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Exploring Life & Business with Thomas Easley of Mind Heart for Diversity, LLC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Easley.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I started at NCSU in the college of natural resources as the first diversity director in that school. 13 years later, I left NC State and became an assistant dean at the Yale School of the environment. Now I lead my diversity consulting firm. I also manage a music label with 5 artists around the country. This interest in music/hip hop/art is what I’ve used to motivate me in my academic, scientific, and social lives.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I used to weigh over 3oo pounds, lost 137 pounds, and watched how my life changed. It has not been a smooth road, and that is because I am learning as I go. However, I believe that smoothness is not the path for leaders, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. I am setting a path for others so my successors will have a smoother road that is being seen by those who have followed in my footsteps at NCSU and Yale School of the Environment.

I was a campus pastor and learned how to speak to multiple people even when they were not present. I am a forester, geneticist, educator, and a musical artist. I have learned that you must stay the course with your interest and align with others if you want to cooperate. I also learned to work past my own limitations that I placed on myself. Being a musical artist helped me to gain confidence, connect with my audience, and develop diverse ways of speaking with people that are different from me. Making music is also my therapy, and has helped grow through challenges and mature.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
In my business, I support and guide professionals interested in developing or improving their diversity initiatives. Primarily, I support the leaders of the companies by guiding them in strategic thinking and strategic goal development. What sets me apart from others is what I teach and facilitate, I have administered. I lead by example and provide diversity mentoring on how to speak, think, challenge and engage with others on diversity type work.
I didn’t just study; I learned through my lived experiences. As a forester who worked in Montana, a graduate student who studied at Iowa State University, an administrator at NC State University, and a dean at Yale University. Now as a CEO, founder and facilitator, I can remember the times where I was one of the few, if not the only, who looks like me in workspaces. I help people recognize the opportunity in a challenge and be more self-confident instead of insecure when they feel like they’re the only one. Further, once I wrote my first book about diversity, I started to see that people were hungry for new information but also needed to get it in a comfortable way.

Lastly, after I started my podcast with the Yale School of the Environment, the Heartwood Podcast, and I started speaking with people all over the globe, I saw that these equity and fairness issues are global. They impact us all.

I’d like for your readers to reach out if you need support in DEI. I invite you to listen to my podcast, get my book, and apply what you learn.

You can also support our music at the label I lead.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you, and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Yes, I have learned some great lessons. One to be consistent about managing and handling your business that way, you stay ahead of the game. Trust people to be people; most will look out for themselves or their community, which is fine. Be patient with yourself and others because the standard of services seems to be decreasing. We all need to be more patient with one another. Also, taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do in these times. How you feel about yourself will show in how you engage with others.
If you are busy creating and putting beauty in the world, you have less time to complain about what others are or are not doing themselves. Use your passion to share and connect with others, but use your talents to benefit you and others.

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Image Credits
The Photos were taken by Evin Grant.

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