the time is one for women, right? Women are paid less. We have, we have less wealth. We also have a harder time getting to the status that men naturally enjoy. Right. So tell me a little bit about, like, what is it like, I know you work with women, right? Tell me why you decided to work with women and what kind of women do you want to work with or do you work with?

Speaker 2 (03:21):
So I decided to work with women. Number one, because there's are the problems that I know most about. You know, you start with what, you know, I walked through the world as a black woman in America. And so those, when I was thinking about who do I want to help? Well, I honestly want to help me, which is every other black woman. I know who's trying to find her space in the world, right. And make her way through a country that honestly doesn't intend for her to exist much less succeed. So I focus my efforts on supporting black women in particular black women entrepreneurs or budding entrepreneurs lawyers, because I am and still practice actually as a lawyer. And so those are the people whose problems I know most intimately. So that's where I start what I'm learning though, that black women in almost every profession have the same issues.

Speaker 2 (04:16):
They kind of come in different variations, but the core of the issues are the same, you know, not believing that they are worthy for all sorts of numbers, of reasons, not understanding what they want, because they've never given themselves the permission or the space to figure it out. And then even if they know those two things, what do they do to make that happen? And so that's what I do. That's the kind of work that I do. And I do it purposely for women, for black women, from black women lawyers, because those are the people who's hit me in the heart the most, because that's me, that's me two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, trying to save my younger self.

Speaker 1 (04:58):
So let's talk about that. Right? How, like, what experiences did you have that were like life altering for you to make you say, you know what, this isn't working for me anymore. I'm going to have to step back and, and, and reassess, what at, what am I going?

Speaker 2 (05:19):
The first one is I almost died. So I went in as an associated law firm in a big law firm, working 80, 90 hours a week, grinding and grinding and grinding, sort of doing the thing that they told me would get me the big reward of success and partnership and acclaim and fame and all of that. And I was paying no attention to my body and what it needed and my soul and my spirit weren't even on the list. I mean, we're just talking about my physical body right now. And I had worn myself down so much that I actually ended up an emergent tachycardic episode. So my heart was beating at like twice. What it should be is about 180, 190 beats per minute. Okay. Not a good place. I literally almost died. And I remember being at the emergency room, thankfully, I had friends who came and got me and took me to the emergency room and laying there on this table as they were about to stop my heart going.

Speaker 2 (06:22):
This was not the plan. How the did I get here? Whose dreams did I sacrifice myself for? Cause they sure as weren't mine. Umnd I actually have a tattoo on my wrist right now of my EKG from that day. Oh yeah. We can see it. Umou got the date on there as well. I have the date on there. It was, hpril 30th, 2009. Umnd it's my reminder, it's my perspective reminders, what I call it because, mll of that work was to create something for someone else and it wasn't even something. I was sure I wanted to be doing. It was something I was good at and something I didn't absolutely hate, but it wasn't necessarily, momething that I had really considered whether or not I wanted them was for me. So that was the first one was I almost died.

Speaker 2 (07:18):
I got a call. And so I convinced myself, well then it was just that I was in the wrong place. And if I found a different way to practice law and maybe went from a big law firm to a corporate environment at one client, maybe it would be easier, you know, sort of you selling yourself this dream, you convince yourself that, Oh, I just need to make these little tweaks and it'll be fine. So I did that and went into corporate environments and turns out that wasn't the problem. Because then I was ending up working at a place where again, sort of the nature of the practice itself and the environment in which I was practicing weren't really suited to my soul. And I was working somewhere where I was undervalued and unappreciated and just really wasn't able to shine. Like every effort that I made to shine was thwarted by someone who I believe was threatened by that.

Speaker 2 (08:31):
And I was internalizing all of that as being my fault and my problem. And if I would just do this a little bit differently, you do that a little bit differently instead of questioning the larger environment and whether or not I should be there at all. Not like, do I deserve to be there, but is it it's good for me to be here? Do I even want to be here? And so I got to the point where I was so frustrated and so hurt and again, starting to feel physical symptoms that reflected that stress and that frustration cause you know, stress will eat away at your body. Absolutely man, I found myself waiting coming back from a meeting and seeing the person who I felt was the bane of my existence at the time, crossing the street and wanting to run her over with my Jeep and being real comfortable with the idea of that and having a whole checklist in my head about how that would be okay.

Speaker 2 (09:28):
And what would happen about how I would hit her, the jail's right across the street. I'll just drive over and turn myself in. Jay has a key to my house. He can go get the dog. She'll be okay. The maids were just there. So the house is clean. So that won't be a problem. So-And-So can come from my mom. She's already been called one time telling her I was about to die. This won't be that bad for her. At least I'm still alive. Like I had a whole list. And then I recognize that that was the craziest thing that I was so comfortable. And so on autopilot that I was making logistical plans for what happened after I murdered someone that I was like, Hmm, it's time for you to take a break and figure out what it is you want to do with yourself, because this is not sustainable.

Speaker 1 (10:18):
So it was almost like you had this reckoning with yourself in the car, right?

Speaker 2 (10:23):
Yeah. I really, really did because I am a rule follower. I'm a good girl, right? I've always been a good girl and a rule follower. And the idea that I was so distraught and so stressed out that my extreme reaction would be to make something as serious as taking someone's life. And okay. Decision was, was a signal to me that I was very much out of alignment with my values and my soul was hurting.

Speaker 1 (10:54):
Yeah. You are out of integrity with yourself

Speaker 2 (10:56):
Out of integrity with myself because I hadn't honored for so long. All of those things I knew to be true

Speaker 1 (11:05):

Speaker 2 (11:05):
Ignored and pushed aside and pretended not to know, you know, that question we'd like to ask, what are you pretending not to know? I was pretending not to know a lot of things. And it caught up with me now. Thankfully it caught up with me before I actually did any real harm. Right. but I could very easily see how people get caught up and then ended up making giant mistakes in their lives.

Speaker 1 (11:35):
Right. Cause I mean, it was so easy for you and if you, if you hadn't had it, maybe if you didn't even sit there for another 30 seconds and you just reacted, you could, you and I could not even be doing this interview today.

Speaker 2 (11:48):
Exactly. It would be a very different conversation from behind a maximum security, you know, it was, but yes, it was that it was that serious. I was that far a field because I had not made any room for myself and I had not stayed in touch with that core part of me who, that little girl who knew that the world was supposed to work a different way and that I had the power to create that for people as opposed to just sort of being at the mercy and the whim of others.

Speaker 1 (12:26):
Oh that now you just said a mouthful, right? Now are you, so you said that you, you already told me that you work with black women. Are you and attorneys mainly right now, but are you helping them to do the same thing to come to the same realizations that you did?

Speaker 2 (12:44):
Yeah. My, my goal is to help women who are feeling particularly frustrated and heartbroken and confused as to why their lives don't look the way the brochure said, they're supposed to look when they've done all the things on the checklist. You know, I went to school and got good grades. I went to good school. I worked hard. I showed up, I wrote the breeze. I went to the parties. I did all the things. I swallowed all the microaggressions and I smiled and all the pictures and I didn't raise a fuss. And I did all the things you said I was supposed to do. Why doesn't it look like the brochure? You know, those are the people I'm helping them. Number one, recognize that the brochure was a lie. You are not crazy. Their brochure was a lie. And that, that in and of itself is not a reflection of their worthiness or their intelligence or anything about them. It is a reflection of the country we live in and the industry we practice and the patriarchal and racial and sexist societies that we live in. Right. That is what is a reflection of,

Speaker 1 (13:56):
Well, I feel the whole legal field is built on that.

Speaker 2 (13:59):
Yes, exactly. On that. Like you literally were not supposed to be a participant. This was not built for you. Right. And they never redesigned it. So just getting them to understand and own that number one, and it's sort of taking the pressure off of themselves and the guilt off of themselves and then creating space and guiding through the, guiding them through some of the processes of asking the questions. Okay, well, who am I like what I take away, all the titles and the degrees and like, who am I? And what do I want? And you know, those are simple questions, but also some of the hardest questions you'll ever ask yourself, because we're so used to absorbing other people's messages about who we should be and what we should want. And what's important. And what's not important based on other people's values versus asking ourselves well, is that important to me? You know, like for instance, for my mom, it is very important that you walk out of the house dressed a certain way. I don't care about those things. I understand why people want to do, and I get it. And there are times when that's something that is a priority for me, but most of the time I don't care. And I used to contort myself around this idea that you had to walk outside and looking a certain way in order to be deserving of respect.

Speaker 1 (15:30):
So good. So

Speaker 2 (15:32):
There's a very much a black woman thing. And I understand why it is that way, but I'm also like I don't have to buy into that. I know,

Speaker 1 (15:40):
I think it's also, you know, and not to to make it smaller, but I think it's a thing for women period.

Speaker 2 (15:48):
Yeah. That we, if we don't show up in the way that other people think we should, then we are somehow less than exactly and undeserving. And I am a believer that I'm a child of God and by the virtue of my existence and my creation, I am worthy because he said, so otherwise I would not be here.

Speaker 1 (16:11):
Absolutely. Because he does not make bonus humans. She does not. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (16:18):
It was like, if I start there, it becomes much easier for me to say it doesn't matter if I have on jeans and a t-shirt and a do rag on my head, or if I have my earrings and my hair blown out and my makeup on and my earrings on it doesn't matter. I am worthy in both of those instances and every other variation thereof that I decide to show up as

Speaker 1 (16:42):
Absolutely. Absolutely. So is that, that's the transformation that you give to your clients?

Speaker 2 (16:49):
That is the first part of the transformation is really that inner work of understanding their worthiness and really reclaiming that because I think we all understand it. We just let go of it and sacrifice it out of conditioning and out of weariness a lot of times. And so reclaiming that and standing in that power and then giving yourself room to declare what it is. You actually want you yourself and you, not what you should want, not what your mama wants, that, what your kids want or need, or your husband or whoever, what do you want? And then the other part of the transformation is to say, okay, so how can I start to make that happen? So what are some concrete, actual practical steps? Cause I am you know, we did my strengths, I'm a strategic person. I like to have action plans.

Speaker 2 (17:40):
I like to know how we're going to turn this idea into a concrete thing. And so the other part of the transformation is, okay, let's building a plan. What does it look like? Now? It might look like leaving your job. It may look like staying at your job, but staying and showing up differently so that you're not letting it suck the life out of you. Absolutely so, but, but there, there is some practical and concrete action steps that people can take in order to make their lives just exciting and enjoyable and something that they can really appreciate and experience in a positive and healthy way as opposed to just sort of suffering through. So I consider it the difference between surviving and thriving.

Speaker 3 (18:32):
Ooh, love that. So if somebody wanted to work with you, like what kind of clients do you want to work with? Like what kind of qualities should this woman have?

Speaker 2 (18:43):
So I need my ideal clients are people who are curious, number one, I need you to be open to the possibility that the thing that you think is the answer may not be the answer. And that that is not a bad thing, that there are things that you just haven't imagined yet or learned about yet. And that there's a possibility that exists that you just haven't come across yet. So curiosity and openness I need someone that's willing to do the work. Some of this work is just grimy and boring and annoying. You know, it may look like I got to update my LinkedIn profile. It may look like I've got up, like, you know, take some new headshots. I don't know. But there is a work ethic that is involved in actually making this transformation. So I meet people who are willing to do the work, who aren't afraid of the work.

Speaker 3 (19:41):
When you say the work, you mean like, like the physical action steps or do you mean like the emotional clearings or all of the things

Speaker 2 (19:49):
Above all of the above? Some of the grimy, this is that I got us be able to sit down and cry and actually own my feelings. And I say that one because that's one of the hardest ones for me. That is the one that is the work that I've had to do. The reason the program is called lessons in vulnerability. As we started doing this transformational work and I was working with a team and a trainer vulnerability was the thing that I was not interested in. It was the one thing that I was just not going to access, but it was the one thing I needed the most because I was, you know, I'm a black woman in America. We hard, we don't shake. We don't, you don't see my poke. Right. I mean,

Speaker 3 (20:30):
And who taught us that? Right,

Speaker 2 (20:32):
Exactly. Walk into me with my arms. Like, like there are pictures of me for my teammates where I'm just all pouty and my arms folded, but the biggest insights are got worse when I let myself feel, I mean, I use this. If you asked friends of mine from years ago, they'll tell you, Yvonne doesn't do feelings. I don't do feelings. I would literally say those words, but it is the accessing of the feelings and the willingness to sit with the pain and cry over the stuff that actually broke my heart. And to acknowledge that, and then let it go, right?

Speaker 3 (21:12):
Who is your program? Not for

Speaker 2 (21:15):
My program is not for someone who thinks they already know the answers and just wants me to do the work for them. My program right now is not for men. I mean, I love you brothers. I support you with this is not for you. My program is not for anyone who questions the need for equity. Like if I have to convince you that white privilege is a real thing, I do not want to have a conversation with you. That is not, that is not what this work is. I have another place where I do that work this way. I need people to understand that the structures and the systems and all the isms are real and their impact on you is real. And even knowing that I don't have to give them my power. So people who can have that discussion with me, that's who I'm for. But if you are in a place for a wall, y'all just making it up and you're just being soft and stop your whining and stop your cry. No, I'm not for you. Because part of what we do is really acknowledge the actual hurt and the causes of that hurt. And those causes are real.

Speaker 3 (22:29):
Yeah. Cause they're generational. And I think that you help your clients to break them because that's exactly what you know, you do. It's what you did for yourself, right? So now you can teach your nieces that this is not how the world is supposed to work. This is the way it's been working because base it. So not because we said so.

Speaker 2 (22:50):
Yeah. And that we even with all of the other outside stuff can still, cause my thing is we've been taught this sort of false dichotomy that will, because the systems are set up that way. We have to conform to the systems. No, I can still choose to live my life in integrity with my soul's calling and with the things that I know about myself and create what I want for myself, despite the systems, I'm still going to have that conversation about the institutional stuff. And I'm still doing the work around that, but I'm not letting that keep me from living my life.

Speaker 3 (23:26):
That's your activism. It's on both. And yes. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (23:30):
Definitely an activist and, and an advocate for black women everywhere. So if you have a problem with that, I'm not sure

Speaker 3 (23:37):

Speaker 2 (23:40):
You know, anybody who follows me on social media is know us, knows all I do all day long is promote advocate and affirm for black women. Like that is what I do. Cause that is,

Speaker 3 (23:52):
And we need women like you doing that, right? We need women. Like you being able to say, look, this is not working and you can make yourself work. Like let's, we're going to work on that stuff, but let's work on YouTube. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (24:06):
Because you don't, you shouldn't have to wait. I mean, it was one of those things. Baldwin has this quote where he was in an interview and they were telling, you know, the interview guy was a white guy. Reporter was telling him that, you know, black people just need to be patient and wait and, you know, let the system shift over time. He's like, well, how long am I supposed to wait? How long, how, how long does my wife's supposed to wait? Is my niece supposed to wait? Is my, you know, as much as I would love for the systems to change and I'm doing that work to make that happen, I want to live today. I don't want to have to wait 20 more years before I can live.

Speaker 3 (24:38):
Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So if somebody else wants to live today, right. A black lawyer woman, or any other profession for that matter, like I think any woman who's gone into some kind of post-graduate school is probably has probably been sold some bill of goods. Right. That that's what they needed to do to get ahead. So any woman like that, that's the kind of woman that you're trying to work with. What, where do they need to get in touch with you? How do they work with you? What does, what does all that look like?

Speaker 2 (25:09):
So the best way to get in touch with me is to get on my calendar and schedule a discovery call. So I will make sure that I send you the link to my acuity calendar where you can just schedule a call. I also have links on all of my social media profiles. So I am at Von Jacobs on Instagram. I'm also active on Michelle on Instagram. I have two right now, working on that. And I believe on AMA Jacobs on LinkedIn and I'm Yvonne Jacobs on Facebook. In any of those places, they will be a link in my bio too. That will take you to my calendar where you can schedule a discovery call. And the reason I like to start with that is because we both need to have a conversation so that we can be clear about our expectations of each other and really understand whether or not we're meant to work with each other, because I will root for you, whether you work with me or not, but we need to have a conversation and be clear from both sides of this house, that this is something we want to do together because it's going to get intense and you need to have chosen to be here.

Speaker 3 (26:14):
Right. And there are going to be days when they might want to quit and news, you know that you're going to have their back and you will call them out. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (26:21):
Yeah. Like th th there is accountability involved in this and I will remind you of what you said you wanted. Yeah. And you know,

Speaker 3 (26:31):
Absolutely. Oh my God, this was so much fun. So tell me, is there anything that you wanted, any lasting impression, anything that you want to tell the audience, because you know, we're talking to disruptors, right? I would say that you had your own disruptions happen and now you're disrupting a system. Do you have parting words for anyone out there listening about disruption and what they need to be doing in order to, to make sure that they're doing the best for themselves? Right.

Speaker 2 (27:01):
I would, number one, say, don't wait until you almost die or almost killed someone before you start to think of that. You're worthy of any sort of investment. So let your disruption be one that you choose and not one that is chosen for you. So if this message is resonating with you, take that as a sign that you should take some sort of action. Now, whether that be working with me, or just starting to dig into personal development in general, but don't wait until you almost lose your life or almost take someone else's before you decide that you're worthy, you're taking some sort of action. And then I would say, you know, love yourself enough to believe that you are as great as you know you are.

Speaker 3 (27:49):
Oh, that's so good. So, so good. All right. Anything else?

Speaker 2 (27:55):
No, I think that's it. I mean, that's good. You know, we'll start with that. We'll start with,

Speaker 3 (27:59):
Well, it was a lot, right? We already gave them so much and this was super, super valuable. I hope you guys found it valuable too. I want to thank you so much bond for coming today. Thanks. Yes, of course. I cannot wait to see what you help these ladies do. I know it's going to be phenomenal. And I know that I know the work that you're up to on all sides of the house. And I know that you're already making a difference in the world, so thank you for what you're doing and everyone else out there. Thanks for listening. And if you liked this podcast episode, make sure that you download it. Give us a five star review and tell your friends about it. Also, you can take a screenshot and tag us on Instagram. We would love to hear from you love to hear what you thought about today's episode and reach out to bond. If you are struggling with your worthiness, if you're struggling with figuring out where it is that you want to go next, we talked to Vaughn and she can help you with that. Yeah, thanks for now. And we will see you guys next time.