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“All Pride” parade: aninterview with JimFielding

By Gregg Shapiro

The title of Jim Fielding’s memoir, “All Pride, No Ego: A Queer Executive’s Journey to Living and

Leading Authentically” (Wiley, 2023), tells you almost everything you need to know. A queer business leader for more than 30 years, Fielding has worked for some of the most highly recognizable companies in today’s world and is currently the president of Co-Lab at Archer Gray, in addition to being a brand strategist and advisor. However, what sets Fielding’s story apart is that it is told from the perspective of an out, gay man, making it of particular interest to LGBTQ+ readers. Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book in early 2024.

Gregg Shapiro: Jim, why was now the time to write your memoir, “All Pride, No Ego?”

Jim Fielding: I have reached the stage in my life where I am very focused on giving back and taking

care of my family and my community. I realized I have a unique story to share, and that not many

queer leaders have reached the levels in corporate America that I have. I wanted other leaders to know

it was not easy, but that it was possible. I truly believe representation matters and I wanted to write the book I wish I had earlier in my career. I also felt that my life lessons would resonate with many

people. I am thrilled with the response so far.

GS: How long did it take you, from start to finish?

JF: It took me almost one year, and I pushed! Originally, the project timeline was 18 months but my

publisher, John Wiley & Sons, wanted to get my book out in fall 2023, rather than the original Spring

2024. In November 2022, I wrote over 10,000 words in one week on a vacation. Bless my partner


GS: Who would you say is the target audience for “All Pride, No Ego?”

JF: I think it is for anyone navigating their career journey and seeking their authenticity, but especially

those readers from historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. Of course, there are

autobiographical elements of my personal queer journey, but I have been so grateful for the reception

from all communities and audiences.

GS: Please say a few words, for the readers, about how you arrived at the title for the book,

“All Pride, No Ego.”

JF: In reflecting on my life and my career journey, I realized that I had to accept my truths and story

unconditionally to fully blossom as a leader. That is the “all pride” part. I also realized that there were times I let my ego get in the way and drive my behavior and decision making. I spent a long time seeking external validation and I realized I needed to move through life with humility and gratitude. So, “no ego!”

GS: You’re a Toledo, Ohio native and have lived in Bloomington, Indiana, as well as Minneapolis

and Chicago. In what ways wouldyou say that all the time in the Midwest, including your formative

years, shaped you as a person?

JF: Don’t forget Detroit and Madison, Wisconsin [laughs]. I am so proud of my Midwestern roots

and ethics. I think being raised and educated there gave me an appreciation for hard work, honesty,

the value of an education, and the need to give back and take care of others. I was raised with the Golden Rule, and I hope I still live it every day.

GS: Coming out to family members often varies from person to person, as you wrote. In 2024,

as the far-right has amped up attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, what words of advice

do you have to offer those both coming out and who are already out?

JF: It is such an individual process and decision, and it is never easy.

Our reality is that we are constantly “coming out” any time we enter a new workplace or situation. I prefer the term “inviting in,” as I am inviting you in to hear and share my truth and my story. You have earned my trust and I feel safe with you, so I am going to open up fully. For those considering “inviting in” for the first time, I encourage you to prepare yourself fully and to know that there are resources and a community waiting to support you. You must be safe and protected, first and foremost. For those of us living out already, I think we have to double down on sharing our stories, especially in the face of this current environment. We cannot be legislated back into the closets. We have fought too long and too hard to just stand by and watch essential human rights and social justice be

stripped from our community.

GS: As an out gay man, how would you compare the experience of being queer in the various cities in

which you lived?

JF: My experience varies by geography. I lived in California for 25 years and realize now that I took it

for granted. I always felt safe and at least tolerated, if not fully accepted by everyone in the places I lived there. The Midwest was up and down, but I found my communities in the big cities there. Now that I live in the South, I have had to re-arm my gaydar and be more aware of my surroundings. Atlanta is amazing, but I am very conscious of my language and attitude in other parts of Georgia.

GS: You write about the role of mentors in your life. Why was it important to include that?

JF: First, I realized that I had never had a gay mentor, and that struck me as odd, and I thought I had to share that insight. Second, I would not be here today with the stories or the career I have had without some excellent mentors and bosses. It takes a village, and I am so grateful for their wisdom, guidance, and insights. I wanted to share that as a “thank you.”

GS: Having worked for Disney in an executive capacity, how do you feel about Florida governor Ron

DeSantis’ attack on the entertainment giant?

JF: Simply put, I find it ridiculous. I do not understand biting the hand that feeds you and drives so much revenue for your state. Disney’s initial weak reaction was another driver for me writing the book. I was incensed at their lack of standing up for their queer team members, alumni, and guests. I

was thrilled when Bob Iger returned, as I knew he would more successfully manage this insane situation. Demonizing our community for political gains

should not be tolerated!

GS: Your resume also includes your work for Gap and Claire’s, to name just a couple

of the companies. Why do you think queer people are attracted to the retail world?

JF: I think retail is creative, fastpaced, and demanding. It’s also an industry that had

representation much earlier than other industries. Gap, for example, recognized domestic

partners long before there were any legal protections required. It is also an industry where you

saw queer people moving up and making a difference.

GS: Finally, do you think you have another book in you, and if so, have you started thinking about or

writing it?

JF: Thank you for asking! I cannot believe I am saying it, but, yes! I think I have a few more in me. I am constantly writing down notes or ideas, especially when I am on the book tour, but I think I will narrow inon my topics later in 2024.


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