Rank your Top 5 MCs. EPMD, Beastie Boys, Rakim, Eminem, Lil Wayne
Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? Doubters, no doubt. Supporters are uplifting and crucial but I have always been most motivated by those that say it cannot be done.
Do you prefer to be called white or Euro-American? Based on my heritage I would technically be Eurasian-American. Which I think highlights the problem with trying to define people.
What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most? So many great leaders under 50 have stepped up in the past few years, including: Aaron Olver, Karen Menendez Coller, Jennifer Cheatham, Renee Moe, Kaleem Caire, Michael Johnson, Bob Sorge, and Rachel Krinsky… just to name a few. Too hard to pick three. More interesting to me are the next generation leaders (under 40). Here are my top three: Maurice Cheeks, Kevin Little, Brandi Grayson.
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? The lack of entrepreneurship. We must hire, compensate, mentor, promote, encourage entrepreneurship in, become customers of, and then ultimately work for people of color.
What are your top three priorities at this point in your life? Happiness. Falling in love with problems not solutions. Moving from thinking about success to thinking about significance.
What one lesson did you learn growing up that you use in your professional life today? To have empathy. Many of my formative, elementary school years were in schools where being a white male made me the minority. Our childhoods imprint a lot but the most important for me, still to this day, is to work to see issues through the eyes of those least like yourself.
Being one of the few declared Democrats to run a major chamber of commerce – the second biggest in the State of Wisconsin – what advice would you give the state Democratic Party moving forward? Advice I would give to Democrats, and Republicans for that matter, is ensure prosperity by not just focusing on the supply of talent but also the demand. Business is the demand side of the investments we make in our children. Investments in training, strong schools, flexible technical colleges, and world-class universities are worthless if there is no demand for the supply of talent. Place a big bet on entrepreneurship.
For 62 years, the Chamber’s Annual Dinner has been about business lessons. This year you made it about equity. Why? There is a business case to be made for economic inclusion. Solving this challenge cannot, and is not, just about social justice or philanthropy. Those are not business terms. But, equity is. We talk a lot about equality and equity interchangeably. As if they mean the same thing. They do not. Especially in business. Equality means being given a seat at the table. Equity means owning a seat. The 63rd Annual Dinner was about progress. It was about prosperity. Most important, it was about economic development.
What are your best fashion tips for dressing for success? Dress for where you want to be, not where you are. Oh, and shoes matter. Invest in them.
What do you want your legacy to be at the Chamber of Commerce? The Chamber is more than 100 years old. There was a promise made to this community to strengthen the business of this community by focusing on building the humanity of the community. I hope to ensure we live up to that promise. Now and 100 years from now.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten? The things you fight the hardest are the ones where you are usually wrong.