For Toys R Us Kids

Funny how songs and jingles stick with you over the years. Toying with post titles just now, I thought about the video above and the memories it brought back. I recall enormous portions of my time and thinking being taken up by what I wanted for Christmas when I was a kid.

I’d collect the circulars from the Sunday paper and make a detailed mental wish list of the things I wanted. I’d familiarize myself with the details and specs and versions of whatever it was that had my attention, and I would submit my requests to the appropriate governing body (smile).

What am I talking about? I’m talking about growing up.

Specifically, what I wanted to be when I grew up. My earliest professional aspiration was that of a marine biologist. I think that was a pretty popular selection for young, starry-eyed elementary school kids without much exposure to what life has to offer.

Alas, I never pursued this aquatic vocation. And the next real professional aspiration I had, amusingly, was self-employment. I knew I wanted to work for myself, but I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I got a job. And you might know how that went…

I’m 31 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m not sure I ever will. But I’ve been steadily crossing terrible ideas and people off the list over the last few years.

I’m in a bit of a professional transition right now wherein I see the confluence of opportunity timing and resources in a way that gives me a lot of optimism about the weeks and months to come.

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting on a diversity panel at the Life@Work Culture Conference. A dear friend recommended me for the remaining spot they had available for the panel when he heard that they were looking for someone else to add.

It turned out to be a home run for me in the sense that I was 1) sitting alongside folks I’d love to be working with and 2) able to share many of my observations and perspectives with an audience that wasn’t used to hearing them presented in the way that I shared them. The panel was well-received, and the conference was one of the most thoughtfully curated events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

Next month, I’ll be presenting at Responsive Conference in Berkeley, California. It’ll be my first time in the Bay Area (!) which I shared in today’s Abernathy newsletter.

The details:

What: Conference: The Future of Work
When: September 19-20, 2016
Where: Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA

I think I’m going to simply plagirize myself and share what I sent out in the newsletter to which I linked:

Confession: I’ve never been to the Bay Area.

If you don’t work in tech, this probably doesn’t matter to you, but trust me—I’m risking my street cred by admitting this publicly. The good news is two-fold:

  1. In exactly one month, I’ll be speaking at Responsive Conference in Berkeley, California.
  2. If you’d like to meet me there, and you’d like a 15% discount on tickets, today is the last day for the early bird discount.

I don’t take it lightly that I have the privilege and honor of bringing this message to audiences that look nothing like me, whose lived experiences are nothing like mine. Paradoxically, I think the differences in our experiences help us understand the ways in which we can come together.

I’m not sure how to proceed with the important work of healing and reconciliation and empowerment without healthy doses of compassion and empathy (my guiding principles). I’ll get off my soapbox, but I’ll be back on it when I present next month.

One of the reasons I agreed to speak is because the event won’t just be people on stage sharing TED Talk ideas that everyone in the audience will agree with. On the contrary, attendees and speakers will be engaging with complex problems and coming up with solutions. Tech, complexity, diversity, and real conversations? That’s my kinda party.

[If the link above doesn’t work, the code for the 15% discount is Responsiveorg.]

The most important thing to note is that the 15% discount expires at the end of the day, so get to clicking if you want to take advantage of that discount.

I’ll write a followup post either here or on Abernathy (you’re subscribed, right?) or both about the experience, but I’d love to see you in Cali if you’ll be around.

This post has been a meandering exercise in stating something pretty simple: sometimes you have to make it up, in public, and sometimes you have a chance to add value while you do that. Let’s make it up together, shall we?

Well, together but separate. (I’m mostly an introvert. Mostly.)

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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