Conversations shape us.
They guide us forward, challenge our beliefs, and help us uncover our truest selves. As we honour Black History Month, we are spotlighting four Highspot employees who are sharing conversations that have changed their lives — and words we hope will inspire others.
“Find people who embrace you for you.”
Before arriving at college, I had assumed I was going to be the only black person in my dorm at a predominantly white school. When I showed up, I was surprised to find that I had been placed in a programme called Building Business Leaders — a programme that helps students of colour get into the business school. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by people who looked like me.
It was an unexpected but amazing turn of events. The conversations I had with the people I met there — including new lifelong friends — transformed my college experience. I felt like I could be my most authentic self; I felt comfortable doing things I knew only other black women would understand.
It’s easy to get lost in college but finding your community is life-changing. What makes you unique is really important, so find people who embrace you for you. And to the young black girls out there, don’t let people minimise who you are.
–Anya Crawford, Account Development Representative
“Any goal you want to achieve requires work.”
In 2009, I was working in a call center of a major analyst firm — but I knew there was a greater purpose beyond that role: I wanted to be an analyst. I pushed to quickly accelerate my career and soon found a mentor and kindred spirit in an analyst named Kris.
She took me under her wing and gave me real, important work to do. Kris never made things easy for me. In fact, she would take my drafts and rip them apart — not to disparage my work but to push me to do better. She would often remind me that if you’re not being challenged, you’re not growing.
My conversations with her revealed to me what true mentorship looks like. All that tough love was preparing me to ace my interview for an analyst position and hit the ground running when I secured the job. All that she asked was that I pay it forward.
Now, I aim to pass what I learned from her on to my mentees: Any goal you want to achieve requires work. It will be uncomfortable — but that’s what it takes to grow, change, and ultimately excel.
–Jarod Greene, Vice President, Product Marketing
“If you do the work, it will pay off.”
I spent 2019 training for a half marathon. I’m not a runner, but it was a goal that I’d set for myself and I knew that if I trained I could do it. Still, I was very afraid — there were a lot of what-ifs. What if work clashed with my running schedule? What if I got injured? What if I couldn’t do it? There was a huge mental block I had to overcome.
When it came to the day of the race, we were placed into groups, levelled A through G. The fastest runners were in A … and I was in F. I felt like this was a blow to my confidence right off the bat but I reminded myself of my goal — to run 13.1 miles — and just like that, I was back in my zone.
Ten miles in I was feeling great, my training was paying off, and I was visualising the finish line. Little did I know the most challenging part of the race was about to begin. Halfway through mile eleven, as fatigue kicked in, I discovered that there was a huge hill I had to climb and my heart sank.
When I got to the top of the hill, it was like a zombie movie. Everyone was dragging their feet, moaning, and looking completely defeated. I was struggling too but I knew I couldn’t quit. I just had to dig deeper. I reminded myself of my goal and, eventually, I crossed the finish line.
This race completely changed my mindset. It proved to me that I could do anything. At the end of the day, if you do the work, it will pay off.
–Justine Lawrence-Piccott, Sr. Account Manager, EMEA
“Your dreams are possible.”
In my family, I was always the older cousin, the older brother. So I always knew I had to set an example for my younger family members to follow — and this included going to college.
For me, there was never any question of whether or not I was going to go. My grandmother, who is my hero, did attend the University of Washington. But she had to stop after freshman year because of family commitments. Though she never explicitly pushed college onto me, we definitely talked about it from a young age. Seeing how hard she worked was motivation enough; I wanted to lift some of that weight off her shoulders — and complete her legacy.
Now, as a proud UW alum, I love sharing my college experience with my family and with people that I’m mentoring. I want to show people that look like me, and have experienced life like me, that this is possible — that your dreams are possible.
–Lavaunte Rowe, Help Desk Technician
It Starts with Conversation
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.