Doug Speight:

"5x Entrepreneur puts Diversity at the center of everything he does"

Episode Overview

In episode 7 of the Next Matters Most podcast, you will meet (future) Nobel Prize Winner Doug Speight is a 5x entrepreneur, innovation commercialization expert, and current founder and CEO of Annex Tech Partners.  This man on a mission has lofty goals: to change the way the tech industry operates; close the wealth and opportunity gap for women and people of color; all while stabilizing our national economy.

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Welcome, Doug!

About Doug Speight:

Doug Speight is Founder of AnnexTechPartners, SaaS software firm. Speight was formerly Executive Director for American Underground, a campus for entrepreneurs in Durham, NC and home to over 250 tech startups. He has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Google and CODE2040 and the GIGTANK venture accelerator. Speight has served as co-founder and/or founder for five tech startups, in addition to leading technology transfer and commercialization divisions for NC A&T State University, NASA and the Department of Energy and holds several patents for additive manufacturing technology. Speight is a graduate of NC A&T State University and earned aMBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Episode Post Feature:

We have an opportunity to create an entirely new ecosystem for the entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship community that is responsible for driving innovation and change in business that puts diversity at the forefront of everything it does. The conversation in this episode will expand your thinking, articulate what is wrong, and provide proactive and positive solutions that will inspire us. I end the interview with a Nobel Prize prediction.

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Episode 7 Transcription

(This transcription is not 100% accurate. Please listen to the recorded episode to get the most accurate results.)

NJ: Let's get Rockin. Why don't you give us an intro and elevator pitch on Doug and what all you're working on?

DS: Absolutely. So by way of background Spate, I'm the founder of a company called Annex Tech Partners. I have a background faith in not only Tech startups. So Annex Tech Partners is my fifth, but I also have a career in technology commercialization. So that means taking Innovations and inventions out of a research environment. So primarily the University Research environment and federal Laboratories. So I worked as director Tech transfer for North Carolina A&T State University for NASA for Department of energy most recently taking Innovations and spinning them out either. His license has to corporate Partners or as start-up companies. And so I've done that for just about all of my life. I moved back to North Carolina in 2016 to serve as an entrepreneur-in-residence at American Underground. So focusing in on diversity and inclusion and increasing black and Latin X participation in the start-up ecosystem and that carries through in everything that I do now, everything has a diversity and inclusion thread for me for family reasons and for obvious economic reasons now, so that's that's me in a nutshell.

NJ: Awesome, For the annex business. Do you want to talk about kind of what that is at a high level?

DS: Yeah at a at a high level there are two trends that are occurring and in the tech industry on the one hand. You have a number of Corporations Tech corporations that have been on acquisition tears for about a decade now off just after the last recession for instance companies like Facebook Amazon Microsoft Google have acquired over five hundred thirty companies since 2010 just in those those five companies just between 2010 and 2019 the end of 2019 month not all of those Acquisitions have been Incorporated and integrated into the larger Corporation and many of those Acquisitions are either sold to private. But Equity or in some cases, they're actually wound down or shut down because they haven't met corporate growth standards wage in many of these cases these Acquisitions and these internal startups are saddled with unreal expectations in terms of growth trajectories. And when they don't meet those unreal expectations, they're undervalued and are essentially discarded in divestitures and sales to private equity and other companies. So on the back end of the spectrum, you have a number of very talented black and brown Founders technicians Engineers sales professionals and others that are getting a difficult time getting into the tech industry. So what we did is an ecstatic is a bridge those two worlds one the corporate environment that hath As non-core technical products that don't meet their growth trajectories and expectations and on the other end you have people of color and an entire pipeline of extraordinary Talent. It's very difficult finds it very difficult to to connect with with growing tech companies in the industry. So we actually Bridge the two by helping the corporations to divest of those companies and we form a new company around it. It's populated with black and brown

NJ: That's awesome. And how is that going today?

DS: So interestingly obviously today is June 17th, and we're in the middle of a pandemic the last several months have been somewhat quiet as many of these tech companies try to regain their footing. So the way the process has been slowed down tremendous amount as they do some internal, uh, you know, portfolio review and portfolio assessment office and over the last month and half or so, it's picked back up again significantly. And so we have a number of conversations now with tech companies all over a half a billion in annual revenue that are looking at their portfolios I'm saying we have more product lines that birth Our outside of our core area of expertise and we need to shed those so they need to try to sell them or they engage companies like ours to divest.

NJ:  So I mean I think you know only feeds into the next matters most kind of theme, you know, you're innovating on the model you're you're innovating or iterating on tip traditional venture-capital on tap at Talent collecting Talent putting them to work deploying them with dni is kind of the heart of it. But before kind of getting into that thought you said you need as far as Doug is concerned diversity and inclusivity is part of everything you do. Absolutely I talked about that and also, you know thinking about Things like people, you know, knowing your own story and like being an entrepreneur like knowing your own stories powerful and I'm just pulling all kinds of cliches out my house. And and what's your why am I so we knew both like so shake that up for us? Cuz I mean, you know, I know I know you I know you're on a mission and I think I mean I think this is an amazing opportunity for like just bought a crow everything lifting up and but start with your account. Yeah your story your wine.

DS: So, my why actually starts three generations ago nineteen thirty-eight so I come from an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather started his first company in 1938 in in Durham During the period where it's often referred to as Black Wall Street, so back yet the turn of the century Durham North Carolina had the highest density of black millionaires per capita in the Country Club. Of any city in the country and so it was called Black Wall Street because of the prosperity of the black business community and given how prolific it was within a city and that changed over time with a number of controversial policies Urban Redevelopment that displaced businesses and and ended some thoughts that ended an era of black business scalable black business in the city of Durham. That was that I think affected the the local economy for decades to come and was largely undervalued in terms of what contributed to the overall economy of the triangle and North Carolina. So everything that I do is about recreating the effects of Black Wall Street in the digital economy tech industry in particular and you know, we talk dog.

NJ: all the time Tech has an ability to scale wealth quicker than any other industry and I believe that incorporating underrepresented communities into the tech ecosystems will help them scale generational wealth at a far more rapid clip than they have and that's that's very important for the being able to solidify our local economies a regional economy State economies and also the nation That's awesome. And that's a stat. I didn't really know actually around sort of the highest density of black millionaires per capita may have got well actually talked about sort of the kind of the rituals and traditions around Black Wall Street that seemed it's been here for a while and documented for a while. It seems like the last few years. There's been sort of a refocus and a new energy around the celebration of of that tradition in Durham specifically absolute terms specific, but obviously there's it's bigger than just Durham and just the back wall Street completely completely. So as you mentioned there's been a Resurgence in the interest in Black entrepreneurship and that's Nationwide and that has been the case for now about six years.

DS: So I think for six years running the SBA and other government organizations have said that the fastest growing demographic Pick 4 new company starts is black women followed closely by Latino women. So that has been a trend over the past five years or so off and what you're seeing is more people realizing that the opportunities for truly creating wealth within the corporate environment is relatively limited for because of, you know, racism and glass ceiling sexism and the like so you're seeing more people strike out with side hustles initially and then going out into entrepreneurship. So a couple of years ago several members of the Durham Community got together to create what's called black Nopal Street homecoming it's an annual celebration of black entrepreneurship month largely focused on Tech but not exclusive to it includes adtech and includes fintech and a number of service Industries wage. And what we do is host three to four days of celebration in the fall of every year. So in late September, we will recruit troops some 4,000 or we have recruited over the years some 4,000 attendees to come to Jerome to hear speakers and panelists and Specialists and meet investors over that time and at the same time. We've also received funding from Google just end up a program specifically around supporting black entrepreneurs and Tech package called the Google exchange for black Founders. That's an annual program that happens at the very same time. So there have been a number of movements like that in the during a community over the past three to four years and that momentum is continuing.

NJ: Yeah. And nationally or regionally or nationally, how do you see yourself? And how is this? You know, are you one of one person saying hey, I'm changing a new model and this unlocks, you know, social value commercial value. The returns are holistic, but it does include money includes employment GDP are there others doing this? I mean, it seems obvious right? There's a what an untapped potential to check, you know to to serve a lot of different missions. Is this obvious to everybody or is it sort of are you one of one of one more quick question?

DS: So it's yes and no. Yes in the sense that there are other entities private Equity firms and others that are looking for some of these underutilized assets inside of corporate portfolio wage. Does but they're focused tends to be purely Financial, right? So they're looking at how do I require an asset that's currently operating currently generating significant. Revenue has a significant customer base is a profitable and growing industry sector, but the transaction is purely Financial. That's where we need ever. For operational assets and deploying those in a way that creates an opportunity for job creation and scale and wealth creation in underserved communities. So we're very unique in that regard.

NJ: Yeah. Well, that's incredible. And I think that speaks to a it's nice knowing unicorns like you suck. So yeah. Yeah for me I know but it also speaks to that's kind of like sad that there's just not more activity kind of happening in in the space, but you're leading the way you know, it's so when you're leading the way you have a big lift, right? You've got to sort of sell all these different pieces on why all things together make a difference. What's that Vision? This goes into sort of next matters most like what is that vision? And I've got a couple parallels to that. I'll bring up but like how do you see that kind of birth? And for why this should matter to your anyone your audience or stakeholders your potential targets. You're you know, how are you selling that that big

DS:  great question. So my ultimate vision is to create the PayPal Mafia of black and Latino entrepreneurs in Tech and what that means is actually using successful exits and a series of successful exits to help create economic wealth in communities that have been largely overlooked. The ultimate ultimate goal is to create more economic contributors within a region within a city within the state and then scale that over the entire country and well beyond a.m. And we do that by taking some of these assets that are typically discarded by Corporate America do to nothing other than their patterns and practices wage. There's that's value destroying when they divest of profitable business units and in the way that they've been trained to do and this is actually taking some of those assets and actually creating economic impact true economic impact and the communities that have been largely overlooked and when that happens the economy of the entire region increases it's stabilized in a way that it's not when it's imbalanced. So that's the the ultimate goal of of what we do is to create more economic participants create more generational wealth in those under-represented communities.
Yeah. So, I mean, I think that addresses definitely to you know, maybe how many pillars of this but obviously it's got value to your Target in terms of the company. They're going to throw it away anyway, so let us come in be hungry Scrappy that sort of like dead You know that's race agnostic, but the piece of hey, we're going to actually intentionally focus on inclusivity and diversity that adds this other layer of GDP is great for GDP and economic prosperity in any Community or any City or as a kind of a from a state level is good, I guess right like, oh the states better. It's more tax revenue more happiness more stuff that can Cross Roads and schools, you know never seems to come back around to schools. But but specifically for marginalized and underserved communities. That's like a double bonus. Right? So like you already had, you know, a need to find ways to to bridge the gap in terms of the quality of overtime. And so it's certain that how about the the glue that's going to bring these things to head like, you know off of fundraising investing like where does that how does that part party to this fit in and see that same sort of multiple bottom line off? Kind of return. It's a great question. So what you're seeing across the country now is a move to impact investing and that's true across the Venture Capital industry. That's true across the not-for-profit foundation Community. That's true across corporate foundations. They want to see the department of capital or Capital deployed in a way that creates economic impact in ways that it hasn't in the past and this is a relatively new movement for some comfort Foods. There are foundations corporate foundations, like Prudential for instance. The insurance company Prudential has been an impact investor for decades.

 Now, they were one of the Pioneers in the space boss and you're seeing more and more investors pour into this commute into this community in this movement because they realize that many of the returns over the past few decades have been one-sided dead. All of the value from an exit of a tech company typically goes to the investors primarily and then to the first four founders of the tech come back and there's a huge drop-off for that fifth employee and everybody else in the company. Essentially they get what equates to a severance package while everyone else walks out millions or better and this is an opportunity with an extent Partners to change that calculus so that it's the returns are not just waited too long as investors, but to the actual participants and people that create value, so we've allocated more of a capped able to accommodate our employees so that that's also owners of the company and they're further motivated and also benefit from that company growth and the eventual exit it.

NJ: You were speaking was you know, this might be a fun it might be and so, you know, one of the challenges would be well, okay, you don't want to be getting non-profit Foundation dollars. I would actually ask you if you I mean you you might but I would see how you're like, no this isn't a non-profit that's like could almost be insulting right correct, but it doesn't you know, but like looking at home but each LP are each fund has LPS, right? So that still is sort of the The Grass Roots movement of saying hey, you know, like I require someone invest into this as a fund home, you know, I want to see like a diversity of thought in mind and if companies that were building so like commercially that fun does have you know, some supply and demand of like changing their their pitch and their approach life in a way that you know can like cuz with more money to deploy they have more money to drive return they can drive more absolute profits. They're only going to get said money if they take the right investing approach something there is a way to get maybe to the office. Master of the funds, correct? Just you know, so I can that's really interesting. And where does it all lead? I mean just Utopia like how does that all we really like…

DS: That's a good question. So starting with your point Around Mission alignment or that's such a critical component of it having both institutions, not-for-profit and for-profit institutions that understand the value of stabilizing our national economy particularly in underrepresented communities. That's a key component to all of this. So your point is is correct. We don't want grants. We don't operate as a non-profit page insulting because this is at the end of the day all about Commerce and business and building value. So but what you're seeing is the tenor change with many of those institutions off. From granting organizations to investing organizations. They really do want to see a material change in how businesses conducted and those are the types of partners that we seek out where this is all leading quite frankly is a new generation of leadership in the tech industry. That is a black brown and female we have set goals for each of our companies where we want each of the these companies to be 60 plus percent minority-owned sixty-plus percent people of color staffed and 60-plus percent women ownership and women presence within the office the the management team. So we have very lofty goals about creating Pathways for for populations and individuals. Who've Been largely stymied in terms of their growth and they're earning potential in larger tech companies. So ultimately it's seeing those people experience with the material outcomes of an exit and then go back and do it again. We see this as the flywheel effects. Obviously, it's taking a lot of as you said activation energy on the front end not get the flywheel going. But ultimately this will produce more exits companies growing at a faster clip and more people that are exposed to em growth high-impact operations internally and they're growing in terms of skill and responsibility and they're going and spinning off companies are moving to the next company and it creates a positive turn within the community.

NJ: That's right. Yeah. I love the flywheel and it's almost you know, I want to make a like comment see what you're thinking about this which is You know if a fund or a or you know, if the market is not taking a proactive stance and a proactive strategy and approach to 2 a.m. In the future like whether you can see exactly the ROI because I think you know you could also make the case that hey a black and brown leaders just as good if not better than like a white male leader wage, but it's not necessarily saying it's they're going to be exponentially better. So for just looking and you know, once we get there, we need to also manage our returns as a portfolio. Absolutely and so, you know, like it's nice if you don't have a focus on inclusivity and diversity you should arguably should probably get left behind cuz that's almost saying that you are don't care to focus on issues. But at some point there's also like there's the appropriate amount of proliferation of funds and mindsets that you know, what how many years out is it to where it's not a focus anymore. Is that fifty years?

And I don't I mean I'm not trying to make about myself here but like but you know, I like I like the like uncomfortable with this fact that like I have always liking the abundance my boss said like let's grow the pie but that's not fair. That's let's that's almost being apathetic towards diversity. Right? Cuz like hey, if you're doing better if this community is doing better than like Hey, we're all good. So I'm definitely going to help but like my mindset has to change like I actually maybe need to be more proactive about doing chickens just being like hey, it's all good. Like no it's not all good. Like if everyone and every function was like me there would be all sure there's other systemic things that I'm just not even part of that. I don't know how to change that cuz it's too big as B on one person. So therefore as a society we do need to kind of say hey, there's too many pieces of our faith in our social fabric that are like broken that need restitching together for the benefit of the greater good And what I still know that they're I like it's always better running towards the light. It's always better, you know getting the bees with honey. So like when you have to cast that bigger bigger Vision, what does that look like, you know, is it off this isn't about this comes from this pie is coming out of your pie is really like no. No, we're making a bigger pie but the time so what's a realistic kind of timeline that you see on that?

DS: I'm not exactly sure either right and I'm not certain if it is a timeline or a Continuum right now. Obviously, we're on the Polar off to sit into the Continuum 0.0006 percent of venture capital of the 100 and what 52 billion dollars in Venture Capital spend every year goes to women yet at this over black women yet at the same time. It's well-documented that women Founders generate a 30% off. Return higher return than their white counterparts. So there is a huge incentive for Venture funds to start truly looking at women Founders in in particular black women Founders, right a tremendous amount of incentive for them to start doing so but if you look at where our Baseline in that regard, like we're starting with a fraction of 1% and even if that the amount invested in black women Founders increases ten thousand times over the next couple of years, that's still single low single-digits if that right.

So that's pretty difficult to to try to project the next couple of years. We're how fast what the rate of increase will be? So in one in some ways, I'm optimistic wage. The future I'm optimistic when I see Andreessen Horowitz and many of the like Blue Chip Venture funds setting up funds specifically for black entrepreneurs on the other hand. It's a drop in the bucket compared to their main funds and it's to some degree and insult that you set aside 3% of your total portfolio specifically for black entrepreneurs when we should be a main part of your investment thesis for your main funds. So I waffle back and forth in terms of what the timeline looks like, but I do know that the traditional model of investment needs to be disrupted as well. And that's where our business office of of working with divestiture is overtime changes the calculus of who benefits on exit and thus it has to change the way that the Venture in, New Jersey. Really looks at how they invest how they benefit and in some cases maintain an outsized advantage in terms of the versus the founders. All of that has to change the entire mindset has to change and largely. The only way that will change is when people realize that they're missing out on value creation.

NJ: That's right. Yeah. I mean, I acknowledge that even the question of is there a timeline might not be a fair question but there is probably some definition of parody that exists out there and so it's like that parody. It shouldn't comes in town next year. That's great. But see your point like in a long long way to go to get there but parity and equality or words that maybe our beliefs things to strive for but those are going to look so Darker, so you just look at me bass like it's seat high level. It's like it doesn't seem that unachievable. It's x amount of e c but when you look at it relative to where it's going now, it's like wage you can't even multiplied 2.01 times anything is going to keep going the wrong way. Right? So you got a humongous strides in that regard and I think you know that like, it's I mean, what's the balance between it's the right thing to do and it's commercially a better idea and that commercial a better idea does have a social compact but it has a return component. How do we make sure we sell that just so it's out of the way there's going to be a return but also if you don't do it you're missing out on social stuff. You're eventually going to be on the wrong side of this big Trend in this movement. That's what's right for the country and the world so then you're totally fucked so so obviously don't just like go out business for not making the right decisions, but like dead. What's the what's the return you you said a stat? So I mean, I'm sure there's a lot of stats around making investments in the right places.

DS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And when you refer to Investments, you almost have to break it down into a number of different categories. Typically Investments is is is discussed in the context of direct money in right Equity investment direct checks to to to startups and in the light, I think we need to broaden the definition of investment in the same way that we engage corporations for these wholly-owned product lines took finding out is that the corporations are saying, you know, what we we still want to remain vested in your success. So we'll license you to the technology will work with you to spin it out as a club. Free-standing company and we'd like to maintain an equity position in it and connection to our corporate parent. So we're seeing companies that realize this isn't just Money Talks it over the fence and good luck with it. But we want to ensure that this product in this team and this movement continues and that's reassuring in a number of ways off. So, I think it's part of the challenge is redefining what we see as Investments. It's not just Financial capital in one transaction. It's an ongoing partnership where values created and that can happen in a number of different ways. So I think that key distinction is going to be important to change the industry's mindset going forward.

NJ: Yeah. I mean, I'm just trying to think of I mean, I'm picturing this scenario where you're just like just money just flowing to age. You in like faster than you can like even catch it right because of all the things that you're tapping on there, you know, which is there's a return to be made there's models to be changed. You're on the front page of that kind of like model not only from like you're making something out of nothing. It's going to be discarded asset possible here. It's underperforming so that whole like how you invest that sort of like a nice old first started like build in stock. There's a book that I think I just bought on my audible which is like Oh by then bill. Yeah, so like about entrepreneurs who Maybe by an existing Thing versus starting everything from scratch and that's still entrepreneurship. So you kind of completely and you're trying to add sort of like the return, you know, sort of I are on that different way to set up cap tables from the start that improve quality of life outcomes for everybody and in a keen focus on you know, the the make up of the staff around diversity inclusivity and of leadership dead. An ownership, so I think like there's also the I mean, how do you quantify what I kind of call as like the you know, the the whole list or the social good of this like a public like it's great to get off sidewalks or streets sidewalks public good is good for everybody but like from an economics perspective. It's like hard to put that on one person to say by your build your set of that road, you know, so how do you offer help people understand that and and capture the value that you create in that realm?

DS: So we focus in on the individual economic impacts to participants in our company's. So this is an ongoing conversation the way that we look at it as the leadership team is we want to close the wage Gap the salary Gap and the opportunity Gap. We want to close the wealth Gap in that we want more employees of the company to own a dog. Equity positions that could be of material benefit on exit right? We want to close the salary Gap in that we want to launch into these companies. We want to create them with complete parody in terms of compensation. That's a huge issue in in the tech industry now with women earning up to 30% less than their mayor email counterparts black men earning 15% less than their white male counterparts and a lot of that is based upon when they come into the organization they're coming in so late that those sorts of gaps are already in place. So by creating the type of culture and structure that allow everyone to them to chart their compensation against industry established Norms.

It gives us an opportunity to close that salary Gap opportunity Gap in that we find a job. Most black Latin X and female people in Tech are not invested in in terms of their professional development the way that their counterparts are and that's a key part of what we do is focus in on how are we creating Avenues to grow in skill and responsibilities. How are we creating Avenues took train people in in in new skills, whether they be management or technical so that they are growing and marketability at the end of the day and that we're seeing their progression from from when they first joined the organization to win the organization exits. And so we're charting those over time to show that we are indeed helping individuals grown net worth that we are indeed positioning them. Well, according to National standards and compensation and salary and that we are also helping them grow wage. In terms of new skills and marketability.

NJ: Yep. That's awesome. And I think what I was in my mind when I asked that I was like well, you know all companies in this area are better off all people are better off when we have more parody more equality more just societal. Well being so long, you know, maybe the government should be capturing that and that's where you potentially could be looking at, you know, a public-private partnership or Public Funding to say. Hey like with my taxes went up to say hey to be a better and more happy world versus what it is now I day, you know, I think most people would pay even if you want to be in control of like live off the grid there's some value you can saying okay motherfuckas aren't going to try to come get them including the government, right, you know, like ever since everyone's happy. I think you can live off the grid. That's exactly right.

DS: Yeah, and I actually push that forward to I mean you look at home. Elements of the community that aren't typically publicly-funded or at least not funded well from the public regime. So your Arts Community like who stands up to support your Arts Community right? Now. The way things are is that a lot of that burden is carried by very wealthy white men and being able to create more economic contributors from people who both benefit and value the Arts community and what it creates is another one of those outcomes. We want to be able to track. What do you doing in terms of contributing to United Way or the Arts Council or name? Your, you know name your interest area all of those creates a different type of Civic engagement that we also want to see we want to increase that over time. 

One of the things that I was going to kind of ask one way, but I figure this would be different is since we know each other pretty well I'd say, you know, give me a month. I don't know if I was a 360 review but like I made some comments earlier was like yeah. Yeah, you know, this is good. This is good. Like I think I'm doing okay, you know, I'm doing my part well, but not well no. No, I'm not. So if you had to be like super I don't I mean critical or you know, give like what if you had to reflect back to me what you're thinking about me or my participation or whether it's people like me or just literally me poke some holes and the things that I said and that you know, like maybe are you doing this? Are you doing this life? Help me understand maybe others can kind of get that sense of like where there may be deficient or I'll just stop there. But yeah and, Georgia.

NJ: Be careful what you wish for it. Now. I know it's I knew I want I'm excited. So I do value that you and I are are very Mission aligned in that we see the value of growing the community growing the Pod and abundance mindset as opposed to a scarcity one and I think that basic Paradox between abundance mindsets and and and and fixed mindsets is an incredibly important one for Community to come to grips with largely because when a community has a fixed mindset they are going to make a mental calculus and everything that they do whether they realize it or not. They gave a mental calculus of if I participate in seeing somebody else progress and move forward and grow in prosperity and abundance then somehow birth. That comes out of my pocket you and I know that's that's not true. Right and it has never been the the case.

DS: So I think starting with coming to grips on that abundance mindset versus fixed mindset is a very critical one for every one individually and four cities and municipalities and regions to deal with because you treat resources and you treat your time investment and effort very differently depending on those two mindsets. Right number two is Jeff is thinking about how you view personally how people view other communities and the role of public institutions in engaging or managing those communities communities. Let me be really specific. I had I was watching dead. A peaceful protest the other week high school students had organized a peaceful protest took place in a on a major thoroughfare and block traffic in a direction to carry a a very important message around social equity and social justice and the interesting thing was I observed two different responses to that protest on the one hand. There was a parent that was extraordinarily proud of those high school students for organizing a peaceful protest and co-ordinating it in a way that was both respectful and also got the message across there was another parent however, that was completely perturbed by it and they were asking the questions where the cops why are they not arresting everybody?

Like what's going on here? This chaos that those are really two incredibly different ways of looking at our home. The power of our institutions right one is looking at the the police as a keeper of the peace right primarily off a keeper of the piece of keeper of water and a facilitator of of the public discourse one is completely punitive. Right? We look at that. The police force is you know, our attack dogs for last lack of a better term to go punish those people that that's a very fundamentally different decision that people make and sometimes they make it subconsciously. We all need to understand which way we view those institutions and their role in society. And that's one very important way. I think all of us need to revisit how we think of our authorities are municipalities our leadership and so forth because both of them it’s require very different resources very different methods and the outcomes are entirely different depending on which way they they go so so add that to it. But ultimately it's really the most valuable thing that all of us can do is reevaluate biases. Our prejudices wage discrimination as the precursors to racism and many of those words have been lost in the American lexicon. We don't use that hardly anymore, and we find ourselves in a conversation that either allies on one end of the spectrum and racist on the others and there's no dialogue their choice, but If we look at it through the lens of bias as a foundation and Prejudice or prejudging people in the absence of any information discriminating just simply treat be treating people differently some better some some worse than we do other people for whom we have no biases if we look at those things, it's easier easier to isolate behaviors.

So for instance, if I say Nick, hey, you're a racist. Your response is no I'm not off. The conversation is over right there's nothing to talk about. But if I were to come to you and say hey Nick, we've gone out to lunch several times and I think you might have a negative bias towards Asian women. You know, what should I wear in the company of an Asian woman? You react a certain way and observe this, you know talk to me about that. Like let me know what that's all about. Then you actually have an Avenue to say. Hey, I didn't realize job. That or not that's not the way I see it. Here's how I see it and it opens up the dialogue agree a great deal. So I think that is a key component of what needs to happen with everybody across the board going forward is having the language and a framework to understand our own Tendencies and how to evaluate and break those down song as long answer to your question. 

NJ: Yeah. I was expecting a laundry list of things to improve constructive criticism. Okay, I think one of the things though that I don't know what this really does but I feel like there was a time when not you didn't say race stuff. You didn't say that person is Black Box is for for some reason that was right because you're like, oh that's drawing the color barrier, you know, it's black and white, it's not that simple like, oh that's a you know, I'm white you're black. That's that was not cool in terms of how we get off. Like racial Harmony, but then I heard this, you know, it was it was like just ESPN's do talking about Tom Brady being like Oh, you know, they're like, how do you feel being like this old like super rich white guy in the locker rooms in a weird psycho. I don't see I don't see race and I was like, I think that's what we were sort of maybe talked to say but then the guy was like why it's bulshit like you're just that's being ignorant a little bit like well obviously downstairs raised so you not seeing it as you electing to feel better about not seeing it. So I think that was one of the things that were right in spirit maybe that aren't necessarily wrong. We don't want to be like I immediately off see a thing that's different in a negative way. But we do need to actually say wait a minute there is there's other things that go along seeing race for like I'm going to make a prejudgment as bad but with knowledge in that there are different races are different types of people that have different challenges I think is sort of what we need to read or what we are reintroducing our needs to strongly being everyone's mind. It's not like, oh, it's all good. Like it's easy birth. To be like, I think it's all good. Like I'm not doing anything bad. Does that make me by default fine? Like no is the answer right? Like just not hurting the situation isn't enough now back to be like sure you have to see race. You have to be like, how do I get to see in an equity and other race or gender or or press orientation et cetera?

DS: So that's a really good point home and there is a really Distinct difference between the leadership of a company saying I don't see color and even if they even if they say and use allof the popular diversity and inclusion. Jargon if they're simply tolerating differences and diversity if they're just saying, yeah, it's fine if we have you know people of color. Yeah, you know, we're okay if we if we have more women to come into our organization. That's a very different from saying hey, I recognize that you have a VIN a different perspective you bring different skills, and I actually crave that I want that like I am after those differences I see value in those differences as opposed to yeah, I'll simply you know, I'll deal with it. It's fine. Those are two very different things. And I think that's what Corporate America is really struggling with right now. There's what the tech in dispatch. Has been struggling with because there has traditionally been comfort in homogeneity, right? Oh, you went to the same, you know business took those I did. Oh, well, there's a level of comfort there because I know how they taught and oh you went to you know, the same, you know Catholic school or what-have-you. That's all about Comfort level as opposed to challenging your notion of what brings value and I want to see more companies follow our lead in saying I want all of the differences that will give me an edge in business and that's a core thesis of ours yet.

NJ: So for the sake of time, I'll try to be, you know, a brief on the next month, but that's a great point when I earlier referred to like there's this other parallel that I was thinking about. I had a conversation with a guy who's and he's a mental health expert so in saying like why should employers cuz at Birth There is a challenge as a small business owner and an entrepreneur to like address all the things and all the needs of society when you know at the edge sometimes perceived expense of your own bottom line and sometimes it's not really a throne bottom line. It's really like coming out of your own pocket and like in a small business of any size or Thursday. We could be the most Equitable small business. It doesn't there's still a lot of pressure and finance and financial collapse and ruin your marriage and your kids hate you and all that shit you thought was the whole point of society that life is procreation extending human race. It all goes down the toilet. Yeah. So you're like damn I do want like mental health. That's like yeah. I want more Wellness days and I want to pay a good person to do meditation for they buy em, I'm broke now like payable. How about this you want to get paid or do you want like a fucking send a right? Nice and Garden in the backyard? Like what is it? Take your pick like, you know, I want to find the right way to get to the boss. Small businesses who are like make it about the growing Pi make it about the abundance cuz I faced those decisions in like mental health. Like I love more benefits. I love more all this stuff and a more mental resilience mental emotional resilience mental resilience well-being will create basically better population will be I'll be happier. Perhaps we were probably making more money. I'm worried less about like what's going on with that. It's all like, what should I do with my time?

How should I you know, and I think and for that conversation and this like there's a component where it's like Man painting that future picture will definitely help the cause, you know, which is there it just analyze it to this guy's name is done and he's like we did this and really I love. He's awesome like his mental well-being emotional being like the next big Trend in business. And really I think this is too like I don't even know if this is called diversity and inclusivity or or what it you how you would phrase it but like dog Could be you know, there's like enneagrams and disk and like knowing how to communicate these small things or Six Sigma or the next big thing in business. Like that's tiny that doesn't mean shit but that's still people by that name because there's like a product marketing like well, if I do this I'll get a system and I'll improve my business and therefore... Mental health mental health of your employees of your team and builds up immunity diversity inclusivity, rebuilding the fabric of our society. Like how do we tie that down to a micro-level to a small business owner to be like do this? You know, like hey if I could increase your profits by 15% a year, would you take this magic blue pill? Yes, you would like boom take it. So like if you were drowning, you know, I threw your life that's would you grab it right?

Hey take the deal right? I think you know how to tie that together on the high high level and bring it right down to Main Street America who's you know, I don't know how I'd rate myself, maybe like better than average on this but month. People don't even know what they're not even doing very well. You gotta sell it to them. And that's like that's a lot of people like I'm always surprised at how many just other people there are out there like that are just not think about shit. Like you're just not trying to advance the world or Advance themselves and that's like punch in punch out or I'm just doing this my own way and that stinks trying to seek knowledge and that's probably like 90% off like sadly.

DS: So I agree I agree, you know, yeah good question. So I just read a Boston Consulting Group study a couple of weeks ago that said that that for companies that had diverse leadership. They experienced a 20% increase in in Revenue compared to their peers by Innovation, right? You know, so those companies are more creative and Innovative than they appear companies are unless they see a 20% you know advantage in, New Jersey. Revenue and then corresponding obviously Enterprise Value. There is a a push to quantify those types of benefits now from diversity and inclusion and what they mean to productivity and what they mean to Innovation. The the mental health component of it I think is is no different right there is a productivity enhancement benefit that comes from mental health all when I look across the evolution of the tech landscape over a number of years. I see many of the women and people of color that have entered the tech industry are typically Not entirely there as a whole person. And the reason for that is I think there's an expectation from white male leadership has to be that you should be just a black version of me, you know, essentially you should just be me only in a different skin and that is incredibly limiting when it comes to potential and when it comes to productivity there really needs to be a complete mind shift to say listen those differences that make you different from me or a superpower. I know that there's a 20% premium that I'm Giving Up by not having that type of perspective on my leadership team or across my employee base. So that's where the the the the shift needs to take place.

When you look across the United States, there have been Investments on two fronts in terms of diversity and inclusion in Tech on one end of the spectrum. You see more of a push to support and invest in black and Latin X and women founders of startups on the other end of the spectrum. There's a push to do more hiring in the corporate ranks on board of directors and the executive teams and you know technical teams and the like we see that there is a dog Tremendous opportunity right in the middle by taking these operating companies that in many cases minimize the risk from a true start up launching from zero that can still produce some of the benefits of a successful Tech exit. So, I think there's a there's this stratification of investment on the front end of companies with that will likely have high attrition and on the other end of the spectrum. They're completely focused in on hiring into organizations where the officers to some degree is still broken. And neither one of those is going to work by itself there needs to be a middle option and that's what we've been focusing in on in packaging this entrepreneurship intrapreneurship straddling that line got it.

NJ: Okay, good. I feel like you know in a dog. Our convo the the opposite of the fast growth of wealth with the real estate side and in Durham, ironically, it was like Hey the city would love to see more than a small spaces. I've got an empty hole huge space right here. So I'm like, what can I do with it? And the people that were in the conversations were like basically Rich wide developers wage. Hey, and they didn't say diversity. They just said like less expensive. So for actual urban entrepreneurship and urban small business not just another like super expensive. We work with espresso right off. All right, how do we get that kind of thing going? I'd love to talk to you about that separately because I think that's could be kind of a a win-win terms of you know, building out our our community. But yeah, let's wrap up. I think you know, I'm I don't even know how like, I just keep thinking like Nobel prize-winning dead space. I don't know how Nobel prizes work or like what they give them out of their colors kind of random, but I'm like dead. This is like so game-changing. So like when it works, it's worthy of many accolades and I totally wish you best of luck and I hope I can help you any way. I can along the journey and Thursday. Yeah, that's all I have. You have any sort of closing party closing thoughts.

DS: Just to you know one thank you for the invitation value every opportunity that I have two to speak with you Nick, and I do see a opportunity to create an entirely new ecosystems of support in this entrepreneurship intrapreneurship category that we're creating. So I look forward to working with you on that going forward and seeing what the seals awesome.

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