28 May How Manufacturing Built America
In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Dr. Yohuru Williams. Dr. Williams is a Distinguished University Chair Professor of History and Founding Director of Racial Justice at the University of St. Thomas. He is also Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chair & Professor of History at Fairfield University. Dr Williams is a historian, champion leading the charge on civil rights, and a frequent contributor to several shows on The History Channel.
Curt Anderson asked him about his book on Jackie Robinson. But there are a lot of advocates that really embraced Jackie that were champions for Jackie.
Dr. Yohuru Williams saying that he thinks there are many, and you mentioned his relationship with Pee Wee Reese. Because He certainly had people on the team who came around right and became great allies, if not friends and confidants. Yet, there are parts of that story that kind of get lost again and look at this solely as the Jackie Robinson story. The crew of the Challenger space shuttle mission in 1986 was a portrait of multicultural America.
Damon asked him, “Could we hear more about Hamilton and manufacturing? Dr williams continues the conversation and discussed how Alexander Hamilton recognizes early on that America is going to have to invest in manufacturing. Also, FDR said it best, but he thinks Hamilton was channeling it into other languages. But There’s nothing to fear but fear itself and he can’t afford to focus on this as the tool which ultimately will help him build an empire.
Curt, Dr. Williams, and Damon discuss how Manufacturing Built America? Damon asked him “When you look at companies, you’ve talked about Coca-Cola, their brand is so big and things like that.” But in the vast majority of companies, that’s just a starting point, when you really hit your stride.
Curt Anderson asked what we need to do as individuals to put racism in the past.
He explained: “We can look at warts in a film but we can also discuss growth.” So, the film is a beautiful tapestry of who we are. Their moments of triumph aren’t triumphs unless they understand that history comprises pain and suffering. And In 1986, you have a Japanese American who grows up in Hawaii, who credits the Hawaii Public Schools for getting them interested in STEM by sitting on the challenger crew.
Despite the Holocaust and all the challenges with anti-Semitism in our country. You’ve got a woman of Jewish ancestry who’s on the challenger crew. Dr Yohuru gave several other fitting examples of where we have made progress and where we need to keep working.
Damon concludes the conversation by thanking a guest for his time.
Dr. Yohuru Williams
Dr. Yohuru Williams is a Distinguished University Chair and Professor of History and Founding Director of Racial Justice at the University of St. Thomas. He also serves as a Dean and McQuinn Distinguished Chair College of Arts and Sciences.
He is Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Fairfield University and is Chair & Professor of History.
Dr. Yohuru was Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Fairfield University. In 2014, he left his Chief Historian and VP for Public Education and Outreach position at Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Dr. Yohuru got his Ph.D. American History from Howard University. He received a Doctor of Philosophy – Ph.D. American History in the United States. He has a M.A. History from the University of Scranton and his B.S in Political Science from the University of Scranton.
About the Manufacturing eCommerce Succes Series
The Manufactuing eCommerce Success Series shares insight on topics from talented people in manufacturing. We highlight people and share information to help manufacturers embrace technology, complete their digital transformation, and generate sales from traditional and ecommerce channels. Curt Anderson and Damon Pistulka host the Manufacturing eCommerce Success Series Fridays at 10:32 Pacific Time.
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How Manufacturing Built America
great, williams, history, jack, manufacturing, jackie robinson, moment, talking, jackie, thinking, book, people, built, challenge, years, recognize, manufacturers, baseball, sitting, day
Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Dr. Yohuru Williams
Damon Pistulka 00:06
All right, everyone. Welcome once again to the manufacturing ecommerce success series. I’m one of your co hosts. Damon Pistulka. I can’t even hardly talk Kurt. And I got Kurt Anderson up here, up here beside me, but we’re so excited. We honestly we would have missed this easily, but I’m so excited for our guests today. I really can’t even talk anymore. Kurt. Take it away.
Curt Anderson 00:30
I might just walk right off the stage here. I like I have no Poker Face guys. I can’t even pretend that I’m not completely starstruck. We have a patriot we have truly an idol. I know. He’s a very humble man. But Dr. Hugh hurl Williams is with us today. Dr. Williams, how are you my friend?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 00:49
I am fantastic. And it’s great to be with you. Kurt and Dave have been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks now. So I’m very excited to be here.
Curt Anderson 00:55
I didn’t even when we started this little thing. If you told me that today, you know that I am speechless. So Docker here, your hero. I’m going to just give a quick intro because I’m going to talk as little as possible today because we want you to really take the ball here. So distinguished university Chair and Professor of History at University of St. Thomas. You’re the founding director of racial justice, the racial justice initiative. You are notable scholars civil rights, you have your PhD from Howard University. You have a wonderful TED Talk. You’ve written multiple books. We’re going to talk about your book on Jackie Robinson today.
You were the historian at the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which we’re again we’re going to talk about, and of course being Damon and I are huge history buffs, particularly business history buffs, and manufacturing is our stick here. Today, we’re going to talk about you have done an amazing, incredible job as a commentator and contributor on the machines that built America, the food that built America, the Titans that built America, the toys that built America, all sorts of other incredible shorts. Yeah, have to check out all these shows, I’m probably leaving out 1000 other things.
So my question for you today is number one. Do you ever sleep or what like out? Guys in First off, please connect with Dr. Williams. Yeah. And he is truly a hero. He is a champion and leading the charge on silver rights. You’re doing an incredible job. So Dr. Williams, would that please share a little bit about your background, what led you in this direction, you are a champion of civil rights. What led you to your PhD? Let’s talk about little bit young Dr. Williams, of who will.
Dr. Yohuru Williams 02:29
You know, I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a community that de industrialized in the 19, late 60s and 70s, like many communities nationally. And so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity there. In fact, I watched some of the big industries that had been kind of the foundation of that community leave from Remington Arms and others it just kind of the Exodus that left this shattered community and it’s weak.
And so I grew up. My father was a musician or as a musician, my mother was a teacher. And I grew up spending most of my summers with my father at in the largest public housing complex in the city, where they had this Cultural Arts Center. And so from an early on, I was exposed to kind of African history, native indigenous peoples history. But I was also learning that in the context of the stark contrast between this deindustrialized shell, which was Bridgeport, Connecticut, and then the very affluent suburbs that surrounded Bridgeport, and all the wealth that was there and trying to understand and make sense of that.
So I decided, you know, I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be like Thurgood Marshall, who was my hero, went off to University of Scranton, went to a pre law meeting and saw 100 kids sitting in the pre law meeting. And I said, yeah, not for me. So I always loved history. And I kind of had nurtured that and develop that early on. And I said, I’d like to kind of pursue that. And that led to me pursuing a PhD at Howard.
And in Florence, my work today still trying to come to grips with what it means to build something in the absence of nothing, or in the absence of what is what many people perceive as waste. The interesting thing about the art center is that the PT Barnum apartments actually sat right next to the solid waste treatment plant in the city of Bridgeport. So this oasis of culture sat in the middle of a dump. And yet so many beautiful things were produced in that space. And it I think, speaks to what we can do when we don’t we see opportunity, rather than, you know, the reality that other people see. Just have to adjust our filter a little bit. Jackie, wrap up, excuse me.
I was gonna say Jackie Robinson, no, we’re going to talk about him later. But in 1963 1964, one of the people that articulates this very beautifully says the world changes according to the way people see it. And if you can alter even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it. That’s James Baldwin. And when Baldwin says that it’s All about altering the way that we’re looking at reality. That’s true. In business and manufacturing. It’s certainly true and other facets of our walk.
Curt Anderson 05:08
Well, you know, that’s perfect. And if you don’t mind, let’s go there right now. Let’s go right to Jackie Robinson and guys, happy Friday to everybody. If you’re with us, please drop a hello. Let us know you’re there or where you’re coming from. Please give a big warm welcome to Dr. Yuri Herrera. Williams here today. Connect with Dr. Williams on LinkedIn. You want to follow what he has going on? We’ve got Gary, we’ve got Dan bigger advocate Ronald
Damon Pistulka 05:29
Ronald’s here, of course, buddy.
Curt Anderson 05:33
Guys, thanks for being here today. Snia is here. Greg Mysuru is here. So guys, thank you. We truly have a patriot and a hero here. So talking about Patriot hero, let’s go right there baseball season. Last Friday, April 15. Was Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball 75th anniversary 75th anniversary already. We were just talking to before if you guys go to ESPN, they are posting articles from sport magazine at that time in 1947 1952. Really a fascinating read. So Dr.
Williams, you are a historian from an insurer a little bit I think maybe you even took a break from your career. You know, I say break a break from academia to be the historian of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. And you have a book coming out in September, I put the book in the chatbox. Call me Jack, right call him Jack, the story of Jackie Robinson, the black freedom fighter. Let’s go there. Let’s talk about Jackie Robinson. And what you man you had to under scoop. It was
Dr. Yohuru Williams 06:33
probably Kurt, one of the best decisions I ever made. I was kind of mid career. And I met the president of the foundation at the Congressional Black Caucus in DC. And she said, You should come out and check us out. I think it’d be great if you just kind of came down. And you know, a lot of things that you were talking about resonate with us because that’s our core mission. I’ve always been a fan of Jackie Robinson I think like most people, but I don’t really know Jackie on the field of play, I didn’t really get to know much about his personal life or what he did post baseball.
And when I went to the foundation and spent some time there and kind of acquainted myself better with Jack, I kind of fell in love with him as a person. And this was an incredible individual. In fact, I was you know, so anxious to quote jack that I was muddling up James Baldwin who talked about the world the way world changes, I help people see it. Jack said that a life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives.
So in that moment when I was thinking about whether I should stay and just kind of stay the course in terms of my academic career, or if I should take this sabbatical and spend some time at the foundation work with them. It just seemed to me that that was the appropriate choice because I could reach many more people. I’m using Jack and his legacy and his philosophy to really help empower young people to think differently about their opportunities.
And the great thing about Jack is a human being is it’s easy for people to get focused on what he does in terms of athletics. You know, the four Sports City plays UCLA, you know, he’s an accomplished football player, a golfer. Certainly everybody knows about the 10 seasons in professional baseball and the World Series and everything else. But Jack was also an organic intellectual and an incredible business person. And people kind of lose sight of the fact that Jack post baseball spends much of that time supporting the civil rights movement becomes a great confidant of the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, become someone who challenges Malcolm X and develops a personal relationship with Malcolm X as a result of the two of them butting heads on key issues in the city of Harlem 1964 Jackal founder co founder freedom National Bank to help provide low interest loans to African Americans to help them start businesses. And he’ll become one of the first black business executives in America for a large chain chock full of nuts right after he leaves baseball in 1956 57 will become head of HR for that company.
So there’s this is a you know, part of what we wanted to do in the book is kind of disentangle the Jackie mythology from Jack the human being and focus on this man who did incredible things and who can be an inspiration to us all
Curt Anderson 09:06
right, so All right, first off Happy Friday we can we’ve got lots of people here we have my dear friend, Devin a gene from Bemis point we have Shannon from LA we have John in Jersey gal in Canada. So guys, if you’re just joining us here again, please connect with Dr. Williams. We this is like an honor and privilege for him give a warm welcome. Drop him a note on LinkedIn. Let’s be huge baseball fans. Let’s go let’s just let’s take a deep cleanser.
Dave and I are huge baseball fans. Let’s think about what Jackie went through. So Dr. Williams Can you like you know, enlighten us just share like is really unfathomable for us to think about the pain the enduring the you know, St. Louis, he couldn’t stay with the same hotel as the team. You know, just let’s go there and like really put ourselves in like what did Jackie go through in 1947?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 09:58
Well, when we think about Jack as being the first African American in the modern era to integrate baseball. He faced those challenges alone, essentially. And it didn’t matter what kind of supports that Branch Rickey and the Dodger organization were willing to supply for him. He faced opposition among his own teammates, he faced opposition from opposing teams, he faced opposition from fans, those who were from Brooklyn and those who are beyond Brooklyn.
In fact, you know, you know, he was his happiest, I think, when he played in Montreal, and he was getting ready, because the Canadians opened him, or welcomed him with open arms. But here in the States, it was very difficult because he encountered so much prejudice. And I can’t imagine, I think this is one of the things that we think about when we think about Jack is the human being, a lot of times his wife was accompany him. So he’s not only concerned about his own safety has to be concerned about the safety of his family. This is an age when you know, today, we think about all the protections that athletes have, that’s a different era.
And so every time that Jack used to play, there was the potential for things not to go according to plan. And then he’s also operating in a world where segregation is the norm. So often, even before the game, we think about the pressure that athletes face today, even before Jackie takes the field, he’s got to deal with being denied access to places of public accommodation, not being able to eat with the team, in some cases, even being told, opposing organization saying they’re not going to take the field if Jackie Robinson has got to play.
So it’s all those things that kind of compound his experience. And yet, in spite of all that, you know, we focus on that first year where he and Branch Rickey make this bargain. And Jack agrees not to fight back. I love what ESPN is doing and sharing some of that leader, those leader newspaper articles, because Jack after that was very assertive and fought back all the time. In fact, you know, took great pleasure in talking about the Op Ed Jackie Robinson, because he was always kind of pushing the boundaries, challenging inequality in that space.
Curt Anderson 12:04
Right. I absolutely love that. And again, guys, if you get a chance, go to ESPN, check these articles. They’re fantastic. And, you know, in the relationship that he had was his wife. His wife is mentioned multiple times in those articles at that time, you know, and it was really fascinating to see how these journalists were documenting what was going on at that time. And let’s spend a night over here for manufacturing ecommerce success.
And we’re going to talk about Jackie the entrepreneur, and how he was a huge advocate for manufacturing, which I didn’t know you and I spoke Dr. Williams. But let’s talk a little bit let’s spin it a little bit. On a positive I think like Pee Wee Reese. There were some you know, any of our diehard baseball fans know some of the great players from that Brooklyn team. There are a lot of advocates that really embraced Jackie that were champions for Jackie, and really helped turn the tables to get past this real ugly time in our history. Sure, like some of the positive things that Jackie experienced, if you could,
Dr. Yohuru Williams 12:59
I think there are numerous and you mentioned his relationship with Pee Pee Wee Reese certainly his relationship with Ralph Branca. He certainly had people on the team who came around right and ultimately became great allies if not friends and confidants because it wasn’t. It’s not like, you know, to be fair to his teammates, they could even understand the extent to which was dealing with this kind of whole next level of stress and pressure related to on that work. And yet at the same time, they were very affirmative with him and when Jack when they win the World Series, and Jack talks about his teammates, and he talks about being accepted on the Brooklyn Dodgers.
And he’s beloved in the city of Brooklyn. That’s the other part of this is that there are parts of that story that kind of get lost again and looking at this solely as the Jackie Robinson story, instead of the story of America at the crossroads. So we’ve had numerous moments like that in our history, which can be celebratory because they teach us something about the value of diversity. The one I’ve been talking about a lot this year is the challenger.
If you look at the crew of the Challenger, space shuttle mission in 1986, it’s a portrait of multicultural America, first Asian American Japanese American and Ellison Onizuka, who’s on that mission. Ronald McNair descended of sharecroppers and slaves, African American admission Judith Resnick, Jewish American woman, fourth woman, Christa McAuliffe, the teacher in space, three white men, how most people would have identified them, but two of them having significant immigrant backgrounds.
This was a portrait of American triumph when the Challenger goes down. Everyone focuses on that as a moment of setback and a failure. But I always like to remind people, it’s important to also know that even in the midst of those types of tragedies and Ronald Reagan spoke to this that evening, when he spoke to the American people. He called the Challenger crew pioneers, and he said they were pushing us forward.
We have to recognize that in the moment of failure, there’s always an opportunity for reinvention like the phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s what Alexander Hamilton was trying to convinced the American people of certainly the House of Representatives in the report on manufacturing, in opposing Jefferson, when he says, Look, I get the idea of a republic of human small farmers, but ultimately, empowering people to fail and fail big is what’s going to drive us forward and make us great. And it certainly has
Curt Anderson 15:18
man. Law, Americans respond badly no draft and like my dad was like multiple Jotham, Mike moments, a moment of silence there, Dr. Williams, we just needed American American triumph. I love American triumph. And guys think about that tragedy, failure, what it did, and I’m gonna share this, you know, what Jackie did?
You know, in one of the articles that talks about when Jackie was going other cities, it brought out the African Americans, and they were cheering astatically for that, you know, and we saw this, whether it was like Joe DiMaggio brought out the Italian Americans, you know, my wife and I go to baseball stadiums around the country, each room, you know, you know, Japanese crowds, any, you know, you have that nationalistic favor, and support.
And so it was just wonderful. I was trying to look at some of the positive sides. And like, hey, it brought African Americans into baseball, and look at lead the charge for Bob Gibson, I grew up a huge Reggie Jackson fan, Rickey Henderson, all the great hall of famers that we have.
And when you really look at Jackie, as a baseball player, you know what a gift he was that he did for the sport and what he did for our country, you know, so, man, this is so good. So difficult here, let’s slide into manufacturing entrepreneurship. And then Gary, Gary Woods said, I’ve seen Dr. Williams on the History Channel, many guys stick with us, because we’re gonna go there in like two minutes. Jackie Robinson, as you just said, he was a huge entrepreneur, fan of entrepreneurship, entrepreneur himself and a big advocate for manufacturing, please share a little bit on what you discovered there in your studies.
Dr. Yohuru Williams 16:58
You know, Jack was unable to finish his final year at UCLA. And so he ends up you know, leaving, Rachel actually is very accomplished. And she’ll get a degree in psychiatric nursing and do a number of things in that field, including, at one point, working at Yale University Hospital, so kind of see the academics there. But Jack was a proponent of business. And so the interesting thing is that in his post baseball life, you see him do a number of things, which are very important in understanding the importance of kind of elevating and thinking about diversity in business. chock full of nuts, in 1956 1957, was kind of a New York based coffee chain.
And they also had a number of, you know, lunch counters in the city, a predominantly minority workforce, and the owner chock full of nuts invite jack to be his head of HR. And so Jack’s first post baseball experience will be in corporate America at chock full of nuts, where he’ll be a champion of diversity. But he also recognizes there are real barriers to African Americans. And so he spends a lot of his time thinking about what will break down those barriers, he recognizes access to capital is key, African Americans are going to be involved in businesses, if they’re going to start businesses, if they can, are going to be entrepreneurs, they’re gonna be access to capital.
And he also understands that housing is a challenge. And education is a challenge, paying tuition, or being able to, you know, set a foundation that will allow young people to thrive is all kind of mixed into to that, that desire to achieve the American dream in that regard. And so what you’ll see Jack do in 1964, is he’ll team up with a lawyer, and they will co found freedom National Bank in Harlem precisely for the purpose of trying to stimulate the growth of black and Puerto Rican businesses in Harlem, and also to facilitate homeownership for people of color in Harlem and beyond.
And you’ll see him expand that mission. So in night, in 1970, shortly before his death, 6970, they’ll also start a construction company. And the purpose of that company was to build low income housing for, again, black and Latino people living in New York who didn’t have access to the same. So you see Jack really seeing industry manufacturing as keys to empowerment, and recognizing that as tools, these really could empower the next generation. It’s one of the things that I love about him the complexity of him, not simply as a sports hero, but somebody who doesn’t get credit in terms of what he does in terms of innovation in business,
Curt Anderson 19:27
man, so good. And that’s it, you know, and you shared on our conversation the other day on how he was an advocate for encouraging African Americans to not only get entrepreneurship but more specifically manufacturing and how critical manufacturing is. Boy, we have a lot of great comments here. All right, Miss you in Madison, Wisconsin, likes to ask, could we hear more about Hamilton and manufacturing?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 19:50
Sure, you know, Alexander Hamilton, there’s that tension that exists in the founding between Jefferson’s vision of what America could be Hamilton’s vision of what America could be, and Hamilton is convinced that manufacturing is key, he recognizes that this is going to be a hard sell because he’s speaking to a nation which is more comfortable with and has actually been kept in a position of an agrarian society. By virtue of British colonial policies. The British didn’t want to see manufacturing developing in the United States.
In fact, we all learned this and, you know, grammar school, the triangle trade, you wanted to, you know, take cheap raw materials from the colonies, mass produced them in England and then send them back to the colonies and you’re creating capital and that we’ll Hamilton recognizes early on that American, if it’s going to be successful, if it’s going to be on the par with its European sister states, it is going to have to invest in manufacturing, it’s going to have to incentivize manufacturing, and it’s going to have to help people overcome the fear of failure.
And he actually talks about that in a report in manufacturing, that that’s what’s key is that, you know, the biggest challenge, maybe FDR said it best but I think Hamilton was channeling it in other languages. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself and we really can’t afford not to take the plunge in terms of focusing on this as the tool which ultimately will help us build an empire to rival the greatest empires in in Europe.
Damon Pistulka 21:21
What do you say? What do you say? This is so incredible and just so honored to have you here and you’re sharing this with you
Curt Anderson 21:27
I’m having a hard time keeping my composure that we have Chris Harrington here saying Hello Dr. Williams. We have Brian out here we have Gail we have John bigger again, call my mice we are okay. So anyway, lots of great people who are dropping comments again, guys keep the comments coming for Dr. Williams here. So guys, what I absolutely you know, let’s slide baseball into history and into manufacturing. Dr. Wen. So what I absolutely love look what Jackie didn’t baseball, he proved look how much better baseball is.
When we bring in our different walks of life. We bring in Hispanic we bring in African American we bring in Korean Japanese would have Daymond do we love baseball, but it’s a better sport, when you take advantage of all the talent that we have in our country. Basketball, football, baseball, what have you. Now, Am I foolish to say cheese? Is it only sports? Or could this happen in entrepreneurship? Or in the rest of the world? Academia, other walks of life? Absolutely. So let’s get right into manufacturing. And so you are a superstar on the History Channel. You actually you have your own show. I think sound smart is are you host of those sounds,
Dr. Yohuru Williams 22:32
a web show that history did a couple of years ago and I was the host for that. I love doing that History in a Minute. Really fun, kind of bite sized history nuggets.
Curt Anderson 22:42
Awesome. Oh, let’s All right, guys, for all of our history fans out there, man. I’ve been watching you for years. And guys, this is what I did. I said my wife and I you know we’re stuck. Ya know? My what my she enjoys it. So I’m gonna say she was tough. But we’ll watch and all these, the Titans that built America, the food that built America, the machines that built I’m like, Hey, here’s a new one. She’s like, hey, let’s watch it. And Dr. Yoo hoo Williams is on over and over and over. So what do I do, guys? This is the power of LinkedIn.
I pull up LinkedIn. And you know who we are speaking three weeks from now we have Caitlin McKay. But my senior lesson correctly, one of your fellow cohorts. The food that built America. So guys come back to us in three weeks. It’s pretty awesome. Yeah. But Dr. Williams, what you did is just, you know, let’s go there. So last night, I’m watching gunslingers on food that built America and it was Wrigley and it was the gym and actually founded GM in the very first person that pops up is Mr. Handsome Dr. Williams. So just share a little bit about the history channel, this whole series and what it meant to you. And let’s hear about that underneath the
Dr. Yohuru Williams 23:41
hood. What you know, history came probably about four years ago now four or five years ago, and they said we’re doing this new series. It’s called the food that built America and we think you’d be great. And we’re just gonna unpack some of these famous brands and ask questions about how they became such iconic brands. And I think the first episode I was in it, the first one they asked me to participate in was on Heinz ketchup.
Yeah, well, good Cola, and Hershey, you know, huge fan of, of, you know, all of those brands. my waistline has suffered. Because of that. So, you know, I was all in. And you know what it was? What was great about the series is what they really I had written a book called Teaching US History beyond the textbook. And in that book, I talked about this concept of haunted history, the idea that, wouldn’t it be great to excite young people about history by talking about street names or buildings, they’re named after people that they no longer remember?
Like, I lived in Connecticut, and there’s the Samuel just built a highway. So why is he haunting the young people? Because we forgot who he was. And it’s kind of calling young people to kind of revisit that. And I think they liked that concept. So they were like, we’re kind of thinking about that. You know, think about that on a larger scale. We use these products every day. We never asked that. question about how did they become the iconic product products that they became.
But what’s the, you know, kind of interesting backstories. They’re one of the stories that I talked about. In one of the scenarios I would always use in teacher professional development was around Pepsi Cola. And the interesting thing about Pepsi Cola is that, you know, it’s goes through this really incredible corporate history where the first iteration it goes bankrupt. Because of overpriced sugar inventory during the First World War, the owner tries to sell it, including trying to sell it to Coke, they don’t offer a bid. And so this is a brand that spiraling until the Great Depression, when they decided to double the amount of product for the same price as you were going to get for other soft drinks.
And they were the first brand to adopt jingle advertising. They advertise on radio, the song was called nickel, the song becomes a hit. It literally is, you know, translated into I think, 43 different languages. And Pepsi remains a corporate giant to this day, largely because they were willing in that moment to look at this new medium of radio and jingle advertising and say, yeah, we’ll do that. And when I think about that, for all of the folks who are on the call, who are of a certain age, I will out all of us, but we wrote this as like where’s the beef?
We immediately know where that comes from. That’s the Windies campaign that sits with all of us. I think about the Seinfeld episode with George Costanza Costanza, and we laugh about that. But there’s something to be said for Pepsi in that moment, recognizing that that disruptive innovation could spell huge profits for it as it was trying to define itself and distinguish itself from its competitors. Just a great story. And that’s what the whole series kind of pivots on that how do we understand these iconic brands? What can we learn from those encounters? And it’s been great being a part of it. Well,
Curt Anderson 26:52
why didn’t? Well, yeah, guys, anybody just joined us, Dr. Williams here with us, please connect with him. Guys give a huge shout out, give a warm welcome, connect with him on LinkedIn. He has a new book coming out in September you want to grab it’s a phenomenal book, all sorts of books, he has a great TED talk, or just Google his name. And there’s like, I’ve seen so many videos on you. So okay, let’s dig in. Let’s take that another step further.
So a great thing when you watch the number of us are huge History Channel fans, watching the show, you know, you keep hearing about the digital transformation of today and what COVID has done in our pre chairs for manufacturers and making that ecommerce shift. Okay. And boy, I don’t care what part you know, if you’re an 1800s when you know when you did tighten set built America, whether it was Roosevelt or you know, whoever, you know, in the JP Morgan those early days, but the people were disrupting the market always Henry Ford disrupted the market.
No more horses, right. Wrigley, I watched Wrigley last night. And you know, he didn’t invent GM. What he did in the analogy I gave before he jumped on line. He was like the Gary Vee of advertising in like the early 1900s. He quadrupled his budget. And that’s how he beat the founder of GM. And so as you’re saying, Dr. Williams, you know, let’s talk about like, what, what were some of the shocking things that you found, then that would be applicable for our manufacturers today, as far as that disruption goes?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 28:14
I think again, it goes back to what we were talking about in terms of Hamilton. But I also think it speaks powerfully to some of the people who were featured on the Titans that built America, specifically, the two that I love Henry Ford, who’s problematic in all kinds of ways. But when you think about, you know, his lack of fear and kind of pushing for that vision, the way that he thought about manufacturing in ways that ultimately helped him to produce a cheaper automobile.
And then at the end of that story, the failure of Ford to recognize that he needed to keep up with his competitors is in a nutshell, the story of business. It is, you know, this idea of the disrupter, but you have to continue to be the disrupter in order to maintain the success that you enjoy in the very beginning. And it’s the folks who don’t recognize that who become complacent or fearful, or who don’t recognize the dangers lurking in that next innovation and how it might impact them and that ultimately, don’t succeed.
I think that’s the you know, the story of all of these iconic companies, certainly with breakfast cereals, like love brothers, you know, yeah, Dr. Kellogg does not in any way want to commercialize this product, which he thinks is for help, his brother recognizes immediately, this can be a huge sell, somebody else comes in and sees that and they run with the idea, you know, now competing for something that they would have had, yeah, no priority on Birdseye certainly the same case.
Certainly the same case. And I think that’s the interesting part about this, because I think it speaks volumes about the moment that we’re in now, when we’re talking about digital transformation. Yeah, option COVID-19. You know, there are terrible things that we will always associate with the last two years and what we’ve been through globally, but The reality is it presents many opportunities for us to rethink the customer experience, integration of services, how people work and communicate.
These are all tremendous opportunities. And I think it’s those entrepreneurs, those manufacturers, those business leaders, who are thinking in a way that Baldwin talked about differently about this moment, who ultimately will be able to see what others see as a challenge as an opportunity. And that’s really been, you know, the jewel of those who have succeeded in that space. You’ve got Gail Robertson on today. She has the best title ever. I just became friends with her on LinkedIn.
But she’s chief curiosity officer, and I think that curiosity and innovation go hand in hand and that ultimately, you know, being a disrupter begins with asking questions like, why don’t we Why don’t you just because we’ve always done it like, this doesn’t mean that we have to continue to do it like this. What if we do paint cars a different color? What if you’re white? How are we trying to be better? You know, those are you know, and for me, a gentleman because I’m a 70s kid born in 7180s. Kid. I think the song that does it for me more than any other Video Killed the Radio Star video.
Yep. first video ever broadcast on MTV? I remember that video like it was yesterday, because you know, only a handful of kids in the neighborhood had MTV and had cable television, which was this innovation. We were still turning on the TV with the pliers. Yeah. But I love the lyrics in that I heard you on the wireless back and 52 If I was young, it didn’t stop you coming through this whole thing that they capture in a song about the spirit of innovation and radio doesn’t keep up. And by the early 1980s videos are king.
Well, I remember my grandfather’s you know, driving around in my grandfather’s car with the eight track tapes, then there are wonderful things called cassettes we all remember this and short. You know, your early dating life was sending your person of choice that cassette you know, listen to mixtape order the mix, right, literally. And then suddenly, halfway through the decade that became CDs, and I still have one leg, my right leg is still slightly more developed than my left from carrying that heavy Walkman. But it was still great to be able to carry my tunes around with me.
Kind of, of how well adjusted and how, you know, prosperous you were at one point was to walk into someone’s home and see the videos prominently displayed on their wall the meaning of that anymore because the US moves so fast. But the disruptors the curious, we’re always asking the question that the bangles are asking and that that song, which is no Video Killed the Radio Star, because radio doesn’t recognize that innovation is key to success.
Damon Pistulka 32:44
Yeah, it’s so key because it just because you get to the top, that’s just like, that’s like, Oh, I got to first base, I gotta keep running, because I’m not scoring, unless I guess, run my heart out. And that’s where I think a lot of companies are gonna get complacent. And when you look at companies, there’s some, you know, obviously, you’ve talked about Coca Cola, their brand is so big and things like that. But the vast majority of companies, that’s just a starting point, when you really hit your stride, then you got to, then you got to somehow get your, your team, everyone else to really watch our next level of innovation. And they’re all sitting there going.
We just caught our breath from the last one. But the leaders job anymore. And because you talk about the speed at which technology evolves now is almost, I mean, you know, this better than I obviously, but it changes so fast now, even from 10 years ago, that if you’re not in that constant process of daily thinking about that. I just don’t know how you stay abreast of anything anymore, because there’s people catching Yeah,
Dr. Yohuru Williams 33:48
yeah. Yeah. And that’s constantly with that team. And because for me, I just love the way you frame that. I try to tell that story in a humorous way for my students. But I hope that they’re also picking up on the acceleration point now so much great. It’s like John Kennedy, the moon speech at Rice University, where he’s talking about the speed of technology and how quickly you move from one period to the next. We’re witnessing that probably six times the speed that Kennedy was talking about in that moment.
And to become complacent to assume as I did, at one point, I thought, you know, I still have a closet full of CDs, which you know, but now everything is on my phone, I could take my entire library with me on this in any computer that I carry around on my hip, which when Gene Roddenberry is writing, Star Trek is still kind of fantasy. And that’s our reality today. It’s not fear that and whether you put it in fact, Pat Begley of Salt Lake news did a great cartoon on Muhammad Ali that I love and talking about business and also talking about activism.
That’s just appropriate. He said Ali was the greatest not because he was the champ. Ali was the greatest because he was always the challenger. Yeah, innovators. Ciao. Challenge leaves the game, they never say they score the run. And then they say, Let’s break the pieces up and build an entirely different, or look at this, this field differently so that we can continue to innovate and be in those spaces where, you know, we’re continuing to create and create value in the process.
Curt Anderson 35:19
Man, and tons of great commentary got my mind, Dan and John Big
Damon Pistulka 35:24
Mike. Yeah, he’s talking about a track. John’s gone. John, this is Sue Netflix. I mean, this is one, that’s a great thing. I mean, he killed blockbuster, then they move over, you know, and now they’re having trouble, right?
Curt Anderson 35:39
Think and think, you know, we could go on, you know, Kodak, and like some of these other, you know, major brands that just kind of lost their way, you know, and innovators challenge and I think it’s called, like, the founders dilemma. Right. And, you know, what direction do I go? How do I take it to that next level? And Steve Jobs, you know, when they hit the iPod, right? The iPod? It feels like that’s even right. Yeah, the iPod, he knew that iTunes was going to kill and cannibalize the iPod.
So you know, we’re a company like Kodak didn’t have the ability Blockbuster Video didn’t have the ability to cannibalize themselves. But again, guys, man, catch the History Channel, go to food that built America, machines that built America, watch all those and think about it for your business, your manufacturing operation, and how you can apply it. And we’ll wrap up on the on your series. And this one, your hometown is the subway. And this is absolutely fascinating. When Fred DeLuca founded subway at 17 years old with a partner. They were doing miserable.
They had days where they had like, $7 in sales, if you remember this, Dr. Williams, but what do they if you were doing $7 A day in sales? Damon, what would you do? You open up a second location? Yeah, you open up a second location because they wanted to do a B testing. So this is in the 60s now as marketers, what are we talking about as you know, a digital marketers a we need to do a B testing? Well, guess what? Somebody was doing it however many years ago or worse, and you know, built the largest, you know, franchise chain, you know, right in your backyard, Dr. Woods, anything that you want to comment on somebody? They’re
Dr. Yohuru Williams 37:11
just that I would acquit?
Damon Pistulka 37:14
Yeah. This is stuff that though that’s true. A lot of these innovators are half crazy. You have to be because to do what they do you listen to stories that shows that you hope the stories are so incredible, because they see a vision that none of us can see. Right. And when it comes out in the end, it’s brilliant Steve Jobs, same way. He’s just wandering in our every thought. And you know, I don’t know if he envisioned this. But when he saw the iPad, then he saw the phone, then he saw now they don’t even care about iTunes anymore. I mean, they don’t even care. I don’t even know if you can do it anymore. But you know, it’s just
Curt Anderson 37:52
crazy. It’s crazy. Alright, so I know we have a ton of Yeah, like, I haven’t been paying attention to time. It’s like, I know, I’m ever I’m not even paying attention to time. And usually like, all right, Dr. Williams, you are a professor at the University of St. Thomas, distinguished scholar on civil rights.
And you, you know, you’re right in the trenches, dealing with young people on a daily basis. So for those of us, you know, a lot of us are parents out there. But you know, maybe we’re not dealing with college kids, college aged kids as much as you are. Sure. What are some of the exciting things that you’re seeing that you’re hearing of young people at your university and conversations that you’re having?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 38:29
It’s a great question, Kurt, because I think it’s more. And I never thought that I would be in the space. You’re old enough now to be where your parents were, when you’re looking at the younger generation and asking yourself, what are they thinking? Why did they behave and what’s happening?
But what I see is a lot of comfort, with discomfort. That’s really important. They’ve lived through, you know, I think about, you know, the Tom Brokaw is the greatest generation. Yeah, kind of thinking about the generation that survived the second have survived the great depression and fought the Second World War and why he’s branding them as the greatest generation that included athletes, like, you know, Joe Lewis, and Jackie Robinson, and they kind of all are symbols of that age, Jesse Owens, so on and so forth. This generation is different. I think there’s symbols are different.
We saw that over the Olympics over the summer, and dealing with issues of depression and what and being able to walk away from the game and seeing that as a strength and prioritizing mental health and thinking differently about community and how communities respond to trauma. It’s funny because you’ll see people sometimes say, well, that it seems like we’re getting soft, I actually don’t think that’s the case at all. They’re looking at things differently in a way that offers a tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to kind of iterate with them, and think through the way that this moment is fundamentally altered, who we are and what we will be in the years to come.
And so I’ve learned a lot from them. I think neuro diversity for example, we talk a lot about diversity and traditional sense But thinking about building a team that brings on people who think differently, who have challenges that allow them to see opportunity, where those of us who might be on abled in some other sense can’t see that, and where we might all be going, ultimately, because the environment COVID are taking away those abilities in ways that we never thought we would have been challenged.
So Netflix, for example, we were talking about earlier, took great advantage of the moment, that was COVID-19. We’re all kind of trapped at home. But there were people who were thinking about, well, what about when we go back to work? You know, how do we gauge it, we don’t have the luxury of looking at this on our flat screen where we can do that. It’s kind of an interesting moment in that sense. So I’m learning three things from them. redefining what I thought resilience meant. Because for me, resilience was always about stick to itiveness. And you know, toughing it out.
And I think for them, it begins with live to fight another day privilege and mental health in ways that actually build strength and capacity, you don’t burn out when you are wise enough to take a step back. And to recognize that, you know, to be in the game, long term is probably more valuable, tend to, you know, fantastically flame out over something. And a lot of the integrators that we cover on food that built America, I think about the coke story, for example. You know, a lot of those folks kind of burned themselves out, and it’s left to somebody else to continue that work. And I think this generation privileges resilience in a different way.
Certainly, and I would, you know, I kind of see this as dystopian, but they don’t have an ability to exist and to build community in a virtual space, which is foreign to me. So this is, you know, I would have loved to have had lunch with you, gentlemen. And we’re sitting in a studio, you know, dressed in our, and our Sunday best talking to the masses in a in a curated portrait of and that’s what we talk about in the book. That’s the invention of communication.
But the reality is this, this communication, Kurt and I become really great friends, Damon, we’re on our way to becoming great friends, just because you’re able to reach out into the digital platform and say, hey, you know, I like what you’re doing. And I’m interested in this, and let’s talk and that really gives them a global community that they’re a part of in a way that I wouldn’t have believed possible. 20 years ago, I had a half a dozen friends and other countries, my son, my sons and daughter, my son and daughters have networks that extend beyond the boundaries of the United States.
And they’re not, you know, my, in my son’s case, he’s 24. And my girls aren’t even out of college yet. And, you know, they’re exposed and have opportunities in places that again, just kind of boggles the mind. Last but not least, is about rigidity. And I think this is really important. They’re told, and I was former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield, and at University of St. Thomas, you know, we go in and say, 40 years ago, if you came out of university was very likely that you’d be working in the same job for 2030 years, maybe you would do some type of career change late game, but you know, you kind of retire from that.
And now you have to rethink what career paths are, because there’s such rapid. And so for them, this idea that to be rigid in terms of what you study, they’re very open to kind of looking at a more a buffet, idea of education, a little bit of this, a little bit of that a little bit of the other thing. For me, I was like, you know, I’m gonna make a deep dive in history, because I want to be a historian. And, you know, there’s a great book called Humility is the new smart, and it does a good job of talking about this.
But in the book, the author say, at one point, when we define smart in this country, it meant I’m smarter than you because I can come up with that answer faster than you can. We were kind of the computers. today. Our phones are the great equalizer. So the reality is, anybody can out history me at any time, run Google, and so I can’t compete. What will ultimately make me competitive is humility, my ability to engage with others, my ability to explain things in a way, you know, it’s quick, Joseph Owen talks about a robot proof in ways that computers can’t, is to out human machines.
And that’s a different value proposition for us in our contemporary moment. And I find that very exciting for manufacturers in particular, because it’s going back to something that I shared about Jackie, a life is not important except in the impact that has on other lives, technology, the things that we produce our tools to enhance our lives, those who are thinking about how to make these more human that I think are going to define and be very successful in the next generation.
Curt Anderson 44:42
Okay, so lots of great comments here. I know another moment of silence here. Dr. Williams, let’s go here. Okay, so the past over. So first off, there’s a few things that I have to I can’t let go, you know, humility. You know, we’re in a day and age where Yes, we grew up, I grew up in the 70s. And watch a lot of TV. Unfortunately, you watch TV, you know, I can watch a channel, a show on the History Channel, reach out to a man who I look up to admire, just respect to no other. And we’ll circle back and say, Hey, thanks for the comment.
And then I can say, Hey, would you how about a little interview with me, my with myself and my friend, and you graciously accepted that. So let’s go here. You’re dealing a lot of young folks in manufacturers, manufacturing since COVID, supply chain issues, unfortunately, labor shortage, workforce development, all sorts of different challenges have gone on our country had a terrible distrust unrest two years ago with George Floyd, you were right in the heart, you were right in Minneapolis. Would that happening?
What are things that manufacturers can do to be better, stronger to entice and embrace millennials? Diversity, different race, different color, different creed, different religion, different walks of life, with our wonderful melting pot here in the United States, which makes us such a it creates such a dynamic competitive advantage for us as an economic powerhouse? What advice do you have for manufacturers to really take diversity to the next level?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 46:13
Great question. I first and foremost, approach this from an asset not a deficit model, because a lot of times we talk about, I work with a lot of corporate leaders. And the conversation, sometimes among us is among them, which is shared with me is I just can’t get people to come back to work. And they’re making all these big asks, and they expect so much from the workplace.
Now, we have to reimagine the workplace. The reality is, that’s not going to change. We used to joke in the 1970s, late 70s, how are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen New York City, we’ve determined that we can do this from home, we’ve determined that people can be productive in spaces that are sterile office buildings that, you know, people don’t have to, you know, sit in a particular place in order to get work done.
And we have to embrace that and embrace it in a way that redefines the values of the corporation to encompass that part of the identity. That’s what’s going to make the manufacturers and certain areas more attractive to this. Remember the way that we all talked about the campus of Apple Computer, everybody wanted to work at Apple, because it was unique that what the and then we heard about what was happening at Google and Facebook. Corporations, manufacturers, big and small have to rethink the work environment in order to create that same level of excitement.
We should be excited about that. Because it’s the democratization of something that wouldn’t have been available to us when we were only talking about that existing for tech companies. And now it’s, you know, talk about any number of industries that can kind of reinvent themselves and reimagine themselves in that space. Secondly, I think you mentioned you know, diversity is an asset. We this was a big conversation here in the Twin Cities. And a lot of people think that I’m in the West Indies University of St. Thomas, which St. Paul, different weather, right. I mean, I grew up in Connecticut gentlemen, and I thought I’m a hardy. Yeah, a
Damon Pistulka 48:14
little different in Minneapolis, just,
Dr. Yohuru Williams 48:16
I was Han Solo for a couple of years. So, you know, it was really, it’s been really important for me to try to help some of our corporate partners understand that social justice issues now are deeply embedded in the fabric of the way that young people are thinking about where they like to work, where they’d like to live, they’re making decisions based on, you know, issues that probably wouldn’t have impacted us.
Or we wouldn’t have thought about or would have been incidental. I gotta live here anyway, you know, or I have to work here anyway, I need to, and they’re taking their time I say, from an ethical standpoint, you know, it wouldn’t be it’d be the equivalent of what was happening in the 1980s.
In terms of the divest in South Africa movement, we got people saying, you know, we don’t want to do business with this entity, so on and so forth. Well, now it’s on another level. And so companies have to rethink a value system and a profile that welcomes that in a way that is not disruptive to the core industry of the company itself, but certainly signals to its employees, that it’s open to understanding that it’s part of a much larger community, and that it has a commitment to that community in ways that builds value.
I’ll give you a great example. Um, I worked with a solid waste management company, and they said, Look, we are devastated by what happened to George Floyd. But we don’t see any way that we can be part of this conversation other than diversifying our workforce, which we recognize is a challenge. And so I said, Look, I just want to be clear with you here. Solid Waste Management and pest control are civil rights issues. If you go into communities of color.
In fact, if you go back to the 1950s, the 1960s one of the cornerstone issues for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Washington DC in the late 1960s, which was also a cornerstone issue for the Congress of Racial Equality in New York in the early 1960s 6465, covered by Brian Brunel, in his book, civil rights in the county of Kings, is pest control. Literally, you have an opportunity now to kind of say, we recognize that when we talk about disparities in this country to death by 1000 cuts, we’re going to be true to who we are and what we do by saying, instead of investing a bunch of money in education, where we have no long term, or sustainable interest,
we’re going to think about how we can utilize those areas where we do have long term and sustainable interest to try to make a difference in those communities, and in the process, be attractive to diverse peoples who are looking at that and going, I could work here, I could do that, that seems, you know, that feels to me authentic. And again, it also creates a pathway I had a CEO share with me, and this was, you know, beautiful human being. So this is not a critique in any way on this individual. You know, Dr. Williams, I invested $5 million in the school system, and the test scores didn’t go up.
And I said, you know, part of the challenge there is the model, you’re assuming that the investment in test scores is the only challenge and in schools are the only challenge that people face long before they get to school, you’re talking about the social determinants of health, you’re talking about food deserts, you’re talking about lack of access to potable water, you’re talking about lack of green space. I mean, they’re, you know, health disparities. So there are a million things that young people are dealing with, pick something that is your genuine identity to who you are your corporation and invest there this way, it’s not going to feel like a deviation.
And you’re also able to make the case and you can’t be afraid of this. When people come back and say, Well, that seems like you’re kind of doing something in your own self interest. Why not? Because that’s sustainable. Five years from now, this always happens, we always have these moments. Rothman talked about it in a book from 1971, called the, the, on the asylum. And he said, You know, every generation discovers prisons is shocked by what it’s discovered in determines in that moment that it will do all it can to reform this evil, vile and brutal system, only to lose interest to win to have the next generation come along and go,
How come no one’s ever done anything about this whole cycle over and over again, if you invest in those areas where you’ve got that longitudinal sustainable engagement, we can actually, I think, tackle this and tackle it in a way that, again, uses disruptive innovation by rethinking even the way that we’re tackling disparity and not thinking solely within terms of those big buckets, which were a little harder to crack because they’re big buckets reason.
Curt Anderson 52:37
Yeah. Well, I want to say this. Your students are so lucky. Oh, yeah. I mean, to listen to I could listen to you. Oh, my goodness. I don’t see how your family feels. But man, I can listen to you all day. I know we have a hard stop. I know. You’re a busy man. First off. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you. And we I have one last question for you today. Sure. There’s a gentleman I saw my family and I we saw speak several years ago. His name is David Anderson. He is the author of a book called Grace ism. Are you familiar with?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 53:10
I am familiar with the book not with the I don’t know the author is
Curt Anderson 53:13
this man. And when he got I was so captivated. I went up. He’s a big burly man. I like I could not I like I gave him a hug. Pre COVID. My wife and daughter are there. I have a picture with my daughter standing next to Mr. Anderson. He is a giant. I mean, he could you know, if I pay for the Chicago Bears, and my daughter stand there, he had wingtip shoes, and on his shoe dressed to the nines, and his shoes, say racism. And what he loves is taking the word racism out of the English English language and spinning it with grace.
My question to you is, what do we need to do as individuals to put this in the past to have it and probably being completely unrealistic, but I’m gonna go there anyway. Now, this is a bold question. I’m going to do it anyway. How can we eliminate racism? How could we just walk with Grace ism? Dr. Williams, what do we need to do as individuals? And just and again, our current, you know, a, we can bicker. We can make fun of each other, where you’re from, what you look like so on and so forth. But how can you do in a good natured way? And how can we eliminate these challenges that we face in your humble opinion?
Dr. Yohuru Williams 54:18
So I’m gonna go back to 1986 with you and I want to talk about the speech that Reagan gave that afternoon, because one of the interesting things is Peggy Noonan is a speech writer and Reagan says to Peggy Noonan, the thing that concerns me most in anyone who lives through that moment, I think there are a lot of us on this call today. Remember, they had suspended schools? Yeah. Classes that afternoon. So we could watch I was in the cafeteria with, you know, freshman year in high school, when we watched the Challenger come down. And I don’t think I paid attention the rest of the day.
That was so destabilizing to me. And Reagan says to Peggy Noonan schoolchildren watching so we got to address this. So in the speech most of the time when people think about Reagan’s speech that evening they Think about the line where he says, you know, the astronauts have slipped the Sirleaf, you know, slip the bonds of Earth to touch the face of God, the surly bonds of Earth touch face of God, it’s beautiful, not the part that I think we should focus on when we talk about racism. Reagan says earlier in the speech, schoolchildren watching, and he says, The Challenger crew were pioneers, and they were leading us into the future.
And sometimes painful things happen. And the worst thing we can do is not address them. In fact, Reagan goes on to say, in this kind of, you know, wonderful flourish that, you know, I’m sure Peggy Noonan helped craft for him, because he was the great communicator, but even the great communicator needs a great speech writer, and Peggy Noonan was that and is that and she continues to be, continues to be that great with words. He says, we don’t run from our history. We do things upfront in public, that’s the way that freedom is and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I would say the same thing with regard to our history, we can’t run from it, we have to face it, we have to embrace it. Our moments of triumph aren’t moments of triumph unless we understand that history 1986 For me, when people go I don’t you know, I love that you’re talking about challenges, but I don’t quite get it. 1986 you have despite 40 years earlier, Jack keep moving and the Japanese internment and, you know, the two three Supreme Court cases related to that you’ve got a Japanese American who grows up in Hawaii, who credits the Hawaii Public Schools for getting them interested in STEM sitting on the challenge of crew.
Despite the Holocaust and all the challenges with anti semitism in our country, you’ve got a woman of Jewish ancestry who’s on that, you know, Judith Resnick, who’s on that crew, Rhonda McNair, the descendant of slaves, the descendant of sharecroppers on that crew. And I will always say this about the Reagan administration, which is great for all the people vying in that moment, we think about SpaceX and everything that’s happening now.
The Reagan Administration chose a teacher to go up, you can’t be any more democratic than that. I remember being jealous because I was in high school, and she was going to teach a lesson and beam it back to Earth for all the KIPP middle school kids, which I thought was amazing. I say that, because when we run from our history, and in fact, Isabel Wilkerson talks about this in her new book cast. First thing you do when you go to have had to proceed to surgical procedures this year, last year, and this year, one that didn’t go very well one that went very well. She says, look, the first thing that a good physician does is takes a patient history.
And if a physician doesn’t ask you the patient history, you know, you’re in trouble. Because what they’re trying to do is get a portrait of you as an individual, so they can help treat you because they under and if you have a triumph, they can look back at that history and say these are the things that we’ve alleviated and, and tweaked and so on and so forth. With regard to racism, you see a lot of pushback now in terms of people saying, well, we don’t want to teach that. And we don’t want to make people feel bad when we have to do that.
Because that’s the only way that we can grow. It’s almost it goes back to Hamilton’s advice. You know, we have to fail big but failing means looking at the warts on Pierre Dupont, whom I love, you know is I love his story. I mean, think about his father dying and explosion in New Jersey in 1884. He’s 14 years old. At that point, I would have walked away from that industry and yet here, doubles down and says this is the family business and we’ll forge ahead. And layers of du Pont’s are castigated as the merchants of death. A few years later, they’re being asked to supply the arsenal of democracy.
It’s kind of the ebb and flow of and we have to look at all that history, all of those moments matter. They weave this beautiful tapestry of who we are and all of our imperfection. That’s what makes us great, that we can look at those things. We can look at the warts, and we can talk about growth. And when we look at it in that way, there’s a great essay by Stephen King called Why We crave horror film is my favorite essay of all time.
And Stephen King says for horror film to work as work on different levels. So you know when you’re nine what scares the hell out of you about the Amityville Horror house is that there’s a demon in the closet. And your parents don’t believe you when you say I can’t go to bed because there’s a demon in the closet and so at 10 o’clock when he put you to bed, here’s the demon sitting in the closet. A mom and dad are at the door and the demons going haha they don’t want you in a few minutes.
It’s just you and me. But Stephen King says that what got him is he remember sitting in the theater at the Amityville Horror house horror movie. And there were young couples sitting in front of them. And as the green thing stuff started to ooze out of the walls, the wife turned to the husband and said, Oh my God believes the horror for that couple has. You just bought sunk your life savings into this home that you got for a song and now the toilets backed up? There’s green stuff coming into the wall and your kid won’t go to sleep.
That’s a whole nother level of horror, for our democracy to work for us to feel comfortable and confident in our continuing evolution in the perfecting of the aspirational language that we find in the preamble because you’re not going to find core democratic values in Article One section eight you find them in the preamble we other people in order to form a more perfect union. So we find that in imperfection, we find that in looking at those things that we want to avert our gaze from, but ultimately point the way to how we moving forward, move closer to that perfect union. I think that’s really empowering, really powerful for us.
Curt Anderson 1:00:17
American triumph and Ronald Henderson says, Congratulations on making this possible. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna borrow a very famous line, and I probably have no business even saying this. I have a dream. I had a dream of spirit spending this time with you today, Dr. Williams, I have a dream that our country is just gonna be so amazing and put some of these negative things just so far in the past.
We can celebrate Jackie Robinson, we can celebrate all these wonderful victories and celebrate as you just said, I’m going to steal your line, our imperfections. So with that being said, I know where we are at time, Damon? Yep. God bless you. Thank you. We praise You. We applaud you. I’m given. How about everybody out there out of your chairs, please give Dr. Williams a standing, resounding ovation. So thank you. Thank you.
Dr. Yohuru Williams 1:01:10
I really enjoyed my time with you today. I hope that we get to connect again and thanks for I have gotten so many great people, including Gail and some others who’ve connected with me on LinkedIn. So thank you for that. This has been wonderful.
Curt Anderson 1:01:21
I’d say we are so blessed with a great with just our this network of friends. I can’t say how amazing they are. They come here on Fridays, they hang out with two goofy Guys. And we’re just very passionate about what we do. And Damon, I don’t know what we did in a previous life. But we must have done something really good because it wasn’t this life that deserved this conversation. So Dr. Williams I’ve seen it over and over again. Thank you, man. Thank you, you are a blessing you are a gift.
You know, do all of us a favor. Don’t take your foot off the pedal. You are doing amazing job guys. Please buy his book. It’s coming out in September. You can buy it now on Amazon. Check out his TED Talk Tech Connect with Dr. Williams on LinkedIn. All sorts of wonderful, crazy great things. Keep being a champion for our contract rights. And one of these days we’re going to get it right I probably that’s my dream. How’s that? So Damon take it away my friend.
Damon Pistulka 1:02:16
All right, well, if I can because I just honestly I’m sitting here tearing up the whole time. It’s so
Curt Anderson 1:02:24
it’s awesome. It was just a this was a beautiful, wonderful conversation. Doctor, any parting thoughts? Any anything that you want to share with us as we part it, same
Dr. Yohuru Williams 1:02:34
advice that you gave to me is keep this up? I think we don’t do enough talking and in being together and community and this just feels good.
Curt Anderson 1:02:43
Yes. Thanks so much stronger together. We are manufactured to do when we bring in all of our town when we bring in our Jackie Robinson’s when we bring in our school teachers, our folks that have survived the Holocaust this thing How do you know we’re the only melting pot I’m sorry, I’m going on a little rant, Damon, but just how strong and just you know, the rest of the world was laughing at us a couple of years ago with all this unrest. And hey, that’s great.
Now there’s unrest going on. You know, it’s tragic, what’s going on and other places in the world right now. But as we focus on what’s going on here in United States, boy, if we could just keep pulling together. It is such a dynamic solution. And we are just, you know, best country on the planet when we just get our heads straight and just love each other. Just love each other. That’s grace ism. We can make fun of each other just Grace ism. David, take it away that’s wrapped on.
Damon Pistulka 1:03:33
Well, thanks so much, everyone for being here. Thanks. Dr. Williams is a pleasure and a blessing for us to be able to talk with you today and you to be able to share just a fraction of your knowledge with us and our listeners. Thanks, everyone for being here. Have an awesome weekend. We’re moving into spring, enjoy the day, get out and have some fun. We’ll be back again here next week. Thanks so much Dr. William
Curt Anderson 1:03:53