4 ways to lift up others during these uncertain times

In honor of Female Founders Month, Danielle Cohn, VP of Startup Engagement and Head of LIFT Labs for Comcast NBCUniversal, shares four ways you can lift up the women - and all people - around you.
The LIFT Labs team with the 2019 LIFT Labs Accelerator class. LIFT Labs is the front door for global startup founders looking to partner with or get feedback from Comcast NBCUniversal.
The LIFT Labs team with the 2019 LIFT Labs Accelerator class. LIFT Labs is the front door for global startup founders looking to partner with or get feedback from Comcast NBCUniversal.Courtesy of LIFT Labs.

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By Danielle Cohn

Last week, I came across a video from ViralHog. I watched it many times over. The footage is of a crow helping a little hedgehog cross the road. The crow kept pushing him along, and even tried to help him up on the curb when they got to the other side.

Hedgehogs and crows are very different. One lives in the sky, the other on the ground. So why in the world would a crow take the time to help a hedgehog cross the road?

It reminds me of a favorite quote from American writer and orator Robert Ingersoll: “We rise by lifting others.” I posted a variation of the quote on my office wall on my first day of work nearly six years ago. It inspired the name and core value behind our team’s work at Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs. The startup engagement program offers various educational, mentorship, accelerator and pilot programs for startup founders and fosters rapid breakthroughs in connectivity, media and entertainment.

Through my work, I’ve realized that no matter what role you are in, you can lift someone up.

Danielle Cohn, VP of Startup Engagement and Head of LIFT Labs for Comcast NBCUniversal.Comcast NBCUniversal

This is not only because lifting is the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense, too. Here are five ways to get started:

1. Mentor someone from a different background.

This can be formal or informal. It can be done at your workplace, in the community, or even virtually. Leaders at our company volunteer their time through our employee resource groups and startup accelerator programs, as well as in the community. Need some motivation? Check out Kelly Hoey (@jkhoey) author of “Build Your Dream Network.” Kelly joined us for our Tomorrow Tour in the early days, and spent more one-on-one time with so many people. Take a listen to our recent Ideas Elevated podcast chat.

2.Invest in underdogs, women and minority owned businesses.

It still pains me to write that under 10 percent of all venture capital funding goes to startups led by women, people of color or LGBTQ founders.

If you are a funder, please keep this stat in the front of your mind on every investment you make. If you’re a consumer, do the same with where you spend your hard-earned money. Check out these lifters: Backstage Capital invests in companies led by women, people of color or LGBTQ founders; Female Founders Fund invests in tech companies led by female founders; and Comcast Ventures’ Catalyst Fund invests in African American, Latinx and female founders.

3. Intentionally diversify and expand your network.

Be open to having uncomfortable conversations about the topic of diversity and inclusion. Keep asking tough questions of the companies you work with, for and invest in to push them to diversify their leadership teams and workforce. Walk the talk. Expand and create your own inclusive network by specifically seeking out fresh founders, funders, emerging leaders and talent, not just those in your current reference network . Check out Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments whose must-see 2014 TED talk has almost 4 million views.

4. Be generous with your heart.

You don’t need money to offer gratitude. Take the time to thank and congratulate your team, leadership, family, friends, front line workers, or local businesses.

Remember the crow who helped the hedgehog. If you’re only helping your fellow crows, you’ll miss out on getting to know the hedgehog population. And the fill in the blank population, and so on. And you’ll miss out on new opportunities, insights, markets and chances to work together to solve problems that face all our lives today and in the future.

Disclaimer: Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal. Know Your Value is part of NBC News.

Danielle Cohn is Vice President of Startup Engagement and Head of LIFT Labs for Comcast NBCUniversal. LIFT Labs is the front door for global startup founders looking to partner with or get feedback from Comcast NBCUniversal. Programs include expert-led workshops and events, accelerators for early stage startups in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and pilot programs for startup companies that are enterprise ready. Follow Danielle on Twitter @daniellecohn. Join the LIFT Labs community and virtual event series on Twitter and Instagram @LIFT_Labs.