Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Podcast Highlights – Dear Workplace (Episodes 1-6)

More than ever the workplace is changing. We are not “going back to normal” but we are entering a “new normal” in how the workplace works and how people think about teamwork and innovation. The Dear Workplace podcast by InnovatorsBox®, hosted by founder Monica Kang, challenges us to reimagine the workplace by studying changes, trends, and challenges for people at work.

As we wrapped up our first 6 episodes, we wanted to share some key themes, highlights, and our takeaways from each episode. All the 6 episodes are embedded within, so if you haven’t yet, you can take a listen directly.

Episode 1: Rethink What Is Normal

Published: March 16, 2021 – 13 Minutes

Published on the month anniversary of when the pandemic hit the U.S., we kickstarted the podcast by exploring the “new normal” of workplace behavior and attitudes. Where are we now? How has this year changed what we think about as the normal workplace?

As Monica shares in this episode, “I lost 90 percent of my projects at the beginning of the pandemic, and now a year later, I’m surprised how many people are willing to do workshops more than ever as I launch more exciting, digital offerings.” And like many others have done, at InnovatorsBox®, we’ve used the pandemic as an opportunity for innovation.

“As challenging this past year has been, I hope that we also don’t lose the chance to keep some of the good changes we are seeing.”

Not only where, but how we work has changed – especially in our ideas of professionalism and mental health as our family life and business life blurs. The silver lining? It’s causing many workplaces to refocus on mental wellbeing in very innovative ways, which we discuss in this episode.

Key Question: What is one thing that the pandemic has changed which you appreciate?

Guests From Episode:

Episode 2: Work Without Burnout

Published March 23, 2021 – 15 minutes

Feeling more tired than usual? Do you feel your hours are overstretching even when you work from home? In this episode, Monica explores burnout, a concept that isn’t new but has pulled into the spotlight as the pandemic causes prolonged stress and fatigue for at-home workers. How can we proactively address burnout?

The key to addressing burnout is not just one training or one policy – it starts from leadership. 

So for me burnout is looking at your plate and seeing what is draining you, what is not giving you joy, what feels like obligation.” -

A global survey conducted by Glint showed that while burnout is increasing, employee happiness is up 5.4% from December 2019 to December 2020. It’s possible that the pandemic is creating a wake-up call for company leaders to address employee well-being.

Key Question: Look at your plate and ask yourself: what’s draining you, what’s bringing you joy, and what feels like an obligation?

Guests From Episode:

Episode 3: Buying Because You Care

Published March 30, 2021 – 15 minutes

The pandemic has not only shifted everything online but made us care more about who we’re buying from. In this episode, Monica explores the significant environmental and social impact of our changing, more caring attitudes towards buying online.

One of the main reasons our attitudes changed is because the way we lived changed. For example, the shipping challenges from the pandemic highlighted where products were coming from. This spurred the shop local, shop small movement.

“People are recognizing how important our diverse business are, I think we took it for granted before”

Who the product comes from is also becoming more important – especially for millennials and gen z. For example, we’re seeing more of a focus on shop Women-Owned, Black-Owned, etc. This podcast outlines the many ways companies from nonprofits to c-suite level executives are adapting to the caring consumer trends.

Key Question: Are you actively listening to your employees on what matters to them socially and environmentally?

Guests From Episode:

  • Heather Cox, President of Certify My Company
  • Denise Naguib, Vice President of Sustainability & Supplier Diversity at Marriott International


Episode 4: Inclusion Dilemma

Published Apr 6, 2021 – 22 min

Firstly, diversity and inclusion are two separate things: Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. What if you feel so comfortable already that you don’t even need to be invited to dance – you just start dancing?

In the episode, Monica shares that she never fit in any box as a Korean-American who grew up in Washington DC. She said, “it is because I felt so different that I became interested in building safe spaces early on.” And in this episode, she explores the inclusion dilemma – why is it so hard to create a diverse and inclusive workplace when it’s what we all want?


The feeling of security in being yourself in the workplace is called psychological safety, and is important to consider when leading a team, even online.

Hiring more people of color is diversity, but it’s not equity and inclusion. You may have given them a seat at the table, but you aren’t listening to them and attributing their ideas to them.

Van Lai-DuMone, founder of work Start Advantage shared that the major problem is that they (businesses) try to put a band-aid on diversity and inclusion. “They say, ‘Oh, we’ll just hire more people of color’– that’s diversity, but it’s not equity and inclusion. You may have given them a seat at the table, but you aren’t listening to them and attributing their ideas to them.” 

Integrating diversity and inclusion is a process, not an event. We must continuously look inside ourselves, identify our biases, and work on them.

Action Point: In the next few days, ask yourself more questions about who you are meeting — expose yourself to different points of view by meeting with people you don’t usually interact with.

Guests From Episode:

  • Corey Ponder, Empathy Practitioner & Speaker at em|PACT Strategies
  • Daniel Parra, Director of Business Diversity and Inclusion at Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation
  • Heather Hiscox, Founder & CEO of Pause for Change
  • Van Lai-DuMone, Founder & Creative Strategist at Worksmart
  • Abadesi Osunsade, Founder & CEO of Hustle Crew, VP of Global Community & Belonging at Brandwatch

#Rethink How I Face Uncertainty

Published Apr 13, 2021 – 11 minutes

#rethink is a series to share bite-sized insights and tips for innovators from my own conversations with experts. In this episode, Monica explores the secrets of how she personally faced uncertainty early in my career and beyond.

My advice? When you’re feeling uncertain: stop and think about what you ARE certain about, and what you CAN do about it. Then you can focus your efforts on making progress instead of letting uncertainty become a roadblock.

“See the possibilities in ambiguities.”

In this episode, you will be taken through the story of the beginnings of InnovatorsBox, and all the uncertainty that Monica faced in her idea, her story, and her ability to connect with an early mentor.

Key Question: How does your team think of change? How do you create a place where your team is comfortable making mistakes?

Episode 5: Where is Your Office

Published April 20, 2021 – 20 min

A year of working from home has taught us a lot of new things we never questioned. In this episode, Monica discusses the importance of physical space of your business. Are offices dead? If not, how are offices going to be integrated into the new normal?

Many business owners (including Monica herself) thought that things could never be done as effectively online as in person, but to our surprise, remote opportunities made even MORE possible.

Even with more remote opportunities available, studies show some employees do want to start returning to the office at a slower space. As an employer, you can start developing a new office space by really understanding what the people want. And by createing a workplace, not just a physical place – an environment where people feel empowered and safe to work.

“The secret to the power of space is not just the physical space. Anyone can rent space, but what kind of values, vision do you hope to achieve by bringing people together?”

Key Question: What is your strategy for the office space in a new normal?

Guests from Episode:

Andrew Ngui, Director of Innovation & Startups, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council
David Ricciardi, President & CEO, Proximo
Yurani Sandoval, SingleParentPower and Womenpalante
Samson Williams, Chief Dreamer,
Kendall Ratliffe, Director of Programs, Middle Border Forward
Jan Wong, CEO, OpenMinds
Kia Weatherspoon, President + Design Advocate, Determined By Design



Episode 6: Redefining Success

Published April 27, 2021 – 22 Minutes

What if how we define success actually permits us from actually succeeding? In this podcast, Monica explores the concept of success and how redefining the way we think about success can open up new possibilities.

Growing up Asian-American, being successful in everything was important: grades, jobs, personal relationships, etc.!

And as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to gauge whether we are successful or not – there’s no one breathing down our necks or metrics for everything we’re doing. In this podcast, we outline 5 lessons in redefining success, each backed by an expert story which holds particular nuances in how to tackle our success mindset.

5 Lessons in Redefining Success:

  1. Start With Your “Why” To Success, Not What Other People Think It Should Be
  2. You Don’t Have To Perfect At Everything To Live A Happy, Successful Life
  3. To Live Impactfully, You Have to Listen, Learn, and Listen Again
  4. Face Your Fear And No One Is Stopping You From Being Successful
  5. Success Is Possible When We Identify & Prioritize It

“All I want to do is be paid to be ME. Why wouldn’t I explore that?”

Key Question: What are you doing today and how is it making you feel?

Key Links:

About the Author

Picture of Kree Pandey

Kree Pandey

Kree Pandey is a Content Strategist and Digital Marketer powering growth goals for brands with purpose. Founder and CEO of ShiftCreatives Digital® and Co-Founder of No Names Digital, Kree's work and passion collide at the intersection of 'Brand' and 'Impact'. After working with numerous clients across sectors like Real Estate, SaaS, Education, Retail, Finance, Sustainability, HR and many more, Kree has found that her niche isn't any particular industry, but it's brands that are seriously driven by impact, understand the value of brand equity, and aren't dabbling.

At InnovatorsBox®, Kree's main focus is augmenting its digital presences, the SEO, and some content strategy.

Kree is also a mom to a 2 year old, and losing hair fast!

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