Interview with Lamont Chichester, Chief Operating Officer for Growth Skills
What’s your name and occupation?
I’m Lamont Chichester, Chief Operating Officer for Growth Skills
Where were you born & what’s your nationality?
I was born in Guyana, a small country on the north coast of South America.
Has your nationality and place of birth influenced your work and affected your career?
Absolutely. Mainly by shaping how I connect with others. Though Guyana is an English speaking country, I was six when I moved to the US and I spoke English with an uncommon accent to my fellow elementary school students in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I had to learn how to communicate in order to make friends. In the melting pot of NYC, many cultures are represented in public schools and I learned how to listen and recognize the nuances of life for my would-be friends. Listening is the key to communication and the skills I developed as a young immigrant to NYC have helped me work and connect with people of different cultural backgrounds and disciplines to foster camaraderie.
What work have you been the most proud of in the past five years?
Helping build Growth Skills from the ground up has been amazing. When I mentally step back from the day-to-day work and consider where the company is as a whole, it certainly makes me proud.
Have you ever experienced racism or micro aggressions during your career? If so, how did you navigate those situations?
I’ve been fortunate not to experience much micro aggression in my career, but generally I try to remember that I’m interacting with a fellow human who, more often than not, doesn’t realize what they’re doing and I try to call them out on it in a respectful way. We’ve all experienced micro aggressions and, perhaps more important to consider, we’ve all doled them out. I believe micro aggressions mainly stem from fear, ignorance and a desire to be valued, or “belong”. These are normal human states of being which congeal into issues like racism, sexism and envy. Considering the bigger picture before reacting often leads to better responses and positive outcomes for everyone involved.
What career advice would you give to someone who looks like you?
Focus on being great at whatever you choose to do and not what you or anyone else looks like.
What do you wish you did with your money sooner?
Buy land out in nature. My daughter loves being outside and touching (and trying to eat) all the plants in our yard.It would be great to share even more of nature with her.
What other unique ways have you made money outside of your main career?
Here and there I’ve managed to connect friends for business deals or to fill hiring needs, earning a referral fee. I think we’d all be surprised at how many of those opportunities are in our network of friends.
What advice would you give someone looking to break into your field?
Seek out mentors for guidance and read as much as possible so you can have more pertinent discussions with them..
If someone reading this wanted to work with you or become your mentee how would they be able to do so?
Being a fairly new dad and the demands of growing an early stage business take up most of my time so I can’t offer mentorship at the moment. However, Growth Skills does offer the Protege Program on our Learning IQ platform that offers mentor-guided learning for applicants who are accepted. I’d encourage potential growth marketers to apply to the program.
Any last bit of advice you would give your younger self to help you earn more and thrive in your career?
There are three things I’d advise my younger self to do or embrace career wise:
- Ask for higher pay. Your boss sometimes has more leeway for negotiation and if you don’t ask, you’re guaranteed to miss out if it’s available.
- Ask more questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand. It’s a faster way to learn than fumbling through something on your own only to have to redo it in the end because you misunderstood.
- It’s okay to be wrong. Realizing this will relieve a lot of stress and make learning easier. Make sure you take the time to reflect on why you were wrong, though.