On this throwback Thursday, we are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast that featured Felix A. Navarro Jr. In this episode, we explore his career journey as well as the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Currently Felix is an Oculus VR Product Manager at Facebook. He is also the founder of Facebook’s Afro-Latinx group and the co-founder of Level Up by Facebook, now known as Elevate, a program dedicated to growing minority-owned small businesses through training and 1:1 mentorship. In addition, he is the founder of FN Speaks LLC, a motivational speaking and coaching company specializing in helping people and businesses drive meaningful community impact.
In this conversation, Felix shares many stories that remind us of what it feels like to hide certain aspects of ourselves and that figuring out who we truly are and building up the confidence to show up authentically is part of the journey.
These are some of the episode highlights:
“I was being a completely inauthentic person to myself.” -Felix A. Navarro Jr.
Going into the corporate world was a new experience for Felix. He found himself code-switching when he began to notice the differences between him and his co-workers. And one of those differences was how these men wore custom-made tailored suits while he wore hand-me-down suits.
Felix also noticed differences in activities they did over the weekend and the things they talked about, and it was so different to him that he felt he could not share his authentic stories with them. So to belong and connect more with the people at work, Felix started to do things that were not exactly in alignment with him. He went to certain recommended restaurants, shopped differently in places he had never been before, and many other things to change his whole persona and prove to himself and others that he belonged.
“My work improved because my energy wasn't being wasted in being someone that I wasn't.” -Felix A. Navarro Jr.
Felix was exerting a lot of energy to create a different persona then, and he could not see that instead of doing that, he could be focusing more of that energy into doing his best work. It wasn’t until a co-worker (a person of color who had also done the same thing in the past) called him out that he realized he was code-switching and being a fake version of himself during that time.
When the co-worker called him out, it opened up a conversation for Felix to figure out a balance in which he could show up as his authentic self. And once he started to be his authentic self, his confidence and work improved because he no longer needed to focus his time and energy on being somebody he wasn’t.
“I don't think I'm intimidating but I've received the feedback and I'm mindful about it.” -Felix A. Navarro Jr.
Felix grew up around people who spoke their minds, who were blunt and fast to respond, so it was a bit confusing to Felix when he received the feedback that he was intimidating. He was only being his outspoken self and using the same mannerisms used by seniors, so in his mind, if it was not intimidating coming from the seniors, then why was it intimidating coming from him?
After receiving this feedback, Felix decided to find a way to speak his mind freely as his authentic self while being mindful of how he shows up to others.
Felix opens an honest conversation about authenticity in the workplace.
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