Marshall Goldsmith Endorses a World Leader of Diversity & Inclusion
A self-reflection inspired by a humbling endorsement, By, our Founder and CEO, Denise Hummel.
In Ixtapa Mexico, I had the opportunity to sit down with a colleague and mentor, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, best-selling author, and the nations #1 Executive Coach. My relationship with Marshall started with one of his famous walks, years ago, having been introduced to him by Garry Ridge, a client and the CEO of WD-40. I was in the midst of selling my cross-cultural business and suffering from extreme anxiety as I labored over the decision. Garry told me, “you need to meet Marshall.” That walk changed my life as he coached me to lead with balanced generosity rather than fear; a decision that accelerated my growing career exponentially. Years later, after knowing Marshall for many years, he named me to his 100 Coaches program, his legacy team of coaches throughout the world. As a result, the one–on–one talks have expanded to benefitting from 99 others in a group that I can only describe as a brain-trust. My gratitude for having Marshall and the MG100s in my life is experienced every day.
It was in Ixtapa that Marshall endorsed me as the “World Leader of Diversity & Inclusion. This from a man who has inspired millions with his leadership and coaching (many among whom are some of the most influential people in the world). The moment was humbling, gratifying, inspiring and unsurprisingly “Marshall.” His generosity in utilizing his gravitas to propel that of the next generation is one of the hallmarks of his brand. When I look back on that first walk, I experience a contrast and mixture of emotions that I can only describe as “Coming Full Circle” and it has given me the impetus to reflect and share my story — where I have come from, where I am now, but most importantly how far we have all come in our collective awareness and application of Diversity and Inclusion, and how much further we can go.
Like many, life for me has been a series of chapters, marked by a thread or theme. For me, the theme is a fascination with how to connect individual differences in the workplace, while preserving the individual uniqueness and gifts of each person. There was the chapter in my life where I leveraged my law degree to advocate for the disabled, litigating and winning the first class-action under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). There was a chapter where I rejected litigation as being part of the “problem,” rather than the “solution” of empowering diverse people, convinced that using my law degree, instead, in international Mergers & Acquisitions was a way to bridge cross-cultural differences and ultimately built a cross-cultural firm that I sold to Ernst & Young. There was a chapter where I led Culture, Inclusion, and Innovation for EY and was able to truly understand the needs of an enterprise when it came to the ability to recruit, retain and advance diverse employees. Each of these chapters had additional complexities, and like many women, I was also trying to raise children, and in my case, doing so alone. The tumultuous nature of these stages of my career and life have culminated in my transition to the latest most exciting chapter through two key realizations.
The first realization was that above everything else, I was not an attorney, I was not a senior leader in enterprise, I was an entrepreneur – someone who was gifted at translating ideation and hypotheses to action with a willingness to fail if necessary, in order to succeed. Someone who was impatient and intolerant of artificial barriers to innovation. Someone who could take the lessons of decades and turn them into “next practices,” rather than relying on historic “best practices” that simply have not worked.
My second realization is that I never quite felt that I belonged when I sold my small, thriving business to a large enterprise consultancy, despite the enormous resources there that could have catapulted the intellectual property I was developing. I felt compelled to move on, once again, to entrepreneurship, starting over with limited resources, once again, rather than utilize my talents in the context of a large, highly successful organization. Lucky for me, this transition has taken me to the most exciting and impactful chapter of my life and career to date, but “unlucky” that my talents couldn’t thrive in an institution that had the power to be a dynamic petri dish, incubating thought-leadership relative to D&I that is transforming organizations and likely will transform our entire working society.
This transition helped me to realize that my experience is pervasive in American and global corporate culture. How many millions of talented professionals like me might be missing out on opportunities because they didn’t fit a rigid, narrow corporate cultural lens? How many opportunities are corporations missing out on by not properly harnessing this talent due to a simple ‘fit’ issue? And how much quicker and more innovatively could society move forward with the ability to transform to an inclusion culture, effectively and sustainably.
It was for these reasons that I evolved my current firm, Lead Inclusively, Inc., from a niche D&I consulting firm, filled with management consultants, passionate about the impact inclusion can have on the bottom line, to a technology firm leveraging technology and AI to promote inclusive behaviors in a way that has been previously impossible.
I am humbled by the accolades that Marshall has given me and hope to live up to his vision of me, but mostly, I am excited to be a part of this unique moment in time, where we can admit that the way we have approached D&I in the past has not worked, that transforming organizational cultures to a culture of inclusion in the future, and that embracing technology to do that supports the majority of leaders who really want to “Lead Inclusively” but have never had the opportunity to see and feel what inclusive leadership looks like, how to apply it and be supported in their journey. Thank you, Marshall, for supporting this dream through your gravitas. Thank you to our clients who believe in what we are trying to accomplish. Thank you to all of you who read this blog to the end.