Transcript: Eve Rodsky on Flexibility in the Workplace, Replacing White Feminism with Care feminism and Finding Your Unicorn Space

Welcome to the Holistic Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Keisha Blair wife, mother of three, author of Holistic Wealth and Founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth. The show will showcase various experts in the key pillars of holistic wealth. Each week, we deliver the best information on how to become holistically wealthy and live your best life.

Keisha Blair: Today I have a very special guest with me, I have Eve Rodsky and she is the New York times bestselling author of Fair Play. And she’s the author of the upcoming book, Find Your Unicorn Space that I’m still looking forward to reading. And I’m so excited to have you here today, Eve. We have so many of these issues in common that we’re passionate about.

And so I’ve been dying to talk to you about all of these things. So welcome to the show.

Eve Rodsky: I feel the same. I think women’s economic security, Keisha is what keeps me up at night. It’s to me, what’s the biggest barrier to women in power. And so your messages resonate, you’re taking the stigma off women, talking about money. I call myself the ghost of Christmas future. I’ll call you that as well, right? To say, you may not think you’re going to end up in this situation, widowed or divorced or whatever your circumstances are. And instead of saying, you’re ashamed because you shouldn’t have been there. I think Keisha, you and I have in common that we’re here for you. We are here for you, regardless of whatever your circumstances.

Keisha Blair: Yes, absolutely. And it’s such an important topic because all of these things have been highlighted during COVID-19 with women having to leave the workforce to care for kids and to make those tough choices. I know I’ve been there. I’ve been there prior to COVID-19. I feel like even during COVID-19 again, it was just like deja VU only exacerbates it. Because now I’m homeschooling three kids and trying to get everything done and I’m thinking, wow, this was never sustainable, not even 10 years ago.

Now this is 10 years after, and I’m in the same spot where I’m thinking this isn’t sustainable for women. And you’ve been doing a lot of work around this talking to various women, Eve. What has happened during the COVID-19 and I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you think we should go from here because the old normal was never working for women.

Now we have an opportunity, we’re at an inflection point and you know, I’m hoping that organizations, that the corporate world gets this, but I’m fearful that there’s this push. You see this push to go back to work. Let’s just go back to the old normal, and it’s not, it’s still not going to work for women. So I just wanted to get your views on, you know, what you think that post COVID world should look like now?

Eve Rodsky: When I was a kid growing up in the lower east side, there was always a commercial that would come on that said, you know, it’s 10 it’s 10:00 PM. Do you know where your children are? I think about that now for leaders. It’s 10:00 PM. Do you know where your workers are? And they’d better not be working? I’ll tell you that later. They better not be working. Right. They should be caring, caring for themselves for others. And I think to myself, that’s the big reckoning that I spoke to at Davos. This was February, 2020. And so it was really funny because not funny, it was ironic because, you know, nobody knew what was coming a month later, but all these, sort of pale and male men who were in the audience or one of these talks I was in and they kept saying to me, well, What is your vision for society?

And, I looked at them in the audience and said, well, you remember that BBC dad, where the child crashed in on him and the Walker? I said, I want you all to be that dad. I want you to parent out loud. I want you to have as many interruptions as I have. I want you to lose five to 10% of your wages for every child that you bring into the world.

I want you all not to be living the statistic. I know you’re living, which is that 70% of you have stay at home wives, the most traditional family structure imaginable. I want you to have empathy for the fact that society has been built on the backs of the unpaid labor of women and when paid the undervalued labor of women of color and that that’s no longer sustainable.

And then, you know, a month later we were all the BBC dad. I think, you know, I mean, of course there’s essential workers who couldn’t have the privilege to be from home working from home, but over 20 million American workers or that BBC dad, you know, threw it into their homes and trying to do it all under the same roof.

And I think, like you said, we’re at an inflection point where if we don’t learn from this crisis, that it was completely sustainable. What we were doing to half of the population, then shame on us. Shame on us and then I will also say that every woman who listens to it last has to recognize that we have our own agency.

That’s what Kesha does. Right? We’re working on your personal economic security, but this is also a political movement that you can join us. Say we’re going to support each other. I’m in a new world that we value. That we value caregiving.

Keisha Blair: Yeah absolutely. And that’s so true. It’s so funny. You mentioned Davos 2020. Because I went to Davos 2018. I was there in a professional capacity was like, I was part of the Prime Minister’s supporting delegation to Davos. And it’s so funny because that was 2018. Some of the major themes that we worked on were gender equality, the gender pay gap. And here we are in 2021, I mean, in three years I don’t expect the world to blow up and everything to fall in place, but I feel like, you know, now is the time. Right. And we’ve had this point where we’re working from home and women have tried to make it work. We’ve bent backwards. Like I remember those days in the first half of COVID, homeschooling working, doing all of that stuff and it’s so funny. There’s some things though in that period that were just like, you know what, this would work better for me in terms of flexibility.

This is actually how it could be so much easier. And you know, it’s so funny because I saw your tweet on Twitter. You did an interview, I think it was, you know, with NPR and Adam Grant and I saw your tweet in terms of work flexibility. And I said, yes, this is exactly it. Because as women we’ve just been thrust into the system where we have this notion that It’s based on presenteeism. It’s based on how many hours you clock and seniority in terms of how many years you’ve been ahead. And so we’re doing all these other things. As you mentioned, carrying in the home and leaving work to go pick up kids from daycare and we often get left behind. And you mentioned, minority women, black women like myself, and believe you me. I feel like there’s an uprising that’s going to happen because we’ve had a racial reckoning during COVID-19 and I’ve heard from a lot of black women who are rejecting this world now where our labor has gone largely unrecognized and are saying, no, this isn’t working.

Eve Rodsky: And so this is why I think we’re definitely at this critical inflection point. And the part about the flexibility is key here, especially for us women, because I’m hoping as a mother of three, I’m hoping, you know, that we do get to move forward in a way that’s more sustainable. Like I’ve been to the point of burnout. I’ve been there several times.

Keisha Blair: I mean, that tweet that you put on Twitter is something I’d love for you to clarify for the audience, because I think you made an important point. And I’d just love for you to just tell us about your thoughts on that.

Eve Rodsky: Well, it’s funny you say that because that was a surprise to me. It was actually the July 4th surprise in that, I was quoted on Meet The Press, which was like the craziest thing. Because I actually have a crush on Chuck Todd, do you hear that? Chuck Todd? Yes. I’m happily married. I love Seth by, do you have a crush on Chuck Todd? He quoted a something I wrote for, with the Female Quotient.

And it was really an understanding that we have been for too long conflating flexibility with where we work. So the debates become about equating flexibility with work from home, but work from home has nothing to do with flexibility because you can still, where you work is not what I said, how you were when you were. Why you work. There are so many other areas of what I think flexibility means. So yes, of course, being able to work from home is one aspect of flexibility because it cuts down on commute and other things. But if you are suffering from presenteeism, as Keisha just said, then your button, a chair, whether it’s on zoom or in person is not flexible, you’re still going to be shamed or embarrassed to parent out loud.

You’re still not going to feel you feel like you’re going to be penalized if you have to take your child to the pediatrician. So, what I was saying in that tweet is that really true flexibility is not just where you work. It’s when, why and how. And so for me, the other thing, the, when is really also important too, we want to make sure that we can set our own hours.

As you said, Keisha. If we’re, if we’re parents that, you know, maybe it’s for us, that we take our kids, we get to hug them and get to pick them up from school. We feed them dinner. We get to, to go back on a seven to work, you know, another shift after they’re gone to bed, whatever it is, that’s the when piece.

But I think the “why and how” is also really important because a lot of us, the how and the why, as you said, has been this ideal worker has been how many hours. And if you look back at and say, why am I working? So many people would say to me, why am I still working? Because I’m being tracked on a software that says my computer is still on.

This is literally true. I’ve had many people say to me when I say, well, why do you work? Why are you working at this point? It’s that I’m being tracked on some software. I have to clock in, like you said, be present, but really I’m just playing words with friends, you know, under the table on my phone, right.

That is, that is not a productive worker. And so I think so many people have been stuck in the, when the hybrid, this and there, whether it’s home, how many days you come to the office, where we’re not looking at the bigger issues that Kesha you often talk about too, which are sort of the, how of work, the, how your life, the bigger questions around being intentional about your future self that, get lost when we just focus on how many hours or where you’re going to be working.

Keisha Blair: Yeah. No, and that’s so true and so true for today’s world, too. Right? This modern society that we envision where we derive so much more meaning from our work, when we can place ourselves, you know, our whole selves into it. And it doesn’t just become a clocking in clocking out exercise. Right. It’s an intentional part of our work that we see as part of our mission, which is also what I would want for women. But it’s so hard to do that in this system where it’s a clock in clock out and we’re racing out the door at five to pick up the kids, to bring them home for dinner. This goes on and on and on, and just leads to burnout. It’s crazy.

Eve Rodsky: And one of my workplaces, I remember we had this DM system or whatever, the now they’re slack, but back then it was like the internal chat and we were in an open office plan and we would all be sitting together and then somebody got into the habit of announcing when they were going to the bathroom on the group chat. And so then it’d be this really strange culture where if you got up, you were announcing where you’re going and it felt so terrible. I don’t know what else to say to say about it, it felt the idea that I had to announce when I was going to go take a pill. It started to really erode my autonomy.

It started to erode the culture. A lot of people that started feeling bitter and tracked and, you know, it’s these simple things that, that if a leader doesn’t step in and just say, you know what? I trust you. If you’re getting up from your cubicle, I don’t care for how long I trusted something important either personally or professionally that you’re doing.

And I know you’re going to get what you need to get done and that type of big conversation, it very rarely happens. And so then what ended up happening is that the people who can’t just be sitting there, like you said, for the 12 hours a day, because they have caregiving responsibilities. You know, all of a sudden what happened to me on my maternity leave was that I lost my direct reports.

They went to another woman on my team, and then I started to feel even more eroded because when I was in the office, I was at, I was being tracked when I wasn’t there on maternity leave. I felt like I was being punished because my direct reports were taken from me. And then slowly and slowly, you feel like it’s the death by a thousand cuts to the point where you’re forced out because of this, this gross bias that you can’t really put your finger on, but you know, And obviously as much worse, it is worse for women of color.

And it is a hundred percent incumbent on white presenting women that we, understand what “care feminism” is, that we are not, this boss feminism, this individualistic feminism, that notion has to be burned and we have to come back to the table to recognize everybody’s lived experience and to fight for other people’s lived experiences because I’ll say one last thing. When I asked to work from home on Fridays, which is not even like, as we said the “how” of work, it’s just the “where you work” still. I wasn’t asking for flexibility Kesha, I was just asking to keep my bum in the chair, just in my home, on Fridays. She looked at me earnestly and said, well, I can’t ask for that because that’s what I have. And then everybody else will know.

Keisha Blair: And it’s so funny, as you’re talking, I feel like I was there in your shoes. And that’s why I started holistic wealth. On the issue of skills atrophy during maternity leave – that is a male perspective that comes in to tell women that because we’ve been out on maternity leave that our skills have atrophied, like we were bringing babies into the world and you’re telling me my skills have atrophied and it’s death by a thousand cuts, as you mentioned.

And then I was widowed. So it was just like, oh my gosh. And I did feel to be honest with you, as a black woman, as a woman of color, that it was 10 times worse because I looked at the organization and I’m like, well, you know what? Like, I don’t see the same consequences here. Like I went on mat leave and now everything is eroded. My husband died. So you can imagine just a gradual taking away of everything that’s meaningful in your life, everything. And that’s why I’ve been so passionate about this thing is because I want for a women, so much more. And that, like, we can’t go on mat leave and have our lives just ended just because, and then sometimes when we come back, there’s a divorce or another setback, and then it’s just like, okay, I don’t even know where to start again.

And so that resonated with me so much, because this is one of the reasons why I wrote this book and I was just like, I have to do this to help other women. And I was a trained economist when that happened to me. And I was just like, can you imagine other women out there who are alone and have no clue about how to turn their lives around?

I just could not imagine that, but like, Eve, I want to ask you about your follow up book too, apparently, which is Find Your Unicorn Space. Because I feel like that was very important for me, you know, coming out of that, life-altering setback for many reasons. So I just want to, you know, before I forget to ask you about that talk forever, because like I said, I was just personally really excited to connect with you.

Eve Rodsky: I feel like we’ll be hopefully friends after this. I’m not a trained economist, but I have economic lens is how I’ve always approached the world, that was my undergraduate degree, was in developmental economics. I went to the London School of Economics and then, Law school, law and economics, and actually looking at the issues of sexism and race, actually through a lens of economics was what I specialized in, in Law school.

So you and I have very synergistic backgrounds. I’ll just say that. And I do think you represent a lot of what I talked about in Find Your Unicorn Space. The idea of unicorn space, this idea. We have these roads for us that are set out as parents partners, professionals, workers, you know, especially for women, it’s very subversive to veer from the traditional narrative. And sometimes, actually the most powerful women I’ve seen, have been forced to, to veer in a post-traumatic growth situation, as opposed to pro post-traumatic stress. And I feel like that is you again, not to put words in your mouth, but when I see you from afar, not knowing you, you, to me embody that, that notion that it’s raining on all of us, you know?

And so I remember my cousin, you know, her husband had a catastrophic stroke at 37. She was getting her direct reports taken away from her and her workplace. It was a very, very difficult time. No one had ever taken a year’s leave before. Never ever, ever, ever worked outside an office. It was the least flexible place, very, very sort of sexist, sports organization in many ways.

And, she was asking for leave for care. And I remember we both looked at this quote that someone sent her and it said, you know, “life is not waiting for the storm to pass. It’s learning to dance in the rain” and you can think of it as a cheesy inspirational quote, or you can really think about it as women are always dancing in the rain. We’re always going to have rain and whether it’s extra rain, because you know, like you said, you have the intersection general issues of racism on top of sexism on top of the caregiving bias you’re going to have, because you lost her husband. It’s raining on us. But I think dancing in the rain to me is, is all, is what we can hope for, which is supporting each other through these difficult times.

And that’s what unicorn space is about. It is not a, how to be happy book. You can gratitude journal yourself to oblivion. I’m here to say that you want to follow your clues. What I learned from the research in this book, talking to trailblazers and researchers and academics and scientists and real people all over who have found their creativity or their, their purpose, what makes them, them?

Most of it is not that they said, “I want to be happy”. It’s that they said “I want to do that thing”. And the clue was that thing was making them feel purposeful and happy. And there’s a big distinction to me. And that’s what I write about. I write about forging a path for yourself that may not look like the traditional path for women, but that we all deserve.

We deserve to have our intrinsic motivation honored. And that’s what it’s about.

Keisha Blair: Absolutely. Because I remember, you know, going back to what we were just talking about, you know, as women, when we get the rug pulled out from under us. And I remember thinking, you know what, I can’t let my job title define me, my salary, my direct reports, you know, anything related to that definition of success or society’s definition, what has to define me is, you know, that impact that I want to make on the world and that message that I want to get out there. And you’re so right. That’s what gave me purpose. After that life-altering setback, that’s what gave me my mission. In my book Holistic Wealth, I talk about that too, because I had to redefine that going forward. I had to let those things go in order to not fall apart and not think, you know, well, this has failed or, you know, like I, I failed. So I had to really embrace that whole new, my own personal trust about what I wanted to leave behind, my legacy.

 so that Keisha and omega, they are so proud. And I’m, I’m so happy that they talk about holistic wealth and they talk about living holistically wealthy lifestyle. And it’s so funny. Like I look at my little girl.

I look at my boys too, but I think I don’t want your definition of wealth to be just your material possessions. I want you to look at nature and I want you to feel wealthy. I want you to look at the relationships around you and feel wealthy. And I want you to look inward, you know, at your spiritual side and like, yes, you know, this is how I feel. I want us to actually redefine that definition for a whole new generation of women, like us who might grow up and experience these setbacks, right? Or these societal norms, and think that, you know, I’m not defined by that. And that does not have to define me. It doesn’t define my happiness. It goes a different way. My purpose. And that’s what was my big aha moment, you know, after I came through this and I feel like if I can pass that down to them that I’m not setting them up for that failure, you know I’ve heard several women in the cooperate world say that we were sold a lie.

We were sold this lie that we could do all this, and that still be like, yeah, we’re killing it everywhere. And I don’t want to sell them that lie. I want them to know that, you know, it’s not just about that. Their wealth can be different. We’re holistic, it’s more wrapped up in a personal mission, right? A Legacy. So that was my whole thing coming out of this, even this conversation is so important and so meaningful. And I want to ask you about your quiz results, because that was also very important for me coming out of this tragedy was my well, you know, I found myself questioning because as women, we just questioned so much about ourselves, right. I felt like I had a hunch about my personal financial identity, and I feel like this is important because for women, if they can be more confident in their money decisions, then that’s half way there. I think this is an important piece to wrap up with.

Eve Rodsky: I feel so passionate about your message. I’m a Minimalist and I was sort of all over the place, but I think probably why Kesha I identified as a Minimalist is because embracing your holistic wealth message, meaning that I really love, I do, I will spend on experiences, but I really, really have a hard time with anything that defines me by a physical possession.

It comes from my mother. She didn’t believe in physical possessions. In fact, we didn’t even have suitcases because she wanted to save every dime and she’s done amazing as a single mother, she was able to buy her first condo that has its own washer and dryer at 78 years old. Yeah. We’d always been going to the laundry mat. So she didn’t even know how to use the washer and dryer, not an industrial one. She’s like, what is this? You know, already put in the quarters. It was really amazing to watch her and her life with financial security. Whereas so many women I interviewed for fair play. It was the opposite, and so my mother didn’t have a choice as we talked about.

She had to think about her own financial security because my father was not paying. She always said she traded acrimony for alimony or vice versa. She didn’t want the acrimony, so she never asked for anything, but it left her in a position of having to do, to have her own. So I’m also like that. I love nice things, but also I’d been in a place where I haven’t had them, so I don’t need them. And so I think it’s nice to feel that I can live well, but I also know what it feels like to not have those things that define our culture’s view of success and be okay with that.

Keisha Blair: And that’s absolutely right. And especially going back to some of the issues that we mentioned with women at work and you know, the reasons why some of us have found ourselves wanting to climb that corporate ladder to validate ourselves and validate our experiences and, it’s so funny that we touched on kind of, you know, the women of color and in, like in cultures, women who come from immigrant backgrounds, those things are terribly important because for many of those women, they’re the first, they’re the first to go to college first to go to this. And so it almost defines you right out of college and so entering the work world and then finding all of that being pulled back. Can be devastating because so many of them are first in their families. Right?

Eve Rodsky: Absolutely. And my mother felt that way, her family were Syrian Jewish immigrants. And, I think that path of that community was to marry an older man and her sister did that and then had to break free and it was super traumatic and she ended up with her PhD and she’s a psychologist, a wonderful psychologist now, but my mother was going against the wishes of her community. She was the first to get her College degree and then a PhD, which was really very outside the box for her. So, yeah, so she was forging a lot of paths. And I will say that the last thing I want to say about the financial security is, as Keisha will tell you, right? Ask questions even if you don’t feel like you understand it, as well as maybe your partner or the people around you know, there’s Investopedia.

You can ask your friends. We need to take agency in our own lives because yes, there’s all this bias, we lose five to 10% of our wages for every child is brought into the world. There’s a lot of systemic things that are, you know, really against women in terms of building wealth. And so our own agency is just asking those questions, not leaving it in the hands of a man.

If you’re married to them, you know, really understanding the family finances. Seth and I have our divorce check-in every year. I know this sounds very controversial, but it’s our death and divorce, Check-in Keisha, where, we see what happens if he dies or if we get divorced and we look through together what the legal documents are for his business.

If he died, what would happen if he left me for his Assistant? We go through all these scenarios together and it sounds very strange, but it actually brings us closer together because I don’t feel resentful and I feel more at peace with understanding and how to control my future.

Keisha Blair: As someone who’s been there with a sudden death that was unexpected, those conversations are absolutely critical even if you think that nothing’s going to happen, you’re perfectly healthy. Everything is fine. That’s what I was thinking. And that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. So that’s absolutely right. I think those check-ins, you know, that should be mandatory.

I think we should do that with our spouses every year, as you mentioned, and Eve, I want to just thank you so much for joining us. I really thoroughly enjoyed it. And so much wisdom shared here today and for women. And I’m so grateful for that. Can you tell us where to find you the audience who doesn’t know?

Eve Rodsky: Yes. Always. You can always find me. I love feedback. Good and bad. You can find me, we answer DMs on both of our Instagrams: @Fairplaylife is really the Instagram that’s devoted to women’s unpaid labor and the consequences. And then my own @EveRodsky that one is more political and a little more random, but you can always find me and see my opinions of the day there. And you can DM me as well.

Keisha Blair: Okay, perfect. Thank you so much for joining us. It was an amazing conversation I had so much fun talking to you Eve as we’ve been having here.

Eve Rodsky: Thanks Keisha.

Keisha Blair: Thank you for joining us this week on Holistic Wealth with Keisha Blair. Make sure to visit our website where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or via Rs so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or if you simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out too. Are you a member of the Institute on Holistic Wealth? If not, what are you waiting for? Go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to choose your membership plan and join as a member. You get so many perks, free worksheets, advice coaching, and a member’s workshop to design an intentionally designed life. Do you need to figure out your life purpose? Take the Build Your Life Purpose Portfolio online self-paced course. Are you struggling with all your money decisions? Take the free financial identities quiz and then take the personal financial identities course. Did you recently suffer a breakup job loss or experience the death of a loved one? Take the Holistic Healing online course. Do you need an overall plan to achieve holistic wealth? We will help you figure out your Holistic Wealth Blueprint and of course if you want to start making money by helping others achieve Holistic Wealth, become a Certified Holistic Wealth Consultant. Regardless of what career you’ve got, the Institute will show you how to increase your income and walk in your purpose. The sooner you join the sooner you start to achieve a more holistically wealthy lifestyle and you’re going to want to stay for a very long time so go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to join. If you haven’t read the book yet pick up a copy of the award-winning best-selling book Holistic Wealth: 32 life lessons to help you find purpose prosperity and happiness