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  • Joe Cardello

Check Your Ego at the Door

August 2, 2022

One of the benefits of being an economist and portfolio manager I am most grateful for is, the friendships I have developed globally. The diversity of people, cultures, perspectives, and interests has made my life far richer than I could have ever imagined when growing up. I have always gravitated to different groups of friends because everyone has something unique to offer, and it keeps life (in my opinion) far more interesting than doing the same things and having the same discussions ad nauseum.

Diversity of culture, perspective, and thought is a supremely worthy goal of any individual or group in my opinion. It opens your mind to more possibility, and it builds tolerance of views that you disagree with.

I do not believe, however, that the most important attribute of my friendships is the uniqueness of each individual. I believe that the most important attributes are how giving, caring, and kind my friends are, despite our differences. When tragedy strikes in your life, you realize how much your friends value you as a person. It was demonstrated by the many friends that came from all parts of the globe and overcame many obstacles to comfort my family and me in our most painful time. There were many more that wanted to be with us, but just could not manage to make it happen, but we felt their pain and anguish because we understood their desire to ease our pain.

To be blunt, at a time like that, you realize what is truly important. What is truly important lasts. What is truly important is not their unique culture, citizenship, skin color, sexual orientation, or any other definition placed on someone. What is truly important is the coming together, in an inclusive way, despite differences, for a common cause.

Unless there is a focus on what matters foundationally, diversity while important, is unlikely to be inclusive. Trying to mandate diversity could have adverse consequences.

From Human Resources: Johnny C Taylor is the former head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and now runs the Society for Human Resource Management which represents HR professionals from around the world. He points out a serious issue with diversity and inclusion that deserves close attention in my opinion.

The HR profession has long preached the value of different backgrounds and world views to a business world where managers once preferred to hire people who looked and thought like themselves, he observes. “What we underestimated is that inclusion would be made very, very difficult by diversity.”

According to Taylor, “employees say, ‘I want to come to work and share my full displeasure with the Supreme Court decision, but I don’t want my colleague to do the same damn thing’.” He also points out that there are increasing disputes between individuals of opposing views asking managers to fire colleagues “because they don’t fit.” (Source FT. Article shared below requires subscription)

Inclusion of all qualified people regardless of their background, beliefs, and how they look is of course a worthy goal. If everyone in a group is identical in their views, gender, culture, and background, it is clear they will be limited by their lack of diverse perspective. More diverse viewpoints and perspectives provide for a more dynamic and interesting atmosphere. However, in my experience with large corporations, it seemed clear to me that the impact of policies to promote (enforce/mandate) inclusion and diversity would result in division. Why?

Growing up in Cambridge, MA

When I was in high school as a 5’6’’ (according to my driver’s license) Italian American at Matignon High School in Cambridge, MA, I was made fun of for a myriad of characteristics. One of my many nicknames was the “Mini-Guinea.” This was a particularly useful derogatory term used against me because I was Italian (not Irish like most others) and short. There were many other insulting nicknames; none of which I was fond of at the time. They pointed out how I was different than the norm. I did not like it because I wanted to fit in with the crowd. But the truth is, I was not tall, nor Irish, nor fair skinned then, and I’m even less so now! Even though these terms were meant to be derogatory, it was mostly my friends launching the insults at me, and I learned to launch insults back at them. The point is that it was not mean spirited; it was our way of being affectionate. I still have very close friendships with many of my classmates, we enjoy each other’s company, and we are there for one another in our most difficult times.

We have a choice in how we deal with our individuality:

  1. Own your individuality with complete vulnerability, understand that this does not define you as a human being, and acknowledge that not everyone will be accepting of you.

  2. Be proud of your individuality, allow your characteristics to define you, and always defend yourself against those that may not be accepting of you.

I choose A. I am Italian American, and I am short. Are these the things I will be remembered for? Or will I be remembered for my contributions to others? I choose to be vulnerable because I do not want to waste energy worrying about how others might perceive my height, weight, culture, background, or personal preferences. I choose A because vulnerability makes you impervious to embarrassment. I choose A because I do not need the acceptance nor approval of others to make a positive impact. I choose A because I want to be able to make fun of myself and my personality traits; it makes life lighter and less serious. I choose A because it is open minded.

Many people might believe that choosing A and all the vulnerability required is a sign of weakness, but they are mistaken.


Some choose B because they create a narrative about who they are to feel better about themselves. They worry about their reputation and image of how they see themselves. They are proud of what they represent, and they are afraid to lose. Pride kills authenticity. It puts a wall up between you and others even when you do not see it. We all know friends and family that we cannot poke fun at because they are too proud. We are forced to show them “respect” if we desire to maintain a relationship with them. We are forced to go along with how they present themselves; we cannot question their motives or actions for fear it will agitate them, and they will lash out at us. Choosing B closes you off from others, even if you do not see it. Others tend to discuss your shortcomings to help manage around your weaknesses and to protect themselves.

We will never truly get to know the person that makes choice B because they never get to know their true self. Too much of their energy is spent on creating an image of who they want to perceive themselves to be. They are not open and vulnerable, and you cannot get to truly connect with someone until they are stripped of pride.

So why do enforcement of diversity and inclusion policies cause division? In big companies, you are not supposed to make light of someone else’s culture or rituals, the way they speak, or any other attribute that might make them different. Most of us today know that we must work extremely hard not to offend. Hurting someone’s pride in their individuality might cause them to lash out at you and/or the company. Everyone is very careful not to offend, but it is a minefield. It is not easy. I disliked the culture that was created, but not because I was afraid of getting into trouble. I despised the fact that nobody could be authentic; nobody could be vulnerable. Everyone was forced to choose B if they wanted to survive!

This creates a great opportunity for people that do not mind getting ahead economically by tearing others down (directly and indirectly), but it won’t force a bigot to be any less of a bigot. Quality, skillful and well-meaning people might become more resentful and distrusting instead of the other way around. Fear builds walls; Love builds bridges.

We need more bridges, and we can only do that by recognizing we are more alike than different. Our unique personality, cultures, religions, and outlooks are important, but it’s more important that we fight for the common good together. At a school, a company, or in life, we only need to seek the common ground, and work towards this together. It is not easy, but there are ways to do it.

It all comes down to kindness and self-respect.

Regardless of the topic, ask the following questions: Do you seek to discuss topics that you feel strongly about with others that hold a completely opposite view?

Do you think your views or beliefs are better than others? Are you infringing on others’ beliefs?

Do you judge others as crazy or stupid because they hold a view different to your own?

Do you look back in history and judge the actions of others without fully appreciating the context of the times and norms of the day? And do you confidently predict you would have acted against these norms of society?


Do you take it as a personal offense when someone holds a view that does not align with the lifestyle you lead?

Do you find yourself becoming emotional when someone does not agree with your point of view?


Can you set your emotion aside to be open to listening and learning?

Do you try to shame others because they had a momentary lapse in judgement, or do you forgive them for making a mistake?

Do you think because you have more money or educational level that your view is more important or more correct than another?

Does pride make you rigid in your position even when you know you may be mistaken?

Answering yes to the above questions will hopefully spark some reflection. If we consistently answer yes to some of these questions, we may be part of the polarization. We may be building walls, not bridges.

I have some strongly held views, and I can be blinded by focusing too narrowly on why they are correct! Therefore, I spend a great deal of time on expanding my view. The more open minded I become, the more I realize how little I know!

Why do I discuss diversity and inclusion as an investment advisor at August Wealth? I believe it is of paramount importance in the investment process to obtain diversity of thought, help from those more knowledgeable, and respectful discussions with those who maintain views diametrically opposed to your own.


Our team chooses A because they must contribute to colleagues and clients with complete trust and openness.


Our inputs in our investment and risk process come from a diverse set of people internally and externally. We work with people globally that think with an open mind and have experience in many different fields and cultures. We help each other because we care about each other’s success and the success of those we serve.

Thank you,

Joe

Joseph Cardello, Principal August Wealth Advisors, LLC

51 Riverside Avenue, First Floor Westport, CT 06880 Direct (916) 461-9451 toll free (800) 985-9477

jcardello@augustwealthadvisors.com www.augustwealthadvisors.com

Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor; DBA August Wealth Advisors.

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https://on.ft.com/3ONb0xg Politics in the workplace by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson