FWD Feature | Levi Baer FWD | For Women and Diversity | Collective

Levi Baer, Building Community / Teaching Entrepreneurs

FWD Collective is excited to announce that Levi Baer has joined the speaker roster for our Chicago Summit on September 13th 2018!

We had the pleasure of connecting with Levi to ask a few questions!

What does diversity, equity, and professional inclusion mean to you?
For me, diversity, equity, and professional inclusion means giving everyone a chance to fully contribute with the unique skills, resources, and insights their background provides. Why wouldn’t we want to make progress by capitalizing on the strength and understanding that rich and diverse organizational and societal cultures provides?!

How have you experienced and/or dealt with adversity in your professional and personal life?
Absolutely. Being biracial (Black and White) means that I have another layer to the experience of being a person of color in the world today, in that I don’t truly fit within either of those groups. I am always navigating to fit in. Working with one non-profit in Chicago, I found myself working with Black colleagues and serving Black communities. At the time it was all new to me and I had a steep cultural learning curve, which was an important moment of growth for me.

What would be one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self: “Heads up! You’re not going to fit in as easily as you think you will.” It’s great to have confidence and it’s a wonderful skill to be able to adapt to new situations and people. However, I think many non-majority individuals are too often forced to sacrifice some of their identity to fit in and not only can that be a jarring experience, but it’s also a sad loss of self.

Name three things that you do everyday to help lead you to success.
1) Take my mornings to myself. I get up early in order to workout, read, and make breakfast all before I have to start working or responding to any emails.
2) Redo my to do lists every day. As a small business owner, teacher, and facilitator I have to stay very flexible; reassessing my priorities daily or even hourly allows me to not get too frustrated about not getting “enough” done. 
3) Make time for fun, in some way, every day. I love board games and although I don’t play games every day, I do find people to play with every week, even if it’s just for 30 minutes at lunch!

Who inspires your professional ambition? Why?
My friends and peers who are working extremely hard to bring their dreams to life, have positive impact on people around them, and leave time for self care. For me this is folks like Sam Rosen of Deskpass, Emile Cambry of Blue1647, and Jill Salzman of Founding Moms. I’m not inspired by rich celebrities or people working to the point of burnout because social media says so.

What is your favorite book? Or the one you'd recommend most?
The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson. It tells the story of the migration of Black people in the U.S. from the south to the north over a 60 year period of time. It sheds light on some amazing real-life experiences that shaped our country and the Black experience that are definitely not taught in schools.

What are the top three things we should know about your business or company?
1. Second Shift is so much more than an office! We’re a coworking space that bakes networking into the everyday recipe of the shared office experience and makes it extremely easy and natural to collaborate, be productive, and regain work-life balance.
2.My Cofounder Nicole Vasquez and I are a part of the community we serve, so we understand what it is like to be isolated working from home or distracted at a coffee shop. We’re like the FUBU of coworking spaces, haha!
3.We have a whole wall FULL of board games! Come hang out :)

Anything else we should know?
Now that D&I is very prominent as a form of CSR, I’d love to see companies really putting their money where their mouth is in terms of opening up their pipeline by going to meet candidates where they are at, changing the face of leadership, and putting budget behind the policy and system changes needed to make all people feel welcome!


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