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Chris Upperman, Manager of Governance & Strategic Initiatives for Facebook | From The White House Mail Room To Changing The World At Facebook

by Scott D. Clary
June 30th 2021

➡️ About The Guest

Chris Upperman is currently the Manager of Governance & Strategic Initiatives for Facebook (including working with their Oversight Board). Previous to his role a... More

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I'm your host scott declaring today I am interviewing and sitting down with chris up erman Chris had an incredible career and he still does, he walks through his entire story, how he worked in the Obama administration, how he worked for the biden Harris transition team and also how he holds his current role, which is the manager of governance and strategic initiatives for facebook, while also holding multiple board seats. Most recently, sitting on the advisory board as chairman for la champs as well as sitting as a member on LA champs board of directors. Chris is an incredible guy. He has an incredible story, there's a lot of lessons to teach over besides the fact that just walking through some of the stuff that he's done in his career is already mind blowing. Um this episode is sponsored by Gusto. So thank you Gusto there, your one stop shop for all payroll solutions, so if you are working in a business or on a business and you want less headache, stay tuned, Stick around till halfway through the show.

And they have a special offer for all the success story podcast listeners. Mhm Thanks again for joining me today, I am sitting down with a very special guest chris. Opperman, he is currently the manager of governance and strategic initiatives first facebook including working with their oversight board. Previous to his role at facebook, he has worked in the Obama administration and he also worked on the biden Harris transition team. Chris serves on several advisory councils including Obama foundations. My brother's Keeper Alliance, the National Black MBA Association, next gen Chamber of Commerce. He was most recently named chairman of the advisory board of law champs. We're gonna talk about what law chances um as well as the member of its board of directors and was a center for american Progress Leadership Institute fellow in 2012, graduated from Georgia State University, received a bachelor of arts in sociology and was honored by the university receiving a 40 under 40 and 2019 chris incredible resume.

Thank you so much for having us, you know, having a couple of minutes to chat. Uh, absolutely. This is this is this is a very exciting interview for me because the fact that you have done so much in terms of your own career, but you're also obviously very altruistic and the fact that you give back a lot. Um, and all the boards that you sit on and you know, some, some, I recognize some, I want you to tell me what they are, but let's backtrack a little bit because you don't, you know, you don't graduate and and jump into all this day one. So walk me through, walk me through your career, walk me through where you started and how you got here, wow, that's a, that's a really, really uh tall order here. Um you know, I appreciate this opportunity scott, it's a pleasure to uh, to meet you. Um you know, I've heard great things about the podcast and so I'm honored to be here and share a little bit about my background. Um this is what I'll say, um I'm from kennesaw Georgia, that's where I grew up, outside of Atlanta, um, you know, where I'm at today, how I'm sitting uh in this, in this seat today, there are many moments that I just honestly couldn't believe that I'd be in a place such as this.

Um, and what I will say up front, because I'm really big on themes, I'm really big on kind of uh things that kind of carry me into the moment that I'm in. And I had a father, God rest his soul who was in the military um was a deep man of faith. My mother is a woman of faith as well. And so uh I learned hard work, pays, you know, it pays off hard work pays off and staying focused and um delaying gratification. Um you know, it's funny that you kind of like go through the arc of my resume and accomplishments and all these kind of words and things of this nature and really what it doesn't show is actually a lot of the kind of like ups and downs the challenges like moments. It's kind of like, you know, valleys that you may go through and I think what I really want to focus on as it relates to kind of issue, these things that I've done is how resilience has played a key factor in all of these things.

Because um, let's say I went to Georgia State University. I love Georgia state panthers uh, situated in Atlanta Georgia, downtown Atlanta around the corner from the capital. Um, and I was in university at the height of the early two thousands. The Atlanta night scene was wild. I started a company with my, with my close friends to this day. Um, We were doing marketing, promotions and events. Um, and we were just out here just trying to do our thing, you know, went through my Georgia state uh, years. I was an individual, I work full time while I was in college. Um, and so, um, you know, I come from a very, I would say solidly middle class. I mean, some probably would consider it maybe the lower middle class, but whatever. Um parents, my dad was in the Navy, my mother, um and when retired actually became a school bus driver for the local school district that I was in. And my brother, my young brother. Um We then went into um a lot of community service in the, in the community that I grew up in.

Um and so all of this kind of played back when I got to Georgia state because I was already working full time coming into Georgia state. Uh And as I finished my undergrad studies, I was working at Bank of America at the time and this was going right into the economic recession, the financial crisis. I was at Bank of America. It was a credit analyst, um had started out in credit card sales. And it was rough at that point in time because I could see the writing on the wall, I could see everything that was going on we're dealing with. You know, I was doing initially as many people know balance transfers, credit card sales, these types of things and I saw it and every day I was coming to work, I was saying, look um I think there's more that I want to do. Um I was finishing school and at the same time at the time candidate Barack Obama was running for office, he's running to be President of the United States and it's not a secret, you know, not a lot of black people at that time. So early on believed actually that a black man could actually become a president and so there was a lot of bewilderment initially when he was running.

Um but I was very inspired by him, I knew that there was an opportunity and I truly felt that this kind of like, moment, there was a juxtaposition of like my faith, my perseverance, This idea of like okay there's this government thing, let's think a little bit more about government. My mother had worked for the arrest and she was currently, you know, an employee at the time or she was an employee at the time. And so I was like okay let's see how this thing goes, then he gets elected, he wins. And it's like whoa okay this is a real thing. I just remember very, very clearly, I just something laid on my heart moved to D. C. Pack up everything, just moved to D. C. Applied to the White House internship program and you know, let's see what we can make of that that whole situation. I remember telling my now wife at the time girlfriend and she was like go for it, hey, I mean go for it. She, you know, it's like okay let's see how this D. C. And the white house, all these things we don't really have connections to but like go for it. I told my parents and they were like whoa okay like once again go for it.

No connections to that world. Um I came into the job that I had at the time and people were like you and like come on that's that's for other people, that's Washington D. C. You don't have any connections all these types of things. And at that point I was like okay like I think I actually feel something here. I feel I feel kind of away about that. So what I then decided to do was just say like let's talk to a couple of other people who I feel close confidants and get their take. Obviously I've already spoken I can sit with my what now wife, my parents. I applied. I did not get into the White House internship program immediately. I did not get in. I got in at the time what was called an associate program which is like a sub tier because as you can probably remember you know Barack Obama presidency you know historic you know everybody wants to descend on Washington D. C. You know either work for this man or work in the cities. All this energy that's coming there. And I didn't get in initially and I said you know what oh well let's like let's just see if we can make it work. I was very blessed and fortunate my wife's um aunt lives in Maryland and she had a home that I could stand and so we worked out a situation where I could live with her for a period of time and I just I just went for broke, packed up my packed up my my vehicle and I drove up here and kind of the rest is history.

I mean obviously there's more to it and I'm happy to dive in but that's really there. That was a pivotal moment uh professionally and personally because I basically threw caution to the wind. Um I trusted my gut. I uh already mentioned I'm a man of faith and so there were some elements that I was like, I feel like there's something here. I had kind of gotten this this this indication that this is the kind of direction that you need to move in and you know there's gonna be some great things that can come from this and I listened and so I came here and oh man I lived almost an hour and change outside of D. C. And for anyone that doesn't know D. C. Has got you know not the greatest traffic uh no different Atlanta. No different in L. A. Some of these places. And so I just did that for like a full Um initially a full 44 I did four months in this associate program in the mailroom literally the Action this associate program, it's not promising you anything.

I'm assuming there's no is there is there is there even a salary involved at this point? There is there is no salary. This this is even even if there was a promise of a salary as an intern which it doesn't, the White House internship programme does not pay. Um there is even less of an opportunity of even thinking you get paid in this because you're just a sub tier. You're basically like Okay we had you know 10,000 applicants. We can't serve all those individuals. And okay, your application amount of flags. And it might have been something we wanted to do, but just not enough spaces. But hey, we got some mail that we still have to sort over here. Are you willing to, are you willing to take that? And I said, yes, I am willing to take that. Um, and that was a really pivotal moment because I got my foot in the door. Um, I got into the office of presidential correspondence, um, sorting mail, literally sorting mail at that point in time. Um, President Barack Obama had more hard mail than George Bush had received in his, uh, last, entire four years of his term.

Um, and so like a historical, you know, people were excited about this. So you don't think about, you don't think about that side of it either. So that was your job. That was my job every day waking up coming in, coming in, reading mail. Um, working with volunteers that come in and do this. And I learned a lot. I didn't know actually there were volunteers who do this across all administrations. Um, you know, they are the, their tireless and fearless individuals. A lot of them are retirees, People who work in government who could come in, do some hours during, early in the morning or late in the afternoon or you know, lunch break and things of this nature. And they read the mail. Um, and at the time, what was really impressive about this was not only was it a historical moment for the president, He prioritized male. So many people probably kind of reflect on this like 10 letters a day. I don't know if you remember that, but he used to read 10 letters a day from our office, like we would sort through and things that kind of would percolate up to that level. And so we felt real special being there because once again, this is the mailroom.

Um, but he prioritized actually seeing letters so that he could stay grounded and that he could actually respond in real time instead of just being up on the lectern saying, you know, presidential address and things of this nature. So, so that was that was a very pivotal point in your career. All right. So, it's getting started. You're not getting paid yet. You're just doing this, you're just doing this for the love of it. You feel calling, right? That's right. No, that's that's not easy. But you know what, like, and I appreciate you, you're doing my job for me because you're outlining all the things like, you're very self aware of the of the different mindsets that pushed you to do this, but ultimately this is what led you down your career path has led you to where you are today, So yes, major risk, but obviously, you know, it's it's worked out, so okay, so that's so that's you in the mail room. Um When do you start getting paid, when when you want to know what's funny about that?

Not for if I'm doing my math right now for another 7 to 8.5 months, because I got some good family, then I look, I told you I married my wife, right, she was my girlfriend at the time, and she was, you know, taking care of me a bit, parents was throwing me a little bit of money here and there honestly, but they believed in the dream, they believed in what I was so inspired and enthusiastic and what was the dream? What was the dream? You know, the dream was actually um Chris up erman has an opportunity to give back, be engaged in this, like civic engagement ecosystem. And the dream on top of that was to then potentially then bring that back to communities that matter most to me. So once again and share with you before, right? Like I don't come from a family of politics, um absolutely don't come from a family of, you know, the White House and Congress, Capitol Hill's senators, you know, you know, foreign dignitaries, cabinet secretaries. I don't come from that. What's changed since I've been here in Washington, D.

C. for the last 13, 14 years has been moments where I've actually been in front of audiences and telling them ways in which they need to get engaged via, you know, getting out the vote and voting. Um you know, how do you engage with your member of Congress so that they can hear your voice. Um you know, the district offices that most members of Congress have, that you can go in and actually uh you know, get some of the, you're kind of local issues addressed, um speaking, you know, being in rooms with elected officials, politicians, presidents, you know, it's obviously right behind me um, to then be able to advise back from that same community. This is what matters most to us, and this is what in government in this moment, you all should be mindful of because I think this is kind of the piece that I mean, you know, and I think there are many people who kind of feel this way now on on all the political spectrum is that government at times isn't as responsive. And so I felt that as it related to what my ability was in this ecosystem, I the dream was that I had an ability to take that back to everybody because I've always, like I said, coming from this, um this this uh this background with my parents in the way that they raised me to be conscious of my community, the conscience of those who are not fortunate enough to be able to influence things that they are going to experience.

And so that was what the dream was to come here to, you know, uh work alongside this, this historical president, this first black man president, um and to be able to take that back and then say like, look guys look at all this stuff that's taking place over here, I think I need you all to know, because I feel like this is something that we've known for a while, but you know, and not necessarily that this podcast is going to be focused on that, but people have to also know that government, like it works for you, but it works for you to the extent in which you engage it. And I think that that's the piece, A lot of people were missing about it. You took it a step further. Like you you you engaged with it quite literally um in this, in this, in the Obama administration, but also like the work you've done later on with biden Harris with some of the non profits and another memberships that you sort of like, you don't you don't just speak about it. You seem to actually embed yourself in these organizations, institutions and then try and actually work with them and and leverage them at a much more tactical and meaningful and tangible level than most people do.

So that's that's something that already is, is quite respectful. Um Now you could have said it better honestly, I'm just thinking about it because you keep and like as you, you know I love doing these interviews because I love when I t up somebody's background like their backstory, then all their career decisions, they start to make sense right? Like everything that they start to do because listen, you know, all the all the professional milestones you fit in your life, there's no need to have those professional milestones. But then also beyond five or six other boards. Like not everybody not everybody does that right? That's something that's that's unique to you. And it's a good thing. It's a very very good thing. So I just like to see how you know this mindset that drove you to worked for 78 months ago pay just totally it was 11.5 months in total. Before I got my first paid job in Washington D. C. Uh and God bless her. She's still on Capitol Hill. I work for congresswoman or D.

C. Delegate to congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton as we call her congresswoman. Eleanor Holmes Norton here in the District of Columbia. I worked initially in her district office before getting to her legislative office and being an aide to her and traveling around D. C. And going to speaking events and meetings and things of that nature. It's my first paid job shout out to a couple of my good friends who there was it's funny how it works how I got that job and I feel like this would be a good good uh like anecdote for this conversation. Um So I had been for many many, many months as I told you around 11.5 months. and it got to a place of like all right, so you're kind of living with my girlfriends aren't here. You know uh you know her husband is love him and that he's a great great uncle but at the time you know like he had just moved in with her not too long before that point in time. And it was kind of like they were being very patient with me and so you know I kind of get these signals I pick up on it. I'm like yeah I think I need to do a little a little more to kind of get some income here because you know I've got to got to stay in this house.

You know not really being able to kind of cover cover what I what I'm using. Um But all jokes aside uh there was like a day that I actually because I came to D. C. And I full on mentality to want to learn new things, experience new things, go new places, engaged with new people, all of these types of things. I grew up playing basketball and I grew up running track. Um And had never honestly played any other sport other than those. Um Funny enough I moved to D. C. I went to joseph A Banks at the time. They were doing those like buy one suit get like six free. So I got all these like boxy suits like you know like it's super funny when I think about it now. I went to Dick's Sporting Good. I got once again I love my wife, you hear me refer to her quite a bit. Uh She she helped me purchase a set of golf clubs, a pre set of golf clubs from Dick's sporting goods and I was like I'm moving to D. C. I got my navy blazer with the gold buttons. Super cringe and stereotypical and cheesy and I was like I'm gonna do all these things and I go to these places and meet these people gonna start playing golf.

Sure enough, I moved into a household where my uncle he golfs, he golfs like almost every day. And so I was actually golfing, he was teaching me, I've never done it before and I get calls on my cell phone that was ignoring it at first because I was we were actually on the driving range and my phone just kept ringing. I was like okay, I got to pick this up and I picked it up and my good buddy who to this day, God bless him Tony. Um who actually worked with that facebook now, he hit me up. A guy who was working at the White House at the time who had gotten to know very well who had kind of become kind of a brother slash mentor. He was like chris I think I got an opportunity for you at the time. There was this woman who was on Capitol Hill um who worked for former senator and a lot of young black professionals that come through Washington D. C. Eventually meet this woman. She was almost like kind of like the Godmother and you kinda gotta go through this woman so that she can size you up and then like figure out, okay, I think this is a good place for you to go.

I've seen it all that she had been in the hill for a good 30 almost 40 years at that point in time I have seen it all picked up that phone. He was like, she wants to meet with you in the next hour. I am 20 minutes away from where I'm staying. I'm not showered. Uh You don't have no you know those clothes and then on top of them 45 minutes away from where I need to be in terms of where I was staying in Maryland versus Washington, D. C. A dart home throw on a suit and like literally get him to drive me down there. And uh she sat with me, we talked for a moment and it was like all of maybe 10 minutes 10 15 minutes. Alright now thank you. Like I got to understand that like now you can leave next day. I got a call interview um in several members of congress office. It worked just like that. It really works just like that. And I'm not saying that to say in a weird way, but I guess the reason why I want to draw on that is because of two things um, be ready.

Just very much be ready, right? So when you get that call, be ready to act and then to um, be in these ecosystems because the opportunities are often within their, their like, you know, I'm, if I'm in Atlanta at this point in time and I'm getting this call and it's like, hey, oh, this woman really wants to meet with you in person. Oh man, I'm actually out of town right now. Okay, well maybe next time. So it's kind of like, particularly as I mentor a lot of younger professionals and young people, I tell them like it may be ugly a little bit right? Like if you want to get into Wall Street and you want to get into our bank and you wanna get in these things, you gotta move to north to new york, you just gotta do it if you want to get into, you know, like, you know, I guess what I'm trying to say, right, like you got to put yourself in it, so that's that's kind of a it's a funny story when I reflect on that, you know, it's a good anecdote for sure, I like that a lot. That's smart. Um So after after this, you had this opportunity, so where does your career go from here? Is it because you did a lot?

You were running your own I guess you had your own business for a while. Uh pre facebook, I don't know if there's other other things in between, if you want to go through some of those things. Yeah, I just do it like a super quick on that. So anything in particular that I feel like to be um germane to this conversation. Um So I'm working on the hill for Eleanor Holmes, Norton. Um and then I'm there for a year and some change in several months and then I get a call back to the White House. I get an opportunity to work in the office of presidential correspondence um and to come in and to lead an office that centers around The students, basically 18 and below citizens who write to the president. Uh and I just couldn't pass it up. I mean, oh, wow, a job at the White House and um but back at the mail room, but it was all good. I was like i in my wildest dreams, I couldn't have come up with something like that. So then I went back there, I cut my teeth did that ran in a department had a little small, small, small, small team that had a cadre of volunteers that were very committed to the students of America and reading those letters.

Um, some of those letters got up to President Obama was able to draft letters on behalf of President back to the students and young citizens. Then, um I started helping out other kind of departments inside the White House, uh doing some like policy briefings, um and bringing kind of outside groups in and some like engagement um type of things, letting them know what kind of, you know, the way the President and his administration were kind of tackling certain issues and we bring in kind of outside groups. Uh, at that point that I had an opportunity to kind of go down that route or go to the National Security route, kind of on the economic side of things, or go to the small business administration. Um and for a number of reasons, uh the line that I went over to the S. B. A. Um you know, from my backdrop background with the company that I had when I was in college, my grandmother had a salon. Um and and she was always an entrepreneur, so it kind of was like resonates and I went there and I joined the administrator's office. Um and I just got, I mean that that was another moment professionally where, you know, you go in and you start working for a for all intensive purposes, Cabinet Secretary.

And you see the way um policies made you see the way they're talking to trade groups outside uh influencers and individuals who are advocating around certain aspects of policy size standards, you know, the government contracting rules, um that allocation of capital via certain programs, um, you know, the budget process for federal agency, the hiring and the hr the appointments of political people coming into the agency. My eyes were just wide open. I was like, wow, this is unreal. Um so I was there for about 5.5, almost six years at the S. B. A. Doing numerous things before the end of the administration and going on um to be a ceo of a nonprofit uh involve entrepreneurship, which I'm still involved with to this day, still working with businesses, still working with entrepreneurs. I see a theme is forming now, so, Yeah. And uh and at this point in time also then started engaged continuously with the my Brother's Keeper Alliance and serves on the advisory capacity there, helping advise um the the managing director or you know, the executive director, should I say?

Um who who's going on to do some really great stuff is recently announced is going into the biden administration. And it was, it was like to it was it was it was a clear path of there were some big partnerships that were on the table that were coming down. The pike was involved that I was kind of working on for a while and then facebook reached out, I started getting recruited into facebook to be thinking about governance and to be thinking about um you know, you know, facebook impact on society and society's impact on facebook and how and for my, I was gonna question just just the what what prompted you to make that because that's also a huge career shift working in government and moving over to private, to private tech. So why did you want to make that move? Because that's a total, you asked some good questions. It's a total shift in your entire because you've never worked in tech before. No, no reported take tech start ups and you know, I have, you know, numerous friends who had worked in tech up into this point.

Um I'll just give you a very, very direct answer on that. It is unquestionable and undeniable what type of impact tech has had on our life, I would probably say, I mean almost forever, but unquestionably since the 90s up into this point, right? The advent of Um, I mean obviously the computers in late 70s coming up until but like once the Internet was established up until this point. And so as someone you know that understood that and then understood uh you know, the, the advent of like the Ubers and you know, the Airbnb s and like google's and all these platforms and you see the influence that they have. Um, and you see how they actually impact lives. Um, I mean when you think about it right? Like we joke about, let's say like Uber or lift or any of these platforms, but we had to either have a car, take public transportation or hella taxi. Prior remembers falling, remember booking taxis, I was about to say that the morning booking taxis calling ahead, getting put on the docket basically and say like, all right, you sure you're gonna be there?

And they're like, yeah, we promise to be there. I mean look at it now and so understanding that I felt like, oh wait, there's an opportunity for me because once again, this is kind of a theme, There's an opportunity to kind of like string all these experiences, these perspectives, um, that I have and maybe I can help influence the way tech is thinking about some of these things. And furthermore, maybe I could be uh very, very integral in the way in which we think about our responsibility back to society. Um I mean because once again, people use these platforms um because they make life easy or uh there is. Yeah, exactly. Right, Exactly. So I felt that there was a great opportunity for me to come in and really help this company in particular think about um here's here's what, you know, things are. Uh here's here's how groups and external partners and stakeholders and people on the outside are thinking about certain issues.

Here's um, some of them may be product considerations, here's some strategies that we should be thinking about and bringing that in because it's not really a secret, but tech is a bubble. Um, and there are a lot of people who they have been in the tech world their whole life, professionally speaking. Um, and it isn't so inherent how obvious tech impacts daily lives, right? Like you know what I mean? You think about how old these companies, companies, not old companies, they're not like, you know, the average age of, of, of individuals when it was first starting up, but you know, there wasn't anybody over 50 years old in the company, right? Like no one, these are all kids starting and now obviously it's changed a little bit. But still, if that if that's, you know, that's the entire culture of the company, there was no external influence and when the company has influence and there's no, there's no one else saying, you know, raising hands, saying, hey, this is how this policy is going to affect, you know, millions or billions of people.

That's that's an important, that's an important thing to consider, I guess. So that's really what, that's what the role is, right? That's what that's what Okay. Yeah, yeah, and and and and the organizations I'm in is one that really centers around thinking um like I said, the impact that our platforms have on society and really be thinking about the governance structures that we should consider, um you know, to to kind of make sure that we're thinking about the future of the right way um and being responsible. Um and so I really enjoy that type of work and I enjoy bringing in that type of thinking um to advocate for um you know, community, I mean our one of our values right now is community and building community and actually I really love this about our platform and that we really do care deeply about wanting to bring people together. Um it's not easy, I mean obviously and society is in a tricky space, globally speaking, right? Um and I wanna go too far down this this path, but if if society is a in a tricky place then wouldn't on the social media landscape would be tricky also, and I think these are, these are because there's anonymity or two degree is in like, you know, I could be speaking with someone that's over uh somewhere else and like, you know, I can say things behind, you know, as they say, like the twitter fingers, um but yeah, so I I wanted to come in and to help strategically think about these things.

I'm I'm curious and I'm just gonna, I'm gonna ask this question here because there's a couple more things that you've done in your crew that are very interesting, But I'm curious from your experience, Did you feel like you had more of an impact on the day to day lives of people with the government or with facebook? You ask any questions because like, this is part of these questions, Make me actually want to sit back for a second and do this. There's no right or wrong answer to this one is just, I'm just, I'm so curious because I don't know how I'd answer that. I don't know how I would even think if, you know, I I've worked for facebook, you know, or the government. But if I would say who has more impact, that's a That's a hard one. It is, it's a hard one at this point because of the size of this company, uh you know what I'll say is this I can't actually say which and not because I can't. But what I'm saying is I'm a big believer in um government and government action and the ability for government to be accountable to us as citizens and we take for granted how much government actually impacts our lives.

Um, the very fact that much of the industries, much of the consumer goods that we use right now, much of the technology, much of the innovation, a lot of this was spurred by government action and government intervention. Um our relative safety in this country is because we actually have a functioning government. Um, and you know, once again we we can get down to like the federal, state local level, but overall our society functions because there is a government that's in place. Um, and so I feel like as I was in the kind of the walls and halls of government and advising on policies, particularly when I was at the S. B. A. Um yes, I do feel moments that I can reflect on. I'm like, yeah, I definitely impacted some businesses in some ways because of certain initiatives that we established or advocating for certain rules to be changed, certain caps on kind of the capital limits to be increased and, you know, these groups over here matter just as much as these groups over here, we should bring people together to talk things through.

So yeah, I'll say that, but I also say that it's an amazing feeling. It must be an amazing, it must be an amazing feeling. Yeah, it is, it is, you know, and I don't know that I actually think about it in that way. I honestly, I just kind of feel like I think about it from a lens of like responsibility that I have. Um you know, because it's something that I'm, I'm really enthusiastic about, I kind of get really energized from it. Um and it's, it's, you know, I grew up in a household because my father was a minister and my mother is, is a minister as well. Um we've always done community service and volunteerism and these types of things and so I feel like it almost like inherently came and follows that that's what I want to do now or have been doing now, so what you are doing and in various process that that is what you, regardless of whether or not as small businesses or its communities and community building with facebook, like that's you fall into this category of, of trying to give back to some extent and make things better and hold major bodies that have sway and influence and power accountable in some, in some aspect, that's what I see your role being and a lot of these things that you've done over your career, that's why they pay you the big bucks to do this podcast.

You know how to synthesize it. We'll have like over here talking and you just, no, no, no, you're you're good man, you're good. You're good. Okay, so let's, so let's talk about the things that I think that are interesting that you've done, you've done everything you've done is very interesting. But I mean like working with small businesses entrepreneurs social responsibility. So um just because I have, I have to ask because it's something you've done an incredible achievement and I do know that this is separate from your other work, but it did involve small businesses um speak to me about what you did with biden Harris transition and then maybe you can speak a little bit more about some of the small business or social responsibility initiatives, you know, including law champ, because I think that's something that's very interesting. I was looking at their website, that's a concept I don't think I've ever seen before. So let's walk through. Let's walk through some of that. Yeah. Yeah. You know, once again there's there's all levels of granularity that can get into as I've kind of tried to early around um some of the professional experiences I've had, but one that I can say is that from my time working at the White House and then going to Capitol Hill back to the White House and then over to the S.

B. A. Um you know, you you meet people, you know, your network if you're intentional about it, definitely. You meet people. Um and I've always been a person that um I was raised to really be conscious about what type of impression that you leave on people in a positive way. Um you want, you know, you know, be someone that makes people feel good when you engage with them, be someone that makes people feel valued, be someone that makes people feel listened to and heard and all those types of things. Um and I guess I'd say in some ways I did that because um I'm, you know, just working at facebook doing the other things that I'm doing with involved on the side and all, you know, in terms of my private and personal time. Um and I get all of these like, almost spammy type of calls like, you know, numbers that I don't recognize what's going on. And I'm getting, you know, getting these like, very cryptic emails like, hey, we've been trying to get in touch with you. You know, obviously the society we live in there. You got to get those.

You're like, yeah, I really Like 20 of those a day. I'm like, all right, all right. I know I didn't win anything. I'm still working like, Exactly. And by happenstance, I'm sitting on my, my patio with my wife and call comes in and I'm like, man, these calls keep coming in. What? I honestly don't know. So I just pick it up. You know, at worst. It's like, oh, you know, span to hang up. It's like, hey, chris, how are you? And I'm like, okay, that's very specific. Who are you are? You know, that's the next question. Who are you? Mhm. Yeah. Hey there Scott here. I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today's episode. Gusto. Look, 2020 has not been an easy year for anybody. 2021, almost halfway through things are just starting to look up now for small business owners, it's been very difficult, but Gusteau's looking to save you a little bit of headache, make things a little bit easier. Gusto is an online payroll and benefits service. It is built to help businesses, but it's built with the business owner in mind, it is the one stop shop for paying and taking care of all the payroll and HR headaches for your team.

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So three months free payroll admit. Hr whatever it may be completely free, go to gusto dot com slash scott and check it out. Alright, let's go back to the show, okay mm. You know, this previous individual used to work for and it's like, oh hey, what's good to hear from you? And she goes like I'll be very blunt and very straight, I want you to come on the biden presidential transition. And I said wait what? And she's like, yeah. And you know, she goes on to explain the opportunity. Um she goes on to say that, you know, there have been several people who had recommended you and said that, you know, from, you know, your time at S. P. A. To the time post, you've just been doing a lot of things in this ecosystem and we really could use that perspective. I mean, one thing that I definitely enjoy a lot, particularly about this president and this Vice president and NGO Biden and Kamala Harris, are they really prioritize racial equity and this idea of the build back better plan and the build back better plan, you know, to just to spell it was not a this group over here is better or bigger than other groups, but what it is, it's like there's a reconciliation, there are some disproportionate impacts that communities of color are, have been experiencing and we want to do right by that so that this Qadri of american citizens can also get ahead.

It's just that simple, right? It's kind of like the body right? Like if one of our organs is not functioning properly, the whole body is not going to actually function that properly. Um And so I really bought into that and they said that we would love to have a perspective like yours join particularly to help shape government think through how do we need to be thinking about policies for the S. B. A. What's the type of team that we need to build? Um You know uh you know, who are the outside groups that we should engage early on that can help shape early policies um to help marginalized entrepreneurs, small business owners. That's what that's the that's the majority of what you're focused on. Right? Yeah, a lot of that, a lot of that, I mean that was that was that was I mean you see it now the S. P. A. Administrator who I know very well, she's a wonderful woman. Administrator, Isabel Guzman. Um She's a Latina woman, she's a Latina woman. She was in uh formerly the governor of uh California Gavin Newsom's um cabinet, you know, working on the state small business agency and all that kind of small business policies.

Um and they just nominated another gentleman named Dilawar who if I believe and I could be incorrect on this, but I believe he's a middle easterner. And so in terms of his heritage in his background. And so I guess what I'm saying is it was this idea of like one of the quotes that I love that he said, is that I'm going to build a cabinet that looks like America. You know, I've heard that, Yeah, I mean I've heard that quote before and so that was our remit. That was what we were told to as all of us were who were appointed into the presidential transition around a very diverse background to be thinking about how to engage all aspects of America. You know, whether it be rural America, whether it be, you know black citizens, white citizens, asian citizens, latino citizens, how are we thinking about everything that can work in this moment, you know and so that's what I was I was called in to do is to really think um critically around um you know technical assistance for small business owners and um I had been in the entrepreneurial development office previously and had done work there on programs and policies that focused on you know business owners going to brick and mortar locations to get technical assistance for their business and what do we need to be doing, who do we need to be engaging with their new models that we should be thinking about?

Should we fund this over here? Should we think about it that way? So I helped, helped shape some of those things. So let's let's let's talk about some some issues that marginalize small businesses are facing. And I guess law champs so lock champs helps business owners, or is it just for everybody, Is it? I don't I don't know how to separate things or if it's no, it's for everybody, it's for everybody. Yeah. No, and I appreciate this because I'm actually really excited about this. Um I I've been engaging with law champs uh um in terms of kind of an advisory role for for a while now and just kind of formalized my my level engagement. But um first off, it is a tech platform, um is a full on tech startup platform. Um and we are positioning ourselves as an advocacy organization because that's what it is right now for legal access and legal representation. Um it is the idea of people having access to free legal services as it relates to matching right, getting to the right people first, you know, and and sizing on that side of things.

So yeah, I'm just I'm on the website now, I'm taking a look. So what so how does the so walk through how the platform works? Because when I first looked into it, I've never really seen anything like this before. So this is this is, you know, out of all the accolades and the boards that you sit on, this is the most recent, that's obviously the top of mind for you. Right? Yes. It is. It is. It is, it is and I'm all in I'm actually really excited about this. Um you know, it is it is a platform um you know that we promote this idea of access to justice, social and legal reform and we connect and protect those who deserve that equitable representation. Um and what we do is we match um individuals who come to the platform with top lawyer on a as needed basis so that they can fight for particular legal outcomes that they're looking for. Um and there is no cost for those who need lawyers to use law chance legal matching service because um you know, I don't Presuppose that you're a lawyer, otherwise you may have said that, but if you are, I am not.

That was the other career path besides podcast, but I didn't want to the other four years of school. So totally, totally though, I've been the same boat. I've always wanted to be decided not to. But it is a an experience that if you've had to experience it, it can be a little harrowing in that if you have something that comes up and you need legal representation, it's like where do you go, what do you do? And it's daunting and there are some out there who who understand that that's the experience that you're going to have. We wanted to cut through that noise. We wanted to provide a platform that people can go in, put in a couple of key, you know, indicators and in a match with other lawyers that are already on the platform, lawyers that say, look, I'm looking for kind of, you know, deal flow and opportunities. Um, you know, solo lawyers and those who are kind of individualized and their firms or those who are kind of even still in in within big shops to find those people.

Because what happens a lot and we hear this quite a bit from lawyers is that that matching is hard, right? Like we have a close family friend who is a lawyer and uh, you know, she she does, she does a very specific type of lawyers as most lawyers do honestly. You know like if you know a lawyer, they don't just do lawyer things they like, No, no they're very they're like they're almost pigeon holed to like to a fault like that's all they do. And you know, it's it's funny like I never even thought about the fact that marginalized groups or or people that just may not have excess capital or they don't have the network or the connections. Like forget about even paying for a lawyer. Like I can't even find one. Yeah. You know it's never crossed my mind but that's that totally makes sense. It literally makes sense. seven and 10 moderate income households experience at least one legal issue per year. And this is from Pew Pew Research Center, right? You know, it's kind of like a situation where you're going to have something that you're going to need legal representation.

And I think if we're gonna be honest about it, there are a lot of moments that legal intervention will probably be a better route if you actually had access to it. You know, like there there there are moments where it's kind of like, oh yeah, you know, I'm having this little like, tenant issue or I'm having an issue as a renter, I'm having an issue on the job. You know, one of my closest best friends, kind of like a little brother of mine, he had some challenges that with his employers. Um and he went through this whole, what do I I don't know. And I was like, hey, you should look at Longchamps, I did plug law chances as well before I even joined formally, but I said, look at Longchamps. And then I also put him in touch with some other lawyers and other people who were in the same kind of professional um uh industry vertical that he was in, because pharmaceuticals and he was like, I chris thank you after it all. And he was like, there's no way I could have figured that out if I didn't have everybody, not everybody has a well connected chris around to help them out.

So yeah, and that's why you should go to low chance. I mean, honestly, it sounds like a shameless plug, but it's not truly um it is a platform that people can get that access um and we pride ourselves particularly with having top quality and top notch lawyers who have bought into the platform, who are there. Um and and like I said that matching is free, um you know, they can come on, I mean, you know, look, we have a number of examples, we have, you know, a gentleman named Alex Tori who's a Brooklyn based black millennial entrepreneur and he launched his music based platform and any person who is a creative, I mean this is kind of why I bring this up because your creative in terms of this podcast, if you're going to go about this very legit way in terms of anything around the creative space, how do you register, how do you trade mark? How do you kind of like incorporate, you know, what how do you protect your I. P how do you protect all these different types of things? And he was in that kind of situation um I, you know, not to say anything negative, but you can go online and type in like a do it yourself or you know, quick, easy template, but look, that's people who I'm going to say are trying to possibly be helpful, but that can put you in a really, really rough patch if you kind of like, especially if you think your, if you think you're covered and you think you're protected and it turns out you're not, it's probably gonna cost you more than just uh, figuring out the right way to do things.

Absolutely, absolutely. So we had a lawyer, we had a lot of fans, lawyer, aerial Gray who came on and worked with him and he's working with them currently to got them fully, um, you know, incorporated and, you know, a lot of different protections around his trademark paperwork and other things of this nature because it was actually a wormhole. I just want to tell you how, how useful this platform could be. And again, this is, this is just me sort of uncovering it on this call. So if you are, if you're even an entrepreneur, creative or the solo preneurs, whatever you're trying to do anything, if you google lawyer in my city That's going to give you somebody that's going to charge you $15,000 just to talk to you because tv the ones that are s ceo optimized right, you don't even actually have to see that this is what I love that you just brought up about that because I was trying to be diplomatic about it as you probably now pick up on a little bit before that's actually how this ecosystem has been operating forever. I know right? I've I've dealt with lawyers, I can't stand, I can't stand because you always get the most expensive one because that's the one that knows how to get the ranking after the first page of google and good luck, good luck, good luck at somebody like that because they're not bad people, but they're not for its business, you know?

Like Yeah, and that's the point, right? Like if we're going to really talk about, you know, once again these themes, equity, access opportunity, this is what we care deeply about with law champs, we care about equitable access, equitable opportunity to access this ability that no, you should not be charged for a consultation, you know, to get matched, you know, in these types of things because once again to that same point you can google lawyer, you can call, you know jane doe, john doe, they may for a moment drag you alone to make you think that they have a type of lawyer you need, but then come and say like I'm not or going through a whole situation where they sub out and you get what I'm saying. So like there's a let's cut through that noise, let's cut through the noise, you know? Yeah. And and that's that, you know, like if you want, if you want to like I love it. Like if you want to give people opportunity, you can't you have a creative individual that wants to do something or wants to get help to incorporate or whatever they want to figure out.

Like you need to give them the opportunity to do that without making them bankrupt before they put out their first piece of content before they, you know, in the first shop or whatever. Absolutely. But you want to know what's also brilliant about the law champs platform is that we're only talking about those who need the lawyers. The brilliant thing about law chances also that we also provide uh, Ala carte and bespoke approaches for lawyers themselves. Uh you know, we have some very interesting data, but particularly there's somewhere in the range of 800,000 plus attorneys who need affordable turnkey solutions to acquire clients and compete online. Um particularly right. Like it is, it is this notion of these solo and small firm attorneys that are out here that some may not be the most digitally literate, some may not have the best kind of kind of, you know, social media representation. They may not necessarily have the ability to kind of create a website and things. We provide all these services also for lawyers. Um they in there there's data that says that lawyers spent around 50% of time prospecting for new clients and administrative work.

So if you kind of start to think about some of these data points, you kind of understand, oh maybe there's an opportunity, maybe we can do something and be that kind of middle platform that you know, democratizes, makes it equitable, makes it easy for people to find the lawyers that can match up with their needs. And then also help those lawyers find the clients that they're really trying to get to and actually be able to serve those a socially conscious business that also solves a major need. That's pretty good man. That's not bad. Thank you. I appreciate that, I appreciate that. I'm happy to be on as a chairman of the advisory board of directors, um a great team of individuals and honestly uh check it out and and we're gonna we're gonna try to take this one and do big things with it. Um and I think what I believe in most about the platform is it's just this idea, it's funny because this now gets back into this, like the way that I would think in terms of line politically. Um I feel like this is kind of like the Obama University that was a part of, in terms of the way I think, but you know, it's this idea of how many people can take advantage of uh this, this, this platform in this moment that we're in um and just the idea of, you know, people across all of America at this point in time, we are the markets that we're thinking about moving in too soon and things of this nature.

Um I'm just really enthusiastic about the possibilities of this platform because once again, we're post some of the biggest platforms that have democratized some of the oldest clunky industries and ecosystems, so I just feel really good about it. Yeah, it's very good, very, very good, very interesting. I'm glad you gave me the rundown cause I had no idea, I really didn't know what it was going into it now. I have a much better understanding um for you know for the, so I guess the only thing that I wanted to sort of finish up with with you and just sort of get your opinion on is some thoughts on corporate social responsibility because that's been a tenant of of course yeah, the platform that you're building, but also something that you probably had to figure out with facebook figure out while working in the White house in D. C. So where do you think, where do you think or what corporations are focusing on social responsibility and making impactful change?

Who's doing, who is doing social responsibility, right? That you've seen you ask really, you have a you're just like your I know that you have answers for this stuff and I know that I know that this is in your ecosystem and it's just very interesting because I think that, you know, we can go down the small business route, but the social responsibility route is something that you've lived, you breathed your breathing right now and living right now, and it's, it's something that's very important and it's something that's come to light more over the past year. Yeah, I'm gonna do a shameless plug and I'm gonna say it because I do, I believe it is true. It I'm in right now, I see what's going on. I mean, I truly believe and know that at facebook and I'm not even, I'm not the person speaking on this, so that, you know, in that way, but we we do things well in this way and we're trying to find more ways to do it even better. Um So I will say as it relates to kind of corporation large corporation, I think we do some really great things um and a lot of things that people don't know and I think that's also at least for me, so like how you made the comment of like someone like me, I would know.

Yeah, there are many organizations that are doing amazing work that we just don't know and it's unfortunate at times that people don't get that kind of credit. So I would be remiss to say that about uh my company facebook um I will say I care very deeply about um there's another private company who I respect deeply. It's called the labour group um Labour group is actually who uh found it and we're founding sponsors of involved entrepreneurship but I still am part of and involve started in their corporate social responsibility division and this is a private family company. Um Ceo and Chairman George Logothetis and his and his and his brother's um decided that a part of their business and the subsidiaries that a core element would also be CSR so they were going to think the same bullish business tactics and principles, they were gonna apply that in their corporate social responsibility and then vertical is that as well and do some really amazing things.

Um and I i it sounds like it would be a shameless plug but it's not, I am a big believer and you've got to give credit where credit's due and they've done some tremendous things with their corporate social responsibility. Um There's an organization that started out of that called the Concordia and the Concordia summit and so it is like one of the foremost summits right now that takes place in new york city um once again, I said, involve entrepreneurship, uh you know, there is the Cellini Institute that focuses on maternal mental health, that's one. Um and then another that I actually, I want to call upon because they, they are very um uh great individuals and like I said, when you know, credits do its due um but mentioned free to keep your with the Cape for entrepreneurship center, um uh, you know mitch you should look them up, which is uh phenomenal man and a fascinating individual. Once again, one of these like internet forefathers, kind of the way that I put it, he built Mozilla Firefox and Lennox.

Um and and he and his wife free to keep your client have done some amazing things. They are doing it right, they're doing it right. Um, and they should, I am a big believer of, you know, there's some of the biggest ones that you can call out and you know, I think that's kind of standard, but we should definitely be giving credit where credit's due with these organizations that are doing good work when they're doing good work. So I would like to call them out. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I think that what I just wanted to I wanted to highlight um obviously a platform like law champs, it's easy to show how they're benefiting marginalized groups, but not everybody has a product that directly benefits through the application of the product of marginalized groups. So it's nice to just hear names and understand organizations that are doing it and going out of their way to do things that are outside of their just delivering their product and in a way that that you know works with CSR so that's very interesting and I know that facebook does a lot and I, I don't think it's a bad thing to, to plug facebook for their CSR activities.

I really do believe they do try to do their best. My God, it's a difficult place to be. Yeah, that conversation is much different because it's a difficult place. It's not easy honestly. And You know, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. one 100%, Um alright, we've, we've covered a lot of stuff. Um, I really appreciate all the stuff we went into. I, I always do like rapid fire just to bring out some life lessons from you. Is there anything that we didn't go into that I should have asked you about? Not that you should have asked me about. I think you did a phenomenal job. This has been great. And thank you again scott for having me. Um, and I wish you continued success with this. I really do appreciate and enjoy this format. I do want to call out. Um, as I've said before, this idea of resilience and being focused, particularly as a lot of young professionals, this is what I tell them that. I mean, you know, we're in a fascinating moment in time, right? Like social media, this is probably, I probably want to go too deep with, like, there's a lot of things that we think are true based off of certain ways that social media might, you know, make it seem.

Um, and that idea of the grit and grind, I'm big on the grid and the grind, I'm big on that, right? Like you got, you gotta grind this thing out because you're gonna appreciate it and you're gonna know it when, you know it, once you've experienced it and you kind of succeed at it. And so I'll say that, and then lastly be anchored by a value, be anchored by a value, like what, what carries you to do the work that you do every day. What drives you every day when you wake up to like, you know what motivates you and, and have have, have a value, have a value that's driving that. Um, and for me, um, I value humans. I value people, I value the idea that we are all on this, this rock. You know, this, this, this, this rock and we, we don't, we have a finite amount of time here. Um, and I'm someone that really believes I want to do what I can do to make it better for other people while we're here on this rock, you.

Um and so that's, I would say probably the kind of thing that I'd like to leave on that on that end. Very good, very good and good and beautiful sentiment to. That's a nice way of putting it. Okay, let's do a couple of rapid fires, the biggest challenge in your career. And how did you overcome? And some of this may be, you know, you may have already touched on some of this stuff, but just to bring it out at the end, the biggest challenge in my career. Um, yeah, this is, yeah, because this one goes into a lot of this definitely dovetails. And even a personal moment, um, the day that I'm walking out the door to go to work at the White House and I get a call, literally ignoring it. First, you see this thing actually, um my mother calls me that my father has had a stroke and then subsequently then ends up passing um. Sorry? Yeah, thank you. The challenge of that was a number of things because in that same moment and I didn't even get into this because it gets super interesting, but in that moment I had been already interviewing in several other places in the White House or or at the S.

B. A. Um and I just like hop on a flight that ST like within the next couple of hours go down. Uh you know we're at the hospital, my father is there, it's like five days and he doesn't make it. Um I had two offers on the table. I won't put him, I won't put it out there exactly what the two offers were. One I had already tentatively kind of accepted because I just was like, oh yeah, that's amazing. And you know, once again another one of those I can make this up and get into this kind of ecosystem if I tried and I was offered a role and the other one, it felt like it was going to come, but it hadn't come yet a week and a half from the time that I'm planning my father's funeral, I get an email, when are you coming back? Because basically we need you back in the office for work purposes and I'll give credit where credit's due S. P. A. At the time, the Deputy Administrator sent me a note because I had already interviewed with all these people and they sent me condolences from all of those people that I interviewed with and then also the Administrator, and I was like, yeah, s b A no question about it, because it spoke something a little more about the humanity, and it spoke something a little more about like, okay, you know, we're in this together, right, as a family kind of thing.

And so, um that was a challenging moment for me, not because of as I kind of, I guess centered quite a bit around the professional side of that thing, but the idea that when you have those types of life moments, you know, someone that passes particularly like a parent, um it doesn't happen on like a friday night going into a weekend, like it doesn't happen, I mean, you know what I'm saying? And so that was a very interesting time because I ended up taking off a month and some change because you know, I'm the eldest of my family, I have a younger brother, god bless them. Um and you know, mother and now obviously have a wife, but you know that that notion of like, okay, now I have to step up in a way that have to be there for my mother, have to be there for my brother. And so I was away for a long period of time and so I will say that it was a challenge because I didn't expect it. Um my father and I had a very interesting upbringing because my father was a military man and he was very tough on me growing up, very stern.

Um and they were just moments just like man, this guy is always riding me and like, I don't know, you know, like moments that we kind of act like we didn't like each other, but that's just kind of how it goes. But I know he loved me, I know he cared deeply for me um and I carried some of that when I became a young adult and some of it at a point in time wasn't actually addressed, like I kind of was sitting these things heavy on me for for many, many years and I started to unpack that and started to have some conversation and I felt like we were getting there and as we are when you were young professionals, we might get calls from your parents or like your aunts or uncles grandmother, you know, we're out here like there's a happy hours and all the friends and network and all the different stuff and sometimes it wouldn't prioritize picking up phone calls just because of just working all these things. Yeah, I specifically got a call from my father just a few days. Honestly, three days ish before that point in time and he picks up the phone, I'll never forget this and says, hey, how you doing, son? Um and he was like, I just want to say, I love you.

And I was like, okay, like, you know, and I'm getting a little emotional now, but like he said that and three days later, so it's like one of those moments where I guess it does, it does like cherish those moments that you have with people that you love and that you care deeply about. Um yeah, that's what I say. Yeah, it's a beautiful, it's it's a sad story, but it's a good it's a good lesson. And and you know what, at the end, at the, at the end of the day, you know, you know that where his head was at, you know, and that was in a good spot. Very good spot. And totally, totally, totally. No. So, yeah, I mean, that was a challenge for me. That's uh that's tough and that's something, you know what, that's a good it's a good thing to bring up because uh that that situation you just described, you get you gave me goose bumps when you when you told me that story. Because that situation is something that I deal with every day.

You know, like you just you just don't answer the phone or you don't text back or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. I mean it's it's a function of what we do sometimes. And I that that that one I think about often at that what if it was that moment that I would have done that? You know what I mean? So um I'm so thankful I did. Yeah, that's a good story. It's a it's a good story. It's also an important mind to incredible reminders out of this number one where you work if you don't have that type of team that supports you the way that S. P. A. Did and find another job because that's incredible. And it's very rare, so it's very rare to find that. But also at the end of the day, it's just it's just a job, it's just a job. Oh and that's a whole other podcast episode. I mean that it's just a job. I mean the things that I experienced in that moment that put all of that into perspective and I think this is something I still way often of just like this idea of like it could all be in a moment's notice, you know?

So live love hard. Yeah, agreed agreed. Okay, alright. Um let's see another good question that went deep. Okay, um what's what's the reason, what's the reason why people usually fail or give up? And how would you suggest they overcome that? Oh, I love this. I love this because I actually have a good response for this. Because I thought about a lot of good response for everything. You Know? But this one specifically I will say that I think a lot of the reason why a lot of people fail is because people try to over index towards succeeding. Mm So what I mean by that is actually is like, you know the you know, the idea of like issues like issue Spotting or like the idea of like, oh I see that over there like that are trying to ride that wave over here. I told you I worked in the mailroom really like for a president, right?

Um it's a mail room. Like you can't even get like there's no way to dress that up. Sure. For president, right? Like sure. Like I mean okay, but at the same time as the mail room, it's one of those things where I know for a fact because I've had conversation with people who are like you worked at a mailroom or like no, I probably would have sat that one out and actually kind of applied to some other places regardless of other places. But there's a very direct relationship between me taking that opportunity literally. That is a direct line to where I'm at right now, literally. I mean, I like, you know, once again getting deeper, I could go in and draw all of the parallels and the dimensions from that literal decision where a lot of people were like, you know, turn their nose to it and rolling their eyes like mail room to this moment now. So I I think very um directly people fail because they're also not trying to put themselves in positions.

Two experience the journey and the process of it. All right. Like the idea of what is this, you know, what is this thing in this moment? Gonna help me learn and understand and where, what will that do across that spectrum to get me to where I need to go. And so I think a lot of people are looking for the home run every time that they're doing the thing. Do you know what I mean? So like in gratification, that instant gratification that like, oh, I just, I just started at this job and like I already want to be a director, I don't want to be a BP. I think, I don't know if that, see I'm young, you're young. I don't know if that was the thing with our parents and I granted, I don't think it was, I don't think it was to the same extent. I think that I think that technology has made the world seem well, it is closer but seemed like everything is accessible all the time. Everything should be something that we should be entitled to have. If that person can have it, why can't I have it? And it's just made people like you said over index on, on success, that, that the expectations are completely often.

Yeah. And then the last key piece to that and I said it earlier in this conversation is resilience. I think there are a lot of people who the first hint of a little bit of opposition, a little bit of um, what seems to look like it would be failure or it doesn't, you know, the outcome doesn't look like what they expected it to be that they're ready to head for the hills. You know? And I'm also kind of like that maybe times a chip that's on my shoulder that I'm actually like, oh I see that opposition or that that that that that I see it coming when people told you that you can't step up to that a little bit. Let's see like, you know. Yeah, yeah. Let's step up. I'm telling you the people that have chips on their shoulder. That's I've always said that's who you want to hire, that's who you want to work with. The people that want to prove something like they're good, they're good people. They are good people. We got some, you know, at the end of the day, it's like, it's like gas. Um Again, my good buddy already had mentioned earlier like he jokes all the time. He's like chris, you know what I love about you? He's like, you're just like Kobe Bryant who love Kobe Bryant is a basketball player, God rest his soul and his daughter and the others who perished from the helicopter crash.

But like, you know this joke of, you know, uh I react or like what is it? I react to all slights perceived whether uh, the I react to all slights whether real or perceived, which is this idea that like this chip on my shoulder that like, did you just say something to me? It's like, no, I didn't. But it's like, I'm always oriented on this idea of like, yeah, I think they, I think they are trying to say something to me and I think there's a problem there. So it's all jokes, but That's why that's why you, that's why you took the 11 months unpaid, worked in the middle. Like that's why I'm telling you, that's why you did it. It wasn't it wasn't because you, it's because you had to prove you had to prove something and you know, they worked university man and and I will say that this is this is so fascinating uh at this point. And So it's an old book at this point from the early 90s, but the millionaire next door, I don't know if you've ever read it. I haven't actually. You should you should you should read it.

Uh I think I have it. Yeah, it's definitely up here. Um boy that book is you know, you got to read it and you initially dive in and you feel like it's another one of those, like I don't want to say like self help, but it's definitely like initially it comes off like that, but it is precise as it relates to the behaviors of those who are actual millionaires. And there's real data, like there's all book is full of data and the book talks about how systematically what ends up happening is those who become millionaires are often those who have that grit determination, who don't come from certain types of backgrounds and then they have something to prove. Then there's real specific data that actually talks about how the Children, the progeny of these individuals lose all of this, because now they're in a situation where they actually have everything they, you know, and and that kind of grind and hustle was there and they actually talk about some of the things certain people have done to kind of like act as if, you know, my wife says it all the time, she's like whenever we have Children, she's like, I'm just gonna act as if our circumstances aren't whatever they will be at that point in time, because I want them to know, you know, my wife has got a unique background as well.

She comes from very humble beginnings, um but she, she she's a legit bad, she's a badass. I'm sorry, I just got to say that my wife honestly have half the time, what we experience is the fact that we're actually two of the same people that are like driven, purposed, purposeful and we have chips on our shoulders and so that also keeps me in line because I'm like, I got to always show up, I got to show up and I got to be the biggest and best I can. So yeah, awesome, that's a good answer, I like that a lot. That's a very, very good answer. All right. Um You could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? Mhm. I love these questions, I love these questions. Um don't internalize so much like I went through and this is fascinating cause I love that you even bring this up. We were talking about this before we even started recording, decided almost like therapy.

Um, yeah, something a lot of people don't know about me and I'm a very transparent communicator and I'm open when I feel the report is there. But I dealt a lot with, I don't want to necessarily say identity issues, but I dealt with a lot with, my parents were the, my whole family is from north Carolina Raleigh Durham area to be exact and ah I come from a family historically speaking from sharecroppers and slaves. I know this and the experiences that many black individuals who have these kind of lineage and understanding, There's this notion of like what you know, we want to be very intentional if, if by all means to make sure that our Children will have to experience certain things that we have to experience. Um and so my parents were very intentional is related to like the place where they ended up buying a home and they were like, oh, there's good schools there and there's this, that Arthur is a good wholesome community and these types of things.

Um, and at the time when I moved, it's not kennesaw Georgia is a civil war town. Um, they, just last year during the Black Lives Matter, George Floyd moment Lowered the confederate flag from the city hall. This is 2020 that this happened, this made news in the whole southeastern regional and it was an agent and a manager. I didn't realize there was still, I didn't realize there was still a public uh, confederate flags. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean on the books, once again, civil War town on the books, it is law to have a firearm in your home, You must have a firearm in your home, right? Like obviously no one's going enforcing no, no, no, but still it's like to paint the picture. Yeah. So this is where I grew up, right? So I think you kind of understand why maybe going with this, I grew up in this young black man in my, you know, early formative years, mostly around white peers. Um, not many people that look like me, not many people that come from my background and this idea of just the things you experience, right, like you dress different, you talk different, you brush your hair this way my wife jokes about that cause I bring that up a lot.

Um, I dealt with a lot on that spectrum and then, but at the same time I go to a, I went to a black church, I had, you know, black family members. I, you know, my parents uh uh convene and engaged and had community with other people who looked like myself and others because my parents were in the ministry and community of faith. Like, but every day I'm going to school with people who don't look like me. And so I had these, these ideas of like the things I need to do to like make myself almost like these survival tactics and these defense mechanisms to like experiencing it to fit in to be accepted, I guess is what you're getting at. Yeah. And the whole point that I say now to my to myself at that point in time is like, be exactly who you are and be proud to be exactly who you are from, from the jump both sides of that to the white community and back to the black community is like, the other element of that end is like when I would go into the black community in my church and things of this nature, I get the idea of like, oh, you talk properly, you know what I mean?

Like you dress a particular type of way, you know, in all of these types of things. So then you find this like, you know, where do you fit in and you find some of these identity issues? And so my parents, God bless them were very keen on instilling inside of me. You know, you're a young black man and you're strong and you know, love yourself and these types of things and I'm very thankful for that and like instilling history, you know, this notion of ironic, this notion of like juneteenth actually now being more of a phenomenon and the thing literally passed legislation is an actual federal holiday recognized. My father taught me about juneteenth as and my brother and I, we were young and so, but then you kind of go back into the ecosystem of a civil war town. You're being talked about juneteenth in your household and maybe at the black church that you're going to. But then when you're getting into the school and friends and teachers and all these other things much different. So I was competing and battling on them. How did you, how did you, uh, how did you get, how did you get over that? How did you get through that? How did you, how did you rectify your identity?

Because obviously your situation is much more difficult than I would assume many people do go through growing up. But still everybody has varying degrees of identity issues. So what's the, what's the strategy that you have to get through? Probably the one of the hardest identity issues that anybody could really totally deal with in, in north America. Yeah, several things. Extracurricular activities, honestly. I mean this is, I started playing sports very heavily. Um so that was one thing and so like you know obviously the camaraderie and the kind of different things that you, that you experience with, you know, friendships that you build. Um and then I got it, I would say this is probably around maybe 6, 7th grade. I just, it almost literally clicked where I went away for a point in time in north Carolina because we just spent all my summers there. I came back and I think it always happens right. It's whether it's puberty or whether or whatever it is, you come back and people like you look different, you talk different a little taller, you got a little bit of global view.

So there is that peace within this idea that I started to understand. Um because like scholastically and things that I was doing academic spectrum, I was always an honor student at ap student that I was like, oh people, people respect whether it be like, you know the teachers, whether it be like, you know authoritative figures, whether it be like even peers in the classroom, you know, like sure you may have the bullies and like, oh the nerd's nerd, but like wait, you can actually command attention when you actually are knowledgeable or when you kind of articulate yourself in particular way and when you know this is the third and I've always been an avid reader, I love reading and so I just embraced it around the middle school time frame. I just embraced it as like this is just who I am, it's just, it's just who I am and as the reason why I brought an extra curricular is because there were clubs that I was able to join that reinforced that identity that like you are still who you are, but you also are a smart person.

You actually read books, you actually do these things and all this stuff. So that's what I'll say. I love that you double down, you double down on what you knew what you were good at and then everything fell out. Everything else fell into play. It's funny how that works even even in such a, even in such a difficult environment because you know, even even as a kid in like a high school that doesn't have to deal with the things that you dealt with and just doubling down on what you know what you're good at always seems to manifest a positive result and always seems to find your tribe always and that sort of solves that. I like that you just said that like the finding your tribe is critical actually. Um, but you can't do that unless you know what your tribe, you can't do that, you can't be, you can't be changing your perception, your personality, changing your beliefs will not change ever changing what you think you should, you know, put out an imprint onto the world all the time and expect to find people that vibe with you and resonate with you. Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.

You know, and I'll say to that one point though, I think it's, it's an interesting point that you raise because for me, I feel like that is actually a part of what my superpower is now though, that um, that I have been this individual that has had to, So like all jokes aside, like I was, I was also that young man that was in church 56 days of the week, literally right? Like my parents were in the ministry, so I'm like, I'm doing it, you know, I'm Usher, I was in a choir, I was at vacation bible school, I was doing all of these things. You were in it, oh, I was in it, I was in it in it, right? You know, this is hilarious things. Um, okay, so then there's that, but then there's like, uh, you know, a black young black man and my, my black family in the black community, uh, on the side in terms of the recreational sports that I'm playing in the church, but then I'm also a young black man and it's like predominantly white ecosystem and so culturally speaking, growing up in the Southern, you know, like you just pick up on sensibilities and all of these places and I think what I would really say be be someone that can pick up on signals from all of these environments.

Because when you can weave that together it can really be used tactically because at the end of the day it's about competency and and the idea that in the idea of being able to connect with each other right? Like I do believe clearly with you being a podcaster in the way that you're facilitating this conversation, you enjoy people and you obviously come from Yeah, so you come from I believe I suspect you have a pretty unique background because there's a certain level of empathy and there's a certain level of like there's there's something about you that I'm feeling that's like, oh yeah there's something there like you know, I mean there's something there, it's like, you know, I'm trying to get your point, I'm I'm empathetic and and I do I do love people but I'm also just very curious. I like I like understanding people but I like to understand them. And I always want like it sounds like so airy fairy, but like I love hearing people's stories and it always comes from a place of like, like love and like trying to pull out people's stories and and figuring out their lands.

There's a word for it. Like when you can look at the world through another person's eyes walk, you know, walk in there like walk in their shoes is like the action, but there's an actual word for it. I can't place it right now. But that's what I like to do. I just I just enjoy doing it and I find that it makes me a better person to, it makes me a more holistic person that understands more people better. Yeah, that's that's really it at the end of the day, that's what you gotta do. Like whether or not from a conversation like this, I can learn something to do with any of your actual professional accolades, your work, you know, social, social, uh, what was he a social responsibility that you know, companies should undertake some of the things you you figured out over your career in terms of grit in terms of, you know, um just 10acity, all these things like these are all things that yeah, I'm I'm technically teaching through you to the audience that listens, but if you don't think I listen to these things and I try and understand what makes me the best version of myself as well in terms of my career, in my, in my personal life and professional life, that's what I like to get out of it.

That's what I try and I try and pick up on little things from everybody and just try and make myself a better person. And that's why, you know, some of these questions like, yeah, they're good questions. They're just questions that I want to know the answer to. I'm just uh, I just want to figure, I just want to figure stuff out because everybody has an incredible story. It's really and, and I love what you said because I feel like this is the major key, feel like DJ calendar, it was like the major key major to get to honestly like the commonality. We experience each other better as humans when we understand each other and we can see the lens like you said, see through their lens and understand their perspective. I think we just are at our best when that's what we can do and what we can put all that other stuff aside, agree. It's been I think it's even more important than ever. Like listen like there's nothing so contentious about you that I have to, you know stretch to like see the world through through the way your eyes, but like still like over the past two years like people have become more isolated, more distant than ever, quite literally.

Um and I think that I think that one thing that as humans, we have to do more is to try and get back to the point where we were 23 years ago where we were connected, we weren't isolated, we weren't on us versus them dichotomy. The one thing I always noticed coming from Canada is that and I say this all the time, the politics in the US and and the separation between lessons, it's insane. It blows my because in Canada Yeah, you have you have right wing left wing but you have like center, right, center left and that's it and everything outside of that, people look at you like you have three heads, but there is like uh there is a huge division and I think it's gotten I think and I think that's probably the worst thing about you know, previous administration has been the fact that it has increased this division. And I think that that increase in the division between people, that family members, friends, peers, coworkers, whatever it may be.

It's been further emphasized by the fact that the pandemic and you can't shake hands, grab a coffee, you know, go to lunch with people and everything is just and everybody is stuck on their phones and and everybody is stuck on social media and they're in this echo chamber of similar like minded thoughts. And it's just it's just bad. It's like a standard that I speak about quite often, But like any five in which I can do to have great conversations with great people, you know what, I can't save the world, but at least it keeps me sane and it keeps me you know what you're doing your part though. See this is the thing, I mean it almost kind of extract a little nugget for what you just said, because it's nothing too small to be someone that that's what you want to do and what you want to give back and contribute to this society of this world. Because to the point you just made, That's not where we're at right now in society, 100% were at a whole divisive moment of our of our of our existence where it's like. what's the thing I don't like about you? And then like we kind of center on that and for whatever reason, that's how we don't. And it's uh it's fascinating um to to get to this place and see how that politics and here in the United States has actually drawn those chasms.

Like there there's just real division. Um right now it's really, really unfortunate. I do agree with what you said um with where our politics are and where I think now, I mean this is what I once again I joined the biden presidential transition to serve and support this idea that, you know, look, once again, you know, it was Barack Obama is that joe biden is accommodated these people, you know, are these perfect individuals? No, I want to join teams that are trying to figure this out. Trying to bring out the best of us, trying to bring us together and trying to do the things that we are here to do which is create access and opportunity and like let's all let's all let's all enjoy the rod and so for me um once again I spoke to it earlier. But when you're talking about like his cabinet right now you have the first native indigenous Cabinet Secretary over the agency that actually historically has brokered the treaties, the Department of Interior, right?

You know, you have the first openly gay uh secretary and Pete Buttigieg is right Department of Transportation. You have the first, I didn't realize there was all these first because I'm a little bit the whole cabinet and a lot of it, the whole cabinet um scott is almost all first. Um you have the first black man ePA administrator, you know, I mean it's, you can go on down the line, it's too Bad that it's the first are happening in 2021 for a lot of these things. To shame totally. That is a shame. But glass half full. It's a, as my, as my father used to say it's like such a time as this, you know, we'll take advantage of it where we can, you know? Yeah. Okay. A few I think I got like two more. I have these are, these are amazing. You know, some of these questions like people people get like one line answers but the stuff that I've been told I'm a little for both. No, no no no I would I would tell you if you were going on and this wasn't amazing.

Amazing life lesson stuff and I really hope people get some value out of this and I do believe they will. Um okay, so one person that had a major impact on your life, what lesson did they teach you? Oh, I got to just come out of gate and like, I'm probably going to get the, I don't know who your demo is for your viewership, but like this is super hilarious right now, but if you're already, I might just get the Simp simple able. But look, I'm a married man, I've been with my wife now for coming on well 15 years now in terms of I didn't together if I didn't answer the question the same way and also I also be in trouble, so right for eight years, but like, you know, like I said, a whole other podcast episode, but my wife is near and dear to me at the highest level because she we actually met at a very kind of low point in my life um back in college, a very, very low point um where I kind of just kind of gotten a little beside myself um and in less than focused, let's just say that. And um, for her to see, see that diamond in the rough, understand that like, I'll just use myself as an example of what I know that this man is and can be and then like, support him through these, this, this moment.

Um, she, yeah, she whipped me back into shape and so honestly, it's very, you know, whether she's in the house somewhere and she's over here and she's probably eye rolling me right now. But she knows, I mean it um she knows that she's got a dear place in my heart because um she invested in me in a way in which even at the time I wasn't investing in my own self. And so that's why I want to honor her by saying you know thank you for that and she's someone that I care very deeply about for that for that for that reason. So yeah like I said I moved to D. C. For 11 months. This was a pivotal point of you know She was sending me $250 a month and stuff. That's not a lot of money. It's not a lot. I'll tell you a lot of a lot of people will tend to zero. So that's what I'm saying. Like it wasn't a lot of money but it was also like it was like whoa. And so uh yeah I moved to D. C. Whole whole year and and a half before she even came up here.

But yeah she's she's someone um that I that I very very deeply admire and appreciate good good. Um what's one resource that you'd recommend? People? Go check out a book podcast, audible whatever man I love you dropped one before but if there's other ones. Oh yeah definitely definitely. Books. All right. So the books I love books so like I could since you said this is recorded I got a whole bookshelf of books here tremendous amount of books. Some very very interesting books to um that that that actually have up there. Um I will say that uh this is one that I recommend everybody. This book right here will illuminate things for everybody around black people's experience in this country as it relates to migration and how we ended up in the places that we have in the country and experiences of that.

And Isabel Wilkerson is the winner of a Pulitzer prize is a brilliant, brilliant author, Journalists, the whole nine. and it is very much an anthropological read, but as fascinating. Um that's one. Um and then I also say um I'm a big believer of getting what you need. So uh find your why, Um you know by Simon Sinek is another good one. And you know, it is a tremendous amount of books, but I actually said that those are two good recommendations, but to completely, completely, totally separate totally. I love that. I love that. Yeah, I like, I like when people bringing stuff because you know, whenever, because of the nature of the podcast, it's like there's a whole bunch I could list like probably 20 business books that are just like on repeat with, with guests mentioning. So thank you for seriously thank you for bringing some other, some other ideas. Um so that's, I'll drop, I'll drop links to these in the show notes as well if you want to check them out. This is I've never, I've never read the first one before.

I've read, I've read sign Simon Sinek a lot, but I've never read the first. So that, that would be a good read to. Um okay, and then, uh, last last question before I get some uh, some ways for people to reach you because I want to give you some exposure as well. Um, but what does, what does success mean for you? Yeah, success to me looks success to me is when someone ask about me, stranger family member friend and they say that chris supermen and in a smile, I like that. What success looks like for me. You can put a smile on people's face and they can think positively about you. That's what success looks like for me. Amazing. Okay, and then where do people go to connect with you?

Social website? Whatever I am, I'm across social media, so, you know, across facebook, whole nine instagram Christopher dot Kupperman um linked in, I'm on there once again, Christopher robert, Kupperman and twitter. See Opperman, so see you P P R mm in um shortens, see upper men, um they can find me across all those platforms and I do want to do a plug for law, chance, check us out law champs. Um it, you know, amazing platform um and involve entrepreneurship as well, involved his uh involved global dot org. Um you know, these are these are the organizations that I feel very, very deeply about um and love and we talked about loss chaps today, but honestly I want to play it again. It's a great platform and we want to we want to we want to serve you if you have some legal needs, you know, check us out. Amazing. Amazing. Okay. That's that's it, man. That's that's all I got. That was awesome.

This is great scott. That was really, really good.

Chris Upperman, Manager of Governance & Strategic Initiatives for Facebook | From The White House Mail Room To Changing The World At Facebook
Chris Upperman, Manager of Governance & Strategic Initiatives for Facebook | From The White House Mail Room To Changing The World At Facebook
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