Dia Bondi 00:19
Helloeveryone, this is Lead With WHo You Are. I'm Dia Bondi, and on this show, weexplore and discover what it truly means to lead with who you are. And we'redoing it with people who embody just that. In this episode, we're talking withDino Anderson about expansion and leadership. A longtime friend of mine, Dinomerges his academic self and his life experience as an immigrant duringOperation just cause, which was the US invasion of Panama to overthrow de factoruler, Manuel Noriega. Dino is someone who leads with who he is. And that issomething we can all learn from. Please enjoy this conversation. Let's go. Hey,just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to this show on your podcast platformof choice. We're live nearly everywhere and you can always listen to firstname.lastname@example.org if there's a leader or innovator in your life, who is ifthey're shiniest when they lead with who they truly are, Please share the showwith them. And rate subscribe, and leave us a review makes a huge difference inthe reach that the show has when you let everyone else know what you love aboutthe show. Thanks so much. Dino Anderson is an Executive leader and academiclecturer researcher bridging theory and practice to transform how humans createcollective meaning and evidence based impact in workplace culture. Dino hasworked to develop social capital in the private sector with Fortune 500companies across various industries in software, hardware, media andphilanthropy. Today, Dino leads a newly formed culture team at articulate anindustry leading creator platform for workplace learning. And his charter is toevolve their human centered organizational framework, expand diversity, equityand inclusion strategy and implement a social impact program. At StanfordGraduate School of Business Dino co teaches with Professor Adina Stirling andMBA course called equity by design that helps leaders create and buildequitable organizations. At Johns Hopkins, he teaches a core course called Waysof Knowing that helps students explore the historical and philosophicalfoundation of the liberal arts. I want to set this up for for us and for ourlisteners. First, just saying that, like you and I have been friends for a longtime right now, how long is it right now? Is it seven years? Is it more?
Dino Anderson 03:02
7? 10... 10 years.
Dia Bondi 03:04
Yeah, 10years, that's kind of wild. That's very wild to me. But yes, we've been friendsfor a long time. And I think, you know, you and I, we've watched each othergrow, both personally and professionally over that decade. And I invited you onthe show, because you're someone who has taken an academic career path andmoved it into a work life in business. And I've seen you settle, really settleinto bringing your academic self into your enterprise work, and your academicmind into your business application. And I wanted to have you here to talkabout how you did that Dino, what you brought with you and how you expanded whoyou are into the role that you're in now, without letting go of who you are asa thinker, a philosopher, and an academic mind, I've seen you put those twothings together very elegantly. And I think it's easy for us to assume oftenwhen we make a big change, when we move from one territory to another, that wehave to let go of who we are, in order to make that transition. And I I've seenyou do a beautiful job of keeping a very integrated self as you've moved fromone domain to the other and now having sort of a foot in each and I have afirst question for you, which is you know, you can answer in obviously a waythat feels right to you in the biggest most abstract way and the most practicaltactical way. But if you right now, at this moment in time could answer thisquestion How might you do it now? Which is who are you?
Dino Anderson 04:49
YouYeah, so you know, who am I is, is a? I love to think of versus being like acontinual and continue flourishing humanbeing that's always finding and refunding themselves. So back to where I am,right. And that's in the most abstract way. And then when I think about, youknow, the most pragmatic way, like, who am I, I think about all the differentfacets that make up this thing called my identity, right? The first thing inthe first place that I go to is, and has been so so strong for me is, I'm aforeigner. I'm a foreigner, I migrated to this country when I was very young.And so that has always been, I think, an important part of my narrative,because it always keeps me being an observer, it always keeps me being reallyattentive to how people interact, act with one another, it always makes meaware of like, where the boundaries are in the way that people socially, youknow, navigate and interact with one another, and where do I find my sort ofentryway, but also push on those boundaries. So I'm always looking for spacesof commonalities with human beings, and also places of where we might divergeand different. So that's, you know, being an immigrant that gives me thatperspective. The other piece is, you know, that's, that's, that's alsoimportant in, in, in my identity as I rock this world is, you know, being ablack male, in this world, kind of, particularly during this time. The way thatI navigate and push on those boundaries, I'm ever aware of that way of pushingand integrating myself. And so as a black male, I think particularly in the US,and I've grown up all over the United States, like in the Northeast, andSoutheast Asia and the West, right, and a Northwest all over the US. And I'vehad to constantly be reminded of what it is to be black, particularly in thiscountry, right. And that's not to say that we're, you know, in other spaces inmy own country, I'm not reminded of that, but it's you know, being black is notmonolithic. I want to say that right away, being any particular race is notsome monolithic constructors, I'm one of the people that believes deeply in adiaspora. And that differentiation in difference that we all bring to thisparticular identity of being black. And so it's comprised of so many different,different different, you know, domains and different perspectives. So, being animmigrant being black, being a male, also, um, I also understand the amount ofprivilege that I have, as a male, I always say this, when I, when I engage, youknow, especially in a work of diversity, I can walk the world as a male, in away that as male presenting and you know, sis male, in a way that I know is notafforded to other people that do not look like me, or present like me, as amale in the world. And so there's a certain kind of safety that comes withthat, or a safer space where I can be in being a male and walking this world asa male, you know, there's kind of unsaid rules of how you navigate the world.And some of these unsaid rules allow you to have entry and access in ways thatyou never think about that. And so one of those things that I've you know, thatI always share with people is like, I can walk the streets really late atnight, and not be bothered, right? As a male, I don't have to worry, worryabout my body being a site, or a location of potential violence or drawingattention to it in that way, as a male, but you know, obviously, when I thinkabout all my other identities, and putting those together, then I have torethink what spaces I'm in and at what times
Dia Bondi 09:08
and forfolks listening, maybe you can say a few words about your home country youhinted at earlier. But for folks to understand sort of your origin
Dino Anderson 09:16
Yes, theorigin story as well. Was born from the head of Zeus. No, it
Dia Bondi 09:23
makes somuch sense. Now, it all makes sense.
Dino Anderson 09:27
Exactlyright now. So I'm from Panama, sir, from Central America. And we came to thiscountry to the United States during a very sort of turbulent time in like in inPanama, and that was while the US military aggression started to grow much morein the country as a leader in that country named Manuel Noriega was actuallytrying to rein in some control of the country. And what was interesting aboutmy family is that You know, my, my father was very much aligned with ManuelNoriega policies and government there and as a legacy of the previouspresident, which was Ws. And so we take very much we take a lot of pride in ourcountry, as you know, I expect a lot of people to do that. But as the USstarted becoming much more concerned with Mike Noriega who they've, you know,installed as a de facto leader, as they became concerned that this person waswrestling more and more power away from the US, military tension started togrow. And so our family saw that this was becoming a less and less safe placefor those who are aligned with this, with this leader, and the one place wherewe felt where we can have be the most safe, which is so paradoxical is theplace that is causing the violence. Right, that is, so we came here to thiscountry, when I was very young, I was five years old. And, you know, a lot ofmy education happened here, I learned my most of my English here, that we were learningabout in Panama as being a buy out, you know, stencil versus purposes reallybeing a territory of the US. And then came a point in my life where I couldn'treturn any more into my country, because the US had invaded Panama. And forthose of you who may remember, there was an opera, there was a US invasioncalled Operation just costs during first bush that three days before Christmas,took place, and decimated. areas of the country where I lived, my family livedand my father went missing for a very, very long time. And for all, you know,purposes, a very sort of sad story here. But we thought, you know, as one wouldthink, with not having all the social media and connection that you have today,you know, people go missing, you just assume the worst. And so, that's a littlebit of my origin story. And so coming here,
Dia Bondi 12:11
it'svery, thank you for sharing, it's very interesting that you talk about who youare in terms of, you know, your, your, your maleness, and your blackness andyour, you know, your identity as a foreigner, but I didn't hear you talk aboutyour academic self, which is so interesting to me, because it's such a strongcomponent of how I know you and how, what I know, you know, what I know, itmeans to sit on your couch with you, you know, and to grapple with ideas withyou and the intense curiosity that you bring to, you know, thinking together onanything. Do you? Do you still hold any connection to your I mean, I know yourteachings still, but it's interesting, the vote didn't show up?
Dino Anderson 13:03
Yeah,no, I think you know, when I in so that's interesting to you. So when, youknow, when people ask, who are you? Right, I'm gonna go to the psychoanalyticside of me, and perhaps it is the academic side is, you know, you're askingabout the identity is the, the things that we do in the world. And, you know,I'm more concerned with how we be and who we be. And so who I am and how I showup at the world, right? The academic is one expression of my being in theworld. And why I like to, you know, express that side of myself is because, andit goes back to you know, what, who I am, there has always been a safety forme. And academia, there's always been a sort of re homing after losing yourland and after, you know, having, as I said, you know, sites of violence occur,you know, where you're from, and sort of your own land being decimated andlooking very different. The one place where I always found refuge was like anacademia. It was the place that allowed me to move unencumbered Lee, I think,deeply ask the questions without fear of retribution. It was the place thatallowed me to experiment in a way that I thought I couldn't quite move the sameway in the world. And so the world of ideas, you know, allowed me to span differenteras decades at box right and feel very much and just from my academic people,you know, there's this beautiful line in the Souls of Black Folk from W EBDubois, where he thinks about, you know, how he was able to, to maneuverthrough the world after being rejected, you know, for the color of his skin.And he saw that, you know, oftentimes what I felt was this veil come between meand the other. And the places when I felt most alive this is to boys was when Idwelled above that fail. When I dwelled above that fail, I was able to holdhands with him, he goes into naming all of these thinkers, and all of thesephilosophers and writers, and he felt really at home and seen seen as a humanbeing in that moment. And so academia, I think, that resonates so deeply withme, because that allowed me to really explore, you know, what it meant for meto be a human, what it meant for other people to, and for us to contest thosethings without, I think, as I said, without fear, without fear. And so that's,that's a very important part of me, the academic and, as I said, the academicas, is an expression of who I am. So
Dia Bondi 15:55
how, ifyou think about your work today, the work that you do now, and architecting,and cultivating and building culture and organizations, where do you see youracademic mind and practice and your business leadership, touch one another, orcollide, maybe they collide violently, maybe they kiss each other, I don'tknow.
Dino Anderson 16:19
What'sthe same side of the different sides of the same coin now. So I think, youknow, do where those two things meet one another, I think so beautifully, is,especially in the space of culture. And I know this from you know, just peoplewanting to work on these, I always see how people get lit up and excited. And Ithink going back to that, that place where they're not feeling judged fear ofretribution, where I want your eye, it's a place of inclusion, I want yourideas, I want you to feel unencumbered, I want you to think big, think out thinkout wide. Both the thing that I do most, you know, in, in those spaces DIA andbringing, bringing that academic self, here's the one thing that I learned,right, and being an academic is like as being a professor and being aresearcher, you know, you ask the questions, you enable people and empower themto do that searching, and come up with their own solutions, right. And that'swhat I do when I come into the business. Well, there's, you know, I always holdthe individual, as being and we use this term, naturally creative resourcewithin home. But really, I hold the individual with, I think, the brightest oflights, to say, you have all the things that you need to make something intorealize something in this place, whether it's a world of work or outside of it.And so I think people trusting that and seeing that they feel that they can,they can that you know that power of inclusion and belonging, people feel thatthey can express their true authentic self. I mean, we use that so much andoveruse it the authentic self, but I think you don't have innovation withoutinspiration. And so that's, that's something that you know, and bringing sortof academic self into the business world, it's what I do you think of aprofessional. The other piece is I think about research to for me, things arequestions, right? If we had this all figured out, we wouldn't be here rightnow. And so I think that's something that people need to the sort of like thethe mysticism that happens around the world of business, because people starttalking in these ways with these weird language and the shortcuts and the speedand the rapidness, and the scaling and, and the rapid growth, and you know, allthose things, they start speaking in this really weird way, which oh, by theway, it's similar to academics. So you think like, they have all the answers,they have all the answers, and they don't,
Dia Bondi 19:00
thething that I have found so rewarding in working and collaborating with you andsitting on your couch, is that you're very good at recognizing and makingsticky. And this is just my experience, this may be off for you, but is yourkind of commitment to the exploration and not an impatience at around a rival.Like the the notion that the work is never done, you seem okay with
Dino Anderson 19:32
that'sright on, I think, you know, Dia when you asked about sort of is the sort ofthe academic side or anything, you know, and then I think about is that in thesame place, I can business, not all parts are equal. And so you know, theacademic, the academia side that I come from, is from philosophy. And so in, inphilosophy, the question is what lives that's what gives it meaning. And sothat same thing of not being like impatient with one another as the same sortof thing that I love exploring the question with humans, because that's, that'sthe place of discovery. That's the place of where you get inspired to trythings. If you keep that question in front of you, it gives you I think itempowers you to trust.
Dia Bondi 20:19
Theother thing that's interesting to me is as you've made this transition, and Idon't even think of it as a transition, I think when I reached out to you firstto say, Hey, will you come have a conversation with me on lead with who youare? It was more about like, expansion, that you've expanded yourself intobusiness leadership out of your academic context. And the, but I can't imaginethat it was without struggle. I mean, when you talk about your own leadership,your own leadership philosophy, your point of views, the way you approachproblems that even just this notion of like, the what's alive is the question,not the answer, when we always just want to get to the damn answer, like inthat expansion in that movement into the your business leadership and your yourimpact in the business space, what have you struggled with, when you expandfrom one realm and include another? Or maybe different way to put it as like,what did you feel like was a liability that turned out to be an asset?
Dino Anderson 21:23
That'sit? That's a great question. And so and then come back to this, you know, andI'll come back to this PST is like, and you just set it when you try to keepthe question to alive for people that are rushing to the answer. Because Ireally think when people are rushing to the answer is based out of fear. And soOh, sure,
Dia Bondi 21:47
I thinkI have that in my own. I have no, I have that in my own career in my ownpursuits in my own, you know, I want the damn answer. Like right now, what's thething? Show me the math?
Dino Anderson 21:57
No,absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, you know, it's, it's show me the math, youknow, show me the thing, because I need certainty. And I need certainty onknowing how to move to the next next phase, or the next thing. And if I don'thave that I feel somehow, right, at a loss or at sea. And so, you know, for me,it's once again, it's not the answer is the answer is what question are yougoing to ask when you get there, so you can keep pushing it? Because if youever are running towards finality of things, then it's all done. Right, yourproject is done. And so I don't think we ever do things like even in sales orin any parts of business like way, right? If we have a land and expand plan, wewant to land and expand so that we can open up newer markets, newer places,right? And then from there, see, like, what's possible from that from thatplace? And potentially, like, since we become even better, capturing morecustomers, and I hate that language of capturing because it's so colonial, ofgaining new customers, we then think like, oh, then those that customer base isgoing to be influential on making sure that more people come. So there's nevera finality that I think I have a sense. So I think the part that was strugglingfor me is, is having to balance the people want the answer, and they want it,you know, framed in a certain way, and they want it for just now. And theydon't want the long term thinking. That is the one thing that has been really astruggle, and I've say this to all my l&d professionals, to all of you whodo di to all of you who say it's a marathon, not a sprint, and you damn wellnow when you're in the world of work, everything feels like a sprint.Everything feels like a sprint and when you try to be proactive, orpreventative and what you do, you kind of get shut down because people by andlarge, know how to react. They don't know how to be proactive. And so when weknow that we know that like just think about our health right?
Dia Bondi 24:11
Even howwe think about how we present new ideas, we say this is common language, wejust need to show them something to give them something to react to.
Dino Anderson 24:19
So muchso much. That can that
Dia Bondi 24:21
can havean upside to when you know sometimes I need to see something in order to be inconversation with it. You know, yes, so but this but the if you can, if you canuse your reaction and then mind from it. What is the question we're reallytrying to address with our reaction, then maybe you find some balance, but Ican hear this tension between, you know, your patients with you know,articulating the powerful question and then staying in conversation with it,you know, or ongoing versus the appetite in the business world to to wrapthings up to close it down to, you know, to finish it to make it complete toarrive.
Dino Anderson 25:07
Absolutely.No, I think that's yeah, that's, I think the articulation of that is is greatdia. Yeah, the arrival is a station, it is not a destination. Right. It's astation along the along the journey, not that not the final destination.
Dia Bondi 25:24
So oneof the things I noticed when I work with founders, the founders they work with,and the leaders that I work with is there's there's a deep appetite, to namethe way I do it as the wrong way to do it. And that leaders do it a differentway than I'm doing it. And it may be true that, you know, of course, it's truethat we're, we want to reach into other people's experiences and adopt whatworks for us and but it's but our own leadership is so contextual, to who weare. And it's, it's really tempting to want to carve out a part of us thatfeels like it doesn't belong right now. Your long term thinking and your onyour ongoing sort of discipline around chewing on a powerful question for along time without needing the satisfaction of a perfectly buttoned up answer,you know, comes in the business world could say forget that that's not usefulhere. But in fact, it's been a really defining quality of your own leadershipand why people want to work with you and for you, Dino, so how have you managedto not barbecue? That part of you that is so impactful now, but Well, in thetransition felt like it was challenged? How do you hold on to that?
Dino Anderson 26:35
Yeah. Iwish I had, you know, a simple yes. And this is how I did it. I think, youknow, the one thing that I've learned is, oftentimes, people are we see the endresult or the the not the end result, but we see the manifestation of so muchsacrifice and hard work that's gone into being who we are being leaders in thisspace. And I think, you know, we often see like, oh, that person has that titleand is in that place, and how amazing it's been, but the amount of strugglethat goes in there. And I think exactly that the barbecuing yourself along theway, like trade offs you make and here's the thing, it's not just likestrategy, it's not a perfect line. That's, that's that's been happening. It'sbeen given
Dia Bondi 27:25
Dino Anderson 27:29
Sometimesthere's dimensions, you know, you're parallel string theories happening now.But you, you move into these spaces, right? Do you know where it's like, you lose yourself sometimes on this journey.And I think that's something we have to like I want to talk about is likelosing yourself as part to refine yourself and catch yourself. We do that. Andso I know there are people that like you always give the stars like I knewexactly who I wanted to be. And then I put the stake in the ground and Imarched towards that thing. I'm like, Yeah, I've got this stake on the groundand other stake over there. The ground knew I thought it was a ground, but itwas water. And so the part that, you know, always and out, and I'll say that'sthe part that for me, always keeps me going. And the energy that I have tobeing with the long term sort of mindset is, I'm not afraid of risk. I'm notafraid of risk. And when I say that, it's you know, I'm not telling I'm notsaying like, go and be risky. But I'm not afraid to be a question to myself,
Dia Bondi 28:46
a friendof mine was telling me a story about one of her close, lifelong friends. Andshe was describing this woman to me, I've never met her. I think her name isClaire. And I know that Claire has a sort of a love of my friends life, youknow, friendship, love of her life. And she said, you know, what I love so muchabout this woman is that it's not that she's not afraid. It's that she's notafraid of her fear. Yes, I maybe that's what you're pointing to?
Dino Anderson 29:19
Yes.Yes. Yes. I think that's a part of the risking the venturing, that yourself hasto be adventure in that. And, you know, we always think about studying thethings external to us. But when you become a question to yourself and studyyourself in these motions in these movements, and be that scientific experimentfor yourself, and not be afraid to discover or have end like, Oh, I thoughtthis was what I actually want it. I'm putting your trust. I wouldn't sayputting your trust in the process, but putting your trust in yourself touncover and unlock other parts. Ships that perhaps you have not activated. Thatis exciting. And so I think when I show up like that in the world of work, andshow up that way, in my relationship with my teams, and show up in that way towith leaders, I think that has an effect of enabling people to also right, lookup and get into their question. And I truly, there's something that I found Ihave a lot of with people is the ability to trust, it's because I'm not that,you know, there's, there's no say there's nothing of fear of me. But there's,you don't have to fear with me, because I'm on the same journey that you are.And so let's remove the mass, and right and dance with one another around this.And so, I think that, you know, that's I think, with any kind of leadership,that's there, anyone who's in a position, you know, that I have been, as yougotta find trust with, with people around you to go on that journey with you.And so whether that be we're going to try something audacious, whether that bewe're going to try something really short term, and we need a light turned out,you know, turn it over really quickly, as there's many things in business thatyou have to do that, ultimately, like I am here, for the for the long haul, inthe long term, to be in relationship with one another, not just betransactional with one another.
Dia Bondi 31:27
So asyou navigate your way, through the work that you do through the workplace, throughthe teaching that you I mean, teaching is leading, even if you're theinstigator of other people's lives, you know, leading with ideas or, you know,their own creative output or whatever their pursuit is, as you move through allof this, what do you find that you have to stand up for the most in yourleadership?
Asyou're asked that question, you know, I'm, first thing that's coming up, forme, Dia is, so many different faces that I'm seeing. And so that image that'scoming up right now is, you know, my type of leadership is, is, you know, Ioften think of myself as being an ambassador, and a spokesperson for otherpeople who might not feel like they have a voice, or that they're being likethat. So one of the things that I you know, that I have to stand up for isalways ensuring that there's a bridge and a connection to other humans. Beyond,right, just the sort of business goals that you have in front of you, whetherthey be material, or sooner strategic is at peace, human beings that are aroundyou further, those are when we talk about assets, right? Those are the mostimportant thing. So I see a lot of those faces, those are things that stand upto you, and stand up to other leaders to you know, always encourage them toalways do things to come back and be in relationship with one another. I'llgive an example of that. You know, one talk about a place but you know,there's, as ones are by any specific place, but there is, you know, somethingthat happened at one of my organizations that, you know, that that I've donework at is thinking about how we might engage with employee activism. Right,that may seem so scary. And that may seem like it's just going to have ateverything that we're doing, that may seem like it's going to voters in so litigationconstrained that may seem like, think about all the negative things you can gothere. And the one thing that I found that we can do during those moments, isto actually leadership, be in conversation with the people that are raisingtheir hands, and having this concern. It's the thing that's farthest away fromleaders to be like, Oh, the simplest and most radical thing that I can do, as ahuman being leader is to connect with another human being and to just listenand to understand what where they may be coming from is so antithetical,because we're so used to what structures do we have to put in place to eithermake it right or make it go away? When oftentimes, people when they'resignalling and raising their hands, they just want to be heard? They just wantto be heard and know that you hear them, you might have a different opinionthan them, but just to hear them so you know, so so so when you say are thethings that I had to stand up for is reminding, you know, leaders of theirhumanity, and, you know, in their connection to other other people in theirorganization. And I think for me, personally, personally, because this happensto all of us is, and it's coming back to the fear that I can be the biggestroadblock to my flourishing. It is not in anyone else's power or control to bethat blocker for me. And I have to constantly remember that, that for myself,when you feel like you have to say the thing that's unpopular, or do the thing,that's not where we're at that's, that's part sort of common with everyone elseis, sometimes we shut down. And we don't say that things because of right beingafraid or not, or, or not wanting to be seemed like an outlier. But I think Ialways have to remember that, you know, in me not saying that thing. Or doingthat action. The person that hurt the most is not, you know, anybody, anybodyelse outside of me, it's me, right? I have made the most out of that by notbeing authentic and true in that moment. So
Dia Bondi 35:57
if youcould answer in one sentence, the question, what does it mean for me to leadwith who I am? How would you do that?
Dino Anderson 36:09
He'slike, three C's are coming up for me to lead who I mean, we have to be a placeof care. Curiosity. And I want to say kind of aberration, but I think it'sreally coconspirator.
Dia Bondi 36:26
Beautiful.Dino, thank you so much for coming on, live with who you are. You're such anexemplar in this space. And I know you've had a strong impact on me in my life.And I would invite any of our listeners to connect with you. Where could theydo that?
Dino Anderson 36:42
Thanksto connect with me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest way to connect with me.I am on Twitter, but I just I'm a lurker on Twitter. And reposting things. So Ithink LinkedIn is probably the easiest way to find me to Dino Anderson. I don'tthink there's many people named Dino Anderson, the privilege of coming fromanother country. We got really weird names. So that's one that's one place.
Dia Bondi 37:11
Thanksso much. Lead with who you are, is a production of Dia Bondi communications,scored, mixed and produced by Arthur Leon Adams, the third and executiveproduced by Mandy Miranda. You can reach out to us at email@example.com orleave us a voicemail at 341-333-2997 you can like rate, share and subscribe atApple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your favoritepodcasts. Go to deobandi.com for shownotes and to learn about all it is that wedo to help you speak powerfully and lead with who you are