Was I overlooked for jobs because I am black, how would I know?

Probably. Mom taught me to make sure it was their loss, not mine.

I think it’s extremely difficult to prove someone didn’t hire you because of your race, gender. You just know it happens (the data proves it) but due to a slew of reasons that might not even be known to the hiring manager (biases), it’s hard to say, I wasn’t hired because I was black. One company I tried so hard to get into is run someone who isn’t racist one bit, but after 2–3 attempts, they never hired me. More on that below.

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I never expected fairness

Today I was talking about company diversity with a friend and it hit me that maybe the reason why I never really harped on “fewer opportunities for POC” was that my mom drilled in my head day after day that I was never going to get a 50/50 shot, so I wonder if hearing that every day for 10 years (it felt like every day), my normal is “of course I have to be outstanding to get a fair shake” “If I am as good as my white counterpart, I’m pretty much never going to get a 50/50 shake.”

My mom taught me that complaining about racism is like wishing it would stop raining. Go get an umbrella boy and get outside. I guess my umbrella was striving for excellence, protection against the “elements”.

I realized that to get a 50/50 shake I was going to have to be better than my “opponent” and so much better that it was obvious and noticeable, not on the margins.

Know your worth down to the nickel, or be stuck in “do they like me” hell.

If you don’t know your ROI to your company, then you are stuck making your pitch for advancement / hiring on, schmoozing with the boss for late night drinks, tenure, or other things. I moved fast in my career because I chose a job where it was easy to have the receipts, every day. If I know I am directly contributing to the metrics that help my manger get their promotions, bonuses, etc, then “liking me” hopefully takes a back seat. If you promote that person you like, but they can’t contribute to your career progression like I do, that is a bad idea.

Enter digital marketing — I never was confused about my impact

Maybe that is why I loved SEO when I started in August of 1999… At the end of the day, I outranked you or I didn’t, either we were winning (page 1) or losing (page 2 of 15,000,000). I didn’t get to complain to AltaVisa, I had to be BETTER than others, white or black, and if I was better it was undeniable that I knew what I was doing. It also meant that when I got my butt kicked, I had NO ONE to blame. Someone out there was smarter, testing more, doing more than I was, and I could change that.

That competitive spirit sticks with me to this day, so if you are black, brown, woman, whatever, find a job where “do people like me” can be trumped easily by “damn look at those results”. I might have had bosses who didn’t “like me” but my results in those early days was “undeniable”, so they kept me, supported me, etc.

Seer, should have been built inside someone elses company

After knocking on doors to try to get jobs and never getting an interview over 18 months, I started Seer at the age of 26-ish. Which is the other side of what my mom beat into my head…you won’t know if you didn’t get picked because you were black, but you can make them rue the day they didn’t give you a shot.

I guess that is another blessing as I see it, the company I built at Seer I would have gladly built inside someone else’s company, I couldn’t get a job though.

I NEVER wanted to start a business, and its why I don’t run this one anymore. I’d say 80% of the companies I tried to get a job at before starting Seer don’t exist and didn’t have GREAT exists, one actually asked me to buy them 7 years ago, two went on to be HUGE. One of the companies former CEOs has been a mentor of mine for like 7 years, he spends hours and hours every week working with black & brown youth in our city (and has done so since the early days), so his company didn’t overlook me b/c I was black, it could have been 100 other reasons, but not my race. Either way, worked out for him…and me (and we joke about this all the time).

I can not say I was overlooked because of my race at any of the 20–30 companies I tried to get into before starting Seer, how would I prove it?

But overlooking hiring me in 2001–2003, for whatever reason, it cost a whole lot of companies some headaches :)

If you feel like you’ve been overlooked for a job because of your race, gender, etc, I’ll give you the advice my mom gave me, get so good at your job, that they rue the day they didn’t pick you!

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