Sept. 28, 2021

Tackling systemic inequities by leading the charge with Richard Bynum | Greater Washington DC DMV Changemaker

Tackling systemic inequities by leading the charge with Richard Bynum | Greater Washington DC DMV Changemaker

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Richard Bynum, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at PNC, shares the many leadership lessons he learned while at the American Red Cross and in his various roles at PNC. Richard Bynum also shares why and how he intends to have an impact on reducing systemic inequities by leading the implementation of PNC’s Community Benefits Plan through which the company will provide at least $88 billion in loans, investments, and other financial support to benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and communities, people and communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities.

 

Some highlights:

-How moving cities while growing up impacted Richard Bynum’s outlook on diversity.

- Richard Bynum on the lessons he learned while at the Red Cross, including on 9/11.

- A painful lesson Richard Bynum learned as a young manager.

- Richard on the need to balance trust and expectations as a leader.

- PNC’s $1 billion effort to help end systemic racism and support economic empowerment for Black Americans

- What Richard Bynum’s hobby in genealogy has taught him about himself, his family, and the privileges Americans have today.

 

Mentioned in this episode:

-Michael N. Harreld, former Regional President of PNC Bank, Greater Washington, D.C. Area

-D. Jermaine Johnson, Regional President for PNC Bank, Greater Washington, and Virginia

-William “Bill” S. Demchak, CEO of PNC Financial Services

-Eddie Meyers, Regional President of PNC Bank Georgia

 

 

Connect with Richard Bynum:

Richard Bynum on LinkedIn

Richard Bynum on Twitter

 

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

MahanTavakoli.com

 

More information and resources are available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

PartneringLeadership.com

Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Welcome to partnering leadership. I'm really excited this week to be welcoming. Richard Bynum. He is the chief corporate responsibility officer for the PNC financial services group.

 

In this role, he leads the PNC Foundation, community affairs and corporate social responsibility, community development, banking, and diversity and inclusion.

 

In addition, Richard is leading the implementation of PNCs community benefits plan through which the company will provide at least $88 billion in loans, investments, and other financial support to benefit low and moderate-income individuals and communities, people in communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities over the four year plan period.

 

Before this, Richard was the president for PNC, his greater Washington regional market from 2017 through 2020. 

 

I really enjoyed this conversation because I have enjoyed getting to know Richard and watching his leadership in action. I am sure you will enjoy learning from him too.

 

I also appreciate and enjoy hearing from you. Keep your comments coming, Mahan@mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partnering, leadership.com. Love getting those voice messages from you. Don't forget to follow the podcast on your platform of choice. And finally, those of you that enjoy these on apple, leave a rating and review. When you get a chance that way more people will find and benefit from these conversations.

 

Now here's my conversation with Richard Bynum.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Richard Bynum, welcome to partnering leadership. I am thrilled to have you in this conversation with me. 

 

Richard Bynum: 

Mahan, thanks so much for the invitation. One of my favorite topics is leading. I couldn't think of a better person to sit down and chat with.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

One of the things I love about you, Richard, is that might be a favorite topic of yours to talk about, but you have also shown it through your actions because an important thing in leadership is to align actions with what we say and I have seen you over the years, do that with your own leadership, which is why I would love to find out a little bit more about you.

 

First things first would love to find out whereabouts you grew up and how your upbringing impacted the kind of leader and person you've become.

 

Richard Bynum: 

It's a great question because, for me, I grew up in a number of places. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lived there with my immediate family and my mother's family for the first 10 years of my life. Detroit is a great town, always be my hometown. It's a tough place to bring up a young black boy.

 

And certainly, it was true in the late seventies, early eighties. My parents had an opportunity with my dad's business was insurance to head out to California. So we took off cross country and ended up in Northern California, just outside of San Francisco where I spent a number of early adolescents teen years.

 

And then there was a bit of a downturn in the market that affected the family. We went then to my father's side of the family, which lived in central Florida- St. Petersburg, Florida to be accurate. And I finished out high school there with them ended up staying in-state and going to Florida state university for undergrad.

 

I lived in a number of places and really distinct places, major Metro, urban Detroit at that time, still, a motor city, California a microcosm of the world very diverse, very much in some ways reminds me greater Washington where I live now and then Florida and anyone who's lived in Florida knows it's really three or four states, depending on how you count it. I lived in the middle, which is very different than Northern Florida. Very different than Southern Florida has its own distinct culture. I'd like to think I learned a lot from each of those different experiences.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

So you had a chance to experience different communities. In addition to that, those moves must have impacted you and your worldview. 

 

How did the fact that you had to pick up every few years, three times until you went to college and move how did that impact you?

 

 

Richard Bynum:

I think it gave me a sense of perspective. It's funny because I can remember early in my career as a young man, I moved around a lot when I was a kid, a bunch of different and good reasons at the time, but I did. And so didn't really develop what I would call deep roots.

 

And I always looked at contemporaries who would say “oh I, grew up with this person. I went to kindergarten with this person and we're still my best friend.” And I looked at that with a little bit of envy and I was sharing with my colleague. I said, “whenever I have kids, I'm gonna make sure that we stay put, I want them to have what I thought I missed”.

 

And my colleague at the time rightly pointed out, it doesn't seem to have hurt you. And it took me a minute to really understand that. And I think what he was getting at was we oftentimes have difficulty looking at the world through others. And it's because we have one context, whatever that context is in many cases is where we grew up, who we grew up around the things that we did, what was normal, if you will, culturally and otherwise in our surroundings.

 

And one of the things that I've benefited from and moving around a bit was, I got to see a number of different, very normal perspectives and to experience those, got to some degree internalize those. But even if I didn't internalize them, I got to understand how someone could arrive at a certain place, whether it was in the deep south or in an urban market or in a very diverse and beyond strictly black, white diversity, a very diverse market.

And so, I still believe we might take a lot of that with me in my daily life.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

That's wonderful! becoming better and more resilient, more anti-fragile as a result of all those moves lessons that you still to this day use as a leader.

 

Now, Florida state made sense because you were in Florida. Why political science?

 

Richard Bynum: 

I wanted to go into politics which is funny to me now because politics is the least important thing in my life. I'd like for it to be the least important thing of my life. I wanted to go to politics. I loved it as a kid- history. I love the context that it provided for where we are today.

 

I think we lose a lot of that today. I don't think we as a country are great students of history. And if you're a great student of history, you don't have to be particularly thinker to reflect on things that have already happened and how we got to a place to understand its impact on where we are at the moment.

 

But that aside, I was a great student of history. Loved the political theater of history, and thought politics was the way forward. Actually worked on a couple of campaigns And one of the things that I quickly abused myself of was the notion that politics was for me.

 

I had an opportunity to work on those campaigns and probably find my way to DC early in my career. And there were just a few things that just didn't really keep with other aspects of my upbringing, whatever my own personal stomach and gut on things, issues. 

 

And so decided to go a different direction and ended up graduating in a recession before the internet sprung upon us and found myself the beneficiary of some family help to get a job at the Red Cross.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

And you had a lot of success at Red Cross, eventually going on to become a managing director. You were also an executive with Red Cross when September 11th happened.

 

Richard Bynum:

I was. For folks not familiar and it's a little different today. I've been involved with the red cross back and forth as a volunteer since that time. The red cross is organized in a way that it provides local staff and volunteers, the training and the experience necessary to then find themselves on lard national man-made or otherwise disasters.

 

I had actually participated in about 25 national disasters before September 11th that had varying degrees of responsibility. September 2001 I'm on my way to my office, which was in downtown Chicago at the time. As I, was the director for response and relief and my boss called and said, "Hey, did you see that plane hit the tower in New York?".

 

I was in my car and this was days before we had every piece of information of video on our phones and so I said, " yeah, I'm sure probably an accident or something I'm on my way in. I should be in shortly” and within it felt like a minute or two another phone call, " no, this was a big plane and a second, one's now hit, I need you in here."

 

Came into our operation center, which was folks familiar with Chicago, literally on Michigan and Wacker in the heart of the miracle mile. And four flights, importantly, downstairs from the Israeli consulate in Chicago at the time. And it didn't take very long for us to figure out that we needed to get out of the building.

 

For folks who weren't around at that time, you really didn't know what was happening next. At this point, we were talking about New York and DC. Chicago didn't seem that far distant from what might happen next.

We had a secondary location just outside of the city center. So I beat feet down to my car, a couple of folks in tow, and we made our way to our secondary location and found there a circumstance where while everything that was going on in New York and then spot Pennsylvania and DC was, playing out.

 

The other thing that was happening was that literally tens of thousands of people were being brought down out of the sky, out of the planes that fly overhead every day. Landing wherever they happen to be close to. In many cases, quite a distance from where their destination was. And in Chicago, literally, we're talking something on the order of 75 - 100,000 people displaced and part of our responsibility at the time as a member of the federal response plan and local emergency management activities was to go and provide support including mental health support to all of those individuals.

 

It turns out which I suppose was a surprise to me that when people fly a lot of people more than you might imagine, don't do so with a lot of resources many people had no other real choice than to camp out at the airports. There are two in Chicago O'Hare and midway.

 

So literally we had some 50 - 60,000 people sprawled everywhere. And we provided support for more than a week to those folks while the events in New York and Pennsylvania and DC played themselves out. And then, later on, I went and spent a little over a month and a half as the assistant director of relief in, New York- actually in Brooklyn was where our headquarters was for September 11th. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

So Richard it's incredible how much you were able to contribute while at the Red Cross and learn and grow as a leader. You also had a painful lesson with respect to trust while you were at the Red Cross.

 

Richard Bynum: 

I did. I mentioned that at the red cross, I had this $5 million budget and people might say, “well, why do you need a $5 million budget at the red cross?” What you need to know, is that in Chicago although we talk about floods and hurricanes and all of these very devastating things.

 

Every year at that time in Chicago, there were at least 2000 home fires every year. That equates to something like three to five a night. So every night we would send out people into the city of Chicago to show up at a horrible, devastating home fire. By the way, that fire is devastating to that one family or three families as every bit as devastating as a hurricane is to the people that it affects. So we have to show up and begin the process of trying to get them to think about where are you going to stay for the next two, three, four nights. What's your family going to wear? Because in many cases they've lost everything. And how are we going to get your family fed until you can get stabilized? And then we can have a plan of action for what the rest of life looks like as you rebuild. 

 

And so the Red Cross pays for that. The Red Cross provides those funds and doing so at the time we did it through voucher programs pieces of paper, literally. We'd had relationships with grocery stores and hotels all over the city where you'd use these vouchers and you'd go, say I'm here with the red cross. They would honor the voucher. Probably sounds like a caveman to people these days. But you had this piece of paper, you showed up Red Cross- said, I can stay here the night. Here's my voucher. They turn into us, we'd cut them a check. That's the general gist of the process.

 

And I had a person who was responsible for making sure that each of those vouchers came back in that we reconciled that they received the goods and services that we had authorized. Then we would write a check for those vouchers. And now this was before business school. I was a political science major and before banking, I had a lot of faith in that individual because they were running that process for me. And then one day, a year and a half or so since I've come to that job they went on vacation. I'm like, that's great. Have a good time, enjoy your vacation. Then the process though continues, cause we're dealing with fires every single night.

 

And so I had another coworker, I said, “Hey, come on over. You're gonna sit down here, I'd get them all trained up. I need you to do this process” and, she came to me, not even three or four hours and she said, "Hey, there's something kind of funny with, I found a number of these and I found them. A couple of letters from people who haven't gotten paid. And it just seems like this is more than just something that's going through the process. Can you take a look?" And I said I'm sure it's fine. Long story short, I found out it wasn't fine. Long story short, I found out that the person that I trusted actually was defrauding the organization.

 

And we did what we were supposed to and by the way, if you've ever been involved in one of those things, there are auditors that come in there are accountants that come in and we sort of trace the pattern. Really, you want to find out how far does this go? And I'm a young manager at the time and I want to make sure everyone understands it. didn't come to me. I had nothing to do with it. Other than being naive enough to think the segregation of duties should have been more appropriately followed.

 

Long story after a number of months of investigation and so forth, we isolated approximately what the loss was. You know, It wasn't off the charts, but it hurt. It was painful to me. But it was a great early lesson. I have a number of people work for me today. I've had it for a number of years and if they work for me for very long- I trusted them but I also verify and I have processes that I still think about today.

 

And I look for certain signs and key indicators. And when you start digging you'll find what you need to to make sure that we're on the right course and it's just an important lesson I learned early, but painfully and one that I think I, glad to share with your listeners.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

So how do you strike a balance with that Richard? One of the things that I talk about is the difference between granted trust and earned trust and a lot of times leaders say people have to earn my trust, but a lot of our organizations operate more effectively most, especially now in a virtual environment when there is a higher level of granted trust. 

 

So how do you, as a leader, manage to strike a balance where there is granted trust and there is verification, so systems are not abused?

 

Richard Bynum: 

Think it's a great question. I think the first thing is it depends on how you come to leadership. So if you're a manager or a leader you get the big promotion or you get the next chair. You didn't make any of the decisions to hire the folks that are gonna work for you.

 

You need to learn them and they need to learn you and you need to really open about your expectations and invite them to be open about the expectations that they would have.

 

One of the big misnomers I think that a lot of young managers have is that when they give me my manager’s badge then I have a bunch of people who work for me. And what I often tell folks is that whenever you get that tap, you actually ended up working for your team much more than they'll ever work for you.

 

But I think, you go into those relationships, eyes wide open. I think you set up a set of expectations for your team and I think you trust them to respond to your expectations and through time you build rapport that ultimately becomes trust. 

 

Now, if somewhere along that journey, those expectations don't get fulfilled, then trust your gut, and trust you can have an honest conversation. That might not be a pleasant conversation. It's much better to have it early and in an honest fashion than to let something go that you will have to, later on, acknowledge and deal with it. 

 

And I think it's much better early than it is later and much better on the platform of trust than when distrust has been sewn in because you've had to react or respond. Given the fact that your expectations haven't been met. I think as you develop and in particular, when you do have the opportunity that hire people who are going to be on your team. I think you've got to do so, with a real eye towards trying to get underneath who is this person. Is this a person that I want to invest my trust in? And give me some demonstration of how you're going to become my partner. I have teammates, I have partners. I don't have a lot of subordinates, because there's literally nothing that I do today by myself, literally nothing.

 

I have conversations and management exercises, where we talk about the things that we want to do, the objectives that we set, the strategies, and so forth. And then I ask people to go and do those things, with a checkbox that expectation set maybe a more global view, but I don't do anything on my own. That's the way it should be. 

 

And typically it is because it allows for those people- that to them also demonstrate their capabilities, their development, their creativity, and bring themselves authentically and fully to work and hopefully trust me, me that what I'm in service of is our outcome. But also in service of making sure that they get what they need, the development that they need, the compensation that they need, and the ability to move barriers out of their way, if that's their need, that's what becomes my job.

 

But due to the core of your question, trust is both earned and granted. And I think that there are varying levels of trust. But I think you have to set the ground firmly upfront, depending on how you come to this relationship that you're going to have with your team, and then set your expectations and then manage toward those expectations and trust will naturally evolve. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

You, Richard actually captured a lot of what I also believe and advocate with respect to leadership in that it is a partnership and that partnership is developed over a period of time. There has to be a two-way street with respect to expectations, what the leader gives to the team and what the leader expects from the team. A true partnership. It's not one person or group serving another person or group in this case.

 

So with that kind of mindset, with those skills, You rose up to eventually become a market leader for PNC in greater Washington, taking over after an individual that had been leading that in that role for many years. So it has its challenges of its own, but you did brilliantly in that. 

 

Richard Bynum: 

I appreciate that. Thank you. I had the benefit of having followed Mike Carroll, who is a storied leader or certainly on his own right. But more than that, Mike really did it the right way. From start to finish. We began a 

conversation because I continued to live in The greater Washington area, even after I went on to run our small business division so began a conversation, probably a good six or seven months before we made any public announcement. Mike announced his intent to retire to some folks internally. He had had an amazing career, several markets, several layers of management run his own bank, the whole thing.

 

He really done it all. And when he and I began to talk about it, I couldn't quite see the transition. But one of the things that he assured me was look, I know how to do this. There's a right way to do it, and there's a wrong way to do it and I'm going to do it the right way. And I took him at his word and he did that first year that I was president. Mike and I probably had breakfast, lunch or dinner with, I'm going to say something like 600 people and really good grounding in who the people of greater Washington were and not only the business community but the civic community as well.

 

And what agenda he had, set for our business in the market and a level of connection and trust to the market. You would have thought that Mike was born and raised in DC, very senatorial for those who know Mike Harrell. He could have walked off of Capitol Hill and you would have thought there's the Senator from the great state of wherever heading off to do great things. In my style and approach, although different, I took a lot from the gravity that Mike was able to bring to the role and tried to incorporate it into my own personal style. 

 

We benefited from a terrific foundation. I had a great team. I am so happy that a member of that team, Jermaine Johnson has succeeded me in the market as the, now president of PNC and is doing a great job. 

 

The success that we had in the four years that followed, was fabulous. But it was all, the people that we're able to assemble to lead, our businesses and the connectivity that we had to the marketplace that was greater Washington, which today I still believe to be if not the most dynamic regional marketplace in the country. It's top two, top three and I'm eager to see how it, and the rest of the country comes out of this time, this pandemic time that we're in now.

 

I had a springboard coming into the market. I was fortunate enough to take part in the company's agendas prior to the pandemic prior to the summer of 2020, when a lot of, really sad events kind of called us to, really lend our voice in a very public way to what was going on and for me, afforded me the opportunity to help the company shape its vision, for the future. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And that's something that really excites me Richard, having had the pleasure of getting to know you see you in action. One of the frustrations. I have with a lot of organizations is that they have a lot of good statements and PR releases, once something happens and one of the top consulting firms has the go-to study on the value of diversity on senior teams and returns to shareholders that consulting firm doesn't have much diversity, actually, any African-Americans on their own senior leadership team globally, top 17 executives.

 

So, Number one, you were given the responsibility to become chief corporate responsibility officer for PNC, which is great knowing you and you'll drive, however, making that even more significant and important is that it's not just the statement. PNC was willing to commit $1 billion to help end systemic racism and support economic empowerment for African-Americans in low to moderate-income communities. 

 

So now you have the challenge, you have the support and the resources, Richard Bynum to tackle this. 

 

Richard Bynum: 

It's funny because when build them check, our CEO called them and I'll give you the brief story and then get into that a little bit. 

 

Going back to 2020 for a moment here we are in March. I think it was March 13th or something like that and I thought, okay well, we'll be home for a couple of weeks. We'll figure this out. And then we'll get right back to it. A couple of weeks then became June.

 

And interestingly Mahan, we had just had our first meeting of what we call the black leader’s forum. The black leader’s forum at PNC is 150 of the most senior African-American leaders in the company. And a year or two before 2020 we had a conversation with Bill about some thoughts that we had with regard to the development and sponsorship of black leaders in the company and my counterpart in Atlanta, a guy named Eddie Myers, who's the president down there had been among the highest-ranked African-Americans in the company at the end of the conversation I said "well, Richard Nettie, I need solutions to some of these things we've talked about and I agreed to" so off I go and so for two years we had planned an exercise and it culminated in the black leader’s forum.

 

So we brought these 150 leaders to Washington. I hosted them in Washington, DC at our regional headquarters there. And we brought our executive committee at the time to come And, we spent about a day and a half really digging in and talking about some of the issues of sponsorship development promotion and the real-world effect of having a bench but wanting as any organization, it's kind of a pyramid.

 

So we have a lot of bench strength, but where do those folks go if they want to ascend to a higher scale of scope and really left a very productive conversation in February of 2020 and March of 2020, we get sent home. And we're in the midst of trying to figure out how you run a big bank in a global pandemic and by the way, what about the economic impact of this pandemic on all of our customers and then the paycheck protection program and so on. 

 

So literally we're in the midst of this and then George Floyd's murdered. and so in the days around that, it's all a bit of a haze to me now, but I'm on our bravery on a tailor. Their names are added to this sort of list that I'm very aware of. But now we're home and we're staring at a screen and nine minutes of video and everyone in the country galvanized around it and wondering why won't you get off of his neck and so that, I think, began to change the tone of our conversation internally. We had been the civil unrest, right outside of my office, down the street, it was the white house and we saw all of the things that went on around Washington DC at the time, but in cities, across the country and in countries across the planet, we saw an hour worth of unrest at these events.

 

And Bill and our chief diversity officer called and said, "look, we want to do something. This is the time for us to speak. This is a time for us to have both internal and external conversations. Can you help us think about this ?"

 

And so in all of that context we did and we engaged in an amazingly productive set of listening sessions and learning opportunities for leaders- 52,000 employees at PNC. I think some 52,000 of them participated in this exercise. Externally we committed a billion dollars to help challenge systemic racism affecting the black community and the Monday following Juneteenth, which was when we made the announcement. I'm thinking about going on vacation because it has been a long stretch. I didn't even know what vacation would be in a pandemic, but I thought, whatever it is, I'm going to have it. 

 

And I got a phone call from Bill and I talked to Bill at that stage of my career. I talked about maybe two or three times a year. Usually reporting on what's going on and what we might need in terms of growing in the market. So I got the call and I said I thought, this is interesting because I am not used to this conversation and I'm wondering after about 20 minutes, what are we talking about? and he said, "well, Richard, I want you to be the first corporate responsibility officer at PNC. I want you to take on leading our effort in deploying this good because I don't want to be a company that puts a statement out and then does not fulfill". 

 

Bill is, just, an authentic deep thinking leader and he has aspirations for a company that has been realized and continues to be realized, but he also has a want to do more than say. 

 

So I took that on and brought together corporate responsibility at PNC, which includes our foundation and includes our diversity inclusion efforts. It includes our ESG practice and includes importantly, our community development banking effort, which is where the majority of deployment of those funds happens.As of this week, we're about $260 million out the door, some of it is in DC. 

 

So you may be familiar with the sky land project over inward seven That is literally more than 130 projects around the country that focus on either economic empowerment, education, or entrepreneurship in the black community. So I'm pleased that we have so much to do before we sleep. 

But I say all that to say, that, you said you've got the resources and when I talked to Bill that afternoon, about the billion dollars- I did say a billion dollars is just, a pin and when you talk about systemic racism, and when you talk about all of the issues that I've been alive on this planet for 51 years. So I know a little of that but honestly, I was a child coming out of the civil rights era. So all of that benefit that I was able to partake in as a function of what those people sacrificed. And I stand on the shoulders of those people.

 

But I think now actually represents one of the most important civil rights moments of our time because we're not talking about what can we do to just even a playing field we're talking about, how can we provide a view towards an equitable outcome for all Americans? Because black history is American history. this country is fundamentally built on the work of black Americans, white Americans, brown Americans, and the myriad that continues to come to our shores, and adds to this, the American dream. And so I come by this humbly, but I am, very passionate about making sure that whatever small part our bank plays, in that effort, is meaningful and impactful.

 

And you may know that actually, since that time we've acquired a bank, out in primarily the west coast. In doing that, we actually doubled down. So we have created a broader platform for community investment, which includes a billion and a half dollars starting next January for four years, in relation to the bed framework for the black community, but also deployment of 47 billion for home lending and affordable housing, which is the biggest problem this country has right now and then beyond that small business, investment of twenty-six and a half-billion dollars. And in addition to that one and a half billion, it is part of a fourteen and a half-billion-dollar commitment to community development banking including opportunity zones, in tax credits, and all kinds of wonderful financial instruments that can help improve conditions for the people of this country.

 

So I'm excited about being involved in deploying that, not only in greater Washington but across the country.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And those are significant resources Richard, and the most important part of it is that the bank is putting its resources behind the statements, it's not just those statements. 

 

So if we are to look back at the impact that you've had in investing these resources on behalf of the bank, I highly doubt systemic racism will be wiped out over the next four or five years. It's a bigger issue than one that only PNC or a few organizations can tackle. 

 

Richard, what will have happened as a result of all these investments and all these interventions? 

 

Richard Bynum: 

Yes. It's a great question and I often ask the question. So what are your goals? What I would say is I fundamentally believe that economic mobility is the ultimate north star. I'm a simple guy. If you think about simple examples, we have an economic engine in this country that you could argue that 13% of that engine is working at about 60% efficiency set another way. If you aggregate the black community, you're talking about a gap, whether you talk about the wealth gap or you're talking about the homeownership gap, or your talking about the income gap or the education gap.

 

Whichever gap you want to focus in on, there's about a 60%- about two thirds to one whole relationship between that aggregated black community and people in the United States. 

 

So if you try to run an engine with 13% of your pistons going at 60% and you're running a race against the rest of the world, you're not going to win. The world is trying to determine how it can have 100% of its pistons run at a hundred percent efficiency.

 

I'm not sure that we have neither the time nor the opportunity to get caught up in the issues that have created some systemic barriers for black and brown and Asian and diverse households across this country.

 

If we think that we are in competition with the rest of the world, which in my view, we are. We want to grow.- we want to grow as fast or faster than whoever's number one or number two and so I hope that we move the needle on that gap.

 

There's momentum to it. If we can move the needle in that direction, then it will go faster and faster once we do, because we will all enjoy the benefit of that engine working at better and better capability inside of its capacity. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It is a great perspective because it will impact all of us and the entire country's competitiveness. As you say, it will help elevate everyone by turbocharging that 13% that has 60% running on 60% power to a higher level. 

 

So if any leader is able to achieve that, it will be you, Richard. I have no doubt about that. 

 

Now, I also know you enjoy genealogy as a hobby. What I'm wondering about that though, is what has genealogy taught you about yourself and your own history? 

 

Richard Bynum: 

So I've been able to trace family, thre benefit of privilege and computers, So, ancestry.com and weren’t giving them a plug or anything, but, they have wonderful access to vital records to history. You can sort of trace your way back, and I can go back about eight generations.

 

And if you trace your history, you go back not only to understand where your people came from but what were the times that they were living in and what were the circumstances of those times?

 

And so my third great-grandfather lived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Hillary brown. I was able to find his name on the voting poll in 1891 and how as a person who could neither read nor write got to the pole and how he thought about it, Voting as our fundamental right.

 

And it was important enough for him to do it, even though he was a farmer living in rural Tennessee as a child of slavery. There's no excuse for me not wanting everyone to exercise their right to vote in that. 

 

Right is one that is the most valuable resource that we have and so that's just one powerful reminder of how good we have it today, how privileged we are, and what our responsibilities are inside of that goodness. And that privilege on the shoulders that we all stand on.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

What those shoulders and those people like your grandfather have done in order for us to have some of the luxuries and freedoms that we enjoy today, putting it then on our shoulders to do more so a couple of generations from now, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can look at this moment and see that we also contributed to a change at this moment. 

 

So I would love to know if there are any leadership resources Richard, that you find yourself typically recommending or have been go-to resources for you, as you have developed your own leadership. 

 

Richard Bynum: 

We live in a wonderful age of informal. This resource of the internet that we use for such woeful things like social media also benefits us. 

 

I'm amazed at my kids. I have a 15-year-old, 13-year-old, teenager. Verbally, I'll be in a conversation with my son and I'll say, you know, what about this? And what about that? And he'll go, hold on, let me look that up. And it's all in his hand, the entire sum, total of human knowledge in his hands.

 

Ted talks and amazing podcasts like this are amazing. So I do avail myself of all the marvelous benefits of the internet.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Richard Bynum, these Tuesday conversations are conversations with change-makers and you have been a brilliant star of a change maker, both integrated Washington DC region now on a national level. So it has been an absolute pleasure and honor having a chance to find out a little bit more about your journey and the passion and commitment you have to making a difference to make it a better world for all of us. 

 

Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation, Richard Bynum.

 

Richard Bynum: 

Mahan, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today as well.