There’s a reason companies look for diversity. It’s not to tick a box for ethical customers or lefty media, it’s because it brings real benefits that translate into better performance. In large companies, the link between diversity and success can be tricky to measure, but in venture capital where organisations are small enough and flat enough, the link is quite clear (see this article from Harvard Business Review).
Diverse perspectives, and ensuring that those perspectives have a voice, ensures a broader view when decisions are made and when ideas are sought. It’s easy to see how this can be achieved in a company – just bring in people that represent those diverse opinions. But how can you bring diversity into your own life to bring the same benefits?
Here are a couple of ways I’ve been trying to diversify my personal experience, and meet new people along the way.
Listen to new music – Surveys have found that people stop listening to new music after the age of around 30. I guess this might be because our social circle starts to reduce, we stop going out to nightclubs and the outlets that showcase new music tend to target a younger audience. I refuse to believe this is a biological effect, that somehow our brains have become so rigid that we can’t get into new music anymore!
So where can the over 30s find new music? Spotify has a great algorithm that finds similar music that you might enjoy, based on your listening history, playlists and favorites. New just means new to you, so keep exploring these suggestions and pushing the genres that you would normally go for. Search for the weird and wonderful – Native American flute, blues, Bachata… give a couple of tracks a go, you never know when you might stumble across something that connects!
Try listening to a different radio station. We have a fantastic local station, Art Sound, that showcases a truly diverse cross-section of music. One minute it’s Irish jigs, the next it’s Buena Vista Social Club followed by African Chimurenga and lots of songs in other languages. I also love listening to classical stations – never a repeat, centuries of material and no ads.
Write from a fresh place – As a blog writer, I’m always looking for fresh inspiration, but it’s just as important to look for fresh methods. Try expressing yourself in short poems, try on different ‘voices’ for your narration and different styles. Look for creative challenges and novel themes, try imitating your favourite author’s style and see where your own unique narrative can be stretched.
Visit new places – Okay, this one is a little hard right now, but travel is definitely one of the best ways of expanding your horizons, both literally and figuratively. Next time you go someplace, try getting off the beaten track a little, talking to locals and getting to know a different culture. Learn to appreciate another corner of our shared world. Hatred is often bred because of a lack of understanding, so I aim to understand as much as possible about the world. In lieu of being able to travel at the moment, be a tourist in your own area and go and visit the places you always think you’ll go to ‘someday’.
Take a new class, try a new activity – A great way to meet new people with shared interests, or at least a shared interest in trying new things, is to take a new class. Try a breath workshop, French cooking, crochet, pottery, handstand classes, volunteering, SCUBA diving, ballet, Thai language courses… the list is endless. Online classes are also a good option, anything that expands your mind. You don’t need to take up anything as a permanent hobby, just enjoy the feeling of trying and learning something new and mixing with a new group of people.
Have you tried diversifying your world recently? What was the last new thing you tried, and how did it make you feel?