Jelani Memory on A Kids Book About, Startup Funding, and Following Your Purpose

A Kids Book About

Jelani Memory started a tech company, raised 30 million in venture capital, and left it at the height of its success to start… a publishing company. We asked Jelani about his startup successes, his new company A Kids Book About, and why going analogue in a digital world is a move worth making. What is your mission behind A Kids Book About? We are on a mission to make kids books that matter. Books that are about all the challenging, empowering, and important topics that kids experience every day. Kids’ lives are complicated, and our mission is to help kids and […]

July 2020: Awakening

never waste a good crisis

And then suddenly, everyone woke up. Well, not everyone. And not fully awake. But no one can deny that the past month has seen a remarkable wave of increased awareness in America about the perpetual problem of racism, and how society cannot be healthy when we insist on viewing ourselves as individuals whose actions and worldview don’t affect anyone rather than part of a system where everything is connected. To me, waking up is the point. It’s the process. As in, THE process. The purpose of life. To be continually evolving, learning, growing, connecting. It’s difficult because there is no finish […]

That Time I Crashed Bloomberg’s Victory Party

As Seen on TV, 36in x 48in, Oil on canvas

No matter what anyone says, it’s more fun to be on the winning team. Losing with dignity is a nice idea, but a mirage – even Red Sox fans had to invent The Curse so they could feel like they accomplished something every year they were met with a certain pinstriped team from The Bronx. So in the fall of 2005, when the candidate I’d been volunteering for in a pivotal New York City council district won on election night, it felt good to party, good to be thanked, good to be part of the team people wanted for the […]

A New Kind of Revolution: The Politics of Listening

politics of listening

This may not be a popular opinion. I’m writing it anyway because my own integrity requires it. First, I do not like what I see and hear on the news about what is happening in our country. In fact, I became so disempowered by the news that I opted out about 18 months ago. I just stopped paying attention and figured if there was something I needed to know, I’d hear about it eventually. This chafes my mother to no end. I’m not saying this was a good approach nor am I advocating you follow it. I’m just saying it’s […]

The Road That Built You

7. Fragility I

Retrospection is well-established as a critical business tool. Whether we’re comparing this year’s sales results to last year’s, providing employee feedback, or analyzing a project’s success, we all agree on the value of looking backward in time, to see what it can teach us. However, when it comes to the personal, we often discourage each other from too much looking back. We have a library of cliches and platitudes. “Don’t dwell in the past.” “Water under the bridge.” “What’s done is done.” We dismiss any journeys into our history as sentimental nostalgia, or relegate them to the therapist’s couch. Our […]

Your Culture is Killing You

Taped Shut Bronze Angel, 2019
Patina bronze
25 x 16 x 18 inches

If you’ve brushed up against corporate hiring practices lately, you’ve probably encountered the concept of Culture Fit—the idea that you should screen job applicants so that you only hire people whose beliefs and behaviors will integrate smoothly into your organization. It’s true that hiring people who don’t integrate well with your company culture can be highly disruptive. If you bring highly-competitive people into a highly-collaborative environment, or order-takers into an initiative-driven system, the outcome can be as hard on your existing staff as it is on the misfit new hire. However, Culture Fit can also be used as a proxy […]

Red Dirt Girls

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For ten days, we are bound by clay, water, sand and straw – in various ratios and textures. Bamboo, tapioca, and cement show up from time to time, but basically, we are women with red hands and feet. Kahlo (as in Frida) is 18 months old. Susan is 77. We are every decade in between. We are Thai, French, Hungarian; Canadian, American, Mongolian. We are Pakistani, raised in Canada, living in Malaysia. We are Punjabi, raised by immigrants in the UK, teaching in Chang Mai. We hail from Japan, Scotland, China, and Hong Kong. We are – the 35 of […]

Waking Up to the Wonder of Difference

Objects to Remember You By

I grew up in a half white, half Mexican neighborhood in Roseville, CA. My best friend was Hally (Angelica) Rodriguez. Her parents were Mexican immigrants. Her older brother was a cholo and sold drugs from her house. He was a dick. Her older sister was tough and foul-mouthed and her bangs stuck straight up in a great wall of a tidal wave above her forehead. She was so cool, I barely dared to look at her for all my unworthiness. Her mom, Diana, was a second mother to me, as mine was a single one, working nine to five. My twin […]

Cultivating Diversity: The Courage to Confront Our Biases

12thedogsnameisscamp

I’m ashamed to admit that I avoid talking about diversity because I worry that I will open my big mouth and commit some gross gaffe, causing extreme discomfort for everyone and and intense shame for myself. I worry I will reveal an “implicit bias” that unveils what an unconscious bigot I am and I will be rejected. By everyone. But, we are all biased. Our brains would self-combust if we didn’t use filters to sift through the onslaught of data and sensory experiences we encounter daily. Scientists estimate that we have conscious access to only 5% of our brains. So […]

Dear CEO: Your Feel-Good Diversity Initiative is Undermined By Every Other Way You’re Doing Business

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Last week, I sat in huge ballroom full of entrepreneurs and cringed as a white male CEO gave a TED-style talk on how he solved diversity. Yeah, that happened. You see, he has realized his business – oh! also his industry – oh oh! also his city – were too white and too male, and so he co-launched an initiative to place a one person of color as a paid intern at each of several dozen local startups. He had written an editorial on it too (not the kind of searching op-ed that’s designed to explore potential solutions difficult problems; the […]