MY DREAMS FOR THIS BOOK
Before someone at Compass embarks on a project, I ask them, "What does success look like?" as a way to focus their energy on the results that really matter. So I'll take my own advice and do the same.
Here's what success looks like for this book if all my dreams for it—and you—come true.
Something you read in this book will inspire you to dream bigger than you ever have before.
Something in this book will help you realize your full potential—not just the potential you think you have right now.
Something you read here will motivate you to reach out and help someone else make their dreams come true.
And all these "somethings" added together will make this book valuable enough to you that you'll decide to give a copy to someone you know within three months of finishing it yourself.
If all that happens, it will mean that you have come to believe, as I do, that no one succeeds alone—and that together anything is possible.
FINDING MY PLACE IN THE WORLD
I've felt out of place my entire life.
My mother is an Israeli immigrant. My father was an African American man from Louisiana who left me and my mom when I was just a baby.
Through his actions, my dad, in effect, told me that I did not belong.
After I was born, my mother's parents—my grandparents—asked her only one question.
They didn't ask, "Is he happy?" They didn't ask, "Is he healthy?" They asked, "What is he?"
My mom said, "He is Jewish...and Black."
My grandparents immediately hung up the phone and disowned us both. From that day to their death, I never met them. I never even spoke to them. They made it clear that I didn't belong.
From that point on, it was just the two of us trying to make it on our own.
When I was growing up, my mom made it clear that no matter what anyone else said or thought about us we always had each other. When I was with her, I belonged.
But as I got older, I began to notice all the ways that I didn't fit in and all the people who didn't accept me. The people who asked my mother if I was adopted while I was standing right there. The middle school teachers who blamed me for fights at school that I had nothing to do with. The high school administrators who came down hard on me and some other kids of color when we shared the ways that the school's curriculum made us feel unwelcome.
The more out of place I felt, the more I craved a genuine sense of belonging in the larger world.
That's why I moved to New York City—one of the most diverse cities in the world, a city where a biracial kid like me would have as good a shot as anybody at feeling at home and gaining a sense of belonging.
But as I became accustomed to New York, I realized that where I lived was only part of it. Yes, I had found my city, but I still felt like I needed to find my place
After college, I tried management consulting, finance, government, education, and various romantic relationships. No matter what I did, though, something was still missing. I was always running, looking to the future for the feeling of belonging that kept eluding me in the present.