Video Of The Week: Diversity In Tech Startups

The idea of Magic Johnson participating in a panel at a tech conference is pretty damn great in and of itself. But this is an important discussion and this panel captures a lot of great points. It’s long (45mins) but good.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LE

    I always found the articles in the WSJ on the business of sports very interesting but they don’t really run those anymore.

  2. JLM

    .I call bullshit on this. Not one old white guy on the panel.Why isn’t four black guys and a woman a micro-aggression against old white guys?I am JK as I don’t fall back upon my victimhood too often.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      I was commenting to my wife last night how you never hear any complaints from african american women typically (at least as not reported in the media) as blacks kind of band together as a single entity as being disadvantaged. This is quite different than in the white community where women are a separate disadvantaged group raising issues of lower pay as only one example. Hard to believe that there isn’t an even more severe bias against black women than white women. It’s as if they are subservient to the cause of the entire black community (similar to LGBT)

      1. Mariah Lichtenstern

        I dislike when I see someone like Fred / Mark put out something thoughtful in solidarity and then get disappointed by lame comments. I have higher expectations for this community.Again, I don’t know whether to be appalled or amused by your remarks, “LE.” If I do recall, we’ve gone down a rabbit hole before, and I’d think you’d have done better to educate yourself by now, but it seems you remain passive.Your tone and word choice aside, I’d again advise that you stop relying on the media to educate you, or at least broaden your exposure. Forbes, Inc, Ebony, and others have featured articles on Kathryn Finney, for example, who recently published a report on Black Women in tech. You can follow her on Medium and download the Digital Undivided Report to inform yourself.…You can also (gasp!) subscribe to her / others on Facebook or Google to actually be notified of updates. While you’re at it, Google the commentary around Beyonce Knowles this week and perhaps learn a thing or two (although I suspect the cultural context will be lost on you).ALL that said, neither women, women of color, or any other affinity group is a monolith. We are individuals who come together around shared experiences, but we are not limited to those identities you perceive us through. Personally, diversity and inclusion would be the least of my human interests if they didn’t impact the world so damn much. Frankly, it’s tedious that we still have to actively pursue equity in this day and age, let alone in the face of such trite opinions as you put forth here. Could you not find anything “nice” to say? Or did you just not watch the video in hopes of being the first to chime in?While truly, it is not my burden to educate you or others, I would recommend that you to learn to search before making such remarks. Here’s a resource:

        1. JLM

          .I don’t care what anyone else says, this does not come off as pomposity or a bit of an entitled “look who I am and what I know” lecture.No way. Thanks.On the tiny chance that some unenlightened boob might find it a bit pompous and arrogant, you might just share your view and stow the lecture or the missionary work.People discuss viewpoints and debate conclusions. Your voice would be very persuasive if were stripped clean of its unequivocal and arbitrary conclusions. Might even instruct an otherwise closed mind.As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.Then, again that could be wrong.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Mariah Lichtenstern

            Entitled to an opinion? Absolutely. Persuaded to conform to your notions of palletable discourse after reading your posts? Nope; not a fan of double standards. I appreciate your candid feedback and the compliment in the subtext however, despite disagreeing with the assessment of “arbitrary” and “unequivocal.” As to pompous and arrogant…well…that’s subjective (and at least not “angry”). Some say I’m humble, warm, and authentic. I guess it depends on the context and how much time one takes to know me.I tend to take a wholistic approach to assessing people myself, but will call out a misguided opinion if so moved – unapologetically. Yes, I’m aware that I’m expected to assimilate, pander, and smile – or rather “shuck and jive.” The lives of Maya Angelous, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, et al have long demonstrated that, for some, there is nothing quite as grating as a confident Black woman being authentically critical of bad behaviour. It’s Black History month, however, so in celebration, why not take a note from the talk and appreciate an underrepresented POV without acculturation?

          2. JLM

            .”Opinion” — odd choice of a word given that I never mentioned it, no?Your mantle of stereotypical self-inflicted victimhood has a certain bespoke quality to it. Fits you well. Has nothing at all to do with what I said, BTW.In the future, you may want to hang with those folks who find you “…humble, warm, and authentic…” as they are clearly a remarkable bit of humanity. Remarkably small, perhaps.Your faux awareness that you’re expected to “…assimilate, pander, and smile” or “…shuck and jive…” is just nonsense. Pure, unadultered, self-inflicted nonsense. Playing to the cheapest of the cheap seats, the ones that require no IQ test to seat.As to a “…confident Black woman being authentically critical of bad behavior…” if you see anyone who fits that description, please invite them into the conversation. It would be a welcome reprieve.I am one who welcomes the most diverse opinions possible. When ideas wrestle better ideas are the result. I learn nothing from those who agree with me as, obviously, I already know what they know.A skillful conversationalist doesn’t TELL people their opinions, a conversationalist says, “Interesting, have you ever considered …..”Calm down, for goodness sake. You’re going to sprain something.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Mariah Lichtenstern

            Your response is golden (and, by your own definition, remarkebly “skillful”). Thanks for puttin me in my place, boss! Yassuh, you sho’ is mighty right, suh. Nevamine dis unskilled, lil’ uppity negress on her high hos. I’z jus putting a sef-flicken hurting on my own sef wit uninformed rheta-rix [sic].Appeased? 😉

          4. JLM

            .Please ring the “confident Black woman” and tell her she’s on deck cause her stand in whiffed.Heat. Kitchen.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Kirsten Lambertsen

            She seems to be handling the heat in the kitchen just fine.

          6. JLM

            .Well. yes, she did kind of artfully throw in the towel now that you mention it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Sigh. None so blind…

          8. Mariah Lichtenstern

            Because you’d rather I go “Django” or “Birth of a Nation” on you? You can lead a mule to the wisdom, but you can’t make them think… Taking my daughter to the library, boss.

          9. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Knocking the way she is expressing herself is just a cop out, an excuse to write her off.A person of color is sharing her experience *as a person of color*. Our job as white people is to listen. We bring zero credential to the discussion of the experience of being a person of color.

        2. Russell

          Again +100 for Mariah, particularly as she mentioned Beyonce! What a great example of a woman making great music and putting her hand up quite literally to say we need change!

        3. Kirsten Lambertsen

          “neither women, women of color, or any other affinity group is a monolith. We are individuals who come together around shared experiences, but we are not limited to those identities you perceive us through.”So well said.As you can see, we still have no shortage of white guys who think they have the credentials to tell everyone who isn’t a white man how to interpret their own experience of the world… and who see everyone who isn’t a white man as part of some monolith (as you say).By following all kinds of people of color (mostly women, granted) on Twitter over the last 18 months, I’ve learned SO much. My perception of the world has changed utterly, and I’ll never see things the way I used to (and I always thought of myself as an advocate for people who aren’t part of the white supremacy). I’m eternally grateful for what they’ve shown me.When it comes to discussion of the non-white experience, I believe I have one job (as a white person): to *listen*.Thank you for speaking up today. You didn’t have to. I really appreciate you sharing your views and experience.

          1. Mariah Lichtenstern

            Thank you for sharing, and caring. I respect that you are listening and appreciate the solidarity. We all have so much to learn from each other – if only we can do so with open minds.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Well, I am a woman, a person of color, and we can throw some other descriptors in there that put me into various “diversity” categories, but this video was so informative for me. Like you, I’m also following some new voices on Twitter. Listening. Learning. Not assuming that the experiences are similar just because the categories are. And there is an arbitrariness to categories anyway.I appreciate you, Kirsten.

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I appreciate you more 😉

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Uh, you are, say, generalizing. Then, even if basically you have a meaningful, perceptive, and accurate point, nearly always you are open to criticism via specific counterexamples.Maybe when you were 10, the day before Thanksgiving your Ma told you that at the dinner table say nothing about sex, politics, religion, or diversity or something like that!Or maybe she gave you the Thumper rule: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Uh, that’s not the same as the new Trumper Rule. Not to neglect the old “Anyone who always calls a spade a spade is fit only to use one.”, maybe a recommendation for dissembling.We are beginning to circumscribe one of the most important social rules of the last 70 years or so, political correctness where there are some really simplistic rules and no rebuttal of more than 15 words is permitted.But there are a lot of social rules, e.g., “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.”.At times some sociologists developed rankings of occupations, crimes, etc. Well, there is now, I will generalize, (M. Zorn, “Be wize, generalize.”): Right at the top of the sinners against diversity are the Caucasian Episcopalians from the NE US! Then, automatically the eternal trilogy is invoked: The sin is a transgression which must lead to retribution and being criticized, chastised, ostracized, humiliated, rejected, etc. Then for the coveted redemption, that must come from sacrifice. So sayeth the exalted trilogy!Of course, generalizing is like talking about the forest; the counterexamples are like the trees; and as we know it’s possible to miss the forest for the trees.But, of course, many of the trees are insulted if ascribed to them are all the general characteristics of the forest!

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Not one old white guy on the panel.I’m guessing they were better represented in the audience that included a number of successful investors. ;)And BTW even though you recently had a birthday, I’m not sure you qualify as “old.” The other two characteristics are undisputed.

    3. jason wright

      well, you will keep choosing to have these birthdays (and long may you continue to do so).

  3. LE

    I always get a kick out of these athletes (or any celebrity) who turn into and consider themselves business people.Not taking anything away from Magic (ok maybe I am actually) as it’s admirable that he didn’t do what other athletes did (as shown on a Netflix that I watched can’t remember the name) and blow the money. But let’s be honest a guy like that with money, fame and (as he puts it) “the best advisers” isn’t really a businessman at least not at that phase of things. He is simply following the advice of various mentors, who even if not paid, will help him just because he is a famous sports celebrity. (He is talking about how he bought a pepsi colar bottler.) This is quite a difference from what most have to do which is (as Ray Kroc said) “grind it out”.

    1. Richard

      Most Business Success is easy, easy to do and easy not to do.

    2. pointsnfigures

      I am calling bullshit on that. Sure, Magic had the advantage of his own money and the network to raise it-but he still had to put the people in place to execute. He is an “executive”. In a way, he transformed what he did on the court to what he does in business. No one went to his theaters or coffee shops because he was a sports celebrity. The employees of those places had to execute.People can often take skills they learn in other professions and transfer them somewhere else to create huge gains-or similar gains.

      1. LE

        Well sure he gets credit. But I stopped watching at the point where he said he said “Peter Gruber was one of those 20 CEO’s that I took to lunch”.What am I missing here? It’s obvious that he could easily gain access to have meetings with “20 CEO’s” because he was Magic Johnson and/or the people that gave him access to those people. Of course he had to have the meeting and yes he had to have the idea, and yes he had to execute and convince. But the fact that he could get that kind of high level expert advice and contacts right off the bat clearly makes it a bit different than what you would consider a typical entrepreneur going from ground up. Who could have his own advantages as well (to be sure).Noting lastly that my comment was “at that phase of things”. Now, after doing this for so many years yes he is a businessman. But at the start he was not a businessman unless there is something in his past that I don’t know about.

        1. pointsnfigures

          So what? He used his network. He implemented the advice they gave him. That’s smart. That’s being a good businessman. Entrepreneurship is open to anyone. Anyone can start a business. It doesn’t matter if you have advantages or disadvantages. All that matters is your willingness to put in the time to do it. Do you have the intestinal fortitude or not. Just because Magic was Magic doesn’t mean everything he did was at the snap of a finger.He was an NBA star. He managed his brand as a star, and I guarantee you he learned a lot about business by playing pro hoop. You don’t have to have an MBA or even be a college grad to be a “businessman”. If you choose to be a businessman, you are a businessman as long as you are providing a good or service that satisfies a need and people pay you for it.

          1. LE

            I agree with most of what you say, but I don’t agree with this:It doesn’t matter if you have advantages or disadvantages. All that matters is your willingness to put in the time to do it. Of course one thing I will mention that nobody in attempting to attack or discredit what I said mentioned. One big obstacle that he overcame (which I failed to give him credit for). He was HIV positive at a time when there was incredible stigma attached to that.I remember to this day when that announcement came out.

          2. JLM

            .A guy goes to Harvard or Wharton and fails to use his network and he’s an idiot.An NBA all star uses HIS network and his behavior is criticized?That is so obviously off key as to be laughable.Since when did using, creating, working your network become anything but smart?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Rick Mason

          How many NBA stars would even think to do what he did in the first place? Sure as an NBA superstar he had advantages, but he was also able to execute. The majority of NBA players are broke within five years of the end of their careers.

          1. JLM

            .The simple fact that he emerged from the NBA solvent puts him in a rarefied class.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. LE

            The majority of NBA players are broke within five years of the end of their careers.What’s funny is that I got slammed for essentially saying something similar about athletes. And in fact I gave him credit for the same reason.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        As a result of observing the endurance, discipline and determination of my daughter and her teammates, I pay extra attention to any resume or profile that shows the person ran cross-country.

    3. Mariah Lichtenstern

      That is an incredibly ignorant remark. While the media loves to portray celebrities’ failings, there are quite a number of current and former athletes that are astute business men – from negotiating endorsements to real estate investments, to other enterprises. I’ve been following Magic Johnson for over a decade, and he is very active in his dealings – as he speaks to in this video.Another very prominent example is Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento who has demonstrated incredible entrepreneurial drive and leadership, not the least of which he is embarking upon presently. Not to mention the wisdom it takes to select the appropriate advisors and team. If you watch any interview with Kobe Bryant, it’s hard to doubt his business acumen rivals his athleticism. A simple search with “NFL” on LinkedIn reveals a plethora of former players in enterprise.How about you don’t rely on one unmemorable Netflix movie to inform your opinions about people who use their physical intellect to open doors for their mental intellect? How about you actually participate in the communities you are so quick to pontificate on – at least before you go off perpetuating stereotypes and trying to detract from the competence of someone like Magic Johnson?

      1. LE

        That is an incredibly ignorant remark.Why? Because he is black? Because “ignorant” to me means I’ve been accused of a racist statement because the athlete that I am talking about is coincidentally black. The way I read it. And in fact the other two examples you give (Kevin Johnson and Kobe Bryant) are black as well. For the record I did business with Julius Irving in the 80’s by way. He also was a bottler.I said:I always get a kick out of these athletes (or any celebrity) who turn into and consider themselves business people.I didn’t mention skin color at all. Of course you didn’t either but somehow I suspect that this is where your anger is coming from. If I am wrong about that then I am wrong (but I am not apologizing to be clear because I didn’t say anything that was wrong..)How about you actually participate in the communities you are so quick to pontificate onI have my own “communities” to participate in. I am not looking for new communities to participate in. Why do I need to do this? I am just commenting on AVC and I am not paid to offer commentary. I don’t need to get involved anymore than someone who writes an opinion piece in the WSJ needs to “get involved”.Not to mention the wisdom it takes to select the appropriate advisors and team.Sure it takes wisdom. So why don’t you try getting the same advisors without the fame of being a sports celebrity then and see how far you get?Edit: Which was my point.You are not claiming that being famous in any way doesn’t buy you extra access are you? Black or white it’s a huge advantage. The comparison to the netflix film that I watched was not an attempt to portray all athletes in a particular way (and I don’t even recall the racial makeup for that matter). It was simply what I said which was “it’s admirable that he didn’t do what other athletes did (as shown on a Netflix that I watched can’t remember the name) and blow the money”.Implied in that statement (which I should have inserted) was the word “some”. That is obvious.

        1. Mariah Lichtenstern

          Your assumptions betray your bias. How does ignorance (which, in my lexicon is defined as “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular”) equate to racism? That is your own guilt-trip, bro. If I say, Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Brad Feld in a sentence, are we getting “racial” because they are each “light-skinned”? Lame. AND if you choose to pontificate on topics your are ignorant of, then that’s your prerogative, but don’t expect to get the cred of an opinion piece on WSJ, that I would hope would at least be informed.There are many successful businessmen and women who use any number of advantages – from education to network to wealth – to build their teams. You chose to dismiss the validity of athletes doing so. The fact that this happens to be a post about diversity may have colored your comments but I made no such claim. And your choice to describe my disagreement with you as being “angry” is also a very weak and inaccurate assumption. Booooooo!And by the way, I have tried getting advisors. It was by no means easy, but have amazing advisors – and I’m no sports celebrity. Thanks for asking.

          1. Russell

            Boom! Mariah is on point!

    4. jason wright

      he didn’t choose to be a 6’9″ gazelle. he got lucky. i sense that what he made of this luck was not down to luck (to address the ‘grind it out’ point) .he was a *professional* basketball player. that was his first business. the currency of celebrity was earned, and it opened a few doors. celebrity is one of many possible modalities to unlocking a pathway to further success in business. most are hidden from public scrutiny. his was not.

    5. Salt Shaker

      LE, the NBA is a business. Big business! It requires a far greater biz acumen then you acknowledge. Players need to be knowledgeable about collective bargaining, deal structure, legal issues, salary cap, rev share, endorsement opportunities, hiring advisors, appearance fees, financial investing, etc. You criticize or short change Magic’s success and attribute it more to celebrity than acumen and experience, while, somewhat ironically, you’re frequently a big advocate of Trump, who is the ultimate beneficiary of the “silver spoon.” One’s success is entirely self made, while the other started on second base (with what I’d call a cheap double).

      1. LE

        Players need to be knowledgeable about collective bargaining, deal structure, legal issues, salary cap, rev share, endorsement opportunities, hiring advisors, appearance fees, financial investing, etc.Well they have managers that typically take care of those things, don’t they? Which get paid a portion of what they own to handle that thinking and present (on a silver platter) the alternatives. And no, it’s not the same as business people having those advantages. In a typical small business (not a VC or angel backed startup) the person who does that has none of those advantages simply because he is starting with so little money.As far as Trump he did have the advantage of his father I will acknowledge that. But he also was able to build and rebuild after failure. More importantly he had the lessons that his father taught him and what he learned about real estate from his father. That was way more valuable than having money (which I will acknowledge was necessary).Look, let’s face it everyone has advantages that they exploit that is part of the game. It’s really a matter of degree and not absolute black and white. My comment was more directed at hearing an athlete a few years out of playing claiming he was a business person (not specifically Magic at this point in time) because he was essentially set up in business with the help of experienced advisers.. I could actually say the same thing about people that had the help of their parents (such as Trump) way back in the beginning (before the 2nd building was built) claming they were a boneified real estate developer.Here’s the funny thing. None of this matters. Once you have success people will flock to you and not care how you got that success as long as you are reasonable honest.

  4. Twain Twain

    At DeveloperWeek hackathon (800 people in building). Looks pretty diverse to me.Decided not to do Cortical API — corpus is too basic.MS Cortana Analytics is here so a mashup of their Vision, Speech and Recommendations API with 4SQ API would be so cool! This is my working product idea.Prize will be a Surface Pro 4.+++++Addendum: Uh-Oh, I haven’t coded for Windows in years and have no Windows phone to test the app on.Maybe will play with IBM Bluemix or HP IDOL instead.

  5. William Mougayar

    Good advice: Surround yourself with the best people.Slam dunk response by Magic:- “So, I fired everybody.”

  6. jason wright

    i would like to know what the people of these communities think of the people who serve them. i imagine there will be a diversity of views.

  7. Donna Brewington White

    This was such an inspiring discussion for me. It doesn’t surprise me that any of these people have found success because each is obviously brilliant and multi-talented. But brilliance doesn’t always mean success, especially given the societal obstacles that often face women and people of color in this country. So this adds to the impressiveness of these individuals. We only saw a tip of the iceberg in this video.I was especially impressed with Magic. In spite of his advantages as an NBA star there are not a lot of NBA stars who have also gone onto success in the business world. And popularity on the court does not always translate off-court. Trust me he ran into obstacles, especially given that this was further back in time. Even a few years makes a difference in perceptions and sensibilities. But still things change slowly, in some ways, or go back and forth.I’m thinking a lot more about diversity these days, especially as it relates to the tech space. Tech is a frontier and it seems that it would be a more natural place for people to land whose very existence has demanded that they be pioneers. Like the people in this video. Each is a pioneer. There are many more out there. We need them.

    1. Mariah Lichtenstern

      Well said. Had LE continued listening, he would have heard about the obstacles Magic had to overcome, despite the privileges that come with the success he worked so hard for.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks, Mariah. Really appreciating your comments in this thread.

      2. creative group

        Mariah Lichtenstern:that you thought he viewed any part of it based on previous views is astonishing.

        1. Mariah Lichtenstern

          He’s showed his MO before (that’s why I called ignorance first thing). Wanted both him and Jeff to acknowledge the fact themselves, though. 😉

    2. JLM

      .I am struck by the fact that the adjectival descriptor “black” adds nothing to the debate.These people’s stories would merit study if they were green people. It is about their brains, their heart, their results not their skin.This is not intended to suggest that there is not validity to the obstacle of racial considerations but rather to say they could play on any team because of their performance.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Definitely A-players.I think the real problem for a lot of people is getting onto the team in the first place.

        1. creative group

          Donna Brewington:many would fail to understand the logic you present. But again if there is logical arguments there inevitably would be illogical arguments.

      2. aminTorres

        I hate these politically correct comments that actually distract from the real issue, I disagree 100% with you on this.Yes, the merit should be there solely because of their brains, heart and the results. But in a society where many do not get a chance to show their brains, heart, or are recognized for their results, the “adjectival descriptor “black”” should be used all over the place for obvious reasons.

        1. JLM

          .Jabbing you a bit — so when I say that Michael Jordan is the “best” to ever play “any” game, I should really be saying he’s the “best black” person to have played basketball, no?Leave it at that?What am I to do with someone like President Obama who is half black – half white?Worse white President ever or best black President ever?Or am I just better off colorblind?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. aminTorres

            You are doing it again.It is really not about “best” or “worse”.Posing examples with absolutes like these distract from the core point.When the subject depicts a crime, then the “adjetive” of “black” is never brought to attention on whether it adds or takes away to the debate, why is that?. But when the subject is about recognition or a positive message, then “black” adds nothing. Really?Given that Jordan is both the best black player and the best player in the word, period., I think makes this a moot point. I am however wondering what it says to have chosen this particular example.On Obama, given that he has been the only black president to date then… nah, this is too easy. <- See what I did there.(The black vs half black, again, a typical distraction.)The real point is that if we really valued the notion of diversity and legitimately wanted to send a message to other black kids that they too can sit on a panel of tech, then it actually makes a different to highlight that they are black.I do get a sense that you are more interested in arguing than in a discussion so I will excuse myself beyond this point.I find it hard these days coming back to AVC to be honest. This nonsense is a good example of why.

          2. JLM

            .The vast majority of the people opining on this blog are speaking from a position of theory and from a very recent POV.I have literally been living these issues in the trenches for decades. Over 33+ years of hiring decisions as a CEO, I have made thousands of granular level decisions as to the diversity of my companies and exactly who I hired at a given time.I have hundreds of people who would provide overwhelming evidence that I have been judicious and thoughtful in my hiring and that my companies were not only diverse, they were known for that characteristic.I had an ethnic and gender makeup that was unlike any of my industry peer competitors and was known for exactly that.I don’t expect you to know that but I do want you to know that none of this is theory for me. I have lived these fights.What I never did was to “talk” about it. I did it.I hired women, persons of color, Hispanics, veterans and never once let anyone know that I might have put my thumb on the scale once or twice to make it happen.I was the first President of Austin Midnight Basketball, in conjunction with close friend and founder James Silas whose jersey lies in the rafters of the Spurs, and used my Rolodex (we had Rolodexes in those days) to harness “white guilt” — I never called it that — to raise jillions of dollars for this worthy program.I hosted lunches at the Metropolitan Club (now defunct) in a high rise office building I built and made rich folk pay for autographed basketballs from David Robinson, George Gervin, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson. I pimped my friends as hard as I could and I made them pay a handsome price for those trinkets and gave all the money to my friend, James.Each night when practice, training (an hour of training for an hour of practice/game time) or a game started, the players’ guns were collected in a box at the door. Believe me when I say I was looking down the barrel of that gun.We didn’t just influence lives, we saved lives. It was one of the best things I ever did. Not for those young men, for me. It made me a better person.Today, whenever I hear the debates in the startup community about diversity — or amongst the VC community — I ask one question — Do you have a company picture?When I see no diversity, I point it out. The other day I noted to a promiment VC that there was nothing but white guys in the picture of his company and yet he is a leading pontificator on the subject.I am so tired of “talkers” and so hungry for “doers.”This President has sent us backwards on the issue of race and it shows up in every element of the debate. We are worse off as a country and yet I applaud his affirmative action pathway that took him to that office. I love the guy’s story. I am appalled at his performance.I will always remember speaking to the blind — BLIND — owner of a major beer distributorship in Austin and telling him why he should hire some of these young men from Austin Midnight Basketball.He asked me if they were black. I said, “Lowell, could you even tell?”He laughed. I laughed. The kids got the jobs and they were some of his best employees ever. Not black employees. Employees.I don’t mind anyone finding fault with my views but know they are not theory. I was in this fight when most of the folks on this blog were in diapers.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            No matter how long you’ve been alive or what you’ve done, you will never know what it’s like to be a woman or POC. I will never know what it’s like to be a POC.

          4. aminTorres

            You lost me. For the record, I was not finding fault with your hiring or CEO record. I know nothing about it to find fault with it beyond your self proclaimed experience of hiring “Rock Masons”.

          5. Russell

            I agree with you @aminTorres, and in particular your last point. @LE and @JLM do add value to the comments board, however in the last six months I feel they have been crowding out other valuable voices and making it less likely that I will read the comments.

          6. Mariah Lichtenstern

            @adminTorres / @RBC, I read Fred’s posts nearly every day, but mostly in “listen only” mode (via email), avoiding comments for the same reason: bullies crowding out others and the temptation to waste time countering them.To illustrate your point, in this thread, @JLM “critiqued” my response to @LE as “entitled” “look at me and what I know” pomposity and I’m thinking, “Ah, says the guy with the hyperlink to his consulting practice in every comment.”Didn’t think rivaling his snark by tearing apart his logic – or lack thereof – clause-by-clause ad nauseam would be as rewarding as my previously scheduled family outings. Yet, leaving the flawed logic of frequent commenters unchecked, they believe their own hype and poison the well, so I wasn’t subscribing to the philosophy behind Paul Graham’s recent use of the “Life is Short” adage either. Once I saw Jeff had no intention to discuss the topics at hand, preferring instead to hurl insults, I figured he had neither the logos, ethos, or pathos to warrant further discussion and cut it short with a bit of satire (which he described as “artfully throw[ing] in the towel.” Lol ;)Priorities… While I agree there is some value to their comments, they could do better to listen to diverse points of view if they wish to remain relevant in an evolving world. In this instance, I’m glad yours are among them. Don’t leave us 😉

          7. Simone

            My thoughts exactly, I am still processing the exchanges on today’s blog entry. Sad. To be kind, perhaps some people here are saying things just because they don’t know and never will how it is to be part of the ‘diverse’ group. None of us had any contribution to where/who we were born, entitlement is very well alive and seriously blocking progress. How many Billions of people never get a chance to success and prosperity in this life? How many steve job’s will never build their Apple? And then we have to hear comments like Marc A’s last week about Indians or Meryl Streep ‘candidly’ asserting we all come from Africa, issue solved! I try to read history periodically and I think to myself, we have all the technology, global mobility (partial!) but in the end the ugly old rules and barriers are still firmly in place. I remember walking on the streets of London, waiting in any moment for the glass and steel buildings to disappear like in Matrix and bring to view the real structures, the old structures that are in fact driving the praised modern societies today.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            I have hope for you, Simone. You have expressed uncommon insight and wisdom. The sea will part for you. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can exchange email addresses, etc. Hesitant to do so in the comments. — or Twitter @donnawhite

          9. Simone

            Thank you, Donna for your nice words 🙂

          10. creative group

            aminTorres:why in the world are you choosing to bring a Nuclear weapon to a straw and spit paper fight. Amazing how you are taking advantage of a well educated (?), person given the opportunity to to attend one of America’s best higher education institutions (?), we just need to stop assuming and just continue to read the evidence to the contrary.

          11. aminTorres

            no idea what you are talking about.really, no idea about any of these things you seem to be saying.I also don’t care.

      3. creative group

        If the structure established wasn’t based upon failed racial superiority thinking many would concur. But since that logic doesn’t account for the revisionist mindset and history as it factually is and not as some would like, we will have to vote down the post.

      4. Mariah Lichtenstern

        I don’t think you watched it either or you would (hopefully) get that their non-white male attributes were referenced due to increasingly valuable insight thier affinities bring to their respective businesses. As perceptive people can see, they have multifaceted perspectives that others are blind to / ignorant of.It seems some posters are so arrogant as to comment without having context, then make condescending, dismissive remarks to those who are actually informed. Thank God I was never subjected to one of your self-proclaimed, acclaimed diversity programs. Smh…

        1. JLM

          .The ones who resented it the most were the ones who became millionaires in the process. The ones who went on to found their own successful businesses were also a pain in the ass.You were indeed lucky not to have been burdened by the weight of success. It can be truly crushing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Mariah Lichtenstern

            You’ve utterly lost me. Oh, wait, you just tried to deflect the subject and reasoning by hurling ad hominem fallacies again. Got it. Back to the point at hand:1) Did you watch the entire video or not (be honest)? 2) If you did or have since, have you discovered the relevance of the respective affinity groups they represent?As to your response, what are you now talking about? The diversity track record you boasted of? Do tell us more. Metrics? Data? Hell, I’ll even settle for a few good anecdotes. Enlighten us – remember – no red herrings. Focus on the diversity / inclusion track record of success you wrote of.Speaking of success, are you saying that submitting to your advice to “shuck and jive” etc. (where our little banter began) is a prerequisite to success? If so, our definitions of success differ more so than I would have imagined. If you feel you’ve attained a textbook example that you are happy with, congratulations; and if that makes you feel superior to me in particular, well – I’m not genetically predisposed to measuring appendages, but whatever makes you feel good about yourself, boss. It’s unfortunate that you and those you advise have had to wrestle with such crushing demons (per your own words) as penance for the success you allude to.As to your trendy attempt to insult or offend me (FYI, I AM genetically pre-disposed to thick skin), well…while it may be in your nature to try (would you opine that is it a trait of a successful CEO?), you have absolutely no power to define or dictate my successes, past present, or future. Thank God. 🙂

          2. JLM

            .Okaaaay! Perhaps it is better you stay lost, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Mariah Lichtenstern

            Well, that got a chuckle.

    3. Simone

      Hi Donna, I really appreciate your positive message but I have to voice my scepticism. I read everywhere that employers and everyone is looking for the pioneers and then.. there’s real life (some good snapshots of real life in the comments of this blog entry). So everyone is calling for the pioneers, but then the pioneer better be e.g. a Stanford graduate and live in Silicon Valley (I am just trying to illustrate my idea). So I agree there must be many pioneers out there, and I think they are wondering is there really a place for them, where to go, how to get there, do they qualify. time for exploration is limited 🙁

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I feel your frustration, Simone. Life is not fair. That sounds trite but two things I have learned (among others): (1) I must resist letting others define me. (2) I must take careful inventory of my abilities and resources and make decisions accordingly. There are times to stretch and test your limits and other times to do the best you can with what you’ve got. When I feel something inhibiting me, I must ask the question, is there anything at all I can do to change this? At 18, it meant leaving the Midwest to move to California. Recently, I realized that I was not going to join the type of company I wanted to join so dug my heels in more deeply to build my own. No easy answers. Just don’t give up.

        1. Simone

          Hi Donna, I really appreciate your reply, the voice of experience. I have moved countries twice, cities 4 times and house countless times, I am saying this to show that I take seriously the exploration journey in my life. I loved this in your comment: ‘I must take careful inventory of my abilities and resources and make decisions accordingly’ and ‘Recently, I realized that I was not going to join the type of company I wanted to join so dug my heels in more deeply to build my own’. I am not as far in the journey as you are, though I like to think I have passed the half way mark of my personal discovery :). There is no way back (to the pre-experience mind), so I know it will be ok.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Ha! I watched a documentary on the early days of Silicon Valley. The men were wearing suits, even some programmers!

  8. Rick Mason

    Fred, I know that you’re a large supporter of computer education in New York schools. Surprised that you did not comment on the single most significant thought in this video and that was the comments made by Troy Carter at the 39 minute mark.For those who didn’t watch the video Troy spoke about the recent article detailing the troubles Howard University CSI grads had in finding a job in Silicon Valley. The problem was that all their white competitors had been programming since grade school while the Howard kids had never started coding until attending college. The white suburban kids had their requisite 10,000 hours in to master coding so they’re the ones who got hired.Troy suggested a fix to the problem and related it to the role the AAU plays in basketball in the inner city. The AAU identifies grade school talent and develops it. Those players blossom under high school and college coaches and the elite ones make it to either the NBA or the European leagues.Carter suggested forming a nationwide organization to identify inner city youth in middle school with talent and desire for coding. Meeting weekends and after school this group would guide and mentor them while fast forwarding their skill sets.Upon hearing that I leaped up from my chair shouting holy cow that is a incredible idea. Am I all alone here in having that thought?

    1. JLM

      .You are absolutely right. An AAU basketball player will play in 3x as many AAU games as he will college games. Even more, if he opts not to play for 4 years in college.More and more education will be the result of what is done outside of school.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Rick Mason

        One of the reasons this really resonated with me was reading the book Once in a great city which covered the history of Detroit from 1962-1964.Ever wonder how Motown came about? Why Detroit and not in another city? The author David Maraniss wondered and he learned the answer.Detroit had two things in the fifties and sixties. Every kid in the Detroit schools had music classes and learned how to play an instrument. Detroit also had a large music store called Grinnells. Grinnells thought that it was good for business to make it really easy for any family rich or poor to afford an instrument, in fact they lost money on it but considered it an investment in their future. Grinnells also had advanced music classes and actually gave a lot of music stars their first paying job in the music business. Those two things are why Motown happened in Detroit and no where else.I’m a fifth generation Detroiter and my sister and both mastered an instrument while in school there. Instruments purchased from Grinnells! Sadly Detroit Schools no longer have music in their curriculum a result of budget cuts in the seventies and Grinnell Brothers went out of business a few years after that happened. That is exactly why maybe this resonated with me so much.

        1. JLM

          .I have the book on my Kindle but there are a million in front of it. I like Maraniss as an author.The US car biz is back. I wonder if Detroit will rebound.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Rick Mason

            Well the book was a bit dry in places but I greatly enjoyed it. Perhaps because I was a kid alive in Detroit while all this was taking place heightened my enjoyment of it a bit.Detroit is definitely staging a comeback. But I doubt with the technological leadership for the auto business now safely ensconced in Silicon Valley that cars will lead the way. But manufacturing, the Internet of Things and drones will all be part of the comeback story for the city. In fact Detroit may be the last place in America where manufacturing reigns.

    2. Mike Zamansky

      I don’t know what CS at Howard is like but don’t think that early exposure is the issue in this case (and I’m a guy that’s all about getting good CS to kids in K12). It, at least anecdotally seems that most kids going into CS in college are doing it for the first time.I think the bigger problem is that most college CS programs are doing a poor job at educating kids in terms of tech opportunities and tech careers (while spending a little too much time on the theory IMHO).In schools with a CS culture, the student population, through activities, network, and even overall vibe, take care of the missing pieces. Schools without that culture don’t.I’ve seen kids go to small schools without a CS culture get a great CS education but end up unprepared to enter the tech workforce until they took it upon themselves.It’s a problem.

    3. creative group

      No! Logical thinking is rarely alone.

    4. Adam Sher

      Thanks for pointing out the AAU comment, it was the money line. Unbeknownst to me until some recent introspection, my my strongest skill sets stem from early childhood programs my parents enrolled me in. While I assumed that was part of growing up, it was not. It was a concerted effort of my parents part to get me involved in certain activities at an early age (tennis, piano, computers), which turned into more opportunities to practice/perform as I grew up (e.g. being asked to play in band instead of auditioning based on my extracurricular performance). The compounding effect of early childhood development in a skill is nearly insurmountable by late entrants unless you’re a minority, in which case you are frequently marginalized anyway – another important point of this panel.

  9. Dave Pinsen

    Among former athletes, Magic Johnson might be the most successful entrepreneur. Not a fan of chasing diversity for its own sake, but he’d be a great addition to any forum on retail business.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      You should be a fan of chasing diversity for its own sake.Racially Diverse Companies Outperform Industry Norms by 35%…Diversity is better, period.

      1. Twain Twain

        According to IBM Watson, the way I write on Twitter is like Samuel L. Jackson (African American), Stephen Fry (British), Bill Maher (Irish American) and Aziz Ansari (Indian American).In real-life, I’m a Chinese woman who dresses like the people I’m supposed to be most different from: Kylie (Australian), Mary J Blige (African American) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (American).@donnawhite:disqus @mariah_lichtenstern:disqus @le_on_avc:disqus @JLM:disqus @pointsnfigures:disqus — Perceptions and subjective biases is something I’ve thought about a lot since childhood. I’ve looked and been “different” from 99% of people in school, university, banking, technology.Nonetheless, I’ve been reasonably successful in my endeavors.Why? Because amazing teachers, school friends, managers, mentors etc saw and acted beyond their own biases towards me.That’s the opportunity ahead for all of us. What makes us human and not machines is consideration and that’s what we can show to each other.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Where/how did you get this evaluation from Watson? Sounds fun 🙂

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Ha ha ha! I’m most like Slash? LOL. Also Bill Gates and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thank you for sharing that. Too funny.

          2. Twain Twain

            Fred maps to Mike Bloomberg!

        2. Donna Brewington White

          You’ve probably had the advantage of being fascinating. :)That seems to remove some barriers. More so than just being “different.”

          1. Twain Twain

            Thanks for your kind words, Donna.A work colleague once gave me a volume of Mark Twain’s works and inside she wrote “May you continue to be scintillating!”I’m definitely a people person — when not in tech nerd code mode, lol.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Sounds like b.s., to be honest.First, if it were obviously true, there would be no need to cheerlead for it – companies would embrace diversity on their own, out of their own self-interest.Second, look at the top leadership of the world’s most successful companies, and you don’t see much diversity. Apple’s senior leaders, for example, are one white lady, plus a bunch of white guys:…Exxon’s top management is a bunch of white guys: http://corporate.exxonmobil…And so on.

        1. Simone

          Hi Dave, sorry to intervene. You say ‘if it were obviously true, there would be no need to cheerlead for it – companies would embrace diversity on their own, out of their own self-interest’.I am afraid it doesn’t work like this, smoking gives cancer but cigarettes are still in stores, same with guns, sugar, drugs etc etc. Self-interest has more layers and meritocracy is not the top layer. And your second argument only confirms the huge barriers to entry for anyone with other attributes than the incumbents.

          1. JLM

            .If one factors in a little stupidity, which we all have in great measure, all of these other things work.A kid decides he looks cool smoking a cigarette and that if he looks cool, that certain girl will be attracted to him. And if that girl is attracted to him ……………………..The marketplace of hormones trumps the wisdom of the ages he has not yet encountered. Voila, he buys a pack of cigarettes.This is not the same marketplace of ideas that exists at the board room level where making a lot of money is the proxy for that cute girl.If a board were to believe that putting a raccoon (or a giraffe) to run the company would drive superior shareholder value, boards would be dominated by raccoons and giraffes.The power of incumbency is one of the greatest powers ever recognized short of atomic weaponry. One only has to look at politics to confirm this bit of sophistry.Going with Dave on this beef with an acknowledgement that your point is fair and worthy of consideration.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Simone

            ‘If one factors in a little stupidity, which we all have in great measure’ – I agree and If I have to put myself in the digital shoes of a machine, what to do about humans?! Elon is right to be concerned 🙂 and try to organise that plan B on Mars.When I mentioned cigarettes etc., I was thinking only about revenues, I confess. I really wish you were right, I really wish the incumbents were the best option there is, still I consistently see the disconnect between talk and walk, no real interest in customer service or feedback, even less interest in the annual employee feedback, where people say year after year what would make businesses better; what processes are broken, what (basic) technology is lacking. Most companies would simply need to Do what they say they are so ‘passionate’ about and how they put customers and of course, employees first. But this is not true. I guess the criteria is to have at the wheel ‘one of them’, keep the status quo between peers. I really wish you were right about the raccoon, but for now he will not be hired, despite all his uber executive skills.

          3. JLM

            .Throw in a paragraph once in a while. Makes it easier to read.I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are companies out there who are connected to their team and do use the input created by Anonymous Company Surveys, as an example.I advise startups and I constantly send them exemplars of such forms and work with them constantly to use the information they learn.It is amazing to see the lights come on when a CEO finds her stride and does an ACS, an off site meeting, and then a Town Hall — it is like watching gunpowder being invented.It is out there but you are absolutely right — it is not everywhere.In 33 years of CEOing, I never, ever failed to learn something of actionable intel on first read of the ACS. I used to ask a question that challenged them to tell me about my “blindspots” and “what are the first two things you would do if your were CEO?”One time a senior woman accountant said, “I can’t believe that you’re keeping ABC division open.”That afternoon, I looked at the #s of ABC div and closed them down. I was blind.One thing I do know — the distribution of good leadership and good management still resembles a bell curve. You would think it would be moving more toward the right, but it really isn’t.Watch for the raccoons. They are out there.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. Simone

            I hope they are and I appreciate the encouragement. I am surprised Elon, such a smart guy, doesn’t realise he would hate living on Mars – that cold, dead blob (so we should make it right on earth).

        2. creative group

          Dave Pinsen:We do gravitate to the best person(s) for the job. That being said the two companies you cited with record lows for one and stalled earnings growth for the other would suggest some changes to those executive teams you boasted about require changing on a financial basis, the diversity subject would cloud the already biased mindset.(The King says why is there a need for a change I am ruling perfectly)

  10. creative group

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79 years old.Will POTUS have time to install a new Justice? Of course not with the obstructionist platform at work that is destroying this country with this two party monopoly.…________Justice Antonin Scalia’sPresident Barack Obama on Saturday evening praised Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for his legal prowess and memorable opinions.“For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin ‘Nino’ Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench — a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit and colorful opinions,” Obama said.Scalia died Saturday in Texas at age 79. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he was the longest-serving justice on the high court at the time of his death. “He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape,” Obama continued. “He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: the rule of law. Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.”————–Blacks belong at slower schools — Arguing Fisher v. University of TexasIn the affirmative action case, Scalia questioned whether it was beneficial for African-Americans if more black students were admitted to the university under affirmative action.“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well,” he said. “One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

  11. Lawrence Brass

    I believe that the problem is not about achieving quotas, just remove the barriers of entry and diversity should happen naturally. We must get rid of the alpha puppy barking in our minds to move forward.

    1. Simone

      I agree this is the heart of the issue. The problem is, incumbents will never remove the barriers (for the obvious reasons), so I don’t know who will.My opinion is that education is not being reformed (despite the technology available to do so for years) exactly for this reason – to maintain barriers to entry.

  12. jason wright

    where’s the bartender? it’s getting hot in here. i’m thirsty.

  13. Simone

    Funny how many people want to think they are special, when in fact it was privilege.So sad we can only understand our own circumstances.

  14. Mike Bonifer

    Jerry Buss, Michael Ovitz, Peter Guber, Howard Schultz, Andrew Friedman (Guggenheim Partners) — Magic’s partial list of venture partners. It’s not hard to spot the pattern. Diversity begins with equity. Not only equity in the outcomes, i.e. who gets the revenue, but first, who has equity in the design of the ‘game,’ i.e. who decides who benefits from the outcomes? Do you maybe think the reason all but one of the Magic Johnson Theaters went out of business is because no one in the neighborhoods where the theaters were built had equity in the design of the game, or its outcomes? Did my neighbors in Crenshaw get to serve popcorn, take tickets, vacuum the carpets? No doubt. And no equity. Magic owns TGI Fridays in Ladera Heights, a majority African American neighborhood in L.A.. TGI Fridays is owned by Sentinel Capital Partners. Take a look at the ‘People’ page of Sentinel, and tell me who has equity in the design of the game? http://www.sentinelpartners… It has always seemed to me that Earvin Johnson the Businessman’s heart is in a good place, but Magic Johnson the legend is fronting for the white boys club. As a white boy myself, I can see it clearly. My fight is for equity for my friends and neighbors of color. My work is to bring diversity to the design of the game and its outcomes. Thank you for the video, it’s a fantastic discussion to be having.

  15. Mariah Lichtenstern

    Thank you for that. As a daughter of a dyslexic mother who became one of the most eloquent readers I have ever known, I applaud you!