105: How to create social change & ‘belonging’ in your work – with Jess Weiner

By February 18, 2020The Simplifiers Podcast

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What does it take to create (real) social change and a deeper sense of ’belonging’ in your work? We look to the change makers and the trailblazers out in the world (just like you and me!) to show us how it’s done.

My special guest today is Jess Weiner and she is simplifying how to create social change & ‘belonging’ in your work. She’s been working with brands (big and small) over the last 20 years to better represent people in their media, marketing, and advertising. 

One thing to keep in mind… She’s one person, just like you and me. Just one person who’s committed to making the world a better place through her work. And with the assistance of her lean and mighty team, they are helping global brands, businesses, and organizations to have better conversations with their consumers, be more aware of current cultural trends, and ultimately, create powerful social change that shifts our culture in a positive way.

So if you work with brands currently, no matter if they are big or small, my hope is that today’s conversation inspires you. Go deeper, ask the hard questions. Listen to not only what’s being said inside the boardroom, but also on the outside by their consumers. And begin to connect the dots on how cultivating a deeper sense of ’belonging’ through your work could also spark greater social change in small (and BIG!) ways in the year ahead.

Here’s how.


Jess Weiner simplifies how to create social change & ‘belonging’ in your work.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How to ensure that everyone not only has a seat at the table, but also have a voice that is being heard
  • A few simple questions you could ask your clients that would begin to create social change through their work, as inspired by Jess’ work with Mattel’s Barbie and Dove
  • Why it’s important to “leverage your privilege to amplify other’s voices” 
  • How to make this an ongoing, impactful shift, rather than a flashy, “one-and-done” mentality that our clients tend to opt for
  • How to cultivate ‘belonging’ in your own team, starting with yourself as the business owner
  • Why the current “hustle & grind” culture that is being preached to entrepreneurs these days is a trap and how to avoid the “compare & despair” rat race

When I watched Jess’ TEDx talk called “The Confidence Myth,” I knew I wanted to chat with her on the podcast. She’s a wealth of knowledge, a good egg, and an all-around inspirational entrepreneur out in the world, #doingthething. Enjoy!

My challenge for you this week:

How are you going to take what you’ve learned in today’s episode and apply it to your client work this week? How could you bring about a better sense of ‘belonging’ in your work? Share it with me, privately or publicly. Snap a photo of you doing the thing, and tag @thesimplifiers on Instagram for added accountability and support!

Links, books and apps mentioned:

Blog: Brain Pickings – Maria Popova 

Article: Barbie’s Got a New Body – Eliana Dockterman

Podcast: The Talk to Jess Podcast – Jess Weiner

Podcast: How to launch a startup, the simple way, featuring Trevor Blake – The Simplifiers Podcast

Podcast: How to stress less & live more, featuring Courtney Elmer – The Simplifiers Podcast

Podcast: How to deal with burnout – The Simplifiers Podcast

Favorite quotes from this episode:

[05:44] “I always try to assume people’s best intentions that you know, they’re not out to do harm. I really, really do believe that, but I do believe that ignorance is not the place to stop. When you know better, you do better. And so my job really now is to help make sure that we’re leading edge and not trailing edge in what we’re putting out to the world.” 

– Jess


[06:40] “I look at the ecosystem and the first thing I think about [as it relates to] having a seat at the table is I think what is the makeup of this organization’s leadership? ”

– Jess


[07:40] “I look at who’s empowered to actually speak in the room. Having a seat at the table is like the bare minimum. Having a voice in the room is the maximum. That is what we really need. And having decision power inside of an organization.” 

– Jess


[07:52] “What I try to do is… I might be coming in to help guide a campaign, but I end up really becoming allies and advocates for all of the executives and teams that I work with to make sure that communication and what they want to say is at the forefront and that the quiet folks are also being heard. ”

– Jess


[10:28] “Part of it is you’re going to have to trust in the evolution of connection and [realize that] the way that people connect is through shared mission. So I share and I make sure that they’re really understanding what their consumers are wanting from them. And then, I try to get them to meet them where they are as best they can.”

– Jess


[17:26] “For me as one individual consultant, because anybody who knows when they work with brands, I don’t run the whole ship, right? I’m just a part of the team. I’m there, helping to support. So for me it is about listening more than talking. I don’t charge in with all the things that are wrong with the company. Who would ever be motivated to make change with that energy? Instead, I listen to how they’ve made those decisions.”

– Jess


[23:47] “I’m going to change the system by both working within this system and shaking it from the outside. But it’s a dance and it’s a balance. And I think that is a pretty feminine aspect of leadership.”

– Jess


[27:36] “I think the other part of ‘belonging’ for me is about seeing people. And I think that’s maybe the real crux of my work… is helping people to be seen because I think it’s what opens up feelings of being accepted, warmth, connection, and community.”

– Jess

Create a strategic plan for the year ahead! 

Aligned with my conversation with Jess today, we’ve got a free template to help you map out your strategic plan for the year ahead. 

No need to start from scratch, this simple download will help you map out the next 12 months ahead, getting you one step closer to achieving your business goals for the year. 

It’s time to #dothething – this resource will help you SIMPLIFY!

Download this free resource to help you clarify your monthly goals and #DoTheThing!

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About Jess Weiner

Jess Weiner – She is a cultural expert focusing on the intersection of business, social change and inclusivity. She’s the CEO of Talk to Jess, and advises Fortune 500 companies to help them better reflect people in their media, marketing, and advertising. 

In 2006, she helped launch Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and kicked off a consumer conversation around beauty ideals. 

A decade later in 2016, Jess again disrupted social norms, this time as a part of the team at Mattel who helped to change Barbie’s body, introducing 4 new body types, 7 new skin tones, 22 hair styles and 24 eye colors.

Her roster of clients and partners include: Disney, Netflix, Google, Amazon, and she served on The White House Council for Women and Girls, under the Obama administration. 

Where Jess hangs out online:

Website: jessweiner.com

Twitter: @JessWeiner

Facebook: @JessWeiner

LinkedIn: @JessWeiner

Jess’s vote for the perfect guest on The Simplifiers Podcast:

Berna Anat – She is a producer, speaker and leader in the finance industry helping to make financial literacy more funny, more accessible, and more brown for young people everywhere.

Jess Weiner social change

Watch the video version of the episode

Episode sponsored by…


Ethical Hour

Ethical Hour is the world’s first and largest online community for changemakers, social entrepreneurs and impact businesses, where you can meet like-minded friends, collaborators and supporters – and get the help you need to grow your income, influence, and impact. 


Disclaimer: This blog post includes affiliate links because we wholeheartedly believe in the products, books and courses featured on the podcast. Therefore, we get compensated when you click on the links above and decide to purchase these items, which helps us continue to serve and support you. We share only the very best resources with our listeners and hope you find great value in them, as well.

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