You have to learn to compromise. You have to encourage others to compromise 400 years of what they’ve been taught and how things have been. Change is difficult, but after the conversation, it’s important to compromise in the areas that need it. Take small steps in doing that and acknowledge when opinions differ. Respect goes a long way when you’re in a disagreement.
As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Wilbur You.
As a young entrepreneur and a proud Asian-American, Wilbur You knows what it means to succeed in the face of adversity. In June 2012, Wilbur was lucky enough to transform his idea of revolutionizing the marketing industry into today’s full-service marketing agency, Youtech & Associates. You’s experience helped him build an indispensable business with life awareness that includes a focus on diversity.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Naperville, IL — but I was born in São Paulo, Brazil. My dad passed away when I was 2, and shortly after I moved to the US. When we got here, I lived with my mom and my grandparents. I had a pretty normal upbringing. My mom remarried, and my step-dad adopted me when I was 5. I grew up with a lot of friends, played sports, played a lot of video games, and was really big into computers. We started out very poor, but my parents worked hard and eventually found financial stability. I went to Northern Illinois University for Computer Science and ended up starting Youtech during my senior year of college!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. This book taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you started; you can find success. It truly shows you the secrets to success!
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Yes! “Always be grateful. Surround yourself with good people. Never forget to say thank you.” Growing up, and even now, I have always surrounded myself with good people. I know that they are to thank for where I am now. I make sure to remember those that got me to where I am — it keeps me humble.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I firmly believe that leadership is the ability to create more leaders. One of the things that I’ve learned along the way is that the more trust you put into someone, the more it allows them to step up to the occasion — just like so many did for me. It ultimately creates more leaders for your organization and in your life.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
Whenever I get stressed, I always take a step back and look at things from a birds-eye view. I think that the key to making sure you manage your stress is to remember that you can only control what you can control. I also believe that taking the time to work out and hang with friends and family helps me stay level-headed and remind me what is important and what I can control.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
Definitely. Being a minority, you just understand how things are different for you. I think I know how it got to this point because it has, unfortunately, been going on for so long. For most people, they think that it’s just the status quo, and everything is fine. But, until you’re in their shoes, you don’t really know how they feel. Through the multiple occurrences of specific situations (for ex. Police brutality, racial-fueled acts, problems with the political system) — I think people realized, “enough is enough.” George Floyd was definitely the tipping point. People got to the point of, “we’re going to make you notice this, we’re going to make you aware of what’s really going on.” Most people, no matter who it is or what the scenario is — once they hit that tipping point, and there always is one when they feel like they have nothing to lose — that’s when things get escalated.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
I’ve always been someone that got along with everyone. In high school, I had a lot of friends that were of every race. My friend group in middle school and high school was known as “The United Nations.” I always had an understanding of different cultures, which I’m extremely grateful for. I’ve set up Youtech to be inclusive, and hire the most qualified person and the one that is a good fit for our culture. In our company culture, we don’t discriminate. We don’t racially profile. We hire whoever is the most qualified person for the job solely based on their merits.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
I’m a firm believer that everything in business stems from the top. Having a diverse executive team allows for a higher level of debate and will enable people to fight for what they believe. It gives you a better outlook on almost every situation and makes you aware of things that you may be ignorant of prior. Whether you agree with everything or not, topics and issues you may not consider are brought to the table. And ultimately, that helps in every aspect of your business.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
It’s crucial to have an open dialogue and to give everyone a seat at the table.
1. You have to create a safe space for open dialogue between all sides.
2. You have to learn to compromise. You have to encourage others to compromise 400 years of what they’ve been taught and how things have been. Change is difficult, but after the conversation, it’s important to compromise in the areas that need it. Take small steps in doing that and acknowledge when opinions differ. Respect goes a long way when you’re in a disagreement.
3. You have to commit from the top down. Once a compromise has been made, people that hold higher positions of power and influence have to commit on their end to follow and lead by example.
4. Commit to relearning history. Racisms starts at home. You’re not born racist. It is deeply rooted in how you’re raised. You have to commit to relearning and maintaining empathy towards the things you don’t understand.
5. You have to practice what you preach and always have an open mind.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
I’m very confident that we will come to a resolution on this issue. It definitely will not be immediately, and it will take small steps over a long time to get there. But I do believe that it will get better. Voices are being heard, and minds are open — before we know it, we will see the changes.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to meet with Dave Portnoy from Barstool Sports! I think it would be super informative and educational for me. He’s a marketing genius and has always stayed true to himself. He built his entire media company off transparency and has a lot of synergies. Plus, it would be one hell of a lunch!
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/in/wilbur-you-606b2222/
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!