Diversity and Inclusion in Startups, With Cesar and Irma EP 10

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Irma Zoeph


Irma is a strategic and collaborative entrepreneur committed to create and develop a healthy culture in both the workplace and the community. She founded The Zbridge, a boutique coaching business specializing in leadership, diversity, inclusion, and developing high performing cultures. She partners with leaders in startups and social entrepreneurs. Irma founded the Lean In Latinas circle in San Mateo County that supports professional Latinas in the Bay Area. She serves as a board member at Upward Scholars, a foundation that empowers low-income adults to prosper through education. Irma has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Sonora, Mexico and an MBA from Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain. She is certified as Diversity Executive by the Institute of Diversity Certification.

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Cesar Teague

Founder of RESONATE and the Accelerate Program, based in San Francisco.

Experienced in training & coaching for value selling, presentations, and leadership.

He specializes in working with multicultural teams globally, being a multicultural professional himself, and volunteers at the S.F. RenCenter and Silicon Valley Ignite Academy helping entrepreneurs.

He is also certified as a Master Trainer with the American Society for Training & Development.

Finally, he is completing his PhD in Organizational Leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology;

Received his MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and

Bachelor’s of Science in Business Economics from the University of San Francisco.

Show Announcer 0:02

Welcome to Silicon Valley Successes, we interview experts and entrepreneurs to give the world access to the knowledge and experience that is here in Silicon Valley. Our mission is to create opportunities for those who seek them and help you to become the next Silicon Valley Success.

Shawn Flynn 0:22

The topic of today's show is one that's been constantly in the news and it's one that, if a company faces and is able to overcome, it's been proven that they have advantages over their competition. The topic we're going to be talking about today is diversity and inclusion in the workplace. My name is Sean Flynn. I've lived and worked in Silicon Valley for quite some time working with Angel groups, incubators, accelerators, startups at all levels. So with that, I'd like to introduce our guests season. Irma

Cesar Teague 0:51

Cesar, could you please give a brief introduction of who you are and what you're doing? Sure. So I'm Cesar Viana Teague, founder of resonate in San Francisco. And I typically work with multicultural business owners, small business owners who are challenged with finding clients and then figuring out how to present the client so they can secure funding or they can secure more projects with them. Interested in Irma. You please introduce yourself. Yes, yes, thank you for having us. I'm very excited to discuss diversity and inclusion.

Irma Zoeph 1:24

My name is Irma Zoeph and I'm the founder of The Z Bridge and we do diversity and inclusion at its core.

I'm originally from Mexico, but I have been living in the US for 12 years. And most recently in the in the Bay Area for three years where I've been working with companies, startups, mainly and social entrepreneurs to build their culture and and to develop and integrate their initiatives related to diversity and inclusion.

Shawn Flynn 1:58

Interested so going to start off I guess the big question is why is diversity and inclusion important Cesar?

Cesar Teague 2:08

Well, I think since I'm focused on multicultural I am a multicultural person rampart, Asian part American part

Venezuelan and so I think the having those different perspectives is, is key. So when you have diversity, I think that you're going to be able to get different feedback from people, different perspectives, that's going to add value. And research has shown that there are statistics out there that shows that it proves that having different perspectives and different coming from different environments, different cultural makeup is going to add value to any conversation and community.

Shawn Flynn 2:50

So a company a startup, when they start thinking about this, when they're a team of two people, five people, 20 people wait till they raised their a round B round, when when should this actually kind of influence their thought process?

Irma Zoeph 3:07

Well, it can start as early as you want. As soon as soon as they have ready for more creative creativity and innovation, they can start thinking about the gathering diverse thoughts and perspective that will help them with their business as sister said, it's very important to, to create these or enable this space where you can gather the information and and when we talk about diversity, it could be diversity of thoughts and in any in any way. So, you know, racially if we talk about multicultural, but also gender also, you know, where you were raised? What, what you studied, or where you work, everything matters in terms of when you bring to the table for your business.

Shawn Flynn 3:58

Okay, then question was that I just have four or five person team. We all met each other in college, university, we just graduated, we're all engineers, we decided to build a product, Is there much diversity there? And

where should where should they try to outreach to to get more input more outside views to that group? Any ideas on that?

Irma Zoeph 4:24

But I can all right. Yes, absolutely. I mean, as, as I said, and the diversity of thoughts come from anywhere. So if you start with your friends, you know, thinking about something, just expand your horizons, look out there, what it's missing, where are you getting your product or your service? What What do you need to know like, say, if you are based in the US and you are trying to reach you know, the Indian population his followers of this show, I really just wanted to that out there. So, you know, it will be great if you know about the quarter and it will be great if you if someone from your team it's either from there even better or if you know about what they like how they think and how you could reach them better

Unknown 5:17

and would that just be reading a book on on that country or a history book or how much knowledge what I need for that area to consider myself Well, well

Unknown 5:30

well knowledgeable that were culture group

Irma Zoeph 5:33

as, as almost everything it comes with experience. And that's from the books I mean, the book can teach you the maybe a little bit about the language a little bit about what they do what they like, but it's really interacting with each other. When we learn the most, you know, I've been seeing a lot of

value added to a company when it it really expand their their perspective with with different cultures and people and their culture samples with very successful companies. Like, for instance, you know, if we talk about CEOs, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, he is from India or if we talk about Elon Musk on several companies he's from South Africa or the the the former CEO of PepsiCo. She's a woman she's Her name is ingenuity. And she's from India as well. So you can see how their perspective have enabled their company and he got cascades down. What about early stage companies, early stage startups? Do you find that maybe there's less minorities that are starting startups and Silicon Valley or they have challenges when they're here verse? How is that ecosystem

Cesar Teague 6:54

was? I would say that, you know, it's a good question. I think that just a backup for I don't think you start a company, we're saying, okay, I want to create a multicultural or diverse company, yes, doesn't quite work that way. Right. Essentially, you're looking at expertise. And the folks on your team may come from different countries that would provide and bring to the table the expertise you need, whether they're from the Philippines where they are great in the call centers, whether you're from India, right, with a technology that they have in the advanced skills that they have, which is why there's a lot of folks who come here. But the bottom line is, everybody comes here to Silicon Valley, because of the fact that this is where the money is that right, they come here. And so some of the work that I'm doing and my work, for example, currently, I'm working at a startup and based in San Francisco that's in a co working space called galvanized not well known when you talk about a little bit about

Unknown 7:45

the startup that you're you're sure,

Cesar Teague 7:47

yeah, so it's in the CO working space based there. And because your question was spot on, I think within galvanize of five for building, you have Google launch, you have IBM, they have a school on the third floor, that's, you know, that I think they just bought hacker one. And so there's just, I mean, I'm hearing every day Norwegian, German, Russian, Indian, I mean, I'm hearing all kinds of languages and the teams within the building, and the synergies are great. And I think there's something to be said there for that. Now, the company that I'm helping specifically, it's called meeting pulse. And what is meeting pulse do meaningful was actually founded here at a hackathon four years ago, which is amazing. So they, they founded the company at a hackathon over a weekend. And they received like, you know, a week later, $50,000 in funding, because they want one of the prizes, but it was really great. And so the founders originally from Russia, and grew up in the East Coast, I think, came when he was 11, and grow up. And then and so what they're doing is they're doing a platform and some tools for audience engagement audience meaning internally for employees, and externally at events. And so you use your mobile phone, you can use an iPad, and and so this is what they're doing to expand and essentially increase communication and collaboration between the teams. Okay. And one of the aspects that they just released is this translation feature. And so if you're right, you're the CEO of the company, or you're the leader of a team, and you typically most teams are working virtually now. Yeah, no secret there,

the the communication barriers are increase, it's a lot harder. Yeah, right, to get this collaboration, because of the time zones and the languages. So now, if you're leading a team, and you want to have a team meeting, and somebody isn't quite comfortable in the English language, well, you're probably not going to speak up as much as anybody else may dominated, right. So the particular application which a lot of startups are using, is that people can send in their questions in their language, and it translates it immediately into English so that the person who's moderating the questions can see this and respond,

Shawn Flynn 9:59

how big of a Do you think language plays a part in, in in the diversity of Okay, let me let me step back actually, what do you think's more important, the language or the culture barriers to overcome that

Irma Zoeph 10:14

comes together? I think that it's it goes in here. And as Caesar said, The language is a big factor, especially in the workplace, but so is the quarter so as as a leader as a thoughtfully there, you need to think about alternatives to to make it easier or more equitable for everybody in one of these applications that he's

Shawn Flynn 10:43

detailing it's a it's a big example of how organizations can be more useful or more resourceful for everybody. So there wasn't that language barrier, how many more resources do you think a startup would be able to access I would get, it'd be easier to outsource to overseas teams, it'd be easier to hire people globally, as that was mentioned, have team meetings, get your product into new markets, it sounds like your product would have many applications. It says,

Cesar Teague 11:13

Yeah, it has, it has a lot of applications that of course, part of it is also if you are going to come to Silicon Valley and you're going to try to raise money here, typically, that needs to be done in English. And so part of the work is also polishing up the presentations and, you know, the pitch decks and doing that sort of thing, which there are a lot of people who are very good at creating that the content, yeah,

Unknown 11:37

the delivery is another matter. So you have to be you have to be able to do both, right? It's worse if you're working on that. Are there any cultures that you'd say might have more difficulty speaking out and presenting to investors or

Shawn Flynn 11:53

speaking up in a meeting? Or how does that work exactly, if there is someone that's more shy, more reserved cultural background,

Irma Zoeph 12:02

but there are research on that topic and some some researchers or people segment segment that the, the country's you know, kind of like in general, one country could be more introverted, and in general, another country can be more extroverted or they embrace for instance, trees or they embrace sometimes, you know,

innovation, and some others are followers. But other researchers have found that that is not really key, that termination for a startup or for someone to succeed, you know, if you kind of generalize the country because, you know, everybody's different, and everybody has different perspectives. And an opportunity is honestly interesting. And before before the show, Cesar we had a chance to talk you'd mentioned that you have a sales accelerator program with marketing, could you talk a little bit about that, and the diversity and what people can get out of that program?

Cesar Teague 13:06

Sure. It's the it's called the accelerate program, you know, so I know, we chatted about some of the work I'm doing, helping, you know, minorities and or minority business owners, I should say, and multicultural business owners and so on. Because that's my, that's what I am. I want to focus on that. So the accelerate program really helps folks accelerate their sales. Because when you're a startup and the small business, you're wearing multiple hats, and therefore you're not focusing, and when you don't focus, you know, what happens to me, it's all over the map. And so the program essentially helps folks to go from, you know, connecting, finding and connecting with their ideal target clients, which there's a number of services that do that, you know, that you've heard about, I'm sure a lot of people receive information from lead setting an appointment setting services, okay, so that's part of Part A, Part B is looking good. Now that you have this ideal target client, you identify them even connected with them predominantly through LinkedIn as the work that I'm doing interest what do you do with it now? So then why also helped in terms of the presentations and looking at the sales process and tools that are people are using to maximize their closing ratios and the deal flow that they have?

Unknown 14:16

Can you go back said, closing ratios? Can you talk a little bit about that terminology, just case no one knows,

Cesar Teague 14:21

shorter. So our closing ratio is just purely the fact that you know, out of how many people you've been able to present to how many of those actually turned into a particular deal, or turn into a client, a long term client, and there could be many reasons why. So the idea is to raise that up into increase that and there's many sides of how to do that. So that's part of the accelerate program, we're helping a company with that aspect of it, plus some other social media work. So just, you know, posting videos relevant to the company and that sort of thing. So that's why it's an accelerator program.

Shawn Flynn 14:54

So the videos that are posted the the sales training, is it tailored for different ethnic groups, or because I'm guessing a social media post here in the US probably wouldn't have the same effect as a social media post in China,

Cesar Teague 15:08

correct? Absolutely. Right. So it's, it's geared here, mostly in the US, because most people are here, they're trying to tap into the market here. And what's interesting is that in the US, it's, people are very accepting of risk. So it's a very high risk tolerant society, right, so and so people are willing to try things, they're more prone to adopt

different types of tools. And so this is what people come there, but still, your messaging is done here, right. And so you're targeting ideal clients based on industries based on profiles, these are different things that we look at, when we're working on a day to day basis, trying to outreach to or to do outreach to particular client groups interested.

Shawn Flynn 15:55

And Irma, can you tell us a little bit about when you have a new client will, kind of the onboarding process is, what does that look like, when you're first meeting them, and the steps you take?

Irma Zoeph 16:06

Sure, so, you know, if we talk about small business, for instance,

sometimes Usually, the leadership or someone from the CEO or someone from operations comes to, to me, and, and with this

request of, I want to have more diverse, you know, board members, for instance, or I want to have more diverse and network have to reach more clients. And so first of all, is just to assess where they are, what they need, and what they want in less than two exams, or see, it's a lot of that analysis is a lot of a lot of analyzing what they're doing, and how they're how they're working. You know, if we talk about recruiting, if we go directly to their employees with, you know, I know that it doesn't apply when you have three employees, but if you have, you know, more than 10 or 20 years, you start talking about, okay, where do we reach where our future employees, and then it's just start thinking about it on how do you promote people, and again, thinking about the employees, but then if you want to think about your board members, and if you want to say, you know, have a very diversified group that will help you, then you need to start working on where to reach those people to like, where to find them, and how to integrate them, and then how to make them work effectively. Because if they have with very different backgrounds, if you don't work with them

in a in a, you know, in a cohesive way, it can backfire. You

Shawn Flynn 17:49

really, really so by adding more diversity, there's been instances that you've seen where it actually backfired. And there was less communication, less ideas being exchanged. Exactly what happens in a situation like that, then

Unknown 18:03

what you need to look for help. And

Irma Zoeph 18:08

it's, it's true, I mean, it's, um, when you start thinking about diversity, you need to have quarterly intelligence, that's why they call it so it's called to communicate effectively how to work effectively, regardless where where you're coming from, or what is your background, or whether you like, or not, like just being more impartial and focus on on the work on the results and that everybody wants the same thing, despite where you're coming from?

Shawn Flynn 18:37

Is there a way for an individual to kind of train themselves to become more aware of the situation around them? Is that part of I mean, I'm guessing that would be part of sales training, as well as marketing is kind of read by language and know the scenario, would you How would you coach someone in that either? Yeah,

Irma Zoeph 18:58

I think that it's therefore self awareness. And then from there, everything is possible. But you need to be aware of where you are, who you are, and then and then what you want, and how you present to everybody to the rest of the world, right. And as a leader, or someone that is just, you know, leading a group at a company, you need to think even farther away, you know, not only about yourself, and what you present and what you, you know, show to your company, but also, what do you want from your employees? And how do you delete them?

Cesar Teague 19:32

Yeah, not everybody's comfortable doing that, right? So, I mentioned about the multicultural VC, we were chatting about that English is not necessarily the first language of a lot of people, right? I think I'm 45% of Silicon Valley founders are immigrants, right?

Unknown 19:46

Really

Cesar Teague 19:47

names and it's a pretty high stat, but not everybody's comfortable in presenting, if you can, you have to be here, you have to present the clients, you have to sell yourself you have, right, you have to pitch to audiences and panels, how are you going to do that? So that's part of the work that that I do. And I'm sure there's other aspects of that with helping folks with slang Your English is not their first language

Irma Zoeph 20:10

and vice versa. And then when Americans go to other places, other countries to they need to be aware of that the other countries they need to be aware, hot, like, like the essential part of the other culture, like, you know, what is what is expected? What is mass and must know how you treat people and work so you can work effectively. That's one thing it myself, I've had a lot of experience with meeting Americans here and take them to China. Are they in America? They go, I had a Japanese friend growing up for something. So I understand all of Asia like, Oh, god, no,

Unknown 20:46

don't sit too close to me during any meeting.

Cesar Teague 20:50

Oh, you raise a good point. Because even just the word Asian American, I mean, but it really doesn't exist because I'm part Filipino. But when you talk about Asian American, there's like 20 different groups comprise Asian American.

Unknown 21:04

Oh, and by the way, I'm half Japanese. Yeah,

Cesar Teague 21:07

there you go. So, yeah, there was a survey done of like, 190 countries, and only 10% of them were indigenous. So what does that mean? That means 90% of the world is multicultural. Wow.

Shawn Flynn 21:18

Yeah. So tell me, how did you guys decide to take this path for your careers? What led you in this direction to be this coach be this advice?

Unknown 21:29

Well, you got too excited

Irma Zoeph 21:32

what he was saying. Just made me think about it. And it's, um, it's, it's through all my, my previous experience. Basically, I'm also multicultural, half Japanese, half Mexican, and I have been working in Europe and in the US and Mexico. So, you know, working with with many quarters, it stays something with you. And, and I have been a minority in many places no finality of gender. I know, to raise either when I was living in Mexico, I was a minority invite, because I was Yeah, and then minority of my educational background, because I'm an engineer. So it's, you know, I'm not

Unknown 22:16

going to hear.

Irma Zoeph 22:19

So when I when, you know, throughout my experiences, I noticed that I didn't have the same opportunities I noticed as everybody else, or the same voice or the same recognition as everybody else. It's not that I wanted, you know, special thing. It's just like, let's be, you know, impartial and be equal and fair for everybody. So, it led me to start noticing these patterns. And eventually, you know, there is a whole bunch of people studying and working on these Luckily, on diversity and inclusion. And it got me very excited because he got me to the, my core and, and how I can help because I have been there. So,

leaders and organizations need need these tools. And because everybody has the same intention, right, the good intention, but sometimes we're not aware. So I want to be the tools that enable their for for making people's success succeed.

Unknown 23:20

Caesar Did you have a similar experience?

Cesar Teague 23:22

Yeah. So, you know, similarly, I like to be the catalyst for somebody else. And in terms of helping them to raise their awareness, because that's, you mentioned that earlier, that's really where it starts, right? So there's some tools out there, like the jewelry window that we look at,

Unknown 23:36

what's the window,

Cesar Teague 23:37

it's basically from two scientists that the there's, they share the name Joe and Harry and they put them together jar window. And it's basically helps you identify, you know, your blind spots,

that again, it's kind of tough to identify a blind spot if you're not aware of it. So it's all about raising awareness from there, and then and then really just, you know, working with folks to see, you know, what's going on with with them, you know, where are there, you know, limitations in terms of the cultural intelligence. So, they call that the CQ cultural intelligence, how can you How can you raise that with your communication, when you're communicating with employees or with customers, it's a really have to factor in a lot, there's a lot of things that you have to take into consideration and be wherever your assumptions because you know, what happens when you assume, makes it exact. So,

Unknown 24:30

we have

Unknown 24:31

edited on that. So,

Cesar Teague 24:34

yeah, so, it's, and I've been guilty of that myself, right. And so, you know, going going into another country, and even though I have experienced from different countries, and I've worked in different countries, and then training and coaching around different parts of the world, I'll still make mistakes, because I assumed that Oh, there's just like, back in San Fran. And people do it this way. Okay, for some little things, even as like the, the respect for timing, its contribution, you know, different people, different cultures view different things with respect to time. With respect to relationships,

Shawn Flynn 25:13

how many? What percentage? I'm just throwing this out there of deals or opportunities do you think businesses Miss because they don't understand the culture that they're trying to work with? Super question is a super question.

Irma Zoeph 25:28

I don't, I don't think that there is a right answer there. But there is a lot of missed opportunities. And you see it every day, you know, even even in not, you know, not even saying in organizations and, you know, enjoy daily interactions, because you are some one thing and, and it's really not, you may be miss a good friend, or maybe it's a good food or movie or something. So, it applies to everything.

Cesar Teague 25:55

Yeah, so when the mode of communication Sorry, I also the mode of communication as well. So, right value, we're talking some with somebody in person by phone by email, it's the email that gets you in trouble, especially because of that lack of the body language and the things in front of the communication goals right? So if you're a leader of a startup if you're working on that

Unknown 26:16

it's another thing you have to think about an interesting

Irma Zoeph 26:18

so I want to highlight what you said about that spot the blind spot

Unknown 26:24

see real quick and then we'll start wrapping up to go on

Irma Zoeph 26:27

well that the blind spot and also how your brain works with quick responses like with your first you know, intention and response and then you know, like once you digest you can really understand and then come up with better solutions. So it's better to take a few minutes before responding sometimes.

Shawn Flynn 26:45

Great Caesar, how can people get in touch with you

Cesar Teague 26:49

will resonate as the business and so the website is resume now.org. Interesting Irma,

Irma Zoeph 26:55

it's that the see bridge that calm it's my business and you can learn more about what we do and and how we can help help.

Shawn Flynn 27:05

Okay, so visit the website Zee Bridge. The bridge exactly, or my email your mom at the sea bridge. com. That's great. And I want to thank everyone for tuning in to this week's episode of Silicon Valley successes our guests next week. You'll be very impressed. There'll be a surprise for you. But with that being said, Caesar Irma. What is one thing you'd like to give advice or wish someone had given you told you a year ago or two years ago? Or when you started?

Unknown 27:37

Well, focus

Irma Zoeph 27:41

in leaving you and the perseverance

Shawn Flynn 27:43

great, that's great advice. Thank you guys for coming on the show today. Thank you and I look forward and for everyone at home. Stay tuned for the after show as well. You catch that on our YouTube channel.

Show Announcer 27:55

Thank you. From all of us at Silicon Valley successes. We hope you found information presented today useful in your path to success. For further information on accessing the resources in Silicon Valley. You may visit us on the web at Silicon Valley successes. com on Facebook and YouTube. Thank you. And remember we want to help you in your journey to become the next success.

Cesar Teague

Founder of RESONATE and the Accelerate Program, based in San Francisco.

Experienced in training & coaching in the areas of value selling, presentations, and leadership.

He specializes in working with multicultural teams globally, being a multicultural professional himself, and volunteers at the S.F. RenCenter and Silicon Valley Ignite Academy helping entrepreneurs.

He’s also certified as a Master Trainer with the American Society for Training & Development.

Finally, he’s completing his PhD in Organizational Leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology;

Received his MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and

Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from the University of San Francisco.