Empowering Youth to Overcome Imposter Syndrome (With Hack.Diversity’s Jody Rose)

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This is a podcast episode titled, Empowering Youth to Overcome Imposter Syndrome (With Hack.Diversity’s Jody Rose). The summary for this episode is: <p>Jody Rose is the president of the New England Venture Capital Association, but her first day as executive director 6 years ago was one of the scariest days of her life.</p><p><br></p><p>Jody’s bullish attitude led her to be able to overcome imposter syndrome and rise through the high ranks. Now, by co-founding Hack.Diversity, she’s determined to empower the next generation of underrepresented individuals and provide them access to opportunities in tech.</p><p><br></p><p>In this episode you’ll hear how Jody and Elias conquer their own imposter syndrome and how organizations like Hack.Diversity are critical to giving underrepresented individuals a foot into the corporate door.</p><p><br></p><p>To learn more about Hack.Diversity and how to get involved, click the link in the show notes.</p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every other Tuesday.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias and Jody on Twitter at&nbsp;@eliast, @jodyarose, and @DriftPodcasts.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at https://www.drift.com/insider/learn/newsletters/american-dream/</p>
Turning insecurity into bullishness
01:53 MIN
The importance of taking risks
02:29 MIN
Stories of Hack.Diversity's impact
03:12 MIN

Elias: foreign language. I'm here with Jody Rose, a very, very dear friend of mine, someone I appreciate and love. And I always enjoy running into you, even in these tough days of the pandemic. Jodi is the president of the New England Venture Capital Association, and co- founder, I think, of more importantly, probably a special life mission. The purpose, right, is the co- founder of Hack Diversity. Hack Diversity is a program that partners with employers to bring black and Latinx technologists into the field and helps organizations evolve to drive retention and promotion of that talent. Right? Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jody Rose: Thank you for having me, Elias.

Elias: It's a privilege to crosstalk have you.

Jody Rose: It's so good to see you. I wish we could be in person. Like you said, I always enjoy running into you. We are long overdue for a coffee or a sip of wine.

Elias: Yeah, absolutely. We can do either safely crosstalk.

Jody Rose: That's exactly right.

Elias: Help me get to know you a little bit more. I want people to know you who you are as a person before we jump into all your accomplishments and the great things you do here in new England of all places.

Jody Rose: So, yeah, I love telling my origin story, because I'm very proud of who I am and I'm proud of my roots. So I'm a daughter of immigrants. I'm first generation American. Both of my parents were born and raised in Jamaica, came to the United States in search of the American dream. They actually met each other when they were here in the U. S.. So contrary to what people may think by me saying that they didn't know each other when they were in Jamaica. And they came here and pursued the American dream. I grew up, was born and raised in New York, in Brooklyn, then Queens. And then moved out to a county called Rockman County. I'm one of six kids, and for them it was critical that all of their children were college educated and carved out a path of their own. But they were also focused on making sure that they provided us the best that they could with what they had and what they could afford. And so I actually moved to the Boston area about 15 years ago. I always like to say that I met a boy. He was cute. I followed him to Boston and got married and started a life here. And prior to Boston, I was actually working in the cable and telecom industry. I was working for scripts networks. For those of you who don't know, it's the parent company to Food Network and Home and Garden Television. And I started my career in telecom that way and was doing that for about eight years. And then moved here to the Boston ecosystem and quickly realized that there wasn't the same industry and didn't know what I was going to do, but did know that I was scrappy, that I loved the internet as I was calling it at that time. And wanted to continue my career in sales and business development and strategy. And I had an entrepreneur take a chance on me, Jeff Taylor, who founded monster. com, who I reached out to on LinkedIn. He saw something in me and was like, come in and let's meet. And he was the first person that gave me my shot to work in the tech ecosystem here. And since then, I've been enjoying working and living in this community and in Boston. Contrary to what some of my New York friends would think, we love it here. I think Boston is a very unique place, particularly for a person of color. It's a unique place to start a career, start a company. As you know, Elias, to grow a company, it can be difficult because there is a historical nature of Boston that has led to very segregated communities. And we still have a long way to go in terms of providing opportunity for people. But I've been enjoying the ecosystem so far and the fruits of my labor, your labor, the labor of others. And so, yeah, that's a little bit about me.

Elias: Wow. Amazing. So many questions. I met the boy.

Jody Rose: The boy is cute.

Elias: I met the boy. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I came in 2000.

Jody Rose: What brought you here?

Elias: So, that was my first year. IBM.

Jody Rose: Nice.

Elias: IBM. I just love those stories of people giving a shot, right? Sometimes people ask me, what is it that drives me to get up every day? And I think I dance around and I say, people, people, people, people. Ans I share, it's like being able to create companies where people can build their careers. Right? But then if I were to boil it down, I think you just nailed it. Maybe I should be clear about that. It's just giving people a shot because I appreciate so much the shots I've been given. Right? And when I give a shot, I try to remind people I'm just trying to pass all the wisdom and say like, I'm giving you a shot. You understand? Sometimes people don't realize crosstalk and they're missed opportunities, and you don't miss them. I remember when you took on to the New England Venture Capital Association, you jumped on it crosstalk Right. Your boldness, right? I think that's something I admire, right? Because that's something that tends to holds us back.

Jody Rose: Yeah. And so I admire that about you too, because you're a serial entrepreneur. You've just had a pretty amazing exit, so congratulations. But I would say milestones crosstalk Sorry. Thank you for the correction. But I will say, and I'm going to make as assumption that maybe you've experienced this along the way at IBM or pre IBM, but being in spaces and oftentimes being the only person of color, the only black woman in these predominantly white organizations that are super creative and super profitable, there's a level of having to feel like you're consistently trying to prove yourself and not just prove whether or not you belong in the room based on your abilities. But also proving that you belong in the room because of any preconceived notion that a person or people or a group of folks may have based on what you look like and based on what they assume your past looks like. And so when you talk about me joining the New England Venture Capital Association, it was the scariest year of my life. So I joined this org, which represents the venture community. I have no experience in venture capital whatsoever. And if I'm saying this now in public, I really didn't even fully understand capital. I worked for a bunch of venture capital backed companies. I've been in those meetings. I knew how to talk about my side of the business, but it was very different than being in a seat where you're talking on behalf of this community. And I, from the onset, knew that, okay, I am a black woman representing a predominantly, almost all white male industry. And that was nerve- wracking to the point where I definitely increased my visits to my therapist and to church, because I was like, I don't know how I'm going to be able to be successful in this role. And I questioned myself for an entire year. I look back now, six months into the role, and it is the best risk and step and move that I've ever made, but it didn't come without the anxiety, the insecurity, and it was blood, sweat, and tears. And there's an adage that I talk about all the time where people says it takes a village. This took a village, it took a village of folks from my board to CEOs like yourself, to the team that I work with, to my family, to really help me get outside of what was holding me back internally, to be bold, as you said earlier. So thank you and do things that needed to be done.

Elias: There's two different types of imposter syndrome. I feel like there is the imposter syndrome that you're describing, I think, and tell me if I'm I'm wrong, where you're like, am I good enough to do this? Because we do that, versus the imposter syndrome that people are like... they think they deserve it. Right? They think that it is owed to them that they know that they're just supposed to fake it and it's just people blocking them. Right? But it's all within their head versus the imposter syndrome that we have, because there's no one else around us that we can see and say like, is this normal? Is this not normal? And the echelons of the stuff that we're hanging with is like... it's just no one else. crosstalk this shit's awkward.

Jody Rose: Should I be here? There are many times where I was like, do I have the right to be in this room? And when you asked me about my background, what a lot of people don't know is I started at the university Maryland at College Park. I was pre- med for a class, quickly realized that that was not going to be my thing, and then switch majors to marketing. But in my sophomore year, I dropped out of college, came back home, told my Jamaican parents, particularly my dad, don't worry, guys, I got this. I'm going to become an actress. My dad, yeah, almost lost it. Thankfully, he walked in grace towards me, but about two months later, he came home with a piece of paper and said, here's your job. You report in on Monday. Like, enough with you trying to wait for your agent to call you about auditions that weren't happening. And so now, many, many years later, I moved to Boston, the most highly educated state... or Massachusetts, the most highly educated state where everyone who I was meeting had, and I eventually finished college. I went to a state school in New York, but not a competitive school and definitely not a name brand. And so I come here, come to Boston. I was working for really good companies, had built a strong resume. But if you talk about pedigree, right, in terms of what I was being compared to with my local peers, I looked very different on paper, right? I wasn't coming out of these Ivy league institutions. I don't have an MBA. I have two doctorates. They're honorary, right? So I didn't have to school for them. People gifted them to me, and it's based on work that I've done and I recognize that. But there was a lot of me going, Hmm, I don't look like... and I'm not talking physical appearance. Physical appearance is one thing. But on paper, I still don't look like these people that I'm now representing and shoulder to shoulder with. And so you think about this imposter syndrome and do I belong and should I be here? That was beyond prevalent. It was the dominant feeling that I had. And so I just find as we're thinking about... you talked about earlier saying to people, do you recognize the chances and the opportunities I'm granting to you? I recognize that there were people along my path that said, I'm going to take a chance on you because I see that you are talented. And I want to open up this door because I want to help sponsor your next phase of your career, but that doesn't happen as often as it should. And so when you have leaders like yourself that are saying, okay, how can I help you get to the next level, it is incumbent upon people to take you and folks like you up on that offer because it doesn't come easily. There's still a long road to hope.

Elias: Yeah, there is not an equal distribution of opportunities for many, many reasons. I mean, that is at the root of social inequity, right? There's just not many and so people don't don't know how to value that. And so I'm used to the imposter syndrome.

Jody Rose: Totally.

Elias: I'm done.

Jody Rose: Good.

Elias: No more imposter syndrome.

Jody Rose: Now, are you done talking about it, or are you done feeling it or both?

Elias: I'm done feeling it, just trying to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Jody Rose: Yeah.

Elias: It's a big nirvana moment that I'm saying... it's like, I'm done feeling imposter syndrome crosstalk

Jody Rose: So let me ask you a controversial question then. You're done with imposter syndrome. You are a unicorn. Your company's a unicorn in many ways, but let's talk about Elias, right? Elias is a unicorn because you fought hard, you worked hard to get where you are and to have these many milestones and to be a serial entrepreneur. So there's a privilege of how having these experiences and the successes that you've had. How do you then talk to and help younger people who are looking at you, saying, I want to get there and I'm fundraising? Or I want to get there and I am an entry level software engineer, and I'm coming into these spaces still feeling imposter syndrome? What do you say to them, right? Because at your stage in career, I get it. But for early career professionals and folks that are not taking the traditional path to get there, what do you say to them?

Elias: And thank you for bringing me crosstalk I appreciate being the inaudible I was approached by my agent, my producer. No, this is amazing, but we're going deep into this. I actually inaudible help me answer this because my personality type is one that has to talk things out, and David knows me inside out. He's my psychologist, he's my therapist, David Cansell, and I have to mumble and mumble and mumble and ramble until at some point it's like a crystal thought comes out. Right? And so I think that it's good. What is it called? You go on the hook. Right? You got the date that I put in here. I want to help, so let's take a different way. So I'll tell you one aspect of this. It irks me, I'm still that same individual. It irks me when people say you have the privilege. Right?

Jody Rose: Oh.

Elias: So I want to let you explore that for me is that I want to empower people to reach their own version of their American dream.

Jody Rose: Yeah.

Elias: Right? Don't measure it against me, or I'm not going to measure it against Bezos.

Jody Rose: Yeah.

Elias: You know what I mean? Or so and so or Eric. I'm the CEO of zoom. Is it my company at that level or not? Everybody should go after their own version.

Jody Rose: I completely agree. I completely agree.

Elias: And so that's one thing. And second it's like, I would like to differentiate at least between people that made it on their own through the help of others, but in their generation versus those that did not. I was just talking to an employee at Drift and I was explaining to him that... we added it up. Let's just set it for sake of simplicity. 10 years ago, I had three young children under three, under five, sorry. My wife was at home with them full time. I had left IBM after 10 years. And when we would go to our restaurant, luckily, the kids did not get food. And if they did, it would be a children's menu. But my wife and I would split a meal because it's every time we ordered a full plate, it was too expensive. And I feel like we were too full. And so leaving food on the plate was like... it would hit me hard. And so we would go out to eat maybe once a week, once every two weeks. And if the bill was over$ 75, I'm counting, right, the bill and making sure it doesn't add up to more than 75 bucks, because we couldn't afford it. Right? So, that was 10 years ago. And in 10 years, I was able to overcome imposter syndrome once and forever. Right? And so I just want to make sure that I just... that privilege thing bothers me a bit because they said, well, you have... it's easy for you to say, what do you think I should say to that?

Jody Rose: And I don't think it's easy for you to say it, I think. And so maybe that the term privilege is the wrong way to say it, because if you had the privilege, I think in the context in which you're talking about it, that means 10 years ago, you wouldn't have to take your wife and three kids out to dinner and hope that the bill doesn't exceed$ 75. That is not privilege, right? That's part of your story, your American dream story, how you got part of and a piece of where you were and how you got to where you are. But I think what I would love for you to do as we're unpacking and processing this too, and I have to do this, is how do we take those stories, how do we take the arc of our past to where we are and showcase to folks that were... Elias 10 years ago, Jody five years ago and say, okay, here's what I was dealing with? I know that I'm in a different place now. And so what you're concerned about, I'm no longer concerned about because I've lived that. But how do I help you quickly move from that place of feeling so insecure that you may or may never make it to being super bullish, to believing in yourself more than anyone ever can, to believe then you have the right to not just exist, but have a seat at the table and pursue the careers you want, the company you want, the amount of salary that you want? How do we help more people not be Elias 10 years ago and Jodi five years ago who were like, holy crap, do I even belong here? And that's what I'm trying to get at.

Elias: Exactly. Exactly. No, good. And that's what we need to figure out, how to tell those stories, those arcs, right? So, that is my life goal now, right, is to encourage people to see what's possible, that in 10 years you can go from not being able to go to a restaurant, right, to take care of your family as well crosstalk.

Jody Rose: And families is plural, right? Because it's not just you and your household, but it's extended families and yeah.

Elias: This is very difficult to say. I'm like, I don't know what I'm saying here. I don't know what is good or bad for the world, for me, right? Or for my family, right? But I care about diversity and I care about solving for social inequity. And I think the only way that we solve for inequity is by being equal, and only until more people take risk and they achieve their own version of success. And we showed them all the possibilities out there and we let them pick from which success they want to be a part of. Right? Is really that then we won't having any inaudible right? And so that's my difference.

Jody Rose: I think it's going to take us a long time to get there. It's part of the reason why you are doing a lot of the stuff do behind the scenes. And I'll let you talk about that whenever you want to help fight inequity. But the main reason why I was one of the co- founders of Hack Diversity, which is a program that you and Drift have fully supported and participated in. And we've had long, hard conversations where I definitely want to bring up some of that too, because I think it's important. But it was important because I want people to recognize that yeah, there are multiple avenues and pathways for them to seek success, but it's also important for the majority. Right? So the majority of business owners, corporate America, people in these predominantly white male spaces to understand that the onus can't be on people of color only to figure this out. There needs to be some systems changes in how we are funding, in how we are employing, in where we're hiring from, and also standards that we're setting. And I'm not by any means saying that we should be lowering the bar. So let's please take that out of our vernacular. I never want any company to feel like they have to lower the bar for them to become more diverse. As a matter of fact, when people say that I'm offended, because I'm like, you shouldn't have to lower the bar for anyone. And if you're going to diversify your company, it doesn't mean you're lowering the bar. What we're trying to get you to do is broaden the aperture of how you think about funding and hiring so that you can hire your bar, become more innovative and be a more competitive company. So happy to inaudible

Elias: Well, I struggle with that when a little bit, because there's the bar, I think, in one way that we see the bar, but in others, though, it's unfair, right, the lack of access and preparation and network that we have.

Jody Rose: Yes.

Elias: And so there has to be an adjustment there crosstalk or at least... I'm just saying it's like, I'm not asking anybody to throw me a bone and make my evaluation higher than it should be from a business perspective, stuff like that. Or the potential of my business are like, no, I'm being measured by Sequoia. I've been measure by CRV and by GC, but there's a lot of things that we didn't have access to that I saw other people have access to.

Jody Rose: That's exactly right. And access, that's a big point for me. And I'm going to screw this up, but bear with me, but there's a saying that says, give a man a fish and he'll eat, teach a man how to fish and he'll feed his family, or he'll be able to provide for himself. And when you talk about access, access is a key part of this, right? How are we making sure that founders like you have more access to funding, right? And it's not about, okay, how do we create programs just for minority business owners? It's like, no, how do we make sure that as venture capital funds are looking at building their portfolio of CEOs and new companies, that they are broadening their pipeline to not just rely on their networks, which are usually homogeneous, but they are really being intentional about saying, okay, if we want to get access to more companies and more founders and diversify our portfolio, because we know that it'll give us access to more innovation, what are we doing to actually get there? And so for me, it's not about... when I say lowering your standards, it's how do you broaden the aperture to look at talent, whether it be entrepreneurial talent or early career professional, software engineers, hardware specialists, to give them access to these opportunities? But also, you talk about preparation as well. Preparation is key, so at Hack Diversity, our whole goal is how are we preparing the folks that we recruit, who we call fellows, into this fellowship that lasts for nine months, how do we prepare them to be ready for these internships? And our preparation also happens on the company side. It's like, okay, we're asking you to bring in talent that you're typically not recruiting, or you're having a tough time recruiting. How do we help you make sure that you are being clear in how you're setting metrics and goals? How are we setting up your managers for success? How are we really pushing for mutual accountability and transparency? So I think there's a leveling up that needs to happen on both sides of the equation.

Elias: Yeah. I think you're providing preparation and you're providing access, right? So I think you're solving for those two things. I think, Jesus, crosstalk as soon as I think we're recording. crosstalk two days. It should be like a Joe Rogan three hour podcast. Here's a couple things. One, I want to make sure that we do a whole spiel quick few minutes on Hack Diversity, because if there's anything I want people to get out of this is this wonderful program and how it has grown and how you're expanding and where you're going, right, with it. So I think that we need more of this. That's one. But before that, I'm trying to wrap up this idea of the imposter syndrome, right, and see what we can leave concretely with people. Right? And I think it's something that you've done and I've done some of it. I've done it in an accidental way. I think maybe you did it an accident... that boldness to step up and show up and say like, I want to apply for this. I want to be the head of the New England Venture Capital Association, right? And so I think that I want people to believe me when I say that it was more my head, and maybe in your head, right, of the fear of not knocking on that door. Right? Then the worst case scenario that would've happened, that was swirling in our heads. And so independent of whether people become successful or not, what I'm trying to push from the bottom, right, is to say, I want everybody taking risks, take more risks. It's like every time I hear an amazing story of any immigrant... yesterday, I was talking to another guest, maybe don't spoil it because of the order, however it goes out. But her family was from Miami and they heard that there was work in LA. And the father just put all the belongings in some car of some nature and they drove out. And it's like her whole life stems from decisions like that, right? Those amazing, wonderful immigrant stories. And so my story is risks that I took. Your story is risks that you took from college dropout, that everybody would've been, oh, my God, she's not going to amount to anything and blah, blah, blah. And none of that really matters. So I just want to tell people, it's like, going to college or not going to college does not matter. Just being... not a software engineer. You can become a software engineer thanks to Hack Diversity, right? You don't think you can fundraise money? I started Drift at 38 years old. People go, I don't have enough time. It's like, you got plenty of time, right? And so it's like, no matter what level of success you achieve or don't achieve, it's like we can help and give advice on what's risky and what's not risky.

Jody Rose: Yeah.

Elias: Right?

Jody Rose: So the origin story of Hack is really funny. And I'll try to be brief, but it's a little bit long. So for those who don't don't know, Hack Diversity, essentially our mission is to transform the economy by breaking down barriers for black and Latinx engineers. We work with both companies and what we call fellows on a nine month program, where we're helping to provide mentorship, supports and training for both the fellow who we recruit into the fellowship and for the companies who are saying to us, we want to work with you because we're looking for more talent. That talent can be software engineers, data analysts, and we're just launching a mechanical engineering or hardware track as a recruiting for that. And that's going to be launched in 2022. And our goal was making sure that we were not just focusing on the pipeline, but also making sure that we were helping companies to improve their environment so that they're not just acquiring talent or getting talent in, but that the retention rates were high and talent was sticking. And folks felt like they belonged. But if you back up to when I first joined NABCA, NEVCA, the New England Venture Capital Association, as I talked about earlier, a lot of imposter syndrome. I didn't feel like I belong. And then I met this venture capitalist who a lot of us know. I know you know him well, Jeff Bussgang from Flybridge Capital. And Jeff, for those of you who know, is a type of VC that cares about funding companies, cares about returns, but he is very service oriented. And he has something else that drives him to be mission focused. And we sat down in our first meeting and I never forget, he said, take out a notebook because I'm about to give you a lot of tips. I know you're new to the industry. A month and a half later, he forwards me an article that said, why can't Google and Silicon Valley hire black coders? And that article went on to profile a Howard University professor who was preparing some of his CS students for an internship out west at Google. And basically, the summary of the article just really highlighted the fact that these students felt under- prepared. And also like they were misfits and didn't fit culturally. And Jeff goes, this is not just a Silicon Valley issue. It happens across all tech ecosystems. And we are seeing it here, pervasively in Boston. What should we do about it? So at that point, I'm three months in at the NAVCA, again, a black woman. And he goes, we need to do something about this. And so my response to him was, Jeff, got your back. Let me know how I can help, because in my mind I was going to send out a couple of tweets, a few emails, and then we were going to be done with it. And he goes, we need to launch this as a venture community. I'm tired of hearing from my portfolio companies that they can't find talent. And when I try to dig down and ask them, what are they doing about diversity, they look at me like I have three heads and say, were you not just present for the conversation where we told you we can't find talent? And now you're asking us about diversity. And so we spent about seven months trying to figure out what was the what we were trying to solve, right? We're we trying to solve for the fact that there were less than 6% of black and Latinx technologists? And that's a broad term, but folks represented in the tech ecosystem? Or were we trying to do data? And I was like, I don't want to do data. You can't walk a mile or a block without tripping over a study that tells you why diversity is good for business. And so what we were finding in our due diligence was that a lot of companies locally had very similar recruiting strategies, which was we want to hire the best and brightest. So we're going to double down on Harvard, MIT, BC, Northeastern, which, if I'm building a company and I come here, I'm doing the same exact thing. That's why a lot of companies come here. We have the best talent pipelines startup ecosystem in the world, second to none. But what we weren't hearing consistently was how these companies and these heads of talent were really tapping into the breadth of the talent landscape. And we came up with a thesis that you can find the best and brightest anywhere. You just have to disrupt your hiring patterns, how you think about talent, what you require that they have just to be interviewed, and how you're onboarding and preparing them. And so when we basically launched, our focus was on not just getting the talent in. And we do a lot of professional development. We do project and product sprints with them. They break up into teams, they work with mentors. We work with IDEO CoLab. We have folks from different companies that come in and help prepare them to get into these internships. So we're giving them the tools that they need to set them up for success. And then we're saying as a part of this program, they're going to get an internship at a company like Drift or at a company like the HubSpot or even on the biotech side or Boston Robotics. And the goal is to basically tap into individuals that are super bright, but for whatever reason, financial, access, you name it, they just were not on the pathway to go to a Harvard. And although they're at a community college, they are super talented and they should be considered. And so we are now in our fifth year. We started in our first year working with five companies and 16 fellows. We just wrapped our fifth cycle with 100 fellows and 30 companies that we've worked with. And we limit the amount of companies and fellows we work with every year on purpose, because we're really high touch. Next year, our goals will include working with 125 fellows and over 30 companies. And I like to think audaciously and bold. This is not something that we want to limit to Boston. So in the next few years you'll be seeing us pop up in other markets outside of Massachusetts.

Elias: It's unbelievable. I think this program... it summarizes everything that we've been talking about, right? It talks about, most importantly, you're the first one giving them a shot to the fellows, right? You're creating this, you're dedicating all your time, right, to create that opportunity. Right? And you create it out of nothing, right? You're such an entrepreneur as well. To me, that person, one of those person in mind, it was Michael Boyd. He was the head of the director of Inroads in Tampa, black man. He came to my school, he recruited me to give me an internship that led to my internship at IBM crosstalk

Jody Rose: Inroads has been one of the programs that we've modeled after, right? Yeah.

Elias: Exactly. So Inroad, this was in 1996 that I learned about it and they would train me on Saturdays. crosstalk how to behave at work. It's to reduce this imposter syndrome, right? Because the kids come out and they're like, I'm allowed to call my kids, right? I'm an old man, but it's like, they come out, right, and they're afraid. I was afraid. I mean, I was working... My first internship at Inroads was at Bank of America.

Jody Rose: And you didn't know what etiquette was crosstalk You were like, okay, well, how do I act? How do I act when I show up?

Elias: But my kids have ties. They go into my drawer, they can find a tie. I don't wear ties anymore, but they know when they need to dress up, the school dresses them up. There's purpose for them to dress up. I remember Mr. Boyd getting shirts and stuff and going and buying shoes because I'm showing up at a bank with these baggy slacks and these shirts with these ties and my lunch pack. And I'm going into a corporate world, because everyone that I knew... I used to clean offices. We were working at the grocery stores. We were working at McDonald's, working at UPS, deliveries.

Jody Rose: Yes.

Elias: And so it's like, do you think I was going to feel comfortable crosstalk showing up at a bank with...

Jody Rose: And your story, that is the story of the Hack Diversity fellow and their journey. Most of the fellows who we recruit, they're working as a dishwasher at a back way restaurant or an Amazon delivery person, or they have a blue collar job. They're supporting a family. They're putting themselves through a school or bootcamp, and they're trying to figure out how do I get in? Like, What's my point of access? And Mike Boyd said, okay, I see Elias. There's something about him. I want to give him a shot. And that's what we're trying to do.

Elias: So what you do is amazing. You're giving people a shot. You're teaching them about access by bringing the companies and forcing us to listen, right, and to say, give them a shot, hire them, pay, commit. You're training them. You're giving them preparation. You're giving them love, support. It's unbelievable. And I want to maybe close with this story. I don't know if you know this story.

Jody Rose: Sure.

Elias: So one of the Hack Diversity fellows that we had at Drift started coming in late. And so leadership here, managers, whatever, I don't know, whatever we're going to call them, they were like, so and so is not working out. He's just been disappearing. He just comes really late, at 2: 00 PM or something, and we don't know where this person is at. And so I'm like, crap. So I go, let's go for a walk. And so I go to talk, we go for a walk around here, you already know the office. And I go, what's up? Why are you coming to work late? And he goes, it's the first time I've gotten paid enough to go to the dentist. I have 14 cavities. Ans he's like, so I have a lot of visits backed up. And I'm embarrassed to tell people, right, about it. Guess who had 14 cavities in college? And I went to the doctor and the dentist girl pulls out this payment book and I'm like, I'm not paying$ 2000 bucks. And I worked at IBM full- time and I moved to Massachusetts. I finally went to my doctor, my dentist in Winchester, and committed to doing my 14 cavities in early 2000s, right? So I had to go explain this to the leadership and the management team here of, we don't all have access to dentists, to dental care when we're growing up.

Jody Rose: Yep.

Elias: You know what I mean? So it's like, this is the kind of stuff that you're enabling, right? That Mr. Boyd enabled me to do and what you're doing is fantastic. And it is really hard, you and I both know it, but we want people to know about it. Right? When they say they can't hire diversity, well, until you take two to four fellows yourself every year, you can't complain because you're creating the access for both...

Jody Rose: I also just have to give you major kudos for even pulling an intern aside. I mean, you're an executive, right? And for you to say, I need to stay close to this and know what's happening and say, we're going to go for a walk, to really get to understand what was at the root of him being late and giving him that feedback and that coaching one on one, a lot of leaders don't do that. So I want to say, thank you.

Elias: Yeah, well, this is the problem. When you're a leader, you're not supposed to do these things, you're supposed to delegate. You're not supposed to be in the weeds, but I don't know. I listen, I try to take coaching, but at the end of the day, we got to do what we got to do. Right? And I think that that's the path of an entrepreneur. You got to take risks and do that, but it's all about people, I think. Like I said earlier, why do I do this? Why am I still doing this? It's to give people a shot. Right? It's like, there's nothing more rewarding than being able to have taken advantage of shots that were given me. You are taking those shots and now you're giving shots back. Right? And so crosstalk

Jody Rose: It's always so good to see you. I wish we had more time to talk because I have so much to say, but I know we don't want to spend too much time because then the listeners won't listen to the whole conversation. I just love you, man.

Elias: Same, same.


Jody Rose is the president of the New England Venture Capital Association, but her first day as executive director 6 years ago was one of the scariest days of her life.

Jody’s bullish attitude led her to be able to overcome imposter syndrome and rise through the high ranks. Now, by co-founding Hack.Diversity, she’s determined to empower the next generation of underrepresented individuals and provide them access to opportunities in tech.

In this episode, you’ll hear how Jody and Elias conquer their own imposter syndrome and how organizations like Hack.Diversity are critical to giving underrepresented individuals a foot into the corporate door.

For more information on Hack.Diversity, check out: https://www.hackdiversity.com/

Key Moments:

  • Jody's origin story (1:30)
  • The two types of imposter syndrome (7:32)
  • How Elias talks with and inspires entry-level engineers (12:53)
  • Turning insecurity into bullishness (17:14)
  • Why Jody co-founded Hack.Diversity (20:33)
  • The importance of taking risks (27:04)
  • Hack.Diversity's origin story (28:21)
  • Stories of Hack.Diversity's impact (36:48)

Today's Host

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Elias Torres

|Co-founder & CTO, Drift

Today's Guests

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Jody Rose

|Co-Founder, Hack.Diversity