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Podcasts Mission Admissions Episode 13
DEI, Leadership, and Starting With The Heart
Jeremy Tiers: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. This is Jeremy Tiers from Tudor Collegiate Strategies, and you're about to check out the latest episodes of the Mission Admissions Podcast, a show that's designed to help higher ed become better recruiters, communicators, marketers, and managers. Each week, I'll introduce you to an industry leader or difference maker who will share helpful advice, tips, and strategies that will help you grow professionally and personally.
Mission admissions is part of the Enrollify Podcast Network and is made possible by Gecko. An engagement platform that makes it easy for your team to deliver a better student experience. I'm excited to share my latest candid conversation. So let's get started.
Hey everybody, it's Jeremy Tier [00:01:00] and this is episode 13 of the Mission Admissions podcast. Today I have the pleasure of talking with Tru Pettigrew, a well known speaker, author, workshop leader, and an award-winning marketing executive with close to 20 years of experience at some of the nation's top advertising and marketing agencies.
Tru, has really established a strong reputation for helping organizations build bridges across racial, cultural, social, and relational. And he also happens to currently serve as the Vice President of diversity and inclusion for the NBA's Minnesota Timber Wolf. So welcome to the show. Tru.
Tru Pettigrew: Thank you.
Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And I, I do want to offer a brief piece of clarity as the, the role is now the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Timberwolves and
Jeremy Tiers: the links. So when you were young, true, like what did you want to be when you.
Tru Pettigrew: Man, I wanted to be a fire truck when I grew up.
When I was young, , I thought fire trucks were so cool. [00:02:00] They, everybody got out of their way, you know, they were bright red, made a lot of noise, were flashy. But then after I realized that probably wasn't gonna happen. I, um, you know, I wanted to play in the nfl, man, I love football. I thought I was gonna be a football player.
Um, then, uh, at one point I thought I was gonna be an engineer, right? I even went to school for engineering, got my degree in electrical engineering. Uh, but, uh, I guess my first memory of my, my dreams was, uh, was a
Jeremy Tiers: football. So where did your passion for diversity, inclusion, equity, where did that all originate from?
Tru Pettigrew: It's a, it's a great question and it's an interesting one, right? Because it's hindsight now, right? And I believe that this is truly what I've been called to do, like the work that I've been called to do, that I have been wired, designed, equipped, and prepared to do this work. And I'm also a believer that everything, every experience that we've gone.
Up until the moment when [00:03:00] we have that clarity, that moment of clarity of what we've been called to do, it's all been practice and preparation for that. And so I remember being bus to school. I grew up in Baltimore and I remember being bused to school to a predominantly white school across town, right? I lived in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Not a whole lot of means and resources, right, where and how I grew up. But I remember early on seeing the difference between my school friends. , Right? And my neighborhood friends and the access and the things that they would talk about at school versus the things me and my neighborhood friends would talk about and dream about and aspire to achieve.
And I think early on those seeds were planted early on, and I didn't even realize it is the importance of being a bridge builder to connect people across differences. It's something that began to develop in me early on and continuing to have experiences like that. Throughout my life. So when I was in advertising, my focus was helping my [00:04:00] clients to connect with youth, young, adult, and multicultural audiences.
So that was essentially focusing on diversity. I didn't understand it through that lens. At the time, I wasn't thinking of the word diversity and inclusion in, in my mind, but that was. Preparation, practice and preparation for the work that I do now. And so I've, I've always been drawn to helping people connect with people that are different than them.
Not fully understanding that it was diversity, equity, and inclusion. But if I, I can take it back to, to grade school and then even, and I laugh and I joke with people, um, even though I went to school for electrical engineer. Instead of connecting wires, I now connect hearts and minds to help people function better.
Jeremy Tiers: with people from different backgrounds and ages, has it been easy for you, True, most of your life, if you think about it? Or is that something No, I'd like, it's been hard. I've had to really, you know, work at it. Or is that something that just for whatever reason has [00:05:00] come relatively easy to you?
Tru Pettigrew: I think. The work is challenging, but connecting with people, um, from different races, backgrounds, genders, ages, uh, and ethnicities, that has come relatively easy. But that goes back to the, the, the calling piece, right? Jeremy? The, the why I believe this is what I've been purposed to do is because I believe the areas in which we are gifted in the areas which we have very strong passions are indicator.
For what we've been called to do, and so because that is something that is somewhat natural for me, an area of gifting, if you will, That's one of the ways that it has affirmed for me that this is what I've been called to do.
Jeremy Tiers: Why do you think it's hard then true for a lot of people, right? Yeah. To actually do what you just described.
Why do you think it's so hard for a lot of people?
Tru Pettigrew: I think a couple of things. I think one is we don't talk about. We're uncomfortable talking about [00:06:00] differences. We're uncomfortable talking about race. We're uncomfortable talking about gender. We're uncomfortable talking about sexual orientation. We're uncomfortable talking about religion.
And those things have become taboo. We're taught, right? We were taught like these are things you don't talk about, right? You don't talk about race, sex, religion, and politics, right? And so the things that we've conditioned ourselves to avoid conversation. Are the things that are the biggest sources of division and divisiveness, I believe, is because if I don't talk to you about the differences, I'm never going to be able to learn more about you and understand, you know, what those differences are.
And not to harp on the differences, but I believe if we. Conversations that are rooted in genuine curiosity to learn and get an understanding about people that are different than us, then we'll realize there's actually much more that connects us than we should ever allow to separate us. But there's a discomfort in talking [00:07:00] about those differences, and we can then allow ourselves to succumb to our own unconscious biases or stereotypes about people or people.
Jeremy Tiers: I agree and I think intent. I just talked about this with my last podcast, you know, guest. I think intent is so important. True in so many situations in life, right? Like you talked about. If we're coming at it as a place of genuine curiosity, we wanna learn, we truly want to find ways to be better at something to improve our knowledge around something you think intent's important in this situation.
Tru Pettigrew: Oh, 100%. It, it requires us to be very intentional and deliberate about seeking to learn, seeking to understand, seeking to do good. Uh, it, it's going to require a lot of intentionality and for us to step outside of our, our comfort zone. So it is work, it's effort. And then going back to your question, your prior question, that's probably another reason why, uh, people don't do it as much as they could [00:08:00] do, as much as they should do, should do.
It is, It requires work. It requires effort. ,
Jeremy Tiers: you talked about differences. What, what are, I think it'd be helpful for the audience. What are the differences, in your opinion between diversity, equity, and inclusion? Can you kind of define those and break those down for
Tru Pettigrew: us? . Yeah, absolutely. So diversity by definition is the state of being different.
And what I find very fascinating and interesting about that definition, and it's something that I didn't always recognize, is that it's a state of being. Diversity exists, but it doesn't do anything on its own. It is a state of being. It's the state of being different, whatever those differences are, whether it's age, ge.
Um, lived experiences, race, religion, size, right? What, whatever those differences are, it's the state of being different. And there are three primary forms of diversity, right? There is identity diversity. That's what we see when we look at someone. We [00:09:00] see what we perceive to be their race by the color of their skin, what we perceive to be their age by how they look, what we perceive to be their gender by how we've been conditioned to perceive gender, right?
That's identity d. Second form of diversity is experiential diversity. Our lived experiences, they're going to be different. You know, we all have unique and different lived experiences. Third form of diversity is cognitive diversity or neuro diversity. Our thinking styles the way. The lens through which we see the world, how we approach and engage other people, collaborate with others, right?
And I, I think the, a lot of the richness and the value is in our cognitive diversity, but we can't divorce that from the identity and the experiential diversity, cuz it's my identity diversity that influences my experiential diversity because I am a, a, a black male, right? A cisgender black male. It's required me to navigate.
Differently than you. Only because, not by choice, because society just views us differently and will behave [00:10:00] differently towards us. So we're gonna have different lived experiences. And those lived experiences is what influences our cognitive diversity and it lends through which we see the world. So that's the definition of diversity.
Equity, uh, by definition is fair and impartial treatment, or in more layman's terms, meeting people where they are and giving them what they need to succeed, how that differs. Equality. And a lot of times people, you know, make, they, they, they view equity and equality as one and the same when they're not.
Equality is treating everyone the same, and that's a beautiful thing, but the reality is we, we all don't always need the same thing, right? We're at different points in different places in our lives, and so equity is ensuring I am giving you what you need to succeed, which may be very different than what I need to.
And then inclusion is how our words, actions, and behaviors foster and create a sense of belonging for people [00:11:00] that they know they belong, that they have a voice, that they have a say, and that we create a situation and environment where people feel that sense of belonging.
Jeremy Tiers: And do you feel like one of those three, or maybe it's multiple ones true, one, is harder for most of the general population than the rest?
Or do you feel like No, they're, they're all, you know, for the most part things that a lot of people will have to work at,
Tru Pettigrew: Well, the, the first one, diversity that's gonna ha we will wake up tomorrow. Diversity will. Right. The challenge becomes in how we embrace the diversity that is available to us, and it, it's a gift that's available to us all.
Jeremy Tiers: I don't think I've
Tru Pettigrew: met a single higher ed professional that loved everything about their technology stack. Here's the honest truth. No CRM or sis will be able to
Jeremy Tiers: meet all of the needs of all of your. And that's why I'm a huge fan of Gecko, a student
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Tru Pettigrew: basic questions about the college admissions process, gecko's event module makes it easy
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Jeremy Tiers: through data to find who you need to call next, or having to manually record who picked up and who didn't.
Tru Pettigrew: Oh, and did I mention that everything integrates seamlessly into your CRM and sis
Jeremy Tiers: because.[00:13:00]
So if you're a slate school, for example,
Tru Pettigrew: you'll see all of that sweet interaction data in your students'
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You can learn more about their offerings at geck. engage.com/inify and
Tru Pettigrew: be sure to tell them that Jeremy and the enroll Fify team
Jeremy Tiers: sent you their way. That's where my brain was going. I feel like when I have conversations with leaders, true the action part, right? Not just related to dei, but anything else we might be talking about.
That's usually where the hiccup happens or the speed bump happens with so many people. It's. I can tell people, Hey, stop using deer to start your emails. Nobody does that in 2022. That's outdated language. Right. Which it
Tru Pettigrew: is. You're not gonna know that. That's so funny.
Jeremy Tiers: Right. . But, But [00:14:00] people keep doing it a hundred percent because it was normal when you and I did it when we were younger, cuz we didn't know any different.
Right. But to your point in some of the stuff we've been talking. It's just different because my daughter's 13. You know, with your son or with younger generation, it's not what they do. Right? They've never done that. And so yet, why do we want to then say, but we're gonna talk to them the way we think we're supposed to talk to them.
Well, no, tying back into all the things you're saying. You have to understand it's different. Right. If you had to summarize then where you think most organizations are at with DEI in 2022, like what would you say?
Tru Pettigrew: I think a lot of organizations are still trying to figure it out. Right? And I tell people all the time, this work is really about, you know, how to connect the head with what's in the heart.
I think people understand that it's, I. And we're really coming into a place where a lot of organizations are understanding that there is a business case for [00:15:00] diversity, equity, and inclusion. Where before people felt as though they had to do it or felt compelled to do it because it was the right thing to do.
Um, and it is the right thing to do, but there is also a business case. So I think a lot of organizations are at a place where they're really beginning to understand how to connect what's, what's in the head with, with, with what's in.
Jeremy Tiers: So someone listening wants to start a conversation in their org, you know about dei.
How do they go about doing that? Especially for example, if they're not in a leadership position, right? Because I gotta believe and tell me if you degree disagree. If you're in a leadership position, you probably come at this a little bit differently, meaning you have more ownership of something you probably can impact change a little bit more.
and I wonder is part of the problem that some people don't put in the work to be, whatever the appropriate word would be [00:16:00] better or to improve their knowledge around dei? Cuz they're like, Yeah, but what can I really do? You know, in my office, I'm not in a position of leadership. I mean, any thoughts on all of that?
Tru Pettigrew: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have a workshop that I offer, it's called D ei and. And just helping people understand why it's important. I think anytime we can help anyone understand why something is important, help them understand the purpose behind something, it creates more value, it creates more impact, it creates more precision in how they go about doing it.
Right. Once they have clarity of purpose of why these things matter and how they benefit the greater good, right? And so understanding that, you know, by embracing diversity and fostering more equitable inclusive environments, it creates, uh, a, a greater level of employee engagement, right? Because we're more comfortable talking.
To those that are, may have differences than us, but understand that it's through those differences that we can be more innovative and creative in developing new products, solutions, and ideas. Right? And that it [00:17:00] then, that then lends itself to, uh, enhance performance and and productivity, and that ultimately results in greater profitability.
But to, to, to answer the question one, it's start understanding why it's important, right? Always starting with why. And then, uh, an approach that I. . It's really starting with the heart, right? And encouraging people to share their stories, right? And say, Hey, cuz we may view it differently and see things differently.
And it's not about us agreeing Jeremy, it's about us understanding, right? But until I hear your story, you haven't equipped me with the insight, the information, the tools that I need to exercise my empathy muscle. Once I hear your story about how you feel about the topic, about how it's impacting you as a white male, you may say True, I'm all for diversity, but the way things have been going, it's made me feel like, um, as, as a white male, everything's my [00:18:00] fault, or that I don't have a voice.
All of the emphasis has been placed on, you know, people of color or LGBTQ plus community or women. And if I'm a cisgender, heterosexual white male, like I'm feeling. My voice is being silent. Like I may have never understood that that's where you are. And now that I hear your story, it helps me to exercise my empathy muscles to, I may not, it may not have been my experience, right?
I was like, Oh, wow. That's not the way I saw it, but I understand why you see it that way. That's not the way I felt, but I understand why you feel that way. And I could share the same with you. It's just like, just being black and constantly being viewed or wondering if I'm being viewed through a lens of a stereotype.
It's given me this stereotype threat and the microaggressions that I deal with every day and dealing with this imposter syndrome because wondering if people think I only got the job because I'm black. Am I a token? No one else around here looks like me. I'm, I'm, I'm adjusting my behavior. [00:19:00] Cuz I don't want to be viewed through a stereotype.
I don't wanna reinforce the stereotype. And you're like, Oh, wow. True. I never. That's what you were experiencing. That's what you were feeling. Now I've equipped you with the tools, information, and insight You need to exercise your empathy muscles to be a better ally, advocate and supporter. So start with the heart, then go to the head.
Now that we have this information, we've equipped each other to be stronger in paths. Right now, we can say, Okay, now let's co-create some thoughts, ideas, and solutions for how we can eliminate those stings. A offense or marginalization or dismissiveness that either of us or both of us may feel. So we go from the heart to the head, co-creating ideas and solutions, and then hold each other accountable.
So now we've gone from the heart to the head to the hands. Now let's put our hands to the plow. Plow and start doing the things, doing the work. That's necessary to ladder up to those phenomenal ideas we came up with in the [00:20:00] ideation phase, right? So the process I would offer to people, start with the heart, share your stories, then co-create ideas and then hold each other accountable for activating against those ideas.
Jeremy Tiers: And so much of what you said, I would argue, right, I wrote down understanding requires. And it does, and we don't, I mean, again, gimme your thoughts. True. But I don't think, you know, again, generalization, but enough people in society truly want to be active listeners when they're having a conversation with another, whether it's a white male having a conversation with another white male, me having a conversation with you as a person of color, I just, I don't feel like we are committed as a society.
To actually listening. Do you agree or disagree?
Tru Pettigrew: Uh, I think that's one of the biggest challenges, honestly. Right, And you just talked about active listening and you know, as opposed to competitive listening, which I think is what a lot of people do, is competitive listening, which is listening to [00:21:00] reply versus listening to understand.
Active listening is, I'm listening to understand. I'm hearing some things that I may not necessarily agree with, um, but I want to. Put myself in a posture and a position to just seek to understand, right? And then that's when I can say, Oh, wow. I understand why you feel that way. I don't have to feel the same way.
But it's about understanding why you do. And then competitive listening, which I see a lot, which we all see a lot and we're all guilty of is as I'm listening to you, as I'm hearing things that go against my own beliefs or my lived experie. I'm now it's, I'm just waiting to combat what you just said and I'm just focusing on my reply and I'm not even listening to understand anymore.
I'm just listening to reply.
Jeremy Tiers: I think that's a great way to frame it and I hope, I think that probably [00:22:00] provided a ton of value for a lot of people because there is a difference in active listening is what we need. , you mentioned imposter syndrome. True. And this is something I've been asked about a ton, probably the last 18 to 24 months.
Why do you think there's a lot of conversation around imposter syndrome? Like anything, any thoughts just on why this is something that a lot of people feel like they're dealing with so much in 2022
Tru Pettigrew: dealing with it and, and, and attempting to cope with it in some form of fashion. And it requires other members of the organization to be mindful.
That that dynamic exists so that we can lean in to better understand how we can create that environment where people feel that sense of belonging. Right. And it goes back to the equity and inclusion piece. If I am the only woman in an organization that is predominantly male or one of few, right? We all have it to some degree, right?
All of us, especially if you're new to an [00:23:00] organization, you're just gonna have it just because of the newness where you are wondering, wow. Do I really belong here? Am am I good enough? Am I qualified enough? They're speaking language and acronyms and terms that I don't even understand. Um, am I supposed to know what this stuff means?
Um, and if you are, like I said, in that minority, the only woman, and you, you really don't want to say things that's going to cause them to view you through that stereotypical lens and you start to second guess yourself. And so if I know. Then I can be more intentional. To go back to the importance of intentionality that you referenced about making sure that that person knows that they belong, that they feel a sense of value, and then it goes into equity.
The only woman may not need the same thing as all the other men. They may need a little more time and attention so that they can feel acclimated and feel that sense of belonging. Uh, no, it's, it's same. If it's a [00:24:00] person that speaks English as a second language, I may have to show that person a little more grace and patience, um, and maybe not use colloquialisms that they may not understand right.
And use phrases, uh, that they may not be familiar with. Right. And. That's the equity piece that we talked about before. Hey, everybody, Zach from AFI here. You know that feeling you get when your boss tells you to go find a new crm or when you're tasked with finding a handful of digital agencies to respond to your rfp, it's exciting, but it's also a little overwhelming.
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Jeremy Tiers: So during the college search process, true, and I know a lot of people that, that are listening to this now deal with questions from prospective students of color. Or prospective students from different backgrounds around. Talk to us about diversity and your commitment as an institution. Talk to us about what we perceive as this lack of diversity.
How would you advise a, a student giving a tour or even an admissions counselor? Where do they start in terms of answering a question like that in a way that's actually helpful for the person who [00:26:00] asked
Tru Pettigrew: the. Well, one, be honest, right? And hopefully you do have a commitment to diversity in that it, it's not something that is performative or, you know, you're just checking a box.
Um, so be be honest, right? And be able to articulate what your, what your goals and your vision is, right? Be able to articulate why you believe diversity, equity, and inclusion is important. What's your vision, right? So purpose is being, I need you to understand what. What, what, what this organization exists and they know why they exist.
Vision is seeing, I need you to help me understand where you're going with your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, right? And then Mission is doing. So if you can give me a clearly articulated purpose, vision, and mission. So mission is, what are you doing? to get to where you're going. Right. Um, you may not be there yet, and I don't think that's the expectation, right, of perfection, right?
But if I know that it's something that you're committed to and that you have, uh, a plan for how you're gonna get there, [00:27:00] one, you have a vision for where you're going, and then a plan to how to get there, and you have a clear understanding of why it's important. I, I think that's a good place to start.
Jeremy Tiers: And I think back to my days, you know, as a college basketball coach.
Probably 85, 90% of the student athletes I recruited Drew were black. And you know, most of them would always say to me, Coach, when I bring up diversity, like one of the big things I'm looking for, I just want a sense
Tru Pettigrew: of belonging. My, my definition of leadership. And it's one that I have created for myself.
Cause I wasn't fully satisfied with the definition. That's, that's in the dictionary cuz I just didn't think it was complete enough. Um, from my experience of, of, of pursuing leadership and, uh, working with different leaders is leadership is the process of influencing people by providing them with purpose, vision, and direction to accomplish the greater good of the team.
And so the four P's that stood out to me when I wrote it, and I [00:28:00] didn't even write it with intentionality, right? For both those four P's just jumped out when that definition landed in my heart and it felt right. Uh, the first P is process. It's what we do. It's, it's not based on a title or status or a position.
Leadership is, is is a verb, right? It's not, no. It's what we do, right? And it's behavior, right? And then that second P is people, Leadership is the process of influencing people. It should always be about the people, right? It's not about you as the leader, it's about the people and are you developing them and helping them to maximize their full potential as it relates to how they can contribute to the greater good of the.
Right? And then that third P is provision, right? Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing you are there to serve. How are you, what are you providing them with to help their development and their growth and their in nurturing them, right? And then finally, and you've heard me say this a number of times because it's so important in my, at least in, in, in, [00:29:00] in, in my mind, in my heart, is purpose, right?
Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing them with. Right. And then if you can help people understand how their unique purpose contributes to the greater purpose of the organization, they will feel so much more value. And then you include them in the process of success. You include them in the process of winning.
And it's been my experience that where there is little to no inclusion, there's going to be little to no commitment. But the more I can include, And the process of your own success and help you see how that contributes to the success of the team, then you're much more committed.
Jeremy Tiers: It's such an important point.
You know, I, I use the example all the time saying, but different with what you just described. True of if you want to help somebody with a skill, you first have to get them to admit they want and or need help, right? Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Because if they're not a part of their own growth, to your point, they're gonna be like, Why am I.
Yeah, [00:30:00] what's my why? Like, Oh, I'm doing it because you, my boss want me to do it. Right. I don't think I need to be better at this. I think I, and, and I feel like you just gave the audience so much good there with those four P's. I think I would love to basically go then into when you're having, you know, a tough conversation as a leader with somebody you manage.
Like how do you navigate. What, what advice, I mean, is there anything that just in your work you've seen to be really effective teaching and or working with leaders in different orgs as to, Hey, when you run into some of these uncomfortable situations, here's how you need to put your best foot forward and attack them.
Tru Pettigrew: Yeah, absolutely, and I, I would say it's. Lead with love, I mean, more than anything. I mean, as hokey as that sounds, I, I just can't think of a more powerful force, and I'm not even talking about love as an emotion, as a feeling, as a choice, a decision, right? To decide. I am [00:31:00] going to be, you know, patient, I'm going to be kind.
I'm going to be compassionate, empathetic, and understanding, and always want what's best for that person. So the feedback that I'm giving, You know, as constructive as it, it may be, as it's, and it may not always be what you want to hear. I know that it's coming from a place of love because I want what is best for you, and if I do not give you this feedback and allow you to continue to go the path that you're going, you are not going to be successful here or probably anywhere else, right?
I believe in the approach of educating. I. Right, not condemning your ignorance, like the solution to ignorance should always be education. So if you are operating B based on lack of knowledge and understanding of how to do something, then I have a responsibility to educate that ignorance. I believe in correcting mistakes.
If you are, the solution to mistakes should always be correction. [00:32:00] If you are making mistakes, I am going to help you to correct those mistakes. Now the solution. To misconduct is condemnation or discipline. If you are intentionally being malicious or rebellious, then that requires discipline. And so I just personally with the folks that I've been given stewardship over, I make sure they understand that that is my approach.
I'm going to educate your ignorance. I'm going to help you correct mistakes, but I am going to discipline misconduct. So those expectations are managed going. But it's it. It's always coming from a place of love because I want what's best for you.
Jeremy Tiers: What I heard you say there, and what I agree with so much is just the expectations have to be set.
Yeah. And I find that with so many leaders I speak with. , It maybe was one of 20 things that got mentioned during a training for 60 seconds, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, and never really got reinforced in follow up meetings individually with [00:33:00] staff or anything else. And I would argue it's harder. Tell me if you agree or disagree.
I think if you don't set those expectations to then when you have to discipl. To get this other person, to not be like, What's True's problem? Right. Yeah. Why is he getting so
Tru Pettigrew: upset at me? No, no, absolutely. When you don't manage expectations, right, then people are gonna be confused as to why you're doing or saying or behaving a certain way, why you're doing what you're doing, saying what you're doing, behaving a certain way.
And I think, um, the biggest challenge I think that a lot of leaders have is the, the expectation. Quite honestly, right? Is we have an expectation, a high level expectation, and you know, and I've kind, I have one hand higher than the other, right? And then the experience we may receive comes in much lower than, you know, I have my other hand.
It's much lower, right? And so therein lies a gap. I think too often that gap exists [00:34:00] because we have never clearly articulated what the expectations are to begin with, and then to close the. We lower our expectations instead of investing the time, energy, and effort into that person to help them understand how to elevate the experience.
But I think the expectation gap is one of our, our, our biggest enemies in the, the world of leadership is we just, we, we, we don't establish that up front.
Jeremy Tiers: How do you teach somebody then to set expectations? Like if you're talking to a leader, right. And a leader's like True. I need help understanding. I I want to do what you just said, like, where do I start?
Is it day one, onboarding? This has to be part of the conversation. Like what advice would you give somebody in that situation?
Tru Pettigrew: It always comes back to purpose for me, Jeremy. I, I tell everyone that I coach and they, and they leaders that I coach and them where I offer workshops, I, I encourage them to have a clearly, Articulated purpose statement [00:35:00] for not only for themselves, but for the organization, team or department, and share that with everyone.
This is why we are here. This is our purpose for being here, and I am gonna have an expectation of each and every one of you to leverage your unique gifts and talents and passions to contribute to us achieving this overall purpose. And here is our organizational vision, which is where we're going and our mission, what we're doing.
And I encourage each and every one of you to be able to underst. How your unique gifts and passions can contribute to us getting to where we are. I it, to me, it always starts with why again. Uh, I think it was Miles Monroe that taught us when you don't know the purpose of something, abuse is inevitable.
There is going to be disfunction. There's going to be discord, there's going to be division When people lack clarity of purpose of why they're there or even why you are [00:36:00] there.
Jeremy Tiers: I think a lot of people in leadership True, have that in their brain. Well, I know what my why is in my brain, and maybe I verbalize it once, right when a new staff member starts, but like it's not written down on paper somewhere.
There's not a document that people have access to every day where, Yeah, I mean, correct me if you think I'm wrong. I think that's such an important step in setting expectations is saying this is an ongoing conversation, but like from 0.1, it's spelled out very clearly here for you to look at anytime.
Tru Pettigrew: No, absolutely.
I mean, write it down, make it plain, make it easy to reference. Right. I, I agree with that a hundred percent.
Jeremy Tiers: I've heard you use the phrase cross generational leadership approach, like what does that mean? True. And why do you think it's important
Tru Pettigrew: each generation brings with it a new era? And with that new era comes new expressions and new, new expectations.
Right? And we just talked about expectations and recognizing that the things that [00:37:00] we did in our generation to achieve success, to move society forward, to move the organization forward, to move the community forward, whatever the case may be, is going to be different. The approach is going to be different, Uh, as the saying goes, methods are many principles are.
Methods will always change, but principals never do. We have to recognize that there's going to be a new approach to getting the same thing done based on a new generational archetype or a new generational, uh, uh, uh, personality, right? That that's going to be different than ours. And our focus needs to be on the core principles.
Okay? This is why we're here, what we wanna accomplish. Chances are there's going to be, whether it's based on the advent of technology, right? Uh, whether it's based on societal conditions, Oh, we're in this, this generation is dealing with the stresses and traumas of mass shootings [00:38:00] or racial unrest, right?
Or whatever the case may be. There is going to need to be a different approach than the way I approached it, um, because things were just different at the time. And so focusing more. The desired outcome and not being so much of a stickler for the how we we get. Thank you for
Jeremy Tiers: sharing that. Yep, absolutely.
What are you most proud of when it comes to, you know, the work you've done, Not necessarily with the timber woves, unless that's, you know, the example lies there, but just over the last few years, what's something you're really proud of that you've been able to either help an org or possibly help a, a person in leadership or maybe not even in leadership
Tru Pettigrew: with?
You know, I'll, um, I'll say this. The, the thing, when you ask that question, the thing. The experience that jumps out to me is something was so unexpected for me and it was so fulfilling, is I think you, [00:39:00] you know, and everyone knows right here in Minneapolis is where George Floyd was murdered, right? By Officer Chauvin or former Officer Derek Chauvin, and upon arriving.
In 2020, I was intentional about connecting with the Floyd family. They're, they're from Houston. George Floyd lived here originally from Houston, and his family members still live in Houston. His brother Fallons, his nephew Brandon and I connected with them and really forged a genuine relationship with them in an effort to understand how we, the timber wolves could play a role, um, in offering them support in whatever way we could.
Turns out. George Floyd was a huge basketball player and fan. Um, and the family like his, particularly his brother Phonus and his nephew Brandon, big basketball fans. And they had to come back and forth a lot for the trials, for the Chauvin trial and the trials of the other officers from Houston. And so [00:40:00] I would, um, Extend the offer for them to, whenever we had games when they were in town and when they didn't have games, I would still get with them and just connect with them and socialize with them and just be whatever support I could.
And over that time we, we became friends and, but what I've learned, and this is from them telling me is the welcome distraction, that it was for them for that moment, for those couple of hours they could. At the timber wills games for a reason that was so hurtful and traumatic that they had to be here in Minneapolis anyway, was so therapeutic for them.
So, uh, uh, helpful and beneficial for them to have that welcome distraction and just be in the presence of something that they know their brother and uncle love so much, um, and that they also appreciate it and feeling just a meaningful connection with other. in the arena. And so fast forward when President Biden had invited [00:41:00] them to the White House when he was about to sh to, to sign, uh, the executive order for the George Floyd Act.
And when I got a phone call from them and said, Hey, uh, we want you to stand beside us at the White House when the president signs this because of how much you've meant to to this. That, Um, I can't, I I don't even have words for that.
Jeremy Tiers: For those of you listening, you can't see it. Just listening to true talk about that makes me emotional because I can tell how much it meant to him, right?
To be able to help somebody in their time of need again, whether it was just getting them to feel a sense of. This person who I didn't know, now I've gotten to know and I feel like has really been able to help me. Very, very valuable. Last thing we're gonna do is what I call fun rapid fire. I'm just gonna give [00:42:00] you four or five things and I just want some quick feedback from you, okay?
Yep. Best book you've read recently.
Tru Pettigrew: Uh, Talking to strangers, Malcolm Gladwell.
Jeremy Tiers: You're starting a football team tomorrow, Brady or
Tru Pettigrew: Mahomes. Oh, tomorrow. Tomorrow. Oh, bro. Um, Tomma Holmes. .
Jeremy Tiers: Toms, I love the way you answered that. Big. Or Jay-Z.
Tru Pettigrew: Oh, man. Um, huge fan of both. Uh, I gotta go with, um, probably gotta go with Jay only just because of the longevity.
Jeremy Tiers: most competitive person you.
Tru Pettigrew: Um, my son
Jeremy Tiers: And what's one thing that people are surprised to find out about you normally? Uh, that I used to rap. Okay. I like it. I appreciate you being on today. True. And I really think a lot of what you talked about is gonna be very helpful for our [00:43:00] audience if they want to get ahold of you. True. Or just follow up and you're open to that.
What's the best way for people to reach out and connect with you?
Tru Pettigrew: Um, on social media, it's at True Access, which is T R U A C C E S S and that's social. When I say social media, that's Instagram, Um, and, and Twitter. And then um, LinkedIn. Is my name true Petty grew, right? And so that's probably the the best way to connect with.
Jeremy Tiers: And we'll link in True's bio more information if you wanna learn more about the workshops that he does. True. I really appreciate you being on and thank you for sharing. So any thoughts and so much wisdom with us today? No,
Tru Pettigrew: my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.
Hey all, Zach here from Enrollify. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Mission Admissions with Jeremy Tiers. If you like this episode, do us a huge favor and hit that follow and subscribe button below. Furthermore, if you've got just two minutes to spare, we [00:44:00] would greatly appreciate you leading a rating and a review of this show on Apple Podcasts.
Our podcast network is growing by the month, and we've got a plethora of marketing admissions and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional. But Enrollify is far more than just a podcast network.
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About the Episode
The what's what...
In today’s episode, Jeremy has a very thought provoking conversation with Tru Pettigrew. They start by talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion - Tru explains where his passion for DEI originated from, what each of those terms means, he offers his thoughts on where most organizations are at in 2022 with DEI, and he explains the important role that curiosity, intentionality, empathy, and listening play in this conversation. Jeremy and Tru also talk about the differences between active and competitive listening, as well as dealing with imposter syndrome. Their conversation ends with a discussion about different aspects of leadership, including handling tough situations and setting and managing expectations.
This episode is brought to you by Gecko - a student engagement platform offering multiple modules to help institutions better engage with students and lighten the load for their staff.
Mission Admission is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too! Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional. Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Mickey Baines, Zach Busekrus, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
An expert in communication, relationship development, and leadership, Jeremy Tiers has quickly become a recognizable name and speaker in college admission and enrollment management circles. He is the Senior Director of Admissions Services for Tudor Collegiate Strategies and leads their efforts in partnering with colleges and universities across the country. Colleges and Universities rely on Tudor Collegiate Strategies (TCS) to train their admissions staff, help them personalize enrollment communications, and to increase engagement from prospective students and their parents during all stages of the college search process.
Tru Pettigrew is an engaging speaker, author, workshop leader, and an award-winning marketing executive with close to 20 years of experience at some of the nation’s top advertising & marketing agencies. Tru has established a strong reputation for helping organizations build bridges across racial, cultural, social, and relational lines, and he also currently serves as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
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Gecko is a student engagement platform that offers customizable modules designed to compliment your institutions CRM and SIS. Gecko's plug and play modules enable your team to deliver memorable student experiences at scale while lightening the load on your team. Some of their key offerings include a cutting edge Events module, Chatbot, Cloud Call Center and many more. If you want to level up how you engage with prospective students without disrupting your current processes or ripping out all of your tech, you need to check out Gecko.learn more
Jeremy Tiers, a well-known speaker in college admission, enrollment marketing, and leadership circles is your host for Mission Admissions. Join him every other week as he sits down with industry leaders and difference makers from both inside and outside of Higher Ed. You'll walk away with advice, tips and strategies you can apply in your day-to-day life.
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