Closing Keynote Speech delivered for PayPal’s Diversity & Inclusion Week
It’s one of the hottest topics within companies but is ultimately one of the most defining features of my existence – difference, diversity and inclusion!
The son of an Indian diplomat, I grew up in 10 countries on 4 continents around the world and so my story has always revolved around how the ‘other’ can still find a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging is as vital in the workplace as it is in the communities where we live.
I’ve been called a bad word my whole life. It wasn’t given to me by bullies. Nor by my parents. Nor by my peers. In fact, it’s governments who use this word to label me. What is this word?
Alien is the word used to describe almost 250 million people across the globe who are immigrants. And while it may seem comical, a quick dictionary search will show what awful words are associated with alien: distant, disturbing, distasteful, repugnant, and extraterrestrial.
Why do we insist on such a label on people who are in fact human but simply different?
And so I am now on a mission to reclaim this word! In my opinion, difference has been a key ingredient to my personal and professional success. And ultimately difference is what makes us unique and is what will give your company its unique advantage.
1. Know Your Story
Moving countries every 3 years I was afforded the unique opportunity to essentially start again. With every hello, I was able to reshape my story. Each chapter allowed me to discover who I was and to evolve into who I am today. Being immersed in such different circumstances forced me to challenge my perspectives and to see with new eyes. But the real question is, how do YOU know your story? What can YOU do to truly own who you are – not for all the ways you are similar to those around you but to discover what it is that truly differentiates you to make you who YOU are.
2. Own Your Story
One thing I’ve learned as a professional speaker is that even the smallest inflections in my voice or changes in my posture can dramatically change how the listener hears my story. So it is with each of our stories. Every moment of every day we are presenting a version of ourselves. And it is OUR responsibility to own how people receive it.
I brought this to life by having everyone play a game where each of the participants was given instructions of how a different culture would greet a friend. Within the madness of multiple cultures attempting to greet in their own unique way we experienced how personal space, comfort levels, and confidence can impact how the other person perceives your difference.
3. Share Your Story
Once I discovered my story and owned it, I uncovered values that have become the guiding principles of what I do. My motto ‘Start Now Start Simple’ developed when I saw my ‘alien’ upbringing not as a crutch but as a powerful gift to the communities with whom I serve and collaborate.
It’s my difference that made me valuable when advising the Irish government, or curating content online, or giving a lecture in the university, or as an MC, or in my interpretation of music. Ultimately your difference is your story to share with the world and if harnessed for good can become your greatest advantage.
Dan Ram ignites the stage as an in-person event and virtual event EMCEE & Speaker at over 100 events a year. He has shared the stage with international luminaries including President Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, Nico Rosberg, and Grammy-winning artists and celebrities. Level up your communication skills through his course and mastermind “Speaking Success”. If you want to make this the year that you master your personal brand, check out Dan’s Full Service Personal Branding Agency. His passion is to inspire people with his motto ‘Start Now Start Simple’ in building a future we all want to live in.