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Transcript:

Justin: 0:10 

Hello, welcome to another episode of the Creating Belonging podcast. Today, I have with me Jim Conti. We actually you know what's hilarious is Jim? I was introduced to him by one of our season one guests, ld. I think you guys went to college together, right? I think that's right. Yeah, the original connection there. Yep, yeah, yeah. And so, Jim and I have connected since and, funny enough, we actually live like a block or two from each other Like almost across the street. 

Jim: 0:41 

Yeah, it's kind of a funny small world moment for sure. 

Justin: 0:43 

But connected by someone who lives in LA, almost across the street. Yeah, it's kind of a funny small world moment for sure. Connected by someone who lives in LA? Yeah, I love that. So, Jim, if you wouldn't mind introducing yourself to our listeners. 

Jim: 0:56 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me here today. To everyone listening, my name is Jim Conti. In the professional world, I currently serve as the talent partner at Hyde Park Venture Partners, which is an early-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Chicago. My role I do HR consulting across the portfolio, so I come from an HR operator seat used to run HR at software companies here in Chicago and now I get to advise companies on that practice, which is a lot of fun. I've been doing this for a little over two years now. Lot of fun. I have been doing this for a little over two years now. Um, and on the personal side, uh, as justin mentioned, live in the Chicago, um, the Chicago ecosystem, but specifically in the Andersonville neighborhood. Um, I've been here since 2007 and so very much, uh, consider myself a Chicagoan at this point. Um, but, um, uh, loving, loving life in the city and uh, love, love to get out and explore the various neighborhoods we have here. So, it's a, it's a great spot thank you. 

Justin: 1:45 

You know what's funny? I've been in Chicago since 2006 and so, like we've been in Chicago the same time frame, we live, you know, a block from each other. 

Jim: 1:54 

Seriously, it took a mutual connection in LA and yet here we are, and yet here we are chatting on a podcast. I I love it, I love it. 

Justin: 2:03 

So, I think our listeners are typically used to kind of disclosing of identities upfront. So just before we get started, you know you introduced yourself a little bit, but if there are any other identities that you wouldn't mind sharing with us today, yeah, of course, of course. 

Jim: 2:21 

Yeah, I think it's so interesting to talk about identities because you can almost pick it apart from any different lens or perspective. But some of the like kind of bigger buckets that I'd say that very much kind of make up how I view my seat in the world or my perspective in the world from a community perspective and, and um, uh, very much, uh, a part of my life today. Um, and so, uh, that's definitely a big part of it. Um, I also identify as both a plant dad and a dog dad, and so I've got two dogs golden retriever and a yellow lab um, and a few more plants that I'm proud to admit, but um, uh, across both of them they are, they are the things that help me slow down in this world. I live at a pretty fast pace, so my plants and my pups help me just kind of take a step back and take a deep breath. So, I appreciate that. 

Jim: 3:07 

I mentioned before that I moved to Chicago in 2007 and have been here since. So, while I do identify as a Chicagoan, I grew up in New Hampshire and I think that that's a pretty special place to grow up. It's not a big state. There's not a lot of us there, but it's a place that I think really formed a lot of who I am today and the community that I was a part of there as well. I went to college in Boston. I went to Boston College, which is interesting because it's a Catholic university, but I'm not Catholic myself, but the way that that played out in kind of my lived experience at the university was very much a focus on volunteership and service to others and really thinking about how we were charting a course that did well by others in the path that we took after university. And so, while the Catholicism piece is not a part that I identify with, that service to others element, that volunteerism, that giving back to community, is something that was deeply entrenched in me at that time and I would say is a big kind of hallmark of how I interact with the world today. 

Jim: 4:01 

And then I think the final one that I'll put on there is that I'm a traveler. I love to go explore new places. I mentioned exploring neighborhoods in Chicago but like, give me a plane ticket, put me on a plane, let me go explore some neighborhoods somewhere else in the world. Whenever I travel, I rarely buy tickets for things. I mostly just like to leave my Airbnb or hotel and just wander for the day, love to just see where the steps take me, and so just love to explore, travel, experience new things, and so very much an openness to that as well. So, I feel like that's a big part of who I am too. 

Justin: 4:30 

Yeah, I love that. Two things I want to pick out there. Number one is identity by kind of geographic region that you grew up in. I think some people, some people anchor in that like maybe if they, if you've moved away from that, um, and I, I guess I talk about it a lot but I don't think of it as much as an identity like growing up in rural Iowa very much shaped how I see the world. 

Jim: 4:53 

Um, although you know I'm a Chicagoan at this point, you know right, exactly, I think you know we as humans love to find shortcuts, right, like we as humans love to find these like cool. 

Jim: 5:03 

This means that and then I, you, you know, kind of figure something out. And so, for me at least a little bit, to clarify, like I grew up in New Hampshire, my dad, still lives in the same house. They came home from the hospital to when I was born, and I realized that that is something that's pretty unique in the world these days. So like when I go home for the holidays, like I actually am still going to my childhood bedroom, which is kind of weird, but I think that, like you know, being able to kind of say, like I grew up in New Hampshire, it's part of New England, my dad's still there there's elements of value. There are elements of how you communicate or interact with the world. There are ways that you know just political perspectives or whatever, that it can kind of communicate or encapsulate a little bit no-transcript Chicagoan and a plant dad Right, and just get those kinds of different perspectives and give people some of those easier shortcuts to understand who I am. 

Justin: 5:59 

Yeah, yeah, I love that. And the second one is, um the having attended a Catholic university, so I don't think about it often, but I um went to DePaul here in Chicago Catholic, and that was very much a part of the university mission. Was, you know, service to others? That, um, you know, I wasn't raised Catholic, and I don't I'm not Catholic today, but I love that about my experience was that the service aspect of you know of education. 

Jim: 6:31 

Yep, yep, very much so, and I think that it's interesting because when I think about the path that I'm on in life, I don't think I would be on this call with you today had I not attended a Catholic university, which is kind of a really funny thing to say. 

Jim: 6:44 

But the thing that brought me to Chicago was a post-grad service program that I've learned about while at VC, and the openness to doing a post-grad service program as opposed to going directly into a job was never something I thought about before being exposed to the university, right. So it's kind of a funny thing to kind of note that the Catholic nature of the university I went to put me on a path that got me to Chicago and got me on the path of things you know, decisions that I've made across time to be able to get here, and so, while it's a part of my background that I don't identify with, there's the Catholicism piece specifically, that what that meant at the place that I was at put me on a path to get me where I am today, which is still just. It's kind of wild to map that back a little bit. 

Justin: 7:24 

Yeah, yeah. I sometimes reflect on those things of like that one little thing, that pivotal thing, that like landed where I am today, right, small decisions. It makes me think of a movie sliding doors, yeah. 

Jim: 7:40 

I haven't heard that reference in a while. I love it. Okay, I haven't heard that reference in a while, justin, that's showing our age. 

Justin: 7:45 

I love it. Okay, so we could probably keep going in this vein for a while, but let's dig into some of the work of creating belonging. So, before we started today, we were talking a little bit about some of your experiences and kind of relating your experiences to the overbearing part of the creating belonging model. And so, just as a refresher, this is when we are high on authenticity, low on acceptance, and so oftentimes we've got blinders on. We're just assuming that the rest of the world sees the world the way that we do, and we're there quite often. I know that I am there quite often, and we've got to take some time to pull back those blinders and understand that not everyone sees the world the way that we do shift into more of that acceptance. But I would love to hear about some of your experiences of being in that place of overbearing. 

Jim: 8:40 

Yeah, yeah, well, even a half step back here, Justin. I think what's interesting about our conversation about the framework initially is that like and like disagree with me, if you want, but I feel like the overbearing category is almost the one that folks are most nervous about, right, like, it's the one that, at least when I was reading the descriptions when we were talking about the framework initially, it was the one that I was like, oh, I don't want to be in that category. Like, that's not, that's not where I want to be. Right, it's the one that feels like you're true to self but not to others, and that feels, I don't know, I'm a big empath and so I was. I was pretty nervous about it, but when we were chatting about it, a way that has been, I think, impactful to both myself and to others too. So, so, as we were chatting about it, I was, I was willing to embrace the overbearing and a little bit of like, well, okay, here's some stories, but just to say, like, I also reflect that I think these are some of the moments that I've learned the most about myself and about others and and that kind of piece there. 

Jim: 9:39 

So, so, as we were chatting about one of the stories that that kind of triggered for me for my personal life was a relationship with a good friend of mine. So, this is a friend that I met while I was at school, actually going back to university here and so the two of us have some shared parts of our identity. We both identify within the LGBT community; both have a kind of adhere to that service element that I was talking about. At the university we actually met at a service club and so we have these elements that kind of drew us together and helped form a relationship. At the same time, we have parts of our identities that are different. So, I spoke earlier a little bit about my identity, but I don't think I shared this specific point. But I'm a white cis male and so the world that I live in is a world that largely looks like me, especially here in the US. And the world that I live in is a world that largely looks like me, especially here in the US. And the friend that I'm referencing she's a Latina female and so someone that grew up in a household where it was just her mom Her mom had moved to the US before she was born, but within her own adulthood and so had a lot of migrant mentality in the home and stuff like that. And so, after college I moved to Chicago. Both of us moved to Chicago independently for work and stuff and to maintain our friendship and while here kind of rekindled our friendship and really got very, very close. 

Jim: 10:54 

And so, I just kind of marched through friendship as I marched through all of my friendships, which was making plans and communicating a lot, and it's just as an extrovert that's who I am in the world. And so, you're just going to hear from me, probably more than you want to. And there was a moment there's probably about, um, ooh, probably about six years after we graduated, um, so we've been in Chicago for about that period of time together and we had made plans to hang out and she came over and we were going to go out to dinner and she was like hey, before we go out to dinner, can we talk for a minute? And I was like sure, and we sat down and basically, she was like this is too much, you're too much. And I was like OK, that's offensive, like what do you mean? I'm too much. 

Jim: 11:34 

And of course, that reaction just proves the point, like let's be communicating. Was that the way that she navigated the world was different than the way that I did that she. She tended she was more of an introvert, so she tended to like more alone time. She was fairly private. She didn't like digital communication. So, when I would text questions, it was not her preference to like text. A response back she was like let's just like meet and like hang out a little bit, but at the same time I'm pretty high energy and so when we would hang out, she was just like it's just a lot, and if we hang out too often it's too much. 

Jim: 12:10 

And my first reaction was I was hurt. My first reaction is that I was. You know, this is someone I consider one of my best friends and all of a sudden, I'm being told that I'm not a good friend and my first reaction was like screw it. Like if this is how you think about me, this is who I am, like I'm out. And fortunately, that is not how the conversation went, and my brain had a second thought. But really the core of what I feel like I walked away from in that situation is that a relationship is made by the two or more people but we'll say two in this place two people that are there, and it's about those two people finding their equal, equal is the wrong word, their shared contributions to the relationship and that those need to match in some capacity, that the energy I was putting in was too much and it was overshadowing the energy she was able to, or willing to, put into our relationship. 

Jim: 13:01 

Right, and so what it did, was it kind of reset, reset us back to saying, great, how do we put in energy levels that feel similar and are a little bit more matched and are a little bit more at the right balance with each other? And so some of the ways that that actually kind of played out is that like one um, as we um, uh, planned times to hang out, what I would, what we would do, is kind of like at the end of one of our hangouts we would plan when our next hangout would be, but we would choose it at a cadence that kind of worked for her. So sometimes we'd go for like two months without hanging out one-on-one because like there were other things that she had going on, or she had travel coming up, or you know just a moment in life where she's feeling a little overwhelmed and you need to take a step back. And so, what was really cool about the solution we arrived at was that my extrovert, high energy self was satiated because I knew when the next plan was. I knew that, you know, I had the security of knowing that the friendship was still there, and we had, you know, kind of the next time to see each other. But she had that space. She needed the little bit of breathing room that she needed for the high energy that I could bring to a relationship. 

Jim: 13:59 

And so, you know, it was really interesting, as we were talking about the framework here, one of the stories that I thought of because, again, like I said, it was a moment where I really felt like I was being called out for being a bad friend. 

Jim: 14:10 

And what she was very quick to clarify is like this isn't about a good friend or a bad friend. 

Jim: 14:13 

This is about the two of us finding a friendship that actually works for us. 

Jim: 14:17 

That is actually the balance of the two of us and not just one person's preference over and over and over again. And so, it's a mantra, lesson, some phrase like that, somewhere like that that I try and bring into a lot of my relationships. Now try and understand, like how much do you want, like, what does that look like for us to develop a closeness or a friendship and how do we maintain that? And taking a bit of a step back to recognize that the way I prefer to do it, which is like, great, let's hang out all the time, is not how actually a lot of people want to do it. Um, but that was, that was for me, a big moment to kind of take a step back and recognize that, like, friendships are not just about getting along or hanging out. It's about finding alignment as you continue to evolve together, and so that that was one of the stories that I think triggered for me when I was thinking about overbearing yeah, thank you for that. 

Justin: 15:04 

So, I'm just thinking about you know you mentioned a little bit of kind of how that's impacted your future relationships is thinking about how you're creating that balance so that both people are kind of respected in the relationship. I want to dig into that a little bit more in that journey of learning. And you know, how did you, how did you start to apply that in other relationships? 

Jim: 15:31 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, in a very honest way, like it came out at work quite a bit right, because working in HR, we're dealing with people every single day, day in and day out, and so I would never know what the next thing would be that was going to walk in my office, and so, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we're setting up a wall for one of the other stories that we chatted a little bit about, which was from a professional setting, and so this was after this conversation had happened. It was when I was at a tech company here in Chicago running HR and we had a relatively young employee population, and so I had an employee come in who was our first employee who had had a kiddo while on staff with us. So we had people that we'd hired who had kids, but this is the first person that actually took advantage of our parental leave policy, like actually went on leave and came back and was going through the transition of going from non-parent to parent actually on staff, and so she dropped a calendar invite on my calendar and came in and closed my office door and was just like clearly frustrated, like just you could just feel the prickle coming off of her and I was like oh gosh, like okay, what's going on, what's happening, and she sat down and kind of walked me through this story where the day before her manager had scheduled a meeting at like 5.30 PM and she had rearranged childcare so that she could stay for the meeting and her partner was picking up the kid at the daycare instead of it was her day to do it, and some other kind of logistics like that. And then she proceeded to share with me that in the meeting itself there was about 10 or 15 minutes at the start of meeting, which was just kind of like people were showing up late, they were getting a snack, there was just like some social banter, and then the meeting started and then it ended later than the scheduled time and she was furious. 

Jim: 17:12 

And so, going back to, uh, the conversation we're just having about that friendship, right, where I recognize, where I had this moment, where I was given the opportunity to recognize that the way that I approach the world, the way that I build relationships, the way that I operate, is not the way that everyone does and we need to find the balance in there. Kind of pulled from that memory right, I was like okay, like I usually stay till like six, like what's going on here, like where are we going? And she, she, she walked me through the impact that it had on her right, like her partner had to leave early from work. It was a late in the day in addition to the calendar and so he wasn't able to get to the daycare on time, so they got charged a late fee. The meeting ended late, which meant that she got home after dinner which was kind of the family's time to get together every day and was just there for bedtime. 

Jim: 17:58 

And again, this was probably about three or four months after coming back from leave. So, the kiddo was still super young, right, and so, kind of walking through this, I was like it was just a real eye-opening moment as to the experience of parents in the workplace. She was one of the first parents that I had worked with, and I did not have kids myself. I was able to be in that conversation and be able to really appreciate the world that she was opening up to my eyes, the reality that I didn't quite understand kind of thing, as you're asking about how it impacted other places. 

Jim: 18:30 

I was able to be a really safe space for her to come with a really frustrating thing and be able to strategize with her about how to better approach her manager about kind of policy and procedure around meeting scheduling, agenda, setting respective time when in a meeting, and also for her to be able to put the boundaries on her days that she was able to do drop off and pick up accordingly. 

Jim: 18:49 

And she's still at that organization and is one of the highest performers on that team. She's still on the same team that she was on, so it worked. But it definitely took that ability to take a step back and just be able to listen to someone and help them create the conditions of success for themselves and that, like my role, there was just kind of like sending some emails clarifying some policies and then but creating the space for it to happen, kind of thing, and I really look at my friend as someone that really helped me understand that ability to, um, to really kind of like take the step back and see what someone else needs and recognize what you can give to help that person realize what it is that they need yeah, there's the. 

Justin: 19:28 

I love this idea that learning happens in overbearing, but I want to reframe it a little bit because I think that I think learning can happen out of overbearing when we are willing to take on the perspective of others, like when we push into acceptance and take on that perspective, and I think that overbearing becomes a problem when we're willfully ignorant. 

Jim: 19:53 

Yes, when I think of that that split sorry, I think of that split second, where either you know someone brings something to you, right, they kind of call you out on it, and either it's the fight or flight response a little bit right. It's like either you get pissed right and you just you go off the handle, or you get pissed right and you just you go off the handle, or you get your brain to go to the tell me more, tell me more side of it. Right, tell me more. Why, why Tell me more? Tell me more right, get that educational piece where you can really understand that impact. 

Justin: 20:18 

Yeah, when you dig into acceptance, dig into taking on other's perspectives, that's where the learning happens, and so I love that, that conversation of kind of pulling that out of there, because there's, you're right, that overbearing, I think for everyone, for even for me, is the scary one of like I think I joke about it in the book and I know that I've joked about it not in the book that, like I don't share a lot of my own stories of overbearing because like they're not great stories, they don't look good on me, right, and so we want to be careful about how we do that. And I also think you know some of I think the, the stories that you've shared are really great short stories of your character and kind of leaning into that learning moment, um, and some of them, you know, some of our overbearing stories take even more time for the learning, unfortunately, yep or um, you know, kind of like that old saying of um, uh, all lessons that we don't learn keep coming back until we learn them. Like I'm screwing that up. Well, I'll edit that out, probably, uh, but movie. 

Justin: 21:35 

So, moving on, I, I, there's another topic that I want to dig into with you and so earlier in the creating belonging work, I really wanted to make sure that I was like getting a wide, you know, wide perspectives of identities and, and, you know, also understanding that my lens as a gay man, you know, is going to influence the work. And over the past six months, I've really been leaning into that because I do think that, you know, lgbtq folks are under attack across the U? S in different States in different ways and so, you know, this season of the podcast we're probably going to see more of our people, lgbtq people, on the podcast. Um, because I think it's worth leaning in there a bit. But I'd love to hear a bit about your journey, your professional journey and balancing, you know, your sexuality in. You know either hiding it or, you know, being out. I'd love to hear a bit of your story. 

Jim: 22:42 

Yeah, yeah, oh gosh. So, it really does feel like a journey, it really does feel like an evolution. So, when I started my career, I mentioned earlier in the conversation here that I came to Chicago with a post-grad service program. So that program placed me as a middle school teacher here in Chicago, and so the feedback that I was given early on in that time is that you need to learn the personalities of your students before you start opening up about yourself. Ie like don't fly the rainbow flag on day, one kind of thing. And I'll be honest, I was not confident enough in myself to push back on that or to feel like that was the wrong answer. I was like, okay, great, and the school community that I taught in was a wonderful community. It was on the west side of Chicago here. It was a community that dealt with a lot of poverty, drugs, violence. So there was a lot going on in the neighborhood and I struggled to find a moment where I felt truly comfortable to be fully expressing of who I am, and so I actually at one point actually went back to some of the program staff and kind of said like listen, like I'm kind of struggling with this code identity of being an educator and being gay and like is there anyone I can talk to about that? And the answer was no. Like they didn't know any gay educators to like to have me sit down for coffee with to like talk about that experience. And I think for me that was almost the thing. It was like more flummoxing. I was like you don't know any gay educators, like there's not a single one you can like connect me with and they're like not in our network. And so, like it really took me finding some people in my own, my own circle to kind of build some of those connections. But coming out of the classroom setting which is a little bit of a different setting than other kinds of corporate settings that I'd been in since then, just to kind of flag that but in the steps that I took from there, every single job switch that I had, I was more and more open about my identity and so and that looked different ways. So, the next switch that I made was that I didn't hide it, like if someone asked, I would tell them, and then the next job after that I was, I would tell people. It was like part of my intro or like make sure that it was part of, like you know, my first conversation with people or something like that, all the way up until today. 

Jim: 24:50 

The relationship I find myself in today is not your standard typical relationship. So even in the vein of, I've become much more comfortable in my gay identity, particularly in a corporate and work setting and knowing how I talk about that and my language around that, and also like my bullshit meter too. Apologies for the language here, but, like you know, what I'm willing to accept or not accept in a, in a, in a work setting. In that vein, on my relationship side because it's an atypical relationship, I still find myself trying to understand and navigate a little bit that there's still this part of my identity that, like I'm, I'm evolving, how it comes into the workplace and so in that vein, you know it's been, it's been at first at one job I didn't talk about that part of my life. 

Jim: 25:29 

I just, you know, I was open about my queerness, but I was not open about my relationship status. And then the next one, I was open about relationship status, but they were kind of kept far apart. Now I'm at a point where it's very integrated into my day-to-day with my coworkers but my job is a very externally facing job, so I don't bring it up in those types of conversations very often, but with my peers here internally I will, and so it's I don't know. I don't know what that means in terms of like you know, if we were to do an update, if I do a job change at some point, what my next evolution is going to be. But I do. It's interesting because I do look at kind of job changes as like milestone, as to like either my comfort with my openness about my language, for my identity, as it kind of continues to come to the world. 

Jim: 26:10 

The last thing I'll kind of flag here is that you know it's, it's the world continues to change, and so I agree with your point that you made about the guests that you're having on the podcast this season of. 

Jim: 26:19 

You know, having some LGBTQ voices being present and vocal is really important at this moment in time. At the same time, living in the city of Chicago it's a relatively progressive city and so I've also had the privilege of working in like relatively progressive environments and so it's also been interesting to feel more and more comfortable and more and more as though what's the right word here, um, that people want to know but don't care as much as they did before. It used to be a salacious thing, right, that you had a gay coworker, and now it's kind of like it's not. It's not in the same way as it once was for those of us that are of a certain generation that like and I think that you and I identify a little bit in this way, but just like I was a certain generation when that was a really weird thing. 

Justin: 27:07 

And now it's like almost table stakes. 

Justin: 27:08 

I don't know yeah reaction there. 

Justin: 27:09 

No, I think there's um, you're making me think of, you know a, the, the privilege, the luxury of living in Chicago and and some of that automatic acceptance, because I so in my journey, when I, before I, moved to Chicago, um, you know, I was working in an office in Des Moines, Iowa, and I was actually with the company that I moved to Chicago with. 

Justin: 27:31 

It was a promotion, but I was a smaller branch in Des Moines and I remember, if we look at the makeup of the office at that point in time, there was a woman that I worked with, woman who you know living in Des Moines, Iowa, and I remember kind of being out in the office there and she would say I don't know that she ever said it to my face, but she told other people in the office she's like Justin's too normal to be gay, like he's, he's just in a phase and he's gonna meet a nice woman and settle down because he's. She saw me as too quote, normal, yeah, to be, and I'm like, wait, what do you think a gay person is then? Yes, and, and then I moved to Chicago, and I was working in you know a large bank, um in the you know corporate headquarters learning development department, like half my team was gay and so it was just a total paradigm shift in like oh yeah, we're all gay here, like you're in. 

Jim: 28:40 

You know that were the geography that you're in can really influence that acceptance yeah, you know what's fascinating, Justin, is we've had a bit of a theme around overbearing as a concept here on the, the podcast, the episode. Um you, you were in her overbearing moment. Right, you were the recipient of the overbearing right. 

Justin: 29:11 

Yeah, absolutely Right. You don't know that I've told that story yet, so flag that story and there's another story, right? 

Jim: 29:19 

Everyone, there's a bonus episode coming soon. Get ready, get ready. 

Justin: 29:22 

I know, and you know it's funny because I don't, I don't, I still adore her, like I thought she was great. So I don't, you know, I don't mean ill of you know for her in telling that story, but it's just, you know, it's an interesting perspective, yeah. One other thing that I wanted to grab is something I was thinking about, like you know, as an educator so early in your career, kind of like, hey, we don't really share much about ourselves, um, with our students, because, you know, we kind of need to be this like agnostic, almost figure. And it actually made me think of, um, Andrew Huberman. 

Justin: 30:03 

And if you listen to Andrew Huberman, he's like what number two podcast in the world. Um, I listen to him regularly but he talked like you'll always see him in his podcast and he's like in a black button-down shirt like full sleeves, and he's admitted before on I don't know, in some podcasts maybe his own, like he's covered in tattoos, yeah, and, like you know, talks about how he puts on this persona in his professional life as a professor and in his podcasting world of this very like apolitical, agnostic kind of person who is just there to state the facts, yeah, and so that's where I'm at. I'm like thinking. I'm just thinking about where are those places in life where we have to be kind of generic and is that okay? 

Jim: 30:56 

Ooh, that's a great question. Well, I mean that's a great question, justin. I think my first response comes back to safety. I think that for anyone who has some form of an othered identity, that's often one of the first places that that we think of, right, like, is this a safe space for me to be who I am? And I think within that, we have to acknowledge privilege. Right, like I think of my, my, my peers, who are people of color, who cannot hide their skin color or hair color or texture or whatever in any given context. Right, my gain is, our gain, is we can choose to cover, if we want to, right, so we do actually get to choose, like walking through a doorway, who we are in that instance, based on that quick read across the room. Right, so I think of that first, but then I also think very quickly of, um, I have the number of rooms that I have been in where I am the only queer person in that room, or at least the only one that's open about it, and clarified that and made it known to others. Right, we know that there's a lot of folks that, for many different reasons, don't feel comfortable or aren't capable of being able to have that openness, and so I have, in those instances, tried very hard to be, as much as I can, the champion for those causes, right? So, I think of past leadership teams that I've been a part of, I think of panels that I sit on, I think of being a guest on a podcast within a season, right, like, are there a variety of voices that are coming to the table at the same time? It's really interesting. 

Jim: 32:22 

There's an organization here in Chicago or it's a national organization, but the CEO is here in Chicago called Startout. It's an organization that supports LGBT entrepreneurs. They do really fantastic programming, great work, awesome stuff. I've had the great privilege of getting to know them over the last kind of year in my role and participate in a couple of programs. 

Jim: 32:43 

What's really interesting is that, like when I even reflect on my own understanding of, like, my gayness in a room or my own understanding of my identity, I go to a start out event and I'm probably one of the least adept people in that room to be able to articulate my identity, and yet in most settings in my life, I'm the most articulate and being able to identify or be able to talk about my identity because I am the only one, and so I think about it also, just like the context and community you're part of. Also, like I think I'm the same person, but like when, in a room of you know all LGBT people who are able to really be able to talk really, really eloquently about you, know how they identify how that impacts their lived experience, I find myself humbled in those settings. Yet I find myself in settings where I have to do that type of talk because there's no one else to do it. It's an interesting balance because I'm the same person in but, but not at the same time. 

Justin: 33:37 

Yeah, yeah, there's um a bit of context of um, how do I fit into this group and when're I mean? It's kind of like you know, uh, if we take the, the gay identity out of it. Like you know, if you were um talking about neurobiology to a bunch of people who were, uh, accountants, you could be really confident about it. But if you were trying to talk about neurobiology in front of a room of other neurobiologists, you'd be like, oh gosh, they all know more than I do and so there's that positionality of do I actually, does my experience mean more? 

Justin: 34:25 

do I have more than everyone else? And so, it becomes kind of this intimidating thing. 

Jim: 34:30 

Yeah, and what's so interesting is that, like, there are skills you can have right, in which case you have more skill or less skill, or more knowledge or less knowledge on a thing, but when it comes to identity, it's like it's not, there's not, it's not a game, it's not a point system in which you have 80 identity points because you've whatever right. It's like we all have our identity, and it is what it is. But I totally agree with what you just said. I step into a room of all queer folks and it's often a bit intimidating, because I'm rarely in a setting like that, I'm rarely in community with people that share that part of my identity with me. In that same way, I often find myself having to be the one right. Yeah, that's who? And I thought about that for a few minutes. 

Justin: 35:10 

Yeah, that's a good one to dig into and it's, it's interesting. I'm definitely a little teaser for some of the work that I'm doing. I'm, um, I've been digging deep, deep into authenticity and where authenticity lives in our brains and like how, how authenticity and identity are formed and spoiler. Authenticity is a combination of who we are, but also who we think everyone wants us to be. 

Justin: 35:43 

And so, there's an interesting mix there, and so I'm playing there. I haven't solved it all, but that's all the work for the second edition. That's a big one, huh, yeah, yeah, jim, I have really enjoyed our conversation today and we'll have to go have drinks in the neighborhood soon. Beings were literally my arm, twist my arm. But thank you so much for joining us. And if anyone wants to get in contact with you, how do they do? 

Jim: 36:15 

Yeah, yeah. So, LinkedIn is easy. Just search for my name. I usually pop up pretty quickly, if that's a little challenging. The firm I work for, Hyde Park Venture Partners, on our website. I have a profile on there and links to email and stuff like that. Feel free to reach out. If any of the topics that we chatted about today resonate and folks want to go a little deeper, I would love to connect further. But also, if folks just want to talk more about identity in the workplace, identity in life, how we figure stuff out, how we build relationships with others, I'm all ears, let's chat. 

Justin: 36:55 

Awesome. Thank you, jim, and thank you all for listening and join us again for another episode soon. 

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