Talk-Commerce Kelli Williams

Changing the Face of the Marketing Industry with Kelli Williams

Are you a fearless leader? Do you shy away from hard conversations or dive headlong into them? We interview Kelli Williams, who recently took on the Interim CEO role at The BrandLab in Minneapolis. She is changing the face of marketing one person at a time.

Some of the work they do at Brand Labs is what they call fearless work, and it’s all about having fearless conversations. It’s about having conversations that you just started by saying,

“You know what, I have some blind spots. I have some areas of opportunity to learn more to bring additional diverse thinking and to understand areas of bias or areas that I may not be comfortable with so that I can, as a business leader, create opportunities to have conversations and to create safe environments for all people on my team.”

Talk-Commerce Kate-Bradley

Looking for the patterns in your marketing with Kate Bradley

In this week’s episode, we talk about everything from entrepreneurship to employee happiness. (@LatelyAIKately) Kate talks about the pressure on a start-up CEO and how it is compounded by trying to run a successful business and raise money at the same time. Kate reveals one really cool new feature on Lately.ai. (You must listen to the end to hear the big reveal!)

What you will learn from this episode and about Kate

• Passion for floating in a pool and listening to 80s music

• CEO of Lately, an AI that repurposes long-form content

• Focus on making fans, not sales

• Educated on Black American perspectives •

White Elephant in the Room: lack of diversity in podcast

• Advice to never assume what any side wants

• Value of lifting others up

• Making a fan creates a machine

• Marketing is about getting a fresh perspective

• Overuse of words leads to dull communication

• Creative use of language to engage people and make them react

I absolutely think that people who are focused on clock punching rather than performance and outcomes are missing out. Clock punchers are focused on the wrong thing and don’t understand the bigger picture. They don’t see how their work fits into the bigger picture and how it contributes to the success of the company. Performance and outcomes are much more important than just showing up and doing the minimum. If an entrepreneur is focused on performance and outcomes, they will be able to make better decisions and find more success.

Kate Bradley

Kate is the Founder & CEO of Lately. The A.I. that learns which words will get you the most engagement and re-purposes video, audio, and text into dozens of social posts containing those words.

Kate is a former rock ‘n’ roll DJ and served 20 million listeners as Music Director and on-air host at Sirius/XM. She’s also an award-winning radio producer, engineer, and voice talent with 25 years of national broadcast communications, brand-building, sales, and marketing expertise. What she learned in radio about the neuroscience of music helps fuel Lately’s artificial intelligence.


Brent: Welcome to this wonderful episode of lately on Talk Commerce. I have Kaitlyn from lately today. Kate. Please introduce yourself. Tell us your day to day role in one of your passions in life. 

Kate: I formally was a rock and roll DJ broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM. So I have a soft spot in my heart for podcasting, of course. I love the theater of the mind so much. I love radio. I love that you Brent have this I don’t even know if you know that you have it, you have this beautiful power to create what I call a two-way street, even though it’s one way.

Kate: I You wield the microphone here, but people listen and trust you and they lean in because you have this ability to create that magical kind of feeling as though they’re part of the conversation. And so that’s what attracts me to radio and podcasting specifically. And I don’t miss it.

Kate: Cuz can I swear in your show? I don’t know. Yeah. Go for it. I had a shit time. there, there’s great things about radio. I met my husband there and his record was our favorite record of the year. And of course, total job hazard. Cause I dated musicians do not recommend, found the one good one, who’ve cut his hair and wears chinos and now he’s. Sales bless his heart, but radio is a boy’s club, of course. And me too, and all that stuff didn’t even exist. And the rewards you got for participating in sexual harassment were large. It was applauded. And so we all did it, and I, not only, and I was a recipient of course, because, I don’t have a phase for radio.

Kate: Yay. And there’s no women either. So of course, like every day my boss would ask. Bradley or your hands queen, meaning could I hold this Dick while he peed? just, it was just the locker room bullshit. So that. Bizarre because what started happening? I don’t know why I’m going down this thread with you, but Hey ladies, listen up the the sexual harassment turned into a hostile work environment because of course I was great at what I did and I arranged.

Kate: The first ever marketing newsletter for any of the channels, it was ours. And it got all of this. This is before MailChimp. Okay. So I was like in outlook having to send multiple copies because you could only send it to 250 people at a time. Remember that there was like no formatting. And I got us. Just a huge amount of press.

Kate: Just because I’m a bulldog, and I was like I think we should do this. And I’m gonna ask all these people to republish it and forward it, et cetera. And they did. And and then I got shit on for my success. So that was confusing because you’re like, I’m killing it. Why aren’t people excited about this?

Kate: It’s because they’re threatened. And I dunno if that’s why I have my own company and I don’t have to deal with. Ego, except for my own. now , the mountain. What were the other two questions you asked? 

Brent: What is your day to day role and one of your passions in life?

Kate: Oh we might have covered the passion but I think at the moment, my biggest passion is floating. I love the weightlessness of floating in a pool and we have a kitty pool and in text one, thank God for those people democratizing this thing, and we’ve had one for a while. It’s 12 feet by four feet, maybe three.

Kate: And there’s just enough room for two people to float. We built a solar heater out of black hose and a black piece of wood and a there’s a pump. And it does when there’s not a heat wave. It’s usually 88 degrees, which is what I like Brent, and me and my noodles are out there just floating away every day.

Kate: I’m allowed three songs, so I bring the Bose out there and I listen to three songs on the radio. Actually, I can still tolerate live radio and by tolerate, I really mean that cause it’s. Fucking terrible. Really terrible, but there’s this one station here that they mostly play 80 songs with and I’m a child at the eighties.

Kate: So I’m like, Hooters, Eddie grant, Steve Miller. Yes. And sometimes I’m lucky and I get three great songs. Sometimes they throw in some, another seventies, crap like BGS, or I don’t really like Harry Nelson, stuff like that. And I’m just like, I’m just waiting for the next good one. But that’s my passion at the moment.

Kate: And then. Who am I? What am I doing? I’m the CEO of lately lately uses artificial intelligence to repurpose long form content like text and video and audio into bite size social posts that it knows very specifically, which parts will get you the highest engagement. . 

Brent: Yeah, that’s great. And I am a, I’m a user of lately for longly.

Brent: It’s been a great tool for us. I do want to just dip back into podcast guests, because it’s not always a two street. And when people come on as a guest that are, that have an agenda that are trying to. They are not a good guest. And I sometimes just look at the clock and think, oh my God, can this 30 minutes be over?

Brent: And now the 110 guests that I’ve had are thinking, are you one of them? Kate, you are not because this is the second time you’ve been on and I really appreciate you coming on. But it is sometimes difficult and it’s, my, my job is made much easier. when the guest holds the conversation, but it’s not a sales pitch.

Brent: And I, there’s nothing more than I hate in a sales pitch from a guest. But anyways, this is my pitch for lately because it is, it’s such a great product. And I’m falling in love with AI. I just signed up with open AI. I would I want want to get into the Dolly thing and there’s so many fun things happening in.

Brent: That I’m very interested in. But I do wanna talk a little bit about some of the entrepreneur journeys you’ve been going through and also, in our green room, I do wanna just bring up the white elephant in the room, which is me. And we did talk a little bit about, and you brought it up too.

Brent: The fact that there isn’t I don’t have a lot of diversity in my podcast and I would like to work on that. I’m part of the entrepreneurial community here in Minneapolis and Kate. I was just educating Kate, when we, before as well, Minneapolis is a city in the middle of the country.

Brent: And I know people on the coast don’t realize that there’s a part. World that between New York and California, but we don’t have to go into that. So I’m on I do sit on the diversity and inclusion committee. and I always ask myself, why should I be on this? And actually if I had some good guess, and they’ve given me some good answers on why me as a white male should be on this.

Brent: And part of it is just awareness and talking about it, because if everybody doesn’t talk about it, then it becomes something that’s back room. And I think it’s always better if we do talk about it. So not to belabor the point, but I know that there’s challenges in that. There wasn’t even a question 

Kate: in there.

Kate: I have a comment though, if you don’t mind. My friend, please, Jen. God, what’s her last name? Vander something, sorry, Jen. Vander. Awesome. I’m just gonna call her that. So she, we were on a panel once and she. express this in a way that was the first time I got it, which is this, when you are the underdog, you can only be lifted up by those who are on top.

Kate: And the mistake many people make is not including the people who are on top in the conversation and we rely on them to lift us up. So in your case, it has to be white men in the conversation because they hold the power in the world. They. For the most part. And not excluding them is just a stopper right away.

Kate: So I get that on the, just a flip side and we should go into politics cuz that’s dangerous. But I did, I was a marketing consultant for a company called the perception Institute for about a year and their mission in the world or a nonprofit is to change the way that black men are portrayed in the media, black men.

Kate: And. . And so I learned a lot about people, about black Americans specifically and how they feel about white people of intervening in their business. And it was mostly not nice, which was interesting, and the overall reaction was like, stay out of it with your woke perceptions. Because what you think is right is not what we believe at.

Kate: And I’m generalizing. So forgive me there, but just a perspective, like it’s the S U right? You have to never assume what the other, what any side wants. Everybody has to be at the table for the magic to happen for the two-way street to happen. Let’s get back to that. And the second comment I had related to that was.

Kate: You touched on what makes for a good guest, so I believe it or not, I was a terrible interviewer on radio for a long time. I would get very nervous and I was young. And so I didn’t have a lot of experience, doing that. I was, it was the me show. I was great at the me show , I didn’t know how to make people shine or ask the right questions, cuz I was so nervous about pushing all the buttons and getting things right at the same time. Cuz you’re in my day you were managing like the whole show, just like you are with your podcast. So there’s a lot to do behind this in the green room, as you’re saying.

Kate: So to tie in what makes a good guess is when you are able to lift others up. Number one a and that’s I think that goes both ways, but as an entrepreneur. what we say is make a fan. Don’t make a sale right now. The value there might sound corny, but I believe in the long tail, this is the radio that I grew up in is all about the long tail.

Kate: The album cuts, not the hits, right? Get people to buy the records, make fans who are loyal to the death. And I saw the power of those people because when you make a fan, they work for you for free and they can’t help the. And so you get multiple banks for your buck because you make the sale and you make a machine, 

Brent: right?

Brent: Yeah. No. And I really apologize for what I’m gonna say now. because I do feel like now I want to change the name of my podcast to ceiling. Because I would love to get ceiling fans but keep going. I know. I’m sorry, Brent. that was so bad. Hold your nose, 

Kate: everybody. 

Brent: Yeah. So I, my wife and I had this conversation about ceiling, the Mar Marcia Beski talked has a song about a hundred tampon.

Brent: And in, there was there, there was the first lady in space. They gave, she was gonna be in space for a week. So they gave her a hundred tampons and and she has a she’s on Ted. She has a Ted talk anyways. So they, she talked about the fact that she has this song. And then all of a sudden, all these men started berating her about, you shouldn’t make fun of these engineers at NASA.

Brent: Like who knows, like you, you need a hundred tampons right. For a week. And it was, we had a very good convers, my wife and I had a very nice conversation about it. And I, for me, I thought it through and I’m like, yeah, that doesn’t really make sense. I don’t, I don’t know any better, but her point was, there was a lot of men that came out and were.

Brent: Hit Eric making her feel bad that she’d come up with this song or not making her, I don’t know the right words, but sounds funny. They were ham whatever social media, what social media does, that’s what they were doing. 

Kate: I have a segue 

Brent: for this.

Brent: Okay. Yes, we need a segue. Yes, go. 

Kate: So one of my favorite lines is Catherine Hahn in. the, we are the Millers when she calls it a Tanin and she’s from the Midwest. She is in this movie anyways, and so around my house, it’s called a Tanin and we laugh every time cuz it’s so funny to us, but that’s that ability by the way to take so.

Kate: and spin it in a new way, which is really what our jobs are about. This is marketing. How do you get fresh perspective? Whether it’s a hundred tampons in space or throwing a hot dog down a hallway, as she says, right? There’s I love that. I love. we, I just did a post on LinkedIn. I don’t know why I was inspired by somebody on Twitter.

Kate: And I said, words that make you like wanna bar. And I said, I’ll start. And the word was trousers. And so everybody piled on with not only just words that they don’t like the way they sound moist, got a lot of votes. For example, salacious got some. But then also biz lab was all over the place. So people were like partners and utilize at the end of the day, like all that kind of 

Brent: stuff.

Brent: I’ll reach out to you later. Yeah. 

Kate: Yeah. So I was just thinking about the, how we. how we can overuse words to death. So they don’t mean anything like awesome, which I am guilty of as well. All of America overuses. Awesome. But the whole point of communicating well is to don’t only communicate well, but to communicate with meaning.

Kate: and to hear some biz bla drive engagement, to make people lean in is to take something very familiar and just turn it just enough so that somebody is you catch the ear and you make them react. It’s the reaction that we all want. And I love thinking about that. I love so my husband is great at this he’ll he has all these isms one.

Kate: The hammer lane and the granny lane. That’s what he calls the fast lane and the slow lane on the highway. Or dirt nap. That’s like obviously dying 

Brent: dirt nap. Okay. 

Kate: Or booger sugar is cocaine , which we were just watching that Tom cruise movie American made, which is a great movie, by the way.

Kate: Even if you don’t like Tom cruise, it’s a 

Brent: great movie. I agree. I’ve seen it. Very good. Okay. Alright, so let’s move into little, let’s talk a little bit about entrepreneur entrepreneurship. My daughter just got a job with a CRM company called endear and they’re based outta New York, a very young entrepreneur lady who started it with a partner and te.

Brent: Did you have any struggles as an entrepreneur? 

Kate: oh, so many. I think the one that’s ever present for me is it’s, I don’t know if it’s confidence I, I don’t have an imposter syndrome per se, but I take things personally, that, that whole. Bullshit about it being work and business and not personal it’s it is bullshit, to me it is of course it’s personal, it affects people’s lives, right?

Kate: I That’s, it has to be right. And I’ve had to make decisions. I’ve had to let people go. I know how all that, how hard that stuff is. But I,

Kate: the pressure that I put on myself is pretty sprint. I perceive that there’s pressure being put on me by others as well. That may or may not be true, but there’s certainly that there’s that perception whether it’s my customers, like I wanna succeed for you. Whether it’s other women entrepreneurs, my investors, my fam, my family my team, obviously Lauren and Brian and Kristen, Jason and everybody, Kristen and Katie, Greg, I think that’s all.

Kate: Did I forget anyone, Emma Alex , and I, the problem is I don’t know what failure looks like. So let me just put this in the ground for everybody. We’re bringing it down. Brian, my CTO is very good at being positive and PR and practical. He’s an engineer. So he, he, he shoots pretty straight and I’m always.

Kate: wallowing in the negative. And he’s dude, like you have to really understand this, the odds of what lately is. So the chances of startups succeeding at all is already ne it’s negative. The fact that lately still exists. The fact that we have revenue, that we have hundreds of customers, we’ve had thousands before, we’re figuring out how to do it all here.

Kate: He’s like lately should have died a million. So you really need to acknowledge this, but it’s not that I don’t acknowledge it. It’s that the road to getting to the next level, like the levels, the goal post move a lot, which is very frustrating to me. Like I’m trying to figure out Brent constantly not how to win the game, how to beat the machine.

Kate: Okay. That’s all I think about how do I beat the fucking machine? Beat it into the ground. That’s what I. That’s all I see. And it’s not enough for me just to have a nice little business here. That’s not the game I’m playing, right? That’s not this game. And when you do everything that’s prescribed and you do it like to the fucking awesomeness of awesome platinum level superstar, galactic awesomeness, which is what we do.

Kate: And you still can’t hit the milestones. That’s defeating debilitating to me personally. I take it personally, cuz then I think, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fucking do this? And I hang my head in shame, honestly. The buck stops with me. It has to be me. It’s not I can, there’s all, there’s the great resignation.

Kate: There’s, COVID, there’s the market. There’s all these things to blame, of course. But I don’t think of any of them. It’s always hard. There’s always some shit out there. So it’s me. I’m the one where that can control. What’s happening or figure it out. And, I think just generally that’s the biggest hurdle is my, is myself in a way.

Kate: I don’t have an off button, cuz I want this. It’s not that I want this so bad, but I know it’s I know it’s not even possible. I know it’s probable. I.

Kate: And so I also, that means, I know all the pieces are in front of me here already. I know that they are, this is a matter of assembling the pieces. I have the right. Is which is a blessing and a curse. It’s right here. But the fact that I can’t figure it out makes me feel like an idiot , and none of that’s true.

Kate: I rely on you. I rely on our customers. We’re always asking for feedback. I’m terrible at taking criticism, but my team is great at it, which is why I had them, and we’re always looking for ways sorry for rambling but entrepreneurs, here’s a great tip. Someone told me, and you get a lot of tips that are garbage, cuz everybody wants to give you some advice.

Kate: But a friend of mine said, look for the patterns. So if you can look for the patterns in everything, whether it’s the way the funnel works or how much MRI you’re making or what customers click first, right? All these little patterns are macro and micro patterns. You can double down or then fix them.

Kate: and my, I joke all the time. My, my great skill is seeing the glass half empty. That’s what I do. I look for problems, patterns of problems, so can you imagine being my husband? He’s a nice guy. 

Brent: yeah I am. I am the glass half full and my wife is the glass half empty. So we actually balance each other out.

Brent: We’re either full or empty at the same time empty we’re empty. So I definitely can empathize with your struggle. And I do of want to talk about as a leader that empathy part that you have to have for your employees do you see a difference in differe? Styles of leadership that work or don’t work, or I don’t know.

Brent: I I see sometimes that some entrepreneurs want to like they assume that your employee feels some way and if you feel differently, it doesn’t matter to what it’s not it, the feelings of your employees don’t matter. And I feel like that I’m I believe they matter, but that some of that empathy isn’t there in a lot of entrepreneurs.

Kate: I had a shitty job, so I know what it feels like to have that kind of panic attack and go to work and dread every day. And I don’t want to any make anyone feel that way. I am very lucky because all of those people on my team are very kind and they’re very loyal and they’re also very smart. I forget sometimes.

Kate: That they can’t read my mind. I try to apologize for that. Luckily they have a high tolerance for my bitch. That’s ano very lucky thing, because I can be an asshole. I can be, of course, and I’m so grateful. I have to surround myself with people who have that tolerance because I.

Kate: Always apologize for it. There’s too much to go on, but I have to also obviously reward and acknowledge. And so I need also the kinds of people who either don’t need that all the time can get it from each other. My re I feel my perception is the reward is to provide a workplace that is fun, which it really is.

Kate: It’s we have like unlimited vacation, no one ever takes a vacation. I don’t know why they don’t, but they don’t. You can, you don’t have to ask to go to the doctor or anything. You just, nobody cares. Get the work done. We don’t really care what you’re doing during the day. If there’s. And everyone is very autonomous.

Kate: There’s, some things I’m a micromanager about. I know this, but my aim is to not be that way and to, to a fault, honestly, like sometimes I’m trying to figure out why these people, these two people, maybe aren’t getting along or hearing each other. And then I realize , I don’t bring them together enough.

Kate: cuz we’re all just out doing our own thing. We’re running and running. And one thing sometimes I forget that. Because we’re, know, we are dispersed and we always have been dispersed and I like that because I feel it’s so much more productive. I hate being in office when people are coming in and talking to me all the time.

Kate: I hate that. I can’t get anything done, and. , I will forget how smart they are. I’m like, shit, Chris has really good ideas. I need to ask him these questions more often and then utilize them, or Lauren is, I think she’s 15 years younger than me. I forget, but she’s younger than me.

Kate: And I forget that she is because she’s so 

Brent: she’s 10

Brent: And I talked to Lauren. Lauren is fantastic by the way. Isn’t she great. Keep going. Sorry. Yeah. She’s didn’t mean interrupt to you. 

Kate: No, I’m sorry for she’s so smart. And my, for all of them, my expectation is I, these people are on a scale of one to 10. They’re twelves. They’re all twelves. And so when they’re only tens, I get on their asses about.

Kate: Shame on me. Because I believe in them I respect them and I’m so impressed with them. And Lauren is certainly one of those people, and but she can tolerate my shit, which I, that this is also what I appreciate. So the way I try to reward, money is not the thing that motivates my team because.

Kate: We often can’t pay each other or the salary isn’t very high, but I try to create a workplace where there’s like a ton of flexibility and a ton of autonomy, because these are the things that I need personally. And I know there’s people out there like me, and I think to providing a safe place, like I call it where people can be themselves.

Kate: Like we don’t, we don’t really have a lot of rules, the golden rule, our biggest rule. And. a lot. We have two meetings a week, one for sales and one for the whole team, cuz we’re small enough. We can do these things still. And at those meetings we have what’s called the rolling agenda. And so the rolling agenda is a Google doc that goes on and on for years and everyone’s name is on it and you’re supposed to write what you’re doing, what you’ve done and what you’re doing there.

Kate: And everyone reads it an hour before the meeting and at the top of the meeting is the actual agenda discussion items. And the discussion items are the things that we all actually need to talk about together. Cuz I don’t need to have a report of what you’re doing and plus I can see it all in slack. Our slack channel is I don’t I poo threads because I want everybody, I want it to bleed over for everybody.

Kate: It saves me the time from repeating myself from silo to silo and it makes everybody sympathetic or empathetic. And so the rolling agenda what’s so funny is there’s almost never dis any discussion items cuz we’ve already had the discussion. So it’s a hang we get on the phone and we find out that.

Kate: Chris’s son, Zach just performed at a comedy club and killed it with amazing jokes. A couple of Dick jokes, in front of his grandparents, but I guess they were killer. Awesome. Katie’s daughter, Ruby just scored some major role in a play. I think it was beauty. The beast she’s the lead, which is pretty great.

Kate: Kristen’s getting ready to go to Paris with her two children. For the, and her husband. So the first family vacation and maybe the last one, cuz everybody’s going to college, this is what we talk about, I love that about them, Brent, how lucky am I? 

Brent: Yeah. That’s building a team like that is, is like the dream of any entrepreneur.

Brent: It I think you’ve talked to a lot about, about that team building and how you’ve been successful in it. What would you. If you were gonna say something to an entrepreneur who was hung up with instead of that mentality that you have for performance I don’t care what you do all day, just so you deliver what we’re expecting.

Brent: The opposite of that is I, all I care about is that you come in and punch the clock. right there. There’s a dichotomy there and there’s a big swing, right? If you’re just assembling something and you’re punching the clock, you know what you get because you’re assembling something.

Brent: But the same thing is you could come in and assemble something very poorly. Or, if you’re not checking, there’s gotta be a balance between performance. I’m a firm believer in performance and the outcome of that. Do you think people that look at clock punching, miss the outcome part? 

Kate: Sure. I’ve been that I worked in retail in the mall.

Kate: I know what it’s like. it sucks. And I hated it. Sorry, dad. I worked for my dad for a while. I love my dad. I think, so like begets, like when you are around other people who are working at a superior level and you’re not, it’s obvious and you feel bad and you want to catch up. So that’s one thing, right?

Kate: And I’ve surrounded myself. I’m very lucky to have these people who are, these are amazing people. Please never leave me please. And I’m always concerned when, like one of them, if someone’s gonna get married, Girlfriend moves in or something like that. I’m like, is my productivity gonna go down?

Kate: It’s so mean, that’s my first thought. Then my second thought is I want joy for this person. Hello. What’s wrong with you, Bradley. But I think that I think we were saying earlier, like the work life balance is bullshit. Like work is life and life is work. And if you’re not having a great time during what you’re doing, you’re not feeling fulfilled and joyful.

Kate: and like you’re doing something to improve the world or yourself, then you really need a different job. I It’s so important. I think, for entrepreneurs, the objective, I always think, and I think about this, especially when I’m like arguing with my husband is what is money? What is the outcome that I want here?

Kate: What’s the outcome. So let’s back into it is the outcome to make someone feel wrong because they fucked up is that the. that you want, you wanna make them feel bad. So then they don’t sell shit for you all day long. Cause they feel bad and they’re done. I’ve done that before. I’ve done that. I like making PE people feel wrong.

Kate: Like I do. I like calling them out on their shit. I’m trying to go to therapy to improve this, but it’s there, it’s the thing. And I, but I’ve learned not to do that because what is the point now? Now sometimes you have to correct someone on what they’ve done in order for them to improve.

Kate: I’m not great at this, but I, that is my aim, Poor Lauren. She, I like people to write copy for me. So we’re always, we work together on sales. And so she is in charge of the follow up with the sale, right? So we have a call. We have to email them, she’ll draft an email and Google I’ll take 95% of it apart and rewrite it and then be like, okay, here you go.

Kate: Now her feeling can be defeat defeated, like thanks for wasting my time. I explained to her, I was like, you don’t know how much time you saved me just by starting this. And my point of taking a part isn’t to shit on you. My, my point is to give myself something to play, where I can move around.

Kate: And I said, this was a, like earlier last year or something. And I was like, I will do. I promise to do a better job of telling you why I’m rearranging these things and what, why I’m putting these things in here. If you wanna learn how to do it better, but at the same time, I have to remember.

Kate: Lauren came from she. So she has a she’s smarter than all of us. She has a master’s degree in psychology analytics. And she came from working at the cancer ward in a hospital, God. And took the first job at lately as head of customer service, which she killed it at. And then she ran our sales team and now she.

Kate: Chief operations officer. So she has some very deep legacy knowledge of the company, but she didn’t come from sales. That’s not her background. None of us actually have come from sales me the most. I have the most experience in sales and we have a 98% sales conversion. Brent, Kristen come from sales.

Kate: Chris comes from radio like me,

Kate: the reason, of course the product is awesome, but we. Fucked up that demo 50,000 ways sideways to Minneapolis. Okay. I’ve seen it. Me too. And the demo does sell itself, but it’s the people, it’s the people that sell it. And it’s because Lauren, her ability to read the room and by the room, any room in a room, an empty room on a camera, in a zoom call or a room full of 85 people at SAP.

Kate: Like she has those nuances. And that, and Chris has the same thing as well. These guys this is about being nice, right? It’s about being thoughtful. It’s about listening. It’s about they know both of them are, I’m talking about them cause they’re my chief salespeople specifically, but like they can stand on stage any kind of stage, whether it’s just a call or actually on a stage and lead a room, they have that capability to do.

Kate: But at the same time they know when to listen. I don’t have that capability. I just like to be on stage and hear the sound of my own voice. Sorry.

Brent: So what would you say to To an entrepreneur then that is that they’re building this team and they’re, they seem to be getting a lot of turnover. Is there a magic formula in that team building model or is there yeah. Something to create community or is there anything that somebody could start.

Kate: I think the first thing is just to really think about how you wanna be treated. That’s just the most important thing. And that’s very hard cuz like you’re trying to get shit done, so you have to be very reflective constantly and to not just how you wanna be treated, but when you’re at your best, when you’re in the zone, right?

Kate: What are people around you doing to facilitate that for you? And then try to replicate that? I think that’s the first thing I. the second thing is to know this is so important. You have to ask people about their fucking lives, right? There are so many times where I just wanna get the meeting on and get stuff done, but I don’t, I make sure, Hey Brian, how was your trip?

Kate: blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, Hey Jason, I saw that me is on Instagram and she’s like doing this whole abs routine. She looks amazing. What is that about? So he’ll tell me. You have to start that way. People want to talk about themselves. Obviously look at me. I’m someone who talks over people, Brent and I have no patience for people who are offended by that.

Kate: Honestly I believe in passion and I believe in the power to express your passion and that an interruptive culture should be celebrated because people are so excited to share their ideas.

Kate: and I don’t believe in democracy. Lately is not a democracy. I’m the leader. Although you have to make people feel as though they bring listened to right now, you can only do that with people you wanna listen to. So if you’re hiring people, you don’t wanna listen to, then you are an idiot, you’re, you have to really think about who you’re.

Kate: And we’ve made mistakes. Lauren will know, and she rolls her eyes and she tells me every time and I still make this mistake. I constantly think we need an experienced salesperson to come in here. And so I hire these fucking dudes. They’re always dudes. And. some dudes. I love they’re some of them are dudes.

Kate: I love some of them are dudes. I don’t love, and it never works out because they’re probably bold 

Brent: white dudes. They’re the worst 

Kate: is that where, how was, yeah. Or so one mistake we made by the way, which I didn’t know, this was, you cannot hire a salesperson to be both a manager and a salesperson.

Brent: Yeah. Very true. Absolutely. You can’t hire anybody to be either to do dual jobs. They’re gonna do two jobs poorly. 

Kate: Yes. And that is a mistake that I made. I didn’t. I do that. So I don’t understand why someone else can’t do that, to be honest with you. And Lauren does that. There are Brian does that.

Kate: I have superior people in the world who can do that. So it’s of like why, but it’s not everybody’s nature, so I think that’s the first thing a very easy tell for us is this is if your company, if the PE, if your employees aren’t saying. you’re doing something wrong. 

Brent: Yeah. If they’re saying you Kate, that then also you, and I’m, they don’t because I’ve talked to your employees.

Brent: If they are though, just always referring back to you, that’s also could be a problem. 

Kate: I do that by the way on purpose. So I rarely, I don’t like it when people call me the boss, I correct them and say, don’t say that I don’t like. I say we all the time, my team I rarely say my employees, I rarely do.

Kate: I need them and I don’t like the word need, this an needy team is needy, but I cannot live without them. And so they know that

Kate: I send them gifts often, like little surprises, even the. Some T all guys like pocket knives, you can give them endless pocket knives. Am I right there? 

Brent: send ’em a box of tampons. A hundred figure out what to do with these . I do, I want to just go back cuz I you talked about re you’re editing Lauren’s copy when she started it.

Brent: And I think that and it sounds like you explained to her. Why you’re doing it, I’m trying. Cause I think a lot of times a lot of times leaders will jump on they’ll just take it and they’ll do it, but they don’t give any feedback on why that happened. And that just leads to narratives in people’s heads.

Brent: And I think 

Kate: I made that mistake actually, because I assumed that she would understand and know right. And I assume that she would take the time to read it and think about it. But of course, Lauren is busy and she’s just trying to check shit off her list and get, cuz she’s the queen of productivity.

Kate: She knows that. I respect that. And so either one of us weren’t both of us, didn’t want to take the time to do what you just said, which is a very important thing to do cuz who can learn if you don’t do that. And. , know, like I said, why can’t someone read my mind? What the fuck when it’s so obvious to me, but I’m sure at the same time, she’s thinking why can’t Kate read my mind. 

Brent: So yeah, I, I have definitely got, I’ve gotten into the habit of explaining I’m always now trying to play chess with Anticipating the way somebody’s thinking. And I realize that people that are happy are more motivated and that they’re gonna be more productive when they’re motivated and that when they’re happy and productive, they’re gonna get a lot of work done.

Brent: So if I’m gonna be critical of somebody, I would like to explain all those reasons why that’s gonna. and I maybe now do it to, is the word in nauseam or something like that where you do it too much. Yes. Ad nauseum, whatever in nauseum I’m nauseous. Just that, that verbal feedback, because I think we do I also suffer from that same thing.

Brent: Of course, everybody should know what I’m thinking and yes, everybody can do this. Everybody can be a great salesperson. They can also be a developer. I fall onto that trap because I used to be a developer and I would. Of course, you can do that in AWS. I can do it in 20 minutes. Let’s watch me do it.

Brent: And everybody’s oh God, this is the worst time of my life. You can see everybody’s eyes are glazing over and pretty soon, like they’re, anyways, so to read the room, right? Yeah. Read the, yeah. And then it makes it worse on zoom, all everybody’s camera goes off and then you get done with your demo.

Brent: And then, so what did everybody think? And nobody’s there, it’s silence. Everybody’s gone to the bathroom. Oh, I’m sorry. And then one person leaves the mic on and the flush sound comes out and your zoom call was ruined or saved yeah. Or saved exactly. 

Kate: yeah, I think I oftentimes I wish people would ask me why I do.

Kate: and they don’t. And so that, that is frustrating to me because I want the initiative to, to be there and that’s, my problem is that’s why I’m the entrepreneur and these other people are not right. That’s a different skill, so I have to constantly readjust my perspective to reality and think about.

Kate: What’s gonna, what’s gonna get the job done. Like you said, like, how do we get people to be happy and motivated and successful all at the same time? I think that

Kate: it’s important to ask people. Do you like working here? Sometimes you, I brace myself for the answer. You still like working here? Are you leaving? I just wanna know. I think that. knowing what your weaknesses are really important. Like I said I’m not a great cheerleader, but Katie Jordan is, she’s amazing.

Kate: She does it for me. And Chris is great at that. Everybody is there everybody piles on, but you need a cheerleader on the team if it’s not you that bubbly. When, when Lauren’s on vacation, slack is quiet. And you feel that energy gone like that. It’s so important. She she doesn’t even real.

Kate: I don’t know. She realizes that she probably does that. How. Much that energy. Slack is our workplace, right? That’s our work environment. And so it’s the, you can see the thermometer of how things going now. When I like last week, an investor who had hard, committed first to a smaller amount, and then to three times an amount hard commit pulled out for no reason.

Kate: I just was like, mother, fuck. I said every swear word of the thing like that could be. And no, I don’t do it in the general channel. I just did it with Lauren, Jason and Brian because I don’t wanna upset everyone else, but I need them to know cuz they’re my they’re. We are running the business together.

Kate: We’re running the numbers, we’re looking at all these things, but Brian and Jason are co-founders like, they do need to know what happened with this investor. And I need the ability in a place to express. Frustration. I also need them to have sympathy for me because like, when I have to ask them to not have a paycheck, they need to know exactly why, and I’m not doing it on purpose and it’s not cuz I’m selfish or I’m money grubber, there’s a real reason and it’s very painful for me.

Kate: So that sympathy, empathy thing here I think is so important. Like I’m just a person, Brent, I’m trying to do this thing. and they are these people’s lives are in my hands a little bit. Cuz a paycheck is a paycheck. I 

Brent: Yeah I want to just jump on that happiness thing. I had a post on LinkedIn recently that I just put out there.

Brent: I meet with every person on my team every quarter. one on one, just for 15 minutes to get to know them. And we have team members in India and Mexico . I do that and I’ve always had this. I’ve always had a question that I’ve asked and I think I’m asking, are you happy in your job or something like that?

Brent: And I been thinking about it and like I was thinking like does anybody ever ask, are you happy? And period, because yeah. Are you happy period? Because there is. And maybe happy in your job or happy, whatever it’s different. And knowing if you’re happy, if you’re not happy.

Brent: Again, people probably aren’t gonna tell me in that short time, hopefully, maybe over time. In fact I recently did have an interview that I did where he said that I’m very intimidating and it’s hard. Like you had said, you want people to tell you the things that like if they don’t understand something and I think people don’t tell people things because leaders can be intimidating.

Brent: I can get very impatient and then become very I can be an asshole. And and especially when something going the way it should go and. I’m gonna assume you can relate with this. This is something that’s so obvious. Why aren’t we all doing this? Whatever that thing is oh my God, this is obvious. We should know this. You always get French fries at McDonald’s what thing? Yeah. Which I don’t, it’s the thing I don’t, I’m just making the insane, but it’s come on, everybody knows that in. As you’re driving on the freeway and you stop and you get a burger, you get fries, right? You get a Coke and a fries. Everybody does that. What the heck is going on with our team?

Brent: You guys are only getting chicken sandwiches. This is ridiculous. Everybody knows it.

Brent: It’s true. So I don’t know, is there, I think it’s a hard that’s, it’s gotta be one of the hardest things as a leader to give that space to somebody to allow to to open up and tell you, cuz it is a little bit of vulnerability from that person. And and maybe that’s I’m dealing.

Brent: Three different cultures. It used to be four. We used to have an office in Bolivia. But we have three cultures now. So I think culture’s a little different, right? 

Kate: Yeah. I think, one thing is I always, and I’ve said this before, like I expect them to go to to complain about me, to each other.

Kate: I expect that happens to all managers and bosses. That’s part of the role that you’re accepting. And so good. Do it complain to each other, get it out of your system, certainly. The same way how many times you be, are you like fucking Brent? I say that of course, about myself, about, oh, whoever it is that’s just your, and it’s not you mean like you, you have to know that, like to and express a frustration.

Kate: because someone isn’t perfect in this second moment. It’s meaningless it’s just this thing, evaporating the world. And when you have people around me sometimes I’ll complain to Lauren about other people and the company and just cause I need that outlet with somebody and the validation that I’m not alone in this thought, and I’m sure they all, I know they all do this to each other, which is fine.

Kate: And I think they’re, that’s part of the culture that you wanna encourage, right? People are gonna vent it’s. This is human nature. And I think of it as if lately if everything about lately was. Just smooth sailing. Boy, we have no fun whatsoever. This is part of the adventure.

Kate: Are we gonna make it, are we not? So it, that ups and downs, it keeps it interesting. Like I, I think that’s why they come to work every day is cuz they’re wondering what’s gonna happen. I don’t know. 

Brent: That’s it’s often said that without stress, without contention, without arguments, that you don’t move anything forward.

Brent: If everyone is always on the same page you could be going in the right direction, but you may not. And having a dissenter, there is always a, it was always, it’s always a having a dissenter there to ask those questions is important. And I think that essential. Yeah, it’s essential, right? We, as a leader we need to make that space.

Brent: I know that we’ve sent people we’ve sent Indian developers to Germany in onsite to work. And one of their, one of their things that they’ve said was that they were surprised that other team members on the German team would. Hard pushback to the boss in the room. And for them, that was an eye opening thing.

Brent: Cause their culture more is more around. And I’m sure I’m gonna get a whole bunch of Indian developers not telling you. No, it’s not like that here. But their culture is more about doing what you’re told. And you don’t often. It’s not a strong cultural trait to question the boss and to say this I’m a white guy anyways.

Brent: I don’t know, concern that because that’s my perception of the culture. I’m gonna I’m making a disclaimer. I’m gonna put a little asterisks in my transcript. Don’t get back to me on this, but I digress. 

Kate: Yeah, I gotta go do shit, Brent.

Kate: I’ll say this one thing, we just released a new feature where the AI is rearranging what it finds to pull out into wholly new content. Okay. it, we just launched it like the other day. We haven’t told anybody. We haven’t even told our customers like so you’ll just start to see it suddenly the surprise you’ll be like, who wrote this?

Kate: Oh my God. The AI. and it’s pretty good. All 

Brent: right, I’m gonna go try it. 

Kate: Yeah. Keep an eye out. Yeah. 

Brent: Kate, I always give everybody a chance to do a shameless plug at the end of the podcast. So what would you like?

Kate: Oh Jesus, I’m gonna plug forgiveness today. Forgiveness. 

Brent: all right. Thank you. 

Kate: Yeah, I think we all 

Brent: need a little mark. Kate Laly Kate . 

Kate: This is why just so you know, I’m on the air. I stopped saying my name because I mispronounced my own name once in an interview with the guys from we. And so I never said it again.

Brent: Yeah. Did you wean yourself off that? 

Kate: About a thing on me. Oh my God. I love you. 

Brent: Yes, you’re so funny. Kate Bradley co founder of lately, CEO of lately. Thank you so much for being here today. 

Kate: Thank you, Brent. 

Talk-Commerce David Edgerton Jr

The Inclusive Value Chain with David Edgerton Jr

Do you have the best available people for each part of your supply chain and within your own organization? David Edgerton Jr helps to debunk the myth that there isn’t talent in this low unemployment economy and maybe we are just overlooking it or worse excluding it because of bias.

David is the founder and managing principal of The DEJ Group LLC, an executive search and recruiting firm dedicated to uncovering the real needs of organizations and bringing forward a diverse set of candidates with an array of backgrounds and experiences. The company focuses on increasing the economic inclusion of people from underrepresented communities through employment.

Talk Commerce DEI Talk


Brent: Welcome to this episode of talk commerce today, I have David Edgerton Jr. He is the managing principal at D E J group, LLC. David, go ahead and do an introduction much better than I did. Tell us what you’re doing day to day and maybe one of your passions in life. Oh, 

David: absolutely. Again, I’m David Eton, Jr.

David: And thank you so much for this opportunity to be a part of your podcast. I appreciate the invitation I’m the managing principal of the DEJ group, LLC, which is an executive search firm that I started. About, eh, I’ll say about two years ago working on two years now before that I was doing management consulting and working with minority business owners to help them grow and scale their businesses.

David: And we’ve pivoted into executive search because. That is the space that we have found a passion in for our own business. And it helps when you’re coaching others, that own businesses that actually have a business yourself. There’s an integrity part of that that we wanted to make sure came out and it is very transparent open with our audience and who we work with.

David: What we say we do is we match diverse talent with inclusive companies. So there’s a DEI piece of that, where we do some consulting with firms on their workplace inclusion practices and we try to make sure that as we go out and find talent, that the organizations are ready to receive that talent as well as cultivate that talent so that they stay there.

David: And also help the organization really bring the right people in to put ’em in the right seats so they can grow and scale themselves. So that’s what we do overall. We’ve been successful in doing several searches in the non-profit space, in the retail space where we operate and the manufacturing space and the healthcare space.

David: So those are the industries we try to hang around. And have some success. Most of our business so far has been coming from the nonprofit space, especially in the philanthropy and the development areas. So we’ve been doing a few searches in that space here in the Twin Cities and we do national searches.

David: By the way, we don’t just focus here in the Twin Cities, we the clients we have are here, but the search range goes all the way from coast to coast. So that’s what we do. We also. Do some adjunct work in several universities in the business and entrepreneurial space. And yeah we are busy right now, especially in this job market.

David: So just like other firms are really scrambling, trying to find talent. We’re just as busy trying to find the right talent for our clients. So that’s what we do. 

Brent: I saw a statistic this week that the Minnesota unemployment rate is at about 2% historic lows, the lowest it’s ever been so it must be a challenge to, to find anybody for any job right now.

Brent: It 

David: is a challenge. Now what’s interesting about that fact is that 2% rate is what it is, for everybody, but for people of color, it’s three times as much. So it’s somewhere around five to 6%, which is above the national average. So it just depends on, the demographic that you’re going after.

David: And so that’s what makes it really interesting. because there are people there. There’s talent out there. That’s ready to go to work. But it seems that in some cases we’re not finding that talent. So one of the things we talk about as a part of our business is that we want to debunk the myth that the talent doesn’t exist, especially when you hear numbers like that.

David: So for us it’s not just, finding the talent to fill these roles. It’s also making sure there’s a diverse state that you can choose from. So that’s the main thing that we focus on. 

Brent: We met in a diversity training session, which I attended. Yes. And that was very good. Thank you very much.

Brent: Thank you. And I, you had some great points about entitlement and some of the reasons why people of color and other less non-white bald guys. Aren’t. even getting the opportunity to go to jobs. Yeah. Maybe we could talk about that. I thought that was very interesting in a in that as an employer, as an entrepreneur, we should always be aware of that.

David: Yeah. And one of the things I could get into as you asked that and make that point where I ask that question is this concept of an inclusive value chain that I have actually done a talk on and what it is. What you could do is look at your supplier, your supplier, you, your customer and your customer’s customer.

David: That really is like the, what we call it, the supply chain right overall. But the reason we are using the term value chain is that value is created from upstream and it flows downstream. So in the way that value is created, there are opportunities where you could look at that whole entire process and say, you know what?

David: Do I have the best available resources for each part of the chain, whether that’s suppliers, as far as now, we get into supplier diversity, right? Channels that we sell through world that’s channel diversity. And then inside the organization is where we should really focus on, are we hiring the right kinds of talent?

David: Where are they coming from? And things of that nature. So one of the things that we talk about there is. When you are looking at your personal and professional networks, this is where we derive a lot of our talent choices referrals, things like that. I think in that session that we were talking about earlier I mentioned that.

David: If you are listening to people that look like you sound like you and are connecting with people that are very similar to you, which we naturally do as human beings. And we don’t consciously look for the differences and we don’t consciously look for opinions that oppose us. We tend to acquiesce if that’s the right word to a certain kind of think and a certain kind of decision making.

David: which limits what’s very possible. So one of the things that I wanna do as a part of our firm was why we focus on trying to bring diverse talent is we only wanna, not only want to bring people that look different and sound different to, but with different perspectives as well. Because when you do that, you end up with a more superior product or superior service, especially if you’re creating one yourself.

David: So you need that to sharpen what you’re offering. You need that to help you with any blind spots or any, biases that you might have that tend to. To bleed into how you make decisions. So if you’re already, if you’re always working with and connecting with people that always agree with you or like you there’s so much, you’re leaving.

David: On a table that could actually make you better. So that’s why we focus on it more so than anything else. Plus, a lot of people say that’s just the right thing to do. People have different perspectives on right or wrong. So I don’t usually just go with, it is just the right thing to do well to whom.

David: Right. the thing about it is at the end of the day, if you want the very best product, you need to get the, all the perspectives possible on it, on your service, how it’s being sold, how it’s been marketed, how it’s being consumed, how it’s been used, you need all the perspectives you can to make it the very best product it could possibly be.

David: So as an entrepreneur, that’s what I actually look for that kind of feedback and that kind of perspective to help me be better. 

Brent: I’m a board member on EO, Minnesota, one of our goals and we have a diversity and inclusion committee now. Yeah. One of our goals is to increase diversity and that’s not just for people of color, it’s just women, everybody just diversity across the board.

Brent: Yep. I know that some other chapters have. Automatically put white males on a wait list to join. Are those type of strategies, something that you would recommend or is there certain strategies to become more diverse? 

David: Oh, here’s yeah, 

Brent: I get where you go. I’ll let you go. And then I’ll have another question to follow up.

David: that’s a great question, actually. Here’s the thing you can’t do any of this without everybody involved and I think people have made this mistake. a lot across the conversations we’re having across the initiatives. If you leave white men out, you’re actually making it worse. Because if you look at the numbers, there are more of them so what you gotta do is you’ve gotta make it so that

David: everyone can be included including white men. I was at a company and I was the diversity director for this company. And one of the things we did was we created these groups called ERN employee resource networks based on the different types of groups that wanted to get together and be represented and be able to support each other.

David: And one town hall, one of the guys got up and asked me questions about this. He said, can we have a white men’s ERN? And I said, yes. And people looked at me like I was crazy and it was because I said, yeah, because you should be able to connect with other men like yourself and white men and be able to have a conversation.

David: Here’s the thing though. What type of conversation are you having that helps with diversity? That helps be more inclusive? Now what we’ve had historically before we’re white men getting together and not having that kind of conversation, which is why we got what we got now. So it’s not that, there’s a challenge with white men getting together.

David: that’s not the issue. The question is the target of the conversation and what you actually come up with that will help the situation versus take shots at the situation and make it worse. So there to leave white men out of it, I think is very detrimental, because we need everybody to really contribute and have a perspective and really look at it for what it is.

David: See the problem with, excluding white people and white men specifically. Is that it makes it feel like, oh, so now we have to punish people for where we are instead of saying, oh now that everybody hopefully has taken the right attitude about this to say, yeah, we have a problem collectively.

David: We need to solve that problem. And usually they’re more white men that have influence that have finances that have all the other things that have traditionally been helpful in making change. You need them as partners. So if you can help with some of the mentality around, it, it should be good for everybody.

David: It should help everybody. Or at least everyone should have the same fair shot. That’s really what I focus on. It’s not that you should just give people a color stuff. That’s not where I’m coming from. You should give underrepresented. And I don’t like to use that term underrepresented, cuz I I did a post on this a few weeks, a few days ago.

David: I said underrepresented is not the right term. Excluded is the right term because underrepresented says, Hey, I just went out and I invited everybody to come. And only one black person showed up. Okay. That’s underrepresented because you asked everybody to come and you made it so everybody could come.

David: But the reason one person showing up in most cases, because you put some stuff in place, so they couldn’t show up. That’s not underrepresented, that’s excluded. So let’s be open and transparent about that. But to exclude people that could help you is the wrong thing. So those strategies, I don’t suggest those.

David: I suggest things like let’s make sure that people understand what it means to truly be, for example, and ally and what the parameters are around that. Because allies today, can step into a situation and help, but they can also step right back out. And sometimes they don’t think about that part. when they’re talking about, Hey, I’m an ally.

David: I stand with you. Yeah. But tomorrow you don’t have to stand with me. You can step right back out and the situation doesn’t change. So are you really having an impact? I know that’s a long answer, , but as far as excluding white men from the conversation you just can’t do that.

David: That’s just not helpful. You won’t go for it. 

Brent: You brought up some great points in there. So the first thought that I have is employers who just give lip service to to being diverse or saying we’re posting out there on LinkedIn. Yeah. I wanna be diverse.

Brent: So I’m gonna hire a more diverse group of people for our company. Yep. And then they never do anything. That’s right. Is there, like we talked about that whole pipeline or that journey of the opportunities that you have to get to a job. And then when you’re in that job, how do you feel included or excluded and then the total makeup of that company is there a way to hold leaders accountable

Brent: who just give lip service?

David: I have a statistic. I might have shared that in that session that we had since, and I’ll use George Floyd’s murder as a point in time since that incident, when a lot of companies and a lot of leaders started to say, okay, wait a minute. We’ve had enough. We’ve seen this too many times.

David: And this is major. This event affected the planet. You saw protests in Belgium, , about what just happened, not like a few miles from where we are. So with that, 50 billion dollars, I think was promised through the media from very large companies. A lot of folks said, Hey, we need to, do something about this and we’re gonna pledge this money.

David: Only 250 million of that 50 billion at the time that I checked on this, which might have been a few months ago, was actually received and actually went to those places. So here’s what happens. People will say, Hey, we’re together and we’re gonna give this money and we’re gonna make this better, but no one follows up to see if they actually did it.

David: They hang on the fact it was said by these large companies, another one the CEOs of all these companies getting together, saying we’re gonna sign this petition. and we are gonna stand together against, an racism and white supremacy, all these things. So we see that in the media.

David: Okay, great. So you signed a piece of paper that says you’re with this, but we don’t see. And we don’t follow up to say what came out of you signing that . So sometimes it feels like these things are happening. In the moment where the attention is, and companies are leveraging this to, I’ll say, position themselves to be on the right side of the discussion yet what they’re not doing is sharing with you

David: what they’ve done since then. and the, any improvements that they may have made since then. So we call that performative marketing. There’s a term for that performative marketing, and it’s performative because it is a performance. You put stuff out there to say, Hey, you’re doing this. You put stuff out there to say, oh we’re with you.

David: We’re doing this. But then when you look at the numbers don’t move. So when you started going back to the thing about accountability, , it’s very hard to hold some of these companies accountable because at the end of the day, unless the board’s involved, unless the senior leadership team is involved and they’re committed to some of these things, unless you’ve got some folks who can just say, you know what, this is what you said you were gonna do.

David: This is what you did. What happened unless you have folks in that position to do that, it’s very hard to hold people accountable because in some cases, They don’t really have to do anything. And I think that’s the piece that people don’t wanna really, accept and really understand companies don’t have to do anything about diversity and inclusion.

David: They don’t. And the reason why it’s such an issue is because they don’t, it’s hard to enforce something it’s hard to, get traction on it because if you have a few people in the right places, That don’t agree with it. They’ll stop any kind of initial they’ll stop any kind of project, any kind of improvement, because they don’t agree with it and nothing will be done.

David: So the answer to that is one of the things we’re gonna talk about when we talk about entrepreneurs, my thing that about that, and the answer to that is to help companies who are diverse, who have diverse leaders, usually startups and smaller and middle size companies. Help them grow because if you help them grow, they create the cultures that attract the right type of diversity.

David: They also build out and invest in the communities where the founders come from. So now you’ve got that investment going back to those communities that need it right. And as they continue to grow. They continue to help with the conversation, cuz it proves that the people that are in those organizations that come from those diverse backgrounds actually can do what they say.

David: They can do what they say. They’re doing and they actually do bring a good product of service to market, but they get crushed by the big guys. Because, ah yeah we don’t want to innovate anymore. We now going, we’re now gonna buy our innovation. That’s what Microsoft Google, and some of these bigger companies doing though.

David: They don’t innovate as much or really any anymore. They wait for a startup hot startup to come along with something that’s disruptive that they could not organize their teams. To, go do, and then they go just swallow ’em up. And there’s nothing wrong with a nice exit. Don’t get me wrong entrepreneurs out there who might be saying, wait a minute.

David: I’m thinking about selling my company one day. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is to really solve the problem. From my perspective, let’s get some companies that have founders that look like me and others. The opportunity to really have a chance to survive and thrive and actually take off.

David: And I think that would help with the conversation and actually help with the gaps that we have and the challenges. 

Brent: So circling back to the discussion about the $50 billion. Yeah. You’re saying, or it is really. A one could say a PR stunt and I’m sure that the idea behind it or the motivation behind it, wasn’t a PR stunt.

Brent: Yeah. But it was certainly an opportunity taken from marketing to raise the awareness of some brand, whatever brand that is. And and then after that PR has been done there. Really no motivation to follow through on it. 

David: Right there, there isn’t. Because it’s like the latest news, you hear the news, you read it.

David: Great. What’s the next story kind of thing. And we’re starting to see a little bit of that, but in the challenge of, for example, the George Floyd murder, we keep seeing in the news. Unarmed black men being killed by police. In other situations, we keep seeing injustices, for example, that keep happening.

David: So what companies are doing is saying, okay, that’s why they want to be on the right side of it. But at the same time, we don’t have some overarching accountability partner or for to say, okay this is what you said you were gonna do. You did not do it. Therefore. So the only thing that you have is I guess we’ll have to wait till the next thing to happen, to see what people are gonna do and see what band ride we gonna jump on.

David: But here’s an example that I would go back to the sixties to tell you why I think it can work if we do it the right way. The when Martin Luther king was in, I think it was Alabama Selma, Alabama, 1965. I think first time we went over to. Pettus bridge. It was all black pastors and they stopped and they didn’t go any further.

David: And they went back three days later, they came back to do the March again, but this time he had white pastors and black pastors and they went over the bridge and they kept going and it was successful. The reason I used that in a lot of my talks, especially DDI type talks, I say it takes all of us to do this.

David: It takes all of us to do this because the freedom is supposed to be for everybody, not just the minorities, just not people who have been disenfranchised. It’s supposed to be freedom for everybody. So just as you are free enough to start this podcast and have your own business and do everything that you’re doing, I should have the same freedom.

David: And you wanna hire who you wanna hire. It doesn’t matter who they. so should I that’s the land we live in, right? Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be framed. that? That’s the case. So for us, it’s more about, we really need to figure out the best way to engage with incumbents, large institutions who were built using.

David: Some of the things that we’re actually now fighting against , but at the same time they have the resources and they have the things that we need in order to make a change. So to make that change I say, I don’t wanna say start at the bottom up, cuz we’re not at the bottom, but I would say start from a different part of the discussion for me.

David: It is. let’s help. Small business, medium business, be large businesses. Let’s help small businesses, medium businesses be larger businesses that are more inclusive because they’ll do just based on research and just based on what I’ve seen in myself, they’ll do the hiring of other. People of color, they’ll promote people of color to the right kind of roles.

David: They will give them opportunities to have their own franchises, have their own kinds of, startups and things like that. That’s the way to get to it. And I think if we were able to invest more into that, there’s a stat somewhere. I’m trying to remember how it goes. I think we would add.

David: 2.5 trillion to our GDP. If we only allowed businesses of color that are owned by people of color, to just have the same rates of success that white businesses have. Now, when I say have the same rates of success, I’m not saying do anything different, but what I’m saying is. If a black business goes to a bank and asks for a loan or asks for money, they should have the same probability of getting that money as a white business.

David: And we all know that businesses of color, lack in getting access to capital. from structural things that have been put into the financial industry in institutions and into the financial industries. What I’m try to say there. So if we just let everybody have the same shot, that’s why I keep going back to that.

David: If everybody had the same shot of success, without any of the things being put in place to keep certain groups from having success, then we would add that to the economy, which would create jobs, which would probably solve a lot of the problems that we’re having right now. So that’s how I would look at that.

Brent: Yesterday I heard guy Jeffrey Brown talk. Yeah. About the fact that as a white guy , he gets in front of leaders and he can talk about diversity, where there may be less opportunities for somebody of color to get in front of some of these leaders. How do you then trickle that down to getting the opportunities for everybody?

Brent: I thought he made a compelling, not an argument, but he. Make a reason of why he does that. Because sometimes people might not even listen. I think you said oh yes. Earlier people only listen to what they wanna listen to. And they listen to the people they agree with.

Brent: And our current political climate it’s more fragmented, right? We’re not hearing anybody. And if we are, we’re gonna tell ’em, they’re some kind of horrible expletive and then we’re gonna, we’re gonna kill ’em on Facebook and whatever, put all kinds of horrible comments on a post, which is no, that’s not what we should be doing.

Brent: So no, for what sort of advice would you give to a white person that wants to. help. Raise the awareness, I think is the first step. Make sure that everybody’s aware and then actually start taking some actions. Yeah, that’s a 

David: great question. I tell you there’s a lot, I think some people may not agree with this, but I’m just gonna say it I think there’s a lot one.

David: The first thing you gotta do is I think you have to, before you try to help somebody that doesn’t look like you, first thing you have to do is understand. How we got here, the biggest problem that I see, and it’s usually one of my big frustrations actually is when you talk about the conversation of, okay why do we have the gaps we have?

David: Why do we have the challenges we have? Why. Some folks don’t want to talk about how we got here systematically, historically, and don’t want to acknowledge those things. In fact, you’ve got now I hate to be political, but Hey I am who I am. You’ve got folks now writing laws that say that you can’t talk about certain things in school and getting them passed right.

David: That are really. History, not making anybody feel guilty as they put it, but it’s history. These things happen. So when you acknowledge these things that have happened, things that have been put in place that have disenfranchised certain people and certain types of groups, you’re saying, okay, we, we can agree that it happened, but now here’s the hard part though.

David: On both sides, you have to now say, okay, it happened, what do we do together going forward? And that’s the challenge. So if you don’t acknowledge what happened, you can’t come to some common ground to say, okay, now what do we do to go forward? So a person like you just mentioned, who’s says, Hey, I talk about racism and white supremacy.

David: And I talk about the things that have happened and I’m white. When I do this, I am white, for example. The reason it’s good is because the folks that don’t want to have the conversation with somebody that looks like me, they can at least have a conversation. So the question there would be, can you hold each other accountable now?

David: That would be a good outcome. So when you start talking about the performing of things that we talked about earlier with these companies and leaders they should hold each other accountable. Actually, the CEO of Target, for example, should hold the CEO Best Buy accountable for what Best Buy said it was going to do.

David: And Best Buy, gave $10 million to an organization recently that I’m familiar with to support black and brown businesses being, funded. They said they were gonna do that. Target said we’re gonna, support black and brown business. so somebody else should hold them a account. So what they said they was, going to go to do hopefully fortune five, something like that.

David: There’s this initiative, I think it was 1 million black jobs or something from saying that that was signed by, I think it was. 10 big companies said, Hey, we’re gonna hire I think 1 million black people in the next 10 years or something create jobs for them because we realize they’re one of the groups that have been disenfranchised.

David: Okay. Somebody should host those companies accountable to, to do with that. Since you put it out there and then you did the marketing and did the YouTube and the tos and all that stuff to talk about it, where somebody should hold them accountable to that, but that but getting to the point. White people being allies.

David: Yes. We need white people to talk to other white people about what white people have done and hold people accountable and say, this is what we should be doing now. And not be afraid. Here’s a key piece though. Not being afraid that they’re going to lose something. because the fear of loss is one of the reasons why some folks are very complicit.

David: And here’s another thing I saw the other day that might, speak to this when you’re talking about this. And my brother said this while back it’s sometimes, and I hate to keep saying white people, but it’s just the easiest thing to say. but sometimes white people don’t realize that they’re acting as a group.

David: my brother said that one time. And I thought about that just before I really started doing DEI work. And I kept that thought like right here. And it’s an interesting thing. When you see how whenever something happens with a certain protected group or a certain community, if someone does something, let’s say it’s negative, then it reflects on the entire community that they’re coming from.

David: This is where we get this thing where people talk about black on black crime, and say, oh this person did this and they murdered this person. So now it’s a black on black thing. You fix your own problem. You’ve heard that you’ve heard that. What’s interesting is no one ever talks about white on white crime.

David: because when crime happens and it happens to be Caucasians in the mix of that, no one looks at it as that’s white people. They look at it as that’s an individual, you notice that, think about all of the shootings that have happened recently. They look at that and say, oh, that white person, oh yeah, that, that person did this, not the group did this.

David: So that interesting dynamic that I heard and it’s one that I’ve been said of steadying out. That’s one that needs to change. Either it’s everybody’s an individual or everybody’s part of the group it’s one or the other, not the middle, which is, oh if a black person does this, then it’s black people.

David: So now we’re gonna just look at the group and say, this is what they do. And when white people do it, oh it’s an individual that doesn’t reflect on the group. So that group dynamic piece. that’s the thing that if we tapped into a little bit more and say, wait a minute, now, if you did something well, we’re all white.

David: So you made all white people look bad. Imagine if that was the conversation. . If you did that, you just made all of us look bad. That’s not what we want. We want it to look like this. That could be the start of something really cool. Actually, just that little dynamic of, Hey, no, that, that person looks like me to, they could think that’s me doing that mass shooting or that , whatever the thing might be, that embezzlement of millions and millions dollars, Hey, that made all the white people look bad.

David: So we don’t see that as much, but it’d be neat to see something like that. 

Brent: Yeah. I think one thing that that I heard yesterday was that entrepreneurs are change leaders. They embrace change. And part of that is feeling uncomfortable in where you’re at.

Brent: And a lot of conversations like this make white people as a group, feel uncomfortable. Yep. Cause it’s not comfortable to talk about anything other than what is comfortable. As a definition. If we were to say that the, maybe the top three things and I hate to put it that way, that’s okay.

Brent: Somebody like me could do to help increase the awareness of diversity and I’m. And again, I’m gonna go back to EO Minnesota. We’re not diverse in terms we’re all white males. We’re not all white males, but I bet it’s, I bet we’re at 85 or 87% male. And then it’s probably, yeah. The per the numbers.

Brent: Aren’t great. How would we go about, and I’ll say we as a group, white men go. doing those, some of those things. And I think the, for me anyways, the first step is being able to have those conversations and feeling a little uncomfortable in it. Yeah. And if you don’t feel uncomfortable either, you’ve made it past that mark of it’s we’re all one big group.

Brent: Yeah. Which I doubt there’s a lot of anybody out there that feels that way, or you’re gonna feel uncomfortable and you should embrace the uncomfortableness and then start working on ways that we can work together. 

David: One of the things I always ask people when they say. , I’m uncomfortable.

David: Let’s talk about why you’re uncomfortable. See nobody asked that question, right? They don’t say, okay like I’ve been in sessions and people say I don’t feel comfortable not even talking about this. But we never asked the question why don’t you feel uncomfortable? What is that?

David: And what you will see in the root of a lot of these is one white people don’t want to be labeled as racist. They don’t and they’ll say I’m not racist. That’s the first thing that pops up. I’m not racist. Nobody’s saying you’re racist. As far as you are a bad person, you grew up wrong. None of that’s not the challenge.

David: In fact, when we start talking about racist and racism, it’s a system. See you and I both have biases and we have I’ll call it. Prejudices I’ll even go that far. Because we’re individual. But racism. Is a system. It is a systematic way to disenfranchise a group of people, especially people of color. So what have you put in place in covenants and laws and regulations that say that this group of people are less than, or they can’t have the same God given rates as Americans that you have when you put stuff in place that makes it so that people cannot live the way you live.

David: That is a racist system. And if you don’t do anything about the racist systems you’re benefiting from, now I can call you racist, but realize the context around why I’m calling you that now it’s not that, oh, I have black friends because you get that all the time. I have black friends and I go to, different organizations and I support black people.

David: Yeah. But what have you done to take down? The laws and the regulations that kept black people from owning homes, whatever you said about, for example, when they did the interstate system and they built all of those interstates from the fifties through black neighborhoods and displaced them, what’s your opinion on that?

David: Whatever you done about that, there’s this new thing now called the reconnect Rondo, for example, in St. Paul, we’re just talking about, Hey, let’s build a land bridge. 94 on that stretch because that’s where black people in their neighborhoods used to be thriving, not bothering anybody, but, Hey President Eisenhower said, we need the, our interstate system to happen in 19.

David: I think 51 is when that was. And they in several cities, not just here, several, I just hear several cities. They built those interstates right through black neighborhood. So the question is, what are you doing about that? What do you, first of all, do you know that? Go back to the knowledge and the history and stuff you need to know, but then what are you doing now to write the wrong.

David: and are you writing wrong or are you just saying, oh, that just happened. My grandfather, my great grandfather. They might have been a part of that, but that’s not me. Yeah. But guess what you got trust fund that or you have some investments coming to you and inherit just coming to you because they benefited off of that system.

David: So in other words, you kinda are indirectly tied to that. so the question is, what are you going to use that for, to make it right? If you truly call yourself high or truly call yourself a friend of the movement, if you will. So that’s the kind of stuff that, if you’re talking to other people that look like you about and holding each other accountable, that’s where the change starts.

David: It’s very wrong to look at the folks that you’ve disenfranchised and tell them to fix it. But at the same time, we can’t stay the victim either. So there’s the other balancing part of that. We can’t just say, oh this happened to us. This happened to us. This happened to us. Woe is us?

David: No, we have to have, we also have to say, okay, this happened to us. What are we doing now? To make it better, which is why it’s gotta be a partnership between both sides to really get to where it needs to go. 

Brent: Yeah. I really like that. Are you are you, why are you uncomfortable? That’s a great question to ask.

Brent: Yeah. And it’s a great question to ask of everybody of themselves. Yeah. So we have a little bit of time left. Sure. I, and this conversation could go on and on and I’m very, I’m really enjoying it. I think that making sure that let’s just call it a change agent. I think that’s a great word.

Brent: For anybody to, to spark change and to feel uncomfortable for a bit and then ask those questions. I think moving forward, it would be great if if people would embrace some of this and I also like the term that you said, ally create allies and work across people and genders and everything.

Brent: Yeah. and I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna make a blanket statement that it, that yeah, I think we all have to start doing one thing at a time. Yeah. 

David: We do one person and bring it home to like the EO, for example. One of the things, when you talk about, being more diverse and things like that, I think you have to look at.

David: I’m gonna tell you why it is what it is. It is what it is because most of the people have similar experiences. Therefore they have similar expectations, right? And when you have similar expectations, the first thing that happens is, and I’m not gonna call this privilege, even though some people define this as privilege, but I might as well I’ll use word, now that I said that but here’s the privilege you have. You can say, Hey, Johnny, struggled got his business off the ground. Now it’s $2 million a year. He’s headed towards 5 million had these type of opportunities to get it going. Great. So did Bob, right? Larry too, we throw Larry in that too.

David: So you look around and if everybody looks the same, you automatically think. There’s a bias for what I’m talking about now. I can’t remember the name of it, but cuz they’re like 16 or 17, but there’s a bias that I’m about to describe to you. You look around and you say, okay, it’s a confirmation bias is really what it is.

David: Everybody looks like me. And we all have very similar experiences to how we got our business to where it is. And our business is at a certain level. This is how it should be for everybody. That right there, as soon as you say that and think that way you’ve just excluded a whole lot of people that could potentially be in the organization.

David: And if you make your rules around that, for example a million dollars revenue is the minimum you have to make to even be a part, for example. And I’m making that up. I don’t know if that’s a rule or not, but let’s say that is right. You just cut out a lot of people that could be in, because you got a million dollars as the nut, you gotta crack just to be a member.

David: But here’s the thing. If everybody around the room looks like you and they made that million dollars, then they think that’s what it should be. See what I mean? So that’s how that bias piece starts to creep in because you’re around people that are like, you. Who may have similar experiences, yet you’re not just demonstrating true empathy. Here’s what empathy is. Empathy is I don’t have to go through what you have gone through to understand what you’re going through, but I can still support you. sympathy is when we go through the same thing I say, oh yeah, you started your business and you struggled and all that.

David: I did the same thing and I, so now I understand you that’s sympathy. We need empathy. And I talk about in one of my talks, how empathy is a strategic, competitive advantage, when you can help people and see people where they are based on what they need. And it has nothing to do with you now, you that’s called de privileged.

David: If you want to use a term, I might have invented a term right then. That’s de-privilege. That’s saying, Hey, let me take all of that out and really look at the situation for what it really is. That’s how you begin to diversify your organization though, because you’re now saying I’m not gonna put into this, the perspectives and thoughts of how I got here and now make that the requirement, because there are people around you that look different from you sound different from you come from different ways of life.

David: they don’t have that exposure. They don’t have that experience. They don’t have some of those things, but they would be awesome members in your organization if you could meet ’em where they are. So that’s what I would say a about that. How do you make sure that you are empathetic, truly empathetic?

David: To all walks of life and how you’re truly empathetic in how you build your networks and build your connections, your circles, your stuff like that, because it’ll make you better. it just will. Once you see that, oh wait a minute. It’s not the way I thought it was. Or at least for everybody it’s not.

David: But you just learned something that just makes you better. And the same thing with me, I try to find people who do things differently and have different perspectives, cuz it just makes you better. And it lets you know that there’s still some human in humanity. 

Brent: I’m gonna close us out here with some coincidences, because yesterday empathy was one of the topics that was talked about.

Brent: And I have a quote because it really struck me. Empathy is one of the qualities, young businesses, lack, most entrepreneurs build things and solve problems for people in hopes of a return on investment, which people with high empathy do not generally expect. And I thought I actually took a picture of the slide down the screen.

Brent: Because there are definitely two different types of entrepreneurs. There’s one that are empathetic to their employees. And this can then fall into everything, right? Yeah. The empathy for diversity for having gender, any type of thing. Or just having empathy for that individual who’s in your company.

Brent: And then the other side of it, that is just that, Hey, we need to get our billing out of that person. And if they’re not gonna be around, we’ll find somebody who can do it. I don’t care about that person. I care about the return on investment of that person. Yeah. And to slide, the scale at a slide, the needle, or however you wanna say it is that we all have to have some empathy for our fellow human beings, no matter what they look like, no matter what gender they are.

Brent: And. And see them as they are, instead of seeing them as a 

David: number or seeing them how we want them to be . Yes, exactly. See, that’s the thing. If you see them, how you want ’em to be or how you think they should be, that’s the problem. That’s not empathy at all. And that’s, you’re right. That’s why it’s lacking because we wanna see people how we wanna see ’em versus see them for what they are.

David: And what they can do and what they can become. And it takes a sacrifice from yourself. You have to deny yourself in order to really help somebody be what they’re supposed to be irregardless of what you think and how you process. So that’s being selfless. And in business, we are taught and have been taught, especially in the United States, since the beginning, it’s all about what we want and who we are and what we’re after.

David: So it’s almost dally opposed, from being an entrepreneur in some cases, unless you’re one of those ones like the ones that are coming up now in the social space and the B Corp kind of thing, where you’re like, I’m gonna create this because it’s solving their problem, regardless of what I think, the more that we have, some of that kind of thinking, I think that gets us on the right path.

Brent: Yeah. And that we could keep going David on and on. But so we’re, as I close out every podcast I give I give my guests an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you would like to plug 

David: shapeless plug. Would you like to plug the. I’ll tell you our executive search firm is, has been, really doing well.

David: You can follow us. The DEJ group.com. That’s our website. You can follow me at David Edon jr.com. So I have a little site that I keep and I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram and all those things. So if you ever wanna follow me and see what’s up, what we’re up to, you could do that as well.

David: But no, we just appreciate the opportunity to have the conversation and we’re gonna. Looking for the talent that people say that’s not there and it’s gonna keep showing up cuz I’m gonna show them where they are. And hopefully they’ll take a chance of these wonderful people and make their organizations better.

David: And I just appreciate you inviting me to be a part of this. So 

Brent: thank you. And David, I’m gonna invite you back again because I feel like this is a conversation that could keep going and we could have spent probably three hours oh yeah, we should definitely plan on the, another future topic around this.

Brent: And. And figure out how can we all feel more 

David: comfortable. Absolutely. I I tell you, I can help you with that now, but the thing about it’ll be painful at first . Yeah. It’s like that, it’s like that first shot you get when you’re little, you realize every 10 years you need a shot to keep that back, keep that immunity up.

David: So it’ll be something like that. 

Brent: All right. Thank you so much. All right.

Adobe Community Diversity with Sharon Lambert

Welcome to Talk Commerce. Where we explore how merchants, agencies, and developers experience commerce. This week we interview Sharon Lambert with Adobe from Dublin Ireland. We talk about diversity in the Magento community and the steps we can take to bring more diversity to the community. Sharon suggests we do a panel on diversity for the show. Brent makes a feeble attempt at an Irish accent and Sharon gives us some action items to be inclusive in our community. This episode was recorded on June 4th, 2021

Sharon Lambert talks about diversity in the Magento Community