0:00:01 - Rachel Murray
This is our last episode of the season.
0:00:8 - Felicia Jadczak
Oh no, what will we do?
0:00:10 - Rachel Murray
I mean, we'll be all right. I just feel for you lovely listeners, welcome to our last,
0:00:13 - Felicia Jadczak
the final countdown.
0:00:15 - Rachel Murray
0:00:23 - Felicia Jadczak
We're going to start a music label. That's right, I do not need to be singing, but don't worry, we're coming out with another season in the fall. But yes, this is the last season of the. Whatever this current season is, we need to, like, name them. What's the last episode?
0:00:35 - Rachel Murray
of season three, season three Woof, you got it, you're right there, you're so on it. Yeah, we're actually recording this on July 26th because August is going to go by so quickly and we got some sad news that Felicia shared on our slacks today, so we thought we would chat a little bit about that.
0:00:54 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah, and again, if anyone who's listening, who's like, who even is talking, this is Felicia. That was Rachel.
0:00:58 - Rachel Murray
This is Rachel.
0:01:00 - Felicia Jadczak
But yeah, you know, we were just chatting before we started hitting record and so we figured we'd bring it into the pod intro. But we learned that Shanae DeConnor passed away. And you know, Rachel and I were chatting a bit about our feels and I had just shared that. You know I feel a little sad because you asked me what do I know about her? Yeah, and I was like, well, you know, I'm familiar with her, I'm a little younger than she was, but I vividly remember the whole SNL debacle where she got on stage and ripped the Pope's photo. You know we can chat more about it, but I really, just as a TLDR, believe that she was so ahead of her time and like punk and just out there saying the truth and we did not appreciate her for that. So I feel sad yeah.
0:01:47 - Rachel Murray
I do too, and I had to look it up to see when that happened so that it looks like it happened in 1992. She was on Saturday Night Live. She was the musical guest and she ripped a picture of the Pope. She had a really hard life even up to recently. Her son passed away last year and I think she was just too good for this world. I don't think that she was meant to be. I mean, this is a tough place when everything's going your way. But then if you've got a lot of systems, you know that you are seeing that are just constantly you know. You know in your way of being who you want to be. I can see how it could be just so difficult. But, as you know fun fact, you know her famous song. Nothing compares to you. I was actually just listening to it because it's been a minute and just you know her and Prince right, it's just like match made in heaven. And who knows, not that I believe in heaven, necessarily, but maybe they're too solid to just hang it out, I don't know.
0:02:48 - Felicia Jadczak
I don't know what's out there. You and I hung out recently and we did this. I won't get too into it. We did an activity where we were like connecting with the universe.
So, I've been thinking a lot about that and I, you know, I don't know if I believe in heaven either. I'm not technically. I don't consider myself, you know, religious in any sense, but I was raised Catholic. My mom is Hindu. You know, I've got all sorts of people in my family believing all sorts of different things. I consider myself more spiritual, but I do like the idea of this, idea of like that there's energy out there. So maybe you know her and Princess energy is like they're hanging out.
0:03:25 - Rachel Murray
They're hanging out. It's amazing music together. Yeah, I'll put that out there.
0:03:30 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah, and you know, like to go back on what you were saying, though I think it's her, you know sort of her experience and her story is like such an example of speaking truth to power and what happens when society isn't quite there to support. I think that if she had done something like that today, it would be received very, very differently. Yeah.
And of course you know we've had so much happen since then, since 1992. My God. But you know, talking about, like more exposés coming about about sexual abuse within the church, right, the discussion of Irish people as being oppressed, where we didn't even talk about that really. I mean, actually that's not true. We did talk about it, but not in the same way and in that at that point in time. And yeah, it's just, it's so interesting to see how things change over time and you know, people sometimes are out of place in in when they are. But it doesn't mean that you shouldn't still say the things and do the things.
0:04:24 - Rachel Murray
That's right. That's right. So RIP truly Sinead. So not to abruptly switch topics, but people probably are in here.
0:04:34 - Felicia Jadczak
We're going to do that. We'll make sure to add a little sound effect. That was that was very close to great Boy.
0:04:46 - Rachel Murray
Anyway, let's, yeah, we'll shift gears, we're talking about our guests for today.
0:04:50 - Felicia Jadczak
So our guest today is Luke Lennon, who is a product manager, a visible hands and founder of an organization called Namesake Collaborative, and I don't even remember how I got connected to Luke on LinkedIn, but that's a really good question. I don't even remember how I got connected to Luke on LinkedIn, but that's how the initial connection happened, and so it was such a lovely conversation. We talked about the startup scene in Boston, being a founder investing in BIPOC entrepreneurs, the namesake collaborative, and how hard it is to get your name changed, especially as a trans person. Like honestly, yeah, shocking, shocking and a whole lot more.
0:05:25 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, yeah. It was a really lovely conversation and Luke is doing really good and important work, so really excited for this combo. Hey, Rachel, hey.
0:05:37 - Felicia Jadczak
Felicia. So we have a great guest today and I'm just going to jump right on into it because we got a question and let's get some answers. Hi Luke, hi Luke.
0:05:48 - Luke Lennon
Hello, hello, happy to be here.
0:05:50 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah, we're happy to have you. So, for listeners, our guest today is Luke Lenin, product manager at Visible Hands. So we're thrilled to have you and let's just jump on in and find out, like, who you are and what you're all about. But you have been involved in the startup scene for a while, but why don't you just start with telling us a little bit about you and your journey?
0:06:10 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, so journey has been pretty meandering and I wouldn't have it any other way. You know I'm a writer turned educator, turned somehow business school graduate and then kind of pivoted into the startup world shortly after that and started my time at Mass Challenge, boston based accelerator with global locations, equity free and really focused on supporting a range of founders, and that was my first foray into the startup world. I had kind of known I'd always wanted to work in the startup scene, mostly because I'm a more creative person. I think that doesn't love authority and doesn't love rules.
0:06:56 - Felicia Jadczak
And you're like the perfect person for startups.
0:07:00 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I found some community in this group of people and, you know, spent three and a half years at Mass Challenge and then made my own kind of entrance into the startup world as a founder myself, and now I'm at visible hands, which is a accelerator focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs. So, yeah, I'm happy to dive in more to any of that, but that's kind of been the journey so far.
0:07:26 - Rachel Murray
I love it. Well, I can certainly appreciate someone who doesn't like to follow rules. It's literally Wife-A-Lish and I have our own business because we can't.
0:07:33 - Felicia Jadczak
We're like such rule breakers. We're like oh, I guess no one else wants us at this point.
0:07:37 - Rachel Murray
And like well, it's funny, literally out of nowhere, my husband just the other day was like you are never going to be able to work for a company again and I was like that's really. I was like really, are you sure? He's like no, you can't. I was like OK.
0:07:51 - Felicia Jadczak
So I get we should dig into you, look more, because I'm actually curious about the trajectory, like what did you found first, then join visible hands. We're going to get into it. But if you have thoughts around that sort of dynamic, definitely want us Well and we know visible hands is.
0:08:05 - Rachel Murray
Justin Kang is, like you know, certainly a friend of SGO and of ours from from way before the pandemic, so it's really exciting to see that he's got this incredible company. I would just love to learn more about visible hands and what you do as a product manager for this company.
0:08:23 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, it's been cool to watch Justin, daniel, yasmin all grow visible hands to where it is now. I remember while I was at Mass Challenge kind of hearing rumblings of what they were cooking up, and to see it now and the way that visible hands has grown nationally and been become such a respected brand as is really like founder to founder, is a really inspiring journey and I think that they very much lead with their values and ethics at the center of it, you know, in trying to change this system, particularly around VC funding, and so I'm just really grateful to be part of it. I originally participated, actually as a founder, in the visible hands visionaries accelerator last year with my company namesake, collaborative, which I'm sure we'll get into in a little bit. But even from the start of my experience as a participant in visible hands, I was like this is different from the way they're so thoughtful about how founders come together, how we learn about each other, how we learn about each other beyond just our companies and really as people, and how that speaks to like the long sand and community that them we can create with founders from across the country. You know one thing that stood out to me, I remember during the visionaries accelerator.
They flew us all out to Tulsa, oklahoma, first of all, which was something entirely different.
We're a lot of New York City based, boston based, bay Area based founders and we're like oh like, we're going to Tulsa and to like, be able to, you know, learn more about, like, the rich history of Black Wall Street and just how much innovation has happened in Tulsa, was really an inspiring way and very inspiring way to start the program and it also, you know, kind of reiterated to us like this weight that we're carrying as founders, especially as underrepresented founders, and what that means for, you know, future founders and the future of our ecosystem.
So that was already like a really cool and different way to start it. But they also welcomed any founder that had a partner and children to bring children and provide free childcare, so that, as a founder with kids, you didn't have to worry about the tradeoffs of participating, you know, and trying to grow your company and also making sure that you know you're an active parent and supportive parent. And little details, little thoughtful details like that are really why I then, when I got the opportunity to join visible hands as a product manager, was like hell, yes. And so now I'm fortunate enough to be leading the visible hands Boston fellowship, which is actually wrapping up next week, but working with 20 incredible companies at the earliest stages of building, which is super exciting and fun. Yeah, just really humbled to be part of it.
0:11:20 - Felicia Jadczak
That's awesome to hear about the family support and childcare, because I feel like that's such a great example of something that I feel like it's it's twofold.
Right like on the surface it might be considered minor, but for a lot of organizations it actually might be a relatively fair, significant cost.
But you're right, it can be such a boundary, or not even boundaries, such a barrier for people who are like what am I supposed to do? I can't just hop on a plane and go out for help or long, because I have all these things that are I'm dealing with on a personal level. So I love that that's one example of how visible hands is thinking about that, because I know that the organization talks a lot about inclusive and equitable investing and I feel like that's a great sort of like put your money where your mouth is, not to use a financial metaphor for financial investment firm. But here we are. But can you talk a little bit more about sort of your current role with the Boston fellowship? And you know, maybe for listeners who might not know that much about what a firm like visible hands does, like what are you all actually sort of engaged in with the founders that you're supporting and what does the Boston fellowship with the folks that you mentioned, like what are they doing as part of that, that program with you all?
0:12:33 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, so it's been my time at Mass Challenge. I helped launch our FinTech accelerator there and ran a lot of the programming for the founders in that program, and so it's been really cool to bring that experience. But now coupled with firsthand actually being on the other side of things as a founder and trying to like bring those learnings together to offer something to this cohort of folks. And so visible hands has a variety of different programs and offerings. You know we have New York based programs, we have more national programs and then this Boston fellowship was the first one we ran specifically in Boston, which I think is especially meaningful given that this is kind of Boston is where things started for visible hands, and so practically what that looks like over the 10 weeks of programming is one we give capital investment, so certain programs we provide more like equity based investment, like a traditional VC, but for other programs, such as visible hands Boston, we provide grant funding, so every participant gets $10,000 grant through our work with the foundation and their racial equity initiative, and in addition to that funding then we provide 10 weeks of support, and my goal really kind of bringing the empathy into the experience has been, you know, at this early of a stage for companies.
I feel like there's a wealth of some good, some not so good, right, and there's kind of this feeling of just being on a treadmill and the speed just going up and up, and up and up.
And so the goal with the 10 weeks, from my perspective, has really been like how can we get you all to slow down and really think about how you're building your company Before you spend time at capital other people's time, other people's capital potentially in building something that then you might want to rebuild?
And that's not to say that you know you're not going to iterate and pivot a million times over. That's definitely going to happen, right, but how can we think about really testing the riskiest hypotheses around your business early on so that you can really set you up for growth later on? And that approach really did come from some of the work of my now fellow colleagues at visible hands and how I participated in the visionaries accelerator to really take some of those learnings that I gathered from that and then apply them through, like my lines for the 10 weeks of this program. So we bring in, you know, different speakers, supporters, folks that know way more than I do, to help provide different perspectives, with the goal of just kind of reiterating the fact that there's no one way to build.
0:15:27 - Rachel Murray
So, luke, that was fascinating. I got a question, I got a follow, actually like three follow questions, but I'm going to stick with this one for now, which is so you were talking about the slow build, and when I think about VC funding, I think it's so contrary to the way the Cs operate, which is there's so much pressure to go fast, like what you were saying. So it's really amazing that you're able to say like, okay, go slow to build and we talked about that too from like building culture within a company to it's like really important to sort of go slow and build. It's just so contrary to VC. Are you finding any sort of resistance or pushback from sort of other outside forces beyond the visible hands? Community?
0:16:10 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I will say, you know, slow versus fast. I feel like I don't believe in any binary, so there's definitely, you know, the in between there. But I think the difference is like building slowly with intention means making decisions, likely making decisions, many small decisions, all the time, really quickly, but you're doing it in a way where you know what the questions are that you're making the decisions about, versus just making various decisions, maybe running around doing various things but then kind of ultimately looking back and being like, okay, I'm moving a lot, but what is the traction that I'm actually making? What's the traction I actually want to make? So, being intentional, I think about how you're growing and how you want to grow.
And that doesn't negate the fact that most of the founders that we're working with, money is always top of mind, capital is always top of mind, getting connections to investors, pitching to investors that's always, you know, on the top three needs, wants, etc. So I think the best that we can do from our seat of visible hands is help folks feel supported, seen and really surrounded by a community of people that want to help them succeed with those other investors, with those other communities, customers, etc. Knowing that you know, especially from my seat, like not being an investor on the team. I can really try to be more of that supportive listener for any founder who can be really transparent and honest with me about the wins and maybe the challenges as well, and it's really important to have someone or multiple people in that corner as a founder.
0:17:59 - Rachel Murray
I love that and both Flesh and I just love that. You were like don't believe in any binary, so thank you.
0:18:06 - Felicia Jadczak
I'm gonna like take that and use that phrase. I mean so true and love how you put it.
0:18:11 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, that was fantastic and I have a just a quick follow up to that. I'm curious, as we've seen sort of the landscape changing in our space a little bit. I'm wondering if you're experiencing that too. Are you seeing anything changing based on you know what's sort of going on politically in the world and economically in the country?
0:18:30 - Luke Lennon
As it relates to funding.
0:18:32 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, as it relates to funding.
0:18:35 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, what I'm seeing, and as both someone that you know is exploring what investment looks like for namesake, but also someone that's helping other founders pursue funding. You know, I think the risk tolerance has changed. The expectations at different stages has changed. So, whereas previously I think you saw folks really being successfully able to raise on an idea and I'll put a huge assurance on that because you know the people raising it on an idea is probably a specific segment of people but we'll also say that I have seen the expectations around preceed and even angel funding go from that like potentially being an idea stage to being like, okay, let's see your product and market. Do you have customers? Are you generating revenue?
And I think, hopefully, we're trying to settle back down into maybe a more normal quote, unquote, but I think I'm still seeing a lot of founders struggle in that space and also seeing like emerging fund managers also struggling as a result of, you know, a lot of the different, like bank closures and what have you. So you know it's tough out there for all of us right now.
0:19:57 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, thank you so much.
0:19:58 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah, and I'm like, I feel like it's also the elephant in the room of Silicon Valley. Banks collapse and that must have been a huge ripple for you all, given the space that you're in. But if you have thoughts on that, definitely happy to come back. But I do want to pull in a thread that you mentioned a few times already, which is, first of all, you're a founder of namesake collaborative and you've mentioned that, and so my sense of namesake collaborative is that it streamlines identity management for transgender and non binary and gender expansive folks, so that there is a reduction in barriers to healthcare, wealth building, etc. So I would love to learn more about that, how you came up with it. Anything else, if have I gotten it right? Anything else around you know sort of what you're doing, what stage you're at, where focused on, would be great.
0:20:46 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I started namesake a little over two years ago and it came from basically this problem not leaving me alone, which was my legal name and gender marker change. I had changed my name and gender marker While I was at mass challenge and it was a nightmare and I was seeing all of these solutions in the space focused on digitizing paper, heavy processes, a lot of them in, like fintech and sure tech right, these companies that I was sourcing for mass challenge. I was like huh, like that. It seems like they're dealing with a lot of similar challenges as to what I went through as a trans person, changing my name even in a progressive state like Massachusetts.
At the same time, I think I convinced myself I don't think I could be a founder. I don't think that I don't even know where to start. But then, about a year or year and a half later, I was trying to buy use truck and I don't know why I was trying to buy use truck in the first place. But that's it, neither you're nor there. I think I was feeling like I wanted to like, feel masculine and have a truck or something, but we won't get into that. But I went to take out a loan and at the dealership. They kept asking me are you sure you're entering your information correctly, like is this your social security number, is this your name? And I was like yes, but like I know, like I'm pretty sure I know who I am.
0:22:14 - Felicia Jadczak
Thanks so much.
0:22:16 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, exactly, but as a trans person, I think you get question a lot of do you know who you are? Right? So I ultimately had to out myself to the dealership, upon which then, talking to the their like partner banks etc. They realized that it wasn't in the system at all and so it came to be that I was credit visible or very credit thin due to my name change and do not reporting that to the credit bureaus. Now, if you change your name as a do, marriage or other reasons, you do not need to report anything to the credit bureaus, but if you're trans, you do and you need to send basically a packet of every identifying document that you could ever have, so basically a packet that if someone received it, they would have the key to your identity and you need to let the credit bureaus know that you are who you say you are.
And that was just one of the kind of ripple effects of name changes that I have not even considered. Frankly, I thought, hey, I know this problem is continuing to like come up in weird ways through my life, but like none that I feel like I can't overcome. And so one was like, well, okay, now I can't buy a truck didn't end up buying a car probably, you know, blessing in disguise. But for many folks where that could, could have been an emergency loan, emergency personal loan or something else, where then they would have just received predatory rates and that, to me, was a sign of okay, like Name change is one thing, but this is a problem with many different layers to it that I haven't really seen a tech solution try to tackle, and so I was inspired to give it a go.
0:23:58 - Rachel Murray
Wow, I have to say I did not know that. I really thought that the name change would be similar to if someone got married. So that is wild and I'm so sorry that you had to go through that and that's so many other people have to go through that and I'm curious well, how is it going? How is namesake going? Do you feel like you're? A lot of folks are using it. Can we tell everyone about it? We are telling everyone. We're going to tell more people about it.
0:24:22 - Luke Lennon
Yeah Well, and I'll tell you one more really weird thing that most trans folks have to go through for name changes. I mean, in some states, you know, it varies really widely state to state, even county to county the process itself. In many states you still require a fingerprinting, but in Massachusetts, for example, you actually have to publish your name change in the newspaper Because back in the day this I mean sorry, holy shit, I had no idea.
That's like olden times, yes, truly, and the reason being because they were afraid that folks would travel state to state changing their names to avoid debt.
0:25:06 - Rachel Murray
Wow, oh gosh, or the law. Perhaps.
0:25:13 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I mean, you know, and the funny thing not funny and not so funny is that you literally need to cut, like get a the paper and print wherever you decided to publicize this, which there aren't many papers left in print and it's not cheap to publicize a name change in the newspaper.
0:25:32 - Felicia Jadczak
So you need to pay for that. You can't just call the book and be like hey, can you put this in? Thanks so much, oh my God.
0:25:38 - Luke Lennon
Yep, and you actually have to cut it out, staple it to another piece of paper and then mail it.
0:25:44 - Felicia Jadczak
Like a ransom note, like what I'm literally picturing, like like the credit bureau opening up like an envelope with like every letter cut out of the newspaper my name is now. I know it's not funny, but that's so wild. Wow, I had no idea yeah.
0:26:01 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, and so luckily in Massachusetts you can motion to waive that from the board, but in some states you can't, and you know. So there's just a lot of like navigating really complex, really archaic systems and especially vulnerable time. Like not every trans person wants to change their name legally and there's no like you're trans enough, no matter what. But you know, for me it was a matter of like really addressing some of those barriers that I saw like and honestly, like safety for me to legally change my name and have IDs that match my presentation, because over a quarter of folks, I think, report being harassed and I have denied benefits or services, asked to leave, just because their ID doesn't match their presentation at the time, and I have definitely had that happen to me firsthand.
And so really like we're trying to make this process easier for folks that want it, make it affirming that they want it, and we've to do so partnered with the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition, one of actually the oldest trans led advocacy organizations in the country to bring this to life, and I wouldn't name so it would not be where it is today without MTPC.
So I'm just really grateful for their partnership and now we're able to offer the kind of beta version of namesake to any Massachusetts resident adult or young person to help them get their court petition for their name change and get all their ID documents for their passport, social security card and driver's license or state ID. And what's really been cool about that is, you know, in tandem with technology we've been able to do a lot of name change clinics across the country to really use them as kind of like community events, ways for people to get to know each other, also resource and knowledge share and at the same time use technology kind of augmented into help them better navigate these systems. And we're only in Massachusetts right now looking at what expansion nationally looks like. But even in this process so far I've been able to work in and collaborate with folks from, you know, kansas to California, to Maryland. So it's been a really cool journey and you know I'm really grateful for this meandering path.
0:28:22 - Rachel Murray
That is amazing. And before we switch topics, I'm just like nerding out a little bit about like the logistics of it, so like if someone signs up, is it sort of like a checklist that they get, or like what is the work that you're doing to help them out?
0:28:37 - Luke Lennon
Yeah. So we found that, like many people want more hands on support with the name change process, but they don't necessarily need a lawyer. So we're really trying to help the folks that may not need a lawyer but do want more guidance and even just trying to figure out the order of operations, frankly. So first step, what we do is identify if folks are right for namesake right, because we don't always people's time and we're really sensitive to trans folks in particular being asked for a lot of data or a lot of input on things and not really been given value. We determine whether they need legal support or not if they have a unique case, and then we also determine whether they qualify for state aid because the process is so expensive.
But in addition to that, even if they don't qualify for state aid, through our partnership with MTPC, mtpc is also able to provide I think it's up to $300 reimbursement for any of the needs related to name change.
So that's really huge and something that we're really proud of. And after that we really help auto fill all the forms that they need and then have one dashboard where they can keep track and kind of self keep report status on all of their documents, given that many of the documents still require paper in person filing, in addition to like a file kind of system. But really the goal is to not only make the process easier but then to also demystify some of the language, the jargon and just some of the like archaic kind of like terminology, like assuming a very like this head structure, very like nuclear family structure and a lot of this paperwork that we're kind of helping to just make less painful to go through, given that for many folks, picking a name is one thing picking your own name is a weird experience that you know, I can tell you firsthand but then navigating all of these structures that were built in opposite to us is the other piece, and that's why we're here to help.
0:30:42 - Felicia Jadczak
Wow, I can only imagine what an amazing resources is for folks who are going through this kind of process. I have a question, which hopefully is not something that you've experienced, but I'm just curious, and maybe this is like the pessimist in me but have you ever or are you worried about what I'll call like bad actors, like people trying to kind of come into your ecosystem who aren't going through this process, who aren't trans, who are trying to like be disruptive? And I'm only asking because I feel like in today's world, it just feel like we're seeing so much more of this in spaces like this and some curious that's come up at all, or if that's something that is like a worry for you all.
0:31:22 - Luke Lennon
It's definitely something that's always top of mind for us, like from the infrastructure of the platform to the data collection, data policies, who will never share anyone's data.
We will never sell anyone's data like that is very clear and will never change.
We also, you know, in terms of access, like our platforms free through mtpc we take a lot of steps to make sure that the community that we're building is intentional, from volunteers always being part of trainings, like we take volunteer notaries, we take volunteer pro bono lawyers to build up this network of folks that you need throughout the process, and with mtpc, we make sure that folks feel prepared for that.
You know, I think it's something as a founder, no matter what community you're building in, you're always kind of thinking about actors like I came from the fintech world and that's like the most paranoid world for all of this right, and so I think it's something that as we continue to grow, it becomes a more, bigger and bigger concern. But for now, we've taken all the steps that we can in place and I think part of the risk of building with community is, you know one, getting a lot of different pieces of advice, many unsolicited right, but then to like potential bad actors. But for me it is very important throughout this process like that community helped build it and I think that that's evident from like the evolution of our platform from the beginning to now. But it's certainly something we always think about.
0:32:59 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah, you know, we certainly have had not a lot, but like we've had some stuff pop up here and there over the years with our SGO community. I feel like you put it really well, like it's just something to be aware of, because there are, like you know pardon my language shitty people out there who like to jump in and mess things up. But I also want to mention we're recording this in July, although it won't come out until August, and we just wrapped up Pride Month, and so we've seen so much corporate backlash this year with, you know, boycotts of different brands. The HRC declared that it was a state of emergency for the LGBTQ plus community, and then there is a lot of really high profile issues where brands kind of like walked back support a little bit. So I'm thinking particularly of Bud Light and the Dylan Mulvaney sort of fiasco.
That happened as one example, although of course there are others. So just curious what your thoughts are on that, especially given what you've just talked about with your work as a founder through names and collaborative Kind of. Does that impact even any of the work that you're doing with visible hands? Just wondering some thoughts from you on that.
0:34:04 - Luke Lennon
I will say I think this has always been going on, just maybe more quietly or maybe it's just not as it always made the news cycle because things haven't been as politicized, or I guess they have. But you know, it's kind of unprecedented times, just particularly for the trans community and trans youth right now. But to that end, I think most folks in the queer community probably haven't been surprised at the just egregious acts by big brands. I will say I think that on the bright side of things, it has shed light on smaller and growing queer led, trans led brands and organizations like, for example, you saw with like target taking humankind's clothing and swimwear out of their stores. You actually saw humankind then go viral and get much more traffic.
And you see, like for brands like humankind both, and you know other brands that are building like a firming swimwear and clothing for the community that I think the queer community is extremely savvy as it relates to like consumerism and I think that they're making now increasingly making more of those difficult decisions about like where to shop and what to support.
And I think it's also a reminder to folks that like brands are not people and we need to stop like putting emotions and like values on them, because, like literally something like one day someone was like, yes, this is what I'll call this target. Sure, there are people behind these brands. Then there are many queer people, many trans people behind these brands, like doing work for these brands, and it's something that, personally, has done a lot, like you know, as like what is my role in this, like capitalist society. But if I had to take an optimistic look at this, all it's, you know, as it relates to like the brand stuff in particular, like the politics, is a whole nother piece, but with with the brand stuff in particular. So I hope that we see more queer and trans folks starting businesses, growing businesses, and we see more support for queer and trans folks who want to become business owners.
0:36:24 - Rachel Murray
So that was a really solid answer. You're like blowing my mind, also because I definitely place value on companies, because and I think that a lot of people do that because we don't feel in control. And so we're like okay, well, we can't control what government's doing, we vote, but it's like it's tough because our options are not great a lot of the time, and so we vote with our dollars. And now you're like no, and I'm here for it and I appreciate that perspective, but I'll still probably shop at Target and not Walmart.
0:36:58 - Luke Lennon
I will probably still shop at Target too. Like, that's a thing, I love Target, I'll shop at both, it's fine. Yeah, like humans are messy people and there's so many contradictions within us, oh yes. It needs to be honored, upheld, like. I think if we try to make ourselves have such a neat narrative like and simplify ourselves down to or strip ourselves down to like, the singular narrative is just that's not going to serve anyone.
0:37:23 - Rachel Murray
Nothing's a binary Luke.
0:37:25 - Luke Lennon
There you go.
0:37:27 - Rachel Murray
That was great so, but I will switch because, oh my gosh, this time is like flying. Okay, so you are interested in the intersections of tech, social justice and community. I want to know how's Boston treating you? What do you see? Are some, maybe some challenges? What's what? Are they getting right with some opportunities?
0:37:44 - Felicia Jadczak
as a former Bostonian myself, Rachel's waiting for me, like well, actually San Diego is amazing. If you didn't know, I mean me, as San Diego is perfect, just kidding it's not, but you know Anyway, another story.
0:37:59 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, boston's interesting. So I grew up in Massachusetts, I spent a good amount of my 20s in Vermont and California and then somehow found myself back in Boston by a happy accident, will say I don't know, but you know. With that, it's given me time to, I think, get to know the city in a different way. I think one of the biggest opportunities and needs for that I see with the city is like, really first and foremost, just making sure that we continue to get to know the city into a place that is safe for everybody. I think there's a lot of like white, wealthy, progressive talk around Boston being a progressive, liberal city, and and in so many ways most folks who talk to here would not agree to that point, though I think that's what I think the city has been doing really good job of thinking about how you make sure that a city is safe and supportive of all its residents, in particular, around like community and art and like the role that that plays in a city, and so I'm hopeful that she has put us on a solid trajectory as far as that goes.
But I, you know, definitely see more opportunities in reducing the fragmentation, the segregation of Boston, not only in terms of geography, as neighborhoods, race and class, but also in terms of academia. It's such a unique city in the fact that you know how many colleges and universities do we have here. It's absurd. And so you look at, like the population, the flux of people in and out every year due to coming in and out of school, and what that means for the housing market, what that means for you know, for jobs, businesses. It's definitely a unique place and something that I've even kind of seen how it plays out in the context of Visible Hands Boston and the Spounder community, and so I think the more that we can address that segregation and fragmentation, the more opportunities will emerge, especially across different sectors. But I will say I'm in, yeah, I'm optimistic. I mean, I gotta be otherwise.
0:40:15 - Felicia Jadczak
No, I mean I'm not saying that Lovely, by the way, just it's lovely.
0:40:19 - Rachel Murray
You sound like you're ready to run for office.
0:40:21 - Felicia Jadczak
I'm like major woos people, are you listening? Yeah, I know.
0:40:25 - Luke Lennon
Seriously Like do you want to name change out?
0:40:31 - Felicia Jadczak
I mean really in all seriousness, right yeah.
0:40:35 - Luke Lennon
No, I mean, I will say the green space, though, like I live in Jamaica Plain.
0:40:39 - Rachel Murray
That's why I used to live there.
0:40:42 - Felicia Jadczak
I lived there like 15 years ago, but JP is amazing.
0:40:46 - Rachel Murray
When we got our place there, it was in 2012. And I said, if we leave this place, it's because we're leaving Boston, and I held true to that. Jp is a special place.
0:40:56 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, yeah, it truly is. And then you know asterisk on that too.
0:41:01 - Rachel Murray
Yes, correct, I see you haul foods and I see all the other things.
0:41:07 - Felicia Jadczak
There is no perfect place, no, except for San Diego, just kidding.
0:41:13 - Rachel Murray
No comment, any hoodles. I'll put myself back on mute now Go ahead.
0:41:20 - Felicia Jadczak
Well, no, this has been awesome, but we are, oh my gosh, getting towards the end of our time together, so I thought we could maybe switch gears a little bit, if that's cool with you. We, as you may have noticed, have a part of our name which we love, which is the geek out part, so we like to ask all of our podcast guests what they geek out about, and so what I would love to know from you is what are you into? What do you get out about? That's not something that you have mentioned already, so it can't be names, a collaborative, visible hands, and now JP, because you mentioned that as well. So like, what, beyond that, are you currently geeking out about?
0:41:56 - Luke Lennon
Well, aren't you lucky because you're talking to someone with definite ADD, so I get really into things Amazing.
0:42:04 - Felicia Jadczak
Let's hear it Part amount of time and then move on to the next.
0:42:08 - Luke Lennon
No, but I definitely found myself being someone that, like I, love learning any and everything I can. I did an internship one summer during business school at Ocean Sprite Cranberries. In that summer All I could talk to people about was like how Cranberries were harvested, where the name Cranberry came from, how they were.
0:42:28 - Felicia Jadczak
I'm laughing because I also went to business school. I actually I'm not sure where you went, but I went to BU and I applied for an internship at Ocean Sprite and they did not take me, if you can believe, but I did do the whole, like cranberry bog tour and everything. So I have mixed feelings about them. But I'm glad that you had a good time and we definitely did not overlap because, like, I'm a lot older than you, so like it's not like you beat me off this internship or anything.
0:42:55 - Luke Lennon
This is really why you brought me on this podcast. Oh my gosh, I'm finally getting my revenge.
0:43:00 - Rachel Murray
Yes, I love this twist. Oh, my God.
0:43:03 - Felicia Jadczak
I feel like I love this twist. I feel like Rachel is probably thinking that's not out of the realm of possibility, but it's not.
0:43:08 - Rachel Murray
I'll tell you, felicia and I have known each other for 10 years over 10 years now and every time we find a new fact about one another, it's always surprising. So the fact that you apply for an internship at Ocean Sprite and we're and didn't get it is a fact that I was unaware of. So I'm done. We did it.
0:43:28 - Felicia Jadczak
But again, I love to make things about me. It's really not about me, it's about you. So Ocean Sprite, cranberries, but like anything else, because you did mention, there's other things that you like to jump from. You know one thing to next. So, besides that, anything else that you're currently geeking out about.
0:43:41 - Luke Lennon
As I mentioned at the top of the call, I am a writer, so I geek out a lot on poetry, words et cetera. Love yeah, could talk poets all day. I also love food, and slight plug for Irene Lee's new cookbook around reducing waste food waste that just came out Boston founder Maymay kitchen. That book I just got and so I've been digging into kind of how to reduce food waste in my humble home kitchen. But yeah, I love travel and we my partner and I have a dog and cat that we're constantly obsessed with, so definitely.
0:44:27 - Felicia Jadczak
We're a pet friendly organization. You obviously can't get off this call now without telling us more about your dog and cat. So tell us more. Tell us everything names, personalities, how old are they? Please, let's hear it.
0:44:40 - Luke Lennon
Two rescues. Hugo is our dog. He's named after one of the classic Disney queer characters, hugo Gargoyle, from Disney's version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, I believe voiced by Jason Alexander, but I'm not quite sure, because he's just like a goofy guy with huge ears. And then we have a cat, maxine, who we got her off Facebook. I feel like that says a lot about probably like what she's like as a cat and the two of them love each other, got her as a kitten. So he is kind of Hugo's, kind of raised her and not to, you know, put too many human qualities upon our animals. But they play and it's very cute. If this weren't a podcast, I would be already showing you photos on my phone.
0:45:28 - Rachel Murray
Oh my gosh. I know we might see that that might be the after. Maybe we'll just like put them on the blog posts. That goes with it. I have a follow up question, so tell me who or what inspires you.
0:45:40 - Luke Lennon
Wow, you stumped me. It's deep. Yeah, my mom's a nurse and my dad's a carpenter. I grew up in a household that's very much like if something's broken, my dad will fix it. You know, in two different kind of realms and so that has really like I don't know if inspires the right word, but I think it is very much shaped to who I am and how I think about the world, for better and worse.
But I'm honestly in the work that I've been doing with namesake in particular, it's just been a really cool opportunity. Like last summer we spent all pride month going to like every weekend going to a different pride all across Massachusetts and getting to meet so many different like queer and trans people from across the state like really was a powerful experience because I think, especially like as a trans person in tech, like I know there are a lot of us, but it can often feel lonely, you know, at any given organization, and so really like getting to meet more people that you know are being uniquely trans and queer in their own ways and seeing the various shades and like different ways that you can live that truth. It was like really beautiful to me and it inspired me to keep going with namesake.
0:47:06 - Felicia Jadczak
I love that. That's beautiful. I don't know if this is a related question, but my question for you next is what's your favorite way to practice self care? Because this is hard.
0:47:17 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I'm a big bubble bath guy. Yeah, like bubble bath.
0:47:27 - Felicia Jadczak
Is it like baths or is it specifically bubble baths?
0:47:31 - Luke Lennon
Well, if I had a cooler tub I guess a bath without bubbles would be okay. But like I have like one of those like tub shower, like old claw foot situations, like old Boston apartment where it's like not the most glorious, so bubbles make it feel a little bit more luxurious.
0:47:49 - Rachel Murray
I feel like I'm like seeing candles, a glass of wine.
0:47:53 - Felicia Jadczak
Yes, my vision, I think my husband is also a bath man and I just think about it because like literally every night he's like off to my bath and then he practices his self care. He does not do bubbles, so I might have to like maybe I'll be like a gift for him, like a bubble.
0:48:10 - Rachel Murray
bubble sort of like what are those bath bombs?
0:48:13 - Luke Lennon
Yeah, I love a bath bomb. I'm like very much into anything outside. I don't love being inside. So anything that I can do to get outside go to the Arboretum and JP go on hikes like that really resets me.
0:48:29 - Rachel Murray
So yeah, yay, and we have like 400 other questions, but now we don't have any time for it. So the final question is well, we, we know about names. They tell us like where people can find namesake, where people can find you, anything else that you want to plug, anything.
0:48:44 - Luke Lennon
Oh gosh. Well, I'm on LinkedIn, luke Lenin namesake right now. If you go to MTP's website it's mass TPCorg you'll find a link to namesake and a bunch of resources for legal name, gender marker changes in Massachusetts. You can also go to join namesakecom to sign up for our newsletter and then you'll get all the information about product updates and things, especially if you're outside of Massachusetts. But I definitely welcome anyone that's doing similar stuff in this space to reach out. I love talking to fellow founders, folks in the innovation ecosystem or not, people that want to like learn more about how to like make a career pivot or want to talk poetry or food or pets. I am very much a community person and mean that in a way where none of our calls ever have to have direction, because just be getting to know each other and then figure out how we can help each other along the way.
0:49:41 - Felicia Jadczak
So yeah, Love, love, love. I love everything and, yeah, I'll just do a double plug. Namesake website has awesome resources, like I marked that for myself personally, so if you're listening, definitely check that out. Thank you so much, luke. This has been so fun.
0:49:56 - Luke Lennon
Thank you so much.
0:49:59 - Rachel Murray
Well, that was just as good as I remembered. What do you think, Felicia? I agree.
0:50:03 - Felicia Jadczak
It was so fun. Thanks again, Luke, for being on the pad. We really appreciated and everyone check out the namesake collaborative. They're doing great work. So before you go, we have a couple things we want to share with you.
Depending, if you listen to this in a timely fashion and if you're listening to this delayed, long after this has been recorded, then you'll just have to either skip ahead or close out. But for those of you who are here who are listening to this timely, we have a couple things coming up. So the company will be shut down for the last week of August. We're all taking a well-deserved break, so you can check us out on the internet, but we just won't respond till September. But coming up in September, we have a few things that we'd like to let you know about.
So first, we have a webinar coming up on the 19th of September which is all about integrating embodiment and somatics into your DEI work. That is free. There, I believe, are still tickets available. Sign up for that. It should be a really great time. We have a workshop on the 29th of September for emotional intelligence. So if that's something that you're interested in and you'd like to learn more about EI EQ what's it all about Check that out. That also has some tickets available still, so grab one while they're still up. And then what else is coming up on your front, Rachel?
0:51:14 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, we also have our second annual virtual get a job you Love Summit. That's happening on September 21st. It's a half-day summit, it's completely free and we have some incredible coaches that are going to talk about wait for it, how to get a job, you love what. I know we named it really well. I feel like we really crushed it on the nail Brandy on the nail, on the nail nose. It's a thing, right it is, it's a nail on the head.
I'm making it a thing On the nail, nail, head, nose. You know what, listeners, if any of you were still here, here's the reality Flesh and Eye. This is like our third take of this closing. We are cooked, we are fried, so we are very happy to be taking a little time off and thank you all for listening. We appreciate that we really really do so. Please don't forget to rate, share and subscribe. It does make a huge difference in the reach of this podcast and, by extension, this work, so please make sure to tune in for our next season coming up in October.
0:52:16 - Felicia Jadczak
Yeah. And if you're looking to further your own knowledge and gain support alongside other incredible people, why not check out our free community? You'll get a welcoming, built-in support system grounded in the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. You'll have access to bonus episodes, additional resources, courses, webinars, coaching and much more. So check that out at risetogetherchicxoutcom. Hoza Hoza. See you in the fall. See you in the fall. You're you in the fall? I guess is more perfect.
0:52:45 - Rachel Murray
Yeah, here you. Well. Actually no, because we're going to be doing video. So you're welcome everybody See you and hear you. That's right, or see us and hear us in the fall, sweater weather. Okay, bye.