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How to Navigate the Publishing World as a Care Worker – Episode #30

In The First-Time Manager: DEI, Alida acknowledges that being a manager is often challenging, thankless, and confusing. There is a constant expectation to strike the perfect balance between power and love. As she writes, “When do we prioritize the needs of an individual employee over that of the whole team? When do we hold firm that what the team needs is more important than what the individual employee wants?”

Episode Show Notes

In 2022, Care Work host Alida Miranda-Wolff celebrated the publication of her first book: “Cultures of Belonging: Building Inclusive Organizations That Last.” In May of 2024, her second book was released: “The First-Time Manager: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

Over the next episodes, Alida will explore two intriguing topics: what it takes to be a truly inclusive manager and leader; and how to transform your essential care work experience into a proposal, write the book, and sell and promote it. In this introductory episode, she delves into the origin story of The First-Time Manager: DEI and shares two impactful excerpts from the book.

Ignite the motivation to share your care work knowledge:

  • Birthing a book in the midst of life’s unpredictability
  • Persevering amidst changing social and political landscapes
  • The real struggles of establishing DEIB as a middle manager
  • Navigating different kinds of stress to support both employees and self

Important resources from this episode:

Connect With Alida:

Advocate for underrepresented and underserved groups in organizations with Ethos –



ALIDA: Welcome to Care Work, a podcast about what it means to offer care for a living. I’m your host, Alida Miranda-Wolff. For most of my career, I’ve been a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging practitioner focused on teaching, love, healing harm and, scaling belonging. In my books, Cultures Of Belonging, Building Inclusive Organizations That Last and The First-Time Manger: DEI, I explored what care inside of organizations means. Join me as I continue this journey with guests who take meeting the needs of others on as their callings, both inside of organizations and in any other way. 

2022, my first book was out Cultures Of Belonging, Building Inclusive Organizations That Last. More recently, back this month, the month of May, my second book with the same publisher, HarperCollins Leadership has come out, and that’s called The First-Time Manager: Diversity, Equity And Inclusion. I’m going to make a series of episodes about two things. The first, how you transform what you do as a care worker into a book proposal and into an actual book, and then sell it and promote it. And also what it takes to be a truly inclusive manager and leader.


But this episode in particular is all about my second book, “FTM-DEI”, which is what I call it in my head, The First-Time Manager: Diversity, Equity And Inclusion. And what I wanted to do for folks is give a little bit of a lead up, a little bit of. The story behind how this book came to be, as well as read a few passages.

So when I was writing Cultures Of Belonging, I had way more content than was actually contracted. I ended up turning about 20,000 words into bonus content because I was so over the word limit. And I had all these index cards and sticky notes of books that I would write as a follow up and one of them was called Inclusive Management, because as I was building out the book around the structure of R2P2: Recruiting, Retention, Promotion and Protection, I kept coming back to the day to day interactions that we have with our managers set the tone and experience of work for many of us. And so if that’s the case, we can build these really durable, inclusive, equitable structures, and they may be unevenly applied, we may not actually get to see the benefit of them, we may not be able to even know that they exist based on how information is shared. So the manager has to be directly involved in pushing for these things day in and day out. 

So my water broke at the launch event for my first book, and I gave birth early to my son, Tristan. And while I was on parental leave, I was losing my mind in some ways. I had a traumatic birth experience. I won’t get into that here on this episode. But let’s just say that I came to understand the rates around maternal mortality in the US more directly than I ever expected I would. Not only that, my son was losing weight very rapidly in the first week after birth, and breastfeeding was really difficult. My health, I was trying to recover his health, he was trying to recover, my son has never slept. He’s two years old, he’s never slept. And we have worked with just about everyone that you could recommend, and he’s just not a baby who sleeps. So, I had another moment like I did during COVID during my parental leave, where I was literally in a session with a nurse practitioner, it was two and a half hours long of, just trying to get this baby to latch and she said to me, this baby is going to break you down, [LAUGH] and my reaction to that was to go home and say, what is within my control? And one of the things that was clear was that most things in the house were not in my control. I could pump, which I did, and I could do things on my computer, because my son was calm when he was on top of me, and that was it. So, I could type. And I set about writing a book proposal for what I called Compassionate Conversations, which was how specifically managers could facilitate conversation and dialogue around twelve different social identities in a way that applied a framework I had developed at Ethos and would really solve this particular problem of how do we actually make sure structures like the ones in Cultures Of Belonging take hold? So, I wrote the book proposal. I sent it to my agent, my agent was supportive. And since my publisher had first right of refusal, we sent it to the publisher, publisher came back and said, we like it, but we don’t like the title. So come back with some other options, which I did. And then they came back and they said, the content of the proposal is what we’re looking for, but we actually want to expand on a series, The First-Time Manager, and we’re wondering if you would write the diversity, equity and inclusion edition of the series. The First-Time Manager, which has sold half a million copies. There’s The First-Time Manager: Sales, The First-Time Manager: Human Resources, The First-Time Manager: Crisis, and we want to have The First-Time Manager, Diversity, Equity And Inclusion. So really, right when I came back from parental leave, I started on this process, and then I wrote the book and here we are. It came out on May 7 of 2024, and it’s never felt more relevant to me than now because of the current political situation, where diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is under attack. We have everything from DEI being called die to didn’t earn it. We have activist investors and politicians asking for it to be eliminated, actually suing organizations for putting it into effect we had the fall of affirmative action we have the conflation of DEI with everything from social justice to critical race theory to progressive politics of course, it’s none of those things. But it’s all there in the dialogue at the same time that what the research shows us, specifically from Pew Research, is that employees are just as committed to diversity, equity and inclusion as they were in 2020. They just have less power in their organizations because it is a soft labor market. 

And so I thought to myself, what matters most to me about this book is that as this field and as this space is under attack and employees still want this, what has the most tangible impact on an employee’s day to day? And that’s supporting the relationship they have with their managers. As well as managers who occupy the very common position of having these underrepresented and underserved identities at the same time that they’re caught in the middle between their direct reports and the people who manage them. So that’s how this came to be. That’s where this book has been birthed from. And I was writing this book during the absolute worst year of my life, and it was an opportunity for me to think about what better could look like. So it does come from a place of hope, of quite a bit of hope. And with that in mind, I’m going to read two passages of this book and I hope that based on what you hear, you like it enough to pick up a copy. It can be found anywhere books are sold. 

So I’ll start with the introduction: “The first time I ever led a management class, I played a music video called Lady Boss. In the video, comedian and actress Rachel Bloom parodies girl boss empowerment while also naming the very real struggles of managing others while navigating gender dynamics at work, I paused at the lyric take big swings and suppressed the fear of catastrophic failure to take the room’s pulse much to my relief, my audience of first time managers laughed in recognition. While we all identified as different genders races, ethnicities, life stages, and even specializations we shared something vital in common, the ever present pressure of being responsible for our employees performance and experience at work. Being a manager is often challenging, thankless, and confusing. 

This is a lesson I’ve learned several times over the course of my career. From the moment I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be in charge. Unlike many of my peers, I did not come to management because of a lack of other career progression options or pressure from my organization or manager. I wanted to be a manager partly because I had been led by some talented ones early in my career. These were managers who, I would later learn, honed their craft because they came from marginalized groups and did not want to see the harm they had personally experienced reproduced. Naturally, as I navigated my career, I experienced my own biased managers and inequitable work environments. I also, unfortunately, acted on my own biases and either unconsciously or misguidedly, created exclusive work environments as a person who has been a manager longer than I have been anything else professionally, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned about management comes from an unexpected place. The theologian Paul Tillage, best known for his influence on his most famous pupil Martin Luther King Jr., taught that power is the ability for a person to self actualize, and love comes from wanting to be connected to something greater than oneself. Power without love can be abusive and selfish, while love without power can lead to the suppression of difference and the loss of self. It’s my belief that being an inclusive manager means finding ways to balance power and love on a daily basis. When do we prioritize the needs of an individual employee over that of the whole team? When do we hold firm that what the team needs is more important than what the individual employee wants? How do we ensure that we respect one person’s boundaries without compromising another’s? How do we live up to the promises we make to ourselves and to each other, all while driving results and hitting our earnings targets? 

These are not simple questions. In a world where social upheavals, individual experiences, and complex team dynamics come into constant contact, the answers we might have once held up as right leave much to be desired. Since management careers first came into being more than a century ago, managers have been faced with moving targets and rapid changes in what good management is. I don’t pretend to have the definitive answer. Instead, I have an invitation, imagine what it would look like to co create a community of people who, by respecting and appreciating their differences together achieve a sense of togetherness. What would it mean to nurture those conditions, to throw out the playbook of standard best practice management and instead honor the humanity and dignity of those who you have been charged to bring together? 

When offered the chance to contribute to the first time manager series, I vowed to take everything I’ve learned about doing that kind of management and capture it in one place. These lessons come from the firsthand experiences of managing and being managed, secondhand learning through reading, research and management training, and from my time as a coach and a facilitator of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging management programs. You don’t need a PhD in Googling to access information on inclusive management, what you want to know is out there. The real value in a project like, The First-Time Manager: Diversity, Equity And Inclusion, is not in the information itself but the work of guiding you in its application. That’s my highest aspiration for this book, that it provides you with some insights, encouragement, and guidelines to help you do one of the hardest jobs there is managing for the first time while cultivating a culture of belonging.” 

This next passage comes from chapter 28 and it’s about stress. And I’m reading this passage and sharing this passage because for one, it’s the part of the book that I’ve been asked to speak about the most. And because I think it allows for us to think not only of a manager’s responsibility to their employees, but also a manager’s responsibility to themselves. So here we go, “Stress. Knowing how to eliminate, streamline, delegate or add resources requires that you have at least some clarity. But in high stress situations, you might find yourself going into autopilot mode, further perpetuating your stress and overwork. That’s why understanding and managing your stress is so crucial. Stress refers to any experience of emotional and physical tension. Often a certain amount of stress motivates us to take action and pursue our goals and aspirations. This is a particular kind of stress known as Eustress or good stress when the gap between your current state and your desired future state requires you to push outside your boundaries when you experience Eustress, you feel uncomfortable, but you understand that the discomfort will lead to growth. It’s usually characterized by feelings of hope, energy and vigor. 

Distress is the opposite, the bad stress. That results in extreme anxiety, discomfort or pain. Distress is usually net negative, leading you to feel depleted and hopeless. There are ten common forms of workplace stress contributors that you and your direct reports may encounter. The first is barriers to self expression. I can’t honestly say what I think or feel without repercussions. Two, lack of authority I have many responsibilities, but not enough authority to fulfill them. Three, limited time. I would perform at a higher level if I had more time. Four, lack of acknowledgement, I seldom receive acknowledgement or appreciation when I perform well. Five, dissatisfaction. I’m not proud of my work or satisfied with my job. Six, discrimination. I have the impression that I am repeatedly discriminated against at work. Seven, safety. My workplace environment is not safe eight, work life balance. My job often interferes with my family, social, and community commitments and personal needs. Nine. Conflict. I frequently argue with my teammates, leaders, or customers. Ten, lack of control. I feel I have little control over my life at work. 

While whether you experience Eustress or distress affects your sentiment toward work, another key factor is the actual amount of stress you feel. Eustress can become distress when the feelings of motivation transform into ones of anxiety. The stress curve demonstrates how easy this shift from one stage of stress, like optimum stress, to overload is as the stress level increases. As the curve shows, when someone does not experience enough stress, they may be inactive or feel a sense of lethargy caused by underload. An employee who recently finished a major project and awaits a new one might experience underload because they don’t have enough deadlines to worry about, but they also don’t have anything motivating them. Inactivity or underload are fine for short periods of time; they can even open up time for rest, restoration and leisure. 

Optimum stress happens when someone experiences a moderate amount of Eustress, which leads to high performance. When at the optimum stress stage, an employee may feel fatigued at the end of the day, but with a good night’s sleep and some decompression, time can come back feeling refreshed and motivated. The shift from fatigue to exhaustion often marks the beginning of overload, where the amount of stress effects performance, quality and well being instead of feeling fatigued and then ready to return after some rest, an exhausted employee may wake up tired and anxious about their work day. In some cases, the employee may feel exhausted only in the context of work, demonstrating that it’s the psychological experience of doing the work, causing the physiological impact. 

Rather than something purely physiological. The move from overload to burnout and breakdown is a rapid and steeply downward flow beating curve. By the time burnout occurs, moving back up the curve to optimum stress becomes almost impossible. You might struggle to notice when you are approaching the overload or burnout stages. First time managers are susceptible to overload and burnout because they have so many types of stressors to contend with at one time. A new manager balances the responsibilities of their job with the on the job and off the job, learning they have to do to fulfill those responsibilities, along with the emotional stress of navigating change. 

So what do you do if you start to experience overload or find yourself in the burnout zone? Our cultural conversation about burnout focuses almost solely on exhaustion, yet the experience of being overextended is simply not the same as being burned out. Specifically, when psychologist and researcher Christina Maslach developed the Maslach Burnout Inventory, she identified three components to exhaustion, a feeling of being constantly drained of energy at work due to being overextended the experience of exhaustion dissipates when the worker leaves their workplace, either temporarily or permanently. Depersonalization, a feeling that those you are meant to serve, customers, clients, students, volunteers, and so on, are problems rather than those you are meant to help. The term depersonalization is used interchangeably with cynicism in this model, lack of personal accomplishment, a feeling that your work accomplishes or contributes nothing, which can be associated with so called BS jobs.

So why the hyper focus on exhaustion? In part, it’s because it’s the easiest part of burnout to treat. You can take a vacation, get some sleep, advocate for fewer hours, hire more people, and share administrative tasks. These are all common recommendations for solving the problem of burnout, and while they have their merits, they may be totally ineffective when considered with what burnout really is. As a first time manager, you might feel tempted to respond to your own burnout, not to mention your employees with paid time off. That simply may not be the solution. Exhausted workers tend to have negative perceptions of their workload, but not of the people they work with. Cynical workers, however, tend to have negative perceptions of their coworkers and work environments. Working less may not actually help a burned out worker because their feelings of cynicism have totally alienated them from why they do the work in the first place. It’s worth noting that everyone from the original coiner of the term burnout, psychologist Herbert Friedenberger, to Christina Maslach, to author and burnout researcher Jonathan Melissek, have identified that those who burn out tend to be idealistic, because no matter how hard one works, those ideals fail to be met. Anecdotally, I see higher rates of burnout among people who ensure the well being and care of others. In my research interviews with these individuals they describe, directly or indirectly, that the idea of care is one that can never be met. Disconcertingly, this might mean that our focus on purpose driven work might be one of the biggest contributors to our culture of burnout, both in creating the conditions for more people to experience burnout, and the idea that burnout is inherently a sign of worthiness. 

If burnout is this gnarly, complicated problem you have to solve for yourself, what is the solution? Happily, the answer lies in part two of this book, Creating A Culture Of Belonging with a twist, because its emphasis on personal value, group acceptance, and mutual support belonging can serve as an important bomb to burnout in many ways, belonging and burnout are incompatible. 

Belonging requires a healthy sense of connection and mutuality. What matters in this case is how you seek out your own sense of belonging you can apply the same 3 R’s framework to yourself. Relationships refer to your experience of positive meaningful ties to your colleagues, customers, and community members. The cultivation and maintenance of these relationships is a bond to feelings of cynicism. Because we remain committed to and connected to others in practice, strong working relationships might translate into yes answers to these questions. If I experience an emergency, will others believe me and offer support, will I have someone to turn to? When I feel stuck or confused am I met m with understanding and resources? Do others acknowledge and validate me as the person I am in addition to the things I do, do I feel I can offer help, encouragement, and acknowledgement of others? Will they receive this help, encouragement, and acknowledge openly from me? 

Resources are what you require to have the time needed to invest in relationships. Though new managers tend to be chronically under resourced due to a lack of institutional knowledge and an often pervasive attitude of the need to pay your dues, nevertheless, when we are well resourced, we are less likely to be overextended or exhausted. Resources include the time and energy needed to regularly check in, offer and receive help, and praise and be praised. They also include money, tools, and services. How can I feel valued and respected if I know I am paid less than a colleague doing the exact same role? If my team is understaffed and I am pulling double shifts regularly, will I have enough energy to participate in the work community, to feel part of something greater than myself? 

To achieve a sense of belonging and stave off the exhaustion of burnout it’s worth making a list of everything you need to go from being overwhelmed to neutral. Some questions to ask, do I have clearly defined roles and responsibilities? Do I know what the must have and nice to have components of my role are? Do we have enough staff to support and complete our current list of projects? If I am unable to complete all of my work within a reasonable amount of time, do I have options other than working late, such as reaching out to a colleague, pushing a deadline, or hiring outside help? Am I authorized to automate manual tasks? Do I believe I am paid fairly relative to my colleagues? 

Reciprocity is sometimes the hardest for managers because of the need to acknowledge power dynamics the difference between reciprocal versus transactional workplaces is nuanced and important transactional relationships are transparent, but not necessarily trusting. If I stay 30 minutes late to help you with a problem, you will have to stay 30 minutes late next week when I ask, if you break that contract, our trade relationship is over. Reciprocal relationships are often transparent and always trusting they are rooted in the belief that while not everything about our future interactions is known, I am confident that you will uphold my dignity and I yours. So maybe I need you to stay late today to help me with my problem. But when you need the same help next week, I can’t stay because of a family commitment. In this case, I may enlist a fellow colleague to help you, brainstorm ideas ahead of time, bring you a prepared dinner to take home to alleviate stress, or take a pass on this situation but come through on another one. Reciprocity is hard because it’s both situational and long term. The only way to really establish true reciprocity is through the everyday muscle memory of making promises and keeping them, knowing one another, and being known. In this way, it can serve as a bulwark against lack of personal accomplishment because the strength and stability of your workplace relationships is an accomplishment.” Thank you for listening. If you liked what you heard, I hope that you’ll pick up a copy of my new book The First-Time Manager: Diversity, Equity And Inclusion.


ALIDA: Thank you for listening to Care Work. Please share this podcast with your community to help uplift and advocate for more caring cultures everywhere. 

This podcast is a collaboration between Ethos and me, Alida Miranda-Wolff, I’m also your host.
Theme music “Vibing Introspectively” was written and recorded by Logan Snodgrass.
Audio editing and podcast post-production assistance were provided by Organized Sound Productions.


If you want more of me, be sure to order my books Cultures Of Belonging and The First-Time Manager: DEI.


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