Β Cloudflare TV

✊🏽 ✊🏾 ✊🏿 Why We Matter: Fireside Chat with Joe Hurd

Presented by Warren Rickards, Joe Hurd
Originally aired onΒ 

For this installment of Afroflare's Why We Matter Speaker Series, Warren Rickards, Strategic Customer Success Manager, will host a fireside chat with Joe Hurd, Operating Partner, SOSV; Non-Executive Director.

Fireside Chat
Black History Month

Transcript (Beta)

Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining. Got Joe here with me. And, you know, I know we probably don't have that much time, especially based on our conversation last year, Joe, how many great insights you were able to share with us and how way after the conversation we kept going.

So I'm just going to jump right into it. And I am just going to officially introduce Joe.

But first, I do want to remind everyone that this fireside chat is called Effectively Navigating the Professional Landscape as a Person of Color during a Pandemic and in this current social climate.

So what we plan to cover today is, of course, formally introduce Joe and then I'm just going to talk.

I just want to hear from Joe what he's been up to ever since the last time he spoke to us, which was last year, February 2020.

And then we want to unpack 2020 a bit more, of course, because it was one heck of a ride and remnants of it still exist.

So we want to talk about that. We want to dig into it a bit more.

And then we'll round things off in the end with a live Q&A from the audience.

So we'll leave about 10 minutes or so to answer any questions that you guys might have.

So please feel free if questions come up, hold on to them, remember them, write them down, ask us so we can get those answered for you.

OK. All right.

So I would like to introduce you guys to Joe Hurd. I think I could consider Joe to be a friend now because Joe and I have spoken on a few occasions ever since you met with us last year.

So Joe is a friend and Joe is also a public and nonprofit board director.

He is the global managing director at SOSV LLC, which is a $750 million early stage venture fund.

And he currently serves as an independent non -executive director of GoCo Group.

Joe is actually on the Menlo College Board of Trustees and he's on the board of the American Swiss Foundation.

So one other thing I did want to cover, Joe, I just wanted to say that Joe, he built his business career leading strategic business development strategy and sales teams globally for Facebook, Gannett and AOL Time Warner.

And during President Obama's first term, that was like 2009 to 2012, he served as a senior political appointee in the U.S.

Commerce Department. Joe is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the National Association of Corporate Directors.

And finally, Joe received a JD from Harvard Law School, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and an AB cum laude from Harvard College.

Welcome, Joe. Thanks, Bar, and I appreciate it. You forgot the most important fact, though.

What's that? I am a good friend and a big fan of Scott Tomtania.

Oh, yeah. And the team that he's built at Cloudflare and Warren, all of your colleagues, I'm a big fan of the company and I really appreciate you letting me have the stage again this year.

It's been quite a year, right? And I'm glad to be here in more ways than one.

So thank you. Absolutely. And we really appreciate you taking the time out to talk with us because last year was excellent.

And of course, we just appreciate this partnership that we have with you.

So I just want to get things kicked off.

And last time you spoke with us, this was February 2020.

And after that, the world pretty much turned upside down, to say the least.

So why don't you kick us off, Joe, and just tell us what have you been up to since the last time you've spoken to us?

Yeah. Thanks, Warren. It's funny, the not funny, funny, you know, in a sort of sideways.

So you know, this was when I spoke to you in February 2020.

It was the last normal conversation that I had before the entire world changed.

Right. And for those of you who weren't there last year, we spoke a lot about sort of my journey in Silicon Valley.

As a tech exec, we talked about effective networking, the importance of relationships, about building your personal brand, building your personal board of directors.

I thought we had a really good sort of interplay and dialogue.

But that conversation was really designed for a different world, right?

That was designed for a world where we were going out to events, we were meeting new people.

We were all together in one building, navigating the hallways of our respective companies.

And I wanted to check back in, because there has been so much change.

You asked about what I've been up to.

So, you know, I've on a personal journey, I've been on a professional journey.

The personal journey is, I looked inside and looked inwards when the pandemic hit, lost 28 pounds, sort of took control over my personal life.

Thank you. And, you know, there's actually, if any of you that have ever undergone that sort of physical transformation in a relatively short period of time, for me, it took about six months, but I really kept at it.

You also get some mental toughness, right?

Mental rigor, you know, by going on that sort of physical journey.

Professionally, probably the biggest news for me over the past year, and we'll talk about this, has been my journey to the boardroom, right?

And you mentioned that I'm on the board of one public company.

There have been a number of other conversations with U.S.

companies about joining their boards in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

And in having those conversations, in thinking about corporate governance, there have been a lot of learnings and insights that I wanted to share with you, you know, as employees of a high-flying company, because I think it is some evidence of, you know, how the society is changing.

And, you know, fingers crossed, this change will be here to stay.

So I look forward to talking about all of that over the course of today.

Yeah, no, absolutely. And that's exciting.

Again, congrats on the journey so far. And yeah, I mean, I think that's a great segue into, you know, these next points that I'm about to make, because just talking about 2020, I can go down a list of events that has happened, right?

So we can start off with the Hong Kong protests.

That seems so long ago, but that was something that really kicked off the year, I think.

And then, you know, all the disaster, all the bushfires that caused the disaster in Australia and killed as many as 500 million animals.

That was insane. But just getting right down to it, you know, the death of first Kobe Bryant, an NBA legend, very traumatic.

The death of Chadwick Boseman, that was also very sudden and traumatic.

But then, of course, the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black lives.

There's a stat here that I'm looking at, where it said in 2020, police have killed at least one Black man or woman every week in 2020.

That's very sad. So with that, I would like to ask you, how have you handled these events in a way that was most productive to you?

And what's your advice to us at Cloudflare, especially Black folks and folks of color, to compartmentalize and protect our mental health amid these times and in preparation for another, God forbid, traumatic event?


You know, it's, as I was listening, Warren, to you sort of recount the events that have affected us over the last year.

It was a pretty good reminder that, you know, even though we'll spend the bulk of our time today talking about events that have happened in the United States, but Cloudflare is a global company, right?

And you've got employees all over the world that you may not be directly affected by the pandemic and the shutdown here in the United States, but you may be, if you're in Australia, be worried about bushfires, right?

Or if you're in Hong Kong, be worried about, you know, civil order and the protests and the fight for democracy there.

So it was a really good reminder to me, as you were talking about, you know, just the global nature and the interconnectedness of our world.

For me, you know, and how I handled it, it's almost like, you know, you're playing, what I've heard from pro basketball players, and I'm not a pro ball player, or pro football player.

When you're in the game at that level, what looks like something's happening very quickly to us as spectators, when they're actually in the game, it's sort of slowed down because they're such masters of their craft, right?

The plays are unfolding exactly as they expect them to. And for me, this year is very much like that too.

Slow down, radical focus, right? Let's focus on literally life or death, what matters, what's not, what's important, what's a distraction, and clear everything out, right?

And I think one of the things the pandemic did for those of us in the United States, is it drew a very clear distinction between the haves and the have -nots, right?

All of a sudden, within the span of a few weeks, you know, there's able, pretty clear to draw a direct correlation between the latte you buy at Starbucks and somebody's livelihood, right?

Or going out to eat, and what that means for the workers in the restaurant, or if you use DoorDash or Grubhub or some other company, the people that actually deliver the meals.

And for all of us that were sort of used to going about lives in our own little cocoons and thinking that what we did doesn't truly matter or affect anybody else, let's focus on ourselves, it was a pretty big reminder that, you know, we are part of one big community, and we need to look out for our fellow person.

The same thing with the murders of Floyd, Taylor, and Aubrey, right?

And I call them murders because that's exactly what they were.

This was state-sanctioned terrorism, you know, in no two ways about it, right?

And when you look at those events and then the protests that happened afterwards, you saw a pretty direct correlation between systemic racism in our society and the impact that that has had over generations, over hundreds of years, on our educational system, on incarceration, on housing, and in some cases, on our respective career advancements, right?

And I think that's a little bit of what we're going to talk about today.

For me personally, Warren, you asked when the pandemic hit, you know, I made a pretty binary decision, and this is just the way I respond to, you know, exogenous threats or stresses.

I focused on what I could control, right?

You know, as a husband and a father, I tried to be here for my family as best I could.

I tried to certainly, you know, take all necessary precautions and wear my masks and try to, you know, observe social distancing.

And I tried to take care of myself, right? And I touched on that earlier.

No more commute time meant that I got two more hours in my day. And, you know, I said to myself, I want, you know, I was very fortunate to be able to work from home, and that is a blessing, you know, and a luxury that I had.

Not all of us do in society.

And I wanted to make sure that I took that extra time. And at the end of the pandemic, when we're on the other side of this thing, I had something positive to show for it, right?

So I feel selfish saying this, but I did work out. I did lose my weight.

I did try to get my health under control to make sure that, you know, I could be fully present for my family and for those around me.

But the other thing that I did is, you know, I spent a lot of time watching and talking about corporate America's response to Floyd Aubrey Taylor, right?

And getting much, much more intentional and encouraging others to get more intentional about not wasting this moment, right?

And what I mean by that is, you know, think of what we've learned, right?

We've had plenty of companies, I'm sure Cloudflare is among them, pledging to hire and promote, you know, more executives of color.

Plenty of companies talking about adding black board members, revisiting their supply chains, donating to black causes, supporting black entrepreneurs, supporting black venture funds, right?

We've seen legislatures, just like in California with AB-979, pass laws mandating that boards are going to be more diverse and representative of society as a whole.

We've seen corporate boards pay more attention to ESG, which stands for Environment, Society, and Governance, pay more attention to not just the profit, but why does this company exist?

Who exactly are the stakeholders?

And is this company working for everybody, the employees, the community, and in addition to the shareholders?

We've had companies reach out and embrace, and I hope it's happening at Cloudflare, reaching out to black affinity groups and bringing the employees in to hear people's stories about how society is affecting them and their approach toward their work and being a good employee.

Yeah, that's what we're trying right now. Yeah, Starbucks and Procter & Gamble and other companies tie executive pay to diversity goals, right?

And I'm sure all of us have had our non -POC fellow executives fall over themselves to reach out to you to hear your point of view and get educated and spend some time in your shoes and really try to understand, all of which are noble goals and noble conversations.

So there's probably been a lot to be happy about.

And I would almost say to all of you that this should be a great time to be an African-American exec or an African -American investor or an African-American board member.

This should be a fantastic time.

Finally, people are listening, companies are taking action. Well, I'm not that happy.

And when I say I'm not that happy, that's not to say that I'm completely negative, but I'm not that old.

I just turned 51 earlier this year, and I've been black a long time.

And the thing that keeps me awake at night is, do we have a limited time before a blacklash comes, right?

Or before people forget, right?

I'm old enough to remember Rodney King and the LA riots of 1992, right? And I'm old enough to remember Hurricane Katrina and what happened in New Orleans and Houston in 2005.

And if you think I'm wrong, that people don't forget, let me ask you, when's the last time you heard the words, me too, uttered in public, right?

After the big me too events of two, three, four years ago. Interesting. So my fear is, last bit and then I'll stop.

My fear is that sooner or later, there's going to be another outrage, God forbid, and people will question the money, the gains and the advancements that black folks have made as a cohort.

It's already starting to happen, right?

Other groups justifiably are talking about progress for them, whether they're Latinx or part of the Asian American community or South Asians, and all of that is a good thing, right?

But the point I wanted to make is, we're in a moment that is part of a movement, and it's just a matter of time before attention moves on to something else.

And I think it's incumbent upon all of us, right, wherever we are in the organization, to seize this and do everything we can to make sure that the hard fought gains that people have died for, don't disappear.

Yeah, yeah. No, those are some great insights, Joe. I'm so happy you shared that with us.

And just to that point a bit, how have you seen other companies or institutions successfully hone into this moment and try to ensure that it's not something that's just forgotten or not something that's just a meme?

What are some great practices that you've seen that you could share with us and maybe even recommend that we keep mindful of so that we can potentially follow and to the theme of this conversation, effectively navigate this professional space?

So I do think, and I can't talk about Cloudflare specifically, but certainly two of the examples that I mentioned earlier, right, with Starbucks and P&G, where you have companies, my apologies, where you have companies tying their senior exec compensation to hitting specific and measurable and actionable diversity goals.

I think that's a good conversation for any company to have, you know, the old aphorism is you can't manage what you don't measure, right?

And if you really are willing to, not just Cloudflare, but any company, if you're willing to walk the walk on truly changing the metrics, it's got to be a number and a process that people own top to bottom and tie their compensation to it, right?

People in general, I've been working a long time, people in general do what they get paid to do, right?

So if you really do value it, work it into their comp and make that a metric, that's one thing I think a lot of companies are doing, or some companies are doing, hopefully the trends.

Another thing that I saw, really, I've never seen this before, there's a guy named David Kenney, who's the CEO of a company called Nielsen.

They do the Nielsen net ratings, the TV ratings, the TV scores.

Yeah, I used to work at Nielsen part-time and on a grant. So, okay, so you know who David Kenney is, right?

Yeah, if you go to LinkedIn, all right, cool. If you go to LinkedIn, and if you look at David Kenney's title and profile LinkedIn, it says chief executive officer and chief diversity officer, right?

Diversity is so important to him and to that company.

He didn't put it off on an exec that's buried somewhere in the organization.

He bellied up and claimed, he said, look, I'm the chief executive officer, this starts and stops with me, right?

And I'm sending a to my employees and to my investors and to the world that diversity is important in my company.

That's pretty interesting, right? To see a CEO add that title and claim that role for himself or herself.

I thought that was a pretty interesting move.

And then, so the last thing that I'm seeing, and this is along the lines of metrics, right?

There's been a lot of conversation, even at the board level, in the boardrooms about, okay, we've said diversity is important.

We've built out and revamped our recruiting infrastructure to get these employees in.

We're now starting to track, it's not just about diversity, but it's also about equity and inclusion.

Never let it be just like getting people in the door. It's keeping them in the room and making sure that they have, that folks have equal opportunities to succeed once they get into the organization.

Let's start measuring all of that, right?

And at the board level, let's not make this a once a year review. Let's bring this up at every meeting and have a readout make sure we stay on top of this and stay on track of this so that it gets rightfully the attention that it deserves, right?

And when I see companies start to do that at the board level, when I see boards reach out and say, okay, we're not just going to rely on the CEO and the C -suite to give the readout about how the employees are feeling.

Let's go and talk to employees themselves.

Let's get the head of the black employee organizations in the boardroom to report out or have board members go to the employees directly and have fireside chats like this.

When I see companies do things like that, I start to get really encouraged because that shows that the effort is being taken seriously and is here to stay.

It goes much beyond changing your Instagram square to black and putting a press release up on the website.

Wow. Yeah. I think that's excellent.

Thanks for sharing that, Joe. One other thing that came to mind too, I'm going back to the employees, right?

The employees of color, the black employees. Let's just talk Cloudflare for now or audience.

We have a bunch of people not from Cloudflare that's tuning in as well.

And it kind of goes back to the practices that you've followed.

And I just want to reiterate this because I know this is an issue that has been experienced by many, including myself, is compartmentalizing what's going on in the world and trying to show up professionally and be as productive as possible in a way that's healthy for my mental space.

Do you have any recommendations, any thoughts on how folks, folks of color, black folks should go about navigating this time, even though this was last year, it's still happening in 2021.

For goodness sakes, there was an insurrection on the Capitol and that brought up a big conversation about race dynamics.

Again, it brought it to light. So talk to me a little bit about that.

How do you recommend that folks, employees go about navigating this space in a healthy way mentally?

Yeah. It's hard. Warren, I'm not going to lie to you.

It is hard, hard, hard. And I think the first thing to recognize from a mental health perspective, and by all means, I'm nobody's physician, so don't take this as medical advice, but the first thing that I tried to do is to name it.

Put it on the table, bring it out in the open, call it for what it is.

And what I mean by that is it's okay to have a bad day or to vocalize, hey, I saw something on TV or heard something in the news or read something on paper, in the paper that is affecting me personally.

That really cuts to the core.

And I'd like to hope that your colleagues around you or the company that you work for is perfectly comfortable with you bringing your whole self and your authentic self to work and not checking your race or your gender or your locality at the door.

I like to think that we're all working in environments that let us do that, or we're all working for managers and teams that let us do that.

One of the tools that I use when I have my team meetings every week is I go around the table at the very beginning of the meeting, and we just reserve the first five or 10 minutes, let's check it.

Hey, Warren, how are you doing? What's going on in your life?

What's on your mind right now? Right? And that's the time, at least for my team, to vocalize, hey, relative died, saw something on TV that's messed up, Donald Trump tweeted something that really affected me, what have you.

But the expectation is amongst my team that it is okay to bring what's happening out there into the room and let's vocalize it, let's name it, let's discuss it, let's put it out there.

And sometimes for folks, the mere act of being able to say it and release and emote and share is psychologically and mentally a big load off of people's minds.

And by doing that as a manager, the signal I'm sending is you're human, we're all human, we all have bad days, but let's talk about what's on our mind at the very beginning, and then we'll spend the remaining 55 minutes locked into whatever business, whatever the objective of the meeting is.

I think you also, one of the things that folks do, because working from home, it's a double whammy because you're at home, you don't have a physical separation between what you're doing for your job and where you're living.

You don't have the ability to have that magic moment by the water cooler or walking in and out of the restroom or sitting in the cafeteria with your colleagues, where you can have those informal impromptu exchanges that might let us discharge.

So I think it's even more important then as managers to reach out one-on-one, check in with the team, and check in and see how people are doing.

But I think you've got to name it because trying to keep it inside or pretend it doesn't exist, or pretend that you are superwoman and not affected by what's going on in the macro society is going to eat at you in ways that you can't even measure and may not be obvious.

Here's the thing that's really interesting.

One of the things that, I'm not going to say it's good for society, but it's been very helpful for me is because we're living in such a very politically charged environment right now, and because people are so willing to share their views, even myself by doing this, I don't know where the audience is, I don't know where this is going to end up, but it's pretty quickly, if you're paying attention, you can pretty quickly suss out where someone is either on the political spectrum or how receptive they're going to be to whatever's going on in your life outside of work.

I actually think that's a good thing. I think that's a good thing. Show yourself, show me who you are, show me the first time, then I don't have to then I don't have to worry or wonder.

Whether it is calling you on it or transferring teams, at least you've known you've got a pretty good insight into who or what kind of personality you're dealing with.

That can be something that can be very beneficial in a mad, bad, sad sort of way.

Yeah, you know what? That's a very good point.

This is a conversation that I've had with my peers, my friends, my partner, about how the interesting thing with all of this is a lot of things that were once hidden are now brought to light, and at least you know what you're dealing with from the get-go for the most part, which can be reassuring in a way, because you know how to navigate that space a lot more effectively to the theme of this convo as a result.

So I love that, that's a great point. One thing that I wanted... Sorry Warren, just sorry, the two-finger add to that is that doesn't mean that you refuse to engage with folks that either you don't agree with politically or don't fall on the same side, don't see the issue the same way you do, right?

If you think about just the presidential election, just under 50% of the country, but that's almost one in two people did not vote for President Biden.

And what I found personally is, listen, folks that are on the opposite side of me politically are perhaps different gender, different race, different part of the country.

They've actually been some of my biggest supporters and biggest allies, and I've had the most productive conversations with them, because I don't necessarily focus on what's dividing us.

You try and find those one or two nuggets where you have something in common, and then you build upon that.

And maybe the implicit agreement is we're not going to talk politics, right?

Or we're not going to get into the short strokes on whatever the issues of the day, but we do agree on ABC, right?

And I think all of us are going to have to do that in some way, at some level, if we are going to move forward together as a society.

Otherwise, we're just going to grow farther and farther and farther divided.

But be vocal, let me know where you stand, so then I can figure out how to calibrate and react accordingly, and then you go from there.

But let me know how you stand. Yeah, yeah. And you know, one thing I will throw in there, too, is I would like to challenge those folks on the other side to be open to being challenged by their so-called friends that are suffering from this pandemic, right?

And not take offense to it and treat it in a similar manner.

I feel a lot of times people of color, we've had to be the apologists, be the ones that are bending over backwards to make things comfortable.

I think it's about time we start to find some sort of equity there as well.

So, you know, I love this. This is good. Listen, you know, I completely agree.

You know, we cannot build America and fix America, too, right?

You only put so much on the shoulders of Black folks.

And I think at some point, you know, the saying in the South is, kick dog hollers, right?

And when you see just the cry after the Floyd, Taylor, and Aubrey murders, justifiably so, and when you see just, you know, the massive social outrage, you know, that's people saying, hey, you know something, enough.

Enough. We've had it, and we're not going to take it, for sure.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Preach. You brought up a point, Joe, about, you know, being superwoman, and I know it was just like a random comment, but it's a great segue into the next question that I had.

No, it wasn't. Yeah. No, it wasn't. Because I would be remiss if I didn't mention that women accounted for all jobs lost in December 2020, showing the pandemic's ongoing wreckage of the U.S.

economy and the extent to which that damage has been felt by women, especially women of color.

What does this tell you about the current professional landscape, and how do you think we as a society can move to a more equitable workplace, even during something like a global pandemic?

And that's my last, well, I have one more question after that, and then we can get to, you know, we can finish off on some happier thoughts.

Yeah, right. So, you know, what, when you think about the disproportionate hit that women, and particularly women of color, have taken during this pandemic, whether it is in job losses, right, or in lost career opportunities, because, you know, people have the double burden of having to be an employee, as well as having to be the primary caregiver, or just the mental tax, right, in keeping, you know, a family intact and a family safe, and then worrying about people's extended relations.

You know, what it tells me is that, you know, I think, you know, the equity versus equality conversation, as it relates to gender, gender diversity, it's a real issue, and it's a real conversation, right?

And what I mean by that is, you know, it's not enough to be equal.

Equality should be the baseline, should be the floor, that's table stakes, right?

Equitable is something different, right?

Equity in the workforce is having something like, you know, a comprehensive child care program, right?

So that parents who work, particularly single mothers, don't have to choose between working and raising a family.

Equity is having a work from home policy, or, you know, having a flexible work policy, and not have that be something that's just for the pandemic, or something that just, you know, or something that could penalize you when it comes time for reviews, is policy, and it's the right policy for people that are, you know, taking care of families, whether single men or single women, taking care of their children, right?

Equity is having a truly gender diverse senior suite and boardroom, as opposed to just, you know, the token one or two, right?

And, you know, I think those symbols matter, right? And those laws matter as well.

And the fact that we can have a conversation like this, and name it, and call it for what it is, I think that's incredibly important.

So it's not about equality, it's about equity.

Yeah, yeah, that's great. And I know you've had some experience in this space, and I'm just curious, are you working on any interesting projects to help provide women, especially women of color, with more professional opportunities?

I gotta tell you, Warren, as sure as tomorrow follows today, there is no cohort of people out there that makes better use of a crisis than women of color, right?

And what I mean by that is, I have seen more fantastic companies started by female founders in the last nine months than I've ever seen at any point in my career, right?

And what's happening is, you have now women that have an itch, they're solving for a problem that they and their friends are facing.

You've got now funding out there that's allocated and targeted specifically for diverse founders and women of color.

You have a number of other female CEOs that have gone out there that can now be those points of reference and points of guidance for entrepreneurs just starting out, right?

And you have organizations out there that are bringing folks together in order to make sure you have good peer connections, right?

So some of the companies I've seen just in the last six months, one is a company called Options MD, started by one of my former colleagues from Facebook, and it's mental health treatment.

The itch she was scratching is her brother is taking medications for a mental illness, and those medications were interacting with him a certain kind of way, and he wasn't taking his meds, and it was therefore a cycle.

He'd have it up so he wouldn't have to take meds.

And she created a company that's designed to help people get the right medicine, the right dosage, and forecast this out to encourage people to get on a treatment path to address their mental illness.

And that came from something that she saw. She went through Techstars, she's got funded, the product is out there, it's off and running.

Another one, My Purple Photo, dealing with electronic medical records. And this is a woman who is the caregiver for people in her family, and she kept on having to log into different databases to get access to the medical records.

The x -rays were over here, the physiologist's visit was over here, the OBGYN records were in another database.

And she came up with a platform that leverages AI, ML, and a lot of data and analytics to bring all these records together and give in a very clear, concise fashion, help people better understand their medical information aimed specifically at the Black community.

Or there's Stephanie Lambkin at Blendor. This company's been around for quite some time, but she creates a software suite to help companies that are trying to, remember I talked earlier about all the diversity metrics and getting the right metrics?

Blendor provides that service for companies and gives them a dashboard on how they're doing with respect to hiring and retention and recruiting and retaining people, and gives people a score and some metrics that they can easily understand.

The other area where I'm seeing progress, and then I'll stop, is I talked earlier about the boardroom and how legislatures are starting to mandate, require that companies have gender diversity on boards.

Well, there are a lot of organizations out there now that have been there that if you're a woman looking for a board seat, whether public or private, you can go to HimForHer or 5050 Women on Boards or Athena or All Race and get the training and the exposure and the platform that you need in order to become noticed by these companies.

We're seeing for women at the top, at the very top, if you consider Kamala Harris, but at the top of these companies and then on the recruiting side, and then hopefully the working environment inside the companies, people are starting to pay attention, but don't sleep, stay woke.

This can go away like that. We can't go backwards.

We can't go backwards. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I was just pulling something up there just to look at, but one thing I do want to say is I do want to give a quick plug that Cloudflare, we've positioned Michelle as our president moving forward recently, which was a very big move.

Fantastic. I just want to say I love her.

Yeah. Yeah. Michelle is great. It's awesome. Gets the job done. Yes. Cool.

So my final thought here, Joe, and again, thanks so much for sharing all that information with us and your insights on what's been going on in the past year.

It's definitely been one heck of a year and more, and it's something that I don't think any of us expected and something that will go down in the history books and not be forgotten.

And I know a lot of it, right, right. And a lot of it has been pretty negative and rightfully so.

Hey, we have to call it out, as you said, call out what it is and bring attention to it.

But what I would love to do before getting to any Q&A from the audience is just wrap up with some positive thoughts.

Right. I would love to get your outlook on what you expect from 2021.

How are you feeling from 2021 in a positive way?

And hey, if you don't feel positive at all, that's fair, too.

But I would just love to hear your take on that and any departing thoughts from you.

So. I actually am really optimistic, right, and the reason why is because, one, you live longer, it's just a good way to be.

But I think if we had not gone through the trauma of what we went through as a society, whether it is the previous administration or the loss of these lives with the pandemic or the murders of Aubrey Taylor and Floyd, we wouldn't be where we are right now.

Right. And when I look at the next 12 months, I look at an environment where, you know, I've got a very good sense of who I am and where we are and what we need to do as a society.

I've got a social environment where people recognize their shared humanity and common destiny.

Right. Where people are looking out for each other, whether it's wearing a mask or checking in.

I've got a funding situation where companies are making money available for black and brown founders to get companies started.

And their boards are prompting an examination of supply lines and hiring practices, et cetera.

So all of that actually makes me feel very optimistic.

I've got, we've got, America has, you know, competent adults in the White House and in the administration trying to put this country back on track.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic. And I think if anything, the final point that I wanted to leave with all of you before we go to the Q&A is love each other.

Right. Reach out, ask after each other, look after each other, care about one another.

Right. Just like how Warren, you know, I reached out to you and Scott a month ago saying, Hey, it's been a year.

It's been a messed up year.

Let's check in. How's everybody doing? Let's all come together. I would encourage you to do that amongst, you know, yourselves for Afroflare and your fellow employees, because at the end of the day, right, you know, if you can't watch half a million people disappear just like that and not be affected and not realize that, you know, our destinies are truly out of our own hands in a lot of respects.

And if that doesn't affect you, it should. So recognize that. Recognize the humanity of your fellow men and fellow women.

Acknowledge that and hold them close.

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I think that's great. Great parting thought. All we need is love.

I totally agree. All right. Joe, let me see. Go ahead. No, go ahead.

No, no, no, no, no. I was going to say love is all we need. But I think there is something to that, Warren.

I really do. I don't think it's trite. I don't think it's a cliche.

Again, half a million people aren't here. They were here last year.

They're not here now, right? You know, we're losing the equivalent of a 9 -11 a day, right?

Over 2,900 people a day are dying. And it's just a matter of time, the numbers going where they are, before it touches every single one of our families in some way, shape, or form, right?

And this is something that, you know, no one asked for it.

No one wished for it, right? But it's here. And it's not going away anytime soon.

That's got to make you recognize your humanity and that of who you work.

It's got to. Anyway. Yeah. I agree. I totally agree. All right. Let me look to the board to see if we had any questions come in.

I'm not seeing, I don't think anyone has posted any questions yet.

But while we wait, I guess what I can do is filibuster and just kind of get some more.

So, you know, just going through your background, Joe, and I know right now, full-time, you're a Global Managing Director at SOSV.

So tell us a little bit more about your experience there so far.

You've been there for two years, and especially for someone that has had such an impressive resume working at many different companies while you're working here, and also working at companies like Facebook as Director of Emerging Business, Gannett, etc.

What brought you to SOSV? And what are you working on right now that's super interesting that you think is relevant for our team?

Yeah, sure. So my father said something about me at age 14.

That was as true then as it is now. And he said, he was kind of mad at me when he said it, but he was right.

He said, you know, you've got a big brain, you've got a big mouth, and you like to use them both.

And the reason why that's relevant now is, you know, I've always been drawn to an intellectual challenge.

The reason why I do strategy and business development and market development and go to market is because I enjoy working with CEOs to help them really figure out what the challenges are that are facing their business, how they can grow and expand, whether it's entering into a new market or, or structuring a new partnership, right?

And the mouth is, you know, the mouth is the mouth, you guys have been listening to me for the better part of an hour.

So, you know, my role at SOSV, one of the things that I love about it is, we're a venture fund that invests in life sciences companies, hardware companies, and companies that are focused on breaking into China and India, I don't do that much with that side of the business, because we have partners in those markets.

But for the life sciences and the hardware companies, I have a chance to talk to CEOs every day that are working on groundbreaking technologies, and try to figure out how they can grow and scale and expand their businesses and touch millions of people, right?

And these are companies like, you know, whether it's protein based meats, right, or bioprinting your human organs with a 3d bioprinter, or making leather out of mushrooms, leather out of fungi, or creating artificial aloe, we have companies that are doing all kinds of, you know, just mind blowing, mind blowing approaches.

And I get a chance to work with these CEOs and help them help them grow and help them scale.

So I love that, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a great time to be in an area like Silicon Valley, where you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and, and, and, and coffee in between, with people that are really trying to change the world, and come up with technologies that are doing, you know, some pretty awesome things.

It's a blessing. Yeah, yeah, no, that's super exciting.

I had a short stint there, when I was at Cross Culture Ventures.

Sure. 2017. Marlon Nichols, he's the man. Right, right. Worked with Marlon, Troy Carter.

And yeah, funny enough, I was a part of their seed round investment, and Blavity, the ones behind Afro, Afrotech.

Yeah, it was, you know, full circle, full circle experience.

But yeah, it was great working with that team, just because I was able to get some insight in some of the really cool things that people are doing, that entrepreneurs are doing in the space.

And I can imagine your job is extremely, extremely exciting as well.

The other thing that was top of mind for me is your work at the Katama Group, because it looks like my understanding there is, this is your company, CEO of the company, of course, and you use it as a personal vehicle to advise startup companies on strategy, fundraising, sales, and international market entry.

Is there anything going on with Katama Group right now that you would like to have our audience know about something pretty cool, interesting, relevant to the conversation, maybe?

Yeah. So you're right, I do have sort of my consulting firm on the side.

And I really use that as a vehicle. I think vehicle is exactly the right word, right, to work with CEOs that I'd like to get close to or better explore industries that I don't really come across in my day job, right.

So a lot of the work that I'm doing right now touches on what I mentioned earlier, which is working with black and brown, diverse CEOs that are either trying to raise money in the Valley, or open up offices, open up operations here in the Valley, or get some traction in some way, shape, or form.

And now I've always believed in my business career that I like to try and help people where I can and spread karma and leave people better off for having interacted with me.

It's just a good way to live life. And it's a great way to run a business.

So the four CEOs that I mentioned before, except for Stephanie, I didn't really work with Stephanie with Katama.

But three of the four CEOs, I've directly helped either help them raise money, or help them get some introductions in the Valley, or help them with some introductions to companies.

And perhaps why don't I come knocking on your door, looking for an introduction to Cloudflare, so I can pin these folks up.

But I think we all sometimes fail to realize how special we are, as much as we want to complain at some times, to work with these high-flying startups.

I know Cloudflare had an IPO recently.

We're really sitting in some privileged seats. And you don't realize that until you have people coming to you, reach out on LinkedIn, or tracking you down after a presentation.

And they're not in the Valley, but there is a bit of a mystique of what we do here.

And I just try to help people, and I encourage all of you to help people every chance you get, because it's hard.

And you guys have scrapped, and you've worked hard to get where you are.

Don't realize, don't forget that there are other people out there that are trying to change their lives, and make something for themselves as well.

And be helpful where you can. Yeah, I think that's great advice.

And a lot of times I try to remember that, because it's easy to just get caught in the shuffle, and not realize all the advantages that we have already, especially working at such a great company, and just in an industry that's flourishing.

So I think that's a good point. We actually had a question come through, and it's more around the theme of Our Black History Month at Cloudflare.

So our theme is Why We Matter, which is fantastic, a powerful statement. So what does that theme mean to you?

Why we matter? So the first thing that came to my mind when I heard that phrase, why we matter, you know, as Black people.

My mind immediately went to, you know, the African concept of Ubuntu, right?

And I'm hoping I'm going to state this correctly, and no one's going to call me on it.

But the principle of Ubuntu is basically, I exist because you exist.

I exist because of you, right? And it's acknowledging that we are all part of sort of one interconnected universe, right?

And, you know, when I think of, you know, why we matter, I think we matter because we are active participants, and an active part of this fabric of this society, of this country, of this company, right?

And if we were not here, the organizations would be that less rich because of our absence, right?

Why we matter? Joe Biden can tell you something about why we matter.

Look at the vote results in South Carolina. Why we matter, right?

There are two senators sitting in Georgia. They'll be happy to tell you why we matter, right?

Why we matter? Look at America's rich, you know, musical traditions or artistic traditions or literary traditions, right?

That's why we matter.

You know, we matter because we are part of the history of this country. We helped build this country.

We are contributing to the success of this country.

And we deserve to reap the benefits and the rewards and the riches by living in this country.

That's why we matter. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, that's perfect.

And it goes very well with our theme. That's really good food for thought.

Yeah, it is. It is. All right, looking here. Okay, so I think what I want to do with the remainder of our time, we have about eight minutes left.

I do want to bring it back a bit to last year, where I know we spoke to you about what you wish you knew early in your career, and your thoughts on how we should navigate wars.

You shared so many good tidbits in that conversation last year.

That was a fun talk.

I'm not gonna lie. That was a fun talk. And it was in person. We're actually in person, not wearing a mask.

And you know, we took for the life that we had at our disposal.

But anyhow, And I got to get a t-shirt out of it. I still have that t -shirt.

Oh, yes, that's right. That's right. Gotta do it for the t-shirt. Yes. I should have worn that today, by the way.

I wasn't even thinking. Because I'm in quarantine, so all my clothes are back home.

I have the Cloudflare t-shirt still at the house.

You should actually tell our audience what your living situation is right now, because I think some people would appreciate this.

Yeah, so I'm in day 10 of a 14-day quarantine.

Unfortunately, we had a death in the family last month. My aunt passed away.

And I had to fly to Washington to take care of the personal effects and deal with the landlord and the cleaners and the cops and start getting all the paperwork together.

So I was gone for three days. I come back home. We live just outside of San Jose in town called Los Altos.

I came back home. My wife was like, sorry for your loss.

I really do love you. You're not staying in this house.

So I've been cooped up in a hotel here in Santa Cruz for the last two weeks. And if I don't ever have honey nut Cheerios or pasta again, as long as I live, it'll be too soon for me.

It's been a very grim existence. Well... Pasta and Cheerios.

I can't even drink. I do appreciate how seriously your wife is taking the pandemic.

It is serious. There's no microbe that's going to make it past my wife.

I guarantee you that. I guarantee you. I love it. So yeah. So going back to that talk, is there anything that you would like to share with our audience that is new to Cloudflare or they just didn't have a chance to experience that talk with you?

Or is there anything that came up since that talk that you would love to maybe run back by us as far as what you wish you knew early on in your career?

So, you know, one thing I figured out rather late, right, in my career that I wish I knew earlier is, and I'm speaking to people of color in the audience.

And I don't mean this in a negative way.

Um, but a lot of times we are visible when we want to be invisible, and we are invisible when we want to be visible, right?

And for a lot of people, that's just the way it goes, right?

And if, once I realized that, that truly is, you know, how I'm perceived, right?

As a Black male exec. I'm invisible when I want to be visible and I'm visible when I want to be invisible.

Or, you know, the reverse way around if I mess that up.

Um, um, once I accepted that, that that's how people react and view me, I was then much better able to think about things like networking, right?

Or being effective in the workplace or how I conduct and carry myself or my social profile, my social persona, that sort of thing, right?

Um, I spent 10 years just thinking that I was going to be recognized for doing good work, right?

Or, um, uh, you know, just by virtue of being in the right place at the right time, the ball's going to land in my lap and it doesn't always work out that way.

And long story short, sometimes you have to be much more intentional and much more thoughtful and much more purposeful, right?

To be willing to call things out as you see them, put them on the table, ask for help, right?

Demand, demand what you want, right?

And do it with a smile. Um, because the alternative is if you're kind of sitting back and waiting for, you know, the spotlight to shine on you and for you to be recognized, um, that's not always going to happen.

And, and it certainly didn't happen to me earlier in my career.

And I speak to enough execs today that are early on their careers to think that, you know, um, they're, they're waiting for it to happen to happen for them.

And the world's not necessarily wired that way. So long story short, the things that, you know, talk about the conversation last year and why I took the time to lay out those six or seven, uh, six or seven thoughts that I shared with you, um, you know, how to create a magic moment and how to come up with the personal board of directors and how to interact with people who don't look or think or act the way you do, right?

How to, um, how to be remembered in a conversation, how to follow up, right?

A lot of those lessons are the direct result of me sitting there, right?

And finally realizing, oh, this is how the world is wired.

This is how the game is played. Here are the things that I can do right.

To, to, to, to, to, to reverse it. Um, and I wanted to share that with, you know, with you and your colleagues last, uh, last summer, right?


Don't think, don't think for a minute, right? That, that the playing field is equal because it's not.

That's why a lot of the steps that are being taken and have been taken in the last 12 months are being put into place, but the fight is not over yet, right?

And it's not going to be over for a generation. Um, and if you're not intentional about, you know, and purposeful about being impactful in this world, if you're not willing to help out your fellow man or your fellow women and recognize our shared destiny, then, then I think progress and success is going to be, you know, ever, ever longer into waiting.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's a great way to wrap up this conversation.

Um, I think that's fantastic. And with all things going on, you know, one thing I've noticed too, is just betting on yourself, right?

Is that a fair thing to say Joe? Um, that betting on yourself is so important when I, when I think when I'm looking right now, I saw an article about the Calendly founder who you got a big round of funding, uh, most recently.

And, you know, the guys and girls, I believe that, um, the Harlem investment group, the venture capital group, uh, you know, those are small examples of just the talent that's available and the type of work that people can do and, or community.

And it comes down to sticking together and, and to your point, you know, lifting each other up and, um, being bold.

So I think that's excellent. So the Calendly founder before we get cut off, but say it real quick, because I want, I want to hear it.

Fantastic guy raised $500,000, generated a $70 million a year and we're occurring revenue business.

Never took a penny in venture money until now $3 billion valuation, phenomenal outcome.

And he hustled, he made it happen. So yes, if it is to be, it is up to me for sure.

If it is to be, it is up to me. Yes. Joe, thank you so much.

Thanks guys. Appreciate you. Thanks Warren.

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Afroflare - Black History Month (US/UK)
Tune in to Afroflare's segments during Black History Month in the US (February) and UK (October).
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