The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Wayne Sutton
Go to the bottom of the Show Notes for cavnessHR affiliates and resources
The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
YouTube Pippa: https://cavnesshr.co/youtuda9a1
Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/49ec0
Pocket Casts: https://cavnesshr.co/theca3c5e8
Social Media links for Wayne Below!!
Twitter: @waynesutton @changecatalyst @techinclusion
Change Catalyst: www.changecatalyst.co
Tech Inclusion: www.techinclusion.co
Below is Wayne’s book recommendations:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Below is the link to purchase the book on Amazon.
We are doing a tech and inclusion conference in San Francisco and New York this year and if you use the code cavnessHR, you get a half off of all of the corporate tickets.
Use the links below for half off on corporate tickets for the Tech Inclusion New York or the Tech Inclusion San Francisco event.
Tech Inclusion New York, June 27
Tech Inclusion 2018 San Francisco, Oct. 15-17
Jason: Hello, and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I’m your host, Jason Cavness. Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audible. Get a free audiobook download and a 30-day trial at www.audiotrial.com/cavnessHR. Our guest today on the podcast is Wayne Sutton. Wayne, are you ready to be great today?
Wayne: I’ll do the best I can.
Jason: Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst builds inclusive tech ecosystems through strategic advising, startup programs and resources, and a series of events around the globe. Wayne’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early-stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech. Wayne shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early-stage startups. Wayne’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world. Wayne, you’re taking on a very important mission right there, thank you for that.
Wayne: And thank you.
Jason: So, Wayne, what’s keeping you busy right now?
Wayne: Three things. Self-care – moral, personal – self-care in terms of fitness, mental stability, meditation, working out, being happy. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on working on that this year. The second is the work with Change Catalyst and in tech inclusion. Right now, planning tech inclusion in New York, San Francisco, and some other client projects focusing on creating a tech inclusive ecosystem. The third thing is my motorcycle; I've got a new bike this year and that's my hobby, my fun, my past-time - roughing out routes along the highway on the California coastline and just enjoying outdoors.
Jason: I’m sure there’s a lot of great motorcycle riding in your area, isn’t it?
Wayne: Yeah. It's a very, very beautiful and scenic area nearby; go twenty minutes and it's a whole other world.
Jason: Wayne, why is there so much talk about diversity and inclusion in tech and do other industries put this much focus on tech as the tech industry does?
Wayne: Great question. Right now, the focus on diversity and inclusion, it really kickstarted a couple years ago when Google announced diversity numbers in 2014. Even though Intel announce their diversity numbers before that. But it really highlighted the inequities around the demographics of the tech industry. So it created this huge emotional, intellectual dialogue that continues to bump heads was: one, restoring to the tech industry meritocracy is anyone can be in tech, equal opportunity, it’s equal for anyone to create wealth. To build a product and change the world, and those diversity numbers highlighted that that is clearly not true. If it was, the workforce would be different. Then, you add that to now bringing also more emphasis on the data around lack of funding going to black women and to entrepreneurship like, say, 0.2% - of black women in the world or in America, at least, would raise more than a million dollars. Then you go to a lack of funding towards to the Latinx community, or the African American community as a whole; and there’s not even data on other communities to quantify.
Wayne: So there's also this huge amount of data that shows that, if you're not a white male, basically, you're not receiving any capital to base your launch. So, something’s wrong, and we can't sit back and say that people are just not qualified. Humans who come from different backgrounds have a different skin color or sexual orientation, that they are just not good as anyone else to create the next Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever, and there is some serious inequities; there's racism, sexism, harassment.
Wayne: So, you have this data, you have all this emotional, intellectual conversation that is bumping heads with the norms and hiring and venture capital that has really created this dynamic movement and emotion movement. To say that diversity and inclusion in tech is a problem and we need to do something about it to solve it. Because it just continues the inequities, historically, and equities in America, particularly. And, no, not a lot of other industries are having this conversation, some of these other industries have done things that, not necessarily may be better. But has tried to tackle the lack of diversity, such as the NFL Rooney rule where they have to interview at least one diverse candidate for a head coaching job because that wasn't happening in the league. Then you take the medical industry and then the legal industry; we have so many industries where it’s just as bad or worse and they’re not even touching it. Like the entertainment industry where, right now, you have the Me Too Movement. Which is super strong, needs to stay to the forefront, but they just now started to have more of a diversity conversation - what was the sense of Black Panther, and some new directors like Ava and Ryan Coogler come along. So we have a long way to do to become better humans in every industry across the globe.
Jason: Wayne, I want to say I remember, a few years ago (I can’t remember the companies) but, there was a chief diversity officer who was a white male for one big-time tech company and went to the same role in another one and the other made a big deal out of it like, “oh, he’s a new diversity guy.” But the stats show that nothing had changed at the first company and I always thought, why is this a big celebration where you have a white male diversity officer (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But the stats prove that between the last job and the same job, nothing improved. It was just like they were swapping roles. I can’t remember the name of the companies, though.
Wayne: Yeah. I know there’s a lot of conversation around that role at Twitter when they hired a white male who we knew was part of the LGBTQIA community. I believe that if you’re a good human who has the experiences and empathy and intellectual ability to understand what inclusion means and the value of diversity for that particular company, and for that particular industry. I believe you can do this role, you can do this work; it doesn't matter what race, gender, sexual orientation - it doesn't matter. If you are a good human who has these qualities of empathy, compassion and the intellectual capabilities and the experience, you can do the role. Because it's the same argument like if it’s the tech industry, meritocracy, or if you're being racist or sexist to anyone, we should not be looking at someone’s identity, or say, oh, I'm black, so, of course, I can play basketball - that’s the same thing.” Or you say, “oh, I'm a woman, of course, I can do a job that most women are stereotyped in.” That’s not right. So, to say someone is a white male and they can't do diversity is not right.
Wayne: Now, the question [that] comes in is you take an industry and a business that is, say, market to African Americans, their user base is crazy-diverse across the world. But, in America, their user base could be 40/50% African-American and you could take that growth is primarily African-American or Latin community and you look at this person's history and say, well, they may have done work on diversity and inclusion. But they may not have done that much work towards the two communities for that business and they don't have the experience and there’s someone else who’s more qualified. Who has that experience working with African American communities if that’s their target customer base. You look at that and say, “is this person the best fit for the job?” You could argue that: maybe not, regardless of what skin color or race or gender - maybe not. That’s where, as humans, we need to take a step back and look at things intellectually and not so much with emotion as we argue and use social platforms to debate how we feel what should be done. Because you take this white individual, white male, for a diversity role and they’ve done work with historical black colleges, they’ve done work with United Negro College Fund Foundation or they’re doing work with Project Dian. If the customer base is primarily African American and they’re doing all these partnerships and work with African American communities, then you’ll say, “oh, they have this experience, they’re qualified, they can do it.” Is there someone better? Maybe, maybe not. But they have the experience, they can do the job.
Jason: Yes, those are great points, Wayne. So, Wayne, like yourself, I’m also an introvert. I’m wondering, how have you used introvert to help you succeed.
Wayne: Yeah, a great question, also. I just started embracing life as an introvert in the past, maybe, three years. I really didn’t know what an introvert was before, I really didn't process life as an introvert. I always knew that I used to like going into coffee shops and working in a corner by myself or go in a corner if I go to a tech event, and sitting in the back, can get closed off. Even though I may get on a stage speaking at a conference, to host my own conference in front of thousands of people. I’m not shy, by any means (a lot of people get that confused; introvertness and shyness is not the same thing – it’s not). So I’ve used introvertness and the characteristic of an introvert to my advantage. Especially when coding and building technical products. Because, as an introvert, it's a lot of introspective thinking and it helps me focus when I'm doing one thing.
Wayne: So that’s just one example – as an introvert, creating quiet time to focus on a single project. Another way of using being an introvert as a positive is, once I started understanding being an introvert. it helped me process how and why I'm thinking a certain way and catch myself if I'm going too deep into a scenario that may not be a reality. What I observe as part of, I believe, as an introvert. There’s a lot of inward thinking, which could be good or bad because we have to be mindful of our thoughts. For example, there’s a business situation where I’m trying to do a partnership with a company and I have a great meeting. Now I may go on a walk and, as an introvert, think of all the possibilities or start self-reflecting like I could’ve done better on a call or in a meeting. As an introvert, you’ve got to be mindful of those thoughts because I can start, introspectly, thinking that I’ve done a good job, I’ve done a bad job or I can improve and beat myself up. So, I think those are good and bad examples of an introvertness, but if we use it to a positive, I think it can be a superpower.
Jason: I agree. I'm just like; I’m an introvert, but I actually enjoy getting in front of people and talking. And people are like, “you’re an introvert?” And I’m like, “actually, yes, I am an introvert, but I just like talking in front of people.”
Wayne: Another aspect of it is that I’m learning about being an introvert that has really helped me in group meetings is being able to speak up if the conversation is moving too fast. That doesn't mean I'm intellectually slow. That just means that if we had a dialogue as a group and, say, there’s six of us in there and we're talking about one particular project and everybody's going around the room giving their feedback, and as everybody’s going around giving feedback and thinking about it. I may be thinking about all the possible outcomes as an introvert. I may be thinking about this scenario, that scenario taking a decision and I’m not intellectually ready to move to the next conversation. So I need to speak up about that to make sure I'm clearly understanding the possibilities of the outcome or process and everything before I need to move on. In the last two years, I had to embrace that and start speaking out for myself to make sure that I’m on the same page as everyone. Because my mind is processing different outcomes and scenarios. It doesn't mean I'm slow, it actually means I could be thinking about things more in depth than other people are – they’re just not speaking up or they're afraid to.
Jason: Yes, exactly. Wayne, I read an article you wrote on LinkedIn last year that talked about Imposter Syndrome. I’m reading and I’m like, “how in the world does Wayne Sutton have Imposter Syndrome?” So I’m thinking that it’s really huge for people to read that; people with your caliber are still having Imposter Syndrome.
Wayne: Yeah. Thank you. I’m thinking I process myself as I'm just a human guy from North Carolina that took risks on life and entrepreneurship who loves technology and wants to see technology used to create a better life for everyone, that’s a geek, a nerd. I value my experiences but, in this tech industry in San Francisco in Silicon Valley, it is far more emotional than I can ever imagine and I thought it would be. I was drinking that Kool-Aid before I moved out here six/seven years ago. I literally thought everybody was out here with the same agenda that really wanted to build a cool product, really wanted to do things good for the world, really wanted to do the next flying car, the next whatever. But what I learned: there's a lot of that, yes, but the industry is also so much fueled by capitalism and also paedametron and once I started to really pull back the levels of the dynamics of the tech industry – and it's not just the tech industry, it’s most businesses) of how much of this relationship is based by categories of networks and nodes of identity that, if you don't fit into one of those categories. You can be rejected. You take into consideration how we have elevated who and what a role model looks like in terms of success – I don't fit in any of those categories.
Wayne: I hadn’t worked for a big tech company, I hadn’t raised millions of dollars for a single startup. Even though I have raised millions of dollars for various projects over the years. I didn’t do a good job of tracking all the deal flow and relationships that I have created connected to money outcomes. I’ve helped founders raise a million dollars through introductions and referrals but I’ve never went on and put them on my LinkedIn and resume. I helped 20 entrepreneurs raise 40 million dollars, even though I’ve done that. But that is part of the system, it’s part of the dynamic which I get and understand. But that’s not part of my identity and how I like to do things. So you take all that and you see how this ecosystem works and I’m part of this ecosystem. I realize that if I want to get to another level, I’ve got to change who I am and how I am. That started creating this Imposter Syndrome like I don’t belong or I’m not good enough. When you look at all the other factors that could be a variable, such as my age, my race, my gender, where I come from, I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. If you let those narratives, over time, start to play in your head, you start telling yourself you're not good enough, and you start thinking that there’s something wrong with you. I’ve been in meetings with CEOs and executives and VCs and people who work for a billion dollars and they're just like me – they’re human. Sometimes they may treat you well, sometimes they don't. If you do your best, or you have time to do the best you can emotionally and intellectually, you have to process that you may not get the outcome you want. But I deserve to be in the room, I deserve a partnership; I'm good enough. If you don't process that interaction well, it can create Imposter Syndrome and I've been in and out of depression and Imposter Syndrome has played a role in that. I’m fortunate enough to have had a great therapist, great friends, a great wife, a great family, a great support network to help me realize when you’re going into this situation and also the strength to get out of it.
Jason: That’s great, Wayne. Thanks for sharing that. Wayne, what advice would you have for a brand new software developer who’s looking for their first position?
Wayne: I would say, advice for a new software developer for the first position is: be more than the code. I say be more than the code because we, in the tech industry, have been pushing so much about code and code and engineer and developer. Know your craft, know your skill well. But, from my observation, trying to get that first job has been less about the technical skills and more about the human, people skills. Because if you can get past the hiring manager or the recruiter and the person who likes you at that organization and they believe you can do to the job. You know you can, or you may not be good enough or right then when they want you to be. But if they like you or want to work with you and they believe you are good enough or they can hang out with you or spend time with you or you’re coachable, those are the soft people skills – that you’re a likeability factor. I’m not saying that it’s right or it’s wrong, but, from my observation, that is the area you need to focus on. Then, if you get in the door, they’re going to invest time, people, resources into you so you can become the best developer you can be for that role.
Jason: Thanks, Wayne. That’s great advice. Wayne, next, can you talk about a time you were successful in the past, what you learned from this success and what our listeners can learn from this success?
Wayne: Yes. And the reason I paused on that is because I have a hard time processing success. I think it’s part of the Imposter Syndrome, I think it’s part of being grateful, at the same time, because I’m always looking for the next thing and I have these big vision goals of things I want to do, have an impact on the world and take a step back and just be grateful. My co-founder and wife, Melinda, and I, we work together. We’re one of those couples that do a lot together, have fun, be happy you. It can work. We started off in 2014 planning the first tech inclusion conference in San Francisco and we thought it was going be a one-time thing and 3 or 4 years later, we're still doing tech inclusion conference. We've been to (I think) 15 cities around the world – 2 overseas – but all these cities across America. The fact that we have been able to work where so many companies in Seattle, Detroit, Austin, Nashville, Tennessee, New York, San Francisco, the Bay area. We’ve been to so many cities, worked with so many companies and still doing it a couple years later not only shows that it was successful – and it has been successful. But it was clear to me to continue to have opportunities to educate people around solutions to diversity and inclusion I tech.
Wayne: The biggest thing I've learned from all of that is, one, the partnerships and that is key, is valuable – without those, nothing happens. Two, is listening to what people need. I think that’s truly key to business, life, to partnerships, relationships, anything. We have our agenda, we have our goals, which includes change, how we want to work with government organizations, work with ecosystem leaders, work with tech companies, work with an investment community. We feel like we have a good blueprint of how to create change. Everybody also has questions and also has what they like is a solution as well. It's not about getting what we want, it’s not about what they want, it's finding what works best for both of us. We’ve literally talked to hundreds of people from CEOs to recruiters to engineering managers to people working on product. Every single person has a different opportunity and different challenge of how they want to make an impact in terms of their culture that is connected to diversity and inclusion. Because everybody thinks it’s just one big thing. No, it’s so many little things. And so that is part of the big learning lessons from, I would say, success of doing the work at Change Catalyst.
Jason: Yes. Wayne, next question, can you talk about a time you failed in the past, what lessons you’ve learned, and the lessons that we can learn from this?
Wayne: Yeah. I would say the biggest failure – and I keep saying that I’ll write an article about this (I think it's my next kind of like let-go articles). I wanted to raise a venture fund. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I had some success from a lot of projects I was doing, I had some money saved (about 6 months/about a year), and I was like, “I’m going to raise a venture fund.” I wasn't ready. I didn't surround myself with the right people to help educate myself around what’s needed to raise a venture fund. I didn't teach myself enough to know what’s all needed to raise a venture fund and I wasn't ready to be a good leader. I recruited two amazing, smart black women to be co-founders to raise the fund who were way more qualified and experienced than I was in finance, M&A and I wasn’t ready to lead. I wasn't focused enough. I did a decent job of going out in the community and meeting with tons of people to listen to various individuals’ feedback on how they obstructed the fund at the time and how much they needed to raise. But I will say that I was not in a position, I was not intellectually and emotionally ready to make hard choices a do it how I think it should have been done at that time. I was listening to too much feedback, needed more time in terms of money, in terms of runaway and I failed at it. It took me a long time to get over that. But, looking back on it now as one of the greatest failures and life lessons I would take it with me ever. I'm still happy I did it – I still wish I'd made different decisions – but it’s one thing that you have to let go. I will say lessons from it is: do your homework, surround yourself with the best possible mentors and advisors for success and, even though the world can be telling you to go in this direction for the outcome you want, sometimes you’ve got to say no and follow your own intuition.
Jason: Yes, definitely. Great advice. Wayne, next, can you tell us about someone who’s helped you in the past and how they how they helped you?
Wayne: Yeah. A lot of people helped me out. The first name that came to my mind is a friend of mine named Eric Davidson; I don't say his name enough but Eric has been my friend since I moved here to San Francisco (I moved to Mountain View in 2011 and officially moved to San Francisco in 2012). A lot of people's journey to San Francisco to the Bay area in coming from across the world, coming from across the country, is usually like, “yeah, you move, you sleep on someone's couch. You get a job in tech and then you get your own place.” That has been some of my story; when I first moved from North Carolina to San Francisco, I was going through a divorce, sold all my things, I had some money saved, I was running an incubator and accelerator at the time – that I co-founded. Rent in San Francisco is not what it is today but it’s still expensive and Eric was like, “come stay here, you can come crash with me and we'll get you going.” Eric has been my friend since then and we go to movies today, we still talk, we still catch up, we still are entrepreneurs and I can't say enough Eric. We’ve done 5k races, 10k races together last year. So he’s just a great human being, a great guy who I can't thank enough.
Jason: That’s great. We all need people like that in our lives. Wayne, this is off subject, but do you happen to know a Steven Matly of SM Diversity in Seattle?
Wayne: Yeah, I do.
Jason: He just ran a great Hack Diversity and Inclusion event up here about a week ago and myself and a friend of mine Shellie Willis led a break out session on the disconnect with veteran hiring. It was a really good event. I just wanted to give a shout out to him real fast.
Wayne: Nice. Yeah, he’s a good guy. We worked with them on tech and inclusion in Seattle last year, and he also came down for tech and inclusion conference in San Francisco last year, too.
Jason: That’s great. Wayne, I understand you have a book to recommend to our listeners.
Wayne: Yeah. The book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It's an amazing book. It's a book that you enjoy even if you're not an introvert because the stories and the research that she’s done around understanding how we think as humans and how we live as introverts.
Jason: Thanks, Wayne. Wayne, I also understand you have something for our listeners.
Wayne: Yeah. So we are doing a tech and inclusion conference in San Francisco and New York this year and if you use the code cavnessHR, you get a half off of all of the corporate tickets, That's not set up yet but give me about a day and cavnessHR would be the code for half off the corporate ticket at the tech and inclusion conference in New York and San Francisco.
Jason: Wayne, and what are the dates for those events?
Wayne: Tech inclusion in New York is June 27th and tech inclusion in San Francisco is October 15th to 17th.
Jason: Thanks, Wayne. Wayne, can you share your social media platforms for yourself and your company so people can reach out to you?
Wayne: So the company, Change Catalyst, the website is www.changecatalyst.co, tech inclusion is www.techinclusion.co. Our Twitter handles are @changecatalysts and @techinclusionco on Twitter and just type in Tech Inclusion on Facebook and Change Catalyst on Facebook and LinkedIn, and our pages and groups will come up. You can find me on almost any social network as Wayne Sutton and I’d be happy to be connected with you. I would say that on Facebook, I did turn off friend requests because that was getting out of control. So, sorry.
Jason: Thanks, Wayne. Wayne, we’ve come to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last minute words of advice or wisdom to listeners on any subject you’d like to cover?
Wayne: I would say just what's been at the top of my mind in 2018 is: look at the state of the world, look at state of politics, look at the state of tech and this work in diversity and inclusion and look at the platforms that we use in our day to day lives. I would suggest and ask that everyone get step back and, one, process their own values as what they think is good for the world and then process how they’re thinking about life and society and this planet as a good human for everyone. Regardless of any characteristics of identity, and, lastly, as an entrepreneur, someone working in tech. Ask yourself what are you building – is that building a platform, is that building a technical skill, is that building a community, is that building a brand, is that building a social network following, is that building content is that building a way to help others? Ask yourself what are you building today that’s giving back.
Jason: Thank you, Wayne. That’s great advice. Wayne, thank you for being our guest on our podcast, we really appreciate it; you’re a busy person, you’re doing great things and just thank you one more time for your time.
Wayne: Also, Jason, thanks for having me. This is great.
Jason: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.
Live Leap - Automatically share Facebook Live Video to multiple platforms at once
Simply go Live on Facebook, and Live Leap shares to multiple Facebook pages and groups. Not only that, Live Leap notifies your audience on Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, SMS (text) and your website. See why Social Media influence love Live Leap. Live Leap has been a great tool for cavnessHR. Use the link below for your free trial
Zoom - it's the easiest video and web conferencing experience for your team! Zoom has been a great tool for cavnessHR. It has helped us produce high-quality content for the cavnessHR podcast. It has also been a great tool to conduct meetings for cavnessHR. Use the link below for more information on Zoom.
Note: cavnessHR receives a commission for any sales from the above affiliate links.