top of page

How to stop playing it safe…



Episode 53 Transcript


[00:00:00] Hi, I'm Arivee Vargas. I believe we're all so powerful beyond our wildest imagination. 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.


[00:00:29] 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 bad-ass inspirational women sharing their journeys. We'll dig into their successes, their failures, challenges, the different shifts and their careers and personal lives.


[00:00:51] And so much more. Be inspired, get motivated and get ready to rise. This is the humble rising podcast.


[00:01:13] “What changed my mindset was talking to an old college friend. And he said, Giovanna, you've always played it safe. He said, take the risk. Our people need to learn to take risks now that you actually built the financial means for yourself. You're still holding yourself back. And that really shook me to my core. I cried – I remember.”


[00:01:33] Ladies, ladies in this episode, I am talking to the first gen mentor. The one, the only Giovanna Gonzales. I actually first heard of Giovanna in an article that I read about entrepreneurs crushing it. And I saw her in different places. I remember reading about her. Uh, I read about her journey and why she became a financial educator and then fast forward, probably a week or two, I participated in a first gen LinkedIn audio event. Shout out to my girl, Jasmine Edison, and the whole first gen crew who participated in that. But Giovanna had actually listened to that audio event and we got connected. And so I know we were meant to meet, and I know you were meant to connect. And I asked her, “Hey, would you want to be on my podcast? I love what you're doing. I think you're making a big impact.” And so she decided to join me on the podcast. Let me disperse a little bit about Giovanna. Giovanna is a first-generation American and she's a first gen wealth builder. She is a former investment professional and she quit her corporate job to really pursue her true passion, which is teaching financial education to young adults.


[00:02:54] She teaches financial literacy and career readiness at universities and colleges and employee resource groups. And on her TikTok account for my Tik Tok folks out there at the first gen mentor, she's built a community of over 180,000 plus. So it keeps growing. And in October, 2021, she was selected to be part of TikToks inaugural TikTok, Latin X creatives, and she is part of the first ever LinkedIn creator accelerator program.


[00:03:29] If you know that program, there are a couple of people that have been on the podcast who actually are in that program as well. She's been featured in the New York Times, Business Insider, Self. She is an amazing person. She knows who she is. She knows what she wants. And in our conversation, she's sharing how she got there, how she got to that kind of place, how she navigated all of that.


[00:04:01] And she shares how to make the right move at the right time. When you reached a fork in the road, as she reached in her own life. And as she shares in our conversation, It's about the mindset shift that must occur to lean into taking the risk when you've tended to play it safe. And we talk about the trade-offs you make, when you want to create the lifestyle that you want and the importance of remembering your why, the importance of remembering why you're doing what you're doing.


[00:04:34] The importance of remembering the purpose behind it all, which becomes your driver when it gets really, really challenging. So get out your pen, get out your paper, your laptop, or your notes app on your phone, because you will want to have it handy for this conversation with Giovanna. And if you want to connect with her, you know, you check out those show notes to connect with her on all her social.


[00:05:02] GG. I'm so glad you're here and joining me today because I just know that your wisdom and your insights, and I know that your experience will deeply resonate with everyone listening right now. So for everyone listening, get ready for GG. Okay.


Thank you so much. What a warm welcome. Happy to be here. Oh, GG I would love for you to share your journey from even being a first gen college student all the way through to what you do now as a first gen mentor and a financial educator.


[00:05:38] Yeah, of course. I think my journey starts back to high school. I would say in high school, I was college bound. I was, you know, the quote unquote, good kid - took AP classes, all that fun stuff. But even though I was college bound, I found in my junior year that I wasn't going to go to college because my parents weren't willing to pay for my SAT test.


[00:06:03] You know, we didn't have a lot of money growing up. You know, we had enough where they could have found a way to scrape the money together for SAT tests, but they just couldn't get over like, well, why do you have to pay to take a test to possibly go to college? So that was really frustrating. I would say that was my first - back then, I didn't know, but that was my first experience being a first-generation college student, because I'm trying to advance my education. But my Mexican parents who weren’t familiar with the education system in the U S are just, you know, they don't understand. So, um, at the time I went to a community college, uh, there was a local community college.


[00:06:38] I was able to attendance that and back then I hated it. You know, cause a lot of my friends went to college and I want it to have that freedom to, but now I'm thankful because I saved a ton of money by doing that. And then it was also a safer space for me to grow. I was, you know, you're still a teenager when you're in those early college years.


[00:06:55] So it was good to be close to home. So I was at a community college for two years and I transferred to UC Santa Barbara through a guaranteed transfer agreement there. I majored in economics. Uh, why economics? I always liked learning about money. So that's why I picked that major. Didn't really know what I wanted to do when I graduated.


[00:07:15] I envisioned working at a bank or in money management, something like that. But instead my first job out of college, wasn't using my degree at all. I took a job at Progressive Insurance where I was a claims adjuster. So I took the job thinking, you know, it's good pay the positions in LA. I have a lot of friends in LA and it's something that I'll do for a year. And after a year, I'll transition to something that actually uses my degree. Well, one year very quickly turned to three and a half years in the blink of an eye. Because, uh, I, you know, you get comfortable, you get comfortable. The job was easy. The pay was good. I had great coworkers. It's a great company to work at - Progressive Insurance, but after some time I didn't feel professionally fulfilled.


[00:07:58] You know, I thought, why did I get myself $30,000 into student loan debt, If I'm not going to put this degree to use?. Right. That's why I went back to the drawing board to figure out how I could get some experience with my economics degree. So I found a position with a boutique consulting firm that worked with private equity companies.


[00:08:16] I took a $12,000 pay cut. So that was a bit rough because I was already a low income earner, but it worked out and I had paid my dues. I was there for about a year and a half. And then I took the next opportunity, which is working for another company that was similar kind of work doing consulting.


[00:08:33] At this company, I was there for two and a half years. And this is definitely where, I had my growing pains at this firm. Um, a lot of the teachings and lessons that I teach on my social media accounts are from my time at this firm. And, you know, we can dig into this deeper, I'm sure you'll ask questions, but some of the things that I experienced working at that place was, you know, the microaggressions, being undervalued, being overlooked for opportunities. Working hard, but not seeing any results coming out of it.


So, uh, after some time I just decided that wasn't the best fit for me. And I looked for my next opportunity, which was most recently at Northern Trust. So that's a bank headquartered here in Chicago. At Northern Trust, I finally felt like I had. A good company, you know, somewhere where I was valued for being my authentic self.


I was niched down in my role.


At this point, I had earned a designation. It was called a certificate and an investment performance measurement. So very, very niche, not a lot of people in the industry know about that specific part of the industry. So yeah, I had a great boss that promoted my professional develop. But what happened was, you know, on the side, while it wasn't a very fulfilling career, I built this TikTok account.


[00:09:53] So the TikTok account, you know, there's a fun story to how that cash actually came about. So I joined TikTok in March of 2020 as a distraction of the pandemic. Never intending for it to monetize or for it to be anything that, just an account that I could just mindlessly scroll on. Like everybody else trying to escape the reality of March 2020.


[00:10:14] But that changed a bit in March of 2021. When I came across a video on TikTok, that inspired me to start making content of my own for the first gen community. So in this video, it was a young white woman bragging about how law school was so easy for her because both her parents were attorneys. And she said that if she ever got stuck with any of her homework or any of her case studies, she could just hop on zoom with them and they’d walk her through her home.


[00:10:44] And, you know, for the time that we were living at, it was just very tone deaf, for lack of a better word. Uh, very, very privileged. And, uh, you know, I saw the video and it irks me, but I was like, well, this isn’t going to affect me, I'm not a law student. But I had that moment where I paused and I thought, you know, what, if this rubbed me the wrong way, how would the current first gen student or somebody who is going through law school and they're in the thick of it, and they're having a challenging time, how would they feel seeing something like that?


[00:11:14] So that inspired me to make a rebuttal there called not as a stitch is what they're called on. TikTok they're actually called something when you do like a response video. Yeah. Yeah. I did a response video. Perfect. Yeah. They're called stitches. Yeah. So I stitched it. I did a response video and I just said, Hey, if any first gen students see this a feel unworthy because you don't have, you know, college-educated parents, don't think that way. Like sure, our road is a little bit tougher, but you know what? We are resilient. We're hardworking. We are grit. You're going to figure this out. You're going to be just fine. And I just put that out. I mean, I think I had like 2000 followers at that time. It wasn't, you know, anything.


[00:11:56] But I just put that positive message into the world. And, uh, I got a lot of comments of people saying, thank you so much for saying this. I saw that exact same video earlier, and it definitely rubbed me the wrong way, or, you know, I've been having a really hard time with school this week and hearing that video, you know, didn't help, but now seeing yours, like I feel more inspired.


[00:12:14] I can do this. So to me, that was my little light bulb moment of, okay. Instead of just mindlessly scrolling on this app, I can actually contribute. And to me, that was second nature because I was already doing that in my free time. So I was already spending my free time mentoring first gen students at my Alma Mater.


[00:12:32] And I was teaching financial literacy as a volunteer instructor at a local nonprofit. So I'm like, great. I'm going to bring my wisdom to this app specifically to serve the first gen community. And I was just consistent and the account has grown and since March of 2021, and then it got to a point where it kind of took a life of its own in the sense that I started getting a lot of opportunities from it.


[00:12:57] Uh, some of the opportunities that came about my way, where, Hey, can you come and be a speaker at our conference? Or can you teach a credit building workshop to our students? Can you come on our podcasts like this one, um, uh, even brands started coming my way saying, Hey, we want to sponsor a video for you to promote our company.


[00:13:16] So I definitely faced a fork in the road where I'm like, I can, you know, stand my company when a company was talking about return to office. And I knew what returned to office that will take time away from my Tiktok account and the impact that I was making. So there was a fork in the road either I go back to corporate business as usual and scale back and what I'm doing with my TikTok account, or I take a leap of faith for once in my life and, you know, quit my stable job and then see where this TikTok thing takes me to.


[00:13:47] And, um, I took the, the other windy road, you know, uh, but it's been great. It's been such a great ride and I've learned a lot.


GG, can we, can I unpack so much of that? This is important because you went through your own process of: you didn't know, five years ago, that this is what you'd be doing. It was almost like experiences built on different experiences, your own personal experience, and also the need you saw and how you knew you could contribute.


[00:14:19] But it happened like an organic thing that happened over time. Although you always knew to me, it sounds like you were always kind of in this space because you have this first gen experience and you also were mentoring and you were, you were in the community already doing the work. It's just that now it's on a bigger platform.


[00:14:38] I am so curious about the examination process you went through when you were assessing that fork in the road. There was a fork in the road and you said, Hey, I could either return to the office and go back to my corporate job. That's the safe thing to do. But that takes away time from what I'm doing on social media, that's really serving my community.


[00:14:58] Right. Or you could take the risk and go that route. I want to know more about that. How long that took, what were your questions to yourself? Because I can tell you right now, Gigi, there are so many people listening right now, who are at a fork in the road who are like, what do I do? Do I take a risk? Do, am I going to make less money?


[00:15:17] What do I do? I need to be financial secure. My family doesn't come from much like they're thinking of these things. And I would love for you to share more deeply a process you went through.


Yeah, of course. I'm so happy you asked me cause you know, I've been on a couple of podcasts and when we talk about my journey, everybody just kind of focuses on, oh, well tell me about Tik Tok and how to grow.


[00:15:38] They're just so excited for, you know, the future, but you're completely right. There was a big fork in the road and there was a big internal struggle in which road to choose. The way I described it to a friend the other day. I'm like I went back to corporate, you know, think of like a sunny road with like beautiful trees.


[00:15:56] You know, chirping birds, it was a clear path. And then the other road was, you know, like dark, stormy. So, yes, it was definitely, that's what it felt like at the time. And to be honest, when I first got told you're going to return to office, I thought, okay, that's what we're doing. It was my, my partner, my husband, who said, hold on, what about your Tictok?


[00:16:20] And I'm like, well, I'm just going to have to do less of that. And he said, no, but you know, you're doing so great. So he, I'm very thankful. He's been very supportive in this journey. He kind of saw the potential in it before. So that helped me kind of pause, right? So he was really encouraging saying, Hey, you really should take a shot of this. I think you're good at this. This is what you're naturally passionate about. Let's see where this takes you. And, um, I was still like, oh, maybe even my best friend was saying the same thing. Like Giovanna, you have the financial means to pursue this, you know, so to give the audience a little bit more insight.


[00:16:50] So the reason I had the financial means to quit a stable corporate job was because I was aggressively saving to quit my job for a sabbatical. So pre pandemic, I was squirreling away money to one day, quit my job and travel for a year. That was just a big dream that I had that I wanted to travel extensively. While I was young.


[00:17:12] So obviously with the pandemic, traveling had come to a halt, but I still had thousands of dollars saved to decide to. So my best friend asked me, you know, would you consider using those funds to build the businesses back? And at the time I said, heck no. You know, traveling is my number one goal. No way.


[00:17:33] Like I didn't, I didn't start a business. That sounds like work. No, this is always supposed to be to quit and not to work more. So then that was my initial reaction when my partner brought it up and my best friend brought it up, but you know, what changed my mindset? It was talking to an old friend. So it is an old college friend.


[00:17:52] Um, you know, and what's funny is we hadn't talked in years. We hadn't talked in years and I don't know how we connected and he's like, Hey, let's talk about this. Let's talk on the phone about this. And he heard, you know, what my hesitations were, you know, and he said, Giovanna, you've always played it safe, take the risk, you have the money, right?. And I'm like, yeah, he said, take the risk. Our people need to learn to take risks. You know, he says all these white people, you know, they have the financial means. So they don't think twice about it. Now that you actually built the financial means for yourself. You're still holding yourself back. Take the risk.


[00:18:26] And that really shook me to my core. I cried. I remember. And I'm still so, so thankful for him, his name's Chaba and shout out to Chaba. I'm going to send this episode. It was very powerful just to hear somebody who's known me for 10 plus years give me that advice. But yeah, it wasn't an easy decision, especially like I said, because I finally was at a company where I felt valued. And I’d broken the code to what it would take to advance in the corporate setting. I was involved with really cool projects, high visibility on the up and up of management. And I'm like, wow, I'm going to leave all that? When I finally figured it out for myself to teach other people, but I'm like, this is what's needed and this is what's more meaningful right now.


[00:19:04] So what's so fascinating about your story is you weren't leaving a job that was toxic. You were looking a job where it was fulfilling to you and you had a trajectory. You had a path. You had a career path to promotion into advancement. And you said that is fantastic, but I got to do this other thing. And I want to touch on this idea that we always play it safe.


[00:19:27] And I want to dig deep there because I'm wondering of your view, where that comes from, right. Actually community. You always play it safe if you don't take risks. Oh yeah. What what's that about? And for everybody listening, how does that impact what they do with their money and the stories they tell themselves about the relationship with money?


[00:19:44] I think it's a common theme amongst most immigrant households to play it safe. Right. Because I know from my personal experience, you know, my parents came to this country with very little. So when you have very little, you can't take risks because you might not be able to pay your electricity bill or put food on the table.


[00:20:03] Uh, that’s a luxury afforded to the people that have the means, you know? So when you don't see your parents taking those sort of risks, you just don't know that that's possible for you, even though I'm more financially secure than my parents have been. Right. Because I was able to go to college, something that they weren't able to do.


[00:20:21] So from a scarcity mindset of like, we don't have enough, so why would we risk? You know, it's, it's, it's not in our nature. Definitely. And I, and I think that there's this misconception that, oh, I can’t invest and I can't save. And I can't do these things unless I am debt-free and I have all this quote, unquote, extra money.


[00:20:41] And I'm wondering like what your advice for people is who believe that even if it's a false belief, it feels real to them. Right? They say that often it's like, what do you mean? I don't, I can't invest. I don't have all this extra money to do that. And I have all this debt and I need to focus on that. What is your advice to them?


Well, there's a technical explanation, right? Why you should be investing, you know, I'm not going to bore the audience with the detail of the compound interest, right? So there's a very mathematical reason why people should be investing. But I actually worked through this with my money coaching clients, where I tell them that I like to think of your finances as a garden.


[00:21:19] So think that you have a garden that, you know, lemons and tomatoes and cucumbers, just anything that you can grow in a garden. And if you just focus on watering just to limits and you ignore the cucumbers and the Basel and everything else is going to shrivel up, you know? So I say, if you have limited water sprinkle a little bit on each, you know, it's just like a good way to slowly improve your finances little by little. It doesn't have to be so overwhelming.


Yeah, I think there's this sense that you need to have a substantial amount of money, do it best. And I think there's the sense of immediate return, like wanting an immediate return on investment versus long-term. What you're doing for the long term, right? I'm wondering how you like teach that with your coaching clients, to teach them to unlearn this like instant gratification and to learn how to invest. How do you go through that process with them?


It comes because the stock market is so abstract to some people. You know, it's not something you can touch, right? So that's why the concept of OA investing for the long-term. Like, I need something now, you know? So it goes with educating people on what the stock market is, how it should be something you should be investing for in the long term. It's not a get rich, quick scheme, right? And, you know, I did this with my brother recently where he's like, well, what if I lose money? You know, or what if this happens? And I told him, you know, if, if investing in the stock market was a scam, or if it wasn't something that would benefit you, I said, do you think rich people would do it?


[00:22:52] And he said, no, they, and I'm like mushy poor mess in the stock market. Right. He's like, yeah. And I'm like, you need to be doing what rich people do. Or even though you're not rich, you need to act the way they act.


You know, there is this sense that, well, they started with more like they had an advantage. And let me tell you, which is true - I went to law school, so I'm a litigator by trade, but then transitioned to HR. And now I do, and I do HR and other things, but I remember seeing that privilege in undergrad seeing the privilege and advantage in law school with, through what, what you just described earlier about parents who were lawyers, who could help their kids and me, it's like, drowning and struggling, what am I doing? I have no idea what I'm doing. And imposter syndrome was crazy back then. That was a long time ago. But even today, there are people who I know whose parents give them homes, I'll have my own home and then I'll go buy a new one, and my husband and I talk about this all the time. You work so hard and you invest in you. And because of generational wealth, you'll never make that up. Like we'll never make that up. We can do what we can to start building our generational wealth, but it feels so unfair that you haven't had the advantage of someone giving you a home and getting a home mortgage.


[00:24:21] Right to think of the hit that can take on your financials. And so what I love about what your messages, you can now start building generational wealth.


Yes, we are where we are and recognizing the systemic issues, but we are saying you can take control of your financial literacy and really start moving forward in a way that you want in your career and in your life.


[00:24:44] And so I'm wondering from your view, how do you feel financial literacy allows you to really take charge of your career? Because I jumped in 100%. The number one question I get when I coach people is, but I don't know if I can switch or I can take a pay cut or I, I don't know what I can do based on the money issue.


[00:25:04] Like there's a point there's always a money component too. Of course money is important.


We all need money. And I touch back on the point about, you know, how we don't benefit from generational wealth. That's a big reason why, you know, I teach culturally relevant financial education. You know, a lot of accountants will just teach you, well, this is compound interest and this is a high yield savings account.


[00:25:26] I teach all that stuff too. But then I talk about like the, Hey guys, we do have a different starting line, because of our background. our immigrant background. Let's not sink into those feelings of like, you know, cause there's a lot of LatinX that do that. I've made videos about this too about, oh, you know, I don't have anything.


[00:25:43] My parents came here with nothing and you know, it's, I think it's important to acknowledge it and to know that we have those shared experiences, but let's not sink into those feelings. Cause it just kind of drowns us down, you know, boxes us down. So instead let's understand our starting line is different.


So that's why it's even more crucial for you to take charge, take control of your finances cause you have some catching up to do. And you know, our road is a little tougher. But it can be done with, with education and with making these financial choices, you know, looking to maximize your income, your earning potential, you know, it can be done.


Regarding your question about how to finance this, come into taking a risk, right?


[00:26:24] Taking the leap into starting a new path and new career. Yeah. I mean, they 100% matter, and I know they matter because even for me, I have, at the time I had 14 months of my living expenses saved up, you know, I could have gone and lay on the beach for 14 months and I would have been fine.


[00:26:40] Right. But even though I had that money put aside, I still thought, well, you know, what, if I run out of money sooner, or what if you know, I, if I need to go back to my job and they think that it's a, they don't take me seriously because I quit, you know, to pursue this. What if I get left behind? Right. Those are all little doubts.


[00:26:59] I think that if you’re looking to switch or to start something, you know, from the ground up, you need to have some sort of financial security. So whether that's the ability to move back with family while you're bootstrapping a business, or if you are able to save a cash cushion, you know, we all have different needs.


[00:27:16] Some people can get by with six months, some people three months, nine months a year, some people wouldn't feel comfortable taking the leap until they have two to three years of their expenses saved up. Right. So it's. Uh, you know, up to the individual, but I think everybody kind of has to have an honest conversation about like, what's that number that's going to make you feel good about your financial security to allow you to take that leap?


[00:27:38] Can you walk us through how you ended up saving? I think you said 14 months worth of living expenses. Sure, to prepare it, because initially to prepare for your travels and you wanted to take that year, right? Why didn't you do that?


[00:27:53] It's something that I'm very proud of, especially because, you know, even at my last corporate job, the highest I ever earned was $70,000. You know, sometimes you hear a lot of these stories about people. “I made six figures, I'm an engineer. I worked in tech, you know, I never had a high-earning job like that.”


[00:28:10] And I still managed to save in that amount of time. And to kind of take it a little bit back when I first graduated from college, I had about $35,000 in student loans and about $20,000 in a car loan. So that was tough, you know, being a 21 year old, entering the real world with $50,000 on my shoulders. But, you know, with time I paid that off, I learned about financial literacy in my late twenties.


[00:28:35] So then I really accelerated my debt repayment, but what made the biggest impact and me having the ability to save that kind of money was, well, first of all, learning, learning about how many words, um, the way that I taught myself financial education is I spent a summer reading all the personal finance books that I could read.


[00:28:52] I read over 50 - it's wild. I just couldn't stop reading it. It was insane. So then I learned that, you know, the best way to improve your financial position is to increase your income or decrease your expenses, or both increase your income and decrease your expenses. If you do both, then you're really going to set yourself up for success.


[00:29:14] So I said, okay, well, I can't really increase the income at the job that I'm at. I guess I can switch jobs, but my options were kind of limited in San Diego. I lived in San Diego at the time. So then I thought, okay, well next would be decreasing the expenses. What can I do? San Diego is kind of pricey.


[00:29:29] You know, I can look into moving somewhere where it's a little bit more affordable and, um, we decided to move to Phoenix. So San Diego is a high cost of living area. Phoenix is considered middle cost of living. So it's not exactly low cost to live, but it's middle, it's still significant savings.


[00:29:47] So if anybody's curious, we paid $1,800 for a one bedroom apartment in San Diego. This was back in 2019, and then we moved to Arizona and we rented a house, a three bedroom, two bathroom house for $1,450. So, you know, it, it may be, it doesn't sound like that much savings, but our lifestyle was definitely much better.


[00:30:10] We had a yard for the dog, a lot more space, but sacrificing in the sense of moving, of leaving, you know, beautiful sunny San Diego, coastal area to move to Phoenix where it can get it up to 120 degrees in the summer, it is hot. It is real hot. That made the biggest impact in my finances because it's significantly reduced my living expenses. And I know not everybody has the opportunity to move. I know that it can be challenging with family commitments and work commitments, whatnot. But if, if you do have the opportunity to even move to the next city over, that's a little bit more accessible, you know, that's one of our biggest expenses are housing expenses.


[00:30:48] And then what really helped me too, is that the new job that I took in Phoenix came with a slight salary bump. So I did benefit from increasing my income and then decreasing my expenses. And then I just stuck to my budget. I said, you know what? I didn't come to Phoenix in vain. I came here with some very specific financial goals.


[00:31:06] And, uh, what really helped me stick to my budget was reminding myself what that goal was. So for me, again, it was traveling the world for a year, but different people will have different goals, right? So the way that I stuck to my budget was I bought a big world map from Amazon and I had it plastered on my living room wall.


[00:31:25] You know, some people make vision boards. I had this big world map and that was my constant reminder of like, this is what you want for yourself and make it happen. So, if you want to save for a down payment for your dream home, print a picture of what your dream home will look like, or if you want to start a business, you know, put a picture of what that dream business would look like to really help motivate you.


[00:31:47] Ah, I love that. I love that when you would go back and wonder, why am I doing this? It's like, it's always going to be your purpose and your why. I think some people forget that when they're really, they are really clear on their why, it's what they always come back to is what you're saying. Like you'll always come back to it and it will always drive you forward because you know, that's what you wanted is that you still want that.


[00:32:09] And that's why you're going through - it may be challenging, but you want that at the end of the day and you're willing to work hard to get it.


Absolutely.


I want to go back a little bit in time to when you said you were experiencing in a previous job, you were experiencing microaggressions and you didn't feel valued and you felt like you were overlooked. And then you, when you were at Northern Trust you finally felt like you could be your authentic self. I'm wondering, and just for us to, to know: When you were at Northern Trust and you finally felt valid, you finally felt like I could be me. What were they doing that made you feel that way?


[00:32:57] Well, first comes to mind is they had a culture that really promoted active employee resource groups. You know, I think a lot of firms have employee resource groups, but, you know, they're kind of dead in the water until Hispanic Heritage Month or Black History Month or sort of, times of the year, the ERG and Northern Trust, they always have something going on. So if you were subscribing to their email list, you'd get invited to events, whether it's hearing a speaker, attending a workshop, doing a networking event. So they had a very strong culture and just, you know, and the, and the ERGs were for military, you know, for LGBTQ plus, um, women in the workplace, black, Latino. All the different affinity groups. So that helped in me feeling okay. I'm different from, you know, the typical white male that works in this industry and I'm valued. And then what else helped is if I gave any ideas or any suggestions of ways to improve processes, you know, I had other friends who had been told, oh, okay. Well, think about that. We're here. They would really lean in and be like, oh, tell me more. You know, I felt like I was being heard for the first time. But you know, to be honest, a lot of that too was also me having a better understanding of how to manage my career. And that was after you know, doing some reading.


[00:34:18] Um, the book called the Memo really helped, as well as Learning How to Brag, I believe is called the other book. I'll have to email you with the title. Brag Better or something like that. What's the other one about you? I know you have to know about getting the corner office. Nice girls don't get the corner office.


[00:34:37] Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That one was a game changer. So I started really reading a lot of books about career development for women. And it helped me understand that you really have to speak up that, you know, it's not just about working hard and putting your head down. But, you know, especially during the pandemic, I had a lot of time to reflect on why is it I thought that, you know, working hard and just grinding and putting my head down would be enough - because that's my culture. That's what those are the values in my culture to do that. You know? So the way that corporate America is set up where, you know, you have to speak up and toot your own horn, that's like the male white Protestant way.


[00:35:20] So that's a standard, you know. So, iof that had been the standard for Latinos, I would have been recognized for putting my head down and working hard, but those values aren't, what's, you know, the standard right now, you know, until we get more diversity in there, we have to speak up, and play their game, you know? So, so that took me a while to learn.


Let me just say that you're touching on so many things here, because you're talking about also in art and in Latino culture, it's very male. Authoritative, right? Like if for many of us on Latino culture, there is authority and you respect authority and kids don't do whatever they want.


[00:35:57] It's like, no, you be quiet. And that's what we're doing today. And discipline and you respect authority, listen, you don't talk back. There is no like freedom. And things of that nature and that's just culturally how it is. But in addition to that, you're taught if you work hard, you can do it. If you work hard, you can make it. You just got to work really hard and keep going. Even though it's really tough. And I think for so many of us, what a gift, what a gift and what a privilege it was to have that instilled in us that you work hard, you fight through, you can be resilient. And to build that. To make it through tough times.


[00:36:36] But then on the flip side, you're like, yeah, but I get to corporate America and it's not just about working hard it's but all these other things, it's like politics. And then it's what kind of product is most visible. And then it's like, how do I navigate this conversation? Where, like you said, ideas, people to really engage with what I have to say.


[00:36:55] And so you start learning in the job, but also by reading and how to like, educate yourself on how do you navigate the space that feels so foreign because it now only is different for you as a woman, but it's, it's harder for you to unlearn what we've been taught your own culture. So much unlearning, I'm wondering what other unlearning you had to do?


[00:37:19] A lot, Yeah. And as I talked to my, my most specifically, my dad now I see all the learning that I've had to do. You know, recently this came up with my dad because, um, my husband accepted a new job. And I was really excited telling my dad, hey, we're finally going to be able to move to Chicago. Cause David got a new job and he said, that's great.


[00:37:38] And I'm like, yeah, he just now needs to go back and, you know, negotiate for more pay. And my dad was, you know, his demeanor changed at first. He was very excited, like, oh great. And then when I brought up about now he has to go back and negotiate more. He said, “no, no, no, no. What do you mean negotiate more”?


[00:37:52] Don't rock the boat. You know, you guys have been wanting a job. He finally got it. Just taken and be thankful. And I said, and I said, dad, what do you mean Giovanna? I know what I'm telling you. Like, I've been around the block, my dad very macho. Right. He knows it all. And I just let him talk. Right. And then when he was done, you know, the warning me about how, you know, the dangers of, of asking for more.


[00:38:13] I said, dad, actually, it's already done. He already negotiated. And they came back and they're giving him $10,000 more. And my dad, you know, we had this moment where he just said “Oh, well, he said, yeah, he said, you know what? He told me. He said, you know what? You and I live in different worlds.” He said, “because in my world that wouldn't be possible.”


[00:38:36] He said, let me tell you a story. So he said, when he worked at some job, you know, cause my dad, he worked as a cook. He worked as a custodian. He worked at a con you know, all these odd jobs. And he told me that when he worked at this pizza place, they were working a lot of overtime and all the workers said, Hey, let's ask for a pay raise collectively.


[00:38:55] Let's ask for more, you know, we've been working like. So they decided to go to management and say, Hey, we've been real busy with the workload. Can we ask for a slight bump? And the manager said of treating them respectfully for asking for something that they deserve. The manager said, if you guys aren't happy with what you're earning, I have a hundred other applicants willing to take your job.


[00:39:16] So my dad learned, you know, to survive. He had to keep his mouth shut. Which is so different from, like you said, the privilege that we have in corporate America, where it's much different, where you have to speak up, right? In, in these, um, low minimum wage jobs, you have to just keep your mouth shut and work hard and get the job done.


[00:39:38] You don't have really the opportunity to ask for promotion, salary increases, you know, new job responsibility. So it's, it's very, it's a very different world that we operate in than our parents did.


Yes. And this idea, even with the women I speak with. “Oh, I don't want to, I don't want to ask to be on that project. I don't want to ask to do this or be on that case because this person has invested in me and I don't want to ask for something else. I don't want him to feel like I'm not committed. I don't want her to feel like I'm not committed.” I call it like a little bit of mind drama and hear about, wait, no, I should just be grateful.


[00:40:15] Like I should. I mean, I'm so lucky to have this kind of mentor in this, in this company or in this firm. And I don't exactly. I don't want to rock the boat. I don't want to be an issue. I just want to like do my job and I'm so grateful to be here. But you're not happy. And you want something more, but you don't want to say anything because of the stories you’re telling yourself in your mind.


[00:40:36] I totally agree with this sense of: it's a privilege we have in corporate America to say that we could even ask for more. And that negotiation is a thing.


It's expected.


Yes. And that if you don't answer more, it's kind of like, why didn't you do that? And we always say it's up to people to drive their careers. And it's also up to people to advocate for themselves. And how do you do that? When, you know, culturally, you have to learn so many things to get to the point where you can ask the question. And I know that this is only personal experience, even asking for things, I would come with like a memo and be like, these are the reasons why, and people would like laugh at me and like, oh, it's funny, you're asking? That's totally fine. And I'm like, I'm just, I just want to be clear that like, this is what, so, I mean, even arming yourself and literally arming yourself with preparation to make an ask. And sitting in your worthiness that you deserve it, right?


Like your, your husband asking for negotiating his offer. Cause he felt like no, no, no. I deserve it. I think for a lot of us, we struggle with. Yeah, I think it's important to acknowledge that, you know,


Even if you learn, because you can hear negotiation advice, you should be negotiating your salary, you should be advocating for yourself in the workplace. Right. So even though I learned all that from the books that I mentioned, you know, it wasn't something instilled for me from my immigrant parents or it wasn't something college taught me.


[00:42:04] Right. So I learned from. It's still felt very unnatural. And I didn't know it was culturally that's why, because culturally it went against everything I'd been taught. Like you said, respect your elders, respect authority, you know, and I know that Latinos aren't the only ones with this upbringing. I know its in our culture.


[00:42:22] It's very prevalent where you don't speak up. You respect elders and authority, you know? So you're doing your total. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


No questions asked, you know, so, so corporate America needs to do better to, you know, understand that those cultural differences are there. But like I said, until change, we kind of have to play the game right, until we change those practices in the workplace.


Yeah. So are you ready for our rapid sirens? Yeah. Okay. So the first one, I don't know, maybe the books you've already mentioned also fill this category, but what is your favorite book or books?


I would say one that I read recently was we should all be millionaires.


[00:43:07] I know it, and I've read a lot of money books, like I mentioned earlier, but this was more of a mindset book. You know, the, the title's a little bit tricky where we shall be millionaires. So you think you're going to learn about IRAs and that sort of stuff, but it's not that kind of, it just really talks about, like you said, the unlearning that we have to do as women of color.


[00:43:25] So that one was a very powerful one. And I would recommend that one as an audio book, because I remember I bought the printed version. And, you know, it's kind of hard to read because some of the stuff is tough to get through, you know, because you're having to do so much and learning. So I found that with the audio version, I was able to get through it a lot easier.


[00:43:44] Okay. Okay. Okay. That's definitely a book that everyone needs to go get.


Person who inspires you the most?


100% Eva Longoria. I love her. She's a fellow Mexican-American and she does it all. You know, she started as an actress, you know, but she is now an activist and a director and she wears just all the hats. You see, you know, a beauty ambassador, but she's a business woman. She has her tequila company. She's in politics. This woman does it all. And while looking flawless - the best part, but she's such an inspiration.


Yes. Yes. And then a favorite mantra or saying that either inspires you or, you know, gets you through tough times?


[00:44:32] I'd say the one that is my go-to is: if you don't ask the answer's always. No, I think that helps me get out of that right when I'm like, no, you know, cause now that I'm my own business owner, I have to negotiate a lot. So I always think if you don't ask the answer's always no, you know, you're telling no to yourself by not asking and that doesn't feel good to say no to yourself. So, yes.


And then the last question is what does humble rising mean?


I think it means to not forget your roots, right. To kind of remember where you came from and uplift people with you. I can't say that I benefited from mentors. Um, unfortunately, but you know, I did benefit from good teachers, good counselors to have vouch for me, some supportive bosses, you know, so, so I think it's good to kind of go back and give back in any way that you can. So whether that's with your time by volunteering or by donating your money, but, you know, I think sometimes people have high success can become very self-centered and just think about them. But I think it's always important to look back and think about where you came from.


[00:45:42] Yes. Yes. And then the only last thing - I lied - this is my last question is, is if someone wants to work with you because you're a money coach, right? Someone served with me when I know you run workshops around the things that we've been talking about. If someone wants to work with you, what's the best way to find you?


The best way to find me is on my website. It's the first gen mentor.com. Uh, if you had to take talk fan, make sure to check me out. My handle is at the first gen mentor. I'm also on Instagram. My handle, there is Gigi, the first gen mentor. And yeah. If you're interested in getting money coaching directly from me. Or if you're interested in having me teach an educational workshop at your university or employee resource group, you can get in touch with me@thefirstinventory.com.


[00:46:25] Well, I can vouch for your IG account cause I'm on IG and it's fine. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. And I had a blast and I know that what you've shared is really going to impact a lot of people. So thank you.


Arivee Thank you. It was a pleasure. I appreciate you having me on.


[00:46:55] Thanks so much for listening. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. So you don't miss one single episode. If you want my bi-weekly doses of inspiration, motivation and coaching tips, click the link in the show notes to subscribe. And if you're asking yourself how to figure out that next step in your career, or you're at a career crossroads, I've got a career clarity guide just for you.


[00:47:21] Check out the show notes for the link. Until next time my friends, keep stepping into how incredibly powerful you are. You got this.


Comments


bottom of page