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Business is Personal

Sharing our personal stories can be the path to deep, meaningful business relationships

· Fatherhood,Allies,Trans,Inclusion,Vulnerability

I want to share a brief story about the strength of our networks, the importance of asking questions when you don't the answers, and the steps a father will take to protect his child.

Last month, my close friend and classmate from business school—let's call her Jennifer—sent me a text: "Can you talk?" I never know what's on her mind, but it's always something meaningful.

Jennifer said her client called asking her for advice. She knew that he had multiple children, but this was the first time he shared that one of his daughters was trans. In preparation for his daughter's move to Los Angeles, he was reaching out to get advice on good neighborhoods for her to live.

Jennifer had some ideas, but she wanted a second opinion from me. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I also had some ideas. As a 40-something, white, cis male, I wanted to make sure I was considering factors I might have missed: safety by a broad definition; safety for a young trans woman of color; inclusivity; diversity; affordability; social vibrancy.

Eager to get a third opinion, I asked who in my social media community knew someone who could help. Within an hour, a straight, white, cis male friend had connected me with a trans man of color with a vast knowledge of the resources in LA and the important questions to ask a trans woman to give her the right advice.

Three things that stand out to me from this.

  1. During what was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I was so moved by this father's demonstration of love. We cannot underestimate the power of knowing your family supports you exactly as you are. It's easy for us to say this has nothing to do with business, but I think it has everything to do with business: trust, vulnerability, curiosity, community, visibility, and being heard.
  2. Allies are all around us. Sometimes they just need a clear ask to demonstrate this.
  3. I have my own work to do to better understand how I can better support the trans community, not just in business, but in life. I encourage all of us to think about what we can do to create more inclusion and opportunity for trans people.

-Peter Gandolfo is a certified executive coach and career coach who works with leaders at all levels to build awareness and make progress towards their goals. He’s passionate about working with fathers who want to continue to achieve in their careers while also being present for their children, and creating a more diverse workforce by helping leaders develop their authentic leadership styles.

In addition to individual coaching, Peter facilitates team workshops and gives talks on building a coaching culture, diversity and inclusion, innovation and more. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their two young boys.