Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Dear Workplace: Season 3

Ep 4: All About Jobs, Careers and Compensation – 3: Diversify Diverse Paths

Dear Workplace – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

Reimagine how you thrive at work through conversations that matter. Hosted by workplace creativity expert Monica H. Kang, we’ll study the latest trends, changes, and challenges to untangle workplace people problems. We’ll talk with executives, innovators, and experts and visit different industries around the world so that you get first dibs into the changing workforce. 

Guest: Dr. Janine Lee

Global Head of Learning & Development, Google; Doctoral Graduate, USC; Certified Executive Coach; Lecturer, Haas School of Business; Author; Speaker

Dr. Janine Lee is an award-winning Global Learning & Development (L&D) Leader and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) champion at Google with nearly 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. A UC Berkeley Haas MBA 2014 Graduate and Certified Executive Coach, Janine has lectured as an Adjunct Professor for over 10 years at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, Santa Clara University, and UC Berkeley Center of Executive Education. She holds a USC Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) and has published her dissertation research on workplace belonging for women of color in technology. Janine is also a keynote speaker, world traveler, and co-author of the upcoming book "Unstoppable: The Rise of Female Global Leaders." Her life vision is to create a world where everyone belongs, and her mission is to inspire others to reach their full potential.


Senior Program Officer, Leadership & Exchange Programs, The Asia Foundation

Amanda is an international development professional, multimedia artist and filmmaker whose work supports leadership development, climate action, women’s rights and social enterprise across Asia and California. Her Peace Corps service in Nepal ingrained her belief that effective change starts with listening.

In this episode of “Dear Workplace” by Innovators Box, host Monica H. Kang engages in an enlightening conversation with Dr. Janine Lee, a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in learning and development, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Lee shares insights into redefining learning and development practices to foster a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Listeners are treated to an in-depth exploration of the concept of belonging and its significance in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Dr. Lee’s extensive expertise sheds light on the evolution of belonging as a central focus in organizational culture and leadership development.

From practical strategies for creating psychological safety to the importance of continuous learning for L&D professionals, this episode offers valuable insights for both leaders and practitioners in the field. Dr. Lee’s emphasis on self-care and aligning personal mission with professional endeavors adds depth to the conversation, highlighting the holistic approach necessary for success in the workplace.

Join Monica H. Kang and Dr. Janine Lee as they delve into the complexities of learning and development, paving the way for a more inclusive and empowered workforce. Tune in to gain actionable tips and wisdom that will transform your approach to leadership and organizational culture.

All About Jobs, Careers and Compensation

2 Videos

Episode Shownotes

1. Episode Title: All About Jobs, Careers and Compensation – 4: Diversify Diverse Paths

2. Host: Monica H. Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox

3. Episode Description: How can we cultivate better leaders, and why is leadership development so important? In today’s conversation, we want to dive into leadership development by meeting two leaders working on L&D in different ways – in international development and technology. While where they are may look different, why they value leadership development and want to encourage you to invest in yourself may resonate. Meet Amanda Bensel from The Asia Foundation and Dr. Janine Lee from Google. Welcome to Dear Workplace.

4. Guests:

  • Amanda Bensel, Senior Program Officer, Leadership & Exchange Programs, The Asia Foundation
  • Dr Janine Lee, Global Head of Learning & Development, Google; Doctoral Graduate, USC; Certified Executive Coach; Lecturer, Haas School of Business; Author; Speaker

5. Key Topics Covered:

  • The episode features a conversation between Monica Kang and two guests, Amanda and Dr. Janine Lee, focusing on learning and development in the workplace. Amanda discusses her experiences in international development, emphasizing the importance of listening for effective change. Dr. Janine Lee shares insights into building better leadership programs while promoting belonging in the workplace.

  • Amanda’s Peace Corps service in Nepal shaped her belief in effective change through listening and community empowerment. She highlights the need to localize solutions for impactful social impact.
    Dr. Janine Lee delves into designing comprehensive leadership programs with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). She emphasizes self-assessment tools like Kirkpatrick’s framework to tailor training based on learner needs.

  • Both guests stress the significance of psychological safety at work for fostering true belonging among diverse teams globally amidst hybrid remote work challenges. They advocate for inclusive visuals, accessible content creation, and continuous education as key elements of successful L&D initiatives.

  • In terms of personal balance amidst extensive commitments, Dr. Janine Lee underscores self-care practices like organization color-coding schedules prioritizing tasks aligned with her life mission to inspire others’ full potential while creating a world where everyone belongs.

6. Highlights

     Amanda Bensel

    1. Peace Corps Insight: Emphasized the significance of listening and empathy learned during Peace Corps service in Nepal.

    2. Leadership Shift: Highlighted the trend towards authentic leadership, prioritizing empathy and listening over traditional management skills.

    3. Program Design: Shared principles for impactful leadership programs, focusing on intentionality, reflection, and collective learning.

    4. Asia Challenges: Addressed hurdles in leadership development in Asia, including hierarchical structures and cultural diversity, advocating for cross-cultural learning experiences.

     Dr. Janine Lee

    1. Belonging vs. DEI: Differentiating between diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and belonging, she stresses the need for environments where individuals feel accepted and supported.

    2. Psychological Safety: Highlighting the importance of fostering psychological safety, she advocates for creating spaces where employees can freely share thoughts and opinions without fear.

    3. Leadership Development: Emphasizing the integration of DEI into leadership programs, she underscores the value of self-reflection, personalized learning, and continuous assessment.

    4. Global Considerations: Discussing the importance of considering diverse modalities and cultural nuances, particularly in global and remote/hybrid work settings, she emphasizes accessibility and inclusivity in learning programs.

7. Quotes from the guests:

     Amanda Bensel:

    1. “It’s so important to be intentional about building diverse and inclusive communities.”
    2. “I think we’re going to see a lot more emphasis on empathy and understanding in leadership development.”

     Janine Lee:

    1. “Education is the most powerful weapon.”
    2. “I myself have spent a lot of time signing up for other classes, learning from people from different backgrounds.”

8. Resources Mentioned:

  • Amanda Bensel mentioned the book “Pivot” by Jenny Blake as a helpful resource for navigating career changes and transitions.
  • Dr. Janine Lee recommended visiting her website janinelee.com, connecting with her on LinkedIn, and following her on Instagram (@DrJanineLee) for further insights and resources on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.

9. Contact Information:

10. Closing Thoughts by Monica Kang:
Monica Kang emphasized the significance of education for fostering growth and inclusivity in the workplace, urging listeners to prioritize continuous learning, empathy, and self-care to create inclusive environments where everyone feels they belong.

11. Episode Length and Release Date:
Episode Length: Approximately 53 minutes
Release Date: Feb 29, 2024


Monica H. Kang
So it’s one thing if you already know what you love and you have a job that you love, but what about others who are curious how they can develop, be a better leader or learn how they can be part of programs that could help them be a better person, professionally, of course, in the workplace and thrive? Well, of course, there’s many different ways. There’s courses, book podcasts like this, and many other ways in the how and how you can think about learning and development, the so called LNd space. But it’s not just for HR people to think about. It’s something that we should all be numerating and reflecting upon and giving it a chance to do something about it. So I thought I would invite two friends looking at learning and development in two different ways. One, Dr. 


Monica H. Kang
Janine at a thriving tech company who has specialized her insight and belonging and what it means to really thrive in the workplace and be a better leader. And then a second guest, Amanda, who has been thinking about this international development as she thinks about how she can support better leaders in Asia, but also in how she can create better leadership programs through her work at Asia foundation. Today, we’ll meet these two guests and I hope this inspires you, whether you are thinking about the next leadership development course or designing it, what we can do differently to build better leaders for the future meet Amanda is an international development professional, documentary photographer and filmmaker who support leadership development, climate action, women’s right and social enterprise across Asia. 


Monica H. Kang
Her Peace Corps service in Nepal ingrained her belief that effective change starts with listening to empowering individuals to create the change they want to see within their communities. She’s currently working as a senior program officer for the leadership and exchange program’s leadx of the Asia foundation. Her team, dedicated to advancing the Asia’s emerging leaders and changemakers through specialized training, creates tailored study tours and international exposure programs. As she continues to foster and curate these programs and facilitate, she has increasingly focused on advancing participants’social impact through a development of social entrepreneurship and thinking about what it means to build an authentic leadership. 


Monica H. Kang
Outside of her role at the Asia foundation, she is also actively involved in providing peer reviews for the papers submitted to the case studies in the environment, a publication under the University of California Press, judges entries to the big idea contest and pursue independent documentary photography and film projects. We’ll dive into why she thinks listening is so important and what you can do about your next leadership program development to be more intentional and impactful, whether in Asia or America or elsewhere. Meet Amanda. 


Monica H. Kang
So very excited to have my friend Amanda here. Welcome to the show as we continue our conversation in learning and development. I’m really excited to have Amanda because she has particularly got a chance to study this, not only in the states, but also outside. But before that, we want to get a chance to hear how in the world she got to be where she is. And so, Amanda, bring us back to one of your early memories. I’ve heard that you did Peace Corps of service in Nepal. For those who don’t know what Peace Corps is. What is that? And how was your time in Nepal? Because I heard that was very important part of your chapter. 


Amanda Bensel
Thanks for having me on your show, Monica. It’s really a pleasure to be here today. Peace Corps service, for those who don’t know about it, is a us government funded volunteer program that started in the 1960s. Famously from JF Kennedy, he had a quote that was, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. It definitely started with this idea of promoting us friendship and better understanding of our country and context in other countries. It was a time when it was harder to travel and to spend time living in other places. So I think that’s important context for the whole shaping of it and what it is. But it’s volunteer service. They call it service for a reason. 


Amanda Bensel
You spend two years deeply immersed in a community in another part of the world, and it is service because you are barely paid. It is very much volunteer time. And I was always drawn to it because I was interested both in really seeing the US from a different lens and also understanding a different context of the world deeply. And I still stand by Peace Corps as one of the best ways to do that. I didn’t live in the Capitol. I lived out in a small bazaar that was twelve hour bus ride from the Capitol. So I was the only American for many, probably 100 miles. And it was a way to really get a different lens and understanding of the world. I really came to understand that there’s no such thing as a single logic. 


Amanda Bensel
Common sense is really defined by what is common to you and the community. It’s not a singular thing. And I found those to be really important lenses when it comes to interacting with people generally and being able to take a step back and have empathy for just different perspectives on most problems and solutions in the world. Other things with Peace Corps, I think it’s really important. There are so many peace corps volunteers, and every peace Corps volunteer will have a really radically different experience and a different direction and how they approach doing Peace Corps service for me what was fundamental and baseline was I was there to listen and to be a connector of resources and things that the community I was in wanted. So I didn’t come in with any prescripted solutions, really. 


Amanda Bensel
I came in to listen and be of help, how I was needed. And I would say that is also fundamental to leadership to me, when we get into that conversation, but starting with listening. So I don’t know if you want me to speak more on Nepal. I didn’t even talk about Nepal specifically. 


Monica H. Kang
No. First I want to say thank you for explaining, because I know just understanding the history of Peace Corps and your reason of why you were interested, and hence the principle of listening, as you have pointed out, to be key. And I’m curious even before I know. Remind me, is Nepal a location that you wanted or you were informed that you have to go? How does that selection process work if you were not expecting to go to Nepal? What was your impression before, and what did you learn once you were there? 


Amanda Bensel
So I was part of one of the last generations that didn’t get to choose where you went for Peace Corps service. They assigned your location based on your background. You did get to insert a preferred region. And honestly, I had been studying Spanish in college, so I was hoping to go to Latin America, expecting to go to Africa someplace, because majority of volunteers go to the african continent. And then I was absolutely delighted when I was assigned to help reopen the office in Nepal, which had been closed for a decade because of the civil insurgency, the maoist insurgency that had happened there. I had put Southeast Asia as my second choice in the region because I’d been to Asia only once before moving to Nepal. I went on a trip to Cambodia and Thailand, just a backpacking trip with a friend, and was interested. 


Amanda Bensel
And then the other half of delight for me about being assigned Nepal is I am very much a mountain person. I love mountainous places. I’m fascinated with mountainous ways of living in the world. So, yeah, just absolutely delighted to be assigned there. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you so much for sharing that. That time and many others have helped you, as you have pointed out, recognize the importance of listening. Take us on a bigger stroke of leadership. What is really happening in leadership development right now, overall, that you think is lacking, really? 


Amanda Bensel
I appreciate you asking me about Peace Corps service for a few reasons. It is certainly what got me into leadership work. It is also what got me to the Asia foundation, because I ended up spending three years in Nepal, well, almost four years in Nepal before joining the Asia foundation, and certainly being able to continue being connected to Asia and Nepal was a big draw to this work. I also started leadership training programs during my Peace Corps service. I was assigned as an agriculture extension volunteer. I have a background in environmental policy and really care about climate change solutions, especially at the grassroots level. But again, you listen, in talking with my community and working with different friends of mine, we decided with a local friend to start a girls leadership club after school. 


Amanda Bensel
So that was something, the beginning, I guess, of me working in leadership training in any sense was this after school girls leadership program. So, yeah, for those reasons, I applied to work at the Asia foundation and work in this leadership and exchange program team, something that I think is a general trend with leadership. If you just Google leadership or leadership development or what is the idea? What is leadership? Most of what comes up is executive management, really? And that’s something I think when people get in the field, you start to tease out as more nuance. There’s this idea of a strong leader that executes and knows how to manage a team. And those are certainly skills that are involved in leadership, but it’s very limited. 


Amanda Bensel
And I’m actually very happy to see more and more that the coaches I know, the coaches we seek out, the people we work with, such as Monica, are more focused on a holistic approach that is centered on empathy and listening and really taking a step back to. I like to think it’s authentic leadership. We’re working more in that branch, but I don’t know if the whole field has caught up to that yet. Something I’d say it’s still transitioning. When you talk about leadership, I think people mostly still have executive leadership in mind. C suite and that kind of how do you climb the ladder? And the work we do is not about climbing the ladder. It’s about being more effective. So, starting to answer your question? Yes. 


Monica H. Kang
No. This is fantastic and appreciate you sharing that. And speaking of which, tell me a little bit more, why this authentic leadership, this listening skill, this empathy skill is important. Why now more than ever, my time. 


Amanda Bensel
Spent working on the ground and development in Peace corps, and now, even with the Asia foundation, it’s really important. When working international development, there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution. This was part of why development challenges are so intractable, so often intractable because we want to apply a capitalist idea to it. That, okay, we found a solution. Now scale it. Okay, that worked in sub saharan Africa. Go to India in the rural fields and fix this problem with schoolchildren and books. And the answer is never the same. Everywhere you go to me listening if you want to first understand a problem, you have to listen to the local context. You can’t assume the parameters around a problem, ever, because it’s different everywhere. 


Amanda Bensel
And second, if you want a solution that’s going to work, you have to listen and really localize it. So this is why development work requires listening. 


Monica H. Kang
And as a curator who is not only making sure these leaders have access to this, you also as a program officer, have to make sure operationally this comes smoothly. And I get to experience firsthand how thoughtfully and strategically Amanda navigates it. But were amiss to make sure we discussed about it. What’s kind of your strategy and approach to make sure not only is the content well thought out, but how it’s executed. And any advice for those out there who’s listening to make sure they can cultivate better leadership, but also designing programs with intention. 


Amanda Bensel
Oh goodness. Designing programs with intention. It’s important not to get caught up in filling holes in an agenda and always reminding yourself of the purpose, the why. What is the reason you’re having a certain person be a speaker? What is the reason you’re going to a site visit or holding a meeting? And the way I like to operate is pretty hands on. It’s having somebody who can be present. And really I’m a facilitator as well. And a lot of my work in this ends up being facilitation. I’m more curating the whole experience. And you need to be present to feel what questions are coming up and then holding space to reflect on those questions. 


Amanda Bensel
Collectively, I find really important building in time for reflective growth and reflective sessions as a group so you can debrief and really find there are a lot of lessons that can just be skimmed over if you don’t build in the time for that and if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in different sessions. 


Monica H. Kang
So building on that, another thing that I know you are very interested is in social entrepreneurship. And yourself also wear many hats. I love that you also do photography, filmmaking. You’re very passionate into making sure you connect to the local scenes. Just as an individual, I get a chance to hear about hiking tips and making sure you connect with nature. You mentioned about climate change, so there’s so many interests that you have. How do you make sure you continue to harness all these interests but also make time to rest? Because I think at times we get so interested in so many different areas and do a lot of building and doing as a creative, but also then at know feel lost. We’re like, where do we make sure we prioritize? 


Monica H. Kang
So tell me a little bit more how you organize and make sense of all the different passion and interests and projects you have. 


Amanda Bensel
Thanks, Monica. Easy question. Very easy question. For those of us who want to do everything, I would say, first and foremost, it’s a practice. Like anything. It’s not something you achieve. You don’t achieve balance. It’s something you have to build awareness, self awareness around and build tools for yourself to be in check. And this is so much, I guess you’re asking this, obviously, it ties into what we try to do in our programs. But, yeah, for myself, it’s important to know your own needs and your own limitations and finding the system that works for you. I am a pretty high energy person. I need my days to be pretty full. If I give too much time for rest, I start to get depressed. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Or if I prioritize rest over my creative practice, I also get depressed. 


Amanda Bensel
I would rather get a little less sleep for me personally and get that art idea out than get more sleep and cut out my art practice. So again, there’s no straight answer for everyone. But for me, that is part of the balance. It is obviously getting all your work done and scheduling things in, making routines that work for you. I need physical activities as well. That’s not something I know you know as much about, Monica, but I box climb, do yoga, run regularly, and somehow that fits in my schedule. But to me, it’s important to raise that, because for me, part of my balance in all of it includes a physical practice that keeps me a little bit sane. And by having some of it, like, I have a setting that I go into box. 


Amanda Bensel
And by doing that, having a setting and a frame, it forces that accountability for it. I can’t push it off for all of the other things. It is a matter of picking one project or thing at a time. So I have my regular work, my regular physical, mental health routine, and then it’s one side project a week that can be the focus that week. And that helps me not go crazy. If I try to do four at once, then I get lost. You get the deer in headlights. I don’t know where to start. Which one’s more important? I don’t know, but try to break things down by week, and I break the year down by quarter. 


Amanda Bensel
And that is a system that works for me to smallify it and try to keep different things moving because I have a lot of different balls in the air at any given time and I just have to recognize that it’s okay not to have. I can set some balls aside to pick up next month and that’s my strategy, to not get overwhelmed with it. 


Monica H. Kang
Love it. Well, thank you very much for sharing that. And yes, I didn’t know about boxing. So next time, if we do know we need tips on it. We know who to reach out and get advice into and appreciate. Also your transparency that it’s not about just having a magic solution. It’s going to be different for every person and finding rather what works for you is kind of the secret sauce. I’m also being aware that because of the work you travel to Asia often. Like how in the world do you manage time zone and also any travel hacks that you want to share? 


Amanda Bensel
Oh goodness. Honestly, this is also something that’s very personal. Different people have different body. Actually, this is not a party trick, but I talk about this as a class B superpower of mine. It’s very personal. That’s why I say I am very good at flipping my clock. I have a skill set at it, but it’s because I am naturally blessed to be good at sleeping. I’m a deep sleeper and at the same time I am very good at keeping myself awake. It seems contradictory. I’m not an insomniac. I can stay up and then I pretty much can fall asleep when I hit the pillow. So my strategy for clock flipping really is to exhaust myself and book a flight that will land at night. I’ll use the screens or whatever. 


Amanda Bensel
As soon as I’m on a plane, I need to pretend I’m in the time zone where I’m landing. That’s when I start the reset and I time my sleeping my naps on a plane to line up more with the time zone where I’m landing. And then I use the screen to keep myself awake on the flight and be tired. So I land at night and can go to bed. That’s the first strategy for me. The other is do not nap the next day. Do not nap for several days. Push through. You are in that new time zone and so do not nap. Resist it in the afternoon when you’re tempted, when you’re going to Asia. It’s a big flip. Yes, I do lean into caffeine in the afternoon in those two days. And movement. Movement is. So even you asking me this. 


Amanda Bensel
So that’s my personal tips. But my personal strategies impact how I program. So I will not program a full day of sitting. No. For the first day everyone has landed. I will program some kind of touring or walking around on that first afternoon because I know that’s when everyone’s going to be hitting that jet lag wall. 


Monica H. Kang
And that’s very well thought out because I’ve experienced those as well and appreciated how thoughtful you laid out visiting back to those programs in Asia. I think one of the things you have also deep insight is just how much things have been evolving and changing and the needs are as you’re continuing to focus on leadership development Asia, what would you say is one thing that people often misunderstand about the leadership development growth and changes that’s been going on because you’ve been able to see it firsthand in Asia specifically? Yeah. Just overarching trends as a leadership development. 


Amanda Bensel
That’s a hard question, Monica, to summarize quickly in your podcast. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, we like to discuss about hard questions here, so appreciate you navigating it. 


Amanda Bensel
It’s a challenging question because so much of the work we do is also trying to consider the fact. I’m very aware that we are coming from the west and we have a western lens with leadership and there are trends within western leadership that we’re following and also trying to be conscious that we’re working with people across Asia and there are different lenses to respect there. I think something that is always at ods and there is not answer for directly, but something that has to be aware we have to be conscious of is how important hierarchical structures are in most of Asia still, in a way that’s different in the US. The western mindset is very entrepreneurial in general. Right. In any workplace, it’s a lot more pushing, especially as the tech industries have changed the workforce. 


Amanda Bensel
And this is so much of what you talk about here. And I feel that depending also very much where you are in Asia, it’s so very different. I lived and worked in South Asia for a long time and it’s interestingly, simultaneously very hierarchical and very laid back, depending on what kind office you’re going into. In Nepal especially. But I’m very aware you go to Japan or Korea and it’s a very twelve hour workday. Expectation and complete differential to the bosses and the structure. So how do you work? How do we work promoting this idea of authentic leadership? 


Amanda Bensel
I don’t think we promote the idea of managing up per se, but how do you, I bring it up in this moment because some of what we’re teaching, what we’re talking, the values we’re talking is about, how do you self advocate within that setting in a way that’s still respectful. And so this is why I stumble on the question a know very openly, because, again, there’s no one size fits all. And the nature of our programs, something that I think is beautiful and inherently challenging, is that most of our programs bring people together from all across Asia. And so that is, I think, a unique value add to what we do. We’re having people from across Asia learn from one another just as much as from us having them learn from their reflections to one another. 


Amanda Bensel
And that means within any given cohort, we have people operating either in the more laid back office setting and the more uptight office setting while we’re delivering the same content. So I think it’s a value add, though, because it’s a challenge and it brings out different perspectives for everybody to learn from one another in the same setting and to push their ideas among each other. 


Monica H. Kang
I love that. Thank you very much for addressing that hard question, because I think it’s so important that we get a chance to recognize that perception we’re bringing into any room that we walk in. And you’re reminding us the very reason why from the very first conversation, how important listening is, and walking in with an open mind instead of coming with our own agenda, which you’ve shared even from the very beginning in your peace corps reflection. And so thank you so much. Amanda, you share so much wisdom. Is there any final wisdom that you’ll share with our listeners? Whether they’re building leadership programs or wanting to think about how they can support their leaders thrive better when it comes. 


Amanda Bensel
To supporting leadership growth, we, again, have worked really hard to focus more on authentic leadership and self knowledge and knowing your needs. I think a lot of the people we work with are so focused on the mission that burnout is really huge. So reminding them it’s okay. And not only is it okay, but it’s important that they find a way to balance their own needs so that they won’t burn out and they can continue doing the work. For people who are mission driven and so focused on the work, oftentimes they have a hard time taking that time off for themselves because they think they’re spending less time on the thing. You have to remind them that the recharge will help them be more effective in the whole by taking time to themselves, they will actually be more effective overall. 


Amanda Bensel
So I think that is something to make sure you’re plugging with any leadership development and training. And of course, per this conversation, listening, starting with listening, start by asking, don’t assume you know what your leaders need. Start by asking them what they need. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you so much Amanda. It was a treat to have you. We are so inspired. So many action steps to take as we continue on the leadership development journey. What’s the best way folks can follow up with you? 


Amanda Bensel
Oh goodness. You can give them my email address somehow in the notes for this podcast. That’s fine. 


Monica H. Kang
I’m reachable at the Asia foundation and as folks know, we will also have her LinkedIn link as well. So reach out to her there and you’ll be able to chance to learn a little bit more about the programs that she is running and with her team. And so Amanda, thank you so much. This was such a treat folks. We’ll be back again with another story and we will see you soon. 


Amanda Bensel
Thanks Monica. 


Monica H. Kang
Our next guest building on that is Dr. Janine Lee, who has 15 plus years of experience in learning and development, diversity, equity, inclusion, digital transformation, business operation, continuous improvement, process consulting and change management. She has worked at various Fortune 500 companies as the global lnd manager, leading programs in talent pipeline, onboarding experience, career development manager, development, competency modeling and innovation spanning 150k learners. You can ask her certainly about all the different certifications she has, but particularly recently as a US Berkeley has MBA graduate in the USC Doctor of Education, Dr. Janine Lee has been lecturing as an adjunct professor at top universities including UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University and various places to help empower how we rethink about belonging in the workplace and how we train better leaders. 


Monica H. Kang
We’ll dive into what she has been teaching and why she got passionate about working into finding new ways, how we think about the belonging in the workplace. While she currently is at Google leading these efforts, she has definitely been touching upon this from her various roles outside of her work as well as inside. So meet my friend, Dr. Janine Lee. As we dive into how we rethink learning and development and the future of what we can do for our leaders better. 


Monica H. Kang
So very excited to have my friend Dr. Janine Lee here. She’s tuning in from San Francisco. Janine, thank you so much for joining us. We got a lot to talk about. But first, let’s talk about your specialty in the workplace of belonging. Let’s be honest, I think it’s a keyword that’s been thrown around quite a bit. And I’m so grateful you’ve done this research because now things are changing. So tell me a little bit more. What are we understanding well? What are we not understanding well? How do we do this thing called workplace and belonging? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Thank you so much for having me, Monica. So, yes, I published my dissertation last year on sense of belonging in the workplace. And more specifically, I focused on sense of belonging as it pertains to women of color in technology. But through that research, I had a whole lot of literature on belonging and DEi. And I think the first thing is people need to understand what belonging means and how it’s different than diversity, equity, and inclusion. So belonging is really the degree where the individual feels personally accepted, respected, included, and supported at work. 


Monica H. Kang
And tell me a little bit more how it has been changing. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I think belonging was a buzzword for quite some time. It got kind of added to DEi. So instead of just saying diversity, equity, inclusion, it became diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and it was Deib. So really, belonging is kind of at the center. So if you were to look at a Venn diagram, you could see, like, diversity, equity, inclusion, and the center of it all, or the result of it all, is actually belonging. So for everything to actually work and for someone to feel like they want to stay at a company and that they actually truly belong and can be their true, authentic selves at work, that’s really what belonging is. 


Monica H. Kang
And as an L and D expert, so called learning and development, you get a chance to embed this, create policies, work real time, see the transformations. What would you say we have to do better in the journey of leadership development to just better support, how to foster that space, and how leaders can be leaders who create a sense of belonging. 


Dr. Janine Lee
Yeah, I think the most important thing is to foster psychological safety so that direct reports can feel like they can bring their full, authentic selves to work. Oftentimes when people feel like they can’t be themselves at work, that’s when they feel like they can’t belong. And so leaders have a responsibility to truly understand what it is that a direct report needs to be thriving at their fullest potential and any obstacles and barriers that are preventing them from being their true selves. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So it could be anything from looking at the policies that systemically, that they’ve implemented, looking at the way social interactions are conducted within the workplace, ensuring that they have a peer or a buddy that they can rely on or confide in, and that they’re creating these social spaces to create that space, making sure that they’re pausing when they’re delivering feedback, when they’re sharing news, so that direct reports feel like there is an avenue in which that they can stop and pause and respond or process and share their thoughts, and to elevate voices in the room who often aren’t heard. So leaders have a responsibility when they see that someone’s not speaking up or that someone might have an expertise in something, but they’re not sharing it. It’s oftentimes because they don’t feel comfortable. 


Monica H. Kang
And for those who are not familiar with the term psychological safety, what’s the best way to understand that? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Yeah. So physical safety is like, physically, you feel safe, like your body, where you physically are. Psychological safety is really around your mind. And whether you feel like you’re free to share your thoughts, your opinions, and your ideas in the workplace, especially if they’re contrasting to other people’s ideas. This whole concept of psychological safety is really around whether people feel comfortable sharing their ideas, their thoughts and opinions, and whether they will be well received by their management and their leadership team. Or if in their culture, some new idea that they might bring up actually gets rejected, or they feel like their contributions aren’t valued in the workplace. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, Dr. Janine, how do you also get into the field of learning and development and belonging? Why did you want it to study? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Yeah. So I’ll take those questions separately. So let’s talk about learning and development first, and then we can talk about belonging. So on the learning and development side, I’ve always done some kind of version of learning and development in my career. Ever since I’ve known it. I’ve done training as it pertains to systems implementation. I’m a certified lean six sigma master black belt. So I was really in this kind of continuous improvement space and training individuals on how to get certifications to become yellow belts and green belts. And I realized that I really liked the training aspect. So when I came to Google about seven years ago, I was hired to do technology implementation. And what I found was that I actually loved the people aspect more. So the change piece, like, how are they adopting to the tool? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Do they know how to use it? And as I co created some trainings, I realized that this was actually truly my passion. And I had also been teaching outside of Google at UC Berkeley, and that was just something that I knew that I wanted to double down on. So when opportunities arose at Google, I applied for opportunities in learning and development, and have been doing that consistently since I’ve had that career at Google. 


Monica H. Kang
And the second part with belonging, why. 


Dr. Janine Lee
Did you decide to the second part about belonging? For me, Deib has always been something that I’ve been really passionate about, just being a woman of color in the workplace and a woman of color in tech. So for me, coming into tech and in general, in the workplace, my whole career, there were always, like, moments that I didn’t necessarily feel like I belonged. And then there were moments that I felt like I belonged. And the moments that I felt like I belonged, I felt like I was really performing. At my best, I could be my true, authentic self at work. I really enjoyed the work that I was doing and the value that I was bringing to the company. And it was almost like two different people when I felt like I belonged in the times that I felt like I didn’t belong. 


Dr. Janine Lee
And so it became an interesting topic to me to think a little bit more about. What is it that’s contributing to or detracting from belonging in the workplace? And how do I make sure that I can use my research to empower leaders as well as peers to really think about their day to day actions, the programs that they implement, the work that they do, to really strive to foster an inclusive workplace where people feel like they belong. 


Monica H. Kang
So important. I appreciate you sharing that. I think it’s always meaningful to reflect back on the origin and story and how it began. Want to revisit about the learning development given your expertise and diverse background into the whole space? Share some advice and tips. So let’s say somebody out there is listening and they’re like, great. Dr. Nee, we have a pro here. Tell us what I need to do better to create. Let’s say, question one, just building a better leadership program, what does that look like? What are the key elements that I should be doing better? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Yeah. So if we’re thinking about how leaders can design an actual comprehensive leadership program, they need to have elements of both Deib and leadership. And that’s really, truly my passion, is the synergy between leadership development and the Deib components. You’ve heard probably a lot about inclusive leadership. You hear probably less about something like belonging based leadership, which isn’t really like a term a lot of people use. But for me, I think what’s important when you’re designing a leadership development program is one allowing leaders to truly reflect on themselves and what they think their strengths are, what they think their team needs them to be, and then what they actually need to be an effective leader. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So there needs to be some type of personalization, whether it’s a self assessment or a 360 assessment or a manager assessment, to first determine where are they in their journey, both from a leadership capability standpoint and a DEIb perspective. So I would make sure that you have both components. And then from there, I would also think about what are the learning objectives that you really want a leader to think about as they’re going through the program. Is it purely managing individuals that report to them and performance and making sure that they’re highly effective teams? Or is there more as a company, that you’re really trying to get out of this program for leaders to take their leadership to the next level? Right. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So you kind of have to know where the target is, because then from there, once you determine the learning objectives, you can do a needs assessment, and you can really think about truly what type of curriculum that you might want to custom develop and then end with a post assessment to make sure that it’s truly made a difference. So that’s just at a high level, like the framework that I would follow in designing this and focusing on truly the objectives that you want your leaders to have. And it’s going to be different for every company, and it’s going to be different for every individual and where they are in their journey. 


Monica H. Kang
And building on that second question would be then, how can I upskill myself as an LND expert, an L D. Leader, trying to continue to build better learning and development programs? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Yeah, so I utilize a lot of different frameworks. Kirkpatrick is one of the frameworks that I utilize very often, which is focusing on the end in line. So Kirkpatrick has a four level framework that is utilized where you start with the business objectives and the results first. So you think about what is it that I’m really trying to do and accomplish, whether it’s increasing underrepresented groups in the workplace, and you want to do like a training on hiring, what is the key metric or the key outcome that you’re trying to influence. And then you work backwards and you think about the behaviors and the results that you want to see, and then you think about the type of training tied to specific skill sets that you’d have to really upskill to get to that point, and then go backwards to developing the curriculum. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So Kirkpatrick is one of the frameworks that I often utilize as an L. D. Leader. I also think a lot about Clark and SD’s KMO framework, which is on knowledge, motivation and organization. So a lot of times leaders think, oh, I can solve this problem by just implementing training. And if I put training in place, everyone will know what they’re supposed to do. And sometimes it’s not actually just training. So training is really that knowledge component, but you also have to think about the m, which is motivation, and O, which is the organization. So rather than jumping to conclusions, that training will actually solve the problem as an LND leader, you also have to think about the culture and the organization and partner across the organization to ensure that you’re accompanying your training with motivational elements and organizational elements. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So really looking at the full scope of the culture and the organization and not just honing in one singular training that’s so helpful. 


Monica H. Kang
I can hear our listeners jotting down notes. As you’re sharing this, let’s add complexity, shall we? So, on top of, even if I’m doing that, I know yourself oversee multigenerations. You have a global team and a global workforce. We’re still navigating hybrid remote. How do we make sense of it? So what are additional components that we have to keep in mind because of these three variables? 


Dr. Janine Lee
For instance, oh, so many things. I could give you a laundry list of things to think about. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, let’s talk about it. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I think the first thing you mentioned about global pandemic and this environment and all of these different things, first you have to think about the modality that best suits your learners. So learners all learn in different ways. Some do better through whether it’s a virtual course or an in person course, and some do better through more practice and application. And actually, now the trend in the industry is to move towards more practice and application. So it’s actually hands on, whether it’s like experiential learning where people are doing simulations. For example, you could do like a manager coaching simulation, where you have them have different scenarios that they’re practicing with their peers or moving to something more hands on, where they’re actually following a process from start to finish, and they’re actually following step one all the way to the end. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I think the modality of the training is always really critical to understand what will best suit your learners. And if you do a really comprehensive needs analysis, you should be understanding what at large are your learners needs. And of course, it depends on your budget and resourcing. But then you could look at other dynamics, like the global aspect. Okay. From your kind of baseline curriculum that you build, do you have to make variations of that curriculum to ensure that people that maybe English isn’t their first language and globally they’re in another country, or words that maybe might be utilized differently in their dictionary in English are done differently? 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I think having a global, diverse team in your task team to build the curriculum is really important because these subject matter experts can call out kind of the nuances or even sometimes the legal implications. And so I’ve launched trainings in the past where were doing some external training, and the employees came back and told me, oh, in Taiwan, not as many people might be English fluent in these areas. Can you also make the training available in Mandarin? And so we actually did partner with our localization team, who helped us translate the training. So there are so many different components beyond that. And then you also have to think about the Deib aspect. Right. How do you make it accessibility friendly? If people are visually impaired, you want to think about the colors that you’re using. 


Dr. Janine Lee
If people are hard of hearing, you want to make sure you have captions. So there’s also another accessibility element for people that might have disabilities. And then you also want to think about the characters you’re using. So is there diversity in the skin color and the gender or gender fluidity even of some of the characters that you have in your elearnings? So that’s just a starting point. There’s a lot more. If we had more time, I would go into more detail with you, but just some things that lnd practitioners and leaders should be thinking about. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, I think that is a wonderful start. And I totally hear you piggyback on your last comment about even visuals. I admit I was a little surprised and shocked when somebody called me out and like, hey, by the way, it’s great that you, and for people who know me, of course, they can see I’m a woman of color as well, korean american female. So they’re like, okay, you’re a diverse person of color, but why is all your visuals with white men? And I didn’t realize it how visibly that was, because I was referring to images that was available online. And it didn’t hit me until that person said it in front of me, in front of the entire audience. I was like, why are your visuals not matching even what you’re saying? And I’m confused. 


Monica H. Kang
And at the moment, I was kind of hurt more of how it was come together. But I was really grateful for the person to single out that important feedback. And since then, we’ve actually now have an original illustrator who have illustrated many of our conversations so that we redraw because I couldn’t find anything. So we had to create it, to your point, because unfortunately, in the market, even just those visuals didn’t exist. 


Dr. Janine Lee


Monica H. Kang
So we had to redraw to make sure we position, think about who’s actually the person who’s criticizing. So it’s not coming across one gender or one ethnicity to not misposition, which are all the nuances that are key. And so I totally want to, plus one, because I think these are all small details when on the designing piece, on the learner side, people can notice and feel that sense of belonging. But when you’re not being thoughtful, could easily draw red flags and they’re probably listening. Like something feels off. But I don’t know why. It’s all these details. 


Dr. Janine Lee
And you touched on a couple of really important things in the conversation. So one was creating this psychologically safe space so that someone could bring this up with you. So I think as a leader, if you’re designing a training, you want to have that feedback mechanism. How are people providing feedback and actually telling you, hey, I’m seeing something in a different light. The second thing is creating that diverse team. So if you don’t have diversity in your team and your team is just all homogeneous, then it’s going to be hard to pinpoint these things. Right. And then the third thing is that sense of belonging where it’s like you log in to take a training and you’re like, is this really for me? Was this really designed for me specifically? 


Dr. Janine Lee
And so if you don’t see people that look like you and sound like you, just like in the workplace similarly. Right. Then you might just open it and be turned off and say, well, then I’m not going to take this training. Like all the examples, the scenarios people might share might not even be applicable to their job or challenges that they’re facing. Right? So also, thinking about the scenarios that you bring forward, it’s so important. 


Monica H. Kang
And speaking of which, first, thank you for doing the work that you do. It’s so important, and we need more leaders like you. But what I know of also behind the scene is that this is not the only thing you do. You do so many to make sure this message is shared around the world. I guess the number one question is, we want to make sure Dr. Janine is not burned out. How do you take care of yourself? Because I know you’re very involved in your community. You’re teaching also through content creation, making sure this information is accessible. How do you make sure you balance this off? Because it could creep up. 


Dr. Janine Lee
It’s so hard because I always tell people sometimes it doesn’t feel like work, because I love so much of what I do and I’m so passionate about it that it is easy to burn out because you might not feel like you’re actually working. So I will first and foremost say that I don’t know that I have solved for this completely in my life. I’ve been more cognizant about it in my life. I think the word balance is really key. So what are moments that you need to lean in and lean out of different spaces in your life and where can you add the most value? And, you know, I do the teaching at UC Berkeley. I’m also in the middle of authoring my book. I’m also working on some other articles to publish more of the dissertation research. 


Dr. Janine Lee
I have the podcast, I have speaking. So I have a lot of different facets of my life. And when I look at my, like, I always think about, okay, what are timelines that are adjustable, what are firm deadlines, and what are things that are going to give me the most impact. So I might have a running list of a lot of things that I need to get done or that I want to do, but maybe they don’t have the biggest reach and the biggest audience. And so I think really conscientiously of, okay, if I spend my time really having this one speaking engagement versus ten or 20 with smaller audiences, maybe that’s not being widely distributed, then maybe my impact can be more scalable. So I think about scalability a lot. The second thing is I also am extremely organized. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I calendar my time and I calendar both personal and professional time. I color code everything. I color code work time. So I really just try to carve things out. And then I think the most important thing out of all of this for balance is self care and self love. So it’s thinking about what is the one thing in the whole entire week that you’re doing that’s truly, really for yourself and no one else. And I’ve even made a list of the things that I consider for me. So things like taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, getting my nails done right, going to yoga. So I write down a list of things, and then I constantly keep looking and making sure that it’s okay. It’s okay to take a break. 


Dr. Janine Lee
And I tell myself, and that self love part of saying it’s okay, Janine, you’re not going to get to it all. It’s okay if you postpone this deadline. It’s okay if you miss this opportunity, because more opportunities will come. And you have to be able to give yourself that love. And if you can’t, that’s probably the hardest thing that you’ll have to learn. Because it’s really easy to be hard on yourself and think that you should be doing more. Because at the end of the day, you are the one setting the bar for yourself. Like how high the bar is or how low the bar is, that’s up to you. And then that kind of dictates how much you have on your plate and how much you have to balance and how much you have to juggle. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So I would just challenge people to really think about that. And then the last thing I will say is that I spent a lot of my life thinking about my life mission and my life vision. And I know that might sound really big and lofty and profound to a lot of people, like, why do I exist on this earth? What’s my meaning in life? What’s my purpose? But it’s really important for you to also take a step back and think about why is it that you’re doing all the things that you’re doing and does it align to your personal mission and vision? Because at the end of the day, if it doesn’t and it’s not giving that impact and it’s not fulfilling you and it’s not filling your cup, it’s actually going to drain your energy. 


Dr. Janine Lee
So my life mission is to inspire others to reach their full potential. And my life vision is to create a world where others belong. And everything that I do needs to align to that mission and vision, or I don’t take it on. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, thank you for saying yes for this podcast interview. That way we can amplify your mission and story and work. Thank you so much, Janine, you dropped us so many wisdoms. I know folks will revisit back two final things. One, final words of wisdom that you want to leave with us. I know you shared a lot. And two, what’s the best way to stay in touch with you? 


Dr. Janine Lee
Okay, final words of wisdom. I guess I want to think about something pretty holistic, both on the learning and development side and the Deib side, which is education is the most powerful weapon. Nelson Mandela said that. So the more that you could educate yourself both as a leader. So thinking about what trainings you can take, where your blind spots are, what your strengths are, right? That’s really important. Continuously learning and having a growth mindset as a leader is critical. And then also in the Deib space. So I know a lot of people say you’re an expert in Deib. Please come speak on this topic. I have published articles. I still don’t think my learning journey is over yet. So I myself have spent a lot of time signing up for other classes, learning from people from different backgrounds. 


Dr. Janine Lee
And so I might be more familiar with certain different sectors or areas or expertise in Deib. But I can’t say that I know it all. And I think knowing that you don’t know it all is also something really important so that you strive to continuously learn and grow as a leader and as a person. 


Monica H. Kang
Love that. Best way to stay in touch with. 


Dr. Janine Lee
You yes, best way to stay in touch with me. So you could go to ww janinelee.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn slash in Janine Lee. And then also I am on Instagram at Dr. Janine Lee. 


Amanda Bensel


Monica H. Kang
And folks, you know the drill. We always put our guest notes in our blog. Find the blogs, particularly for dearworkplace.com. You’ll see a little blog notes there and you’ll be able to find her connections. And if you ever lose, just send a quick email at [email protected] so Janine, this was such a pleasure having you. Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to seeing you all listeners in another story, another week. Thank you. Bye. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you Amanda and Janine for taking the time to share your insights and wisdom with us at Dear workplace. As we continue on, we definitely want to also make sure that we tie into a theme that I think many of us are talking about lately. That’s right, AI. Next week we’ll be inviting some guests who is leading efforts in AI and wants to democratize how we learn about AI. So join us next week for another story and learning moment at Dear workplace by innovators box. I’m your host, Monica Kang, and I cannot wait to see you next week. Hey, thanks so much for tuning in to another episode at Dear Workplace by innovators Box and your host, Monica King me. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. 


Monica H. Kang
Today’s episode is possible thanks to a wonderful team who has dedicated their time and making sure you hear the quality research that you heard today. Want to shout out to audio engineering and production lead by Sam Lehmart, Audio Engineering assistant by Ravi Lad; website and marketing support by Kree Pandey; Graphic Support by Lea Orsini, Christine Aribal; original music by InnovatorsBox Studios, and executive producing directing, writing, researching hosted by me, Monica King, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox. Thank you so much. Your love and support and sharing means the world to us. Please send us any questions and thoughts you have and what you want to learn more on next and we’ll dive right into it. Thank you and have a wonderful day. 


Monica H. Kang
See you soon. 

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