storytelling

Consumer Experience, Design Thinking, Empathy, Healthcare, Human-Centered Design, Innovation, storytelling

You Are Invited To My Bell Ringing Ceremony! #NoMoreChemo Party!


The Story

Last week, Michael and I returned to Las Vegas to work with one of our partners, Cure 4 The Kids. Over the past few months, we’ve enjoyed getting to know their team and organization as we’ve begun helping them shape their strategy for the next few years. On the first morning of our visit, our meeting shifted from strategic conversation to a moment that touched us deeply and framed our purpose for the trip, and potentially how we work going forward.

Imagine this with me, you are standing in the middle of a waiting room, and there is a bell hanging on the wall behind a locked plexiglass door. Underneath the bell reads this:

Ring this bell

Three times well,

It’s toll to clearly say

My treatment’s done,

This course is run,

And I am on my way.

IMG_0923.jpgThat poem is special for the children at Cure 4 The Kids. They get to ring that bell at their NO MORE CHEMO PARTY! Yes, that is right. This is the day when treatment is completed and they begin their next stage of life in their new normalSo there we were, standing in the waiting room, with associates, and families waiting for treatment. And now with the little girl, who is now five and her family as she gets to ring the bell!

After that ceremony, we attended an party with the family. WOW! Did we learn a lot! This young lady’s name is Cierra. She is five and has a twin sister Sophia. Cierra was diagnosed at 18 months-old with leukemia. We learned that Cierra’s favorite color was pink, and she loved Barbies. So at the party, there were pink Krispy Kreme donuts, and Barbies. I remember when she looked at me, and told her Mommy, “he dyed his hair pink just for me.” I looked at her and simply said, YES I DID! Her story is powerful and inspiring, and we will share more details later on her journey. What I want to share is some empathy highlights and learnings from that day when Michael got to sit down with the family.

  • Become The Expert – Many times for these families, the mother or father have to become the expert and learn as much as they can about the cancer or disease. And at the same time, they have to still be able to function in their day to day lives.3QzVWFM7TeSY6HM1gZNsJg
  • Talk To Me Like I’m A Seven Year Old – These families have to learn not to nod and pretend like they understood what is happening. They have to ask questions. Lots of questions. Google words that they don’t understand. And, again, remain strong for their child.
  • “What Would You Do If This Was Your Child?” – It is ok during this time to ask your clinical team, “What would you do if this was your child?” Every parent, every person wants whats best for their child or family member.

There are so  have many other things we could share, but we just wanted to scratch the surface today, but most important, we wanted to celebrate Cierra and her new norm. LIFE WITHOUT CANCER! Remember this, CANCER SUCKS!

What I Learned And What You Can Learn

This is pretty simple for me this week. I learned that we must be willing to walk a day in the shoes of the human (not a patient) and their families. We work in a very complicated industry and want to make significant change. It will not be easy, but we will do it, one human at a time.

What I Will Do And What You Can Do

We have committed as a team to stop and listen! Listen to what everyone on the journey is going through. A diagnosis in a family can be world changing, and we need to have empathy for not just the human, but for the family.

I challenge you this week rather you are a healthcare provider or work in the industry, to remember to put the human first, and the disease or diagnosis second. I applaud Cure 4 The Kids and the journey they have created for their families.

Go and kick CANCER’S ASS today! I look forward to my next #nomorechemo party!

Consumer Experience, Empathy, Healthcare, Human-Centered Design, Innovation, Mindset, Patient Experience, storytelling, Teams

Down 30 Pounds! Who Gives A Sh**? My Personal Journey To the Best Me!


The Story

Three months ago, I walked into my providers office to get some medicine to deal with the “junk” I had gotten after the holidays. Unbeknownst to me, it would be a visit that changed my health journey. When the nurse took my blood pressure, it was 188/102. What? My blood pressure has never been that high. As a matter of fact, my pressure has always been low. It literally rocked my world and led me to where I am today.

As I wrote in last week’s blog, my mother died fullsizeoutput_3c5dprematurely, two of my uncles passed prematurely, and my father battled high blood pressure and cancer in his lifetime. Many of my family members have struggled with morbid obesity in their lifetimes and, for the last 18 months, my brother has been navigating health challenges.

After learning about my high blood pressure, I left the doctor’s office in a mix of emotions. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but knew I had to do something. In addition to the high blood pressure, I knew that my weight was creeping back up to the heaviest I’ve ever been. This was not acceptable! At that moment, I promised myself and my wife that it was time to focus on getting healthy again.

Changing my behaviors has not been an easy or fun journey, but each and every day I have put one foot in front of the other to make better health choices. Today I am happy to announce that I have lost over 30 pounds and, most importantly, all my numbers are almost all back to normal. Hallelujah!

What I’ve Learned And What You Can Learn

There is no secret sauce or magic potion that has made this happen. I’m not taking any supplements or shots and I haven’t been smoking anything to help in this process. Like so many other people in the world, I started using the new Weight Watchers app to help bring accountability in my eating.

My learning is two-fold. First, it is all about mindset and behavior change. You, and only you, can make it happen. No one can force it on you or make it happen for you. You have to do it.

Second, it has once again been confirmed in my mind that the healthcare Dont-Be-Yourself-But-Be-Your-Bestself-Quote-Mouse-Pad system is built for business and not for the care of people. If I would have listened to the system, I would be taking lots of medicine and still be a high-risk consumer. Why wouldn’t the system want to be proactive and to actually guide my health journey? It’s the difference between healthcare (one word) and health care (two words).

What I Will Do And What You Can Do

Here is my request of each of you: be the best you! Love yourself first, so you can love those around you. Place a high priority on taking care of yourself, so you can be there for those who you love. The feature picture of this blog shows each and every one of you why I am on this journey. They are my life, my loves, and my reason for living. Find your motivation for living and start your journey.

Who gives a sh** about you? Well, for starters, I do. I will walk this journey with you and we can walk this journey together.

GO BE YOUR BEST SELF TODAY!


Consumer Experience, Empathy, Healthcare, Human-Centered Design, Patient Experience, storytelling

The Day You Realize “This Is Why I Do What I Do!”


The Story

It’s 6:30 a.m. and I just boarded my flight to work with one of our partners who want to disrupt the health ecosystem. Actually, they want to more than disrupt it. Like me, they want throw it out and create something meaningful for the patient, caregiver, healthcare professionals, and every human. And then it hits me: This is why I do what I do.

IMG_0758I am now 30,000 feet in the air (see, here is my view), and have had the last 48 hours to reflect on my own healthcare journey and the journeys of the ones I love. Frankly, I am concerned, scared, and frustrated.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life traveling all over the country working with amazing people within this complex, convoluted system. I see and feel their frustration with the bureaucracy they’re forced to engage each day, when what they really want to do is just care for people.

Over the years, I’ve watched my mother navigate an extraordinary healthcare experience and ultimately die prematurely. I’ve watched my father live to be over 90 years old and see the care (or sometimes lack of care) he received in the system. Most recently, I’ve watched my brother battle through some health challenges. Along the journey, I’ve wondered: Why does it have to be this way? Why does it have to be so hard for the patients, caregivers, and families?

What I Have Learned And What You Can Learn

My learning this morning is simple. I do what I do, in partnership with amazing organizations and people, because it is my calling. I am called to change the lives of humans by changing their healthcare experiences. I’m called to be in the trenches with others who are moving the needle in this overly-complex system.

I love disruption. I love innovation. I love patient, member, consumer experience. But, more importantly, I love people. I want to see people live to their fullest potential as they fulfill their life’s calling.

My hope for you is that, in some way, you’re also motivated by the people whom youdomore serve. When life gets tough, I hope that you will focus on the faces of the people you love and the people whom you have affected through your presence and work in the world. I hope that focusing on these faces will give you the energy to continue make this world a better place.

Remember, it’s not always about the bottom line, or what is best for the business. Sometimes, it just has to be about the human experience.

What I Will Do And What You Can Do

As my flight lands and I hit the ground running this morning, I will commit to making one life better today. I will commit to breaking down the silos and bull sh** of this very complex system called healthcare.

What can you do today to affect your industry by focusing on a human? Let’s start changing the work by focusing on one person at a time. Let’s take responsibility for our world so that we don’t have to depend on a politician to make the change for us.

You will make it. I will make it. We will make it.

Remember, this is why we do what we do!


Consumer Experience, Culture, Design, Design Thinking, Empathy, Engagement, Healthcare, Human-Centered Design, Innovation, Leadership, Mindset, Power of Yes, storytelling

#CES2018: Consumers Want Experiences with their Technology


The Story

#CES2018 has come to a close and what a week it was! With over 180,000 people, 4,500 vendors, and cutting-edge technology all around, a colleague and I walked over 50,000 steps in 3.2 million square feet of exhibits. Although we didn’t encounter any breakthrough technologies this year, we enjoyed looking for trends and discovering ways to harness current technologies for new user experiences. We also learned a lot about robots, drones, Google, and sleep.

BuddyRobots. Everywhere you turned, there seemed to be some kind of robot that promised to make your life simpler. Some had faces and personalities; others were focused on a specific function. How about Buddy? Buddy is your companion robot who connects, protects, and interacts with each member of your family. Or, if you’d prefer, you can get a robot that sings “Happy Birthday” or one that cries with you. My favorite robot had to be the FoldiMate that folds your laundry.

Drones. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a few minutes to watch the Intel Light Show over the Bellagio fountains. Each night, Intel used 250 shooting star drones to perform a choreographed routine that dazzled the spectators. It was truly an amazing experience. And, there were drones everywhere within the show, too. Though we had some fun flying the smaller drones through an obstacle course, we also learned where the industry is going in terms of utilizing drones for improved customer experience.

Google

Google. In 2017, CES seemed to be dominated by Alexa (Amazon), but this year it was all about Google Assistant. Google had a significant marketing investment at the show (including wrapping the monorail cars) and had major booths to show that they plan to be a major player in the virtual personal assistant space. I don’t know who is going to win this battle, but if it was anything like this year at CES, Google is on the way!

Sleep. From the technology-filled mattresses and bedrooms to mediation and biofeedback tools, it was the year of sleep aides. One of the most fascinating things we witnessed happened at the NuCalm exhibit where we saw a room filled with people relaxing in reclining chairs with headphones and eye masks while attendants walked around to check on everyone. The exhibit claimed that you would feel like you got two hours of sleep after spending just 20 minutes with them. It was like a scene out of a sci-fi movie where humans gather in sleeping rooms for technology-enhanced sleep instead of sleeping in private bedrooms.

I also have to mention the weirdest thing we encountered this year at #CES2018, which was the PsychASec booth. In this exhibit we were told of a chip that could be placed in the back of your neck to help keep all your memories in tack as you get older. The story was intriguing and frightening all at the same time.

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The good news? It wasn’t real. It turns out this display was an elaborate marketing tool for the new Netflix series, Altered Carbon, in which human consciousness can be transferred from body to body. Though it was only a hoax, the exhibit was so well done that it took us a few minutes to figure out that it was just a TV show.

What I Learned And You Can Learn

As I tell everyone I work with, you must attend the CES show at some point in your life to experience something that is hard to put into words. For me, it’s about prospective. At CES, you get immersed into a world where possibilities are endless and the future is bright. It’s inspiring to see so many companies who are focused on making the world a better, more accessible place and who don’t let challenges stop their dreaming. As we continually say in the Nason Group, innovation and disruption is a mindset and a lifestyle. Nowhere is this more evident than CES.

Over the next few weeks, I look forward to diving into the hottest trends for 2018 including consumer trends and healthcare trends and helping you connect with what’s next in bridging technology with customer experiences.

What I Did And What You Can Do

This is simple. I am going to keep saying YES! in 2018.

Recently, I was asked about the Top Innovations To Expect in 2018. Here is my response:

“This is the year of the consumer, patient, or member. If your organization is not focusing on the human part of your interaction, you are going to be left behind. Yes, technology is important and should be an extension to your product of service, but not the only thing you think about.”

Though technology can be a significant piece of the innovation process, technology is only effective when paired with the voice and needs of the consumer.

So in 2018: Yes, to innovation! Yes, to technology! Yes, to the consumer! YES! YES! YES! 


 

Consumer Experience, Culture, Design, Design Thinking, Empathy, Healthcare, Human-Centered Design, Innovation, Patient Experience, Power of Yes, storytelling

#NoLimits at NGPX2017—The Power of Humanizing Care


The Story

Kate&ShawnImagine with me: you are a mother, a wife, and a nurse—and you have cancer. You’re on your way to yet another medical appointment, which is now a significant part of your schedule. You walk into the doctor’s office and, without looking up, the receptionist greets you by simply saying, “leukemia!” At that moment, you realize you aren’t a mother in their eyes, or a wife, or a nurse. You’re not even a human. YOU ARE NOW CANCER. This happened to a friend of mine, Kate Sims, 17 years ago. Though she is now cancer free, she gets a lump in her throat when she recounts this story. It was the moment she realized that it’s possible to feel non-human.

And then there’s my buddy, Jake French. He tells a powerful story about a strange jake french#2accident that left him as a quadriplegic in his early 20’s. In a brief moment, his dreams of working for the forestry department and spending long days exploring the outdoors were shattered. One of the first things he remembers after the accident was waking up in a hospital bed being told by the surgeon, “Jake, you will never walk again. You will never feel anything in your arms or hands, or be able to use them again.” Words that could possibly be true, but not the first words he needed to hear after his accident.

These are just two stories that affected me and my team at the Next Generation Patient Experience Conference in San Diego, CA. I had the honor of being one of the chairs of the conference this year and to be involved in several of the sessions. We met amazing people and heard powerful, transformative stories about the great things being done in hospital systems and medical practices around the world to improve the patient experience. One of the highlights for me, was giving the opening remarks for the conference, The Power of Yes! In Health Care (vs. The Power of No! In Healthcare).

What We Learned And What You Can Learn

  1. The Power of Community – As a team, we were reminded that working in this space (improving patient experience) is challenging and complicated. Though it’s a constant uphill battle, our passion was ignited for continuing to be thought leaders and disrupters. Most importantly, we were reminded that we need to humanize care more now than ever before, as evidenced in the two stories above.
  2. The “Hi Ya” Principle – Jake French taught us that, in health care, there are a few four-letter words that need to removed from everyone’s vocabulary: Can’t, Don’t, and Won’t. When you hear these words you need to use your loudest Screenshot 2017-11-30 06.50.39Hi Ya!” and kick them out, which is happening in the picture of Jake above.
  3. Keep It Simple – Our group led two roundtable sessions where we asked each participant to step into the patient’s role and share the things that mattered most to them. We gathered 100+ ideas that we will organize visually into a constant reminder of the patient’s voice in the disruption process. The truly amazing thing here is that none of the ideas were complicated or difficult. As a matter of fact, the best ideas were pretty darn simple, but these ideas have been held up by an overly-complicated health care system!

What We Will Do And What You Can Do

I have heard this said many times over the past few days: “We are all still humans.”  In the heat of the moment , however, when care is being provided, it’s too easy for the humanity to get lost.

Mark_NGPX

Here at the Nason Group, we have put a stake in the ground to make sure that we work to keep the humanity in patient care. After all, one of our core beliefs is:

Engaging consumers’ stories and voices are mission-critical when exploring new ideas and the ONLY way to do business well.

We will not waver from this! 

We will not compromise this!

We will be champions for humanizing care!

Today, we are launching a new web address (humanizingcare.health) as a reminder to us to always keep the humanity in health care.

Here is our ask of you: Take time to examine your care models, your processes, your values, and your core beliefs to make sure they are human-centered.

And then, live them out! Champion with us to make sure patient experience, member experience, and provider experience are the top priorities in your organization.

Mark_NGPX


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PowerofYES-Cover-Art-FINAL_Front-OL

Development, Empathy, Inclusion, Leadership, Mindset, storytelling

The Power Of Your Story! When One Door Closes, A Thousand Open!


Pre-Cursor: I am writing this blog from 35k feet in the air and I will be up-front that this one is a personal story and journey. I hope you can take a nugget from it.

The Story…

This week I have been on three flights.  I have driven several hours and have visited six different states. WOW! That sounds like a lot! I was able to reflect on the great things in my life as well as spend some time listening to my heart. I started the week off with a great team finding their way to tell their story. We wrote break-up letters to current situations and love letters to the future (I know is sounds weird, but it was truly a IMG_8922transformational time.  Besides that, we got to listen to 80’s and 90’s love songs). During this time, my colleague and I got to see passion, excitement, and a burning desire to change the world. As the week progressed, I met more of our team and got to see the progress one of our partners had made in pushing to transform their organization. It was truly powerful and I know they are going to move mountains with their work.

 

Through this week, I had spent time praying and meditating to find answers to a couple of key situations in my life, career, and business. There were some decisions that were not going to be easy to make.  I needed guidance and asked for specific direction. Guess what? It happened! A door closed, but a thousand more have opened in the process! I am so grateful for that door. It taught me so much about myself, about the leader I want to be, the business owner I need to be, and the person I am! That door was powerful in my life. I am grateful for it, but it was time for it to close.

“When One Door Closes, Another Opens; But We Often Look So Long And So Regretfully Upon The Closed Door That We Do Not See The One Which Has Opened For Us.”  ~ Alexander Graham Bell

What I Learned And What You Can Learn…

Now, I am looking at some new doors and I am excited!  It is part of my story, our story, and your story! Those doors make us who we are and who we want to be. They form us, transform us, and guide us into the next chapters in our life. This is how we learn and this is how we grow.

My greatest learning in this is this:  it is alright to not always know what doors to close.  Just trust they will get closed. Also, do not force doors to open but, let the right ones fly open for you.

What I Can Do And What You Can Do…

What am I going to do? I am going to live life to the fullest. Recently, I read a three-part article series by Jonathon J. Doll titled Open Doors. I encourage you to go read them. I also you encourage each one of you to look at all the doors in your life. Ask yourself, are they the right ones? Are these the best for me? Close the ones that need closed, and run with open arms to the ones that are opening.

I hope this speaks to at least one person. If not, that is OK! It may have just been for me. As I stated, I am 35k feet in the air, and that is what I feel like in my soul right now.

GO FLY and BE FREE!

arrow-be-free-birds-brave-Favim.com-3380759


Consumer Experience, Culture, Design Thinking, Human-Centered Design, Innovation, Leadership, Mindset, Power of Yes, storytelling

What I Thought I Knew – I Learned At “The Network!”


The Story…

This past week Steve and I traveled to Boston to attend the inaugural Innovation Leader event, The Network! There were 50 innovators and disruptors from all industries and IMG_8304walks of life. Now, let me be perfectly honest – most in the room were at one-time involved in corporate innovation and frankly got sick of all the red tape and bureaucracy.

Additionally, many of us in the room are in some type of consultant role. I wasn’t sure what to expect – but it turned out to be AWESOME! We met some incredibly cool people and made new friends that in the future, I know we will turn to for their rich knowledge and expert skills.

One of those crazy people was Toni Newman. Toni is a ROCK STAR who is passionate about the architecture and dynamics of consumer experience. I love Toni’s favorite saying, Why Not!

This story is just one of the many that we heard during the day. I look forward to getting together again. Thank you Innovation Leader!

What We Learned And What You Can Learn…

Innovation Failure 97% of Executives or CEO’s are unhappy with their innovation work in Corporate America. The discussions in the room that day were rich – so many execs present had experienced failure and felt unhappy. The interesting thing is that FAILURE is at the heart of Innovation. It’s what you do with it that makes the difference in attitude and value. Unfortunately, many of these teams are just doing innovation for innovation sake, instead of tying it to their business goals.

Just recently, I read a blog from Phil McKinney,  The CEO Innovation Dilemma. Phil states, that 97% of CEO’s say innovation is important, 73% agree it’s important in their organization, but only 35% are confident their organization can do it. So, what do we do?

Storytelling – What is your desired ending? What is your controlling idea? How Can I Build Empathy? What FullSizeRenderIs My Innovation Story?

Think about these three things

  • Act One: What is the Challenge?
  • Act Two: What is the Struggle?
  • Act Three: What Changed In The World?

Each of us in this space have a story that connects us to our consumers. Some of them good, some of them not so good. But the bottom-line is that we all have a narrative around our journey and our experiences. Learn how to share your story. People and/or consumers respond with richer engagement and loyalty when they can connect to who you are.

Landscape Scan – At the end of the day at THE NETWORK, we did an exercise to examine the Innovation Landscape, which was led by Dave Rutley and his team from Collective Next. We started with 2017 and looked back 10+ years and forward 10+ years. It was a powerful exercise witnessing the think tank in the room. Here are a couple of quick highlights the group came up with:

  • Thought Leadership – The people and influencers we currently look to are shifting, yet we still depend a great deal on the founding leaders of this movement.
  • Methodologies – These come and go, but what doesn’t change is there is always a consumer!
  • Landscape – Things are moving so fast in the world today that we as innovators are challenged to keep up more than ever before.

What We Can Do And What You Can Do…

This is pretty simple! Keep learning! Keep partnering! Keep exploring! As I stated above, the world is changing at an incredible pace – you must stay ahead of challenges and obstacles so you can continue to INNOVATE! 

Take 15 minutes this week. Get out and do something new and different. Challenge yourself to get out of the norm!


 

Consumer Experience, Culture, Empathy, Human-Centered Design, Leadership, Mindset, storytelling

The Power of YES! In Life, We all Need ‘Team Jimmy’


It is my honor to have not only an amazing family in life, but also, amazing friends and colleagues. This blog is written by one of them: Steve Junion. Enjoy! 

The process of Consumer-Centered Innovation often generates fear in both executives and their front-line employees. One our greatest passions here at Nason Group is to help people overcome their fears and succeed at higher levels than they may have believed possible!

The Story…

As I waited with my family to take a ride on a huge water slide, I notice a young man we will call Jimmy. He was approximately 11 years old and was clearly agonizing like a stock broker during the recession. The anticipation of getting on the water slide, with a five story, seven second drop, had bent him over in physical pain. As I continued to observe him, he came close to hyperventilating and was in tears.

Me: ‘Hey kid, what’s your name?’

Kid: ‘Jimmy’

Me: ‘You got this buddy – you can do it’.

Jimmy: ‘No! No, I don’t think I can do this!’

Me: ‘Alright Jimmy, first thing you got to do is breathe. We don’t need you passing  out! Pausing for a moment, I continued, ‘You got it buddy. I know you are scared AND you got a lot of people up here cheering you on”.

Everyone turned to look at me. They had originally been only observing Jimmy’s meltdown and now I was dragging them onto ‘Team Jimmy’. I continued to encourage Jimmy, and at the same time initiated intermittent group cheers. Jimmy eventually negotiated with the lifeguard to allow him time inside the ‘pod’ before the door was shut. After sitting in the pod for a moment, the door shut and we all became very quiet. 3-2-1. Whoosh!

In under seven seconds Jimmy was at the bottom. Two minutes later, he was back up and ready to do it again – collecting high fives from ‘Team Jimmy’. Jimmy was beaming with pride after facing his fears. This single event altered how Jimmy views himself – and strengthened his personal courage to face and overcome challenges throughout his life.

What I Learned and What You Can Learn…

Many of us have stress inducers in our workplace and personal life. This stress holds us back and prevents us from experiencing higher levels of happiness and success. Here are four things Jimmy taught me that I believe can help all of us:

  1. We all need someone to have our back. More people are willing to support you than you may realize. Seek them out!
  2. The first person to step out of their comfort zone is going to feel like Jimmy. As a leader, it’s up to you to build a support team.
  3. Facing your fears at work can cause stress – however, most stress is self-induced.
  4. To overcome fear and reduce stress, shift your mindset to Yes!. Focus on your breathing and be willing to take a risk – it is not as scary as the story you tell yourself.

What You and I Can Do…

First, identify the stress inducers in your work and/or personal life. Next, like Jimmy at the height of his panic, pause for a moment and consciously slow your breathing. This will help to take you out of the “flight or fight” mentality. Next, bravely step into that ‘place of fear’ whether it be a conversation or taking action. When you come out the other side, and you will, you’ll realize that your five-story drop wasn’t as terrifying as you originally thought it would be – and you’ll be ready to take on the next challenge!


 

Diversity, Inclusion, Leadership, Power of Yes, storytelling

Owning Your Story! Sharing Your Story! The Power Of Your Story!


Why Should I Share My Story?

This is a question I have asked myself numerous times in my life, and once again, over the past several weeks. It all started when a colleague and I journeyed to Dubai in January. We

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Steve Junion, Myself and Dr. Yousef

both had friends and family very concerned about the fact we were traveling to the Middle East (this took place one week after the inauguration of the new administration) – but we chose to make the journey without fear.

During the week in Dubai, we met some amazing human beings all on the same journey that we are on to help fix the healthcare system. I remember in one of our sessions, sitting in a room filled with executives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. A statement was made to me, “Shawn, we do not hate your President, we just want to understand him.” Isn’t that what we all really want, is just to be understood at times.

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#TBCOrlando2017

Now let me jump ahead to last week. I was asked to facilitate a session at a conference focused on hosting MBE / WBE (Minority or Women Owned Businesses) businesses and corporations working with them. I have to be honest! I went in with no set expectation that anything great was going to come out of this event.  Oh,was I wrong! 

 It was an incredible event from both a business and personal perspective. I met some truly inspiring people and heard many motivational stories. In all of that, again, it was a challenge to me. I kept hearing in my head, “Shawn, own it!”  When the event concluded, I walked back to my room, drained both emotionally and physically –  but so full of joy for what I had just experienced. I left that event forever changed, but most important, I left there with many new friends. 

What I Learned On This Journey!

I learned that I need to be proud of who I am and what I am. Now, let me explain. I am an extremely extroverted person (some say, too extroverted). My wife tells me that I have a bigger than life personality – much like my mother! Who better to learn from? At the same time, I have a quiet inner voice that can be, at times, a bit scary. This aspect of my personality comes from my father! My father, was 100% Comanche Indian.

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Grandparents & Great Grandmother

I can only imagine what he and my mother faced when they got married in the 1960’s in Tucson, Arizona. I have been asked my whole life if I was hispanic. I am not. I am Native American and Caucasian. My Father was born in Texas and my mother in the mountains of Kentucky (GO BIG BLUE!!!).

I was raised in Arizona and have had the privilege of living all over our great country. I don’t really understand racism or treating people differently because of their life styles. I was simply taught to love, respect, and treat all people the same way. I thank my parents for this perspective and my upbringing. It really has helped me be who I am today, and continues to help me become who I need to be.

In the world of business, I look different, act different, and in many cases, just out right scare people (maybe it’s the blue hair or red hair) – but that is just fine! Many of them need it! They need to think differently and embrace others that think and act different than they do. Our world is made up of incredible diversity! Now, more than ever, what we need is the spirit of inclusion! We need to love each other as we love ourselves! All lives, all people, no matter color, lifestyle choice, or walk of life – deserve to be loved!

What I Will Do!

Personally, I will stay true to myself. I will love all of those that I come into contact with just as I love myself. I will respect all for who they are no matter where they come from. Professionally, I will embrace my heritage. I will say I am proud to be a minority owned business. And I will seek to help all of us on this journey!

What You Can Do! 

I just ask you to do the same! Nothing more, nothing less!

“Diversity And Inclusion Are About Giving Value To Every Human Being, No Matter Our Differences.”