I’ve been reading a blog that considers the role of race in business.
One the sources consulted is Richard Parsons who was CEO of Time Warner AOL and Chairman of Citibank during the financial crisis of 2008. He is one of the most notable and accomplished African American CEO’s in business history.
Parson’s grandfather was the Rockefeller’s head gardener. He told a story about visiting Rockefeller’s estate where there were still employees his grandfather had hired. When they heard he was coming, they speculated he must be a gardener too. They were thrilled to learn he was a lawyer and a company leader.
Parsons said that while things in racial relations have plenty of room for improvement, there is no denying that things are better than 30-40 years ago. “African Americans could go get quality education and could compete for and hold higher end jobs. Probably the big difference. Wasn’t that I was the swift guy and my grandfather wasn’t.”
Many of us are seeking to reach a higher level than are parents and grand parents. Parsons give this advice. “It’s up to you to bring yourself to the attention of powerful people around you,” he said “They’re not going to find you on their own.”
I am a huge believer in self-nomination. Make your great ideas known. Make your ambitions for a greater role known. It’s one of the ways to get ahead.