We had the good fortune of connecting with Caren Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caren, how do you define success?
I define success as “would this be something I”m proud/excited to talk about when I’m 80 years old?” Thinking about success in that way really eliminates the drive for making more money, having a bigger house/car or flexing on others and pushes you to think about what makes you happy and fulfilled.
I’m now more interested in the story that can be told and how I can help others – and yes, I consider myself a success.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the Founder and President of The Professional Adult, a Management and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultancy. My goal as a consultant is to help organizations, teams and creatives shape their most important product – themselves and what each person brings to their work with a focus on uplifting Black, Queer and POC voices.
What makes me different is that I approach DEI work from a background of Product Management and performance. What stories are you currently telling? Does your audience “get it”? How can you build a series of experiments to make lasting change?
I’ve been most proud about the breadth of people I’ve been able to work with – from an online drag town hall to museums to federal contractors. It’s given me the ability to stretch and deepen how I look at equity and how no matter the organization, people want to be seen and heard.
I want people to know that true equity and inclusion won’t happen overnight – it is a journey and you can’t get tired after mile 3. Also, the most marginalized among us know what they need and how we can help. LISTEN TO THEM.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Chicago – this is a hard question. Since Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, we’re heading all over and we’ll do it through food. Chicago is one of the best food cities in the world (fight your mama on this), so we’re eating ALL OF THE THINGS. From Calumet fisheries, Harold’s Chicken (with the mild sauce) on the South Side, tacos in Pilsen, hot pot in Chinatown, fine dining in the West Loop, Polish food in Avondale to Ethiopian in Uptown. I know I’ve missed a ton, but there is so much to choose from.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out all Black Burlesque performers from past to the present who created the stage for me to stand on. Our elders such as Toni Elling, Miss Topsy and Shawna the Black Venus to current icons/performers Perle Noire, Jeez Loueez, Redbone, Egypt BlackKnyle, Jessabelle Thunder and Po’Chop (there are so many more) that inspire me daily.