Diversity, Authors and Problem Solving

Wanda and Joe chat about workplace diversity and activism, as well as recommending a few sales authors. Wanda talks about how satisfying she finds problem- solving, both professionally and personally and they wrap up discussing how important the divide between work and personal life is.

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Wanda Dunaway – Diversity, Authors and Problem Solving

Joe: Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B podcast brought to you by Lead Forensics. I’m your host Joe Ducarreaux. This episode features a conversation with Wanda Dunaway, Leader of Strategy at Sossego. Wanda joined me last month for the International Women’s Day Special of the B2B Sales Playbook podcast, which I hugely recommend you go and listen to. I was only too pleased that she also came onto the Essential B2B podcast. We had a quick chat about her motivations, inspirations and achievements and I think you’re really going to enjoy getting to know her a little bit better.

So without further ado, please enjoy the Essential B2B podcast with Wanda Dunaway.

Joe: What do you love about your industry Wanda and is there anything you would change about it?

Wanda: So my industry is commercial interiors. So that’s probably very different from most of your podcast guests. I think what I love is just the beauty. The aesthetics are amazing. It’s all about design and these beautiful things that make a space somewhere you want to go. Whether that’s where you go to work every day, if it’s college, whatever that is, it’s making that a beautiful space and not just beautiful but comfortable. So that’s probably what I love the most about this industry is, we make things beautiful.

Joe: That’s a lovely tagline for it, isn’t it? Is there anything you’d change about your industry at all, I wonder?

Wanda: I think in some cases and probably lots of industries have the same issue is the diversity and inclusion. This industry in some cases can be very female dominated. In the interior design industry, you have a lot of women in the early career. You’ve got interior designers, that type of thing, a lot of times they tend to be female and then you start to see the men in the leadership. So I think that’s one of the things that the industry’s really trying to look at differently is making sure that both, that you have a good mix at all levels. That’s something that the industry’s working on, but I think we have some ways to go.

Joe: Absolutely, 100%. Who inspires you, Wanda?

Wanda: I would say my husband inspires me. He is so supportive of me and my career. He is a creative. I don’t call myself a creative. I think I am creative but I’m not a creative, if that makes sense. He’s great at music and art and he’s got this great eye for things, making things look beautiful, as I talked about. He brings that beauty to me sometimes. So I think he’s definitely someone who inspires me.

I find inspiration so much. I read a ton. I’m reading James Baldwin. People like that inspire me. This beautiful language. Being able to tell the stories. I usually have three books going at the same time. So definitely authors like James Baldwin are inspiring to me.

Joe: Fantastic. Do you have any other favourite authors at all?

Wanda: I love Brene Brown for her self-help and her self-awareness things. When I do my one-on-ones with my team members, I adopted one of her practices where they start off the one-on-one with a two-word feeling check-in. I think it’s really a great, easy way to do that because you want to know…… going into one-on-ones it’s all about your direct report, what they want to bring to that. So if you know ahead of time that they’re feeling, if their words are stressed and overwhelmed, you’re going to approach that meeting much differently than if it’s excited and energetic.

Joe: 100%, absolutely. It cuts through so many different layers of things, doesn’t it? This can be personal or professional, Wanda. What’s your greatest achievement, would you say?

Wanda: One that I’m really proud of, I don’t know if it’s my greatest achievement. But something I’m really proud of is during the pandemic, there were a lot of things happening at once and when George Floyd was murdered, I did some soul searching. So I created this website called Doable.work where people can go and they can say, okay, I want to learn more about the history of people of colour, or I want to teach my children about this. So very specific. Then you can basically take the resources and we tell you, if is it a book? How long is it going to take? Does it cost anything? All these different things. Then you can put them in your plan and then check them off as you go. That’s something that I started a couple of years ago. It’s continuing to add resources and so I would say I’m pretty proud of that.

Joe: That is a very worthy thing that you should be proud of, Wanda. It’s fantastic and everybody should check that out for sure. So what then, Wanda, really motivates you at the start of your day, the start of your week? What gets you out of bed every morning?

Wanda: I love solving problems. That’s something that has been near and dear to my heart. I love learning about things and then using all of the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years into solving those problems. I love looking at them holistically. It’s interesting because sometimes I’ll come up against a problem and it’s just I don’t know where I’m going to go. But I love digging in, breaking it down, making it into bite size pieces that we can make happen.

As part of that I love giving other people, and this is my marketing and how I interact with sales to some extent, I love giving people the resources that they need. That’s part of that problem-solving. It’s okay look at this as an overall and give them what they need to be successful; whether that’s training whether, it’s mentorship, whether it’s resources, tools. Those are things that keep me going everyday.

Joe: There’s nothing quite like just ticking a problem off the list. Ah, that’s how we do this.

Wanda: Yeah, absolutely. Especially one that was tough. I think it’s even more powerful when it was tough and you weren’t sure how you were going to get there and then you do. It’s just like, oh, it’s the greatest feeling.

Joe: So I wonder, we’ve spoken a lot about your career and your work Wanda. How do you decompress from work and how important is that divide between the work and personal life for you?

Wanda: Yeah, I have a lot of hobbies, interests but one of the things that I think is interesting is that I work from home most of the time now. I go in sometimes but one of the things which has been helpful for me is I have a ritual that ends the day. My desk is in my bedroom, I’m in New York so we have a small place and my desk is in my bedroom. I have a sit-stand desk and my ritual is taking the sit-stand desk, putting it behind the couch so that our bedroom looks like our bedroom and that’s it my husband knows I’m done with work, I know that I’m done with work and then we start the rest of the night.

Joe: I think that having that ritual and that physical downing of tools, if you like. I think that it’s a real clear denominator, particularly for those of us who are lucky enough to work from home. That is absolutely something, because the blend can get a little tricky if your workplace is the same place that you take your leisure time. Having that physical moving to the side of something, I think that’s hugely helpful particularly for myself in that sense. Wanda off the back of this conversation,what is the one top tip you would like people to take away from this chat?

Wanda: Like when we were talking about the doable, is it just re-examine things, asking those questions and not just assuming because things have been going a certain way that they’re continuing to go that way. So just continuously asking yourselves, okay, what else can I do? What’s next for me? Not getting too comfortable in whatever situation you’re in, whether that is about diversity or whether that’s changing careers or whether that is taking on a new hobby, any of those things. I think just challenging yourself to not get too comfortable.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely speaks to a growth mindset wonderfully there, Wanda. Fantastic stuff. Wanda Dunaway, thank you so much for joining me for the Essential B2B Podcast.

Wanda: Absolutely, thanks so much, Joe.

Joe: Well, there you go. Wanda Dunaway on the Essential B2B Podcast. Thank you again to Wanda for joining me and thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to the Essential B2B podcast wherever you get your podcasts and rate us five stars where possible. I’ll be back next week with another excellent episode of the Essential B2B podcast.