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. 

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 Content Trap: A Conversation with HBS Economist Bharat Anand

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For those obsessed with culture, tech, and everything related — observing connections, patterns, and trends can be a favorite pastime.

Bharat Anand, Harvard Business School professor and Chair of HBS’ digital initiative HBX, has created a career out of studying these connections and using them to inform media executives on strategy. What’s great about Professor Anand is that as an HBS professor he is naturally research and strategy heavy. However, he gets culture and media quite well, making a conversation with him insightful on multiple levels.

Anand recently released his first book, The Content Trap: A Strategists’ Guide to Digital Change that captures, among other things, some of the central insights from the HBS executive media program he chairs. The core of the book is a powerful and provocative argument that serves as a warning to everyone in the business of creating content. Anand identifies three versions of the Content Trap: believing that “the best” content always wins in digital worlds; focusing your efforts or defining your business around content creation, and indiscriminately embracing initiatives that work for other content creators. These are all seemingly rational behaviors, Anand argues, that turn out to be flawed. Instead, he urges content creators to focus attention on “connections”, which he defines in three ways — user connections looking at how users not only interact with each other but how their buying patterns correlate; product connections which looks at how various products drive or impact the purchases of others; and finally, functional connections which look at how decisions made in an organization are inter-connected.

The book, in standard HBS form, is loaded with case studies and climaxes in a chapter titled, A Strategy Process for All Seasons. The chapter lays out a simple yet powerful process coupled with a paradigm shift to help readers clarify their unique place in the market. The magic of it all is that while discussing strategy and digital change — there are parallels that can be drawn and applied to key issues on both the business and personal landscape.

CREATE got to chat with Professor Bharat Anand just before the holidays.

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CREATE: When I first read the preview for The Content Trap and it spoke about connections, I thought it was referring to social connections. However, you actually define connections in a number of ways?

Anand: Yes, that’s exactly right. Social is just one part of it. To step back: there are all these seemingly different ideas around digital strategy that have emerged over the last two decades around things like platforms, bundling, networks, complements, even basic ideas around activity maps and strategy. Yet there is an important thread going through many of these ideas which has to do with the simple question of don’t miss the forest for the trees.

As an example, often times we get caught up in this trap of trying to make a decision on something very particular, like pricing your mobile app or deciding as an organization whether you should separate digital activities from print. That’s the way we define the decision, then we look at others who are making similar decisions to draw conclusions. But context - recognizing the connections between different decisions you make - is fundamentally important. The same principle applies to consumers: Often times, their decisions on a range of digital products - for example, around what content to consume, what social network to use, what product to buy, or where to list your house for rent - are intimately linked to those that other users make. So the idea of connections is an umbrella term that refers to three forms: it’s really about connecting people, connecting products, and connecting functions.

On the part about connecting people, yes social is just one element. Think about the famous Microsoft vs Apple wars in personal computers. The reason Microsoft won, initially, actually had nothing to do with social. It was just because we wanted to share files with friends or colleagues. You had these feedback loops between customers who were buying PCs and app developers who were creating stuff for the PCs. Nothing about that story is social, so social is just one part of the bigger picture. Similarly, the reason most renters would consider Airbnb is not because it’s a social site - it’s just that that is where everyone lists and rents.

You can look at the cost side too — for example, if I lose one customer in a fixed cost business it affects my profitability from all other customers. That’s a very different form of connections that, again, has nothing to do with “social”. Yes, social has ended up being a dominant theme, obviously, in conversation but it’s one part of a bigger picture.

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ON STRATEGY

CREATE: The part that I loved the most was about functional connections and creating context.

Anand: Do say more?

CREATE: It brings it all together and provides a process readers can use to apply context in making decisions in their own organizations.

Anand: You described it very well, it brings it together. In some sense, the first two parts, user and product connections, are talking about broader forces or ideas that might apply to anyone out there. The third part - functional connections - is saying ok, now that you understand these ideas, what should you do?

The challenge, which is particularly amplified in digital worlds is that there are a million people who are looking at similar ideas and might come up with similar products. So what makes you different? What is it you can do differently or better than everyone else — the focus is really about you as an entrepreneur or as an organization.

What is it you can do differently or better than everyone else? The focus is really about you as an entrepreneur or as an organization.

CREATE: That’s what I loved — you actually wrote about how to identify the difference by looking at your strengths as an organization or entrepreneur. You break down this elusive trap and how there’s no one size fits all but there IS a process that you can follow to help find your right answer.

Anand: That’s particularly important because the danger is to think that anything goes. The moment you say context matters it can be tempting to say, “Oh, if it’s not a one size fits all, any solution works.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Another question that companies often struggle with is that if many different solutions might work, how do we figure out what’s right for us? That leads to the question of process.

In a sense — and this is the part that was interesting - when you look across different cases, settings, and companies you see very different outcomes but at some fundamental level they’re asking the same questions. Who are we going after? Who are our customers? How can we deliver? What’s right for us? And how does it match with our capabilities and strengths?

ON CULTURE

CREATE: In your work, you focus on media and culture. How do you see culture fitting into strategy?

Anand: The question of culture is really interesting. When we look at a lot of these companies and how they react to different technologies, there’s a few things that are striking. A popular narrative that we often hear is that these companies simply don’t get it because they don’t see these technologies coming along, or they don’t know what the right answer is. And therefore they fail.

It turns out that when you actually look at what’s happening in many of these organizations the answer is more nuanced. Often times they actually see these technologies beforehand. It’s not that Blockbuster didn’t see Netflix. Netflix existed for seven years before Blockbuster started facing problems in its business. It’s not that the cable companies or the television studios don’t see over the top streaming. They see it, right now. It’s not that the publishers didn’t see that e-books were coming on the horizon. A year and a half before the Kindle came out you had the Sony e-Reader. In so many of these companies, managers see these technologies, and often times they even understand their effects on behavior.

The bigger challenge for these companies ends up being, I think, two-fold. First, there’s a particular mindset through which we often view new technologies - we view them through the lens of competition. We look at new technologies coming along and we say — this is going to have a negative impact on our core business. It’s harder to see opportunity. And this goes back a long time — radio comes along 100 years ago and the music industry the recording studio essentially said, “This is the death of music. Why would you pay for music when you can listen to it for free?” Which is a natural reaction. They fight this technology all the way to the Supreme Court but commercial radio wins out. And, fortunately for them, it ends up being one of the best things that happened to the industry. They learn, later that free music on the radio acts just like a promo. You see the same thing with VCRs, the studios thought this was going to kill the movie business. It actually ended up helping it. You saw the same thing with MTV and the music industry. We think it’s going to hurt us and it actually helps.

We use terms like cannibalization, substitution, threats, disruption and that language can often define how we react. This is the first part of culture, which is the language we use to actually even view how the world is changing that affects our mindset.

..language can often define how we react. This is the first part of culture, which is the language we use to view how the world is changing — that affects our mindset.

The second part is that often times, even when companies know what the right answer is they can’t get the organization to move. Because they have routines built in, they have processes, they have budgeting systems. Companies are set up for large projects, they’re set up for predictability and certainty. They’re not set up for experimentation and failure. They’re not set up to embrace ambiguity. And if you look at all of these different aspects, you realize - and I’m not the first person saying this - that there are a large number of organizations that actually see the problem but can’t move. And that goes to the core of culture and leadership.

CREATE: Interesting, you spoke about culture as it related to mindset and ability to move.How about how as it relates to the arts?

Anand: My interest in culture as it relates to the arts, entertainment and media arose for a simple reason: culture encompasses the things we do every day - what we read, what we see, what we hear - and therefore seems profoundly important to understand. The “business of culture” (or cultural industries) has been at the forefront of digital change for nearly a quarter-century now. Other sectors (eg., education, manufacturing) are only starting to experience the impact of digital more recently. So my interest in cultural industries arose from trying to see what we’ve learned from experiences of individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses that shape culture that might inform digital efforts in other parts of the economy.

It is in this sense that the cultural industries are the canaries in the coal mine, the harbingers of things to come.

Cultural industries are the canaries in the coal mine, the harbingers of things to come.

 

CREATE: That’s a great answer.

Anand: Thank you.

ON STARTUPS

CREATE: What about startups? In a startup, you don’t necessarily have the time and money to strategize like that.

Anand: That’s a great question, let me offer some points on that. When you think about all of these companies — in most of these cases they don’t have this amazing strategic blueprint on day one that guides them forever after. I’d say in fact, that in more than 90% of the cases, what they have is a pretty clear understanding of three things — Who they are trying to target, what they are trying to win on, and how they are trying to deliver on that.

After that, basically, there are a lot of pivots. A lot of flexibility, but it’s not flexibility in a vacuum. It’s not that we pivot every day the moment a new signal comes along that says we might want to change a decision. We’re doing it with context in the background. And that’s where strategy - knowing the direction you want to go in - is important.

I think that there is a myth that says, strategists operate in a world which is very different from the entrepreneurial world. All strategists have to experiment - that’s virtually a law of business. Things keep changing. Similarly, all entrepreneurs have to think a little a bit about what they’re going to jump into and why. In other words, the same fundamental questions apply to startups and mature organizations— where do we play and how do we win?

CREATE: What I am hearing you say is there’s a balance — entrepreneurs have to prioritize and larger companies have to..

Anand: Have to experiment.

CREATE: It’s the intermingling of the two.

Anand: That is exactly the tension — every startup has to prioritize and every large organization has to experiment somehow. How you balance this, I think is key.

ON WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR IN TECH

CREATE: What is your perspective on women in leadership and tech — Specifically in relation to your research, what you’re learning about connections, and potential strengths women may have as businesses shift?

Anand: What a big - and important - question. Is there something more particular you had in mind, or about .how you are thinking about this?

CREATE: I’m thinking about it from a few perspectives, one — the foundation of my work is looking at the intersection of culture and tech. And when I say culture I define it two ways - the way you described it in terms of company culture but also looking at popular culture and what is relevant as a way of resonating with what’s real for people.

For example, as a black woman looking at tech as an industry that wants to diversify, is it a culture that I can feel a part of, over time. This is particularly important when you speak of the leaky pipeline that tech experience. What can we do to make the culture more inclusive?

The second component builds on the first and looks at the freedom and space to play to one’s strengths.

For example, Carnegie Mellon did a study on what factors increase a group’s intelligence and they found that women’s ability to connect, listen, and collaborate actually led to the increased intelligence of the group.

This is just an example but the crux of the conversation is — are we creating a culture that acknowledges and intrinsically values unique strengths that diverse groups bring to the table?

Culturally whether it’s conscious or subconscious there can be a tone of to do well one must think or act like a man, specifically a white man — which creates a leak in our intellectual capital in the United States and probably beyond.

Anand: I love this question and the way you’re thinking about it. And while the main idea of the book - The Content Trap - is not squarely focused on this particular issue, perhaps I can offer some initial thoughts about how it relates - with the caveat that I’d need to think about it some more.

The book was really framed as: if you’re starting or managing a digitally-touched business — if you’re in the business of culture as a creative type, as an artist, or if you’re a manager leading one of these businesses confronting digital change, for any of these audiences — what are some interesting lessons.

There is a different lens through which to view these very same lessons which might have some resonance in our personal lives. And I am being very humble when I say this — but in a sense I do think the lessons in the book probably transcend simply thinking about digital strategy.

For instance, take this idea of “managing without control,” of learning to live without control. Or the related idea idea of acknowledging and embracing ambiguity in relationships. For example we often see our competitors in terms of as black or white, whereas the reality is that many competitors today are also your partners or complementors. Complements also compete with you.

You can take these lessons and can draw a line extending them to see whether they might have relevance towards thinking about certain gender differences. Are women or men for instance, better equipped to deal with these kinds of issues. I don’t know the answer, or the research on it, but I think that is one — that’s one direction you might take the ideas.

Another direction is probably a little closer to the core theme of the book and one of its headlines, Everyone is a Media Company. This applies not just to celebrities, book authors, or political candidates. Everyone has a voice today.

Now that’s something that I think can be pretty empowering for people who don’t necessarily face the easiest road in organizations. Organizations have hierarchies — change can take time,

years, and sometimes decades. This is where if you view the possibilities in the digital world through the lens that everyone is a media company, or in terms of how networks get created — you begin to see how small triggers and actions can have great impact. That’s very different than the traditional world where there was a career path. I got my first job, I did what I had to do, I did well, I got promoted, and I kept going up the food chain.

Then there’s this idea of “creating to connect”. If you look at organizations where we use the word minority — who is the minority in this organization or that one — many people in many different organizations are in some kind of minority. The moment you think about connectedness - I think it allows possibilities to break constraints that exist. I could be a single South Asian in an organization or the only woman in a particular organization. If I define my world as that organization that is very different than if I define my world as connected with everyone out there. If I define my world through this larger frame, I can be connecting with the one South Asian or the few women in every other organization. Connectedness allows a whole set of possibilities to break existing constraints.

Connectedness allows a whole set of possibilities to break existing constraints.

Those are a few preliminary thoughts, but let me underscore that some of these ideas would require more work or research to know how they actually play out. And I don’t know if they’re helpful to answer your question.

CREATE: They’re very helpful, thank you very much. I love the piece about looking at connectedness because that’s part of what I think about often. How can I connect people in a way that creates impact and influence in a lasting way?

Anand: That’s a very powerful thing to aspire towards. I’d like to think that some of these ideas — the idea that everyone is a media company, or the idea of connectedness - allow all of us to break certain constraints within which we otherwise operate.

In a world of connectedness the smallest action can spread. You have one person sitting in a dorm room creating what essentially becomes the largest community of social conversation in the world. You have a few friends, starting with nearly no resources, basically creating the largest consumer video aggregator in the world (YouTube), and on which any other single individual can amass millions of followers. You have one person who, from essentially the closet in his home, creates one of the most important educational platforms there is today (Khan Academy). In a connected world, any single person can have a formidable amount of impact today - that’s pretty empowering.

CREATE: You’re right. Thank you so much for your time today.

Anand: Thanks, and I really enjoyed our conversation too.

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.

Black Culture Is Unparalleled And Winning Right Now

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post, 9/25/17. Written by yours truly. 

Culture is reaching new heights and in different ways. The power and influence of culture is transforming the way we do business, interact with each other, and even think about our personal lives. More specifically, music and entertainment culture as of late has had a powerful impact on younger generations. When you think about pieces of work such as “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” “4:44,” and “Girls’ Trip” ― a documentary, an album, and a feature film ― each has ignited a level of connection and relatedness amongst women and men across the nation.

The success and messages of each of these pieces of culture are exemplary of a very important movement happening in America right now; One that has the ability to redistribute wealth and power ― allowing the very foundation of racism and sexism to crumble. And it’s closer than we think.

We are reaching the tipping point in the scales of power. Technology has been a large driver in making this possible. However, culture is the very breath, the fabric of what will make this a reality. It will be necessary to pay very close attention in the coming years and be present to the intrinsic needs of society. The opportunity will be there — not solely out of generosity but necessity. Diversity and inclusion are no longer nice to haves. Though most initiatives still completely miss the mark, the goals they intend to achieve are necessaries with increasing importance.

To be more specific, the progression of entrepreneurship (the forward movement of business), technology (tools that serve society), and culture (that which drives behavior in a society) are becoming very dependent on a different type of energy that people of color, women, and primarily women of color (being members of both groups) are distinctly positioned to lead.

Inside of this, existing leaders will be faced with some difficult decisions. Those who are aware and smart already know this ― some have had rude awakenings, others have had subtle shifts, others still yet to come. It is no mistake that Bozoma St. John was brought in to transform the culture of Uber, that Serena Williams is on the Board of SurveyMonkey, and that Linda Johnson is on the board of Tesla. Smart leaders (or those brought to their knees) may not be able to articulate this just yet but are beginning to understand the type of energy companies will need to survive.

We live in a time of “culture over everything.” That afro-punk, that d.i.y, that core power of self-knowledge and preservation is alive more than ever. This very nature is at the core of this very movement and will be important to maintain. Luckily, this is only growing and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I don’t mean to say this is anything new ― d.i.y is a movement that started decades ago and our ancestors built Black Wall Street and Rosewood. What is unique now is that, along with the foundation that our forefathers laid, we are in a unique position where the political climate is catalyzing people’s wokeness and the life span of a Fortune 500 company has plummeted to less than 12 years from over 65. In 12 years, we could potentially have a completely new set of ‘leading’ companies with a very new type of leadership.

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Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.

Along with this fast changing pace is the absolute demand for companies to connect to people - employees, customers, partners — in an authentic way. When this is missing the backlash is almost immediate and reverberating. Business needs culture. Leadership needs culture. Technology needs culture.

We are culture. What opportunities become available as we tap into culture, our culture, that which we exude intrinsically by breathing? How will we engage with others inside of this conversation? Join us Thursday at WeWork Chelsea as we explore this conversation with ChanaEwing, CEO + Founder of GeenieBox, Brandon Earl, CEO + Founder of Brandon Earl New York, MICK, Musical Storyteller + Digital Influencer, and Tiffany Crawford, CEO and Founder of CREATE by TC.