Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rhodes Perry, Founder of Rhodes Perry Consulting, located in Portland, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our mission at Rhodes Perry Consulting is to help inclusive leaders, visionaries, and change-makers build belonging at work, a prerequisite for business success. Established in 2015, the firm is a global leadership and management consultancy that partners with leading brands, including Genentech, PNC Bank, and the Kellogg Company®. Government agencies like the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and larger nonprofit organizations, including the American Red Cross, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
Together with each partner, our firm co-creates transformative change management solutions, building belonging cultures centering on those least likely to feel a strong sense of psychological safety and trust on the job. The firm specializes in executive coaching, leadership development programming, DEI capacity building, and strategic planning solutions to help workplaces establish and implement system-wide DEI commitments and metrics to achieve them. Each project the firm takes on embraces a targeted universal approach. This means that while an entire organization has a broad universal goal of delivering an emotional outcome of belonging for everyone on the team, this universal goal can only be achieved when targeted approaches focus on those least likely to feel safe on the job. This approach helps our clients achieve transformative and sustainable culture change with a demonstrated record of success.
At RPC, we are fully committed to the success of our clients as they reach their DEI goals, and we are focused on building lasting and fulfilling relationships throughout this process. We recognize the challenges many organizations face. This is why we go the extra mile to ensure our clients are clear on their DEI commitments. We help establish metrics to help our clients work toward and maintain a clear focus on their vision for belonging. Together, our collective work helps grow the #BelongingMovement.
Tell us about yourself
I believe in the power of authenticity at work. I put this belief into practice by helping inclusive leaders, DEI professionals, and visionaries at every level build more safety, trust, and belonging to transform the culture of work. I am also a bestselling author, sought-after keynote speaker, and an award-winning social entrepreneur. Nationally recognized as a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) thought leader, I have 20 years of leadership experience, having worked at the White House, the Department of Justice, and PFLAG National. Media outlets like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press have featured my powerful work. I serve as the Founding CEO of Rhodes Perry Consulting, a global leadership and management consulting firm helping inclusive leaders build psychological safety, trust, and belonging at work.
I am motivated to partner with leading brands to help them recognize the prerequisite to business success. Even business breakthroughs are to build a belonging work culture. As a queer and transgender man, I often felt the sting of social exclusion in the workplace simply because of who I am. I use these challenging experiences as a source of inspiration to help more inclusive leaders recognize the costs of doing nothing to change the epidemic of exclusion and othering that far too many people experience on the job. Together, the firm co-creates transformative change management solutions to build more visibility, connection, support, and pride at work - the essential ingredients leading to feeling an emotional outcome of belonging.
I also created and hosted the annual Belonging at Work Summit, a virtual DEI conference empowering inclusive leaders to build community, gain new skills, and recommit to building healthier workplace cultures. I have earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Public Administration from New York University. I currently serve on the National LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce's Transgender Inclusion Task Force, the Cascade AIDS Project's Board of Directors, and the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association's Rainbow Community Task Force.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was fully believing in myself and my initial vision for my business. Looking back on these past 8 years of building my consulting and coaching firm truly takes my breath away. I'm a 2x bestselling author, a new and noteworthy podcaster, I run a successful Belonging Membership Community for DEI professionals and inclusive leaders, I host an annual Belonging at Work Summit, and I have the opportunity to deliver keynotes to businesses and communities all over the world. Living this reality is a dream come true. With all these wonderful opportunities also comes great responsibility to give back to the communities I love and belong to
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding my "NO" has been one of the greatest challenges when deciding whether to pursue a new creative idea, collaboration, consulting opportunity, etc. To inform some of the more complicated decisions I must make on a daily basis, I have developed a series of decision-making questions to inform my process better when a tough "Yes" or "No" response is required.
Here's a sample of some of the questions I consider:
- Purpose. Does this decision align with my business vision, mission, and values?
- People. Who are the people positively/negatively impacted by the decision?
- Process. How are we meaningfully including/excluding the people impacted?
- Power. Can this decision equitably redistribute power and resources to the people impacted?
- Place. Does this decision impact the environment surrounding the people involved?
I highly recommend other business owners consider developing their own decision-making questions as a framework to guide some of the more difficult decisions they will inevitably encounter to build up their confidence, particularly when they need to say "No" to an exciting opportunity.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Simon Sinek was right. Start with your "why." Really know why you are called to start your business. Answering this question will find the underlying purpose that drives you to build a successful business.
- Find your community. As you take your great business idea and begin to execute it, find a community of fellow business owners who are a few years ahead of where you want to be to learn how they did it. Finding a supportive community will help build up the knowledge and skills required to succeed that no MBA program can deliver. It will also grow your confidence knowing that you have a group of people ready to help when you need it. I have personally found a very supportive community of fellow business owners through the National LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce. National and local chambers may be a good place to start for you.
- Remember that you are running the business you have today while also dreaming about where you want to lead your business into the future. As you remember this reality, it's important to find technicians who can help you run the daily operations while you can move more into the visionary role 100% of your time. What does your business do today to fulfill your purpose, and as the world evolves, how will your business evolve with it?
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If folks are interested in learning how to build a belonging culture in their businesses, please consider checking out my best-selling books, Belonging at Work and Imagine Belonging, at www.rhodesonamazon.com. The first book will help readers wrap their arms around what belonging at work means, why it matters, and the simple actions anyone in the workplace can take to build it. The second book is particularly helpful for business owners to imagine the kind of culture they want to intentionally build, recognize what they may be up against today, and identify strategies to overcome these barriers and enjoy working in a healthier workplace culture.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.