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Episode 12 Transcript

Arivee Vargas: Hi I'm Arivee Vargas. I believe we're all so powerful beyond our wildest imaginations. We have the ability to overcome the fears, self-doubt, negative beliefs and all the other roadblocks that hold us back from having the life and career we really want and deserve. That's why I created the Humble Rising podcast.

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I want to help you get clear on what a joyful and fulfilling life and career looks like for you. And help you go after it with all you have. Each week, we'll talk to badass inspirational women sharing their journeys. We’ll dig into their successes, their failures, challenges, the different shifts, and their careers in their personal lives and so much more. Be inspired, get motivated, and get ready to rise. This is the Humble Rising Podcast.

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Betty: We're bringing a completely different perspective talk about diversity, equity and inclusion. What I get excited about mostly is when you bring different views, especially from other cultures, you meld all of that together and you create something much more powerful and that's what I think is opening up right now, we're seeing more opportunity to do that, but we need to do it at scale and we need everyone to feel like they have the ability and access to be creative to take risks.

Arivee: This week I had the pleasure to talk to my friend, Trailblazer, mother, thought leader, entrepreneur, lawyer, activist and creator, Betty Francisco. Betty and I have known each other for the better half of two decades, throughout that time I've seen her shift her career and move in different ways, always based on how she wanted to align her calling and her passions and her identity with her work. So let me share a bit about her before we dive into this episode and let me tell you what I'm about to share doesn't capture even a 10th or probably even 100th of all of her accomplishments. All of her awards, her pursuits and all of the roles that she serves in. Betty Francisco is a seasoned business Executive, board director, investor, and a community leader. She has over 22 years of experience advising high growth startups, nonprofits, and companies in various areas. She's been named one of the most influential leaders in Boston this year, she's one of the 2020 power 50, and in 2018, Boston Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in Boston. As a corporate attorney, she has extensive business and legal experience negotiating and advising companies and mergers and acquisitions and other matters. She's a member of the Board of directors of Beth Israel Lahey health, the second largest health system in Massachusetts. She also serves on the board of directors of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England. Dedicated exclusively to education, and she serves on the board of directors of the Boston Foundation, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation. She's also the Co-founder of the investors of Color Network, which is building an ecosystem of black and Latin X accredited investors to close the racial funding gap in startup capital. And she's an Angel investor with pipeline angels and portfolio. Betty was previously the GC or General counsel at Compass Working Capital, which is a financial services nonprofit. That provides financial coaching and acid building programs for families with low incomes. She is currently the CEO of the Boston Impact Initiative, which invests in enterprises throughout eastern Massachusetts that addressed a growing wealth gap and ecological challenges of our times. She also I'm telling you that this isn't even this is even 100th of what she does. But she also founded Reimagine Play, a startup that offers fitness programming for children and families in Greater Boston. Previously she served as EVP, Executive Vice President, General Counsel for Sports Club, LA and Reebok Sports Club, and why and National luxury Fitness brand, acquired by Equinox Fitness. Betty began her legal career as a senior business law sociate at a law firm in Boston. Betty is also deeply involved in the community. She's a member of the board of trustees of Roxbury Community College and the Board of Ambassadors of Eastern Bank. She's the co-founder and board chair of Amplified Latinx, the Latina Circle, a social venture that is building economic and political power. Within the Latinx community in Massachusetts. She's a member of the Federal Reserve banks New England Community Development Advisory Council and advisory member for the Boston Women's Commission and Supplier Diversity Council. Under then Mayor Martin Walsh. And advisory member for LICS Boston and the capital network. She's been featured in Boston Magazine. As I mentioned before, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Globe, and Hispanic Executive magazine and more. Betty obtained her JD and MBA from Northeastern University. Entered BA in history from Bard College. She is fluent in Spanish and resides in Dorchester, MA. OK, that's not even her whole bio, alright? Not even the whole thing. And the reason why I didn't just list the organizations in most parts that she's a part of. And I included some descriptions. It's because it starts to give you a real sense of the type of person Betty is and the work that she does. And you need to know Betty is involved in a ton of stuff without a formal role, a formal title. Alright. And what isn't captured here is or are all the lives that she touches, everyone that she inspires, everyone that she impacts with her generosity, her creativity, her service and her unique perspective. She is a community leader. She is a servant leader. She's a speaker, a giver and regardless of how old you are, how much experience you have or where you are in your career, this is inspiring. The sure amount of heart and soul and hard work Betty pours into what she does is unmatched. And I'm gonna stop there because I could go on and on about Betty. But in this episode, Betty and I talked about her upbringing. We talked about her identity, her career shifts, and those decisions, and how she's been able to step into her own power as an entrepreneur and an investor. We talk about economic justice, money management and a whole lot more. So, let's get to it. Here's my conversation with Betty.

Hi, Betty. Thank you so much for joining me on the Humble Rising Podcast today. You know, I so appreciate you, you know that you are such an inspiring, fierce leader, not just a Latina, but a woman and a person. You're so inspiring to so many people. You're so fierce. I love the fact that you're on this podcast today and I'm really looking forward to our conversation and you sharing all of your knowledge and all of your wisdom and all of your experience with the folks listening.

Betty: Arivee, it is so great to be here with you today. It's been almost 15 years that we've known each other so really excited about sharing today and just giving a little bit of feedback about how I got to where I am. I I love that you called me fierce. I don't think of myself. But I am a Leo, so maybe there's something to it. (Arivee: Yes) Excited to be here.

Arivee: Great. So, Betty, let's just start with for those who don't know you, which I mean. I don't know how anyone could not know you, but for those who who aren't familiar with you, share with us a little bit about your story. You know, a little bit of about your background and how you came to do the work that you do now.

Betty: Sure. So my my story is very much grounded in my identity, so I am Chinese and Puerto Rican grew up in New York City and in Puerto Rico. I dub myself Achena Rican because of that. And coming from multicultural, multiracial families, you know, it's been quite the journey about how to accept being different, always being the other. (Arivee: Sure) Because when I lived in Puerto Rico, I was always the chineta. Esa, you know sometimes it was chineta linda, sometimes it was chena fea. (Arivee: Yeah.) And so dealing with that sense of being, the outsider was always difficult. And I came to terms with it probably in college. Where I finally came to accept both identities. Cause identify, I identified so much as a Latina. My mother raised me. By the time I was six, my brother and I were being raised by my mom as a single parent in Puerto Rico with my grandparents. So, it's a very, very unique experience, right? To have a mother that was so enthralled with her, her Latin culture, but yet I didn't feel like I really belonged, so that very much is what drove me towards the many things that I do because I. Became enamored also with Latino culture, with the beauty of the people, with the strength and resilience that they have, and also seeing the many difficulties right that that experience can bring, especially in the US right in the mainland, so to speak with racism and discrimination, not having opportunities. So that's very much what drove me to where I am today to some of the things that I've been involved in around racial justice, economic justice, always trying to uplift our our people, mi gente. So, I can share a bit more, you know about some of the things that triggered me, right? (Arivee: Yes.) In the past.

Arivee: Yeah. When we first got to each other all those years ago, we were both kind of in the corporate law environment. I think at that time you were GC. So can you take us kind of back to, I mean, from that point to now, the work you've done has morphed so much and you're so multi passionate and you're so deeply involved in the work, it's not surface level. You're very deeply involved. Can you, can you kind of share with us what that looked like? What that journey looked like?

Betty: I'll take you back, cause my I I really have evolved as a person. (Arivee: Yeah, yeah.) You know, I started in high school. I was an artist. So, I grew up, you know, in this very creative environment. My mother was super creative. She would make a little frog out of seashells, and she created a whole orchestra. (Arivee: Oh, wow.) Make asanas. (Arivee: Yeah. Yeah.) I was reminiscing with her last week. And I said, Mommy, do you remember that whole orchestra you made por lo sapos? So she's like si, yo me recuerdo yo tenia una gavita llena. (Arivee: Yeah and wow.) That's what I remember throughout my childhood. This obsession with collecting seashells, but it was so she could make things out of them, make something out of nothing. That people thought was trash. Those tapos, those little frogs ended up in the museum in New York, the Museum of Puerto Rican culture. I think it was called and and I still remember those. I think my mother inspired this creativity in me and I had. I wanna say the luck to end up at the high School of Music and Art when I was young and that changed my trajectory to be honest, because that school opened up my understanding of the world. I got to meet so many different people from different classes and races and ethnicities. And that's what sent me on a on a path right to be able to go to a great college where my sense of history writing, the ability to problem solve was cultivated. I went to Bard, which is a very tiny school. So. We couldn't get out of, you know, not talking in class. I I wanna say the the thing I took away from my college experience was independence and critical thinking. Challenging, always questioning why is it this way? And that's what led me to wanna study law, I originally thought that I wanted to be an immigration lawyer. I saw you in in our Latino culture. We (Arivee: Yes) we don't have the immigration issue right. But I saw others that constantly were in this sense of I don't belong I'm not, you know, whether you're undocumented or not. This idea that you know your status (Arivee: Yeah) is less than. And I thought that through law, I could start to create change in my junior year of college, I had the chance to study with this professor that headed the Center for Latino Studies at UT Austin, and I share this story because it it's the idea that someone can change your trajectory with one piece of advice. So, he said to me, Betty, I know you wanna study law. And in fact, I wanted to study law because of him because I did my thesis on Agri business and how U.S. policy towards immigration and right can actually create undocumented migration. And so, he said, you know, I understand what a study, immigration and be a lawyer, but the way your gonna drive true economic impact for people, you know, this idea that you can move up and change people's lives is through business. It's by creating jobs. It's by being a business owner, supporting businesses. And at the time, I didn't really understand that, you know, I probably was a little bit anti-capitalist. (Arivee: Yes. Amen, I was the same way.) Right. That's just that education does that to you and it's not well. No way. I've never gonna be a businessperson, you know. And I didn't have those examples in my family either. Exactly. Yes, I I just have a lawyers in my family either. But you know. But. But I thought there there's no way I'm gonna sort of sell out, right. And in that sense of of, if you if you go into that world of business economics that that's not really us, but that that planted a seed. So, when I finally got to law school, I literally saw a sign on my second or third day that said, get a JD MBA and I said, Oh my God, well, that would be amazing, right? To get both MBA and JD so that I could study business. So ended up doing that. And again, sent me on a completely different path. I became enamored with business and what it could do right. The ability to create wealth right for individual owners, but also how you can change a community through job creation by being a good corporate partner right sustaining through you know donations like charitable donations to nonprofits in your area, but also taking certain neighborhoods right? That may not have been doing well and literally a business or a project or a development can completely transform with happening. So, I saw that right after going to law school and studying business that that's what business can and business law combine, what it could do. And so, I ended up practicing law in a firm in Boston. And doing mergers and acquisitions, financings literally funding start-ups and and all the way through their stage of growth again like it made me think about you know how do we individually start to create those pathways for ourselves. So as a lawyer, it's true, you're not gonna become mega rich, but as a business owner, right, you have complete control and attention over what you can do and what you can build and and we'll get into, right, what are some of the challenges for entrepreneurs of color cause not to say that Journey is an easy one. However, there's so much potential that we have as a community to build wealth and transform. Where we are and part of the journey has been to see right, to visualize what that could look like, because I see it in other areas. Right, when you look at a white families, white neighborhoods and many of the things that have been achieved there. We're missing out, right? (Arivee: Yes.) We are not succeeding at the pace that we could. (Arivee: Yes.) And and part of that, you know, is both systemic. But it's also the understanding the education and the ability to see what's in the future. That's what I spend a lot of time now on is sharing with people you know, here's what you can do. Let's think bigger. Let's think about changing your environment. Your industry become that innovator. Right. That that uhm, you never thought was possible. Because we're bringing a completely different perspective, right? And then talk about diversity, equity and inclusion. What I get excited about mostly is when you bring different views, especially from other cultures. You meld all of that together and you create something much more powerful, and that's what I think is opening up right now works for seeing more opportunity to do that. But we need to do it at scale, and we need everyone to feel like they have the ability and access right to create, to be creative, to take risk. So.

Arivee: Yeah, what do you think, but what do you think is the biggest challenge to that?

Betty: Part of it is, is the opportunity to do it right? So, we are a culture sometimes bound by what we see, right. So sometimes they say we we only aspire. You know as much as what we see as possible. And when we don't have those role models, right? So I didn't have a role model that was another lawyer or a business person per say, but I started to read a lot, right. And I started to see it you know, when I when I was in high school and college, a lot of the the students I was with came from very wealthy family. (Arivee: Yes.) I mean, who made their wealth through business? And I started to ask questions, you know, how did they do that? How did you grow up? What was most impactful to you, and it was having connections. It was having that deep social network. (Arivee: Yes) That exposed you to the what's possible, and that's what I felt was missing in my life. But I got it through others, right? (Arivee: Yes.) Not directly my family or, but they became my friends right. Absorbing that I almost feel like, you know, like, did I take something that wasn’t mine, but it it frankly that's what we need (Arivee: Yeah.) to do more of. To take those examples and make them out, which is, you know, a lot of what you know. I started to see. So, I'm a person very much that learns by example. And and I like to take, you know, maybe it's the lawyer in me and and the creative, the artist that I like to see a lot of different things. And then I make my make it my own. And that's partly what I did with my career. Right, too. I felt like in the very beginning, you know, as a lawyer, you know, this to being a lawyer in a firm, you're told what to do. You just follow this. You try to do the best job you can. (Arivee: Yes.) But later you can create. What you want, and I feel like I'm finally getting there in terms of finding what you know what what I want. So having studied business in law I always saw myself going eventually into what I thought would be venture capital into investing. (Arivee: Yeah) But my path took a little bit of a, you know, a turn's. I ended up going in house after eight years in a law firm to a health and fitness chain that was you know phenomenal opportunity and I became very passionate at that time around fitness and Wellness and kids. So, when my Millennium sold sports the sports clubs to equinox, this is back in 2015, I decided I wanted to take a break from law and start a business. And I had young kids. I saw the opportunity to do something around fitness and children. So, I started reimagine play, which is focused on creating fitness experiences for children and families through obstacles because obstacles create pathways or resilience for grit for solving problems, and I saw all these great effects of play, right? And what those could do with children. And so, I went down that journey of becoming an entrepreneur and as much as I knew about business, I really didn't because I had never started it. (Arivee: Done it. Yes, it's different when you're doing it. Yeah.) Again. And it was Scrappy, right? Yeah, I I did everything myself. So, I did all my research. I I leveraged every resource that I could find. I went to, you know, to Bentley to get consulting from students, I went through an accelerator called the Babson Winlab. I immersed myself right in the startup community and despite that, I still felt like it was a very lonely journey. Right. So, no matter how much help you get, you still need more help and it made me realize, right? It is starting a business takes a village, it takes a community and for entrepreneurs of color, imagine there's some that don't have those social networks, right? And that's why it's so much slower, right? So, when you ask, like, why aren't we there yet? It's because they're not many of us that have this type of access. And so (Arivee: And then and then generations of access) right.

Arivee: It's it's that, you know, even you know, for you and you know this for Trevor and I we're trying to build that now and that's scrappy too right. You're trying to build that with, and it takes time. You have to nurture relationships. You have to nurture capital and then hopefully our children aren't starting from scratch. But even you know, and I'll just share this, because this is true where we live, I can't tell you how many people live in houses that were given to them by their parents. (Betty: right.) Can you imagine living in a nice neighborhood with great schools and you'd have to pay for your house, (Betty: right.) Yeah. Amount of general. I mean, think about the physical capital that you actually have to do something else with invest. Even for your kids, education, invest in, invest in stocks, invest in the real estate market and invest in your business. Cause Betty, you know this when you're an entrepreneur. It's a lot of your own money at first, so people always say, and I hear this a lot. It's a startup. Space is really hard for for people of color. For this reason, because it sometimes takes a lot of money to even start.

Betty: That's right. And and imagine this. I started it so late in my career, I didn't get out of college and started a business like, you know, many. And I love it many, many you know, entrepreneurs today are young. But I have to save and and create what we call that generational wealth, able to have something to start it and you know and I'll say something about this because I I grew up in public housing, I grew up very, very modestly and my goal was to get out right it was I want to create something better for my family. I don't want to live in these conditions anymore. I want to own a home. Eventually. (Arivee: Yes) When I finally had the chance to save. So it was my first job out of law school that I was finally able to start saving. And I wanna tell you that it was a combination of circumstances of having no student debt. Because I got full scholarships in college, law school, and business School, which is pretty rare, and I came into a fairly high paying job at the time, right? So, this was when the Doc plum boom when the law firms were raising salaries every six months.

Arivee: Right, right, right. Betty you you started at that time I started with the recession in 2008.

Betty: Right, right. So, I had the luck right. I put the path for you, I guess. But but I remember I think my when I started the salary was 80,000 or $85,000, which for me was like a gold mine. Imagine this kid from the projects is rich. I thought I was rich.

Arivee: Betty, when people told me about law firms I was like. And I'm sorry those places and you had, nor did they even existed. Betty in law school.

Betty: Neither did I like you. No clue. Again, I felt a goldmine, right. Not knowing really what high paying salaries truly are, (Arivee: right.) That was a good salary, right? And then it went to 100 within a couple months because law firms were trying to keep and retain associates. And then I think it went to 125. (Arivee: Yeah.) In any case, it allowed me to save so fast that within a year I bought my first condo in the South end of Boston, which was rapidly rising, but I made it and, you know, just in time to get in two years later, sold it for a profit of 100,000. So, we're we're talking about amounts of money, right? That you can use to start a business. (Arivee: Right.) I mean I I used it to buy another. It's like a stop a place to live. But that's what we talk about. Breaking the cycle of poverty. To me, that was an accomplishment, right? Because I was able to do something my mother couldn't do. (Arivee: Yeah.) And you know, so that idea. Oh, you can change the trajectory within a generation it is possible, but all the right circumstances have to align right. Higher education opportunities to come into a really good job. That's a career building job because it has high salary, a lot of benefits. Right, that create the cushion and the ability to save. (Arivee: Yeah.) After that, you know, I saw that others could build this kind of wealth through investing through retirement plans through life insurance even. We don't talk about these things in our culture, right, because it's just one we may not even know about.

Arivee: Betty, you know, I would be curious to see, like, how it was for you and your family growing up, but for at least for ours, you know, we don't really talk about money. We knew that money was tight and that I knew not to ask for certain things. I know I couldn't have certain things I knew I couldn't go to dance class, and we couldn't afford that. I knew that, you know, we just sit and talk about it. And I remember asking my dad when I was like in high school, like, why don't you invest? He's like, invest what people who invest have money to invest. We don't have that. So, what are you talking? But he also did it now. Right. That's in the Dominican Republic now. I mean, who? They're on the Finke. Who's who's talking about investing. Right. So so that and that makes sense. But then there's a point where you are like, OK, we're in this country now. And now we're starting from scratch. What do we do? What do we focus on? And so I'm curious, how do we do that? how do we help educate each other? Cause Betty, even people who are high performing professionals, they're consulting their lawyers there, and they're starting to have high salaries. But they live paycheck to paycheck. Some of them are still helping their families financially. Some of them are in debt. What do we do with that? Because they are also the people that can invest in startups that can that can help that they could, they could become Angel investors. How do we do that? I think that's a lot of the work too is money management, money education. What do we do about that?

Betty: Well, I will say, you know, some of the first lessons around money were how my mother managed or so-called household budget, which was pretty much nothing. (Arivee: Right, right.) It was food stamps, and you know, maybe a voucher right for something that you could get that was a little bit extra and she would cut coupons. She was the master at getting things for free, you know. And I used to be embarrassed by that. Very much I felt shame for being poor, for doing all those cost saving kinds of things. And now I do them too. There's no shame in it, but, but it taught me these skills around managing your money, so I wouldn't underestimate some of our experience that although we don't talk about money, I think we are taught to manage it because we have so little of it. (Arivee: Yes) and and part of it is understanding how do we build it up right like that, how do we save, how do we invest, what vehicles there are. So, you it was I wanna say again in college I got my first credit card an American Express. (Arivee: Oh, you got an I'm American Express?) in college do you know when you turn 18 you you get a notice from AMEX, they’re masters at this. And maybe they're masters at creating debt. But but I remember that it feels like it was a professor, or I don't know. I forget who told me this. You have this credit card, but never mismanage it. Never spend so much that you can't pay it off every month, (Arivee: every yes.) And that was the first lesson. Don't incur debt. (Arivee: Yes, especially credit card debt.) especially credit card debt and and so I would use it, but I would manage it, right. So, the minute I saw that I didn't have the cash to pay that bill, I I stopped, and I would, you know, try to try to work more or try to pay it off because it's like ball and chain, right. (Arivee: Yes) If you are reliant on. Uh. Or dependent on on this cash flow and that's what many folks are in debt now whether it's student debt or or you know other sources of debt, it creates this huge burden. So that was the first thing was. You know, I rather not spend or I rather not have something, then incur the debt and then once I got the ability to save, like I said in law school and after law school month, once I started working. My goal was to buy my condo, right? Like everyone kept saying. Rent is so expensive, you're better off buying and I wanted to have something of my own so badly that I did everything that I could to save the excess, you know, cash. So that having goals. And really clear goals, like whether it's paying off your student and buying a car, buying a home, whatever those goals are, write them down. And that became a goal, right? Like, I would count every month like, how much have I saved? And I started going to open houses and talking to brokers 'cause. I had no idea. (Arivee: Yeah) how you would buy a condo or home. I I didn't even know what a mortgage was. And then I would say not don't do this. Right. But but I'm rich to it with this fearlessness, like. I just wanna do it. I wanna. I wanna have something that's mine that I can rely on and also 'cause. I saw that it was cheaper, right? But paying some landlords rent those questions started to open up those possibilities. Right again. Lots of great advisors along the way that I feel like I had, but they taught me like this is how you do it, right? This is a mortgage. This is how, you know, you prepare to take on the debt, right. You wanna have this much saved and the more you have, right. A better interest rate you could get. The less loan you need. And so all those things were really helpful, but it was really the savings, right, understanding that I had to maybe give up a little bit to to build that up. I still didn't know about investing where that came was later and I will share this funny story that I was in the elevator of my law firm and this one guy turns to me and says, oh, your Betty, let me talk to you about life insurance. I swear this random random conversation. And he was the insurance broker for many of the partners that at Palmetto (Arivee: Oh, he was, OK.) He was like, he just grabbed me and was in the elevator with it. Had, you know, talk about the elevator pitch. (Arivee: Yeah.) Literally said, you know, do you have someone you really care about? That you feel is at risk. And I said my mom, right? I really care about my mom not having a cushion. If if something were to happen to me and he said, well, that's exactly where we have to talk about life insurance. It's like this is very odd. That's how. That's how it started, right? Him teaching me. And obviously he was selling insurance. But (Arivee: yes) he was teaching me how to prepare through a savings vehicle that many people don't know about. Right. So, it wasn't just having term life in case something does happen. To you, but having whole life policies right, that helped you save that, create vehicles for retirement. Once I had my kids. The 529 plans, (Arivee: yes) having an an advisor a good financial advisor guide you and push you to save right and and they said make it (Arivee: They teach you right they teach you a lot.) they teach you right so it's one you don't even wanna see it right? You wanna just commit to an amount that you can save, and you don't even know it's coming out of your bank account. Just going (Arivee: exactly) and then. And then later you know where I think this is the opportunity to really start to also build wealth is through investing right through investing in equities and stocks and the public markets. Once you have enough discretionary cash. Right. that you can risk it. I think investing in in riskier things like a start up like a business venture or in your own venture, yeah is you know something that I encourage a lot of us to do because we. Are need help and I think they would have, you know, once I started my my kids fitness business, my dream was to build these ninja warrior chips. Yeah, and these are pretty hefty investments, right? In terms of startups, you know, and a lot of people said, oh, will invest in that, you know, once you once you kick it off and I never found the space. I wanna say that the dream is still there. It's still lives. If I can find the space one day. But having people that truly believe in you and can invest in you in this also something that I don't think we have a lot of. And cultivating that takes trust. It takes, you know, showing that you're willing to take feedback, that you can shift, you know (Arivee: yes.) venture. And then I also started Angel investing, right. So, I got to point…

Arivee: Wait Betty, can I ask you question about discretionary cash flow. (Betty: Yeah) because I think people, I'm gonna bet that the audience is thinking I don't have $100,000. They're thinking a big, huge amount. When you think of discretionary cash flow, can you be more specific?

Betty: So discretionary cash flow could be I have an extra $50 a month. Don't think of it as this huge amount, right? Uh, and that's what I mean. Like saving something that you you don't have to worry about. You don't ever even think about it or see it come out of your account. So, I would commit to and I had all these different accounts, so I would put $50 in a little account to build my savings, I would put 100 for an investment to buy stocks and I might, depending on what I was doing at the time, how much money I needed, you know, I might put $500 if I could, I would get these big bonuses. Yeah. When I was at at Palmer and Dodge, right. These big yearend bonuses that all went into saving all of it. Once one thing I splurged on was a car. (Arivee: Yeah. So I was going to say, Betty, you think my car?) I did, I did buy the car. But I leased it right, so little bit. But but making all those decisions, you know about what's discretionary, how much. It started with small amounts. Yeah, right. So even if you have debt payments, you have to pay off your student loans. You know, you have commitments to your family. And by the way, I was still giving money to my mom. (Arivee: Yeah) right. So, talk about in our families, we have to take care of our. Parents often times, yes. You know that again is part of your expense management. You know, always having to that backup, right that it's so I may have to dip into my savings to deal with an emergency. Having the savings was a huge help. And and believe me, I know with many families with low incomes, including my mother, we didn't have that savings partly because we couldn't right living in public housing. You're not allowed to have a lot of savings 'cause I don't qualify. Right. Well, you lose your benefit. Right, right. That's the issue that our, you know, Aunt poverty programs perpetuate poverty. They don't allow you to build enough savings to eventually exit, right. So, you need almost like, the the Unicorn event, right. Like me. Like your kid is able to to exit and then takes you along or something like that. Or, you know, my mother always played the numbers. We win the lottery. Or you or you get a really, really good job that allows you to have enough income that you could eventually, you know, exit housing and and maybe have a home. But it's the perpetual cycle for many people, right? This inability to save enough to get out the advice I would give is safe. Any little bit that you can and do it with public equities because there's a calculation you can make right that if you start investing in, you know just the mutual fund, right tied to the S&P. (Arivee: Yes) $500. When you're 18 or 19 years old, by the time you're 50 60, right. 100 bucks is thousands of dollars. Yeah, right. That could be your your little cushion. So. And that's because of time value of money. You know, and the fact that that amount could be invested for 40 50 years. (Arivee: Yes.) So that's why the little bit matters all the time. (Arivee: Yeah)

Arivee: I think though, what your also saying to is there's this issue, this systemic issue of access and opportunity. And then there's also, though you educating yourself to right, and I think your story is one of both meeting where you're like, I need to figure this out. I need to find a way. And then having, you know, having a financial advisor and having people even go to say, hey, what is this? And teaching you, but also you're also taking the time to learn on your own too

Betty: I took a lot of time to learn on my own, and it wasn't imperfect learning, right? Right. Because you know, my I didn't know how to write a check until I opened my first bank account in college. (Arivee: Yeah. Same here.) That is so right and I said, why didn't anyone and I remember the person in the bank laughed little bit because I said what do I do? You know, they hand me the checkbook. I said, well, what do I and how does it work. And I opened my first bank account with. I think it was $75. Yeah, 'cause. I needed it right for my work study checks. (Arivee: Yes.) I needed something the the person, you know, did teach me how to write that check. And and I and made sure. Instead, never write the check for more than what you have in the accounts. (Arivee: Yes, Right? Don't overdraft. That's a fee.) I don't want to go to jail. I don't want that so, but you take all these little lessons and then you start to ask other people questions, right. So you the key thing for me was I asked for help. (Arivee: Yes.) I think we often feel embarrassed. We don't wanna talk about money. I was taught not to talk about money. Because it was not humble. You know, you guys didn't do it. And that's the worst mistake. I think we can make. So that's why I'm so transparent about saving or or the money conversation. I also think there's this shame with wanting money. (Arivee: Yes) with wanting to be wealthy with, with wanting to be successful. So, I have no shame in being ambitious and wanting to make money because I don't want it just for my personal gain. It's really for my family and my community. 'cause I I'm gonna share that, right? I'm a big sharer, as you know whether it's money or information and access. I wanna give others the opportunities that I didn't have. I think that the only way we could really start to exponentially very quickly drive change in our communities. We all have to play a personal role and in advocating and teaching and showing others how to do it and being completely transparent about it, right and and to share these stories around the feelings that go along with it. Right, which is. Sometimes fear change, you know, feeling like you don't belong, that you're less than and use it, but using that to overcome and then do something good with it, right? So don't stay stuck with those feelings, but know that they're OK that we all share them, (Arivee: yeah.) And then seek out at the people that can advise you and guide you 'cause there are many right. There are many that wanna help. I don't have all the answers, but I wanna say that throughout time I've learned that there's even still so much more about wealth creation about you know how you get access right to different investing opportunities even today, right? Like I'm very, very lucky. I feel super fortunate that now I'm gonna be going into a job that I've always dreamed of, right? Since I went to to law school in Business School, which I wanted to start a fund, I wanted to start a venture fund. But this is a social impact fund, which is even better because it aligns with my values. Right. And now I can use money to invest in ventures to support businesses, right, as as they're starting or as they're growing and seeing how those businesses are creating both wealth for the owners, but also for their communities, for their employees, that's to me like full circle, right? The story full circle is being able to do that. So, we'll see where that goes because I'm just about to start and I'll share that, you know, making a career change going from law. Having been a lawyer for so many years, having you know, and I and I have been an entrepreneur and an investor, an Angel investor, but now this is managing and being accountable for other people’s money, I have rightly so a little bit of fear and and it's. This, you know, can I do it? Can I step up to the occasion? Will I be successful and turning all those fears into energy (Arivee: and fuel? Yeah. Yeah.) And. And so that excites me, but. It's OK that I'm having these feelings, you know, of of fear, because they're normal.

Arivee: Right. Right. And I love Betty. I love that you, when you talked about it being, Oh my gosh, this is kind of full circle also aligning with your values. When I see your career. Path. When I look back at it like right now, it's like it seems like every shift you made was to answer that call. Like, what aligns with who I am, what aligns with what I want to do, what aligns with what my passions are, and my values. I would love if you could speak a little bit more to that. Because I think there are a lot of people listening who feel either stuck where they are, like they're confused, what to do with their lives and their career, or they're just in a place where they don't even know where to begin on how to shift. They just know that something isn't right and they're not feeling passionate or joyful or they're not in a good place where they are in their career.

Betty: Right. Well, I got a lot of my joy outside of my job through volunteerism. Boost, serving on boards, and that's how we met, right? Yeah. Because, yes, you, I I think I II recruited you or you volunteered, right? Probably pulled you in to be part of alpha law, the alpha law initiative, right, which was connecting lawyers and business professionals, Latino business professionals to each other and creating this network of support and mentorship. That was one of my first uh board experiences where I felt like I could create something that was actually having an impact for me personally because I was getting a lot of knowledge from it and and by the way, it was a lot of work. Remember, it was, (Arivee: yes.) Lots of time, but I learned you know how to manage volunteers. I learned how to fundraise. I learned how to market. I learned how to build something out of nothing, and I built my social network from it. (Arivee: Yes.) Right. So it's what got me so deeply connected to the Boston business community and and civic community. So, board service and volunteerism can put you in another space and and allow you to meet people that you ordinarily wouldn't. And that's what started to drive my passions around. You know, how do I, as a lawyer, right? That often felt underrepresented? In fact, I was often the only one, right. Even even when I made it to general counsel of Port club LA at the time, HMBA did their study around GC's around the country. And I was told I was the first GC in Massachusetts, the first Latina GC in Massachusetts. How could I be the first? Yeah, wasn't that long ago. Apparently, I would. I think they're still wrong, but apparently. I'll take it. But. But what? But being the first creates the opportunity to role model. Yeah, and that's what's fun. A lot of the work, you know, I did as as a lawyer. You do this too, right? It's being a role model, being a mentor, providing support to others that are coming up. Showing them the way opening the doors so that they don't have to go through a lot of the things you did right. That's right. You're creating a better path for their success and and in a much quicker way. And I always since I was little, had this just affinity, love for our Latino culture our people. (Arivee: Yes.) And wanting to uplift them. And so that that has driven all these experiences, right? How do I improve opportunities? How do I open doors in that came obviously because I was able. To achieve some level of success, namely you know getting out of my own personal like situation like being able to, you know, buy a home, get a good job, and even just, you know, we say, oh, wow. Like she became a lawyer, right. That's a big success and. You know, it's. (Arivee: Oh my gosh, Betty.) But it is a big it is other people looking right saying it's possible and I wanna see you know my kids. It's not just the aspire, you know, to be what we think is the mainstream like a lawyer or a doctor. I want them to aspire to go to the moon, to go to Mars. Yeah, to be engineers, to create, (Arivee: to think differently. Yeah. Yeah.) I want them to disrupt. (Arivee: Yes. Yes.) And that's what excites me. But we have to role model that, right? (Arivee: Yes.) Giving them the incentive and the impetus and and the motivation to know that they could be whatever they want. And so, you take your passions and you use them. You know, my passions continue to be supporting women to advance supporting the Latino community right to build economic mobility for further community right as a whole. So, it's not this one individual (Arivee: right) at a time, but how do we uplift each other and out of that alpha experience came the motivation to start Latina circle with Anita Roman UM Latina Circle became this network of Latina professionals that were there to support and mentor each other. That grew of 60 women to over 1000 years, and that morphed into a civic engagement movement that's now called Amplify lot next. (Arivee: Yeah.) And that's focused on building economic and political power for Latinos in Massachusetts. So that driver of I wanna see myself represented in spaces that make decisions. That affect an impact our community. I wanna be in space as where I'm part of shaping the solutions that could improve conditions for our people. You know, we have to get more of us into these networks and tables and conversations. And we have to get them into office, right? So so again, there is a theme, right? It's all. (Arivee: Yes) economic mobility and building power and representation. Not for the sake of it, but for driving change. Yes, meeting meaningful change 'cause. Once we're in the door. Right. Our ideas matter. We're in the best position to cultivate those solutions that will help. Right. Our, our families and our communities. So, imagine if many more of us were represented in public office, yes, in corporate boardrooms, in senior leadership, in corporations and nonprofits, things would look a lot different. (Arivee: Yes) I think we would start to close the gender and racial wealth gaps. Because we will be raising those issues and will be advocating for those solutions and you know, decisions that are being made right now around policies that impact our communities will take into account our stories. Right now, they don't as much because we're not there to tell them yes. So that's part of the motivation that I have every day. I say, you know, one of my mantras is live every day as if it were your last. (Arivee: Yes, yes) for me that is. Do whatever you can like in this. You know this, so I go to bed so late. My husband's always saying, why do you do this to yourself? But I feel like I have to. You know. It's. Did I open a door today? Did I make a recommendation? Did I answer that email or that call for someone that really needs help? And I can't get to all of them right but. That's what motivates me is my individual contribution I know is helping others, but could we all do it at scale?

Arivee: Yeah, I am struggling with this lately and full transparency because I feel the same way I'm like I could die tomorrow. Have they done all I could have I done all I could, but at the same time, there's a part of me then that says well, can I just slow down for a minute? I just enjoy the moment. There is a it's. It's almost like conflicting feelings. Maybe they're just coexisting of this feeling of I feel like I'm running out of time. Sometimes and and I feel like we legit are because we're going to die at some point, and we don't know when that's going to be right. But then there's a feeling of some things take time. Like Betty, look at your career. It's taking right. Like, look at. Even even my what I've what I've been doing. It's taken 15 years for me to get to this point. It's taken every experience, every failure, every mistake, every success, every conversation I've had. Right, Betty, every every board I've contributed to all the volunteering, it it just shifts your perspective a little bit and a little bit. You meet more people and that expands your network and expands what you think and expands what you're learning. You know you end up in different places, but I don't know how do you deal with that? Like, how do you deal with the sense of it's like a rush, but then it's also I need to learn how to be present right now too and appreciate and appreciate what I have that that this is enough, that all of that how do you how do you handle that.

Betty: So I have to be better at it. Right? So I'm. I'm not good at that part, you know, because I I do feel, oh If I don't do this, you know somebody else is gonna miss out or or not have what they need. Right. So I do have to step back so someone said to me recently, Betty, you need an intervention. You need to create the Betty plan, right? What do you want, cause It's always been about others. Right? And and I think that's a Latino. Saying right, we care so much as women and Latinos. We care so much about the collective and we sometimes leave ourselves a little bit behind, right. I haven't done enough to give myself permission to care so much about me often and that's partly why I'm making this career change, because I could easily stay. I could easily say, you know what? I want this big high paying GC role. Let me go down that path, right? But it's not what I want. What I want is to learn something completely new. I feel like I'm, you know, going like backwards to learn, but it's an investment in myself. (Arivee: Yes) even though it will help other people. Is this is an investment in myself. I give this advice sometimes cause you you've heard this story where I said when I was a young associate, I spent so much time on my career and on my work that I woke up one day and didn't have any friends like I was like, yes, I can't. I don't have anyone to call to go out because I've not cultivated those relationships. And so today, you know, I think we have to balance how do you still maintain your personal relationships, your friendships, which in 2020 those were so important for us (Arivee: Yes.) to get through this very challenging year, and it opened up a lot of vulnerabilities that we have, right, even sharing that we are afraid (Arivee: Yes) right. I've told people recently. I feel afraid to go out because I look Asian and look at what's happening with Asian violence. Right. And I feel afraid for my husband, who's black. And I think, right, like when he goes out, will he come back? (Arivee: That's right.) Right my kids. So now you know they're 12 and 15. They're girls, they're brown skinned and they look at spaces now and say, oh, wow, we're the only brown people here. What's that do to your identity? Right. (Arivee: Yes.) Right. (Arivee: Yes.) I have started to step back a little bit, try to care. And cultivate the personal right. But I have to be better at it. I don't have a good balance. You know, tip here other than to flag it when you need to do more of it because it it'll sneak up on you, especially when you know you have younger kids. But mine are teenagers. Still, they need a lot of support, and when one of them says to you, you're always working, you're always on the computer. You don't listen to me. That's the flag. I'm like, wow, right. I need to step away. I need to spend time with them. I need to take a full day off a week off. Whatever you need. But we we have to give ourselves more permission to do that. (Arivee: Yeah) we think that, you know, and I. And it's not just us. I think our workplaces have to do it too, right? We have to create a culture that allows us to do it, because this year has created a counterculture to that. We're working more. There's no boundaries because many of us have been fortunate to work from home. Right? Have no barriers anymore. It's like you work all the time. And you're expected to do a lot of things outside of work, so this is not sustainable in the long term. And and I have full respect for people that say, you know, I'm gonna put everything else aside. And I'm going to focus on myself, and my family right now and not do, you know, out outside things. Like, I think that's appropriate at times.

Arivee: I think a lot of it does depend on, but season of your life, you're in. If you have children, how old they are. Do you have multiple children? I mean, it's so so many different factors and. That's why it's so unique to each person. Yeah. Betty, so I know where our time is coming to an end. So, I wanted to ask you a couple of more questions really for the audience to see if you have any good recommendations. Do you have any favorite books? It could be any topic. It doesn't have to be specific too. You know, money manager or anything like that.

Betty: So more recently I've done audiobooks because (Arivee: Yes.) I can’t sit still. So I'm using audible, but some great books. I love the Ibram Kendi book called “Stamped” it’s a phenomenal book. It's for younger people, but it is it's for any age. I think you can listen to it or read it and it's phenomenal. And Isabel Wilkerson's, “Casts” and these are books I've been reading because I felt I felt like I had to educate myself even more about the black experience around you know what happened in this country, how our country is economy was built, I think now more and more we're seeing, you know, a new history emerged and it's a constant learning journey. So I've immersed myself in a lot of the books around, you know, our our our history from the civil rights movement, you know, all the way going back to like how our economy actually came to be, how we've benefited so much from slavery and how the vestiges don't perpetuate many of our systems. And I know that sounds depressing, but we actually need to understand.

Arivee: Need to know it. Yeah. Yes, all those are good. OK, I'll put those in the in the show notes so people can get their hands on them if they don't have them already. And then the last question for you, Betty, is what does rising with humility mean to you.

Betty: Rising with humility to me is being open to learning, other people have care this and valuing them, not thinking that your reality is always the right reality and it's easy to do that right when you often are the one that has the you know the answers the the one people come to for answers, I've learned that never to to take for granted that you know everything, because inevitably, if you ask enough people, and when I say ask, people ask for input, ask from the folks that you never hear from, right, so we we often tend to ask questions to our own circle, which for me it's, you know, educated, privileged people. When when I start to ask questions, I all often learn that there's many, many other perspectives. Even even politically right, what I think is my my political reality is different from someone else. You know who lives in Florida? My brothers. Reality is very different. Having the humility to appreciate other people’s views and not think we're always right is very, very important, yeah. My husband laughs at me cause I from time to time, I will turn on Fox News just to see what the other perspective is like. Why are you doing that? Why?

Arivee: I have come to that we, but we do need to agree on a certain set of facts like we do.

Betty: But you know, I think it's a perspective we need to hear because probably half of our country believes that set of used or or alternative reality (Arivee: and that's all they listen to.) So it's all they listen to. So you know it's not. We can't discount them. We have that they don't matter and that's why, you know, I feel like, you know, they're saying the same thing about us, that our preference. And that's where humility is. It's having the ability to listen, to take into account multiple stories, multiple experiences and perspectives.

Arivee: That’s really hard Betty that it really is hard. (Betty: And not judge us) right with such a challenge, I mean. And then sometimes I try like I'm listing out, but I'm not really not listening. Cause I'm right. Like you. Yeah. No, that's such a challenge. Oh Betty. Thank you so much for joining me. I know our time is is ending, but I just wanted to thank you for being so open and honest about your experience and offering all of your wisdom that you always offer and you're always so generous with your time. And giving of your energy and I just wanna thank you for that. And I wanna thank you for all your contributions to our community, even for me. I mean, we are in the same kind of circles. And I can tell you that a lot of the things that you've created or been a part of have been a key part of my life and me getting to know, even people that are very close friends of mine who you know. And so I just wanna thank you for everything you're doing and your mantra, you know, live every day like this. If it was your last. I mean, you're doing so much each day and we see it. And we thank you for that.

Betty: Thank you Arivee. It's been great to be here and thanks for the opportunity to share some of the story. (Arivee: Yeah) and thank you for doing these because I think we don't have enough stories out there, right that can challenge us or make us feel validated. So I appreciate you. And I'm excited about your own venture as yeah.

Arivee: Thanks, Betty.

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How about that, my friends. I love talking to Betty. There are always these there are always these lightbulb moments I have when I talk to her and so I really hope that the conversation we had resonated with you, and it was helpful to you. So, thanks so much for listening. Let's get to some key takeaways from this conversation. Number one, be unapologetic about your ambition. And your drive to be successful and to make money because you know you'll share that you'll share that wealth, and it will be shared with your community. Number two, have clear goals, especially financial goals, and write them down #3 ask for help. It's OK if you don't know how to manage your money, how to invest, how to set financial goals. That's OK. But ask others to help you seek out people to help. Advise and guide you #4 don't be scared to talk about money culturally in Latin X communities it can be perceived negatively when you talk about money. There's a shame attached to it, but the truth is we have to be able to talk about it. To get better at managing money, and that starts with us. #5, we all have fear. The key is to turn fear into energy and opportunity. Number 6. Invest in yourself. Learn. Take on new challenges and align what you do with your values and that could be in or outside of your “9-5” work 'cause I know some of you. Work way more than nine to five, right? But I'm calling it your day job. Your nine to five work. So align what you do. With your values. And what's most important to you, #7, being the first creates the opportunity to be a role model. Show them the way so it's easier for those that come after you. #8 you have a role to play and advocacy, teaching and creating change you can start small. Number 9. Rising with humility means being open to learning from others and their experiences. It's about not taking for granted that you know everything as you climb. That includes considering others points of view and not judging them. Number 10, and this is the last one because I wanted to end with Betty's mantra, which is live every day, as if it were your last and to her this means. Asking herself these questions, did I open the door for someone today? Did I answer the call for someone who needs my help? And I think that's really really powerful. OK, please go to to read more about Betty and the work she does. You can also connect with her on IG and LinkedIn. I'll throw those links into the show notes, so don't miss those.

Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate and review this podcast. I'd love for you to share it with others if you want my doses of inspiration and motivation delivered to your inbox, click the link in the show notes. You can also connect with me on IG @ariveevargas or on LinkedIn. I'd love to know what you'd like to learn and hear more about on the podcast. Finally, if you've been asking yourself how to figure out the next step in your career, or you don't, you don't even know what to do next. You don't know how to figure it out. You just feel stuck. I've got a career clarity quick guide just for you, so check out the show notes for the link. Until next time, take one more action to step into how incredibly powerful you are.

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