Vickie Gibbs on Promoting Diversity in Entrepreneurship

Vickie Gibbs is passionate about changing the way we look at entrepreneurship and venture capital.  As a veteran of both, Vickie knows that “being an entrepreneur is not a solo sport” and creative cultures of inclusion from the ground up is imperative to the long-term success of startups.

Transcript

Jackie Ferguson: Hi, and welcome to season four of the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast sponsored by The Diversity Movement. I’m your host, Jackie Ferguson equality advocate and certified diversity executive. On this show, we discuss how diversity, equity and inclusion benefit our workplaces, schools, and communities by sharing the stories, insights, and best practices of game changers, leaders, and glass ceiling breakers that are doing the work to make our world a more understanding, welcoming and supportive place for us all.

Today my guest is Vickie Gibbs. Vickie is the Executive Director at the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School. She is also founder and principal at her own consulting practice and a volunteer venture advisor at Cofounders Capital. Vickie is passionate about helping startups achieve success. Vicki, thank you for being here. 

Vickie: Thanks for having me, Jackie. I’m really excited to chat with you today. 

Jackie: Of course, of course. Vicki, tell us a little more about all of the things that you’re into and why helping startups is so important to you. 

Vickie: So, it’s like once we get to a certain age, I feel like when someone asks you what you’re into, it’s like, I have this long list. I’m like, okay how can I narrow it down. But, some of the things that I’m really passionate about and that kind of relates to my passion for startups is one, community is really important to me. 

I’m a serial entrepreneur myself, I’ve worked for startups as well as started companies, and one of the things I’ve learned through that process is being an entrepreneur is not a solo sport. And I make a lot of people have this impression that you’re in it by yourself and do it. And there is a lot, it can be lonely work, but there is no successful entrepreneur that got there on their own.

And so, community is something, I think that’s just a core part of me, but it’s also a part of how I think, you know, we all need to sort of thing with that service mindset and paying it forward because we’ve all received the benefits that from someone in the community, you know, lending a hand or helping us out or doing an intro or brainstorming, or just being honest with us. Right? 

So, that’s a big piece. And you know, another piece is that I love the startup piece, like the creative, innovative part of solving business problems of helping people get to their goals, you know, and also, I think at the core it’s about making the world a better place, right? So, if we can have really smart people who are solving important problems and making the world better, that all of us benefit. And I think one of the ways we do that is we also have, you know, a diverse set of people at the table for that too, you know, because it’s not just in order to get to the best solution.

You need people who are thinking creatively from all different perspectives and, you know, I grew up as a woman in tech, and I’ve also been working in the space of really trying to be a proponent around diversity and entrepreneurship and, along that path I’ve just met so many amazing people who are doing amazing work, who oftentimes just aren’t connected into other resources and communities.

So, I think for me, I’m a connector. And so, what I really would love to do is be able to bridge the gap with people and help people achieve, what they deem as success, right. 

Jackie: I love that. Vicki, thank you for sharing that, so many important points you made about community and being a connector and being an ally for diversity, it’s so important. Vickie, you alluded a little to your early career a little bit, in what you just said. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and are you doing what you thought you’d be doing? 

Vickie: That’s always a good question. It’s like what, I still, I was having a conversation with friends yesterday. I’m like, yeah, I still haven’t really decided what I want to be when I grow up, but I think we’re all kind of along this evolving path, right. But when I was in high school, I remember, you know, people will, you know, what are you going to do? I was planning to go to college, and I was like, well, I want to own my own business.

And they were like, oh, well, what kind of business? And I was like, I have no idea yet. I just, and I don’t know if I just wanted to be in charge or if I just had this creative like thing to me, not sure. But then my parents, they were also in a position where they were able to pay for college for both my sister and I, which I feel very blessed and privileged to have had that, but they were also very clear and they were like, we will pay for you for college. And then you need to support yourself. Like, not that like we’re, but it’s like, it was just clear expectations. 

Jackie: I love that, Vicki. I had this same conversation with my dad. He said, I remember getting the check for that last semester. And he said, this is the last check. 

Vickie: Yeah, it’s like we’ve done all of this stuff for you, which I was so appreciative of, but then it’s like, then you need to do it on your own, you know, like move out of the house, get a job, do all this stuff, and if you want to go to grad school, that’s great, but you’re going to fit the bill. It’s like, okay, I can do this. And so, I was looking at the things I was good at the things I could get a good job in those very practical things because I needed to pay bills, right. 

And so, I love math and science went into be an engineer and I knew it could get a good job. Went to duke university, great school, great for me for undergrad, smaller classes. And there were four women in my class of 120, and I had always been a tomboy growing up, had always played sports and things.

So, I was just used to it. It didn’t intimidate me, but as I’ve gone through my career, I realized that I’m just maybe wired a little bit different, but also, I think it’s a matter of it still was a little lonely, and also then as I got jobs, it was lonely and, as I’ve, you know, I have a group of girlfriends who were on a text chat together. We worked at a technology startup and we’ve all kind of grown up in technology in some way, shape or form. And it’s great because we still have this community where we can press into each other and support each other and encourage and all of that kind of stuff. And again, it goes back to that theme of community.

Right, and when there are a few of you, then you have to sort of find the ones that are like minded, and also find allies who can help you to be successful. I’ve had mentors who are men who’ve helped me. Who’ve helped to give me a seat at the table and opportunities and ability to grow. All of that, it was very fortunate and, you know, being able to tie in technology, I graduated in ’91 to everything that went on with the internet development and everything else. And combine that with an MBA from Kenan-Flagler graduated in ’98. There was technology and business, big gap. And so again, it’s about, for me closing that gap and making sure we can get the best value out of them. 

Jackie: Absolutely. You know, it’s so important to think about the piece around being one of a few, you know, and creating that community, and it’s important to think about where you are in your level of privilege with the blessings that you have, the opportunities that you have and how you pour into others and give back to others. So, I love that that you mentioned that, you know, that’s something that we all have to think about and continue to assess.

Are we doing enough? As individuals to, you know, lift up people around us that don’t have those levels of privilege. And all of us have some levels of privilege where we can be, you know, providing mentorship or sponsorship to individuals who don’t have, you know, our same privileges, our same opportunities.

So, Vicki, thank you for sharing that. That’s so important. Let’s dig into being one of a few. So, you mentioned that around the community, we both know the challenges of being right, the only one in the room. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and, and share a story maybe and tell us how you navigate it?

Vickie: Yeah. So, I’ll give a story, one from early in my career. It’s actually my first job and I was a young design engineer, was working on a project with my mentor, Ron who’s PhD from Florida. Super brilliant, we had a great working relationship, and we were taking this three chips that design and designing it down to one chip and the original designer and the manager from Japan had come over for our design.

We’re super excited. So, we’re about to walk into we at, we were actually stationed at MCNC for those who’ve been around the triangle. Y’all remember that. So, we’re stationed, they’re about to walk into the conference room and they walk by the little break area with coffee and Ron asked the manager and the designer.

He was like, you want some coffee? And they turned to me and say, they said yes, with cream and sugar. And I was like shocked, like literal shock and some advice that I’ve given to women or other people from underrepresented groups in different situations is that you will encounter a situation at some point in time where you have a choice on how to react, and there’s a lot of things that we can’t control about what people do to us, but the one thing we can control is how we react and how we move from that point forward. 

And in that moment, I was very angry, but I’m also naturally introverted, which was an asset in this point in time. And so, I was just, like I said, yes, and Ron looked like, he was so flabbergasted and so embarrassed and all of those things like that this had just happened, but I got them their coffee. We went through the meeting and they would ask Ron all of the questions, even for things that I had worked on.

And then Ron would look at me and I would answer it was this weird round robin, but because I was answering things intelligently because I was addressing things, they started to, I earned their respect. And by the time we got to that afternoon, they were asking me questions. And the next morning they did not ask me to give them coffee.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it was, that was not my role in the meeting. My role was there as a design engineer. And so that’s just an example, just one example of something early in my career that I think has shaped, how I approach things, but also. When you get a seat at the table, go in with confidence and speak your truth, and don’t let what someone else may say or do impact your ability to be there and be strong.

Jackie: Great advice, Vicki, thank you so much for that. Let’s take a moment and talk a little about how organizations, right? Cause this is not unique to you. Unfortunately, so many of us have experienced a similar situation, but let’s talk about how organizations need to be intentional about creating cultures of inclusion before recruiting diverse professions.

And, you know, in STEM women are still diverse professionals, right. And then you’ve got, you know, so many layers of diversity. But how do organizations create inclusive cultures? 

Vickie: First of all, it’s not something you do quickly and it is something that’s really organic and you have to be really intentional about it. I talked with leaders in organizations before they’re like, well, we don’t worry about the culture. It just does itself, it’s like yep, if you’re not intentional about it, it will just, it will create itself based on what is present there. And I think it’s really important for leaders to think about what are the values that they want their organization to embody.

So, if they want to be inclusive, what kind of behaviors, what does that look like? How can they help define it and how can they help all of their employees help define that for themselves? And so, there’s work that goes along with that, and then there’s also practice. And there has to be, you know, and I don’t want to say a technical reward system, but you have to be able to really encourage positive behaviors and correct negative ones.

And I actually think like that’s a piece that companies find really difficult sometime because when you talk about behaviors, like I think when they’re at the extremes, it’s really easy to understand what’s really good or what’s really bad, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s on the margin that can be really problematic and its stuff,

That’s the stuff that it needs to be talked about. It needs to be addressed in a respectful manner because there’s lots of unconscious bias that all of us have, and we all just need to accept that. And we need to accept that with that, we may engage in behaviors that may have intentional negative effects on people.

 We need to have a culture of trust with those that we’re working with so that people who we trust can address us if we’ve done something that we may not even 

be aware of and that they can, we can be open to addressing this, and open to changing. And if you think about that, there’s like, well, I just want to go in and get your work done.

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Vickie: Well, that’s great, and if you have privilege and if you’re in the majority, you can get your work done and not have to worry about anything, but if you actually want a diverse and inclusive culture, it’s everyone’s job to help make that work. And you really have to, again, its intentionality, is prioritizing it, and making sure that everyone understands that they have a piece of that work to do, but the leaders have to prioritize it and they have to make sure that everyone understands that problem.

Jackie: Absolutely Vicki, thank you for sharing that, 

you know, that’s so important, you know, sometimes founders getting into the entrepreneurship piece, make the mistake of believing that DEI isn’t something they need to think about until they’ve got more employees, right. But why is diversity and inclusion important even for startups?

Vickie: So, I would say there is a very logical reason, and then there is a more important foundational reason. So, the logical reason is it is a lot easier to create a diverse culture and start to get a diverse group of people in your company and start it off right, when you are a company of five or 10 people, then to be like, oh, this should be important now and we’re 200. Like it just, there’s a logical thing. It’s easier here. It’s harder here, in part, because when you’re a company of 200, you may have some things that you’ve got to tear down before you build them back up, right. 

So, the other thing is foundational. It’s goes along the same lines. If you think about building a house. So, what do you build first? You build a strong foundation and then you build a strong frame. And then like, I think then you have your walls and you have your doors and you have some of the other things, right. But if that foundation is not sound, you know, that could put the whole house at risk, you know, you may have to move out of the house and fix the foundation before you can actually live in it again.

Think about the culture of your organization as the foundation of your house, because it is the foundation of your business. If that is broken, if that is weak, if that has fractures that can put everything else at risk. So, a good investment early on in the success of your business is in creating a diverse and inclusive culture that will stand the test of time.

And it’s hard. It’s not easy, but it’s also, it’s a lot easier to do at the beginning, and then you grow it just like it’s easier to then paint a wall than to then put a new foundation in, right? 

Jackie: Absolutely. You know, that’s such important advice for organizations of any size, but especially, you know, those small startups, because very often we get the question of, you know, when do I need to start caring about this, right? And the answer is right away. Start being intentional about the kind of culture that you want to build. So, thank you for sharing that advice.

Vickie: Can I mention one more thing that I think is really important for founders? Because I think oftentimes if people have never done this work, it can seem really intimidating. And I think, you know, often startup leaders are, they’re like, well, I’m supposed to have all the answers and then I don’t know how to do this.

And I think there are people who are doing good work in the space that they can partner with, right, to do it, to help them, which is great. But I also think for those leaders who know that they need to do something, but they’re not sure what it is and they want to be authentic in doing the work. I think there’s a lot of internal work or personal leadership work in that space that they can do first.

So oftentimes the first step may not be, I need to implement this in my company, because I don’t even know what it is or how I’m supposed to approach it, but what do I need to personally learn? How do I need to sort of get to the right point as a leader where I am thinking in these ways and where my mindset is shifted, so that I can then authentically lead and surround myself with people who can help me achieve what I want to so that I do have that solid foundation for my business?

Thanks for letting me, because I do think it’s a, it’s a journey and it’s a personal journey and a leadership journey, and then your company journey. And I think that people have to kind of think about it in those terms. 

Jackie: Vickie, absolutely. And thanks for stopping me on that. That is the crux of it, right? When we start these journeys, we really have to start with ourselves as leaders and understand more, be open and be an example for our organization. Because you know, a lot of times organizations will jump into it with amazing intentions, right, but they need to do the pre-work in order to get ready to make these significant shifts and culture and behavior and thinking, which are required.

So, thank you for, for slowing us down on that point. That’s so important. Vickie for people thinking of starting their own business, what advice would you give them as they get started? 

Vickie: So, I think one of the biggest pieces of advice is talk to people. I talked to a lot of founders. They’re like, I got this great idea, but I don’t want to tell anyone about it yet. I’m like, just start talking about it. But, and as it goes back to the diversity piece, talk to a variety of people. Talk to people who may agree with you. Talk to people who may not agree with you. Talk to people who don’t look like you. Talk to people who, if you’re trying to solve a problem, think about all of the people who could be helped by solving that problem and survey a number of them.

Right, so John Austin who’s run NC Idea Labs for a really long time. You know, when startups go through there, he’s always like, you need to talk to at least 25 customers, potential customers. If you can talk to a hundred, great, because you learn something through each conversation. So, I think there’s talk to people, and then develop your community and support system.

 You know, it goes back to that connectedness, you know, not only people. In the entrepreneurial ecosystem and develop relationships, but also your personal support system, whether it’s friends or family or whoever you have beside you to be in your corner. Because It’s not easy, the life of a startup founder, like, you know, Jackie you’re in it, right?

Like they’re awesome days, and those are great. And then there’s other days, right? If you’re going to do it, you, you are saying, I want to ride that roller coaster because the high highs I can, those are awesome and I can impact people and change the world, but the low lows are hard and you’re going to need people around you to help.

Jackie: Absolutely. And you know what I will say for our audience is, I have not talked to an entrepreneur yet who hasn’t said talk to people, and you’re right, that’s a mistake that potential entrepreneurs make is they don’t want to share their idea. And, you know, they may talk to a friend or a family member.

But they need to really put that out there and get good information, get those questions that are going to challenge those ideas. That is so important, so thanks for sharing that. That is so important for each of us to do absolutely. Vickie, let’s talk about diversity and entrepreneurship. First, where does your passion for that stem from? 

Vickie: I think part of it is some experiences I had just growing up through my career and everything else. So, I think, you know, being a woman in tech and being, you know, there’s a few when there’s a many, and I think experiencing that – granted, my experience as a white woman in tech is not the same as your experience as a black woman, right. 

So, I think also appreciating some of those differences too, but then also, my best friend from college, Jihan Kim, she’s Korean, and I would hang out with her and her Asian friends a lot in college. And so I was, you know, the one white girl hanging out with an Asian group, right. And she used to joke and call me an egg that I was white on the outside and yellow on the inside, which was funny. And that I think was also formative, cause I learned a ton and got to sort of see that culture side that I didn’t grow up with, which was wonderful. 

And then when I was working for Motricity, one of my clients on the media and entertainment side was BET, and I have to say like that team I worked with, there was just like one of the best and most amazing teams I’ve worked with. And, you know, again, I was, you know, one or two white people with this amazing group at BET. And this group of Black men and women, and so got insights into culture and things that were different and the community that I think black people have been just really amazing and I’m really admire it. And I started it from that point in time and still have people I keep in touch with from that time too.

So, I think these kinds of points in time and understanding, it’s not just about what I’ve explained. There’s some very unique experiences in communities that I’m not a part of and there’s value as a part of those things and bringing them all together. We get to better outcomes. I know I’ve said it before, but I really do feel like entrepreneurship can help change the world and that if we’re all helping each other, there’s really important problems that there’s really smart people working on. And a lot of times those communities are separate and if we can get those to intersect, I think it benefits everyone. And so, I just love to see people engage with their passions and be able to bring those things to life.

Jackie: That’s fantastic. Vickie, Black women founders are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, but the last study I looked at two years ago showed that Black women only receive 6 cents for every thousand dollars of venture capital. 6 cents for every thousand dollars. How do we begin to bridge this gap?

Vickie: So, I think it’s a multifaceted problem that takes a lot of people working on in parallel to address it. So, I think one, I think in the past, I would say even five years, and especially the last two years, there are a lot more resources that have started around supporting Black and Brown founders. And so, I have the privilege to have met Rodney Sampson and we’re doing some work with him.

He’s going to be teaching two classes actually for entrepreneurship center scale schools, this fall. He’s the founder of O Hub and 100 Black Angels and Allies. And you know, he’s doing a lot of work around equity districts around the country. That is looking, you know, how do you sort of take Black and Brown communities and provide resources and support and all of those sorts of pieces right. Through working with him I also got to meet founder Davian Ross who runs a successful startup, who is now also running a coalition venture studio for RGA ventures. 

So, I think we’re starting to see some of those pieces develop, but again, those are again in these sort of closed network systems almost, and so then how, then I also have on the other side, you know, a number of people in the VC space, which is, you know, primarily run by white men and, you know, even a lot of our local VCs I’ll meet with them and they would like to have, you know, a stronger pipeline of diverse entrepreneurs and they’re there, but it’s like, okay.

So how do we one, get connected, and it takes intentionality. It takes time, it takes investment in relationship building. So, I think that’s how do you form relationships between the ecosystems and the VCs and also, how do you do that work internal to VCs to make sure that, you know, Jackie, if you’re going and raising money, do you want money from that VC, and are they a partner for you, right?

And so, I think that goes back to who are the people within their mentor network, and who are they supporting and who are their LPs and what are the types of things that they value investing in, and all those things. So, I think there’s internal work that the VCs need to do as well as, you know, work in investment and ecosystem development to support Black women founders.

And then also, how do we provide those bridges in between. And I think highlighting the fact there are these needs and giving people ways to get engaged and involved is really important. And for people to be able to raise their hand and say, yes, I want to do that. I see a lot of people, one of the terms that, that Rodney used, where he, in his Juneteenth event, I really loved.

He was like, there’s allies that are like on the sidelines, cheering us on. He’s like, and I love that, we want allies, right, but he’s like, there’s also co-conspirators. He’s like, I would like to see more co-conspirators, which is, there are people who are going to create something together to benefit, you know, Black and Brown men and women, right. 

He’s like, and then there’s accomplices that we can not only work together or write a check or something like that, right. So, co-conspirators sign up with your checkbooks. Sign up with your time, let’s dig in. Accomplices are, how can we create something new together to actually benefit different groups?

And so, I thought that just the different levels of engagement was really important to really think through, and us as individuals for how can we use whatever sphere of influence we’re in to actually make an impact and make a difference. And my view is that there’s something each one of us can do, you know, even they’re small things and they’re big things and, you know, we can make that choice with how to get engaged.

Jackie: Absolutely Vickie, and it’s so important to think about that because in the VC space as with, you know, any space, right? If you think about recruiting or if you think about, you know, supplier diversity and, you know, you’re naturally just going to go with the recommendations from your circle, your network, the people that you know, and venture capital is no different. 

We need more people like you that are saying, hold on, let’s be intentional about that. Let’s broaden our circle, and that’s so important, but yeah, absolutely. Vickie, why does equity in entrepreneurship matter? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it, right? 

Vickie: So, I think that there’s, again, there’s different layers to that. So, I think one is around the point that we were just talking about regarding, you know, the fact that black women founders get such a small percentage of VC funding, right? So, I think there’s equity from just what are the opportunities and what ideas and businesses are not getting funded that could impact and change the world, right? So, I think equity, so there’s an opportunity, not just for the individuals, but for those companies that they’re developing, those ideas to actually come to life and have an impact. Right, so I think there’s inequity there. So that needs to be, we need to figure out again, multi-faceted problem. 

Then I think there’s the equity when it comes to individuals and opportunities that they have. As I’ve had conversations around diversity and equity and inclusion with, you know, Black friends, as well as white friends, sometimes I’ll hear things from my white friends. You know, people just need to work hard, you know, if they work hard everything else should take care of itself. And it’s like trying to have a conversation that yes, people should work hard, and I can tell you, there are people of all genders, races, you know, all different types of diversity that work hard.

And then there’s also, I think, areas where opportunities are not presented, or people are not comfortable stepping into spaces, and there are other things that surround things that prevent those things from being equitable. And so, I think there has to be a recognition for where and when that occurs. 

And I think that goes back to the personal work of leaders. If you’re like, well, that doesn’t happen in my world. I think it’s really important for us to examine where it does happen, because I would venture to say to all of us have different things that we do that may not make people feel like they could be treated fairly, or that they have equal access to opportunities or that they have the same opportunities available that others do.

And I think it’s important for us to listen as leaders, to be open and to then look at, you know, what changes can we make that can actually help things be more equitable, but a sort of blanket everything’s fine here like, is not because we wouldn’t be where we are if they were, you know. So, you just kind of have to look at the facts and then let’s sort of break down and figure out what we can do to actually help.

Jackie: Absolutely Vickie that, you know, that’s so important because oftentimes what happens is we’re saying, okay, it’s fine. You know, work hard, do your part, but we need to continue to shine the light on the fact that there is inequity and then make a decision as to how we want to participate in balancing that and creating more opportunities for others.

Right, so I love that you said that, thank you so much. When you think about your ultimate life goals, what are those for you? 

Vickie: That’s a tough question.  so, it’s, it’s one of those things that I had this conversation with, People that I coach or advise to, it’s a matter of how do you define success?

And that is very different for each individual. And so, I think, you know, if I were to ask my like, you know, 18-year-old self as I was starting my college career, you know, and even as I started in my career, like, I was like, oh, at one point I was like, I want to be a VP of marketing. Then I got to be a VP, it was account management services. I was like, this is not what I thought it was going to be. You know, it was like okay, I had to reevaluate. And for me, it’s like, I look at life, there’s different pieces that make up the whole me, right? 

There’s a career side, which I’m a lifelong learner. I always want to be learning and growing. There is a service side of me that I always want to be pouring into others and helping others. Like see which gifts they have and help them lean into those gifts and help them live out what their success is. There’s also a piece of me that is around like self-care and health, and being able to stay healthy physically, mentally.

And then the relational side, which is family and friends. And then for me, a spiritual component too, you know, I’m a Christian, and not like I would say there’s a difference between religion and being faithful. And so, I think that’s different for everyone from a spiritual component, but also, you know, for me, that’s a piece that helps me feel whole and connected and provides foundation. So, I think individuals need to figure those out and what those mean to them. But that’s what it means for me. 

Jackie: Fantastic. And Vicki, you have mentioned throughout the conversation a little about self-care and personal wellness. Tell me what that looks like for you. What are some of the habits that you have for self-care, and what suggestions do you have for us? Whether we’re entrepreneurs or are just, you know, professionals working hard, what are, what are some of the habits that you have and then tips. 

Vickie: So, I’ll start with a tip first, is that it’s never easy and it’s always work to do that. So just sort of, if you’re like, oh, it should just come natural and I won’t have to think about it. Yes, there are certain things that do, but also as we change and evolve over life, we have to reevaluate those, just like our exercise routines or way we drive to work or whatever it might be, right. 

So, some of the things that I do is, I like variety in every day, but I also think that there are certain rituals, almost that I do like in the morning and at night, that kind of helped me bookend the day for me. So, wake up in the morning and I walk my dog, I come back, I eat breakfast and I do my devotional, and that just kind of puts me in a great mindset for starting off the day. Before I dive into work, before I like dive into the meat of the day, and it helps me just from a mind setting piece.

And the other thing is, is I like to stay active for me, I think when I’m moving, so, the land of zoom has been sometimes challenging because I’m like at my desk, right. So, sometimes I’ll ask them, I’m like, can we do this as a phone call? And then I’ll have the phone and I’m walking around and that’s good.

For me also like being outside, and so being in touch with nature and just being, feeling the sun. So, like the spring and the summer, and even the early fall, like those are great times rave when I get into winter, like it’s a challenge for me and I really have to work more so to stay active, to help keep my energy levels up.

So, I think. Knowing that we’re human and we’re not perfect, and sort of understanding your own bio rhythms and what you need for you because Jackie, what you need is going to be different than what I need and all of that, okay. But understanding and hearing the way people do their sort of process or what have you, I think encourages all of us to then think about how those pieces fit together for ourselves.

Jackie: Absolutely. That is great advice. Vicki, thank you for sharing that. To my favorite question that I ask every single guest, tell us something about you that not a lot of people know, 

Vickie: So, this one was hard for me to think through because I’m a pretty open and authentic person and the people who know and work with me know that. I think what, as a natural introvert, which most people who know me, I’m always forthright with saying that because sometimes I’ll have, so ask me a question. I’ll have to look away and they’re like, is something up there? I’m like, no. 

I think what, so one thing in thinking about this question. So, one thing that not a lot of people know about me is, well, they know I have a sister and my sister she’s really wonderful and she’s an artist, and she and I are very different, but also share some similar personalities.

And just the ways that we operate, but we also complement each other really well. I think one of the things that maybe not many people know about me is that like, she’s really one of my rocks, you know, like when I either need a pick me up or I just need someone for a sanity check or something like that.

She’s one of my goes to people, and I think I’m that for her too, in some degrees. And I think it’s one of those things that, you know, if you know, you have a sibling or others have siblings, sometimes it’s like, you love them. And then sometimes you’re like, I just want to ring their neck, you know? Or like they don’t listen.

They ask for advice and I’m sure I do that with her too. But, it’s just one of those things that it’s like, I’m just thankful to have her in my life as one of those people. Because I think when we see people who are leaders or who, you know, it’s like, oh, where did they, where does their strengths come from?

And for me, it’s like, you know, having people like her in my life, you know, my faith and like my friends and my family, those are the things that I draw from. And those are the things that enable me to pour into others. So, I’m just really thankful for her.

Jackie: That’s so important for all of us, right, to have that someone that we can really depend on to help us through those ups and downs, right? So, thank you for sharing that. That’s fantastic. Vickie, what’s the message that you want to leave our listeners with today?

Vickie: I would say as for your listeners, for those that are, some may be startup leaders and they work in a startup, some may not have anything to do with startups, right, and they’re just interested in this content. And I would say that I would challenge each one of them to think about how you can make the world a better place.

And that can be as simple as people you interact with, right. And if you’re thinking about, how do I start? How do I solve for making my area of influence more diverse? How do I, how do I create inclusion? I would say, start with yourself and also think through, who do you need around you to help you be successful with that? Because again, if you’re not going to do it by yourself, that’s what diversity is about. It’s bringing people around you, right, who think different and act different and all of that kind of stuff. 

And the last piece is start like, one of the things, I guess this is my bias as an entrepreneur is that I have a bias towards action, and I truly believe that diversity equity and inclusion and creating culture and breaking down systems that are holding communities of people back and creating those inequities, like if we don’t change those things and make the world a better place, and with respect to this, like we all suffer. 

There’s all loss for everyone. And so how can, one of the ways we can make the world a better place is by working on, you know, making our own sphere of influence more diverse, inclusive, and making sure it’s equitable. So, get to action and get inspired. 

Jackie: Love that, Vickie. Thank you so much. Vickie. How can people connect with you? 

Vickie: So, I would say LinkedIn is probably the easiest and the best. You can look for me on LinkedIn, I think I’m under Vickie Lynn Gibbs, but look for me, connect with me on LinkedIn. If there’s something that you want to connect about, just put it in your little intro note and then I’ll follow up.

When people do messages, sometimes I may get behind. But I saved them there and I will respond to you, especially if you leave a message best way to get in touch with me. 

Jackie: Awesome. Vickie, Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful insights on our program today. I appreciate your time and I really enjoyed this conversation. I’ve been looking forward to it. 

Vickie: Thank you, Jackie so much for putting on this podcast and also for having me. I enjoyed it as well. Thanks. 

Full Episode Transcript

Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by Head of Content Jackie Ferguson, and is a production of Earfluence.

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