There are no micro-aggressions

Leadership Moment: Feeling excluded isn’t always from aggression

Rabbi David Wolpe points out on Twitter:

Antisemitism in intent is not identical to antisemitism in effect. Someone can unknowingly use tropes or images that produce and encourage hatred of Jews. The right reaction then is not anger, but education.

I often need to be reminded of this, and this week was no exception. A conference recently reached out to invite me to come keynote it. Of course I was excited, but, when I asked for the dates, the conference perfectly overlapped one of the Jewish holidays. When I noted that I’d be unable to attend for that reason, the organizer responded, “That sucks for us.”

I’ll admit, I was livid for a bit. How insensitive. In this day and age, I generally expect people to have a reference (like the one linked above) that’ll tell you when not to have conferences. It almost feels intentional (or at least knowledgeable; I once had a conference schedule for Sukkot four years in a row!), but that’s not what’s going on. Sure, I’m not being actively included, but that isn’t happening with intent. In fact, it wasn’t until reading Rabbi Wolpe’s tweet that I was reminded that I should give a bit of education, rather that just fuming a bit in silence.

One Minute Pro Tip: More Inclusions!

If you’ve been to a corporate training on micro-aggressions, you’ve probably been told at some point to reduce your micro-inclusions, because people who aren’t being included perceive it as a micro-aggression. While we could argue about their perception, that doesn’t solve the root issue: that if you have people who don’t ever feel included, especially in small ways, they’re going to feel excluded.

Just like we made a list for big inclusions, do the same for micro-inclusions. Start keeping track of all the people you regularly see – physically as you walk to and from your desk, or virtually in video meetings or chats – and put them in a list. At the end of a day, anyone you had a casual and friendly interaction with? Move them to the bottom of the list. Over time, the top of the list tells you who you should have casual, friendly conversations with to spur inclusion.

Upcoming Appearances

June 27: Fireside chat with Myrna Soto, Two Hall of Fame CISOs walk into a Zoom

June 28: Panel Moderator: C is for Change: The Evolving Role of the CISO, Cyberweek

June 29: Lightning Talk: Hacking Harry Potter: The Untold Story of Fantastical Social Engineering, BSidesTLV

July 20: Webinar, The First 91 Days of a CISO’s tenure, with Christina Shannon, KIK

Aug 9/10: Reducing Your Team’s Energy Costs: An Inclusion Microtalk, at Black Hat USA

Interested in having me speak at an upcoming event? Contact me via

Chapter Cameo: Don’t borrow evil where it wasn’t intended

Chapter 7 of 1% Leadership can be an easy one to skip over, but it’s one of the fundamental ones for me: as soon as we start assuming ill intent of the people around us, we cripple our ability to positively interact with them. After all, it’s easy to rationalize returning their negative behaviors back at them (which then creates a self-reinforcing cycle) when we can justify our behavior as payback.

Leader Q&A

Leader N asks, I’m having trouble leading through influence across our organization. Senior executives aren’t doing the things that they’re “supposed to do” (that I am responsible for), and I don’t seem to be able to even leverage my boss’s authority to get them to engage. I may be having trouble reading this situation, do you have any good recommendations for books to read (or chapters in 1% Leadership) that can help me?

Ooh, N, that’s not an easy situation.

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