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A janitor at Frito-Lay invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (2017) (thehustle.co)
780 points by andygcook on June 19, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 356 comments

This article ends right before the actual interesting part begins.

Janitor takes some food his company produces, adds spices, makes a shitty pitch deck and profit? Cool, but... this could have easily happened in a dozen different configurations and gone nowhere. This is more luck than anything else.

The interesting story begins after that. This guy didn't end his career there - so, presumably, he was't a one-hit wonder. We have an illiterate janitor who suddenly got swept into the orbit of the CEO, without any business or operational acumen. He somehow -how??- managed to learn the ways of the new tribe, learn business, learn to read and write, learn how to lead a business unit, and do it well. This guy came out of nowhere, and had to zero-to-sixty from manual laborer to - what? executive? What position did they put him in? How did he ramp up? What kind of support did he get, if any? What kind of education did they provide him with, if any?

There's a long, interesting story between "janitor" and "successful VP", and they neglected to tell almost any of it!

The point is that the CEO was open minded (he took a phone call from a janitor... and actually listened to him and then gave him a chance). He saw past this mans lack of education and experience and focused on his dedication and enthusiasm. There's value in everyone, everywhere (even the lowest employees). We need leaders who can put ego aside and see that. IMO, that was the point of the story. The subsequent success of this man is another story entirely (and a good one I bet). I'm just glad that someone recognized his talent.

Edit: Credit also goes to the secretary for putting the call through to the CEO and not acting as a gate-keeper. She could have ended the call. Thankfully, she was open minded too.

My takeaway was that not only was a janitor directly employed by the company (as cleaning services are basically 100% outsourced in my experience now) but was paid well and felt part of the company such that he was motivated to stay interested and contribute.

Right. The current philosophy is to outsource anything that isn't your core competency.

There used to be a path from lowly janitor/stocker/etc. to the executive suite but that route has largely closed.

Your comment reminded me of this article I read a while back: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/gail-evans-went-from-janitor...

Yes that is quite the anachronism these days.

Too bad. Perhaps there is an opportunity cost argument for a better alternative.

I imagine it's super hard to quantify the profit of "ideas from janitor", but super easy to quantify the savings of "no longer paying for a janitor".

Plus, if every company has a gentleman's agreement to ignore the help then there's no lost opportunity that the competition can jump on.

Sure there is, they all just agree to ignore it.

According to the article by "ask a mexican" (can't find it atm) but at the time frito lay had an active "solicit business ideas from all levels of the company" program, and they really meant it (some companies do not when they do these sorts of things)

>He saw past this mans lack of education and experience

Did he lack education and experience or formal education and business experience? Being able to manage people requires skills that no formal education I've seen can teach you. It can help, but it doesn't impart the required basics. Things like being able to read a person, know who is being honest, know what is the appropriate level of joking around for a superior/subordinate relationship.

Did he have the skills from non-recognized sources or did he pick these up on the go? Or was some other characteristic enough to make up for a deficit in these?

> There's value in everyone, everywhere

I’d say value can be found anywhere. It isn’t everywhere. And not everyone has this man’s ability. (Regardless of background.)

It's like in ratatouille movie, everyone can cook doesn't mean everybody can be a great cook, but that a great cook can come from anywhere.

That was my take on this story as well...that the CEO was humble enough to listen to his employees. That's hard to do at a large company and we don't see enough of it.

I have a feeling he wouldn't have given up if the secretary stonewalled him. But kudos to her, still.

>even the lowest employees

Why is the janitor considered "the lowest employee" by you?

In most companies the level is demonstrated by the investment in the employee's career. I would imagine janitors :-

* Get the lowest salary

* Are often outsourced with lowest priced bidder winning

* Don't get on programs like bonuses, training, career advancement

* Aren't used in company marketing (Imagine "We have the best cleaned offices")

Amusing aside: once I was talking to this engineer on the phone and he was talking about driver development and I, in an attempt to relate, remarked that that sounds rather hard and that it's been a while since I wrote low-level software like that.

Somehow that came across as insulting what he did as of low skill level. Oops! Awful faux pas. I think I managed to clarify but I've decided to use less ambiguous words next time ("close to the metal", for instance).

I think you are unnecessarily censoring yourself. Low-level software in computer circles means that it is closer to the metal and no computer engineer in their right mind will consider low-level software to mean software that require less skill to write.

> no computer engineer in their right mind will consider low-level software to mean software that require less skill to write.

In my experience, it's generally the opposite. Low level is seen as very hard and arcane.

> > low level does not mean less skill to write

> low level is very hard and arcane

> the opposite


Exactly, and any low-level (assembly/machine) engineer would be unlikely unaware of the high/low-level terminology.

When I first started grad school as a biomedical engineer, I did a rotation in a neurophysiologist lab who was looking at how turtle neurons are able to survive longer without oxygen, hoping along the way to apply it to stroke survival, etc. But, his overall goal was to learn about how the brain stem controls respiration.

I described this guy and his lab to my parents as a "basic science" which they took to mean it was simple "easy" science. In reality he has studied the same square millimeter of turtle brain and a few proteins for decades, and knows it better probably than anyone who has ever lived.

In these contexts, "basic" and "low-level" means "insane level of detail that no one else wants to bother with."

This is solved (or exacerbated, depending on your point of view) in non-English speaking environments that nonetheless use English terms of art.

In my case, we use "low-level" (in English) to convey the "close to the metal", systems programming idea, and the direct translation of "low-level" to refer to shoddy code.

If he was an engineer who didn't know what "low-level software" meant, then he was also a low-level engineer, so you weren't wrong either way.

Haha, you know I felt that way too, but I didn't want my pre-existing biases to intrude.

Everyone gets a chance when they are young. I know lots of people who beared with me when they should not have.

You got a chance, people should get a chance, but it's not true that everyone does get a chance. Some people are just dealt a bad hand and get no lucky breaks, and have no path to leave mediocrity despite their effort.

I think people are downvoting because they disagree with you and not explaining why.

> people who bore* with me

Past tense of verb "bear" is "bore" (not "boar", FWIW.)


FYI, English is slowly evolving away from having irregular forms of many verbs. This means that simply adding -ed to the verb is acceptable. Some common examples: bend and bent/bended, lend and lent/lended, weep and wept/weeped...

Acceptable to whom?

Degradation of language is degradation of mind.

Most people don't like to sound ignorant and unlettered. You saw that nashashmi graciously said, "Thanks", eh?


The point is that he is self-made. He didn't leave school because he was stupid but because he had to. The family caused the lack of education but they gave him the right values. They instilled the pride and curiosity that allowed him to execute and not to just fulfill orders.

To me, these parts of the article stand out, all beginning with his grandmother:

>When he broke the news to his family, his grandfather imparted a piece of advice that would always stick with him: “Make sure that floor shines,” the man told his grandson. “And let them know that a Montañez mopped it.”

He was prepared to execute because he knew the company, out of his own curiosity:

>In between shifts, he set out to make himself seen, learning as much as he could about the company’s products, spending time in the warehouse, and watching the machines churn out crunchy snacks in the lonely midnight hours.

This is the key part: he actively sought the knowledge by himself. From my experience, that's a rare value that is far more important than any shortcomings in his knowledge. People help him without him having power. He already is a leader.

>After nearly a decade mopping floors, Montañez gathered the courage to ask one of the Frito-Lay salesmen if he could tag along and learn more about the process.

Finally, not being able to read must be an exaggeration. He just went to school for four years. This doesn't mean that he stopped reading afterwards. I would assume that he regularly went to the library and thus it came naturally to look there for help. Why would an illiterate seek help in the library if his manager was kind of supportive ("YOU’RE doing this presentation!") and at least would have told him the basics?

>Accompanied by his wife, he went to the library, found a book on marketing strategies, and copied the first 5 paragraphs word for word onto transparencies.

After all, being captain obvious, this is on HN because it is the startup tale: a young, ambitious man without the right education can become a business leader if he stumbles upon the right opportunity. At least for this story, I think the tale is true. There is no need to know more because whatever he learned at Frito-Lay is specific to Frito-Lay. It's his attitude that brought success.

But then again, he didn't become CEO or a regular manager, he is the token multicultural person of the executives:

>vice president of multicultural sales for PepsiCo America

I don’t think I’d denigrate a person’s position, the responsibilities, scope and importance of which you know nothing about, with the phrase “token”.

And part of his pitch was the argument that his company was missing opportunities by not creating products that catered to different cultures. Responding to his success by creating an executive position dedicated to finding other such opportunities seems like a logical step.

I suspect the movie "mentioned" in the article will cover some of that, etc. (The casual mention towards the end of the article strikes me as the whole article being advanced marketing for the movie, by drumming up general interest in this story. That's not a bad thing but I suspect we'll start seeing more articles about Mr. Montañez before too long.)

I want to know the story of the guy who pitched the story to the movie studios.

>He somehow -how??- managed to learn the ways of the new tribe, learn business, learn to read and write, learn how to lead a business unit, and do it well. This guy came out of nowhere, and had to zero-to-sixty from manual laborer to - what? executive? What position did they put him in? How did he ramp up? What kind of support did he get, if any? What kind of education did they provide him with, if any?

When you get an opportunity like that not learning isn't a realistic option. You do whatever to take advantage of the opportunity.

Trust me, it takes a motivated (and talented) individual to push through something like that. I would wager that the vast majority of us would never have taken it this far.

I guess we'll have to wait for the inevitable autobiographical book.

(Which I will look forward to reading.)

The best part is how he fraudulently gamed the market test.

> So Montañez assembled a small team of family members and friends, went to the test markets, and bought every bag of Hot Cheetos he could find.

> “I’d tell the owner, ‘Man, these are great,’” he recalled. “Next week, I’d come back and there’d be a whole rack.”

thehustle.co as a publication is catered to young 'hustlers' who very much buy into the capitalist American Dream.

This is a hype-article for the 'anyone can make it' myth, a myth that fuels culture of overworked young people[1] struggling against structural changes they're told to ignore.

[1]. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/religion-w...

thehustle.co as a publication is catered to young 'hustlers' who very much buy into the capitalist American Dream.

Good. We need more of this kind of thing around here, and less negativity and the "luck is everything, effort is irrelevant, sit on your ass and wait for the government to fix all your problems" bullshit that we've been overrun with lately.

This is a hype-article for the 'anyone can make it' myth

There's a big difference between saying "anyone can make it" and saying "everyone will make it". There's also the fact that there's a wide continuum regarding what "it" means. Not everyone has to become a billionaire to have "made it." If you're working in the fields for less than minimum wage in 110° temperatures, then becoming a manager at McDonalds could easily count as "making it."

People should be encouraged to work hard and pursue their dreams... at the very least, I think we can all recognize that you're more likely to "make it" if you put the effort in, than if you sit around doing nothing.

>Good. We need more of this kind of thing around here, and less negativity and the "luck is everything, effort is irrelevant, sit on your ass and wait for the government to fix all your problems" bullshit that we've been overrun with lately.

What a thoroughly disingenuous strawman.

No it isn't. You see that attitude around here every single day. It's become just short of prevalent from what I can see. Everybody wants to push this agenda that "all of success is luck" and frankly it's absurd.

I believe it is because more people who are ‘smart’ have stopped believing in free will.

Could be. And admittedly, the issue of whether or not free will is a real thing or not would affect a great many things. My position, at the moment, is that we can't be sure, and we seem to have at least the illusion of free will, so I chose to make the simplifying assumption that we do, indeed, have free will.

That said, is is hard to explain exactly how "free will" would work in a universe that seems to be mostly - if not wholly - deterministic.

> If you're working in the fields for less than minimum wage in 110° temperatures, the become a manager at McDonalds could easily count as "making it."

This is something I thought was cool about this guy’s story: by the time he became a janitor, he had already “made it” relative to his campesino upbringing (or at least how the article makes it sound).

But he didn’t stop there.

Working in the fields in sweltering heat for less than minimum wage means you're not trying hard enough, all you have to do (in addition to dying of heat exhaustion) is to work hard and pursue your dreams!

- guy with a website with a bunch of enterprise software gibberish

Working in the fields in sweltering heat for less than minimum wage means you're not trying hard enough

You do realize that nobody said that, or anything even remotely close to that, right?

Also... I've actually "been there and done that" as far as doing manual labor, outside, in the NC heat in July and August. So you can think what you want about what I have to say, but at least I'm actually speaking based on a lifetime of experience that includes growing up dirt poor, and managing to make it to a level where I can have "a website full of enterprise software gibberish".

> Working in the fields in sweltering heat for less than minimum wage means you're not trying hard enough

It means that although you are working hard but not working smart.

you'll find success in yourself and not fawning praise of hustle lifestyle pieces... or... you won't

> 110° temperatures

110° temperatures has a tendency to kill off whatever crop you are growing. It's not a common growing condition and most areas with these temperatures regularly are not considered suitable regions for efficient agricultural production.

Phoenix gets to 110 every year and you can definitely grow oranges and cotton there, at least.

That's cool. I didn't realize Phoenix is a significant market supplier of agricultural products.

I live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Phoenix itself - that is, the "Metro Phoenix" area - doesn't really supply agricultural products, but Arizona in general does, and has a very large and diverse set of climate zones which allow for this.

People tend to think of Phoenix and Arizona in general to be one giant wasteland desert - when nothing could be further from the truth.

Can you find such areas in Arizona? Certainly (but really, they aren't "wastelands" - just really hot and dry areas, but even so, there are plants, insects, and animals around). But there are far more diverse areas climate-wise in the state.

And many of these areas have been or still are large producers of various agricultural products.

Arizona is historically known for it's "5 C's":


Three of which are ag-based (cattle, citrus, and cotton).

Finally, this:


...which has had it's downsides and issues recently, but things like that happen and are sorted out.

Good questions. Even if he really did drop out of school in elementary school, he would not be illiterate at that point. That aspect of the story seems reasonably questionable and is probably exaggerated for drama.

If one left school in elementary school, one could very well be functionally illiterate.

My takeaway: there are huge potential markets in people who are not like me. The execs were probably completely unaware of this market, and it took an outsider to hold their hand and bring it to them. I love flaming hot cheetos and know tons of people who do, but there is no way I would have thought of taking the hot pepper / other spices from a traditional Mexican food (elotes, which I had in LA) and adapting them in this way. The fact that everyone I interact with forms an upper class monoculture (white/asian, college educated, 20s-40s, mostly US-born) means that I have huge blindspots. I wonder what huge businesses could be created catering toward senior citizens, for middle aged people working retail, recent Asian immigrants, working single fathers, and so on.

This is why diversity is so important! Not only in business, but in general — everyone has huge blind spots, no matter what background they have. Life is much larger and more diverse than people usually imagine. Interacting and learning from people with different backgrounds than yours is a fundamentally rewarding experience, although it can be hard at times.

I 100% agree.

But it's important that diversity be considered in all forms, not just based on race/sex.

If your "diverse" team is made up of different ethnicities and genders but only consists of ivy league members who grew up in California... well, not really diverse then, is it?

Class diversity is pretty hard to achieve because you usually need some baseline class to actually be able to succeed in a role, i.e. you can't show up to a meeting with customers or shareholders chewing dip and wearing camo jorts. And social mobility from lower classes into corporate-ready roles is rather low in this country, so while there certainly are people who grew up poor and would be useful for companies to figure out what lower class consumers might need, there aren't many of them; furthermore, for the people who did grow up that way and into being a person able to function in the corporate sphere, it's probably in part due to their rejection of their poor background.

Maybe we just need more focus groups.

Please. Large tech companies are happy to have their Ivy Leaguers show up in flip flops while ridiculing anyone making an effort. All they have to do is not actively ruin the chances of outsiders and hire some of those contractors as equal employees.

No focus group is going to tell you something obvious you don't want to hear. Walk into any library and see what you find in terms of computing from all those companies saving the world. Most likely, very little. Is that because you can't make a billion dollars selling computers to libraries, hotels and airports? Or that it wouldn't be a good marketing opportunity? Probably not. More likely because people don't give a shit and that tech companies are perfectly happy to live in their own bubble of superiority.

This isn't a "blindspot" it's arrogance, and ignorance, and incompetence. Large tech companies can't makes things that are primarily useful to other people. They are busy capturing markets with touch bars and clones of one of their own service that will be shutdown as soon as it grants someone a promotion. Then their employees can go on Hacker News, or their own internal forums, out of view of any opinion that is slightly uncomfortable and fault political correctness for how everyone else just don't understand that the state of computing is their own fault. Because $500k salaries, sophisticated tax planning and probably the least amount of regulation of any market just isn't enough to not see the world through a straw.

> i.e. you can't show up to a meeting with customers or shareholders chewing dip and wearing camo jorts

This betrays a very non-diverse view of the world :) In more rural parts of the USA, this is kind of the norm (save for the "shareholders", since a lot of rural transactions are among sole proprietors or other sorts of tiny private companies, if they're even formal at all). Sometimes those proprietorships get big fast, and you end up with that weird case where the CEO wears a camo suit and takes stakeholders hunting instead of golfing.

On a different note: it looks like you're mixing up "class" in the economic sense v. "class" in the etiquette sense, and those ain't always equivalent.

All these "diverse" people are gonna rub the mostly middle upper class decision makers the wrong way unless they specifically work to fit in. You can leave the trailer park but the trailer park will never leave you. Also, once you've "made it" your needs change too. You might still be trailer trash but you're trailer trash with money which is rare.

Working in an environment where there is nobody like you and you have to always be on your toes for culture conflict is work! These people already get more than enough time outside of their comfort zone and most are more than happy to cash their paycheck because from their frame of reference that's more than enough "success". They don't feel the need to preach about what "their people" are like because they're outliers at work and they're outliers when they go home and that doesn't exactly make one feel authoritative on the topic.

I'm not sure what I'm saying here but it's not as simple as "listen to the diverse people" or "more focus groups".

This is kind of circular reasoning though. The nice thing about this story is that the CEO of the company decided to look past how that janitor did not know corporate etiquette or have the right clothes or the fancy education. The only reason you need "some baseline class" is because that's how the people at the top have decided it should be.

You don't necessarily need class diversity, though that would be nice, you need psychological diversity.

Here's the real divider: Viewpoint diversity.

Are you ready to have some conservatives/Republicans on your team?

Viewpoint diversity? Republican/conservative seems to be the default state in most corporations.

You clearly don't work in Silicon Valley :)

Yes, it's possible bzudo is one of the 99.9% of people who does not work in SV.

If we're only 0.1% who work, I understand why I've been feeling tired...

> Are you ready to have some conservatives/Republicans on your team?

Such individuals are no problem.

What I wouldn't want are people who are "my way or highway", non-evidence-based, paranoid conspiracy theorists...

It doesn't matter if they're conservative or liberal - if they're off in the deep end and drowning, they probably aren't going to help a team move forward.

That depends.

Putting aside whether they’re Trumpers or card carrying communists, there’s a reason that some kind of Overton window tends to occur: viewpoints aren’t relative, and some viewpoints are wrong (on facts, on outcomes, ie. completely detached from reality). Diversity isn’t productive if we are expected to value dangerous delusions. Valuing off-beat or contrarian ideas, sure. But: I like milk and sugar with my tea, you want to smash capitalism violently for the rise of the proletariat; I think that Education should be free but speech should be censored, you believe in concentration camps, QAnon and pizzagate. This can get silly.

Why not?

Settle down, Nigel. No one's seriously suggesting a law mandating class diversity. Focus groups will be good enough.

You’re right, it’s not diverse in the sense of ‘diversity of education.’

I think the cultural ideal of meritocracy needs to be addressed, and this is conflating two separate issues:

1) People of certain backgrounds want to and need to prove they CAN compete.

2) People of certain backgrounds should be helping make decisions even without credentials.

so there are both competent and less competent people that need to be included.

"wait what why? I wasted way too much of my life to accept why less competitive people should have such lucrative roles"

because the profit engine doesn't really need to care about the human worker's competency, it only needs to expand the addressable market. having already reached peak engagement, the business processes have already reached the evolutionary zenith for the incumbent nepotism and meritocrat talent's way of tapping into human consumptive conscious. Expanding that market further requires perceptions that people in those markets can relate to.

The idea that a push for diversity is somehow in conflict with a meritocracy is deeply flawed because it relies on the idea that people with diverse backgrounds either haven't shown they are capable or that there are no people with diverse backgrounds that are capable. A good diversity program does two things:

1. It identifies and removes certain unnecessary credentials that might rule out people with diverse backgrounds. Requiring a college degree for applicants when a degree provides no benefit on the job is one example.

2. It makes an active effort to find and pursue diverse candidates. Odds are there are plenty of people who are competent enough to do the job. Let's imagine you are hiring 5 engineers from a pool of 100 qualified people. If there are only 10 diverse candidates in that pool and you just hired the first random qualified candidate you find, there is roughly a 60% chance that you end up with zero diversity on the team. If you actively work to get diverse candidates to apply and maybe get 10 additional diverse candidates added to the previous pool, you can still hire the first random qualified person but your odds drop to roughly 35% of having a team with zero diversity.

TL;DR - You don't have to hire less qualified people to have diversity, it just takes a little more thought and effort to make diversity a priority.

> The idea that a push for diversity is somehow in conflict with a meritocracy is deeply flawed because it relies on the idea that people with diverse backgrounds either haven't shown they are capable or that there are no people with diverse backgrounds that are capable

I’m saying thats only part of the dilemma and is muddied by that specific binary approach

People talk about interest in certain fields amongst demographics, pipeline problems, resent any perception of undermining a meritocratic process and this hurts everyone

But the kicker is that its not JUST about proving that a proportional distribution of people in a currently underrepresented demographic is competent, there and in the pipeline

Its that companies wont grow to address larger markets if meritocratic diversity is the only thing they look for and try to approve

People - like what you expressed - are barking up just one of multiple trees. Even if you reach peak underrepresented minority, you’ve still failed to bring diverse ideas to the market

That’s a fantasy. The reality is that there aren’t enough diverse candidates to reach the diversity goals of every company without hiring incompetent people.

If every company wants 50% women and the graduates with interests in CS come out at a 4:1 male to female ratio, the strive for diversity either needs to give up and hire what the pool provides or start giving underqualified women.

TL;DR - Companies absolutely need to lower the bar for minorities if they want ratios that don’t match the pools. This problem is only made worse by the popularity of these very diversity programs.

The pipeline problem is a concern long term, but I don’t think it is the primary problem at the moment for a couple reasons.

First, it assumes that the pool of diverse candidates has already been exhausted. Anecdotally I have not seen evidence of that. If it was the problem you claim, we would expect female engineers to make much higher salaries than their male counterparts. There is no evidence that is happening. This will eventually be a problem once every company tries to be more diverse than the pool of candidates, but right now there does not seem to be enough companies prioritizing diversity to an extent that this is an issue.

Secondly one of the causes of the pipeline problem is not having enough visibly successful diverse people in the industry. The more diverse candidates that are put in positions to succeed, the more visible they become to the next generation, and the more likely the next generation believes that this career can be a path they can successfully pursue.

I'm not sure companies could legally pay women more than men. Sex is a protected class.

And yet, men and women doing the same job don't always get the same salary.

Hardly anyone doing the same job gets the same salary, with notable exceptions.

I certainly didn't make the same amount of money as my coworker at my old job.

> If it was the problem you claim, we would expect female engineers to make much higher salaries than their male counterparts.

Or it just means one of the other stated assumptions is wrong, e.g., that companies don't really want 50% women. Every company I've worked for has been happy to hire women for any job, but none has ever made it a quota.

> If it was the problem you claim, we would expect female engineers to make much higher salaries than their male counterparts.

You lost me here. Why is this the case?

Simple supply and demand. If the demand for women exceeded the supply of women, then the naturally result is a bidding war for the available women that would drive up their salary. The fact that women in this industry don't make more than men disproves the idea that companies are currently prioritizing the hiring of women to an extent that the talent pool of available women cannot meet.

No, the other option is to hire incompetent women at a competent salary. That’s one of the major complaints with diversity programs. You can’t pay more to be able to fill the unfillable quota, so you just hire incompetent people at competent salaries instead.

So yes, incompetent minorities make more than the competent majorities.

Why assume that the only thing a companies can use in a bidding war for employees is money?

We could use the same fact to prove that giving women more money than men do not increase the ration of women, as otherwise companies would have already done that.

Why do you expect the demand for women to be different from the demand for similarly qualified men?

I don't, that was the idea I was arguing against. The comment I replied to put forward the hypothetical regarding every company wanting to hire 50% women in a world with only 20% of CS graduates being women. That would result in a world in which the demand for women is equal to men but the supply of women is much smaller than the supply of men. The natural result of that is that women have a higher salary than men. We know this isn't true so this is a modus tollens argument that disproves the original hypothetical.

Your wrong. The supply of women is the same as the supply of men when you don’t care about qualifications. And when you can’t legally pay someone more for their sex, you just lower the bar for that sex.

So on paper it looks like they are making the same, but in reality they are making way more than their majority counterpart (because the incompetent majority wouldn’t even be hired in the first place).

I don’t think anyone was making the argument you were arguing against...

Invest in people and that problem goes away.

It has to be taken seriously by management, however. I've worked at a few places where diversity was king but upper management continued to make the decisions of aging middle-class white folks. Not that I have a problem with that in and of itself, but it was funny how they would hire lots of women and minorities, say that they wanted to target undeserved demographics, but then never actually attempt to do it. Diversity is, more often than not, a veneer.

The unfortunate result of viewing diversity as a performance metric to hit, rather than a real and decisive advantage.

And percicely the metric being pushed for by those who should know better. You can't quantify viewpoint diversity in a spreadsheet or quarterly report.

"Undeserved" instead of "underserved" is an unfortunate typo there... :P

Yep, that's what I meant. Thanks!

The problem with diversity is that it's thought of wrongly most of the times. What people think of is not actually the diversity that creates the value.

I believe many groups that are diverse by gender or race or ethnic composition are actually quite similar if they are the same age even though they might have different upbringings.

I explored this subject in this essay a while back which was based on some reflections I did after an ASK HN i did became quite popular.


my conclusion was "which diversity" is an important discussion to have.

>"Were are problems?"

What is this sentence? I had to stop reading here.

While I am not a native speaker I am trying to wrap my head around if I said something really bad or why exactly you stopped reading.

Where are problems was an attempt at saying it slightly more vague than where are the problems hiding. It was meant as an opener for the following breakdown of problems.

It could probably have been more eloquent or grammatically correct but I didn't think it would be a show stopper :)

Sorry, you feel that way I think it was an interesting exploration that at least got me to think about diversity and it's use as a business advantage quite differently.

The right way to say it is "Where are the problems?" (present tense), or "Where were the problems?" (past tense)

The issue with "Were the problems?" is that it's grammatically incorrect on a level that makes it Really Hard to understand, if not totally ambiguous. I honestly didn't know what exactly you meant until I read your comment explaining it in the other chain.

That said, I like the premise of the article, and how you break down the different types of problems. The idea that the value of diversity is in having different backgrounds, mindsets, and values which provide different perspectives is one that I share.

Maybe for your future posts, consider pushing your text through Grammarly or another English grammar checker to clean up your prose. Solid grammar is a force multiplier when it comes to perceived quality and readability of a text (don't take this to mean Perfect grammar, though. I think an individual's voice shines through inconsequential grammar mistakes).


On HN you cannot downvote someone who responds to you, so uh, that's not what is happening.

I apologize for the wrong assumption, it's just confusing why anyone else would downvote me for asking a genuine question that was also just informing the writer of the medium post about a mistake that may have confused other readers too.

Informing the author about a mistake is usually OK. But the "I had to stop reading here" line sounds dismissive and somewhat rude.

But I may also be wrong about why people downvoted you; sometimes it just seem random, so you shouldn't take it too seriously.

I didn't downvote you, but if it's any comfort I got downvoted too :)

I am however not going to change that sentence even though I know it doesn't sound (and might not even be grammatically correct) :)

You can think of it as a more open way of asking.

I.e. "where are problems hiding" it's instead of asking what is a problem" because I was trying to explore where they could be found.

I mean, it's a nice side effect of diversity, I really don't think Flaming Cheetohs, or finding Takis in every supermarket near me, are why diversity is so important.

Your comment doesn’t explain why you actually do think it’s important.

Went to the east coast, couldn't find spicy chips/snacks of any kind in the grocery stores.

Finally found Takis at... Home Depot.

Try the gas stations next time.

Actually I did, but that was hit or miss.

Who knows, maybe they did tests and they didn't sell.

Personally, I like spicy because it's better than the alternatives of sugar and fat. I would say you should be able to eat lots of them without getting full, but then you do get "enchilado".

Home Depot is targeting day laborers, I would imagine. I live in the southeast where there are lots of migrant workers, and it's like described in the article, with entire aisles of gas stations dedicated to these kinds of snacks.

Then again, there is the tale of dulce de leche M&M’s - trying to tap into such a market, only for it to fail terribly.


My guess based on what I read from the grandparent post is there was probably some poor product fit. Perhaps we would have done better marketing it towards "gringos"?

From your link:

> In July 2001, Dulce de Leche M&M's were introduced in five markets with large Hispanic populations: Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Florida; Mcallen-Brownsville, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas. The flavor never became popular with the Hispanic community, who preferred existing M&M's flavors, and it was discontinued in most areas by early 2003.

Perhaps there is an opportunity in introducing it to people who don't have previous experience with this flavor? Just thinking out loud...

As someone who ate those Dulce de Leche M&Ms, what would've helped is if they were any good or bore any resemblance to the flavor they were named after.

The other issue was that the whole "Dulce de Leche" market became over-saturated. I remember that time - it was like everything was "dulce-this, dulce-that"; heck, I think there were cough-lozenges in that flavor.

This nails the issue. It's why flaming hot Cheetos were successful but Dulce de Leche weren't.

Don't make something meant to be something else explicitly. Make something that has the same meaning (or in this case flavor) as something else but make it its own thing for its own sake.

also, chocolate is a heavy part of mexican cuisine.. so it's not 'foreign' to start with..

What, adding chili to a food? I reckon the monoculture cohort you talk of could have come up with that.

And yet, they didn't.

Making something hotter is the food equivalent of "Uber for" in the startup world.

There were hot/spicy snacks before hot Cheetos. No white person could have put two and two together?

Maybe they could have, but obviously they didn't.

The problem with being an engineer is, in general, you do not think like normal people. Case in point, Facebook. I know I've often discussed with other engineers how simple it would have been to implement with off the shelf technology in the '00s, but none of us would have ever wanted it. Often when I encounter problems I try to route around them, instead of developing productized solutions and marketing them to others.

Frito Lay was a great place to work at because they did promote up, and they also hired the best. I would often be in meetings where one logistics manager went to MIT and the other logistics manager would be someone who started at a plant boxing chips.

My dad literally went from putting the chips in the boxes when he was 23 years old, to overseeing the construction of a brand new manufacturing plant (and running it), to managing scores of plants at HQ in his 40's.

Frito-Lay however, is not immune from boneheaded decisions. After 20someodd years of employment, and a trophy case full of awards, he and some of his [white male] colleagues were laid off in favor of creating a more 'diverse' management roster.

Lacking the experience of those whose positions they took, performance tanked with the new management team, and the person who set it all in motion was fired.

At the end of the day, revenue-per-share is pretty indifferent to age, race, or gender.

> At the end of the day, revenue-per-share is pretty indifferent to age, race, or gender.

Except, as the article shows, diversity often does increase revenue share. Flamin' hot cheetos were invented by a Mexican immigrant who realized that Frito-Lay didn't have any products which appealed to Latino people.

EDIT: Changed Latinx to Latino.

Diversity of what exactly? None of those physical qualities have anything to do with your talents, motivations, passions, interests, and ability to actually do the job.

A wide range of backgrounds, opinions, and thought processes is good and what everyone wants, but forcing diversity based on people's unchangeable physical attributes is nothing but injustice masquerading as morality.

What does firing people for being white and male have to do with Mexican janitors becoming inventors?

My Mexican family loves Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (for real) and hates the term “latinx”. Just fyi but it’s considered racist in a lot of Mexican communities.

why is it considered racist? I can think of some arguments against the term but am having a hard time figuring that one out. Maybe because they perceive it as having been coined by people from outside their group and/or changing the topic to focus on gender > racial justice?

Yes, that’s why they consider it racist. For the most part it’s a term from white academia. I don’t think anyone really wants to be told that the words they’ve used to describe themselves for generations must be changed, especially by people from another ethnicity all together.

Thanks for this interesting data point. Would you/they prefer to just be called latino? Is this common sentiment among Mexicans outside of your family?

I can see latinx only being preferred by non-gender-conforming individuals to whom it applies, as opposed to when referring to individuals rather than to communities (families, neighborhoods, food, etc).

I think more specific is always better. I’m of Mexican descent, I prefer to keep that identity. I’ve actually noticed people in the US sometimes struggle to say that as if being “Mexican” is a bad thing; it’s not, don’t be afraid of the term.

Latino and Latina are also fine. Hispanic as well although that has a slightly different meaning.

I think it’s best to call people by the terms that they use themselves. Foisting a new term on someone to describe their ethnicity doesn’t seem like it would ever be a good idea.

It's funny because I have been ridiculed for calling myself Swedish or Swedish-American instead of white. Somehow some people have even thought that's racist.

But it is a strong identity in my family, and, for example, I really don't want to be lumped in with the people of Bavarian descent who made up about half of the town I grew up in. I'm nothing like them culturally.

Honestly, "white" isn't an ethnicity and it is borderline insulting to think others can know all about me by my skin color, but I've given up on the idea that my opinion on this will make a difference. It is nice to say it out loud for the first time in years, though.

With all due respect, if you were born in the US and grew up speaking English, you have a lot more common with those "Bavarians" than you do with Swedish people in Sweden.

I was going to leave a similar comment, but decided not to. Anyway, I mostly agree with you -- I never refer to myself as "X-American" where X is some European country, because first of all I don't care much about it, and second I know how ridiculous it sounds to people who were born and raised in country X.

On the other hand, I also think the Swedish-American OP has an understandable point. Cultural group identification is a natural, strong human urge, and it can be a bit arbitrary and not objectively correspond to actual observable culture or to ancestry.

I wouldn't tell someone living in Serbia who identifies as a Croat that that's nonsense because from an outsider's perspective their culture is 99% indistinguishable from that of a Serb. They have their own reasons for identifying as part of that group, and it's important to them. And similarly I don't really think it's illegitimate for Nth generation white Americans to feel that they are "Swedish" or "Irish" in some way that means something to them. (With the understanding that, yes, they are culturally quite different from someone actually raised in Stockholm or Cork).

I get a kick out of people asking me what I am. Umm, American?

But what is you’re ancestry, they will persist. “From America”.

Honestly my parents have told me X generations ago where someone immigrated from, but I can never remember? For some reason the factoid just won’t stay in my brain, and it has zero relevance to me.

For some people the roots of their identity is intensely personal. For others mostly irrelevant. My inclination is that it’s a place of privilege to not know (or particularly care) where your ancestors came from, and perhaps some people would even find that offensive, I’m not really sure. I certainly don’t fault someone for identifying strongly with their own heritage or being proud or even protective of it.

23andme will you about ancestors if you want to know.

Not always with country-level granularity. It'll tell you "Britain or Ireland", but not "England", for example.

Probably true in some ways, yes, though I grew up with relatives who came here from Sweden. And I definitely identify more as American than Swedish.

At the same time, though, should we then say that all English-speaking Americans have more in common than whatever ethnic stock they came from in another country, whether Mexicans or Asians or whatever group? Or do you say that just because the Bavarians are "white"?

Broadly speaking, yes. Social class is probably more relevant than race: my own kids are mixed-race, with parents from different cultures who are both first-gen immigrants, and they identify much more with the country they were born in and have lived all their life than either of us.

> should we then say that all English-speaking Americans have more in common than whatever ethnic stock they came from in another country, whether Mexicans or Asians or whatever group?

I’d say it depends on the extent to which they have maintained a meaningfully separate culture within the US, but largely, yes. I think in most cases, a kid born in the US to Chinese parents has more in common with white American kids than they do with kids brought up in Shanghai.

Just my opinion; I don’t have any quantitative way to back this up.

> I’ve actually noticed people in the US sometimes struggle to say that as if being “Mexican” is a bad thing; it’s not, don’t be afraid of the term.

It's more that people likely don't know for sure that you're actually of Mexican descent. You could've descended from any number of Central or South American nationalities, so going with something properly broad like "Latino" is going to be much more reasonable than running the risk of labeling someone as "Mexican" when one actually descends from, say, Colombia.

This is similar to the reason why most people just stick to calling white people "white" or black people "black" instead of trying to guess something more specific.

This would be after I told them I was Mexican. Some people struggle to say it.

Oh. Well then yeah, that's kinda silly. Maybe just force of habit?

The term came from South American feminists I don’t think it’s racist at all...

It's taking the identify of Hispanic culture, and redefining it to fit into the political ideals of the liberal American culture. Essentially, it's usurping the identity of minorities groups.

If you don't like using Latino, there's already a gender-neutral English word works just fine: Latin. Alternatively, Hispanic works just fine too.

'Latin' in America has a subtly different meaning, in that it includes Italians, the French, etc. It's a distinct concept from 'Latin American' which by convention refers to people from Latin America only and excludes other Latin people, particularly those from Europe. One might logically think that an Italian immigrant who came in through Ellis Island would be a 'Latin American', but by convention he isn't because he didn't come from a Latin American country.

'Latin' is more inclusive than 'Latin American' but by the numbers both are more inclusive than 'Hispanic' which generally excludes Brazilians, and other Latin American speakers of minority languages.

Incidentally, the whole "Latin" thing was invented by the French for geopolitical reasons. Recognition of a "latin race" common among the French, Spanish, Italians, and Mexicans, as a means of balancing the scales in what these Frenchmen perceived as their struggle against the Anglo-Saxon and Slavic races.

“Latinx” (except in the narrow use referring to enby persons of the referenced ethnicity, where it is perhaps appropriate) ignores the reason why “Latino” and “Latina”, with the former used when the referrents are of mixed genders, were preferred over Hispanic (the already gender-neutral term English already had.)

Is there a particular historical reason why it isn’t just ‘Latin’?

“Latin” in English usually includes Latin Europe as well as Latin America. “Latino” refers specifically to the latter.

What should you say if you don’t know the person is Mexican? Hispanic?

I’ve had non-<Hispanic/Latino> correct me when I said Mexican but I knew the person was actually Mexican. What gives?

Latino (or Latina) is fine. The parent poster is talking specifically about the unpronounceable abomination "latinx" with an X ending. I'm Latino and my family hates it, too (but mostly because it's very woke liberal coded, not because they find it racist, as was asserted). But there are plenty of Latinxes who use it, so... shrug.

Oh I thought the x was a fancy substitute for the o/a ending. Thanks.

It’s hard to believe an actual citizen of Mexico would be offended by you referring to their nationality. “Latino” is a term primarily used by people in the US of Latin American ancestry. “Latinx” even more so.

I would recommend simply ignoring anyone who gets offended about how a group they’re not even part of refers to itself.

> It’s hard to believe an actual citizen of Mexico would be offended by you referring to their nationality.

Perhaps 'actually Mexican' in this context means Mexican ancestry. For communities struggling to be accepted as American, this is a legitimate issue.

Yes -- and what ethnic terminology such a person would prefer to use is a complicated and delicate issue, and I think you should call them whatever they want to be called (within reason).

But I certainly wouldn't suggest listening to the opinions of random Anglos who aren't affected by the issue at all claiming that "calling someone Mexican is offensive"

Just don’t say anything. If you don’t know it, don’t assume.

Thats an impossible way to live and get things done. Better to express yourself earnastly, and accept critisim. There is always an opprotunity to learn.

It's mainly used by nonbinary (enby) people of Latin descent in the US who feel like both Latino and Latina are a poor fit.

These threads always have the same look as the ones where people complained about singular they. Latinx doesn't have centuries of use the way singular they does, but it doesn't really matter. It costs you nothing to respect another person's self-identification.

Whether people should use it as a group term beyond enby Latin American descendants is another matter.

So I'll preface this by saying, I agree with the "It cost [me] nothing to respect someone's self-identification". I'm fully ok, and actively use gender pronouns as people wish. I respect self identification.

But, as a hispanic, there was already a gender neutral term for this in english. ( hint, i already used it, there's also Latin ). LatinX unfortunately is a bastardization of grammar for a language that has pretty strongly enforced grammar ( hey, we have a "royal academy of language"). It's the introduction of a foreign language construct into Spanish, which is going to have a pretty strong negative reaction by, well, those who speak it. ( and they also have a right to self identify ) Others make better points than I ever will[0][1]

The term "Latino" was a borrowing of a Spanish word into english, that already had a similar enough meaning in Spanish ( aside from gendering )

[0]https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hernandez-the-ca... [1]https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/latinx-elitist-some-push...

The use of it that spawned this thread had nothing to do with gender identity and is clearly not talking about “nonbinary people”.

And if we want to respect self-identification, we should reserve “Latinx” for the people who actually want to be called that way, not for whole communities 99% of whose members have never even heard the term.

I agree. I’m talking about applying the term to people who don’t identify as non-binary. They are the people I know (myself included) who don’t like the term. I could see how it would be much more acceptable to non-binary people if they came up with the term to describe themselves.

I think it is more commonly used among younger people. For example, here is the 50th anniversary celebration for the Afro-Latinx Society at my high school: https://www.exonians.exeter.edu/s/1682/index.aspx?sid=1682&g...

But I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I've edited my comment to say Latino instead.

Why isn't it afrx-latinx?

Not sure if this is serious, but if it is, I assume it's because the -o suffix has a masculine connotation in Spanish but not Latin/English (where Afro comes from).

The only thing that puzzles me is you wouldn't just say "Latin", which is already an English word and doesn't imply a gender.

Because nobody calls people from Mexico "Latin". If someone walked up to me and said "Hey I'm Latin" I'd be really confused. You're... a dead language?

> Because nobody calls people from Mexico "Latin".

Yes, they do, “Latin” and “Hispanic” were the dominant terms in English before “Latino” and “Latina” took over and are still current though less common; the main reason Latino/Latina took over is because they respect terminology used in the described community, in a way Latinx (used generically, use as a label for enby members of the ethnicity may be different) does not.

> It's mainly used by nonbinary (enby) people of Latin descent in the US who feel like both Latino and Latina are a poor fit.

It may be used that way, and that may be it's original use, but I don't think that's it's main use: AFAICT, the main use is as as a general gender-neutral alternative to “Latino” or “Latina” (i.e., basically equivalent to “Hispanic” or “Latin”, but awkward to pronounce either as an English or a Spanish word), often by people who are neither enby nor of Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx ethnicity.


>> "It was historically used to either refer to a person of unknown gender, or to optionally refer to a person of a known gender. so your options for singular pronouns might be either he or they, or she or they."

That's the thing though. Enbies don't generally know their gender. If you would use they without anger for an unknown person of unknown gender, it makes no sense to be mad about using it for a known person of unknown gender. You still don't know their gender. Neither of you do. He/him, she/her, man and woman, and sir and ma'am can cause tremendous dysphoria. That's often part of how they know they're not binary.

edit: reduced to key point

Perhaps a good start would be just identify as your biological sex.

Or you could mind your own business about something that doesn’t affect you at all.

Fine, but asking me to change natural speech patterns does affect me, so please don't ask me to do it.

Must be extremely difficult to be a programmer who is unwilling to adapt to changes in language usage.


There is no faster way to discredit your argument than using absurd language like latinx. I've yet to meet a latino person who referred to themselves as anything else.

I'm interested (and somewhat taken aback) by the intensity of the reactions to this term. Maybe it's a generational/political thing? For my part, I know significantly more people who refer to themselves as "Latinx" than "Latino".

"Latinx" is more-or-less a rounding error compared to "Latino"/"Latina"[1], so having people insist that the far more common terms are incorrect (for a political reason) is what is driving the intensity of the reaction. I'm not saying the reaction is right or wrong, but afaict that's the reason people respond the way they do.

If you know significantly more people who refer to themselves as "Latinx", I'd wager that you probably live in the ideological bubble surrounding a fairly liberal American city, but there is certainly a generational component: the term is much more commonly used by American Millenials than by anyone else.

[1] https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=latinx,latino,lat...

>so having people insist that the far more common terms are incorrect

It kind of seems like the opposite is true here...

I don’t like being called Chicano, Latin, or Hispanic. It’s seemingly only a US thing afaict. My family is from Mexico and “Mexican” suffices.

It seems like they’re just terms to lump a bunch of legitimately different people and cultures into a single, convenient demographic. That’s how I feel about it anyway. Not saying people shouldn’t identify with it, if that’s how they feel. :V

> It seems like they’re just terms to lump a bunch of legitimately different people and cultures into a single, convenient demographic.

I'm an Indian living in the US. If I see another brown skinned person who does not look Indian, what should I call them? There are many Mexicans into the US, but there are also people from other countries in South America etc. I have no idea what Hispanic actually means, but I've heard it (and Latino) commonly used to refer to that group of people in general, and those the words that I use too.

If you were in Africa and saw a white skinned person, would you call them American or White? Calling them White would "lump a bunch of legitimately different people and cultures into a single, convenient demographic," but that lumping is necessary since you can't know someone's culture just by looking at them - or even after you have known them for a while.

To be technically accurate, you should say they are Native American, or of mixed Native American and European ancestry (btw, the Spanish word for this is “mestizo” which means mixed).

I’m aware that nobody actually says this in real life, but this is what people in the US usually mean when they think of “typical Latino-looking person”.

In reality though, “Latino” is not a very precise way to describe someone with that phenotype, because just like Canada and the US and other countries with a major history of colonialism, there are people of all racial ancestries in Latin America. This is largely ignored in the Western US, I suspect because most of the “Latino” people there are from Mexico and Central America, where most of the population looks like what you describe.

But Latin America started out with all the same major groups that the US did: Native Americans, European settlers, African slaves, Asian immigrants, etc., and so you would expect to find all the same ancestries there as you would in the US, just in different proportions.

And indeed, in places like Uruguay and Argentina, the majority of people would be considered “white” according to US racial classification norms. In the Caribbean, many would be considered “black”. In Brazil there are a lot of people of Japanese descent.

But even in Mexico there are people who look like this: https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/imageserve/5b147c3d4bb...

That guy is Mexican and Latino and Hispanic by any possible definition of those terms, and also “white” (I.e., of primarily Western European ancestry).

The point is: “Latino” and “Hispanic” are not directly connected to phenotypes or biological ancestry in the way you are assuming.

In general I don’t understand why it is so important to describe people by their ancestry, as opposed to their actual culture. If you see a white person in India you can be 99.99% sure they are not culturally Indian, but you can’t really conclude anything similar in the US.

> I'm an Indian living in the US. If I see another brown skinned person who does not look Indian, what should I call them?

If you are in a rare situation where you need to describe their appearance, Latino or Hispanic would work. At the end of the day, if you're speaking in good faith, people will understand that.

I don't get what the big deal is about someone using latinx is. It's not a pejorative, and it makes some small subset feel better, so what's the loss to anyone?

If I go to a party and there's a bunch of people from Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, and a few other places, I might say "yeah, I went to this party, and there were a bunch of Europeans there". It might be similarly be convenient to have a broad term for (mostly) Spanish speaking people from a somewhat ill-defined area of the Americas as a matter of convenience...?

If I'm talking about someone like my friend from Guadalajara, yes, then 'Mexican' is more specific.

If you wanted to avoid offending people who dislike the term "Latino", I think you could just say "people from Latin America" which AFAIK absolutely nobody objects to.

Interestingly I think there is a parallel to this: there’s no widely-used term in English to refer to white, English-speaking people from the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. People in those countries just think of each other as foreigners and don’t spend a lot of time talking about their group as a whole.

But there is a widely-used term in France (and probably other European countries) for this group: anglo-saxon. Which is only used very rarely in the US unless you are talking about the actual medieval Anglo-Saxon tribes.

To me this feels similar to how people in the US are much more likely to describe people as “Latino” than people from Latin America are.

Fwiw I lived ten years in Latin America, married a Latina, and have never even heard the term Latinx before. It's probably not common in Latin America.

The term was created by white people.

Interesting! What were their names? Were those white people also of Latin American origin?

People don't like it because it's a political term that doesn't exist for any reason other than to make a political statement. It's a modification of language around the core identity of a group of people, people who did not advocate for the term's usage and still resist it.

I'm from south america, been living in the US for a bit, and never encountered the term. Kind of curious to know where it comes from, and why it has a strong reaction.

I feel like it's probably trying to include both genders, since spanish doesn't have a neutral gender, and that normally annoys me, since it's normally pretty clear when you mean actually-male or neutral-male, but I'm not necessarily against it.

People from around where I come from would've probably gone with latin@, though.

How do you say that out loud? La-tii-nat?

I've heard latinao.

I find the obsession with nitpicking language on part of the ideological spectrum to be a little absurd too, but FWIW I've met quite a few latino/latinx people who identify as Latinx. Though that probably has to do with the extent that I've been steeped in a pretty intense ideological bubble for a very long time at this point (I moved to the Bay in college, before these kind of Bay Area norms around language started to spread so widely)

I have only ever heard the term Latinx used in the context of the Latino/Latina LGBT community.

Vida, (a show about gentrification and lesbians in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of LA) markets itself as a Latinx show, not as a Hispanic show, though the showrunner identifies as Latina...

Is this a West coast thing? I have never heard latinx, and I spend a significant amount of time with my Latino soccer buddies. Perhaps it's because they are all first generation and not super interested in being PC.


Cursory look at google trends suggest that latinx is a relatively uncommon term and that the term latino is approx. 30x more popular (https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=US&q=latino,lat...).

Do you want to compare other words that used to be popular but are now offensive? Not to say "Latino" is offensive, but your argument doesn't really hold water.

I'm supplying facts which support the view of reality in which "latino" is common and "latinx" is uncommon, not making an argument that people should act one way or another.

"The term is a neologism that has gained traction among advocacy groups intersectionally combining the identity politics of race and gender"

I'm not quite sure that being not being up-to-date on the terminology favoured by advocacy groups intersectionally combining the identity politics of race and gender counts as "out of touch"

I think this arguement about words is stupid. It doesn't matter which one of you is right or wrong.

For what it's worth, I live in Houston (4th largest US city that has an enormous Latin American representation), and I have never heard the term "Latinx" before. Though now if I do, I now know what it means thanks to Hacker News.

"I've never seen it therefore it must be fake"

rolls eyes


The top 2 tweets as of my comment are tweets that say "Latinx" and link to sources that say "Latino". I feel like maybe the points above that mention how "latinx" is the correct term according to people that _aren't_ Latino are probably correct.

The top tweet is from a Hispanic woman, third is from a Latin American organization, so is the fourth. Keep scrolling and there are even more Hispanic people using it. Maybe discovering the answer to this question requires more than just one screen's worth of research

> he and some of his [white male] colleagues were laid off in favor of creating a more 'diverse' management roster.

No disrespect is intended with this question, but are you sure that was the real reason? I've seen people get laid off before search for reasons why they specifically were singled out, and come up with some pretty biased excuses for themselves when it was really something fairly mundane. Even when their replacements turned out to be incompetent.

there's certainty, and there's provability.

Certainty may be rumors that come from colleagues in other parts of the company that play out exactly as they said it would.

>Why wouldn't he sue for wrongful termination?

This was many years ago in Texas, but imagine having the choice between fighting the brunt PepsiCo's legal team, possibly incurring crippling debt and losing the case to boot (read lack of provability)

Or signing a 5 year NDA and receiving 18 months severance.

(and in response to someone else suggesting incompetence, you know of many companies that offer 18 month severance packages for not doing your job well? I'd love to submit my resume)

I'm not so sure about that - you can still sue for discrimination even if you sign a employment release waiver and/or NDA, even after accepting any severance pay. Severance packages that large are common for execs, or multi-plant managers as you put it. Likewise, signing these types of releases are common for most public corp lay-offs, and are not evidence of anything nefarious.

I would also say that rumors are not a certainty either, in fact, I would argue that the game of telephone gives rise to biases, not the opposite.

It’s either sour grapes post-hoc rationalization or it’s just alt-right fanfic. If it were actually real, he would have filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

> It’s either sour grapes post-hoc rationalization or it’s just alt-right fanfic. If it were actually real, he would have filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Does that mean that people who don't report abuse aren't victims? I struggle to see the logic behind this statement.

This post about Cheetos seems to have attracted a lot of complaints about imaginary leftists and ideological bubbles. Very odd.

Not odd so much as remarkable.

How does a story about a minority janitor who started at the literal bottom, get turned into a grievance thread about the damage done by "diversity hiring" policies?

HN seems to have a small subset of vocal critics who echo the ideology of edgy YouTube pundits. Maybe they align with being fans of Cheetos and other gamer culture commodities?

There’s another offshoot discussion on this thread about how “Latinx” is a ‘white academia term’ and therefore it’s racist. Yet another about gender fluid pronouns and how using preferred pronouns is a burden some are unwilling to accommodate. It has to be the Cheetos.

You're right, there is a segment of HN that has these opinions, but it goes beyond that crowd. I'm a big fan of Dilbert for example, and was excited to read Scott Adams' (the cartoonist) autobiography.

In one of the first chapters, he himself talks about how he missed out on some promotion at the bank he worked for because "upper management wanted diversity". Very little detail is provided about this policy, so we have to take him at his word.

While I don't really question his interpretation of events, I have to wonder about this unicorn bank that was promoting minorities wholesale over white males in the 1980s.

It's a pretty standard alt-right tactic online. When the topic at hand doesn't suit their worldview, manufacture inflammatory content until it does.

Some people think that the American dream should only be for "Americans" ie not minorities

You actually think that’s how the world works?

How come you conclude the issue was inexperience & bad management but made sure to frame it as women & poc vs. white men?

Not a super cool way to add to discourse.

Maybe your dad just wasn’t as good at his job anymore and wanted to blame minorities for it? Probably unlikely because I don’t think anything like this has ever happened in America before, but I guess it is a remote possibility.

That's the way to work in my opinion. I worked at a place where just because I had an engineering degree I was around 25 years old managing a manufacturing plant full of 40+ year olds that have been working the lines since they graduated high school. It makes absolutely no sense. The best I could do was just make sure they had all the supplies and everything they needed because they knew every machines and issue inside and out and there was absolutely nothing I could help them with in that regard. Would have made 100x more sense having one of our maintenance guys or line workers promoted into a managerial position.

My first job out of college was as a mechanical engineer. I joined a big company and later found out is was just as a lone engineer in the technician team. I felt a little left out from the R&D action. But it turned out to be the best thing for me. The techs were thrilled to have an engineer to design around issues pestering them for ages. I in turn got lots of hands on experience working in the factory and labs and realizing what makes a good design. I really learned the ins and outs of what we were building. A few years later the company reorganized and I was pulled into the core R&D team but I was better prepared for it.

Thank you for being humble. Experience is worth a lot more than credentials on paper. This is a truth that SV turns a blind eye to.

This is the thing that encourages so much adolescent angst. They've a sense that they know as much as most of the adults they interact with. And a realization everyone just makes it up as they go. And somehow we don't share with each other the value of experience and no one shares failure is the currency of experience and young people should be almost failing a lot.

His wife was playing the role of co-founder. She believed in him and helped him make the MVP.

Kudos to the guy for the initiative, but we are wrong to assume the janitor is in a weak and powerless position. You can work in a factory where you don't see any of the building apart from the walk to your station and the walk to the tea room. You just do your shift operating a machine.

The janitor isn't so intensively over-worked, not physically tied to a machine on a production line. There is scope to travel about the facility and time to observe. There is also scope to be on first name terms with everyone. But most managers would never hire anyone with an entrepreneurial brain into such a role.

Also by being outside any power structure the janitor has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

This story is also telling because of how people in America find it so inspirational. They are chips, a popular junk food item made of corn!!!

Some perspective is needed on that. No atoms were split. If you had two kids, one grew up to be the inventor of a new chips flavour, the other to be a foreign language teacher, which one would you feel best pleased with? Being happy and down to earth isn't good enough though, in America there has to be a rags to riches story for one to be deemed successful.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos are junk food that millions of people love. In America rags to riches stories tend to involve someone who found a way to make the lives of others - many others - just a little better than they would otherwise have been. Teaching dozens or hundreds of students another language is great. Feeding millions of people a food they choose, for whatever reason, over whatever else they could have bought with that money or eaten for that snack, is a big deal.

Not only is junk food a big deal, it also makes people big. And big people is a big problem right now in the big ole U.S of A.

It doesn’t seem you read the full story. For one thing, it wasn’t just that he invented the new Cheeto. He also became an executive in the same large, successful org.

Secondly, why does it matter that what he made was a popular junk food made of corn? If he was a chef that made a popular meal made of locally sourced ingredients, would you find that more impressive? If he were an artist and he splattered paint onto canvas made of cotton? I’d be careful to not trivialize what it means to make something beloved by millions just because you ascribe negative value to junk food and corn.

> He also became an executive in the same large, successful org.

This is the bit that some people would be underwhelmed by. Without the janitor story he is just a corporate executive, 'a suit'. And yes I did read the story, 1 + 1/2 times...

The junk food industry is not where the creativity is at. That is not a put down, it is a statement of fact. Most junk food products have not changed in decades. A century ago the brands were the same.

I am sure that there are plenty of fascinating aspects to the business, you could get into vending machines or industrial processes to find a load of intellectually stimulating stuff going on.

But look at it this way:

If you were having to do speed dating and you were an executive for a junk food company, how would you rate your chances?

Even if you had inspired a new flavour of corn chip then you are not going to have the most captivating of chat when the topic inevitably moves on to what you do for a living.

If this was me and the guy at the next table was nurse in the emergency ward, a teacher or even an artist then I would be concerned about my chances.

The fast paced world of junk food sales just has the word 'dull' run before it. As for corn, there is something you hit upon in your comment. Most things in America are made of corn. It is in everything. Beverages have the corn syrup. The meat is made from corn fed animals. Even the chips that should be 'potato crisps' are made of corn. It is this industrial feedstock variety of corn that goes into these things, not a product that can be eaten corn on the cob style as a seasonal treat.

In the rest of the world people eat less corn. I very much doubt that in France there are people having fake flavoured corn products several times a day.

Various native American tribes were corn fed. They did all the original genetic modification for corn. You have to wonder how much modern America really has moved on since everyone is still corn fed there.

Many millions of Americans like cocaine, crack, crystal meth and heroin. Nothing makes them happier. A little bit of their brain lights up when they score. These more powerful substances have hijacked the same pleasure circuits used for the reward system.

The junk food industry has the same gig going on, to all intents and purposes the customers are every bit as addicted as the crack head is. And you just have to look at the waist line of modern day, corn fed America. It isn't healthy.

We hear about food deserts in America. These same food deserts are the places you will find the most outlets for junk food. It is like an invasive species. The humble potato or the carrot does not have marketing executives trying to get the vegetable into everyone's home. The junk food industry does.

Every school has cooks trying their hardest to make nutritional meals for kids. The junk food industry is the enemy. If I was an executive, a suit, in the junk food industry then I don't imagine that I would be getting a lot of respect from the school chef. So, no, I am not putting this guy on a pedestal (or wanting to begrudge him) just because he has made it to the top of corporate America.

I worked for Frito Lay in college as a detailer. To this day I told people it was the best job I ever had. Just so chill. They trusted you and paid you.

Not anymore... :(

This is a fantastic story. There are a few ethical problems including Montañez plagiarizing parts of his presentation and having friends and family buy out the products in the test market, but overall he refused to accept imposed limits and accomplished something phenomenal.

One interesting thing is that Frito-Lay had no products targeting Latinos, and no one on the highly paid marketing team did anything about it. The janitor saw the problem immediately, but for some reason the entrenched interests were unable to see it. The CEO by contrast was humble enough to take Montañez’s call, let him give a presentation, and overlook that presentation’s weaknesses to see the good idea at the core.

Also interesting is the backlash he faced from those same executives, jealous that someone less qualified was being successful. As humans we hate to see others doing better than us and try to push them down. No wonder social mobility is so difficult.

> plagiarizing parts of his presentation

I don't agree. He copied parts of it from examples in a book on marketing strategy. One writing a book with samples in it would expect someone to use those samples. It's the whole point.

Otherwise, it's a useless book describing things you can't use.

Yeah, if this was for a school assignment on marketing, that would be cheating. If it was something he was publishing under his own name, that would be plagiarism.

But if you're giving a presentation to your bosses, pretty much everything is fair game.

If my programming tasks--comprised of Github snippets and Stackoverflow answers--were graded by any University TA I'd certainly fail too. But I'm getting appraised by different standards in the workforce than in school. The workplace doesn't care what I've learned, they care what I've done. if I choose to spend 3x the effort writing a library from scratch instead of recycling work that has already been published I wouldn't last very long.

I get annoyed with programming books where they present sample code demonstrating a technique, and then straitjacket that code so you can't use it.

It depends. Eg if you’re copying GPL code in your company’s proprietary code base, the lawyers are going to insist that you spend 3x the effort writing a library from scratch.

Oh absolutely. there are definitely situations where you cannot take shortcuts. I'm just saying that most workplaces weigh productivity far higher than originality.

> having friends and family buy out the products in the test market

It is ethically wrong, however given the fact that he was facing an unfair fight within the organization (other executives trying to make him fail) I believe it was a fair way to combat that.

It might be less then that. If they are limited time products that the purchasers enjoy, they might just be front loading their consumption and eating the products over a period of time. I mean, corn chips last a long time before they go stale.

If you think buying your own product is unethical, you must love central banks and crypto startups.

This is a great story and a good read. Happy he exists. Lord knows I've eaten my share of Flaming Hot Cheetos.

> One interesting thing is that Frito-Lay had no products targeting Latinos, and no one on the highly paid marketing team did anything about it. The janitor saw the problem immediately, but for some reason the entrenched interests were unable to see it.

In business, I think this is incredibly commonplace. People have a bad habit of looking at what the competition is doing and copying it.

That isn't a bad strategy if you're in an industry with big margins. For instance, Microsoft spent a lot of time telling people how SQL Server was competitive with Oracle. With their large margins, it made sense to go head-to-head with a similar product.

But if you're selling a commodity like potato chips? You gotta figure out some way to differentiate yourself from the competition, break out of the "commodity" mold.

(Note that I reductively throw around cultural class labels like "lower-middle class" in this comment for purposes of clarity: I don't mean to suggest that a person's social class is fixed, or well-defined, but it's just a brief way to get at the concept of different subcultures and their mannerisms, as well as the rough income bands that people tend to associate with them)

> Also interesting is the backlash he faced from those same executives, jealous that someone less qualified was being successful. As humans we hate to see others doing better than us and try to push them down. No wonder social mobility is so difficult.

This dynamic is far more dominant than most people realize. I grew up around lots of rich people, coming from a historically-wealthy family with little money[1] (yay scholarships!), so my default mannerisms signal upper-class pretty strongly. I've always been pretty disgusted with the notion of treating people differently based on their background, so I decided it wasn't a system I would personally participate in, and semi-consciously changed my diction and habits to be more déclassé over the course of my teen and college years (to my parents' minor annoyance).

Once I entered the professional and adult dating world, I noticed the degree to which even otherwise-decent people could't resist pre-judging you based on the class that your mannerisms signaled. Depressingly enough, I got by far the most friction from my lower-middle class friends for the mannerisms that I had retained from my childhood[2]. Note that I'm not talking about things like fussing over which salad fork to use (habits that I'm happy to have jettisoned when young), but often-minor differences in diction, habits, and manners (eg, when and how often I choose to thank you to service employees, how comfortable I am expressing how a piece of art or music makes me feel, etc).

After a certain amount of pushing against the tide, I eventually stopped trying to casualize my mannerisms, and over a fairly short period of time ended up reverting to communicating pretty much the way I used to when younger (adjusted for age, obviously). It's been simultaneously amusing and depressing to note the difference in how I've been treated, most notably with respect to female attention and my professional life. I won't even try to delve into the female attention side, but my best guess for the way the baseline of every professional conversation has shifted is that I went from "scrappy & unusually talented" to "bred for success". Again, I find this pretty repulsive, but it's been pretty hard to argue with results. The differences are often hard to articulate, but it's almost like I start every professional conversation from an implicit position of power that I didn't have before.

I'm not really sure what to do about this: my initial thought that trying to change society to treat individuals like humans instead of branded cattle needed first movers, and I was happy to be one of them. But discovering the degree to which class distinctions are subtly maintained by _even those who suffer the most from them_ was enormously dispiriting.

People are weird.

[1] by which I mean, I grew up in a historically-well-off family that had little money growing up due to some severe mental health issues in my immediate family

[2] oddly enough, it's been my experience that the most zealous enforcement of class segregation in social contexts is from the bottom-up; I've never had trouble bringing random lower-middle class friends to hang out with friends who grew up with upper-class mannerisms. It's a rather dejecting thought that class segregation in a social context has so many (implicit) enthusiastic supporters among those being hurt by it the most

It is a real thing. On the other side, I am a black female who grew up in middle class suburbia and has a typical Bay Area accent. This affords me a level of privilege because I can easily "class pass" as someone more affluent - even though it is generally assumed black people are lower class. This means I have the "right" mannerisms and speaking patterns for corporate jobs and other things and it is easier for me to be perceived as a good culture fit because I have the right class markers. It also meant, particularly earlier in my career before social media, I would get some interviews and then the interviewer was shocked I was black when I showed up.

Yea I think everyone has some sense that this is still prevalent, but at least in my case, it was easy enough to wave away as only true in dramatic cases, like discrimination against AAVE. I was mostly shocked at how finely-tuned people's detection of this kind of thing was: I doubt my lower middle class friends (otherwise very similar to me in level of education, ethnic background, etc) were explicitly and intentionally enforcing class conformity, as opposed to unthinkingly enforcing a social script that they've absorbed.

>it's been my experience that the most zealous enforcement of class segregation in social contexts is from the bottom-up

You perceive subtle rejection a lot more strongly than you perceive someone else being subtly rejected. The effect you perceive could be explained by pointing out that all of the negative interactions involving you were "bottom-up," while the ones involving the "random lower-middle class friends," were top-down.

It's also possible that upper-class and lower-class rejection take different forms. Lower-class rejection can take the form of someone scolding you for acting like a toff. Upper-class rejection might take the form of no visible reaction, but later you don't realize that you weren't invited to a party.

One of those is a lot easier to observe than the other.

That's a very insightful point, but I'm not comparing the way my friends interact with me to the way I interact with them, but rather the way friends in a lower social class interacted with me vs the way those in a (sort of) higher social class interacted with me. I feel like not having much money meant that there were ways in which I was out of place among my childhood milieu too. And yet somehow, I don't recall ever being made to feel out of my place by anyone.

This is obviously partially attributable to the fact that everything about my parents' and my mannerisms fit in well, despite not actually having money. But I feel like the actual (significant) financial gap between me and my social circles provided plenty of opportunity for social friction, and I literally don't remember a single instance of it coming from that group.

More importantly, it would be predictable for people to enforce the advantages that a rigid class system affords them, but it's unexpected to me for those getting the short end of the stick to be enforcing the system more zealously (albeit in a limited context) than those benefiting from it.

(It really bugs me that my comments keep referring to class as if it's a real, important thing about someone's character, but I guess that's sort of the point of my comment: the perhaps-naive disillusionment that I felt upon realizing how insistent most are on enforcing it)

Class comes from behavior, which is I guess what you are saying - but it's real, as real as body language or your native language. This would also imply that if you talked enough about how art made you feel around your people, you would be exempt from getting rejected by your extended family. I'm not sure if there is a class in America higher than rich (Zuckerberg class?) but if there was, you would have to hang out around them to really test your theory.

> This would also imply that if you talked enough about how art made you feel around your people, you would be exempt from getting rejected by your extended family.

First off, this is a pretty bizarre interpretation of what I said: no one cares if you _don't_ talk about how art makes you feel. It's the rule that you _can't_ talk about it that gets enforced, in certain circles. I should also note that this isn't some esoteric desire: I've been on drugs with these friends enough times to hear them talking about how art makes them feel, but the difference is that, when sober, they not only feel too inhibited to do so but they feel like they have to mock others who do as "pretentious".

Secondly, I dont know what you mean by getting rejected by my extended family. That's certainly not something that's ever happened, either with my family or other people of the same class. The positive treatment I noticed from class signaling (unitentional or otherwise) was entirely from women or in a professional context.

This bottom up class dynamic is called tall poppy syndrome, or the crab bucket.

I'm not sure that quite fits what I'm describing. AIUI, those phenomena describe tearing down someone perceived to be rising above his station, whereas I'm describing the subtle enforcement of segregation by class. Namely, these people werent punishing a member of their group with "pretensions" to a higher one (a disgusting enough impulse), they were trying to tear down someone who they already thought was of a different group (unintentionally imo: these were fairly close friends and there were many ways that they connected very deeply, which made these cases all the more noticeable).

it’s good to hear that you recognize your privilege. now what will you do with it?

self discipline (class-based, in your description) is something foucault explored quite a bit.

Uh, pretty much my entire comment was about how I recognized my privilege as a child and spent pretty much my whole life deciding to push back against it. Appreciate the condescension though.

sorry, it was simply a question, not a criticism.

Steve Jobs told engineers to hardcode a full signal strength indicator on the iPhone for his launch presentation, because the actual phone couldn't maintain full bars.

In the real world, speed, timing and practicality matter. I can't get too worked up because a janitor didn't use APA citations for an internal business proposal.

> jealous that someone less qualified was being successful

He was less credentialed but was he less qualified?

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