We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Anita Polite-Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Anita, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I started my business it was out of necessity because my entire work group of internal consultants had been laid off. But, my work as a faculty member for a local university facilitating professional development courses in the evenings gave me access to several companies all suffering from the same corporate toxicity that was running rampant in the company I had just left. Instead of going back into that same environment with a different company, I decided to invest my severance in myself and leverage all my education, experience, and expertise into work that allowed me to choose clients that held the same human affirming values that I did. Now, I help leaders and teams navigate complexity and change associated with pursuing Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging. People are complex and navigating personal change in the public space of a working environment is challenging. However, my approach to fostering a more inclusive environment where everyone has a deep sense of belonging is intentionally designed to help people raise their awareness of self and others. It is by far the most fulfiling work I have ever done. And, although there are some days I’m still not quite sure how I got here, I am certainly living my purpose.
What should our readers know about your business?
I provide several related services to my clients in the areas of leadership development and change management, both of which result from D&I work. I view Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging is a moral imperative for any business. There is an undeniable need to cultivate organizational cultures that engage the entire workforce concerning racial issues. Fair and equitable conditions are expected. It is no longer acceptable to claim ignorance in an age where cell phones capture stories otherwise untold. More than ever, people want a sense of belonging at work. Even with the current economic climate, having a job is not as important as having a sense of appreciation for who one is and what one contributes, if given a fair chance. What distinguishes me from other consultants is that I focus on listening to understand. Then, I listen to solve my client’s challenges alongside them, not by telling them what they should do. I provide specific expertise needed just-in-time to achieve objectives. I also believe in engaging with internal subject matter experts to execute meaningful initiatives that transform culture and delivers value. I am a subject matter expert who is willing to get in the trenches with my clients because I’m dedicated to getting teams unstuck.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Because most of my work is people focused, I usually wind down by hopping in my convertible with my husband on Sunday afternoon, driving through Plant Power for a non-dairy chocolate/coffee shake (so smooth and yummy!), and then driving down to Balboa Pier for a stroll to look a the homes and boats. Driving with the top down gives me a sense of freedom to escape, even if only for a couple of hours. I love to listen to jazz and one of my all time favorite CDs is called Brighter Day by Ronnie Jordan. EVERY single cut on that CD is a hit. Then, when we’ve arrived at the pier, there is something so invigorating about walking up and down the boardwalk while friends, lovers, musicians, artists, weekend athletes, and families hang out together and enjoy the sea air. I like famailarity, so the route my husband takes us on doesn’t change much, but I experience something different every time because it’s our time and I cherish it. My next favorite thing is to get on our bikes and cycle down to the beach. It’s not quite as relaxing as riding in the car, but it’s our time to bond and get healthy together. So, if I had guests in town, we would hang out at the beach, enjoy the local sites, and wind down at the best eatery that served up what we had a taste for. To me, that would be a pretty near close to the perfect weekend.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To begin with, I’d have to say that I owe my outlook on life to my great grandfather, Wesley Polite. He was a former slave. And the practice at the time was for freed slaves to take the last name of their former master. Because of the way he carried himself, my great grandfather was known as Polite. So, when he became free, Polite was the last name he chose for himself. When I married, I retained my married name to remind me that regardless of the circumstances I face, they don’t have to change my character. And, that when I am true to my character, I honor my family name.
When I think of the people who have impacted my success the most, I think of my first two mentors, Jean Anderson, and Dr. Bernard Curtis. What I learned from Jean was to always acknowledge other women and their gifts. What I learned from Dr. Curtis was that formal education and life experience are a dynamic combination. I earned all of my degrees about 10 years apart, and during each season in between studies, I grew so much as I integrated my book smarts and my street smarts. What I learned from both them is to believe in myself regardless of the circumstances. The foundation for my success is my FAITH: Family, being Authentic, striving to act with Integrity, Transparency, and being Honest with myself. I call it “keeping it real” and when I’m honest with myself, it keeps me grounded and in a position of keeping it real with others. Most importantly, I want to dedicate my shoutout to my parents, John and Mary Polite, who both demonstrated where faith and hard work could take me in life, and to my husband who earned every degree right along with me because he enabled me to thrive, and to my brother who has always been in my corner. I thank God for every one who ever pushed and prayed for me.
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