Reboot Podcast Episode #162 – Looking Back to Move Forward – with Lisa Sharon Harper

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.


Lisa Sharon Harper

Lisa Sharon Harper

Author & Founder of Freedom Road

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Episode Description

For our first fresh episode of the 2023 season, Jerry sits down with Lisa Sharon Harper, founder of Freedom Road, and author of the superb book, Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and The World and How to Repair it All. 

In this compelling conversation, Lisa tells the story of her ancestor, Fortune, as a way to illuminate the effects of race, racism, and Othering. Jerry describes the work he’s done to uncover and understand his own ancestors’ history, and shares how returning to his family’s past allowed him to find belonging and informed the thinking in his forthcoming book, Reunion. The duo proposes a radical notion, that in order to create a world and workplaces — of love, safety, and belonging for others, we must first as leaders dismantle the myths of our identity and reckon with the origin stories of our ancestors.

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“We’ve had inflection points in our history where we could have chosen another way, we could have reckoned, but we didn’t.” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“We are human and, because we are human, we have choice. We have the ability to choose another way to be together in the world.” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“The fastest two things that actually limit the capacity of human beings to exercise stewardship are poverty and oppression.” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“The policies and the practices that manifest in Othering, in its various forms, creates a separateness that is, in effect, death.” – Jerry Colonna

“Despite whatever Othering my ancestors might have experienced, they participated in, extended and continued and benefited from the Othering of others regardless.” – Jerry Colonna

“I believe to the bottom of my heart, that leadership should be defined by creating what I refer to as systemic belonging. Leadership that does not create systemic belonging is technocratic in its management. It’s important but it’s limited.” – Jerry Colonna

“Every CEO, every person who is a business leader, every person who is a leader today…your story lives inside of a larger story of leadership in America, and that story of leadership is one that exists inside of a capitalist story, a narrative of capitalism in America, that, at its foundation, assumes, assumes the exploitation of some in order for others, for the few to thrive. You have a choice. Will you participate in that story, will you participate in that practice in order to get yours or will you choose another way of being together in the world?” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“I have this moral and ethical responsibility to lean into the sharp edges of this and to say, in effect, “Who do I belong to?” so that I can create that sense of systemic belonging for those around me.” – Jerry Colonna

“Whiteness is not logical. There is no thing called whiteness except the power we give it.” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“I think that, once people of European descent understand what their ancestors were fleeing when they came here, that they will have greater capacity for empathy, and to see the patterns here and to then choose not to be a part of it.” – Lisa Sharon Harper

“What’s the purpose of all of this, what’s the purpose of leadership? You know, I think leadership, you can ask a lot of people what’s the purpose of leadership and you’ll get a million different answers. What I’ve come to understand now is the purpose of leadership is to lead us all into greater connection with all things.” – Lisa Sharon Harper