In this episode, host Carolyn Rivera is joined by her husband Joel Rivera, also known in their household as McDaddy. Joel shares his views on the topics previously discussed on the show. He talks about the changes Carolyn and other women initiated during a time when women were seen as weak and fragile. Carolyn and Joel also dive into the idea of perception and how it’s a two-way street, and for change to happen, you have to dismantle the perception hindering the change.
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Managing Change In A Changing World
I’ve been talking to you about the fact that I moved and when you move, there’s always a bit of drama. Has anyone had a move with no drama at all? I’ve moved a lot so I got this move thing well under control but it’s still a little bit stressful. You’re trying to get yourself situated. You’re in your home and you’re excited to do that. If you have a family, you have to consider what they are feeling and how are they handling this move. This time we moved, it is just me, my husband and our dog, Diesel. I think Diesel is finally settling in but it took him a little bit of time because he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, where we’re headed and he’s following us all around. Truthfully, we loved the house, we loved the location and everything is great but when you move, you expect the house to be ready and all things fall into place. My biggest issue is that I don’t have internet. Can you believe it? How can I even say it out loud? Who can live in this day and age without internet? To top it off, the community that I moved into has internet for the entire community.
One would think that getting internet is not going to be a drama-filled experience but for us, it’s a drama-filled. I called them out and they came. They had their little appointment. They made that and everything is great but they can’t find the connection that goes from the box to the house. It doesn’t exist. They have to have a construction team to come out. I’m like, “This sounds big.” The technician said, “Don’t worry. The construction team will be here by Thursday or Friday.” That didn’t happen and over the weekend, they’re closed. I called first thing in the morning and I was only on hold for 55 minutes. Finally, I got through. They have to call this department and that department. It’s never easy. It’s a process. They came back and they told me, “It’s going to take 30 days for the construction team to respond to this request.” I nearly had blown a gasket. I’m like, “Are you kidding me? Thirty days to get internet? No. This is not acceptable. I have a radio show to do at night and I work from home. The internet is required for my business.” You’re talking to somebody who has no control over the situation. This is a nightmare.
I went into a call center chain. I went transferred from this one to that one and back to this one. I’m sure some of you have been in that transfer chain of events that never seems to end. It gets me thinking like, “Do the CEOs of these companies understand what their customers are being told?” Especially in this environment where people are expecting good service and companies should be focused on 100% on their customers. That’s not going to happen. They don’t have that part of the business right. I went to my son’s house and yet again, in my makeshift studio. The drama of change and the drama of moving. You have to take a deep breath and you have to think, “Someday, it’s going to work.” That’s what I’m thinking about. “Someday, in my new beautiful place, I will finally get internet.” That is where the light is at the end of the tunnel.
On the last episode we talked about managing conflict. We are all faced with conflicts every day. This is a conflict and how you handle yourself, it helps you throughout these conflicts. Are you focusing on the conflict? How are you going to handle it? I have gotten on the phone and just started screaming at the rep at the end of that line, but it’s not his fault. Although I was whining a little bit, I’m not going to lie. When you think about conflict, you have to think about how you are going to put yourself in that situation and what are you going to do to make sure that you handle it effectively. We talked about the different levels of intensity whether if it’s that important to you, do you have to respond or are you going to hold back a little bit? We talked about what are some of the issues if you hold back by not speaking if there’s a true issue and you know that it’s going to bother you later? There are all sorts of things that you have to think about.
I have a special guest on with me. This is somebody that I know for a long time. I always said that I wanted to get different perspectives about what I talked about. We’re going to read things from a man’s point of view. I’ve had women and interviewed them, but I have my husband, Joel Rivera on with me. He has also worked in the corporate world for over 25 years. His focus was on human resources so he focused on people. We’re going to take a look back at some of the topics that I already talked about and see them through his eyes. In order for us to grow, we have to be able to look at things from all angles to understand how others see things. That’s not to say that you have to change your point of view but at least we can understand the views of others. It’s funny because my brother follows the show. After I always debrief with him to find out what he thinks, he said he is learning much more about his sister by reading this blog. It shows that people see things differently. We’re going to know from my husband and his point of view. Joel, welcome.
Do we have to be formal? Don’t call me Joel, call me what you normally call me, Mac Daddy.Women can have a career and can raise a family at the same time. Click To Tweet
How are you?
It’s a challenge, but we’ve dealt with more difficulties.
You’ve obviously read all the blogs because you’ve given me feedback after each and every one of them. Thank you for that. On the first episode, one of the things that I highlighted was the fact that women had to fight their way to break down some barriers to do things that men were always allowed to do. I wanted to first take a look back to high school when you were the captain of the boys’ gymnastics team and I came walking through that gym door. What were you thinking?
My first impression was that you might be a stalker because everywhere I went, there you were. We thought it was a joke. I remember all the guys in the gym and you’re walking in with Yvonne. We’re like, “You’re in the wrong room.” That was the initial reaction.
Did Mr. P who was the coach, ever talk to you guys about me joining the team? Was it something that he had to talk you guys into just to allow it to happen? Did he have a conversation with you?
No, I just remember him talking about when he found out that you wanted to officially try out for the team. He was saying, “I don’t know how this is going to turn out but we’ll see where this is heading.” He gave everybody a heads up that you and Yvonne will be trying out for the gymnastics team so we’re like, “Let’s see where this goes.”
If you think of that same thing on a much broader scale. I talked about Kathrine Switzer and she was the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon and it was in a world where that was not allowed. She was considered crazy at that point. She also challenged the status quo. What do you think the reason was that women weren’t allowed? Why was this such a big deal?
It’s status quo, keeping things the way they were, but more interesting for me was what you did and what Kathrine did in different scales but similar. You challenged the status quo and you did something that you never have done but you did it with good intentions. The interesting part to me was the different reactions of the men. In Kathrine’s situation, that race organizer didn’t want her to be part of that. He was like, “I’m not going to let a woman ruin my race.” The coach was saying, “I don’t think women have endurance. They’re too fragile to run marathons.” Twenty years after that, Mr. Pellegrino who was the coach of the gymnastics team was a total supporter and a total advocate of you. He wanted you to be part of the team because in his words, you were better than some of the boys. Two different reactions but challenging the status quo and wanting to make things better for women. You both have legacies because you started that whole gymnastics team in Forest Hills and Kathrine started this whole marathon movement for women, and it’s an Olympic sport. It wouldn’t happen without her.
When he said, “I’m not going to let a woman ruin my race,” how could you ruin a race by challenging yourself? The race is all about this inner strength to get through that marathon. I don’t see it as more of an external thing. Every single person who’s running in that race is running against themselves, realistically in my eyes. That’s the way I saw it.
When I watch a documentary, my first reaction is like, “Who is he to say that woman can’t run in this race?” I remember that photo where he’s trying to grab her racing number and I’m like, “You’re too fat and you’re too slow to catch her.” She is an elite athlete. There’s no way you’re going to catch her. She finished the race and she created the movement. She drove change just like you did at Forest Hills. You are the first and you passed the baton. The interesting part to me in both those stories is to see and hear the men’s reaction to what you were trying to do.
It’s different ends of the spectrum. I didn’t even realize that Mr. Pellegrino was going to be a supporter, especially when I had to go to Groveman’s office and plead my case. When Mr. P said, “I want her on the team.” My head flipped over to the left and I was like, “Thank you. I got a supporter.” The other question that I wanted to ask you because it’s along the same lines, but it’s the situation at West Point where women were not allowed at West Point. They’ve been in the military for some time in many different roles, nursing or supporting the men. It took a long time for women to break down that wall to get into West Point. When you think of it from a man’s perspective, what was preventing women from being able to do that? What do you think was standing in their way?
It goes back to the Kathrine situation and your situation that it’s never been done before. It’s institutional. At West Point, who’s making the decision? Who’s on top in terms of positions of authority? The generals. Who are generals? They’re all men. There were maybe a handful of women generals but these are men making decisions. In order for laws and legislations have changed, it has to go to Congress. Who’s involved in the Congress? Back in those days, it was all men. It was part of the groupthink. Men are going to think the same especially generals. They grew up in the military, they know how to take orders. They don’t challenge the status quo but that’s the case, it’s institutional. Unless someone buts the system and unless someone challenges that status quo, it will never happen.
In order to do that, there had to be at least one man like Pellegrino pushing for that because without that, you would never break even down that first barrier of getting your foot through the door. When I think about some of that, it continues to make me think that we’ve made some strides but we certainly have many more to go. In one of my shows, I talked with Deb Harrington and one of the challenges that women had to face was that first decision on whether to work or not. What are your thoughts, Joel, on that decision?Women are more open to give you timely, useful feedback. They're more sincere. Click To Tweet
It’s different times. When you and I grow up back then, most of our moms were stay-at-home moms and they were responsible for doing the cooking, cleaning, childbearing and child-raising. From a man’s standpoint, you don’t think about the decisions that women have to go through. They want careers, they want to be independent and they want to be financially stable. I remember when we first got married. We were referred to as dinks in the ‘80s, doing income with no kids. When we decided to have a family, it was a shared responsibility because I picked up the kids, I dropped the kids off, I cook and I clean. I remember when I was growing up, my dad never did those things. It was a different era. It’s a different time. A lot of women have to work for economic reasons but back then, it was a little different. It’s something that from a man’s standpoint, we don’t give it much thought because we can’t have babies.
You know that you guys are going to work. That’s the expectation. When women have to make that decision, there’s guilt, there’s worry and there’s, “How am I going to do it all?” because everyone wants it all. In this day and age, it is more of shared responsibility but a significant change has happened. Your mom did work but she had to come home and do all the cooking, do all the cleaning and still go to work and do everything at home. It’s a little different. The interesting thing is that there are still some people that when you tell them that you work full-time and you have a career, they still look at you with this dismay that they say to themselves, “How is she helping to raise her family?” What do you think about that?
It’s a positive thing. We have two daughters and you were a role model to them. That to say, “You can have a career and you can raise a family.” I feel bad for those husbands who expected their women to cook, clean and raise the kids. That’s an unrealistic expectation but it’s a positive thing when women are in the workforce, you’re raising daughters and they see the behavior. They see the positive things that could happen from that aspect. I welcome it. The more, the merrier.
You’ve been working for quite some time. How many bosses have you had that were women?
I would say the majority of my bosses have been women. The few men bosses that I’ve had weren’t as good as a woman. Women are more open to give you timely and useful feedback. They’re more sincere. This is a personal experience. Men are more corporate rats. They’re looking out for themselves where women value relationships. Men are just looking for career investments. That’s been my experience.
Human Resources is one of those departments that more women typically go to than in some of the other fields. I have had probably a 50/50 split in terms of men and women. It’s different because sometimes, I feel like women treat women worse than women treat men in the workplace.
From an HR standpoint, you have to reflect on the times that you’re working in. I remember we were starting to talk about flex work schedules, Family and Medical Leave Act, maternity leave and all those things that came about in the ‘80s and ‘90s where before, that never existed. If you had a baby, you’ve got to stay home without pay. The HR progresses and you have to reflect the times that you’re living in to retain talent and recruits talents. HR in terms of reflecting what the workforce is needing.
It’s like the forward-thinking department for all the people issues. The people issues are everything that we’re talking about because it’s relationships. How do you even get to spend time with your kids with the maternity leave and the progressive part of the changes that allowed even the men to take off time for having new families? Which is also a twist in how things have shifted. Did you have any of those issues when in the companies that you had?
No, I was lucky enough. I grew up half my career in newspapers and they happen to be progressive and liberal. We champion all those changes that promoted and advocated for women we use in and championed their causes. I was proud to be part of those organizations because when we did have an impact, then we did make changes.
On one of my shows, we talked about dealing with this concept of negative thinking. Some people see things one way like the glass half-empty. Some people see things from another way, the glass half-full. I know that women and men have different perspectives. Being an HR, you have a lot of experience in dealing with people. What are your thoughts on dealing with negativity and dealing with those people who see things from the “woe is me” concept? How do you deal with that?
Do you remember that book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? They talked about how different men and women think. I always try to be careful when I’m hearing things that are different from my thinking. I spent half of my career in newspapers. Some of my best friends were reporters. As a reporter, you’re taught to be skeptical. You are taught to challenge people’s thinking. That’s how I base my own HR career. I try to challenge people’s thinking. I try to offer a different point of view. I hate groupthink. When I express those opinions, some people think I might come across negatively, but I have a different way of thinking. I have a different way of looking at things. I have a different frame of reference.
We have to be careful to label situations and circumstances as negatives. Sometimes, it’s a difference of opinion. Sometimes it’s disagreement. It doesn’t necessarily always have to be negative. If you find common ground, that’s the goal of disagreement. That’s the goal of discord. That’s the goal of polarization, is to find some common ground. From a negative standpoint, you can always turn that around and look at the other’s point of view and say, “What’s the silver lining here? What’s the point?” That’s from an HR standpoint. I always try to look at the flip side of the coin to say, “Where is this person coming from? What’s the motivation? What is the frame of reference?” It could be different than mine but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s wrong or that it’s negative.The aim of disagreements and differences shouldn’t be to one up. It should be progress. Click To Tweet
Some people that see things differently are telling they see it. They call themselves realists or it may come across as being negative if you are skeptical and if you are trying to challenge the thinking of others. It’s interesting to know both sides of the coin because those types of issues come up each and every day, whether it be in the workplace, at home and whether it be with your kids. It doesn’t matter because we all have different points of view. We have to be able to take a step back and see things from a different angle and see things through a different lens. That’s not always easy.
If you look at disagreement and differences, the aim of those things shouldn’t be to be one up, to debate, to claim victory, “I got you.” It should progress because if you understand the other person’s point of view, you blend it in with your point of view and you make progress. That gets you to some point of understanding, but if you look at it from a standpoint of, “I’m going to win this argument. I’m going to win this debate,” that doesn’t work.
That causes more tension and that creates the conflict that we talked. It doesn’t help any situation to do the one up. You have to try to see things and make progress. Take that one step forward even if you don’t agree. You don’t have to agree because you can agree to disagree, which was one of the tactics that we talked about. Sometimes we have to do that. Remember the topic that we talked about with Karen Hoppa. Karen Hoppa is the Head Coach of the Auburn Soccer team. She shared with us and this I wasn’t familiar with it, that soccer has the least amount of women coaches in the NCAA. It’s crazy for women’s soccer to have a whole men’s coaches. That still baffles me. Why is it so hard for women to get into coaching roles to coach other women? What are your thoughts on that?
I don’t think that it is the hard part. The hard part is getting the opportunity. If you’re not given the opportunity as a woman to be a coach, you will never find out how good you are. It is mind-boggling to think that women’s sports have more men’s coaches than women. What prevents a woman from coaching soccer, from coaching basketball and from doing things that men do? Nothing at all.
I wanted to know more about your thoughts on why it is so tough for women to be coaches for other women?
It’s a matter of getting the opportunities because I don’t see any reasonable, logical reason why a woman couldn’t coach a men’s basketball team. The San Antonio Spurs, a progressive organization, they hired the first female assistant coach. What’s taking so long? Why in this day and age, women can’t be part of the sports authority? Why can’t there be no more women in making decisions? Why can’t it be more women umpires in baseball? What are the qualifications for being an umpire? Knowing baseball rules? Women are capable of doing that.
If you look across the spectrum, why women haven’t gotten the opportunity to do those things? It goes back to what I said, “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” Unless you get those opportunities, you’ll never find out. I think about all the firsts in your shows, Kathrine, you and the people at West Point. When you give them the opportunity, they excel. They pass the baton and they do well. Until somebody would advocate for them and support them, it will never happen. I remember Congress formed a committee to talk about women’s health issues. They were testifying in front of Congress. They had a panel of experts. Seven men were experts on women’s health issues. Why do you have seven men talking about women’s health? Shouldn’t be the women on that panel?
One would think that makes perfect sense just like in women’s sports. You could have women who have played the sport and capable of coaching those types of teams. It’s that ability to take that first step. It’s that ability for somebody to advocate for someone. It’s a two-part thing. Somebody needs to want to do it and then the second piece is that somebody needs to advocate for them to give them that open door. When Simone Askew got to be captain of the cadets at West Point, although somebody paved the way or much earlier, somebody still had to give her the opportunity to reach those heights to get to that level. It’s not as easy because you don’t always have an advocate.
Let’s go back to the first story, how the ways organized and reacted. He was at the wrong side of that argument because she bettered the sport. She opened doors for everybody. If he would have been a champion for that would have been his legacy, but instead, he went the opposite and he came out to be on the wrong side of history.
We have pictures of him trying to rip her number off her shirt. I don’t know what the statistics are in terms of how many women are running in the Boston Marathon. I’m sure it’s a large number. It’s in the thousands.
Just like in West Point, I forget what the statistics are, how many thousands of applications they receive for admission and they’re up to a thousand women flying to West Point every year. That would never happen unless the first woman got the opportunity to prove themselves that they could be successful.
Once the women take that first step, what happens is the excitement builds. Other women look at that and say, “I never thought that was possible.” It is possible. I can set my dreams and set my heights to achieve something that somebody else opened the door for. It’s exciting to have that happen. It’s not always easy but definitely it’s out there.Perception is a two-way street. You can either reinforce the perception that you have or you can dismantle it. Click To Tweet
Do you remember that famous photo where he’s trying to rip off her jersey? That sticks in people’s minds. Fast forward it, I remember the photo of Joan Benoit who was a marathoner who won Olympic gold entering the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to a standing ovation. It feels like, “How far I’ve become?” Based on one person’s courage it’s a challenge in people’s thinking.
It makes you think and the message to everyone out there is taking that step. Not only advocate for yourself but advocate for others especially if you can open a door for somebody. It’s exciting when that happens because the world is open to these endless possibilities.
When you look at these women who were the first, like Sandra Day O’Connor or Barbara Jordan in Congress. You can’t build a legacy on what you’re going to do. You have to do it. Kathrine’s legacy is this. Your legacy is the gymnastics. That’s what opens doors.
It’s all about action. It’s like the three words that I use all the time, believe, commit, achieve. First, you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can do it. You have to believe that you have the skillset. You have to believe that it’s that important to you, and then you have to commit. You can believe in something but if you don’t commit, you’re not taking action, you’re not making things happen, you’re not going to do anything about it. Your beliefs only mean something when you take action, when you commit to making it happen. Once you believe and you commit then you can achieve. Those are three words to live by. I feel so strongly about those.
We’ve been talking a lot about perceptions. We’ve been talking a lot about seeing things from another point of view. Joel, I wanted to ask you on one of my segments, I had Lindsey, my Survivor sister. We were talking about “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Many times we have these perceptions of what we see in people and maybe how they speak. You form this opinion and it interferes, or it causes some trouble possibly, in the perception that you have of that individual. I wanted to know your feedback on that.
Perception is a two-way street. From a perception standpoint, you can either reinforce the perception that you have or you can dismantle it. In your case, when you walked into that gym, what was the perception? “She can’t do gymnastics. What is she doing here?” When Kathrine first did the marathon, “She’s too fragile.” You shattered that perception because by the end of the season, you were doing tougher tricks than most of the guys were doing on the floor. It goes by the old saying I remember is, “In order for someone to lead, if you’re leading an orchestra, what do you have to do? You have to turn your back to the crowd. You can’t listen to the crowd. You can’t think about what the crowd is thinking about. You have to do your thing. You have to do what you believe and what you feel strongly about.” The goal is if you’re trying to drive change, if you’re trying to manage change, the goal is to change and dismantle that perception.
We all come with certain biases and sometimes those biases put a damper on relationships and it causes drama for no apparent reason. You have to break those down, you have to shatter them. You have to create a new perception so that you can move past it. You can see the total individual in front of you and not be drawn to something because of a tattoo that you see that you don’t like, or a word that they used that you’ve never used before, or an accent that somebody brings that is new to you. When I think about don’t judge a book by its cover, all of those things come to mind because those are all of the biases that we put forth into things that happen. It is always great to learn things from a different point of view. I haven’t even done any men bashing on this show yet and Joel has already come and shared his thoughts. Thank you for sharing your insights with us and as women, we’re always interested in knowing how the male brain processes things because we’re different. I’m sure that you get a taste of how us women think as well. It’s funny that we can see things differently and that makes us all unique. Follow me on Instagram. Thank you.