I’m James Beckwith, President and CEO of Five Star Bank. As a community bank, we believe that open dialog about the issues affecting our region is vitally important. From the economy, to the environment, to social issues, we look forward to the conversations and hope you’ll join in. ♪ Author, executive, activist. All are accurate in describing Kim Box. A former executive with Hewlett-Packard, who at one time, ran a global organization of over fifteen thousand people, can now add Emmy winner to her resume for her work in the KVIE documentary, “Collision Course: Teen Addiction Epidemic.” Kim joins us today to talk about her experiences as a corporate executive, her transition into start-up entrepreneur and her work as founder of Pathway to Prevention: Stemming the Tide of Teen Substance Abuse. Welcome, to the program. >>Thank you, Scott. It’s great to be here. >>So, what’s it like to be part of winning an Emmy? Tell us about that journey. >>Let me tell you about that. This has just…it’s been amazing, actually. And it started about five years ago, when myself and a group of parents, basically, were experiencing what was going on in our community with teens and substance abuse. So we had this idea that we really wanted to make a difference. How can we really change what’s happening with our teens that are using recreational alcohol, drugs, and turning into full-blown addiction. So, we got the idea to do a documentary because we thought, Well, if we go out and talk about it in the community, we can only reach so far. So, we embarked on this journey, we found some amazing people. Actually, a producer that is part of the American Leadership Forum, Joyce Mitchell, and a team of folks to work on this and had a passion for the subject, as well. And, lo and behold, we raised the money, we had a vision for what we were doing, and the team did an excellent job of telling the story of basically it’s teens and parents talking about what happened to them so that we can have other teens and parents watching the documentary and thinking, I don’t want to go there, you know, I want to make something different of my life and not get caught up in addiction. So the…the team, last June, had gone the film got nominated for an Emmy and our team of producer, director, and editor and narrator all won Emmy’s for the award. >>Did you ever expect this type of acceptance? >>Well, you know we had a vision. We saw the film and we thought, This is just amazing. I mean, so powerful and everybody that watched it said this, but to actually win the Emmy, having our film win the Emmy, I can tell you it was one of the proudest moments of my life, when they said, And the Emmy goes to “Collision Course.” It was just amazing. And, really, the best part about is, it’s going national and it’s getting more acclaim to get aired more so more people can see the film and we can help change lives and help get…spread awareness and education about teens and addiction. >>Describe the problem to us. What are we facing? >>Well, what we’re facing is teens, you know everyone thinks when people are young, we all know kids experiment, and they go out and try recreational drugs or they might think, ‘You know, I’m just going to party.’ It’s something they do. And the problem is that kids and twelve and thirteen year olds, usually a time when people start experimenting, are now doing prescription drugs, as a first-time of experimentation and it’s turning into addiction. >>Let’s, talk a little bit about that because what surprised me was learning that we think about marijuana, cocaine, things like that, heroin, as the places we need to be most concerned about, but we don’t think about our own medicine cabinet. >>Right. >>Give us a little bit of background on what’s really going on. >>So what’s happening is prescription drugs are easy to get because people have them in their, like you said, in their medicine cabinets. So, it’s easy to take, it’s easy to carry in your pocket, and kids think, because it’s from a doctor, it’s safe. They don’t…they don’t think of it as something like a street drug, they think of it as, Oh, this is something a doctor prescribes. And actually a lot of parents think that, too. They think that if a doctor prescribed it, it must be okay. But the problem is, many of these prescription drugs are actually very highly addictive. So… >>The people at home want to know what drugs are we talking about. What is it that we need to be watching out for? >>Well, prescription drugs that are really dangerous Vicodin, Oxycontin, Norco. You know, they’re all opiate-type drugs, and there’s other types of drugs, as well. You know, you have Adderall and…and Ritalin, those are addictive drugs too, that can lead to other addict… >>Now, wait a minute. Now, those drugs, those drugs are typically used for the treatment of ADHD. >>Right. >>And…I’ve heard that that’s used in college by college students studying for midterms or for final exams. Those are part of the problem, as well? >>Definitely. And they call it the Study Drug and, just so a student recently watched our film and had been using Adderall during finals. Didn’t have any idea that if he kept doing that, he could become addicted and it can lead to other type of drugs that they start wanting to take to add on to their addiction. And it’s a huge problem in the college-system, even in high school, but certainly in college. >>One of the things that the show covered was the progression of how that takes place. Share with us how that progression takes place about you’re starting with prescription drugs and how easy it is to cross-over into addiction itself. >>Right. So, you know, many times, first of all, the teen brain is still developing, so it’s not the same as an adult brain so this is why we’re…we’re hitting with the teens early on to hope…to hope they won’t go there. But the teen brain is very pliable. When they start using a certain substance, it…it alters the chemistry of their brain and some teens will then need more, or need different things. So they might start out with something, even alcohol, or even pot, marijuana, and then they might start experimenting with other drugs and, eventually, the brain has a switch that takes place… >>Is this the equivalent of back when, I was coming up in the 70’s and 80’s, there used to be this commercial with a frying pan where they crack the egg and this is your brain on drugs. Is this the equivalent of an update of that speech? >>It is a little bit. But the problem with that speech is that you had no explanation of why it’s bad. It’s just bad. Now, we need to tell teens and their parents that here’s what’s wrong. If you start using these substances, there’s a very high likelihood that you become addicted and your brain changes forever. There’s no cure, once you pass that line. So, what we’re doing is, we need to educate people, and, like you mentioned, some…some kids start out with minor drug…alcohol and lower-end drugs. And they start using the prescription drugs. Well, those drugs are extremely expensive on the street. So then they transition to the heroin, meth, and other types of drugs that they can get on the street, which is still very bad, they’re all bad… >>But they’re cheaper? >>They’re…yeah, if you go from a Oxycontin-type of addiction to a heroin addiction, it’s much cheaper, so that’s where many Oxycontin addict…addicts end up going. >>So this issue is so important to you that you started your own non-profit. Tell us about the work of a non-profit. >>So, basically this… this non-profit is an organization that does projects. So we decided we need to educate and…and drive awareness so we created the project for the documentary. We also have people in our organization, as volunteers. They go out and speak to the community at any forum that we’re asked. So there might be a community forum, might be a high school, we’ve spoken at different young people’s organizations, and we will…what we’ll do is gather a group of people that can come and talk about what’s going on and the realities of what’s happening to our teens. >>When, for the folks that are watching this show right now, for parents and families, what do they need to know that most of them don’t? Or may have a misimpression about. >>So, one of my key messages to folks is that we really need to be alert to what’s happening. Many people from my age group, they…they think, Well, you know, I might have done that when I was a kid. You know, I survived it. Well, kids are not surviving it. It’s…it’s much more drastic nowadays with prescription drugs and some of the other drugs going on, so be alert to what’s happening, don’t take, you know, drinking or smoking as just a rite of passage. Just don’t. And one of the things that a study from Placer County showed that forty-five percent of the parents there think it’s okay to serve alcohol to teens in their homes. >>What? >>Yeah, it’s…it’s outrageous. It really is. And…and parents think, ‘Well, if the kids are home, they’re safe, but the problem is, well, first it’s illegal, second is, you know, you’re actually helping alter a teen, their health, their brain, and, you know, everything that they’re doing, and making it okay for them. Because if they’re going to be doing it there, they’re going to be doing it in other places, and it’s never okay. If there was one message I could get across is that it’s never okay. >>Maybe that explains a phenomenon that I’ve heard about which is that, there is so much focus on creating these safe and sane environments for teens to hang out and recreate in and there are drug-free zones but what I’ve heard is that what some of these young people do is that they’ll go to someone’s home, where the parents aren’t around, or maybe, according to this Placer County study, maybe they are around, and they’ll drink or they’ll do whatever it is that they’re going to do drug-wise and then they’ll go to the safe and clean protected zone. >>It’s very much happening, and I’ll tell you… >>Which is scary from a standpoint >>It is very scary. It happens all year long, but prom night’s a really good example. A lot of kids will go to where they’re supposed to go, maybe a dinner that one of the parents are hosting, or whatever, then they go and they party, and they go to the prom for a very short period of time and then they leave and party, and then they come back to the prom to get picked up or whatever the scenario is. So there’s always going to be ways. And I think, as parents, we need to be very vigilant, to talk to our kids. Studies show the more you talk to them about substances and what it can actually do to you, it lowers the risk. >>Really? So you’re saying that talking to your kids actually does make an impact? That they actually do hear that? >>Fifty percent less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, the parents that actually take the time to talk and talk often to their kids. Many studies that show this. >>Okay, let’s talk a little bit about your other work. You were an executive with Hewlett-Packard and your work spanned the globe, in terms of the workforce that you ended up being in charge of and the work that you did. And, the culmination of that work, in some ways, is contained in this book, Woven Leadership . And, in Woven Leadership , you make a very, very interesting point, which I’d like to read to you: “The important challenge of today’s leader is to stress the positives of colorful, inclusive teams while smoothing out the wrinkles that can pop up when team members clash an approaching style. Like a modern day Rumplestiltskin, today’s leader has to be able to spin the raw materials of very skilled employees and spin them into the gold of an efficient organization.” And so, there’s a lot of talk about diversity in the workplace and the power of diversity, but…mostly its talk. And cynics believe all of this is this feel-good crap, how does that actually impact the bottom line? Tell us about what led to the book. >>Well, I will…you know, my whole career at HP, I was doing various transformations. So I was taking teams and building new organizations, consolidating, the last probably fifteen to twenty years at HP. And what I found was, when I had people that were all very homogeneous in their perspectives and their experiences, we weren’t very creative. So when I would bring a team together and reorganize and transform it into a more diverse organization, we would soar, and I have an example of this, where I had a…I took on managing a team across the Americas. So it was serving product support, basically. And it was serving Canada, US, and all of Latin America but all of the managers were from the US. All men, and one African-American, the rest white males and about the same age group. And, wonderful people, very skilled, very good leaders, really knew the business, but we were really missing. We had blind spots. We didn’t understand Canada as well as we could have, or Latin America, and what was happening is, many of them would spend a lot of time in those countries. So it was costing money to travel there and even have an apartment, in some cases, ’cause they had to spend so much in these remote places. So when I reorganized the team, I brought in managers, one from Canada, a couple from Latin America, and…and really made the diversity fit the actual customer-base. We saved money because we had less travel, we were more innovative at the start because we had people on our strategic planning that actually knew the customer better, we had stronger partnerships with the people in those countries because they saw that their own…their own people that understood their organizations and their customers were at the customer support group, and there wasn’t as much rework. So we really did save on the bottom line and we increased customer satisfaction at the same time. >>How do you respond to someone who says the following, and…and I’m telling you this because I have a friend, who happens to be a white male, who says there’s no definition of diversity that’s being bandied about these days where I’m included in it. So, I’m not part of the solution, I’m always part of the problem. How do you respond to that? >>Well, I disagree because if you’re looking at a diverse team, you need to look at all aspects. Diversity is not about just bringing people of different ethnic…I mean, that’s just one piece. And, in my book, I really make a point that we’re looking for…what I look for is different perspectives, different personalities, as well as different cultures. And, if I was to manage a team that was, you know, all African-American or all, you know, one or the other, I would say, okay, we need to fix this. So I can understand why someone would feel that way because the pendulum was so far the other way. You know, look at boards, 90 percent men and more than 90 percent just Caucasian. >>Sure. >>So there has to be a time when there’s a time to make a push to say, “How can we be more inclusive?” But it has to be everything. I can see how people feel that way. >>So let’s talk a little bit about the continued resistance to this notion, because the reason I inquired about, how does this impact the bottom line. >>Right. >>Is because usually the first blow-back is there is no way this is all sort of social justice mumbo-jumbo, but this has nothing to do with us being competitive as a global company. Of us gaining market share. Of us delivering a higher earnings per share. >>Right. >>And obviously there are examples where that’s not the case. How come that argument though hasn’t been put to bed yet? >>That’s why I’m bringing it up. I’m bringing up . I want to look at diversity differently than we have in the past. In the past in been about the social justice and affirmative action. >>Sure. >>I mean, that’s been a push. Throw that out and look at it as a competitive advantage. If you hire all people like yourself, whatever yourself is whether it’s your industry or your personality or maybe your culture. What are you gonna get? You’re gonna get people that think like you. You’re gonna get a certain product and output that is what you can do on your own. But if you were to create a team that has multiple different facets to it, you’re going to expand that creativity and get new solutions. So what you don’t know… >>Isn’t it also messier though? >>It is. It can be. And there are times when you have to look at and I’ve had teams where I brought two teams together during the Compaq and HP merger I was in charge of the America’s merging together. The enterprise, help desk and service desk area. And it was very conflictual, because you had two different cultures. HP was known as a very partnering culture. Compaq was a very aggressive culture because they had a different type of product base. We brought the two teams together and both teams clashed quite a bit. And there was a lot of feedback “Why don’t we just go with one team or the other?” And I thought, “No, if we do that we’re gonna lose all the good things about both cultures and both sets of groups.” So I merged the teams together and during that year we came up with more innovation. We pushed the envelope on both sides. So, you know, if you have a team that’s all the same and think, “Well we’re working well. We’re getting earnings. We’re performing well.” My challenge is how much better could it be? And will you be able to weather changes in your customer base and changes in the economy without bringing in differences and different perspectives. I think it’s an untapped competitive advantage. But I really encourage companies to take a serious look at it. >>And if they don’t in this increasingly interconnected and global world? What do you think happens to the companies that don’t take this seriously? >>I think that they are going to languish. And I think that the companies that do take it seriously are gonna know, they’re gonna look at their customer base and we have companies with boards and so-on that serve 90 percent of a woman population without any women at the seat. What would change if there was women at the table? I mean, that’s my question. What would change? I think some things would change. I think there might be some innovation that wasn’t thought of by the group. >>Which leads into a second component of your book, which is talking about authenticity. Why is that such a key component of your leadership vision? >>Well I start with diversity in my book and I end with authenticity. And I look at it this way, you have to embrace those things of every, you know the people that you want to know in your world. You need to embrace their differences and be OK with that. But you also need to embrace your own differences. And own them. So many times in a company or organization we hire someone for their talent and perspective, and then we quickly try to conform them to our group. And we lose the very thing that we hired them for or brought them in for. We try to make them fit in. And I really challenge folks to look at bringing folks in and letting them flourish. And what it starts with is doing that on your own. You know, even as children and teens, you know, you want to fit into your peers. There’s all these kinda group dynamics. The world would just be a better place in terms of competitive advantage, if we brought people into our teams and really held their differences as something that we value. And that we want to keep in the mix so that we don’t lose that, and we keep the creativity and innovation going. >>All of this stems from somewhere. From whom do you draw inspiration? Who inspired you? Well I’d be remiss to not say that my parents have been a huge inspiration in my life. My father is an Admiral. He’s a retired Admiral in the Navy and started the first Commanding Officer of Top Gun, and had a very distinguished career. >>Really. And whenever I had a lot of operational things, he was a great mentor for me, because he lead fleets of ships and so-on. And my mom was a very successful mortgage banker. And one thing that I learned from her was, she had employees that were just that were so loyal. Because she took care them. She really understood the value of the team. And I think you have different people along your journey. I had a manager that I worked for at HP, Larry Welch, who was the Diversity Manager at the site. He ran Diversity Counsel. And he made diversity an objective. And he measured us. He didn’t just say, “You know, let’s put this on the list because we should.” We actually talked about it at our reviews. And talked about how we’re bringing different diversity. And I think I really learned from him that you can take action. So there’s been various leaders along the way that I’ve encountered. I’ve had people outside of HP that have been very instrumental. When I decided to leave HP there was someone that I met with that was really helpful and understanding how you’re leading your life and how you’re more than just your job type of thing, so… >>Well, I want to come back to you talking about the diversity counseling. One other comment in the book that you talk about is how you were raised in a family where you grew up to be “color-blind”. And the question that often comes up is, “Is it really possible to be color-blind?” And I’ve heard really compelling arguments on both sides of that equation. >>Right. >>I’d like to hear yours. >>Well, you know, I specifically put that in there. And I’ll explain that we are born without prejudice, right. When the child comes into the world. It’s really how you’re raised and the environment that you’re in. The things you’re exposed to. Of course you’re going to pick up opinions and things that you… its just natural the way that we grow as individuals. But being in a family that’s not being judgmental and prejudice, and you know, saying things that are harsh about other people, was a gift that I had. And I feel like even though being truly color-blind, if you want to take it to the very extreme, of course you’re gonna recognize the differences in good ways. And maybe sometimes you draw opinions of your experiences. You’re just gonna do that. But I think in general if we can do what was what I had the gift of doing which was making it not OK.. I mean, I moved from San Diego, my dad got stationed we moved to Alabama in 1969, around that timeframe right when segregation was just made illegal. And we went into that environment from a standpoint of being very sheltered. That there was even segregation. You know, we were living on base and the way my parents were raising us. But I realized at that time that I didn’t have a notion, of this is bad, that’s bad, it was just… these are people. And that’s the way I look at it. >>The other side of that coin though is that does that sort of smooth or dull the edge so much that you can’t recognize difference. That maybe in striving to be absolutely blind to difference that part of what you talk about as the strategic value of diversity gets lost, because you’re either willfully or socialized not to pick up on those things. >>Well, that’s a good point. And I think that the point is not that you’re not looking at differences, ’cause I very much believe that the differences are what make us unique and we need to recognize and value and celebrate the differences. It’s about putting a judgment on top of that difference. that says, you know, I look at this and I just immediately just from a visual say, “This is bad.” You know, because the person is certain color or they’re dressed a certain way. It’s more about, sure you’re going to categorize, you know, people in different ways that you think, “OK, that person must like the beach because they’re dressed this way.” Of course you’re gonna do that. But in terms of limiting people’s opportunities. Not including them. Not including their opinion because of their color or their preferences, that’s where I’m looking at being color-blind as a notion. >>Another interesting aspect of your background is how you stepped off of the fast-track, in terms of what obviously was an extremely successful career and decided to make a change. There are many folks who are looking, or at some point are going to be facing a transition how did you face that and what can you share that worked for you in making that transition into entrepreneur from executive? >>OK. Yeah, it’s just been amazing. The last three years, I decided to leave… well actually I really started deciding to leave about four years ago when I was still at HP. And I realized I was really ready for a change. I loved my career. I loved working at HP, and the people. And all the wonderful things I got to do. And the challenges I had and accomplishments, but I really was ready for a change. And it started with a shift of really wanting to do more in the community. You know, do the film and I serve on various boards. I was in American Leadership Forum which was a big catalyst, cause I got to be around a whole bunch of people that were truly making these changes, or living a life of purpose. And so I thought long and hard, and I met with a few people and one of my friends and mentors that I met with basically gave me a lot of good pointers because she had done the same thing. And she said, “You know, you can leave and pursue your interests and passions and if that doesn’t work you can go ahead and do something different.” >>And in our last 30 seconds tell us what would be the couple rules-of-the-road that you would advise us. >>To making that shift? >>Yes. To really look at . well first of all, you know, set yourself up in a way that you can have some bandwidth. I have been able to… I saved a lot in the process of working at HP which gave me a little bit of runway. But you can also do things like decide really what you want to do and start pursuing those interests even before you leave your position. And get hooked into networks. And meet people that are in the areas that you’re interested in. So that when you do make a transition you have a group of folks that can support you and actually help you in your business. Networking is huge. I underestimated that when I was at HP, because I was all over the world besides here. >>And we’re going to have to leave it right there. Kim, thank you for a fascinating conversation. Congratulations on your Emmy win, and we look to hear and see big things from you in the future. >>Well thank you Scott. It’s been a pleasure. >>Well that’s our show. And thanks to our guest and thanks to you for watching Studio Sacramento. I’m Scott Syphax. See you next time right here on KVIE. ♪ I’m James Beckwith, President and CEO of Five Star Bank. As a community bank, we believe that open dialog about the issues affecting our region is vitally important. From the economy, to the environment, to social issues, we look forward to the conversations and hope you’ll join in.