We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Dumas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As a Black entrepreneur, there are often no seats at the table for people who look like me. By starting and owning my own business, I am building my own table and creating spaces that I didn’t see growing up. Another reason I decided to start my own company was in part because I was tired of working for other people, but it was mainly because I wanted agency over my life, projects, time, and money. Honestly, this was something that I did not realize was missing from the jobs I’ve previously held until I started working for myself. With a ton of support from my partner, family, and friends, I was able to make my dream a reality and start a coaching and consulting business called CommonCulture Coaching & Consulting.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
The thing that excites me most about what I do is being a thought partner with my clients. I believe wholeheartedly that the knowledge necessary for change is within everyone I work with. My role is to point out the blindspots and celebrate the victories. Are all of the conversations we have easy? Absolutely not, especially with conversations around equity and justice; however, just because these conversations are difficult doesn’t mean they aren’t worth having. In fact, some of the hardest conversations can be a catalyst for the necessary changes that my clients are often looking for. For me, I am not intimidated by difficult conversations, rather I am stirred by the potential outcomes that are possible if we are brave enough to be authentic, genuine, and vulnerable, even in the workplace.
How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?
Like most folks around my age, I have had several different jobs. I left those jobs for many reasons, but the most consistent reason was because of a toxic or unhealthy work environment. Yet, it wasn’t the tangible barriers that were difficult for me to get over in these spaces, rather it was the years of emotional trauma and passive (or sometimes overt) racism that made it difficult for me to believe that work was a place I could thrive in as a Black person. It wasn’t until I went back to school and studied the psychology of organizations where it became clear to me that many organizations today still operate from an outdated business model while their current demographic of employees has drastically changed over the years. Most of these outdated business models were not designed to accommodate professionals of color in the first place.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
People will project their own insecurities onto you, especially if you are someone who dreams big. I remember the many instances where I shared my vision for my company and was told it’s very “niche” or received a blank stare (which really means they think your idea is ridiculous or they don’t get it). I have learned that it’s important to share your dreams and vision with folks that will be honest with you when you are trippin’ but encourage you when you are on the right track. I also learned that it is crucial for me to believe in myself and not rely too heavily on other’s belief in me. At the end of the day, your business is your business.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
At CommonCulture CC we are excited about work! More specifically, we are excited about workplaces where everyone is welcome to be their full authentic selves. It was from our desire for equitable and just workplaces that our name was born: “common,” meaning shared, or something you see everyday, and “culture,” being all of the values, beliefs, and norms that make up a group, society or organization. By bringing the two together, we strive to achieve our mission of normalizing everyday experiences for everyday workplaces. Whether an organization partners with us for an organizational restructure or an individual is seeking career coaching to reset their passion for their career, we aim to empower, encourage and advocate for inclusivity in the workplace and beyond.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is a lot to cover for a week, but I will break it down into section and we will make the week up as we go!
Must go to coffee spots for everyday of the week:
Sip & Sonder
Black Ring Coffee
Bloom & Plume Coffee
Attractions and sights to check out:
Griffith Observatory – Very touristy, but the views are solid.
Santa Monica Pier & Promenade
Huntington Library and Gardens
Aquarium of the Pacific
Retro Row in Long Beach
The Last Bookstore
Grand Central Market
Elephant Thai in Long Beach
Avenue 26 in Boyle Heights for a taco experience that will change your life.
Gusto Bread in Long Beach
Runyon Canyon Park
Bridge To Nowhere
Inspiration Point Trail
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are just so many people that come to mind when I think about their impact on my life whether they know it or not. First, I would like to shout out to my partner, Lindsay, who is constantly encouraging me in my work. My business would not exist without her belief in me. I also want to shout out to my mom, Stacia, who taught me how to genuinely see and care for people. I am the human I am in large part because of this amazing woman. Finally, I want to recognize the Academy of Creative Coaching and all of the mentor coaches for the phenomenal job of preparing future coaches. They truly attract and prepare amazing coaches and I’m so proud to be an alum.
Other: Ways to support the podcast: www.patreon.com/RealtalkwithDumas