#55 Beth Ruffin on “Overcoming Your Unbelonging: The Key to Self-Inclusion”

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In this episode, Beth and I dive deep into the concept of self-inclusion and its pivotal role in empowering women to advocate for themselves and realize their true potential. Beth Ruffin is the CEO of Everyday Inclusionist, a boutique consulting firm focused on teaching leaders how to include themselves and others. She spent 20 years in corporate America before realizing her dream of entrepreneurship.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-inclusion is the act of including ourselves, regardless of what others think. It is about fostering our own sense of belonging and feeling like we have a seat at the table.
  • We can self-include by:
  • Speaking up and sharing our ideas, even if we’re not sure they’re perfect.
  • Negotiating for what we want, both in our personal and professional lives.
  • Building our own tables when needed, meaning creating opportunities for ourselves to be included.
  • Authenticity and vulnerability are essential for self-inclusion. When we’re authentic, we’re being our true selves, and when we’re vulnerable, we’re opening ourselves up to others. Both of these things are necessary for building genuine connections and feeling like we belong.


  You don’t, it’s not going to be when you lose that, that weight or make that salary or find that part. You belong here, right? Now, does that mean that you don’t have room to grow? No, of course not. Right. Like we all want to grow and evolve, but don’t wait for those things in your mind to happen before you actually start walking in self inclusion.

And so I just want to encourage people like you belong here. You are valued. You are worthy as you are. And it’s not going to take anything else for that to be true. Hello everybody, and welcome to the Simple Marketing Solutions Podcast. Do you feel like you’re struggling with your marketing efforts, wanting to simplify or automate your marketing process, but not sure where to start?

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Did you also know that we have a video podcast of this? Jump onto our YouTube channel. The link is in the show notes and check us out on video today. I warmly welcome. Beth Ruffin, who is the CEO of The Everyday Inclusionist, which is a boutique consulting firm focused on teaching leaders how to include themselves and others.

She spent 20 years in corporate America before realizing her dream of entrepreneurship. Beth is committed to making the world more inclusive. She is also the host of a podcast called You Belong Here with Beth Ruffin, which is really focused on helping women realize their true potential. Beth is also a published author of two books, Get Up and You Belong Here.

I cannot wait for today’s topic where we’re going to be discussing inclusion. And self inclusion more specifically. So let’s not wait any longer and let’s welcome Beth to the show. So welcome Beth to the show. I am really interested in this topic of self inclusion. Like I just mentioned before, it’s something that I feel As females in business, we don’t talk enough about, but there is a lot of value to be had when we do understand it and start putting that in place.

So for our listeners out there that may not be familiar with this term, self inclusion, did you want to let us know a little bit about what it is? Absolutely. And thank you for having me here. So self inclusion is the act of including yourself. It is if you really take inclusion and flip it around. So with the work that I do in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging space, I’m talking with people and I’m telling them, how can you include people who are different from you?

How can you make them feel like they belong? How can you give you make sure they have a seat at the table? And that still puts the power in the hands of people who are already in power, because now we’re waiting around for them to include us. Um, and so self inclusion is really about including yourself.

It’s about fostering your own sense of belonging. So I talk about it in terms of how do you advocate for yourself? How do you speak up, negotiate, right? All of these things that will help you get that seat at the table. And if they’re still not willing to give you a seat at the table, then how do you go build your own?

Yeah, I’m, you know, I’m, I think a lot of us are tired of begging to be seen and heard and valued. Absolutely. You know, um, I think you’ve really captured that really well with how you described it, because it’s, I think, important, especially in this day and age, where if you’re not feeling like you’re being included, well, what are the options?

Because there are options. Sometimes we feel like there’s nothing, and that we just have to stick it out. But That’s not true, right? There are things that we can do in our own power. Always. We always have options. And again, sometimes that option is, I can’t do this anymore, so I need to go and try something else.

Right? But that’s within our control. And like I said, it’s, we need to stop waiting around for life to happen to us. Yeah, exactly. And taking that control, taking that power back, um, and, and not giving it away to others to make those decisions for us because, um, we could be sitting around forever if that is the case and missing out on an opportunity to, to live our lives the way that we want and to live it from a place that we value as well, where we feel like we’re contributing back Um, to society too, and where we feel, you know, our message is being heard.

And, you know, Beth, I think we touched a little bit on it, but, you know, for you, what have you seen as the reason of why this is so important now for us to start paying attention? You know, I’ll talk about my personal journey and then I’ll, I’ll kind of expand, but so I turned 45. A couple of months ago, and if you think about lifespan, that’s like right smack dab middle at middle age.

Right? So I’m like halfway through. I’ve really been reflecting on the first half of my life and what do I want the second half of my life to look like? And I spent so much time that first half of my life begging others to see me, to value me. And I just think about where could I be in life right now if I would have gotten this message sooner, so I have a 15 year old daughter.

I am constantly talking to her about this message because I don’t want it to take her 45 years to get to this point. And, you know, as we think about the world and what’s going on. I believe self inclusion is how we create equity, because How long has this work been going on? People have been doing this work for decades.

You know, they say, um, that with pay equity, you know, here in the, in the States, they say with pay equity, if we keep moving at the pace that we’ve been moving, that we won’t see pay equity for 300 years. That’s a scary number, honestly, to think of it in that term. It’s, it’s kind of like disappointing, right?

So it’s like, I’m doing a lot of work. I may never see the fruit of my work. Yeah. And neither will your daughter or her kids. Right? Right. But how can we accelerate that? So how, because obviously the way we’ve been doing it is not working. So how do we accelerate that? So now how do women walk in and say this, this role?

Is worth this much, this is how much I want, or, you know, as a business owner, when do we say this is I’m going to, I’m going to increase my prices because I’m worth it. I remember when I first started my business, I remember I was taking anything like a cup of coffee. Sure. I’ll come do a presentation.

Right. Yeah, but we have to tie, you know, our success as women affects society. Because we’re primary caretakers, we’re taking care of the home, right? We’re investing, we’re, you know, um, giving to charitable contributions. So by us being in a great position, society becomes better. And so I just think that we we’re seeing a lot of things happening legislatively, where rights are being taken away and, and, and things are being rolled back.

And I think that self inclusion is the way. That we find equity and fight back against injustice. Yeah. Um, it’s a very valuable point and to, again, you know, look at it from self inclusion, um, as a way of speeding up this process that is, you know, on a trajectory that we’re never really going to get there if we continue the way that it is.

I love the fact that there is something that we can do, that we can actually participate in to. To get this ball rolling faster, to ask for what we know we deserve. We are all, you know, educated. We’ve got strong careers behind us. We’ve got strong experience behind us. And when we’re looking at working for somebody as an employee.

Or like you said, you know, within your own business of just putting your prices up and asking for what you know your worth and remembering that you do have, sorry, my throat,

something of value to share and that people want it and people not even just want it, but they need to hear it. They need what you have. Um, I think it’s so important for us to To start doing more of that for you, Beth, what would you recommend we start? How do we start? Yeah. So I have a framework and, you know, the first step in that framework is inspect.

And that’s really about, do I find myself waiting around to be included? Am I not raising my hand and stepping up to opportunities like I should be? And, you know, I also ask people during that inspection step, it’s like, Get to the root of, I call it your unbelonging. Like what, where did that start? How did that start?

Because we know, you know, there’s so many things out here. We can put bandages, we can cover stuff up, we can fix the outside, but if we haven’t fixed that inside piece of us, you know, and so it’s really a lot of self reflection. Why do I not feel like I’m hard?

Right, like , we run away from that self introspection, but it’s so important. Yeah, definitely important. Especially when we want to live lives to our true selves as well. You know, we have to be able to dig deep and uncover the good and the bad, um, and, and be able to work through that and accept, um, but find those solutions through that introspection as well.

And, you know, ’cause honestly. It’s funny. I always talk about on social media when I’m like prettied up. It’s a professional photo, you know, and I’ll get engagement, but then there’ll be times when, you know, makeup’s not done. You know, here’s maybe I just jumped on really quickly. I’m being very vulnerable.

That is when engagement blows up people. Want and need authenticity, and they need that from us, you know, and so during this inspection process, it’s really about getting to that authenticity within yourself, getting to when we take everything else away, you know, one question I ask, and I’ll ask you, if we take away all of your titles, Who are you?

Without any of the roles, without any of the titles, who are you at the core? Yeah. You know, if I had to actually answer that question right now, you know, it’s, I guess it actually brings up quite a bit of, you know, emotion attached to that. And The thing that comes to my mind is that I’m just a woman on this earth, trying to make a headway of just living life, um, to the fullest in a way that feels real for me.

And. Also is from a place where I am not doing harm to others. Um, because I think that that’s also really important is how we’re interacting with our fellow human beings and everything within our environment from the animals to all that’s happening with our environment and climate and stuff like that as well.

So just, just a pure single woman here on this planet. Yeah. It does bring up emotions. Like when we’re like, I’m a podcaster, I’m this, I’m that. And so we have to be able to find value in who we are without the titles. Mm hmm. It’s true. Description you gave. And I resonate with that, right? Like we’re on two sides of the world.

We come from different backgrounds, but a woman out here trying to like make an impact without causing harm. I relate to that. Yeah. And then once you know that and you’ve accepted that, then I think it makes it so much easier to walk through life and say, yeah, like I belong here. Right. And I’m going to cheer for myself, be my own cheerleader.

I’m going to set and keep boundaries. I’m going to speak my mind. And I’m going to know when it’s time to walk away from something. Yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, you described hitting 45 and, and the realization of being the halfway mark as we look at it. Um, and I remember, you know, a few years ago going through something similar.

And when you talk about self inclusion, um, I went through a similar situation in a. Company where I didn’t feel I was being listened to heard and my voice wasn’t being taken seriously and I wasn’t being included. Um, and you know, it did come to that point where you, you do get a choice and I chose to, to pack up and leave and to do something that I knew I was being able to provide the value that I can, you know, and I just see it so many times with people out there, especially with females where we do feel stuck.

Um, and we, we feel fear. I think that’s probably the biggest thing is what happens if I leave? You know, what, what if I never find something else? What if I start a business and it’s not successful? Um, do you think that doing that work on yourself at that point of time is the most crucial time for that?

Yeah. I always encourage people. I like the what if question, but I like to ask what if it works? What if this is what you were meant to do? What if this is the best thing that ever happened to you? Start imagining that. Yeah. It changes your mindset. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a real driver, isn’t it? To give you that momentum that you need to just move forward and, and give it a go and give it everything that you have.

For me, that’s, that’s taken me to where I am now, you know, and I couldn’t be happier because I know that I am. Making that impact, like I said before, I am helping people. And to me, that just fills my cup every day to be able to do that. Um, and I feel that, that being authentic is definitely something all of us need to become more comfortable with, you know, and stop shying away from it like we do.

Yeah, especially for someone like me who all of my life. I want it to be liked. I didn’t, you know, I don’t like rejection. Like I want everyone to like me.

What do you do? You find yourself.

And you know, different people that experience your different places can like you, but that is exhausting. Keep it up. And it’s like the people who are meant to be in your circle, part of your business, like whatever the people that are, they will find you. Yeah. They will find you when you are your authentic self and you know, it’s it’s really about scarcity versus abundance.

Because it’s like, oh, if I show up in this way, who will I lose? So again, let’s turn that thinking. If I show up as my true self, oh my goodness, who will I be exposed to that maybe I would have never been before? Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I love the fact of, you know, that we’ve touched on the importance of reframing.

Those questions that we ask ourselves, because it’s so easy to go down the negative rabbit hole, right? And then just keep going. And we don’t stop to think about, well, what’s the flip side? And that’s where the real magic, I think, lies. Absolutely. Yeah. So thank you for sharing that. And thank you for reminding us that, you know, there is always a flip side to it.

Um, Beth, I wanted to ask, you know, in your experience, you’ve written two books, which is absolutely amazing. Um, and you’ve also got a TEDx. Um, presentation that you’ve done, did you want to share a little bit about what made you write those books? Yeah, absolutely. So I have come up with a goal. I don’t know where I came up with this from, but I want 1 million people to hear the message of inclusion from me.

And so of course that You need to have avenues for that to happen. So I think the books and the TEDx speech, that’s a way to get in front of more people than I normally would have. And the first book I wrote was actually my story, um, through sexual assault and how I was an adult and thought that I had dealt with it and I had it.

And so I had found myself on the couch, like depressed. For like a week, I wasn’t moving and the book’s name is get up. And so it’s really about like, you got to get up. So I was even a couple of weeks ago, I was like having a bad day and I was talking to a friend and they were like, you got to get up. And I’m like, Oh, But, um, but to answer, I mean, just to answer your question more simply, it’s.

The impact, you know, I want to make that impact. Um, and that’s, I think a way that you can do it more than one on one conversations. Definitely. And with your podcast as well, that’s then another avenue to be able to reach those, that million, which I love the goal. And I know that you will achieve that sooner than you think.

Um, and Beth, uh, before we wrap up, was there anything else that you wanted to share with our audience? Yeah. So the title of the second book is You Belong Here. And that’s really kind of the tagline for this self inclusion movement. And I want people to know, listeners to know, you belong here right now, just as you are.

You don’t, it’s not going to be when you lose that, that weight or make that salary or find that part. You belong here, right. Now, does that mean that you don’t have room to grow? No, of course not, right? Like we all want to grow and evolve, but don’t wait. For those things in your mind to happen before you actually start walking in self inclusion.

And so I just want to encourage people like you belong here. You are valued. You are worthy as you are, and it’s not going to take anything else for that to be true. Very, very powerful, you know, just hearing that and, and me just sitting here right now and, and just absorbing that it, it feels different. I feel different.

I feel like there’s a shift. I feel like I can just be more open and be me. And I know that. This is where I’m meant to be. So thank you. And I’m sure that every listener out there is going to feel that if they just take the moment to, to soak it in, breathe in and remember that you do belong here. Thank you, Beth.

I really appreciate that. And was there any, um, If people wanted to know more about you, we’ve got your books and I’ll put the link in the show notes. Was there any other source of information that you wanted to share with people if they were interested? Yeah, absolutely. I would ask folks to follow me on social media.

Um, Instagram is where I hang out the most. So I’m at the Beth Ruffin there, or they can go to my website, bethruffin. com. I’ve got some things cooking up and so want to be a part of the community on the, you know, on the list so that when we announce some big things we have coming out, um, you can, you know, you all can be the first here about those things.

Fantastic. That’s exciting. I always like to keep my eyes and ears open for new stuff. So that’s very exciting. Thank you, Beth. Thank you for being here today and sharing from that place of authenticity. And helping us to connect in with what’s really important for us as human beings on this earth and how we can continue to make that impact.

Realizing that we are meant to be here and we do belong. So thank you. Absolutely. Thank you for having me. My pleasure.

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