#8 — Deliver Me Diversity!, Business Literacy for Kids

Deliver Me Diversity!

From Day 1 I have delib­er­ate­ly tried to con­nect with a diverse set of lead­ers, be it race, age, occu­pa­tion, gen­der etc.


For starters, let’s face it — appeal to as many groups of peo­ple and more peo­ple will lis­ten (duh).

But on a deep­er lev­el, when you’re seek­ing an open exchange of ideas you MUST have a diverse set of opin­ions in the room to cap­ture the very essence of what hap­pens in the real world and to be able to innovate.

In this episode, respect­ed small busi­ness cham­pi­on Ker­ry-Ann Pow­ell spoke exten­sive­ly about the con­cept of not exist­ing in an echo chamber. 

In a busi­ness con­text, this refers to open­ing up your busi­ness to new ideas — be it through a part­ner­ship, con­sul­ta­tion with cus­tomers or even let­ting in oth­er par­ties to bounce ideas off. 

Inter­est­ing­ly, Ker­ry-Ann used the word ‘part­ner­ship’ a few times. 

To most this would involve bring­ing some­one in as a co-share­hold­er or direc­tor of a busi­ness. Impor­tant­ly, how­ev­er, a part­ner­ship doesn’t need to involve giv­ing away shares or con­trol. It can just be a trust­ed voice, like a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber, that you can use as a sound­ing board.

It’s a great idea and has legs, not just in business. 

After all, bar­ring self-con­fi­dence issues, you’re nor­mal­ly inher­ent­ly biased towards your own awe­some­ness — which can lead you down paths that won’t serve your lev­el of sales, your lis­ten­ers or your followers.

In my expe­ri­ence liv­ing as an immi­grant sur­round­ed by oth­er immi­grants (my high school was 50% Asian, 30% sub­con­tin­ten­tal, 20% oth­er), this has led to a fab­u­lous melt­ing pot of ideas, view­points and styles. 

Pur­pose­ful­ly liv­ing like this has have held me in great stead in the busi­ness world and the 55-odd coun­tries ive visited.

Bring­ing this back to the pod­cast, what a joy and expe­ri­ence to have caught up with Kerry-Ann!

I’ve nev­er real­ly prop­er­ly spo­ken to or con­nect­ed with an African Amer­i­can per­son, let alone a suc­cess­ful African Amer­i­can woman busi­ness leader! So yes, the busi­ness advice and pro­fes­sion­al exchange of ideas was valu­able, but there was a deep­er con­nec­tion and inner learn­ing that transpired.

We may some­times for­get that we’re from the earth and of the earth. 

We’re liv­ing crea­tures that at birth, are all the same — flesh, blood, skin and a few hairs on our head. Fam­i­ly, tra­di­tions, soci­ety and con­di­tion­ing takes over but we’re fun­da­men­tal­ly all the same — let’s remem­ber and cel­e­brate this, because our dif­fer­ences are tru­ly our strengths and just as we grew stronger as a tribe than as indi­vid­u­als, so too can the world in 2023 and beyond.

It is a beau­ti­ful thing and you will learn things that go way beyond the intellectual. 

So go find a type of per­son you’ve nev­er con­nect­ed with and try it sometime!

This is the human expe­ri­ence, dear listeners.

September Addition

A few days ago I went out with some col­leagues. We had a mer­ry night and as many mer­ry nights go, it end­ed up in McDon­alds to soak up all that sweet wine.

As I sat down to munch on my mid­night Big Mac, a 40-some­thing year old vis­i­bly home­less lady approached and asked if she could sit next to me.

Now, I’ll admit that i’ve nev­er real­ly tak­en the time to con­nect with a home­less person. 

My con­di­tion­ing and ini­tial reac­tion is to avoid eye and phys­i­cal con­tact. This auto­mat­ic response is shame­ful and I know it, and i’m prob­a­bly not alone here.

Any­way, this lady’s name was Jas­mine. She was in her mid-40s, had a son and daugh­ter, used to have a respectable job in coun­try Vic­to­ria but hit some seri­ous­ly rough times in her life. 

Jas­mine explained she’d lost her job due to sub­stance abuse, lost her home, lost cus­tody of her chil­dren and to top it off, had been bashed by her abu­sive part­ner more times she could remember.

Har­row­ing stuff.

But Jas­mine didn’t want pity. 

She didn’t want money. 

She didn’t even want me to buy her a feed. 

She just want­ed to feel noticed. Feel a con­nec­tion with a human being. 

Just have a yarn and feel like, at least for a few min­utes, every­thing is ok, she’s appre­ci­at­ed and not invisible.

We spoke for about 15 min­utes about life, about how amaz­ing Mel­bourne is even if you’ve hit rough times, about how the melt­ing pot of this city makes every­one feel at least a lit­tle (ok, a lot) more wel­come than, say, Syd­ney, and about how one should NEVER give up, no mat­ter how down the chips are.

Jas­mine asked me about my life and was gen­uine­ly interested.

We bond­ed over the fact that we both have fake teeth — hers den­tures, mine implants/crowns.

I was brought to tears by this conversation. 

What an incred­i­ble human, that, in the midst of the worst per­son­al cri­sis one can imag­ine, can still find the strength and ener­gy to stay pos­i­tive and curious. 

Truth­ful­ly, this con­ver­sa­tion deeply, deeply moved me.

It rein­forced the pre­vi­ous­ly-the­o­ret­i­cal notion in my head that, we are all one in the same. 

Cir­cum­stances and ‘life’ can and will hap­pen, but you can nev­er extin­guish the human spirit. 

It’s a lit­tle sad that it took a con­ver­sa­tion with Jas­mine for me to realise this, but also makes me real­ly hap­py that I final­ly let go of my own shit, stopped judg­ing and con­nect­ed with a human being on a lev­el i’ve nev­er both­ered doing before.

I wish Jas­mine many bless­ings and may we all keep the spir­it of human con­nec­tion burning.

Business Literacy for Kids

One of my more fonder mem­o­ries in pri­ma­ry school when I was around 11 years old was some­thing called ‘Earn and Learn’ (E&L)

E&L was essen­tial­ly an oppor­tu­ni­ty to intro­duce young­sters to busi­ness and work­ing life. 

We either select­ed, or were put into groups for a few hours into a nom­i­nat­ed ‘job’ such as a bank teller, foot­ball man­ag­er etc.

Look­ing back, this intro­duc­tion was invalu­able in plant­i­ng the first seeds of busi­ness mind­ed­ness and par­tic­u­lar­ly much-need­ed per­spec­tive on how the world works. The only pity was this was a lim­it­ed have-fun-type activ­i­ty which petered out after a few weeks.

I can pre­dict what some of you are think­ing, so let me go on…

…Yes, it’s impor­tant that kids stay kids. I’m not deny­ing this by any stretch of the imagination. 

See­ing what’s hap­pened to kids like Lil Tay real­ly sad­dens me and is reflec­tive of the broad­er hyper­com­mer­cialised, social-media fueled world we all find our­selves in.

Notwith­stand­ing these extremes, it is, how­ev­er, impor­tant to plant the right seeds and give sound foun­da­tion­al edu­ca­tion to kids beyond a hand-me-down cur­ricu­lum that was rel­e­vant 50-odd years ago.

Bru­tal truth — as much as some of us (me) would like, the world isnt filled with hugs and kiss­es and cir­cles singing kumbaya. 

Mon­ey talks, so until the apoc­a­lypse hits and we must all put food on the table large­ly thanks to our com­mer­cial acumen.

If we com­pare the pro­por­tion of learn­ing about his­to­ry, geog­ra­phy, maths and Eng­lish ver­sus E&L/business/marketing — the lat­ter is miniscule.

More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, still, E&L was biased towards work­ing ‘for the man’, so to speak. 

I vague­ly recall our teach­ers spruik­ing the 9–5 under the guise of ‘sta­bil­i­ty and cer­tain­ty’, no doubt to achieve the sub­ur­ban mid­dle class dream. 

Not exact­ly much oppor­tu­ni­ty to show our entre­pre­neur­ial colours…that had to come from our par­ents or (some­how) from within.

If the engine of growth and pro­gres­sion is inno­va­tion, then our schools did a pret­ty shit­ty job of prepar­ing us.

The next time I touched for­mal learn­ing in busi­ness was when I was 16 and study­ing a busi­ness man­age­ment elec­tive in high school.

So it came as a bit of a shock when I entered the prop­er work­force fol­low­ing high school.

It was, quite sim­ply, a dif­fer­ent universe. 

I felt underequipped. 

And I was one of the lucky ones, giv­en I had a cadet­ship at an account­ing firm while I stud­ied finance at uni.

At the time, social media also did­n’t real­ly exist. So when it all kicked off in the late 2000s, the brain was­n’t exact­ly primed to take advan­tage of new oppor­tu­ni­ties the world cre­at­ed there.

Don’t get me wrong — we all adapt­ed and caught up, but fos­ter­ing an entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it, think­ing and ways of work­ing ear­li­er would’ve primed us much bet­ter for the world ahead.

Hav­ing spo­ken to a few par­ents recent­ly, it seems not much has changed in the last 20 years.

To bring this lit­tle build-up to a head…if there are edu­ca­tors, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and prin­ci­pals out there read­ing this, it’s time to get with the times and start ‘em off not just ear­ly, but in a sus­tained and struc­tured man­ner, just like Eng­lish and maths. 

Mar­ket­ing, account­ing, entre­pre­neur­ship, inno­va­tion, lat­er­al think­ing, social media and project man­age­ment — this is where the real world skills are at.

Let’s not pre­tend otherwise….be an agent of change where we teach the youngesters real-world, action­able skills. Or rel­e­gate Gen (what­ev­er the next one is) to be left behind!

May suc­cess be with you! 💙 💚

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