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 […]

A New Kind of Revolution: The Politics of Listening

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

Personal Brand & Global Culture: Embrace the You in a Billion

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Our culture informs our world view. It informs what we know, how others see perceive us…often even before we speak. In a way, identifying how our culture and diversity make us unique has been at the core of my teaching philosophy, in my decade(plus) working with clients and students from around the world. Helping people find and use the “expert within” to create an authentic personal brand has become my expertise. Culture influences our values My first business, focused on helping thousands of actors from New York City to Los Angeles, and far beyond, understand business and the value of […]

Mixed-Race with a White Identity

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What happens when a mixed race child only has a white identity and then goes out into the world? I have spent my entire life straddling many worlds culturally, socially and racially. I am a mixed race woman and I am in a family of transracial adoption. (Transracial adoption means adopting children of a different race). My biological mother was a white woman from Dallas, Texas. My birth father was Afro-Latino from the Dominican Republic, which is a recent discovery. Before last year, I had never seen a photo of my birth father nor knew where he was from. I […]