When the power of Facebook alerted me to yesterday’s Power of Inclusion luncheon hosted by the Nashville chapter of Cable, the premier leadership organization for women’s professional development, I jumped at the chance to attend in light of our ongoing #entreprenuriALL initiative. And when I found out that celebrity entrepreneur Kwame Jackson (from Apprentice Season 1 fame) was the keynote speaker, I decided to put my Startup Southerner hat on and figure out what wise words from Jackson I could share with our readers here.
Jackson, who originally hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, but currently calls New York home, started off by talking about the “Southern Hospitality Extravanganza” he had experienced so far in Nashville. You know the drill—sweet tea, y’all, biscuits, etc. He touched on a few key points about inclusion. At one point, he pointed out that blacks and women often are fighting a brand even before they enter a room. There were definitely more than a few nods in the audience, which was mostly women, many of them black.
“We are living in the dawn of a new America—changing faces, changing races, changing attitudes,” he said. “It’s not only more brown, but more great, more urban, more gay, more wired, yet still divided.”
He challenged the audience to bust through roadblocks and tired thinking that contribute to a lack of diversity and inclusion in today’s workplaces. “A good idea or next-level thinking is not just born in the best neighborhood…our genius is spread throughout our nation.” And when you don’t include them, you’re not getting access to their great ideas.
The presentation was half inclusion, half how to lose and still win.
“It’s important to realize we can all lose sometimes,” he explained. “The setback is the set up for the comeback.”
Another gem that I jotted down: “My mom used to [repeat a quote from Thomas Edison], ‘Opportunities are often dressed in overalls and look like work.'” Was Thomas Edison a Startup Southerner? He sure sounds like one.