Disabled Lives Matter
Season 1, Episode 29
Co-Hosts: Nadine Vogel & Norma Stanley
Guest: Diego Mariscal
Intro: [Music playing in background] Disabled Lives Matter... here we go!
Voiceover: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the disabled lives matter podcast with co-hosts Nadine Vogel and Norma Stanley… yay!
Nadine Vogel: Hello everyone and welcome to today's episode of disabled lives matter, this is not just a podcast, this is a movement, and I am just delighted to be joined by Diego Mariscal today for this movement Diego welcome.
Diego Mariscal: Thank you, thank you for having me really excited to be here.
Nadine Vogel: Absolutely Now I know I know Diego that you, you know you meet people often use a i'm disabled and i'm proud.
Diego Mariscal: yes
Nadine Vogel: A little bit about your background, please.
Diego Mariscal: yeah sure sure, so I was actually born in the United States by accident.
Diego Mariscal: My parents were both Mexicans were shopping and I was born six months and a half into my mom's pregnancy so.
Nadine Vogel: Oh, my gosh.
Diego Mariscal: yep pretty tiny baby my mom jokes and said that i've always been really stubborn even before I was born, I wanted to get out quickly.
Diego Mariscal: So um and so as a result of that I have CP Cerebral Palsy and, for me it manifest in trouble walking.
Diego Mariscal: A little bit of difficulty with reading and writing and.
Diego Mariscal: little bit of difficulty although you wouldn't know it on my hands and sort of dexterity overall, but primarily my legs um and you know growing up.
Diego Mariscal: With a disability in Mexico was definitely an interesting experience from an early age, I realized that I was perceived differently, I remember asking a kid if he wanted to play with me and he said that his dad didn't let him play with weird kids.
Nadine Vogel: Oh, my gosh.
Diego Mariscal: I know. So.
Diego Mariscal: But at the same time, I was lucky enough to to you know be born in a family of supportive parents my brother who's actually 10 months and a half younger than I am so my my parents didn't waste any time.
Diego Mariscal: He doesn't have a disability, and so, because we're so close in age in fact people call us Irish twins.
Diego Mariscal: So, because he doesn't have a disability and I think my parents, especially my mom did a really good job of.
Diego Mariscal: Setting the same level of expectations for me, as she did, as they did for my brother so.
Nadine Vogel: Yay mom.
Diego Mariscal: Right right.
Diego Mariscal: So, so if he has to make is bdd, I had to make my bed too you know clean up the table, all that stuff and so obviously with accommodations and modifications right, I would only carry like plastic cups. and plastic plates.
Diego Mariscal: What it did said it did set a parameter for me of of you know, high expectations and really being able to do whatever it is that my brother, and I wanted to do and so from there, I.
Diego Mariscal: I was a and i'm happy to go into any.
Nadine Vogel: direction you.
Diego Mariscal: want me to go, but I was a paralympian for a while then I started my first company in high school and then now I work on supporting other entrepreneurs with disabilities so.
Nadine Vogel: So, so I do let's let's go back to age 18 because I believe that age 18 you while still in high school you actually started is limitless prepatec
Nadine Vogel: yeah talk to us about that.
Diego Mariscal: yeah so you know that was interesting, so I was one of the few disabled people in my high school at least outspokenly. You know.
Diego Mariscal: um and I felt like I wanted my peers, to understand what I was going through right um and so as a way to explain to other people I don't honestly as a way to make friends, I was like.
Diego Mariscal: What if we created a club that was all about teaching students about disabilities, so we would do things like eating without being able to see or using public transportation while in a wheelchair.
Diego Mariscal: love it, love it.
Diego Mariscal: and in 4 years, we were in 15 high schools across the country 80% of it was corporate funded um and it continues to be one of the largest youth led movements.
Diego Mariscal: About disability in Mexico, that in hindsight, you know, there are some things that I think we could could improved but I learned a lot, I was 19 at the time. so really really proud.
Nadine Vogel: Well, you know what's new what's fascinating about that though is that um so when my older daughter.
Nadine Vogel: And she has disabilities and when she was very young and in school, she was fed through a gastrostomy tube and had other issues and people would make fun of her the kids.
Nadine Vogel: And I would come into the classroom and we would sit in a circle, and we would kind of educate the kids.
Nadine Vogel: So that they would they wouldn't fear what they saw right and it would be more comfortable and engage her as a friend and so forth, so.
Nadine Vogel: You know it's interesting to hear what you did i'm like oh my gosh we could have started a whole movement across the country look what you did and and and I was this you know smart educated parent and I couldn't have thought of that, and you would 18 had this whole idea and oh. My gosh so.
Nadine Vogel: kudos to you, and you know it's interesting and you know I personally and I don't know how we should talk about how you do this but.
Nadine Vogel: I personally feel, how do you do we should take that program somehow right and how do you replicate it in other countries, because.
Nadine Vogel: You know i'm a firm believer that if we educate children.
Nadine Vogel: On on disability etiquette and things like that they won't become what I like to refer to as the stupid adults.
Nadine Vogel: Right and then we wouldn't have half the issues, I think that we have sometimes in corporate and to society in general, so I think that that's so powerful and especially like you said you know it's been corporate funded have you thought about bringing that to other countries.
Diego Mariscal: So that was actually so it's funny you say that. Because.
Diego Mariscal: You know how to get this Together International so it's actually international because the original name of the of the of the movement in Mexico was together.
Diego Mariscal: And so, when I came to the states we we put together international because the idea was to bring it here that was that was idea.
Diego Mariscal: Okay um but what I learned, when I was trying to do that is a couple of things culturally there's a more vibrant.
Diego Mariscal: Disability Community here, and then the movement I think it's a little bit farther along and so some people in the disability Community looked at that as.
Diego Mariscal: kind of blackface.
Diego Mariscal: So a you know just because you're in a wheelchair for a day doesn't mean you fully understand what it's like to to hop to be in a wheelchair, you know.
Diego Mariscal: So that was one side of things, but then the other side is that, and this is where I think you know things could have been better, but the other side was.
Diego Mariscal: We were educating non disabled people, and so it was a bunch of.
Diego Mariscal: And the majority of people in colleges and high schools, and you know.
Diego Mariscal: For a variety of systematic reasons tend to be not disable, and so it was not disabled people educating other non disabled people. About.
Nadine Vogel: Yeah that's not right that's what we want to do, but if we could have.
Nadine Vogel: People with disabilities, children.
Diego Mariscal: Yes, it is.
Nadine Vogel: And if it's younger children, then, accompanied by their parents.
Nadine Vogel: yeah just educating young children.
Diego Mariscal: Yes.
Nadine Vogel: right.
Nadine Vogel: Because I you know this doesn't need to be about the adults, this is about the the the elementary school middle school.
Diego Mariscal: yeah.
Nadine Vogel: Oh, my gosh well just know if you ever decide, you want to go back and do that I you got to support it here I think it's so important.
Diego Mariscal: We should we should talk about that because that'll be great.
Nadine Vogel: And i'm sure i'm sure my older daughter Gretchen who you probably talked with to get this.
Nadine Vogel: scheduled she works for our company we'd love to talk with you about how to do that.
Nadine Vogel: So yeah I should I should hook, the two of us to connect on that because that's.
Diego Mariscal: Just yeah.
Nadine Vogel: Yes, so so important, I will do that actually um so let's move forward so in.
Nadine Vogel: 2015 you founded Together International right now that's focused on supporting entrepreneurs with disabilities right.
Diego Mariscal: Yes, yes.
Nadine Vogel: So how are you supporting them what are you doing for them.
Diego Mariscal: yeah great question, so we are an accelerator by and for founders with disabilities, and so we look at.
Diego Mariscal: Really accelerating businesses, led by or startups led by people with disabilities and really the whole premises as disabled people, we have to solve problems every day.
Diego Mariscal: From the moment we wake up, we have to figure out how do we get dressed how we drive how we communicate and so those are problem solving skills.
Diego Mariscal: That if given the right resources, support and guidance can turn into thriving businesses um so it's all about a.
Diego Mariscal: Using that innate ability that or innate characteristics that disabled people have.
Diego Mariscal: to advance their businesses forward.
Nadine Vogel: got it got it and I think the same goes true for people with disabilities, not even in their own businesses but working in other businesses.
Nadine Vogel: And I you know i've heard you say disability is an asset for performance, I could not agree more, but i'd love for folks to hear when you say that what do you mean.
Diego Mariscal: yeah so the best example is you know there's this there's this common saying right doesn't matter how many times you fall it matters, how many times you get up.
Diego Mariscal: Well i've literally fallen thousands of times in my life.
Diego Mariscal: No exaggeration, literally falling thousands of times in my life and i've gotten back up thousands of times in my life right and.
Diego Mariscal: that's an example of just the resilience that that takes not in a hypothetical or metaphorical way it, you know, in a very real way very tangible way and so translating that in the business context, I mean talk about resilience right and the importance of of.
Diego Mariscal: harnessing that and that's just one aspect also um creativity right.
Diego Mariscal: You have to figure out how am I going to one of the things I have to think about is how am I going to get dressed in the morning how am I going to put my shoes on and.
Diego Mariscal: Little things like that you know force you to be creative in a way that you can translate that into a corporation, and then organization um
Diego Mariscal: I think.
Diego Mariscal: The step beyond that is for companies and organizations to create an atmosphere where that's allowed because sometimes there's a lot of internalize ableism that.
Diego Mariscal: folks with disabilities don't want to disclose their disability or don't want to show.
Diego Mariscal: that they have a disability, because of the internalized stigma um so so it's about creating the right atmosphere, to let those skills flourish.
Nadine Vogel: Right right no it's it absolutely it's about Problem Solving it's I mean, I agree, I always say you know i've seen my daughter do things in a way that i'll look and be like why on earth would you do it that way, but then you try it yourself and you realize that's more effective.
Nadine Vogel: Right or it's quicker or something it's more efficient and I, you know I clients of ours, you know as they've hired individuals with disabilities.
Nadine Vogel: And they start getting comfortable and they see and realize the benefits, then it's like Oh, we should of you know, we should have been doing this, a long time ago right it's so it's It is interesting, but people fear what they don't know.
Nadine Vogel: And what they haven't experienced and that's what that's what takes me back actually to why i'm so excited about what you've done with educating children.
Nadine Vogel: Because if we educate them at that age and they grow up not fearing disability and they grow up understanding that everyone is alike, then.
Nadine Vogel: Then it changes right by the time they get to college, by the time they get to the workplace it completely changes and that's that's what we need.
Nadine Vogel: We have a saying at springboard where we say to mainstream people with disabilities right it's not about treating everyone the same but giving everyone the same opportunity, yes.
Nadine Vogel: And that's really important, so it is time for us to take a short break, so we will do that for our listeners, please don't go anywhere we'll be right back with Diego and just hearing about his amazing story be right back everybody.
Voiceover: And now it's time for a commercial break.
Have you attended a springboard Consulting event? Well, you should, we have the best events and our 2022 events are just under way. Firstly is the Brg Summit happening on Tuesday, April 26th, and then following that is Disability Matters. North America Conference and Awards that's happening Wednesday and Thursday, April, 27 and 28. Both events are being delivered by a live stream. If interested in attending, please visit www.consultspringboard.com for more information.
Voiceover: And now back to our show.
Nadine Vogel: Hello everyone and welcome back to disabled lives matter more than just a podcast, it is a movement and Diego we are having this amazing conversation about all these just incredible things that you have.
Nadine Vogel: achieved and are continuing to achieve not just to benefit yourself but benefit the world of disability, which is really important, because, as we say disabled lives matter, and they do.
Nadine Vogel: And you know hearing hearing about what you've done what you've accomplished, and what I think is coming down the path.
Nadine Vogel: Just proves that point so to that end, I believe you have some kind of tech cohort that's coming up, I actually think you're partnering with Google or something so, can you share with us a little bit about.
Diego Mariscal: Yes, yes, so I just have to say, this is not a partnership, it is with support from Google to start.
Nadine Vogel: Okay okay.
Diego Mariscal: clarify that um but yeah no we're super lucky to have Google for startups involved in this this tech cohort um, and the reason we have to clarify that partnership pieces, because they have a partnership Program.
Diego Mariscal: That you have to respect that.
Diego Mariscal: They're whole streamline it is.
Nadine Vogel: what is this exactly then.
Diego Mariscal: so this is basically they this tech cohort and i'll get into what that is but this tech cohort it is possible.
Nadine Vogel: okay
Diego Mariscal: With the support of Google for startups um and we're actually working with them to essentially become part of their partner program, which means that our entrepreneurs will have access to programming their ecosystem all that stuff but there's a rigorous application.
Diego Mariscal: process and all that so.
Diego Mariscal: we're working we're working on making that happen.
Nadine Vogel: Okay
Diego Mariscal: um. But anyway, so the our core programming right now is our accelerator program which is basically three months.
Diego Mariscal: folks get coaching they get access to classes, they get peer to peer support network they get funding, so we tried to really do kind of comprehensive accelerator program for founders with disabilities and to that end we.
Diego Mariscal: We tend to do theme related cohorts so we had a women's cohort and we also had a DC full cohort and now we're doing this tech cohort with support from Google for startups.
Diego Mariscal: And.
Nadine Vogel: And you always have a company supporting in some way.
Diego Mariscal: Well we're moving towards that hopefully.
Nadine Vogel: Okay.
Diego Mariscal: We didn't we didn't I mean we started working with our first cohort was supported by DC government our second cohort was supported by a foundation, but we want to, we want to make sure we're involving corporations.
Diego Mariscal: As as we continue to grow so.
Diego Mariscal: what's great about working with Google for startups is that.
Diego Mariscal: Their.
Diego Mariscal: um team is involved right, so the the entrepreneurs will have access to.
Diego Mariscal: The some you know, a product mentors ah technology cloud credits, you know and really the exposure that comes with being associated with Google for startups and so that's also an added value that we can bring to the table.
Nadine Vogel: And and and when when when you have folks in this cohort approximately how many folks again, do you have.
Diego Mariscal: So we accept anywhere from 12 to 15 but so far we've gotten about 200 requests per application.
Nadine Vogel: So oh my gosh.
Diego Mariscal: yeah it's gonna be a tough time.
Nadine Vogel: what's the evaluation.
Nadine Vogel: process like who makes that decision.
Diego Mariscal: yeah great great question so um so we have.
Diego Mariscal: You know, a standard application that our Board, which is made up of entrepreneurs and people with disabilities have.
Diego Mariscal: put together, as well as looking at accelerator best practices so there's the first filter is the application process then we do a second round, which is the round of interviews with the 30 finalists then we select 15.
Nadine Vogel: wow and how long does the program last.
Diego Mariscal: it's a 12 weeks so it's.
Nadine Vogel: yeah and what is the goal at the end of that 12 week.
Diego Mariscal: So the goal is really to advance your business forward.
Diego Mariscal: At a significant to accelerate your business hence accelerator.
Diego Mariscal: To really advance their their business forward, I mean we had we recently did a women's cohort and, you know when you look at.
Diego Mariscal: The the 12 women that presented, you know from their application to the three months it's night and day it's like they're ready mean they can confidently go in to an investor meeting.
Diego Mariscal: Where they can.
Diego Mariscal: confidently you know present to a partner, it really it's really great, and I think part of it is also a huge value that we see is one the coaching component is huge, but the other is being surrounded by 12, 12 to 15 like minded people for three months.
Diego Mariscal: Right and that's a huge deal.
Diego Mariscal: Because entrepreneurship can be lonely right surrounded with people that you can relate to.
Nadine Vogel: And let me, let me jump on that about the loneliness.
Nadine Vogel: Because obviously you're doing this during Covid.
Nadine Vogel: So i'm assuming right now it's virtual has it always been virtual.
Diego Mariscal: know the first the first accelerator we didn't person and we actually were adamant about maybe doing it in person to allow people to really connect and engage.
Diego Mariscal: Covid it for us really I would say, was a blessing, though.
Diego Mariscal: Because we were able to serve more people, and we were also able to make the program more accessible in terms of accommodations that.
Diego Mariscal: So we actually.
Diego Mariscal: will probably do one or two accelerators in person, but they'll be most likely they'll be people that have already gone through our Program.
Diego Mariscal: And we might invite them to come in person and.
Nadine Vogel: Maybe like an alumni.
Diego Mariscal: Yeah.
Nadine Vogel: so i'm pleased you for our listeners if someone is listening and says oh my gosh I want to add to this 200 applications and make it 201 how do they do that and they apply or get in.
Diego Mariscal: touch, yes, so the application is is on our website, right now, I believe, when this episode ends, it will be closed we're closing on a Monday.
Diego Mariscal: Okay, but.
Diego Mariscal: Hopefully i'll send you all the information and, hopefully, you can share it on the listserv put it on social media.
Nadine Vogel: Yeah.
Diego Mariscal: um because we would love to have Members from your Community be a part of this.
Nadine Vogel: Can you just tell everyone with the website is at least.
Diego Mariscal: Yes, yes it's together dash international dot org now but kicker is that together is with a 2.
Nadine Vogel: Number two and then G-E-T-H-E-R dash international www.2gether-international.org.
Diego Mariscal: That are yeah.
Nadine Vogel: Okay excellent so we don't have much time left, but in in in the time we do have, I have two questions one, what do you see the future is for the organization.
Nadine Vogel: And then I just want to end with just some of these amazing awards and things that you've won, but what do you, what do you see the future.
Diego Mariscal: So, really, I mean I started this because I wanted to redefine the way people thought about disabilities and the way people perceive disabilities, so my goal really is that people see disability as.
Diego Mariscal: An asset to business as value to diversity, and so we just happen to be doing it through entrepreneurship, right now, but that may evolve, or you know we may add things down the pipeline it really having someone who.
Diego Mariscal: Richard Branson or the the the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank they all have this ability, but they're not necessarily until recently, they weren't necessarily very outspoken about that.
Nadine Vogel: way.
Diego Mariscal: To me, and what to support the next you know, to find the next billionaire.
Diego Mariscal: Who has a disability, and say that yeah it's not in spite of my disability as exceeded it is.
Nadine Vogel: Because of my disability.
Diego Mariscal: The strength that that.
Nadine Vogel: Absolutely.
Diego Mariscal: that's the future, I see.
Nadine Vogel: In closing, I want to close on this whole interview has been a high for me that I want to close that even a bigger high you have.
Nadine Vogel: My gosh.
Nadine Vogel: You have won so many awards.
Nadine Vogel: you've participated in the global entrepreneurs summit.
Nadine Vogel: you have won awards from the International Council on disabilities, you were the first United Nations World humanitarian so with all of these things just tell us what.
Nadine Vogel: What do they mean to you individually and then, what do you what do they mean, do you believe to just people with disabilities at large, or the impact to the Community
Diego Mariscal: yeah. well.
Diego Mariscal: I mean individually to me, maybe sound counterintuitive but to me individually, they don't really much because it really it's a reflection of.
Diego Mariscal: A lot of people that have been supporting me along the way, and they're not really a recognition of my accomplishments alone their recognition of the people and the team behind me from my parents to other disability advocates who have mentored me and supported me, and so I think that.
Diego Mariscal: to tie it back to the other point which is what they mean for disability community at large, I think I hope that they serve as a reminder that.
Diego Mariscal: really effective transformative change comes from Community and being really.
Diego Mariscal: intentional about that and so um I hope that whoever is is reading or listening to this recognizes that there's a whole.
Diego Mariscal: village behind those those awards, and so the more that you can surround yourself with people that are going to push you but also believe in you, I think, the better the whole movement is going to be.
Nadine Vogel: could not agree more what a what a great way to close out this interview Diego Thank you so so much, I am just loving hearing about everything that you've done.
Nadine Vogel: And everything you're doing and just you know excited to see what the future brings.
Nadine Vogel: I guarantee this is not the last time you're going to hear from me or from springboard I suspect it might be some other opportunities we can connect on but.
Nadine Vogel: For this issue of or this this issue of disabled lives matter, I just want to thank you very much, and I know our listeners are going to very much enjoy enjoy this podcast so thank you.
Diego Mariscal: amazing, thank you for having me, really, really appreciate it.
Nadine Vogel: Absolutely bye bye everybody.
Closing comment: [Music playing in background.] Thank you for listening to this week's episode of disabled lives matter. We look forward to seeing you next Thursday. Have a great week!
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