Black Woman Leading
Black Woman Leading
Laura Knights
S4E11: Overcoming Toxic Productivity with Aiko Bethea
40 minutes Posted Aug 3, 2023 at 5:47 am.
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In this episode, we welcome Aiko Bethea, CEO & Founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting, to discuss overcoming toxic productivity.

 Our BWL community attracts many high achievers. They are often the “firsts” in their families and communities…the first to graduate college, the first to be on their level of leadership, the first one that people call when they need help…and the list goes on.

In the workplace, research shows that Black women are often held to higher standards, and are more likely to have their contributions overlooked. These roles and standards combined with the consistent unrealistic and violent expectations of systemic oppression, may cause us to adopt these harmful standards of achievement and perfectionism as truth. For many, this causes feelings of unworthiness as we begin to equate our identity (who we are) to our achievements (what we do), creating a  toxic cycle that  negatively impacts our self-concept and overall wellness.

In Aiko’s words: 

"The same thing that can be killing us, which is toxic productivity and perfectionism, is also the same thing that opens doors for us. Therefore, it's so important for us to have those checkpoints of 'what am I doing and who am I doing it for?' Because the world may be completely rewarding you over and over for behavior that's actually killing you."

This episode gives you a moment to reflect on your own relationship with productivity and perfectionism. Aiko breaks down the signs of toxic productivity, and provides insight on steps we can take to resist and heal from it.  Additionally, we discuss the power of centering ourselves, and share practical ways to do so in our personal and professional lives. 


About Aiko

The founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting, Aiko Bethea is an award-winning and highly sought after equity consultant, executive coach, and speaker. Known for her leadership writing, Aiko’s work is featured in a range of publications including Harvard Business Review and Forbes. Aiko is also a contributor to an anthology edited by Tarana Burke and Dr. Brené Brown, New York Times Best Seller, You Are Your Best Thing. 

In addition to her work as principal and founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting, Aiko is Sr. Director of the Daring Way™ and the Dare to Lead™ global facilitator communities of Brené Brown Education and Research Group. She is also a Senior Director at Frontline Solutions, a black-owned consulting firm.

Aiko is guided by her unique background as a Black and Asian American woman along with her intrinsic values of justice and loyalty and her role as a mother raising two Black sons. This perspective helps inform Aiko’s passion and drive to create conversations and change around race and equity in the communities and organizations that she serves.


Connect with Aiko


  • Enrollment is open for the Black Woman Leading programs starting in August.  Learn more at
  • Toxic productivity and perfectionism assessment from RARE Coaching -


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Podcast Music & Production: Marshall Knights 

Graphics: Te’a Campbell

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