My DEI Sniff Test

I recently started a fantastic and challenging new job, but before I got here I spent 6 long months carefully job hunting.

At this point in my career, I have afforded myself the right to be a lot more picky about where and with whom I work since I spend more waking hours with coworkers (and customers!) than I do with my family.

For most of my professional career I’ve been the “Lonely Only” along several axes, and I didn’t want that anymore. I didn’t want to have to be the sole representative of diversity anymore or feel burdened with the task of rifling through my LinkedIn to fill the pipeline with underindexed folks.

So, I took a more studied approach to job hunting. Rather than just relying on “warm intros” from white male friends, I struck out and did a lot of my own research and quickly developed a “diversity sniff test” that. I hoped this tweaked approach might prevent me getting into some of the same messes I’d been in before. So, what’d I do? Well here’s a few things.

1. I checked the picture on the team page

I know team pictures can be outdated and misleading, but a quick scan for people of color on the team page can at least give you a sense of whether the company has made any effort to show that they care enough to at least try to show that people of color are welcome there. For whatever it’s worth, Teachable’s Careers page was one that stuck out in my mind as making me feel like I’d be comfortable there.

2. I looked into who was actually in leadership.mostlywhiteguys
A careers page can only tell you so much. I’ve definitely worked at places where they purposely position the women and POC in front during picture time to make them jump out in the picture even though few were in leadership roles. Finding out who is actually in charge around there sometimes requires sniffing around on site like LinkedIn and Crunchbase. Once you know who they are, you might peek at their Twitter to get a sense of what actually matters to them .

3. I looked at what they sponsored.

nylasdiCompanies that truly care about DEI should be going beyond hire a few brown faces and be giving money and time to groups and events that want to disrupt the ratio. This can be a cover up too (one need look at all the noxious corporate pride stuff), but it gives you a little signal that they are trying to exhibit some amount of virtue or what Prof Scott Galloway from Pivot podcast cynically calls “Woke As A Business Strategy“.

None of this sniffing is fullproof and I am not saying my current company perfectly ticked all my boxes, but this sniffing — coupled with working my diverse network  and asking several pointed question of the whispernet— did yield a better result than in the past.

How about you? How do you sniff out companies that share your values? Drop me a line and let me know!

Gratitude: May 2019

Before the month ends, I am just sliding in here to share a few things that gave me life this month.

Cillian Murphy’s Playlist on BBCRadio 6 Music

I completely live for Cillian Murphy. For the past few months, he has been covering for Guy Garvey (of Elbow) on BBC Radio 6 Music. I like ALL the music Cillian plays, and when he plays and waxes poetic about artists I already know and love, it just deepens my overwhelming love for him. He was just in NYC for a theater run and I sadly missed despite my best efforts. One day, Cillian. One day…

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen


This book holds the solution to many of the world’s problems. Nearly all feedback is a gift. We just need to learn how to mine it for the gems.

Fontaines DC


I learned about this band via Cillian Murphy and his aforementioned radio show. They are so Irish and wonderful. Their NYC show is sadly already sold out.

Gratitude: April 2019

Here are some things I was grateful for last month. I meant to post this last month, but I started a new job and the month zipped by! 

New job!
I am now the Head of Customer Success at Nylas! I couldn’t ask for a better group of folks to work with and the trips back and forth to SF have been fruitful and illuminating. I am exceedingly grateful for all the outpouring of support and sighs of relief from my loved ones . It was a tough slog.

Juanita on Netflix

I love Alfre Woodard. I love Adam Beach. I love Alfre Woodard and Adam Beach together. This movie made me smile from start to finish. Will watch again.

Food!
belotti
During one of my many recent trips to the Bay Area, I had occasion to have several great meals. Two of the best were at Japanese restaurant Rintaro and Italian restaurant Beloti. If you go to Belotti, definitely get the broccoli!

Minding The Gap

This Oscar-nominated (not that that matters, but still) documentary about a group of skate friends coming of age in middle America completely broke my heart and is the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year.

Gratitude: End of Summer 2018 Edition

The kid is back in school (yes!!) and summer is just about to close the door, so I’m just dropping in with a little gratitude before the fall.

1) Terence Nance’s Random Acts of Flyness on HBO is SO BLACK and gorgeous and genius and one of the best things I’ve ever seen anywhere ever. If you are a fan of the strange and beautiful you will love it too.

2) Claws Season 2 just finished on TNT. Now Claws is trash but it is high trash made by people who know how to make trashy tv. It is overly violent and squishy and campy and everyone is a little bit to a lot queer. So highly enjoyable.

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3) Late summer has looked a lot like this, except also with laughing friends and kids racing around and wine glasses.
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4) Summer never fails to serve JAMS. Here are some of my favorite of the season.

Gratitude: June 2018

Before the month ends I just want to take a moment to share a few things that breathed la vie into me this month

1) POSE on FX / Nick Cave at Park Avenue Armory

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These two are bringing queer black culture to masses in a major way and I am here for it. POSE airs on FX and is an inside look at 80s/AIDS-era ballroom culture that digs into the very real struggles of our gay and trans black and brown folks. It is at time a little overwrought (it’s made by the folks who did Glee) but the performances are heartfelt and Billy Porter as the sort of loving elder/ringleader at the heart of it all is delivering the performance OF A LIFETIME. Direct all the awards to Mr. Porter, hunty. Give he his check and put some respeck on his check y’all.

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As for Nick, he is bringing the queer disco house glitter and black boy joyousness but not shying away from the pain and also making it weird and liberated with those gorgeous and larger than life sound suits. I highly recommend going to see it before it closes.

2) Mina and Bryte on NTS Live

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I’ve made no secret of my love for NTS Radio. The amount of sheer spiritual energy they broadcast to me is immeasurable, and this episode is no exception. Mina is a talented producer and Bryte is a wicked new MC out of Ghana that got me swelling with pride.

This whole episode is excellent summer hiphop, reggae and Afrobeat vibes.

3) Fearless Cities NYC

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In this sea of bad political news and even worse neoliberal & “progressive” responses to that news, I’m holding tight to social ecology and municipalism. Last year, the incredible Barcelona en Comú municipalist government hosted likeminded folks from around the world at the first ever Fearless Cities conference to explore how we can build this movement. They tasked everyone to go back home and hold a regional summit. This year the American one will be held in NYC.

I sadly have to miss it but I’m in touch with organizers and a lot of my beloved comrades will be there. Lots is and will be cooking in this space. Join us to find out how we can build power by embracing the small and local.

Some Stuff I Would Do If I Didn’t Have to Work for a Living

  1. Travel and spend time with my family (immediate travel list: Barcelona, Stockholm, Dakar, Sarajevo, Tokyo, Melbourne, and back to HK and Berlin)
  2. Sew
  3. Garden
  4. Spend more time in Slovenia
  5. Start an ice cream business in New Orleans (and find out how to make it not be work)
  6. Cook elaborate meals
  7. Learn to code
  8. Hardware hacking
  9. Write and blog more
  10. Learn to sing
  11. Learn to DJ
  12. Go dancing a lot – classes and clubs
  13. Study languages (German, Arabic, Mandarin, Ewe )
  14. Volunteer with or start/run community service groups
  15. Podcast or create some other sort of media
  16. Learn to sculpt
  17. Mentor people

Gratitude: January 2017

Boy did this month blow by super fast. Wowee. Before it’s gone for good, here’s a list of a few things I was grateful for this month.

My pals over at Help Scout summarized my SupConf NYC talk into a schmancy looking blogpost. Check it out here – https://www.helpscout.net/blog/avoid-burnout/
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Believe it or not, I only just sat down and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack this month. It is so adorable and catchy!  Lin-Manuel Miranda kept reiterating in interviews that the soundtrack is the whole show but it only clicked for me when I heard him say it again in this chat with Damien Chazelle, Donald Glover, and Issa Rae.

I bingewatched season 1 of Chewing Gum and I am officially obsessed with Michaela Coel. Issa Rae is cute and all, but I am LIVING for Michaela Coel right now. She is my cool younger cousin in my head and since her family is also from Ghana, I am hoping it turns out that we are somehow related. Not likely, but I can dream. Oh, also no Season 2 spoilers please.

The Women’s March was controversial and problematic (this interview really resonated with me) but it still felt huge and important and I was glad that I went. This is a sociopolitical moment I have been waiting for, and if it were anything less than messy then we’d surely be doing it wrong.

What were you grateful for in January?