To Aiko Bethea elevating her values in her community has allowed her to achieve her definition of success: being in her purpose.
The Lola member, Aiko Bethea, Esq., PCC (she-her) lives through her values of loyalty and justice, by elevating them in her community. Being involved in and serving her community has always been a focus in her life. When she isn’t supporting the people around her and creating incredible change, you can find her cozied up reading a book or binge-watching a TV show.
Location: Decatur, GA
Age: 46 years
What I do: Sr. Director for Frontline Solutions. and Sr. Director of the Daring Way and Dare to Lead global facilitator communities at Brene Brown
What do you do for work?
I have a coaching and consulting firm. I also serve as a Sr. Director for Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned consulting firm. I am Sr. Director of the Daring Way and Dare to Lead global facilitator communities at Brene Brown Education and Research Group (BBEARG). At BBEARG, I also act as a DEI Strategist.
How did you land upon your professional path? Who or what inspired you into taking this path?
I don’t know if any one person inspired me to take my current path.
Many of my earlier decisions were rooted in a need for financial security. I didn’t always have that security when I was a child. So, while there was some wisdom in my focus, there was also fear and a perspective rooted in a scarcity mindset.
What are your values, name yours and why?
Loyalty: I am selective about with whom and where I spend my time. This has to do with personal and client relationships. I make intentional decisions. If I’ve signed off on investing in you, it’s rare that I will shift this decision. I will need material reasons to make such a shift.
Justice: Equity and justice or a sense of fairness has always been in my DNA. This has to do with being raised in a non-English household with an immigrant parent. This also has to do with attending a Title I all-black school in the south. You often experience inequity and also witness how inequity and injustice play out unfavorably for those in your community and family.
How is your work, the way you show up each day and/or other areas of your life connected to living into your values?
I have never not been engaged with community and serving community. Also, my professional focus elevates these values. I focus on equity in organizations and coaching leaders to increase their emotional intelligence, as well as their will and skill to lean into removing barriers to inclusion. I also provide coaching and leadership support to folks who find themselves as The Only within their sector, team, or organizations.
How has being a womxn impacted your experience as a leader either at work or in your community?
I suppose I’ve needed to be mindful of the barriers to success for women, which includes navigating stereotypes and other barriers.
What are your strengths as a leader and what skills do you aspire to and working to develop?
I’ve been told I have great intuition. I also have a lower threshold for tolerance that shows up with my lack of patience.
Which female leaders do you look up to and why?
There are so many. The two that come to mind immediately:
Ida B. Wells: Unless it is in film, we rarely consider the endangerment of Black women. Wells was so freakin’ smart, strategic, bold, brave– and also a family woman. I think about the risk to her family and life and limb she took to speak the truth and to mobilize communities. The amount of emotional labor alone leaves me in awe.
Yuri Kochiyama: She represents cross-cultural leadership to me. So many believe you can’t be an equitable leader in a movement where you don’t hold that identity. Her commitment to justice for the Black community is unquestioned. There is little written about how this impacted her relationship with the Japanese community, but I can’t imagine it didn’t. She was a first in so many areas. Of course, her being Japanese and a part of the Black Power Movement has a natural appeal to me.
We understand that Leadership roles can be stressful positions. What are your “go-to” ‘s to practices to manage your stress and avoid hitting burnout? How easy or hard has that been over the years?
Living BIG: Knowing and honoring your Boundaries. Living in Integrity and doing the hard things even though they are hard. Being generous towards others. This is a concept from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead work.
How do you define success for yourself? What ideas of success do you reject?
Being in my purpose. Being connected. Having joy.
Material gain and being seen are not a part of my idea of success. Hustling for my worth is also off the table.
Do you have any hobbies? Were there specific ones you picked up due to COVID?
I binge shows, read a lot, and will listen to some cozy comfort mysteries to allow my brain to rest.