How One Entrepreneur Overcame Racism (But You Probably Wouldn’t)

What if you were an entrepreneur making cold calls in America looking for customers & your name was Shuki Khalili?

You speak perfect English but you can tell people are tuning you out because of your foreign name.

What would you do?

Just put up with it? Try harder?

The growing OUTRAGE industry is fantastic at pointing your attention at things you cannot control. 

Can you do ANYTHING about what the president just said?

Can you do ANYTHING about what society thinks are the right pronouns?

Can you do ANYTHING about immigration policy?

Even people with enormous audiences have almost no influence on any of these issues. Sure they can broadcast their thoughts. But those posts go out to people who probably already agree with them and the Internet is so gigantic that posting anything is like shouting into the void.

People with big & small audiences scream about things they can’t control for mostly the same reason: the outrage feels good and makes them feel morally superior (whether internally or because they’re signaling to their tribe).

But here’s where they lose at life: they’ve wasted their personal attention.

They’ve made a short-term and self-defeating decision: instead of working on something they can impact, they’ve traded it for feeling good about themselves in the moment.

They wasted their precious attention on something in their “circle of concern”, but far outside their “circle of influence”.

We’re all guilty of this.

Even in the most outrageous circumstances we still have a choice to make.

The most extreme version of this comes from Viktor Frankl’s experience as a Jew in the Holocaust:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Our choices today are relatively boundless:

  • We can choose what to work on & with who
  • We can choose who to love
  • We can choose what we eat and how we move our bodies
  • We can choose what information gains access to our brain

We have more control over our lives than any people in history, yet we constantly make the mistake of wasting attention on things over which we have no control.

Shuki Khalili ended up changing his name to the very American-sounding Andrew Warner, and then grew that business to over $38M in revenue before being acquired & starting the famous Mixergy podcast.1

How many people on Twitter would have instead complained about being treated differently because of their name?

(You can almost hear the outrage tweets being drafted.)

Who would focus on what they could actually do about it, no matter how extreme or unfair that might be?

Who do you think ends up accomplishing their goals? The complainers?

The answer is so obvious it feels insulting to even mention it.

Andrew is a great reminder that no matter how crappy the reality, there’s always something you can control. Work on that.

  1. He’s had every guest under the sun and is fantastic at getting personal and actionable answers from his guests. He’s like the Howard Stern of entrepreneur interviewers.