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Born and raised in Malaysian Borneo, award-winner Lillian A. Tsai is a consultant, facilitator, trainer, coach, and keynote speaker on cross-cultural fluency, intercultural communications, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She works with C-level executives, leadership teams, DEI committees, teams and individuals. Lillian specializes in organizational DEI and racial equity assessments and team interventions, as well as coaching women, people of color, and leaders of diverse teams.  

Get your workplace ready, making sure that every single person understands what your core values are and how do those values show up in behavior so that they are inclusive of everyone.

So what I mean by that, it means how are we going to.. acknowledge, accept and adapt to difference?

– Lillian Tsai

Prior to starting TsaiComms, LLC in 2002, she spent 25 years in global high-tech marketing and communications, which culminated in an expatriate assignment in Stuttgart, Germany. 

She has worked with nonprofits such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, Education Northwest, Ride Connection, and Meals on Wheels People; global corporations such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and Microsoft; public agencies such as the Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Corrections, Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon Governor’s Enterprise Leadership Team, Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Dept., the U.S. Forest Service, as well as clients from architecture, construction, education, energy, finance, food, healthcare, sportswear, technology, and pharmacy.   

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At Linguava, we are dedicated to reducing communication barriers and providing equity to all members of our community through language access services.

If you are interested in learning more about incorporating language access into your organization or would like to book a training session, contact us today.

Transcript – The Invisible Profession Podcast Ep. 011 – Culture Counts

Welcome to the Linguava podcast The Invisible Profession. We give you tools, tips, and resources in medical interpretation and translation that help bring to life our profession and ultimately help improve health outcomes with the Limited English proficient and Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

David: Welcome everyone to podcast, episode number 11, and I want to say super excited today to have a very special guest Lillian Tsai. Joining us on the show. I’ve gotten to know Lillian just briefly over the past few weeks, and she’s going to be doing some DEI work with Linguava as well. And when I met her, I just knew right away our community needed to experience Lillian as, as well. So who’s Lillian Tsai. Lillian Tsai is a DEI expert trainer facilitator, keynote speaker. I was listening to a Ted talk the other day. And there was a woman talking about how we all have that, that one single-minded friend who was passionate about one, one thing.

Well, for Lillian, that is DEI work. That is her life’s work. So Lillian, welcome to the show this morning.

Lillian: Thank you so much David it’s really a pleasure and honor to be asked to do this. It’s great. And it is a passion, although, as we will explore as we talk is how it was an evolution for me, you know, it, wasn’t always this way.

David: Okay. Well, I definitely want to get into that. That sounds really interesting. So tell us a little bit first, so we can learn a bit more about, about who you are and how you were born and raised in Malaysia. And tell us a little bit about growing up there and what age did you come over to the US.

Lillian: Okay. So you see the image behind me, and that is called Mount Kinabalu, which is the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia. And it happens to be in my home state of Sabah, which is part of Malaysian Borneo. And I love that picture because it, first of all, it’s a great conversation starter. So I was born and raised in, I didn’t come to this country till I was 19.

So, you know, it pretty much, you can call me a team, but I would say I was an adult as far as I was concerned. And so I came to school. But my upbringing was I would say a little unique because my father was a professional tennis player and he played Davis cup for China. And so he didn’t really have a college education, but my mother was the educated one and my mother was superintendent of all the Chinese schools in our home state.

So it’s interesting. Isn’t it? That it’s evolved into me now being an educator.

David: Yeah, no, that’s a super, super interesting. And so you come over at 19 and did you come immediately to Oregon or?

Lillian: No. I actually went to school in Boston and then long story short, I met my ex-husband there. Who’s also from Malaysia, you meet in Boston, right?

Of course. And then we went back to work in Singapore because Hewlett Packard hired him long story short. I then spent 25 years in the tech industry in global marketing and communications corporate communications, which then ended up in a, an expatriate assignment in June. Which was, I would say the pinnacle of my career.

It was the best job I ever had. And they had a German company actually bought the software company that I worked for in Oregon, as well as several other companies. Within two years, they went bankrupt. So what they did was they fired everybody except me. And they say, Hey, we’re spitting off a mobile payment software.

Now this was an early adopter company. No one in the world had mobile payment software. This was 2009. And so I flew over there, did my assignment and they wanted to keep me, but I, you know, they weren’t paying me enough for me to pay my mortgage back here. So long story short, I came back and then I started my company.

It was right after 9/11, there were no jobs in my field. And so then I started exploring the field of cross-cultural communications. I started teaching about my culture, which is the Chinese culture. And they say, if you want to learn something, you teach it.

David: That’s right. Yeah. That’s the best way to learn.

Lillian: Yeah. So that’s when I started my company and it’s exactly 18 years old now.

David: Wow. Yeah. It’s called Tsai Communications, right. TsaiComms. And so, you know, we’re in such a unique time right now, obviously for, so for so many reasons, your 2020 has been a unique year on many different levels. Obviously with the pandemic and then, you know, racially as well.

And it, it seems like there’s a lot of companies this year in particular that are giving more importance, more and more light is being shed on the DEI topic for you starting off, you know, what is, what, when you’re talking about DEI, And you’re going in and talking to a company initially, what is, what are you, what do you mean when you’re saying DEI?

And what is the your vision for what that should look like?

Lillian: So when people talk about DEI, they usually focus on the D, right? So diversity, and diversity to most people, I would say predominantly is about race, gender, maybe age, right. And predominantly race since we are in a era where everybody’s talking about race.

So racial justice is top of mind for most people. However, most people forget that diversity is actually all the different dimensions that we all. Including, for example, our personalities, as introvert or an extrovert. And for myself, I’ve been diagnosed while self-diagnosed as a HSP, which is a high sensate processor, which interestingly has been really good for my work because I can sense people.

I can sense the energy that’s in the room now with zoom, with double screens in front of us, you know, as barriers I can still see it because I take notice of. Body language, you know, how their eyes are, how they’re there, the, their faces are the expressions. And so that to me is diversity, including what’s my communication style.

And what I find is that is the, one of the single biggest things that are the breakdowns in relationships in work places. I mean, you’re a communications company. Right. Yeah. And then there’s understanding somebody’s conflict style understanding. Somebody’s way of thinking somebody’s way of problem solving.

So it’s not one dimension is diversity, it’s multiple layers of diversity that we’re actually going to talk about in the training I’m going to be providing for you and your staff.

David: That’s a, that’s awesome. And I mean, I think it’s one of those things that today it seems like, you know, a lot of companies now know that.

Diversity, culturally diverse organizations do better. Right? They say that they do ethically diverse organizations perform 33% better than companies that that, that do not. And so does it, and from your perspective, are companies trying to. More check a box when they’re looking at those areas and what are they missing as they are looking to expand and incorporate more DEI concepts in their organizations?

Lillian: Yeah, I think it depends. Some are more advanced than others. However, I work with companies where. I would rank them at the minus 101 level. And that’s not to denigrate anybody or insult anybody, but that’s where they are. So they admitted, they said, Hey, we’re starting at the very beginning. We don’t know what we don’t know.

So come in here and advise us well then I find out is that, oh, some of them is a check in the box and there are a lot of people who come to me and they want one training. And many times I try to explain to them that the best page. Sure. I can do the training. I can do lots of trainings, however, how’s it going to move the needle, right?

How’s it going to change systemically, what’s really going on with people who don’t feel included, who don’t feel a sense of belonging. So then, you know, so, so then that goes into consulting piece and the biggest thing that I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been doing so many of these, is an organizational assessment.

Where are you? In terms of diversity equity, inclusion, what’s working for you? And where are some of what are some of the things that you want to be different? And I don’t like to use the word be better because it’s not about better is just like, it could be about the adopting, what policies, procedures, processes.

Yeah. People feel more included.

David: And so when you’ve come in and you’re doing these assessments, what are you typically seeing? In those assessments?

Lillian: Oh, well, I could say that all the isms starting with racism, sexism ageism is a huge thing because apparently, and I heard this from somebody.

Well, if you’re over 40, you’re too old, I’m going, what? That’s my son’s age. I feel like a dinosaur. Yeah, so that those are the main things. And then a lot of the themes that we find are about leadership, right? Leadership, who doesn’t walk the talk, it’s what we call performative, meaning it’s very surface level.

So those are usually the similar things that we find.

David: Yeah. It seems like for a lot of companies that I know for language access companies, like Linguava and many other of the organizations that might be listening, I think it’s easy for us to think. Well, We’re a language access company.

We work with translators and interpreters from all over the world. Our office staff is over 50% are representing people of color. So we’re good. Like we got this and I think that’s a that’s a danger that, I mean, we all have to be careful, you know, my, my myself included to it to assume that we’ve arrived somewhere.

I think that’s really where. Where the rubber meets the road here is because it’s easy. We’re constantly checking things like our sales and business. We’re constantly checking things like are we meeting our KPIs? But to assume that DEI is being performed consistently without doing those kinds of assessments, that’s something that we should be holding ourselves.

Every company should be holding ourselves accountable.

Lillian: Right. So, so here’s what I find David, is that the leadership, the top people like you or your leadership team, seldom get to hear the bad news because they get, you know, they, they get buffered, right? So, maybe the manager or the supervisor below you are not going to want to tell you the bad news.

They’re afraid to tell you the bad news. However, in just about every single assessment I’ve done over the last five years. Is that people of color are the ones who are afraid to speak up because of the repercussions of being fired. Right. Of losing the job, not getting that promotion. They work have to work twice as hard to get heard and to be seen.

And so, because of these things, that’s why these assessments. And so the assessment includes a focus group. They include one-on-one interviews for those who don’t want to be in a confidential focus group. And then very importantly, there’s an anonymous online survey. That’s about 50 quantitative, mostly quantitative, and then qualitative the questions.

So, and if you’re a small organization, sure. It might be easy to identify people. However, when we report out, we are very careful to keep the anonymity very safe. Right. And so that’s where you hear the stories in the focus groups and interviews where you hear the stories. You know, I, a lot of people start crying because I might be the only outlet that they have.

And they probably feel it feel really stuck because they can’t go to, they feel like they can’t go to their manager or supervisor. Yep. You know, I think HR really gets a bad rap on us. You know, so the stereotype of HR, I think, is something that HR constantly has to overcome.

David: That would be there being consequences.

Right? There’s the, it’s much more difficult for people to see the action that they must take. So what would the consequences look like for those leadership teams and what kind of accountability should we be holding ourselves to?

Lillian: Right. So the consequences for not being able to hear the truth, what I call the ground truth.

But people feeling psychologically safe is that productivity goes down. Trust goes down and you can easily now assume and make a productive predetermination that when there’s a lack of trust productivity goes down and therefore, what does it impact? It impacts team behavior, right? And impacts individual performance.

And so I like to say that there are a lot of companies that I talked to who like to put a stick to the naysayer. And I say, I want to talk to the naysayer. In fact, let me share a story. I was working with a public agency a few years ago and I said, okay, let me do some ride alongs because that’s what I like to do.

And I won’t charge you for it. I did 30 hours of ride along. I worked with the vegetation crew. I dawned my hard hat. I had my work boots. They gave me a vest. And I worked alongside with them. And then I was with the road striping crew. I was with the bridge building crew. And guess what happens when you do that?

You build trust. And so all of these people were very skeptical about diversity training. So I did this before I went into the training and by the time they came to the classroom, they were in the front row. Okay. And one of them actually, a young gentlemen, Blonde six foot two. And he was a supervisor and he came in, sat in the front row.

And before he even came to training, after he and I had worked together for three hours, he told his team, he said, Hey, I take more. I take Lillian more than three of you. Right. I take over three of you. And guess what? I want all of you to come to a training. How beautiful is that you spend some of your own time with people building that trust.

So it’s really about relationships. I think, I believe, and not just focusing on the task. So what leadership needs to do is to do check-ins with people, right? Not like, well, I’m checking on you. I’m micromanaging, you. And that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking a personal interest.

In your employees about who are they as a human being? Who are they as a father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter. No. And what challenge, what is the challenge for them especially today, right?

David: Yeah. And by doing that, then that crew that elevates that level of safety, I would imagine that the employee would be able to hear because then they without that trust being there as a foundation, I’m not going to be able to feel safe to speak up, get to the real issues there. So with, in the US alone, there’s 162 million people today in the workplace. So what can we do as businesses to help advance the diversity, equity and inclusion within our workplace?

Lillian: I would say, get your workplace ready. Which means making sure that every single person understands what your core values are and how do those values show up in behavior so that they are inclusive of everyone.

So what I mean by that, it means how are we going to, and this is my three A’s model. How do I accept? How do I acknowledge, accept and adapt to difference? And I created this model 10 years ago. And it’s actually based on story. Of again, a public agency where I had asked to speak to somebody who had been accused of racism.

It was an older white male. And so I said, I want to talk to him on his lunch, on his break. So 15 minutes he gave me, walked into the conference room and now I’m thinking, boy, I wonder what was going on in his head. Oh, the consultant, the DEI consultant was to talk with me. He’s probably scared, right? Yeah.

Thinking what is going to go on. So anyway, I spent best, most productive 15 minutes of my life because I got to know him. And the first question I asked him was, tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? And how did that inform who you are today? So he talked about growing up in rural Oregon.

And so if you grow up in rural Oregon, chances are, you don’t see a lot of diversity. Right. So if you haven’t had that lived experience. And so then he started using language that actually caused me to have some jolts. He said things like, well, and we were talking about the county being a little bit much more diverse today.

He said, yeah, those Don XYZ racial group, they go into the grocery store. They let the kids run around. They don’t stand in line, but don’t worry. I leave my racism at home. So that really jolted me. I didn’t accuse him of being a racist. I said, huh, tell me more. And he said well, I don’t really mean that.

So, so it’s having conversations with people and meeting them where they are. Just something that I would say 80% of organizations don’t know what, how to do it. How do you have those conversations that are not just safe, but they are brave, right? Safe and brave so that you, as the leader needs to be able to demonstrate.

So, what does that mean? So leaders, themselves and managers and supervisors all have to do their own work, because if you don’t know yourself, how are you going to know how you’re going to show up? How do you know what your biases are? Whether they conscious and unconscious?

David: Yeah, no, that’s so powerful. I love that.

I love what you just said about just meeting people where there are, we’re all coming from a different place. We’re all bringing our own unique culture to the workplace, whether that’s in office or remote and being able to stop and listen is really kind of what you’re, it sounds like you’re saying, right? Of being able to really know the people that you’re working with in order to have that kind of impact.

Lillian: Right. Right. And I call it mindful listening. In fact, I remember something that my mother always told me. She said, look, you have two ears and one mouth use them proportionately. And as children being a Chinese Malaysian Chinese, we will always talk to, I remember my mother also said that don’t speak up unless you have something meaningful to say, don’t just take up the airways.

David: I like that. You mentioned core values and how they show up in, in your company. Number one, having core values. And then what, how do you live those out in, in your day to day within your company? I’d be curious to ask you, you know, what are some of your core values within your business or your personal that you would would be able to share?

Lillian: You know, that’s interesting, cause I never really thought about it until this moment. I would say integrity is pretty much number one, integrity equity belonging. Those are very important to me. And one of them it’s actually fun, you know? And so you can look at fun from different standpoints, right?

For me, fun means that I want some life. Right. I want to be able to have fun while I’m presenting while I’m working with my coworkers or my collaborators. But somebody might look at that value. And this is where it’s tricky about values too. People can have the same value and they could be looked at and perceived very differently.

So if somebody else looks at fun as, oh, she’s just a goofball, but that’s not what I mean. What I mean is I want to introduce fun into my life in my environment, whether it’s work or otherwise, because you only live once you don’t live twice. Like James Bond says, right. One, you get one chance in life.

It’s not a rehearsal. Yeah. So why wouldn’t I want to have fun, especially now I’m a senior citizen.

David: And it is so true. I mean, it’s like, you got to. People take life too seriously. Sometimes it’s kind of that, that, that dichotomy, that interesting balance of you have to take life seriously because it’s everything is a serious matter, but at the same time, you have to also be able to have fun in, in, in the process too.

Right. So that’s an interesting dichotomy there. So another interesting, you know, Data that, that we all know is, you know, by 2045, the United States will be minority majority, which is, you know, coming up here as soon as sooner before, before we know it. So what should companies knowing that white people are no longer going to be the majority, you know, by 2045 could be sooner.

So how should companies be. Preparing themselves today to better live out DEI values today.

Lillian: I think it starts with being culturally competent, right. And culturally competent means, I mean, culture is every single one of us. And it’s interesting because when I talk about culture, when I asked white people, so describe your culture.

They’ll say I don’t have a culture. And that to me is interesting. And I think what they mean is I haven’t really explored it. I haven’t had to explore it as a white person because I don’t have to talk about it. Whereas for people like me, who’s an immigrant. Somebody like me who works in culture and diversity all the time, it is present every single day.

And so how can we examine ourselves first? So cultural competence really is about understanding yourself first. What are my values? What are my beliefs? How do they show up? Every single day for me at work is socially, you know, with my family, how am I inadvertently teaching those values and paying them forward to my children, to my grandchildren and also to my employees.

Right. And so understanding myself first. And so I would say for companies to prepare for the future is you have to get your own house in order first so that you are going to be an inclusive and welcoming place so that by the time you hire more people with more diversity, you’re ready. Right. And so, so the thing that I’ve found in the last few years last 10 years is that people of color generally lasts anywhere from 12 to 18 months in the organization.

That’s the general. And I’m talking about maybe smaller organizations, the ones that stay the longest. It is really the supervisor, the manager, or the leader, or the CEO who’s demonstrating inclusion. And the ones that demonstrate it from the top down are the ones that definitely have less turnover.

David: Yeah. That’s powerful. You have you have a Chinese proverb on your website. I wanted to ask you about it. It says you can hardly make a friend in a year, but you can easily offend one in an hour. I like that. What does that mean for you?

Lillian: It is about the power of words. It’s about word choice.

I mean, you’re in the word in language business, right? And so it’s how we show up. How do we speak so that people can hear us? So it’s use of words. Like, for example, I was thinking the other day, instead of saying. Mindset. And instead of saying attitude, because some people may view attitude as a negative, right.

But using the word mindset, you know, I wonder what mindset is behind, whatever it is that you’re saying. There’s a very powerful video that I use sometimes in my training called the power of words. And it depicts a a man who is sight impaired and he’s sitting on a sidewalk and this was actually filmed in Scotland.

And he’s got a sign. With a little dish to ask people to put money in, to put coins in and the sign says, please help. All right. So it shows that not many coins are being dropped in his cup, but then the young lady comes along and she whips out a Sharpie out of the way. Why not everybody has a Sharpie on them, but she does.

So she tastes his sign, flips it over and she writes it’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it. Guess what happened? People start dropping coins in his cup because all of a sudden he’s touched people, right? He’s touched your emotions. So it’s really, those voices is what the Chinese are saying is that you can actually destroy a relationship with one word with one phrase.

So again, it’s like my mother said, you know, be careful what you say.

David: I love the story. It reminds me of a, some very similar story that I don’t know if you’re familiar with Simon Sineck is a author speaker. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Everybody knows him. So he had a similar story like that, where he saw an individual in New York who had a sign and the sign was such asking for money, you know, begging for money.

And he said that exact same thing, flipped over the board and wrote on the board. I don’t know if it was him actually, or he was telling a story about someone else did this, but regardless, just by changing the words and what he wrote was if you only give once next time that you give, think of me and that’s all that he changed.

And then the individual went. Making eight X on what he was taking in that one day, just by changing the words. We’re talking about cross-cultural competency, how does that also translate into health care? And in, we have to talk about what that looks like in, in hospitals and healthcare organizations.

Lillian: Right? So I did a presentation a few years ago for a few healthcare organizations and I called it cultural competency for seniors. I was mostly focused on how do you treat seniors of color? And I talked about four main things. One is cultural and language barriers. Family-based decision-making they beliefs about healthcare and caring for seniors.

And then also seniors being marginalized and invisible. So those are the four things that really affect seniors of color and the challenges that we have are, of course you understand the language thing. So now that we have interpreters, maybe, you know, won’t be so bad, but there was a story that came up with a friend who’s Filipino.

And the grandfather only spoke Tagalog. Right. They didn’t speak English. And so he was admitted to the hospital. They didn’t have interpreter back then and you know what they did, they amputated the wrong leg. Now that’s an extreme situation. Right. And today that probably wouldn’t happen, but there are a lot of, yeah.

Unfortunately. You know, of course hospitals will get sued, but but there are a lot of statistics from the Commonwealth fund healthcare quality survey that said that minorities are more likely for go to forego asking questions of their doctor and you know, the Hispanic and Asians more likely to do that.

And so then there are people who don’t understand what the doctor is saying. They’re afraid to ask questions. And I know that, so my mother. Retired to Canada several years ago, she died in 1999, but in the last five years of her life, she was actually paralyzed from the waist down. So she had to be in a long-term care facility.

And she developed bedsores and I said, mom why don’t you tell them to turn you? She said, I don’t want to bother people. So that’s a value, right? I don’t want to bother people. So if you were culturally competent, you will know that this culture doesn’t tend to speak up. So therefore I’m maybe going to check on them more often.

David: Yeah. And make sure that you have an interpreter present when talking with them.

Lillian: Exactly. I mean, Canada and Vancouver, where she lived, there was lots of Chinese people, lots of interpreters. And so she was left alone to our own devices and she can’t move. I’ll do anything. So, and I obviously couldn’t visit her very often, even though my sister lived there.

So, yeah. So, so that’s just one example. I also wanted to segue into, I can’t talk about cultural competence in health care without mentioning my sister. So my sister, Evelyn, Y Lee, unfortunately passed away in 2003 and she was one of the former. Mental health culturally competent mental health professionals.

So, and for example, she has so many accolades and one of them was between 1980 and 82. She served as a social science analyst in the federal government in BC. In fact, she sent me a picture of her and Al Gore and Mrs. Gore. She has written 30 articles and in 1999, she was clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

She also served as a consultant and cultural competence and diversity to many community health and mental health organization, schools, hospitals, local state, federal government agencies, such as the national technical assistance center for children’s mental health, Georgetown university, state of California department of mental health, I mean, on and on.

And the thing that. She was so, and unfortunately when I started my business, it was only one year before she died, and I remember saying to her, I said, Evelyn, I want to carry your suitcase to wherever you’re going, because I want to be there. I was so inspired by her. I remember at her Memorial service, there were 500 people.

They had to erect a tent because the building wasn’t big enough. And some, one of her coworkers came up to me and they said, You’re going to carry on her work. Aren’t you? At the time, I had no idea, you know, 18 years ago, 17 years ago. I had no idea, but guess what? That’s exactly what I’m doing. I have goosebumps right now because Evelyn lives in me every single day.

So she coauthored a book called Working with Asian Americans: A Guide for Clinicians. I highly recommend that book, even though it’s a bit old now, but I think those strategies still work today Working with Asian Americans and I know Amazon had it. In fact, I still have the book she dedicated to our mother who was also an educator.

So, and then the UCSF department of psychiatry and behavioral science diversity committee in remembrance of her created. This award called the visiting scholar lecture and cultural competency, and they have had this for 16 years in memory of my sister.

David: Wow. That’s beautiful. Yeah.

Lillian: Thank you. So I’m so proud of what she had accomplished before she died.

And I’m convinced that she died because she was served on 50 boards. That’s crazy. She was traveling a lot.

David: 50 boards? Wow. So, yeah, it sounds like even you, you really are living out her legacy and carrying, carrying that suitcase for Evelyn. That’s a, that’s beautiful and that can, we can all hear the passion in your voice and just how much you loved her and still do.

Yeah. And with, as it pertains to healthcare again. When we go to the doctor if we speak English and don’t require an interpreter it’s a different experience than if we go to the doctor. And we maybe speak a little bit of English, but we don’t speak English strong enough or we’re Limited English Proficient where we would require language services.

What is that? What does that experience like for those patients? And we talked about, you know, safety and trust and and not wanting to speak up, what is that like that the providers should know about so that they can provide better health equity to Limited English Proficient patients?

Lillian: I think first of all, they need to slow down what they’re saying.

I know my own doctor and I speak English pretty well, but I mean, she’s from New York and she’s, you know, a mile a minute and I’ve had wait a minute, Dr. Bercovitch please slow down because I can’t keep up with you. And I speak English, I would say perfectly. Right. And so the first thing to do is to notice that you have somebody who doesn’t speak English as a first language is to slow down without being condescending.

So there’s a way to do that. The other thing is they need to ask the patient or, and, or the translator, interpreter. What is it culturally that I need to know about this patient? Culturally, meaning maybe it’s a religious background, mages cultural beliefs, you know, maybe have they been using traditional medicine?

Nobody’s ever asked me that. Thank goodness I go to nature path. So she knows. And actually some of the medicine she recommends to me, stuff that I used to take, you know, 50 years ago in Malaysia. No. The same pills, they smell the same too. And so I think being very conscious that who’s in front of you, especially if you know, they’re an immigrant or refugee or somebody who obviously is a, you know, ELL English language learner is to be very aware and to ask more questions than making assumptions, do not ever make assumptions because that’s going to really, that’s the power of the words right.

David: Yeah. And just like you were talking about earlier ask people, listen, we’ve got two ears, one mouth ask questions. Right. I think asking about maybe their experience with that medicine or something about their upbringing or something like that, to really understand who they are.

Lillian: Right. And I would say at the end is there any, are there any other questions I can answer for you. I don’t ever hear that. And I’ll hear this, here’s your prescription or here’s that and you’re off? I mean, you’re lucky to get five minutes. I actually spent an hour with my doctor. She’s so awesome. She takes notes, you know, she knows exactly who I am.

Whereas some other doctors it’s like, you’ve never seen them before, you know? So those record keeping is so important. Take notes. Yeah. I mean, it’s easier today. You don’t need medical trends transcriptions anymore. You know, you have your own laptop.

David: Yeah. That’s so true. Well, Lillian, I want to, I have one more question for you before we get into that.

What’s the best way for if people have questions for you and they want to follow up with you directly, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you.

Lillian: Okay. You can email me. So it’s Lillian with three L’s. L I A N at. Then that’s my last name, which is T as in Tom, S as in Sam. A I C O M –

And by the way, I’m about to launch my new website. I’m so excited. Hopefully it will be a by the end of this week and you can connect with me on LinkedIn.

David: Okay. Okay. Perfect. And for those watching the video, we’ll definitely put your social media handle on there as well. And you know, Lillian you’ve been doing this work now for a number of years.

You’re so. You’re so passionate about it. You’ve seen companies that are starting from zero to companies that are much maybe further along in their DEI journey. What sort of, what would be your ideal vision as you’re looking out at the United States? All the different businesses, you know, all the different industries, what would, what’s your vision for the work that you’re doing to come to fruition to be realized, what would, what does the world look like with all the work that you’re doing coming to fruition?

Lillian: I would say change and change is difficult. I would say that. So I want to say that I’m a catalyst for change one person at a time, one team at a time, and really creating systemic change is what’s needed so that there, so this the only way you’re going to dismantle racism.

And racism is everywhere. I would say it’s through education. It’s through being a role model for people and through my speeches and my presentations and my keynotes. I try to inspire audiences with my personal stories. So that’s my vision. And I know that in a few years, I’m going to probably step down a little bit.

Cause you know, I’ll be, I mean, I’m getting old and this work is difficult. It’s messy. It’s very emotional. And it really touches me to my core, especially being an HSP. Right. I take in, I empathize so much with people and I break down when I’m not in front of a client. In fact, the other day I was watching a trailer to Mulan.

Right. It’s a Disney movie and I bawled my eyes out. I had no idea why. And I thought, okay, here’s a Chinese girl. I related to her. She’s powerful. And I wish I was that girl many years ago, I started a bit late. I actually reinvented myself at age 50, so that’s not inspiring enough, but anybody, you know, it’s never too late.

So I want to pay it forward. I think is my biggest thing. I want to pay it forward to individuals, especially to women of color, to women, to minorities, people of color. And really make the world a better place.

David: Yeah. Ah, that’s beautiful. Lillian, and, well, I just want you to take a moment just to recognize you Lillian, for the work that you are doing.

We need more people like you and in our community. And when I meet someone like you, I try to pause because I feel like it’s impossible not to, because I know how rare it is to find someone that is, that passionate and determined and aware of really what we need in our community and what we need is to be able to listen more be aware of our words and you’re helping so many of us be able to do that, to recognize people, to meet them where they are.

And I think that by doing that and you living your life’s work. We are going to see see change and it is possible to dismantle racism. And then thanks. Thanks to you. You know, you’re leaving a big ripple effect with your life. And we think, we also think Evelyn as well for just the impact that she’s had on you.

And we’re excited to continue on this journey with you as well. It was wonderful having you on the show. And for those of you who are listening in, whether you’re linguist, interpreter, translator, work in healthcare organizations or any other industry we’d love to hear from you too. So if you have questions from our conversation, leave those in the comments.

Questions about another topic that you’d like us to cover here on this podcast. We’d also love to hear that as well. Go ahead and hit like, and subscribe. If you haven’t already and share this podcast with with your friends and community, if you think that they would benefit from it as well. That being said..

Well, and thank you again for joining us and have a wonderful day.

Lillian: Well, thank you so much, David. It really has been fun. Thank you so much. Have a good day.

David: Thank you.