His friends all knew he hated public speaking. So when Porter Braswell ’07, then a Fifth Former, was called on to stand up and read the assigned passage, the class erupted in a fit of laughter. Nearly 15 years later, his teenage angst from within the walls of Mem Hall a distant memory, Braswell sits behind a microphone recording the Audible
voiceover for his newest book, Let Them See You: The Guide for Leveraging Your Diversity at Work
“If somebody told me at 16 that I’d be the author of two books and talking into a microphone for 17 hours on end, I’d tell them they’re crazy,” says Braswell.
And yet, four years after co-founding Jopwell
, a career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals, where he also serves as CEO, Braswell finds himself on the brink of another career milestone: the release of his second book (after 2014’s Yes, You Can
). Hitting bookshelves on January 15, Let Them See You
is an interactive, advice-driven guide for professionals of color that explores workplace challenges and shares tips to help readers build successful careers, while bringing their true selves to work every day despite often being the only person of color in the room.
“This book really is an extension of what I’ve been doing with Jopwell all along,” says Braswell, the 2017 recipient of Lawrenceville’s Alumni Trailblazer Award. “I’ve had this fundamental belief that there is a responsibility on my part to open doors for others. I was fortunate enough to go to Lawrenceville and build a network and, through that network, seek out opportunities. I am now hoping I can leverage that to mentor at scale.”
Citing his experiences in corporate America, where he was lucky enough to find a mentor at Goldman Sachs, Braswell has observed that not every person of color can say the same.
“You don’t have to get lucky,” he says. “A representative workforce is a business imperative and should be a priority for all companies. Diversity should be an asset and not a hindrance or an obstacle.”
Identifying the practical ways that diversity can be recognized and nurtured in the context of the workplace is the crux of Porter’s second work, and Let Them See You serves as a blueprint for professionals with questions like, “How do you embrace uncomfortable conversations and address the colleague who makes an ignorant comment?” and “How do you drive diversity and inclusion initiatives to make change within your organization?” Through discussions with friends, colleagues, and the Jopwell community, he has brought these learnings together to offer readers a universal workplace resource.
Additionally, Braswell is hoping that his text will speak to what he calls “diversity champions,” those individuals who are not people of color but want to be a part of the diversity mission. His goal is for them to be able to listen in on the conversation – to create empathy for the experiences of others and inform how they approach building a more representative and inclusive workplace.
“Everything I do and think about is (intended) to ultimately impact candidates in a positive way,” he says. “And this includes both educating companies and coaching individuals on how to be, collectively, their best selves.”
As for being his best self, Braswell is capping off a year of accolades, having been listed as one of LinkedIn’s “Top 10 Voices,” Vanity Fair’s “Future Innovators,” and Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2018. And as Jopwell continues to grow as a holistic diversity solution, Porter reflects on the exercise of chronicling the lessons learned from his early career.
“Writing this book has allowed me the space to think and get rid of the noise, and it’s a magical place to be,” he says. “Creating the opportunity to have time and awareness will never be taken away from me.”
“What’s more,” he adds, “is that there would have been no way to do this without Lawrenceville. To go from sitting and learning grammar at 16 and being petrified of speaking up in class to then producing essays for Champ Atlee created a skillset and passion that came out through this process. What were once herculean tasks have now set the foundation for a great life.”
We'd love to share your story with other Lawrentians. Email us here with your news or activities and we will be in touch.