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Episode 18 Transcript



Episode 18: Finance Thought-Leader and Professor Lourdes German on Crushing Fear and Career Pivots


Arivee: Hi, I'm at Vargas and I believe we're also 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.


(Music Plays)


That's why I created the Humble Rising podcast. 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 woman of color sharing their journeys. Think of them as your mentors. We’ll dig into their successes, failures, challenges, the different shifts and pivots in their careers and personal lives, and so much more.


Leave with actionable strategies for making your own shifts in your life that gets you to where you want to go. And help you become who you most want to be, be inspired, get motivated, and get ready to rise. This is the Humble Rising podcast.


After speaking with financial strategist and accredited financial counselor Jessica Medina during last week's episode, we learned that financial literacy and money management can really accelerate the change that you want to make in your life, especially when it comes to lifestyle or changing jobs. This week’s guest Lourdes German is also passionate about finance and explain that her work and finance allowed her to see the impact of what she was doing on the very communities that she intended on helping. Like our last two guests Lourdes has discovered the importance of being courageous, courageous enough to follow her own drive in life despite the fear of failure or the fear of rejection. We'll touch on exactly how Lourdes navigated her career path later in this episode, but first let me share Lourdes impressive experiences that have shaped who she is today. Get ready because it's a lot and it's amazing.


Lourdes began her career in 2004 as an attorney at an international law firm now known as Locke Lord LLP, she advised state and local governments and public finance investments. She then went to Fidelity Investments, where she helped grow the public finance department. After Fidelity Lourdes had a number of professional pursuits and experience is, frankly, too many to name here, but she served as Deputy General counsel of a social investment bank. She served as general counsel and vice president of Municipal Investment Research at Breckenridge Capital Advisors. And director of International and institute wide initiatives at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and her role at Lincoln, Lourdes served on the team of expert advisors to the United Nations Policy Unit focused on municipal finance. She's also the Coauthor of the book “Finance for City leaders.” Currently Lourdes serves on the faculty at the Boston College, Carroll School of Management and Boston College Law School, where she leads the universities interdisciplinary academic minor are focused on social impact outside of her work at BC Lourdes directs the Civic Innovation Project, a nonprofit, fiscally sponsored projects of third sector New England, to develop innovative approaches to further city to city learning. She is a graduate of Boston College and the Boston University School of Law, and in today's episode the experiences Lourdes shares show that the path of life and career is not linear. We talk about the importance of not only taking time to address the imbalances you may feel and experience in your life and your career, but also the grit and the courage required to leave behind unfulfillment and jump into and in some cases morph into your next phase of growth. With that, here's the episode with Lourdes.


Lourdes thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today.


Lourdes: I'm so excited any excuse to see you I'm excited but thank you for inviting me.


Arivee: Oh my God. My pleasure. OK, so for those who don't know you, I would love for you to just share a little bit about. You and how you came to do the work that you do now.


Lourdes: Alright, and it is a long and windy path. So, I came from a family of teachers, so I really don't know how I ended up as a lawyer. I remember in fifth grade I saw this amazing woman who gave her career day. I was in a New York City public school, and she just sounded so exciting. And she was like an entertainment lawyer, I remember. I wanna be that, but I didn't know what it meant at all and that really stayed with me. So, I, you know, you and I both went to be to Boston College. I graduated and went right to law school. And when I graduated law school, I didn't know what kind of lawyer I wanted to be. And the job market was really hard. So I ended up doing a clerkship in Superior Court and literally spent a year just kind of like watching the law and still like it was April of the clerkship. And I was like, what am I gonna do? Because, you know, it's a job with a beginning and an end. And I remember there was a posting for a zero to two years associate in public finance, and I just applied, and I had, I never even heard of public law like, ever. But I knew from the clerkship and from that, like clinics and stuff in law school, that I did not wanna, real litigator I I just. I didn't have that adversarial piece to me. I just. I don't wanna live by a trial calendar, even though I love the judges that I worked with. And it was thanks to one of those judges um Janet Sanders that I ended up. Getting the job at what was then Palmer Dodge and literally everybody says, well, how did you know it was that I built like a whole career where the one consistent thing has been public finance. And I was like, it literally was like the best accident of my life. I loved the work. I love the practice area and from then you know not to sort of make a long story. I went from rule to role to role all with that kind of been the consistent theme for many different reasons, some life reasons, some career reasons. But after that I worked at Fidelity Investments as a vice president. Helping to build their investment banking efforts in in charge of the Northeast then I was, um, General counsel of an investment management company and also worked for foundation as a director, helping create their international basically like their international department, even though they did international work. So, it was sort of like just a department to unify. Many different areas of work and think about new footprints and then pivoted to higher Ed and which is where I am now at Boston College and also running my own small nonprofit fiscal sponsored initiative run, which I work with cities. And I also tried to start a business many years back, which was another pivot. But that is where I am today and how long and windy road got me there.


Arivee: It's so interesting because you pivoted as you said so many different times. But whenever I hear your story and learn more about your story, I always think of like a purposeful pivoting path, right? It's nothing is just by chance, necessarily because you had that Superior Court clerkship, you met people that helped you think about certain things, and then you said, oh well, I I kind of became an associate by accident. But there was someone who actually helped you. Right? So, I'm curious if people go back just a little bit. I'm curious about when you said I knew I didn't wanna be a litigator because you didn't wanna be. You know you didn't the adversarial nature of it wasn't wasn't really you and the other things that weren't conducive to what you wanted to do. But then you said you loved public finance like you loved that work, I would love for you to talk a little bit about. How did you know that you loved public finance? Like, how did you know that was the thing?


Lourdes: Good question. So, I remember when I was like, you know, preparing for an interview and, like, reading on the website, I was like, Oh my God. You get so be like a corporate lawyer in a cities is what it felt like to me and I didn't know that that even existed like in, you know, at all in law school. And I remember when I met that people who work there, there was something about the way they talked about seeing, like, the projects they worked on all over the community. You're like, you know that road you drove onto the interview. You know, like that bridge you passed on or the school that like you see in your neighborhood, like, yeah, our projects touch all of those things. It was the first time that I understood that there was a way to be collaborative. There was a way to be at the table. And not think about just kind of what I envision a traditional corporate lawyer would be a sort of people who make companies a lot of money. But like that, there was a society and a community there and you could be a part of that work. And then when I learned, like, you actually like, what happens like it happens in town meetings. It happens in like all these little pieces of like a process that I could be a part of, and I that's the part that I woke up every day and and incredibly demanding job. Loved it. Unlike other settings that I worked, and it feels like a real community where like you saw the same people all the time and deals, I I still saw them when I went to different roles. I still see them today, you know, and it's that part really, I love. And it was also very intellectually rigorous. I think I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to learning and and pushing myself and I remember there was a partner. His name was Neil, and he was like a tax specialist in, like Massachusetts, that was like the one person in the state knows like this discrete piece of the tax code that you have to know to do this work. And he was like the one piece of advice I would say, what made this great for him. And he's like, and I want you to keep this in mind said, I became the best one-handed juggler. That that I ever knew. And if you aspired about and he was sort of talking about like being like Super super specialized in an area that when you really difficult like that there's something really cool about that, you know, as nerdy as it sounds like the rigor, the intellectual piece. So that is what made me really love the practice.


Arivee: Did you know that collaboration community, that kind of impact, you could have intellectual rigor learning and pushing yourself in that way and that intellectual way? Did you know before you did that work those are the aspects of a job you'd want? Or did you kind of say, oh, this, oh, this is it because of those aspects?


Lourdes: As cheesy as it sounds, as like, what contribution do I wanna make right? Like, (Arivee: yeah) you know, I I've always thought about that, but never really had a good answer. And I was like, it's not gonna be being litigator. And fighting with somebody for one person outcome and just didn't feel like that would do it, you know?


Arivee: Then what made you go to fidelity?


Lourdes: Geez, this kind of a long story there. I loved the work, but as a fellow lawyer, you might know we worked very hard, (Arivee: yes.) And I remember getting to a point in my career that it in a lot of this is sort of my own commitment to the work. Dynamics of how busy our practice was and also my inability to really set limits for the way that I would do my work from a time standpoint where I was like, I feel really burnt out and I took some time off. I remember it was like the first vacation I took in like 3 years of working at the firm again all totally me and I sat and thought what do I want for myself? And it was the first time where I said, what I want to be in five years? I would say I'm happy and I'm doing work that's fulfilling and and like if feels good to get up every day and do the work. And then I'm in some sense of better balance than I am now. And I remember writing on a napkin 3 very different roles. I felt like big stretch goals and feeling like the one common thing about them was that they were all in public finance. The very different thing about them which surprised me, was that only one was being a lawyer, and I remember looking at that and saying, well, I'm not gonna be there in five years. Any of these roles. But I started drawing like a little a map to where I was and saying but if I wanna go from here to there. What are the things that I have to do? It was the first time that I noticed that there were like a bunch of different jobs that I had never done and never thought about doing in college or in law school because I wasn't in the field that could get me to that place. And I remember coming back from that vacation and one of the jobs is vice president at an Investment Bank, which I thought was totally out of the reach in five years. Coming back from that vacation and it was the first time that I actually started looking for a job and I got an interview within a couple weeks of sending resumes as a junior analyst at this investment management company called Breckenridge Capital Advisors. And I met with the CEO for what was like a super entry level role that I would have had had I basically I think gone to just college. I think we talked for maybe 10 minutes, and he was like, I think you're very smart and good with people, but I don't think that this role is right for you. Who wants to hear that right within 10 minutes of an interview? But he's like, but I like you, and I'll keep your resume because I can tell that you're really smart. And if something comes up, you know, I'll share it with my contacts. And then he sent me an email saying he shared it with his brother at Fidelity, who was looking for someone in a role that was undefined to basically help with the efforts that he had started thinking about investment banking at Fidelity. And after I met with his brother, that's how the vice president role literally came up. I remember it was like three months after I had gone on that vacation. I really thought about. What I wanted to do and then the huge fear was like, oh my God, what do I do now? You know, because there was a part of me that felt like this makes it very real. And do I really want to leave? You know, it's like it was a position that wasn't even posted. I remember he. He wrote the job description after he talked about what the company might need what I could contribute. You know, the way that thing he wanted to grow in the Northeast, and it was incredibly exciting. But I was like, this is the job I thought I could have in five years and didn't even think I could have been five years feeling like that was too big of a stretch, and then I had to really say, like, am I really ready to leave the law. At that time it felt like totally leaving the law. And I never contemplated I could go back. And that's sort of how I got that job.


Arivee: Wait, but Lourdes talk about this because so many. So many women I talk to have this inflection point of OK, I'm burnt out or they may not be burnt out, but they're in the space of. I don't really like what I'm doing or I'm really good at it, but I don't like it, or I know I should be doing something else. This isn't it. This isn't my thing. And they start to think about what they actually do want, and then sometimes something like this happens where there's an opportunity and they're like, oh, wait, but do I really wanna leave this, this, this actually is predictable and comfortable for me. Well, although I know something isn't right. But they have trouble with confronting that fear and moving through it enough to take the opportunity and take that chance because it can feel very uncertain. How did you manage that like that kind of conflict, or how did you manage the tradeoffs? How did you think about it?


Lourdes: Yeah, that is definitely all of those things are things that I remember feeling. And I remember scarier still was sort of like it. The fact that I really did like everybody I worked with, but I had people who invested in me, so I also felt almost like a responsibility to stay, you know, because it's a lot to have somebody start like I did, brand spanking new and no nothing. And invest in them such that they get to the point that they feel that they're good at the work. You know, that's a commitment of hours that I know nobody at that firm had to make. And I had a a really unique associated friends. And I actually had really good work and really good mentors, so there is a that huge part of it too. And also, being discerning enough to know like at what point do I have confidence enough in my own judgment that this decision feels right? I struggle with that a lot, like the whole big decision. And then like the daily decisions of what it would mean to go from being somebody junior associate cause, I was like a third-year level to a vice President in charge of like a region like that for me felt like an insurmountable fear. And I remember my mom was a huge source of support and really saying like, you know, what are you afraid of? Like I'm really. Pushing me to say, well, what? What happens if you know, you are afraid? And I remember saying, well, I'll screw up. But then what will happen, you know? And and kind of talking through, like, what happens, what happens, what happens in my sisters and was like, you will learn something, you will get better at it. You'll figure out the job. You will do the job. They wouldn't hire you if they didn't have confidence that you could do it. And I remember I had a really good mentor who also, when I was telling her about the fear over the phone, she was like, well, this is what you're gonna do. You're gonna do it afraid. You're gonna go in every day and you're gonna do the job. Afraid. And one day, it's not gonna feel scary, and you'll be like, Oh yeah, but fears gone. And I was like, you know, I could do it afraid. I could do the job, scared. It never occurred to me that I couldn't not get past that emotion. And do the job like it felt like what it was, one or the other. But I was like it. It was like a mind shift. And I think that was a big piece that honestly, like, unlock my ability to say. It is OK to leave and to discover this whole new part of myself, and to maybe not get it right.


Arivee: Giving yourself permission to to maybe make mistakes and to do it, (Lourdes: yes) to not to not wait until you have No Fear. Because then what opportunity for growth would it really be if you weren't scared? (Lourdes: Exactly. Exactly.) Yeah. But Lourdes tell me more about cause now we're in the decision when you are making a decision. But tell me about when you and on vacation. Like, what prompted you to be self-reflective? To say what do I want for myself in five years? Like what prompted that? Because a lot of people will say I just need a vacation cause, I'm burnt out, but they won't take the steps that you did to really map out actually. What do I want? What does that mean to me? How could I bridge the gap between where I am now to that thing that I want or that place I wanna be? What prompted that for you?


Lourdes: Honestly. Like I don't even remember. I think that it was just kind of a thought of feeling like what happens if I'm if I'm working at this pace every day for another year? And I think that there was a factor of not feeling very present in my my family, friends and even like like I am a big part of me is like volunteering and like showing up and and investing in things like things, even like things you and I've done together. And others in the community and again it was hard to tell whether so much of this was me or the fact that it was in an incredibly busy practice in and didn't advocate for the kind of career that I wanted from a quality-of-life standpoint cause I know that there was a lot that I'd never said no to a project. I always said yes, I constantly wanted to learn everything. But do I want to continue to not show up? In the way that I'm not showing up and I don't think I was satisfied with that, and I was like, is there a way to do the work that feels different? And I think that there is also an example I was seeing up my sister or she made pivots in her life to go from a nonprofit to like corporate job and like. Well, she's starting communications and I really admired her bravery and her courage. And like a lot of the things that she was doing, and it sort of like reminded me that, you know what, maybe it's not a linear path, maybe need to think a little bit more broadly about myself.


Arivee: Yeah. And, you know, from the outside looking Lourdes this like it, it appeared like. You know, it was like no big deal. You were like and then and next and next. Give it to me. I'm ready. Right? And that's how it often appears to everyone else. Right? Right?


Lourdes: It's so funny that’s the appearance.


Arivee: And it's and it's you want. What I find is so interesting too is that it's very hard. Many people will not sit with themselves and say I'm not showing up the way that I want to. I'm not spending that time with people that I love the way I want to. I'm not showing up for myself the way I want too. Many people are scared to engage in that conversation with themselves, forget like a therapist or coach, right? Like that's very scary for people because they don't want to know the answers to those questions because it means, oh, I love the people I work with. They've invested in me. They've developed me. You know, I actually do like this work. What do I do it because it it cause it's uncomfortable. How did you experience some of that? Or do you do you know of others who kind of stays stuck and can't move forward through those thoughts and kind of move forward to something better for themselves?


Lourdes: Oh yeah, I I've so many, you know, friends who I talked to and I say I feel like I'm on, you know, like I'm standing still. I feel like I'm in quicksand and it's it's a constant shirt experience and I think. But there is something to about I don't know. Like it's hard to reflect on question because then you have to do something with what you what you with the product of your reflection. (Arivee: Yes.) And that's hard, you know. I know. For me 'cause it continues to be hard. It's continued to be hard even in other jobs that seem in an exterior or something like oh wow, there's another role, but it it's hard to to really think about those hard questions and they decide well, I. Do I wanna act on this or do I do I just wanna stay still?


Arivee: Right. Cause it's almost as if if you think about these questions, you answer them for yourself. Whether it's with someone or like by yourself, right, journaling or or whatever medium you use. And it's there and you have this knowing I always say the knowing will literally gnaw at you like it'll be constantly until you do something it's gonna be Remember Me Remember Me. The little gnawing is like there in your shoulder and I I always feel bad when you pay attention to the knowing, and you do something. It's like your world comes together and you feel more aligned, slowly but surely you do, and I find a lot of people prefer the certainty of their life right now, even if they know they feel stuck, there's a certainty to that life.


Lourdes: Exactly and that uncertainty can be super comfortable. And I know that even if you know you're asking, like, am I growing into my best self in the setting, there are different ways to answer that question. Including, you know, intellectually and, you know, getting really great or, you know, making great business connections. But at the end of the day, there's like a whole person sense about, like, how do you feel? Like, do you feel imbalanced? That's for me, like really matters whether I'm, you know, getting good at acting on that is a whole other story because I'm still working progress like everybody else, but it's at least asking, I think it's important.


Arivee: And how much is an I'm curious about this for all of the listeners who are in high pressure, fast-paced environments, right? How much is it? The way you think about your work and the way you think about your life and work and how they come together or don't versus the environment you're in.


Lourdes: I mean, I think it's a mix of both and I think it's your agency and advocating for yourself in the environment your in because like I remember being been very senior in. In the other roles where I had my own team and I remember being super impressed with like really young people on my team, including interns like when they were working on projects that were very fast paced, saying actually, no, I can't do that tonight. 'cause I need to leave at 6 and I have a birthday party and I feel like, yeah, go to your birthday party. That's awesome. Like I wanna encourage and and all of those moments encourage them to really do just that with their boss and know that that can be well supported because it's important that you have the weekend thing with your family. And I wish that I had had more, I think courage and self-knowledge to do those. I was like, oh, it's Thanksgiving. I actually can't take out that project because I really will spend all three days with my family, even though we're closing the day after, Monday after or something. And that's something I wasn't doing. So, it's like, who could do that for me?


Arivee: Yeah. But did you feel like you could I hear a lot of conversations about? Even for lawyers at big and big law firms who pull these crazy hours. You can set boundaries. You can just say no, you don't have to answer that client call on Saturday, and I always wonder about that. Are there some jobs that are just not as conducive to having that sense of work life integration that may be ideal for certain people?


Lourdes: I think that there are moments where that say yes, there are moments where it will be a no because of the reality of the work. And I've seen that even outside of the law firm like I've seen that at like when I was at Fidelity, I saw that, (Arivee: yes) with internal deadlines as general counsel, like there were just some things that sometimes have to get done. And a, holidays in the middle. But like the reality is that that it's just there. But I think it's about knowing when you say you know what, this doesn't have to be done right now I'm leaving at 6 even though you could work forever and setting boundaries. And I think that I could have, there are many instances when I think back on my life. And with greater courage and self-knowledge done that better. And you know what? I know it now. And now I. I'm. I'm. I'm trying to be better at that. But it's it takes time. And also, to be discerning about the importance of the work and and even having that like when you're young it's hard to tell.


Arivee: Yes. And I'm. And I'm curious from your experience, do you feel like the things that you felt were most important to you, maybe when you started at the law firm or maybe your second year in are different from what was important to you, maybe six or seven years after that?


Lourdes: Every single year, I kid you not, I feel like I was learning something totally different about myself. Especially when I went to fidelity and then like when I went to Breckenridge or when I went to the foundation because each job demanded something totally different of me intellectually, as a manager, as a senior executive. Like, there were things that I had never done. When I realized that growth, it was sort of like. Even learning what it takes to run a meeting, what it takes to have executive presence when we’re convincing a business to do that to just something they've never gotten, or to think about risk differently, or when you're presenting, you know, like a policy proposal to people who rely on that to take action and they need to trust you and would know that that comes from a well-informed place. So at the end of the day, it's sort of like I think the one piece I have loved about my career is that every pivot has been so different sort of at least beyond the theme that it's like I have learned so much about myself as a professional. In ways that I didn't know to stretch it before that makes any sense.


Arivee: So, what would be if we could distill this too. This is gonna be hard. One, take one take away. For those thinking about pivoting or shifting in some way. What's the one take away that you would provide?


Lourdes: So, you're right, this is a really hard question. And the one thing I will say is to think about one surrounding yourself with people who will have those hard conversations with you because like, I can't tell you how helpful it has been. Literally the biggest pivots of my career almost didn't happen without the advice I got from people who said, well, wait a minute, you told me this is what you wanted. Are you doing that if you stay? Or even like when there been great opportunities. I've said no to and had really good friends who say, wait a minute, that sounds awesome. But you keep telling me that this is what you want out of your life. Is that job really gonna get you there or is it gonna keep accelerating the XY and Z you're telling really, really is not where you wanna go. I tend to be very insular and want to always figure things out myself, but the those conversations have been absolutely pivotal and even in kind of like inspiring me to think about things I never thought of doing 'cause I think like even when I told you at the beginning that my whole family on my mom's side are all teachers. I never thought I would be a teacher like at all. In one conversation with my mom like shifted the trajectory of my life. So, it's like that to me. I think is the biggest thing is to always think about the way you leverage your community to really give you that discernment.


Arivee: I think that's so important to not only do the internal work, but to engage with others, and it's it's almost as if you're describing people kind of checking you right. Like you said, you wanted this. So, what's going on? Right? (Lourdes: Right.) And I'm hoping that for people listening that they that those people can be anybody, anybody that you trust to do that is not to be a professional. Could be a friend. It could be your sister. It could be your mom, right? It could be anybody that has your best interest at heart. And who knows you really well. So, I just wanted to throw that out there. I think that's a great piece of advice because so often we do wanna figure things out on our own and often Lourdes like, like your path. No one has had that path, right? No. None of our paths are gonna be like the others. Right. (Lourdes: Yeah.) And I think people forget that that they have their own unique path. As scary as it might be to pursue it each time. But I'm curious. So, you were talking about your five-year plan when you were thinking about it on vacation. How is that changed over time?


Lourdes: It's funny. I've never done it again. It it was such a I mean; it was really pivotal cause. There are two jobs that I put on my plan. I think two of the three, actually the three jobs were one was vice president of an investment bank, General counsel of the Financial Services company and the third was Government appointed finance position where I could do something meaningful. But me like on the periphery and integrated into decision making cause I work with governments, but I've never worked in government and I don't wanna be an employee and I ended up doing all three of those things very quickly after doing the plan like I went to fidelity after Fidelity and went. Oh, I went to another company and then to Breckenridge, and that was within, I think, like year four of the plan. And I was, I'm doing something else. I'm for Mayor Walsh and I was like, I've done all these three things and it felt like, did I set myself up to the not be aspirational enough and do you know, and also I want I was like there are a lot of things that happened that were not on the plan that were really like felt meaningful, which is the the pivot to teaching that happens sort of as a separate a side job and then ended up really consuming my whole career. And I kind of learned that you know there is also, something really amazing and the unknown and just being open to opportunities and it ended up that after kind of doing the jobs that were in the plan, every other job that happened since then was totally outside of the plan and even better.


Arivee: Yes, it's yes, being open to opportunity into the possibilities. Beyond what you have even imagined, right? Right. So, talk. I would love for you to talk more about you serving as faculty at BC. What do you do there and how that's shaped kind of how you see your own future?


Lourdes: So, at BC what I do is I teach in a program. That type of Business School, so students who come in and it's their introduction to business and ethical practice. And we talk about issues like, you know, how businesses are good social actors and committed to economic development and introduce a little bit of what public finances because we literally were in a field where everything we do is helping the fabric of the Community, and I also serve as the Co-director or intra disciplinary minor in social impact. So, it's a path that helps students from every school at BC say that they want to be the kind of leader that helps them think about the World this sort of acute piece of who they wanna be and how they wanna lead. And it doesn't matter they're thinking about law school, Business School, nursing education, which is kind of the neat thing we got to see this theme throughout a broad spectrum. And my path to higher and literally started. My mom and I remember I was at fidelity and I was like, you know, I wonder if I'm learning enough at my job. And and she was like, why don't you teach? And I was like, what am I gonna teach, like, teach, right, you know? La clase a tu sabe. Cause, she's a teacher and I was like, what? What am I gonna teach? She's like, think about it. And that was the thing. And I was remember my first teaching job was at Northeastern Law and I loved it. I remember 'cause. I had the feel of being on campus was such a contrast to the corporate world. And talking to students and and getting to know what they wanted and seeing people learn things and and they're they're rigor takes to prepare to teach something was unlike anything else. And since then, it sort of just kept growing and growing in different ways in my career until now.


Arivee: I would love for you to talk even more about both this experience teaching and the other roles you've had and how relationships played a role in each opportunity.


Lourdes: Oh, now really relationships have been huge, and I will tell you I was a horrible networker. I didn't really start like, “networking until I was like way out of law school because I did not have those kinds of networks in my family and it just felt very foreign to me and I also don't like asking people for things. So, it sort of felt like what would I do if I'm not in a job interview? So, in any event.


Arivee: Wait Lourdes, do you think the not wanting to ask people for things is because of how we were raised. So, for those listening, we're both Dominican and so do you think it has something to do with it or you don't think so?


Lourdes: That's a great question. Like, I think it's sort of culturally like I just, it was never something I heard my parents talk about. It didn't go to networking events. Everything we did was with family or friends. You know, there wasn't that intentional. Like I'm gonna meet five like I have some students that are like I'm five people this month. Then I'm gonna look them up on LinkedIn and I was like, whoa, they're so ahead of curb. (Arivee: What?) And they're like 18. You know, but like that just was totally boring. I mean, like I it never even entered my radar until I was a young lawyer. And one woman was like, yeah, you should just ask people informational. Where you just learn about their career. Tell them what you need and see if they can build a bridge to someone else. And I was like, what is it informational? But relationships, when we were critical both in providing the encouragement but actually opening doors because the only reason when I became a general counsel, the person who hired me was a person who interviewed me many years back and introduced me to his brother at Fidelity. And he had learned about my work through his brother and said I'd love for you to come to this company. We don't have a general counsel. Could you be that person? And when it we think about what else you'd like to do? And I really got to write my own job description, which was a privilege. And from that job, the only reason I then went to the foundation was because somebody had a relationship with through, I think was at Alpha law woman who worked at the Federal Reserve, had sent a link to a blog about the work I was doing with cities to the President of the Foundation. And it was like, this is somebody you should meet cause she's doing a lot of work with communities that you might find interesting. And when meeting with him turned to a series of conversations that led to the job, I ended up first having at the foundation and then a larger role. Cause I've never been in philanthropy. I was like, really like, it was just not even in the cards for my career, and it was sort of the same. The pivot education only happened because a judge I clerked with when I was like, hey, my mom does thinks I’ll be good at teaching. What should I do? She's like, actually, I know people in northeastern. So critical, you know, none of those are posted roles. They were all opportunities that came up because people believed in me.


Arivee: Yes. I share similar story in terms of my getting into teaching. Right. It was all I think I wanted to teach and then all of a sudden someone that I've known for a long time was teaching and said, hey, I'm I teach this class and I actually can't teach this semester. Do you wanna teach forward? I could give you your name and that's how it happened very organically and so it's important to emphasize that even if you didn't, we didn't grow up that way and didn't grow up understanding how to do that, that you can learn and (Lourdes: right.) It's not like I I feel like when we say the word networking, so many of us go oh, it just sounds like force. There's something about it that sounds forced. (Lourdes: Yeah.) And I always say it really just is, you know, getting out there and meeting people and hopefully connecting with people like building a genuine connection. And so, for those out there who are not doing that, it's important to do that now because you never know what can happen five years down the road. Right. Like you're saying, ten years down the road, the people that you met when you were clerking. I mean, all of that. Sometimes it comes full circle, but you wouldn't. You don't know that at that time when you're meeting them. (Lourdes: Totally. It could not agree more.) And then Lourdes because I know you've done so much work with so many different influential people and you've been in so many different powerful rooms and worked with a lot of influential leaders. I would love for you to share just some wisdom about what are the and this has gotta be off the top of your head because I definitely do not prep her for this people. Is what do you think are the top qualities that make an effective leader?


Lourdes: Oh, that is a tough question. Like what makes a great leader is follower ship. It's like you could be a great leader and think your great leader, but people don't follow you. I don't believe in you. You have nothing. You're not. You know, you're not really leading. And I think it speaks to the way that you have to be both empathetic, a good listener and somebody who can both have a vision but actually bring others along in that work and not be arrogant in thinking that you can own in fully developed projects without the support of others and to really treat people as if they were part of that team. I know I've worked on both ends, and you know both volunteer settings and and work settings where I have sometimes felt bad. Sometimes I have not, and I think the projects that are most successful is where a leader really embodies those things. One of the leaders I admire shared with me that the way you think about success and kind of like that formula is really simple. You just begin and continue. And I remember thinking really thinking just through the work over and over again. And it was meaningful to me because often what leaders have inspired me and just the courage to start the courage to do the pivot, the courage to do the thing for the first time, that felt totally foreign. And that for me, was the hardest part because of my confidence. But then what makes successes is the commitment to that continuity and knowing that it's a lifelong journey. So yeah, that's sort of how I define it, but that was a hard question.


Arivee: Life. No life, long journey and and you mentioned you've mentioned confidence a couple of times in this conversation and I wanna delve into it a little bit more because I know it's something that so many people struggle with. Especially women, especially women of color, and I think it's important we dig deeper when you see someone that's confident. What qualities do they have? Like, what does it look like to you?


Lourdes: To me, I think it looks like somebody who just believes that the things that they conceive of are possible. And that they can go into those things fearlessly. It's almost like doing the thing in the absence of fear. And I've learned overtime to uncouple kind of the sense of fear from that. It's sort of just doing the thing and being committed to a vision, even if you're the only person who believes in it and carrying it forward in a way that feels like you don't. You really do it with your own sense of integrity, so if you're the only person who believes about the way to do something and and you know you feel a conviction around that and it's aligned with your values, I think that's sort of a core competency. I would put there.


Arivee: Yeah. Yeah. And confidence. You know, it's it's so interesting because. Like I said, outside looking in to me it looked like you were just a spiritless trailblazer. No Fear going after all the things that you. It's like it's to me. It looked like you imagined it, and it appeared right, like, that's how it looked. And so, when we talk about confidence. You know, we're talking about self-belief and the ability to believe so hard even when other people may not believe. Right. And so, I think it's important people to know there are different ways to think about confidence and I love looking at it from that lens of belief and possibility versus like you have to have it all together, you have to have No Fear whatsoever. I just don't think most people are in that space and I'm curious if you feel like you've met people that are like that.


Lourdes: I like. I totally do. So many of my mentors are people like that. Like like like a sponge. I've watched them do things that, you know, I I'm, like, inspired. And, you know, I put my mom in that category and and, you know, a lot of professional mentors where I say they're not acting without fear. But they believe in something and they're just going for it and it's like. And they're also really earning that leadership every day in the way that they treat other people, the sacrifices that they make to advance others to advance me and to create a pathway for me to have an opportunity to really do something. I remember even in a meeting recently with a woman that I really respect when working on a project with, you know, we're going through something that we're gonna present to a big group of stakeholders and I was like, well, do you agree with this? And she was like, actually, no, but present anyways. You know, really creating the space to just share a really big, bold set of interventions for systemic change that I believe in even if she was in 100% on board, it's a give the freedom for others to react to that. You know, I really admire her for that because not many people have the freedom to to let others have a stage to share their vision and to create a space for those conversations. So yeah, luckily, I have a lot of leaders to, you know, absorb many key Nuggets from.


Arivee: Wait so Lourdes so in addition to the leaders you've seen, or maybe you could pick one, or maybe it's it is your is your mom, but isn't only has to be one person who are some of the people that inspire you the most.


Lourdes: So definitely my mom is at the very top of the list because she is just a picture of both courage and kindness. Like when I grew up. I just wanna be 1-10th of the woman she is. I would be totally set. Professionally what I think the woman who told me to do it with fear was Beverly Achill. She used to be the CEO of an organization called the Partnership. And I have been really lucky to be mentored by her. I mean, it's almost like everything she says. So just so insightful. And she's been critical. A critical advisor at so many different junctures of my life and also real source of encouragement and reminding me when I'm when I'm committed to and capable of. another leader that I really admire somebody who's not my mentor, but I was. I went back to school for this program at Georgetown several years ago, and Madeleine Albright was one of the professors in the program. And I will tell you, like, I didn't have enough notebooks to write down everything, she said because I was just, like in awe to be in the room with her. But just like her insights about being a woman in politics and driving. Forward ideas and what it takes to be resilient, to think about, sort of like the world that you want to shape, just like blew me away. So, if I had to pick three, those would be my three.


Arivee: Those are a really good three. Let's move to what your what is your favorite. And this is a few have one. Some people don't have one that's. Totally fine, but do you have a favorite mantra or a saying that you use either two inspire you or to motivate you or to get you through hard times?


Lourdes: Yes, my mom it’s in Spanish. No mas en el momento venga. It reminds me like even in the toughest moments like you will get through it and there are you don't know what will come of it that's good and the best thing that can happen in a hard moment is think about what you've learned about yourself and that will be enough. And I I'm I'm constantly reminding myself of that even in both personally and business challenges that it's you know there will always be a brighter, brighter, brighter part to that story.


Arivee: Yes. And I've heard that one do. For many, many, many Spanish sayings. OK, Lourdes what about your favorite book? Do you have a favorite book or favorite books?


Lourdes: Yes, Tennessee Williams, my favorite author, he wrote he. Well, I don't think he published his, but his estate publishes notebooks. It's sort of like something you said about me. Like, when you look at a Pulitzer prise winning author, he struggled with his confidence his whole life to the point of being paralyzing, and you can see it in those stories. Anybody listening it’s time to read them. It just an incredible picture who he was, and it really shows how how incredible vision and and like excellence can live within somebody who was so vulnerable within themselves and struggled with their confidence, but still did it and pulled out amazing work. Even when he felt that he wasn't doing that.


Arivee: Yes, you could struggle with confidence, struggle with fear and do it anyway. Like you said, do it afraid do it scared. (Lourdes: Yes) right. OK. Lourdes, this last question, what does, and I ask this of everybody. What does humble rising mean to you?


Lourdes: I have thought about this, and I think to what it would mean to me is something we talked about already a little bit, which is in order to be, I think a good leader. I really believe we need empathy, and you really need to think about others and their experience build within them the kind of agency you wish you felt every moment of the day and cultivate the experience that you wish you had on that ladder of success. Because in order for somebody to begin and keep going, it really does take a village. I don't care who you are, but you don't do it alone. And I think we owe a responsibility to that. It's also humbly recognize that things we went through and how you can make that better for others.


Arivee: And yes, I agree with that. If anyone wants to connect with you, if any listeners out there really wanna connect with you and find you, how would they, how would they reach out to you?


Lourdes: They could email me, and I will give you my preferred email so that you can share with all the listeners. I was happy to meet and talk to anybody I can help.


Arivee: OK great. So, I will so I will share that in the show notes to make sure that everyone has that information so they can connect with you.


Lourdes: Yeah, I’m happy to. And thank you for doing this. I mean, just the fact that you run this podcast like you're one of the leaders I admire too, you know, and not to put you on the spot. Just everything that you're doing is an example for others having the courage to say, you know what? This is where my life is leading me. I'm gonna listen and lean into that and to do something to create a space for these conversations to inspire other women just like you and me, and so many others.


Arivee: Thank you. Thank you so much for that. And I really appreciate it. Cause I I do this scared. I do this scared too.


Lourdes: Thanks so much. Alright, bye. It was so great to talk with you today.


Arivee: Bye.


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Thanks so much for tuning into my conversation with Lourdes. I hope her story has left you with a sense of encouragement, as you begin to reflect on your own experiences and maybe even think about the approaches you can take to feel fulfilled in your professional life. So here are some key takeaways from my discussion with Lourdes. Number one, it's important to ask yourself how you feel and your current role or job, do you feel an imbalance? Is something not aligned? Does something not feel right? Pinpoint what it is and what steps you could take to change it. Number two, write down what you want for yourself in life and picture what would make you happy and five years with steps can be taken to accomplish your five-year plan set goals, even if they initially seem out of reach, they're probably more attainable than you think. Number 3 networking is about forming genuine connections with people. Relationships are critical, and opening doors likely down the road and serving as a source of encouragement and support. So, surround yourself with people that will give you honest advice and hold you to your highest potential. Four have confidence in your own judgment and decision making. If you feel like you're ready to leave an industry or a job or a field, throw yourself into your decision and trust yourself. Trust that you know what you're doing. Number 5. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. You can't constantly be controlled by fear. Make the jump. You will learn so much in the process. 6. Every pivot you make in life and in your career can contribute to growth. Different roles require different skills. Which may help you understand yourself and your values that much better. Nothing is a wasted experience. Number 7, there's something amazing about the unknown, so be open to opportunities, even if they don't fit with your initial plan in life. OK. Those are the takeaways and that concludes another episode of the Humble Rising Podcast. If Lourdes story resonates with you and you are excited to hear more about her personal experiences, please feel free to reach out to her via email. I will throw that email in the show notes also don't forget to subscribe rate and review this podcast. I'd love for you to share it with others as well if you want my biweekly doses of inspiration, motivation and coaching tips delivered to your inbox click the link in the show notes to subscribe to get those emails. You can also connect with me on Instagram at @AriveeVargas or her humble rising. Or, as always on LinkedIn, I'd love to know what you'd like to learn more about on the podcast. Finally, if you've been asking yourself how to figure out that next step in your career, I've got a career clarity Quick guide just for you. Check out the show notes for the link until next time, know that you are already powerful now and that you have what you need to create that life and career you want, you got this.


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