Podcast #30 Equity Advocacy


Vonne is the Founder and CEO of Creating Equity, LLC, a global strategic advisory and consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations design and implement simple, practical solutions to complex problems. As an equity advocate and clarity coach, Vonne uses transformational principles to help Blackwomxn professionals (and particularly attorneys) get clear about who they are so they can getwhat they want, all while creating an equitable world that works for everyone. Clients of her Lessons in Vonnerability (TM) Private Coaching Program create careers (and, more importantly, lives) where they thrive. A lover of bourbon and an advocate for Black womxn everywhere, Vonne loves spending her days getting into good drink, good music and good trouble.






Mia LaMotte 0:00
Welcome back yard to disrupt her day the client edition in February. But I'm excited about this one for y'all. Yvonne is one of my longest standing clients. Yes. love her to death, we have some of the best conversations. And sometimes our coaching calls turned into three hour sessions that really should have been books or movies or something of the sort, they should be definite, they should definitely be like teaching sessions, but we keep them to ourselves, or we go out and we bring them to our clients in a different kind of way. Right? So I want to bring her on up in a minute. So I hope you guys have gotten your drinks, you've taken your bio breaks, all of the things because what Vonne and I are going to be talking about today is probably a new idea for a lot of people. I was talking to a group of folks this past Tuesday night, Tuesday night. And it occurred to me that this may be an old school problem. So she and I might unpack some of that, too. So without further ado, I'm gonna bring her up because I don't really know how to work this stream yard yet. Yeah. But I know how to bring people in and out. I don't know how to talk to him backstage. So I'll bring Vonne up live, and we're going to just start having this conversation. So here we go.

Vonne 1:23
Welcome, man. Hey.

Mia LaMotte 1:29
I can hear you just fine. Can you hear me?

Unknown Speaker 1:31
Yes. Okay. Okay. Awesome. You know, I've never used stream yard. So this is all

Mia LaMotte 1:37
right. Let me make sure I get in. Let me make sure. Look, it's a thing. It's a whole other learning curve. Like you got zoom, you got all this other stuff? And you know, exactly. Just learn as we go. Right, right. Yes, yes. So for the sake of the people who don't know you, yes, you want to introduce yourself a little bit. Talk about who you are, what you do. Okay, all the things you

Vonne 2:04
My name is Vonne Jacobs. I am. I think the best way to describe myself is I am an equity advocate. So I am by training and experience a healthcare attorney. I've been practicing law for about 20 years, primarily in the healthcare space, I advise health care providers protect specifically about regulatory matters, and I help them do deals. So I'm in mergers and acquisitions, lawyers, I buy and sell health care facilities and try to keep everybody on the straight and narrow doing what they're supposed to do. So that's what I do as I would consider my day job. But in that, and and everything else that I do, I am an advocate for equity. So I'm a person who believes that the world should function in a way that works for all of the people in it. And the systems that we currently have, do not do that. So I spend my time trying to shift those systems and create new ones that do work for everyone. So in my job, as a lawyer, I do that with my clients and helping them make decisions and design processes that are more equitable than the ones that they have. As a speaker, I do that by advocating and speaking about equity, diversity, equity, inclusion, and specifically in the healthcare and legal industries. And as a coach and trainer, I work with black women attorneys and black women, healthcare professionals, and helping them create lives that are equitable. So I coach them around things related to their career and their personal lives, and they can have personal equity, professional equity in their own lives, and then they can go create that for other people.

Mia LaMotte 3:51
So Joshua's busy. So this is why we have three hour sessions. Yes, it is

Unknown Speaker 3:57
a three hour session.

Mia LaMotte 3:59
Because we're passionate about a lot of the same things. Although we may not work with the same people or you know, I'm not a trained attorney and I don't work with healthcare professionals. As a as a as a rule, maybe not. But anyway, that's that was an inside joke. Pardon me for doing that. Um, but yeah, tell us. I mean, just the work that you're doing alone is disruptive, right? Because we you are disrupting status quo. You're challenging a lot of the old norms. You work in some pretty conservative fields. Yeah, the SIS white male is dominating or has always dominated. So how are you helping to disrupt that in in the industries like the medical field and the legal field, and then I want to talk about this new position that you took on and how you created what you created for yourself.

Unknown Speaker 4:59
Okay. I mean, honestly, I think the thing that I do that is the most disruptive is that I'm honest, I have stopped concerning myself with other people's feelings. And not like in a mean way, but like just I am not going to trade honesty, for comfort. So when I see something, I say something, and I try my best to say it with tact, and with kindness, and all of those things, but I say it. And that in and of itself, particularly in the legal industry is very disruptive, because we are trained, from the first day of law school, to assess situations and say the most expedient thing, to say the thing that is most likely to be accepted by the people in the room. But not necessarily the thing that in my mind is most honest and most effective for achieving the ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is always equity. So I am going to speak into the things that I think are going to get us one step closer to equity. And sometimes that hurts people's feelings. And I've just gotten to the point in my life and in my career where I am willing to take that risk. Because I think it's important. Sometimes that works for me, sometimes that works with a less than I would like it to work for me. But overall, it does work for me because I sleep.

Mia LaMotte 6:37
Let's let's back up to a conversation that you and I had. Um, but tell us a little bit of your business. Okay, you were cleaning out a storage unit, or you were moving some things and you took a glance at your book collection. Right? What is your book collection tell you about yourself.

Vonne 6:58
So this was so funny. So you're nice, Courtney was helping me get my life and particularly get my space together. And one of the things that we were doing was going through all of the stuff that I had, I have a lot of books, I've been a lover of reading since I was a kid. And I've collected tons and tons of books. And I've never really paid attention to all of the books that I've had. But in that process, we're looking through all my books, and all of my books are about black women, by black women, about the experience of black women, for black women, about black people in our history, and our resilience and our strength and our struggle. And I had never really noticed before that I had been compiling all of these things my whole life like some of these books I've had for 30 years, right. But I've always been inspired by and interested in our stories. And it wasn't until I actually saw them all laid out that I realized that my whole life, I have been preparing myself to do what I'm doing now. I have been without even understanding it or even even seeing it. Learning the things that I needed to learn experiencing the things that I needed to experience like this journey was purposeful, this journey was intentional. Even if I didn't understand that, that's what it was. From the very beginning. I have been about this work. From the very beginning, I have been concerned particularly about black women, and wanting to understand what concerns us and wanting to make things better for us. And I didn't until I saw literally 30 years worth of books in boxes, and they were all I'm looking at my bookshelves right now like I keep doing this thing because my bookshelves right now are literally books about black history, black women expressing themselves, and the legal and healthcare industries. And that is what my bookshelf looks like. And it's always looked like that.

Mia LaMotte 9:02
So what we discovered as we as we talked about this, this book thing is that it's always been a value of yours. Yeah. Always like when you talk to who was it that you talked to in your family? And they said that you were always picking up strays, and everybody had what they needed.

Vonne 9:20
Yeah, my mom and my auntie is always telling me that I'm always like rescuing people always trying to find, you know, make sure people's needs are met. And sometimes that's to my detriment, but that's a difference. We'll talk about that a little bit later. But yes.

Mia LaMotte 9:35
Yeah. So you found like, you you were already in your purpose, but it needed some tweaking? Yes. Yeah.

Vonne 9:43
I mean, I think I needed to number one recognize it. I didn't I didn't have an understanding that it was a thing. I've just always naturally been into that sort of stuff and inclined toward that stuff, but I've never really put a name on it. I've never really sort of pulled All together and really understood what it meant. And then what I could do with it. Yeah, that's what the work has been for me for like the last, what? How long have I been six, seven years now? Yes, has been sort of going through that process and getting into understanding myself better and understanding how I relate to those things better. And then what I want to do with that information and that understanding,

Mia LaMotte 10:26
so beautifully put. So like if you're struggling, so somebody's struggling with owning who they are even kind of like figuring out where they need to be in the world. But based on your experience, and based on like the things that we just kind of talked about, like, what would you tell them? Like what would be some clues for them to look at,

Vonne 10:45
I would honestly say literally look around you. Like, one of the things when we started first started working together, and you were just my stylist. And that's all, you know, a conversation. You know, when I came to you looking for wardrobe advice and sort of things, and we started looking at my closet. And what we realized was in my actual office closet, were all the colors that are in my palette, were all of my favorite colors, the colors that are now my brand colors, I had notebooks from years ago that were that color, I had pens that were in that color, you know that teal, that is mine has always been a part of my life. But I didn't notice it before, right? I didn't notice it, I didn't take any time to look. So I would say, take the time to look around you and see the things that repeatedly show up, whether they are topics of discussion books, whether they are colors, whether they are, you know, certain visual aesthetics that just repeatedly show up in your life. If there's something that has been with you and been a part of you and repeatedly show up in your life for the last decade, you might want to find out a little bit more about that. And think about what that means to you. Yes, but notice, I mean, it's honestly the first step and everything that we've ever done is noticing. But you got to make room for that you got to make time for that we're so busy and so distracted that we don't spend any time noticing anything.

Mia LaMotte 12:10
That is so true. That is so true. And then I think that the other thing that kind of submitted it for you because we both kind of did the same work at the same time. Was the strengths finder, the before Strengths Finder, like, yeah, that Gallup thing is amazing. We know somebody who's a coach, so if you want to, I'm gonna have her on here. Yeah, the thing about it, it's like when you have an assessment tool like that, that validates everything that you think that you are, or maybe even was on offense and questioning that thing. Well, we'll help you and get you straight. The

Vonne 12:48
strikes. I mean, I've always liked personality tests and stuff like that, and all that kind of stuff. But the strengths finder for me, gave me a new level of vocabulary that I didn't have. Yes. And you love words, I love words, you know, I'm precision of language is my thing. I when I got the StrengthsFinder results back, and I had a whole new vocabulary that was also professionally oriented that I could use to describe myself and what I do, like equity advocate is something that came out of my strengths finder. Because I never even though I'm a trained lawyer, and advocacy is what I never thought of myself as an advocate per se. But that is what I do. That is who I am. And always have been. It was in my strengths finder, that was one of the words that was in that little pile of stuff. Having that vocabulary has been so empowering, because now I have a whole new set of words I can use that will resonate first with me. And then I can use to communicate with others more effectively. So I love that thing.

Mia LaMotte 13:54
So how did it help you to grow your brand besides Asian things? Because that's huge, right? Yeah,

Vonne 14:01
I mean, number one, it gave me language, but it also helps me I think really appreciate things about myself. I didn't notice that I took for granted. Oh, that's because you know, and we've talked about this when things come easy to you. You don't think they're a big deal, right? You think everybody does what you do? And you and you don't appreciate how amazing and awesome you can be right? Right? Oh, I'm a planner. I am a deep thinker. I am an intellectual like those things. That is what I do. Right? And I do it naturally it is what I do. Everybody doesn't do that. And having that show up as a strength on my strengths finder, having that that logic piece of me and that stuff be validated as a string and something that I should be proud of and I should advertise and now I have language to advertise it with. That doesn't make me feel bad. Because that's another thing you know, social lies as a woman, yes, talking about yourself and bragging about yourself and talking about your strengths is is bad, right? So having that vocabulary, having that language, having that structure helps me develop the confidence to tell people with a straight face. I am a tactician. I am a planner, I am a strategist, I am an advocate, you know, and to say that, as I like to say, with the confidence of a mediocre white man, but like the skills of an amazing black woman, right like to know that I have the skills to back it up. But to be able to have that language and to be able to assert myself in that way, when I don't think I really, really appreciated that about myself before, and appreciated that it was a strength, that it was something that not everybody can do that it didn't come easy to everybody. So it had value that I wasn't giving it.

Mia LaMotte 15:59
And tell me how all of this that you just talked about parlayed you into one of the best. Let me say one of the most aligned positions of your career.

Vonne 16:14
Okay, so yeah, this is gonna be another story. So, you know, I had been in some professional situations that weren't working well for me. And so I decided to take a break and started my own consulting firm, and really, really liked it, right, I liked being my own boss, I liked being able to design my day, to work with the people that I wanted to work with in the way that I wanted to work with them. And I really enjoyed that. But there were things that I missed about sort of big law practice that I didn't realize I was gonna miss when I first sort of stepped away. And I wanted to find a way to get back into some of that without losing the autonomy that I've created for myself, and the freedom that I created for myself, but starting my own business. And so I was talking to a friend who has been literally for a decade trying to recruit me to join her law firm. Come work with her. And she was saying, I'm telling you, you can have what you want at this place. Just talk to them, right? So I said, Fine, I'm gonna have this conversation. And it was really about so she would leave me alone and stop asking me,

Mia LaMotte 17:22
so yeah, we're not, we're not invested in it at all. I was

Vonne 17:26
not invested in it. But I said, Okay, I'm gonna do it. And once I decided that I was going to do it, I sat down with myself, and I said, Okay, if you're gonna have this conversation, you're gonna go in here, and you're gonna tell them for the first time in your life, you're gonna go in and say exactly what it is you will and will not do. So I had to get really clear with myself, but I what I was willing to do and what I wasn't willing to do. I wasn't willing to put on a suit, I wasn't willing to go into an office every day, I wasn't willing to do all of the political BS that comes with law firm life, I wasn't what I didn't want to do it. I knew I could feed myself without all of that. So I wasn't about to sign back up for that. I was willing to work hard, I was willing to contribute to a team, I was willing to go out there and network and create, you know, generate business for the firm, and do all that kind of stuff and speak and all that. perfectly happy to do all of that. But I wasn't willing to do what I considered unnecessary. And I went into this conversation, and the first thing that I said to them was really glad to meet you so excited that we're going to have this conversation. But before we get too far down this road, I want you to understand this about me. These are the things that I'm not willing to do. If that is a problem for you. That is fine. We don't have to have any more conversation past this one. If it's not a problem for you. Let's talk some more. That was the first time I had ever even said to myself that this is a no. And to then say that out loud to people I was interviewing with, right?

Mia LaMotte 19:01
Yeah. Yeah,

Vonne 19:05
I decided that I was interviewing them. They were not interviewing me. I decided that there was no point in going through this whole sort of skid. And this whole process if I wasn't going to get what I wanted at the end of the day, and there was no point in lying about what I wanted. Right. Now, some people thought I was absolutely crazy. And I think I might have thought I was absolutely crazy, but I was also tired. I was tired of putting everyone else's needs and desires before mine. And I just chose in that moment to say, okay, these are the things that matter to me. If they are a problem for you, that's fine. I don't have to be here. We don't it doesn't have to mean anything about either of us, other than we just weren't meant to be together. You were honest. adds to the outcome. I was unattached to the outcome. But I was very attached to my values. I was very attached to my worth and what I was bringing to the table. And I was very attached to walking away from something that wasn't going to serve me.

Mia LaMotte 20:17
Oh, who else is willing to do that? A lot of people are not strong enough to walk away. Yes, Elena. We, you know, we've all had conversations about, you know, what if I walk away? What if you stay? What if you stay in a situation that is not like you? Definitely. You got some you have some something to say about that too, don't you? Yeah. A situation that does not work for you.

Vonne 20:42
Yeah, I mean, literally almost killed myself a couple times, working myself to death in situations that weren't serving me, right. And when you get to the point where you are so broken, that you are literally physically falling apart, mentally falling apart and thinking about doing things that are so out of character for you. Staying is not, you weren't winning anything in that regard? And so getting over the fear that making that leap is going to somehow be worse? Well, what can be worse than being miserable all the time, to be worse than like, literally, you know, you know, your heart stopping or, you know, what can be worse than that? being unemployed is not worse than that.

Mia LaMotte 21:29
And again, because I think that a lot of people believe that being unemployed is the worst thing that ever happened to us in life like we have, as humans, and I think mostly Americans. We've got this whole thing backwards. Well, you know, quality of life. Yeah, it does. You do have to have money to have quality of life. But you can't have quality of life. If you broke, physically broke.

Vonne 21:54
Yeah, I mean, the thing I had to really come to understand is that I was always going to be able to feed myself, right. Yeah. I mean, now what I'd be doing it the way that I would have wanted to make what I might it, might I have to take some ego hits? Yeah, but I was always gonna be able to be okay. Right. Yeah. And once I got to that, understanding that I was always going to be okay. And then I can build from okay, then letting go became a little bit easier. But yeah, I mean, the scariest thing from the time that we were kids, we were taught that, Oh, you got to have a job. You got to have a job. You can't just be out here doing nothing. Right, right. Lazy. Yeah, you can't be lazy. You can't like what it says about you, if you happen to have any sort of hiccup in your life is some sort of giant character flaw. I mean, that's just how life is like, throw stuff at you all the time. And I had to figure out well, do I want to be miserable and supposedly successful? Or do I want to be happy? And maybe not making as much money? And you know, that was even a temporary thing? Because turns out, I make more money happy than I did when I was unhappy.

Mia LaMotte 23:13
Yes, so let's talk about that. Let's talk because you said the word successful. So what does success mean to you today, as opposed to what it meant to you when you graduated from your prestigious law school?

Vonne 23:24
Success for me is now does my life work? Like, am I a whole person who is out here in the world, making the best of every moment of every day? Who that is what success looks like, to me? It is not the title that I have. It is not the job that I hold. It is not how much money I make. It's not the car that I drive. Now. I am a person who appreciates luxury, let's not get it twisted. Yes, we do. Yes, we do. And I definitely have certain things that I like and want to have in my life. But I do not consider myself to not be successful. Because I am not currently driving my white Range Rover. I will be driving my white Range Rover at some point in my life. It's just not at this point in my life. Right? I am still successful. Because I am a person who can get up in the morning and be like, Okay, I'm excited about what's about to happen.

Mia LaMotte 24:24
And that's a whole word. Right, Danielle? Because we had a we had a we had a couple of months where I'm like, you're not excited about

Vonne 24:32
anything? No. And it's hard for me to get excited about things because, you know, doing away with the brainwashing, right that we've been programmed with our whole life and coming to understand things about myself. So I wasn't excited about things because again, I was attaching to value attaching value to things that weren't actually valuable to me. Who so I was using other people's measuring sticks and saying, Well, I'm not hitting Those marks, so there's nothing for me to be excited about. Right? We had to work. And it was a lot of work. And it's still a lot of work for me to come to understand that the fact that I can work from home whenever I want to work from home success, because that's something that's important to me. Because as introverts, we like to be at home, I need my space I need and I need my space to be my way when I want it my way, like that. That's something that I worked really, you know, I had to work really hard to make happen. Yes, but I've made that happen. That's a success. The fact that I can travel the way that I want to when I want to, you know, COVID aside and all of that, but like, if I want to go see somebody, I can go see somebody, and it's not a big deal. I'm not going to be behind that work, I'm not going to be behind it, whatever. It's not a whole guilt trip that I've worked through all that success. Yeah, that's not on anybody's you know, that doesn't show up on anybody's success, find a resume list, whatever mark, it doesn't. But it's what makes me happy. What it's what fulfills me being able to invest in young black women. That fulfills me, that is success to me to be able to say that somebody that I talked to who was a law student, you know, 10 years ago, is now a partner at a firm had her first baby and is doing amazing, and came by to say, thank you success. I don't even remember what I told her 10 years ago. Right. But that the fact that I even had the opportunity to do that, and that it made a difference to her success. So I had to start creating my own standards and my own measuring sticks.

Mia LaMotte 26:40
Absolutely. Absolutely. So okay, like, you, you know, as we do, the time is up, like, Okay, I can't believe time is up. But I want I want to give you an opportunity to talk about live. Yeah, this is something that, you know, you created for black attorneys, and, and doctors, so just please, yeah, doctor.

Vonne 26:59
So what happened is, I'm a healthcare lawyer. So the people that are run into lawyers and doctors, and particularly black women in those industries, as in most industries, particularly in America.

Mia LaMotte 27:10
So really, conservatives are having a real hard

Vonne 27:13
time. And it really breaks my heart. And so I developed a program that is specifically to help support those women in those industries. And so it's called Lessons in vulnerability. Live. Vulnerability is a play on my name. It's the thing I work the hardest at, but it's the most rewarding for me. And it's really, I'm doing a new iteration of live that is more of a group coaching program. And I am really focusing on how do I support women in these particular spaces, so that they can design not just careers, but lives that work for them, where they thrive instead of just barely surviving, because that's all we're doing right now. Is barely surviving, and particularly in healthcare, they ain't even doing that right now.

Mia LaMotte 28:00
Yeah, healthcare is a whole other. That's a whole other conversation, of course, you will be back. We will talk more about like all of the things that you're doing, because what what she would you did create for us or for the audience is an equity packet. So yeah,

Vonne 28:14
so yeah, so I'm an equity advocate. And I want everyone to understand that you can create equity in whatever sphere you're in. And so what I wrote that guide is top 10 equity winds, what are some really easy things that anybody who is running a business who is operating in a business who is walking through the world can do to create equity? And some of it's just as simple as creating accessibility on your website? If you have a website? Did you look into like putting in sound and visual aids or whatever that can help people who might have different abilities be able to access you and access the information that you want to share? Absolutely. So, so easy stuff, and it's not as hard as we make it out to be? We just have to think a little bit.

Mia LaMotte 28:59
Yeah, we actually have to think about it, you know, because a lot of us don't have limitations. And we don't think about people who do and how they access our stuff.

Vonne 29:08
Right? Yeah. So it's, that's what that is, is that what are the top 10 things that you can do easy peasy to start creating a world that is more equitable.

Mia LaMotte 29:18
Anything any wise words you want to leave the audience with?

Vonne 29:22
I will tell you this is one of my favorite quotes because I'm actually working on a presentation for something and I'm planning to share this with them. Let go or get dragged. Oh, y'all need to start dropping some stuff that ain't working for you are just going to drag you to hell.

Mia LaMotte 29:38
I love that. I love that. That's gonna be a play on our resistance thing that we learned in in our truck. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 29:46
let go and get dragged.

Mia LaMotte 29:48
Love it. Love it. Alright, people you heard it from Vonne. Let go or be dragged. Well, we'll definitely have more conversations because I don't feel like we even scratched the surface. We do.

Unknown Speaker 29:59
We got to Have

Mia LaMotte 30:01
we we're gonna just do a whole day. We're just gonna riff. Yeah. And let y'all be a part of that. So, Vonne, thank you so much for being here today. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. And go get the guide. So you can upgrade your, your website, your brand, whatever it is that needs upgrading to help other people so that it's more equitable. And checkout Vonne lawyer or a doctor, black female and you're struggling. Call her she can absolutely help you have and that's on her Instagram. We have our Instagram handle

Vonne 30:35
there. Yeah, and I'm gonna drop my tree in the chat. I'll put it on the disrupter day chat so people can see

Mia LaMotte 30:43
how they're Yep. Awesome. Thank you. All right.

Vonne 30:46
Thank you. Bye. Hi.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai