Today, in celebration of Black History Month, we chat with Jason Atwater from EMBA class of 2019. He is the Head of Inclusion & Diversity in Ancestry and co-founder of Black Roots, an employee resource group that champions black employees and customers to enhance Ancestry’s business. He also became the VP of Diversity and Inclusion for Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Program.
Jason walks us through his career from being a sales engineer to digital marketing before pivoting into inclusion and diversity, which is his true passion.
He lets us on the challenges he met while building Black Roots in Ancestry and offers advice on how other people can create a similar group within their companies.
Jason also shares where to find helpful resources when starting a resource group and effectively position similar initiatives within a company.
On why he chose to go to Haas – “The positioning of the Haas program, the focus on leadership, the focus on ethical responsibility, and the pillars, all of that just really spoke to me. I think this is where I think I’m supposed to be to take me to the next level of where my journey is supposed to go. And I was right.”
His advice on people who want to create a similar resource group like Black Roots – “Be clear about your mission statement and goals, what you want to do and who you are as a group. Find like-minded individuals who believe in your mission and willing to help. Finally, find at least one senior leadership person who can act as your guide or your sponsor.”
On why he pivoted from marketing to diversion and inclusion – “I will always love marketing, but I had been doing it for a long time. I really wanted to help make the world a better place, and working in inclusion and diversity is my way of acting change in a positive way.”
On being successful as a marketer – “I think my brief career in sales and the success I had were because I was good at relationship building. I was good at being genuine with my customers and really talking to them, trying to understand where they came from and what they needed, and not just trying to slam in a sale. It was the right thing to do.”
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
OHA Jason Atwater
Sean: Welcome to the OneHaas alumni podcast. I’m your host, Sean Li. And today we’re joined by Jason Atwater. He is Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Ancestry and, above all, he is a Haas alum. He was in the class of 2019 of the Executive MBA program.
[00:00:27] Jason Atwater: That is correct, yes.
[00:00:29] Sean: Welcome to the podcast.
[00:00:30] Jason Atwater: Thank you, Sean. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[00:00:31] Sean: Jason, tell us a little bit about where you grew up and where you’re from.
[00:00:35] Jason Atwater: I grew up in Pennsylvania, a small town called Reading, Pennsylvania. It’s about an hour Northwest of Philadelphia. I’m the youngest of 10 children, big family, five boys, five girls. We were very lower-middle-class. We worked our way up into the lower middle class by the time I was in high school but probably grew up fairly poor.
[00:00:57] But very focused on education and learning was highly stressed in my family. Most of my siblings have some form of secondary education. The town I grew up in was anxious to spread my wings and try other places. And when the time came from colleges, I looked around at places far away but the financial aid for Pennsylvania was much better.
[00:01:19] So, I ended up going to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Oddly enough, I was an engineer which is interesting considering the career I do now has nothing to do with engineering. And I haven’t done anything with engineering in quite a while. But I did work in engineering for several years.
[00:01:34] Sean: What kind of engineering.
[00:01:35] Jason Atwater: My degree is in material science engineering.
[00:01:37] Sean: Can you explain to us layman what material science engineering is?
[00:01:42] Jason Atwater: Typically, material science engineers, you study the structure of matter. Typically, like metals and ceramics and plastics and things, what composes matter. So, a lot of people with that degree, they work in steel mills or they work in electronics or, places where you’re building metals or materials or things like that. I worked for several years for an industrial gas and chemical company. And in the division that supported electronic semiconductors. In fact, that’s what brought me to California from the East coast was this electronic semiconductor industry.
[00:02:16] I was in town for a conference many years ago in San Francisco and ran into an old classmate of mine and his company was looking for engineers and I gave him my resume and they called me while I was still there at the conference. Then I interviewed while he was still there at the conference and they offered me the job and packed up. At the time I was living in New Jersey and moved out to California. And I’ve been here for over 20 years.
[00:02:38] Sean: Wow. Okay. That’s amazing. And so, what did you do before Haas?
[00:02:43] Jason Atwater: Yeah. So, before Haas, made a transition from engineering into sales. That was the first of my pivots. I’ve had a career of pivots. And that pivot happened because I worked for a semiconductor equipment company that made disk drive heads. The equipment that they used there were a couple of salesmen who are great salespeople, but they weren’t very technical.
[00:03:06] So whenever they got hit with tough questions about how the equipment actually worked, sometimes they were a little stymied. One of the managers asked me if I would be willing to go along to answer the technical questions. And it was so much fun. I really enjoyed the sales aspect that I ended up transitioning into that. I could learn the sales part of it.
[00:03:24] And ended up becoming a sales engineer for a number of years. And so that was my pivot into sales which was actually a lot of fun. But it definitely wasn’t something that I wanted to do long-term because it’s tough, it’s a tough world. The sales world, it’s very high demand and I transitioned from sales into marketing, which is what I’d been doing the majority of my career, specifically, digital marketing, paid search, SEO, that type of thing for tech companies. And that’s what I’ve been doing the majority of my time here in California. It was only recently but I did the full pivot, again, another pivot into inclusion and diversity, because that really, I think, is my true passion.
[00:04:01] That really came to a head when I went to Haas. I had been still doing digital marketing and figured that’s what my path was. I wanted to move into the next roles of being a Director of Marketing and VP of marketing eventually a CMO kind of was where I saw the path of my life going.
[00:04:17] I thought maybe I need more skill sets to add to the toolbox. So, I thought let’s go to Berkeley. They’re famous for their MBA program. And when I looked at a bunch of different schools in the Bay area and sat in on classes, it was the classes I sat in at Berkeley that had the biggest impact on me.
[00:04:33] The positioning of the Haas program, the focus on leadership, the focus on ethical responsibility, and the pillars all of that just really spoke to me. I think this is the place that I think I’m supposed to be to take me to the next level of where my journey is supposed to go. And I was right. I loved my time at Haas. It was amazing in my cohort.
[00:04:55] Sean: I have to agree. I loved my time at Haas. I actually didn’t want to leave but they kicked me out.
[00:05:00] Jason Atwater: No, but it’s part of the fun. I did the GNAM program.
[00:05:04] Sean: Oh, what’d you go?
[00:05:05] Jason Atwater: I went to Australia, to Sydney, and it was amazing. It was so good I went back a second time but I did two GNAMs in my program, but it was just such an amazing program. And it was that university’s first time doing GNAM.
[00:05:18] So they really went out of their way to try to craft a combination program that was both extremely educational but also fun. And I was just blown away by the quality of the experience we worked on a project where you are on teams and we work with a real company.
[00:05:34] So, there are a drone company and their business model was the drones were designed to use on the beach. And if someone was drowning, they could send the drone out to drop an inflatable. It was tightly packaged and it exploded out into an inflatable that the person could hold on to until a lifeguard could get to them. And I thought it was a really amazing business model. And our project was to work on a marketing campaign cause they wanted to expand. They were primarily in Australia and they wanted to expand into Asia, particularly into China. And so, our group project was to work on a marketing campaign and we worked on that the whole week that they were there.
[00:06:12] And then we presented to the owner and his board of directors and they picked the best campaign. My team came in second and they actually said they were going to use some of the ideas that we came up with within our marketing campaign.
[00:06:22] Sean: That’s amazing.
[00:06:23] Jason Atwater: Yeah. It was a fun experience.
[00:06:25] Sean: I did do GNAM but I did it actually locally at Berkeley. It was on Bay Area Entrepreneurship and Innovation and also venture capital. And even then it was still an amazing experience because more than 80% was composed of international students.
[00:06:40] And so we got to meet these amazing students from Europe, Asia, even South America and Mexico, Central America, and it was just an amazing experience. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. Got to make a lot of new friends around the world. I’m pretty sure it was the same for Australia, right? You probably had classmates from other parts of the world.
[00:06:59] Jason Atwater: We did, we had people from all around the world, yeah, it was great. They were just amazing people and I still stay in touch.
[00:07:05] Sean: I do want to talk a little bit about your experiences. You’ve worked at some pretty notable companies in the Bay Area. You joined ancestry before you started at Haas, right?
[00:07:16] Jason Atwater: Yeah, I’ve been at Ancestry. That’ll be five years in June. I had been thinking about an MBA for years, but it never seemed to be the right time for me. It was, I felt like I needed the support structure of a company that was supportive of me getting my MBA because I couldn’t afford to take off two years to take a full-time.
[00:07:37] So I was going to have to do an executive or a part-time program. I needed to have my personal life in order so that I’d have the bandwidth to actually do it. And that being in a stable relationship with my then partner now husband really helped me be able to take on this added responsibility and being at a company that was extremely supportive of me going back from my MBA.
[00:07:59] Sean: You had mentioned briefly what you were looking for in the MBA. Do you feel like you got everything out of what you were looking for and more?
[00:08:08] Jason Atwater: At the time when I went into the program and probably the first semester or two, I thought that my purpose of this was to gather enough skill sets to be able to move up the ladder of marketing.
[00:08:21] Like I said, eventually become a CMO. I really discovered that a part-time passion of mine, which I thought was part-time was the inclusion and diversity things that I was doing. I started my own black employee resource group at Ancestry and I had been involved in inclusion and diversity because it’s a passion of mine. Being African-American and having worked in the tech world for so many years, just seeing the lack of diversity at so many tech companies, that was a passion of mine. And I think during the program, during the classes, especially the leadership type classes that we had where we were having these discussions and we were doing coaching sessions to each other about what’s the problem at work that you’re working on, and during the course of that conversation I was talking about how I wanted to climb up the ladder in marketing, but then the conversation shifted and I started talking more about the inclusion and diversity side of things.
[00:09:12] And the two classmates that I was working with Suprita and Megan both said to me, you know, when you were talking about your career plans and what you wanted to do, we both noticed that your eyes lit up when you were talking about inclusion and diversity. There was a change to the tone of your voice in that it became much more animated and excited.
[00:09:32] Have you thought that maybe that’s the direction that your career is supposed to go? And that proverbial light bulb when people talk about kind of what, Oh my God, they’re right. This is really where my passion lies. I was already Co-VP diversity inclusion for my class.
[00:09:47] So I had already been doing work in it, but hadn’t really thought about that that was the full direction of where I wanted my career. I always thought that would be something I would also do. Once I realized that’s where my passion really was, it was like, okay. Wow. All right. I need to come up with a plan, how to do this pivot.
[00:10:03] And that became a focus of mine during the MBA program where I worked with the career center. Luke was amazing at helping me kind of map out a plan. How am I going to make this happen? How am I going to do this pivot from digital marketing to diversity and inclusion when I haven’t held any jobs specifically that were diversity inclusion? So, we really had several discussions about this, about getting as much experience as possible, framing some of the things that marketing that mapped over to inclusion and diversity to running projects and data analysis, and all of the things that I do in marketing that are totally the same, just you’re analyzing different types of data.
[00:10:44] And instead of customer data, you’re analyzing people data. He really helped me think that through and come up with a plan of him getting involved in organizations to get that experience of serving on boards and doing presentations about inclusion and diversity about my experiences with Black Roots, which was my employee resource group that I co-founded at Ancestry and build a case brick by brick building a case so that when an opportunity presented itself, that I would have enough qualifications to pivot into inclusion and diversity. And that all happened during my time at Haas.
[00:11:17] Sean: The opportunity seemed to present itself because you are now head of inclusion, diversity at Ancestry.
[00:11:34] Jason Atwater: I am.
[00:11:34] Sean: I do have to ask, were you part of creating that, or was that the opportunity that kind of came about?
[00:11:41] Jason Atwater: It was a combination of things. So, part of the conversations that I had with Luke was you need to make it known at your company that this is something that you’re passionate about, that you’re interested in. And I had a good relationship with our chief people officer at Ancestry.
[00:11:55] So he was very supportive and we had many conversations about my passion for inclusion and diversity. And he was instrumental. He introduced me to people; I was able to make connections. He was very aware of my passion for inclusion and diversity so that when the first head of inclusion and diversity at Ancestry had to leave, I was the first person he thought of in an interim role to take over.
[00:12:20] So I think it was the combination of all that stuff that I had built up over time he noticed. And so, the opportunity presented itself, like a jump on it. And I had a case to take over this role.
[00:12:33] Sean: That’s amazing. I’ve had some prior conversations with alumni about diversity, inclusion, and grassroots initiatives within companies. And they’ve shared some of the challenges that come up when team members, colleagues, managers, they express the importance of diversity inclusion. But sometimes they’re not prioritizing diversity inclusion as they said they would, right. Were there any challenges when you were building your grassroots initiatives and if so, how did you overcome them?
[00:13:09] Jason Atwater: When I was first forming my employee resource group black roots, there was a women’s group and there was an LGBTQ group which I was also a part of, but there were no ethnicity-based groups.
[00:13:19] And so I talked with the chairs of both the LGBTQ group and the women’s group and said, I’m thinking about this and got some partners that are interested in this as well to really get some feedback from them on what were the stumbling blocks that they had in forming those groups.
[00:13:34] And there was some pushback that they both received some kind of not from upper management, it was more just general, why do we need these groups kind of attitudes? And so, they had to really have to deal with those and Black Roots got a little bit of that too.
[00:13:48] So it’s like, why do we need it? You know why is there a need for our black employee resources group? But the thing was that the senior leadership team was 100% on board with the idea. When we presented at our first meeting, we had our PowerPoint presentation of what our mission statement was, what our pillars were, what we wanted to do.
[00:14:05] And we were very deliberate about our choices. The reason why we’re forming this group is because we want a seat at the table. We want to help the company to be better about underrepresented minorities getting more people in the funnel so that they could interview, that we want to be a voice for the black employees at Ancestry.
[00:14:24] And also to help with things like retention. So, that when we do get more black employees, that we’re able to keep them, that they don’t leave because they feel like maybe there’s not a path for advancement for them or that they’re subjected to things like microaggression and not being heard, all those kinds of things.
[00:14:40] So, we were very clear about this isn’t just a group to celebrate Black History Month. This is a group that wants to get things done and help improve the company. To Ancestry’s credit, they were totally on board with us. We need your voices. Ancestry had a couple of missteps with an advertising campaign that was not well received.
[00:14:57] One of the things that Black Roots said is that if there were more black employees in the process of creating a campaign, maybe someone could have raised their hand and said, Hey, have you thought about how this might be perceived incorrectly?
[00:15:07] Even though it was a perception thing. And I think it was a representation of you need more black voices in the process to just speak up.
[00:15:15] Probably the early success we had was getting involved in having a review board of people looking at advertising campaigns from the lens of the black community. Is there anything in these ads that we’re about to release you think might be problematic? We were able to give that feedback, and that was an easy way for us to demonstrate the value of our employee resource group.
[00:15:34] Sean: And it’s this employee resource group like a volunteer group? How does do you guys get paid extra for doing this extra work?
[00:15:44] Jason Atwater: All the employee resource groups are all voluntary. So, it’s employee is doing this on their own time. That’s another challenge of it. So, the groups are kind of levels of it. There’s the chairs of the group of each of the employee resource groups. And then there’s typically a committee which is a subset of the whole group. And then there’s the group in general, which anybody could come along to the group that’s interested. You don’t have to be a member. You don’t have to be black to be part of Black Roots. But to your point, no, it’s all voluntary. And one of the things that we’ve been pushing for all the employee resource groups and because these groups are all designed to benefit the company.
[00:16:21] That are enriching and making the company more inclusive and diverse investment. That should be part of their job descriptions and so when it’s time for reviews and things like that, that’s being taken into account that all these contributions that people are making. And we’re getting there with that.
[00:16:35] And there’s been talk about including these in people’s actual reviews to get the recognition for all this work that they’re doing. Because I think some people may have been hesitant to volunteer a lot of their time because they were afraid that the supervisors would comment that, Hey, you’re spending too much time on this other group; that’s not your job. We’ve had a few instances of that where managers have made those comments. And luckily, our senior leadership team says no, that’s not acceptable, that people should have the time to do this. I mean, of course, they still need to get their primary job done but we don’t want that perception out there that we don’t support these groups because they’re vital groups that are improving the quality of life for employees and helping the company be better.
[00:17:17] Sean: For any alumni that might be listening out there wanting to act, wanting to be an ally at their companies. Let’s take two scenarios, right? One is that there isn’t an employee resource group like this. That’s one scenario, right? And they want to take action to help get one started. A second scenario is there are buddings of resource groups and there’s some resistance. Curious to hear if you have any advice around those.
[00:17:52] Jason Atwater: I recently did a panel discussion on black employee resource groups and our impact on the tech world. And that question came up of one, how can people help, and two, if you’re considering starting one, what is the advice. And if you’re thinking about a group, it’s get like-minded individuals. You can’t do this on your own because it’s a lot of work to get something up and running so that I think the most challenging part is getting the up and running. When I first thought about forming black roots, my first thought was like, okay, I need to find at least one or two people who are interested in doing this with me.
[00:18:29] I approached a couple of my coworkers and we had a long discussion about it. And I think we quickly realized we need to really be clear about what this group is and what our goals are so that when we go to the senior leadership team and say, Hey, we want to start this and we want funding for this to do this group, we want it to be clear about what our mission statement was, what our goals for the group were, what we wanted to do, who we were so that we could present all of that in a clear and concise manner to the senior leadership team.
[00:19:00] Advice number one is to find like-minded individuals if you want to start an employee resource group, that are willing to help you and that believe in your mission. Two, be really clear about who you are and what you want your organization to be. Three is to find at least one senior leadership person who can act as your guide or your sponsor with the senior leadership team, cause you’re gonna need support, you’re gonna need funding. So, you need to find at least one if you can find two, that’s great. It gets even better, but find somebody that gels with your team.
[00:19:29] And we interviewed several people for Black Roots. We have two senior leadership sponsors. When we bought them the idea of what we wanted to do, both of them means they’re just like, okay, what can I do to help? How can I help you? They both were great at helping us refine our mission statement to make it more impactful.
[00:19:45] When we first created it, we were trying to throw out everything but the kitchen sink into our mission statement. So, it was a little long and it was a little convoluted because we didn’t want to leave anything out. And the best advice we got from one of our executive sponsors was like, this needs to be smaller and shorter and a little more to the point. And so, we went back and recreated it and got it down to one sentence that trimmed down all the fat. So, that was great advice. So, that’s the importance of finding an executive sponsor that can really help. All the people on the senior leadership team, all the VPs and senior VPs, C-level people, they’re all super busy.
[00:20:20] But you do want to find someone that can give you a little bit of time. They don’t need to help you run the organization but you need someone that you can get advice from that you could talk to about how to approach the leadership team about getting funding or when you want to do events that when you want to sponsor things like you want to do charity events or you want to go to a conference or you want to work with the talent acquisition team to go to a job fair that’s designed around hiring a black tech talent. The kind of things that you can get people that will help you fight that battle to get the funding, to do those kinds of things. Those are the important advice that I would give to anybody who’s thinking about those things is get all those ducks in a row. And then when you’re bringing in people make sure that, I think it can go one of two ways with the employee resource groups, especially if they’re ethnicity-based or identity-based groups. You don’t want to be exclusionary because sometimes you get groups where they’re just like this, it’s just for this group. And I understand that initial thought of that as you want to create a safe space. And I think we still do that. The Black Roots we have safe spaces where know we can all get together and talk but our group is not exclusionary.
[00:21:27] It’s just not for black employees. Because I think that it’s too insular like that. It could give the impression that you’re not inclusive. And that kind of defeats the purpose of being in a group that’s touting inclusivity when you’re just like, you can’t be a part of our group. You can’t sit with us.
[00:21:44] Sean: That’s very true. Very true. I hate to turn this into a how-to episode but were there resources that you were able to find to help you start this employee resource group? Because sometimes I imagine some companies like, you know, there’s no roadmap or instruction manual on how to start an employee resource group. Do you have any advice on that, where people can find resources?
[00:22:09] Jason Atwater: Yeah, there’s a lot of information out there on starting employee resource groups, that you Google starting an employee resource group when there’s really good information out there. Internally at Ancestry, there weren’t any structures at the time of advice on how to start a group. But luckily, I did have the previous two groups that I mentioned earlier, the LGBTQ group and the women’s group, and they were both amazing in offering their advice. I’m all about paying it forward to try to help where I got help.
[00:22:38] Sean: Then I hope people listening can reach out to you. This is, you know, the OneHaas, this is an MBA alumni podcast. And you’re a marketer too. I’m really curious about positioning and how you positioned these organizations, the employee resource groups to your managers. And I asked this because I’m pretty sure there’s a right way to position it and there’s a wrong way to position it. Or maybe not a wrong way, but an ineffective way to position these initiatives. And so, I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on that. As a marketer, what are the best ways to position?
[00:23:25] Jason Atwater: My two co-founders with Ancestry, all three of us were marketers. And I have now moved out of marketing, but it’s funny. So, that was top of mine when the three of us were meeting about informing this organization and how we are going to position.
[00:23:40] We all came at it with our marketing hats on that we need to position this as a win-win. We need to include metrics in our descriptions of we want to be able to measure the impact we have on Ancestry. We wanted to tie it to Ancestry’s culture and the way Ancestry markets is product. The whole storytelling and bringing families together.
[00:24:03] And it was important for us to not position ourselves as we want to come in and start a lot of trouble. Which, part of it that was, we did wanna come in and shake things up a little bit, but to position it as we want to help Ancestry to better connect with both their black employees and their black customers and positioning it that way so that they could immediately grasp onto who we were and what we were trying to accomplish.
[00:24:30] If you saw our first PowerPoint slides that we did, there was a lot of talk of that of using all the pillars of what Ancestry stands for and tying what Black Roots wants to do to each of those pillars and how we want it to impact those changes.
[00:24:44] So, we absolutely approached it from a marketing perspective. And I think it worked cause I think it helped all the C-level people that we talked to really grasp what we wanted to do very quickly because we were so clear about it.
[00:24:58] Sean: That’s great. I’m glad you shared that because that’s the challenge. Not every employee out there is a marketer or they think about these things and everyone’s very passionate, right, but there’s a degree of
[00:25:09] Jason Atwater: Positioning you’re selling, you’re selling just like you’re in marketing. You’re selling. You have to sell it. I still use my marketing skills even though I’m not a marketer anymore but I still use those skills quite a bit when I’m working on training programs for inclusion and diversity.
[00:25:25] One of my big goals is to have these discussions with employees so that they understand the importance of the business impact of creating inclusive teams, how you get better products by having inclusive teams. And I have to sell those things to employees to truly get them to grasp it because there’s very different levels of understanding of what inclusion and diversity and the word diversity to some people has a negative connotation because when they hear diversity, they think quotas and trying to use my marketing skills to turn that around and get people to understand it’s not about quotas or being the PC police.
[00:25:57] It’s about adding more people to the table being more inclusive so that you know, the way we market our products or design our products that we’re thinking about larger groups of people and people that may not be traditional users of Ancestry’s products.
[00:26:11] And those could be underserved or underrepresented minorities that may be hesitant to use Ancestry because they think it’s a more euro-centric focused product. But if we do a better job explaining that it’s not it’s, we have things for you, as an African-American or as a Latin X person or as an Asian-American person that we have things for you as well too, to use this product.
[00:26:31] That’s some of the things that I like working on inclusion and diversity is to try to sell that internally so that people get that and help affect change throughout the organization so that we do a better job of being inclusive.
[00:26:44] Sean: That’s wonderful. I’m so happy for you that, through the Haas journey, you have found your passion, right?
[00:27:08] Jason Atwater: Yeah.
[00:27:09] Sean: Material science engineering.
[00:27:12] Jason Atwater: It’s pretty crazy. What I think about it that in that 18 months, 19 months of the program, my life completely shifted. And I really wanted to do something that made the world a better place or help to make the world a better place.
[00:27:27] And working in inclusion and diversity is my way of affecting change in a positive way. And I think that’s definitely the Haas way. That’s definitely the Haas way of making the world a better place than the way you found it. And yeah, that’s my focus. And it’s so exciting just every day. Jump up, ready to get started, and looking at what can I do today kind of thing. And in large part to my experiences at Haas.
[00:27:52] Sean: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about before we wrap up?
[00:27:55] Jason Atwater: No, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground. I think that we did. But the professors and my cohort were just, they’re all so instrumental in me having this amazing experience at Haas. And like I said, the career group just thanking all of those people who made this journey that I went on in my time at Haas such a life-changing experience.
[00:28:19] And I don’t know that I could ever thank them. All those people. All my cohort. All the professors, the staff, everyone just made it such an amazing experience. So that’s why I’m always happy to volunteer for whenever there’s open houses or talks that Haas needs.
[00:28:33] And they call me to do it. I always say yes because I appreciate what Haas gave to me.
[00:28:38] Sean: And we thank you. We appreciate you. I’m gonna end on a lighter note, and because you are a sales professional, I want to say through and through, I’m really curious, are there any sales books that you recommend, you know old classics?
[00:28:54] Jason Atwater: Good question. I think when I first got into sales, all the big books were about your, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And all those types of books were all the rage.
[00:29:04] But I think the most impactful ones were all the ones about relationship building.
Because I think in my brief career in sales, I think the success that I had was because I was good at relationship building. I was good at being genuine with my customers and really talking to them and trying to understand where they came from and what they needed and not just try to slam in a sale; because it was the right thing to do.
[00:29:27] It’s is this right for you? Will this solve the issues that are problems that you’re having? Look for things that are more focused on building the relationship and understanding and listening. So, that’s what I would recommend on that side, but like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in sales.
[00:29:43] Sean: I couldn’t agree more. It’s funny enough I did recently recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie’s book is one of my favorites, to a classmate, to a Haasie, a couple of weeks ago. So, it’s still not, it’s not out of fashion yet.
[00:29:56] Jason Atwater: Good to hear.
[00:29:59] Sean: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much, Jason, for coming on the podcast. Has been such a pleasure.
[00:30:03] Jason Atwater: And this has been so much fun. Thank you.
[00:30:09] Sean: Thanks again for tuning in to this episode of the OneHaas podcast. If you enjoyed our show today, please remember to hit that subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast player. We’d also really appreciate you giving us a five-star rating and review. If you’re looking for more content, please check out our website at haas.fm. There you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and check out some of our other Berkeley Haas podcasts. And until next time. Go bears.