Optimizing The Black Male Leadership Pipeline: A Conversation with Damon Richardson & Kobie Fuller

Optimizing The Black Male Leadership Pipeline: A Conversation with Damon Richardson & Kobie Fuller

August 2, 2021 0

When it comes to Black men in leadership for major companies, Black men are underrepresented. This isn’t because there’s a lack of talented or educated Black men. This is the case because there is an issue with the pipeline. For too long the pipeline for leadership has been overlooking Black men left and right. The Black Men in Leadership Summit aims to talk with Black men who beat the odds and are in leadership positions on their thoughts, opinions, and tips for any aspiring Black men. 

In this talk, Damon Richardson is interviewing Kobie Fuller. Damon Richardson is the Vice President of International Tax at Google. Kobie Fuller is a successful investor, business leader and business founder. Kobie mentions that leadership can look different on different people. There is more than one correct way to lead your team, as long as it keeps team members happy while also serving the needs of the business. Kobie played Basketball and tried out for the Varsity team while in High School. He thought he was a sure bet to make the team, but he wasn’t. He was cut during tryouts. He assessed himself and realized he had two things going for him: speed and heart. He used both of these assets to excel in Track and Field. While his sports experience may sound irrelevant, this is something that many need to take into consideration in business. Just because you are struggling in one area of business, does not mean that you don’t have the talents to excel in business elsewhere. 

Kobie mentions leaders should approach leadership in a variety of ways. And that there are two things that a leader should always do: lead by example and set the appropriate mindset. By leading by example, you are showing everyone else how it should be done. By setting the appropriate mindset, you are creating a space of positivity that can foster more productivity. To sum it up: you can be a star player or a coach. The star player leads by example because some need to see excellence to be excellent. The coach sees the weaknesses and faults in others, and helps mold them into someone who attacks those head on to improve in every facet. 

Kobie also mentions the importance of rest. It is impossible to work hard and focus as you should if you do not get enough rest. Rest also allows you to come back and see things from a different perspective. Kobe also talks about staying in what you’re passionate about as well, and if you get bored then start planning what is next. You will get bored, but you can weaponize this to help you prepare for your next move.

He mentions that there are three different roles: investor, entrepreneur, and operator. Each is different but has transferable skills. The investor invests, but won’t know the outcome for 7 to 10 years in some cases. The operator makes constant tweaks and sees the results of this daily. The entrepreneur needs to be able to find trustworthy people to put their money into. All of these roles feed into each other with transferable skills like people skills, coachability, coaching ability, and passion.

 In his talks with his sons, he inspires them to become Black leaders by telling them about Black history, Black leaders, and how Black men have overcome the many obstacles in their way. By creating a pipeline for each other, we can create the Black leaders of tomorrow. 

Damon Richardson, VP of International Tax, Google (Left), Kobie Fuller, Partner, Upfront Ventures (Right)

Johnny Ross