A boss of mine once told me, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.” He happened to be the CEO, so he wasn’t kidding. He shared this nugget when we were on a flight to some far- off place overseas, and I asked him about his climb to the top. These nuggets don’t come easily in Corporate America, especially for women and people of color. And this is what C-CRETS is all about – sharing those unspoken or rarely shared secrets on how to reach the C-Suite.
Ricky and I grew up in humble circumstances. Ricky started out in Oklahoma then landed in LA, becoming a highly recruited athlete. I lived in North Carolina until 4th grade – integrating schools along the way – then ended up in Virginia Beach. Our parents worked hard to provide for our families and open up whatever opportunities they could for us to have a better life than they had. As young black men growing up, expectations from society were low and the odds of success equally low. However, our families instilled a competitive and resilient spirit in us that would serve us well as we ventured out on our careers.
Ricky and I didn’t meet until 2013, but our careers had a very familiar storyline…we were very often “the only”, “the first”. We were breaking through where others stalled. In our own way, we picked up that making it to the top wasn’t just about keeping our heads down, our mouths closed, and working harder than everyone else – the mantra that was beaten into our heads by our parents. There was something else. There was almost a secret code, a secret sauce to getting to the top that only a few were allowed to know. This was and is also true for America as a whole. A few hold the keys to the castle (or the ivory tower in our case). C-CRETS is about sharing those little spoken about tips and tricks so that you can reach your full potential.
Through trial and error, caring mentors and sponsors, and just pure luck, we both picked up nuggets of information along our career journey that helped us reach higher and higher up the ladder. Luckily, we were instilled with the value of “paying it forward” – bringing others along with you. As we both climbed the ladder, we mentored others on how to reach the next level, and more importantly, provided opportunities for those often overlooked. As we got seats at various tables, we made sure that the menu wasn’t one-note – we brought flavor! We’ve mentored, coached, and managed hundreds of people during our careers. Many have gone on the great things – some even surpassing us. C-CRETS is about doing this work at a bigger scale.
In 2013, the stars aligned, and unknowingly, started the birth of C-CRETS. I was the CFO for a $200M smart home technology business, and Ricky was hired as the VP of Human Resources. You now had two BLACK men at the big boy table – one controlling the money, and one overseeing the people! As we shared blood, sweat and tears together building that business to almost $600M in 3 years, we continued to bust glass and pay it forward. The more time we spent together, we realized that our stories had a lot of similarities, and we both shared a passion for helping the underdogs WIN. We were tired of seeing people held back because of their race or ethnicity, their gender, their sexual orientation. We also saw that these underdogs were rarely being held back because of technical ability – it was those secrets that few had heard about or even knew existed. C-CRETS is about bringing that knowledge from the darkness to the light.
We all know that there are only so many hours in a day. We have work, family, friends, and community vying for attention. Ricky and I were also constantly being asked for career advice and mentorship. For a couple years, we toyed around with ideas on how we could do a brain dump at scale while truly providing career transformation tips. One night, sitting at my kitchen counter sipping on vodka and cranberry, the light bulb lit…let’s do a PODCAST! And C-CRETS was born. And Yes, we keep up the tradition by sipping on a little vodka and cranberry during our podcast (“Fill Them Cups”)!
As we brainstormed further, we quickly knew that we didn’t want some corny, cheesy business podcast that puts you to sleep after about 10 minutes. We wanted to bring gems – to give you hot fire! With C-CRETS, we hope to be authentic, fun, and informative. We don’t just focus on the job itself, but point out the systems, structures, and challenges that underrepresented employees face on a daily basis – which may hinder us from climbing to the top rungs of the career ladder (Yes, we got “Receipts”!). We also hope to open the eyes of those with seats at the table. We want to give you practical, digestible advice to bring about the career transformation you deserve. And we want nothing more than for you to be given a seat (and a menu) at the table!
This is C-CRETS.
To learn more about the C-CRETS podcast, resources and other services, visit our website at www.c-crets.com. Subscribe to our podcast on our website or your favorite podcast platform. Check us out on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for the latest news and updates.
Keith Powell (aka “KP”) played the corporate game for over 20 years, living in small towns and big cities across the U.S. and Canada. Most of his career, KP led global Finance and Operations functions for Fortune 1000 companies in the automotive, chemical, consumer and commercial goods, e-commerce, and smart home industries. Keith was the “first” or the “only” quite often climbing the corporate ladder. After getting a taste of the top, KP clocked out a few years ago to recharge and assess the next chapter of his career. He joined a start-up private equity firm, took a shot at an e-commerce start-up, and began advising entrepreneurs, including working with the family of Golden State Warriors legend, Al Attles, on various philanthropic and business ventures. His words to live by “Don’t just do well… Strive to EXCEL!!”
Ricky Robinson (aka “PR”) has navigated the corporate world like an obstacle course for more than 20 years, while residing in various regions within the US. His career has afforded him with leadership roles in Human Resources for some best in class global organizations spanning industries from commercial goods, retail, smart home industries and med tech. PR is extremely familiar with being the “Sole Brother” on the Executive Leadership Team quite often challenging diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias issues within Corporate America, as an advocate and sponsor for underrepresented groups. Ricky’s words to live by “If someone else was able to get it, YOU CAN TOO!”