Have you ever sat back and been surprised about where you ended up professionally in life when you consider where you started? I certainly have since the first thing I wanted to be was a rabbi and then a lawyer (and never came close to either of those!).
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I discussed with Bruce Jackson his amazing journey from low-income housing in New York to becoming an associate general counsel at Microsoft where he is now managing director for strategic partnerships out of the office of the president at Microsoft. Born in Brooklyn, Bruce studied law at Georgetown University and spent a decade working in entertainment law with some of the top music talent in the country. Since then, he has received Microsoft’s diversity award, participated in Microsoft’s law and corporate affairs’ diversity efforts, helped launch Microsoft’s Elevate American Veterans Initiative, and worked to develop its diverse recruitment pipeline. His new book is called “Never Far from Home”.
In my extended interview, this is what we discussed:
What it was like growing up in government housing across from the famous Lincoln Center.
How Bruce was the first of his family to go to college and how he almost dropped out, but his aunt convinced him to stay.
The perseverance needed for career success. Bruce contrasts this with the tendency to delete these early struggles from prominent leaders’ biographies, and the way social media encourages the appearance of perfection.
The powers of sponsorship, mentorship, and self-empowerment. For Bruce, teachers and professors doubted how someone from his background could be successful in their classrooms.
How to proactively go out and find the mentors that you need.
Becoming the change, you want to see. Bruce struggled early at Microsoft; an environment like Seattle was entirely unfamiliar to a New York native. He suffered quietly at first, then prepares to walk away from the company due to its lack of diversity. Bruce is encouraged to stay by the current Vice Chair and President, Brad Smith and was offered a role in New York.
Listen to the complete interview with Bruce Jackson on The Small Business Radio.
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