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 at Facebook, he has worked in the Obama administration as well as on the Biden Harris transition team.
Chris currently serves on several advisory councils including the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the National Black MBA Association, NextGen Chamber of Commerce, most recently, has been named Chairman of the Advisory Board of Law Champs, as well as a Member of its Board of Directors, and was a Center for American Progress (CAP) Leadership Institute Fellow in 2012. Christopher attended Georgia State University, and received his Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. He was honored as a Georgia State University 40 Under 40 in 2019.
- 02:54 — Chris’s origin story.
- 10:24 — Working for free in the mailroom of the White House.
- 13:52 — Civic engagement ecosystem.
- 23:38 — Eleanor Holmes.
- 32:49 — Where did you have the greater impact? Government or Facebook?
- 37:37 — Capitol Hill, back to the White House, and then over to the SBA.
- 45:36 — Equal opportunity legal access.
- 1:01:57 — Benefiting marginalized groups.
- 1:05:10 — Career challenges.
- 1:19:10 — Don’t internalize too much & tips for Chris’s younger self.
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)
worked, people, government, dc, sba, white house, chris, opportunity, point, feel, engage, thinking, career, moment, bit, georgia state, speaking, community, eleanor holmes norton, lives
Welcome to Success Story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary, and today I am interviewing and sitting down with Chris Upperman. 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 law champs as well as sitting as a member on Law Champs Board of Directors. Chris is an incredible guy. He has an incredible story and 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. This episode is sponsored by gusto, so thank you gusto. They are 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. Thanks again for joining me today, I am sitting down with a very special guest Chris Upperman. He is currently the manager of governance and strategic initiatives for space book, 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 Foundation’s 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 Champs is, 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. In 2019. Chris, incredible resume, thank you so much for having me, as you know, having a couple minutes to chat. This was a very exciting interview for me, because of the fact that you have done so much in terms of your own career, but you’re also obviously very altruistic in the fact that you give back a lot. And all the boards that you sit on and you know, some I recognize, some I want you to tell me what they are. But let’s backtrack a little bit, because you don’t know, you don’t graduate 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 really, really tall order here. But no, I appreciate this opportunity. Scott, it’s a pleasure to meet you. 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. This is what I’ll say. I’m from Kennesaw, Georgia, that’s where I grew up outside of Atlanta. You know, where I’m at today, how I’m sitting in this seat today, there are many moments that I just honestly couldn’t believe that I’d be at a place such as this. And what I’ll say up front, because I’m really big on themes, I’m really big on the kind of 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 was a deep man of faith, my mother’s a woman of faith as well. And so I learned Hard work pays, you know, it pays off Hard work pays off and staying focused and delaying gratification. 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 the like moments. So it’s kind of like, you know, valleys that you may go through in, I think what I really want to focus on, as it relates to kind of each of these things that I’ve done is how resilient resilience has played a key factor in all of these things. Because let’s say I went to Georgia State University, I love Georgia State Panthers, situated in Atlanta, Georgia, downtown Atlanta around the corner from the Capitol, and I was in university at the height of the early 2000s. The Atlanta night scene was wild. I started a company with my with my close friends to this day. We were doing marketing promotions and events. And we were just out here just trying to do our thing. You know, went through my Georgia State years, I was an individual, I worked full time while I was in college. And so, you know, I come from a very, I would say, solidly middle class, I mean, some probably would consider it maybe a little lower middle class, but whatever. Parents, my dad was in the Navy, my mother, in the unknown when retired, actually became a school bus driver for the local school district that I was in, and my brother and my young brother, we then went into a lot of community service in the in the community that I grew up in. 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. 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, I was a credit analyst, 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 were dealing with, you know, I was doing initially, as many people know, balanced transfers, credit card sales, these types of things. And I saw it, and every day I was coming into work. I was saying, look, I think there’s more that I want to do. 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 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 the wielder meant initially when he was running. 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 IRS, 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, you know, move the DC, pack of everything, just moved to DC apply 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. Okay. I mean, go for it. She, you know, it’s like, okay, let’s see, how does every DC and 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 connection. So that world 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, DC, 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 way about that. So what I then decided to do was just say, like, let’s talk to you a couple of other people who are feel are close confidants and get their take, obviously, I’d already spoken, I can sit with my wife, now wife, my parents, I applied, I did not get into the White House internship program immediately did not get it and I got in at the time, it was called an Associate Program, which is like a sub tier. Because as you can probably remember, you know, Brock, Obama presidency, you know, historic, you know, everybody wants to descend on Washington, DC, 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, oh, well, let’s like, let’s see if we can make it work. I was very blessed and fortunate. My wife’s aunt lives in, in Maryland, and she had a home that I could stay in. 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, I packed up my I 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. Professionally, and personally, because I basically threw caution to the wind. I trusted my gut. I already mentioned, I’m a man of faith and so that 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 going to be some great things that can come from this and I listened to and so I came here and Oh man, I lived almost an hour and change outside of DC and for anyone that doesn’t know DC is got You know, not the greatest traffic, no different Atlanta no different than la some of these places and so I just did that for like a full initially a full for for I did four months in this Associate Program in the mailroom literally the actual mailroom.
This Associate Program, it’s not promising you anything I’m assuming it is there’s no is there’s Is there even a salary involved at this point?
There is no salary. This is a promise of a salary as an intern, which it doesn’t the White House internship program does not pay, 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 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 males. And we still have to sort of, are you willing to be willing to take that? And I said, Yes, I’m willing to take that. And that was a really pivotal moment, because I got my foot in the door, I got into the office of presidential correspondence, sorting mail, literally sorting though, at that point in time, President Barack Obama had more hard mail than George Bush had received in his last entire four years of his term. And so like, and that was
historical, it, you know, people were excited about this. So but you don’t think about, you don’t think about that side of it either. So that was your job.
That was my job everyday: waking up, coming in, coming in, read in mail, working with volunteers that come in and do this. And I learned a lot I didn’t know actually, they were volunteers who do this across all administrations, you know, they they are they are 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 afternoon or, you know, lunch break and things of that nature. And they read the mail. And at the time that was really impressive about this was not only was an historical moment, for the president, he prioritized mail. So many people 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, but he prioritize actually seeing letters so that he can stay grounded, and that he could actually respond in real time, instead of just being up on the lectern and 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 love of calling? It was it was right? No, 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 that 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, and has led you to where you are today. Yeah, so yes, major risk, but obviously, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s worked out, so, okay, so that’s so that’s you in the mailroom. When do you start getting paid?
You want to know what’s funny about that? Not for if I’m doing my math right now for another seven to eight and a half months?
Because I got some good family then are you Oh, my God.
I told you I married my wife. Right. She was a good 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 believe in what I was so inspired and enthusiastic. And
what was the dream? What was the dream?
You know, the dream was actually Chris Upperman 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, I’d share with you before, right like I don’t come from a family of politics. I absolutely don’t come from a family of you know, White House and Congress, Capitol hills, Senators, you know, foreign dignitaries, do cabinet secretaries, I don’t come from that. What’s changed since I’ve been here in Washington, DC for the last 1314 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. You know, how do you engage with your member of Congress so that they can hear your voice? You know, the district offices that most members of Congress have that you can go in and actually, you know, address some of the you’re kind of low issues addressed. Speaking, you know, being in rooms with elected officials, politicians, presidents, you know, is probably see right behind me 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 all the 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, come from this, this, this, this, this background with my parents in a 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, work alongside this, this historical precedent, this first, you know, black man president, and to be able to take that back and then say, like, Look, guys, look at all the stuff that’s taking place over here, I think I need you all to know, because I feel like this is something we’ve known for a while, but, you know, in 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,
but you you you engaged with it, quite literally 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 the nonprofits and other 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, intangible level than most people do. So that’s, that’s something that already is quite respectful. I’m now gonna set a better Honestly, I’m just thinking about it, because you keep that and like, as you know, I love doing these interviews, because I love when I tee up somebody’s background, like their backstory, then all their career decisions, they 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 be on 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 work for seven, eight months without pay just the total
amount it was 11 and a half months in total, before I got my first paid job in Washington, DC. And God bless her. She’s still on Capitol Hill, I work for Congresswoman or DC delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, as we call her Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton here in the district of Colombia. I worked initially in her district office before getting to her legislative office and being an aide to her and traveling around DC 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. Did I feel like this would be a good, good, like anecdote for this conversation? Um, so I had been for many, many, many months, as I told you around 11 and a half months and it got to a place of like, all right, so you’re kind of living with you know, my girlfriends aren’t here. You know, you know, her husband is love them to death. 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 I’m like, Yeah, I think I need to do a little little more to kind of get some income here because you know, I’ve gotta gotta state in this house you know, not really being able to kind of cover cover what I what I’m using. But all jokes aside, there was a day that I actually because I came to DC 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 and had never honestly played any other sport other than those. Funny enough, I moved to DC I went to Joseph A banks at a 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 Goods. I got once again my love my wife. You’ll hear me Refer to her quite a bit. She, she helped me purchase a set of golf clubs, a preset of golf clubs from Dick’s Sporting Goods. And as I’m moving to DC, I got my navy blazer with the gold buttons, super cringe stereotypical and cheesy. And I was like, I’m gonna do all these things, to go these places and meet these people and start playing golf. Sure enough, I moved into a household where my uncle He golf, see golf, like almost every day. And so I was actually golfing he was teaching me and never done it before. And I get calls on my cell phone. I was ignoring it at first, because I was we were actually on a driving range. In my phone just kept ringing. I was like, Okay, I gotta pick this up. And I picked it up. And my good buddy, who To this day, God bless him, Tony, who actually I worked with at Facebook. Now, he hit me up is a guy who was working at the White House at the time, who I 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, who worked for a former senator. And a lot of young black professionals that come through washington dc eventually meet this woman, she was almost like kind of like the godmother, and you kind of got to go through this woman to 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 there. And she had been in the heel for a good 30, almost 40 years at that point in time had 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, I don’t have no you know, this 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, DC. I’m Dart home, throw on a suit in like, literally get him to drive me down there. And she sat with me. We talked for a moment. And it was like all of maybe 10 minutes. 1015 minutes. All right now, thank you. Like, I got to understand it like it now you can leave. Next day, I got a call interview. And several members of Congress office, it worked just like that. It really worked just like that. And I’m not saying that to say in a weird way. But it I guess the reason why I want to draw on that is because of two things. Be ready, just very much be ready. When you get that call, be ready to act, and then to be in these ecosystems. Because the opportunities are often within they’re 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 banking, you want to get any stage, you got to move to north to New York, you just got to do it. If you want to get into you know, like, Hey, you know, what I’m trying to say? Right? Like, yeah, gotta like 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. So, after, after this, you had this opportunity. So where does your career go from here? Is this because I, you did a lot. You You were running your own? I guess you had your own business for a while. Pre Facebook. I don’t know if there was other other things in between if you want to go through some of those things.
Yeah, I’ll just do like a super quick on that. So anything in particular that I feel like could be germane to this conversation? So I’m working on the hill for Eleanor Holmes Norton. Yeah. And then I’m there for a year and some change in several months. And then I get a call to the back to the White House, I get an opportunity to work in the Office of presidential correspondence. And to come in and to lead an office that centers around the students basically 18 in below, citizens who write to the President, and I just couldn’t pass it up. I mean, Oh, wow. A job at the White House and but back at the mailroom, 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 a department had a little small, small, small, small team that it had a cadre of volunteers that were very committed to the students of America and reading those letters. Some of those letters got up to President Obama was able to draft letters on behalf of President to back to the students and young citizens. Then I started helping out other kind of departments in side of the White House, doing some like policy briefings and bringing kind of outside groups in in some like engagement 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. At that point that I had an opportunity to kind of go down that route or go to national security route, kind of on the economic side of things, or go to the Small Business Administration. And for a number of reasons, it aligned that I went over to the SBA. You know, from my backdrop and background with the company that I had, when I was in college, my grandmother had a salon. And she was always an entrepreneur. So it kind of was like, oh, it resonates. And I went there. And I joined the administrator’s office and 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, a cabinet secretary, and you see the way policies made you see the way they’re talking to trade groups, outside influencers and individuals who are advocating around certain aspects of policy size standards, you know, the government contracting rules, that allocation of capital via certain programs, you know, the budget process for federal agency, the hiring, and the HR, the appointments of political people coming into the agency, my eyes are just wide open, I was like, wow, this is real. So I was there for about five and a half, almost six years, at the SBA doing numerous things before the end of the administration and going on, to be a CEO of a nonprofit, involve entrepreneurship. And I’m still
involved with To this day, still working with businesses. So working with entrepreneurs, I see a theme is forming now. So
yeah, and, and at this point in time, also then starting to engage continuously with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, and serving on the advisory capacity, they’re helping advise the, the managing director, or, you know, the executive director, should I say, who, who’s going on to do some really great stuff, just recently announced, is going into the Biden administration. And it was, it was like, two, it was a it was a clear path of, there were some big partnerships that were on the table, they were coming down the pike with 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, you know, Facebook’s impact on society and society’s impact on Facebook, and how, and for my and I was gonna
question I 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 as a total, you ask some good questions. It’s a total shift in your entire and because you’ve never worked in tech before?
No, no, I’ve worked. startups. And, you know, I’d have, you know, numerous friends who had worked in tech, even to this point. I’ll just give you a very, very direct answer on that. Yeah, it is an questionable 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 until this point, right, the advent of 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, you know, the advent of like the Ubers. And, you know, the Airbnb ease and like Google’s and all these platforms, and you see the influence that they have. And you see how they actually impact lives. I mean, when you think about it, right, like, we joke about, let’s say, like Uber or Lyft, or any of these platforms, but we had to either have a car, take public transportation, or hail a taxi, prior to calling like, I remember booking taxis ahead. It doesn’t. Morning, booking taxis calling ahead, getting put on a docket, basically it say like, Alright, are you sure you’re gonna be there? And they’re like, yeah, we probably should be there. Yeah. I mean, but 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 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 very, very integral in the way in which we think about our responsibility back to society. I mean, because once again, people use these platforms, because they make life easy, or no, there is Yeah, exactly. Right. Exactly. So I felt that they was a great opportunity for me to come in and really help this company in particular, think about here’s, here’s what you know, things are. here’s here’s how groups and external partners and stakeholders and people on outside are thinking about certain issues. Here’s some of the maybe 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. And there are a lot of people who they have been in the tech world their whole life, professionally speaking, and isn’t so inherent, how obvious tech impacts daily lives? Right? Like, you know what I mean, you think about all these companies, companies are not old companies. They’re not like, you know, the average age of individuals, when it was first starting up with, 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 influenced, and there’s no, there’s no one else saying, you know, raise your hand saying, Hey, this is how this policy is going to affect, you know, millions or billions of people. That’s a 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 the organization’s I mean, is one that really centers around thinking, like I said, the impact that our platforms have on society, and really thinking about the governance structures that we should consider, you know, to kind of make sure that we’re thinking about the future the right way, and being responsible. And so I really enjoy that type of work. And I enjoy bringing in that type of thinking, to advocate for, 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. It’s not easy. I mean, obviously, and society’s in a tricky space, globally speaking, right. And I won’t 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, it’d be tricky also. And I think,
even more, so. More. So because there’s
anonymity or two, three is in like, you know, I can be speaking with someone that’s over somewhere else. And like, you know, I can say things behind, you know, as they say, like the Twitter fingers. Yeah, but yeah, so I wanted to come in and to, 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 career 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 the right questions. Because this is part of these questions make me actually want to sit back for a second and do
it. There’s no right or wrong answer to this one. It’s 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 I, you know, I 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 a hard one. It’s a hard one at this point, because of the size of this company. Yeah. You know, what I’ll say is this. I can’t actually say which in not because I can, but what I’m saying is, I’m a big believer in 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. The very fact that much of the industry’s 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, or relative safety in this country, is because we actually have a functioning government. And, you know, once again, 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. 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 SBA yes, I do feel moments that I can refer 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 these things through. So yeah, I’ll say that.
But I also say that it’s an amazing feeling and must be an amazing, 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. You know, because it’s something that I’m really enthusiastic about, I kind of get really energized from it. And it’s, it’s a, you know, I grew up in a household because my father was a minister and my mother is, is a minister as well. We’ve always done community service, and like voluntourism, 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
then you are doing in various facets. That is what you’re regardless of whether or not a small businesses or its communities and community building with the iceberg, that’s you fall into this category of, of trying to give back to some extent and make things better and 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 in a lot of these things that you’ve done over your career. This
is what I paid a big bucks to do this podcast. Yeah. Do you know how to synthesize it? Well, like over here talking? And you just No, no,
you’re good, man. You’re good. You’re good. Okay. So let’s, so let’s talk about so the things that I think that are interesting that you’ve done, what you’ve done, everything you’ve done is very interesting. But I mean, like working with small businesses, entrepreneurs, social responsibility. So just because I have, I have to ask, because it’s something you’ve done is an incredible achievement. And I do know that this is separate from your other work, but it did involve small businesses. 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 champs 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. Yeah, so let’s walk through let’s talk about that. Yeah, yeah, um,
you know, once again, there’s there’s all levels of granularity that I can get into as a kind of tribal early around some of the professional experiences I’ve had, but one that I can say is that from my time working in the White House, and then going to Capitol Hill, back to the White House, and then over to the SBA. You know, you you meet people, you know, you network, if you’re intentional about it, definitely, you meet people. And I’ve always been a person that I was raised to really be conscious about what type of impression that you leave on people in a positive way. 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. And I guess I’d say in some ways, I did that because I’m, you know, just working at Facebook doing other things that I’m doing with involve on the side and, you know, in terms of my private and personal time. 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, you know, getting you know, I’m getting these like, very cryptic emails. Okay. We’ve been trying to get in touch with you. And you know, obviously, the society we live with that you got to get the Angela Yeah, delete.
I get 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. I’m like, Man, these calls keep coming in. I don’t I don’t know. So I just pick it up. You know, at worst. It’s like, Oh, you you know, spam you hang up. It’s like, Hey, Chris, how are you? And I’m like, okay, that’s very specific. Boy, are you are you are you
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You know, this previous individual used to work for and it’s like, oh, hey, what’s it 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 explain the opportunity. She goes on to say that, you know, there had been several people who had recommended you and said that, you know, from your time at SBA 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 in in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, are, they really prioritize racial equity in this idea of the build back better plan and to build a better plan? You know, to just dispel It was not a, this group over here is better or bigger than other groups. But what it is, is 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 cadre 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’s not going to actually function properly. 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 SBA, what’s the type of team that we need to build? You know, you know, who are the outside groups that we should engage early on, that can help shape early policies 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. Yeah.
A lot of that. A lot of that. I mean, that was that was that was I mean, you see it now the SBA administrator, who I know very well, she’s a wonderful woman administrator Isabel Guzman. She’s a Latina woman. She’s a Latina woman, she was in, formerly the governor of California, Gavin Newsom’s cabinet, you know, working on the state, small business agency and all that kind of small business policies. And they just nominated another gentleman named d’Ivoire, who if I believe I, and I could be incorrect on this, but I believe he’s a middle middle Easterner. And so in terms of his heritage in his background, and so I guess what I’m saying is, is 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, that’s, 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 really think critically around, you know, technical assistance for small business owners and I had been in the entrepreneurial Development Office previously and had 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? Are there new models that we should be thinking about? Should we fund this over here? should we think about it that way? So I hope I helped shape some of those things.
So let’s let’s, let’s talk about some some issues that marginalized small businesses are facing and I guess, law champs, so law champs helps business owners, or is it just for everybody? Is it I don’t? I don’t know, two 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. I, I’ve been engaging with law champs, in terms of kind of an advisory role for for a while now and just kind of formalized my level of engagement. But first off, it is a tech platform is a full on tech startup platform. And we are positioning ourselves as an advocacy organization, because that’s what it is right now for legal access and legal representation. 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, in sizing on that side of things.
So yeah, so I’m just I’m on the website now, taking a look. So what so how does the CIO 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, and this is, you know, out of all the accolades and the boards that you sit on, this is the most recent, that’s obviously like top of mind for you, right? Yes. Okay.
Okay, it is. I’m all in, I’m actually really excited about this. Um, you know, it is it is a platform, 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. And what we do is we match individuals who come to the platform with top lawyer on an as needed basis, so that they can fight for particular legal outcomes that they’re looking for. And there is no cost for those who need lawyers to use law, Chan’s legal matching service, because, you know, I don’t presuppose that you’re a lawyer. Otherwise, you might have said that, but if you are,
I am not I that was the other career path. Besides podcasts. I didn’t want to the other four years of school. So I’m in the same boat. I’ve always wanted to be but decided not to. But um, yeah.
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 leave, 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, you know, solo lawyers and those who are kind of individualize in their firms, or those who are kind of even still 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, I we have a close family friend who’s a lawyer, and, 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 don’t
know, they’re very, they’re like, they’re almost pigeon holed to like, to a fault that, 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 access capital, or they don’t have the network or the connections, like, forget about even paying for a lawyer. Yep. Like, I can’t even find one. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s never crossed my mind. But that’s, that totally makes sense. totally makes sense. Seven
in 10, moderate income households experienced 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 gonna have something, yeah, that you’re going to need legal representation. And I think if we’re going to 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. If there are there are moments where it’s kind of Like, oh, yeah, that, you know, I’m having this little like tenant issue or I’m having an issue as a renter or I’m having an issue on the job. But you know, one of my closest best friends kind of like a little brother of mine, he had some challenges at with his employers. And he went through this whole window, I don’t know. And I was like, Hey, you should look at law champs, I did plug law chances Well, before I even joined formally, but I said, look at law champs. And then I also put him in touch with some other lawyers and other people who were in the same kind of professional industry vertical that he was in pharmaceuticals. And he was like, I, Chris, thank you, after it all. And he was like, I 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 him out. So yeah.
And that’s why you gotta love him. I mean, honestly, it sounds like a shameless plug. But it’s not truly, it is a platform that people can get that access. And we pride ourselves, particularly with having top quality and top notch lawyers who have bought into the platform who are there. And like I said, that matching is free. 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 Terry, who’s a Brooklyn Blake, bass, black millennial entrepreneur, and he launched his music plays based platform. And any person who’s a creative I mean, this is kind of, like, bring this up, because you’re creative in terms of this podcast. If you’re gonna go about this still very legit way in terms of anything around the creative space. How do you register? How do you trademark How do you kind of like incorporate? You know, what, how do you protect your IP? How do you protect all these different types of things? And he was in that kind of situation? I you know, not to say anything negative, but you can go online and type in like a do it yourself, or Yeah, you know, quick, easy template. But look, that’s people who I’m gonna 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 you’re 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 figuring out the right way to do things.
Absolutely, absolutely. So we had a lawyer, we had a Law Champ’s lawyer, Arielle gray, who came on and like worked with him, and is working with him currently to got him fully, you know, Incorporated, and you know, a lot of different protections around his trademark paperwork and other things of this nature, because he was down a wormhole. But 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 solopreneur, 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 bucks just to talk to you. Because they’re going to be the ones that are SEO optimized, right. So
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 know, a little bit before. That’s actually how this ecosystem been operating for Evernote.
I know, right? I’ve dealt with lawyers. So 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 up to the first page of Google. And good luck. Good luck. If you look at somebody like that, because I look No, they’re not bad people, but they’re not for his business.
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, and these types of things, because once again, to that same point, you can google lawyer, you can call, you know, Jane Doe, john doe. Yeah. 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 go through a whole situation where they serve out and you get what I’m saying. So like, there’s a lot there’s a lot yeah, yeah, let’s cut through that noise. Let’s cut through that. No,
And that’s that, you know, like, if you want if you want it like I love it, like if you want to give people opportunity, you can’t 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 have, you know, open their 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 champs is also that we also provide Allah carc and bespoke approaches for lawyers themselves. You know, we have some very interesting data. But in particularly, there’s somewhere in the range of 800,000 plus attorneys who need affordable turnkey solutions to acquire clients and compete online. 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. They in there, there’s data that says that lawyers spend around 50%, of time prospecting for new clients and administrative work. So if you kind of like start to think about some of these data points, you kind of understand, oh, maybe there’s an opportunity here, 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 people.
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 is chairman of the advisory of the board of directors, a great team of individuals. And honestly, if you check it out, and we’re gonna we’re gonna try to take this one and do big things with it. Yeah, and I think what I believe in most about the platform is it’s just this idea. So it’s funny, because this now gets back into this, like, the way that I would think, in terms politically, I feel like this is kind of like the Obama university that was a part of in terms of the way I think, but it’s turned out, okay. So you know, it’s, it’s this idea of how many people can take advantage of this, this this platform in this moment that we’re in. 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 into soon, and things of this nature, I’m just really enthusiastic about the possibilities of this platform. Because once again, we’re 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, very good.
Very, very good. Very interesting. I’m glad you gave me the rundown, because I had no idea. I really didn’t know what it was going into it now. But a much better understanding. 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 course, yeah, the platform that you’re building, but also something that you’ve probably had to figure out with Facebook figure out while working in the White House in DC. 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 a really big I, you have. You’re just but like, you’re, 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 breathe 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. Yeah. Like, I’m gonna do a shameless plug. And I’m going to say, you know, because I do I believe it a true it I’m in, right, 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 do things well, in this way, and we’re trying to find more ways to do it even better. So I will say, as it relates to kind of Corporation, large corporation, I think we do some really great things. 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 my company, Facebook. I will say I care very deeply about this is another private company, who I respect deeply, it’s called the LIBOR group. LIBOR group is actually who founded and were the founding sponsors of involve entrepreneurship, but I still Part of and involve started in their corporate social responsibility division. And this is a private family company, CEO and Chairman George logothetis. In his in his in his brothers decided that a part of their business and the subsidiaries that a core element would also be CSR. So they were gonna think the same bullish business tactics and principles, they were gonna apply that in their corporate social responsibility and then verticalized that as well and do some really amazing things. And I, it sounds like it would be a shameless plug, but it’s not I am a big believer in you got to give credit where credit’s due. And they’ve done some tremendous things with their corporate social responsibility. 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. Once again, I said involve entrepreneurship. You know, there is the salini Institute that focuses on maternal mental health, that’s one and then another that I actually want to call upon, because they, they they, they’re very great individuals. And like I said, when you know credit’s due, it’s due. But I mentioned free to K pour with the K pour Entrepreneurship Center. You know, Mitch, you should look them up. Mitch is a phenomenal man and a fascinating individual. Once again, another one of these like Internet forefathers, kind of the way that I’ll put it, he built Mozilla Firefox and Linux. And and he and his wife, Frieda, kay for client have done some amazing things. They are doing it right. They are doing it right. 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 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, 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 other 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. I know that Facebook does a lot, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing 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 Oh, yeah,
that conversation is much different. Because it’s a difficult place. It’s not easy, honestly. And yeah, you know, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
100% 100%. Alright, we’ve, we’ve covered a lot of stuff. I really appreciate all the stuff we went into, I always do like rapid fire just to bring out some like 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 on. Thank you. And I wish you continued success with this, I really do appreciate and enjoy this format. I do want to call out. 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 you know, we’re in a fascinating moment in time, right? Like social media, this is probably where I probably don’t want to go too deep. But like, there’s a lot of things that we think are true based off of certain ways that social media might, you know, make make it seem, um, and that idea of the grit and grind, I’m big on the grit and the grind, I’m big on that, right? Like, you got, you got to grind this thing out. Because you’re gonna appreciate it and you’re going to 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 in by a value, be anchored by 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 have a have a value have a value that’s driving that. And for me, 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 have a finite amount of time here. 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. And so that’s I would say probably the kind of thing that I’d like to leave on that on that in.
Very good. Very good and good and beautiful sentiment too. That’s a nice way of putting it Yeah. Okay. Let’s do a couple rapid fires. Greg, the biggest challenge in your career, and how did you overcome and some of this may be, you may have already touched on some of this stuff, but just to bring it out at the end,
whoo, biggest challenge in my career. who this is, yeah, cuz this one goes into a lot of this definitely dovetails in even a personal moment, 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 name? Actually, my mother calls me that my father has had a stroke, and then subsequently then ends up passing. 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 to or at the SBA. And I just like hop on a flight that St. Like, within the next couple of hours, go down. You know, we’re at the hospital, my father’s there. It’s like five days, and he doesn’t make it. I had two offers on the table. I won’t put them out. 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 like, 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 gonna 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 SBA. 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, yep, SBA. No question about it. I mean, 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 that was a challenging moment for me, not because of is a kind of, I guess, centered quite a bit around the, 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. It doesn’t happen on like, a Friday night, going into a weekend, like it doesn’t happen, ever, you get what I’m saying. And so yeah, 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 him. 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, right, I have to be there for my mother, I 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. My father and I had a very interesting upbringing. And because my father was a military man, and he was very tough on me growing up very stern. And there were just moments it just of like, Man, this guy’s always writing 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. And I cared 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 many, many years. And I started to, like, unpack that and started to have some conversation. And I felt like we were getting there. And as we are when we’re young professionals, we might get calls from like your parents or like your aunts or uncles grandmother. You know, we’re out here like this, the happy hours and all the friends and network and all this stuff. And sometimes it wouldn’t prioritize picking up phone calls just because of just work and 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 never forget this and says, Hey, how you doing so? And he was like, I just want to say I love you. And I was like, oh, okay, like, you know, a little emotional now. But like, he said that and three days later. So it’s like one of those moments where I guess active, it does. It does, like, cherish those moments that you have with people that you love and that you care deeply about? Yeah, that’s what I say.
That’s a beautiful 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 end of the day, you know, you know that where his head was that? You know what, and that was in a good spot in a very good spot. Yep. And totally. Yeah, totally, totally No. So yeah, I mean, that was a challenge for me. That’s, that’s a that’s tough. And that’s something you don’t want. That’s a good, it’s a good thing to bring up. Because what that situation you just described you get you gave me goosebumps 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 you 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, that would if it was that moment that I would have done that. You know what I mean? So I’m so thankful I did. Yeah, yeah, that’s a good story. It’s a it’s a good story. It’s also an important my two 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 SBA did then find another job, because that’s incredible. And it’s very rare. So it’s very rare. It is. Yeah, try to find try to find it. And also at the end of the day, it just, it’s just a job.
Yeah, just a job. Whoo. And that’s a whole other podcast episode.
Yeah, that is a podcast it
is. 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 weigh 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. All right. Um, let’s see another good question that went deep. Okay. Yeah, no, it’s good. 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, because I’ve thought about a lot a good response for everything. 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. Hmm. So what I mean by that is actually is like, you know, that you know, that idea of like issues like issue spotting, or like the idea of like, Oh, I see that over there like that, or I’m trying to ride that wave over here. I told you I worked in a mailroom really like for a president. Right. It’s a mailroom. Like, there’s no way to dress that up. Sure. for president right, like, sure. Like me, okay, but at the same time as a mailroom. It’s one of those things where I know for a fact, because I’ve had conversation with people who were like, you’ve worked at a mailroom, or like, no, I probably would have sat that went out and actually kind of applied to some other places that God in some 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 in the dimensions from that literal decision, where a lot of people were like, you know, turning nose to it, or rolling your eyes. I’m mailroom to this moment now. So I think very directly people fail, because they’re also not trying to put themselves in positions to experience the journey in the process of it. All. Right, like the idea of what is this? You know, what is this thing in this moment going to 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 what I mean? So like in gratification, that instant gratification that like, Oh, I just started I just started this job and like, I already want to be a director, VP,
I think I don’t know if that’s the I’m young, you’re young. I don’t know if that was a thing with our parents and I ran I don’t think it was I don’t think it was the same extent. I think that I think that technology has made the world seem Well, it is closer, but seem 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’s expert like you said over index unsuccess that that the expectations are completely off base. 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 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 hit head for the hills, you know, and I’m also kind of like, that’s maybe times a chip that’s on my shoulder, that I’m actually like, Oh, I see that opposition or that. I see it come in.
When people told you that you can’t go to bed a little bit. Let’s see, like, you know, yeah, you know, I’m telling you, the people that have chips on their shoulder that’s, I’ve always said that’s what you want to hire. That’s who you want to work with, like the people that want to prove something like they’re good. They’re good people. They are good. We got it in today. It’s
like It’s like gas. Yeah, when again, my good buddy, I already had mentioned him earlier. Like he jokes all the time. He’s like, Chris, know what I love about you? He’s like, he’s just like, totally Brian. I love COVID Brian is a basketball player, God rest his soul and his his daughter and the others who perished in a helicopter crash but like, you know, this joke of, you know, react or like, what is it I react to all slights perceived, whether the I react to all slights, whether real or perceived, which is this idea that like this chip on my shoulder, they’re like, Did you just say something to me? Yeah. 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 I’m the gym.
That’s why that’s why you That’s why you took the 11 months unpaid, worked in the mail. 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, it worked. It worked out
adversity in the end. And I will say that this is this is so fascinating, in his point in. So it’s an old book at this point from early 90s. But the Millionaire Next Door, I don’t know if you’ve ever read it. I haven’t actually, that’s information, you should you should read it. I think I have it. Yeah, it’s definitely appear. 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 in the book talks about how systematically what ends up happening is, those who become millionaires are often those who have that, that grit, that 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 the situation where they actually have everything they’ve, you know, in that in that kind of grind and hustle was there and actually talk about some of the things certain people have done to kind of like, act as if, you know, my wife says at all times, she’s like, whenever we have children, she’s like, I’m just going to act as if our circumstances are whatever they will be at that point in time, because I want them to know, you know, my wife, it’s got a unique background as well. She comes from very humble beginnings. But she’s, she’s, she’s a legit bad, she’s a badass, I’m sorry, I just gotta say, the half half the time that we experience is the fact that we’re actually two of the same people that are like, driven, purpose, purposeful, and we have chips on our shoulders. And so yeah, that also keeps me in line because I’m like, I gotta always show up. I gotta show up and I gotta 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. You could tell your younger self one thing what would it be? Man I
love these questions. I love these questions. Um don’t internalize so much like I went through and this is fascinating cuz I love that you even bring this out we were talking about this before we even started recording this it is almost like therapy. 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 um, yeah. I deal a lot with I don’t want to necessarily say identity issues, but I dealt with a lot with my parents were the they my whole family’s from North Carolina, Raleigh Durham area to be exact. And I come from a family historically speaking from sharing rappers 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 don’t have to experience certain things that we have to experience. And so my parents were very intentional as it 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 data third, good, wholesome community and these types of things. And at the time, when I moved out, it’s not a secret. Kennesaw, Georgia is a civil war town. 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 Madeleine Israel.
I didn’t realize it was still I didn’t realize it was still public. Confederate flags.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, on the books that once again, Civil War town on the books, it is law to having a firearm in your home, you must have a firearm in your home, right? Obviously, no one’s telling me that
gun and enforcing No, no, but still, it’s like to paint the picture. Yeah,
yeah. So this is where I grew up. Sorry. So I think you’ll kind of understand where I’m going with this. I grew up in this young black man in my early formative years, mostly around white peers. 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, because I bring that up a lot. I dealt with a lot on that spectrum. And then but but but at the same time I go to I went to a black church, I had, you know, black family members, I know, my parents convene, and engage and had community with other people who look like myself, and others, because my parents were in ministry and community have faded, like, but every day, I’m going to school with people who don’t look like me. And so I had these motion these ideas of like, the things I need to do to like, make myself almost like these survival tactics, and these like defense mechanisms to, like, experience fit in, to fit in to
be accepted, I guess, right, 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 so yeah, back to the black community, cuz like, the other element of that is, is like, when I 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? Or like, you dress a particular type of way, you know, and 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. It’s actually a federal holiday recognize, my father taught me about Juneteenth as in my brother and I, when we were young, and so, but then you kind of go back into the ecosystem of a civil war town. You’ve been taught 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, it’s much different. So I was competing and battling on that. How did you how did you?
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 had to get through probably the one of the hardest identity issues that anybody could really, totally deal with in North America?
Yeah, um, several things, extracurricular activities. This is I started playing sports very heavily. So that was one thing and so like, you know, obviously, the camaraderie and the kind of different things that you did you experience with, you know, friendships that you build. And then I got that, I would say this probably around maybe 6/7 grade. I just, it almost literally clicked where I went away for a point in time in North Carolina, because they just spent all my summers there. I came back. And I think it always happens, right? It’s whether it’s puberty, whether whatever it is, you come back and people like you look different. You’re talking taller, you got a little bit of glow by view. So there’s that feeds within this idea that I started to understand Because it’s like scholastically, and things that I was doing academic spectrum, I was always honor student now AP student that 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 is nerdy, but like, wait, you can actually command attention. Yeah, when you actually are knowledgeable, or when you kind of articulate yourself a particular way. And when you know, this is out there, and I’ve always been an avid reader, I love reading. And so I just embraced it. But 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 who I am. And as I The reason why I brought an extracurricular is because they were clubs that I was able to join, that reinforce 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 and what you’re good at. And then everything fell out, everything else fell into place. It’s funny how that works. Even in even in such an even in such a difficult environment. Because you know, even even as a kid in like a, in a high school that doesn’t have to deal with the things that you dealt with. Just doubling down on what what you know, and 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 defining your tribe is critical, actually.
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 persona, your personality changing your beliefs will not change ever. They’re 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 a 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 I have been this individual that has had to slightly all jokes aside, like I was I was also that young man that was in church, five, six days a week, literally, right? Like my parents were in ministry. So I’m like I’m doing you know, I’m not sure I was in a choir. I was at vacation Bible school, I was doing all of these things. You were you were in it? Oh, no, I was in it. It Right. Hilarious things. Um, okay. So then there’s that, but then there’s, um, you know, black, young black man in my blood and my black family in the black community, on the side in terms of the recreational sports that I’m playing in the church, but then I’m also 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 in the idea that’s 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 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 filling that’s like, Oh, yeah, there’s something there. Like, you know, I mean, there’s something there. It’s like, you’re not I’m trying to get your point.
Yeah, 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, I it sounds like so airy fairy, but like, I love hearing people’s stories. And it always like comes from a place of like, like love and like and trying to pull up people’s stories and figuring out their lens. There’s a word for it. Like when you can look at the world through another person’s eyes, walk, you know, walk and 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 too. It makes me a more holistic person that understand or hear or people we’ve met. Oh, yeah, that’s that’s really it. At the end of the day. That’s what you got to 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, use, you know, social social, what was the social responsibility that you know, companies should undertake some of the things you figured out over your career in terms of grit in terms of you know, tenacity, 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, and my in my personal life professionally, 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, they’re good questions. They’re just questions that I want to know the answer to, I just want to figure I just want to figure stuff out, because everybody has an incredible story. It’s really,
and I love what you said, because I feel like this is the major key for like DJ Khaled It was like the major key major key. Honestly, like the commonality, we experienced each other better, as humans, when we understand each other, and we can see the lens, like he says, see through their lens, and understand their perspective, I think we are at our best, when that’s what we can do. And when we can put all that other stuff aside. Yeah, and 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 you your eyes, but like still, like over the past two years, like people have become more isolated, more distant than ever, quite literally. And I think that I think that one thing that as humans we have to do more is, is to try and get back to the point where we were to three years ago, where we were connected. We weren’t isolated, we weren’t on us versus them dichotomy. The one thing I always notice, coming from Canada, is that and I say this all the time, the the politics in the US, and and the the separation between less than nine devices. Oh, my, it’s insane. It blows my because in Canada, yeah, you have to have right wing, left wing, but you have like, center right, center left. And that’s it. And everything outside of that the people look at you like you have three heads. But there is like, 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 is 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 is a pandemic. And you can’t shake hands, grab a coffee, you know, go to lunch with people, and everything’s just and everybody’s stuck on their phones, and everybody’s stuck on social media. And they’re in this like, echo chamber have similar like minded thoughts. And it’s just, it’s just bad is like a tangent that I speak about quite often. No, I like any five, because 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 keeps me you know,
doing your part, though. See, this is the thing. Yeah, I mean, it almost kind of really I extract a little nugget from what you just said, because it’s nothing too small to be someone that that’s what you want to do what you want to give back and contribute to this society, this world. Because the to the point you just made, that’s not where we’re at right now in society. 100% we’re 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 do. And it’s a it’s fascinating to to get to this place, and see how that politics here in the United States has actually drawn those chasms, like there’s just real division. Right now. It’s really, really unfortunate. I do agree with what you said, 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, once again, you know, it was a Barack Obama is a Joe Biden has 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 were here to do, which is create access and opportunity. And like, let’s all let’s all let’s all enjoy the ride. And so for me, 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 is historically has broken the treaties. The Department of Interior, right, you know, you have the first openly gay secretary and Pete Budaj is right and Department of Transportation. You have the first I didn’t realize there was all these first because I’m all of it.
cabinet. A lot of it Yeah,
the whole cabinet. Scott is almost all first. You have the first black man, EPA Administrator. You that I mean, it’s you can Go on down the line. It’s too
bad that it’s the first start happening in 2021. For a lot of these things,
taught the shame, totally, that is a shame. But glass half full. It’s a, it’s my as my father used to say, it’s like, such a time as this. You know, let’s take we’ll take advantage of it while we can, you know? Yeah.
Okay, I have a few. I think I got like two more I have. Okay, these are these are amazing, you know, some of these questions like people, people give like one line answers, but the the stuff that you are a little more Absolutely. I’ve been told I’m a little verbose. 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. 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 gonna get the I don’t know who your demo is for your viewership. But like, this is super hilarious right now. But if I just get the sim sim playable. But look, I’m a married man. I’m doing my wife now for coming out. Well, 15 years now. And
I didn’t. If I didn’t answer the question the same way. I’d also I’d also be in trouble. So yeah,
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. Back in college, a very, very low point, where I kind of just kind of gotten a little beside myself. And less than focus, let’s just say that. And 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’t be and then like, support him through these, this this moment. She Yeah, she whipped me back into shape. And so honestly, this is a very, you know, whether she’s in the house somewhere. And if she’s over here, and she’s probably I rolled me right now. But he knows I mean, it, she knows that she’s got a dear place in my heart, because 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. And for that for that for that reason. So yeah, you got it. And like I said, I moved to DC for 11 months. This was a pivotal point. She was sending me $150 a month. And that’s tough. That’s not a lot of money.
It’s not a lot. I’ll tell you, a lot of a lot of people would send you zero. So
that’s what I’m saying. Like, it wasn’t a lot of money, but it was also like it was like it really Whoa. And so. Yeah, okay, I moved to DC a whole year and a half and before she even came up here, but yeah, she’s someone that I that I very, very deeply admire and appreciate. Good, good.
What’s one resource that you’d recommend people go check out the book, podcast, Audible, whatever. Man, I left, once again, you dropped one before, but if there’s other ones
Oh, yeah, definitely, definitely books. Yeah, so they books, I love books. So like I could see she said, this is recorded, I got a whole shelf of books here, like a tremendous amount of books, some very, very interesting books to that actually have up there. I will say that this is one that I recommend every more about other summaries, 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’ve ended up in the places that we have in the country. And experiences of that and Isabel Wilkerson is whenever people are surprised, brilliant, brilliant author, journalist, the whole nine and it is a very much an anthropological read, but as fascinating that’s one and then I’ll also say I’m a big believer of getting what you need. So find your why you know by Simon Sinek is another good one and you know, is a tremendous amount of books but I will actually say
that those are two good recommendations but two completely completely totally separate topics. I love that Yeah, I love Yeah, yeah, I like I like when people bring in stuff that 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. So that’s I’ll drop. I’ll drop links to these in the show notes as well if people want to check them out because I, I’ve never I’ve never read the first one before. Yeah, I’ve read. I’ve read Simon Simon Sinek a lot, but I’ve never read the first so that that’d be a good read too. Yeah. Okay, and then last last question before I get some, some ways for people to reach you because I want to, you know, give you some exposure as well. But what is what does success mean for you? Success to me success. Yeah.
Looks. Success to me is when someone ask about me. Stranger, family member, friend. And they say that Chris Offerman and then a smile like this. Oh, I love that. So this 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 webs? Yeah, whatever.
across social media, so you know, cross Facebook, whole nine, Instagram, Christopher Upperman. LinkedIn, I’m on there. Once again, Christopher Robert Upperman and Twitter cUpperman. So cu p p r, m n nshortened so cUpperman second find me across all of those platforms. And I do want to do a plug for law champs check us out law champs it, you know, amazing platform and involve entrepreneurship as well. involved is involved global.org you know, these are these are the organizations that I feel very, very deeply about in love. And we talked about launch apps 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. No, thank you. It was really, really good.