Recognize Your Privilege | 100 Days of Paying it Forward [Day 11]

For the next 90 days, my goal is to publish 1 video per-day that might help people where I am from (or who are from places, like where I’m from) see that they can do whatever they set their mind to in this life.

For my 11th video (!!), I want to touch on the topic of privilege. Specifically:

I have been fortunate enough to have been born into a life with immense privilege. I am white. I am male. I have both parents. I have an extended family that helped raise me. I have siblings I am close with, and friends I am close with, and I am well educated. All of those things came to me not because I earned them, but because I am privileged.

I am talking about this today because I believe that to truly grow — and growing is how you can really change your life — you have to acknowledge the reality you live in. If you don’t acknowledge the reality you live in, you’ll begin to operate within a false narrative that will ultimately lead to failure because there will be factors in play that you are ill prepared to contend with and they’ll defeat you.

As an example, if I believed that “I did this (started Nice Tattoo) on my own” then I would over-value myself in the business, not bring on the right partners, not be deferential to the views of others, and ultimately the chances of success would be exponentially decreased. This is a bad plan; A good plan would be to recognize that I did not do this on my own, but through the help of others and with privileges that I was given, and respond accordingly by being grateful to those people. This would in turn make them feel like helping more, and the chances of success would exponentially increase.

To be clear, do I think having all of these privileges is awesome? No. Do I think it’s helpful? Yes. Do I aspire to build a better life for my Sofie? Yes. Am I going to use my privilege to make the world better, and hopefully try to make things a bit more even who are not as lucky as me? You bet… But ultimately none of this will happen for me (or for you) if I don’t acknowledge the basic structure of my life and how lucky I am to be in the position I am in… So I encourage you to at least consider the privileges you have when things get tough, when things get heated, or when things are great — because always, always, always, acknowledging your privilege and keeping it moving, is a better strategy to make your life and the world a better place, than pretending they don’t exist.

Hope this helps!

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Robert is the Founder of Nice Tattoo Parlor. Robert has worked in startups, advertising and brand-building in senior roles for nearly 10 years. Most recently, Robert was VP of Operations at Vox Media where he developed their native revenue strategy and oversaw video. Prior to Vox Media, Robert re-launched Global Grind for Russell Simmons (Acquired by iOne), helped re-launch Shape Magazine for AMI (Acquired by Meredith), and before all this re-launching, started Glassbooth.org and IHadCancer.com while working as a lawyer and advertising exec (shouts to Squeaky) respectively.