Creating Competent Leaders – Ep.96

Inclusive AI – Ep.95
June 28, 2023
Remembering to Have Fun! – Ep.97
July 12, 2023

Founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting, Aiko Bethea shares tips for organizations to break down DEI barriers in the workplace, discusses building competent leadership practices and how to engage in developing equity-focused leadership principles.

Melyssa Barrett:  Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Aiko Bethea is a leader, builder and connector who is successfully navigated leadership roles in government, philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sectors. The founder of RARE Coaching and Consulting, Aiko guides leaders and organizations, including Fortune 100 companies and global nonprofit organizations to remove barriers to inclusion. She has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top seven anti-racism educators for companies, and is a senior equity consultant for the Brené Brown Education and Research Group. Oh, and did I mention that she led a legal team at the City of Atlanta under the leadership of Stacey Abrams? She served as a director of compliance for the City of Atlanta and deputy director of a compliance department at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and she was also the head of diversity and inclusion for the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

I am excited this week to have Aiko Bethea. She is a phenomenal, phenomenal woman. It is such a pleasure to have you on the Jali Podcast. So I wanted to start out just by asking you how you got into this space in your life, and you’ve had such an interesting career of different industries and backgrounds. How did you find yourself in this space?

Aiko Bethea:  Well, Melyssa, first of all, thank you for having me and inviting me to be here with you. So I’m looking forward to this conversation. When I think about how did I get to where I am right now in this point in time, I’ll first just define where I am. So I am actually based now in Atlanta, Georgia. I own a leadership development firm that does work that’s actually global and not just national. And I’ve got two teen boys who I’m also raising here as well. So when I think about how did I get here? I will say that many people, I started with an idea of the question that people always ask us. So Melyssa, what is the question that everybody asks you when you’re small?

Melyssa Barrett:  What do you want to be when you grow up?

Aiko Bethea:  Exactly. What I knew is that I didn’t want to be poor like we were. I knew that I wanted to have some degree of agency, and I knew that I didn’t want to be invisible.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it.

Aiko Bethea:  So even if it wasn’t just me not being invisible, I wanted my work or what I’m doing to have impact.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  I grew up in a household where my mom’s Japanese, so we spoke Japanese in the household, and she didn’t move here until she was about 26. I grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and I went to a Title I school because we were poor, and the best gift to me was the fact that we were poor. Because when you are Black, but you are not raised with a Black parent, if you have money, how likely is it that you’re going to be raised in a Black community?

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s true. Well, that’s true.

Aiko Bethea:  Yes. So for me, I was able to be raised in community and be connected with community and a lot of that was because we were poor and didn’t have… So I always knew a couple things. One was when my mom or my grandmother or something when we were going somewhere, I knew they were treated differently because of how they looked and their accents. We could never go through the McDonald’s because people would say, “What’d you say? What’d you say? To the point where it’s humiliating if you have any kind of accent. So I knew this idea of how people are treated differently, not even just based on race. That’s part of it. And then I knew from a young age of going, being bused once a week to just, for want of a better word, a white school for a gifted program. That’s when I understood what it meant to be Black in relationship to whiteness and also in terms of being poor, having and not having.

So I always could recognize what it looked like in terms of not being treated the same as or with respect. So I think it’s a part of my makeup, and I went [inaudible 00:04:57] really quickly. Any of us who have been on the outside looking in, we usually grow up speaking a lot of languages in terms of code switching, in terms of understanding what spaces you belong in, what’s the hidden language happening here. Even the language people are telling us based on how they’re dressed. What story are they hearing about us based on how we’re dressed or how we talk or how we show up? So I always knew the idea of inside, outside, right?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  I always thought it’s really unfair for many of us to automatically be on the outside and that’s not right. So going and becoming an attorney sounds like very obvious because one, when you’re trying to be [inaudible 00:05:43], what do they usually say? What are the jobs? It’s usually two main ones that people name, what are they, Melyssa?

Melyssa Barrett:  Lawyer and doctor.

Aiko Bethea:  There you go. So I said, “Well, my science is not up to par, so I’m about to be a lawyer up in here,” and that’s what I pursued. And I ended up going to school. I went to an all women’s school, Smith in Massachusetts because they gave me the most money. [inaudible 00:06:09] where I wanted to go, didn’t get enough money to go. So I ended up then going to the Marines for Officer Candidacy School twice, got injured because they were going to pay for my law school. And then I went to Chapel Hill, I waited for a year to go to Chapel Hill so I could get in-state tuition because I’d gotten injured and couldn’t finish going to JAG. So I went to Chapel Hill, and then I left there and worked at a big law firm. And left there and went to city government where I worked for, now people know who that is, Stacey Abrams. Took a big 70%-

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, we know who she is.

Aiko Bethea:  That’s right. And that was the first decision I made that was not financially motivated. I went to the undergrad I did because they gave me the most money, the Marines, I did that because they were going to pay for law school. I went to Carolina because it was in state. I went to a big firm because it had the payment of six digits coming out of law school. The first decision I made was to leave and go to city government at City of Atlanta. And from there, decided later at a point that I don’t want to practice law, and I wanted do stuff that was for people. So I went to Seattle at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and I realized that philanthropy is not working for the people, not as we know it and made other decisions.

Eventually I ended up wanting to come back to Atlanta, raise the boys in a city that looked like them. Seattle wasn’t it. And I decided I want to take a bet on myself and work myself. I’d already done all the prep work in terms of certification around executive coaching. I thought I was going to do that when I retired, but I had been doing it on the side and I loved it. I really loved it. And in the places that I worked, especially at the Gates Foundation, I started the first ERGs. One was for Black folks and the other one was for Asian folks, the first ones there. Led equity and inclusion at Fred Hutch, which is a medical research center, and came back to Atlanta and said, “I don’t want to work for anybody.”

And leadership development, executive coaching, things I’d been doing on the side, and as a part of my work, I went into it and I realized I’m pretty darn good at it. And guess what? People need a different model of what leadership looks like.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Aiko Bethea:  Oftentimes, I was the only person who looked like me who was actually providing leadership development. And I also realized the way that I spoke about leadership and even apply different tools, it was different because I am different in my experience around leadership and what type of leadership supported me and helped me looked really different. And I realized leadership development as a sector, it is so entrenched [inaudible 00:08:49]. And guess what? It doesn’t work for most of us. And if it kept being taught that way, that meant that many of us, one, would not ever be seen as leaders who are successful because we do things differently. We show up differently even just in the bodies we’re in.

And two, I knew that teams that were being led would always leave some people being on the outside because the way that leadership was embraced and motivated is not at all aligned with us, and what it would require of us is for us to be code switching, assimilating, and covering, and who can do their best work when you’re so busy trying to be somebody else, when you’re so busy being prepared for punitive repercussions because of the body you’re in or the culture you’re from?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Aiko Bethea:  So just in the whole leadership sector for recognizing how leadership looks different, actually it needs to be different based on where we are today. Actually, if I’m honest, where we were a long time ago, but that’s why you see very few of us in C-Suite, you see very few of us even at that next tier of leadership. But what you do see is a lot of us who are burnt out, a lot of us who are accepting narratives about us that are not true, a lot of us who just throw up our hands and we say, “I’m just going to coast,” versus thinking about what does the version of our best selves look like in thriving? We just accept I’m never going to be, this isn’t for me. I’m not good enough, whatever the narrative is.

So my leadership development firm actually allows for and creates space for different modes of leadership, is really clear about what the impact is. And we are very clear about making sure that people are anchored in themselves as they’re thinking about the responsibility of leading other people. And Melyssa, quite frankly, the responsibility of living full lives for themselves.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. Say that. And it’s so interesting because I think you probably spend a lot of time talking about how DEI fits into leadership because I think a lot of people think DEI… Well, I shouldn’t say a lot of people. There are companies that manage DEI very separate from the rest of their business. It’s very much a, “Oh, ERG? That’s DEI.” Instead of really owning that literally DEI is in everything we do. There is a lens for DEI in so many aspects of the world, and we bring that lens and all of our intersectionality with us whenever we lead. So can you talk a little bit about how it fits into leadership, especially when there’s so many different styles of leadership and everybody didn’t like their boss and a lot of the CEOs? As a CEO, sometimes it’s like, “Okay, that employee, they’re not going anywhere,” or whatever. And then you realize, “Okay, why am I thinking that way if I’m not challenging myself to really push my own leadership and lens for diversity, equity, and inclusion?”

Aiko Bethea:  So one of the things I often tell folks, we don’t really put ourselves out there as, “We do DEI work.” We’re really clear about this as leadership development. And I think that if people understand the fact that having a diverse workforce, having an equitable workplace, having an inclusive culture, those are outputs of strong and competent leaders.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  Ask yourself on the other end, what’s going on when I have a team or I have an organization that really is not diverse? And when I’m talking about diversity, I even want to back up and be really clear. You can’t talk about diversity in the context of diversity, equity, inclusion unless you are always including historically excluded groups. So you’re not talking about diversity if the only thing you’re talking about is diversity of thoughts or you’re talking about… Just pick your poison. Hey, we went to different Ivy leagues. That is not diversity or geographic diversity. We have people in California, we have New York, we’re very diverse. Unless you’re including racial diversity, particularly if you’re thinking about the folks who are the most excluded, nationality, faith, all the things that we already have a social contract around in terms of even if you think about if you’re U.S. based in our own constitution, what are the protected classes? So if you’re not talking about them, you’re not talking about diversity in the sense of diversity, equity, inclusion. So I want to start there.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  So if you don’t have a diverse workforce, and a majority of people all look the same. Okay?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yep.

Aiko Bethea:  If you don’t have an organization that’s equitable, that’s actually thinking about the historical context too, because you can’t just jump in and say, “We’re doing equity just from this point in time.” You got to think about why are there already barriers or where do they come from? Then there’s inclusion of course, where you’re having environment where you’re welcoming people to be part of decision making and co-creation. So all of those things, are you being a good leader if you don’t know how to recruit and retain a team that is diverse, as we named it? So I’m really clear about if your team looks really homogenous and the same, then are you being a successful leader? What’s wrong? You’re already at a deficit because you’ve already limited your talent pool and perspective. So that ain’t going to work.

Are you equitable when you’re just thinking that everybody needs to be doing the same thing the same way and you’re not actually thinking about what are the gaps and skills, and other things that you need to provide support around? So that’s how leaders need to think about it. It’s like, “Wait, wait, I’m operating at a deficit already because I’m not encompassing this greater talent pool. I’m not able to retain talent that’s bringing forth the diversity that we need to be successful.” People need to think about it as a deficit and not a nice to have.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, yes.

Aiko Bethea:  What’s the issue here that folks don’t feel like they can speak up and they might get fired or be shamed or blamed because they’re speaking up about something that’s not already the norm? You need to be thinking, you’re operating at a deficit as a leader. So the competencies of a leader, them having emotional intelligence, self-awareness, did the self-work, awareness of others, and understanding how to regulate and manage relationships, are you really equipped to be a leader? Are you even competent at all? So just the definition of what it means in the benchmark of leadership has to be elevated. And the litmus test is also about what’s the environment they’re creating and sustaining.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  That make sense?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, totally. I love it. And quite frankly, you talk a lot about what competent leadership looks like, so now people know what it doesn’t look like.

What would you say to A DEI professional that isn’t getting the resources that they need? Because I think a lot of so-called leaders, or they’re at least in the leadership position, they say they want DEI, but they really don’t want that much of it, I’ll say. They don’t want to change their whole organization, they don’t want to push too hard, they just want to make enough change so that people are okay with it, I feel like. That’s my experience. You know, have some that are just like, “Oh, we’re going full bore.” And then you have all these other companies that are just thinking they’re doing enough to get by.

Aiko Bethea:  I think for A DEI professional or somebody who’s just focused on DEI component in an organization, I think even before you go in for the job, there are questions you need asked to figure out, is it aligned and can you even make impact? And honestly, why are you even in the work? And if your work is about being value-centered, making impact, there’s some questions you need to ask before you even accept the job, it includes things like what are the resources, what’s team going to have to work with? What’s the budget that we’re going to have? Why is this organization even interested in doing this work? And asking those questions alone, just three questions because you can ask other things about asking like can I see a employee climate engagement survey? Things that are going to help you understand what the battle’s really going to be. What can help you understand, is this my place or not?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah.

Aiko Bethea:  When I’ve interviewed for roles and been invited to interview and I realized, “Wow, one, where does this role sit in the organization as the Chief diversity officer? Oh, I’m reporting to the chief HR officer who has no insight, hasn’t done their own work already, maybe even feels threatened by me. I’m probably not going to make much of an impact here.” The reason they’re doing as well, we understand now with the climate, this is what everybody’s doing and we need to get on board. But there’s not a values alignment, there’s not a philosophical alignment. And so certain things will already give you a cue, wait a minute, this isn’t what I think it’s going to be. So you have to figure out what is your success rate. Some folks, you’ll take a job because you’re like, “Hey, my goal is I’m going to get paid or I’m going to get some experience, but I know what it’s going to be.” So it’s the idea about being intentional, about what is it really going to be?

And I think many chief diversity officers or people who are in diversity programming, et cetera, realize, “I’m not going to be able to make the impact I want to make. Oh man, I can’t thrive here.” We know that based on the numbers, the retention rates. But also there are other folks who feel like I’m in here for the community that’s here with me. So the places where I would stand up a employee resource group, that became became our community. That became our support system, that became our people. And sometimes we need that at the moment more than we’re thinking about what we’re getting out of an organization. Because frankly, there’s just not a lot of organizations where people are thriving who don’t look like the C-suite leadership. There’s not a lot. If there were, the C-suite leadership would look different.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Well, and it’s so funny because when people talk about equity, if you’re involved in any level of politics, you see so many things where people are not understanding equity. And so when we talk about infrastructure, whether it be smart cities and all these things that are going on in the world from a data perspective, governance, all of those things. There is massive amounts of work that need to be done on so many fronts. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about privacy and governance and all of that, but you are one of the top anti-racism educators for companies. In what ways does the leadership conversation change or need to change for women, people of color? Are there specific things that you think we should be talking about, queer, all of those.

Aiko Bethea:  So I would say, okay, how does the conversation need to change? I think, gosh, one, is there even a conversation that’s happening? So when I think about what is the conversation? Right now, a lot of folks who are in the space of doing equity work, you’re in a very reactionary state because of all the laws that are being passed across the country, everything from critical race theory being banned, so not wanting to hear the truth about the origin stories about inequity in the U.S., anti-trans legislation, rejecting even gender-affirming care. So many things that are happening, I’m like, “The conversation that needs to be had probably has not even started in this country.” And maybe when we were at a tipping point to start having it, there was a pendulum just came down on it to be like, “No way this is going to happen.”

So sometimes it’s about being in certain pockets and spaces where you know that you’re going to be able to make impact and shift minds. So there’s always these different methods around change anyway. Sometimes you go and you say, “Where’s the biggest disparity? And we’re going to go in there.” And of course that’s the needle that’s hardest to push. Where there’s some mutual agreement here and we can maybe bring some people a little bit closer to go slow, long way. We’re just not going to do anything and I just need to blah, blah.

So I think you have to pick your poison, thinking about what’s your stamina, what’s your values, what’s going to happen that allows you to say, I don’t have regrets. I leaned in, in the ways that were most important. I think those are the questions people have to ask. And they have to pick what their lane is because there’s no limit in lanes. There’s a part about what you’re going to do. And then as we all know, what you ain’t going to, so you have to also understand what will I not tolerate, not only of other people, but also of myself.

Melyssa Barrett:  And I was actually going to ask you about boundaries. Because I think a lot of times, at least my generation, I think we tend to assimilate. And I think young people today, younger than me, they maybe are not as… They go, “No, that’s not me, and I’m not doing it that way.” Which I think is very courageous when you think about their lens and what they want their life to look like. Clearly different than spending time working and then not feeling like they’ve made a difference, which is awesome. So I’m wondering, I guess in some cases, you brought up shame earlier. And to some degree, there is some level of shame that people walk around with when white privilege, whatever you want to call it, in terms of the equity, it’s like, “Well, I wasn’t there, I didn’t do that,” whatever. And we’re talking about reparations and people are like, “Reparations? What’s that?” And they think it’s only money, but it’s so much more than that.

And so the conversations that you’re having now are seemingly way different than they used to be, where everything was like, “You don’t talk about that at work,” in terms of just how we engage. So are there any specific things that you think help build momentum for people that are trying to shift their business? Because I know you do coaching also with entrepreneurs as well, correct?

Aiko Bethea:  Yeah. Well, we do executive coaching. A lot of it is with folks who are already in organizations, a lot of it with C-suite, a lot of it with folks who are middle management leaders. So we do provide executive coaching. We do group coaching too. But also, is there a difference in coming into the conversation and even how people show up? Is it based on generation? Is it based on different kinds of values? A point in time? What is it?

I will always go back to this. People, no matter where you are, you have got to anchor yourself within. When I say anchor within, it is knowing who you are, knowing what your values are in terms of your North Star, and also being able to understand, I’m accountable for aligning to that. Nobody else is accountable, I’m accountable for aligning with that no matter what’s going on in a space or generationally or what’s in the news or what have you. Because that is where you need to be most sound. And having that understanding of who you are and what’s important to you, knowing those values, that is how you understand what your boundaries are, the what I’m not going to do and I need to do at all costs. That’s how you live a life that’s not a life of regret. That’s how you live a life that is closer to reflecting who you are and who you’re aspiring to be.

So it doesn’t matter what generation you’re in and other things. And the idea of where shame comes from or what does shame have to do with it, it also is an internal understanding about if I understand what sets me off, what my greatest fears are, what my vulnerability is, I don’t want Melyssa to think this about me, or I can’t believe they said that about me. That is often where shame can come from, causing disconnect, and shame does not help you to move forward. But if you know yourself well enough, what is happening and you can address it.

The other part is if I know you well enough, Melyssa, and we’re in relationship, and that shame comes up, I can provide the antidote to you for that shame that’s going to allow you to move forward and closer in versus apart and be disconnected by being empathetic to you.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it.

Aiko Bethea:  So that you can keep moving forward. And even this idea, I want to go back to this idea of people who are younger who aren’t taking it. I just want to say, when we look back in the 60s and we look at the Black Panthers, they were also really clear about non [inaudible 00:27:54]. That’s not a generation thing. And then you had the other people who were like, “Go slow. Don’t go to that rally. Stay at home, make sure your hair is done.” Really on these premises of being acceptable because proximity to whiteness was more acceptable and it kept you safe.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, yes.

Aiko Bethea:  Maybe someone was telling you not to go there because they needed to keep you safe your family need to be safe. So I just always want to talk about the variables of somebody would jump into the fray and why somebody may not even feel like I have permission or space to.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. Thank you for that.

Aiko Bethea:  The idea of non-judgment of where people are coming from. For many of us, it wasn’t even a possibility because we didn’t even see it. We’ve got social media and all these other things, now they invite a different way, not just what’s happening over in Georgia or over in Seattle, but what’s happening over in the Middle East, what’s happening in India or Pakistan, we can see so much more, and therefore there’s more possibility.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  So I want to be clear about there is nothing new, and even the choices that we have are not very different. Is it being closer to who I am and my aspirational self or understanding where there is inertia and how I may have to make some hard decisions?

Melyssa Barrett:  And the real work is within yourself.

Aiko Bethea:  Always, Melyssa, always.

Melyssa Barrett:  We don’t even ask ourselves some of those hard questions. It’s easier just to go about and be busy, but the hard work is really going, what do I want? And I know I’ve spent a lot of time trying to just get into that with myself. After my husband passed away, I was like, “Who am I? What am I doing? How do I align? What am I going to do in this world, in this life for the next 10 years?”

Aiko Bethea:  You’re constantly recalibrating.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Aiko Bethea:  Constantly recalibrate. And that means not so you can become smaller, but you can be more expansive and meet yourself where you are. Your vision of what’s next changes, but that idea of your values and why you stand in a certain space, you’ve got to have a hook into that or else you’re going to be washed away with the sea, or you’re going to be on the space of default. Just go to the default versus what you intentionally want to make impact around who you intentionally want to be and what you don’t want to do. And the life of regret is not fun.

Melyssa Barrett:  I truly love all the work that you are doing, and I just want to celebrate you for all the things that you do, and the people you touch, and the people they touch. Because a lot of times, we don’t realize how many people we’re touching and the impact that we’re making because we don’t see the other touch and the next touch. So the work you are doing is just so amazing, and I’m so thankful and grateful that I have this opportunity to talk to you. So I do want to make sure people know what projects you may have coming up or how they can find you, who your audience is, so that if somebody’s trying to relate, they can reach out and they know that they’re in your typical audience.

Aiko Bethea:  So Melyssa, we have clients all the way from large B2B when you think about Google, Pokemon, Bristol Myers, we have those folks as clients, and we also do a lot of one-on-one work. So we’ll actually have our semester offerings coming out soon. Everything from if you’re trying to be an effective communicator, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like giving or doesn’t know how to receive hard feedback or insight, we have everything from elevating our confidence and the narratives or stories that we believe that hold us back. So a gamut. Strength finders, we do it all.

The one thing I do want to be able to name is that all of our coaches are certified coaches and our facilitators are all people of color. And I try to be really clear about that upfront so that one, people know what they’re getting and they understand the experience is already going to be different. People can find, and that’s RARE, R-A-R-E. And they can also find us on Instagram @rare_coach. This conversation, Melyssa, is so timely because we have a weekly newsletter that we put on LinkedIn, the topic is on boundaries, and we talk about values and accountability. So everything we’re talking about today, that’s what this newsletter is about. And so they can find the LinkedIn newsletter. It’s called Streetlights and it’s under RARE Coaching or under my page. Thank you for inviting, Melyssa.

Melyssa Barrett:  Honestly, this is such a pleasure for me. You are such an amazing, amazing… The work you’re doing is just amazing. And I cannot wait because I know there’s a book coming sometime.

Aiko Bethea:  We have a leadership book coming out, and I was very excited that it’s under the Penguin Random House brand because they have a Black woman CEO right now.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it.

Aiko Bethea:  As we know in the publishing industry, that is quite a feat to have a Black person that high up in the publishing industry. So I am very excited.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. Well, kudos to them because that takes vision by their board.

Aiko Bethea:  Right.

Melyssa Barrett:  Fantastic, fantastic. All right. Well, any last tips or things that you want to share before we wrap it up? Because you are just amazing.

Aiko Bethea:  One, I just want to say thank you again, Melyssa, for having me here. The other thing that we’re going to send to you for the show notes though, is it’s a free assessment, but for productivity and toxic perfectionism. And the reason why I specifically thought about this assessment is because I thought about the things that take away from our quality of life or that doesn’t allow us to have space to ask those big questions that you mentioned, like the space to actually be able to self-reflect. And a lot of that is because of a pressure for being perfect. And for many people, perfect means closer proximity to whiteness. And then also toxic productivity, which is one of the things that you named the busyness. The always doing, feeling like my self-worth is wrapped up in how much of my to-do list I get done. So I want to send that to you to have in the show notes too.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, that’d be awesome. We will be happy to take that and make sure that folks have connection because this is how we get to the next level. This is how people live a purposeful life and they align with who they are. And so I am truly grateful that you decided to spend this hour with me. And so I look forward to just staying in contact and watching you continue to thrive and really seeing your voice thrive. You know how you just feel somebody and you go, “Oh my gosh, that’s generations of power that is being made here.”

Aiko Bethea:  Fingers crossed, prayers coming.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it, I love it. But anyway, so I just want to thank you again and just really just sending you lots of blessings and just continuing to make sure that we connect because if you don’t follow Aiko Bethea, you better because she-

Aiko Bethea:  Thank you, Melyssa.

Melyssa Barrett:  She is awesome.

Aiko Bethea:  Thank you, Melyssa.

Melyssa Barrett:  Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.