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Business, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

“With an eye and vision for the future, I saw that tech was an ecosystem that people of color were not participating in.”

Our featured guest today is Christina Lewis.

Christina Lewis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of All Star Code, a computer science nonprofit that empowers Black and Latino young men with skills, networks and mind-sets to become entrepreneurs and succeed in the technology sector.

Christina is a member of the Board of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and Chair of the Class of 2002 Associates Committee for Harvard College, her alma mater. She is also on Hunter College’s Computer Science Advisory Board, and is an angel investor and advisor to other entrepreneurs.

My ask today is that you’d share this episode. If you're posting to social, please use the hashtag #missionfuel

KEY POINTS FROM CHRISTINA:

  • Im grateful for my grandmother.  She was born a woman; born Black; and born in a working class family. Were any of these variables different, she would have been a US Senator.  A smart, dynamic, vivacious woman  at 93 she still enjoys gardening, and is still the rock of the family.
  • Im grateful for my mother, Loida Lewis, is a role model for me. She was an ambitious woman, unafraid of risks, who followed her heart. At one point she was the CEO of the largest woman-run business in the United States.
  • My dad, Reginald Lewis, died 25 years ago, when I was 12 years old; and he completed the manuscript of his book, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” in his last year of life.  It has been so rewarding to me and my family that so many people continue to read it.
  • Im very grateful to the author, Roy Walker, who continued to fill out the story.
  • My fathers practice was the first Black-owned law firm on Wall Street; then he went from being a lawyer into a business owner.
  • Im a recovering striver, and this informs the methodology behind All Star Code — the organization that we founded in 2013 to develop men of color with an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • I spent a lifetime focused on achievement.  This has many benefits  excellence, high standards, and pushing yourself.
  • The challenge with a focus solely on achievement is that you can end up not understanding who you are.  You can end up doing something just because it’s the best and not because you really want to do it.
  • You have to be clear about your purpose and your impact, or you can end up having spent years doing something you never wanted to do.
  • In a high-achievement household, my sister and I learned how to make a plan and execute.
  • A crucial life skill is to be able to set a goal, make a plan to achieve it, and understand when that plan isn’t working out, so you can pivot.
  • When it doesn’t work, think again; try again; try it differently.
  • Being successful isn’t worth your health or your life.
  • You have to find harmony in your activities.
  • With an eye and vision for the future, I saw that tech was an ecosystem that people of color were not participating in.
  • The products in the tech industry, when they take off, they change the world; and if the Black and Latina communities aren’t participating in this, they’re really missing out.
  • If you’re able to diversify into the tech industry, there are so many opportunities.
  • At All Star Code, our goal is to be a clear pipeline into the tech ecosystem, and we are committed to ensuring that our students have the tools they need to thrive in technological world.
  • The biggest mistake or fail that I made in the early years was not doing branding from the very beginning with All Star Code.
  • For many people who are high achieving or perfectionists, some of the missed opportunities are in things that they didn’t pursue or said no to because they felt too risky — things that you beat all the joy out of because you were scared.
  • 55% of students at All Star Code are first-generation students.
  • If you have the ability to tell the computer what to do, you’ll have a level independence.
  • Interested in starting a non-profit?  Christina has this advice for you:  Survey from the very beginning, and include evidence-based thinking from the outset.
  • You know you’re doing good work, but how will you measure it? Being able to measure or quantify your success is crucial to sustainability.

THIS EPISODE WAS SPONSORED BY:

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement. Join, support and invest in this movement to help improve the life outcomes of our black men and boys.

 

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