The Concept Of Organizational Consciousness With Bria Martin
Many organizations are unaware of the harmful impact they have on our world. Having organizational consciousness helps you look at how your organization impacts the world. In this episode, Bria Martin, Vice President, Organizational Strategy and Leadership Development at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, shares a strategy that helps your organization grow as it helps its people. She discusses organizational consciousness and how it dramatically impacts people's growth. Tune in to this episode and listen to Bria providing more insights about organizational consciousness. Plus, she explains why creating an environment where people can bring awareness and have a sense of purpose and meaning elevates the humanity of the individuals, the organization, and its culture.
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The Concept Of Organizational Consciousness With Bria Martin
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Bria Martin. She is organizational culture, innovator, and leader on a mission to usher in a new era of work, Organizational Consciousness. It's a movement to make humanity the bottom line for businesses while creating a culture of profound human growth. She has dedicated her career to creating environments where everyone can do their best work and thrive.
She spent the first several years of her career working in a boutique and large management consulting firms, helping clients of all sizes in industries address strategy, leadership, and culture challenges, including companies like Gap, Walmart, Genentech, Merck, Semantic, Cisco, VMware, Kaiser Permanente and dozens of other organizations.
In 2015, one of Bria's clients, Ultragenyx, a dynamic purpose-driven rare disease pharmaceutical company, recruited her to join them to lead organizational strategy development and culture and engagement. She is serving as a Vice President of Culture and Organizational Strategy. She lives in Marin County in the Bay Area with her husband, two stepchildren, two dogs, and a cat. I am thrilled and honored to welcome you to the show.
Thank you. It's great to be here with you.
I'm looking forward to unwinding the story of what brought you to make a huge impact and understanding more about this concept of organizational consciousness, which is a beautiful term and powerful in need these days. We'll talk more about that as we move on. As we often do on the show, we'll help you to share some of your stories through what's called Flashpoints. These are points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world. In a moment, I'll turn it over to you. You can start wherever you would like and share what you're called to share. As you move along, we'll pause and see what's showing up. With that, please take it away.
When you said that, I instantly went to my upbringing. My two parents were in the service industry. They had me doing interesting things as a child, going to protest march, or going down to Mexico to work in orphanages or build houses. That was how I grew up. I wanted to do something that was making the world better. As many people do when you graduate from college wanting to save the world, I threw myself into being a youth director because I decided I wanted to be a social worker.
What I discovered quickly was that I was one of those people who was empathetic and giving. I also had the whole hardwired pleaser overachiever in me. I had zero boundaries. I gave so much of myself to these kids. When they had trauma or suffering, I took that on and internalized it in a way that, after a year, it burned me out. I found myself 22 years old, completely burned out, sick, and realizing, “I need to make a shift here because I am taking too much on.”
I found myself at this moment in my career where I wanted to do something that was more purpose-driven, but I couldn't do the hard social work that I thought I wanted to do. I had two job opportunities. One was with Google. This was 2003, pre-IPO. The other one was for this boutique management consulting firm, about ten people that were trying to open the hearts and minds of leaders.
One of the founding partners said in my interview, “I'm in the business of creating organizations where I would be proud for my kids to work.” I thought, “This sounds amazing.” My not-so-savvy 23-year-old self had these 2 job offers, 1 from Google. I lived in San Francisco. There would be a commute to Mountain View, and I had all these stock options. I was like, “What's a stock option? I don't know what that means. Who knows what that means?”
I had this job offer for this boutique firm that was in the city. I was in the city. It felt right. It struck a chord in my heart. I said, “I'm going to do that.” I had everyone telling me, “You're crazy. Why are you turning down?” I was like, “No, there's a feeling. There's a purpose here. In this entry-level job at Google, I wasn't going to be able to get excited about going out of bed every day, commuting three hours in a round trip.”
This was something I felt I had a purpose in a meeting. I made that choice. That was an important moment for me of this knowing. Even though I couldn't articulate it at the time, I have this inner knowing that the thing that lights me up and has purpose and meaning is going to be more fulfilling regardless of the money, the accolades, or the title. That was an important moment for me.
Oddly enough, I didn't know it at the time, but I ended up meeting my husband there, which was funny. I didn't know, many years later, we reconnected, but had I not joined that firm and some of my closest friends to this day, people that were in our wedding who had been from McKinsey, Bain, BCG, all these other places, who were trying to do work that was changing the face of leadership. I got to be in those groundbreaking works. That was one of those moments that stands out to me, and following what I felt internal was a north star and doing purpose-driven work.
Organizational Consciousness: Organizational consciousness elevates the humanity of your business.
I love this particular flashpoint because it's one that a lot of us struggle with. It’s being pulled between the two different pieces, the profit versus purpose. It's a scary moment because there are a lot of people in our lives who often influence that decision, and I'd love to hear your perspective on this. Your parents might have potentially supported your decision. Profit is one that usually wins out because people think, “I want to live comfortably. I don't want to be struggling.” When you lean towards purpose, you realize you can have both ways.
My parents were both supportive. They were supportive when I decided to leave the social work path because I saw how it was negatively impacting me and that I found this other path. It was interesting because after being in this boutique consulting firm for about six years, this was when 2008 and 2009 hit. Lehman Brothers was one of our biggest clients at the time. We all know how that went.
I saw this boutique firm grow from 10 to 60 people globally. We had to shut down the London office and New York office. We do rounds of layoffs. I was in with this small core group of people holding the thing together. The culture had changed. It has become not a healthy environment anymore. A lot of great leaders had left. Here I was faced with, “I need to get out.”
This was another lesson or flashpoint for me. I wanted to get out desperately. I was interviewing for other jobs. It was not a good job market. I had this opportunity to go. I knew I wanted to develop my people management skills. I had this opportunity to be a client services director at this benefits brokerage consulting company. I took that because it checked off the people manager box. It was giving me a lot more compensation. I had a story like this purpose thing. Maybe I need to go for the profit thing. I experimented with that.
I stray away. I always say, “It's different when you're running towards a job than if you're running away from something to take a job.” I was running away from something to take this job. I knew within the first three days that I had made a terrible mistake. It was probably the worst classic leader, founder, and toxic person you've ever experienced working with. It was that piece. The other piece was I appreciate benefits and insurance. I'm grateful for it. That's not my thing. That wasn't the thing that lit me up every day. I'm like, “I took this thing for the money. I took this thing because I was running away from there, but I took a job that I have no interest in working for a terrible person, and I'm commuting.”
It was this moment where I had to record with myself and say, “You've made this decision. This doesn't have to be a forever thing.” I had to shift my mindset quickly because I went fast into despair, like, “What have I done? I had to buy a car for this job. I had to commute.” I had to say, “Take this as an opportunity to learn as much as you can possibly learn about the thing you came here to develop, and you get out.” That's what I did.
I learned as much as I could about people management. I learned what I could. I invented and created where I could and added value. I found my off-ramp. I took that, and it was a powerful lesson. It's one of those things that a lot of people earlier in their career will come to me with this challenge and opportunity. Because of that terrible experience with that person, it solidified with me, “I want to be working in leadership. I want to be working in culture. This is where I can have the most meaning and impact.”
While it was a terrible experience, the important lesson to not profit is to stay on purpose. That north star was right on. It got me clear about what I wanted to do next. Other colleagues, people who left that company, and I all connected. We've called it one of those soul-sucking experiences we've ever had in our lives. It taught me a ton. It was because I set my mindset on I'm going to learn as much as I can from this experience that I was able to turn into something positive, even though it was a challenging year in that role.
I love that mindset shift that you speak to. It's something that oftentimes people feel defeated. They feel set back and think, “What are you?” They see it as a failure that is going to define them but instead, you change the narrative. That's a big part of this. It's changing the narrative and seeing, “How can I use this experience?” I love the way you shared that story. The struggle is real when it comes to traffic. For those of us on the East Coast or the West Coast, you don't want to be sitting in traffic all day long.
This was before podcasts or audiobooks. I wasn't plugged into that at that point in time. People had told me that, and I didn't believe it until I experienced it. I knew after that I would never take a job that requires this type of commute again. I've had some amazing opportunities come my way. They're like, “This is the commute we expect.”
I'm like, “Especially now that I'm having a family, that’s cutting into the time I could be with my children. That's a hard no.” It’s one of those unwavering noes now. I feel fortunate and privileged I've been able to work near home. That's not an option for everybody. It was something I underestimated until I had gone through the experience of commuting and how hard that is.
We start to refine our filters about what we're willing to accept in our lives. It only happens through the experiences that we have. We take chances when we're younger. “I can bounce back from this.” As you come and get further along in your career, you realize, “I've been through that already. That's not something that I'm willing to accept.” Here's my new filter I'm seeing the world through. It's a great thing.
Organizational consciousness is how we can constantly elevate our service to the greater good.
As we grow and evolve, we learn more things about each other. We have the courage to have more discernment than we would have before and to say yes or no to things. Stand in that. That knowing is powerful. That's something I have only developed over the last several years, but it's changed my life in my career. It's been incredible.
Let's continue on the journey there. What's next? What was the next inflection point for you?
I was recruited to work at some boutique consulting firms. It was one of those that I was like, “Is this too good to be true? I'm not sure.” I was in a relationship at the time with a gentleman who was like, “That's a terrible job. Don't do that job. It's terrible. It's awful. I know about that company.” He was poo-pooing it left and right, “Don't do it.” This was not the person I ended up marrying.
I've had that feeling. There's something here. It was a persistent head hunter. I said, “I would love to shadow them for a day to see what the work is like, what they're like, and what the culture's like.” It was a small twenty-person company. They didn't have anyone like an in-house culture leadership person like me. I would be playing a distinct role, and they loved that. They said, “This is great. Do you want to come in and shadow for a day?” I sign all the paper confidentiality agreements, and I shadow them for the day.
In the process of doing that, it was this creative agency trying to build a consulting practice, which is where I came in. I was in these creative brainstorms, which I had never been in before with these designers and creative writers. I thought this was cool. For me, that was also this try it out. That also gave them like, “She's serious, but this is a mutual assessment process.” We're both going on this first date and seeing how we feel about it before making a commitment.
In that, I was like, “This is great.” I took that job, and that was wonderful and amazing. I got this chance to try a lot of stuff, do things differently, and build these client relationships. We work with some incredible clients doing some amazing work. My husband and I ended up getting together. The boyfriend that gave me the advice not to take that job did not work out.
My husband and I got together, and things went quickly because we had known each other and been good friends for so long. All of a sudden, I found myself a stepmom to young children. Now, I'm married and pregnant. I’m about to have my first child. During the time I was pregnant, my firm was in the process of being acquired. There were all eyes on us, specifically on the projects that I was on.
Here I was working around the clock on these crazy engagements. That senior leadership was focused on this acquisition, holding all the things, and not realizing how hardwired I had been in this masculine way of operating in the world. When I say masculine, I mean it in the patriarchal toxic masculinity realm in the workplace. I had to be like a man to succeed and thrive in all my previous environments that were male-dominated.
I took on these strengths where I got stuff done. I was a driver. Everyone could count on me. Clients love me. I suppressed all of my softer skills, my compassion, my creativity, my community, my collaboration, and those sides of me that were present in my personal life in the work world. Without knowing it, this was going on for me behind the scenes, but I kept driving harder and working more. I have my doctor. I had a typical challenging pregnancy in my first one, and the doctor was telling me, “You can't be traveling. You need to be unlimited working.” I was commuting down to the peninsula from Marin. For those not from the Bay Area, that's a big commute and a lot of traffic every day.
My doctor was intervening. He's like, “You could have a baby on the side of the road. You are in that critical of a condition. I can't have you having a baby on the side of 101.” He had to intervene. I still kept working, clicking away, working around the clock, on calls at 2:00 in the morning as I'm having my doctor intervene. I went into labor early, but my son was fine. He came quickly, and I'm in the hospital. I'm at the apex of child labor. I am refusing epidurals. I am in back labor. There's no break between contractions.
I am not in a good state. It's 3:00 in the morning, and I am emailing clients and my team. I am texting. I am shouting out, “This has to be done.” It was crazy. It's madness. Anyone who's been in childbirth, it's not a time when you should be working, and you're not thinking your best. Finally, a delivery room nurse, bless her heart, grabbed my hands. She put it to the sign and looked me straight in the eye. She said, “There's nothing more important than this moment right now, not that.”
I needed someone to wake me up to the fact that, “You're giving birth now. This is a big deal. It’s something you want to be present for.” Luckily, within the next hour, my son was in my arms. You have all the feelings, emotions, and tears. Your heart is ripped open in the most beautiful way. I knew, that full-body knowing, that the way that I had been working and living would no longer work for the life that I wanted to live for this child, my stepkids, and myself. That part of me was going to die. I'm leaving that part of me in this delivery room.
Organizational Consciousness: Some people have never been introduced to anything like mindfulness or self-awareness or understand their personality, which has a lot of pain, trauma, and baggage that they bring to work every day.
Even weeks and months that followed in maternity leave, I was trying to become this workaholic driver person who treated people like transactional items on a project plan. I’m like, “How did this happen to me?” I look back at my previous work experiences where I adopted these strengths and was rewarded for being that way. I knew I couldn't go back to the workplace the way that I left it. It has to be different. I realized that I had become the problem I was trying to solve in organizations.
Sometimes we get passionate about the work we do. We become the very thing that we want to avoid being.
I had become it. It was very humbling to be like, “That's not who I want to be. That's not who I authentically am. What do I have to do to be a part of myself and bring that in?” Thank goodness I was this new mom with this baby I was in love with. It was this massive softening effect it had on me. When I went back to work, it was interesting. Before maternity leave, before this acquisition was going on, right before I left on leave, my firm was like, “If you don't want to travel for the first two years, don't worry. We'll put you on local projects. No problem.”
This acquisition was rough. Everyone was texting you on maternity leave, how miserable and terrible they were. The acquisition is awful. You don't want to come back. I'm like, “What's going on here?” Three days before I was supposed to come back, the partners were like, “We know we told you you didn't have to be on the road for 1 year or 2, but things are different now. We'll maybe be able to give you six weeks of not being on the road, but we need you to get back. We're going to be putting you on the road pretty quickly.”
Here I have this three-month-old at home. I'm a nursing mom. I'm like, “This is not what I wanted.” I had a big long cry. I said, “I have got to put some clear boundaries up.” They put me on this little project, Ultragenyx, which, several years later, is still my employer. They said, “This was a little project. It's in Marin. It's fifteen minutes from your house. It's one of your former Genentech clients. They want you to work on little projects in six weeks, but it will ease you back in.”
I went in there and worked on this project. I fell in love with the company, the people, and what they were doing. They kept being like, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” I kept selling more projects there. That gave me fully staffed, fifteen minutes from my house. Several months later, they were like, “What would it take for you to work for us full time?” I'm like, “I don't know.” They said, “Write your description.” I did. They made me an offer, and it was amazing, but it was interesting.
When I went back to my company, I wanted to come back in a different way, I had hard boundaries on my time. I was like, “I'll be leaving the office at 4:30 every day. This takes me about an hour to get home. I can have about 1.5 to 2 hours with my son before he goes to bed, and I'll be fully on him. I won't be doing calls. I won't be doing meetings. That’s essential. I'm with my son. I'll log in. 7:30 to 8:00 at night, I'll happily do a call with you then.” It worked for our senior partners who had kids. They were like, “This is great.” That's my scope. That's my routine.
People in the office got this fighting, gossiping, and venting that they would commiserate with each other. I was like, “I'm not going to engage in that.” I would get to my office and do my work. People would be wanting to vent about something. I would listen. I would offer them some advice. I brought in these feminine strengths and created a sense of calm in this storm. You've created this heart center, and you're different.
My work got better because I brought more of my heart to my work, writing, and strategies. I was a little bit bolder with my clients, but I came at the boldness from this super compassionate, grounded place. My work got better, and I was like, “This is amazing.” When I accepted this job offer to go to Ultragenyx, I said, “I have this opportunity to bring that with me every day. I'm in an in-house role.” I don't have to worry about the hours that I'm billing, upselling the next project, or all of my margin markups. I can go there and bring all the things I've always wanted to bring to clients that wouldn't buy it because leaders didn't believe in it or it was too big to do.
This was 100 people. I had to roll up my sleeves, talk to everyone, and create something. We’re 1,300 people now. It was one of those things that were perfectly aligned with my a-ha moment of a new way I wanted to work, bring these feminine strengths to bear, and balance with my masculine strengths that are important and valuable. I had this opportunity to do that. It fundamentally changed the way I work. It also was able to build that into the culture and model the things I was trying to see. To model this balance of these masculine and feminine strengths is powerful.
There are two things I want to mention. First of all, it’s an amazing story. Thank you for sharing that because it's powerful. We all need an awakening moment in our lives where we can say, “I can no longer accept things the way they are. I have to do something different.” It's that moment that moves us forward. You've modeled the way what a flashpoint moment looks like. It puts you on a different trajectory.
Some people think of themselves as masculine or feminine. The reality is that everyone has some degree of both masculine and feminine energy and mentalities inside of them. You are tapping into them. When we do tap into those different energies, they serve different purposes. They have energies that are powerful in their own ways. Maybe you want to share some more of your insights on that.
We help people grow and evolve so they’re happier and in all areas of their lives because many people don’t have access to self-inner reflection work.
I have a whole model. If you think of an infinity symbol, one side infinity symbol is the masculine strengths, which I refer to as the four A's, ambition, achievement, acceleration, and accountability. These are important things to make forward progress or action-oriented. On the other side of the infinity symbol, you have the four C's, which are the feminine qualities and connective qualities. It's compassion, community, collaboration, and creativity.
They're both important because I've seen organizations where they've over-rotated on the feminine qualities. Everyone's walking around. It's nice and calm, but a lot of things are not getting done and not executing on. People are afraid to have real conversations that they end up having these behind-the-scenes backstabbing, silo, and consensus-driven.
On the masculine side, which we see a lot of organizations have, but when you over-rotate on the masculine strengths, you are finding where there's no connectivity, it's a shame or blame culture, a lot of fear and uncertainty, and it’s like deliver at all costs. People are expendable resources. If you want to double down on the action, ambition, and all these things, you have to double down on the other side. It has to be this even flow in the best way. The real gift is to dance at the intersection of both. I'm bringing in the masculine strengths and the feminine strengths, and it's this even flow.
As long as I talk to people, I can ask them some questions and diagnose like, “Your team is over-rotated on one side of the equation. How do we bring a counterbalance, so you're leveraging and bringing both strengths to bear?” First off, masculinity has been given a bad rap because of patriarchal connotations and maybe immature masculinity or toxic masculinity.
There are many strengths of masculinity that I am beyond grateful for that I have in myself and that people have around me. I want to bring more of that appreciation for those strengths because I do think that the environment has made them cast aside. I'm working on a book on this. A lot of the work that I'm doing is trying to bring those to life and unleash the feminine strengths in all of us.
Your gender or what sex you were born with doesn't matter. They're within all of us. They're all needed to bring to bear in every situation. Especially in Corporate America, we have suppressed some of the feminine strengths. They have not been considered worthy, but you're seeing a rise in them now, and it's been incredible to see. When they're counterbalanced with the masculine strengths, that's when companies are truly creating lasting legacies that we need in the world.
There are many questions I want to ask. I want to lean into the concepts from your upcoming book when it eventually comes into being. I know that it's still in the infancy stage of sorts. I love this idea and the concept of organizational consciousness. I would love to maybe have you share a little bit about what that means.
This is something I've created over the last several years and have been piloting at Ultragenyx. It's been incredible to see. I define organizational consciousness as elevating the humanity of your business, in the business side, what you do, and the impact you're having on the world. Is your business improving the state of the world? Is it harming the state of the world? Organizational consciousness is how we can constantly elevate our service to the greater good.
The culture side of it is how we create an environment of profound growth for our people. How do we create the space for people to grow and evolve not just their skills, but how they are as humans? They're more aware and compassionate. All of those things are a sense of purpose and meaning. Looking at Ultragenyx as a model, we have a purpose-driven biopharma company.
You don't usually hear it purpose-driven and biopharma in the same sentence, but it's true. It's authentic and founded by a CEO with a mission to treat as many rare diseases as possible in the world. It's a big underserved patient population and do it with patients at the center, what is most meaningful to them, and to accelerate these timelines that a lot of drug development can linger on forever. How can we accelerate to get it to them faster and put them at the center? That's one piece of it. The culture side of it is how we help people grow and evolve so they're happier in all areas of their lives.
In doing this work, it became clear to me that many people don't have any access to the inner-reflection work that I've had in my life. I've gone deep in all the sorts of work to look at that, and I feel fortunate. There are a lot of people who have never been introduced to anything like mindfulness, self-awareness, or understanding of their personality. They have a lot of pain, trauma, and baggage that they're bringing into work every day.
How can we create an environment where people can bring awareness and some healing to that, and understand that everyone is a cacophony of strengths and challenges in organizations? It's like a little Petri dish. They're all interacting with each other. If we can have an awareness of that, of ourselves, and others, and come at it from that place, we can elevate the humanity of the individuals in the organization and the humanity of our culture. That's what I've been doing. It's been amazing to see the results on both our business, culture, and everything from engagement to retention, all these great things, how we've held people during a pandemic, which was no joke, and how we support it and help them through this time as a community.
Organizational Consciousness: Suppose we can be aware of that, of ourselves and others, and come at it from that place. In that case, we can elevate the humanity of the individuals in the organization and our culture's humanity.
These are some examples of how that comes to life. For me, that's my vision. I feel like the clock is ticking. We have children that are going to be in the workforce in the next several years. Can I say that my kids are going to go into an environment where they're not going to have a MeToo moment, where there's going to be psychological safety, where there's not going to be retribution, they speak up and say what's on their minds? I can't.
There are a lot of places out there. If you look at the stats, we both know it well. In workplace culture, people are miserable. I think about my kids going into that. I don't want that for them, but when I take a bigger aperture and step back, let's be honest. My white cis-gendered, seemingly typical on the neuro spectrum, able-bodied children have a much better advantage than many other people in the world of different colors, backgrounds, and spectrums of diversity.
For me, it's how we are creating these environments where all humans from all walks of life and backgrounds can truly feel a sense of belonging and thrive. That mission drives me every day. How can we turn this over? Zooming back even further, as humans and as a species, it does feel like we are at this tipping point. We are at this awakening point where all the systems and structures from the environment to politics, to businesses, to health, and everything are going to be at this inflection point.
I believe that it's going to be a positive thing. It’s going to be like childbirth. It's a hard process to get to the side of it. I do believe that we're in this quickening. That is happening. How can we be of service to that greater turning? The other thing is businesses play such an important role because businesses are where the power center is the money and the influence.
If we can awaken and soften the hearts of corporations, especially in America and elevate their consciousness of their impact on the world and create environments of profound human growth, we can change the entire system. We can catalyze positive changes through that. We all have a role to play in this great turning, the great change, the great transition, or whatever it's called. We all have a role in that. I see my role as helping this bigger system. This organizational consciousness becomes the business model of the future and impacts the future of the world. Our kids have it in a much better statement than it was handed to us.
One of the things that are transparent about how you share is your passion comes right through. This is something that is deeply ingrained in who you are. As you've told your story, it seems like it's been at the core of who you are from the beginning. Now, you're able to express it through the work that you're doing. I love it because conscious capitalism has been in place for a while, but this is taking it to another level. It's going beyond saying, “Let's be conscious of how businesses are being run.” It takes it to a more central part of the heart and sees it as something deeper.
I often say, “Employee engagement is no longer the target.” It's more about employee enrichment and seeing that we want our employees to feel as though when they come to work with us, we're going to make them better off for coming to work with us and feel like they're part of something that's leaving an impact on the planet. That is much stronger than any one person could do alone. It's a powerful way to think.
I have a lot of people that go, “It's so much work. It feels like 2 steps forward and 1.5 steps back. I go, “Yes but zoom out. Look at several years ago.” I was reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg's story to my daughter. One of their law professors called nine women in front of the room and said, “You 9 women are taking the space for 9 men that could be in this class.” That was filled with 150 other men in the room, and she goes, “Mommy, that's wrong. That would never happen nowadays.” It reminds you of a lot of progress that has been made in a short period of time when you step back and think of the span of humanity.
A lot of progress has been made in a short period of time. It feels like forever because we're in it. Anything in the news will take you down that despair spiral. The news has been cleansing for several months now. I'm going to stick to it for a little bit longer. I have to. It helps me, but it's one of those things that I remember. I'm like, “It's right. It's better than it was several years ago.” We're going to see a step forward, step back, but it is getting better.
I do think that the rate of change is increasing such that we are going to see it. It's going to be a different working world for them in several years. It gives me a lot of hope, and we're in it. I notice for me, and I don't know for you. When things come, whatever it is, I have to let myself feel them. I have to let myself greet it and let it move through me. It's like, “What step am I going to take forward for this bigger cause that I'm anchored on this bigger vision?”
One of my colleagues and collaboratives at Ultragenyx who's amazing is Justin Michael William. He's an activist, author, and speaker. He's an incredible musician, but he likes to anchor his worth. He’s dedicated to ending racism. He said, “I want to have it be this vision I'm working towards.” His vision is to end racism in one generation. He's written some papers and books on it. It's amazing. He's like, “I don't want to be the anti-racist. I don't want to have my position stand for the anti, what I'm against. I want it to be what I am working towards.” He is like, “I step from the place of racism has ended. What occurred to make that possible?”
It is this place of keeping that eye on that future that we're trying to create, staying anchored on that, and what's going to make that possible. It's been powerful for me because I do think that it is easy to be focused on what's wrong and be anti. It's helped me shift my vision and focus on the vision and the possibilities that I'm trying to create. It's been great because the work that's come out of that has been a little bit bolder.
This organizational consciousness has become the business model of the future, impacting the world's future. So our kids have it in a much better state than us.
I did a leadership workshop and brought in these amazing experiences. It’s having 70 leaders do a privilege walk where they viscerally see who's standing in the front at the end of 23 questions and who's in the back and feeling that right. Have them come together to co-create a song. I worked with The Brothers Koren to co-create an original piece of music.
It’s like, “If I told you guys we were creating an original piece of music in 30 minutes, what would you know?” They would have thought it was crazy but look what we can all do when we come together, dare to put something out there, and create together. I'm seeing it. I'm excited and energized for it because I think the vision for what is and why you and I do the work that we do is quite amazing to see what we could do in this life and time.
I'm full of hope and optimism. Your vision is something that a lot of people want to enroll in. You can think you're starting something or at least continuing something that is powerful. Keep up the good work.
Keep that energy going. I could talk all day about this. We do need to come to a close, so I get you moving into doing the work. I have one last question for you. What are 1 or 2 books that have had an impact on you, and why?
For me, from a work-professional standpoint, what broke me open was Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. It was the first time I felt someone was speaking the language of organizations that is human, to be honest. That resonated deeply with me. I was like, “There's something here.” It moved me. It impacted how I led and I worked. I brought her work into my organization. I brought her frameworks and ideas. I saw what it did for people. That was a massive one that influenced my career.
I would say another one was Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack. I love how she took these concepts. She broke it down in this succinct, beautiful ways with stories and experiences that were not this call to action for women in the workplace. It was a new way of leading for all people of all genders. I loved how she put that out there. I had her speak at my company. Everyone was like, “My gosh, Abby.” I'm like, “I know.” There were a lot of fans there. Those would be two for me that have been powerful and meaningful.
What can you say about Brené? She's amazing. For Abby, that's a great recommendation. I have not read that. I'm intrigued and thinking about putting that one on my list.
I will. Thank you so much for sharing that.
I can't thank you enough for everything you've shared. This has been a powerful episode in conversation, in general. I'm thankful for you bringing your full self into this space. Thank you.
Organizational Consciousness: If you look at the stats on a workplace culture, people are miserable.
No, thank you, Tony. I appreciate it. This was fun. It's wonderful to be in conversations like this with people who are trying to impact the world in this space. Thank you for inviting me.
Before I let you go, maybe you could share a way for people to get in touch. If they want to learn more about you, what's the best place to find you?
Probably LinkedIn. I write a bunch of articles and pieces around the content we've talked about. Bria Martin on LinkedIn is a good way. That's one way that I check. I'm not too much on social media. That's the channel that I'm using. Another way is through Ultragenyx, but the best way is through LinkedIn because that will connect you to my Ultragenyx email.
I'm grateful for the work that Ultragenyx does in the world. I worked at Genzyme, another rare disease company that was at the forefront of changing the way people think about rare diseases. It's powerful work and admirable what your guests are up to in the world.
We have a lot of great stories and I know a lot of Genzyme folks. It's such an unmet need. I feel like every time people find out I work for a rare disease company, they share about a rare disease and their family or someone that they know. At the end of the day, to be able to tell my kids, “This is the work that mommy does, and the company I work for,” feels good. It feels like we're having a positive impact. Thank you.
Thank you so much again, and thanks to the readers for coming on the journey. I know you're leaving feeling empowered to go out and make an impact in the world. Come join Bria's fight to make that change that we're looking to make. Thank you again.
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