We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Goodson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, what do you attribute your success to?
True success in my business started in fall 2020 when I embraced complete vulnerability and surrender.
I started my business at the beginning of January 2020 to create workplace cultures where everyone feels accepted. I advise early-stage startups (typically in the Series A or Series B stages) on scaling culture. I also partner with later stage start-ups in need of culture transformation help.
My business really struggled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 was a tremendously difficult year for me, as it was for so many of us. In September 2020 I was at a breaking point in my personal life and felt called to be extremely vulnerable with someone. More vulnerable in showing my hurt and telling my story than I had been in my entire life prior. As a coach I work with called it, as I shared my unrequited feelings, I was being “love in the face of unlove”.
I experienced a lot of heartbreak, tears, and sadness due to that vulnerability, but it was the greatest gift I could have ever given myself. The vulnerability I revealed in my personal life had massive ripple effects in my business – I became much more authentic in my pitches, with the clients I decided to work with, and in sharing my story.
I have had a physical disability for 25+ years due to a brain injury I had as a child, but was uncomfortable discussing it up until last fall because of the years of emotional trauma associated with it. When I was compelled to be completely raw and honest with someone about how I felt about our relationship, it catalyzed me to be more open with the world about what it’s like to be a person who walks with two legs of different lengths and performs all life functions with one arm and hand (due to the other being partially paralyzed).
I published my first article describing my personal challenges with physical disability in October 2020 and have not looked back since.
Through my business, CultureSmart, my mission is two-fold. I want to disrupt how we treat each other in the workplace and create environments with more compassion. Through my speaking and writing, I also want to build greater awareness around varying abilities in our world from both a people and product perspective.
For me, vulnerability was the way in and is the way I do my best to show up every day. Building better workplaces, relationships, and communities demands it of each of us.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Through my company, CultureSmart, I advise organizations on how to build more positive and inclusive workplace cultures. I work mostly with Series A and B startups. I also am a positive advocate for people with disabilities and give inspirational keynotes to companies of all sizes, designed to build empathy around disabilities internally at companies.
To create effective change in the ways we interact around disability and diversity, people and organizations need to be able to experience new perspectives. I’m excited to bring that shift through my consulting, speaking, and writing, so that positive change will happen in our world.
My journey to starting a business has had a lot of struggles, both physically and emotionally. I think it is important for people to know those struggles and to know that they are not alone in the struggles they face – no matter the size or scope. My mission is to share the lessons I have learned along the way in complete authenticity in the hope that they make others feel seen, in the ways I wish I had felt seen as a child and young adult.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my gosh – I love LA! And I’ve been fortunate to have a few of my best friends visit regularly. Two of my most dear friends, Andres Rodriguez and Fernando Machado, have visited a few times. We have amazing times seeing old Hollywood movies at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, eating at Gracias Madre and Clyde’s, and shopping at the Brentwood Country Mart.
I also cannot say enough about the local stand-up and comedy scene. Two good friends here, Jen Murray and Josh Sundquist, are fantastic performers. I have seen them both at Westside Comedy Theater. Jen also recently hosted a several great shows at Surfridge Brewing, which is a favorite spot, in El Segundo.
The wellness classes in LA are also unparalleled. The meditation and kundalini classes at RA MA Venice as well as Cassidy Rhodes’s classes at SoulCycle have been so transformational in my physical and mental growth.
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 dedicate my shoutout to my grandmother, “Murph” White. I was devoted to my grandmother and her passing in April 2019 was a turning point in my life. I had been living in Washington, DC for many years at that time, was starting to long for a change, and ended up visiting Santa Monica for the first time a few weeks after she passed.
I can remember sitting on the Third Street Promenade having dinner the night I arrived, crying out of grief for her passing, but also out of pride in myself.
My grandmother was a trailblazer. As a young, single woman in her mid-twenties, she visited Europe alone with her best friend (which was not commonly done in the 1950s). I had just flown cross-country by myself on a bit of a whim and was moved by the similarities.
In her obituary, which she wrote for herself, my grandmother closed by asking us to remember her by hugging someone close to our hearts regularly. Her philosophy to life, her dedication to others, and her zeal for living are the foundation for how I model my entire life.
Chris Wodjak Terri Rippee