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Roe v. Wade: What Can Business Owners Do
Episode 2Bonus Episode24th June 2022 • PowerPivot • Leela Sinha
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In light of this morning's (June 24, 2022) Supreme Court decision and how it affects Roe v. Wade and safe access to reproductive care, what can we, as business owners, do to affect useful change- for the world, for our employees? How do we create the leadership that we need. How do we make sure that the things we make will not be used for evil?

Transcripts

Leela Sinha:

So, good morning to everyone, except the Supreme

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Court of the United States, which seems to believe that

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bodily autonomy and freedom are not somehow American values. I'm

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confused. And this is a bonus episode of PowerPivot, where we

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talk about power, ethics, leadership and community, and

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how we as business owners can do something to make the world a

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better place. So obviously, I could not keep quiet the Roe

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decision just dropped this morning, I have been mulling and

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chewing and drafting and redrafting, because, oh, my God.

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What do you say? We knew this was coming. It's not a surprise.

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But I'm still mad about it. And what happens now? What happens

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next? All kinds of things could happen. I'm not a lawyer, I'm

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not a jurist. I'm not qualified to be commenting on that. But I

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do know that there is a narrative that has been building

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for quite a while, that your average rank and file person

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can't really do anything about it. That we're kind of helpless

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in the face of gerrymandering, and the filibuster and

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capitalism and all the other factors that are making the

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world such a hard place to be right now. And making it

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especially hard for us who are business owners, to function in

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a way that feels like it has any kind of integrity, because so

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many of the people around us are invested in the idea that we

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don't have any power, that we can't do anything; and that if

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we do have power, if we do amass power, then we're somehow

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violating the code and that we're not supposed to do that,

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we're not supposed to want to do that. As you know, that's not my

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perspective. I think we are supposed to do that. We have to

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do that if we want to prevent this kind of thing from

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happening more, again, still, we have to accrue power, we have to

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become more powerful ourselves. And this is hard. It's a values

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conflict, because on the right they value conformity, they

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value followership. And on the left, we do not. We value the

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opposite of those things. We don't just not value, feel

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neutral, about conformity, and obedience; we actually actively

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fight conformity and obedience. Most of the time, a lot of our

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identity is often shaped around fighting conformity and

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obedience. So how do we get ourselves to pull together? How

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do we get ourselves to work together, to move together? And

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what, as business owners, can we do to actually affect some

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useful change? Well, there are a couple of things. First of all,

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if you're a business owner, and you stand out and you do

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something clearly politically aligned that that makes you

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distinctive, that makes you that kind of rebel outlier, that the

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left likes so well. So go ahead and be a rebel outlier company.

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And provide, like Dick's Sporting Goods, like a couple of

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other companies that have crossed my feed, like Chili

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Piper, provide financial support for your employees if they need

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to access reproductive health care outside the place where

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they live.You can do this, whether you've got all remote or

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whether you're on site, you can do this, whether you're small or

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whether you're large. If you have full-time employees set

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aside just a little bucket of money to help them access care

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if they're not going to be able to access care in their home

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area, in their home state. You can make a public statement

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about doing that. So you can lead. People will know. People

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will align themselves with you because you have made it known

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who you are, and how you are in the world, and that you are

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putting your money where your mouth is. This is not

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complicated. It's not hard. And it does make you an attractive

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employer. It does make you an interesting employer, it marks

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you in a good way. So you can be public about what you're doing.

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And you can do something concrete for the people whose

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lives you directly affect. If you have a database business and

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there's any chance that the data is going to contain something

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about reproductive health care, something about activism, you

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can go ahead and make sure that your privacy is watertight so

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that nobody can get to it. End to end encryption, that kind of

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thing. You can take a look at whatever industry, whatever

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space you're operating in, and ask yourself in what ways could

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my business be used for evil? And then take steps to

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counteract that.

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In the book 'Stealing Fire,' which I do not 100% endorse at

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all, but it is interesting. In the book 'Stealing Fire,' the

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authors write about a DARPA experiment where they were

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working on figuring out how to direct a donkey. Like how to get

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a donkey to go where they wanted by implanting pleasure-oriented

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electrodes in the donkey's brain. Right? Better than

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hitting the donkey when it goes where you don't want it to go.

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Give it a jolt of pleasure, when it goes where you do want it to

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go. Seems like a great plan, right? Yeah, well, you know what

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they use that for? Walking a bomb into a desert.

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Anything can be misused. So take a look at whatever it is you're

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creating, and figure out how it could be misused, and see what

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you can do to prevent that misuse and to promote good use.

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Now, of course, to do all of this, you have to have an

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ethical grounding, right, you have to have an ethical basis,

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you have to know what your personal ethics are, what your

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company ethics are, you have to have a way to uphold those

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ethics in an unfriendly environment. And you have to

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keep your ethics up to date, you have to keep moving them forward

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as our collective understanding of what is right and what is

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wrong moves forward. It's not a static thing. The tradition is

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alive, right? So in order to do that, you might need supports,

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you might need structures. I do this kind of training with my

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client companies, I help them figure out like, what do you

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believe, what are we going to do about it? But also, but also,

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you can take a look at, you can take a look at what you what you

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mean to be doing in the world, what your, you know, Simon

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Sinek's "big why." You can you can take a look at what you mean

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to be doing in the world as individuals and as an

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organization, and make sure that everything you're doing is

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aligned with that. And then again, be public about it. One

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of the hardest things is being out there doing something that

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is countercultural, when you feel like you're really the only

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one doing it. When suddenly there are 10, or 20, or 50

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people doing it, or 100, or 1000, or 10,000 or millions, it

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becomes a lot easier to do because you know you're not

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alone. You know you're not alone. Humans are social beings,

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our brains are wired to want to be in sync with other human

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beings. And so when we find ourselves alone, it's very hard

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to persist. When we find ourselves in good company, it

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becomes much easier. As a leader, you also have access to

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spaces that a lot of people don't have access to, you might

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have access to business owner spaces, you might have access to

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accelerator spaces, you might have access to spaces of

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particular kinds of wealth, or prestige, or whatever it is. You

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have access to some spaces that nobody else has access to. Use

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that access. And it doesn't necessarily even have to do with

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your status as a business owner, you might have access to places

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because you're white and blonde, you might have access to places

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because you're not white and blonde. Wherever you have

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access, you can make inroads, you can make changes. You can

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shift the culture, you can communicate clearly and expect,

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and require, clear communication back. You can help people

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understand what they need to know so that they can be in

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better relationship with you. And you can develop better

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relationships with them. And that creates not only a good

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setup for your business, but also a good setup for other

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kinds of interactions, interactions around heated

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topics, interactions around politics. You can violate the

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rule about talking about politics and religion in polite

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company. We do talk about politics and religion and money

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and sex in polite company. That's what we do. That's how we

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change the culture, is by saying those things. It's like that

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invisible rule about not talking about your salary with your

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colleagues. No, no, you got to talk about your salary with your

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colleagues. You know why? Because the only person who

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benefits from not talking about your salary with your colleagues

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is somebody who's making a profit off of somebody not

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knowing what their work is worth. And that's not an ethical

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setup. So if you're an employer, you want to create an atmosphere

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where people do and can talk about what they're getting, why

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they're getting it, and where you can have open conversations

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with people if they feel like they're not being fairly

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compensated. So all of this is like, it's business owner

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ethics, but it's also business owner, socio-political

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engagement. Because when you change the atmosphere when you,

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like Chani Nicholas did, when you publish a job description

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that lists all these amazing benefits that most people have

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never even thought of, then other business owners feel like

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they have to step up and meet that standard. And that's good.

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You're changing the entire business, you're disrupting the

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business of hiring. Likewise with providing reproductive care

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access. Likewise, with being public about the fact that

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you're providing reproductive care access. All of these things

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will change the atmosphere, will change, the conversation, will

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change what's normal. And when you change what's normal, you

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are actually changing the world, the space that you occupy. Maybe

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just a little piece of the world at a time, but you change your

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industry, and then it leaks across to the next industry

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that's adjacent. And suddenly everybody wants, I don't know,

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good, good benefits and reasonable working hours and

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great pay? And then suddenly, you have a stable, healthy,

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happy workforce.

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This doesn't seem like a complicated business question.

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That's a great business decision. You want a stable

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workforce, you want a happy workforce, you want a healthy

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workforce. So when you're moving yourself into public space, when

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you're recognizing that, as a business owner, as a business

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and as a business owner, your business occupies volume, it

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takes up space in the world, and that people will pay attention,

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people will perceive you people are going to follow your lead.

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That's a great time to decide deliberately what your lead

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should be, and how you're going to show up. So that it doesn't

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happen under pressure. Ideally. This is a moment when it might

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be happening under pressure, because this decision just came

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down. A lot of people are under stress. Somebody in Texas gave

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his company the rest of the day off to celebrate. But you know,

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not everybody that took the half day off was celebrating. You can

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recognize that, especially the more vulnerable people in your

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employe or in your company, or clients, everybody is going to

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feel more vulnerable right now. They're going to feel like their

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rights are more at risk right now. And so you can offer a

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little flexibility, you can offer a little more grace, you

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can offer a little more room, if there's something that you can

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send out to people that will be comforting, do that. If there's

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something that you can send out to people that will be

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invigorating, do that. If there's something that you can

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send out to people that will be nourishing, do that. Give people

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whatever it is you have, you don't have to have everything,

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we're all out here doing something. But give people

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something; recognize that this is not a non-issue, that it's

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not a non-moment. That it actually is occupying a huge

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part of people's brains right now. Because it impacts our

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lives so heavily. Just publicly recognizing that is a great

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step. But then do more, take it further. Make it bigger. Ask

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yourself, if you were your own employee, or if you were your

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own client or customer, what would you really want? What

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would you really want to get from the person that you're

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connected to? What would you want to see them putting out in

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the world? What would make you feel better about what they're

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putting out in the world? What will help? Because when people

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tell us that Mr. Rogers said "look for the helpers,"

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sometimes it turns out the helpers are us. And we're all

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going to help differently. And not every kind of help is going

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to help every kind of person. But we are not powerless. And we

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don't have to do nothing. A final note, if you know someone

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who would be good in office, start cultivating, nourishing,

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supporting that right now. Encourage them to run for

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something, something small and local to start. Right now. Get

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them involved. Because, especially for public service, a

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lot of people don't even think about it until somebody says,

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"Hey, have you considered running for office?" Because if

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we want a different kind of leadership, we have to not just

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elect it, we have to create it. And we do that in our businesses

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by offering people leadership opportunities, by offering

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people support, by offering people encouragement. The skills

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that people develop with you, they can take into the world. If

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it occurs to them, if you encourage it, and if you model

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it. Take a deep breath. Make sure you're staying hydrated.

Leela Sinha:

Take lots of naps. We're gonna get through this. Talk to you

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