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Unlearning racism in venture building & investing :: with Lindsey T. H. Jackson

In this episode of Ventures, my guest Lindsey T. H. Jackson (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsey-t-h-jackson/) and I discuss the journey of anti-racism and anti-oppression work in ourselves, in venture capital, and in startup ecosystems. We discuss the nuances of dismal representation numbers in venture; how to approach Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) conversations in the workplace and beyond; how to develop a regular practice to self-reflect, define your community, and “fail fast” on your own anti-racism journey; and how to encourage others to consider embarking on the journey themselves.

You can watch this episode below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts (search for “Ventures”).


2:10 - Tee-up and introduction for the episode

3:18 - Lindsey’s introduction, background, brief story, about LTHJ Global (https://lthjglobal.com/)

8:11 - Will’s perspective/background, growing up in navy-town USA, anti-racist influences in his youth.

10:30 - What got Lindsey into DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) consulting work?

13:30 - DEI & anti-racism work as intriguing to all entrepreneurs (it’s about collecting and responding to data, to work safer and smarter)

14:34 - Will’s journey coming from graduate work in a bioengineering lab, gathering and responding to data, influence from Dr. Viola Vogel as he got into venture building & investing.

17:13 - Common references to The Matrix in DEI work, why people ignore data, and listening to the market. “Why am I afraid to talk about racism?”

20:20 - Companies that make great products are made up of people. Importance of unlocking greatness in people.

20:56 - More diverse companies perform better. (Check out: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-numbers-dont-lie-diverse-workforces-make-companies-more-money-2020-07-30)

21:56 - Unlearning racism; reflections from Will’s personal journey

23:54 - How does Lindsey start the conversation without triggering people who think differently?

28:30 - “Calling in” (instead of calling out) - about the term “underrepresentation”

29:19 - Shockingly bad statistics regarding diversity in venture (see: https://www.wired.com/story/vc-pledged-better-diversity-its-barely-changed)

30:24 - LTHJ Global often runs a thought experiment: “Do a count in a given day: How many people do you engage with that are outside of your intersectional identity”

30:57 - One identity as “black”; she doesn’t know where her people come from because of chattel slavery - this part of her ancestry erased. (Plus, other identities)

32:52 - Dismal numbers in terms of percent of VC dollars going to businesses owned by black women.

36:04 - Cognitive diversity

36:29 - For those listening in who are new to this conversation, what are recommended next steps to begin their anti-racism journey? (Three things: 1. Find a language/practice to constantly interrogate yourself. 2. Don’t define your community by who you exclude. 3. Fail fast, and give yourself the grace to do so).

45:00 - Will’s quick recap of these three recommended steps.

46:25 - Analogous to Jim Collins’ flywheel language - anti-racism journey can/should be similar.

47:32 - For people on their anti-racism/anti-oppression journey, what is Lindsey’s recommended way to talk about this with others and/or publicly?

49:28 - Referenced author quote from social media: “Dear white-bodied people, as it pertains to racism, this is your work to go get your people” (and analogies to others groups and their people as well)

51:15 - By the age of 5, black and brown children experience racism 5x/day, which increases in frequency as they get older.

51:11 - “How do I know I’m moving forward?”

54:00 - Recapping the various topics we’ve opened up. Consider the venture of anti-racism. Consider unlearning racism as joyful and freeing.

56:05 - By nature, anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur is well poised to unlearn racism.

56:46 - Lindsey’s work: https://lthjglobal.com/ // https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsey-t-h-jackson/ // Reach out and book her for a speaking gig // Subscribe to learn more about her upcoming book “Unlearning Racism” → http://eepurl.com/htLZyv