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I met my friend Victorio Milian on a snowy day in upstate New York when I was 22 years old.

Just kidding, I met him about a decade ago at an HR conference. Which one? Who the hell knows. Doesn’t matter.

Victorio is a reasonable guy who doesn’t have time for bullshit, including mine, which is why it’s awesome to spend time with him. There’s no gossip, no drama, and no small talk. We can go years without seeing one another, but when we do, he’s direct and to the point.

Last week, we met in New Orleans and talked about gratitude and giving back. Victorio’s gratitude, not mine. I’m stuck in my head. Victorio saw right through me and talked about his life. He’s committed to addressing significant issues like racism, sexism, and homophobia. He sees the injustices, and he’s moved to act. But he also asks himself — How can I use my privilege to help others?

And, because he’s a good friend and no dummy, he got me thinking about how I can use mine.

Volunteerism.

    It’s easy to talk about volunteering, but it’s tough to get started. Volunteer orientations are boring. Those long Powerpoint slide decks are a bitch, especially for those of us who communicate professionally for a living, and sometimes those orientation sessions are inconvenient and only happen once-a-quarter or on every-third-Tuesday when I’m busy. Nevertheless, I made a list of local not-for-profits. It’s time to start giving back.

Amplification

    Plenty of people boosted me when I was a new writer. They shared my posts with their audiences and amplified my voice, even when I didn’t deserve it. So, I’m on record saying that much of HR blogging sucks. A lot of it does. Old writers like me have grown lazy and should quit hogging the limelight and let new writers shine. But I’m okay amplifying and boosting new and largely unrecognized voices. There’s gold in there, and I want to be helpful.

Introductions

    I have a sprawling network of leaders and professionals who could learn and grow from one another, but I never take the time to make introductions. There are executives out there bemoaning a lack of talent, and talented individuals are sitting at home wondering why they can’t find work. Now, I’m not a recruiter. I’m not very good at solving other people’s problems. But I can make some introductions and let the self-initiated go from there.

Victorio is a fabulous friend, and I’m lucky to spend time with him. I always walk away thinking differently about the world. How can I use my privilege to help others? Well, I can clear some time on my calendar and get involved in issues that impact my local community. I can boost other people who are trying to launch their careers. And I can start to leverage my network and make valuable introductions.

Not bad for a thirty-minute conversation. Thanks, Victorio. Super helpful. You’re the best.

4 Responses to How Can I Use My Privilege to Help Others?
  1. Victorio M Milian

    I too, remember that snowy day that never happened…

    It was good catching up with you in NOLA, Laurie! Good luck and continued success.

  2. Martin Snyder

    My suggestions on the subject?

    Use your privilege to help defeat Republican office-holders; the best investment in human welfare available to the average person.

    Otherwise, concentrate your powers and really help one or two people.

  3. GreggB

    Getting started in volunteering doesn’t always involve staring at long, boring PowerPoint decks. Most animal shelters and rescues don’t have the time or money for that. You don’t even have to get your hands dirty if you don’t want to. There are a lot of “office” type functions that need to be done to run a shelter or rescue. It’s much like running a small business that’s always cash-strapped.

  4. seanmmasters

    Combine “long Powerpoint orientations” with your communication experience, add a dash of “local impact”, and the end result? Help your local non-profits and not-for-profits revamp their orientation and messaging. Since you’re also a startup person now (with your new company!) you know this also means you have to apply the 10x rule 😉

    In this case, that could be leveraging your years of experience in communication to cut their orientation time to 10% of current time without losing impact. Or connecting them with the people who can.