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Culture and Diversity Leadership: Tale of Two Doors

NCFA Fintech Confidential | Jan 30, 2021

Culture and diversity leadership tale of two doors - Culture and Diversity Leadership:  Tale of Two Doors

The ‘Tale of Two Doors’ is part of a culture and diversity interview that took place on July 30, 2020 at FFCON20: RISE digital conference between moderator Fatima Zaidi, CEO and Co-founder, Quill Inc. and Glenn Lundy, Author, Speaker, Host #RiseAndGrind.  The entire session can be viewed here – enjoy!

Fatima Zaidi:  For those who have not had the pleasure of tuning into Glenn Lundy’s extremely popular Rise & Grind podcast - you absolutely should!  Glenn is a keynote speaker, author and has been seen at places like Hustle and Grind, Grow Your Business, for God's sake, and stages across the country.  He is also been spotlighted on channels and publications like ABC, NBC and CBS.  So, I am so thrilled to be interviewing you today – can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how it relates to the topic of Tale of Two Doors?

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Glenn Lundy:  Yeah, absolutely.  So, I grew up in a really interesting environment. My dad is black, and my mom is white.  They got divorced when I was roughly 11 years old and after their divorce, my dad got remarried to a black woman and my mom got remarried to a white man and they ended up moving in two doors apart in a green little garden apartment complex in Flagstaff, Arizona.  So my dad and his new wife (and her four kids) all lived in apartment #30, and I lived with my mom and my sister in apartment 28 with her new husband.  And what was so crazy about it was that every stereotype you could think of existed in these two houses.  In my Dad's house it was collard greens, gospel music, hip hop, Motown, sports on every television. It was loud. It was it was just that whole entire environment. And then Mom's house was more like country music, maybe a little rock and roll. She'd be sitting on the couch reading a book. It was crazy, the differences between these two environments.  And so I had what I now see as the gift of being able to grow up with both cultures, and understanding the different mindsets that come with that.

Fatima Zaidi:  I'm sure that everywhere you go, you can see, hear and feel stereotypes. So how do we break those down and encourage different ways of thinking and different behaviors? And particularly, how do you respond to those stereotypes?

Glenn Lundy:  So I think, you know, right now is a very interesting season and a lot of eyes have been opened. And really what I think it comes down to is an acronym that I use all of the time called L-E-A-D-D spelt with two D’s.  Because if you break it down, this is what I think it takes.

The L stands for Listen:  we have two years, one mouth. So let's listen first to whatever relationship we're trying to increase or whatever gap we're trying to bridge. It all starts with listening. Listen to what they need, to what they're saying, and to what they're feeling.

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E stands for Encourage:  and I think too many people missed this step. They listen only in hopes to defend or respond.  I don't want you to listen, to respond.  I want you to listen to try to find something that you can encourage in that person, something that you can highlight about what they're sharing with you.

A is for Advice:  We've created a relationship where now the other person goes I'm willing to learn from them because they listened to me first, and they encouraged me and made me feel like I have value and I have worth.

D is for Develop:  we have to take the time to lead by development.  We can’t just telling someone what to do, but not showing them, holding their hand, spending time to nurture and develop skills and abilities, otherwise it won’t work.

The second D is for Daily:  This is something that we have to do daily. So I think the only way to really bridge that gap is to follow this process of L-E-A-D-D.  Really start to listen to these different groups of people, the different cultural backgrounds. Let's encourage the things that are positive there. Let's advise them on ways we can do things a little bit better, and then let's commit to developing a long-term relationship so that we can ultimately make long term change.

Fatima Zaidi:  Beautifully said, so on that note, would you say that or have you ever encountered a pervasive belief that diversity and excellence are somehow in conflict?

Glenn Lundy:  I don't think it's necessarily a conflict, diversity and excellence.  There's a different kind of definition of what excellence looks like. For example, if I am an African-American and I grew up on the streets and in the hood, my definition of excellence might mean that I make thirty thousand dollars a year, and can actually pay my bills on time. Whereas someone else who maybe grew up in a different environment with a different upbringing, that definition of excellence can be so much higher. It's just a cultural misunderstanding of the different levels of excellence and something that we need to communicate and understand. What's considered successful for one person is not necessarily the definition of success on the other side.

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Fatima Zaidi:  And so what advice would you provide to CEOs, founders, leaders in their respective areas, who are trying to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace How should they be supporting people of color and otherwise?

Glenn Lundy:  It has to be a drastic cultural shift.  I'll use an example by John Maxwell, one of the greatest authors of leadership books in history.  He was at a Thanksgiving dinner and his wife was cutting the end off the roast, and he said, why are you cutting the end off the roast? And she said, it makes the roast juicier. It gives it more flavor. It just makes it so much better.

And John Maxwell was like, it doesn't make any sense. Why would cutting the end off the roast make it better? So, she said, that's the way my mom does it. So, he went to her mom and was like, hey, why do you cut the end off the roast?  Her mom said it makes it juicier and gives it more flavor, and that's the way my mom does it. And so Maxwell was like this still doesn't make any sense. So, he went to his wife's mom's mom and asked, ‘why do you cut the end off the roast. Why do you do that?’ And she was like, John, back where we used to live, we had a small stove, and so I had to cut the end of the roast to get it to fit in the stove.  So, it wasn’t anything to do with flavor or seasoning and just had to do with the condition in the environment that they were in at that particular time. And now it's been passed down to generation to generation to generation.

Ultimately, as leaders today, we have to understand that this cultural impact has been put in place over decades and so there isn’t a quick fix.  We have to put education systems in place that over time can start to reprogram some of these cultural thoughts, biases, and limitations that were passed down and accepted over decades.  With long term, consistent education that breaks that cultural mindset that currently exists, and over time, we can shift it.

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This article appears as a featured article in NCFA's digital magazine, Fintech Confidential (Issue 3 Dec 2020). Click to read the latest thought leadership, insights and trends about Fintech in Canada:

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