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Travis Mantak based his campaign on a basic principle: the way we communicate today fundamentally deters people from empathy. If we can hide behind keyboards or phones, we are more likely to say things we really mean or report incorrectly. His company, Haller, seeks to change this through its interactive gifts and stickers that can be integrated into everything from dating conversations to Venmo payments.
Because the main mission of Fr. Mantaka Company helping a wide range of people share a common language and speak in a new way, the events of the last few weeks have made him think about the role his company – and technology in general – can play in talking about racial injustice happening nationally. But, Mantaka too a black CEO in the predominantly white world of technologyso it feels even more personal.
A few days later, to reflect, Mantak went to LinkedIn to share a memo he sent to Cholera staff in an article entitled “Actions on words”. In the introduction, he writes, “Gathering all my thoughts and feelings on the page was not easy. Because it is true, words are simple enough to express how I feel in our society. But, in Holler, he made it our mission to have a conversation. and I know I’m just silent.As a black man and as one of the few black technicians CEOs in this country I found it necessary to speak. “
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Mantak went on to outline how his own campaign would act to combat systemic racism and continues to write on the topic for other outlets since then. In a moment of rare downtime Mantak spoke Entrepreneur about why he felt compelled to speak out and what he would ask CEOS technical giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook if given the chance.
How does your work at Cholera intersect with your thoughts on current events?
Mantak: It hurts about internet communication, which essentially makes us less sensitive to each other. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to find a situation where someone comes up to you and tells you, “I hope your kids are dying,” but on online platforms the general rhetoric persists. We believe that some fundamental things that evoke empathy between people are absent in conditions that consist only of texts.
Our “why” is not to hand out stickers and be funny, but to cultivate empathy and understanding among all people online. If this is ours, then racism must be something addressed. Obviously, it’s not the personal aspect of being a black CEO, but even if I wasn’t, we need to deal with the subject the way we do.
How has this shaped your actions as CEO?
An expression for everyone. We put a lot of effort into trying to understand the nuances of how different people around the world communicate, and try to provide them with the tools to do so.
As for how we work as a business, it’s important for us to think about how we make up our teams. We need to be representative because we know the expression is so diverse. How do we develop programs that allow us to represent it internally so that we can most effectively maintain it externally?
After the death of George Floyd on May 25, which led to nationwide protests, what were your first steps as CEO?
I needed to take a step back and think – to gather my own thoughts and feelings around the situation. The first couple of days I listened to all the different looks and looked at the things that were coming from our team. I didn’t want to show that in all the answers. I have had meaningful discussions about this guide team: What is the right thing for us to do as a company and as people in this matter?
Were you disappointed in the reaction?
The problem is too complicated to fix in a day. The reactions of companies, which I see as some of the most unfortunate, are very often a problem. If you’re in a hurry to say, “Okay, sacrificing this place and doing it alone,” people don’t ask. [They’re asking] what will we do to correct systemic racism.
Everyone is in a hurry to create a program of variety and inclusion and hit ratios. “By 2025, we want the number of our employees to become Y.” Diversity doesn’t have to be the only goal you face when hitting a relationship. There must be a radical change in the mentality of the company.
What would you ask technical directors like Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook if you had the opportunity?
Systemic racism is endemic. These mass campaigns are responsible for so many people. They need to create very aggressive agendas to teach people unconscious biases and other issues.
What about the heads of small companies who have spoken out on similar issues?
People are turning to the government to manage who we are as a team, but I believe that companies play an equally important role in the world. When I think about why it was such a simple decision for me to put it first on my agenda, I did it because I did it right. After all, people are looking for companies that are doing the right thing, not just for their customers, but for society as well. People want to work in companies that have missions.
Indecision is a solution. Where business leaders for large and small companies will see a return from employees or the people they work with when they share a position where they stand on the subject. In my opinion, nothing can be done.
Then, right after you take the position, you need to explain how to translate it into action. It is bad to have no answers, but you have to state your position and make a plan based on that position. Let people know what to do and then execute and follow.