September 28, 2022

Brad Hancock Shares How Understanding Cultural Backgrounds Strengthens Leadership

Holland & Knight Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight Series

Holland & Knight's Diversity Council and Hispanic Affinity Group are proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have enriched America's history and continue to play a role in its future success. This year, we took time to speak to some of our Hispanic attorneys, who shared their stories with us. We now present a video series showcasing some of these conversations. We hope that the stories conveyed in these videos inspire those struggling with recognizing their roots and shine light to the contributions that Hispanics have provided to the United States.

In this video, Houston Co-Executive Brad Hancock speaks about his upbringing and family history, which influenced him to encourage diversity and unity among all cultures. Brad talks about the importance of understanding cultural backgrounds in order to improve the relationships you have with others inside and outside the workplace. He also highlights his involvement in the Houston office to promote diversity and inclusion.

More Videos in This Series

Episode 1: Isabel Diaz Talks About Connecting with Others Through Their Differences

Episode 2: Dan Mateo Shares the Advantage of Being Authentic in the Workplace

Episode 3: Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz Reflects on Her Professional Path and Paving the Way for Others

Episode 4: Brad Hancock Shares How Understanding Cultural Backgrounds Strengthens Leadership (You are currently viewing Episode 4)

Episode 5: Angela Jimenez Highlights Family Traditions and the Importance of Hard Work

Episode 6: Tomás Castellanos Shares His Life Journey and Highlights the Importance of Mentorship

Episode 7: Adrianne Waddell Expresses the Importance of Giving Back and Embracing Your Culture

Episode 8: Jorge Hernandez-Toraño Talks about the Importance of Moving the Needle Forward for Hispanics

Brad Hancock: I think we forget that so much of who we are, we all came from somewhere else. And I don't care whatever your last name is and whatever your culture is, most everyone here came from somewhere else. And I think that we are sometimes not as accepting of the cultures. And sometimes the cards are just stacked against people who are coming recently to the United States, whether it's from Afghanistan, whether it's from Sudan, whether it's from Mexico, or further south. And so I think that we need to try to be more inclusive. I think we need to understand and appreciate our own history. You know, when I was a kid and I would visit my family in Laredo. I'd ride my bicycle across the border on a regular basis and go to the market and get "leche quemada" and other "dulces" and other candies and treats. And so I grew up with that experience. In the border back then there were no walls. There was very little security. It was very different from what we see today.

2022 HHM Brad Hancock headshot

It was interesting, my grandfather was, I think, well ahead of his time in a lot of ways. He ended up going to high school in Laredo and then went to play football at Rice University. He was one of the first, to my knowledge, Latino players. And he and his brother both played for Coach Heisman at Rice University. It was interesting, back in those days you could play multiple sports. He also played baseball and was offered a contract and unfortunately no longer have the contract but it was for Major League Baseball. But instead he decided to go back and teach high school and coach kids on the border because that was where the passion was. He recognized a need to further integrate people on the border. And so he founded something that's called the Border Olympics. He'd have athletes from Mexico and then athletes from the United States. I think originally they were all high school athletes, but now it's college as well. But he founded that in 1934. The goal was to get these wonderful athletes together to compete in sport with honor and to at the end, shake hands and make friends and get these athletes from Mexico to the United States and get the athletes from United States into Mexico to appreciate that heritage and that opportunity across the border in sport. His view was that sport was the foundation for so much in terms of building relationships and in normalizing relations between two countries. And so that's something I thought was of significance to me and the heritage, because today, still, the Border Olympics is a very vibrant program where athletes from Latin America and the United States, regularly compete. And seeing that still survives today, you know, 80 years later, I think is pretty phenomenal. And is a testament to my grandfather seeing what was needed. And that's still surviving today because it's still needed today. It's important for us to teach our kids who we are, where we come from, and not to be ashamed of it. I mean, I can't tell you how many kids when I was teaching. We're ashamed of the fact that they were from Mexico. You know, because they only spoke Spanish, or they didn't have the shoes and the shirts that other kids had in the school, or they were not living in the same house that others were living in. And I think that's a shame. And I think that's one of the reasons why sometimes people forget their languages and they don't focus on their history. My belief is that an office and a firm needs to be a reflection of the community. And so in Houston, I think we are one of the, in my opinion, one of the best melting pots. We're an extension of Latin America. You know, we're obviously in border of Mexico. And so I try very hard to recruit and help promote diverse candidates and a diverse team in Houston. And I know that we've been recognized for those efforts, which is always good, but those efforts are never finished. There's always something you need to be continuing. I've been involved in a number of organizations where that's been very important. And something that's important to me personally, a program called Leadership Houston. Most cities have a program like that. I was on the board of it for many, many years and encouraged participation. We would then go out and find people within the communities that were not traditionally involved in Leadership in Houston and find them and bring them in. And I think that's been very successful. Now you look at some of our associates and partners have gone to that same program and see the benefit for them. Andrea James recently went through it, one of our great associates in Houston. And then talking to her about the program and how it has held true to some of its roots has been in a phenomenal. We, I think, appropriately recruit and focus on being more diverse. And that's something we can continue to improve upon. In Houston, I've been told, it's been one of the most diverse offices of any other major firm in Houston. That's something for us to be proud about. It's not something just for a plaque on the wall. And that's the wrong reason, right? It's because if you are diverse and you have people from the community who reflect the community, you're better able to assist them and assist clients and provide good representation because you understand your clients and you understand their needs, you understand their backgrounds. You share similar backgrounds. If you haven't been there, if you don't have people that have been in a similar walk and a similar experience, at least somewhere in their history, I think you're not able to effectively provide the services that we exist to provide.

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