We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Jeff McGee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Jeff, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Ironically, I really didn’t have a desire to start a business at first. My desire was to become a professor at a college or university. As I began applying for faculty positions, some friends of mine approached me to put together a training program for a group of individuals that were interested in learning more about racial issues, diversity, equity, and inclusion. I put together a five-session training program and facilitated the content.
What happened after that program was a life-changing moment in my life.
The participants who engaged in the program were so empowered that they began creating transformative change in their lives, communities, and workplaces. They began learning more on their own about the topics and engaging their friends in the conversation. Some started advocating for marginalized people groups in their community based on their passions. Several started nonprofit agencies to work with communities in need. After learning about these transformative changes, I felt I was onto something. I met with some close friends of mine to get advice, and, as a person of prayer, I began praying for direction.
After a few months of reflection as well as other individuals reaching out for trainings and consulting, I decided to start my business in 2018.
What should our readers know about your business? Please tell us more about your business:
My consulting firm, Cross-Cultural Dynamics, is a change partner that supports leaders in developing a healthy and inclusive organizational culture. We collaborate with leaders who want to build a culture where everyone can do their best work, simply by creating an environment that allows everyone to be their best selves.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others.
Our internal organizational beliefs, which reflect how we do our work, are what set us apart from others.
First, we have a saying internally: The most important purpose of any organization is not profitability but “peopleability”. This approach shapes our purpose for why we consult with clients and is reflected in our work. Our belief is if leaders create spaces where every employee feels valued, heard, and safe, they will experience rising levels of inclusion and belonging, which will in turn increase innovation, productivity, and creativity. This improves the profitability of an organization.
Second, we believe that to become transformative, a leader has to begin by learning how to learn again. Basically, a leader is learning how to learn by examining how they learned in the first place. The focus is on examining existing worldviews and beliefs by asking questions like What was taught to me? How it was taught to me? Who taught it to me? etc. We then learn how that impacts their decision-making processes. This is where we begin with every client.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way:
Most companies fail within the first two years of start-up. There were many times during my first two years when I was ready to throw in the towel and get a 9-5 somewhere. I remember one time in particular, in the fall of 2019, where I packed up my office one evening and put everything in boxes in my garage. “I am done!” I remember shouting. After a long, sleepless night wrestling with the thought of what I was going to do next, I concluded that I had to keep going. I couldn’t quit! I got out of bed around 3:20 in the morning, went back into the garage, grabbed the boxes, and unpacked my stuff.
Starting a business is easy; sustaining a business is arduous. With this in mind, the lesson learned is that a leader must have hope and faith that they can do it. I am so thankful I did not give up the many times I thought about it. My hope and faith kept me going during those times, and now I’ve seen the tremendous outcomes of my hard work.
To all entrepreneurs out there, have hope and faith in yourself and your dreams!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to? In your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places or things to check out?
Being that my family lives in a different state, I am always looking for fun and interesting ways to show them the Phoenix metro area. I typically take them to Camelback Mountain for a hike, a tour of Desert Botanical Garden, a tour of Rosson House Museum, shopping in Old Town Scottsdale, and/or eating at a local family-owned restaurant in Phoenix. I also like The Scottsdale Plaza Resort as a destination to take visiting family and friends to relax and have some fun!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Every Friday morning, I meet with a small group of great men where we talk business, life, and everything in between. Being a part of this small but mighty close circle of friends that pushes, supports, and encourages each other is vital to me. Outside of this group, I am constantly in my CEO role at work and in the community, so having this space to remove the CEO role and just be myself gives me the strength to keep going.
It’s vitally important for leaders to have safe spaces like this where they can gain support and encouragement.