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: On Perfection, Education, Change, and Growth 

Posted in:  Highspot News

From the joyous to the difficult, conversations are a reminder of who we are, how far we’ve come — and how far we have to go.

In celebration of Pride Month, we’re passing the mic to four Highspot employees to share conversations that have changed the course of their story, and might inspire you, too.

“Perfection can be a prison.”

sarah wildsmith, office coordinator at highspotIn my early twenties, I took a job running a cookie shop outside of Pike Place Market. My first week on the job was also my trainer’s last, meaning there was a lot to learn in a short amount of time. I was overwhelmed and catastrophizing — somehow I’d be personally responsible for the collapse of the entire business.

On her final day, my trainer told me, “You will burn the cookies. You will under-bake the cookies. You won’t make enough and you’ll make too many. And it’s going to be okay.” And it was.

That conversation shifted my view — perfection can be a prison. We’re so obsessed with it, especially when you represent a marginalized community. As a lesbian, as a Jewish woman, and as a woman period there’s much pressure to show the best face of your community.

These days, I give myself permission to fail. Accepting failure as an inevitability gives me power over it. When I make mistakes (and I make plenty) I tell myself, “Well, I burned those cookies, but it’s going to be okay.” And I keep going.

–Sarah Wildsmith, Office Coordinator

“Do the work.”

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the tokenization of my identity as a gay man. In conversations with those outside of jeff sarmiento, senior quality assurance engineer at highspotthe LGBTQIA community, I often feel like I’m suddenly playing the role of the expert. That I am there to teach others about our community. There’s an assumption that members of the community will know everything about one another — and that isn’t true. Even I’ve had to confront my own biases and unlearn things as well.

There is a burden placed on marginalized peoples to educate the broader group, and I encourage others to challenge this assumption; if you’re curious about how to help, do your own research. Our community is so diverse, and covers such a wide spectrum, no one voice can or should define it. So do the work to connect with us and support us, authentically, and deeply.

And for anyone who may identify with our community, I hope you do the same — you’re not alone. We’re here, and we’re here to help you.

–Jeff Sarmiento,  Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

“We can be the changemakers.”

derek fletcher, revenue operations manager, marketing at highspotA lot is happening in the world right now. Like many of you, I’ve been wondering what my contribution to the conversation will be. This is a moment where my blackness and my gayness collide, and it’s complicated. But I know I’m ready for phase two of our movement. Phase one is awareness — protests, social media, resources, learning — and phase two is action. I’m asking myself and my community, “Now what?” How do we capture this momentum for what’s next?

These conversations with my partner, my friends, and my family have reminded me that you need to be the change you want to see. If you’re worried about hunger, then feed people. If you want to live in a world that is kind, be kind. We don’t need to wait for the right person to show up to take action. We can be the changemakers.

Find a method or a movement that works for you. If you don’t feel comfortable going out into the streets, donate. Create art. Let your voice be heard. Let’s take that momentum and do something with it.

–Derek Fletcher, Revenue Operations Manager, Marketing

“There’s growth to be had if you’re not afraid to step up to the plate.”

Back when I was a budding product marketer, I was offered a job in New York. I knew it would be a challenge going in, so I took some time to recharge justin topliff, sr. product marketing manager at highspotin Thailand. While I was there, I got a new closet of clothes made — beautiful dress shirts totally customized to me.

I intended to wear them at my new job, but when I sent them to be dry cleaned back home in New York, disaster struck. The whole dry cleaning facility went up in flames and all of my shirts were lost. I was talking with my partner and he joked that this was my trial by fire — literally — for my new job.

Well, he was right! Through that job, I experienced great success and hard times alike. It was as tough as I had anticipated and then some. But so worth it. When I think back to that conversation — and how ominous our “trial by fire” joke had seemed — I remember that life will always throw you curveballs. But there’s growth to be had if you’re not afraid to step up to the plate.

–Justin Topliff, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

It Starts with Conversation

Conversations aren’t just ways for us to communicate with others. They fundamentally have the power to change our lives and even the world. Through meaningful conversations, we’re able to use the advice and experience of others to see new perspectives and opportunities that alter the course of our story.

What conversations have impacted your life? Share your story with us on social media using the hashtag #ItStartsWithConversation — and be sure to check back for more stories from our Highspot team.