Posted By Lexington Writing Firm on 11/30/2021

Insights From Our Experts: How to Facilitate Change With Jesse Ross

Insights From Our Experts: How to Facilitate Change With Jesse Ross

Jesse Ross is a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, executive coach and international speaker. We sat down with Jesse as part of our Network of Experts to learn about his over 12 years of experience helping small businesses, nonprofit professionals, higher education professionals and more, as well as his perspective as a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant.

Origin Stories 

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Jesse moved to Minneapolis as a baby. “Because my parents are from the South, I had a different upbringing than most Minnesotans, or even Black Minnesotans,” he said. 

To him, honoring where someone has come from is paramount in understanding where — and who — they are now. “I have always kind of lived my life through proximity, through relationships.” 

You can draw a line from his work now to specific meaningful events in his life growing up. As a kid, he would sit under the table listening to his mom, who used to work for the Minneapolis Urban League. He would overhear conversations about how to get people jobs or, after the Plymouth riots in 1967, how to prevent similar events from happening again. 

“A lot of the work my mother did — and just learning how to be with people, how to be in relationship with folks, how to serve people — is really how I’ve been able to build my business.”

His mother passed away when he was in middle school. After that, he went to live with his dad, but left home during his sophomore year.

“I left home, but was homeless for a brief period of time,” said Jesse. “I slept in most of the Minneapolis city parks, going from friend’s house to friend’s house, park bench to park bench.” His junior year, a family took him in, helping him find stability before heading off to college. 

His college experience, however, was anything but linear. Jesse attended five different colleges in all, before gaining his degree in organizational development. 

“All along, the things that I’ve learned that have made me successful — or what you would call successful — were really just reading people and recognizing human behavior,” he said. “I really got intrigued by people.” 

Blazing His Own Trail

Before venturing to work for himself, Jesse’s most recent position was with the Minneapolis Foundation, the second oldest community foundation in the country. There, he worked under Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President Chanda Smith Baker and Luz María Frías, who is now deputy attorney general in Minnesota. 

“These were two amazing individuals who poured into me,” he said. “I worked on a team of five, and it was one of the dopest experiences of my life. I had to recognize a lot of the privilege I thought I checked, and I just learned a lot.”

During his time at the foundation, he became known for always raising his hand and coming to the table with new ideas — something that has carried over into his work now. 

“I always recognize that I am perfectly fine calling people to the carpet and calling people out in a professional way, but also making sure that if you said this is where you want to go, and we’ve identified here’s what needs to happen, let’s execute,” he said. “A lot of companies are afraid to execute, are afraid to have the tough conversations or even have a different conversation.”

At the end of the day, Jesse’s work always harkens back to his end goal — to serve people. “As we’re thinking about the goals we want to accomplish and the roles that are associated with them: how do we best serve our number one client, which is always people?”

Role, Goal and Soul: Key Takeaways for Healthcare Communicators and Marketers

As a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and executive coach, Jesse Ross shared common questions he asks his clients to reflect on. As a healthcare marketer or communicator, these insights are helpful for grounding how you can use organizational structures to facilitate change. 

Takeaway 1: Know Your Role

“The first question that I typically ask people in any organization is ‘what is your role?’ There are staff people that are in charge of moving that change, there are some people who have the role of hiring and firing, there are some people who are driving productivity. 

I also take those questions a little deeper and I ask, ‘what is your role in creating communities that you can be proud of?’ Part of our roles in creating a community we can be proud of is really calling things out, making recommendations, but also making sure that people are staying true to what their mission, vision and values are or what they said they are.” 

Takeaway 2: Know Your Goal 

“The second question that I ask people is ‘what is the goal?’ As we’re moving, as we’re shifting, as we’re making these adjustments, what is the goal we’re actually trying to accomplish. 

The deeper question behind that is ‘what will be better or different because we hit this goal?’ So we’re really talking about legacy or impact. And a lot of companies, even people, really focus on the profit more than their purpose. So I’m always centering: okay, so we said we want to accomplish this but why? … really getting those mission, vision and values.” 

Takeaway 3: Know Your Soul

“The last question is ‘how is your soul?’ This is company morale, this is the pulse of: Do you feel good about the work you are doing? Do you feel good about the recommendations that you give, the critique that you’re giving? It should be in alignment with the people work and with your values.” 

Lexington Writing Firm has developed a Network of Experts that includes leaders in medicine, communications, digital marketing, equity and more. Our team meets with one expert each month to learn and ask questions. Our clients have the opportunity to consult directly with our experts for any project. 

Connect with us on LinkedIn and Instagram. You can learn more about our equity-focused approach on our website.


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