This year, I have the privilege of being the Lane Powell Fellow for the Leadership Council on Leadership Diversity. The LCLD Fellows program seeks to bring diverse, and diverse-minded legal talent from around the country to create an atmosphere of growth and community.
The first meeting of the year was held in New Orleans. I expected heartburn and fried food. I expected drunk people. And I expected to network with diverse individuals across the country.
I didn’t expect to confront some of my own issues surrounding diversity. And that is perhaps the most valuable takeaway from this first meeting.
Let me explain. I grew up as the second child of immigrants from India’s bread basket. My parents had certain conceptions of who their kids should be. From my love of Tori Amos to blue Manic Panic, I didn’t fit the mold. I also didn’t feel that I fit in within the broader Southeast Asian community.
Over the years, that feeling of rejection and not belonging translated to an unconscious tendency to avoid speaking to Southeast Asian men. Perhaps I rejected people before they rejected me.
But, bordering on TMI, I’ll just move right along. As part of the LCLD program, I had the opportunity to dine with a randomly-drawn group of eight people. My group had three Southeast Asian men. I had a great time and learned that I was closing myself off to these individuals unnecessarily.
Now, to be real, these individuals are not my two new besties. But I do look forward to spending more time with them over the next year. And, both being partners in regional firms, they are potential sources of business.
I’ve learned that professional and personal growth are parallel tracks, and I am excited for what’s to come during the rest of my Fellowship year. Stay tuned for additional updates.
And now…a few random thoughts…
Even the gyms in New Orleans are historic!
New Orleans is probably not the best place to get inspiration for wine names.
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