We were joined on Canopy Cafe by Deon Stokes, founder of Joint Effort LLC, a forensic marketing agency that specializes in B2C Marketing, SaaS Subscription Marketing, and Inbound Marketing solutions for Restaurants, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits. On today’s episode, Stokes discusses the hardships of growing up as a woman of color in America, as well as what she’s doing with her company to help prepare young women for their lives after college.
Before becoming the founder and CEO of Joint Effort LLC, Deon Stokes began her professional career in politics, managing candidates and providing strategic solutions for political candidates. Stokes reflects on her time in that field: “It really focused my lens on what we’re going through now as a country. I worked with a number of congressmen who are making tough decisions or have questions or are inviting individuals to sit at the table to have the toughest, most uncomfortable chats about what we are supposed to do.” Since retiring from that field, Stokes has founded Joint Effort LLC, where she has had similar conversations with businesses regarding not only different types of marketing, but also the recent shifts in the political climate regarding civil rights and racial injustice. Stokes, although pleased that companies and individuals are gradually having more of these conversations, is disheartened that it took us this long as a country to have them: “I hate that it took this for us to realize that we needed to get there. I had this vision of where we were going to be in 2020, all in, what, two months we got there.” However, Stokes is thankful for organizations like Canopy who are also having these conversations to spread information on how we all can prevent racial inequities and injustices.
Deon Stokes hosts a podcast during which she discusses her experience as a black female leader in the community: “We created this space where we talk about those experiences, what does it need to be a leader of color, and how hard is it to be called girls across the table in a board meeting, you know, where you were invited or dismissed because, you know, ‘I thought you were a male when I walked in because your name is Deon,’ or ‘I thought you were white,’ for whatever reason.” Stokes also discusses her failures on her podcast, stating, “I have done them all, like I say, I’ve written the book on them.” She embraces these failures, however, and deems them a “cautionary tale” of what not to do in business. This concept of using what we’ve learned from our mistakes aligns with Canopy’s CCP value of a balanced approach.
Course Of Action
When hiring interns for her company Joint Effort LLC, Stokes states that she prioritizes individuals who have faced hardship in their lives: “I am just determined to bring women with me in, I don’t care what shade you are or where you live, but we need an opportunity. And oftentimes we’re not honored with that opportunity. […] It’s something interesting about whenever another female sees a female founder, they instantly lean in a little bit deeper.” Stokes’ hope is that the women she hires will go on to start their own businesses, and she even encourages them to be competitors: “I want you to be my competition. And I mean it, and, and some of them are today.”
Stokes leaves us with the following final remarks: “I have hope. That’s all that I can have, is that these one off conversations, coffees, teas, all of those things, just sitting with their coworkers or your neighbor and learning and talking and discussing and asking questions is the way that we actually learn.” Canopy also encourages everyone to continue having these conversations so that we can keep taking steps towards addressing racial injustices.
Be sure to check out the Joint Effort LLC website as well as Deon Stokes on social media!