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  April 24, 2018  |    #Make Money

LGBTQ advocacy with Tim Gill

As a member of the queer community, should you focus on business or LGBTQ advocacy? Should you first ‘make it’ in your career to have the means to give back later? Or, is it best to put your efforts into LGBTQ activism today?

Hear Gill share his experiences in career and LGBTQ advocacy:

Tim Gill on career and LGBTQ advocacy

Tim Gill is a software entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Denver. He created the Gill Foundation in 1994 to advance equality and support nonprofits that serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Since its inception, the foundation has invested more than $335M in programs across the country. Tim is also the founder and former chair of Quark, Inc., a company that revolutionized desktop publishing with innovative page-layout software. Today, he works in the artificial intelligence space, co-founding the smart home technology startup JStar in 2015.

Tim shares the story of Quark, discussing the challenges he faced in the early years—packing boxes and answering tech support calls from bed at 2 a.m.! He explains why he never had the sense that being gay held him back as an entrepreneur and how he developed the confidence to out himself in public. Tim speaks of Colorado’s Amendment 2 in 1992 as the impetus for his LGBTQ advocacy, offering insight around the Gill Foundation’s work to support anti-discrimination legislation and his approach to ‘smart philanthropy.’

Topics covered on career and LGBTQ advocacy

The origin of Quark

  • Fired from his previous job at startup
  • Borrowed $2K from parents for a printer
  • Local Apple III dealer requested word processor
  • Built full desktop publishing program for print

Tim’s advice around customer feedback

  • Listen to users, discern what’s important
  • Customers become advocates for your product

The challenges Tim faced in the early years of Quark

  • Limited experience with outside vendors, accounting
  • Doing it all (e.g.: tech support, packing boxes)

Tim’s take on limiting beliefs in the LGBTQ community

  • Never had a sense that being gay held him back
  • One incident with a distributor who quit carrying his product

Tim’s approach to outing himself after Amendment 2

  • Law undid Colorado’s statewide non-discrimination ordinance
  • Realized 80% of people didn’t know a gay person
  • Started mentioning ‘boyfriend’ in public appearances

Tim’s LGBTQ advocacy through the Gill Foundation

  • Encouraged to contribute $1M to anti-discrimination efforts
  • $400M given away through his foundation, political giving

How Tim developed self-confidence around his orientation

  • A community of peers in LGBT organization at his college
  • Advocacy led to comfort in talking about being gay

Tim’s insight on a multi-pronged approach to LGBTQ advocacy

  • Must develop the ability to raise money, door knock and lobby
  • Deploy resources as the situation requires
  • Begin with a goal in mind, tailor funding for results

Tim’s approach to business

  • Work tirelessly to achieve goals
  • Willing to walk to ‘edge of burnout’
  • Pay attention to customer needs

Tim’s view on the current state of LGBTQ rights

  • Marriage equality successful thus far
  • Opponents undermining gay rights more broadly
  • Can still be fired in 31 states for being LGBTQ
  • Must work with businesses who influence politicians
  • Unlikely to win all rights at once, must work in stages

Tim’s new business venture – JStar LLC

  • AI, home automation

Connect with Tim

Resources for career and LGBTQ advocacy

Queer Money™