BTO: Be “The Other.”

July 6, 2020

BTO: Be “The Other.”

May 29, 2023

Remember the Canadian rock band, BTO: Bachman-Turner Overdrive? Okay, I know I’m dating myself, not to mention revealing my unsophisticated high school music taste.

What if BTO became our new rallying cry for healing systemic racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, homeless-phobia, and every other awful way we categorize people different from ourselves? BTO, as in Be The Other.

I have spent much of my life as a BTO. I went to an inner-city high school and was a minority as a white person. I spent part of college overseas as a foreigner. I came out as a gay man at age 23 while getting my MBA amongst a very conservative student body. I joined Airbnb and was twice the age of the average employee.

While being a BTO is challenging, each of these moments made who I am today—culturally curious, less narrow-minded, and more courageous. I can’t help believe it’s time to embrace this BTO philosophy and perhaps take it a step further—to walk a mile in a woman’s shoe or the shoes of anyone who is wholly different than we are (someone who is not in the dominant paradigm of power and privilege). We’ll never know what we might discover. Maybe we’ll cultivate radical empathy. Maybe we’ll understand tokenism and being stereotyped and feeling the responsibility of representing a whole demographic. Maybe we’ll understand the life of a square peg.

Imagine if we encouraged a national BTO day when we fled our comfy habitat and experienced a soulful barrio or an evangelical church or a gay pride march.

BTO, the band, was famous for the song “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Maybe that theme song could define the United States in 2020 and beyond—a moment in history when we finally have the moral imagination to understand what it means to “be the other.”

P.S. I hope you'll join us for this week's Happy Hour Show!

I love this guy, one of my two "midlife soul brothers" who joined me as a senior exec at Airbnb to help the founders turn their tech startup into a global hospitality brand. We share a wicked sense of humor and a wildly utopian view on humanity and don't mind being naughty on occasion. And, Jonathan is one of the wisest people I know about branding and advertising so we'll talk about how to stay relevant in a field that is notoriously filled with young people.

Registration is free, but limited! Please reserve today to ensure you get a spot.

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