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Compassionate Inclusion with Jorge Quezada

George Grombacher March 1, 2023

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Compassionate Inclusion with Jorge Quezada

LifeBlood: We talked about compassionate inclusion, embracing a beginner’s mindset, questioning what you know and what you think, bringing everyone in your organization along, and how to create an inclusive workplace, with Jorge Quezada, Chief Inclusionist with Granite Construction and host of the Construction DEI Talks podcast. 

Listen to learn the difference between compassion and empathy!

You can learn more about Jorge at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Jorge Quezada

Jorge Quezada

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Hey, what’s up? This is George G. And the time is right, welcome today’s guest strong, powerful Jorge Sada, Jorge, are you ready to do this? Let’s do this. Let’s go man. Or here’s the chief inclusion list with granite construction. They are America’s infrastructure company. He is the host of the construction dei talks podcast. And he is back on lifeblood, where he talks about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Jorge Quezada 0:27
Wow. Right off the bat, I love it. I love it. So let me tell you, I’m gonna say right off the bat, I think it was a calling. I didn’t go to school to do diversity, equity and inclusion. At that time, we didn’t even I wasn’t even calling it that. Right. It was more multicultural marketing. And then that led to how to recruit, you know, how do we recruit more people that we’re multicultural, we didn’t say diverse. And so that’s how I got hired. And then ultimately, where I’m at now, the practice has evolved. And I almost I don’t want to say it parallels project management, because I don’t want to dismiss the great work that has been done around project management. But I use that as a parallel because of the practice, how project management evolved, right, from people being an accidental project managers, to people actually getting certified to be project managers. The same thing is happening with diversity, equity and inclusion, I think people started doing the work because it was needed. And then through just really good timing. People realize, wait a minute, there’s an art and a science to this kind of like project management. And so that that is from the work perspective, family’s doing great. And I’m just, you know, it’s overused, but it’s truly a blessing for me to be where I’m at here with granite, to be in Northern California with my wife, and have my kids now that one is graduated on one of my daughter who’s going through college, and finding her way, her niche. And so it’s great seeing her evolve and grow is like my son, and then starting there, you know, my son starting his career. And so so thank you for asking the question. You got me into my fields, as they say. That’s awesome. Thank you for that. I love it.

george grombacher 2:23
And I think that that’s a, a really helpful parallel between project management and where we are with dei today. So where, what are you thinking, as we’re now into? 2023? What are you looking forward to?

Jorge Quezada 2:37
You know, I think one of the things that I do, and this has been in the last five years to be to be honest, George, I, like I do my planning, like mid December, I start planning for the coming year. And now my last two years, I’ve actually stretched it to the next to, you know, not year, but two years out, and not getting too far ahead of myself, because I’m really conscious of being in the present. But what it does, it allows me to really step back and become a beginner again, and have that beginner’s mind. And it’s almost like, I challenge myself to be unconsciously incompetent. Because what I challenged myself is what do I have to unlearn that I learned the previous year or in the years before? And what do I need to relearn, or learn something new, to get better at the work that we’re doing. And this came into play. And it’s been really important now for us, I think in diversity, equity and inclusion. There was a time where you have folks with tremendous wisdom that started this work back in the 80s 90s. And now we have some voices from a different generation that is talking about this work totally different than the way we were talking about it in the 80s 90s and early 2000s. We have some folks who are really enlightening us on language, and lightening us on environments, enlightening us on how to approach people differently. Why? This is a perfect example. You and I are having this conversation. We’re having it on Zoom. Think about that in the 80s Night never existed, right? We may have been able to do a conference call, but we can actually see each other right doing this. You are in a totally different place than you were last time that you did it. And so the technology, we got to catch up with the technology, we have to make people feel included, they feel like they belong when it’s not in front face to face anymore. And there was a there was an author by the last name of Nathan Naismith, who wrote a book called megatrends, 2000 and at that time he was projecting and I read this Back in high school back in the, you know, early 80s. And one of the things that he said is like, we’re going to go to high tech, but then we’re going to have to balance high tech with high touch. So how do you create high touch? In the era of zoom? Teams? Right, go to meetings, virtual calls, when you have a generation of folks saying that the way you build culture is you do it in person? Well, there are companies that have been built in a virtual environment. So so, you know, we have to change the way. So that’s why I challenge myself, George, so when you asked that question, it’s like, that’s where I think we, that have been in the practice, have to not humble ourselves, but we need to just be a little bit more vulnerable and challenge ourselves to have that beginner’s mind.

george grombacher 5:51
I love it. And I couldn’t agree more the importance of, of embracing that, that beginner’s mindset. And that’s, you know, you’re intentionally moving yourself from comfort to discomfort. So every ounce of our humanity says, Don’t do that. But in order to serve the people that you want to serve, and bring the people along, that aren’t necessarily up to all the tech, right, but you want to be able to include them in the direction that everything is moving in,

Jorge Quezada 6:19
you know, and appreciate you positioning it that way, because you just gave me some insight, I think, and the reason why I’m reacting this way seems like, you know, if you read anything on stoicism, or if you read Ryan Holiday at all, right, he talks about the obstacle is the way. And I believe Seneca or even Marcus Aurelius said something like that, right? The impediment to action is the action. So so in order for you, we as practitioners are teaching people how to leave their comfort zone, so we have to do it too. Right? We have to we have to say to ourselves, what’s our comfort? Is it in our wisdom? And if it is, then we got to get out of that so that we can learn new things, because different ears, different minds, are requiring different ways of communicating to them. So very, thank you for that insight, because I think that is the connection for me.

george grombacher 7:12
Yeah, well, well, well, you are welcome. We sort of stumbled upon that together. Yes. Yeah, we did, didn’t we? Is our comfort wisdom? And yeah, it certainly is. And look at all the different companies that have really broken new ground, it’s thinking differently, the Airbnb is the world and Ubers of the world. And you are doing Dei. And this important work in a we talked about last time in the construction world, and having to do it virtually. In a world that’s not really predominantly that way or that way at all.

Jorge Quezada 7:49
You can’t, you can’t you can’t do construction, from your home, table road, you know, we can’t have our crew working from home and still have the road paved. Now there’s some technology that allows you from autonomous vehicles to do certain things, right. You could be at home, running something. But the reality is you got to be at the site, you got to be there. So spot on, I think we’re doing this work. We’re doing this work. You know, now the term is hybrid, right? And I would tell you that in order to do this work, you almost have to be hybrid. And in how you engage people, the different modalities that you have to use to reach them. You have to think so one of the things since we last talked about, we’ve we’ve developed a new platform, we call it granite radio. And so if you think about this, right, we realize that there’s a lot of folks in our craft area that can’t stop what they’re doing to jump on a call like this. So we have an app, we call granite app. And so we record our, our broadcasts of granite radio, we put it on the granite app, and they can listen to it on their way home, right or on the way to work, and so democratizing the ability or giving the access or creating the equity for people to have the same communication around. It’s something that I think we think about here at granted all the time.

george grombacher 9:20
Super powerful, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard. It’s different. But it’s, it’s it’s 100% worth doing. And being able to, there was a quote that you put on social media on LinkedIn, it said all organizations are perfectly designed to get the results that they get. Yes, I read that as like that as Yes.

Jorge Quezada 9:42
You know, in Deming, right. Deming gets credited for that there’s other folks there’s a gentleman in Australia that took a different twist to that that definition but Deming is gets credited for that and I’ve I’ve taken that on with with the conscious unconscious incompetence too. So, if we’re getting certain results, it’s because of the the alignment, or how we’ve designed the organization. So if we want something differently, we have to think about the systems, like what systems do we have to reshape, redesign, recreate, redevelop, improve, in order to get new results. And maybe that gets into, you know, what’s that quote? Einstein, you know, Insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. Maybe that’s a twist, Deming took a twist of that, of that saying, but But you do, you have to, you know, in the in, when we were I was doing some work on change management and organizational design, someone brought a beach ball. And you could only see certain colors based on your perspective. So the beach ball has many colors, you may only see the yellow and the blue, but someone else is looking at Red, green, yellow and black, you have to be able to turn that beach ball around so that you can see their perspective. And so the reason why I bring that up based on that quote is, you literally have to understand how you need to get information to someone like a granite to our craft workers. So what would you have to design? What would you have to have different in order to do it? And if you’re not thinking about technology, now, you’re gonna miss the boat, right? Because I think the modalities that we experienced in the 80s and 90s, may not be right, for the times of today. So this is why podcasts even think about that right podcast was a perfect example that some of the some people get a lot of information based on the content that you provide in your podcast.

george grombacher 11:44
Yeah, it’s fascinating. And it’s such a worthwhile thing to consider is if if we really did play out, what is the best possible what what is what we’re doing guaranteed to give us if it works, exactly the way that it’s working? What is the result we’re gonna get? And is that the result that that we really want?

Jorge Quezada 12:04
Hmm. And you know, so in that vein, this is where the diversity comes in. Because not everyone receives information the same way. So if you’re open to that, then you start designing not just with one option, you create a 360, you know, engagement for people. So some people may take it as, as a podcast, some folks want to read it. Some folks want to come into a meeting and learn about it. So you have to have this, this, this 30, dexterity and agility to be able to shift accordingly. And this gets back to, there’s things that you got to unlearn like Adam Grant wrote that book rethink, and that’s where I guess why I’m really thinking of that, because I just read it over the holidays, in this notion of you have to challenge yourself like a scientist, right, you have to see the problem, what are you trying to, you know, improve? What are you trying to correct? And so, and you have to have that, that the ability to be curious to pursue, and then be able to have different options. So yeah, spot on. I think the the one modality may not be the answer, it may be a 360, surround sound type of approach that you need to have.

george grombacher 13:19
Yeah. And I imagine you mentioned craft workers. There’s folks that are that are in and out of trucks all day and heavy equipment. And then you’ve got, you’ve got folks in corporate headquarters that are not in and out of trucks and not working on heavy equipment every day

Jorge Quezada 13:35
around them. So so so this goes back to the word hybrid to me, right? So hybrid right now, when you say it, people think work from home or from the office, how many days a week but, but the definition is broader, right? You always have to think about you’re always designing and hybrid perspectives. So we have to embrace maybe we have to embrace the hybrid. Maybe that’s what we want to say.

george grombacher 13:58
Yeah. Well, it’s certainly, you know, not doing so is that your, your, your own peril. Because if you’re if your desire is to include people in the direction that you’re moving in, you better embrace that, otherwise you will leave people behind.

Jorge Quezada 14:13
Yeah, you know, someone recently said to me, that there’s a danger in thinking in absolutes. And, and when they said it to me, I felt like it was challenging me because maybe the conviction that I was conveying at the time. But now that I think about it, excuse me. There’s, there’s power in that, because if you’re going to create this conviction, to live in absolutes what happens if it doesn’t play out? You know, it’s it’s a very solid, very brittle type of aspect, right? It can crumble on you then what’s your next option? And so, I challenge myself again, to be more fluid to Have more dexterity to have more agility to be able to see the opportunity and to adjust to it. And that’s I think, when you ask, the bigger question is what are we doing in Dei? And what are we thinking about? That’s what we’re trying to introduce. We’re literally trying to introduce this thing of being more having more dexterity and agility.

george grombacher 15:18
What jumped into my head when he were talking about the danger and thinking in absolutes, it’s the difference between being an advocate to being an activist. And I think I always want to be an advocate for the things that I really believe in. And I think that activists that’s like, I’m going to die for this idea. I’m not gonna die for an idea. I’m going to advocate for things that I think are right, but I’ll be I’m willing to hear new information and change.

Jorge Quezada 15:45
Yeah, you know, I think I’m gonna I’m gonna have to think about that, because I think we all have both in us the ability to have both in us. And so what is it to your point about what moral conviction do I want to not get off of? That’s not gonna allow me to grow? That’s not going to allow me to get out of my comfort zone. Right. So So I appreciate that.

george grombacher 16:09
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting one. And a lot of times, I think that we use words interchangeably when we ought not, or certainly crossover and all these things. But it goes back to what you talked about right at the beginning. It’s like, am I married to any ideas? What do I need to get rid of? What do I need to unlearn? What do I need to learn for the first time?

Jorge Quezada 16:28
Yeah, you know, I’ll tell you one that really hits home for me in that. And thank you for allowing me to explore it. And that is, so I was reading some works on the Dalai Lama. And he was talking a lot about compassion, compassion. And then so that took me down a different path. I’m like, why is he using compassion, not using empathy? And right now, there’s a lot of a lot of work that really amplifies empathy. And there’s a camos like a continuum that he mentioned. They talks about pities, feeling sorry for someone, sympathy is acknowledging it, right? Like, oh, you know, I feel for you kind of thing, but you know, and then empathy is that, that I can put myself in your position, right? So I empathize with you, I understand where you’re coming from kind of thing. But compassion, takes that empathy. And provides assistance provides help. When you’re compassionate, you’re actually feeling for someone in your feeling what they’re feeling, but you’re there to help them. And so I think, sometimes, like when you were talking about words, I think some folks are using empathy, and trying to get people to say to help, but there’s a definition for then it’s called compassion. And so that’s, I think, what lands on me also. So as, as you share that activist and advocate thing, now that I’m processing it, I’m starting to started like radio frequency back in the day, right? Like, the radio station is starting to dial in for me, so So thank you for that.

george grombacher 18:00
Oh, I love it. That’s super powerful. The Dalai Lama is one smart human being right there.

Jorge Quezada 18:05
So a lot of wisdom there a lot of wisdom there. Love

george grombacher 18:09
it. Well, Jorge, thank you so much for coming back on the show. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage?

Jorge Quezada 18:15
So you know, you gave us a shout out? Come listen to the construction dai talks? It’s Yes, it is for construction. We talk about construction topics, but the DEI conversations that we’re having applies, you know, across industries. So that’s the first thing that I would want coming out of this podcast. Number two, I’m on LinkedIn, as you mentioned, right? I’m pretty active on it. So please reach out Jorge casada. With an it says MBA. That’s how I differentiated myself on there. Please reach out. You know, tell us that you heard you know, the conversation on the podcast today. And then it’ll be easier to say accept the invitation. And yeah, that’s the best two ways for people to get hold of me.

george grombacher 19:01
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show her your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, check out the construction dei talks podcast, we listen to your podcast, and find Jorge on LinkedIn. It’s Jorge que sada MBA, and I’ll link that in the notes of the show as well, so you’ll be able to click right on it and find him. Thanks again. Hooray,

Jorge Quezada 19:24
George. Thank you, brother. Thank you.

george grombacher 19:26
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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