Six Talks for Schools and Groups

Below you will find six of Dr. Andrew’s most popular and highly requested talks.

Take a moment to read the overviews of these powerful and deeply important topics.

Risk-Taking, or “Figuring it out” as you move Forward in Life

Talks by Dr. Vernon Andrews

One of the most exhilarating experiences in life is to see an opportunity, weigh the costs and benefits, then choose to move forward with a strong will to achieve. Dr. Andrews engages the audience with his experiences of risk-taking, such as 1) moving to a rural white community and away from his urban habitat to attend college; 2) challenging the most Prominent Silicon Valley high-technology founder on a historical landmark; 3) leaving behind a good salary, a new home, a new BMW and stock options to return to student loans and graduate school, and 4) departing the USA for New Zealand for a 14 year  adventure as an entrepreneurial professor. These experiences represented a risk to security and financial safety. The risk of a more dynamic life, though, outweighed the possibility of failure. Dr. Andrews explains through story why “success” and “failure” are imposters: Success has us too focused on the end result, while failure warns us to “stay the course” lest we end up looking stupid. Often “altering the course” gives us purpose, and the journey can be more rewarding than the outcome.

Adaptation: How to move from “Safe Space” to “Foreign Space” and live well

Talks by Dr. Vernon Andrews

There was a time in Dr. Andrews’ life when his primary goal was to know everyone in his environment, please those people, and seek comfort in what was normal around him. As he began taking risks to advance his career and knowledge of the world, he confronted situations, people, and places that were scary and foreign. With each risk, each move into a different environment, he learned to adjust, adapt, and make a difference. These environments and adaptations were as varied as work for U.S. Government, work as Manager for a Silicon Valley high-technology firm, navigating graduate school in snow-driven Madison, Wisconsin, and driving for Uber during the 2015 Super Bowl. Dr. Andrews also started a black-owned company in New Zealand and taught as a professor in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the University of Canterbury. Adaptation requires observational skills, patience with self, questions for those in your new environment, and a commitment to your core self – all while that self is developing. A key challenge for youth is the ability to observe your surroundings and learn the art of fitting in — and achieving in every environment.

Why America Needs Athletes to Stand up – or Kneel: From Ali to Kaepernick

Talks by Dr. Vernon Andrews

There is little doubt that many youth, male and female, Black and White, gay and straight and trans, look to athletes for their perseverance, personal strength, dedication and athletic prowess. In turn, many fans work to emulate those core athletic values. What results is far too many people emulating the dedication and practice of successful athletes towards sports while rarely nurturing their own core values about the society around them and personal roadblocks to achieving goals in every field of human endeavor. America needs athletes to take a stand on the issues that are core to their values and the communities around them so that youth will emulate them and establish their own core values and social concerns. Those values can take many forms, including finding a cure for cancer, supporting women challenged by domestic abuse, confronting bullying in schools or online, or reforming the criminal justice system and working to prevent unnecessary deaths at the hands of people sworn to protect citizens. Male and female athletes and their causes are reviewed over time – and the audience is asked to frame their own participation (or observation) in sport and their own core values. We want to raise citizens in America who don’t become narrowly focused on their sports prowess while they mature in a society that begs for their full participation and engagement.

Strong Female Leadership – and the Importance of Men Learning to Follow

Talks by Dr. Vernon Andrews

Every president and vice president in America’s history has been male. Until very recently, nearly all members of congress (both the House – and especially the Senate) were male. Chief Operating Officers were primarily male. In nearly every field of human endeavor in the United States, women, especially women of color, have historically been excluded. Contrast this to my 14 years in New Zealand, where two female Prime Ministers (one conservative, one liberal) reigned through two terms each, and where the current Prime Minister is also a woman. There was never a debate as to if a woman could lead; it was always assumed women were just as qualified and talented as men. Their secret might be imbedded in the fact that their primary ethos in New Zealand is egalitarianism – the idea that everyone is equal. A second overlooked historical fact is that, as part of the British Commonwealth, the current Queen Elizabeth has exerted leadership for decades (though ceremonial), and Queens have exerted power for decades before. The US is not a monarchy, but we have much to learn about female power – in boardrooms, on school boards, city councils, in sports, in college classrooms and sometime in the not too distant future, in the White House. Men would do well to learn to how support women, to encourage women to run for office or promotion, and otherwise continue the good work of those who have mentored women over the years. Dr. Andrews traces his steps being raised by a single mother who was his champion, a female college professor who was his mentor, a female manager at Hewlett-Packard Company who helped him navigate corporate life, his graduate dissertation advisor who showed him unwavering support and skill-development, and his current partner, who is Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors for her county. Men are not in competition with women: We are all in a competition to improve our environment, and the skill of women and their brilliance needs to both be recognized and championed by men.

How Did This Happen? From a childhood on Welfare in Oakland to Published Professor

Dr. Andrews has been asked over the years since his work at Hewlett-Packard Company, “What has led to your success?” He never considered his own “success” because success for him was always the next goal he needed to accomplish. High school administrators, college professors, civic leaders, parents and college students have repeatedly asked, “How did you go from your parents divorce when you were nine, begging for food from neighbors with your mother, over-the-top child abuse, being sexually molested at 10-years old, living across the street from a drug dealer, chased by police and also held at rifle-point by another cop, and being called a “Nigger” in both college towns he’s been educated in. This is a story that needs to be told to youth seeking some assurance that even though the road seems tough at times, there are ways to navigate your own social situation and periodic setbacks to improve your life-chances and your self-esteem. “Picking your battles” is one important concept, as well as the humbling ability to ask questions, to seek advice from those who can best answer questions, looking outside your racial/ethnic/religious/gender or other group to seek mentoring from allies you might not have otherwise considered. There are far more people willing to help you than hurt you. This is a key concept for moving forward in the face of harsh and at times unforgiving circumstances. Life does get better.

Why Black & White Americans should be Fighting for African American Reparations

Talks by Dr. Vernon Andrews

The problems faced by Black Americans seem to mount by the years as we take two steps forward, and then as a society we move three steps backwards. Police brutality will only end when we get to the root causes of the brutality. Discrimination in hiring will only end when we get to the root causes of discrimination. Housing redlines will only be erased when we get to the root causes of redlining. Black voter suppression will only end when we drill down to the root causes of suppression. The continual rape and brutalization of black women by various criminal justice institutions will only stop when we have drilled down to the reasons people find it “okay” to exploit black women. The only way forward for our beloved but flawed society is to get to the root of the flaw: Our original sin of slavery, flawed reconstruction efforts after the Civil War, institutionalized Jim Crow segregation and humiliation, the lawless brutality etched upon black bodies via lynching and physical abuse until America was brought to her knees in 1964 to sign Civil Rights legislation. What is needed is a formal and precisely written apology to Black America that is signed by Congress and the President which affirms what was done to her African American citizens and truly accepts responsibility for aiding and abetting 400 years of racism and physical and emotional apartheid by the U.S. government. This statement needs to be embedded in all history books in publicly-funded institutions. Healing for Blacks and Whites begins with an apology. Dr. Andrews has some ideas as to how to accomplish both the social repair to the white psyche that has had to live with this inflicted trauma over the generations – and black psyches that have endured hundreds of thousands of combined human years of exploitation. Racism, prejudice and discrimination are learned in homes and schools and other institutions. I look forward to a time when we learn mutual respect and admiration for our fellow Americans.