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Welcome to STEMming stilettos with Dr. Toshia, this podcast is for and about women of color, who are brave, beautiful, and brilliant. Their stories deserve and need to be heard. Their voices are strong, their messages clear experiences priceless. Now let us welcome this wonderful woman of color to the show. Innovative Consultants of DeKalb is founded and led by Shermaine Perry-Knights, who is also the chief learning officer. Besides being a Senior Trainer, she is also an Instructional Designer for Fulton County Government. The way she creates aha moments and learning solutions makes her an engaging educator and workforce development coach.
In her early career, Shermaine is seen as a leader by her peers and colleagues. As an instructional designer, project manager, senior trainer, teacher, and facilitator, she serves as a strategic business partner, offering advice to executives on employee development and process improvement.
Dr. Natoshia Anderson, an inspirational, phenomenal expert, and founder of Natoshia Anderson Consulting created the podcast "STEMming in Stilettos with Dr. Toshia.". Previously a mechanical engineer, Dr. Natoshia Anderson is now a STEM educator, STEM leadership consultant, and STEM motivational speaker (STEMming in StilettosTM). Additionally, she provides professional and leadership development coaching to organizations, associations, corporations, and educational systems nationwide. Dr. Anderson can usually be found watching Netflix shows when she is not reading romance novels or binge-watching.
It is the feedback that makes the difference, and Shermaine Perry Knights explore how it is.
Shermaine relates “True, it represents so much more, and you can take it from a piece of food that you are eating any item. There is so much more to it because the designers only think of the design element. The designer is not thinking of the marketing aspect but at some point, those ideas must meet. Those individuals must speak to some degree even if there is a liaison. Something must occur and so that is what we miss within education. Sometimes we miss the opportunity to work with someone else based on, our own perspective, or our own biases, about someone else's knowledge, skill, ability, and expertise. If we just welcome them to the table. You are surprised by what you learn, even from the books that I have created this year. I probably shouldn't say this, but my beta readers were children who said I want adults to read this, but I want to know what a seven-year-old thinks about this but not our eight-year-old thinks because they have unfiltered feedback, which is a little hurtful sometimes but when they tell you this stink, you're like okay, well let me go back well, why they have a level of feedback they're willing to give without hesitation. As we grow older, something about us says this process is fine.
Do not share what you need to share, but I would say having that hunger, that curiosity, that unfiltered feedback, of course with reason. Do not hesitate. bringing that to the table helps to improve every process, product, and STEM. That is the idea behind engineering iteration, you just keep going back and building and making it better and better and better and that is what we are supposed to do.
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Dr. Toshia adds “that is what kids until I do not know we suck it out of them a little bit. They go through school because there is only one right answer, and we know that that is not really the truth. Especially as you part of the engineering design process, I mean, you can ideate several ideas that could work. You choose one, you take that through, and it you get to a certain point of the engineering design process, and you realize, okay, this is not going to do what we need. What we need to do, it breaks at this point, or it does not take us where we feel like we need to be. Then you have choices. You can, can take that idea back, do a couple of tweaks, and keep them moving from there. You can go and look at some of the other past ideas you had and use them. That is the part where that gets missed in our current educational state and children do not have the opportunity to sort of dream.
Shermaine says “Yes, that creative solution is so important. If everyone is agreeing at the table, a very scary place for me. Everybody sees it the exact same way, right? We are all individuals, and I would bet if there were ten individuals sitting around the table, eight of them do not agree but they are hesitant to give feedback because of something that is occurred, right? That goes back to the learning process, right? What can we do to help increase that experience, increase the feedback, and truly have to celebrate the diversity of thought as opposed to the senior manager at the table is quite well, they're right in the sense that they brought the people to the table, but there's 10 opinions 10 levels of expertise and everyone should be used to build from the baseline not just okay there right and everyone else 10 People agree. No, ten children at a table you write something like wait a minute, someone's opinion was silent and that is where we lose productivity.
That is where we lose that innovation. That is where we lose the dollars on the bottom line. I said I am going to do something different this year. Yes, I would manage projects, improve processes, and all of that but I want to tap into my creativity this year because COVID is taught if nothing else. Flexibility wins those who can remain agile in this environment will move forward. They will rise within their careers they will help others fire others to new heights, and I said I am going to create coloring books. There is a science behind adult coloring books. If you do a little research, they say they are great mental physical, and emotional health benefits from adult coloring. Dr. Toshia agrees and she says it is quite common.
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Shermaine continues "Some of my best ideas come to me. Well, I assume they are my best right after I color. My shirt. I will sit and I will color, and they will come back to this, and I am going to create a few coloring books. Create a children's book. In some guided journals, I said we need to go back to the basics of tapping into our creativity and just allowing it to take us down the rabbit hole. Think of Alice in Wonderland down a rabbit hole she found a new world and it was a children's tale but imagine the level of creativity in someone's mind to create that story.
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Dr. Toshia asks “tell me what that process is like. You have this year 2020 when this interview is taking place. You decided to tap into your creative side. You have created a children's book, you create an adult coloring book, and what else, but also tell us what that process was.”
Shermaine answers “It is one children's book, one children's coloring book. Three adult coloring books in about five guided journals. What was that process? I said do you know what? I said I want to maximize the time in which I would be traveling to and from work because everyone is remote right now. Depending on your level. Whether or not your position will allow for that. Let me say that. I said okay, I am saying what can I do? I love to read. I started reading and I said wait a minute, I stumbled on an author's affinity group, and reading a book I could do this. Let me try my hand at this right, started researching, and buying different books just to read them. Check it out, and then I am going to gift it to someone else, whether it is a library or whether it is an organization or a child in the neighborhood.
I want to write let me start let me think of low-hanging fruit. What can I write about that is relevant? My own experiences but for whom do I want to write? Does someone write for children, those who still imagine, either? I do not know. They see the mystery and everything I want to write for that group. Let me think of some of my own childhood stories and I just started writing lots of sticky notes all over the place in one room. Then I said wait a minute, let us put these in groups based on ideas. I went right back to our engineering process where you put everything out there. You start organizing has been looked at me like I love this thing, it is everywhere. I was like, going somewhere with this. It is a whole wall of sticky notes at this point. When they put it in categories I said which one? Which one is the most emotional I am going to go with that because the emotional toll is the easiest to write. I would not that I did, and I started to draft this book. I move a lot and that is okay. I grew up in the military. I have lived all over the world, and I wanted to talk about some of my experiences moving in and just trying to build resilience and hope with every moment that was uncertain I said that is relevant as we are in the middle of a pandemic.
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It is relevant to talk about how rapid change is scary, but it is rewarding so, let us talk about that. I am going to get writing, writing. The publishing process is not easy because then you get an editor who says no, no, no, no, no reminds you of an honors English high school teacher, I say no, no, no, no, no. Then you go back, and you write again, and repeatedly and again. When you finally produce something, I got my beta readers the 7-8-9-year-old, brutally honest love them. I told them what they like and do not like about this story. When from their heart in Illustrator, that process is not easy to process because you want to make sure someone understands your vision, and just like with engineering, you have an idea in your mind but bring it to the table, and it is understood and accepted by others. Take a little conversation back and forth. No, I do not want her eyes to look like this. Not that about this.
Oh, that is great. He is wanting to get positive feedback and then you want to say have a few edits. It is an incredible process, but very much rewarding and then you feel as though you have birthed a book that goes, I birth each of these projects.”
Dr. Toshia exclaims “That's amazing! All right that is all I have to say about that.”
Take a few minutes to listen to this podcast episode if you enjoy writing, stories, and community. As a result, you will come away empowered because it is not so much what you experience as how you share the journey with others. The link to this podcast episode is added below:
STEMming in Stilettos with Dr. Toshia " Meet Shermaine Perry Knights: Systems Thinking; Processes are King; The Gift of Feedback”
I hope sharing the story will help others who are dealing with the same issue!