SEASON 6 | EPISODE 12 | 35:26 MIN | 04.14.2021
Goal Setting for Success: A Conversation with Shark Tank Investor Daymond John
Entrepreneur and investor Daymond John turned a $40 budget into a $6 billion company -- so how’d he do it?
Daymond joins us today to share his story founding and building FUBU. He tells us why the secret to success is how you react to failure, and the importance of setting daily goals. Plus, he talks about technology as a tool to power empathy and shares what he looks for in a business when he is considering investing.
Entrepreneur and investor Daymond John turned a $40 budget into a $6 billion company -- so how’d he do it?
Daymond joins us today to share his story founding and building FUBU. He tells us why the secret to success is how you react to failure, and the importance of setting daily goals. Plus, he talks about technology as a tool to power empathy and shares what he looks for in a business when he is considering investing.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. I'm here with Rachel Levin. We are the team that brings you Blazing Trails. Hello Rachel?
Rachel Levin: Hello, Michael. It's great to be here again.
Michael Rivo: Today we have another great episode of Blazing Trails with Daymond John. He's an entrepreneur, investor, bestselling author, and most of us probably know him from Shark Tank. Daymond was featured in our stories of resilience program, a series where small business leaders share true and inspiring stories of how they've navigated these challenging times. Rachel, tell us what we're going to hear today.
Rachel Levin: Well, we're going to hear from Daymond and his story is really kind of the stuff of legends. He started his lifestyle brand FUBU when he was in his 20s, just selling hats and hip hop concerts. He obviously recognized that this was more than just music. This was a movement and he ended up creating a$ 6 Billion empire. So it's a pretty good record there for success.
Michael Rivo: Yeah. And it's a great story of grit and determination. Some of the things that really resonated with me is his idea around the secret of success being, how you react to failure. And how data is so key to understanding how to deliver the right thing to the customer at the right time. And most importantly, what he looks for when deciding to invest in a company.
Rachel Levin: Yeah, I think that last one is key for our listeners who are big Shark Tank fans.
Michael Rivo: Absolutely. Well, let's get to it. Here is Daymond John and conversation with Paul Pedrazzi, SVP of Product at Salesforce. Enjoy the show.
Paul Pedrazzi: My name is Paul Pedrazzi. I am the senior vice president of product here in our essentials business. If you're not familiar, essentials is the easiest way to get started with Salesforce. It's designed and built for small companies and solo entrepreneurs. So I am pumped for today. So here's, what's in store for you today. We're going to begin with a fireside chat with Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU, and one of the co- stars of the hit ABC show Shark Tank, probably where you know him from. So as we go, you'll hear things that interest you jot them down, jot down those questions. You will get a chance at the end of the hour here to ask them. And when you do, please remember include your name, include your company and include your location. And so with that, I'd like to jump into the conversation with Daymond. So Daymond, welcome. Thank you for joining us today.
Daymond John: Thank you for having me and sorry about that issue. Let's get this party started.
Paul Pedrazzi: Yes. It was very 2020. I thought we were through all of that stuff, but we're going to make a work. Glad we're talking. And I wanted to maybe first started touching on your journey. It's a very inspiring journey. Most people know you from Shark Tank where you invested millions of dollars, your own money supporting budding entrepreneurs, really helping them succeed. But before you were a TV icon, you were a guy with a dream, right? You started FUBU a street wear brand living by this mantra, For Us, By Us. Hollis, Queens, a few friends, some help from your mom. That story is amazing. And I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing a bit of that origin story and the lessons that you took that we can learn from that experience.
Daymond John: Yeah, sure. Well, to respect the time we have, listen right around the'80s, there was this new, I would like to call it a disruptive technology coming out called hip hop. And it was something that the music artist no longer had to play an instrument or be able to harmonize it. It was just kids in the street. Some of them they had hopes and a lot of their dreams, aspirations and hip hop was something that you just listened to or something you live and came with the way you walk, talk, and dress. However, this emerging music is very much like today's Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat. We didn't know what was going on in the streets of Campton or the streets of Florida. But through this music, the kids were communicating. We were also communicating with the way we dressed, but when we would go and support a lot of different companies, they would clearly say," We don't want African- Americans wearing. We don't want rappers wearing. Or hey, I made a size for 32, why are you wearing a 36? I do not want you wearing it." Now, why am I wearing a 36? Because I'm 14 years old and I probably will only buy one pair of jeans the next four years so I'm going to grow into it. How about that? But they didn't understand the issue that were going on in the community, but they didn't want us to wear it. So I came out with a company and I said," Who's ever going to value and low the people they sell to? And I'm going to come up with a name, FUBU, For Us, By Us." And a lot of people thought it was about color, but it wasn't because I wasn't going to be a bigot. You never want to become the thing you're fighting against. And I didn't want to be a bigot like the other companies were. It was about a culture. It was about a culture to really highlight the beauty of this art that came from the streets of New York. And what did I learn during the course of that time? I learned that I had to save a quarter of the steps. I learned that I had to be obsessed with my customer, absolutely obsessed. I learned that I would fail more than I would succeed, but because I was taking affordable steps, I can act, I can learn and I can repeat it again a little more wisely. I learned that entrepreneurship was a team sport, that I needed various other people. I learned about the value of OPM. And OPM is not other people's money, it's other people's manufacturing, mind power, manpower, mentorship, but I don't make any money off those other clothing lines who disrespect us or other people's mistakes. And those are the things that I learned. And I learned that people all want to be part of a community and they want you to transition them in their lives. Whether they're transitioning to the same more time, whether you're transitioning to be a better person who can add more value to your family, to your customer and to your community or a simple thing. Right now, if you're home and you're depressed, Tino's and some chinos will transition you for just the moment. Not that I'm saying it's good for you but you are transitioning someone.
Paul Pedrazzi: I love that. So much to go. Especially now, we've got this world where you're talking about iterating and growing and taking some steps, learning, adapting, and I love that idea of learning from what everyone else is doing and bringing that in. That's genius. So maybe that's one of the secrets, but I'm wondering, we've got these seismic changes, we've got social change really massively going on political change, a lot of turmoil, public health emergency. And I think it's reminded us that in life, kind of like in business, change is the only constant. It's just, that's what we have to contend with. And somehow you've managed to not only stay relevant, but thrive actually. You've thrived over the last three decades founding and I think'92 was FUBU. And so you've done it in this fast moving industry and maybe, what's allowed you to do that? You've moved and adapt and morphed and changed and adapted in this ultra competitive world. What lessons can we take from that? And what lessons can our audience grab hold of as they face change for the first time in their business?
Daymond John: Yeah. So I think you're right. So what happened? I know my why, I get very, very deep into my why. 12 days ago or whatever it was the first of the year I do it every year. I write my obituary and I write two obituaries. I write one as a person that loved me and a person that would write about me that felt that I delivered everything in the world to them. And I write the other one as a person that felt I could do more in the world and I let them down. And I write that obituary and I reflect on that obituary on how can I be the one that really... And I put myself whether in my mother's position, my wife's position, or my kids position on both sides. So I know my why. Then I know that in any industry that I've been into, that I've had to educate myself extensively with what's going on in the industry, how am I going to go about doing it? And who do I need to help me along this journey? And how can I assist them more importantly than they assisting me and they will return the favor and on the value to me. And then I started going out and taking affordable steps and I failed. And I also write goals and I have goals setting techniques that I read. I read 10 goals before I go to bed every night and the same 10 when I wake up in the morning. Six of them expire in six months, the other four expire in two years, five years, 10 years and 20 years. And that creates my North star, my compass. And the reason I'm reading before I go to bed, is because science has said that over 70% of the things you dream about is either what you are fearing is going to happen to you, or you hope is going to happen to you. So I want it to be the last thing I think about the same as we all know, when you look at some crazy movie, then all of a sudden your dreams are all screwed up. And the reason I read it in the morning is because I want to take one action towards it. And I have failed in all those areas. You said I started FUBU in'92, you correct. But I really started in'89. I failed three times up until 1992. And then FUBU became a global brand in'98. And 2004- 2005 we went down and I acquired various other brands, Kappa, Ted Baker, Married to the Mob, or Crown Holder. And I failed at all those brands and I finally had a new acquisition in 2006. I believe it was called Coogi, started doing really well. I'm dyslexic. I put out a book in 2006 and it did okay. My second book failed. My three next books became New York times bestseller books. I went on to a show that almost got canceled the first three years of the show. And now I'm on 12th season with five Emmys'. And I want to get a little physical and they said, I may have a little nodule on my thyroid, but one hour of surgery became three and a half hours of removing stage two cancer that was slowly moving to my lymph nodes. So it was the size of a golf ball. And I'm cancer free now and I'm here to share with everybody about early detection. There's many failures I've had in my life and if I were to stop when I failed, then I would have never really hit that gold mine that happened afterwards of success. And my first marriage was a failure because I was too busy. You don't give a young man millions of dollars and you leave your wife at home with two little girls and your wife sees you more on TV than she sees you in person. And instead of that marriage where those two little girls, I was like, how much money can I make to get to these little girls? Now while I'm married and my other two girls are amazing, my ex- wife was amazing. But I'm now married to my new wife and my little four year old girl is, how much love can I do this little girl? So you learn through life and you fail often but it's after those failures that teach you the valuable lessons that you need to move forward.
Paul Pedrazzi: What strikes me when I hear you talk about that is how similar business and life are. You talk about, you're going to run into failures well, they're going to be on both sides, but it sounds like the key is just keep going. It's only a failure if you stop. You got to just keep going, keep learning and finding your why. I don't hear enough people talk about that. It's like, you need that in your life. You need that in your work. And one of the things that struck me about your story was this notion of just grit and persistence, which goes along with, yeah, you're going to run into a wall. You have to go around it or find a way around it. And early in your entrepreneurial journey in'89 and'90 and'92, as you'd mentioned, your mom actually mortgaged her home. You guys did that to get... Frankly, I cannot imagine the guts it took to make that kind of a step. And so what I'm wondering is one, were you nervous in that moment? And where did the courage come, particularly because you are bringing now obviously a close family member in, financial ties, not an easy situation, how did you make that happen? I'm amazed you hit off the dime there.
Daymond John: Nerve wrecking. My mother saw me working really hard four or five years on this or six years. And then I went to Vegas and as the story goes, I came back with$ 300,000 worth of orders. I did not have any financial intelligence and I didn't have the right mentors in those areas. So I went around and I got turned down by 27 banks. And listen, I know how my loan application sounded, I would have turned myself down too. And my mother said, I want to do this for you, I can see how hard you're working. But I was also contributing to the house, I was paying half of the mortgage since I was 14 years old because my mother and I were a team. We're just me and my mother and still, my mother's still around so I'm very blessed. But she said," Here's the deal, you have$ 300,000 in orders. I'm going to go and take all the money we can out of this house. You're going to manufacture the clothes and then you're going to deliver and put the money back in." My mother goes and gets a hundred thousand dollars loan on my house. And I have no idea how because our house was, 75. So till today I haven't asked my mother what she did for the rest of the money. Shout out to moms. And my mother moves out and my friends move in. I turned my house into a factory, but I didn't have any financial intelligence and the hundred thousand dollars that I had, I turned around three months later, it was$ 500 left. And I was three months late in the mortgage, they were going to take my home. And that was a scariest moment of my life because my mother and I thought that that home was going to be our Nestech forever. Because I was spending money 90 days ahead of time buying more goods. I was paying for my machines, my staff. I was paying for shipping and buy account receivables, 30, 60, 90 days. And that was the scariest moment in my life. And that's when my mother told me what OPM was and that's the point she said,"You need OPM. You need a strategic partner." I said," What the hell is that?" She said," I need$2, 000." I was working at Red Lobster at the time. I go Red Lobster, I sling in many biscuits as I can. And in one month I come up with$2, 000. She said," I have an idea." I give my mother money." What's this brilliant idea?" She takes the money and says," I'm going to put an ad in the newspaper." And I said," That has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. Mom, give me back my money. I forbid you to do it." So ladies, when a man in your life, any man in your life forbids you to do something, what do you do? Here's how the add went,"$ 1 Million in orders need financing." 33 people called that ad. 30 of them were loan sharks, really nasty people. 40% interest living in adequate collateral. I mean nasty people, people named Kevin O'Leary really, really nasty people. What three of them were real and one was Samsung's textile division and they called and we ended up doing the deal and I would be$ 30 Million worth of sales in the first month of closing that deal.
Paul Pedrazzi: Wow. That's an astounding story. I don't know if everyone caught that. But while Daymond was starting this business with his mom, sewing machine in the hand was also working at Red Lobster. That just says it all I think about determination. And in the end, it's one of your most visible successes, right?$ 6 Billion, probably more now in sales, that's billion with a B, you've got the Shark Group where you've helped other businesses now become successful, Bubba's Q, Bombas socks, just to name a few. And what I'm interested in and what might help some of the audience here who is starting their business and running their businesses, when you're on Shark Tank, you have to make split second decisions, invest, don't invest like spur of the moment. That's all. You have very little information. How do you make that call? How do you evaluate these companies? And if you end up working with them, imagine working with someone who's watching today, what would you tell them to focus on, to take their business to the next level?
Daymond John: Well, so the pictures around, how we don't know anything about those people and we have an hour and we go back and forth and in that time I'm doing various different things. Number one, I want to hear your story and I want to hear how you, not only has succeeded, but I want to hear your failures and how you had the resilience and the passion to push through those and you still want to continue to push through those. I want to hear your inventory, what you know, what you don't know. If you know that you don't understand CRM, listen, every business you can't know everything. I was a designer, you think I understood at the same time, manufacturing, warehousing, clearing quota from China, social media marketing? Social media wasn't out but, whatever, accounting, CRM but you can't know everything. So I want to know, do you know your shortcomings and where you know that you need help? I want to know who your customer is. A lot of the times you see people on there and they say," Well, a customer's, everybody." No it's not. And if you don't know your customer, then you are looking for me to give you money for tuition. I need to know that you know your customer. My customer was very simple. It was 18 to 30 years old, loved hip hop, would pay a little bit higher for the goods, lived in New York city most likely loved sneakers as well. And I knew that the clubs they would hang out with and then they did pay 39 for a screen printed shirted and 49 for an embroidered shirt and 69 for a sweatshirt. I knew exactly where they were 65% of them bought black, 25% of the sales were white. In- between created another couple of dollars and they like two very specific logos. And they all love triple X, no matter what. Even if you are a hundred pounds at that time, you were wearing the triple X shirt because you never wanted a woman to call you small. So what I would do, I would take the small shirts and cut the labels out and put triple X in them."There you go little man." So you have to know every single thing about your customer. And then what does the Shark add value? Well the Shark is not a crutch, the Shark is another asset but you still got to run the business. Because if you think this Shark knows everything, well then FUBU would be Nike and it's not. You have to still run your business. And last but not least, I got to like you. I got to personally like you. If I don't like you, I won't buy one of your sponges. I don't have to buy the company. And if I want to make money, I don't have to talk to you. You know why? Because if I send my money over to Salesforce, I send my money over to Apple, or I send my money over to Tesla, they're not going to dust off Steve Jobs and he's going to ask me about any problems they're just going to be the same, you made money or not? And I ain't got to listen to them. So I've got to like you, whether you're selling me something from Salesforce or whether I'm investing in you or whether you're coming into my office to work for me. Am I going to be happy to get on Zoom with you, maybe eight hours a day, five days a week for the next five years of my life?
Paul Pedrazzi: Yeah, it's such a great point. Sometimes in business we get so focused on our product or our brand and we forget there's a human connection going on there too. And it's easy to miss that. We all want to be around people we like, that we have fun with, that we connect with, that give us energy that don't drain us energy. So I'm crosstalk full on with you. COVID- 19 forced a whole reset in the world of business, everything seems to have changed almost overnight. How is that impacted your business? And what I'm really curious about is how you've leveraged technology to adapt and change into this new normal that we're all facing.
Daymond John: Yeah, of course. First, using technology, how you... As I always say, trying to be one step away from the money. I grew up in a business where I maybe brought out there and maybe a retailer or a buyer they didn't buy it, they stock and maybe the kid would take it out of the back and put it on a rack and then maybe somebody will pick it up and hopefully that person is not one of those... If you've been to a store where you've had something in your hand, you can't find a register or the line is too long, and then maybe they didn't end up purchasing. So how can you use the data and the information to communicate with your consumers one- on- one and over deliver to them as well as taking in the information on how they're doing and where are they in their lives? And how can you have empathy for whatever they need? And empathy doesn't happen in sorrow, it means an understanding of where they want to go. We use Salesforce now to track our leads and our customers and make sure that all the entire team who are now working virtually are on the same page and there's transparency. So in the event that there is a ball drops and there's a problem or an issue or a celebration or a proposal needed or a proposal adjusted, it needs to be addressed. And we're using technology internally way more than ever before. So this is extremely a great time," the rise of the machines" to either you're going to be John Connor trying to kill the Terminator, and somehow you'll never be able to kill. Or you're going to be George Jetson, where the damn machines, wake you up in the morning and shave you and bathe you and take you to work and slide down the tube to your desk. This is a great time to be in such a place where you have so many tools at your fingertips.
Paul Pedrazzi: Yeah, it's amazing. I definitely feel more like the George Jetson these days walking six steps to my desk, but maybe we'll make that transition. I love the notion of technology as this vehicle for adapting to change. And our CEO, Mark Benioff talks about business overall as this platform for change as well. And sometimes I think people think they need to be big to make a big difference. Okay, Daymond, it's about to get real. I think you're probably pretty good at live audience work, but we're going to do it. We're going to try it again today with some Q and A.
Daymond John: Go on.
Paul Pedrazzi: So we've got some questions coming in. I've got them over on the monitor and you're ready to go? You're ready to do this?
Daymond John: I'm ready.
Paul Pedrazzi: All right. Let's make it happen. The first one we've got, it comes from Twitter @ dreadypineapple. And do you have any tips for staying motivated, especially during these times when things are slow?
Daymond John: Yeah. So I already said the couple of things that are important. What is your why? Are you really doing it for yourself or are you doing it because society, various other people? Then take inventory. What are the assets that you have? You're not going to be able to be in control of various other things because so many other things are happening in this world. What do you have on hand? Is it time on hand? Is it education? Is it the people around you? If you do not have the right people around you, how do you go find the right people around you? Life is a series of mentors. Take affordable steps as well. And those are the only things that I can really say because, to give somebody advice not knowing what assets and what liabilities they have is very difficult. These are all very personal matters. So it really is something that you have to tap into every single thing that you can do within your control, educate yourself, mentors, take affordable steps.
Paul Pedrazzi: I love you mentioned mentors. One of the questions that came through from Christine in the Q and A, which is," What is the best way to find a mentor?" I'm sure you get this question quite a bit. Any advice for Christine here?
Daymond John: Yeah. So there are various different forms of mentors. There are mentors who you will never meet. Napoleon Hill is my mentor and he's been dead for quite some time. He wrote a great book and various people will do. There are other ways of grabbing live content and are talking to people here. If you're talking about a physical mentor, first of all, find somebody that you would like to be. And that does not mean that they have to be in your space. When somebody goes to raise capital, they usually have a board that is very diverse. Somebody is excellent in manufacturing, somebody's excellent in financing, somebody's excellent in marketing. Also, when you seek the mentor, understand what is in it for the mentor, the line of people talking to mentors who's saying, well," Just help me." Well, that line starts here and end somewhere in the Brooklyn bridge. But most successful people want to mentor you, they may be in your company right now, but what you have to do is, what's in it? So one of the greatest pitch for me, that a kid had been for me a couple of years back and said," Mr. John, I know that you are the Petco board for a foundation for saving animals. I don't have any money, but I just want to know, can I speak to you once every month? And if you do that, I am going to donate five hours on the week, a week towards the local ASBC shelter to save the little hoarded friends of ours. And if possible can you give me one hour a month?" And I ended up giving the kid five hours a month because, the kid put the value proposition in front of me here and I realized he was worth the trouble.
Paul Pedrazzi: I think that's cool. You made me think any quick book recommendations? Talking about Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich any other top two or three?
Daymond John: You know, I'm dyslexic. So I like to read little books. But Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow, I love Blue Ocean Strategy, I love the Greatest Salesperson in Babylon. Of course, anything on Genghis Khan and how he strategically thought over many, many years when preparing for a war. And it's simple books, Who Moved My Cheese? And One Minute Manager, especially. In our business, One Minute Manager is this simple, but the bottom line of this, don't assume you know what your job is. And don't assume as a boss that you know the person you are directing knows what their job is. Make sure you have the criterias and the ways to communicate so there are little room for mistake. But a lot of times we go through life saying," Well, I assumed that that person knew that was their job." Did you tell them?" Not really?"
Paul Pedrazzi: Yeah, you know it's so simple, but we skip the basics, we skip the foundation and we want to jump to the advanced stuff.
Daymond John: And you learn these things in relationships too. I remember my first wife, she'd always would say," I'm cooking for you. I wanted to be a good wife and eight o'clock you're not eating your food." I'm like," Babe, I don't want to do that. I just want to come home and not talk about anything in my world. I want to hear about your world for the first hour.""No, but I cooked for you.""Babe, I got to go to dinner with three different clients every single day that I don't like. I am already 40 pounds overweight. The last thing I want to do when I come home is eat again." But her perception and my perception were two totally different things.
Paul Pedrazzi: Yeah. We're growing all the time. I love it. Continue back to some questions here. So we've got a question from Courtney Bailey and she says," Can you touch base on your 10 goals again? You mentioned some expire in six months, the other four in a couple years. What other steps do you take to help you reach these goals?"
Daymond John: Do we have time? That would take about five minutes.
Paul Pedrazzi: We have time for sure. Let's do it.
Daymond John: Everybody will benefit over this because I think this is the most important reason for success. The three most important reasons for success is number one, understanding your why, no matter how cold and how dark it is. Number two is setting your goals. And number three is finding mentors, which is education. So the 10 goals that I said, I said six of them expire in six months. And the others expire in two years, five years, 10 years and 20 years. This is one of the most important parts also. I do not look at social media or I do not look at emails for the first hour when I wake up in the morning. Why? Because I read my goals and in those times of reading my goals, I'm meditating and I'm taking it all in. And if you look at social media the first hour when you wake up, I promise you, everybody is skinnier, sexier, and richer than you and for some reason or another they're on a beach when that's not the truth, they're all just screwed up just as much as you and I are. And I also do not look at emails because unfortunately, you'll look at an email before you even kiss your significant other or hug your child or you're not out of the bed. You're letting everybody else's problems come into your life right there and then before you even brush your teeth. That's like a call for waking you up," Hey buddy, I got a question to ask you." So don't do that. Basically capture your goals. So here's how the goals are set. The reason why I set them for every six months is because I never hit them. If I say I'm going to make this amount of money, I make this amount and I reset it. And that's why there's six months. And the ones that are two years, five years and 10 years, you also have to visualize yourself in the goal. So I'll give you a five-year goal if you said you wanted to move some place and get this house in five years. Well, you have to close your eyes as you think about the home and what you think about, well, is it colonial or is it modern? Is it a glass door knob or is it a brass door knob? Is it a big black wooden door or is it some other kind of door? When you open the door, is it a winding staircase or is it open room and you see in the backyard? But what's in the backyard? Is it your boat on a dock in the backyard? Is it the desert? Is it a forest? Do you hear your kids running down the stairs saying mommy and daddy you're home? Is bread baking because food is almost ready? And is there a dog? You have to visualize yourself there. And that's why you set goals. The reason why you set goals is because you're trying to take over in your mind, the other goals that other people are setting, because if you're not in control of what you're thinking about, you're going to have other people say,"You can't make$10 Million in sales. You can't get that education. You can't get that new position. It's never happened in our family before. I've never heard that you're going to embarrass yourself. You're going to embarrass us." And you are consciously thinking above those goals, you become what you think about most of the time. So here's how you set the six month goals. And I'm going to show you a real six month goal. Most of my goals are all from health, to faith, to family, to work. I'm going to give one that I never hit and it's very clear. I'm going to get down to 175 pounds by June 1st and here's how I'm going to do that. I'm going to lose a pound and a half a week by drinking 10 bottles of water, walking over 10, 000 steps, substituting one of my meals with the green drink, and not eating fried foods and cutting out needs and not eating after 6: 00 PM except for fruits and various other things. And I'm also going to do weight training three days a week because the muscle eats up more then it's bad. And in return for getting down to 175 pounds, now here's the kicker, it goes back to your why. I want to live longer. I'm going to stay cancer free and I'm going to walk my three little beautiful girls down the aisle. Now, so what happens right there? I look at the target, I can imagine myself at that target. Now here's the methods of going through that target and the incremental celebration of one and a half pounds by a week. And the visualization of me walking my three little girls down the aisle at 175 pounds. And that's how you set your goals.
Paul Pedrazzi: I love that. What I really love is you're more obsessed in a way with the process and getting it done. If you miss the goal, it doesn't seem like a big deal. And I think a lot of people are like," Oh man, it's going to stress me out." And use it as this beacon and then you start your day by not getting derailed. Don't let anyone derail your day, you own your day. I just love that notion.
Daymond John: You know what? And I'm human. And do I miss a week of those? Yes. Do some other things happen? Yes. But you know what I also do? I play music. I love playing Bill Conti and Rocky things while I'm listening to it. So what happens, sometimes I'm in the car and I've been thinking about my goal, but I turn on the music and that track list of what my goals are and I'm just zoning out and it's already playing in my mind like a soundtrack.
Paul Pedrazzi: I love that. I could go on for hours about that. That's like writing my favorite topic of the world. So I'm super into that stuff. I really love it. And actually this isn't an audience question, but ever since I heard we were going to be chatting, it's been on my mind. And here it is, you founded FUBU in'89,'90 pending on the year you give it's right around the 30 year anniversary. Right? So we're right around that and I'm wondering, you lean into life, you go big, you set big goals, any big plans to celebrate? You've got to be doing something that would just be epic around this.
Daymond John: You know what? We haven't thought about what it will be, but we want to celebrate in a way that we inspire the new generation to go out and breed their own version and their own worlds of FUBU. We will see FUBU pop up in so many ways, whether it be an LGBT community, feel that they're FUBU or it'd be mompreneurs and various other things. We're just so happy that we happen to have the first hashtag when it came to clothing and that it inspires people. And I would never thought that a name I created out in my basement would become something globally recognized and we're just honored and proud. So I'm not sure what we'll do about whatever we'll do, it will be about the people and how can we get more people to be excited and to have their own version of FUBU and take the power of their culture, of their generation or their passion.
Paul Pedrazzi: It really does come out that human side of what you do. And I love it because again, business can become so sterile in some ways and oftentimes cutthroat and all about, I got to be better than that person, we have to make more than that. And you've shifted it in a way, it's more personal. Even early, it was about the community. It was about your friends coming on board. It was about your mother and you teaming up. And now it's about helping others grow and create the dream that they want and make it real and visualize it and see it and then make it happen. And I think people forget that it is all about connection and humanity. And that's what it's about.
Daymond John: A hundred percent. Once you connect with people, they want to buy for you. That's how you see in Bombas socks, they know that they're giving away a pair to people that are in need, and they're going to go out there and wave the flag and feel like they want to be a part of something much bigger. Even though they've bought one pair of socks, doesn't matter they feel good about it.
Paul Pedrazzi: Bomba by the way, 40 million pairs of socks being given away? I read that and I was like," Is this a typo?" It's astounding. And they found a way to combat homelessness and make money. And I just think that's the way of the future. I really love that idea.
Daymond John: Double bottom line and for watching your customers the same way they feel, they feel that, you can buy anything from anybody these days we're too connected. So a lot of times when they see what you're doing, they go," What are you doing for somebody else?" They want to know. And if you're stamping something on just to do it, they're going to see right through you. But if you generally care about what you're doing for somebody else, people will connect. People will love you. People will value you.
Paul Pedrazzi: Yeah. I'd buy that, especially now when every product, every business is a click away. So why work with you? It goes back to your notion of," I have to like you." And that can be in a one- on- one interaction or liking your mission and understanding your why and aligning with your why. So I think that's an important message.
Daymond John: Absolutely.
Paul Pedrazzi: Well, Daymond, I don't want to take up your whole day. Loved our conversation. I really want to thank you for taking the time to share your experience, your wisdom, your unique approach to business and honestly, to life. There was a lot of life lessons in here that I know I'm taking away. Just want to wish you continued success in'21 and beyond. Thanks for being here.
Daymond John: Thank you. And thank you everybody who watches Salesforce, thank you so much for all you do for the everyday entrepreneur as well as big companies of course. And I wish everybody health and safety. And 2020 was crazy but 2021 is going to be crazier. I mean, look at what happened only a couple of days in 2021. The first week of the year, you know what happened? Kim and Kanye announced that they're breaking up. Can you imagine that would have ever happened?
Paul Pedrazzi: All joke aside, everybody, please be safe. Love your family and value this time and 2021 will be amazing with COVID. Well then Damon, thank you.
Daymond John: You got it.
Paul Pedrazzi: All right. Well, that was amazing. So I hope everyone got as much from those conversations as I did. I want to thank you for joining us today. Have a great rest of your day.
Michael Rivo: That was Daymond John speaking with Salesforces' SVP of product, Paul Pedrazzi. We hope you enjoyed our show today and for insights on this topic and others, head over to salesforce. com/ blog for resources to help guide you through today's changing economic and social environments. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce studios. Thanks for listening.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 11 | 25:11 MIN | 04.07.2021
The Future of Hybrid Work: Ray Dalio and Karen Mangia on Reimagining How and Where We Will Work
As society starts to reawaken, businesses are now faced with the difficult challenge of defining what “normal” means in today’s world. Companies big and small are allowing employees mor...
As society starts to reawaken, businesses are now faced with the difficult challenge of defining what “normal” means in today’s world. Companies big and small are allowing employees more flexible work options -- but what does this hybrid work model look and feel like? How do you develop a meaningful company culture and continue to create a value-driven workplace without having everyone in the office?
Joining the podcast today are Ray Dalio, legendary investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, and Karen Magia, Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce. They discuss how you can be purposeful about culture and mission, advice managers should keep top of mind when working with a remote team, and the role data and technology can play in it all.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios, and joining me today are two fantastic guests to talk about the new hybrid work environment, Karen Mangia and Ray Dalio. Karen is an internationally recognized thought leader and three- time author. Her most recent book, Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work for You, is highly relevant to our conversation today. She's a blogger, speaker, and has been featured on TEDx, Forbes, Thrive Global, among many others. Currently, she serves as Vice- President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce. Karen, welcome to the conversation.
Karen Mangia: Thanks so much. It's great to be here.
Michael Rivo: Also joining us today is Ray Dalio. Ray is the legendary investor and world- renowned entrepreneur. He's the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, and author of the number one New York Times bestseller, and number one Amazon business book, Principles. Ray, thank you so much for joining us today.
Ray Dalio: Thank you for having me.
Michael Rivo: So today, we're going to discuss the new hybrid world of work, and what it means for all of us. Karen, your book, Working From Home, is filled with practical tips on what it's like to have a successful work life from home, and it's something I think we all still need some help with, perhaps. So tell us maybe what we've been doing wrong and some practical tips, what you'd recommend to be effective and focused when working from home.
Karen Mangia: Well, I think about it, not so much about what we're doing wrong, as discovering what we could do right, to help ourselves live and work in a sustainable way. If you watch successful athletes before they take the field of play, most of them have a great warmup ritual, right? Something that shows them and signals to their brain they're in the game, and they're getting ready to be all in. And in the world of work from home, that looks like routines, rituals, and boundaries, that help signal to our brains and to ourselves, we're getting ready to go to work, and also importantly, we're leaving it, that there's a point in time at the end of the day, where we have a ritual that allows us to leave, to power down that laptop, and truly take a transition. I mean, just like we wouldn't expect an athlete to be running full speed nonstop, or being at their high- performance best all the time, the same is true of employees, and in Work From Home, where that line between work and life has been completely erased, it's incumbent upon us to put some of those get ready and leave work rituals in place, so that we can show up at our best.
Michael Rivo: Ray, I'm curious if this has changed your work style much. Were you going to the office all the time? Has it changed? How is it different for you on a day- to- day basis?
Ray Dalio: It's different for me the same way, probably it's different for most people. I went from going to the office to not going to the office, and finding a lot of pros and cons to it, and I suspect it'll be different coming out of it, in terms of a wider range of choices, and then I think most importantly, technology. When we are now bringing in technologies to communication and to make up the gap, I think that's where the real big opportunities are, and it's also what was happening anyway, in the form of being able to allow data collection and communication, and computer- assisted decision- making. I think that that's got propelled forward, just like there was a Zoom before, there is now that big impetus that's facilitated by this.
Michael Rivo: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Mm- hmm( affirmative). And I think it's going to have such a big impact on company culture, and the way that we all work together. I know that in Principles, you talked about cultivating meaningful work and meaningful relationships, as this cornerstone of a healthy culture and one that's set up for success. How do you think that's different now, or that's going to change as we move into a much more flexible, at least from a location perspective, work environment?
Ray Dalio: Well, first of all, I think just everybody, every organization, has to be much more explicit as to what its culture is from a top down. Culture is destiny, and so it has to come down at that explicit level, and then it has to have tools, such as apps, that facilitate operating by that culture, and collecting information. And so now, it happens in a somewhat different way, I think there's just a greater imperative. For example, I've created a bunch of tools, which by the way, I'm going to make free to everybody, but there's a tool called Pulse, and Pulse just lets one look at each individual, how they're interacting, how their mood is, what their work- life balance is. Any questions, you go click, click, click, and you get that feedback, and that data gets collected. In my case, I wanted an idea of meritocracy, in which the goals are meaningful work and meaningful relationships, through radical truthfulness and radical transparency. That's my mission. You can have whatever it is, but it has to be explicit, using tools and apps to help facilitate it and to use data effectively, I think.
Michael Rivo: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Mm- hmm(affirmative). And Karen, I wonder what your take is, having worked remotely for a long time, and running the remote working group or being a part of that at Salesforce. Tools are important to collection of this data. I think the interpretation of it is really a critical topic as well. What's your take on that?
Karen Mangia: I think what Ray highlighted is so critical, because the power in the data and the power in these tools and apps is it helps us see some situations in a new way, and also ideally it helps us see some people in a new way. And what I'm discovering is as we have these conversations about how to be purposeful and make sure that whether people can be physically together or virtually together, that there's really opportunities for connection and for context. And so, often what's happening is, we have this bigger mission that we've created together, maybe formed with our employees, and we're wanting that middle layer of managers to help go lead that transformation, and connect that message to employees, at the same time that we're expecting them to do the critical activity of a pulse check that Ray just highlighted. And so, we're expecting that middle layer of our managers to perform in a different way, and so any tools that signal to us, some data that helps us know when to check in with our employees, get a bigger pulse on what's happening and what we can do about it, is helpful. I mean, I kind of think about the role of those tools as being another set of eyes and ears. When that manager or leader can't necessarily walk around the office and intercept someone in person, this plays a really important proxy, and it gives us some context cues about when to check in and how to check in, and ideally helps us solve for a little bit of that trust gap of, if I can't be seen in person, how do I make sure that people know what I care about or the outcomes that I'm delivering?
Michael Rivo: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Ray, I'm so interested, because I know you've been using these tools for a long time in running the company. How has this implemented? What have you seen as the things that work really well? What are the challenges around collecting that data, being able to interpret it, being able to communicate it? And to Karen's point about managers throughout an organization of how to have that consistent across a group of people, what have you run into there?
Ray Dalio: It lends itself to evidence- based decision- making, so that so many people have opinions in their heads, and they're not talking about what they really believe. And so, there's office politics and so on, and that's worsened by distances. So who knows what reality is, and just as you were expressing, how do you express it? So by collecting that data, including, we have a tool which is called the Dot Collector, it was shown, if anybody's interested, on a TED talk that I did on having an idea of meritocracy. But anyway, and by the way, it'll be made available for free on Zoom in a connection to Zoom. That item allows expressions and allows every day, at every minute, sort of a 360 degree feedback, and it provides that kind of data. So what I'm saying is that I think the question is first, what kind of culture do you want? I want one that is an idea of meritocracy of meaningful work, meaningful relationships through radical truthfulness and transparency. Somebody may not want that. If you want something like that, then you get fact- based, and then with that, you can work together with the data.
Michael Rivo: And it sounds like the way that it's been operating to date, will translate really well to this remote environment, because the data sits outside of all those interactions around the water cooler in the room, et cetera, and that you're still really going to get that same data and quality of data, if the meetings are remote or not.
Ray Dalio: Exactly, exactly. So I think we're in an era where we can collect whatever data people want to collect, and the computer can process it, and you can mutually agree on how to look at it. That's powerful. So that was happening before, but it's so much more essential now, I think.
Michael Rivo: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Karen, it makes me think about an idea that's in your book, around making sure that your voice is heard in a remote environment, and I think there's a whole new way that we have to have meetings and interact. And tell me a little bit about how people can think about having their voice heard in this new environment. How do you connect with management? How do you connect the other way with your employees? How should we be thinking about this?
Karen Mangia: Well, when I hear what Ray was talking about, I think this time has been an invitation to be more authentic. I mean, we took the first step when we all went to our home offices together, and there was no longer this magic filter where you get to control your environment, right? It's much more difficult to show up perfect looking and appearing from your home office where the dog might be barking, someone's coming in to get help with e- learning, the doorbell's ringing, I mean, whatever else is going on for you, and universally, that's happened at every layer and level in the organization. So, I think we've taken a first step of removing some of this veneer of being able to control the environment and appear that everything's perfect all the time, and that when we're at work, I mean, we are just fully at work. And I think taking that step further to what Ray said in thinking about culture and being conscious about feedback, is that that we want to be heard. And what shows up so frequently is that when we're seeing a gap between how we think and interactions going with an employee, or how we're progressing on a project, is really a gap in expectations. The power of the tools and the conversation starts to surface that unstated expectations will always go unmet. And so, what starts to happen is you see people showing up and saying that something isn't working for them. I mean, we see it at a macro level with one in four women leaving the workforce right now. That's a signal that with all the data we have, something still isn't working and showing up in the behavior. So I think the critical leap as we move forward, is thinking about how we take this feedback and put it to use in uncovering some of those areas that are hidden, some of the things that we missed, and solving for the context and how the expectations have shifted here. It's almost like, what's our new working agreement? I mean, I think about it as sort of who are we, back to the point of culture, then how do we operate, and ultimately, ideally, how do we grow as a result of that?
Michael Rivo: Yeah, I think that idea of a working agreement is so important, and it sounds like it's really implicit at Bridgewater, that," Here are the set of tools, and here's our mission, and this is what we're going to commit to, and if you're here, you understand what that is," and Ray, to your point, that's not always clear in every organization. Karen, I know you've been meeting with leadership teams from around the world, talking about working from home and the hybrid work model. What are the trends that you're hearing in those conversations? What are those leaders really looking for in a tangible way of what they can do right now?
Karen Mangia: The most consistent request is really a practical playbook and some design principles for really designing a successful work from anywhere organization. And Ray started the conversation, in terms of thinking about culture, and how can you be purposeful about that and revisit it? And along with that, I hear organizations revisiting their sense of purpose, revisiting who their customers are now, and then revisiting throughout the organization, lines of ownership, not just what are the outcomes we're trying to deliver, but who's going to own them? And so frequently, it's how do we turn that into a practical playbook? So if we start with culture and then we think about values, and then we think about outcomes, how do we then build the skills and the operating agreements into the organization to bring that to life? And people want to make sure that they're still keeping engaged employees, and that these new operating constructs that we're putting in place are sustainable.
Michael Rivo: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Mm- hmm( affirmative). And Ray, what do you see coming up with Bridgewater, and at large, of really getting back to the tools that you're talking about, and making the connection between that data and these human experiences, and how people really interact with each other? What are some insights that you've seen over the years as this plays out?
Ray Dalio: I should explain that we've taken these tools and then making them available to everybody, so many, many other companies are now operating with them and using them, so the perspective is much broader than just at Bridgewater. I'm at a stage in my life where I just want to pass along the stuff, and what I'm seeing is a self- discovery process, a culture in which a lot which was not said, is choices arise, and how you make those choices. Do I speak honestly to you, or not? How much can I express myself? How do you react to that? How do we objectively measure performance? All of those kinds of questions come up, and in the process of encountering those questions, become choices. Anybody can make any choices. The company can make any choice, the leadership can make any choice of whether they allow that to speak up, or whether they don't allow it to speak up, and what that does, is lead them down the path of actually defining their culture. So I'm seeing that happen a lot, and that's very good, because as you mentioned before, choices have to be made of how you will be with each other. To define a culture means not everybody is any old way with each other, and every choice that you make has pros and cons. So I'm seeing the explicitness of dealing with those questions, leading to more explicit definitions of the culture. That's why, like I wrote in the book, that my own experience was every time I would encounter something, I would write down what I encountered, it was a case, and then I would say," What would be the principles for dealing with that?" And then I would have discussions of," Should those be our principals? Do you agree with that? What's the pro and the con of that?" In our case, we even literally recorded everything that was happening real time for everybody to see." Okay, that movement down is causing more of that question, what is our standard?", and then it becomes leverageable, the whole organization becomes leverageable, because you don't have a different policy for everybody, or you inaudible choice and it becomes clearer. I'm seeing those evolutions, and that is creating a clearer definition of what the culture is in each organization.
Michael Rivo: Yeah, it's exciting, and we use a tool called the V2MOM, which comes really from Marc writing a V2MOM, which is a vision and values statement, and then a set of methods, and obstacles, and measures of what you're going to do, that goes through the whole organization. Everybody writes one in the organization, and it aligns to the corporate vision, and it's a great technique to keep a large organization all aligned.
Ray Dalio: Yeah, he told me about it. We talked about it, which is great, and he also has, to give you a further flavor, he's got Einstein. I don't know about Einstein.
Michael Rivo: I do, yes.
Ray Dalio: Einstein is also the capacity to bring in data and combine it with thinking. Okay, that's what I'm describing. When you combine the data without the algorithms that can replicate thinking, you go to a whole different level. So it's not just data, there are interactions that can be programmed, that we program, that are very much like, I don't know, Siri, in terms of that type of interaction, so that one can get great leverage by also watching these things happen. Doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself, but if you can replicate what your brain is doing," Gee, I think that employee is doing a great job," and you're clear about it, or a bad job, and you have the measures, why do you do that, and you have that process, you can create a thinking machine that is in parallel. It's like playing chess, and you can do it with your brain, but if you start to build the equations that replicate your brain, then you can have a computer chess game that is playing that game next to you, to make decisions in parallel with what you do. That's how we invest in the markets. This is where it started, all the investment in the markets, and I realized that that same replication of decision- making through algorithms, the processing of information and then converting that into actions, can be done in parallel. And so, that's why it's analogous to almost Einstein or things like that, so similar.
Michael Rivo: And this is taking it a maybe a little outside this conversation, but so this idea is applied to markets, and then it's applied to how to create a company and a company culture. Then I start thinking, all the chaos in the world of how we're trying to organize ourselves, generally around politics and everything else. Where do you see this going? I mean, these algorithms are out there, they're stacked on top of each other. How do you see us as a society being able to use this type of tool?
Ray Dalio: I think the greatest problem of mankind, that's a big statement, the greatest problem of mankind, is people who have opinions stuck in their heads that they're attached to and are not going outside their heads, and stress testing so that we get the best ones and resolve disagreements effectively. So I'm watching that happen now. We have a chaos in our society with everybody who has this opinion or that opinion, and is screaming at each other, and cannot resolve what to do. They're just screaming at each other and fighting. And so I think, first of all, understanding the art of thoughtful disagreement. How do you get past disagreement? How do you become evidence- based? What are the protocols, rather than the chaos? Yes, I think it would help a lot, because we can't resolve our disagreements now, because everybody's got these opinions stuck in their head that they're willing to fight for.
Michael Rivo: Mm- hmm(affirmative). Mm-hmm( affirmative).
Ray Dalio: It's a chaos.
Michael Rivo: It is. It's okay, we've all been living through it, and so many things have lined up to make it that way, and I think that chaos exists in our work lives too, bringing it back to our topic. Karen, what's your thought around, and this goes back to that earlier question around, how do you have your voice heard? If you're trying to... I think one of the things that's a big challenge in a big organization is how do you create impact and get buy- in, and get your projects moving, and do all that persuasion that you need to do that you used to be able to do by meetings, and so forth. It feels like there's a whole new playbook for how to do that. How do you approach that?
Karen Mangia: Success begins with your story, and when I'm thinking about this conversation that we're having, one of the critical links when we were talking about the way that Salesforce approaches setting of vision and values, and also Ray's approach with the tools and data, is that a couple of things happen that are really important. First of all, transparency, right? Everyone's being offered the same tools, and within Salesforce, of course, every person can see each other's plans for the year, and there's a basis for connection there, but also for co- creation. And I think that's one of the really powerful tools to see and be seen, or show up and make an impact, and have your voice be heard right now, which is we are in a time where we've all highlighted here, a number of shifts in how we work. And when you think about creating meaningful ideas for the future, when you're thinking about, even at the individual employee level outcomes you can deliver, skills that you have to offer, this is the time to share them, and the beauty of that is looking in the direction of outcomes that you can create with others. You can be that connecting point, but it starts with, what do you value? What are your values? What do you have to offer that can produce these outcomes that we're now expecting in the organization, and how could you deliver those outcomes with some other people? I mean, every manager that I know of, at least right now, would love to have someone in their team show up and say," I've really been thinking about this challenge we've been trying to solve with feedback, or connection, or a customer problem. You may not know this, I have a hidden skill or talent that I haven't had a chance to put to use before. Here's what I see as possible, and here's who I think could join me. How does that sound to you?" And it's remarkable what happens in terms of response, because everybody's looking for new ideas right now, everybody can contribute.
Michael Rivo: Yeah, and I think in the context of radical transparency too, it becomes hopefully less fearful to put out an idea. As you have more honest conversation happening, I think that's always a challenge, which is," I really need to have this all the way thought through, and maybe somebody else is doing this," and a lot of different things that will come into your head, but I love that idea of being encouraged to just," Hey, put it out there." And I think the collaboration now with the collaboration tools that we all have access to, for me, at least, I'd spin just today, we were able to spin up a very impactful thing quite quickly using all these tools. So I think there's a ton of opportunity there.
Karen Mangia: Well, and I think the easiest starting place is to do what I call unfinish your slides. I mean, I think we've been taught in so many ways that a great employee or a great sales leader is someone who shows up with great slides, and usually it's the outcome or the needs, and how your solution will address these, then you detail it, and you have these next steps, when what you're really trying to say is," Just say yes, and/ or sign the contract." And I think right now, just that co- creation and engagement opportunity, it looks like exactly the opposite, which is as opposed to showing up with all the perfect seeming answers, show up with great questions. And to tie back to what Ray was saying, I mean, programming great questions into things like AI, is how we get to finding more possible paths and understanding when we look at that data, what else could this mean?
Michael Rivo: Okay, wonderful, and thanks so much for your time, Ray and Karen, that was a great conversation. And thanks to our listeners for tuning in. Once again, that was Ray Dalio, speaking with Salesforce' Karen Mangia. For insights into this topic and others, head over to salesforce. com/ blog for resources to help guide you through today's changing economic and social environments. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios, thanks for listening.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 10 | 40:18 MIN | 03.31.2021
Taking Action To Address Anti-Asian Racism And Violence
The last year has seen a rise in AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) violence. Today’s conversation explores the long history of this discrimination, and what we can each do individu...
The last year has seen a rise in AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) violence. Today’s conversation explores the long history of this discrimination, and what we can each do individually and in our communities to help put an end to it.
You’ll hear from former governor of Washington State, Gary Locke, CEO of Rise, Amanda Nguyen, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, Dr. Russell Jeung, and Emmy award-winning TV news anchor, Dion Lim. They discuss the negative impacts of the “model minority” and “perpetual foreigner” stereotypes, why education of Asian American history is vital to changing the narrative, and how we can help amplify Asian American voices and stories.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. Today, I'm joined by my podcast partner, Rachel Levin. Welcome to the show, Rachel.
Rachel Levin: Good to be back Michael.
Michael Rivo: Well, we're here today, Rachel, to talk about a really important topic. Can you tell us a little bit about the show today?
Rachel Levin: Yeah, Michael. Well, today, we're going to be hearing from our Leading Through Change series, and it's a show that's dedicated to the rise in anti- Asian violence. Did you know that anti- Asian hate crimes are up 150% this year? It's astonishing, right?
Michael Rivo: It is. I've been hearing about it in the news, and then the recent events in Atlanta and other events, but I didn't realize that the numbers were so big.
Rachel Levin: Yeah, it's crazy. And obviously, there's a lot of historical context here that we can't forget, dating all the way back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that suspended Chinese immigration to the US for 10 years.
Michael Rivo: Mm- hmm(affirmative).
Rachel Levin: And of course, during World War II, virtually all Japanese- Americans were forced to leave their homes and sent to prison camps, a lot of them right here in California during the duration of the war. So it's a really painful history.
Michael Rivo: It is a painful history. And of course, the Atlanta shooting where a young man murdered eight people in a massage parlor, and six of them were Asian women. And so today's show is really about exploring the roots of anti- Asian discrimination and what we can do to better support the Asian community. So, Rachel, who are we hearing from today?
Rachel Levin: So we'll be hearing from former governor of Washington, Gary Locke, the CEO of Rise, Amanda Nguyen, the co- founder Stop AAPI Hate, Dr. Russell Jeung, and Emmy Award- winning TV news anchor, Dion Lim. So we've got some very serious experts and people who are very committed to this issue that are going to be talking us through it.
Michael Rivo: Right. Well, it's an important show and we hope that you enjoy it. So now, let's listen to Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, executive vice president, global customer success and strategy at Salesforce, moderating this very important discussion.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: This continues to be a deeply troubling moment for myself, personally, and for all of us. Like so many, I have a very, very heavy heart towards the violence against anyone, but particularly for the Asian community. It's really horrifying. It's inexcusable and it has to stop. And that's one of the reasons why I'm so thrilled to be part of this conversation today. Now, joining us as a very special guest to kick us off, who has been outspoken on the topic of recent anti- Asian violence and hatred, please join me in welcoming the former governor of Washington State, the former secretary of commerce, and the former ambassador to China, Gary Locke. Thank you for being here today.
Gary Locke: My pleasure, Neeracha. It's really great that this is being part of your Leading Through Change, supported by Salesforce. So my compliments to all the organizers.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you. Now, given your career, your extensive career in public service, because that intro takes a long time to get everything in there, you've been working both in the US and abroad, I wanted to start with this rise of anti- Asian violence. Considering the political environment, pandemic- related tensions, everything wrapped up in there, does this sentiment come as a shock to you?
Gary Locke: No. I think that's why words do matter, words that come from the top government officials, whether at the national level or at the state level, or your local level. We've seen a vilification of anything and everything Chinese or china- related over the last four or five years, and that has had an impact. When you're saying that this is the China virus, the kung flu virus, in a mocking fashion, the Wuhan virus, and then you go around with policies that say we don't want Chinese students coming to American colleges, universities to study because they're all potential spies, when you're going after all Chinese companies, even American companies founded by American citizens of Chinese ancestry that somehow they're all suspect, when you're going after Chinese social apps whether it's WeChat that's used by the Asian- American community, primarily Chinese, or even social media like TikTok, that has an impact. And obviously, there are some national security concerns between the United States and china. But to vilify all Chinese people, whether they're American citizens born in the United States of Chinese ancestry, creates that tone which then perpetuates that notion that Asian- Americans are foreigners, that they're not really loyal to the United States even though so many of our sons and daughters and many of our parents and grandparents served in the Armed Forces with distinction and defended our freedom. So, that all has an impact.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Now, some have said that a lot of it can be explained by the scapegoating, people looking for a scapegoat around the pandemic. But as Leah alluded to earlier, there is a rather long history of blame and scapegoating of Asian- Americans. How do we, as a community, reconcile that history, that shameful history, and really take measures to try to get out of that, to break that cycle?
Gary Locke: Well, first of all, we need to acknowledge that history. And as Leah indicated in her opening remarks, that started with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, but also, laws that were passed throughout many of the states in the late 1800s, early 1900s, that actually prohibited primarily Asians, Japanese and Chinese people from owning land in America. Then, of course, you had the internment of the Japanese during World War II, hundreds of thousands of people born in the United States. And yet, were now behind concentration camps. And even though their sons went off to war on behalf of the United States and formed the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated military unit in US history, fighting for a country that was putting their own parents and brothers and sisters and relatives in armed concentration camps. We have a history of that, and we have to acknowledge that. And also, Asian- Americans have to also recognize that our success is not monolithic. There's huge disparities in income, healthcare, jobs, and so forth. And so that we have to be constantly vigilant about our civil rights. And we need to ally ourselves with other groups who are also encountering discrimination, whether it's African- Americans, whether it's Latinx populations, and even Native Americans, because America does have a history of racism and vilification of all populations. And we need to join together and support each other.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: I couldn't agree more. Now, if you look at your service in China, you were the first American of Chinese descent to lead the US embassy in Beijing about 10 years ago. And we talked about the vilification, the negative press around trade terrorists and travel bans, hacking: hacking is very high on the list of things, civil unrest in Hong Kong and, of course, the ignorance in some calling this the China virus. How has this affected overall, American opinions at a deeper level and in turn, our community of Chinese Americans?
Gary Locke: Well, I think it all adds up. As I indicated before, all these words matter. And as a society, we need to separate our disagreements and concerns, objections with the policies of a particular government, whether it's China or even Russia, or Israel, from the people of that country, and people whose heritage emanates from that particular country. Certainly, we would not go around saying that, just because the Russian government was involved in a massive hacking, that all people of Russian ancestry or hailing from Russia are to be viewed as second class citizens or spies. The same thing with Israel. We've had spies. Some of the most notorious espionage cases against the United States have come from Israel. We certainly wouldn't go around saying that the Jewish community are disloyal to America. And the same thing, whether it's with Japan, whether it's with Korea, whether it's with any country, and certainly with China.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: It's interesting. I remember, in last year's presidential election, you, your image was used in an attack ad as a stand in for China. You, right? Taking it down to the personal level, even though you were born and raised here in the US. And you mentioned earlier, this whole concept of being a perpetual foreigner. How can we combat that stereotype?
Gary Locke: I think we really need to focus on the history of America, that except for the Native Americans, we are all foreigners. Whether our ancestors came on the Mayflower, on a slave ship from Africa, or a steamer from Asia, we are all foreigners. And we need to really promote the fact and recognize the fact that it's that diversity of people from all parts of the world, and wave after wave of people coming to America, with different languages and cultures, and even food and art and architecture that has really created that vitality, that dynamism that really powers America. And that makes America. That's what really makes America great. It's that diversity of people, and we need to recognize it. Whether we're 1st generation or 10th generation, we are all foreigners.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Absolutely. And what's been a particularly bitter pill for me is that there wasn't a lot of media coverage on the violence against Asians that really started right about a year ago. And sadly, has continued to escalate up until the events of last week. Social media conversations are very ugly. Why do you think this is the case?
Gary Locke: I think there is that media perception that we are somehow the model minority, or that we are very, very successful that we have blended into American life, when in fact we have a history of racism and discrimination against Chinese, Asian- Americans and so many other ethnic groups. And there's a perception that the Asian- American community has somehow made it, even though that's not true. There's huge disparity in terms of healthcare, income, nutrition, you name it. And we are not monolithic. Our own community also needs to address that and recognize that, and really try to address some of the shortcomings and the problems within our own community in terms of disparate outcomes, disparate achievement levels, struggles with violence, struggles with healthcare, struggles with economic security.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: And obviously, it's been a tough year on so many fronts for people. How does the violence against Asian- Americans really shed a light on the broader issue in this country around hate crimes?
Gary Locke: Well, we have to recognize that there is an element within our society that have very dark hearts. And in some ways, it's been exacerbated over the last several years. There's a lot of anxiety and angst among the American people over jobs, over changes in the way of life and the impact of technology in their lives. And even just efficiency in businesses and manufacturing. For instance, a good friend of mine who used to head up the Ford Motor Company, said that it now takes 40% fewer workers to build the same number of cars than it did 25 years ago. And that's not because of outsourcing to other countries. It's because of robotics and automation. And the same thing in the forest industry. It takes so many fewer people to cut down and log those trees and to strip the bark and load them on to the bigger trucks than it did 25 years ago. That's certainly not because of outsourcing. And so there's a lot of angst, a lot of worry out there among the people in terms of their future. And then you have a person who comes around and says, " Well, I'm going to solve all your problems. I'm going to bring us back to the days of what life as you knew it 15, 20, 30 years ago, and we're going to do this by kicking out all the immigrants."" We're going to close off our borders. We're going to build a wall. We're going to make sure that those people from Africa don't come and we're going to go after China, et cetera, et cetera." So, that appeals to people. And that really brings out that scapegoating that people have a tendency to resort to. Scapegoating of all groups. And it almost authorizes, sanctions, encourages hateful language and hateful, violent behavior. And we're seeing that in terms of so many instances all across the United States.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Well, with the angst that we're seeing, and aside from maybe a secret time machine that someone has somewhere, how do we help people, whether they are people in the Asian- American community, or just people in general, how do we help them with their psychological and the emotional acts of both the economy, the pandemic, these violent acts? It's very hard to separate any one of these reasons. How do we help people who are struggling with that? How do we empathize? How do we really empathize with people's struggles?
Gary Locke: Well, obviously, government has a role in terms of support programs, with mental health counseling, more police patrols, but also attacking some of the core issues and the issues plaguing all communities of color. Better healthcare, job training and retraining, better education in our schools, financial aid so that students can attend colleges and afford a college education. But we also need leaders standing up, and from all sectors. From the nonprofit world, religious community business community, presenting an allyship and emotional support, because that all filters down into the everyday workforce. You have many of your employees that may say, " Well, I don't live near the Chinatowns of San Francisco or New York. And so it doesn't really affect me. I don't go into any of these malls where there might be Chinese restaurants or spas, or cosmetic shops and nail shops and things like that. So it doesn't really affect me." Well, it does. Just having conversations with your neighbors, your friends, your relatives about what's happening, and about the history of America, that we are a land, except for the Native Americans, foreigners. And look what we did to the Native Americans and how we herded them up onto reservations. And so many of them are the vast majority, living in abject poverty and just terrible conditions. We need to recognize, be frank about America. But what's great about America compared to many other countries is that we're willing to acknowledge our faults and our shortcomings, and we try to do better, to form a more perfect union. We're not great. We've made mistakes, but we need people engaged in talking about it so that we can, in fact, move all of our communities farther along, and to achieve the dreams and aspirations of everyone.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: And I think you bring up a great point. There's obviously a role for government in this, broadly speaking. But in terms of even just communities and individual people, what do we need to do? What can we do? Everyone's like, " What do I do about this? I'm unhappy, I'm stressed, I'm angry. What do I do?" There's a lot of those questions we hear from the community at large. What can we do to combat the racism, the xenophobia and the violence towards individual groups? To your point, we are all foreigners here, ultimately.
Gary Locke: Well, certainly having community rallies, posting vigils, conducting vigils, just acts of solidarity, reaching out to people of other groups who are being marginalized and facing discrimination and oppression. Just reaching out, trying to learn more about each other's cultures and their histories, and their struggles, and the challenges that they face. I think it's really just everybody's stepping back, taking a pause and saying, " Wow, what is going on? What can I do to learn more?"
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: That's spectacular advice. Thank you. Thank you so much, Governor Locke. Really great conversation. So enjoyed having you. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Gary Locke: My pleasure.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Now, I'd like to move on to our panel discussion with some of the folks Leah introduced a little bit earlier. They're in the news. It's wonderful to be able to assemble such a wonderful panel. So please, welcome Amanda Nguyen, CEO of Rice and Nobel Peace Prize award nominee. We also have Dr. Russell Jeung with us, the co- founder of the Stop AAPI Hate website and professor of Asian- American studies at San Francisco State University. And finally, Dion Lim, Emmy Award- winning TV news anchor at the ABC Bay Area affiliate, KGO. So thank you Amanda, Dion and Dr. Jeung for joining us today. My first question, Dr. Jeung, I'm going to send it over to you. Last March, you were part of the team that created this Stop AAPI Hate website. And I do have to make sure everyone understands, AAPI stands for Asian- American Pacific Islander, a very inclusive designation that we use. Anyway, Dr, Jeung, you were part of the team that created this site to catalog acts of both verbal and physical violence against Asians. And we are so grateful for the site and all the information it's been able to compile over the past year. Can you share a little bit about what was in your mind, why the website is a necessary tool, and just the overall impact that you've seen in the last year?
Dr. Russell Jeung: Yeah. Thanks, Neeracha. And I'd like to thank Salesforce for inviting us today. Thank you for the large donation. We'd like to also thank Tableau, Jay Pierre, Jarred Velario, Jay Kim. They've been super helpful in us gathering the data and creating our dashboard. So thank you for the data engineers and analysts of Tableau and Salesforce. Like Governor Locke said, we knew that Asian- Americans suffer from both the perpetual foreigner stereotype. And so when a disease comes from Asia, we would be outcasted, blamed and attacked, and met with racist policies. We also knew that because we're the model minority to others, people wouldn't believe that we experience racism to the extent that we do. So we created this website to document the racism, the widespread racism that Asian- Americans are experiencing. Now, because we're based in the community, we did it in 12 different languages. And starting just last year, we were getting hundreds of reports daily, nationwide, we have them from every state, of the horrific incidents that Asian- Americans are experiencing. We've been able to document that it's happening in a variety of places, in schools, online, public transit, private businesses. We've been able to document that it's not just hate crimes that you see in the news, but there are civil rights violations. They are microaggressions that aren't really micro, but actually racially- traumatizing. There are a lot of instances of being coughed and spat upon. And so people are treating us like foreigners, or whom they think we should treat foreigners as outsiders, as objects to be attacked. And that's why sadly, I wasn't surprised about the Atlanta shootings, or what I've seen recently in the news about our elderlies who are getting attacked, because I've read daily, since March, the anger and vitriol directed towards Asian- Americans. And again, people are treating us as outsiders to be shunned and attacked, as objects, sexualized objects for Asian- American women, to be harassed and to be sadly, shot at now.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: The latest statistics are incredibly disturbing. Also, primarily, because we believe it's largely under reported. So I think the latest ones I saw were 3, 800 acts of violence over the last year. And very importantly, 70% of them directed at women. And Amanda and Dion, and maybe we'll start with you, Dion, I'd like to just dig into that a little bit more. How do we as a society really reverse that trend? It's terribly disturbing and obviously, deeply personal.
Dion Lim: Yeah. First off, again, echoing Dr. Jeung's thanks and gratitude for all of you for having me. I have to say, we need to get something straight, that these figures that are collected by Stop AAPI Hate, this is just a drop in the bucket. Anecdotally, I wake up every single morning now, not wondering what am I going to cover, but how many instances are going to come flooding in to my different phones and from social media, and from different platforms? And really, that's pretty pathetic, isn't it? Wondering whose story is going to elevate itself? Is there video to support someone's incident that makes it more valuable than someone else's? So I think to answer your question, I think we need to understand that I would go so far as saying while there is no hard, concrete data supporting this, I know for a fact, anecdotally, that this is happening much more than we could even imagine. That 3, 800 number that keeps getting played out in the news, it's a start. It gets people to listen. And now the world is listening, but there are so many more stories that need to be uncovered. And I think part of the challenge in that is getting Asian- Americans to speak out, getting them to acknowledge that it is okay to bring a negative light onto our own people and to say this happened to us. I had a woman just two weeks ago, reach out to me via Instagram because she felt safe. Imagine this, it's social media so you're hiding behind a phone screen. You don't have to use your own name. You can hide behind an avatar. She said, " Dion, I'm deeply disturbed because my family owns a donut shop in Oakland. Every single one of my family members has been attacked, whether they had been robbed, knocked to the ground, or in other ways hurt, and called ethnic slurs. And yet, none of those have been reported." So I would say that we start with getting rid of that barrier, that it is socially not okay to share these incidents. Growing up Asian- American, many of you in the crowd could probably relate. Keep your head down, your nose clean, and don't cause any trouble. But now, it's time that we shift that mindset, that it's not causing trouble, that it is opening up the box so that way the rest of the world can see what's really going on.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: That is so true, shining a light on it. I think if you can't measure it, it doesn't matter. So, that's what we always say here in business. So, Amanda, over to you. Looking at the trends, how do we as a society, work towards really reversing that?
Amanda Nguyen: Again, I want to echo what everyone else has said, which is thank you so much for having me on, including my voice. But also, thank you so much for focusing on this issue. I'll just speak from the heart. It's been devastating. And for the past several months, my colleagues, the folks that are on this panel, and so many others have been baring our souls on television, warning of what may come. And what we have seen with this massacre is our warning being realized. And I think over and over again, I've said, how many more lives need to be killed in order for our stories and our lives matter? And so it is the worst form of validation. And in order to put a foot in front of the next, I hope that we are at an inflection point right now where people can finally recognize that yes, this is an issue. The model minority is a mess. We must recognize that in order to be anti- racist, we have to acknowledge the Asian- American experience. Now, I want to talk a little bit about the intersection of misogyny and racism, because that was at full display in this massacre. It's quite fascinating to me. I have done a large part of my work, the 33 laws that I have passed have been in addressing gender- based violence, specifically sexual violence. And as an Asian- American woman in the anti- sexual violence space, it has been fascinating to see the ecosystem of trolls, because there are racist trolls and then there are sexist trolls. And then the worst of them are combined and fueled together. And it's quite interesting that some people may say, " Hey, this is one thing or the next." It's both. It's really important to understand that when we objectify Asian bodies, Asian women, it increases the chance for violence. That's what Yellow Fever refers to, this sexual preference that has been perpetuated by Hollywood, the China Doll, the vixen, the dragon lady. All of these stereotypes have now played a hand in making us dehumanized. And when you erase a whole group of people and you objectify them, what you get is violence.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you, Amanda, and for bringing up that intersection of racism and misogyny, which is something that I only, even just looking back at my journey, only just put some puzzle pieces together. Because I never really looked at it that way before. You also brought up the term model minority. I think we've referred to it loosely a few times. Dr. Jeung, if I can come back to you, from an academic perspective, as we talk about model minority, first of all, it would be great to make sure all of our listeners are clear on how we think about that. And then most people would say, " Oh, well, you're perceived as the group that has achieved the most success, so therefore it's a compliment." I get a lot of, it's a compliment, things which they really aren't. But the term model minority, how is it negatively... Has it been not a compliment to the AAPI community?
Dr. Russell Jeung: Yeah, that's a great question. In America, we usually have racial discourse, understanding racial history on a white, black binary. And people seek whiteness. Asians want whiteness in terms of they want the power status and maybe privilege of whites, but they don't want to be white. But there's another binary, another way Americans are racializing people. And it's on this insider, outsider binary. And sometimes, if you're a real American, or considered belonging, then Asians can be insiders. And that's when we're considered the model minority. We're white- adjacent, we're honorary whites. We're compared to other racial groups and seen as a model in that, oh, look at, they face discrimination, but they're hardworking, they're quiet, and so they're achieving. The problem with the model minority stereotype, of course, is that not all of us are hard working, sorry, or achieving. Not all of us are educated. And so it becomes this difficult standard for other, especially, youth to meet. And it also drives a wedge between us and other racial groups, because we're compared to other racial groups. I think though, right now, in times of war, in times of pandemic, in times of economic distress, we're more cast as the outsider. And Governor Locke talked about the perpetual foreigner stereotype. In history, that's how we've been treated. We've been excluded. We've been incarcerated. We've been quarantined. After Islamophobia, we've been cast as extreme terrorists. We've been detained. We have to register. Last year, President Trump cut migration bans, cut refugee resettlement, cut H- 1B visas, all perceiving us as outsiders, as dangerous threats to be excluded. So this perpetual foreigner stereotype is what's causing the hyper sexualization of Asian women. It's causing people to attack. No one hits us because, " Oh, you're so smart." They're attacking us because they don't see us as belonging. They're attacking our elders and pushing and shoving us because they think they have a weird accent. So this perpetual foreigner stereotype is much more operative, especially to those who are immigrants, who are limited English- speaking. And maybe Salesforce people may experience the model minority because you're engineers and educated. But I think for the large swath of Asian- Americans, this perpetual foreigner stereotype, it's been operative, it's insidious, and it's killing us at this moment. So I think Asian- Americans seem to acknowledge that stereotype much more seriously. It'll help us connect with our elders, those who are immigrants. It'll help us connect to others. Like Governor Locke said, we're all foreigners. And if we could get into the pain of being outcast and not belonging, then maybe we can gain some of that empathy and solidarity that we want. So I think for me, this is my soapbox. Asian- Americans have a role to play in American sense of justice and belonging, as we disrupt and dismantle that insider, outsider binary. We're on the outside. Let's use our foreigner status to see what's broken about America and make changes.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you. That's super insightful, the insider, outsider binary, and really focusing on the perpetual foreigner side of things. We talked a little bit about shining a light. Dion mentioned video. And Amanda, I'd like to throw this one at you. You posted a video in February that went viral, that really called upon national media to stop ignoring the coverage about these anti- Asian attacks. Given our culture, why do you think that we still didn't get the attention, even with brutal video evidence from the start? And we didn't get a lot of attention until a bunch of people were killed. Is that the new normal?
Amanda Nguyen: Well, it certainly isn't new. It has been normal, though. And it's been normal for a very long time. Asian- Americans have been systematically erased from the narrative we tell ourselves as a country. Let's talk about the structures. This is from the federal government. There was a study in 2009 that showed that some federal agencies don't even include Asians in their definition of racial minorities. Let's talk about Hollywood. The way that our stories are told, if they are even at all told, are through a lens of who are the writers? Majority white men. And so that's why we have stereotypes that have been very damaging. Look at our education system. Our history isn't taught from not only our grief to our excellence, people just don't know who we are. How can people empathize if they don't know, our history? How can we organize if we don't know our previous collective power? And finally, the mainstream media. This is the distribution of information that people consume in order to know about what's going on in the world. And if we aren't included in that, and if we aren't included with responsible journalism, then how are we supposed to even show up to other communities? How will other communities get to know us? And so this is certainly something that has been going on. And the reason why I turn to social media is because social media is a democratizing platform in many ways. And it was because if these structures, that systematic structures have been walking us out, then I was going to turn to another place. And it was like fire with gasoline. Millions of people responded within 24 hours. The next business day, Neeracha, CBS reporter, White House press corps asked, the White House, the President has seen it. It is so important to understand that there are millions of people who have been erased, but are there, are grieving. And it's not only that people now feel like they can't have their grief validated. The other important half of it is other communities who responded in solidarity. The call to action was to target this system. It wasn't to other communities. And it's because it is these systems that have been gatekeepers to our humanity.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Dion, I'd love to get your insight into this. Obviously, the system, the binary nature, the systems that have been gatekeepers, what are your thoughts on that?
Dion Lim: Yeah, I have so many thoughts. I don't even know where to begin practically. I do have to piggyback real quick off of what Dr. Jeung had said, because these stereotypes, for the longest time, growing up in very white parts of America, Ohio, Connecticut, and then going on to work in Kansas City, places like North Carolina, I thought, " Okay, well, these stereotypes were kind of funny." I didn't understand just how detrimental they were, because I was a very mediocre student with C minus chemistry grades in schools. So, when it came down to being the first Asian- American woman to be at the helm of a Monday through Friday newscast, in all of these different markets before coming to San Francisco, I didn't realize the power that that position held, because representation is one thing. Neeracha, we actually were on a panel for Salesforce a couple years ago, where I spoke that it's not just the people who are on TV in the media that need to be representative of your community. It's the people above that. It's the people who are making the decisions. And for me, what I've discovered in truly the past year, and when I started using my voice in a very robust way, I had penned an article, a chronicle for the San Francisco Chronicle, an editorial about finding my purpose. It's that because there is the stereotype of us being meek and being able to be dominated as Asian females that have been so detrimental. You see it in movies like Austin Powers, that when I'm chasing an attorney down the street, shoving a microphone in his face, or going head- to- head with the district attorney, and pummeling him with questions, people are shocked. They don't understand what's happening. And then it gets their attention. And then it has this snowball effect. So it's that importance of bucking the stereotypes more than ever, and being transparent about our own journeys, that no, we don't all excel in chemistry and math. Then I think also, to answer the question about the media, I think it's really hard to get those stories told. And there's a reason why. I remember being in an editorial meeting when I worked in Tampa Bay, Florida, and there was a discussion about Trayvon Martin. And a number of my colleagues said, " Oh, racism isn't even a problem in America. Really? I didn't know that." And nobody spoke up. And I was the only one who said, " Actually, it's been a problem for a very long time." But unless we can have some proof behind the pudding, and actually bring some convincing to the rest of the group, and get them all on board to see why it's important, you know it's going to be an uphill battle. And like Amanda said, with a video, sometimes that's enough to get people's attention. For me, what started it was a can collector. Asian- American man in San Francisco's Bayview district, he was collecting empty cans to help provide for his family, to bring to a recycling center. And he was humiliated on camera, and made to cry and feel like a nobody. And that is the visceral emotional thing that needed to be turned on, that switch for the audience to start paying attention. And granted, it was just one incident. But fighting for that one story, I'll be very transparent about this, took a couple days, because I was actually sitting on that during my off days. And I sent an email about it. And looking back, I should have included that visual to get people to understand, because no matter what background you are, you can tell that if someone is being assaulted with a stick, and being made to feel like they're six inches tall is just wrong. And if you don't respond, then clearly something's wrong.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: I totally agree. We've seen a lot of effective results from storytelling, but that's not the only way. And Dr. Jeung, I'd like to turn this over to you. I think one of the things you've said is that leaders should respond with science and data. You know their stories, their sphere, but science and data can be really effective. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Russell Jeung: Yeah. So I'd like to say that along with Amanda's social messaging, that was really critical, Asian- Americans using social media to amplify the message. And because we have journalists like Dion who could get stories because of their advocacy, because we have data, I think those have actually started this Asian- American movement at this moment. And it's actually, people from all walks of life also sharing their stories. So all the analysts, the coders, the engineers from Salesforce and Tableau who've helped us, they have sparked this massive movement to make change. We've had high school students help build our original dashboard, and so we have people from all walks of life using data well, to show what's happening. Again, what we are receiving, 3, 800 incidents are just a fraction of what's happening, but we're able to use with our data, more precise focus on where racism is happening. Again, it's happening in schools. It's happening online. It's happening on public transit. And so given the different sites, we could come up with specific policy prescriptions. We could target and make clear recommendations to policymakers with our data and with evidence- based practices. So we're trying to reach both hearts with our narratives and our minds with the data to make change. With the data, we're able to demonstrate again, the trends that women are harassed 2. 3 times more than men, that elderly are disproportionately attacked, and vulnerable populations are being targeted. So for me, the data has been critical in both telling the story, along with the graphic video footage, along with journalists and influencers amplifying it. And it's been critical and coming up with clear solutions. There's a lot of focus on hate crimes, but that's not the breadth and width, or the widespread nature of the racism we're experiencing. And I think that's a part of the story. This is to show that racism is popping up everywhere. I talk about how the Eye of Sauron, the Salesforce Tower is shining on Asian- Americans now, but it's shining all over Asia- America. And we need our elves and dwarves to come help us.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you. Thank you.
Dr. Russell Jeung: We're the hobbits. We can't fight for ourselves.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: We have a very wide- ranging discussion. We've gone into hobbits, to the democratization of social media. So thank you. We're wrapping up our time together today, and I'd like to ask each of you to maybe give us your call to action. What can individuals listening do to educate themselves to break this cycle of racism and bias? So if you could, just give us a quick call to action and we'll wrap the panel. So, Amanda, I'm going to throw it over to you, first.
Amanda Nguyen: If you want to be an ally and you don't know how to, it's as simple as reaching out to the AAPI people in your lives. You can, of course, go and support Asian businesses. Please do that. And maybe folks may not know what to say. So something as quick as, " Hey, I don't even understand what you're going through, but I just want to say that I'm here for you. What can I do?" Something as simple as that can make or break the relationship that you have.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you. Dr. Jeung, what is your quick call to action for our audience today?
Dr. Russell Jeung: I think Asian- Americans are under a state of siege. And when we're threatened, we can go into fight mode, we can go into flight mode, or we can go into flock mode. And I see the Asian- American community flocking together to protect each other, for grieving and for comfort. But we're also flocking together to stand up for our communities. And I'd like to see Salesforce employees to flock to our communities, to go out, buy boba, go back to patronize Chinatown and support our businesses. Because we're the racial group with the second highest joblessness rate right now. And because of racism, people are avoiding our restaurants or salons. And we need that type of community support.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: Thank you. And then the last word goes to you, Dion.
Dion Lim: I would end by saying, think a little bit like a journalist, in a well- rounded way, because we are seeing an influx every single day on our phones, on social media, on TV, of these images of horrific acts towards Asian- Americans. But I would also encourage everyone to take a step back, think about the circumstances surrounding them. Also, think about the validity of what you're seeing, because the way that you react, and I've seen reaction equally as bad in some cases to the actual racist incidents themselves, because the way you react is going to be either very effective or detrimental to Asian- Americans and our community as a whole. And half the battle, at least for me, as a television journalist, is to get people to pay attention. And if they don't pay attention to you in the right way and they see you as combative, and they see you as very stubborn, and not contributing to the solution, and just wanting to complain about it, that's a difference than raising awareness and making change.
Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh: That's wonderful. Dion, Dr. Jeung, Amanda, thank you so much for being with us today, and for lending your voices to what I've found to be personally, a very meaningful conversation.
Michael Rivo: That was Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, executive vice president, global customer success and strategy at Salesforce, speaking with the former governor of Washington, Gary Locke, the CEO of Rise, Amanda Nguyen, the co- founder of Stop AAPI Hate, Dr. Russell Jeung, and Emmy Award- winning TV presenter, Dion Lim. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. Thanks for listening.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 9 | 40:35 MIN | 03.24.2021
The Future of Vaccine Management: A Conversation with Salesforce's Chief Medical Officer and GM of Vaccine Cloud
As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls and we can begin to anticipate a new normal, we reflect on the tools, people, and technologies that guided us through the last year and will continue to h...
As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls and we can begin to anticipate a new normal, we reflect on the tools, people, and technologies that guided us through the last year and will continue to help us in the years to come.
Joining the podcast are Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Salesforce's Chief Medical Officer, and Meredith Flynn-Ripley, the SVP of Product Growth and GM of the Vaccine Cloud at Salesforce. Dr. Ash and Meredith discuss the challenges they observed at the beginning of the pandemic and how Salesforce and Work.com stepped in to help solve these problems.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 7 | 22:19 MIN | 03.18.2021
Shattering Stigmas: A Conversation with Jillian Mercado from Salesforce Trailblazing Women Summit
We encounter inequalities in the world all the time, and it’s only a special few who not only recognize the injustices but speak up about them. Jillian Mercado has never been able to st...
We encounter inequalities in the world all the time, and it’s only a special few who not only recognize the injustices but speak up about them. Jillian Mercado has never been able to stay quiet when she sees others in need. She's an actress, fashion model, and founder of Black Disabled Creatives –– and she’s here to tell us that speaking up shouldn’t be a special occurrence, but something we do every day.
In today’s conversation, Jullian is joined by host Linda Aiello EVP, Employee Success (HR) at Salesforce for a discussion about representation in the fashion industry, how she used social media to share her story, and why it’s everyday actions that bring about the biggest lasting changes.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. Today I'm joined by my podcast partner, Rachel Levin, and a very special guest Ebony Beckwith, CEO of Salesforce Foundation. Welcome to the show everybody.
Rachel Levin: Good to be here, Michael.
Ebony Beckwith: Thank you, Michael. I really excited to be here.
Michael Rivo: Ebony, you just wrapped up the Salesforce Trailblazing Women's Summit. It was a huge success and featured business leaders, authors and equality advocates. Tell us more about it.
Ebony Beckwith: Oh, Trailblazing Women is amazing and it's right now in its third year and what I love is that we get to hear from so many incredible women, both inside and outside of Salesforce and there's real power in hearing women's stories. And I feel like this year, we really got into some real authentic conversations about leading through uncertain times about navigating stigma and stereotypes in the workplace and so much more. And the other thing I really loved is that these conversations led to meaningful dialogue offline. I know I personally was texting with friends and colleagues and fellow speakers, both during the event and after, as people watch the replay and it felt really good to connect and explore these issues further, like we would have if we were together in person.
Rachel Levin: Yeah. Just pulling up on that. Ebony this year has been such a difficult year. Millions of more women have lost their jobs than men. So what can companies do to get more women back in the workforce now that the vaccine rollout is really going in high gear?
Ebony Beckwith: That's a great question. Recently I read a McKinsey and LinkedIn report that women are 1. 3 times more likely to consider leaving the workplace or downsizing their role right now. And if this continues, we will wipe out all the progress we've made over the last 10 years alone. And we just can't let that happen. So as you mentioned, companies play a huge role in helping bring more women into the workforce and I love the commitment Salesforce made years ago around equal pay for equal work, and we've spent$ 12 million to date on that initiative. And imagine if every company made a commitment like that. There are also a lot of practical things companies can do to take the pressure off of working moms, such as offering childcare benefits and extended time off. I know for the moms on my team and my friends who are moms, resources like this are really helpful.
Rachel Levin: Definitely. So Ebony, what can we all do right now to help support women's equality?
Ebony Beckwith: I mean, it's very simple; open doors. If you're in a position where you're able to bring in more women, women of color, do it pull up another seat at the table or if you're a hiring manager, ask your recruiting partners to show you more female candidates. It's really all about action and intention.
Rachel Levin: That's great advice, Ebony and I love the stuff you've been posting lately on LinkedIn. Our listeners might not know it, but you have this great series of posts called BossNotes where you share lessons learned as a business leader. What inspired you to start doing those posts on LinkedIn?
Ebony Beckwith: So BossNotes started when I came across an old notebook with a page titled Advice To My 12 Year Old Self. And I was reading through them and smiling and realizing how relevant the advice is. And so I posted it on LinkedIn and told my community I was going to make it a regular thing. And so fast forward to today, some of these posts have gotten over hundreds of thousands of views, but for me, it's not about the views or the likes. What these numbers tell me is that this content resonates with a lot of people. Everyone can relate to feelings of imposter syndrome or struggling with authenticity or perfectionism or whatever the case may be. And I often get texts and messages from people saying that is exactly what I needed to hear today. So I use BossNotes really as an extension of my mentorship. It's my way of paying forward what has been so generously given and poured into me over the years by my mentors. So stay tuned for more on BossNotes. I'm really excited about what's next.
Rachel Levin: Me too.
Michael Rivo: Thanks so much Ebony for joining us today. Now let's take a listen to a great conversation from the Trailblazing Women's Summit with Jillian Mercado, actress, model and founder of Black Disabled Creatives. Speaking with Linda Aiello, EVP of Employee Success at Salesforce.
Linda Aiello: Welcome to trailblazing women. Jillian. We are so honored to have you with us today at our third annual Gender Equality Summit. But before we jump in, can you tell us a little bit more about you? Tell us about your journey, the people who shaped you into who you are today.
Jillian Mercado: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me. It's honestly an honor to be here and I'm really excited to have this conversation with you. Well, my journey began in New York city. I was born and raised there and I quickly noticed the lack of representation. There wasn't a media specifically in the fashion industry. And since I come from a Latin background, we're very determined and strong spirited women. I felt like I needed to do something about it. And I quickly learned that through my mom, I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and do exactly what I wanted because I had that privilege of her bringing me from Dominican Republic to America, having me here. And I think that really helped me on having my path in the industry as a physical disabled woman.
Linda Aiello: Amazing. And I grew up in the fashion world and I've noticed you've become a really prominent figure in this world. Challenging beauty ideals, redefining traditional norms in the fashion industry, starring in campaigns for Olay, Calvin Klein fragrance, Nordstrom, Target, Tommy Hilfiger, Beyonce. What has that journey been like for you?
Jillian Mercado: It's been quite a roller coaster I have to say. I mean, I am a very visible individual and I think I stand out in a lot of places and specifically in the fashion industry, everything's already magnified a thousand. So having myself in a room where education and ignorance in a way where opportunities weren't given to people like myself are very hard. But you know, I think that we are in an interesting time with social media and sharing our stories and being authentic and showing people that we're not alone. There's a massive community out there who's willing to help is willing to lock hands with each other and say, you know what, we can do this. So I always do my best to when I'm in a table with people to bring in my community, all my communities in one place.
Linda Aiello: And you've used your platform to elevate both the Latinx community as well as the disability community. So you mentioned a few ways, but what's been the most impactful in driving change and what advice do you have for others who are wanting to make more of an impact?
Speaker 4: Wow, for me, I started on social media. So I started posting photos of myself talking about my life experiences, just being as authentic with what I was going through in life as much as possible and try to drive a change within the community to then bring it outwards. And for me, I mean the biggest advice I think I would have to say is speak up. If you see injustice speak up for it, you don't have to necessarily have that lived experience. But if you have empathy if you care for each other in a way of growth too... If you see a room that doesn't look like the world, then you need to speak up. And for me personally has been social media and I think for a lot of people that has helped speak their truth.
Linda Aiello: So in addition to your modeling career, you also play Maribel Suarez an immigration attorney on the show, The L Word: Generation Q and this is centered around a group of diverse LGBTQ + characters, experiencing love, experiencing heartbreak, setbacks, personal growth and success in Los Angeles. So what does this role mean to you personally?
Jillian Mercado: Sometimes I find it hard to actually believe that this is happening in my role, which happens quite often in a lot of jobs that I do. I'm like," Oh wow, I'm here." I mean, it was already revolutionary when he came out about 10 years ago or so, because there weren't a lot of authentic stories about that community, the LGBTQ + community, and being able to not only bring stories in that community, but also as a Latinx woman, as a disabled person, I'm able to bring all those stories together. And also the representation part is so crucial because we see time and time again, movies or TV depicting the life of a disabled person, but not necessarily having a true voice through it. Not necessarily hiring people who actually are disabled and until we don't have real stories about our actual livelihood, I think it's really unfair to have these things continually happening. So having an opportunity to actually be a disabled person playing as a disabled character, it's like the beginning steps of hopefully true representation within the community.
Linda Aiello: Yeah. And that representation issue, it's definitely in the media in television shows, as you mentioned, and also there's this kind of enduring stigma in the fashion industry. So can you tell me a little bit about what you're doing to fight and advocate for more representation for people with disabilities in the fashion industry and how allies can support in dismantling stigmas across industries?
Jillian Mercado: Yeah. I've worked so hard in my life to be honored, to be in a position where I am right now and I know how much privilege I have doing so. And I think honestly for me personally, it has to do with the team that I'm surrounded with, with my family and friends and my actual team team who understand the history of the disability community, the history of the lack of representation that coincides with fashion and every job that I do, every opportunity I get, they know that it's such a crucial conversation to have. And I do my best to ask, can I hire a photographer who's disabled? Can I hire a writer who has a disability or things of that nature? I always ask. It's better to ask than not, and if they say, no, that's fine. As long as I put that seed in your mind, that's all that matters to me. And I feel like in the years that I've had doing this, that, that has helped a lot because it raises an eyebrow people like," Oh, we didn't see that." And it's like, that's the problem. So yeah.
Linda Aiello: And I love that. Even planting that little seed, then the next time would that person, hopefully that person doesn't even need to be asked to consider.
Jillian Mercado: That's the dream.Yeah.
Linda Aiello: That's it we'll work on it together. Don't worry. I'm going to ask you a little bit about this word inspiration. So you've spoken about how the word inspiration has been ruined for you. So can you tell us more about how that relates to ableist tendencies and sort of when you've been portrayed in that light, how do you look to change the narrative through your work?
Jillian Mercado: Yeah, I mean, it's unfortunate because it's such a beautiful word. It's supposed to be a word of moving forward, of seeing the beautiful things in life and to see the stories and how much stories there are on this planet. Every individual has their own path and their own journey, but unfortunately the word inspiration is always the first word that somebody says to a disabled person. No matter if the disabled person is just sitting on my couch, watching Netflix, which is pretty much like 70% of my life right now.
Linda Aiello: Welcome to COVID.
Jillian Mercado: And I think it's important to yes be inspired by people. I think it's important to know there are people who do extraordinary things and to see outside of their own livelihood and introduce maybe new methods, maybe my guy over there, way in somewhere, even though society has collectively made assumptions about the person even before they were born. For example, personally, for me, a misconception that a lot of people put on me because I'm disabled is that I can't have a career. I can't be in fashion. There's a lot of like a can't I can't, I can't just because I don't physically walk which I don't know who invented that, but honestly, it's projection, but that's for another story and I think we all have to educate ourselves and accept that we do have ableist tendencies. I even as a disabled person, don't know every single disability there is on this planet because it's one out of five people who have disabilities. That's a lot of people whether it's invisible or visible. And I think the most important part is to acknowledge that ignorance, acknowledge that tendency and grow from it, listen to the community. And with that information change within your own surroundings. And hopefully from that little change, that could be a word of mouth and it continued to grow and grow and grow and snowball until we all have a place at the table and actually food to eat.
Linda Aiello: Excellent. I love this and it's that movement. So I how we can continue to help get this movement going is critical. And, you know, one of the things you've done is you met with UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres in 2018 to discuss the organization's efforts to address inequality, particularly among women and girls with disabilities. Can you talk more about the disproportional impact to women and girls with disabilities?
Jillian Mercado: Yeah, absolutely. I think that that notion in my mind kind of came to be when I would visit my grandparents in Dominican Republic and visually seeing the different forms of how they would approach me, me being myself, being from New York, being Latin and being loud and determined, I sometimes got taken back by it and then realize how that they don't have the means to educate, to actually help these women and children to go to school, to get that education or to get medical health or assistance. And I think that there's a lot of education that needs to be had to the children's specifically to help their moms to be like I still can go to school. I still get that education. So I always try to do my best to kind of connect the dots and see how I can be of service to people who didn't grow up in New York city, the best place on earth.
Linda Aiello: Obviously we may or may not have a little bit of bias there that's okay.
Jillian Mercado: And using that privilege and that leverage to connect those two worlds together. I think the moment that we realize we all live on one planet, I feel like things will be a little bit better. There's a few people that still think that they're on other planets. But I think that when we get that notion that we all live in one planet and we all need to help each other grow and hopefully see our next generation live in a better place than we do now, that's most important.
Linda Aiello: When I Think about what we've gone through as a planet in this past year, we're all experienced something together. There's an opportunity to leverage that empathy as well and how we can learn from that and apply that and take that moment to think about there's something going on in different people's lives all the time that you may not notice you just happened to notice it right now because you're going through it too. So
Jillian Mercado: Absolutely. Just a little empathy goes a long way.
Linda Aiello: For sure. So a little further into that comment on impact on women and girls with disabilities. How does intersectionality play a role in your disability advocacy work?
Jillian Mercado: Oh, so much, so much. I keep bringing the word privilege, but I always try to check myself and humble myself of how many privileges I do have in life and how proud I am to be all these layers that make me myself. And for me specifically, my personal ones are being queer, being woman, being disabled, being Latinx, and I've embraced all of those communities. And I know how much help in a way of growth there needs to be within those communities. And if I'm able to access maybe a job or a conversation where I can invite all those communities in, I do so in a heartbeat because I think it's very important to be proud of who you are as a person and understand that it makes you who you are and that's in itself, it's like super special. And I know that sounds very cheesy to say out loud, but I think it's really important to really be proud of your personal growth, your personal experiences, and to understand that love can be of yourself, loving yourself and loving exactly who you are is really special. And that's something that I do my best to remind myself every single day, but also let other people know that it's a no judgment free zone. No one's going to judge you for being exactly who you are. Again I think once we realize that, I'm excited for that moment, hopefully I see that in my lifetime
Linda Aiello: Last summer, you founded something really incredible the Black Disabled Creatives, which is an online community driven database. So can you tell us about Black Disabled Creatives and what led to the launch of the database?
Jillian Mercado: Yes. So this was kind of a sporadic creative moment that I had watching Netflix on my couch. I've noticed that the re- introduction of Black Lives Matter that happened last year. I found a lot of my close friends or family posting about black owned restaurants, about black owned authors and just kind of re- introducing everyone to the existence of black lives that we have been here for the beginning of this planet. And we will continue to be here till the end of this planet. But as long as we start treating that we live in one planet. If we stopped treating it that way, then we're not going to move forward. But I also noticed that disability wasn't coming into conversations. And now that we're all working from home, that is one of the biggest things that as a disabled person, they tell you," Oh, I'm sorry, you can't get this job because you're at home." And then as soon as the pandemic hit, oh, wow, everyone's that long look how easy that was. So I called a friend up and I'm like," Hey I threw in an idea of having a database where creatives can just live and can understand that they are not alone." I picked creatives because I'm a creative myself so that was a little easier for me to start off with 20 people that I personally knew and I keep going from there. But I just wanted a sense of community to know that they are not alone to use my connections and jobs that I've done before to have a place like, oh, there's other Jillian's out. Jillian is not the only model actor that is here. So that's where the idea and the database is pretty much all about
Linda Aiello: Really incredible. And it's true. We can't unsee what we've seen this last year. So any preconceived notions about what could work alone out of the water. So you talked a little bit about social media before and how important it is to ensure that our images and messages are inclusive. So what tools or practices do you recommend for folks out there who want to ensure that their content is inclusive?
Jillian Mercado: Yeah. I mean the easiest thing, I would have to say captions. It doesn't have to be a long video. It could just be like, on Instagram a story. And you're like," Hey, how's everyone?" Caption that not everyone necessarily can read lips, not everyone has access to really understanding how someone who is hard of hearing to hear. So I think the easiest thing I would probably say is caption every single thing, no matter what that's really, really, really important. And also I caption my Netflix shows just to get that secret information on the side that's just something that I love doing, but it helps and it opens and broadens your community of people who are watching your stuff. So you just start from there and everything else will follow.
Linda Aiello: Excellent. So thank you again so much for your time and this incredibly powerful conversation. I personally learned a lot in these 20 minutes and I know everyone else around who's watching will feel the same. Can you finish with sharing with us one or two trailblazing women who continue to shatter stigmas that our audience can learn from and amplify?
Jillian Mercado: Yes. Two very amazing this buddy activists called Alice Wong and have been EMA, they are amazing and they speak about their own lives and how people can be better allies to the disability community. And they're also pretty, kick- ass women.
Linda Aiello: Awesome. I will check them out. That's my homework now. So thank you so much. Thanks for your time today. And I really, really enjoyed this.
Michael Rivo: That was Jillian Mercado, actress model and founder of Black Disabled Creatives speaking with Linda Aiello, EVP of Employee Success at Salesforce at the Trailblazing Women's Summit. To learn more about our inclusive leadership practices and how to champion equality in business, go to salesforce. com/ equality. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce studios. Thanks for listening.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 6 | 31:53 MIN | 03.10.2021
What is Grit and Why it Matters: A Conversation with Angela Duckworth and Kobie Fuller
What is grit? Is it something that you’re born with? Is it a skill you have to practice? Or is it a combination of the two?
On today’s episode, Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur Genius Grant...
What is grit? Is it something that you’re born with? Is it a skill you have to practice? Or is it a combination of the two?
On today’s episode, Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur Genius Grant winner, academic, and author, explores that question with Kobie Fuller, the Chairman and Co-Founder of Valance Community. Marie Rosencrans, an SVP of SMB Marketing at Salesforce, leads the wide-ranging conversation. They discuss what qualities are common in overachievers, how leaders use stress to fuel themselves, and what it takes to build a gritty team that will succeed in the short and long term, regardless of the obstacles thrown in their way.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. I'm joined today by my podcast partner, Rachel Levin. Welcome back to the show, Rachel.
Rachel Levin: Great to be here, Michael.
Michael Rivo: Well, Rachel, today we're talking about grit. Can you tell us a little bit about what grit means to you?
Rachel Levin: Sam Elliott.
Michael Rivo: For those who don't know who Sam Elliott is, because they're probably are listeners who don't know who Sam Elliot is, who is Sam Elliot?
Rachel Levin: He's an actor, but he's like your quintessential cowboy with a deep voice who looks like he's just seen and lived it all-
Michael Rivo: Right.
Rachel Levin: And is here to tell you the story about it. So, that's just kind of the image that comes to my mind, people who are able to persevere in the most difficult of circumstances.
Michael Rivo: Well, it's appropriate for what we're all living through right now. And on today's show, we're going to hear from Angela Duckworth, she's a MacArthur genius grant winner, a professor and a best- selling author, all about grit. Her book is called Grit. And she's in conversation with Kobie Fuller, who's the Chairman and Co- founder of Valence Community.
Rachel Levin: Yeah. I mean, Angela's work is so interesting because she studies people who are these exceptional high achievers, kind of like you and me.
Michael Rivo: Well, one of the takeaways that was inspiring for me is that grit, Angela defines it as this combination of passion and perseverance sustained over a long period of time and how different it is from talent. So for those of us that may not have as much of a talent quotient, really lean into the grit side, it gives us all hope.
Rachel Levin: It does. It does. And I really liked when she talked about stress and how you optimize stress because I know when I get stressed out, I feel like I can't even think anymore. And she says," Actually people who are really high achievers are able to take that momentum and redirect that energy and have it have a positive outcome." So that's something to work on.
Michael Rivo: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Well, let's jump right into the conversation. It's part of our Stories of Resilience Program, a series where small business leaders share true and inspiring stories about how they've navigated challenging times. Let's join Salesforce's Senior Vice- President of Small Business, Marie Rosecrans in conversation with Angela Duckworth and Kobie Fuller.
Marie Rosecrans: Angela Duckworth. Angela, welcome to the Stories of Resilience.
Angela Duckworth: Thank you, Marie. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be with Salesforce today.
Marie Rosecrans: So glad to have you. And we also have Kobie Fuller. He's a General Partner at Upfront Ventures and the Co- founder of Valence. Fun fact, Valence uses Salesforce Essentials, our Customer Relationship Management Solution designed specifically for small businesses. Kobie, thank you so much for being here with us today. We're so excited to have you offer these unique perspectives, both as a co- founder, as well as a Venture capitalist. So welcome you too, to Stories of Resilience.
Kobie Fuller: Thanks for having me. Very excited to be here today.
Marie Rosecrans: Well, we're excited to have you as well. Now, Angela, I know you have a really dynamic background. You started your career in management consulting. You're a professor at Penn. You have written this best- selling book. You're a mother, you manage a family. You also are the CEO of Character Lab. I'm exhausted just saying all of those things, honestly.
Angela Duckworth: I'm exhausted too.
Marie Rosecrans: I bet. How you get it all done is really beyond me, but there's one thing that really ties, I think your life, to get so much of your life together. And that's this topic that you've written so much about, which is grit. For those unfamiliar, define grit as this unique combination of passion and perseverance. And as you can appreciate, many of the small businesses participating today have been in this grueling four- month long plus battle, and they're really trying to keep their businesses on track, but they're feeling very isolated and feeling incredibly worn out. And so you're the expert here, as a CEO, a mother of two daughters, a professor, can you talk us through a little bit about how these small business owners can really juggle their priorities when life can have them feeling pretty depleted and worn out?
Angela Duckworth: I'm happy to. And one of the reasons I'm really excited today is I study people like Kobie. I try to find high achievers who are, in whatever they do, outliers, positive deviance they're sometimes called because they're in kind of the far right tail of the distribution. And then I just try to ask the question as a scientist, what are they doing? What are their habits? What are their mindsets? What were their influences in a project of kind of reverse engineering greatness so that we can all learn something and maybe get a little greater ourselves, should we want to? So that quest has led me to this idea that one thing that high achievers have in common is this combination of passion for what they do and perseverance sustained over really long periods. And that combination of like, oh my gosh, I'm kind of obsessed with this. Like I'm thinking about it, not just 09:00 to 05: 00, but I'm thinking about it on Saturday and Sunday. Like I go to a neighborhood, I'm kind of walking around, a thought comes into my head, that sustained over a really long periods of time, years, decades and in some cases, even a lifetime combined with being the hardest worker and very resilient. I mean these pieces together, passion plus perseverance over really long periods is not only a hallmark of high achievers. It's very different from talent. And I'm not saying talent doesn't matter, but this thing called grit is not correlated positively with measures of intelligence or physical talent. So I think it's very different from... Some people would think like there's your potential and there's what you do with it. And I think as a scientist, I'm more interested in what you do with it.
Marie Rosecrans: Got it. Now, Kobie, resilience and grit as Angela does mention, they are two topics that you're extremely familiar with. And through each phase of your life, you've really mastered the art of juggling priorities and honing your own sense of endurance. You were the captain of the Harvard track team. You've co- founded Valence. You are a really successful Venture capitalist. I'd love to have you kind of tap into how you've been able to tap into these experiences to contribute to the successful career that you've had today.
Kobie Fuller: Yeah. And still trying to hopefully carve success. I don't look at myself as successful. I look at myself as always trying to just get to the next level. And I think the day in which I feel like I made it, I think I'll probably start failing. And all of the experiences I've had on my life definitely have shaped who I am today. You mentioned being cap in the Harvard track team. Track experience and what I had during those years was pretty, pretty intense. Sophomore year, I still remember our team came in last in Ivy Leagues. And people walked away from that meed just their tail between their legs, totally shamed. And it was at that point where honestly, many of my teammates quit. They actually didn't come back the next year. So I looked at myself, said, what am I going to do? Am I going to just walk away the same way? Or am I going to actually realize it just takes whatever it takes to actually show up on the track and win and get to that next level. So junior year I just worked really, really hard, spent more time in the weight room and on the track. And I got better. I got better to the point where I was an example to some of my peers on the track team. At some point they wanted me to be captain. Was captain senior year. And I still remember that first meeting I had with the team. What I claimed in front of the entire team, one, those opponents that I'd have to go up against that year, they're going to see the back of my spikes. So I put out the statement where they had to hold me accountable to that success. And then two, I asked them to join me in that like, let's try to do something different this year. And that meant that we all just put in the work, had that high level intensity in terms of realizing for us to actually get to not last place, but potentially first place, it just took that level of grit, perseverance and just hard, hard work, passion and obsessions and as Angela will say, in regards of what it means to actually achieve the greatness you're looking to achieve. And we didn't get first place, but we still got third, which is our best showing at that point and over 20 years of the program's history and actually in 30 years, we fast forward 10 years from there. And for me personally, yeah, those opponents, they did see the back of my spikes. So I was able to still succeed there. And it was that experience actually that helped me realize that in life, whether it's athletics professions, it's following these two boys I have, sometimes it takes what it takes. It takes the work to put in day in, day out and loving what you do. And there'll be some points where you're back maybe against the wall, maybe tired, but you have to grind through. And track, for me, was a very, very, very clear sport where it's very binary. There's no subjectivity in terms of winners and losers. There's a gun, there's a track, go. And then you're either first or you're last. And to me, I kind of approach life in that way. So that's kind of what I think shapes me in terms of where I am today as an athlete mindset.
Marie Rosecrans: What a fantastic set of stories. And I don't typically say this, but congratulations on the third place finish. It sounds like you really brought the team up from last place to third place. And as long as you're winning, that's all that matters. So Angela, I want to talk a little bit about something that people are feeling a lot about right now and that's stress. These are very uncertain times, really uncertain for a lot of small business owners and founders out there. You talk a lot about optimizing and managing our reactions to very stressful situations. And one of the things that I really want to call out about what you talk about is that we must first acknowledge these emotions before we can truly harness their power. And so what strategies do you have to offer for these small business owners? Because we are here to be of service to them in this Stories of Resilience Series. How can we help them better manage stress because they're feeling it from all different directions?
Angela Duckworth: Yeah. And what I will say about the science of stress, I think will tie in somewhat to what Kobie was talking about, right? When you have something happen, like coming in last place or something potentially more personal or less personal, they're all threats, right? And the human body has a stress response, which is what we do in our body and also in our mind, our brain, when we perceive that there is a threat, something negative and we're maybe going to be harmed. I mean that's really what we're all experiencing. So one reason why we should acknowledge the stress that we're having is normal is because it is. I mean, you're wired to have anxiety and to not sleep well and to grind your teeth and to have disruptions in your desire to exercise and so forth. Acknowledgement, I think is the first step. And one thing that I discovered about really gritty leaders is that they are not invulnerable. They're not invincible. They're stressed too. They're highly imperfect people it turns out, right? But what they're able to do I think is get beyond that first step, which is acknowledging, and then having fully understood that they're having a normal response to stress or to failure or to last place, et cetera. They do something I think that not everyone does. And that is to say, okay, what part of this puzzle can I control and do something about? Which is also why I love the rest of the Kobie's stories. It's like, what happened junior year and then what happened, right? Because in the sequence, like, okay, acknowledge it. Okay, now I'm going to focus on maybe part of this puzzle that I have control over. Like I can go to the weight room, I can work harder. I think for all of us experiencing stress right now, we can ask like, well, what are the things that I can do? And there's nobody who doesn't have something they can do. And I think that is the most adaptive way. When I say optimizing stress, the research I'm talking about is mostly done at Stanford, by a professor named Alia Crum. And she uses this very useful language. Many of us think about minimizing stress, but we should be thinking about optimizing our response to stress. Not that we want to have zero stress or that we want to have zero stress response, but that when life hits us with negative events that are threats, that we may even use it. Right? And some great, great leaders think about using that energy, which is part of like the elevated heart rate, the arousal, the sort of scanning the horizon for fuel really to take those few things that you can change and you can control and really do everything you can with them.
Marie Rosecrans: I love that, being able to use stress as momentum rather than holding you back. Such excellent, excellent advice. Next time I have a sleepless night I'm definitely going to be thinking about how I need to be using that to my advantage. So thank you for that. I'm going to take a little bit of a pivot here, Kobie, and I would like to have you talk about your experiences in analyzing businesses as an investor. And specifically, I'm looking to have you share maybe some of the unique qualities that you look for in either small businesses or founding teams as you look to see if they have the grit, if they have the passion, the perseverance to make it through and be successful. So would love to kind of tap into what's the secret sauce behind that?
Kobie Fuller: Yeah. The number of things that for me are extremely important to figure out is how to make investment decisions. Because this is very much a people business, when I invest in a company, I'm sitting on their boards, I'm talking to them potentially even daily. So first and foremost, I want to understand like, this individual, would I want to go on a long journey with them, go on a mission with them. For me, it's understanding does this founder look at this business that they're building as truly a mission because mission- driven founders approach the aspect of company building entirely different. They look at it as a purpose, a reason why they're actually sort of existing on this planet to actually bring this product to market. And so for me, if someone's actually trying to start a business that's more oriented around manufacturing capital and money and not to actually do some greater calling that they feel truly in their gut, that to me is something that is just a red flag personally, in terms of what will happen when there is a bump in the road, when there's a massive pandemic, where then they have to entirely shift years and think through what does it take to actually survive the next 12 months or so. So for me, mission- driven founders are extremely important in terms of who I want to spend time with. And then next as well is, can I trust them with money? Can I trust them with a dollar? If I gave you a dollar, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to go run and spend it on something silly? Are you going to use that dollar and are you going to plant a harvest? If you're going to plant a harvest, that's who I want to actually share my capital with. And I want to share all my capital with, because this harvest that can be created, especially if it's aligned in terms of mission they're trying to build, can be somethings magnificent. I'll have the privilege to be a part of in terms of this investment process and journey. So for me, it's all about those subtle aspects of who's actually running the business. On top of the basic things like what's the product, is the market large enough, those types of basic mechanics. Those are things that you can look in any slide and figure out if it's actually worthy of Venture capital. But for me, those subtle aspects are what separates good from great.
Marie Rosecrans: You call them subtle, but they're so hugely important and very distinctive in terms of a company's ability to succeed. So thank you so much for sharing that. So Angela, I want to drill down a little bit on the topic of teams and how important it is for teams to work together, because a well- oiled team can certainly make or break a company, particularly if they're not working well together. So as you can appreciate right now, a lot of teams, one of the topics that's come up over the Stories of Resilience programs that we've done over the last few months is the uncertainty, the pressure that team members feel right now with everything going on, whether it's at home and at work. And so I'd love to have you give us some advice or strategies for leaders on how they build, help their team members build that resilience that is so critical in order to make it through these coming months, quarters and years, frankly, we don't know. Right? And so would love your guidance on that.
Angela Duckworth: Oh, there's new research that's coming out of, well, Kobie's alma mater and also mine, Harvard University. There's an economist there named David Deming who's been studying teams, like what makes a great team player and what makes a great team. And it's hard to do because you basically have to like randomly assign people. It's like multiple team configurations. Anyway, he did all that hard work. And one of his conclusions is that a great team member is somebody who is a really watching for what the emotional goings on are of the other team members. Right? So if you're on a team with four other people, you could be thinking 100% about the task at hand and you might think, oh, that's the ideal team member, somebody's who's thinking about the problems and possible solutions. But it turns out in his research, and this is now also coming out of lots of other people, including professors at Wharton, which is where I teach, that team members are very socially intelligent and they're watching for facial expressions and they're catching like, oh, wait a second. You're confused. We actually have to pause here. Or like, I don't think you're on board with this. I think actually that emotion that I'm reading could be frustration and anger. So that ability to not only be great in terms of skill and knowledge on the kind of work of the work, right, but also having this interpersonal skill and especially being inclined to try to read other people's emotions is really important. And I would add to that research older research that says, in addition to being able to read facial expressions, like noticing the furrowed brow or the tightening of the lip, basically you should ask people because as good as the most socially intelligent person is, even if you're the Oprah Winfrey of team members, you very often get it wrong. Like you think somebody is mad at you, but they're just tired because they couldn't sleep last night. So practical advice for building teams and leading teams is that you make it a norm that maybe for example, when you start meetings, you somehow go around with a very quick like, how are you feeling? And you create a norm where people are just basically constantly on some of the same wavelength, I guess, about how other people are doing emotionally.
Marie Rosecrans: Such great, actionable advice. I know that that's something that a lot of teams probably did early in the pandemic, but it's even just as important to do it now and continue to do that in the future.
Angela Duckworth: And it's hard, right? We're all tired. Aren't we all tired and in a bad mood, or maybe it's just me. But these things that we should do are also kind of hard to do when you yourself are fried. But yeah, it doesn't make it any less important. It makes it more important.
Marie Rosecrans: Yeah. It's so important to have some intention around asking. You talk about the nonverbal communications, but also just asking, checking in with people to get a sense of how they're doing. So it's important all the time, but particularly important right now. So a quick follow- up on that, you have studied some of the most incredible athletes and athletic teams, even national Spelling Bee champions. I noticed that you've studied them too, to really understand what makes them gritty. And so I'd love to have you talk a little bit about how those learnings have helped you become a phenomenal leader and CEO of your own company. What have you taken crosstalk.
Angela Duckworth: Oh, I'm not a phenomenal CEO, but we'll address it. So I'm not surprised that Kobie ran track. I'm not surprised that he did it for multiple years. I'm not surprised that he became captain. Actually one way that I have tried to assess grit without asking someone to fill out a questionnaire that by the way is totally fakeable. So for example, thinking more about how you would hire somebody for grit or how would you know that somebody is gritty? I very often find that it is evidenced by, for example, when they were in college, multiple year commitments, often in sports, honestly, where you can track real progression, right? It's not random who becomes captain and it's not random that you did it for multiple years as opposed to one year. So this idea that you could learn to be passionate and persevering in one domain and then have it carry over, because now you're running a VC fund or maybe you're running a company, I do think that is very often what happens is that you learn a life lesson in one domain. And then maybe with the assistance of parents or coaches, or maybe in rare cases, you figure it out on your own, you're like, oh, this is also what it's like to run a company or this is also like, however it applies in another domain. I, myself, I think I am pretty gritty, but I am not a great leader. So I am the Head of Character Lab, this relatively small nonprofit. But I think one thing just to say, when I was listening to Kobie talk about mission- driven leaders, I have that, and I loved his list. Right? It's like mission- driven leaders who are also able to take a dollar and plant a harvest as opposed to like buy a cheeseburger, I guess. Right? But I might also add to that, I think, and this gets back to why I wouldn't call I'm a great leader, is that, I think that you want somebody who really enjoys, because not just mission- driven. It's mission- driven and that you have to enjoy at some kind of very visceral level what you do. I love psychology, right? I want to read this paper, maybe it's a Friday night, I want to read the paper. I don't love being a leader. So I think the great leaders are mission- driven by values and purpose. And they really like this thing that they do. So if it's consumer products, they just really enjoy something about consumer products. So I think that's why I am not a truly great nonprofit and there's a executive director named Sean and everybody reports to him. And I think, for him, that's where he gets his energy.
Marie Rosecrans: So it sounds like in what you just talked about, you talked about mission- driven, planting a harvest, but you also admitted that perhaps you have some limitations as a leader, but you brought in some really strong leadership around you to lead that team. So I think that that's certainly very challenging.
Angela Duckworth: You could count it. Maybe that counts, but you know what I mean? But in terms of the inspiring leader, he's there every day and helping everybody be their best, which is what a great leader does, that actually doesn't give me energy. Maybe an investor, like you Kobie would say like certain aspects of companies are exciting to you, but you'd rather be a VC than the person who's in the operational seat because of where you get your energy. I don't know if that applies. I would love to hear.
Kobie Fuller: It's exactly that. I'd rather be on the side of the table versus spraying every day, because I feel like I'd be a horrible CEO, but I feel like I'd be better to be on the side of the table, helping multiple companies. Because I also just get bored very quickly. So if I'm in one thing way too long, then I'm like, okay, I just...
Angela Duckworth: Our next... Yeah, right.
Marie Rosecrans: I love the power of self- awareness right here. So one final question before we move on to my favorite part of this session today. So Kobie, you have experienced grit, perseverance throughout your entire career. You talked about track team captain, you worked in a startup, you're a co- founder, now also an investor. And so love to get your advice and guidance a little bit on how small businesses should push forward during these times of uncertainty. Maybe can you talk a little bit about the place that you've gone to or what skills, attributes, characteristics you've been able to tap into when times have been uncertain for you?
Kobie Fuller: Yeah. And I'd say right now, we're in a moment in time of biblical proportions, in terms of what's going on. It's hard to go to any resource or document or book that can truly help you understand how to deal with the complications of both emotional, potentially physical and health and financial stress that may be happening in running a business. So there's, this two things that I've been leaning on very heavily during these times. One, basic principles that I've learned in the last couple of years through one of my friends named Trevor Moawad, he's a mental performance and conditioning coach that's worked the likes of Russell Wilson, Alabama, Crimson Tide, and the likes. And he has a book called It Takes What It Takes, which preaches the power of neutral thinking and really trying to stress that if you just latch onto this notion of neutral, which partially means just breed out all the negativity that, that'll help you actually optimize performance in a material fashion. And there's data that he cites in the book that suggests that negative thoughts have a 10 X impact on your performance. And there's a multiplying effect if you actually articulate negative thoughts out loud. So the power of the spoken word actually is truly impactful. So there's a four to seven multiplier effect on top of just the thinking of the thought that can result in there being, in essence, an effect of 40 to 70 X probability or increased chance of that negative thought or that spoken word affecting your performance. So for me, just not saying negative things out loud has a huge impact on my ability to optimize my mindset for success. So I've been applying that for the last few years since spending time with Trevor and it's been critically important for me right now, given these trying times. And the second, honestly, in a world of we're seeing sort of this biblical activity. Like I go to the Bible, I go to my faith to be quite honest. Every Sunday of going to now, I've been doing a virtual small group and listening to sessions, focusing on this notion of just when life doesn't work, relying on faith, faith will help. And for anyone that believes in the higher power, leaning on that to actually better carry you through those moments, I found being incredibly, incredibly helpful. And the Book of James actually goes through a lot of these actual tenants around finding hope, being patient, keeping emotional help, loving thy neighbor, being anchored in storms. These are all things that right now are super relevant. So between faith and this practical sort of mindset principles, that's been the two things I've been anchoring myself in, in terms of getting through these troubling times.
Marie Rosecrans: Thank you so much for sharing that. I know that, Angela, you probably have some Friday night reading now.
Angela Duckworth: I know, I wrote it down. I was like, It Takes What It Takes. Did I get that right, Kobie?
Kobie Fuller: Yeah.
Angela Duckworth: It Takes What It Takes. Okay, got it. Yeah. I've heard of Trevor.
Marie Rosecrans: We're going to wrap this up with a fun tradition that we have on Stories of Resilience. It's a rapid fire, so no overthinking allowed, but it's inspired by one of my personal heroes, Brené Brown, who is our second speaker on Stories of Resilience. These questions are really intended for the audience to get to know you on a personal level. So I'm going to start with Angela and then go to Kobie for every question. Does that sound good? So Angela, what's one thing you've let go of this year.
Angela Duckworth: Oh my gosh, haircuts. Haven't gotten one since this year.
Marie Rosecrans: That's a softball. Kobie?
Kobie Fuller: I'm going to piggyback on that, shaving.
Marie Rosecrans: All right. How about a small business that you've supported this month?
Angela Duckworth: Okay. I have been supporting my local yoga studio, who's doing Zoom classes and they're great. And they've been saving my life. So I'm trying to support them.
Marie Rosecrans: I love that. Kobie?
Kobie Fuller: I recently bought a jigsaw puzzle from a company called Puzzle Huddle, which are jigsaw puzzles for diverse backgrounds of children. So that's something that I recently bought a couple of weeks ago.
Marie Rosecrans: Fantastic. What are you reading right now?
Angela Duckworth: Me?
Marie Rosecrans: Yes.
Angela Duckworth: I'm reading, like the guy who wrote Crazy Rich Asians wrote this book whose name I can't think of. It's completely vacuous. That's what I'm reading.
Marie Rosecrans: Love it. Kobie?
Kobie Fuller: Berenstain books to my children.
Marie Rosecrans: All right. And then last question, who inspires you? Angela?
Angela Duckworth: I want to be Carol Dweck when I grow up. So she's a psychologist who gave the world growth mindset and she's a Stanford professor. If I become half of Carol Dweck, I will live twice as much of life that I wanted to live.
Marie Rosecrans: Love that. Going to have to Google her right after this. Kobie?
Kobie Fuller: I'd say honestly, probably the countless frontline workers right now. They're just keeping everything running in this country. I don't take it for granted in terms of all the incredibly hard work and risk that they're putting their lives into. So probably them.
Marie Rosecrans: It goes without saying. Thank you so much to the two of you. This series is all about being of service to small business owners and founders and entrepreneurs. And I can really say that the two of you in sharing all of your wisdom, your practical advice, you've helped us do that. So thank you again for your time today.
Michael Rivo: That was Angela Duckworth and Kobie Fuller speaking with Salesforce Senior Vice- President of Small Business, Marie Rosecrans. We hope you enjoyed today's show. For insights into this topic and others, head over to salesforce. com/ blog for resources to help guide you through today's most challenging economic and social environments. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. Thanks for listening.
SEASON 6 | EPISODE 5 | 31:23 MIN | 03.03.2021
Reimagining Work: A Conversation with Slack's Stewart Butterfield and Salesforce's Bret Taylor
In a matter of months, everything we knew about working and operating a business was flipped on its head. And with that almost overnight transformation have come new challenges for empl...
In a matter of months, everything we knew about working and operating a business was flipped on its head. And with that almost overnight transformation have come new challenges for employees and employers alike.
In this episode, you’ll hear from Bret Taylor, the president and COO of Salesforce, and Stewart Butterfield, the CEO and co-founder of Slack. Bret and Stewart Bret speak with Megan Greenwell, the editor of Wired.com, and explain why the overnight reinvention of work will have a positive impact in the long run, plus they share their perspective on work-related trends they believe are here to stay.
Michael Rivo: Welcome back to Blazing Trails. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce Studios. I'm joined again by my partner in podcast, Rachel Levin. Welcome back, Rachel.
Rachel Levin: Good to be here, Michael. I think it's time I changed things up a little bit and I want to put you in the hot seat.
Michael Rivo: Okay.
Rachel Levin: So tell us about who we're going to be hearing from today.
Michael Rivo: Well, today we have Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, and Brett Taylor, president and COO of Salesforce.
Rachel Levin: Whoa, pretty big heavy hitters.
Michael Rivo: Whoa is right. This is the conversation that we all want to hear, and we are excited to bring it to you today. So this was recorded as part of WIRED magazine's CES panel in January 2021, and moderated by Megan Greenwell who's the editor of WIRED. com. And it's an interesting conversation about the future of work in many ways and the new hybrid work models that are going to be coming that we're all going to be a part of. So some great perspective on that.
Rachel Levin: I remember when I first started using Slack in the newsroom years ago and you knew it was going to be this big thing because it became a verb. I slacked you, right? So it's incredible to see how that company has grown. I was reading that within the last year it went from 12 million people using Slack to over 20 million now. So that's pretty incredible and it shows you just how central messaging has become to all kinds of business and industry, not just in tech, right?
Michael Rivo: It's really how we're working today. And in the conversation, they talk about messaging being a central nervous system for businesses. So some really interesting ideas about messaging, about the future of work, the integration of Slack into Salesforce and what the future holds. So we are super excited to bring you this episode. So let's join the conversation. Again, recorded as part of WIRED magazine CES panel in January 2021. So let's join Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, Brett Taylor, president and COO of Salesforce with WIRED. com editor, Megan Greenwell.
Megan Greenwell: Hello everyone, and welcome to WIRED HQ virtually at CES. I'm Megan Greenwell, the editor of WIRED. com and for today's event I'm really excited to have Brett Taylor, the president and COO of Salesforce and Stewart Butterfield, the CEO and co- founder of Slack. Today we'll be discussing the future of work and how to redefine our concept of the office. Before we kick things off, I want to let you all watching at home know that we encourage you to submit questions in the chat window starting now. And we will include as many of those questions as possible in the final 10 minutes or so of the event. And now I'd like to introduce our panelists. As president and COO of Salesforce, Brett Taylor leads the company's global product vision, as well as engineering, security, marketing and communications initiatives. Previously, he was a co- founder and the CEO of Quip, which Salesforce acquired in 2016. And before that, he served as the CTO of Facebook, where he saw the company through its IPO in 2012 and was credited with the invention of the like button. Brett joined Facebook in 2009 after they acquired his social networking company FriendFeed. He started his career at Google where he co- created Google Maps. Thanks for coming, Brett.
Brett Taylor: Thanks for having me, Megan.
Megan Greenwell: And Stewart Butterfield is the CEO and co- founder of Slack. In 2013, Stewart and his team launched Slack, which grew into the leading channel based messaging platform. In 2003, he co- founded Flicker. He's been named one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world. One of Business Week's top 50 leaders and in 2015 was named Technology Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal magazine. Thanks for coming, Stewart.
Stewart Butterfield: Thank you.
Megan Greenwell: So I want to talk about several aspects of our changing work culture, but I thought I should start with the acquisition that brought you two together last month. On December 1st, nine months into a pandemic that had made Slack even more of a force in millions of workers lives, Salesforce acquired Slack for$ 28 billion in a deal that you Stewart called the most strategic combination in the history of software. I'll start with you, Brett, can you talk a little bit about your shared goals for the combined company to change the way we work?
Brett Taylor: It's become almost trite to talk about the impact of 2020 on the way we work, but I really can't overstate how significant it is. We have events like this going over Zoom. Retailers in the world have gone from brick and mortar to curbside pickup and direct consumer digital. Medical care for many of us is the first time we've experienced telehealth. And now every CEO I talk to her in the world, the big question is, of the habits that we've developed in this pandemic, what will we retain on the other side? And when I look at that, I think about flexible work. I think about employees who will take advantage of the fact that we've all learned how to effectively work from home to maybe have a more flexible work environment for themselves. I think about salespeople thinking, do I need to get on the airplane or can I communicate digitally with my customer? I think about customer service. I think about marketing, I think about e- commerce and just how much has permanently changed. And when I look at the future, I just think about how relevant Slack is to all of us, as colleagues, as customers, as consumers. I really think of it as kind of the operating system for the new way we work. And I think the combination of Slack plus all of the applications Salesforce makes for people in sales and customer service and marketing and commerce, it's an incredible opportunity to say, what does the company need to succeed in this all digital work anywhere world? So that's our vision and I'm really hopeful that we kind of accelerate what Slack started in transforming the way all of us work together.
Megan Greenwell: And Stewart, how would you characterize the pandemic's impact on the way we think of the workplace generally?
Stewart Butterfield: Well, so I can acknowledge that a lot of this is very much up in the air and we'll kind of see how it evolves, but I think many of the things that Brett touched on are really important. We kind of evolved the form of business we have today over the last maybe 100 years or so. Not because anyone designed it to be this way, but because this was just the way that things evolved. And I think it's really important for people to physically get together, at least sometimes, but almost certainly given the technology that has been developed since maybe the 1970s. We're over- reliant on that. The amount of business travel that I did before, even though I was probably only in the top half seems preposterous now, now we know that we're able to do this all from home. And it doesn't mean that I wouldn't wish that the pandemic would end and we can physically get together, I could go visit customers or they could come to visit us or I can spend time with my team. But we obviously had this capability before because companies like us were able to turn around in a week and just continue over the course of the year, quite productively. And almost every company was regardless of their industry unless they were directly affected by the pandemic. And if you asked most of their chief executives a week before that happened whether they would be able to, they would have been like me. I would have said, no, I don't think it's possible for us to just all start working from home the next week and maintain the same level of productivity. So sometimes things that seem impossible when they need to happen, you discover that you're able to do them. And I think with that discovery comes an era where rather than kind of random chaotic evolution of business practices, there's a little bit more intentionality and a little bit more design and a little bit more thoughtfulness about how we can best leverage technologies to work together.
Megan Greenwell: Brett, I'm curious, how much do you see what has changed over the past year as an acceleration of long- term trends? We were already moving in this direction anyway. Salesforce and Slack were already integral tools in our lives. And to what extent do you think something has fundamentally changed, that there's something fundamentally new going on as a result of the pandemic?
Brett Taylor: I think definitely a lot of 2020 has been about accelerating trends. It's not like we hadn't experienced e- commerce before this past Cyber Week, but when you look at the volume of e- commerce and the penetration, the number of people around the world who experienced e- commerce for the first time, it was a meaningful multi- year acceleration of that trend and we're not going back. I look at things like telehealth, another good example. We've been talking about that. And there was a number of both expectations, regulatory hurdles that 2020 sort of forced society to work through. And now that people have experienced the convenience of things like telehealth, we're not going back. And I look at the of consumer goods companies who perhaps had an initiative to go direct to consumer prior to the pandemic, but once digital was the only channel left, they accelerated that initiative. And I think it's permanently changed the business model of a lot of companies. So I do think that I view this, I think we'll look back at this year as accelerating the digitization of the economy. Accelerating the digitization of the workplace. And I think those are really meaningful trends. Stewart said something that I think is important, which is if you had asked me... I mean, we're Salesforce, right? We have Salesforce Tower. We're very oriented towards our real estate. If you had asked me if we could be successful digitally as a company, I probably would have laughed at you. And certainly with no preparation, it would've felt unachievable, but we did it. The thing I don't think anyone knows right now, though it's really fun to talk about, is once we are no longer required to be separated for health concerns, what is a new normal that we embrace as employees, as companies and what does that look like? It was interesting, in the middle of this pandemic we did a survey of our employees and the vast majority wanted to work remotely. We redid the same survey recently and 72% of our employees wanted to return to the workplace because of the fatigue of the pandemic. I think that's really interesting because it really shows you that I think the best companies will look about how do I intentionally develop my culture in this all digital work, anywhere world. And what does that flexible hybrid work model look like? I think that's the most interesting question facing every company right now.
Megan Greenwell: And Stewart, Slack is always regarded as a place that has a really strong company culture. All of us who are plugged in to what's going on and in Silicon Valley in San Francisco hear a lot about Slack culture and I'm curious how that's sustained, and what you guys have learned for the future when we're not separated anymore?
Stewart Butterfield: We've definitely been able to maintain it. And I guess there's still an open question for me and for many others, how much of that is reliant on the fact that we were together physically for so long prior to this? So I actually don't know the current number, but at least 25% of our employees today started post pandemic. So the 75%, the ones who started pre pandemic, they got flown out to San Francisco, whether they worked in Dublin or Tokyo or anywhere else. They spent a week with members of their team, that kind of onboarding. They attended events, small groups, large groups. And in that process of even just waiting for the elevator or hanging out in the lobby waiting for your ride, you formed these weak relationships. And I don't mean weak in a negative way at all, just in contrast to the strong ties you have with your manager or your direct reports or the people you work with most closely and how much work where those weak social ties doing in creating cultural cohesion. That's a question that we still have yet to answer. However, I think there's been a little bit of an inversion, whereas before, even though we sold Slack, probably looked at digital technologies as a way of augmenting the real way that you worked, which was together in a room with people. And I think that we're experiencing an inversion there. So the real way you work together is the digital way and now you can augment that with in- person meetings, again, of course, once the vaccine is more widespread and pandemic subsides. And I think that way of thinking, that your real headquarters is the digital headquarters as opposed to your real headquarters, being for us 500 Howard Street in San Francisco, that's a real paradigm shift. And I think a shift in the way people approach organizational design, company culture, productivity, all of those things. Maybe this is my hope and we'll see what happens, but my hope is that we can find the best of both worlds. That we can really take advantage of the technologies that are most helpful for us and where the physical presence is a big augmentation to either creating a culture or forming relationships, we're able to take advantage of that as well.
Megan Greenwell: I want to talk a little bit about the business travel question in particular. I also used to travel to San Francisco from my home in New York all the time to see my team and all of the tools we use pre- existed the pandemic. So it's not like we're doing anything new. I'm curious about how your teams, we'll start with you Stewart since you're already on screen, how they sort of coped with that and learned how to do things in new ways using existing tools.
Stewart Butterfield: Yeah. So I mean, the onboarding is maybe the best example. We have a really dedicated team and we've invested a lot in learning and development and new hire onboarding since the very beginning. And when you go back to like March 15th or something like that, after the offices had already been shut down and while we're still in this really uncertain period of trying to figure out how we were going to work, for some of our employees like maybe sales and marketing, there were some pretty big question marks about, are we still going to have events? Are we still going to do field marketing? Are we still going to have customer meetings? Are we're still going to have executive briefing centers? But I think a lot of that work was able to continue in a relatively natural way, at least temporarily because of course we did the customers remotely pre- pandemic and we did do virtual events and digital marketing. The ones that were really interesting were recruiting and that onboarding process because they were just so different. The thought of making hires without physically meeting them face- to- face and without that kind of almost ritual of them showing up to the office and meeting people and learning about the culture and how the company works, those ones seemed a lot more difficult. And those teams were able to really dive in, kind of take charge. While you can't constantly be paying attention to the mental level of how you do things to the same degree that you're paying attention to actually doing them, a really intense period there allowed the creation of a totally new way of onboarding. And I think that we were almost certainly in a world where we were able to physically get people together, be much more reliant on the digital means. It's just inertia. There's still plenty of places where you go to the office building and you literally take a pen and fill something out on a piece of paper. And then that thing gets scanned or maybe OCRed or maybe there's someone who has a data entry job, who copies information from this form into a database. Even today in the pandemic, there's still quite a bit of that. And of course, it's obviously better to digitize those things. In the same way, I think we don't look critically at the processes that we had before and which ones could have been improved dramatically through digital means. So I guess if there's an overall lesson from that, it's maybe we need to be a little bit more introspective or be a little bit more deliberate in assessing the ways in which we're working to try to find those efficiencies.
Megan Greenwell: That's great. And Brett, sales is firstly a very high touch field. So I'm curious what pain points you've found both within Salesforce and for your clients and how you've addressed them in the remote work world.
Brett Taylor: Yeah. It's a really interesting question. I think at the beginning of this pandemic because we were so unprepared for it like so many other companies, our sales team and then I think sales teams I spoke with around the world, there was a bit of paralysis. It was a bit like what Stewart was just talking about, the way things were done suddenly stopped. And so everyone had to collectively reinvent the way they work. And that was an incredible challenge. I really liked the way Stewart articulated it. The way I think about it is that the world collectively has now developed a beginner's mind about the way we do work. So much of what we did was because that's the way we did it before. And now that we've been forced to re- imagine the way we work, I think the opportunity is to say, okay, on the other side of this, how do we want to intentionally rebuild our culture when it's an option for us. The example you brought up of sales, I think is a great one. What we did here at Salesforce was we really had to do sort of a call to action at our company around what we call participation, which is just the way we work has fundamentally shifted. Everyone needs to be accountable for their customer's success, get on that phone, get on that Zoom and just make a call and ask how you can be helpful. We called it our pandemic operating model and we basically went around the company and said, don't have paralysis and just get on the phone and ask how you can be helpful. It turned into something we called the million Zoom challenge just to activate our entire employee base to just be engaged and be engaged with our customers as they were going through what I think was probably the most meaningful disruption any of us have experienced in our business lives, in our careers. And on the other side of that, I think it really sort of begs the question like Stewart was talking about with recruiting, which is now that we've developed this deep relationship with all of our customers digitally, what does it look like on the other side of this? And I think I will speak for Salesforce, but I think reflects what I'm hearing from our customer base, which is I think an appetite to not just snap back to the way things were. And there's a theme of really people doing it intentionally. I was just on the phone with an insurance company this morning that estimates, even on the other side of this pandemic, over 70% of this workforce will be distributed. And I think that's really representative of the customer conversations that I'm having.
Megan Greenwell: We've heard a lot this year about how people have a harder time disconnecting when their home is their office and their office is their home. I was up with insomnia at 4: 00 AM this morning and I started responding to a work email. I was like, what am I doing? This is crazy. Don't do this. So I'm curious how, you will start Stewart, how you sort of enforce boundaries and help your employees do the same?
Stewart Butterfield: It's a great question. And the answer is we're still figuring it out. And I think there's a couple other things that come into play. So your home is your work. For many people, your home is also your kids' school. And these physical spaces weren't necessarily designed to accommodate that. A lot of people chose where they live based on a bunch of criteria that in retrospect may not have been as important or maybe would have been displaced in importance by the stuff that you need today. All of this will change. And at some point the pandemic will subside and I think it will be a very different experience for a couple of reasons. So one is the amenities of normal life will be back. You can go get your nails done or you can sit at a cafe with your laptop and get some work done while watching people go by. All the things that were sources of satisfaction or variety. I also think there's a good reason people want to separate their work life and their home life, and going into the office was not just like a ritual that they enjoyed, but it kind of created that abdication. One thing we haven't really touched on is the market forces at play here. So the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that employees who are currently allowed to work remotely will decide, all right, well, I'm going to move further away from the city center and get a larger place because my kids can go outside. As that happens, you can't expect everyone to snap back. So I think there will be, enforced is the wrong word, but they'll be some constraints on the way in which we can design spaces. But one thing that I still think we'll see a lot of is the local co- working inaudible in a more distributed sense. So people still get to go see their colleagues or in some cases just other people who are working without necessarily going into one of our offices. There's a big question mark there, but it's having to create the discipline yourself that previously was enforced by the physical separation of spaces is hard. I mean, just like anything else, our willpower is limited. Like procrastination or sticking with your diet, getting enough exercise, eating healthy, spending more time reading rather than watching TV, whatever it is, we're pretty bad at doing things even when we want to and we know that they're better for us. So it's good that you caught yourself at 4: 00 AM, but I think you're probably still going to be catching yourself doing the same thing until there's some means by which we can supplement your will. There's something outside of your brain and in your house or your apartment that can help because I think as humans we kind of need that.
Megan Greenwell: I want to make sure we have enough time for all of our good audience questions. There are some really good ones rolling in. I'll start with this one from Harvey that I'll point to you, Brett. Can we expect a meaningful and longer term shift to remote/ digital for jobs beyond software, sales, IT, e. g. healthcare, legal services, et cetera? Do our apps and paradigms of work deeply understand other professions and will they be able to support any momentum toward remote work and collaboration in those industries as well?
Brett Taylor: Yeah. The short answer to that is I believe the answer is yes. In my job, I had the privilege of talking to so many companies in a wide variety of industries and certainly the traditional white collar office jobs, every single company I'm talking to from every single region of the world is contemplating more flexible work. I think the really interesting question is how that translates into the workforce plan for companies around the world. There's a great framework from Clayton Christensen called jobs to be done and I like to say, what are the jobs to be done if you've an office? One, is a location to do your work, but as Stewart alluded to, there's a lot of other things that are really important for an office. It creates moments of serendipity. It's a way for companies to imbue culture. It creates spaces for a really high bandwidth in- person collaboration. So I think going forward, I've heard a broad appetite for every type of job, in every type of industry. I mean, part, as Stewart sort of alluded to, driven by employees who now have experienced remote work. And I think every company I know of is having a conversation about, okay, what about flexible work? What does this mean for both our real estate strategy and our workforce plan? And I think the big question that we've talked about a bunch in this conversation though is, what is the role of the office in that environment and how do we make sure we don't lose our culture in that process? I think that's different in different job types. I think it's different, different industries, but I firmly believe it will be a trend in every single industry in the world.
Megan Greenwell: I have a question here about Zoom. Stewart, I'll point this one at you. Despite people becoming more comfortable on video meetings, I think there's definitely some Zoom burnout, but still a desire to see who we're talking to. Is there some sort of in- between?
Stewart Butterfield: Yeah, it's a great question and something that we've been spending a lot of time on. I think we realized when we're trying to figure out how to make this work better for ourselves, for our employees and for our customers was, are there processes that today must be synchronous that we could make asynchronous. And the biggest use of time that requires that synchronicity is meetings. If the meeting is 11:00 to 12: 00 on a Tuesday, you have some people calling in from time zone X and some people from Y, it really requires everyone to stop what they're doing, base all their day around this. So that's not a time that they can give their kids the school lessons or take care of parents or run errands or get exercise or any of those things. Everyone must be focused on this event for the full hour or 30 minutes or whatever. And of course, those of you who've attended meetings know that you're not always needed. I think there are a lot of meetings that are important, that they're synchronous. Some percentage, I don't know, 10%, 25%, maybe as much as 50%, might be better asynchronously. And when I say that, some of the stuff we're working on, I guess more directly a lot like Instagram stories. So a lot of the meetings that are more or less check- ins than around the table updates or people reporting on the progress, there's no reason why we have to do those all at the same time. There might be some efficiencies in doing that, but there's some big inefficiencies in requiring that everyone to do that. I think an amenity or a perk of inaudible employees these days is a little bit more flexibility. Rather than have your whole day of eight hours where your every minute is like, you have to be doing this task then, giving people a couple of hours back so that they can work early in the morning or late evening, or they can do other things during the day, make a big difference. So you imagine like a Slack message, a meeting object that has people's updates and then you can attach documents. You can attach the presentation. And instead of that meeting happening from 11:00 to 12:00 on the Tuesday, it happens from 11:00 on Tuesday till 11: 00 on Thursday or something like that. This is really spread out over time and people are able to participate to the degree that it's important for them to do so. And they get to pay the right amount of attention and they get that flexibility. So that's something that personally I'm looking forward to. Well, Zoom is a great partner, we're a customer of Zoom, love the product. I don't have anything bad to say about Zoom. I am unhappy with the amount of time that I have to spend on camera. We're all watching people, all synchronously.
Megan Greenwell: Brett, I really like this question that's historical looking as well as forward- looking. This person says, where work from home policies perhaps too conservative in the past, too driven by norms that had worked for the status quo rather than for more inclusive workplaces and for workers who sought to create a more balanced home life? How, if at all, will any of that change permanently post COVID?
Brett Taylor: It's a great question and I think a lot of subtlety in this. I would argue that the atomic unit of work is not the individual, but the team. And I think that part of the reason distributed work is working right now is because we're all distributed. So we're all on equal footing. There's one camera per participant in the meeting. Communication is all digital. If any of you have been the remote participant in the meeting where everyone else is in a conference room, you know how excluded you feel, right? You know how hard it is to hear, how hard it is to inaudible in. And I think that's why probably inaudible to conservative around remote work before based on a belief about, does distributed remote work, work. I think obviously it's been proven in this pandemic. On the other hand, I do think that to do distributed work well, you really have to be intentional about how you organize the way you work. And in particular, how you organize around teams rather than simply organizing around individuals. Put another way, if every individual on a team has a different perspective about the way to work with each other, it doesn't work. And I think that's something that really drew us at Salesforce to Slack in particular, it was really oriented around teams. There's a phrase that Slack uses in the marketing which, this is your digital HQ. And I love that concept because it's not saying this is a way for me as an individual to work in a remote way. It's saying here's a technology that enables distributed teams to be effective. And when I look across our portfolio at Salesforce, whether it's people saying, how do we make a contact center that's not a building, but something that exists digital? How do I have a selling team that's selling into a large patch of customers where most of those interactions are digital and the team is distributed. When I look at teams in marketing or e- com department running Cyber Week in a distributed way, those are really I think the right ways to think about designing tools and policies around distributed work. Making sure you're focused on the outcomes of teams and not necessarily just the needs of individuals
Megan Greenwell: And Stewart, you talked a little bit about how much of the Slack team was hired during the pandemic. We have a good question of that from Judy. She says, how do you see recruiting shifting to hire for excellence allow for virtual work? Will that affect your focus on diversity hiring in light of the focus on the need for a more diverse workforce?
Stewart Butterfield: It's an interesting question I think because one of the barriers to diversity, I think historically has been geography. The San Francisco Metro Bay Area and San Francisco itself are not at all representative of the demographic makeup of the overall country. So if companies that are San Francisco based are equally able to hire in Chicago or Atlanta or Minneapolis as they are in San Francisco, I think it opens up a whole bunch of new possibilities and that should really raise the bar. I mean, there's never been a conflict in my mind between hiring for quality and hiring for diversity. And I think this makes both a lot easier, frankly. The other kind of benefit I hope to see long term as maybe a little bit of a knock on is, if these big Bay Area based tech companies are hiring in a lot of communities that they weren't previously hiring, that's not just going to have an impact on the individuals who are hired, but that creates a network. And that brings people's family and friends in, introduces people to business partners. I think it creates a much greater possibility that new businesses are able to flourish in places outside of the Bay Area. And of course they always were, but so much of the opportunity and so much of the wealth creation has happened in the Bay Area over the last 15 or 20 years. And spreading that out I think it's going to have a great impact both on the Bay Area based companies and the creation of the next generation across the country.
Megan Greenwell: Well, thank you. I'm afraid that's all we have time for today. There were some wonderful questions. I want to thank Brett and Stewart for a great conversation, and their really valuable insights. And I want to thank everybody at home for joining us today.
Michael Rivo: That was Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack and Brett Taylor, president and COO of Salesforce in conversation at WIRED magazine's CES panel in January 2021. For insights into this topic and others, head over to salesforce. com/ blog for resources to help guide you through today's changing economic and social environments. I'm Michael Rivo from Salesforce studios. Thanks for listening.