Diversity And Inclusion with Tayo Rockson and Helping Executives Create Impact with Tricia Benn

Living in a world that operates with a binary system does not really cut it for the unique differences we have all around. Four-time TEDx speaker, consultant, and writer Tayo Rockson greatly believes in letting people fully understand themselves away from the boxes and the norms set up by society. He is all about diversity and inclusion and authors the book Use Your Difference to Make a Difference. Letting us in on his podcast called As Told by Nomads, Tayo shares the stories from many of the change-makers he has interviewed on topics like validation and being in your zone of genius. He gives insights and techniques on how you can become more self-aware and not be a stranger to yourself.


Growing in business has that added responsibility to help others while also asking some for yourself to sustain the progress you’re making. Helping executives become successful in both those aspects, executive of the C-Suite Network and general manager of Hero Club Tricia Benn introduces her companies that equip executives to face digital disruptions in their business and create an impact by giving back to the communities in which they serve. She also touches on the events and supports they offer, knowing full well how nothing is more costly than working with the wrong person or team.

TTL 544 | Diversity And Inclusion


We have Tayo Rockson and Tricia Benn here. Tayo is a four-time TEDx speaker, consultant and author. He’s got a new book. Tricia Benn is the Executive at C-Suite Network and also the General Manager of The Hero Club.

Listen to the podcast here

Diversity And Inclusion with Tayo Rockson

I am here with Tayo Rockson who is a four-time TEDx speaker, consultant and writer. He focuses on diversity and inclusion, and he’s the author of Use Your Difference to Make a Difference. It’s nice to have you here, Tayo.

Thank you for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be on. I’m excited to talk about all things entrepreneurship, diversity, inclusion and anything. I am happy to be on.

That’s inclusion and this is going to be fun. I was looking forward to this. You’ve spoken a lot. You’ve spoken at Workhuman. You’re popular and much focused on diversity and inclusion. I want to get a little background on you before we get into that of how you got interested in this. What led to this speaking, consulting and writing?

I’m a Nigerian who grew up in two military dictatorships as well as five countries and four continents by the time I was seventeen. I came from a point of oppression. Initially, I was always curious about finding voices for people who felt invisible. That was where the first seed was planted. As we transitioned to a civilian role in Nigeria, my dad’s job started to take us to multiple parts of the world, five countries, four continents and I was now a minority everywhere I went. Even when I came back to Nigeria, I wasn’t quite Nigerian enough. I was a hidden immigrant. Living in the intersections furthered my interest in understanding how to understand identity and help people feel seen, heard and understood because I was trying to feel, seen, heard and understood.

Out of trying to solve my own problem and understanding how the world does that to several people on an institutional level as well as the social level led me down this rabbit hole of studying and telling stories. One thing led to another. I launched my podcast, which put me on this platform where people start to respect my voice in the field and they started to ask me to come to speak on my experiences and the things I observed. That led me to work with companies as well as sharing more stories on stage and in books.

You mentioned your podcast. Can you talk a little bit about what led to your interest in that and what it’s about because some people might need to know more about it if they haven’t heard it?

My podcast is called As Told by Nomads. The initial genesis of it was I didn’t see myself or hear myself. People like me who identified with several cultures. It’s a great platform for people like that. That was what I was doing. I was interviewing people who grew up in different parts of the world and talked about ways to embrace the global identity and they vary from entrepreneurs to the leaders to students. It did more and grew. It became this talk that covers people that I like to say use their differences to make a difference. My mission statement is to use your difference to make a difference. I interview change makers from different parts of the world to discuss happily but can make an impact or how people can build businesses.

I love doing my show and I get to interview some of the most amazing people including you. As you’re talking about these change makers, what stories did you get? What stands out in your mind from some of those stories?

[bctt tweet=”The more you can embrace your whole self, the more successful you tend to be.” via=”no”]

The stories are always my favorite things, but it is more the validation that all people wanted to feel is seen for who they are and understood for who they are. It doesn’t matter what level you are, whatever nationality. People want to be authentically viewed for themselves and not feel like there’s something about them that makes them feel inferior. I hear that all the time when I interview people because when they talk about their turning points or shifts, they always identified points in their lives when they owned themselves, when they realize what their zone of genius was. They accepted that. That’s something I’ve noticed that successful people do. A lot of times it resonates with the listeners and listeners would email me and say, “I thought I was the only one dealing with that,” or “Thank you for sharing that. That helped me see this perspective.” The more you can embrace your whole self, the more successful you tend to be.

I have to give a talk about your legacy and it’s all about accepting what you love and enjoy. It ties into my work with curiosity. A lot of people need to explore their curiosity more because it can develop many things. When you were talking about people seeing them for who they are, that’s empathy. Being able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, which is what I researched with emotional intelligence. Why do you think we aren’t getting better at that? There are so much out there. I had Daniel Goleman on this show. He’s the genius behind making emotional intelligence popular. Do you think that this is still something we struggle with?

The way the world is set up, I always say we live in a world of norms governed by binary systems. We like to place people in different boxes and we don’t let people fully understand themselves. Self-awareness is a skill that isn’t taught at school that should be taught. A lot of people end up becoming strangers to themselves the older they get. We’ve become desensitized to things that are necessary for personal development. Like knowing your triggers and knowing your tendencies, your behaviors and instead of you getting caught up in the rat race of, “I’m supposed to do this or this point because I haven’t done it at that point. I’m a failure and I’m going to react on my perceived failure.” It ends up becoming the false perception of self. The reason why a lot of us aren’t good at emotion intelligence is we aren’t taught but we are also conditioned to do things at certain times instead of respecting our own unique timeline. We don’t know ourselves. We don’t know our tendencies. We don’t know what we should work on and our gaps exist. The more we focus on that and the less condition it will become the world’s version of ourselves instead of our versions of ourselves.

When you talk about the false perception of ourselves, do you think we have a harder time perceiving our self or other people and why?

It falls in line with what I do with diversity and inclusion. We are a world divided by fear and we don’t like the other than most of us. When we see something foreign from us or strange from us, we start placing them in a less than view, “That’s different. That’s not the way I do it. I’m not that person.” When we don’t know ourselves, we don’t know our biases. We don’t know our values and we don’t know our triggers. If you don’t know your biases, your values and your triggers, you’re never going to be your best self. When you’re not your best self then you start to look at other people in a different way. It starts with understanding your biases.

Why do you see people do it differently? Why do you let your bias influence your stereotypes? Which people trigger your biases, why and understand that. What are your triggers? How can you work on limiting those triggers and make you dissatisfied with yourself? When you recognize your trigger, how can you walk away from them? Your values, many people if you quizzed them will tell you, “I’m a good person. I like to do this.” How many people live out their values? If you don’t know yourself, I don’t think you’re going to be able to know any other person because you’re not able to interact in the best version of yourself. I’m going to choose self.

I don’t know if there’s any right or wrong way to answer that. It’s interesting because I’m studying perception and a lot of that as part of my work with curiosity and all the things I work with collaboration and everything. It’s hard to know how you recognize our biases and triggers. Do you have any techniques that you teach people to do that? Can you share some?

The book that I was talking about that I wrote is on how to connect with the culture and ironically your question which is why I really liked is I started off with self and then I moved on to other people. I do it from a three-framework point of view. I say educate, don’t perpetuate, instead communicate. In the education side, it’s broken into two pieces. One is education itself and after that, it’s the education of your environment. Many people don’t know the environment they live in. If you ask the average person, they probably don’t know their mayor, their state legislator, their representatives and things like that. They don’t know the demographic, the makeup of their current town.

TTL 544 | Diversity And Inclusion
Diversity And Inclusion: When you start to see how different things affect different people, you then become a better citizen of your environment.


The reason why this is important to understand is it’s important to know the people who will serve you because you live in this environment, but also how the things that law can affect different sets of people. That’s where empathy and humanization starts. When you start to see how different things affect different people, you then become a better citizen of your environment. In the book, I dive into different ways to observe and different ways to develop that. I picked up on this from my dad’s job. My dad was a diplomat. His job was always to understand how to forge positive relationships with Nigeria and my country and wherever he would get posted to. That meant a lot of observations. That’s the education part.

The don’t perpetuate part has to do with not perpetuating false stories. Many people will believe this fantastic story over a true story. How many people make decisions based on bare facts and not research? I use the example of the elections in 2015 where regardless of what side you were on, there was a lot of false news going on. Google had to ban over 200 of their sites because people were spreading the news to suit their own narratives. When you don’t fact-check your news or you don’t become a better storyteller, what you end up doing is perpetuating a narrative that ends up becoming fact for other people around you or your circle of influence.

That becomes something that’s hard to break because people in your circle of influence respect you and they value you. They have no other reason in their mind to fact-check that. You then become to see people as a limited version of themselves or an exaggerated caricature of what you’ve seen. I’m a Nigerian when I moved to America. I have people singing Lion King songs to me and people blowing imaginary stars and they go, “You speak to lions, you speak to all that.” These came from my roommates, teachers, people who are supposed to be peers and people that teach you. That came from somewhere. We as a society need to be better factors and understand what we’re perpetuated.

The next thing is communicate. We are in a time where for people to communicate, you need to be a troll and need to be politically correct and there are no nuances in between. I do understand that a lot of people are afraid and say, “I don’t want to express my full opinion. I don’t want to make a big mistake.” If we live in that state of perpetual fear, what we do is we miss out on growth. When we don’t communicate, we don’t call out things that we should call out whether it is from family members or friends or we don’t risk being wrong and then growing from that. There is a level of release of ego that that comes to communication. We need to learn how to release our ego and then allow for more openness and more possibilities. The other side also needs to learn how to create more room for growth. That’s where I feel communication comes into play where we are not talking to each other and because we don’t talk to each other, we don’t know each other. Therefore, educate, don’t perpetuate, instead communicate.

That ties into my work with curiosity. You have to be curious about other people to grow. Fear holds a lot of people back. I found that fear, assumptions, technology and environment holds people back from being curious. The assumptions are the voice in our head, the things we tell ourselves. Some of that is fake news. It’s what we tell ourselves and it necessarily doesn’t mean that it’s real. This impacts many things and you touched on many of the same things that I’m talking about when I go out to companies. I know you deal a lot more with diversity than I do. You’ve got a lot of issues out there, the #MeTooMovement, there’s so much going on. Do you talk about that as well?

There are a lot of the problems that we have in the world. I love to talk about emotions because I am a big fan. That’s why in the book I have a section where I say two indicators to me involves IQ, EQ and CQ. That’s intelligence quotient, emotions and cultural intelligence. That’s what education is to me. When we talk about inclusion and diversity, a lot of the problems stem from an inclusion problem and a diversity problem. Technology has brought the world to a place where you can look at different cultures from the palm of your finger. That also means there’s a responsibility for these platforms to be able to make sure the right stories are being told. Technology creates opportunities for people to create the worst of us to create the worst versions of people.

When you asked me what I think about #MeToo and all these stands are, the reason why we have these problems is that we have not been able to value each other as people. We’ve had centuries of disconnection happening. Whether it is slavery, whether it is colonialism, whether it’s women getting the right to vote in the twentieth century, whether it’s people inside of wars based on religion, based on ethnic groups. All of these things stem from the wrong stories being told about us and an inability to connect to something different from us. Whether it’s a man saying I’m entitled to your body. Whether it is police brutality or all of these things, you at some level disconnect to something and you’re a way to act to that disconnection does not follow that curiosity to learn from that person or about that person. It’s to exert dominance and that’s a dangerous place to be. That’s what we’ve done throughout history and we do it in different versions now.

That is so much information that many people lack a lot of knowledge in the IQ, EQ and CQ areas. When you brought that up, it made me think of a few things in terms of your story about Nigeria, different companies, different cultures and different global situations. We were talking about perception. Do you think that we have the same outlook in the United States? If what we can get away with, if we’re opening our companies and how people perceive us here. If you were going to open a company in Nigeria, do you have to have run by different rules? It’s such a different world. How do you see that?

[bctt tweet=”When you’re not your best self, you start to look at other people in a different way.” via=”no”]

That comes to understanding that your way of doing something is not the only way. That’s the truth. Opening a business here is different from opening a business in Nigeria, in Thailand or Germany because there are cultural norms, the things that people have come to accept as a way of life that might be different. It’s funny when I go back to Nigeria, people always make fun of me as being American now, but I am still Nigerian. They would say, “You’re so direct. You are exactly on time.” You are doing these things and in other cultures, time is more relative or the way of doing business is more focused on relationships as opposed to your rank or all of these cultural things. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way. It means they have a different way of doing that. You know how you understand the different ways of doing that but investing in relationships and understanding what people like. We’ve come to this place where we follow mostly the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you want them to do unto us.” Instead of the Platinum Rule which is “Do unto others as they want and treat people the way they want to be treated.”

You need to release a lot of egos and stop looking at the world through your own cultural lens. We are 7.5 billion people. There is no way that there’s one way to do something. Every different culture has had a different way of doing that. Business is different, relationships are different and cultural nuances are different. They are not often something you can pick up in a textbook. There are things you have to experience. That experience is something that scares people because it means they will be vulnerable. It means they will make mistakes and it means that they might be wrong, which would lead to people being persecuted or not. That is where we are.

I talk a lot about that Platinum Rule with my students. Dr. Tony Alessandra has made that popular. He was on the show. It’s a great way of making it clear about empathy and trying to understand other people which is such a huge part of emotional intelligence. You said, “Nelson Mandela taught me forgiveness. My mom taught me love. My dad taught me perseverance. Oprah taught me the importance of connection.” When you’re talking about connection, I’m thinking relationships and that thing. I have to admit, I don’t see a lot of guys quoting Oprah. What got you interested in Oprah and how did that change you?

The late Nelson Mandela and Oprah are the two biggest influences in my life. I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell the Oprah story first. My dad got posted in Burkina Faso when I was ten years old. Burkina Faso is a French-speaking country in West Africa. Nigeria went from as a Nigeria-speaking country in West Africa. I spoke English and I was this skinny Nigerian kid with a thick Nigerian accent in a French-speaking country in an American international school going through puberty. That was my ten years old. I had this big inferiority complex. I didn’t feel I was important. We had a very small school. It was about 120 people from K through 12. Everybody knew each other. You knew who the cool person was, you knew who an outsider was. I felt like an outsider. Whenever we came back from school, what was on TV after Nickelodeon and Disney shows was The Oprah Winfrey show.

I would sit there and eat and watch it with my mom. There was something about feeling a sense of belonging in the guests that made me feel at home. Oprah would bring older people from different backgrounds and share stories and I would find myself in a lot of these stories. It was aspirational for me where I was like, “It’s not just me. I can do this.” I can still be successful. I know I feel down now, but I’ll be fine. I found that her ability to make me feel like I was in that audience in Chicago was something I related to and it was something that I craved but I didn’t necessarily get in school. That was the beginning of me studying Oprah. The late Nelson Mandela was because I initially grew up in dictatorships. He was a model for me. This was something that came out of apartheid and came out of jail to lead a country. He looked like me and he was black and I said, “There’s hope.” Oprah and Nelson Mandela were an idea of hope that I could be one of the people there and there is something I could do. That’s why I identify with those two.

I could see how you’ve led yourself towards this making a difference theme. What I found interesting is you said you’re on a mission to develop three billion global leaders. What made you pick three billion? How are you going to do that?

There are about three billion people under 30 right now and I have identified it. I would say the next of the global leaders. I grew up with the next set of global leaders. I’m always interested in training our generation, the next generation. I want the Millennials and Gen X and Z who have a bad reputation. I want to focus on ways to change the world from an environmental point of view, politics and socioeconomic levels. The way I want to do that, I believe in setting goals that you have to grow into the person to keep that. Even if I don’t want to achieve this goal, it’s something I’ll be working on until my death bed. I want to be able to activate others as well to do their own thing. By activating someone that does something in an entire country with twenty million people, I’m counting that. I don’t like a lot of network marketing, but that’s why networks change to make an influence inversion. We activate change in order to do things in all communities and they do the same thing. I like my BHAG, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal and it definitely doesn’t let me settle and it keeps me working.

You’ve done much to spread the great news of how to include other people and how they have a diverse culture. You’ve spoken at four TEDx events. Which one was your favorite talk of the TED Talks?

Two of them are in internal and two are external, but my favorite is one of the external ones out there. There’s the one I gave at Cooper Union in The Art of Diplomacy. It was the one I was least prepared for it, but ended up being my most popular talk. I teach a lot of people about public speaking and creating stories. I remember they didn’t accept the topic initially that I had and I said, “I don’t know what I will be talking about.” That was the week before. One of my friends said, “Why don’t you talk about what you learned from being the son of a diplomat?” I thought about this stuff and I started writing. I took on what diplomats can teach us about connecting. Diplomats can teach about building a wall now. I would definitely say that would be the talk because it encapsulates a lot of my personal anecdotes, but a lot of things I’ve observed and what I feel there’s a gap in nowadays world where we are too quick to react instead of reflect.

I know a lot of people probably are interested in watching that, but they also probably want to know how to get your book that’s coming out and contact you. How can they reach you?

I am @TayoRockson everywhere, on Instagram, Twitter and TayoRockson.com. If you search Tayo Rockson, I’m available in any other platform. The book is coming out on September 4th. It’s on Amazon available for preorder or any way that you buy books, Barnes & Nobles or any of those places. I’m excited about it and pre-orders are available.

Thank you, Tayo. This has been interesting. We have so much that we like to talk about in common and I knew this was going to be a great show. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you for thinking of me and having me on. I appreciate it and I am honored.

Helping Executives Create Impact with Tricia Benn

I am here with Tricia Benn who is an Executive at the C-Suite Network and General Manager of The Hero Club, a group of CEOs, founders and investors who commit to a life balance of hard work while giving back to the communities in which they serve. It’s nice to have you here, Tricia.

Thank you so much, Diane. It’s great to be here with you and it’s a wonderful excuse to get caught up.

We’ve had a chance to meet at a few of the events. Jeff Hayzlett has been nice enough to invite me to some of your C-Suite Network and The Hero Club events. I want to get a little background on you because this is my opportunity to find out more about you. You’ve done different things. You had a career journey that started as a market researcher and all that. Can you go back and give a little foundation so people know a little more about you?

I describe myself as the nicest rebel you’re ever going to need in business. My track record is for many years. I spent many years in the market research insights and marketing space before coming into the C-Suite Network world. What that was about for me was learning how to build a business successfully, learning the rewards of building great businesses, great teams and building on the strengths of people. My experience was all enterprise-sized companies and figuring out ways to build new businesses, fix businesses that are integrated and then create viable outcomes. The form I took is that I was an executive inside a large global market research firm and I worked my way up. I was the youngest Vice President in North America for Ipsos and within Toronto, Ottawa and Washington DC. That’s where I learned. In DC, I took on the VP role and learned how successful you could make a business by integrating operational success and an approach where you’re building on people’s strengths to create a great team. That gave me the taste for that.

I went back to Canada to Rogers, which is a $20 billion company and ended up building and revenue generating research insights group in what was a traditionally tens of millions of dollars call center. This was not something that was well-received by my industry at the time. It was incredibly disruptive because the supplier side of the industry wanted to sell into me. They not only were selling those same services but were in competition potentially for the same dollars. Now, it’s a commonplace. Everybody’s selling their data and their insights and so on. That was a phenomenal step for me because what happened was I was able to build business through challenging environments. My team had a double-digit growth through the recession. That meant I got to experience a lot of things from a corporate level that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

[bctt tweet=”Educate and don’t perpetuate; instead, communicate.” via=”no”]

I got to sit on two of our companies’ advisory boards. I got to be in those board rooms and hear the language and understand what was happening from a business perspective. How better to serve the interests of decision makers and business leaders at the same time building my own approaches. Taking slightly different approaches and what was traditionally the approach for team building and so on in the businesses that I came into. After that, I took on a global marketing role with MDC Partners, a $3 billion holding company of agencies and P&L responsibilities for one of our US businesses. That’s how I came into the C-Suite Network. I was the first paying sponsor of C-Suite Network.

How did you meet Jeff?

I’m not even a place that most Canadians have never been. I was on the board of directors for the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and our bylaws we had to include the West Coast, East Coast and Central in consecutive years. We were in Saskatoon and he was there because he’s been on the board of the sponsoring company. He was promoting one of his books, Running the Gauntlet. I met him there and it was when I took on that global marketing role, I needed to be in front of American executives. I thought, “I wonder if Jeffrey Hayzlett built that C-Suite Network thing he was talking about. When I reached out, I did not know at the time that I was the first sponsor. I only learned that lately. It’s been fantastic to see the growth of that kernel of an idea of how you create a community in the digital era that then also supports all of the needs of the executives to be successful in their roles. As executives, our roles have changed considerably over the last many years. It’s extraordinary. It’s been wonderful to see this growth and certainly the community and relationships. I have that to thank you, Diane.

It was nice of Jeff to introduce me to many people, including you through the C-Suite group. Jeff and I both serve on the board of advisors for DocuSign. I’ve run into Jeff in other areas. It seems like everybody knows Jeff Hayzlett one way or another. They did a nice job with the bestseller TV version for my book and he wrote an excerpt from my book as well. I had a lot of people from the C-Suite Network on the show and I’ve met a lot of people who’ve joined The Hero Club. For those who don’t know what The Hero Club is or the C-Suite Network, it would be interesting to talk about those. Let’s start with the C-Suite Network. Can you explain exactly what it is?

TTL 544 | Diversity And Inclusion
Use Your Difference to Make a Difference: How to Connect and Communicate in a Cross-Cultural World

The easiest way to think of it is an ecosystem or a platform where us as an executive, you can go to get everything you need to be successful. If you think about it, for us 45 years of age and older, early on in our careers if we were associated and on the board of directors for our industry association and close to the executive publisher of our industry publication, we had our career made. We would know all the people to know, all the topics that were critically important in our industry. We would know the certifications we’re training for. All of it would be published. All of those things that would make our career successful. With the fragmentation that happened with all of the digital disruptions, suddenly those business models don’t work. They’re incredibly challenged.

There are a lot of associations that have closed down. They are drastically trying to change the way that they look at their business models, famous trade publications. It’s a challenging thing to take a successful business model in one environment, change it dramatically and then still try to apply everything as if it’s the same business environment and it’s not. The C-Suite Network platform essentially provides the opportunity for associations and publications to participate absolutely and anyone else serving an executive audience. Everything is there to create content, to create community, to create and publicize events and so on. The services and benefits the executives benefit from through all of the different spokes of the wheel that we have in the C-Suite Network.

There have been some great events that I’ve been to where I’ve met some interesting people, who I’ve remained in contact with and who have been on my show. There are many connections you can make from the group. I liked that part of it. I’ve also attended The Hero Club events. Keith Krach had one at his house. I’ve been to Keith’s house for other things. It was an unbelievable event that Jeff hosted up in San Francisco and he’s also invited me through Jeff. He was nice enough. I got to meet Wozniak. He’s always doing these great things. I don’t know if that was through The Hero Club, but I’ve met him through other events and different things that he does. Tell me a little more about The Hero Club because that’s a little bit different than the C-Suite Network, isn’t it? They work together.

In the C-Suite Network, there are different pieces. We have content such as C-Suite TV, C-Suite Radio. We are the largest business radio podcast platform with C-Suite Radio. We have about 45 to 50 websites. We have newsletters for all of our different executive membership. We have our events, and then we have our partnered events and so on for lots of live things happening. We have services and benefits. All things that benefit executives, everything from ClubCorp memberships to MDLIVE to keep you healthy to Voicea transcription service. Different things that we know are going to be useful in helping our executives succeed.

We also have councils and that’s where The Hero Club fits in. Our councils are essentially different subgroups of the C-Suite Network. We have about 350,000 executives in our general membership of C-Suite Network. We have our council. The Hero Club is one. It’s a council of CEOs, founders and investors. In the C-Suite Network, we own The Hero Club and I lead it as a General Manager. We set our own rules and parameters. We have many other councils that are led by partners and leaders in our community. Everything from health and wellness led by Brian Hazelgren to our Marketing IMPACT Council with John and Carol Greco and so on and so forth. You name it. The idea with the council is creating those subgroupings that are focused on specific either regionality, industry or sector, product or service, or title. That helps you with where The Hero Club fits.

When you say you own it, what do you mean by that?

[bctt tweet=”Technology creates opportunities for people to create the worst advice and the worst versions of themselves.” via=”no”]

The C-Suite Network acquired The Hero Club from the original Founder Rob Ryan.

If somebody is reading this, they’re the CEO of a large company or even a small company, what would be the main appeal to them to want to be part of The Hero Club?

The Hero Club for CEOs, founders and for investors that care about impact, which should be all if you look at the profitability of companies that are living to what we call The Hero Factor. That is who we’re looking for and there are some critical stipulations. We don’t have a minimum size in terms of the size of a company that a CEO or a founder is leading. They do have to be focused on growth. We want maximum impact and our goal is to help them get there faster. If you go back to the original story of why The Hero Club is in place, it’s about Rob Ryan. I’ll come back to that. That’s a whole story in and of itself. It’s incredible and it inspires us every day. We’re looking for that entrepreneurially-minded leader.

We have everything from pre-revenue CEOs and founders to billion-dollar CEOs. We have critical criteria that every member has pledged. If I were to thumbnail it, every single one has pledged to lead with integrity, transparency, give back to their communities and share in their success. It’s about how we get them to their success faster. We want to create a movement or building this movement for everybody to understand the importance of the entrepreneurial CEO that is pledged this way, that share these values to succeed. They not only give back to our communities but to our economy and ultimately our democracy and everything we see in the news about the bad actor. Typically, we see the bad actors in large cases where a lot of people are impacted. We also have #MeToo. My personal opinion is that’s not going to slow down for at least a decade. We thought a good 40, 50 years to catch up on. That’s important. However, we want to make sure that not everyone is painted with that same brush because these are important issues and critical impact that great leaders, great CEOs and founders are having in their communities.

A few people I have met through The Hero Club have all been interesting people. You alluded to the Rob Ryan story. Can you tell that? That is an interesting story.

TTL 544 | Diversity And Inclusion
Diversity And Inclusion: There’s nothing more costly than working with the wrong person and the wrong team.


Rob Ryan built Ascend Communications from the ground up, sold it and the deal went through at the beginning of 1999 for over $20 billion. It’s an extraordinary amount of money. Not only was it the largest private tech sale ever, that record held until the end of 2016 when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn. What happened was he profit-shared with every single employee. He made and we truly believe it has never been corrected sharing this far and wide that he created more millionaires in one day than anyone ever has in an exchange like that. I always say he’s our origin. He’s our original hero. Everywhere he went, somebody stopped him and that’s how The Hero Club came about. He’d be stopped and somebody would say, “Mr. Ryan, you may not remember me,” and the stories are incredible. Everything that you would expect, “I paid my mortgage. I put my children through school. I had a lifestyle I wouldn’t have imagined.” There are heartbreaking ones. I was able to pay for a family member’s surgery that couldn’t have been done that saved their life. How can you not be inspired?

Early on in my career, I had a hero like that. The first person in my industry that ever did a profit share with every single employee. I was a junior staff member at that time. I was incorporated into one of those stories early on. I went through the whole recession in executive roles where I saw what I would hold up as being absolute best of leadership and also examples that I would not aspire to. I found it incredibly challenging when I wasn’t able to change outcomes, especially during that recession. We saw a lot of bad leadership that didn’t help invest in the future and future success. All of that comes together and certainly fuels my motivation and my passion for being able to bring everything we have to bear to help great leaders succeed.

I’ve been to some of your events and also to the New York studio where they recorded my book preview. Do you guys all work virtually? Where’s the main office for all of this?

We have two headquarter offices. One is in New York which is very near to where you recorded, right in Times Square essentially. Our other one is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jeffrey’s family home is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We have many of our support roles and functions within our organization there. We do have others of us that are placed around the country. I always say it doesn’t much matter where I live because I travel the better part of 40 weeks in a year. I get to go meet heroes everywhere they live. It’s a lot of fun.

You spent a lot of time with Jeff and a lot of people. It’s quite an impressive amount of time you must put into this because every time I look, there’s a new picture of somebody doing something somewhere. A few that I’ve been to, they’ve big events, big things and well-handled. Did we touch on everything you’ve been working? Have you got something new that you’re working on?

[bctt tweet=”Not everyone is painted with the same brush.” via=”no”]

We do about 60 live events a year and we are all over. On top of that, we do everything we can to support our partners and members. Anytime we have the opportunity where we have a city that we’ve targeted to come into and we’ve got membership in that area. If we can coordinate schedules to be around something that will support one of our members or partners, we absolutely do. That’s something we’ve been working on constantly. We have our Capital Summit coming up in San Francisco on June 10th and 11th. We have a new partner, Angel Investors Network. We’re going to be hosting the Pitch Tank in our Hero Club membership time. Everything we can be doing to create a wider community, wider expertise and be referring our members through to be able to get to that success faster. Whether it’s capital, whether its tools and solutions, it’s networking to get to the right people and people you know that you can build with.

We all know there’s nothing more costly than working with the wrong person, wrong team or wrong people. That is something we’re focused on and excited about coming up in June. I would certainly invite anybody interested to please reach out because we’re going to be there and there are many exciting things going on. Everything related to how you get capital, grow your capital most efficiently and successfully and get to that successful exit. For any entrepreneur that’s reading, you know that’s the beginning. Most of our members are entrepreneurs in many different ways. Another thing that’s exciting is not only have we seen more than tenfold growth in our membership, but the diversity of our membership is tremendous.

I’m honored and proud of the fact that we have the tremendous diversity we have in the membership where peers come together. Regardless of their gender, age, religion, voting, industry or sector, how many successful outcomes they have inside of their business. They come as peers with tremendous expertise in whatever it is that they do in the background they do and they are giving to each other in a way that’s helping accelerate each other’s growth. When we’re together, that’s what we’re focused on. One of the outcomes we had at our meeting in Vegas, we were there in March. In our first workshopping session, a number of members reported out that tremendous advisory board they’ve now created around their tables. They had a diversity that you don’t typically see around board rooms that we’re all sitting at.

That’s a new thing and something that we’re excited about. Honestly, you and I know from the early days of C-Suite Network, Jeffrey set criteria for us that going forward. Every meeting that we had in a C-Suite Network would have at least 50% women on stage. Some of our events have been a little bit more. That’s something that carries through and it’s a critical part of what we’re doing and what we’re focused on, but it’s certainly a tremendous strength for us because we’re learning and growing faster and we’re getting those different perspectives. That creates an environment where leaders can innovate. They don’t have anything at risk that they would have if they were bringing that into their team immediately. It’s a great space to learn and grow.

I’ve been on a virtual panel through his group. There were definitely women and a good variety of speakers. You guys are doing a lot of things. You mentioned the Pitch Tank. I’m curious what that’s about it.

The most famous of that group is Kevin Harrington, one of the first of The Shark Group, Shark Tank. Jeff Barnes is the CEO with Greg Writer and Brent Ullmann. They’re leaders in that group. Essentially, it’s an opportunity to bring Angel investors. They have the Angel Investors Network together with entrepreneurs who are pitching to get Angel Investment. It’s a great opportunity for training and actual investment could be made for everybody involved. We’re excited about that new partnership.

It sounds like you guys are doing a lot of big things and it’s always like that. It’s always fun to talk to you, to Jeff and all the people who I’ve met through your network. I’m glad we got a chance to finally catch up a little bit. When we get to those events and we’re excited because you talk to many people. I’m glad we got a chance to go into a little more depth because a lot of people hear about the network and hear about The Hero Club and would like to know more. If they want to learn more and contact you, how would they do that?

The website for C-Suite Network is C-SuiteNetwork.com. The Hero Club is HeroCEOClub.com. I’m happy to share my personal email address. It’s TriciaBenn@C-SuiteNetwork.com. The platform is built for if you are an executive and you want to come in, benefit and contribute to this community, you are welcome. If you’re somebody who provides services, membership or whatever it might be to an executive, I welcome you to reach out. We’re building this community. I mentioned some of the things. We’re building a C-Suite Network Academy. There are many things that we are in the process of building and constantly looking for great partners to come in and do what they do best. Certainly, we’re here to help and make that easier for them.

Thank you, Tricia. This has been interesting and I’m sure a lot of people are going to want to reach out to you. I enjoyed having you on the show. Thanks for sharing all that.

Thank you so much, Diane.

I’d like to thank Tayo and Tricia for being my guests. We get many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them all at DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. If you’re looking for more information about Cracking the Curiosity Code or the Curiosity Code Index, you can go to CuriosityCode.com to get all that. I have a few people asked me how to contact me for my speaking and consulting, you can find everything at DrDianeHamilton.com. You can get to the curiosity information. Everything’s there. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Tayo Rockson

TTL 544 | Diversity And InclusionTayo Rockson is four-time TEDx Speaker, Consultant, Writer, and Speaker. He focuses on diversity and inclusion. He is the author of Use Your Difference to Make a Difference. Comes out September 4, 2019. He is a 21st-century gentleman on a mission to use his DIFFERENCE to make a difference as a storyteller, cultural translator, and brand strategist for change-makers. His ultimate goal is to build the next set of global leaders by teaching individuals how to communicate effectively across cultures and communicate with impact. He believes that the two reasons people don’t think they can make a difference in the world is because of a fixed mindset and a limited worldview and so he works with individuals and organizations to improve their cultural competencies, exposure and grow their mindsets.

About Tricia Benn

TTL 544 | Diversity And InclusionTricia Benn is an Executive at the C-Suite Network and the General Manager of The Hero Club, a group of CEOs, founders, and investors who commit to a life balance of hard work while giving back to the communities in which they serve. Tricia’s goal is to transform businesses by creating a movement of collaboration, that leads with integrity, transparency and measures success beyond the numbers alone.


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