Create Belonging


01 - Attitude and Learnability

Season 1, Ep. 1

Wow! Welcome, to the first episode of Create Belonging.

Guest: Innocent Mugenga, a Founder and the CEO of Aline. Host of the Learnability Podcast

You can follow and connect with him here:


In this episode, we explore Innocent's story. We get into how it was like being born and growing up in Sweden. We touch on his early professional experiences of not belonging, and why he considers himself privileged.

This has been a real learning experience for me, and I hope that it will be the same for you too.

Here are some of the notes I took.

  • Notice how he resists defining himself in any particular “title”. 
  • Why he defines himself as an entrepreneur, and nothing else
  • He does not want to be defined as a product of the event that he experienced throughout his life. 
  • Early life. Moving around Sweden and the advantages of constant change 
  • Arriving in Nynäshamn - formative years in early adolescence, and how he handled bullying and being picked on at school. 
  • His identity is not his entire identity. 
  • His identity is formed by how he interprets the situation. 
  • Context switching 
  • How to handle sticking out, not only being a visible minority but also having a very unique name
  • Why choosing the most productive or positive version of reality is what helped him belong. Why
  • Why he considers himself privileged and how awareness of his privilege helps him be grounded and happy
  • His first job. An experience was not-belonging. 
  • The importance of learning
  • How do you empower yourself and others?
  • Why non-attachment to external happenings and material things is important
  • The importance of mindfulness, reading, and talking to people
  • Why you should pay attention to cognitive sciences to better understand the world around us. 
  • The importance of curiosity and how traditional education dampens our capacity to be curious
  • Unlearning is a necessary and courageous act
  • Aline's mission on transforming education stating from the way we consume information. We have unlimited access to information, so the problem is not in access of information, rather in how we consume information and alining the type of information we consume with our personal goals.
  • Aline and why Ikigai offers a good framework for its mission
  • Aline uses digital tools to create a to-learn list (in contrast with a “to-do” list)
  • Aline’s mission is “Using Digital Tools to Learn Better”
  • Why unlearning and re-skilling is crucial  
  • Why the real enemy of is a “fixed mindset” (to learn more about fixed mindset, watch this TED talk by Carole Dwek
  • Why the workplace is the ideal environment for promoting learning
  • The importance of job-mobility and how following one's curiosity leads to a better outcome for the individual and society at large. 

Thank you for listening to the first episode of Create Belonging. I have many more to come, please don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcatcher.

More Episodes


02 - Howard Ross - Author of "Our Search for Belonging"

Season 1, Ep. 2
Howard Ross: Episode NotesWelcome to our second episode of Create Belonging. This is my interview with Howard Ross, author of “Our Search for Belonging:How Our Need to Connect is Tearing Us Apart”About Howard:Howard Ross is a lifelong social justice advocate and is considered one of the world’s seminal thought leaders in identifying and addressing unconscious bias.He authored and co-authored many books on diversity and inclusion, including, Our Search for Belonging:How Our Need to Connect is Tearing Us Apart, which won the 2019 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Social Change and Social Justice.Howard’s writings have been published by the Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, Diversity Women Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, and dozens of other publications.Howard has served on numerous not-for-profits boards, including the Diversity Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign, the board of directors of the Dignity and Respect Campaign, and the board of directors for the National Women’s Mentoring Network.Howard has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Operation Understanding Award for Community Service; the 2012 Winds of Change Award from the Forum on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion; the 2013 Diversity Peer Award from Diversity Women Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst Award from Uptown Professional Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst for Change Award from Wake Forest University; the 2015 Trendsetter in HR by SHRM Magazine; and the 2016 Leadership in Diversity Award by the World Human Resources Development Conference in Mumbai, India.He was also named an Honorary Medicine Man by the Eastern Cherokee Reservation in N.C., and given Medicine Holder designation by the Pawnee Nation.Howard founded Cook Ross Inc., one of the nation’s leading Diversity and Inclusion consultancies.He sold the company in July 2018 and founded Udarta Consulting, LLC.Question (Q): “The essential dilemma of my life is between my deep desire to belong and my suspicion of belonging.”What does this quote by Jhumpa Lahari mean?Answer (A):- We are encoded to belong as a human imperative for survivalYet in modern times we are taught to be independent, and we focus on being individualistic.For this reason, we tend to go towards the groups where we have a lot in common so that we are able to express our individuality within the group.Q: Udarta is the name of your current organization, where does the name come from?A: The name is a Hindi word roughly translated as “Generosity and Kindness”. More than half the work we do at Udarta is pro-bono and charitable.Q: Where did you get started to work for a more equitable and fair society?A:His origins in activism are a result of his family’s history, with his parents being the fleeing worn-torn eastern Europe for the united states and he considers social justice work a“family business”, with over 35 years of experience working in this field.Q: How has exclusion and discrimination evolved over the decades? What has changed in the last decades?A: History repeats itself, and MLK jr. said “The arch of history bends towards justice”. So society has improved over the long history. However more recently, things have been changing quickly.- The role of new media in cultivating more tribal belongingThe shift in politics from an “issue orientation” to an “identity orientation”.The role of fear, and how people retrieve to their “tribes”.Tribal belonging is more clearly defined and fear of being excluded causes us to act “against others that are outside our tribe”We shift from an “issue orientation” to an “identity orientation”.Othering is a lot easier when we are reduced to our tribesDaniel Goldman, father of emotional intelligence and the amygdala hijack. Fear gets in the way of rationality, causing people to act in the subconscious bias that keeps them safe.How fear makes things Personal, Persistent, and PermanentQ: Why did you use 3 fictional characters to explain your points?A: Using 3 archetypes to explain the complexity of relationships - why identity and affiliations are not so clear-cut.- The characters are an archetype of “intersectionality” (Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw)It explains the difficulty of categorizing people and how one person can be in an in-group and out-group a the same time.Jon Robert Tartaglione collaborated with the research and studies included in this book. Q Why is belonging in the workplace so important?A: Most of us cannot choose who our workmates and we are somehow “forces us” to find ways to relate with others and work together towards a common work.Solving belonging in the workplace can have a deeper impact on society since many of the lessons from the workplace can be transplanted to society.Q: Why company culture cannot be “like a family”A:-the workplace is more like a communityThe importance of contribution for belonging in the workplace.Q: How can leaders accelerate the move towards becoming more diverse and inclusive?The problem with always trying to “fix” things, or “fix people” causes people to be reactive.Changemakers become fatigued by “fixing things” always trying to figure out what is wrong.People don’t want to be fixed and fixing things require a lot of energyInstead, having a vision can help address many of the root causes and helping people unite under a common vision.To be proactive, it’s necessary to have a vision of “belonging”. All great change-makers managed to act behind a vision: MLK, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi.Having a vision is 1 of 8 “Pathways for belonging”[In chapter 9 of his book “Bridges to Bonding”, Howard provides the 8 pathways to belonging]The 8 pathways to belonging are:A Clear Vision and Sense of PurposeCreating a ContainerPersonal Connection, Vulnerability, and ConsciousnessInclusion and EnrolmentCultivate Open-Minded ThinkingDevelop Shared Structures and Forms of CommunicationHonoring NarrativeTools for Negotiationand Conflict ResolutionExploring #7: Honouring NarrativeUnderstanding the narrative, the story we tell ourselvesIf we are aware of the narratives that we are raised in, we can find a different story for ourselves.Leaving our own identity is incredibly difficult.Understanding Bridging vs. Bonding relationships- Robert Puttnam - Bowling alone on Social CapitaSome people believe they are bonding when in fact they might only by bridging. The example is bonding amongst women, with the black women, are not bonded, but rather bridging.How bridging can lead to bonding relationships.“Rapid Fire” questionsWhat is one country to visit?China and TibetFavorite meal?PizzaWhat’s a movie or show that you are currently watching that would recommend?“13th” by Ava DuVernay about the 13th amendment.I am in my element when…“When I am with my family”Final words:We are in a very “special” time. Many refer to this time as a Syndemic.During these time it is especially easy to slip us into an “othering” and seeing others as a threat. This opportunity also opens up the opportunity to become more compassionate and empathy is important.Here is the Google Talks Video of Howard talking about his book: “Everyday Bias”: you to Aidan McCullen (host of “The Innovation Show” podcast) for your support and for making this interview happen.Thank you James Robinson, Emmy® Award-Winning Sound Designer & Engineer for helping me salvage the audio quality.Music by Ergy, aka Hugues Coudurier,Facebook——————————-Thank you for listening!I would love your Feedback: Please send me an email at and let me know what you thought of the episode.You can also follow us on Instagram: or on Linkedin: