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Equity and Inclusion

August 7, 2020
Written By
August 7, 2020
Equity and Inclusion
40:57
Written By

Tom and Vivek talk about inclusion and reflect on their personal experiences as brown guys in tech. Inclusion feels like a moral imperative, but does it really make for stronger, better companies? Are there unintended consequences of acting on good intentions to 'fix' an inclusion problem at a company? Why is tech so lacking in diversity, and what can we do to get it right?

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to The Closed Session, How to Get Paid in SiliconValley, with your host, Tom Chavez, and Vivek Vaidya.

Tom Chavez:

Welcome to this edition of The Closed Session, again,conducted via Zoom. My name is Tom Chavez.

Vivek Vaidya:

And I'm Vivek Vaidya.

Tom Chavez:

Vivek, this is what? I have it in the notes. This is thenth version of the closed session. How many of these have we done? 14, 15, 16?

Vivek Vaidya:

I think this would be number 14 if I'm counting correctly.We did 10 last season, and I think this is the fourth episode of the secondseason.

Tom Chavez:

Well, we are rolling now. 14, so be it. And since we'rerolling so deep, let's get out over a ledge and take up a topic that weighsheavily on everyone's minds these days. And not just in the company buildingcommunity, but also at a national level. And it's the topic of diversity,equity, and inclusion. Again, why make it easy? It's so charged, but you're sofearless. We should just do this.

Vivek Vaidya:

It's a heavy, heavy, heavy topic, Tom, especiallyconsidering the times we are in right now. But there is no better moment totake it up than now.

Tom Chavez:

But before we hit the record button on the Zoom, you weresaying, "I don't know how I feel about this." You're a little concerned.You're skittish about this section, aren't you?

Vivek Vaidya:

I am. Because I also, and we've talked about this, the twoof us, and in other forms as well, about the cancel culture that exists. Ithink it plagues our society these days, and that's what worries me. This isgoing to be a charged conversation, as we know, and both of us are going to saythings that not everybody will agree with.

Tom Chavez:

But the good news is we're on a Zoom, so you're not in thesame room. I can't reach across the screen and punch you in the face oranything based on anything you say.

Vivek Vaidya:

This is true. This is true.

Tom Chavez:

There's a silver lining there.

Vivek Vaidya:

But you know what? If there were a case of you wanting topunch me, you would've punched me a long time ago.

Tom Chavez:

I just don't want to get in trouble with the police. Andthat's the main thing there. But look, it is a charged topic and we've beenhaving conversations inside our own hive at super{set} about systemic racism onthe heels of George Floyd. I remember one of the people we work with had one ofthose first conversations, and this is a courageous thing for Lindsay to say,is like, "Look, I want to lean in here, but I'm afraid of saying the wrongthing."

And I think that's on so many people's minds. They want totake up these topics of diversity and systemic racism and so on, but they'reworried about being canceled, as you say. And I share the concern, I think alot of these conversations degenerate way too quickly into an opportunity forthe cancel culture warriors to put the smack down or tar and feather you forsaying something they don't like, or with tones or phrasing that they don'tlike.

So I'm always about, can we have a little more compassionfor people? Because I'm sure I'd flub it. You'd flub it. We don't always say itexactly the way people would like to have it phrased. And so maybe that shouldbe our caveat, our disclaimer at the beginning of this thing. We'll probablysay the wrong thing. Actually, you'll probably say many more wrong things,wouldn't you?

Vivek Vaidya:

I will. You're absolutely right. Yes. That's part of beingme.

Tom Chavez:

It's your special gift. But for anybody listening, we'rejust two people who happen to care a lot about these topics and are buildingcompanies and systems that we think, we hope, get it right. We'd like to bejudged on the basis of action more than verbs or phrasing. We're not, you and Iaren't just tweeting it, we're actually trying to do it. But if we flub some phrasing,we thank everybody for their compassion in advance.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I think, Tom, one of the things that I've realizedas you mentioned these conversations we've been having at super{set}. One ofthe things I've realized, and some people have come out and said this to me inso many words, is that they just don't know how to talk about these things,because it's not something that they've discussed growing up. Not because theywere oblivious to it or anything like that, but they just don't have a frameworkfor it. They don't grow up with it. They don't have a framework for it. Forwhatever reason, whether right or wrong, it is a separate thing.

But to your point about compassion, that's what I think weneed to just put that in the back of our mind as we have these conversations,that first, everybody wants to do the right thing. They don't necessarily havethe tools for the most part. Of course we are familiar with the Karensphenomenon that's going on. So there's that. But a lot of people actually justwant to do the right thing, want to say the right thing, just don't know how.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. Well, let's give everybody the benefit of the doubt.And in terms of what we want to kick around here, what's the case for diversityin tech? Why should we care what our effective means of achieving it? How andwhy do good intentions and tools designed to achieve it frequently devolve intounintended consequences? Those are the things we want to kick around today. Andso I'm going to put you on the spot. Why do we care? Vivek, let's start withyou. Why do you care about these topics?

Vivek Vaidya:

Well, I'll give you a multi-part answer. One is that I'veactually seen firsthand how people from different backgrounds can come togetherand learn from each other. People always think like, oh, it makes bettercompanies, more revenue and all of that. Yes, that is the result of that. Butfrom a personal level, I really benefited from the diversity of the people thatI worked with, and it's made me a better human being. It's made me a more awarehuman being, both personally as well as from a worldwide point of view. Sothere's that, right?

So that's part one. The second part is I'm old enough toremember when people like me were not in as much of a majority or maybe even aminority as compared to today in the tech industry. And I've seen how peoplehave worked hard and achieved great things, so I know it's possible. And theycouldn't have done that without the support that they got from, again, adiverse community in tech. So there's that.

Then I think both you and I come from a background wherewe've had to work really hard to get to where we have and where we've gottento, and we want to provide an environment where other people from whateverbackground they come from, as long as they have the gumption to work hard, youwant to make sure that they succeed or give them a platform at least that theycan use to be successful.

Tom Chavez:

Well, on those lines, and we'll come back to it, but youare, as you say, really old, you're older than dirt. But when you first came toSilicon Valley, it wasn't taken for granted that you had the Sundars and theSatchits in all of these high places. There's been a huge pendulum shift, Iwould say, in the last 25 years. So you come from a background that was oncethe underdog. You didn't have as many people, again, in such high places. Soyou've been on that journey.

Vivek Vaidya:

I have. And I think I've seen most of the challenges thatsomeone in my position, having come here a long time ago, faces or has gonethrough. Whether it's the accent, whether it's not understanding culturalreferences. People talk about othering a lot. Imagine now you come from Indiaand first, you're just not familiar with football or baseball, because the footballin India is what we call soccer over here. And baseball, there's no such thingas baseball here. We play cricket. So sporting references, two out of thethree, ice hockey, there's no such thing as ice hockey in India. We just playhockey. It's called field hockey over here. So three out of the four maybesports references are down the toilet. And all the pop culture references, andwhether it's music or comedy, whether it's a Saturday Night Live or things likethat, shows that people may have watched. I did know Diff'rent Strokes.

A lot of people know Diff'rent Strokes because it used tobe aired when we were kids back in India. But the textbook definition ofothering, and I was different, I'll admit. I was, and a lot of people like me,there are a lot of people like me who are familiar with American cup popculture the way somebody over here is. But even then, it was difficult. And nowit's just become, it's great, it's great. It's great to see CEOs of IBM andMicrosoft and Adobe and Google, to name a few, are Indian. There's been atremendous shift in the last 20-odd years.

Tom Chavez:

Can I just add that these days I do see you catching atleast three out of five of my hip hop references, speaking of the journey.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, it's a journey. I'm still on that journey, Tom, asfar as hip hop is concerned.

Tom Chavez:

But you're a continuous improver and we love that.

Vivek Vaidya:

That's right.

Tom Chavez:

So here's why I care about this and it's personal to me.It's certainly all of those same reasons. And we'll come back to these aboutwhy it just makes us better, stronger with more diversity. But at a morepersonal level, look, I come from a family that was first in family to go tocollege. My parents did not go to college. Two older brothers, they went tocollege and then my sisters and I went to college. And my parents grew upwithout English as their first language, and Mexican Americans in Albuquerquefrom very humble circumstances. So I always do enjoy it when people see me, andI'm fair skinned as you know, and I enjoy seeing how flummoxed they are whenthey see or hear that I'm Mexican American because, oh my goodness, look atyou. Your English is actually pretty good. Chavez, how did that happen?

So by the way, the reason that happened is because my momand dad didn't speak English as their first language, and they wanted to makedamned sure that their kids had it firmly under their belts. But I grew up inthat culture and for the last 20 plus years, my mom has asked me over and overagain, Tommy, why can't you find more Latinos to bring into your companies? AndI'm not sure. In the past, especially when you're a first time entrepreneur,you're just clutching to survive. I'll own it. I'm not sure that that was on mytop five list. Again, survival and just getting to the other side and landingit somehow was urgent and important. But these days, especially for you and me,it's been gratifying as we build super{set} and build all these companies toreally just stop and try to take these design time decisions around diversityinclusion. It's very seriously.

Vivek Vaidya:

For sure. Yeah, for sure.

Tom Chavez:

Well, let's talk about how in the heck did we get here andfrom the balcony, I think we're having this podcast because we recognize it's aproblem, it's an opportunity, it's a first class thing. So I'd love to, myquick thoughts on how we got here first start from a supply consideration. Ithink whether we like it or not, when we're trying to hire Latinos or morewomen or other people from diverse backgrounds into some of these roles atthese tech companies we're building, we are kind of reaping what was sown 20plus years ago. And we don't like that. I hate it. But reality is the safestplace to be, right? There weren't enough people from diverse backgrounds 20years ago when I graduated from college, I think, and this was in 1990, I wasone of, I don't know, 11, 12, 14 CS majors in the entire university. Now I'mtold there's like 500 CS majors.

So the supply equation has shifted from that perspective.And if the demographic breakdowns fall as they do, we should see at least somemore supply of younger people from diverse backgrounds showing up with alittle, and that's not to say that you need to just have a CS degree to be intech. I'm just saying that if we look at how the whole system kind of unfolds,it is a technical undertaking. There's lots of ways to participate and getinvolved, but we have to go back and start taking seriously these questions,supply and training and making sure that younger people understand that it'sall within reach. I think that's the first big explanatory variable in terms ofhow [inaudible 00:14:31]

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, I know, I completely agree. And just to add a littlebit more color to that, we talk about the lack of diverse leaders, especiallyas you go higher up the hierarchy. We talk about they're not being enough womenin leadership positions especially, and focused on technology or engineering inparticular. You think about if you're hiring for 100 positions and you say thatI want 30, 40% of them filled by women, you just do the arithmetic. Because noteverybody who you hire, not every woman you hire, not every man you hire, endsup becoming a director or senior director and whatnot.

So the standard percentages of, or ratios really, ofpeople coming in at the bottom and then going up to the top apply. So in orderfor you to have 30 or 40 people of women at a certain level, you just need tohave that many more coming in 10, 15 years ago. Because career growth takestime, as time as well. And there just weren't that many coming in 10, 15 yearsago. So the supply pool is limited from that perspective as well. And hopefullynow, given these new numbers, 10 years from now, the situation will bedifferent and much, much better than what it is right now.

Tom Chavez:

In the parlance of a revenue operation, you got to fillthe top of the funnel for there to be progression down to the bottom or inreverse here. You have to have more people showing up for those other roles sothat you have more opportunities for them to rise statistically over time.

Vivek Vaidya:

And I think just building on that, I think there has beenthis systemic, I should say, or this deeply ingrained pattern of exclusionthat's been burnt in over decades and decades of operation. And whether thereare different ways that people refer to it, the old boys network or you need tojust be from Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, what have you, who you know, yournetwork, you know someone who knows someone, that type of thing. Andultimately, it's the people who have the money or the venture capitalists whoare in control of who gets access to their money. And that also has a lot to dowith explaining where we are today.

Tom Chavez:

100%. Look, I think it's a very apt point. The money,people who generally correlate with the power come from fancy institutions. Bythe way, I studied at a couple of those fancy institutions. I was there, I canreport firsthand in a lot of those conversations that we've had when it came tofunding along the way, that pedigree, as they call it, mattered a lot. Iremember feeling many days like a horse trotted out from the stables withdegrees to be bandied about and to make people feel good that I knew my stuff.And I don't curse it, I understand it. But I think you and I both know afteryears of doing this, in fact, remember in our first company, we actually bannedHarvard and Stanford's people for a while because they were just so snooty.They all came in with this entitlement attitude and they weren't ready to dothe work.

I remember when we actually banned. We said, no, no, wedon't want to look at any more candidates from those places. And we've learnedfirsthand, you and I, that there's hardworking, super smart people who areready to get the job done, who don't have, quote, pedigree. Those are thebroad-shouldered people you really want to work with. But I think the otherthing that explains how we got here is that there's this systemic kind of ideathat you want to just work with people, with pedigreed people. If you don'tknow them, they are people who make you feel like they're your people. They'reyour tribe.

So that's another key thing. I think if you're insistingthat tech is a meritocracy and all is well, and there's nothing to discusshere, you might just want to turn off the podcast at this point, becauseeverything we're probably going to cover from here on is just going to really,really bother you. So we are kind of beginning here toward the first half ofthis podcast that, okay, Houston, we've got a problem. We're very far from aperfectly meritocratic system. Now with that said, doesn't necessarily meanthat diversity is needed and will make it better at a moral level. At a morallevel we want this, but I think we also need to be clinical business people andcome back to something you touched on, V, which is to examine the business casefor diversity. Why did it make us better, stronger?

Vivek Vaidya:

Look, there's been plenty of research and there's plentyof data to go around that says that more diverse teams perform better than lessdiverse ones. Businesses that have more diverse leadership teams, more diverseexecutive teams make more money and kick than less diverse ones. But there isan interesting kind of twist or paradox, if you will, in this whole diversityequation. And that is, if you look at it from the perspective of immigrants.Again, in this whole debate of vis-a-vis immigration and whatnot, there'splenty of reports and research that's come out with hard data to back it upthat says that immigrants have done wonders for the American economy andAmerica in general. But the paradox that we find ourselves in is that, again,from a tech perspective, it's just focused on tech. It's gotten to the pointwhere I think you may have been there at this event where there was some talkon, again, diversity inclusion in tech where somebody said that there aren'tenough brown people in tech. And that kind of jarred me. I first, I felt sooffended that, don't you see, are you going see the color?

Or perhaps it's become this thing that, and this is also,I was listening to a podcast recently where they said, as far as politics isconcerned, they're all white. Meaning that once you get beyond a certain stage,you are considered white. It's not really a commentary on your skin color, butit's more like how you are perceived as going with the flow, if you will, isthe best way to put it. So that bothers me that, and that's a paradox. So yeah,I think those are two things that I come back to when making the business case.One is data's for diversity. There's definitely plenty of data to back up thecase. But then as you look at it, there is this interesting paradox as well.What do you think?

Tom Chavez:

Well, the numbers don't lie. More diverse teams justgenerate better results. We don't have to trot out all of the McKinsey studiesand others, but it is a statistical fact that more diverse teams are generatingbetter results. I have a psychosocial kind of theory, which I'm happy to sharehere, which is that in tech, especially these days, the nature of the problemsare such that you just need a broader array of talent to get it right. So onceupon a time, especially when everything revolved around circuit design andsignal processing problems, you had double engineering, double E guys solvingthose problems. And if the intelligence and acumen required to solve them was aT, the top of the T was a very narrow little sliver, and the length of thetrunk of the T was very tall, that you needed to be a signal processing God ora circuit designer who knew certain things, that the problems werecircumscribed and you could just apply all of your brain power to get it done.

Most of the interesting problems today, I conjecture, arejust different. They require pattern matching and sort of a lateral movementacross different disciplines. We have a lot of good examples of that in thecompanies we're building. Tesla is an example of the confluence of lots oftechniques and technologies that need to get flown into a team like a carcompany. But actually behind the frame of the car, It's a very grandundertaking. Genomics, lots of good examples of that. So I think the hardest,coolest problems are exercises and synthesis, which means you need teams withvery different and diverse training and backgrounds and perspectives to cometogether to get it done.

Vivek Vaidya:

No doubt, I think, and I think this is true. To your pointabout the T, if you think about the open source phenomenon that's taken over inthe last 30, 35 years, all the stuff that requires that T, that requires you togo deep, specialized expertise, odds are you're going to find an open sourcelibrary that solves that problem really, really well. So to your point aboutsynthesis, the name of the game these days is to how do you assemble differentcomponents into solutions that can solve business problems, whether it's Teslaor Genomics, or any of the companies from our portfolio. That is the challengethese days.

Tom Chavez:

That's right. And we're doing a lot of that, you and I, aswe've tried to put teams together. I remember there was this anecdote aboutJobs when he was trying to pull together a team to launch a hard new product,they would say internally, this, it's a good team, but we really need amusician on this team. What does a musician have to do with hardware design?But the point is you need to have somebody with a quirky, out there, sort ofmusical sensibility to chop it up and add the sizzle and the outlandish anglethat's required if you're going to have breakthroughs. And it's not justmusicians, you just need all types. So the top of the T in the problems we'resolving today is not that narrow little sliver. It's broad and sprawling. Sothat's the other piece of the equation there. So let's switch gears and talkabout methods that people are using today to try to promote diversity. What'sworking? What are the unintended consequences? I think you and I both look at alot of these well intentioned efforts and we sometimes scratch our heads.

Vivek Vaidya:

I have a great example for you on that. As you know, we'vebeen on the hunt for a few engineers at Habu, and we're using many recruitingplatforms to source candidates and whatnot. One of those platforms, I submittedmy criteria and I was trying to be as generic as possible. So front endengineer with experience in React, yes. Data engineer with experience in Spark.That's it, I just left it at that, nothing else. And came back with a bunch of differentoptions, candidates. There was an interesting checkbox, radio button, whateveryou want to call it, at the top of this platform, which said, reduce bias. Andwhen you hover over, you see explanatory text, which says hide people's namesand photographs from the results. And like, okay, that's interesting. So Ichecked it and lo and behold, the names and the pictures for those candidateswho had uploaded their pictures disappeared.

Now, because I had the before and after, I could do my ownarithmetic and figure it out by looking at the names and the pictures, how manymales, how many females, how many people of color, so on and so on. So now, ifI turn that feature on and I randomly assume that everybody who's returned inthat list is a perfect match for a phone screen, and of course my bandwidth islimited, I can only talk to so many people at a given point in time. So Irandomly pick 30% of the candidates shown to me. So if the thing comes back ina hundred, I pick 30 candidates. Now, given the distribution of candidates,this goes back to your supply problem and unintended consequence, the ratio ofdiverse candidates to what are called non-diverse ones, as in white, Asian,Indian male engineers, would be very low.

So by checking that box and just doing random selection, Iam making the problem worse. Because it's not solving the problem of havingmore people, having more women, having more women and people of color in tech.And so maybe that was not their intention, and maybe the intention is to, okay,this is just a blind list of candidates, pick the best ones. But when I dothat, just because of the supply problem, because the ratios are the way theyare, the pipeline problem, I would not solve the problem of creating morediversity in tech.

Tom Chavez:

Under the auspices of a blank slate or a meritocraticbehind the veil assessment, they actually constrain the presentation ofcandidates that actually are exactly the ones you'd like to have more of inyour consideration set.

Vivek Vaidya:

Right, and this is the other messed up thing, which isthat I almost have to apply what I would call reverse bias and or bias in theother direction, to pick candidates and put them in my pipeline, like thediverse ones and the women and people of color. I just have to do practicereverse bias or whatever that word is, to do that.

Tom Chavez:

Well, that takes me back to ... We'll get to Eskalera in aminute. But as we are starting super{set}, and when I'm reflecting on, okay, mymom asking me all these years, "Tommy, what are you doing?" I wouldgive a lame answer and say, "Ma, it's hard, I'm trying," but I'm nottrying that hard. Here's a vignette where actually try 10 times harder to get aslate of diverse candidates. And that's not to prejudge the outcome and justgive a diverse candidate the job. Not at all, they're diverse. But it's to sayyou have to work a lot, lot harder to find more of those candidates and getthem into your funnel.

Vivek Vaidya:

100%

Tom Chavez:

Be biased in surfacing candidates like that, if you'regoing to attack this the right way. I think that's one path. Hiring is animportant piece of the total equation, and then that's an important ditch tostay out of as we attack that. I think it's safe to say that we're seeing a lotof declarations and policies from companies who are wanting to show thatthey're good citizens and they're doing the right thing. Last week there was anarticle on the front page of the Wall Street Journal about the average tenureof a chief diversity officer, and it's alarmingly low. So what the article waspresenting is a fact that I think you and I have seen in some form where theseCDOs, chief diversity officers, are appointed at high levels by companies,again who want to show that they're good citizens and they're doing the rightthing.

But it's not clear that these CDOs have charter. It's notclear that they have decision rights and authority internally to shift theequation. They in some sense become emblems of a company's commitment, butthat's not enough. That's not actually going to-

Vivek Vaidya:

By no means.

Tom Chavez:

So it's a dangerous little pageant that some of thesecompanies conduct when they bring in CDOs and don't empower them fully toactually do more than just show them panels and carry a flag. You actually haveto have, again, the authority to install new systems and policies, not just forhiring, but for promotion, for employee performance appraisal and the like.That seems like it's mostly undone.

And the bigger worry that it creates is, for me at least,is that it can too quickly devolve into tokenism. I'm a proud Mexican Americanguy. I've told people, please, whether it's me or anybody else, don't put oneof my people into a role. Don't put me into a role just for the sake ofchecking a box. Tokenization is terrible for everybody, and you might thinkthat you're doing the right thing. By the way, the fact I'm thinking also hireswe've made in the past where we were very zealously trying to get a ratio rightand maybe didn't properly appraise the implications and the unintendedconsequences there. It never ends well.

Vivek Vaidya:

It doesn't. It just doesn't.

Tom Chavez:

It just puts somebody into a role for which they're notequipped. And if a diversity calculus is kind of shaping your logic, okay, that'slaudable, that's good, but you really got to tamp down and be open-eyed, atleast of the risks you're running there.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah, I think I continue to believe that you need to havea diverse pipeline and then after, if you solve that problem by working 10 xharder or whatever it is, but if you have a truly representative pipeline, thenthe rest of your hiring process needs to unfold the net regularly. Meaning thatyou cannot compromise, you have to put everybody through the same ringer, ifyou will, in terms of assessing their fit for the job that they have to do.Because by not doing that, you're only sending them up for failure and creatingall sorts of unintended consequences for your team as it exists.

Tom Chavez:

That's right. That's right. Yeah. Now, look, you and Ihave so much passion for this topic that it compelled us to help launch acompany at super{set} called Eskalera, which is now under the extremely capableleadership of a super talented guy named Dane Holmes. And the founding team,there are people that, at least a couple of whom we've had an opportunity towork with over decades. So that team is building software that in some sense,systematizes inclusion. And that idea inspires us because you can have CDOs,you can have the right hiring, you can change the slate, but there's still thismassive challenge that companies have, to do something that you touched onearlier in the conversation, which is to give people the tools. I heard you usethat you have the tools and the framework so that employees can learn what thisactually looks like.

You and I have hired a lot of engineers along the way whoI think we both would agree are adorable, but sometimes broken. They havemindsets or quirky, funny things that they want to say that are funny to them,but no, no, no, you can't say it. And shame on us if we're not arming them withtools and vocabulary for, and this isn't about cancel culture, you can saythis, you can't say that, but giving them a mental model for thinking through whymatters of inclusion will get them more of what they want.

Vivek Vaidya:

Correct. Correct. The way I like to think of Eskalera isthat diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. Diversity is a pre-hiringproblem. And then inclusion is a post-hiring problem. You need to have both. Ithink Eskalera does a great job of blending the two together into beautifulsoftware.

Tom Chavez:

Yeah. So the third leg of the stool here is to first getyour hiring right. Second, pay off some of these policies and claims that companiesare establishing through the hiring of CDOs, but actually making it so in theorganizations. And then empowering or enabling it wherever you can withsoftware from companies like Eskalera and many others that are taking this outthere.

So as we wind ourselves up here towards a conclusion,let's make some suggestions for getting it right. And we've been kicking thesearound as we go. One thing I'm hearing is that we need to be open-eyed, all ofus, about the unintended consequences of good decisions focused on diversity,but working intentionally to sort of tamp those down.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I think we need to be aware of and think through anddo the kinds of exercises that I did when I was evaluating these candidates onthis recruiting platform, that what if this happens, and what if I do this?What's going to happen down the road? So to use a phrase that you use a lot,which is game it all the way out, to see what results you might get. And if youdon't like the results you get after you follow that path, go back and changewhatever you were going to change. But you have to do it intentionally, to yourpoint, very intentionally.

Tom Chavez:

Right. When you're hiring, we're saying it, be biased.Fill a slate with diverse candidates. Don't prejudge the outcome, as you said,make sure everybody sings for their supper and competes for the role, but youcan be intentional about the people who are being given consideration there. Wesaid you got to do more, hiring a chief diversity officer is a fantastic start,but now what are you doing as a leader to really make it so? How are youempowering that person and other people who work inside your company committedto that same cause? Are you giving them the tools and authority to actually getit right? We spent a lot of time talking about initial conditions. Foundingteams and boards, you want to speak to them a little bit?

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. I think that you have to think about this right fromthe very beginning because if you let it fester and you let it persist forlong, then you run the risk of people looking at you from the outside andsaying, no, no, no, I'm going into an environment where I don't see anybodylike me. And so you have to get the mindsets and the team really right, maybenot for founding time. If you do it at founding time, that's great, but if notfounding time, then early, early teams, you have to pay attention.

You have to pay asymmetric attention to that. And it's notjust with the team, but I think, Tom, even with boards, if you have a diverseboard, then it just makes the company that much stronger because there's justbetter ideas coming through, more lively discussion happening about thebusiness. And overall, I think it makes for a much more powerful dynamic in theboardroom and in the company if you have diversity baked in right at the groundfloor.

Tom Chavez:

100%. And then I guess the final note is it's hard and wehave to work 10 times harder to get it right. Hard is what makes it good,right? Hard is what makes it worth doing well. Well, look at that. That wasn'tso bad, now was it?

Vivek Vaidya:

It wasn't, was it?

Tom Chavez:

We're all finished at the beginning.

Vivek Vaidya:

Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't.

Tom Chavez:

It all worked out.

Vivek Vaidya:

Well done.

Tom Chavez:

All right, everybody. Well that wraps up this next Zoomedition of The Closed Session. Thanks for being with us today.

Vivek Vaidya:

Thank you so much. This is Vivek and Tom, signing off.

 

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Introduction

In the first episode of The Closed Session, meet Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya, serial entrepreneurs and podcast hosts.

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Starting From Scratch

In the second episode of The Closed Session, Tom and Vivek discuss the framework for starting your own company from scratch, and the three dimensions that should be taken into account.

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The Business Plan

You’ve decided to launch a business, but before you hurtle blindly into the breach, you need a bulletproof plan and a perfect pitch deck to persuade your co-founders, investors, partners, and employees to follow you into the unknown.

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Early-Stage Funding Do’s and Dont’s

In this episode of The Closed Session, Tom and Vivek talk about dilution, methods, mindset, benchmarks and best practices for raising investment capital for a new tech startup.

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Early Team Formation

Now that you've written the business plan and raised money, it's time to recruit your early team. In this episode, Tom and Vivek cover the do's and dont's of building a high-output team - who to hire, how to build chemistry and throughput, how to think about talent when your company is a toddler versus when it's an adolescent.

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Creating a Winning Culture: Must-Haves, Memes, and Tips

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Building a Kickass Product & Technology Engine

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Women in Tech

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How to Interview for a Startup

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Is Tech Stingy? The Case for Doing Well *and* Doing Good

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And, we’re live at super{set}!

Welcome to Season 2 of The Closed Session! In this first episode of 2020, Tom and Vivek talk about the five companies super{set} launched in 2019 and the lessons they’re learning as they go.

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Equity and Inclusion

Tom and Vivek talk about inclusion and reflect on their personal experiences as brown guys in tech. Inclusion feels like a moral imperative, but does it really make for stronger, better companies? Are there unintended consequences of acting on good intentions to 'fix' an inclusion problem at a company? Why is tech so lacking in diversity, and what can we do to get it right?

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super{set}’s Spectrum Detoxifies The Online Space

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The Balancing Act For Women in Tech

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The Studio Model

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We don’t critique, we found and build.

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Silicon Valley’s Greatest Untapped Resource: Moms

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New Venture Ideation

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Good Ideas, Good Luck

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Data Eats the World

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People, First

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Navigating Juneteenth

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The super{set} Entrepreneurial Guild

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The Product Heist

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Founder and Father: A Balancing Act

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The Era of Easy $ Is Over

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read more

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read more

How To Avoid Observability MELTdown

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read more

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read more

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read more

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This post was written by Ketch Solutions Engineer, Sahiti Surapaneni, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

read more

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read more

Too Dumb to Quit

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read more

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read more

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This post was written by Ketch Data Privacy & Compliance Specialist, Jocelyn Brunson, as part of our #PassTheMic series.

read more

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read more