“So tell me, who are you and what do you do?”
This is definitely the phrase that is most often repeated on the Hectic Podcast, and for good reason. It was even brought back this season after one of our guests asked to answer it because they loved the question so much.
To me, this question reflects the heart of Hectic, both the podcast and the company as a whole. The team is committed to building a community through the product, as well as behind the scenes with the collaborators they work with. Hectic exists to make freelancing (and every opportunity it provides) a possibility for everyone, no matter who they are, what they do, and where they come from.
Hectic is different. And this week’s conversation really helped me understand why.
Cynthia Pesantez joined the podcast this week to share how she spends her days fighting for racial justice. Specifically, she talked about the people-first approach that is required to make lasting change.
As I let the conversation percolate over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about how different the world would be if we took this approach in every area of life.
What if we connected with other people first on a human level, building relationships based simply on the fact that you and I are both people who happened to be in the same place at the same time?
Like Cynthia said, life-giving relationships are based on experiences, favorite foods, and humorous moments. These organic connections are what make a difference. If you have a common cause but no common interests, that relationship isn’t going to last.
If you instead let ideas and pursuits grow out of the connections you have with people you love, those endeavors are more sustainable.
To take a human-first approach, though, you have to reject a cultural mindset that values people based on what they can offer.
Earlier in the season, for example, Kat Boogaard talked about the ways we see knowledge as currency. People who know more are seen as better than others. They can gatekeep their knowledge by locking it behind expensive courses and burying anyone that gives it away for free.
Doing so doesn’t make those people happier. And it definitely doesn’t improve the field as a whole.
<tweet-link>If we want to create communities that improve life for everyone, we have to start with the person beside us.<tweet-link> We have to be willing to be curious about our neighbors, competitors, and the person we don’t agree with. And we have to bravely offer vulnerability in return.
Seeing people as who they are rather than what they do or what they have to offer awakens our humanity. It empowers us to see the best in people. It reveals hope in a world that is often focused on darkness.
Most importantly, a people-first mindset makes room for everyone. It takes all kinds, as Cynthia shared. From the mother teaching her children to the people on the forefront of change, everyone is needed and valued the same.
So, whoever you might be and whatever you might do, there’s a place for you here. And you can help make space for others too.
As I close, I want to offer three easy ways to use a people-first approach. Use them in your work or during your next trip to the grocery store. Let your humanity take the lead until it becomes second nature.
First, start by building relationships. Take the extra minute to ask about your client’s day before diving into a meeting. Compliment your mother-in-law on her new haircut, even if she’s driving you crazy. Our world is determined to be polarizing, so search for common ground. Pursue and show genuine care for the people around you. “Be the change you want to see” may be cliche but it’s also true.
Austin Church reminded us to think the best of people. Embrace that. Your first reaction might be skepticism or judgment and that’s okay. Just be willing to examine the impulse and let it go if it doesn’t belong in that interaction.
Finally, be compassionate and give grace. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has bad days. Your positivity in the face of someone’s negativity might be exactly what they need in that moment. You can only control your own actions, so let them promote happiness and love in every situation.
Get the full story from Cynthia here for more about her fight for racial justice, how our culture forces us to deny our humanity, and practical tips for joining the conversation about race.