One of my favorite stories is a guy named Mark Breimhorst,
s a friend of mine whowent to business school with me at Stanford. And when I was there Mark introduced himself tothe entire class through the reply all list. Not always the best way to get to know people but Mark had a lot of experience, Mark has no hands, he was born with no hands, and he knew the momenthe walked int
o school he’d be walking down the hall and people would start avoiding eye contactand walking to the other side of the building so that they didn’t have to deal with him, right?Because they’re anxious they don’t know what to do here. So he wrote out, Mar
k: the guy withno hands, right? Out it goes, first paragraph my name is Mark I was born with no hands, I wasnot in an accident, it is not painful, just this is how I grew up. When you meet me it will beawkward
because you’ll want to shake my hand and I don’t have them, shake my wrist. It’ll feellike grabbing someone else’s wrist, and then we’ll go from there. And it suddenly changed the
whole conversation and I saw people the next day walking up to him in hall and like kind of wanted to try it, you know
like, here we go look I shook his hand, and suddenly they’re having a
much more intimate conversation than if they had avoided
him or if he’d had hands to start with.
He sort of took this thing that was alienating and turned it into a way for him to reach across andgive context.
So that’s one part of it, the other part of it is the employer reaching back and saying, look
we respect your right to be private, to be confidential. At the same time just as we are verysupportive of all these other issues in our workplace, gender equality, race equality, you know
gay marriage if that’s where your office is, we also believe that disability is on that list of things
and we take it seriously
we have high profile people who have disabilities and they’re happy to
talk about it if they want. You know leave it like that. Again the anxiety can come in becauseeveryone wants to keep it confidential, which is the law, and its an important thing to do but, you