With one of the most popular Talks on Ted, we immediately get that Mellody Hobson lives her life being unapologetically black and unapologetically female, a fact she declared just before she received her standing ovation on the Ted stage.
In her plea to the audience to be colour brave and not colour blind, she credits her mother who raised 5 children on her own, often in apartments with no heat or water, for providing her with loads of lessons in persistence, reliance and hard work.
Hobson went to Princeton, was hired at Ariel Investment, a much-admired Chicago based money management firm, right after she threw her cap in the air at graduation. She later became the company’s President and Chair.
Hobson sits on the boards of many philanthropic organisations and other high profile companies including Estee Lauder and DreamWorks; she was recently named the Vice Chair of Starbucks.
In June 2013, Hobson, who is 45 married George Lucas, a filmmaker who sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Walt Disney in 2012 for more than $4 billion. They became parents through adoption.
While Hobson’s rise to the top has not been ridiculously charmed she says it is because of her own mother’s struggles with money that she’s made it her life’s mission to promote financial literacy and racial equality to anyone who cares enough to listen. Many are!
The bottom line for me is that we must socialise children in the topics of saving and investing from a very young age globally. If you understand how money can work for and against you, you can make better decisions. Financial literacy is not about wealth but about understanding money regardless of the amount. It’s about how you treat it and how you maximise opportunities.
It would be lovely to think that success was a result of my being extraordinary, but the answer is far more boring. I worked hard. Really hard.
If you are a person of colour, it’s hard to explain what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been apologizing for being a woman. I’ve been apologizing for being black. That stops today.
The first step to solving any problem is to not hide from it, and the first step to any form of action is awareness.
I think that’s life in general. It’s the way it is when we pick stocks, all of them don’t always work, so I guess I come to the view failure naturally.
If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d ask to learn. Most people don’t want to admit they don’t know something. I do. All the time.
My mom would say, ‘You have a birthday party to go to? Well, you can’t go unless you’ve planned how to get there and how to get a present.’ She wouldn’t do that for me. I found my own orthodontist, my own high school. I set up interviews and did college trips. Despite her incredible concern and caring, my mom didn’t have the capacity for that. It was outside her experience, and she knew I was on top of it.
It’s not big moments but little ones that count. For example, that hiring decision, who you include in a meeting, who you include on a committee, that promotion decision and that decision about what kind of environment you want your children in.
We need to be audacious enough to not leave anything on the table.
Hard work plus bravery equals success. Imagination plus bravery equal creativity. Love plus bravery equal happiness.
It took me a long time to be as brave in my personal life as I was in my professional life to be brave in love means opening yourself up to the possibility of heartbreak.
I’m not angry. I don’t have a grudge. I don’t feel like I have a cross that I’m bearing. My mother said to me, ‘Life is not fair’ and sometimes it’s not.
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