What attracted you to Nonprofit HR?
My first touchpoint was with Lisa Brown Alexander. We spoke about her story and she really wanted to know mine. There have not been too many CEOs that knew the talent level of the particular person and wanted to know how that impacted the person, and vice versa. I knew that it was different, I knew that it was different.
She then said there was someone else she needed me to meet and that was Emily. Emily and I hit it off immediately, whether it was through a personal connection to Minnesota or an affinity for cold weather, but also Emily and I aligned in the ways that we looked at DEI and how that work in organizations should be led by the heart with strategy in mind, instead of being solely focused on strategy.
What’s your favorite aspect of talent management?
To me, it is the team. It is all about my colleagues wanting to understand how to take the burden off of living in this world and having to be a certain type of person and allowing me to share more of my gifts and gain a deeper understanding of how all of who I am impacts the overall team, organization and the clients we serve. My understanding of what talent management is about, and what I’ve seen at Nonprofit HR, is when an employee is allowed to be who they are, they are able to fully show the superpowers they have.
“I’ve found that many people just want to be seen, to be heard, to be championed, and every now and then, they want to be structured in some way.”
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now? Why?
So many cool things. I’m working with a particular client around how to have difficult conversations—what that looks like. Some of the types of questions we work through are, what does that sound like? Why do you want to have these difficult conversations? And so, being able to talk to their leadership about why they want to have difficult conversations and look at, what’s the antecedent? What is leading up to them recognizing that they aren’t able to have difficult conversations and then, how can we be a part of putting this puzzle together? That’s really been fun. I’ve found that many people just want to be seen, to be heard, to be championed, and every now and then, they want to be structured in some way. Those are some of the exciting things that I’m really enjoying.
What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
I loved to take apart stuff and then try to put it back together again. I would take apart the remote control and put a stereo piece in it to see if I could have the remote control work for the television and the stereo. I would end up breaking all three. I was just a creative kid that had tools, so I would often try to find that little hole that had a screw in it to see if it was Phillips head or flat head and take it apart, much to the chagrin of my parents. I spent many nights of punishment because stuff miraculously would start not working and I would always say I didn’t know why, but they’d find the screw in my pocket and I’d say “I don’t know how that got there,” or “Those aren’t my pants.”
Even to this day, that’s essentially what education and DEI is about. I work to deconstruct something to then put it back together. The deconstruction of the “why” with the framework of the “how” then leads itself to the “do.” It doesn’t really matter if it’s a remote control or a relationship or a difficult conversation or an organization.
Which two people would you like to have brunch with? Why?
My first would be Santiago Calatrava. He is an architect, designer and creative. I’m so fond of his work. When I saw his structures, I knew I was looking at it, and it wasn’t so gaudy that it took away from the beauty of the environment. I was floored—I’m still floored—by that.
My second would be Stephen Biko who is a revolutionary social justice warrior that lived in South Africa and was essentially murdered for his beliefs, for Black empowerment. If Nelson Mandela’s teachings and practices resembled Martin’s, Stephen Biko’s resembled Malcolm X’s. Though he was young, and hungry, he was also thoughtful and always put others first. He was just one of those individuals that are really never talked about in today’s conversations. Those would be my two people.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I once met Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye West and Swizz Beatz all in one night in New York City at a Caribbean restaurant. Jay-Z gave me a man hug and Beyonce gave me a wink. My wife says that she had something in her eye, but I know she didn’t. Beyonce winked at me, I saw it!
What is your favorite quote?
“Get today’s solid ground out of yesterday’s quicksand.” – Mos Def
This is a quote from a hip hop artist that I listen to a lot. It’s always been a moniker that my parents instilled in me at a very young age, that Monday may be tough but Tuesday is a new day, so seize it! It’s just that perseverance I have. It’s essentially about not giving up and failing forward. And if you fail, at least fail looking up because those are the stars and there’s your inspiration.