the effects of white privilege: mental trauma and co-dependent adults

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I've recently been introduced to the work of Pia Mellody. She is a foremost authority around relationships and addiction. 

There is a portion of her work where she talks about empowering and disempowering children as a form of abuse. As I listened to her lecture on YouTube it was very intriguing to hear about the concept of over-empowering a child being as a form of abuse. 

She continued to explain, how when a child is over-empowered they learn that they are better than others and tend to play the abusive role in a codependent relationship. 

white privilege. 

White privilege inherently whether it be via implicit parenting through behavior and language towards others being watched by children or the group consciousness of a community or culture OR intentional parenting where children are literally told they are eilite or superior due to race, class, or socioeconomic status -- is abusive in alignment with Mellody's definitions. 

Over-empowering a child leads to abusive behavior and patterns in relationship. An over-empowered child grows into an adult that needs someone underneath them to feel valid, important, even safe. 

Why wouldn't they - their paradigm has been created such that's what is normal, thus what is safe. There are two critical points here. 

  1. This superiority pattern plays out in adult relationships creating negative leadership and management loops. 

  2. This is a core dysfunction of present day Corporate America 

Negative Leadership (Power Structures) and Over-empowerment

It is a resonantly negative feedback loop we are operating from in our society, beginning at childhood and continuing into adulthood. Then we wonder why the men in Congress sound like children.

Racist Thoughts and Ideologies --> Over-empowerment --> Superiority Complex --> Abusive Relationships/Interactions --> Social Climb --> Position/Title Reinforces Superiority --> Power Structure formalized --> Policies and structures created --> Power structure crystallized --> Racism institutionalized --> Embedded racism

The cycle of racism beginning as a thought of superiority over time is formalized, reinforced, and crystallized into institutional racism. Over a period of time this level of racism becomes so embedded that it is second nature such that was started out as emotional truama has become the new norm and even policy.

Hence when the structure of racism is threatened those committed to the structure may not be present to the addictions they have to the patterns which create the structure. 

There is the obvious commitment and attachment to the benefits of racism. However, what isn't addressed are the mental and emotional addictions at risk.

The continued negative reinforcement of people of color whether it be through the media, unequal pay, disproportionate access to opportunity, appropriation of culture, genocide - there is a continuum to the severity of racism just as there is a continuum to the severity of an illness - fuels an addiction to codependent behavior as a needle fuels the viens of a heroin addict. 

Capitalism and It's Hidden Fuel

A 1990  New York Times article projected that roughly 96% of Americans suffer from co-dependency. It is hard to imagine how the 4% have managed to mature unscathed. Those 4% must either be the children of those that have done immense work and/or have done immense work themselves.

The interdependency of the quest for validation by overpowering others and Capitalism. Capitalism as we know it is based on competition, survival of the fittest, and use of one's own priviliges (be they earned or not) for one's greater gain. 

There is no mistake that the mental illnesses that pervade our society also seek to fuel our economy. There's also no mistake that said economy has led to the symptoms of abuse - manipulation, lying, rape, immaturity being played out on the smallest and largest levels in society. (ie. Congress, White House). 

After a while whatever you feed a system it begins to spit out at you, exacty what you fed it. 

The case feels severe right now because the cancer has grown large enough to be felt by the masses. Racism has always been everyone's problem. It has always been a business problem, a relationship problem, a health problem, a humanity problem. 

A cancer of the stomach the entire body is at risk.  

And now as we begin to fight against, dismantle, and reverse the affects of arguably the most pervasive addiction on the planet - the question is are we willing to look at the root of the problem?

It isn't equal pay, access to funding, nor pipeline rates. While these are all very important issues to address. Doing so will continue to be a bandaid until organizations are willing to look at the core cause and address that. 

Addressing Core Issues

The issue of diversity issues is not that one of race - it is one of unmet human desires in children playing out in adult bodies. There is no mistake that there is a welless craze in the United States as we speak. 

The climate is that of healing. Creating the space for healing and authentic dialogue will begin to unravel unconscious programming and compulsive behavior. 

I wonder - what if - we approached the negative impacts of racism - as any other abusive relationship or addiction is addressed. 

I realize there is the collapse of micro and macro issues here. However, as above so below. All macro-issues are a compounded effect of a resonant macro issue. 

thinking.

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The gift of quiet and space is something some of us really grant ourselves and others of us take for granted. 

Quiet time, whether it be the quiet of a house when everyone else is sleep or you're the only one there. Or the quiet of the world during the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning. 

It is a time that many creatives, artists, writers, and deep thinkers can relate to best. It is a time when one's own thoughts can be heard the loudest. 

Some love the sound of their own voice and others loathe it. For some the voices in their head sound like a sweet melody and for others it sounds like a berating parental figure. 

I've been wondering lately about the concept of thinking.  I remember about seven years ago a relatively well known man in the tech and culture space shared with me that he spent a lot of time thinking. 

Initially, I wondered, how productive or useful that was. He was and still is quite successful and a pretty good person so I was surprised to hear him say this. 

As I listened further, I realized his thinking was that of considering the worlds challenges and playing out various solutions, wondering about root causes, how they could be counteracted, or completely transformed. His thinking was of a constructive and creative sense. 

I realized, for him, where for many their mind wanders replaying yesterday, wondering about tomorrow he went into a timeless space, completely outside of himself and pondered on solutions to some of his industry's greatest challenges.

As a meditation teacher I am often confronted with students that feel they cannot silence their thoughts or stop thinking.  I teach Vipassana, a mindfulness meditation. At the beginning of each meditation class, specifically when there are new students I share the reasons this is the meditation I choose. 

There are three main reasons:

1. Increases inner awareness. Mindfulness meditation creates the space for you to become present to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations going on within you.

As simple as this sounds, at times some of us are moving so fast that we aren't even present to are mental, emotional, and physical states. Sometimes quite deliberately so. 

2. Trains the mind and body to make conscious choices in critical moments. The act of acknowledging and releasing thoughts, feelings, and sensations from main focus to refocus on the breath, trains the mind to notice subtle shifts and address them intentionally vs reactively. 

3. Is a pathway to self-mastery. In a compounding effect, increased awareness, and conscious choices in key moments, leads to the ability for right thinking. Right thinking being deliberate, intentional, and conscious thinking that moves life forward and has our thoughts work for us and not against us. 

Lately, I have been in the conversation of how I would like to close the meditation sessions. For some time I have ended with three questions, a variation of a technique I learned from my teacher. 

Just this week, I chose a different method in which I planted the seed for in our pre-mediation movement. The former method, I liked because it seemed to allow insights and unanswered questions to become clear. 

It was quite effective, in many cases. I am sure I will keep in my tool-belt for the moments they serve best. 

However, this new method, (which I am sharing in my meditation classes and workshops), is designed to realize the third benefit during the process of 'leveling up'.

For, I recently realized an answer can only be given at the level in which it is asked - even after a beautiful mediation. So it may be necessary to level up emotionally, mentally, and energetically before asking a question. 

The simple process of leveling up usually provides or vanishes the need for an answer within itself. Either way, if nothing else  - the question changes. 

Most simply, this is another layer of integrating one of my favorite quotes:

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein

seasons.

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seasons. 

I just have to say that all 80s kids out there must be in our feelings right now. Is it just me?!

All, well many, of our coming of age artists have dropped albums this year -- Jay & Bey, Lil' Wayne, NAS!!, Lauryn Hill on Tour!!, now TI hits us with a new album. All we really need is for Outkast to get back together, do a reunion album and Bad Boy to drop some posthumous Biggie tracks and life is complete. 

There have been mixed reviews about all of the above albums except for maybe The Carters. I personally LOVE Nas' new album. And although Ye is not the most popular man on the planet - as a lover of beats/hooks in addition to lyrics, Nas + Ye is what I've been waiting for my whole life. 

We all know there's the hesitant pop sensation vs the conscious rapper Nas has bordered on most of his career. Jay put it best, "Is it Oochie Wally Wally or is it One Mic?  Is it Black Girl Lost of shorty owe you for ice?" Nas has been very public in his inner struggle in defining Black Masculinity, art vs fame, impact vs money as we've watched him come of age.

The point - conscious Nas hasn't really had the dopes beats. Bravehearts and Nas was a beat, arguably a hit. It was one of his crossover songs, peaking at 26 on the Billboard 100. I was a student at Howard when it dropped and it rocked and I was personally conflicted as the beat was dope, the voice was Nas, but the lyrics were like, Nah...

All this to say, conscious Nas with some dope beats had me in my feelings. Also a bit conflicted. Like on the Cops Shot the Kid, when the autotune drops, it's reminiscent of straight booty shaking music but can you really shake your ass to a hook like that?

Can I just take a second to talk about Lauryn Hill? The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill literally dropped Freshman Week. Like Miseducation was the soundtrack to our first taste of freedom, my first club experiences at freshly minted 17 - I literally had to use my meal card to get into clubs. That Thing! Ex-Factor! <-- I was infamous for blasting this song over and over, as I healed from my high school sweet heart. It's crazy to think back on the things that were so obviously good news but felt like the end of the world at the time. I digress.

It's interesting to watch the different seasons of our favorite rappers. They're 'Come to Jesus' moments, their personal evolution, their love of fame and money and susbsequent deep appreciation of the non-material - family, God, community. 

"Thank God. Fuck Fame." ~ Lil Wayne

I will say there is this theme of Excellence which arguably Diddy and Jay kicked off last Summer. TI's album kicked off with Dave Chapelle saying, "All my life all I wanted to do was be great." And of course, on Jefe, which dropped as a harbinger to the album with Wraith back in September - Chapelle, proclaims...

"No more apologizing for being excellent. From now on man, fuck it, I'm just going to be dope. And not apologize for it. " ~ Dave Chapelle

Don't get it twisted the Trap King is staying true to the Trap - wiith the album titled, Dime Trap. There are just, as some may argue per usual, some serious moments of vulnerability and mostly what seems to be an exclamation of knowledge of self, personal power, and excellence with a different vibration of the typical bragadocious emcee we've come to know. 

Then we have Wayne. <3 <3 <3 Tha Carter V, dropped with 23 songs 4 years after its intended release date. 4 years! I wonder just how much of the album was recorded then vs now. 

Da Carter V is a bit trap, a bit motivational, a bit crazy ass Wayne all mixed into one. I like it a lot, I missed Wayne, and feel he offers something to hip hop that no one else has yet to.  

Excellence + Greatness

Back to this theme of excellence. I feel like there is a coming of age and even a mindset shift occurring where those that used to inadvertently downplay their brilliance, their greatness, largely as it was shunned, exploited, and taken advantage of by 'others' are drawing the line. 

It is pretty symbolic that Dave Chapelle, the first one to draw the metaphorical line in the sand is the narrator to TI's album.  I don't think the timing of any of it is by chance, even the hold up of Da Carter V. 

Even if it is, there is a growing story being told if you listen and watch closely. There are definitley some curveballs in the mix, to add to all of the fun. 

It seems our favorite rappers have entered a new season of their life, artistry. and along with that are offering some clues along the way. 

Either way, there is a very strong message that is speaking to the souls of those destined to hear it. A call to action, a confirmation, a signal - be what it may. 

Maybe it's Mama Maya, goddess of the Poets, sitting on top working her magic.  I could get with that. 

If you know, you know. ~ Pusha T

The Future is Feminine

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The future is feminine and that means everybody. The world in so many ways whether it be in relationships, the environment, business, and family dynamics is starving for the feminine.

She has been raped, pillaged, and most of all denied. Denied her right to exist. Denied of her right to be seen, heard, or expressed.

So what did she do? She retreated. We can see it in the dried up rivers, the state of the honeybee, the trafficking of children as sex slaves, the raping of our women and men.

The void of the feminine creates hyper-masculinity — in everyone. The balance is thrown way off and everyone loses. I will say that again — everyone loses.

The future is feminine is not about displacing men — it’s about healing the masculine in all of us. Returning him to his harmony with his feminine besides him. And bringing her back, with her masculine counterpart beside her. Supporting her, protecting, her, giving her the space to flourish.

As an organizational consultant, I’ve seen the insides of over a dozen Fortune 100 companies. I’ve seen leaders and teams struggle to find flow. I’ve seen them struggle to create harmony amongst teams, departments, within their own lives.

The solution is simple and in many cases obvious. What the solution is not necessarily — is easy. It can be made so and once accepted is a profoundly easier way of being.

Yet decades, even centuries of masculine overdrive has us all trained. It’s almost a go to a natural way of being — especially for those in the corporate world.

The feminine is shunned and frowned upon in Corporate America. She is seen as weak, a flaw to overcome, a reality to deny.

Then systems fail, people burn out, environments are ruined, communities are destroyed. The masculine tries harder. Oh, he means well, in the deepest of his hearts I trust he does. But he’s lost without his feminine. His guiding light, his way shower. He knows.

He tries harder, largely to call her back. He knows he’s floundering — he searches for her, he beckons her. However, no matter what he does he can never be her.

Thus, we have the masculine in overdrive all in efforts to call back the feminine he once scared away. It’s understandable — the feminine is unknown and scary to delve into. It can be dark, it’s magical, fluid, and cannot be controlled.

We’re taught that which cannot be controlled, cannot be trusted. We’re taught control is the way to be secure. Yet we know we need flexibility.

The entire agile movement, arguably, is the masculine seeking to systematize the feminine. Create operations that create the room that allows for flow, adaptability, fluidity — the feminine.

Yet systematizing the feminine has its limits. The feminine cannot be designed. She is the creator, she brings life, and every effort to duplicate will eventually fail.

The only way to connect with her is to surrender to her. The calling, the desire, the creativity, and the process deep within.

She has never really left, she’s just been denied — on a planetary, national, communal, familial, and individual level. On all levels, she has been denied — individually being the most core.

Individuals make up the larger.

The solution? Return to your feminine and allow her to flourish within you.

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Step one? Get still and listen. She’s crying to be heard. Simply listen.

Why? Your struggle for diversity, to save the planet, for a happy work environment, health, simple peace of mind — they all lie within her.

Give it a try. You’ll be happy you did.

Gems from Sean Combs’ Right-Hand Woman, Ericka Pittman

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Ericka Pittman in many ways is like a complicated melody — there are layers to experience and the more you engage you’ll hear various notes in different ways.

She’s tough yet vulnerable, strong yet gentle, luxury with a mix of grit. Her life has created the perfect blend of experiences that allow her to simultaneously be a leader in one of the largest hip-hop empires and stay a powerful feminine force that many young women look to for guidance. 
At first connection, Ericka comes off quick, she moves fast and if you don’t keep up you may get left. The more you speak to her it becomes evident that she has high expectations of herself and everyone around her. Yet while she has these expectations she’s committed that everyone that enters her sphere wins.

With a bit more time you notice that underneath the hard exterior and her intrinsic requirement for excellence is a softness and gentleness that just wants the best for people.

As Vice President of the Chairman’s Office at Combs Enterprises, Pittman’s job includes a mixture of strategy, operations, marketing, and a ton of multi-tasking. It’s her job to liaise between her boss Sean Combs, 22 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list and the heads of his nine portfolio brands that encompass his empire.

CREATE caught up with Ericka in between LA meetings. We spoke everything from branding to her greatest life lesson and what femininity truly means — on an intellectual level.

CREATE: In your own words what does your role as VP of the Chairman’s Office at Combs Enterprises entail?

Pittman: My role is to bridge the communication between our portfolio brands and the Chairman. We have nine companies — Sean John, Sean John Fragrances, Revolt TV, AquaHydrate, Ciroc, DeLeon, Bad Boy Records, Bad Boy Films, and Blue Flame the Agency.
I also work in figuring out cross-synergistic strategies across company brands for efficiencies. For example, we make sure that, if we are executing Revolt Music Conference, the other brands are aware of what the entire organization is doing and that we’re maximizing our Chairmans’ presence and exposure for all of the brands.

CREATE: What does it take to get to a place where your boss essentially hand picks you and creates a role just for you? 

Pittman: Something that was communicated to me was that I was in a place, after six years, of checking the boxes of everything that was required of me, specifically from him. 
Personally, for me, it was a function of being excellent in everything that I did for and throughout the organization. At that point, I already had the privilege and the honor of working on every single one of our businesses under the portfolio in some capacity.

Because of that, I have a bit of perspective on each of the business lines and each of their objectives, their consumer targets, and the strategies that we set forth over the years for each of them.

I can look at each of the businesses and see where we can cross wires and create efficiencies to create a bigger and more dynamic message for everyone involved.

CREATE: How do you approach designing and building brands?

Pittman: The first think you always have to ask yourself in any brand building exercise, is ‘ “Where is the hole, where is the white space, what’s missing in what I’m trying to do?”
Whether it’s creating another vodka or being a female empowerment speaker these things aren’t new concepts - it’s really about identifying what’s missing in that space and figuring out whether or not you or the brand you’re creating fills that void.

Identify a niche by backing into what is needed from the market. Finding your white space in any scenario is the first step to creating a brand.

Honing in on where the area for opportunity is, figuring out how your brand fits that niche, and figuring out a solution for that particular space are the three components of successfully building out a brand.

CREATE: You have an upcoming book titled, “What Mommy Never Told You: A Young Woman’s Guide to the Next Phases of Life “. What caused the desire to help young women in this way?

Pittman: Often times, we’ve had very rigid rules and parameters around how to be a young girl or woman. Advice like — use your inside voice, cross your legs, head up, shoulders back, legs crossed, graduate from college, get a good job, find a husband.

Then life happens - you become an adult, you’ve checked most if not all of the standard boxes, and there’s no guidebook or rule on what to do next.

I thought it was important to create an easy going, easy to read guide for young women, based on my experience on what has and hasn’t worked in my life.

It’s everything from career to finances to relationships looking at, “what’s next?”
I haven’t gotten married at 26 or 30 years old, what does that mean for me? I’ve been a coordinator or a marketing manager at this job — how do I transition into the next role in my career. 

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CREATE: I think we all can relate to wondering, what’s next? What type of nuggets or personal advice would you give young women in creating their own path?

Pittman: I think it’s a couple of things.

Number one is to be a solutions-based employee. Identify the problems; it’s fine to do that. More importantly, work to identify a solution. Finding solutions often times are the things that get you the gold medal.

If people revere you as a problem solver or a solutions-based contributor they will seek your input and guidance in certain matters that don’t have anything to do with your core skill-set. This will introduce you to new opportunities.

Another thing I would say is to always close the circle if you’re working on a project make sure that you’re committed to the project — see it through. Make sure you do your work with excellence, at the same time make sure you’re in tuned with other people that are involved with the project and figure out how you can help them to make sure that the entire project is a success.

The third thing I would say is, simply, be excellent. Do your best work, put your best foot forward, and the work will speak for itself. 

CREATE: You made an important decision in your grandmother’s passing. Can you tell us about the promise you made to your and how it has impacted your life?

Pittman: Maybe six or seven months before my grandmother passed away she pulled out this beaded gown and was very prescriptive about what she wanted to wear in her casket.

At the time I said wow, “this is just so morbid like why are you even talking about this.”

She said, “It’s not a big deal, but I want you to know where the dress is, that I would like to wear in my casket.”

That’s the vein of how this woman lived. She was very clear about the type of life she wanted to live, the things she wanted to do in her life, and how she wanted to operate. And she lived a really full, amazing life.

I gave my grandmother’s eulogy and one of the things that I considered in her passing was, “What are they going to say about me at my eulogy when I’m laying in a coffin and there are no more opportunities to be exactly who I want to be.”

It gave me this sobering mortality moment that said, “I have to live my life out loud. I have to be fully and wholly who I am through the line, at work, at home, no matter where I am. I have to be me, authentically and boldly.”

I realized it wasn’t until I embraced that part of my life, the vulnerable side of life that I was really going to achieve success and be the type of person that I want to be.

CREATE: That takes so much courage! You mentioned vulnerability. One of the things you speak of often is a woman leveraging the feminine in business, not just from a physical perspective but also from an intellectual one.

Pittman: Sexuality and femininity — I talk about it a lot because very few women really understand the difference between the two and they are both powerful and equally ours to possess and use at our will.

There’s far more strength in femininity than ever could be in sexuality. If women could learn to embrace the difference and learn how to use femininity, they have an added advantage to their counterpart.

When I say that femininity is cerebral, it’s about how we’re hardwired to think. If you look at some of the qualities surrounding femininity we’re nurturers, we have empathy, for the most part, we’re great multi-taskers, we’re able to combine thoughts and ideas in a way that creates synergy.

Men compartmentalize and take on tasks in a way that is very separate and often fragmented, not in a negative way, but that’s how men approach situations.

Women have the ability to see every aspect and how one is going to affect the other because we are so nurturing. We can process the impact that a decision might make on four or five other things in a way that doesn’t necessarily connect with men.

If we can use these tools in a business setting we have an added advantage.

CREATE: What do you want people to know about Ericka Pittman?

Pittman: That they don’t already know? I want people to know that I authentically believe in doing well by doing good. I don’t just say it, I really work towards helping people every single day of my life.

Anyone that knows me intimately knows that I’m the person that will put a quarter in a meter that’s running low because I don’t want somebody to get a ticket. I come across stringent sometimes but at the core of who I am, I care about what happens to people.

CREATE: I get that. If you were to describe your life in movie title what would it be?

Pittman: I don’t have any super fancy titles. But I think, “The Concrete Road” might be a good one because I am from the school of hard knocks.

While I lived a great childhood, I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhoods. I’ve also been raised, nurtured, and guided to be a very gentle, spiritual, and feminine soul.

As a result — I have this exterior that’s really concrete and rigid and a bit rugged but at the core of who I am is very soft and demure and pure and kind inside.

The dichotomy of those two things shows up throughout my entire life, in everything that I do. I think it would be a really good — definitely a good novel and we’ll figure out how to turn it into an amazing screenplay.

Creating from the Edge: Tech and Culture Collide

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This post originally appeared on Huffington Post, 3/8/17. Written by yours truly. 

It’s a rainy morning in Harlem. The smell in the air is that fresh rain smell mixed with a touch of grunge. The door opens and closes as people arrive to the office — a co-working space just north of the famous 125th St in uptown Manhattan, just west of the National Black Theatre.

Harlem like many black neighborhoods is going through an era of gentrification. It’s one of the neighborhoods that has fought back for some time and the seemingly evident effect of urban relocation — increased rent prices, fancy coffee shops, and new neighbors walking their dogs at 2am is all part of the experience.

Just as with any change there’s good along with the bad. And definitely an existing community that wants to stay engaged with what’s happening in their neighborhood. Plans of improving the broadband infrastructure for higher speed connectivity is in talks by Silicon Harlem, venture funds and incubators to support the tech community are developing, and young entrepreneurs are choosing Harlem as a place to launch their businesses.

In a place like Harlem, one of the cornerstones of American culture — the wave of tech energy supplanted with the ever-present culture that can never be erased that is Harlem, fused with the rawness of tough living that is still a reality for many Harlem residents — a perfect mixture for something new is emerging. Something new that is spanning across the country and arguably the world.

The rise of importance of culture in tech.

Steve Case, co-Founder of AOL, the company that brought the Internet into the home in the 80s and 90s speaks of the third wave of the Internet in a Forbes Interview: “The First Wave of the Internet, which took place from roughly 1985 to 2000, was defined by companies like AOL, Cisco, and Microsoft creating the underlying infrastructure and bringing America (and the rest of the world) online. The Second Wave has been about building apps and services on top of the Internet. Now the Third Wave has begun, as the Internet integrates seamlessly and pervasively through every aspect of our lives, changing how we work, how we learn, how we stay healthy, how we get around, even how we eat.”

As we more fully enter the third wave of tech, a growing segment of technology companies will create internet products that directly solve the daily problems of consumers. Consumers on a global scale — thanks to the first two waves of tech and the penetration of mobile.

Case is alluding to the Internet of Things (IoT), in which users will have an intimate experience with sensors and technology as part of their cities, homes, clothes, and potentially anything one can imagine.

The opportunity this creates for founders that have been traditionally excluded is unprecedented. Culture, “that which is driving human behavior.” as defined by Marlon Nichols, founding partner of Cross Culture Ventures (CCV) a venture fund with culture at the cornerstone of its investment thesis, is absolutely necessary to understand in building technology companies in the third wave.

Any company that does not understand their consumers’ needs at an intrinsic and cultural level is starting with a significant disadvantage as competition accelerates.

Understanding of culture is necessary on multiple fronts. On a most obvious level, culture helps drives sales. A quintessential example is Apple’s acquisition of Beats by Dre.

It’s not mistake or even by chance that a rapper who was heavily protested for his lyrics and simultaneously widely popular amongst urban and suburban kids alike, decades later sells a company donning his name, Beats by Dre, to one of the largest and most successful tech companies in the world. Dr. Dre, as controversial as he is, gets culture, because he lives and breathes it. It’s something that can’t be faked and Apple got that.

It would be amiss to write an article about culture and tech and not mention hip-hop. Coming to rise in the 80s and 90s when millennials were being birthed, it is the soundtrack to their childhood. It is also potentially the only musical genre and lifestyle that has been able to transcend race, class, and even global boundaries.

There are a lot of parallels between tech and hip-hop as a way of life, a business, and a pervasive culture started by young people creating something from nothing. As America continues to brown and the world becomes increasingly global — the tech industry may have something to learn from the hip-hop industry’s ability to permeate an entire generation on a global level.

On another level, understanding of culture helps entrepreneurs identify and provide solutions that “integrates seamlessly and pervasively through every aspect of their lives.”

Recent Forbes 30 Under 30 Featured Honoree in Venture Capital, Lu Zhang, explains “the founder today is very different from 10 years ago, today’s founder will think about globalization from day one.”

Zhang, the first Chinese-born woman to be listed on the US Forbes 30 Under 30 list, is the founding partner of NewGen Capital a fund that invests in domestic companies with a specialty of helping their investments enter foreign markets, specifically in Asia.

Nichols, of CCV, notes that in addition to culture his firm looks at trends, “a kid in the Bronx may have a lot in common with a kid in Japan. If we look at it there are probably Bronx’s all over the world in terms of experience”, Nichols explains.

Technology has already made the world a smaller place through connections and relationships, in this next wave there is an opportunity to uncover just how similar we all are.

Tech hubs like the growing one in Harlem have popped up all over the world — Tel Aviv, Compton, Istanbul, Lagos, Cape Town. Entrepreneurs with unique experiences and stories to tell — that have their finger on the pulse fill these hubs. The better equipped these young entrepreneurs are in the tools and language of tech the easier it will be for them to connect the dots in solving problems in ways that others not so close to the problem would be able to.

As tech and culture collide for the greater good in society it is more and more imperative for the tech world to be increasingly relatable, accessible, and inclusive to these entrepreneurs.

Lu Zhang and Marlon Nichols will explore this discussion at a deeper level in a panel discussion with audience involvement during SXSW in Austin.