Running for Mayor While Black (w/ Travis Stovall)

Zach sits down with Travis Stovall, a long time Gresham resident, small business owner and community leader. He has secured key endorsements in his Gresham Mayoral race, including the presiding mayor and former mayor, seven current and former Gresham City Councilors, and several other community leaders, making him a formidable candidate among the five people running in the Nov. 3 election. He and Zach chat about how and why he got involved in politics and more. Check the links in the show notes to register to vote and to connect with Travis!

Struggling with your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work? Kanarys—a Black-founded company—has your back. Regardless of where you are on your DEI journey, we arm you with the insights you need now to take action now. From audits to assessments to data-informed strategy, we’d love to be the partner you have been looking for. Email stacey@kanarys.com or learn more at https://www.kanarys.com/employer.

We all know the interview process can be fraught and full of bias. We’ve teamed up with SurveyMonkey to learn more about your experiences interviewing so we can make the entire process for BIPOC candidates. Share your thoughts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HLV9V5W And watch this space for the results!

Register to vote at Vote.gov.

Visit Travis’s website GreshamTogether.org.

Connect with Travis on LinkedIn.

Sign up for The Access Point by clicking here.

Save your spot for The Group Chat by clicking here.

TRANSCRIPT

Zach: Yo, what’s going on, y’all? This is Zach with Living Corporate, and I’m really, really excited and thankful for the growth that we’ve been experiencing. This week, we actually launched The Leadership Range, which is a podcast within the Living Corporate network. The Leadership Range is focused on professional development, career coaching and growth. It’s hosted by Neil Edwards, who is a globally certified and recognized executive coach. And Neil is going to be every single week coming on and really diving into different leadership concepts from the perspective of a coach. And so some of you who are listening might, and I’ll say this for myself as well, maybe have never experienced, like, a professional coach or professional coaching. It’s sometimes really–frankly, it’s not a benefit that many Black and brown folks have. And yet, Neil being–when you think about his cache and his profile–is bringing that level of insight in depth, every single week, airing on Mondays on all podcasting platforms, and YouTube, and you can check it out for free. So my hope is that you check that out, again, our first podcast under the Living Corporate umbrella, really excited for folks to listen to it, engage it, please give it 5 stars. All right, now you got us, right? We’re still here. The flow is changing up a little bit. So I know if you’ve been listening to us, rocking with us for any point of time, you know that we have Tristan Layfield’s content on Thursdays. The TAP In is now going to be folded into our larger shows, right? So before it was kinda like this isolated one minute, two minute thing, we’re now folding that into our larger content. So you’re gonna hear The TAP In really, really soon, this episode, and then you’re going to hear him again on Amy’s show, See It to Be It, the series this Saturday. And so you should expect that moving forward twice a week, every single week, right? And so like, let’s talk about where we’re at, right? We’re about one week outside of the election. Tensions continue to rise. I know for me, I’ve been exhausted, right? I’m constantly thinking about the implications of the election. And frankly, either way the election goes, I’m thinking about how much more stressful the workplace is going to be. Because it’s impossible to keep politics out of work. It’s just impossible, right? Like, the idea of politics and religion being separate to the workplace, those days are over, right? Like things are so–the stakes are too high, and lives are being impacted in very personal and direct ways, that it’s just not possible to honestly compartmentalize all of this. It’s just not possible, you know? Compounded by the reality that we are in the middle of global pandemic. I can speak for myself, I’m a parent, I have some days I’m watching Emory by myself. So I’m busy, and I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired, right? Like many parents out there, like many Black and brown Americans out there, like many Americans out there. And so with that being said, like, I’m trying to figure out, just honestly straight up, like, as the person who’s the host, and frankly, the owner of Living Corporate, overall, what is our platform doing to, like, really speak to the reality of politics, how it impacts our workplace, how it impacts our day to day, and what it is we should be doing? And so I don’t believe, believe it or not, that voting is the end all be all. I think voting is one of the most passive acts of political activism, I think it’s one of the most passive things you can do. You don’t really give up anything by getting in a line to vote. Yes, you give up your time, but you’re not sacrificing anything to vote. Right? And I’m not saying that to be, like, minimalistic to folks who stand in lines. The drive through in Houston was great. Like, we went in, we got in, we got out. But my point is that voting is one of a plethora of things and frankly one of the lowest risk activities that you can participate in the larger, grander scheme of things. At the same time, voting is a helpful thing to do. And frankly, in this season, a critical thing to do, I believe, and I really want to make sure that folks know that it’s important to vote, right? If you can vote, vote. I recognize and empathize with those who feel disillusioned by the choices that we have this election season. I empathize with those who are just exhausted and just, you know, feel hopeless overall, and I don’t believe in antagonizing or demonizing people who choose not to vote. I’m saying if you can vote, my hope is that you do vote. And so you know, we’re a week away from the presidential election, one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime. I’ll definitely say of mine. And I wanted to make sure that we gave a spotlight to someone who is actively running for elected office, and who is not only running for elected office, but is a Black man and someone who is one of the [?] in a space. But not only that, someone who has some corporate experience, whose sat on boards, whose spoken against racial inequity, and who has a lens and a focus around diversity, equity and inclusion. And so all of these things came together for me as the reason why I really want to interview this person and why I wanted to make sure that we prioritized getting their episode out as soon as possible. Right? So, you know, I’ve talked about this a little bit before, but typically our content is fairly evergreen because we’re talking about being Black and brown in the workplace. We can air certain things anytime. But again, we’re living in really unique seasons. And I do believe the stakes are high. I do believe it’s important to make sure that we’re actually understanding and getting perspective on marginalized experiences, the experience of the onlys, and so we had a conversation with Travis Stovall. And Travis Stovall is a lot of different things. He’s a multifaceted person. He’s the CEO of his own company. He’s sat on various boards of renown. He operates in the Gresham area Chamber of Commerce and leadership positions. He is a president of a board of directors. He was named in Portland Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Like, he’s done a lot of different things. And this is not just relevant to those who live in the Gresham area who are going to be voting in the mayoral election next week. It’s relevant to, really, frankly, anyone who is seeking to understand and empathize with marginalized experiences, especially those marginalized experiences in the political space, and also valuing other unique perspectives that Black and brown folks offer in this space as they offer everywhere else. And so I’m really excited about Travis Stovall and our conversation we’re going to be having. Before we get there, though, I want us to TAP In with Tristan. And then coming out of that, we’re going to get into our interview.

Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. This week let’s discuss the 3 top job search mistakes you might be making. During the pandemic, I’ve noticed some trends while speaking to job seekers. Many of them are making similar mistakes that may be extending their job search processes. So I wanted to take the time to discuss those mistakes in hopes that you can avoid a few. First, many of the people I’ve spoken with don’t have a clear direction on what type of role or roles they want. I know that the pickings are slim right now because so many people are out of work, but believe me, casting a wide net in your job search rarely works to your benefit. Can you land a job that way? Yes. Will it be the job you want? More than likely, no. I suggest you get clear on what you want to do and even the type of companies you want to do it for. This allows you to understand what skills you have that relate to the role you want and what results you’ve created that may be relevant. From there, you can tailor your resume, tweak your LinkedIn, customize your cover letter, and develop an actual job search strategy that can help you land the role. Speaking of resumes, the second mistake I see many of the job seekers making is that they aren’t tailoring their resume. Resumes should not be stagnant documents; they should be updated and refreshed regularly. They should also be infused with keywords and phrases for each job you apply to, giving you the best chance to make it through the applicant tracking system. This is even more important now, in a pandemic, when the competition is high and so many people are focused on applying online. The last mistake is that these job seekers were focused solely on applying online, and they underutilize their LinkedIn. While applying online is a necessary evil, it is not a job search strategy in and of itself. You only have a 2% chance of landing a role by applying online. Only 20% of jobs are filled through online job postings; the other 80% are filled through internal hires, networking, and referrals. This means to increase your chances of landing the roles you want, you’ll need to build and correctly leverage your network. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to connect with tons of you people in your industry or the industry you’re interested in. I always suggest that job seekers connect with people who hold titles they’re interested in and people who are one to two levels above the role you’re interested in. After cultivating a relation with these people, they may eventually refer you to new opportunities, making you 15 times more likely to land the role. I know the job search is challenging right now, but you don’t have to make it more difficult. Try to avoid some of these mistakes, and you may find yourself in that role quicker than you think! Thanks for tapping in with me this week. Talk to you next week. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @LayfieldResume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

Zach: Travis, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Travis: Thank you, Zach, I’m doing very well. You know, it’s gorgeous here in the Portland metropolitan area here in Portland, Oregon, I get a chance to kind of live in the Pacific Northwest every single day. But today I’m doing phenomenal. And we’ve got a lot of great stuff going on, both business wise and in the community, so I just can’t say enough about how excited I am to be here today and have this conversation.

Zach: Let’s get to it. Right? You’re the CEO of a strategic placement agency, but you weren’t always. So, like, what was your path to getting here?

Travis: So I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. So in the inner city of Kansas City, Kansas, I moved to the Northwest back in 2000. But first and foremost, I kind of grew up in kind of that red line community concept that they talked about in many of the of the books that reference a lack of homeownership for African American folks, Black and brown folks in the United States. And that has significant impact. Because, you know, I grew up in a community where the overall community disinvested in the area that we lived in. We struggled to get a great education until my parents actually took us out and put us into different schools. And they commuted us out to the suburbs so that we could get a different education, which gave us kind of that new lease on life. And I ended up going to Kennedy Community College and then on to a four-year school, went on to get my MBA from the University of Nebraska. I moved here to the Northwest. First and foremost, I was in health care administration for a number of years with [?] here in Portland, then I left that and started a consulting firm. Tthe consulting firm looked at working with companies who are going through growth cycles, who are going through startup cycles. After a couple of years. 2008 hits, Zach, and what happened in 2008? Most businesses started to struggle. So at that point in time I actually focused on doing turnarounds. So lots of companies are calling me saying, Travis, our businesses are struggling, we don’t know what to do, can you please help us out. And you know, I always liken it to “Nobody goes to the doctor unless they’re sick.” So nobody calls the turnaround specialist until something’s broken. So after about two or three turnarounds, I actually started to sit down and evaluate and analyze the things that I’ve been focusing on to turn companies around. And it came to two things. It was always these two things. We can argue, we can debate on what is the focus when we’re making businesses great, but I can tell you I’ve turned around 22+ companies,, and the very first thing I focus on is data and information to the right decision maker at the right time to make the right decision. Number two, it’s always always always people. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, he actually said “Get the wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, then decide where to drive it.” But what he didn’t give us is the actual recipe on how to find the right people. And that’s where a lot of businesses struggle, they struggle to have a definitive and objective solution to putting the right people in the right seats. Well, before we went through the interview–well, before we brought the person in to evaluate them to see if they were a good fit. And of course, necessity is the mother of invention. So we set out to build it from the ground up, I worked with two of my co-founders, we started building the software platform. And in the process, we got introduced to a product called the core values index assessment that was developed by Lynn Taylor. And we incorporated that into our system. And today, we now have eRep, where we get the opportunity to put right people in the right seats. And it’s phenomenal and amazing the performance that companies are able to achieve once they have right people in the right seats, regardless of the unconscious biases that historically have disallowed for a more diverse workforce. So that’s where it started. And six years ago we launched this, and today, we’ve got over 1200 companies that are in our platform. And many of those companies are utilizing our platform to the fullest.

Zach: That’s incredible. And you know, what’s cool about it is too is, like–you know, what I’m excited about when you’re looking at this current age of technology, there’s data-driven methodologies to kind of, like, suss out the nonsense to really create [?] of equity for Black and brown folks. To your point around unconscious bias, you’re actually right, like, there are those pieces there. I think also, for organizations that are practicing conscious biases, it can at least be a point of accountability from what I’m hearing anyway to help if and when they’re ready to make those changes. But to, like, see those things clearly, in a really just, like, you know, indisputable way. Like, for some folks the qualitative data is not enough. I’m curious about, like, what it’s looked like for you to show up in the spaces you have as a Black man. Right? We talked about you sitting on the board of directors and you operating as an executive and just the work that you’ve done. I’m curious about how your own personal identity and lived experience has shaped your corporate journey.

Travis: Yeah, that’s a great question. Because ultimately, it is, You know, I walk into so many rooms where, you know, many times I’m the only person of color, and to be honest sometimes I walk into that room and I ask myself the question, ‘Am I supposed to be here?’ Because, you know, it’s consistent. You know, we’ve built many of these organizations without the diversity that could and should exist in these organizations, and we’re talking for-profit, non-profit, governmental agencies, all of those have been built many times without the adequate diversity that it should and could’ve been built with. And so as I walk in that room and you consistently walk into the rooms where you’re looking around and you notice that there just aren’t folks that look like you, so that can lead to struggles. That can lead to kind of that personal self-talk that’s negative inside your head, where you’re like, “Wow, should I be sitting at this table?”, having this conversation with the powerful majority, the dominant culture individuals, you know, that guide these conversations and discussions, and you first have to kind of look at that demon and say, “Hey, I am supposed to be here. Even though there aren’t many people who look like me at these tables, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be here.” And so we many times are breaking down barriers, we’re integrating certain opportunities, you know, for those that come behind us, and we’re pioneering in many of these spaces. And I tell folks all the time, I say, you know, “Many times, when I walk in that room, I can sense that some folks are discounting my intelligence, discounting my ability to add to the conversation.” They’re sometimes questioning if I’m sitting at the table because of some diversity initiative that has been implemented within the organization. And so as I sit there, the very first time in those seats, and begin to listen and take in the information, and then in very short order just contribute at a very high level, I can sense that the individuals around the rooms are ultimately finding that I am someone who can contribute to the conversation in a very quickly, very appropriately and very effectively. And yes, some of those times, it’s because folks are saying, “Hey, we do need to acquire additional diversity.” But in many of those cases, you know, I’ve sat down the table, and in very short order I’ve become either vice chair of that board or a chair of the board, similar to the president of the board of directors for the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, you know, all of that happened in pretty short order once I was able to join that organization and be able to contribute at a very high level and gain the respect of the folks that sit there with me making decisions. And so yeah, I mean, it’s a challenge sometimes. But certainly it’s something that we have to continue to lean into. You know, as Black individuals, we have to continue to lean into as uncomfortable as it is for us, you know? We have to make sure that we’re contributing to these organizations. And I tell people all the time, I say the way that we actually get lasting change is to ensure that Black and brown folks are at the table of leadership and influence. And that happens not when we’re just in D&I positions. Diversity, equity and inclusion positions within organizations are critical, but we shouldn’t be just set aside in those D&I positions, we should have opportunities to be on boards of directors, we should have opportunities to be on management teams and leadership teams. Similar to that was the opportunity I received not too long ago, where I had the opportunity to join the Digital Trends board, you know, that was something that now gives me the ability an opportunity to lean into those discussions, again, not from a bolt on D&I role, but from a board of directors. We know the conversation about diversity permeates every conversation because it’s my lived experience that gets to add to the conversation. I mean, many times you walk in that room, and you look around, you just smile, but you sit down, you start to contribute. That’s really what we have to do. We have to continue to do that and continue to make the path for those who follow us much, much, much easier.

Zach: That’s incredible. What I’m curious about when you talk about, you know, Black folks are not just in D&I, that’s just such a great point, because a lot of times I’ve even seen situations where folks will be–Black folks with like, three or four PhDs and they’ve done this and they’ve done that in, like, very unique or niche spaces, and then they get brought on as, like, you know, the chief inclusion officer, and it’s like, uh…

Travis: Exactly.

Zach: They could be well served doing something else, you know? I’m really trying to figure out, you sit on a variety of boards I’ve talked about already. Can we talk about, like, just what is a board, right? Like, for the folks who are listening in, I know, for me, like, I’m a first generation professional, I didn’t really understand like, what a board was, how they function, what the purpose of them is. And then also in this season of highlighted focus on Black equity, what are some methods in which boards can be made more diverse?

Travis: So boards, you know, they have different functions depending on exactly what type of organization it is. You’ve got the government space, you’ve got the non-profit space, you got the for-profit space. Many times in the government space there are going to be policy boards. Those policy boards set policy for the organization, the institution, ensuring that the staff have the direction they need to run that organization. And many times, that board is representing the community, representing the broader stakeholders, and that’s my role when I represent on TriMet, our local transit agency that serves the entire Portland metropolitan area. On that board we’re a policy board, we give direction, we approve certain expenditures above a certain amount, we hire the general manager, those types of things to ensure that then the agency in the organization has the ability to run on a day-to-day basis. So, again, in that situation, the board of directors there is looking to ensure that the agency runs as best it can, and it does that through policy development, approval of those larger expenditures and hiring of the general manager. And we meet once a month and go over, you know, critical concepts of what the agency needs to be doing now. In that we also help set different things similar to what you referenced already about the TriMet board being the only transit agency in the country with triple A-rated debt. We got that by the board pioneering what we call a strategic financial plan. So myself, another board member at the time, Craig Prosser, we all sat down with staff and developed this strategic financial plan where we actually identified what the organization should target each year in regards to its financial development and future. So kind of that board gives that guidance. In a nonprofit, which I sit on a couple nonprofit boards, you know, nonprofit boards, you’ve got a little different kind of application, what we do there, the contribution to make. Many times the board of directors, again, is giving direction for the agency organization, the nonprofit, but in those cases, we’re also fundraising, we’re also making connections for the nonprofit to be able to function, raise dollars, put on events, those types of things. So that board is a bit more involved. And then the private space, similar to the board I sit on with Digital Trends, we actually contribute a lot of our insight, you know? So we’re helping make business decisions, giving guidance on various business decisions, to ensure that the organization, the company actually makes the right steps to increase what we would consider to be enterprise value. And so everything we do in that regard, we’re, like I said, giving guidance. We actually–generally the CEO reports up to the board. And then the board kind of holds the CEO accountable. And then the CEO holds the company accountable. And so many times the board of directors in the private space will put together kind of a strategic plan along with the CEO and then work that strategic plan throughout the year to ensure that the organization, again, achieves exactly what it should achieve at the various levels of accomplishment within that organization. So that’s kind of three different buckets of how boards operate. It really is that level of oversight, guidance and input of folks that aren’t there on a day to day basis, but have something to give, some type of special oversight, some type of special input or insight that folks have as individuals to contribute. So that’s really what the board of directors operates as in each of those various buckets.

Zach: That’s a helpful answer. Let’s get to this. You’re running for mayor of Gresham, Oregon. Right? Why politics and why now?

Travis: You know, I tell people, you know, as we’re going through all of the challenges that we’re going through in regards to social justice and the challenges that we face as a country in ensuring that everybody has equal opportunities, you know, and what’s been happening with some law enforcement situations in the Black community has–you know, it’s just challenging. It’s challenging to see this happen time and time again. It’s challenging when folks kind of see it and then discount it and dismiss it. And as many of the things that began to unfold, you know, as we started having a lot of this social unrest, folks would come to me and say, “Travis, what can I do? What can I do now? I think I’m starting to understand and appreciate that we’re not doing things as best we could in our country when it comes to racial justice.” And so I always tell them there’s three things that I recommend. First, educate yourself. There’s tons of information out there. There’s documentaries like Thirteenth, there’s books like White Too Long. There’s books, you know, like The Color of Law written by Richard Rothstein. Lots of information in books that just give a factual and actual, you know, perspective and historical view, you know, fact-based view of what has gone on in our country as far as race relations goes. So educate yourself, because as a Black man, I’m willing to give you my lived experience, I’m willing to tell you what my lived experience is like, but what I’m not willing to do is try and convince you that systemic and systematic racism exists and still exists. So I say, hey, educate yourself. Number two, amplify and elevate the voices of those who have been disadvantaged. Elevate the voices of people who have not had the opportunity, you know, folks like myself, folks, you know, that really have been disadvantaged over the years, elevate those voices so that we now can be heard by a number of people. And lastly, I say use your voice, use your powerful majority voice, to add a level of defense. Defend. When you observe things that do not meet the level of equity that you see, you need to step up and lend your voice in the defense of those things. Now, I’ve probably said this, I don’t know, to 15, 20, 30 people, and now about four months ago, the mayor of our city, he actually stepped down and said that the best person to lead our city forward is Travis Stovall–to a more just future. So here’s a powerful majority dominant culture individual looking to elevate the voice of someone who he feels is best equipped to lead our city forward. The elevation, you know, of my voice to be able to lean into the things and the challenges that exist here in our community. So with that I took about a month to kind of weigh whether or not this would be something I should lean into, and I decided it is. It would be inappropriate for me to have sat on the sidelines when folks that I’ve been pressing to say “Elevate our voices” is now looking to elevate my voice and I say no. And furthermore, I said this a little bit earlier, I said the way that we can have lasting change is when Black and brown people are in positions of leadership and influence where we can actually appropriately lean into the challenges that exist, have discourse and discussions that really cause lasting change. And I see the mayor of Gresham as that opportunity, I see that as my ability to lean into this conversation. You know, I’ve worked hard at understanding the kind of fiscal side of the picture. So I’ve done that on many of the boards that I’ve sat on, so I feel comfortable there. But I bring a unique lived experience where we can lean into the social justice conversation. And so that’s why politics and that’s why now. We’re at a pivotal point in our country’s history that I believe, again, we could have some lasting change and have real conversations around equality and how do we now have just lasting change, not something that’s the flash in the pan, but lasting change that, you know, I say all the time, “There’s those who gave all, the ancestors of ours that gave all. There are going to be those who give a lot and they’re going to be those who give a little, and I think I’m in a generation and my parents’ generation where we’ve given a lot so that the next generation only has to give a little. And so this is my opportunity to give a lot so that the next generation only has to give a little and they can see the equity opportunity that we don’t necessarily see today.

Zach: So, you know, we’ve had an increased focus–I mean, rightfully so, right? You look around the world and just kind of where we are economically. There continues to be a focus this season on, you know, Black entrepreneurship, Black-owned businesses, and I’m really curious to know, like, what role you believe Black and brown-owned businesses play in economically recovering in this era. Like, you know, you look between now–let’s just look at the next 18 to 24 months. And then what role do those with mayoral powers, such as hopefully potentially yourself, play in reducing barriers to entry and growth?

Travis: So, you know, there was a report that came out just recently a few weeks ago that identified that the U.S. economy since 2000 has lost out on $16 trillion in GDP opportunity–gross domestic product, that’s the total of all of the services and manufacturing products produced here in the United States. So $16 trillion has been missed out on since the year 2000. So for the last almost 20 years, because of deep discrimination, you know, primarily against Black and brown folks. So if you go back just probably five to seven years, our entire annual GDP was about $16 trillion. So we lost almost an entire year of GDP because of discrimination. Because ultimately, when we are discriminating against individuals, people, unconscious biases enter into any of the conversations or discussions and decisions, then we are not getting the best people in the right seats to do the right work and to do the right thing. So we’re nixing the opportunity of folks to be able to innovate, to be able to bring new businesses, ideas and companies to the forefront, you know, because of we’re not giving everybody the opportunity. 1% of all venture capital goes to Black founders, you know, and I’m a Black founder. So as you begin to look at what, you know, Black and brown folks in entrepreneurship can bring to this conversation into this economic recovery, it can be huge, because ultimately, if we bring better companies forward, if folks have the opportunity, if we’re not nixing folks from bringing their incredible idea forward, then we’re giving everybody equitable opportunity. And so much of this is halted because of we live in a culture of approval, disapproval. And most everything we do starts with approval, disapproval, and many times that approval-disapproval power is held by a vital few. When we think about what I just referenced, 1% of all venture capital goes to Black founders. Many times, probably close to 95 to 97% of all venture capital decisions are held by the powerful majority dominant culture race. And so if that’s the case, then we have a very poor opportunity to bring our ideas to the forefront and thus get funded so that we can bring that forward. If we are going to have a very robust opportunity to pull ourselves into an economic recovery, and then an economic expansion, we have to leverage everybody’s contribution at every level so that we don’t go another two decades losing anywhere from 16 to potentially 20 to 25 to $40 trillion in lost economic activity because of discrimination and because of the unconscious biases that disallow folks to bring their ideas and companies into fruition because of that deep discrimination conversation that we’re talking about here. So we’ve got to begin to tear down these barriers, we’ve got to begin to ensure that nothing is standing in the way. And you know, as an elected officials potentially, as we look down the road, there certainly are opportunities for cities to ensure that we’ve got equitable economic development, because many times cities have economic development programs, and I think that that’s got to be something that cities have to take a look at. How do we encourage a more equitable economic development? And if you look at my platform, I talk about that a lot. I talk about equitable economic development, not just economic development by itself, but equitable economic development so that we have a more comprehensive approach to bringing opportunity to everybody, and I believe elected officials can absolutely have a positive impact on that discussion, you know, as we go forward, as we build our cities, as we ensure that specific programs that we put in place somewhat are more focused on kind of those smaller businesses that really are the lifeblood of our communities.

Zach: Man, Travis, I know you’re not an elected official yet, but man, you’d be talking like one. Man, you got your points. You know? You was bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. I appreciate that, I respect it. And this has been a dope conversation. Now, before I let you roll and let you go, any parting words or shoutouts?

Travis: The biggest parting words that I can give is that ultimately, we have to tear down, have to tear down the barriers to opportunity, and we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got much more of an opportunity for equity. You know, I’m in the space of ensuring that we can tear down the structural impediments that have disallowed folks to get hired into roles and responsibility where they can have the highest and best contributions to their organizations, because many times the thing that stands in the way is that when we are hiring we are hiring three contacts away. So, you know, I know one person, they know somebody else, I’m hiring that third person because I want to decrease the risk of a bad hire, but the moment that we use objective and definitive information data to drive our hiring decision, we always get a better result. We’ve got to be willing to take a look at our structural constructs and ensure that we’re opening things up to a newer, different way, because what’s the saying? “If you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.” And we don’t want that. We need to ensure that we’re pioneering a new space so that everybody has equal opportunity, Black and brown folks can get into roles and responsibilities that match to who they are and contribute at the highest level so we don’t see another decade or two go by where we’re losing out on trillions of dollars of gross domestic product production because we’re not having an equitable opportunity to spread the wealth across folks, because they are stepping up, they’re leading. Their thoughts and ideas become companies. Their companies have the ability to access capital and take that capital and move forward, and so we’ve got to be able to do that. We also, again, have to be allowing Black and brown folks to get into positions of leadership, similar to like I referenced before. Digital Trends gave me an opportunity to join their board, and now they’re the largest independent digital media company in America. And, you know, it’s an opportunity for now me to lean into that conversation as they continue to grow. You know, I get to be a part of that discussion, not some bolt on, you know, to say, okay, you know, we’re going to have this conversation, and then we’re going to talk about how does diversity, equity and inclusion, you know, how does it contribute to this conversation?” No, it’s going to permeate the conversation. So that’s what we have to continue to do. We have to continue to elevate and amplify the voices of the folks that I just referenced, you know? With that, I want to certainly thank my parents. You know, everything I do right in my life, it’s because of them. If I ever do anything wrong, it’s because of me. They’re two phenomenal people, and I can’t say enough about how they’ve shaped my life and given me an opportunity that I wouldn’t normally have gotten coming from the inner city and the streets of Kansas City, Kansas, and I now have an opportunity to apply my talents at the highest level of our region in our city here in the Portland metropolitan area, so I can’t thank them enough.

Zach: Man. That’s love. You know, with that being said, y’all, this has been Zach with Living Corporate. You been listening to Travis Stovall. Travis Stovall is a lot of different things, so I’m not gonna try to crush this man down to my little limited expectations, but I’m just gonna put all the stuff in the show notes. You check them out. And until next time, peace.

Zach: Yeah, so again, I want to thank Travis for being a guest on Living Corporate, really excited about the fact that there’s someone who saw an opportunity to lead and support his community, after making some fairly significant moves, service-driven, people-centric moves in his city to then continue to lead it. And so it was an honor to have him on, and we want to make sure that we encourage everybody to vote. And it’s not just about the presidential election. You want to vote in your local and state elections as well. Right? Regional, everything. Like, make sure that you’re actually being engaged in the entire process. As I said at the top of the show, voting is one of the more passive things you can do. Yet, it does have an impact. I want to talk a little bit about, like, the rest of this week, right? So if you’re listening to this on a Tuesday, make sure that you know that we have a new episode of The Access Point happening tonight. The Access Point is our live web show where we’re actually giving real talk to Black and brown college students every single week by bringing on incredible guests, HBCU graduates, executives, entrepreneurs, frankly, the same caliber of guests that we have on Living Corporate, we bring them on The Access Point. And we’re just talking, right, so we’re talking about self advocacy, we’re talking about salary negotiation, we’re talking about identifying effective mentors and sponsors. We’re talking about setting effective professional boundaries. These are things, frankly, that I did not have coming up and I wish I would have had before I entered the workforce. I had to learn all these things as a trial by fire. And when you think about the fact that many, many, many Black and brown college students are graduating and are first generation professionals, first generation college graduates and they just don’t have someone to put their arm around them and give them that real authentic talk about navigating spaces. I’m really passionate and proud of the work that we’re doing. This is hosted by Brandon Gordon, Tiffany Tate, Mike Yates, and Tristan Layfield. And every single week they’re giving you incredible content. My request is that you go over there you check it out. The link is in the show notes. You give it a listen. Now, The Group Chat is another live web show. It’s a leadership panel where we talk about highly relevant things in the world of diversity, equity and inclusion. We’re bringing on, again, the same caliber of guests. That’s hosted by Nubianna Aben every other Saturday. We’re having these really dope conversations. We’ve talked about decolonizing diversity and inclusion, we’ve talked about imposter syndrome while Black, we’ve talked about effective inclusive leadership. I mean, we’re talking about real things, we’re talking about signs of effective allyship, right? We’re talking about real, real topics that are highly pertinent, not only for this time that we’re in but for anyone who considers themselves some type of diversity and inclusion leader, some type of leader in any regard, and who is one of the onlys or someone who’s in the margins at work. This is content relevant for you. And so excited about that. Make sure you check out the link in the show notes for that coming up and sign up if you haven’t already. Now, there are several ways you can support Living Corporate. The first way you can support Living Corporate is just by engaging our content. Another way to help and support Living Corporate is just by telling a friend about us, right? You’re listening to this on whatever podcasting streaming thing you’re listening to. There’s a little Share button. Just press Share and just text it to, like, four or five people. It ain’t gonna hurt nothing, right? Just forward it along. Another way is to head over to Apple Podcasts and give us a five star rating and review. That really helps new people find the show and it helps build the podcast community, right? So my request is for you just to check us out. Give us five stars. Tell your friends about us. Until next time, y’all, y’all know where we’re at. We’re all over. Living-corporate.com, Livingcorporate.co, Livingcorporate.tv, right? We’re on Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod and we’re on Instagram @LivingCorporate. Until next time, y’all, this has been Zach. Talk to you soon. Peace.

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