Many leaders will say they understand diversity and inclusion. Today we look at how embracing D&I drives growth. Today’s guest is Wale Mafolasire, Founder & CEO at Givelify. Inc Magazine ranked his company #1065 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Givelify is an online giving platform and mobile donation app that makes giving and receiving digital donations convenient, simple, and secure. Wale discusses how D&I drives growth. I learned a ton in this interview about diversity and inclusion. Discover why you want to embrace it and how D&I drives growth.
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Wale Mafolasire: The Transcript
About: Wale Mafolasire, find opportunities where they don’t seem to exist and deliver awesome solutions. What did he mean? As a college student, Walle always needed tutoring outside of class, so he created varsitylounge.com, an online learning/collaboration platform. Somewhere along the line, he became fascinated with servers and corporate networks and how they impact bottom lines, so I created Control-Z and delivered best-of-class IT consulting services to the Indianapolis area. He hooked up with Didgebridge a few years ago to deliver the world’s first patent-pending Video ROI analytics platform. After forgetting to honor his pledges to a few non-profits and missing out on tithes and offerings at his church, He created Givelify, the revolutionary mobile app that makes giving donations quick and convenient. The app also lets you track your donations easily and accurately. Walle is currently focused on Givelify and the mission to transform the world of electronic donations as we know it.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Wale Mafolasire: [00:00:00] Well, we quickly realized is the kind of people that we’re attracting as an organization, all came from diverse backgrounds and every time we’ll huddle up together to try to figure out what’s the next thing that we’ll need to build. Like what’s the, what’s the next service that we need to think about how to shape just being able to tap into different, life experiences and journeys from people with diverse backgrounds. What they bring to the table just brings about innovation in ways one could never expect.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: You have a diverse and inclusive work environment. Well, my hope is that you’re thinking about what that really means. If you have a small company, you probably are thinking about, you know, hiring your friends are hiring the people, you know, and it’s more comfortable. But I know that when you have a company that is scaling, you [00:01:00] really want to have the diversity of thought you want people to feel included. It really is and makes for great, greater innovation and more power and growth in the company. Today, we look at DNI that drives growth. Our special guest is the CEO of Givelify . they were on the list this past year, and we’ll talk with Wale Mafolasire. . Hopefully I got that. Right. But Walle, and I have a really good conversation about diversity inclusion and about what that really means inside of an organization, he shares a story about how better outcomes come when he’s able to take different perspectives and see different perspectives. And it only took, him reaching out to people that don’t think like him, Thinking about that for a second. And he was able to find a way to build a platform that has scaled to where it is today. And that’s just one example of how diversity and inclusion has driving growth for him. Now, my hope is that you are a strong enough leader and you’re courageous enough that you know, that having a diverse workforce. Diverse in their [00:02:00] color, diverse in their political alignments, diverse in their, , ways of seeing the world and diverse in all aspects, sexual orientation. And beyond that, you are going to have a better company, because if you can actually leave. These kinds of people to align around these difficult times, which is part of what’s inside this, the challenges of that, you will have a better, stronger company that’s willing to last the test of time.
And I hope that you are thinking about that as you begin to grow your company, diversity and inclusion deny. Drives growth. That is today’s topic. Now, before we get into the interview, if you are curious about your own journey as a leader, if you have a something that you know that you want to shift, you feel like it’s something that’s holding you back. Let’s have a chat about it. I am a leadership coach. I help companies grow out. I work with CEOs, founders, and their teams to figure out how to lead more powerfully. Do you want to kind of get in on that a little bit and just have a chat with me about your business and get a plan then it’s actually no [00:03:00] cost to you. Just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule a call inside that call. We will have a chat about what’s really going on in your business. Have a chance for you to get real with me, not recorded, just a private conversation, and I’ll help you get more clear about where you’re going. And you can leave the conversation, knowing exactly what to do next. And that is powerful. I know it because I’ve lived it and this is what I do day in and day out. I know how powerful that is. Just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule a call. Now here’s the interview with Wale.
Gene Hammett: Wale, how are you?
Wale Mafolasire: Doing well, Gene, how are ya?
Gene Hammett: I am great. We’re going to have a great podcast. We’re going to talk about diversity and inclusion as it relates to the growth of your company. But before we get there and dive into your stories and whatnot, tell us about Givelify.
Wale Mafolasire: Yeah. So is the leading online and mobile given platform in the world. And I often tell people this as the founder and CEO, I feel like it’s my right to say that we are the leading online mobile and giving platform out there. But what makes my job really easy and very confident in saying that is you go to the app store and you look at the numbers [00:04:00] that now load numbers, you look at the review, the reviews and what everybody’s saying about our platform. , you get to see that a product that’s just truly loved and trusted for empowering people to do more good.
And we’ve been around for about eight years now. We help almost a 55,000 organizations with over a million people, who are given over $3 billion to these organizations as part of their aspirations, to be more generous and put more kindness to the earth
Gene Hammett: I’m kind of curious, you know, I think there’s a lot of advancements in many different industries, but what is the next two or three years until for the giving platforms that you can tell?
Wale Mafolasire: That’s, that’s very interesting. So we’ve done a lot of research or Givelify-fi and one thing holds true regardless of the technology platform that in nature, every human being is the desire to do more good. It’s innate to you. It’s innate to me. I often talk about, I wonder if I got a chance to maybe interview more than Theresa before who buy a lot of [00:05:00] accounts? A lot of people say she was the epitome of giving of oneself for, for something bigger than herself. , if we asked her, she probably would say, look, I give it all, but there’s still more I could do. And you look at all the below billionaire philanthropists that are out there, the Warren buffets and the bill gates and this a loop of giving the whole bunch of wealth. To, to try to drive positive change in the world, both still believe there’s more that we can do so that innate desire exists in every human being. The question is how effortless can we make it to turn those that desire into tangible acts of kindness and generosity. And from a technology perspective, we’ll look at the smartphone today.
We say it’s a very big witness. We can’t live without our smartphones. And we think there’s a lot more than. The smartphones can do, and being an ally in turning in late desires into actual actions. But again, you look in the world today and you look at what’s happening in how we’re thinking about money and the value of the currency. Instead of looking in places like the crypto markets, I started thinking about what could. This whole new thing [00:06:00] about metaverse looked like, right? And there’s a lot of interesting things there to explore about how that could play a significant role. Are you looking at what’s going on in the news today and the role that the crypto is playing in Ukraine and other parts of the world, they said, there’s, there’s a lot to be done there. There’s a lot to be explored there. So I’m very excited about the future, but I say these two people I’d give it a five us. The medium doesn’t matter. Right. If it means we have to put a chip in everybody’s brains so that they think. In given happens, that’s where we’ll be, as long as we’re making it effortless for people to act on that in the desire. That’s what drives every technology decision that we make.
Gene Hammett: I, I can see it getting a lot easier to give. I know that you see street performers now that are taking you to have QR codes to, to be able to give in a completely different level. Yeah, it’s because no one’s carrying cash anymore. And cash will begin to probably fade out in, in many ways inside of our society. But I, I appreciate the work that you’re doing, allowing companies to continue to thrive, [00:07:00] on the giving model, and that it’s going to make for a great conversation today. When our team was researching your company and it’s more than just a fast-growth company, but you did make the Inc 5,000 recently. And we were trying to figure out what are the common elements behind that? Tell us a little bit about the diversity and inclusion program that you see drives growth here.
Wale Mafolasire: Yeah, it’s a very good question. And I’m going to, I’m going to talk my way to answering that question if that makes sense. Cause that question is not complete with that a little bit of the origins of the company and some of the struggles that as an early founder and CEO are earlier, before the podcast started, as you and I were chatting, Gene, you’ve kind of talked about that journey and I think for a lot of first time founders and CEO, you first start with, I’m trying to solve a problem, right? I’m trying to build a solution to the problem. You don’t see yourself as a business leader is I’m just trying to solve a problem. And very much like, you know, like anybody who finds themselves in that situation, I started with, I’m just trying to solve this problem of, I want to give in the [00:08:00] moment because if I lose that moment, given is just not going to happen. And over time start seeing that. Not only am I solving that problem for myself, I’m solving it for a bunch of people. And then your role as the leader starts to shift right from I’m trying to solve the problem for myself to, oh my God, I have a product that people actually use it. And this product is actually becoming a thriving company and that thriving company now employs a lot of people who are counting on you to be. A leader to them, right? And every step of that journey, you continue to ask yourself, the question is, how do we maintain this growth and for Givelify-fi we’ve had the good fortune of having been turned down by hundreds of investors in our earliest days, when I would go around pitching investors to try to invest into the business. And then. You know that adversity there actually allowed us to tap into something that we would not, we could never predict that would end up being the secret sauce to our [00:09:00] success. What we quickly realized is the kind of people that we’re attracting as an organization, all came from diverse backgrounds and every time we’ll huddle up together to try to figure out what’s the next thing that we need to build.
Right? What’s the, what’s the next service that we need to think about how to shape just being able to tap into a different life. Experiences and journeys from people with diverse backgrounds. What they bring to the table just brings about innovation in ways one could never expect. And I do remember at one of the pages, while I was pitching an investor, I remember that we got to that slideway. Do that competitive slide thing. I don’t know. You know what I’m talking about, where you kind of say your product, you give you all the checkboxes, and the competitors you give them an exit. I don’t remember what got stuck on the slide about why one future was better than the other. And after that meeting, I thought it reflected like, Hey, look, we’re the youngest company on the block. We have the few as employees we’re not funded. And yet you look at the app store numbers, I’ll piece in all the established players in the [00:10:00] space. And for me, the more I reflected in that moment, the more I came to realize that the power of what may Givelify-fi special was not just that we had the best product by all means.
But it was the people behind the product that made it the best product. And when I tried one pack, what’s behind the people, I could almost draw a dotted line to diversity in the life experience of each person on the team, and that is what allowed us to unlock innovation in ways that it’s not that in my own opinion served the growth of the company. And so the Jonah forest to make in that list is one that is fueled by definitely the diversity of our workforce, but the Goodwill of the community on our platform as well, right? The people who give to this organization and the organizations who are being good stewards of these donations and champion in different causes. But when you look in that community, What you also find is a very diverse group of people who are motivated and we’re championing different causes. [00:11:00] And so as much as I talk about diversity is key to driving successful companies. One of the things that also like to point out is never underestimated the spirit of generosity in the American population it’s the other thing that has driven the growth of Givelify.
Gene Hammett: I wouldn’t dive into one of the things you were talking about, you know, diversity and inclusion drives innovation. Is there a story or an example to a feature set that has come about because your team had this diverse group of people discussing and solving a particular problem. It’s a story that you can share with us around that.
Wale Mafolasire: Yeah, definitely. Gene, it’s the first story of what were we going to build as with trying to tackle this problem? When I think about why I started Givelify find the first, this was based on my own experience of sitting in church and trying to give to my church and the electronic given options that my church offered me at that point in time. I had to memorize this password, this long url. I try to have to do it on [00:12:00] a smartphone, which was no mobile-enabled. It’s just too clunky. And so I started to try to solve this problem for the use case of somebody who only gave to the Christian faith. Now, when I called my good friend from college Hari, who was him?
And I was like, how has this ever happened to you? You sit in a journal like, well, what do you mean I’m Hindu? I don’t go to church, but I could relate to living in the streets of Chicago, coming down from my condo, and trying to go into the street and just seeing somebody who’s homeless there. And I’m trying to see what else can I do for this person? But I could relate to being born in this hospital in India that was established by mission outreach. And how do I continue to support that hospital? Even though I live in the United States right now, and immediately start to see like our perspective to how we’re addressing this problem starts to be shaped from a worldview versus a very narrow Christian faith perspective where I have started the journey in the show.
Commentary: Now, while it’s just talking about giving to a church. I remember, 11 years ago, I met someone when I was in between my other [00:13:00] job and being an executive coach in a bookstore. I was trying to find my way in the world. Yes, 11 years ago, and overheard someone talking about working with a church and they needed to figure out their digital marketing strategy. And I felt like I could add some value. So I introduced myself, and we had a conversation. I ended up working on that project for a full month. And one of the things that we had to look at was the giving options. And there was a lot of resistance. Two people putting in credit cards, , to give to churches. And it was something that we had to look at it. And we also had to look at how to streamline and reduce the friction of giving within the organization. And that was the very first project that we were able to add and move forward for that client. I share this with you because it takes a different perspective. Sometimes people are in resistance to that, but looking back now, it’s just commonplace. And this is happens all the time. How do you speed up that level of thinking? Well, you have to be open to new things. That’d be open to change. Most people aren’t. They want to just keep doing what they’re always done. I bring this up because I want you to be a [00:14:00] leader that can, can inspire change and inspire people to embrace it back to Wale.
Gene Hammett: I love the story because it makes us all think about, you know, getting in other worlds and taking other perspectives. How do you lead this company of diverse people? What are the principles that, that you have found really work for leading the kind of growth that you guys have?
Wale Mafolasire: Yeah, very interesting question. And sometimes I wish I had a manual or a book that I could read in to say, cause we often talk about the journey to achieve in a diverse organization, but with a diverse organization comes the complications of also how do you harness the diverse perspectives and be able to channel them into a common purpose. Right. And so. One of your podcasts. I was listening to earlier talks about the full employer brand, which I think is part of this also because in that employer brand, you started thinking about what’s your common purpose as an organization and how do you start to align those different diverse perspectives to champion that in a very holistic [00:15:00] way? I’ll tell you what It’s not easy and we’ve gotten it wrong sometimes quite frankly. And I tell people when they advocate for diverse or I care for what you ask for because you’re going to have to learn quickly that, that same thing that you’re clamoring for that, you know, could be powerful if not managed well, could actually have your sink in, in it. Right. So in that and give a fire, for example, we’re a hundred employees scattered all over the world, different fits in different backgrounds. I don’t remember those at a point in time. Where do you use this specific story. There was a point in time. It was a black history month where it’s younger company as a younger CEO. So focused on building the product, getting in front of the customer and the entire black history month went by. And I did not make a single comment to the rest of the company about this. So a lot of the African-American folks who worked at the company said, Hey, Wale, we noticed Givelify. And black history month.
Ah, yeah, you’re right. So busy trying to figure out everything else. That’s such an important milestone that just slipped me. And so the next year I promise to do better, right. [00:16:00] Which we did well, guess what happens? We have a whole bunch of issues and faults on the team as well. So Chinese new year comes by. And revealed. And then they came to me and say, Hey, Wale would notice that this happened. And many of us do recognize the lunar new year was celebrated. Right? And wouldn’t love to be part of helping Givelify or understand what that means for us in the future. And so I had to invite them and say, okay, you guys were going to be a lot more intentional about celebrating this thing. And what truly happens is when you create a space where people can come and have those conversations with you and say, This is important to me. And as a company, I want to see how I can bring that part of myself to the company as showcase this culture, I would dare say I’ve never developed the playbook. The people helped us develop the playbook that worked for them and create an environment where everybody feels like they can bring their. Well authentic cells, the organization, regardless of their beliefs, whether you’re Christian, Muslim, [00:17:00] Hindu, regardless of, you know, whatever your sexual orientation is, regardless of what part of the world you are in. It’s just powerful. Because again, the solutions come organically from the people and all you have to do is lean into it, figure out how you’re going to empower it, and figure out how to amplify it because diversity brings more diversity. And the better you are at harnessing it, the more you worked for the organization.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. I appreciate you sharing the story of that. Makes me also think we recorded this in March and it’s women’s history month. Make sure you don’t miss that one.
Wale Mafolasire: So here’s, what’s interesting. I was preparing to address the company and, , there’s a planning committee that helps me with those, with those initiatives, we do this on a very on a weekly. So it’s a few women on the committee and I said, Hey, it’s women’s history month. I’d like to say something about women’s history month. Could you all, please just help me come up with some ideas. And they were like, no. While they were not going to let you come and mansplain [00:18:00] women’s history month to us, we got you covered, relax. We’ll take you of the programming and we got you covered. But again, it goes to the power of creating this environment where people can have that kind of conversation with their leader. I loop don’t make a mistake. A lot of men do try to do this. Right. Cause we could feel we were not pandering when we hear it. Right. And how do you make it such an authentic experience? People come together. They bring up this ideas on there. Oh. And my job as the leader of the company is just to create an environment where these beautiful ideas can organically bubble up and we can lean into it. But yes. Thank you very much for that reminder
Commentary: Wale talked about mansplaining. Now I know that everyone knows what this is, especially the women in the audience, but for those men that happened to be listening in here, the problem is most of you don’t believe you’re mansplaining. You believe you’re just trying to be clear. And so one of the things you might do. Is pause for a second. Instead of trying to explain something that you feel like that someone might not [00:19:00] know, don’t assume and just ask, I don’t know what it’s about. Maybe it’s do you know how to change a tire? Don’t assume that they, you need to give them the detail because they may know exactly what they’re doing. If you’re oblivious to this, if it’s a blind spot of yours, then you want to make sure that you’re checking in with me and I’m just bringing it out here. It is a fault of many men to just assume that people don’t know what they’re talking about. Especially women and they will just begin to jump into here’s what I’m talking about and try to explain it to them. And it really gets in the way of your relationship because people go home going, and you won’t believe what happened today. It happened again. Don’t be that leader back to Wale.
Gene Hammett: We’ve had an incredible conversation talking about diversity of inclusion, driving growth. And I’m going to ask you, what have we not touched on? Because I feel like we’ve touched on a few of the things, but there’s probably something else that’s missing as it relates to creating the kind of growth with the, with a diverse company that you have, what is that we need to touch on today?
Wale Mafolasire: I think one of the things [00:20:00] that, what I’ve heard when a lot of people reach out to me and say, Hey, Wale we, you know, we go to our bottles page on the Gibbler fight.com website, and we can see all the faces there, and this is what we’re striving for. Right. And given the fire system ties, you go to our about us page. It looks like the United nation because of the, of the different colors and shades of the people on that page. But the journey to get in there sometimes involves very intentional decisions that you have to make, right? It’s decisions like I’m on the leadership team. And I have all men and say, Hey, look, we have a couple of different positions that are opening up. That’s our opportunity to add women to the leadership team. And when you start looking at the resumes and everything else, that’s coming up, staying true to that commitment that this is what I truly want understanding that it might take you a little bit longer. To fill that position, but the commitments keep maintaining that kind of diversity in the workforce is hard work.
Right. And, and sometimes you too many times, I find myself in that [00:21:00] situation where I’m like, okay, I have to fill this role like right now. And I’m seeing all of this other qualified candidates. What do I do? Do I take the shortcut or do I stay with something that we know for us as a company is fully important for our growth and our success and be a little bit patient. And, there’s somebody who I was having a conversation with the other men talk about the speed of patience. And I think when you’re thinking about building a very diverse workforce, it’s one of those things that truly you have to lean into the speed of patience.
Gene Hammett: It’s an interesting thing because most of the time patience is, is the slowest pace, but yet the most powerful way to connect with someone where, where I see a lot of leaders within my coaching work is, is they have very little patience where they need more. When you think about your own. Leadership. What is the one thing that you’re working on to improve that you’re willing to share with us today to be a more inclusive leader and to really embrace the diversity inclusion to a new [00:22:00] level?
Wale Mafolasire: Yeah. So the first question, and I’ll use that. Connect that to, to the next question, Gene. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t be much more emphatic about it, it’s not just about bringing people from diverse backgrounds into the organization. It’s about the work that you do from an employer brand as well. And I would argue that when it comes to branding that some of the things that as an organization, that you have to iron out as an employer brand, Is probably the most important thing because it seeps into the external-facing brand, right? Your product brand and things like being clear on what your purpose is, right. Is for your employees, not for the con, not for the people that you’re selling products and services. And when people are clear on what that common purpose is. And when you declare on the promise that the brand is making Givelify, if I will know that doing good feels good. And for us, our purpose, when we wake up every day is to ask ourselves [00:23:00] that question. Who else am I going to go empower to feel good today? Right. I’m going to empower them to feel good by doing good. And for us, the promise we make to the world, again, this is a very internal-facing brand element, which is that innate desire to do good, that exists in every human being we’re going to effortlessly pursue everything. To make it so easy to turn it into acts of kindness and generosity. And when you have things like that and you provide God drills and there’s something that Givelify, we’ll call our four keys, which helps with decision making, get this a key thing. When you have people from diverse backgrounds to try to understand how do we all align on something on one common goal, right?
So we call it the four keys and it’s in the order of importance are most important to you, which we call which forest is the non-negotiable. Is integrity. All right. If you check the box and integrity and you’ve got to ask yourself the next question in this decision, I’m about to make where’s the heart because in every decision we make, it’s a heartbeat is [00:24:00] impacted by it. So you got to look for the heart to check the box in that go the extra mile to keep it simple. And if you could check the box on those three things, get into a place where you’re delivering. Wow. Is not as hard. So to try to connect the dots between. How do you harness diversity with your employer brand? And what’s the next step of that? As leaders, nothing could be more uncertain than, you know, you do everything that you can to make sure that when you invited somebody into your company to be part of the mission that you’ve made the best decision. Right. And sometimes. You don’t always make the right decision when it comes to that. And you’re like, man, I wish there was a Mark Love dot right. To get that right. But the truth of the matter is we started this conversation earlier about giving yourself permission to make some mistakes. So you can learn from them. Right. You talked about your $3 million mistake. And I think for me also like being able to get to that place where I could say it’s okay.
I learned a big [00:25:00] lesson from that. And because of that, I’ve become a better leader and being able to forgive oneself. I think it’s something that a severe competitive person is something that I have to constantly remind myself. When I get it wrong, it stings. And I could get to a very funky place and trying to get myself out of that. It’s, something that I continue to work on. And, there’s a book called extreme ownership that I, I really appreciate a lot. And, you know, you talk about what’s that journey that just being able to own yourself in those moments, your decision, and understanding that you’re responsible for whatever decisions you make in high, get yourself out of it when it’s not. The right. One is something that, I continue to challenge myself with every day.
Gene Hammett: Great way to wrap this up while they thank you for sharing your wisdom here.
Wale Mafolasire: Thank you.
Gene Hammett: Powerful conversation. I’d love this conversation about diversity inclusion. DNI drives growth. When you think about your own journey as a leader, my hope is that you’re embracing, and hiring others. That aren’t [00:26:00] like you, I’m not saying that you don’t have the same values cause that’s important, but, but you want to make sure that you’re seeking out diversity and inclusion, as you can begin to scale your company, because when you get to a certain point, it gets harder to an add-in. The other colors, the other sexes, the other sexual orientations, whatever it may be, you want to make sure that you are embracing this as you grow forward. My hope is that this has helped you see the power of that. When you think about your own journey as a leader, make sure you continue to check-in and the podcast continues to push forward and anything I can do to help you make sure you reach out when you think of growth and you think of leadership think of Growth Think Tank. As always lead with courage, we’ll see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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