Blog

Vulnerability = Courage

Posted by Tom Smith on Sat, May, 19, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

images-3

 

Great presentation by Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor University of Houston during Nutanix' .NEXT conference in New Orleans on May 10. Dr. Brown has been studying vulnerability and courage and the soon to be published The Four Pillars of Courage.

Dr. Brown's Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability has more than 34 million views on YouTube.

Here's the gist of her presentation I was fortunate to see:

  • You have to be vulnerable to be courageous
  • Vulnerable = at risk, emotionally exposed
  • There is no courage without vulnerability
  • “Daring greatly” came from Teddy Roosevelt
  • Can we lay out the code for being a full-stack individual?
  • Shame is walking out of the room of people you know well and when you leave, and they speak badly about you
  • It’s not the critic who counts, the credit goes to the one in the arena who comes up short again, again and again. If s/he fails, s/he does so daring greatly.
  • If you’re brave with your life you’re going to get your ass kicked
  • Life is volatile you will know failure if you are brave with your work
  • We live in a comfort crisis – we believe we are entitled to comfort
  • There is nothing comfortable about being courageous
  • Vulnerability is the most accurate measurement for courage
  • If you are not in the arena being brave with your life I am not interested in what you have to say
  • When you’re brave there is pushback
  • The mean-spirited words from the cheap seats should hurt but you need to know who’s opinions matter – it’s not the people in the cheap seats
  • Know the people you can trust and listen to them
  • Shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, uncertainty = vulnerability
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy
  • Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions
  • We dress rehearse tragedy because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Don’t squander joy
  • Don’t dress rehearse tragedy
  • Stop in the moment and be grateful
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of: courage, trust, empathy, innovation, creativity, accountability, adaptability, inclusivity, hard conversations, feedback, problem-solving, ethical decision making
  • Set up a culture of no vulnerability you get no innovation, no risk-taking
  • The opposite of accountability is blame
  • If you don’t do discomfort you’re not a good fit for us
  • If you cannot have a conversation about a difficult subject (race, class, gender) you cannot be a successful leader – be willing to excavate conversations that need to happen because they’re getting in the way of good work
  • People are not willing to be vulnerable, brave
  • What are you doing instead of the hard conversations?
  • We’re not having hard conversations because we’re not willing to be vulnerable
  • Relational vulnerability – you cannot be brave or lead without it
  • It takes courage to have ethical decision making
  • When we’re in struggle we need a story for our brain – the story I’m telling myself right now is . . .
  • Myths:
    • Vulnerability is weakness
    • I can opt out
    • Let it all hang out
    • I can go it alone
  • Vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, rising skills = the four pillars of courage
  • What’s worth doing even if you fail?
  • Vulnerability doesn’t always work out but it’s better than ending your life asking what if I had showed up?

Tags: integrity, extreme trust, emotional connection, total radical transparency, empathy, inspiration

Broken Hiring Policies in Technology

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 15, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

This was originally published on the site for my work but was removed over concerns over starting a "flame war." It's a conversation we need to have so I'm sharing on my personal blog. Please keep it civil. Thank you.

 

The Congressional Black Caucus recently visited Apple, PayPal, Twitter, Square and Airbnb to assess whether Silicon Valley was making any progress in becoming more racially diverse. It wasn’t long before the lawmakers discovered that while some of these tech giants had made “small progress,” most had become less diverse over time.

Thanks to Jori Ford, Senior Director of Content, G2 Crowd, a review website for business software and services, for sharing her thoughts with me about inclusion and diversity in the technology industry. Jori, who identifies as black, Korean and LGBT, believes the chief problem is that the tech industry’s hiring practices are broken.

Rather than hiring racially diverse candidates for their skills and experience, tech companies are on a mission to fill empty quotas. But, at G2 Crowd, this isn’t the case, which is one of the key reasons Jori was attracted to the company.

How have broken recruiting and hiring processes led to tokenism (age, race, gender) in tech?

When you think about standard recruiting policies, you see recruiters and HR checking to see if candidates match skills needed. As a candidate you apply, interview, learn whether you’re qualified, and then you’re either selected or you are not.

When you are part of an underrepresented group you already know there’s not going to be a lot of people like you in the process – see Google, PayPal, Uber, and many others. You think you’re a statistic with 90 percent fitting the ideal profile — heavily male, white or Indian.

Unrepresented groups as a whole less than 1% are African American women.

As I ask questions about diversity in interviews, responses have been jarring. Many organizations do not have their own definition of diversity. They’re giving it little to no thought. Transparency in statistics and day-to-day work environments are key.

At G2Crowd, everyone has to take a test and all you have to do was pass. This balances the playing field for everyone.

When you’re not allowed to see who is working at the organization looking for diversity it makes for a walled system. At G2Crowd, is was interviewing in a fully glassed room that allowed me to experience all of the culture around me. The interview is a time when the company is conveying its business to a candidate and the candidate is seeing and evaluating the culture they will be included in. Inclusivity is key to recruiting.

If you don’t see anyone like yourself it makes you wonder if you’ll be accepted by the members of the organization. It’s all about perspective and we each have our own perspective which makes it hard to see outside. It’s hard for me to see where I fit in. Am I welcomed in the space? To get past perspective, there has to be someone you can see, someone you can connect with as an individual.

What’s the solution?

Make sure there is an active pipeline of diverse candidates. Organizations are having difficulty building the pipeline. They need to build the people they want to come and work for them. A lot of people look to incubators, but incubators lack underrepresented groups as well.

I believe it starts as K through 5 STEM programming. The decision doesn’t start in high schools and college. Paige & Paxton elementary STEM curriculum get kids started early before they’re even thinking about college.

Many colleges are funded by larger organizations who say they want diversity but then the lack of diversity is again prevalent.

What are the benefits of having a diverse organization besides being the right thing to do?

Organizations with more diversity have more challenging thoughts and different perspectives that result in more interesting and disruptive strategies to affect the world. Organizations need that thinking in-house before they begin building solutions. Diversity brings different perspectives to the table. You end up with business strategies you wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.

Who’s doing a good job?

G2Crowd is doing well. We have diverse age groups, neutralization of demographic factors through testing that show candidates they are valued for their mind. The interview process is transparent, not judgmental. You interview with a diverse, cross-functional panel of people.

What do minority developers need to keep in mind?

Don’t let statistics deter you. "Token" doesn’t mean what you think. Even though numbers show a sliding scale, people are necessary to make the change. Show your talent and make it known – step into the opportunity. Programmers are taught logic and statistics; however, the math isn’t always the reality, you can shape and mold the reality.

What should organizations that are serious about diversity and inclusion do?

Look at Project Include, they help organizations, and in particular management teams, learn where to start.

Inclusion is not an initiative. Organizations must humanize and see the people beyond the actual brand. It all comes down to people. Let people see the people for who they are and how they look or you won’t have diversity.

It’s about inclusion and people wanting to be someplace where they’re included and their voice is heard.

Tags: transparency, employee engagement, innovation, employee empowerment, total radical transparency

Practice "Total Radical Transparency" to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 09, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

total radical transparency resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've had the opportunity to work for, and with, more than 100 different companies over the course of my career.

 

It's very rare to find a company, or management team, that practices "total radical transparency."

 

I've worked for two companies that embraced this philosophy and they were the two places where I felt totally empowered, engaged and made the greatest contributions.

 

In a recent edition of Fast Company, in "The Second You Think You're an Auteur, You're Sunk," film director James Cameron, describes how everyone working on a particular project would sit around a table every morning at precisely 8:15 and air out problems.

 

This is tremendously healthy for any team -- management or employees.

 

It ensures everyone is on the same page and in complete alignment about what's working and what isn't.

 

You bring your problems to the group and solve them as a group. Everyone's invested in the solution.

 

Inability to discuss problems openly and honestly hinders their resolution.

 

Fail to address them and they become even bigger problems as well as a poison to your corporate culture.

 

In one company where I was hired to direct the firm's marketing efforts, I asked the president if I could conduct one-on-one interviews with the management team to ensure everyone was in alignment with regards to the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm.

 

I was advised this wasn't necessary, since the firm had just completed their strategic planning.

 

It took less than a week to see how misaligned the SBU's, and the employees therein, really were.

 

In a recent consulting engagement, I urged the CEO to take a leadership position in social media since the firm aspired to be a leader in their industry.

 

My recommendation was rebuffed because the CEO was concerned that there were groups out there that would not approve of what the firm was selling.

 

If you're not willing to be open and honest with your employees, your customers and your prospects, you will not be a leader in your industry.

 

The internet rewards those who share information and exposes those that hide it.

 

AGE, arrogance, greed and ego, made companies and individuals a lot of money before the advent of the internet and social media.

 

According to Justice Louis D. Brandeis, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." 

 

Given this, the internet and social media will expose those companies who are not transparent with their employees (Glassdoor), their customers (Amazon, Zappos, Yelp) or their prospects.

 

Are you and your firm committed to total radical transparency?

 

If so, you and your employees will benefit.

 

If not, you might want to take another look at your vision, mission and values.

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

 

Tags: alignment, vision, mission, values, employee engagement, total radical transparency