Authenticity & Diversity Part 2

Jamil Sanders Key Private Bank

Today we welcome back returning guest Jamil Sanders, Vice President and Relationship Manager of Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. In this episode, we shine a light on how accepting ourselves is the first step to accepting others. Jamil offers a wealth of wisdom and helps kick off our conversation by defining the importance of accepting yourself. He touches on the interconnectedness of acceptance and self-love, as well as why we should try not to take on the role of being our own harshest critic. Jamil then takes a moment to explain how he balances the dichotomy of being the best version of himself and forgiving of his flaws. By understanding that success and doubt come with ebbs and flows, he notes that keeping a constant balance of humility is one of the best ways to cope with unexpected adversity. For added perspective, Jamil references his wrestling experiences in high school. Later on in the show, we tuck into the importance of not just hearing those around us but listening to them on much deeper levels. To conclude, Jamil shares advice to those who want to want to make an active change to accept others and improve the lives of those around them. He suggests focusing on what people are and what they are not, as well as how we can have a more productive dialogue to encourage change.

Key Points From This Episode

  • Jamil defines the importance of accepting yourself.
  • Jamil balances the dichotomy of being the best version of himself and forgiving of his flaws.
  • Jamil shares how he copes with success being met with sudden adversity.
  • Hear Jamil’s definition of success.
  • Jamil touches on the virtues of using grace instead of blame.
  • We talk about what it means to truly listen to someone and process how they’re feeling.
  • Jamil’s advice to those who want to make an active effort to accept yourself and others.
  • Why dialogue should be centered around finding likeness and not differences.


[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.

[00:00:22] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today, we’re continuing our conversation on authenticity and diversity with Jamil Sanders, Vice President and Relationship Manager with Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.

While this episode can be enjoyed without the context of our previous conversation, I do encourage you to listen to part one, if you have not already done so. For today’s conversation, Jamil and I discuss how accepting ourselves is the first step to accepting others. I hope you all enjoy.

[00:00:51] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.


[00:00:58] AD: Jamil, we’re back. We’re here again. You ready for another awesome conversation today?

[00:01:04] JS: I’m ready. I’m ready. Gas up the jet. Let’s do it.

[00:01:07] AD: All right. To our listeners, Jamil and I are jumping back in here on what we’re calling part two of our conversation. This isn’t something that was planned. This wasn’t when Jamil and I first talked about doing a podcast around authenticity and really tying in some diversity aspect to it, we said hey, we’ll do an episode on it and take it from there. I will say, we recorded one and this is what, two weeks ago we recorded the previous episode. We got done with it and we’re just like, wow, there’s a lot more to talk about.

We wound the episode down, because we’re getting along. I think we’re at 40 some minutes and I was like, “Okay, we’ll wind the conversation down.” Even after we stopped recording, Jamil and I kept talking. Then we started trading notes about it. We’re just like, okay, we’re going to jump back on here and continue, because we felt there was a lot still to talk about.

With that said, this is again, a little bit of a continuation of the conversation. We’re going to actually hone in on a really specific part that I think we pulled from the last episode is just talking about if being an authentic version of yourself is something that’s important, which I think to many of us, or to all of us is really something we want to achieve. It does come down to accepting yourself, but also recognizing where accepting yourself really is — plays a lot of accepting others, which ties in a lot to the diversity side that we’ve talked about a little bit. With that said, Jamil, let me just maybe tee up something for you to share some thoughts around. When I say the importance of accepting yourself, what comes to mind? How do you think about that?

[00:02:45] JS: Yeah. No. When I think about accepting yourself, I think about self-love. I think it’s really important. That’s the theme that really comes out, because when you analyze yourself, I think we are our worst critics. We can probably judge ourselves harsher than anyone else could. At that same time, we got to be grateful in that approach of understanding that it’s okay to be imperfect, and as well as accept the others for being not perfect. That’s really what resonates with me when I think about that, man. It’s just self-love. Loving yourself, man.

[00:03:22] AD: Totally agree with you. You’re right, we can be our worst critics. Let me ask you, you get up every day, you do your job, you have the battle in the mind overcoming some of that, how do you balance that dichotomy? The dichotomy of okay, I want to push myself. I want to be driven. I want to be motivated. I want to be the best version of myself and I set all these things, these goals for myself that I want to go and accomplish. Also, knowing that you’re not perfect and you’re going to fall short in things are going to miss your internal expectations. That’s inevitable in your day-to-day life.

As you work through that, the internal thought is, “Well, hey. You need to work harder. Get up. Keep going. You got this in you.” Or, is it you’re not good enough? Again, I’m just trying to talk out loud a little bit right now. What are some of your thoughts around that?

[00:04:07] JS: I think everyone goes through the ebb and flow. It could be where you’re rolling hot. You are having great success. Your performance is strong and then adversity hits. I think that’s that moment where you start to question, was it luck? Is it legitimate? Because see, what happens is what I think for me, when you are successful, you have a good streak of success, you tend to forget, maybe the things that you had to do to pull yourself from that valley.

What I mean by that is reaffirming to yourself, “Hey, I’m here. I’m qualified to do the job. I’ve experienced success before.” It’s almost like a mantra that you create for yourself. It’s basically, the way you coach yourself out, like we talked about in the previous sessions. How I look at that internally is that I constantly coach myself up, even when success is really at an all-time high, it’s keeping that balance of humility. I think that’s very important. We are looking at all of those things. An approach to success is to say, “How can I keep myself balanced? How can I keep myself even?” Really keep yourself hungry in a positive way.

When you think about a lot of the things when it comes to acceptance. Thinking about acceptance in a sense of, it’s okay if I’m not successful in everything that I do, as long as I’m learning from those experiences. I think that the most important piece is always learn from the experiences, but not using them as, I call them dead weights and just weighing you down, where you can never move past maybe that failure, or it’s a little bit harder to get out of that valley.

[00:05:45] AD: You said, maybe you’re not hitting your success. We talked a little bit about this in the previous episode, about this idea of failure and what is failure and how do you define failure? I think success has a lot of those same components behind it and when we talk about accepting ourselves. I just speak on my own experience around this. I can say, I want to go and accomplish X, Y, and Z. The true definition of did I succeed at something, or did I fail at something, that’s really in my own mind. I’m the one making that judgment.

At the end of the day, if it’s an outside party making the judgment, then why am I worried about what someone else is thinking? This is about me. This is about am I a success? Am I a failure? How do I think about that? What I think all too often happens when you’re in that type of thinking, it’s about a specific action, or a specific goal post, or something, you’re going to hit, something you’re going to achieve, or something you’re going to accomplish. When in fact, in my own experience, the real success or frankly, potentially, the real failure comes from not moving forward, not continually improving, not continually being the best version of yourself.

This is where accepting, and for me, there’re so many things that I set these goals. “Oh, I want to accomplish this. I want to do this.” I fall short. I don’t do what I thought I would do. It’s not in the self-talk. It very often can be, “Oh, you failed at this. Oh, you’re never going to get this. You got to push harder and get that.” What I have to bring myself back to is saying, “Hey, this really is about me doing my best. I didn’t hit where I thought I would. What went wrong? Where can I find other ways to improve?” I still did the best I could. I got up every day. I did the best I could.

If I know that, if I really believe that and if I truly am getting myself up and doing my best, there’s not much more that I can ask for. That’s where I look at that as actually being the success, is doing that day in, day out, again and again, day after day. I think that ability to accept yourself like that, as you said, there’s coaching yourself up that’s involved in that right and remaining hungry in a positive way. I like that statement as well. I want to continue to push myself forward in a positive way, not beating myself up of “Oh, you’re not good enough.” Rather, “Hey, nice work. Make sure tomorrow, maybe we can improve this a little bit. Let’s do this just a little bit better tomorrow.”

You said it so well. You’re going to forget past successes. You’re going ebbs and flows. I would love to ask you, do you have any specific thoughts, or any stories that you can share, or experiences where you worked really hard, you were very focused and motivated, you kicked some ass and had a lot of success, then he got to a comfortable place. Things felt great for a while. Then all of a sudden, you got hit with some curveballs, right? Something came out of left field that you didn’t expect, but it threw you into a little bit of a rut and you had to maybe wake yourself up again and get some of that hunger back in you, or pull yourself out of that spin, because you had forgotten your past success and what helped you get through it in the past. Any examples or anything like that?

[00:08:48] JS: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Man, I’m going to take it back. I’m going to travel back in time. It was actually in high school. I wrestled in high school. This was my junior season. I remember being a sophomore. You know how you hear about, you got potential, and you can do a lot of great things, but it’s up to the athlete, or the person in a professional environment to realize it.

I used to hear my coach say, “Hey, Jamil. You have a lot of potential to be a really great wrestler. You just got to focus.” Naturally, I say, “Okay, the coach says focus. Sounds simple, but let’s give it a shot.” I remember, actually the upper class and he was a senior that year. He came to me. I’m a very team-oriented person. I went to him. We went to the state tournament. I went down there, just to spectate. We go down to the state tournament. He gets knocked out. I just go into him. I’m just like, “Hey, great season. I learned a lot from you.”

What he said, was literally the field that I needed to channel this focus. He said, “You will never make it to state.” I had assumed being younger, you can’t really process what that moment was like, but he was dealing with something, whatever was internally. He made it a few times down there, he didn’t finish the job, whatever the case may have been. I’m very conscious. The reason why I’m sharing that part of the story is because I’m very conscious about it. Even when I’m experiencing failure, I always have to always give out love and tell people, “Hey.” Keep them uplifted. You got to be very cautious of what you project out to people.

Fast forward, junior season comes around. I bust my butt. I’m talking about I’m in the best shape. I lifted weights. I did whatever the coach told me that I needed to do, I did it, because my mindset at this point at the beginning of the season is that I’m getting to state, because he said I wouldn’t get there. I’ll tell you, I won my first five matches. Lost to a state ranked kid. Won a few more. Lost. Then I went on a stretch, man. It was 20 straight. I was beating ranked guys. I was high on life, man.

[00:10:47] AD: You’re on top of the world.

[00:10:48] JS: Oh, man. Absolutely. Then my coach is like, “Jamil, you might legitimately have a chance to place in state.” I’m really feeling myself at this point. I beat this one guy. He actually was a state placer. Very talented wrestler. I told my coach, “Coach, I think I could win it.” Now, let me just keep it in perspective. I knew the guy that if I didn’t make it to the finals, this guy was a monster. He was a four-time state, or he was a three-time state champion at this point. I mean, just buzz saw at everybody. He was a great wrestler. I respect him as an athlete. Absolutely.

That same time, you got to set a goal, right? I’m winning. I’m on the streak. I started to get arrogant a little bit. I started to get confident. My preparation in training wasn’t the same. My event wasn’t the same. I got very comfortable, because I forgot the reason of my “why”. That’s why I love that book called Simon Sinek, Start with Why, because I forgot my “why”. I was having that success.

I go against this kid in a tournament. I made it to the finals of this tournament. Now this tournament that we went to was called, I think it was the Brentwood Classic. We get to the Brentwood Classic, I get to the finals and I’m facing this kid. I knew it from the very beginning, round one, I’m gassed. I’m like, “Oh, my goodness.” I wasn’t running. I wasn’t doing a thing. Sure enough, I lost the match. I was defeated. I didn’t get pinned. I prided myself on not getting pinned. I just want to put that out there to the listeners.

I didn’t get pinned. He crushed me, because I got dominated. That was worse. I can be honest. I can see very unbelievably. I got dominated. Because while I was taking moments off and being arrogant, this guy was still going after it, because he has the same dream and vision to get to state as well. Fast forward, that was a question moment. I remember, I went to my coach. My coach like, I was hot. I was upset after this match.

It was a question. Now you asked a question earlier. Is there ever a point when you question yourself of what am I doing here? I’m a fraud at this point. I’m like, I’m not as good as I thought. I just got my butt kicked. Long story short, my coach is like, “Jamil, that’s part of life is adversity. You just found out either two things. It’s your preparation, or you just met a wrestler that was better than you.” He was like, “Jamil, I’m going to be honest with you. You’re talented in take down. You can take down anybody in the state. No question about it.”

At the same time, he was like, “This guy was just a better wrestler.” He was like, “He got you to where you were weak.” I was weak on the bottom. It showed me where I had a weakness, so I was weak from getting up. Long story short, I needed that match and my coach to coach me back up. When you go through rough spots, we talked about mentors, those mentors are great people to coach you out of those valleys. Long story short, he coached me out of it. I’ve got back on my training. Got back into my groove. Had a great run. Got to the state tournament. Got beat my first round. Just those jitters and it’s a big environment. Got beat my first round.

Piggyback system. Got back into the tournament. Went on a tear. Got to the semi-finals constellation, met another buzz, saw, got down to fifth and sixth and I ended up finishing six. I stand to this day, I had that guy’s scent. I’m just joking. I did have him pinned, but I didn’t get the count. Nonetheless, I remember my why. It was such a gratifying victory, because place, because you mentioned something. I’m sorry, I’m talking a little bit, but you mentioned something good, where what is the definition of success?

My definition of success, when I started on that journey was just to get to state. For me to reach fifth or sixth, just a place. I was like, “Man.” People are like, “Oh, man. I mean, sixth place in the state.” A wrestler, or an athlete that tried to accomplish anything, they understand how difficult it is to reach it to that level. Man, I got that medal sitting in my house and I showed my son and I let him know. I’m super proud of that, because it was guys I wrestled with for years. It was guys that wrestled since five-years-old, did not placed once a state. Here I am, a junior, I placed in state. Ranked and went my senior year, but I didn’t go back because I was trying to focus on other sports for scholarship purposes. To answer, yeah, that’s my story, Man. That was an example.

[00:14:58] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders Podcast.

[00:15:08] AD: Jamil, one, thank you for sharing that. There’s a couple of really good points that I want to go back to in there. The first point that I think is really important here, you started out with understanding that you need to consistently be looking at and conscious of your headspace. Conscious of what you’re giving out to other people, the way you’re acting and with and engaging with other people. Your example was the other player that was senior to you that when you went to him and try to have a friendly conversation, he blew you off and said something negative towards you. That was as you said, accepting that, okay, he’s not a bad person. This isn’t worried about someone’s – people have bad days.

I think that’s really important to remember. People have bad days. We all have bad days. We all have bad behavior. It doesn’t excuse it and mean it’s okay that he acted that way, but it also doesn’t mean that you have to get yourself riled up over it, or have any – It doesn’t have to affect you. It doesn’t have to mess with who you are as a person. That said, bringing that consciousness to yourself of this is really important to remember that when I’m riled up, or when I’m angry, or frustrated that I’m conscious of how I’m acting towards people.

Way easier said than done. When we talk a lot about accepting yourself and in authenticity and how this all ties back together, I genuinely believe that a lot of that just comes down to how do you treat other people. If you’re constantly treating other people yourself, the same way you’re treating other people, “Hey, I give you some grace. You’re having a bad day. I know. Maybe I don’t appreciate the way that you’re talking to me, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of. I’m just going to let this go.” That’s grace. You have to be able to do that with yourself, just as much as you do with other people.

If you can’t do it for yourself, you’re not going to be able to do it for other people. I wanted to point that out, because I thought that was important. Looking in and thinking through what you said around your destination of success, in remembering your why, I think there’s a lot of really important lessons there, of you have to one, know that when you define success, it’s not a mile marker you’re trying to achieve. Yes, you were striving to place at state. You are striving to hit a certain level, but that’s not really success. That’s a mile marker, helping you understand the direction in which you’re going.

At the end of the day, that’s not the true success that you’re striving for. Once you really step back, or remember your why around that, that does help bring a lot of that grace to yourself and knowing that, hey, maybe you didn’t get quite where you want it to get. But hey, I did my best. I worked hard on it and things happened. You also did mention that at some point in there, you may have danced the fine line between confidence and arrogance and landed some on the arrogant side, which we’ve all done, right? Trust me, I’m very guilty of this one.

I think it’s important to point out that there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Frankly, there’s a very big difference between the two of them, but it’s a very fine line to dance between them. It can be really difficult to navigate those two. When you found yourself in a place of arrogance, you weren’t focused on your why, you were focused on just the wins and the success you’re having and not focused on that long-term, continual focus and improvement. When you let that go and took that out of your focus, all of a sudden your performance went down. It’s inevitable that will follow. We’ve seen that all too often in celebrities, pop culture and sports.

You see people who get too big for the world and then fall off a meteoric rise, or the meteoric fall. I think that’s a sense of crossing that line. The reason I say all that, what I think is really important is you talk about two things. You had to remember it for yourself, remembering your why. Again, that will help you when you spend time. It’s not a one-time exercise, but really, okay, what am I trying to accomplish? What is my goal? What do I define as success? How am I moving towards that? When you stay focused on that, I think it makes it easier for you to certainly, helps pull you more towards the confident side, rather than the arrogant side, right? It’s not a cure all, but it does certainly help with that.

You also said, finding people in your life to help coach you out of valleys. In your case, you had a coach for your sports team. I think for anyone with mentors, or my work today in in coaching, a lot of it revolves around exactly what you just said there, is when you are in a struggle, when things aren’t going well, when you feel you’re challenged, finding an outside perspective and someone that can help you see things from a different light and just talk through stuff and incur and keep you in the right headspace and help you discover that why’d, help motivate you and move you forward, makes a world of difference, right?

[00:19:34] JS: Yup. It does. It does.

[00:19:36] AD: I love that story. I think there’s a lot of value there. Let’s talk about how, as we accept ourselves. We talked a lot, I understand my why, I’m looking to stay confident, but not arrogant. I want to make sure I’m conscious about how I interact with other people. I try to approach life with humility. I coached myself up. I try not to forget past success. All the stuff we’ve talked about, the core of that, a lot of that allows us to accept people who are different from us. Accept people who maybe are that looked different, that we may initially think, “Well, that’s wrong, or that’s not right, or that’s not how I would do it.”

Knowing that that’s okay, that everyone’s different, everyone’s doing their best. Every day, everyone’s getting up and doing their best.

Put you on the spot on this one. Do you have any good examples, or any time where you’ve seen a place and maybe in your own life, or someone around you where you see someone that has – the focus has become more on judging the other person, or focusing on blaming the other person for what they’re doing wrong, rather than just giving someone grace? Instead of just saying, “Hey, they’re having a bad day there.” We all get stuck in these. I’m just trying to think of, do you have any good examples where you’ve seen that in your life?

[00:20:45] JS: I don’t have a story, per se. If I was to give a reflection of you even just look at what we’ve endured as a country just over the past year. I think a lot of the points of contention was that it was where people felt as if I’m being attacked. I don’t understand. I think to really think about really where the disconnect was happening, it was that –

[00:21:15] AD: I’m right, you’re wrong.

[00:21:16] JS: I’m right, you’re wrong. Exactly. Right, right. The thing is, is that when a person has to feel as if they’re right, I’m always curious about what’s going on inside, because somewhere deep inside your heart, you have to say to that person – like you have to say to that other person like, “Okay, if they’re telling me this, it’s something that I’m missing. I need to open up my mind and my thinking to explore further about what’s going on.” Perfect example, matter of fact, I can share a story, so with my wife.

[00:21:45] AD: Tread lightly.

[00:21:47] JS: I know. Right, right. I’m tip toeing over here. I’m tiptoeing. My wife used to always say, “I’m talking to you and I’m telling you something, but you’re not listening.” I’m like, “Yes, I am. I got two ears. What are you talking about?” What happened when I learned is, I wasn’t listening on a deeper level. It was a message. It was something to be discovered below the surface. Me caring about – Okay, perfect example and I’m going to connect it. I used to think to myself, “Hey, I’m not going to share my ideas. Nobody cares.” It’s like, I’m not accepting my own ideas is good, so why would anyone else care?

Now, I’m projecting that in some other conversations like, yeah, they’re talking. I hear you, but I’m not really listening. Because guess what? No one really listens to me. It’s a weird subliminal way. I’m not saying to say it like, I was ignoring my wife. At the same time, I’m listening, but I’m not processing and I’m not seeking understanding. What I ended up doing is that I literally had to say to myself, “Am I listening just to listen, or am I listening to understand?” I think that’s a very important piece, because if we can’t listen to ourselves and what feels good to us and who we believe we are, it’ll be impossible for us to hear others.

They can be telling us. I could be like, “Hey, Alex, man. I’m really torn inside, because of the state of society. I’m concerned about the future for my sons, or my children.” Then Alex could say, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” You know what I mean? Like, “I hear you, but hey, it’s life. Toughen up, buttercup.” You’re one of those types of – then it’s like, almost like, where is the disconnect and the empathy –

[00:23:30] AD: Empathy gap.

[00:23:31] JS: Empathy gap. Exactly. Because if we can’t be empathetic to ourselves and accept ourselves, it still it comes back to that self-love. It’d be hard for us to do it for others. That would be an example, where I was listening to my wife, but I wasn’t empathetic to what she was really trying to say and ask and explore further and to seek a better understanding. Hopefully, that answers your question. That’s what I would think.

[00:23:55] AD: I want to react to that. I think, what’s really important there is the underlying theme of all of this and this certainly wasn’t planned when we kicked off this conversation, but it’s becoming clear to me now. There really is the level of you can only hear someone as much as you hear yourself. You can only love someone as much as you love yourself. You can only give grace to someone else as much as you give grace to yourself. If you can’t do it to yourself, you can’t do it to others. I think, you’re totally right where you project on your own thoughts onto other people.

As you said there, you had an internal programming that told you that your thoughts are no good, that there’s no reason to share them and there’s nothing important for you to say. That was experiences in your life taught you that negative programming. In having that, it was difficult for you to truly hear and listen and understand someone else. Because in your mind, what they’re saying, well, you never talk and share important thoughts, so how could they ever be talking and sharing important thoughts?

That’s not maybe what you were consciously thinking to yourself, but that is the innate wiring of your experience in life that led you to being in that place. I can imagine, because my wife and I’ve actually had similar conversations around this. I assume many married couples have dealt with similar dialogue around this. A lot of it is that you’re not sitting there saying to each other, and again, we’re talking about this in a spousal relationship, but I think this is in any relationship, where one person is like, “Well, I don’t think you’re hearing what I’m saying.” You’re saying, “Well, of course, I’m hearing what you’re saying.”

Well, the second the responses is, “Of course, I’m hearing what you’re saying,” there’s a disconnect there. Because if the other person is not feeling heard, and what they’re saying to you is not, “I don’t think the words I’m saying are going into your ears,” because we know that the words are going into your ears. We know that you’re hearing the sound vibrations and you’re hearing the actual language, I’m saying to you. What someone is really saying is, “I don’t think you’re really understanding me. I don’t think you’re digging deep or you’re really hearing what I’m saying.” When you react with, “Of course, I’m hearing you and of course, I’m listening. I’m a great listener,” then you haven’t opened up the door to say – Instead of saying, “Well. Oh, I’m sorry. What am I missing? Help me understand. I want to make sure you feel heard. It’s important to me that you feel heard and that I’m hearing what you’re saying.”

Again, I think that goes anywhere and tying this all back to our conversation around diversity and accepting other people and accepting that we’re all different. When you come to those conflicts, or you come to those points, where maybe you’re uncomfortable, or people are different, people are acting different, living different in those, frankly, that diversity, that difference in ways of thinking and living and acting and talking, all of that, you have to be able to really slow down and understand and listen to what someone else is saying. Really make sure you’re understanding why someone is doing what they’re doing.

Instead of assuming that you’re doing it right and turning it back on to them. Of course, I’m doing this right. I’m not doing anything wrong. That’s what I think the listening, or our whole discussion on listening comes down to. Let me ask you this, Jamil. I want to wrap all of this together here. We’ve talked about, you are a black man in a predominantly white industry, accepting yourself and accepting others is then the theme of our conversation today. What would be a piece of advice that you would give to someone – give it to me. I’m your white friend sitting here saying, hey, my goal is I want to make sure that I’m trying to accept others and gain additional perspective and remain diverse in my thought and those I surround myself with. What can I do to make the biggest progress for? What’s something, or not maybe the biggest progress, but what is just something I can do and what was something you want me to know, as I think about ways to accept myself and accept others?

[00:27:38] JS: Yeah. That’s a great question. It really comes back to, I don’t think what we’re embarking on when it comes to diversity and inclusion and all that stuff. It’s nothing that’s going to be hypercharged. It’s not going to happen in a matter of months. It’s incremental. That’s how I look at success. Success is very –

[00:27:57] AD: It’s a journey.

[00:27:58] JS: A journey. Yeah, absolutely. You got to love the journey. What I would give you as a possible tip, or best practice is enjoy the journey and try to learn as much as you can about any and everyone.

[00:28:13] AD: Love it.

[00:28:14] JS: Because you can learn something from a senior person, a young person as in school, you can learn some from people that’s your age. It’s so many opportunities to learn. The thing is, is too, is that even if a person’s ideals, or what they represent doesn’t align with yours, you can still appreciate them for being them. I think that’s really where it’s important is that – I mean, a person could tell me, I don’t like R&B music. I’m just using an example. I don’t like R&B music. Okay, great. What music do you like? “Oh, I love country.” Okay, great. What’s one of your favorite songs, right? It’s not focusing on what you don’t like. I need to find out what you do like and who are you as a person. I think once we start truly just trying to seek out what makes us –

[00:29:00] AD: Focus on what people are, not what they are not.

[00:29:03] JS: Exactly. Correct. Exactly. It’s like, how can we find out what makes us special and unique? Really, how do we align versus what makes us separate? I think that’s really where the conversation has been so focused on, what devices we really need to focus on. Hey, how are we similar? Let’s discover that part of the conversation. That’s what I would say, if I was to give you any idea of things, or share with any listeners is just be curious and stretch yourself. I think that’s another thing. Stretching yourself outside of your network and finding people that are different and invite them into your world. Because it’s one thing to invite somebody else to lunch. It’s another thing to invite them to your personal space, around your family, at a cookout, something like that.

Socially distance, of course. I want to make sure I put that out there. Yeah, I think that’s important. It’s just you got to stretch yourself in this journey. I think you could do a lot of good in the world.

[00:29:55] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.

[00:30:03] AD: Jamil, embrace the journey. I like that. I think at the end of the day, when we talk about success, personal growth, or diversity, I think it’s a journey. I don’t think there’s no one step action that we’re going to do to solve any of the problems in this world, or to be successful, or to magically hit the perfect point of growth. It’s really the journey. It’s the continual process. It’s the daily improvement, the daily approach, the constant focus, putting in the hard work. I think that’s just so important to embrace that.

The idea of focus on what people are and what they are not, there’s so much to be said. Listen, at the end of the day, a lot of my life, my work in Connection Builders, the podcast here at Branch Out, so much of it revolves around networking and building interpersonal relationships with people. People always go to the revenue, the business development side of it, which yes, that’s a byproduct. That’s part of what your networking is. At the end of the day, it’s about learning from other people. It’s about getting to know other people. It’s about gaining new thoughts and insights. It’s about seeing the world from a different way, coming up with new ideas, having diversity of thoughts.

It’s not just you. It’s about everyone around you, that you spend time talking to engaging with. You want to be successful with that, show up and focus on what people are, not what they’re not. Understand who they are, and apply that in every aspect of your life in every interaction that you have. I don’t like to make a lot of promises, or guaranteed statements, because the world’s a highly unpredictable place, as anyone who survived 2020 can tell you.

What I will promise is that if you really do get up every day, do your best, to be the best version of yourself and focus on what’s good about people and focus on understanding those around you and not criticizing others and just really on being a good person and encouraging those around you, your life will get better. I can promise you that. Things will trend upward. It may not happen overnight, but it will. I think the moral of the story of our two lessons, or two not lessons, or two podcasts here together, is just accept people for who they are. Accept other people and go out there and make that. Invite them into your world as you said, and just get to know them.

[00:32:09] JS: Now that’s spot on. It’s just I tell people, if people ask me like, “Jamil, why are you so excited?” I’m a high energy. I’m always excited.

[00:32:18] AD: Not you. No, not Jamil.

[00:32:20] JS: Not in the end. Not at all. Just because I truly mean it. I just love people, literally love people.

[00:32:26] AD: Same.

[00:32:27] JS: I care about the well-being of people. I don’t like people being sad. I get it. Life can be challenged and all the various things, but I just love and I’m curious about people. To your point, well said. It’s just, whenever you engage with people, especially in the marketplace, network and lead a business last. Get beyond that. You already know that you’re there for the business, right? It’s like, hey, try to learn something about each other that you said, “Hey, this is what I look at as a successful lead. I want to learn about what they like to do as hobbies and how can we maybe connect on those hobbies,” because that’s going to fortify that relationship in business.

[00:33:02] AD: You’re spot on. Listen, we could go for probably three more hours talking about that specific part alone. Jamil, this has been awesome. Two episodes in a row here. I hope our listeners have had a chance to listen. Obviously, if they’re still listening at this point, they’ve heard this one. I mean, hopefully, they have heard the first one. Or if not, you’ll go back and check it out.

As we wind down here, I’m going to give a quick recap of what we talked about today and some of the key takeaways. First and foremost, you can’t forget past successes. You will at times. We all will, I think at times, forget our past successes, because we ride ups and downs in life. When things are going really well, it’s easy to forget about some of the past challenges that you’ve had. You have to really try to remain humble to that and stay focused on what helps you get there. The key behind a lot of that is understanding your why, understanding what you’re trying to accomplish and understanding what success means to you.

So much of that is recognizing, this isn’t a destination. This isn’t a one-time place. You’re not going to all of a sudden, get there and be done. The whole theme of this is embrace the journey, embrace the constant work. You have to code yourself up as you’re working through that. You have to really look at ways to try to keep yourself grounded and moving forward and motivated, while dancing that fine line between confidence and arrogance and remaining on the side of being confident, while not being arrogant in what you’re doing. Also, well, not getting complacent. You said, hungry in a positive way, which I thought was really good.

Also, talked about the idea of you want to give out love consistently. I like that. It’s, be conscious of what you’re giving out to those around you. Be conscious of how you’re acting, while also being graceful to those around you that maybe aren’t so nice, and recognizing that people have bad days. When someone’s having a bad day and someone is rude, and we’ve all did. Like, the grocery store. You go into the grocery, someone’s an asshole once in a while. Okay, it happens. Who cares? Move on. It’s life.

Don’t get hooked up on it. At the same time, be conscious of your own actions and the way that you’re reacting around other people, so that you can always be trying to give out that positive energy. You also mentioned that if you find yourself in a valley, there’s a great – it’s a great opportunity to have someone help you, a mentor, or coach your way out of the valleys. I believe there’s value in coaching and mentoring in all aspects of life. In particular, if you find yourself in a valley, that’s when there’s certainly a lot of value there.

Then we touched a little bit about projecting our own thoughts and in recognizing that we internally, whatever way we might be thinking, even unconsciously it we’re going to project on those around us. Instead of when someone says, and the example used is, “Hey, you’re not listening to me.” Instead of coming back with, “Well, yes, I am.” You come back with, “Well, I’m sorry that you don’t feel like I am. What can I do, or help me understand better, help me understand what you’re saying better.” Really just approaching things with a more open mind and recognizing that it’s not just our way. We have to understand the way that other people are, where they’re coming from.

I think again, it all that does come back to just focusing on what people are and what they’re not, and really just trying to find the best in people. Then the final point you made that I thought was really important, invite them into your world. Look for ways to really get to know people. Tying all this back to what we do here with Connection Builders and Branch Out. If you want to build good relationships, period, just look for the best in people. Go spend time with people. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day and tying into the diversity side of things. Recognize that the more diverse thought you can get, the more diverse your network can be, the better. The world is a better place that way.

Jamil, this has been awesome. What a great two episodes. I’ve really enjoyed these. For our call to action this week, I want to ask listeners, sometime in the next seven days, find time to reflect on a situation where you could have behaved better. Where you were in a bad mood and maybe lashed out at someone, a co-worker, or someone at the grocery store, or the idiot that cut you off that you haunt that and waved your middle finger at for absolutely no reason at all. I’m saying that with some perspective for myself, because sometimes we all find ourselves there.

Really, in the next seven days, find time to think about a place where you’ve reacted poorly and give yourself some grace around it and then be conscious of it. Think to yourself about how you’re going to react better the next time. With that said, Jamil, anything else that you’d like to add before we wind down here?

[00:37:24] JS: No, man. Always love getting on Branch Out. Great opportunity. Like you said, if you want to connect, contact me on LinkedIn. It’s always a great way to get in touch. Yeah, thanks for the opportunity.

[00:37:34] AD: You’re such a repeat guest. I don’t even have to ask you anymore. I’ve gotten roots here. I have a note. Remember to ask the guest if there’s an opportunity to connect. Well, Jamil already knows that, because he is a repeat flier here. Awesome. Well as always, Jamil, thank you for being on here. It was an awesome conversation and I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

[00:37:53] JS: Absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity.


[00:37:56] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for tuning in this week. Share this podcast with your professional network to help others connect, grow and excel. Like what you hear? Leave us a review and don’t forget to subscribe now.