TEDxMileHigh Imagine speaker Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler is the Chief Catalyst and Founder of The Equity Project, LLC, a company that supports organizations and communities in building equity, inclusion, and diversity. 

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As a Kid, What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a 5th grade teacher. My mother was a teacher in inner-city Atlanta for 40 years. She was always “Teacher of the Year” and was admired for how she inspired young people to grow and learn. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and I decided to major in Elementary Education at the University of Alabama. I was intrigued by the notion that I could actually change the course of a child’s life in some way. When I did my student teaching, I was assigned to a 5th grade class. My dream had come true…and then a little boy told me that my boobs were better than the other teachers at the school. I never became a teacher. 

What Was the Biggest Turning Point in Your Life?

The biggest turning point in my life was when I became an entrepreneur. I worked my entire career on a trajectory that led me to the C-suite of Children’s Hospital Colorado. My entire 34 year Human Resources career was designed and nurtured: I worked extremely hard to be at the top of my career game. I made it there. There in the C-suite. Mission accomplished. Then, our 2016 Presidential election happened. 

I began to see our country, our communities, and even our workplaces polarizing around our ability to talk about race. I couldn’t sleep at night worrying about this. Having grown up in the segregated South, I never thought I would see a time like this again. 

I knew then that I had to do something greater in the world; something greater than the very thing I had worked up to in my career. 

It was then that I formed The Equity Project, a consulting firm and platform for me to travel the country to work with organizations on different and more effective ways to discuss race, diversity and equity. The organization has changed my life. I don’t think I knew what professional joy was…until now. 

What Are Three Facts About You That Are Completely Unrelated to the Subject of Your Talk?

  • I was Miss Atlanta 1978
  • I was a piccolo player in the marching band at The University of Alabama
  • I have two poodles named Justice and Peace

Who Are Three People, Living or Dead, That Inspire You the Most? 

  • Maya Angelou. I was inspired by her in life and am inspired by her in death. She was unapologetically a Black woman and made no qualms about the power of her difference in the world. She is a constant reminder that my difference is my strength; never to be compromised or suppressed
  • Angela Glover Blackwell. Angela is the founder of the PolicyLink organization. I am inspired by her ability and lifelong commitment to building an organization that only focuses on the tactics to advance equity in communities across the country
  • Spike Lee. I will have an opportunity to interview Spike Lee on-stage at an international conference in October and it will be a dream come true for me. Spike is an example of telling it like it is, artistically, in a way that reaches all audiences. He is a free-thinker with a strategy. What an awesome combination!

What’s Your Favorite TED or TEDx Talk?

My favorite TED Talk is The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor.

I love this talk because it reminds me that happiness isn’t necessarily created in our work; happiness should actually happen before the work. It is through our actual happiness that productivity at work is born. I appreciate this message as an entrepreneur, as I remember years and years of working in organizations and wondering why I would start out filled with joy and drift slowly into a slow death before I finally left. This talk taught me that joy is not conjured through work – it is brought through you to work.

What’s a Piece of Advice That You Live By or That You Give Other People Constantly?

I live by a mantra called “anchoring.” I believe a full life has everything to do with how well you’ve balanced the things that are important in your life. I see, much too often, people give everything that they are to their work – leaving no time for other things that are important. This ultimately causes resentment and subtracts from your ability to experience joy. 

Anchoring allows you to concentrate your joy in multiple places, providing a more stable lived experience. I give my all to my work, but I am equally as anchored in community and my family. 

This is intentional work and when I feel off-balance, I almost always know which part of my anchoring is being ignored. It is a bit like a three-legged stool. If one of the three legs of your anchoring is off, the stool falls.

What’s the Biggest Challenge You Face in Your Day-To-Day Work?

My biggest challenge is running a business designed to help others to advance equity, inclusivity, and diversity in a society that is not designed to do so. 

There are no U.S. systems that were built with equity in mind. Not the education system. Not the healthcare system. Not the justice system. Not the housing system. Not the transportation system. 

Because of this, anytime we work to chip away at systems of inequity, we see the intricate web and tentacles of how these inequitable systems are all connected. I am committed to taking it on because I believe if we all do our part, individually, at chipping away at inequity in all that we do – we ultimately change systems. That gives me hope.

Name One Thing We Aren’t Spending Enough Time Thinking About as a Society. What Would Be a Good First Step?

I always encourage people to stay wholly who they are in whatever they do. The minute you sacrifice your soul a part of you dies. You lose and so does the world.

We aren’t spending enough time allowing the natural talents and capabilities of people to flourish. We are label and category-centric. 

We are acculturated to put people in neat packages and boxes so we can understand them and manage their contributions to the world. I would love to see us allow for the full potential of others. To do this, we must create spaces-filled-with-grace. These spaces would allow each of us to try, learn, explore, experiment, and innovate without the fear of judgement or critique.

If You Could Achieve One Goal in the Next Year What Would It Be?

I would like to spend a week or two on the campus of Harvard University. I would love to be a guest lecturer on the topic of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. The Harvard backdrop illuminates, in a very strong way, the gravity and correlation of this topic and every other academic major. Harvard has done an extraordinary job of connecting the dots on so many issues. I’d love to be a contributor to that. This would be a dream come true for me.

What Action Can the TedxMileHigh Community Take to Support Your Big Idea?

I think the TEDxMileHIgh community could support my big idea by taking a personal inventory of the ways in which they have practiced constructive uncertainty. 

In other words, how many times have they intentionally placed themselves in proximity to people or scenarios that were most unlike/unfamiliar to them? 

For each time a member of the community has done this, they have strengthened their ability to demonstrate the power of being unlikely. They might, in all of their differences, be the one to make the biggest difference!