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Myra Strober 0:02
It's often considered too materialistic to think that money is involved in marriage. That's just not true. Money is part of finding a life partner living with a life partner. And of course, love is as well.
T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom for three
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Jamila Souffrant 1:49
Hi journeyers Welcome to an episode of the journey to launch podcast. This week, we are talking to two special guests. First up we have Mayra Strober. She's a labor economist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. She was the founding director of the Stanford Center for Research on Women, and the first chair of the National Council for Research on Women. Our next guest is Abby Davidson. She is a social innovation leader and career development expert. Most recently, she spent nine years at global retailer Gap Inc, where she served as the president of the gap Foundation. They co wrote the book, money and love and intelligent roadmap for life's biggest decisions. And I'm really excited to talk with both of them. So welcome to the podcast.
Unknown Speaker 2:38
We're so glad to be here.
Jamila Souffrant 2:41
Well, thank you. Yes, thank you for coming together. And I can't wait to talk more about the content of your book, one of the things you mentioned is like bring it together writing this book together. I'd love to hear how you guys met. I did read a little bit about it. But I think it's interesting if you share meaning and then the decision to write this book together. I don't know who wants to take that first?
Myra Strober 3:03
Well, I'll start with the course that I taught at the Stanford Business School for many years. And Abby was one of the students in that class. The class was called work and family. And we met when she took the course. And the man she eventually married, was also in the course. They had met before they came in the course they did, they didn't meet in the course. And they came back and talked as guest speakers for many years afterwards. And then Abby and I enjoyed having lunch every so often. And so one day we had lunch in Menlo Park. And Abby asked me if I was making progress on the book that I told her I wanted to write about the class because by then I had stopped teaching. And I said, No, I hadn't made any progress. And she said, Well, she thought I needed an accountability partner. And I looked at her and I said, I need a co author. And right then in there, we violated all the rules in our book about making quick decisions. I asked her to be my co author. And she agreed.
Abby Davisson 4:20
And I when I went to lunch with Myra had no idea that this book would be one of the things that came out of it. But when I said maybe you need an accountability partner, I wasn't just being cheeky. I had just spent several years getting the first employee resource group for parents and caregivers off the ground at Gap Inc. and I worked with a co founder to do that. Working dad on the legal team at Gap and I couldn't have done that without him and I know how helpful it was for me. So that's why I made the suggestion but as soon as Myra said, Would you write this book with me? I immediately agreed because I had been putting into practice all the less and the wisdom that I had absorbed in the class. And she mentioned my, my boyfriend at the time was in the class, we had built a life together, based largely on a lot of the foundations, we learned about good communication and transparency and having awkward conversations before you're comfortable. And I knew that this book would change so many more people's lives. I mean, I was very fortunate to attend Stanford Business School and get to take the class from my read then. But I feel so strongly that this should not be the best kept secret of only those who are able to attend the elite institution and take this class with Mayra at the time that she was teaching it. So we're so excited this book is out in the world and can help many more people.
Jamila Souffrant 5:45
What I love most about this is that this, like you said, it's proven frameworks and real life lessons that work. So sometimes you'll have people who write the book first, and then adapt what they have in the book to a course or to something that they give their audience. And it's great, you know, and maybe they tested things here and there over time, or maybe they haven't, but I love that this actually was in the real world already. Abby, you helped improve your life based on these concepts. So it just seemed like the natural next step would be to now put this in a form that can be more accessible to more people. So that's, that's a great story. Now, let's go a little bit into what the book is about more on, you know, making these big decisions. Life is so complex, we have money running through every area of our lives, but we either don't talk about it often with the people that are closest to us, or even ourselves, right, like we just make these decisions without thinking through. Or by the time we talk about it. It's a lot of emotions, and it's fully charged with energy that sometimes can be negative. So can you just explain a little bit about why we need to be more intentional thoughtful about having these discussions and think through these decisions before you make them when it comes to money?
Myra Strober 7:05
Well, the first thing is that the conventional wisdom is that you should make love decisions with your heart, and money decisions with your head. and never the twain shall meet, you know, financial planners are not helping you with your family decisions. And therapists are not generally helping you with your money decisions. And so one of the themes of this book is that love and money are intertwined in all of life's big decisions. And when you think about them, you should think about both money and love. And you know, so far is getting married or finding a life partner is concerned, it's often considered too materialistic to think that money is involved in marriage. That's just not true. Money is part of finding a life partner living with a life partner. And of course, love is as well.
Abby Davisson 8:02
And you're so right, that there are big emotions that come up when we think about any life decision, but particularly those that have a lot of dollar signs next to them. Certainly, we are not taught how to make big life decisions in a way that supports looking at all the angles, including the feelings, you have the intuition you have. I mean, you're really supposed to make financial decisions, as Myra said, By analyzing them. And just by looking at spreadsheets, and that's just not how we operate. We can't compartmentalize ourselves. And so having the whole picture allows us to make better decisions, decisions that we feel more confident about decisions that are less likely to lead to regret. But in order to do so you really have to slow down. And when we are uncomfortable, humans don't like to sit in that discomfort, right, we want to get to the other side of a decision as quickly as possible. And we don't want to linger in that in between time. And so often the instinct is just to rush to the other side and just kind of make a decision quickly and get it over with. But the truth is that when you slow down, you're better able to look at all sides of a decision, you're better able to follow what we lay out in our book as a framework. We call it the five C's. And that is what leads to better decisions that people feel more confident and more empowered by making.
Jamila Souffrant 9:31
Now let's dig down a little more about what kind of decisions we're talking about. So the obvious one that comes to mind is marrying someone like the implications of that. But what other financial and life decisions are we talking about when we're referencing here?
Myra Strober 9:50
Well, a second decision is whether and when to have children and how many to have and that is certainly both a love and a man A decision because having children these days is very expensive, not only in terms of dollars, but also in terms of time. So time intensity of parenting is a big topic these days. So whether to have children or not, and when and how many were to live, associated sometimes with what career to pursue. So we like to think of career as only a money decision, but it's certainly not. It affects your whole family. And it affects your life, even if you're not part of a family yet. And so those are two big ones, when to retire, and what to do in retirement, those are all decisions that both involve love and money to get a divorce or stay married, what kind of divorce and amicable divorce are charged and miserable divorce. What else Abby, you deal with?
Abby Davisson 11:01
I mean, it really is every decision that you face in life. And what we do in the book is kind of lay out in each chapter one of those decisions all the way from looking for someone to spend my life with is this the person for me, all the way up through as Mayra mentioned, things that we really don't like to think about, like divorce and elder care. Our last chapter is all about being a change agent, because a lot of these decisions, and we can certainly get more into that later, are made on the individual level. But the reason that so many of them are tough is that our society's laws and culture and policy, don't really support people to have full lives when it comes to prioritizing care and caregiving. And so a lot of the trade offs that we make are as a result of policies and laws and culture that could be improved. And so we give some examples of how people can play a role in making our money institutions better on the love front.
Jamila Souffrant 12:02
So I'm definitely want to touch base there and see how we can be change agents, if you want to kind of go back into your story, because you said you took my was class with your den boyfriend who's not your husband, and that you actually applied what you learned in the class. So what were some examples you can give us where if not for my was class and learning the frameworks you will not have made made and how it helped you?
Abby Davisson 12:28
Well, we were taking the class when we were in the spring of our second year, we were about to graduate and we needed to make decisions about where to accept jobs. And if we lived in the same city would we move in together. And Myra had shared some data in the class because she, as a labor economist shared a lot of data about the fact that couples that live together before getting married, have higher divorce rates. And we thought that was very counterintuitive and surprising, and certainly didn't want that to happen to us. And so for our final paper, we dug into that statistic, did looked at the primary research did some interviews with people we knew who had lived together before getting married, sometimes successfully, sometimes that led to a breakup, and then actually wrote what became our blueprint for how we would combine our lives and be intentional about what moving in together meant. And we did end up living together, we got married the following year and had two children. And as Mayra mentioned, we would drive down from we live in San Francisco, we would drive down to Palo Alto to speak in her class every year. And on that drive, we would often do some stocktaking of, you know, how are things going? You know, from your perspective, we're about to speak in front of a class and air our dirty laundry in front of all these students? Are you satisfied with the way we divide chores? Are you satisfied with the way our household responsibilities are, are shared, and sometimes we actually made adjustments based on those conversations. But that was one of the things that we learned about in my class, just how many tasks are involved in running a household and caring for a family and the fact that deciding how you're going to divide them up is very critical part of making sure that you have a harmonious relationship, because those are often the things that sometimes seem small, but ended up causing big rifts in relationships. And so from the very beginning, we were very intentional about how we would divide those chores and duties and things like how, where we would spend holidays, both of our families at that point lived on separate coasts. And so we needed to make decisions about where we would spend Thanksgiving and, and how we would think through decisions like that. And my res class really helped us with those conversations.
Jamila Souffrant 14:50
And when it comes to soul dating, it's like because I'm married and you know, I've known my partner for a long time. You know, we've been we celebrated 10 years of marriage, but we dated for like 10 years before that. So we met in college, you know, our freshman year. And so it's funny when you said about the whole living together. And you know, we took a while, like when we got engaged, that's when we moved in together, you know, prepare for a while preparing to, like, buy our first house, and then you know, expand our family. But would you say it's more important because there's so many decisions, so many things that we could not have known when we met at 18 to talk about, but naturally came out as the years went on. And for people who have like a shorter timeframe than even we did, right, we had a long kind of dating and courting period until we made the next move to marriage. Would you say it's more important to have someone be on the same page? And they have to necessarily like they have to agree to money decisions, or think the way you think about life? Or is it more important or equally important to just have someone who's willing to compromise about those things, because what I realized is that while my husband and I have different viewpoints about certain things, we are both very amenable or considerate to each other, or at least, I hope he thinks that way. I think he's that way, which has allowed us to kind of go through life and all the stages we've been through together. So and I'm asking this for people who are dating and may say, Well, I'm dating someone where I know, they think differently about money, or they live somewhere else, or their parents are totally different than my parents. Is it more important to come together on those terms first, or is it more important that the person is open to the discussions about those things, if that makes sense?
Myra Strober 16:29
Well, Jimmy, this is such an important question, because it's impossible for two people to necessarily agree on everything. And as you're suggesting, what is most important is that you respect your partner's difference, and you try to figure out ways to accommodate it. So you know, if one of you likes to go skiing, and the other one likes the beach, you need to figure out how you're going to manage that. The other thing you need to do is believe what your partner or potential partner tells you and not say to yourself, well, you know, once he hangs out with me, or when she or they hang out with me, they'll change their mind. Well, maybe they will. But don't bank on it. Instead, believe what they say. Especially with regard to children. If somebody tells you, they don't want to have children, don't say to yourself, oh, you know, they'll change their mind. So the most important thing is the spirit in which you meet each other, and talk to one another, and are kind and gentle to one another. And if something blows up, you say, Well, this looks too hot for right now. Let's continue our walk silently. Uh, well, we'll take this up tomorrow. So you don't have to solve every problem today. But the spirit in which you meet with one another and care about one another is the most important thing.
Abby Davisson 18:05
And recognizing that actually, if someone that you're with has a different outlook, particularly financially, that can be helpful. I mean, there are people who can be more thrifty. And if they're dating someone who is less thrifty, shall we say, then they can be kind of an important check in balance on that person's financial habits. As long as as you say, they're willing to talk about it. And both are willing to come to a point of compromise. The lesson of my res class that was so helpful for us is talk about these things before you feel ready. Because these are conversations that you're tempted to push off, right, you're trying to make sure you know, you someone likes you, you don't necessarily want to go there in terms of charge topics. But the truth is that if you decide to if things go well, if it leads to another date, and then you know, taking the relationship to the next level, you do need to go there and better to find things out early on, then wait for months or even years only to realize that you're really not compatible, or that person is really not willing to compromise or be transparent about our financial habits. So we, you know, disclosed, actually very early on, because we had very different career paths that we were on my husband was going to work in finance. I was going to work for a nonprofit after we graduated, and we had to decide, is it fair? Should we paid the same amount for rent? We were earning vastly different salaries. How should we combine our money? Should we have a shared bank account or not? And so we had to face these questions very early on, and that has served us well because we got to work through some of those. Those questions before we felt ready purely because of the logistical requirements of what we had decided to do which was to move in together
Jamila Souffrant 19:59
and I'm so glad we're talking about this, I have a couple of people who I know I will be sending this episode to, once it airs, because it this is real life. I know for a lot of my friends and family who are still in the dating stages, and some because I focus or talk about money for my career and what I do, you know, it's it's not as hard for me to bring up these money conversations are talking about it with friends, but they have a hard time, where are they, they don't know if it's too early to do it. And if it if it brings up an argument right away, they feel like they shouldn't have said that thing. And I take the stance, just like you just said, Abby, where I'm like, well, the better you know, now if you know, if they you can't get through this conversation at this months of dating, than it's just probably it would, to me be worse, if you were to have more on the line years down the road, and you can't work it out. So
Myra Strober 20:45
I like to think about the image of a very high diving board at a swimming pool. And you're afraid to go up to that diving board and dive in. But the truth of the matter is that that diving board is not going to get any lower tomorrow or next week. So the diving board is there. And you might as well dive in today. But I always like to say with kindness, and with empathy and gently and find the right time to talk about these things. You know, don't do it when you're brushing your teeth ready to go to bed. Or when you're trying to get the kids out the door in the morning, make an appointment, take a walk, be gentle. And dive off.
Jamila Souffrant 21:35
And just because you know, you two people have separate ways of doing things. Or maybe you one person wants to have kids, one person doesn't one person wants to combine money other person wants to keep it separate, right or one person values, earning a lot in six figures. And the other person is like I actually just want to you know, I don't want to work that hard. I think the other that other person doesn't have to be wrong, it's just not right for you. I think sometimes it comes to a head where you're trying to change the person's mind or make them someone that they're not, and turn them into the bad person when it's just a difference of opinion and lifestyle choices.
Abby Davisson 22:09
Totally. And if you decide that this is the person you want to be with, then it's not about proving them wrong. It's about kind of being on the same side of the table and saying okay, well say you want to work, you know, multiple jobs or work all hours and I don't? How can we carve out a life despite those differences that feels meaningful and fulfilling to both of us. And so the problem becomes not what the other person wants to do, but how to create what you both want, given your different viewpoints. And that's a really different way of approaching it, then no, I'm right, you're wrong. And so you need to change.
Jamila Souffrant 22:50
Well, hopefully this leads us into the five C's of the framework that you you talk about in the book, can you just explain what that is and how we can make decisions using this framework thoughtfully?
Abby Davisson 23:01
Sure, I can start and then Myra can lead us home, but and we'll touch on them briefly at a high level. And then we can kind of go go deeper into maybe one of the seas for your listeners. But really, it's about slowing down. And one of the reasons we wanted to create a framework was because no two money and love decisions are the same. Right? They might be about the same topic. But there are different people, there are different circumstances there are different particularities and so the framework is designed to be flexible. So it can apply to a wide variety of questions, but also sturdy, meaning you can rely on it. And it can be a helpful guide roadmap for you as you're navigating these, these challenges. So it starts with clarify what is most important to you, then communicate with the person or other people involved in the decision, then consider a broad range of choices, perhaps broader than you thought originally. And my I do want to finish us off with the last two.
Myra Strober 24:05
It's just let me talk for one second about choices. Very often. We think in binary terms, you know, either I will do this or I won't do it. And often there are choices in between that. So let's say you know for work, either I'm going to stay in the workforce while I have my children, and they're young, or I'm going to leave the workforce. So what other possibilities are there? That would be a way of broadening your choices, and then check in with other people. See what people whom you admire, have done in their lives. And checking in doesn't necessarily mean that you should ask them what you should do. But you can find out what they did, how they decided whom to marry or how many children to have or where to live. And then the last one is try to anticipate the consequences of your decision, the short term consequences, the medium term consequences, the long term consequences. And the reason for doing that is because, you know, 1000s of odd events are going to happen to change your life, whether you make the decision for or against, things are going to happen. And if you can anticipate some of the consequences, you can feel more confident about your decision making. So if things don't go the way you hoped, you can say, you know, I did the best I could. With the information I had, I made the best decision I could and nobody can ask for more.
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Jamila Souffrant 26:48
Alright, so just to quickly recap, so the five C's clarify what's important to you communicate, as you clarify what that is. Three is consider a broad range of choices for check in with family, friends and other resources. And five explore likely consequences. So can we maybe take a decision or like a case study? And maybe or question that will come up for someone and like kind of work through that just an example for someone?
Abby Davisson 27:14
Sure, I can share an example that I mean, we both use this framework nonstop as we were writing the book, which was, we sold the book in the fall of 2020. So you can imagine all of the decisions that we were making in the subsequent months and years, we both actually applied this decision to questions about moving, which is an interesting decision, because it comes up over and over again, some of the other decisions we talked about, such as whom to marry and such as Do want children, you're not making those, hopefully multiple times throughout your life. But moving is something that you do often consider and reconsider at different points in your life. And so I'm happy to share how I use this framework. And it illustrates really the importance of the clarify step, which we haven't spent much time talking about, but I think is really the linchpin of making sure the rest of the seas flow smoothly from there. So when we were writing this book, to set the stage, my husband, I live in San Francisco. So we have a very small footprint home, we had two young kids who were zooming in to school, from our dining room, Zoom kindergarten and second grade. To give you a sense of just how special that time was. We were both working full time. And we had a rotating cast of babysitters who were coming in and helping them get on Zoom and, you know, dealing with their school requirements during the day while we were attempting to do our jobs in different parts of our home. And so things were feeling very tight. We were not expecting our home to be a one room schoolhouse, and an office building and restaurant and all the things that we all had to turn our homes into at that time. So what we thought was important to us, when we started out was finding more space and finding schools that were open, because we saw the effect of having zoom school on our children. And we knew that that was not really working for any of us. And so as we thought about is we communicated with each other. We also communicated with other people who would be part of the decision. My father was living in the suburbs of San Francisco and we wanted to see if he was planning to stay put if he liked where he was if we moved closer to Him and to those suburbs. Would that be something that you know, he would continue to do? I had friends. We both had friends who lived in some of those suburbs. So we talked to them. We generated some choices about places that we could live, went and actually checked them out checked in with resources like a realtor started looking at homes. I've talked to people who had made the move from San Francisco to that suburb and ran the numbers and what we realized when we And the numbers was that because of the way housing prices were, they were going up and the fact that we had lived in our current home at that time for many years, it would be a huge financial undertaking to make that move, even though it would get us more space. And what we realized we actually re clarified, because the steps are, are laid out in a linear way. But when you are going through the process, they're actually quite iterative. And so we re clarified that what we wanted, was actually to have career optionality. And if we moved and took on a bigger mortgage and tied ourselves to the paychecks we were earning, we would not be very flexible. And my both of my husband and myself had entrepreneurial aspirations. We were both working in corporate jobs, but we didn't want to do that forever. And so we re clarified that it was the flexibility that we cared about what we the consequences of playing out the scenarios meant, wow, we wouldn't be able to make entrepreneurial moves for many, many years. And that didn't feel good for us. And so we ended up actually not moving. But we made some other changes, that got us what we wanted, which was more space. So I am speaking to you from an office nearby my home that I rented, because we didn't move so the space didn't get any bigger, but I found a creative way to find office space. And then we actually switched our kids schools, and found options for them that were more likely to be flexible and nimble in the face of God forbid, another pandemic. And so those are, that's the way that we applied, that I applied the framework to my life. And even though nothing really on the surface changed in terms of where we lived, having gone through that process, we felt so much more at peace with the decision, the space didn't get any bigger, but it seemed better. And actually, there's some research that we discovered in the course of writing the book that I find so fascinating, which is that it is not about the square footage of your home that predicts Family Harmony, it's actually your perception of the space. And that is a much better predictor of family harmony and the peaceful relations within the family. And so that was really eye opening research. When we talk about the check in step. I quote that research all the time, because sometimes we think that just having a bigger space will actually solve all our problems. And that's not the case. So I found that very soothing to me as I was going through the process.
Jamila Souffrant 32:29
You know, I just want to say, I love how you apply that this framework to that real life situation, because I know a lot of us experience that we'd I have three small kids. So going through the same thing, but just in general, I know, housing is the biggest expense for a lot of people, whether that's mortgage or renting, and especially if you live in a high cost of areas, living space. So I live in New York City. And, you know, that's oftentimes where I think about well, I wonder what it would feel like to have, you know, a bigger home and or, Oh, what about love a pool, right? All these like decisions or thoughts that I think about, but really the perception, and this is where I think what you're doing with the framework is so important, because a lot of this takes mental and emotional energy to think through. But it's not like you have to really do anything other than maybe calling people in, you know, talking to people, right, but like a lot of it is internal sitting down and really thinking through this stuff. And it's not really like you have to go and do right, you don't necessarily have to go now by the house, right? Like you're these are all the steps you do before that. And like you said, the perception of what you feel about the space, just like I think about your life, how you feel about your life, is what really allows you to then say if you feel good about it or not. But sometimes we our perception can be warped if we don't have good information. Or if we don't, we don't even know what we should be really thinking. So I think a lot of this mental and emotional work that you just talked about with the framework is some steps that people choose to skip because they just think that thing or the bigger house will help and fix the problem. And it's not when you really think through and take time to like you said Be thoughtful before you make these decisions.
Abby Davisson 34:08
Yeah, it doesn't make it easy. But it does lead to a result that you know, we feel more confident about and this the suburbs vs city question had been simmering in the background of our lives for a really long time. And I really feel that going through the steps and running down all this information and really sitting with it and talking about well, what do we really want? Is it really about the space? Or is it about something else in our lives that we want to feel more fulfilled, allowed us to finally turn that turn the temperature down on that conversation? We it's not something we bring up, you know, and circle around in the same way that we did before we went through this whole process.
Myra Strober 34:50
So at the same time that Abby and her husband, were making their decision about moving. My husband and I were making ours and we came out on the other side, we did move, my husband had Parkinson's and our house was just increasingly unsafe for him. And so we needed to move to a place that had no stairs. And while we were at it, we decided to downsize all during the pandemic. And then he became even more ill and we had to move him to an assisted living place. So while Abby and Ross stayed in their house, my husband did a lot of moving, and I did too. And you know, the decision of what to do at end of life is another kind of decision for yourself for your loved ones. And it's again a money and love decision, because it's expensive to have care for people who are ill. And often the house that you're in a just doesn't work.
Jamila Souffrant 36:03
One of the things to that based on just you you both being in different like generations, and then having different almost skill sets in the world, like Samira as like a professor, and then after you worked in corporate America, or on the corporate side of things, and you know that you're able to actually not only apply it to your life, the decision making and the framework that you learned in my was class, but then like in your corporate career, is that it doesn't matter whether you know, you're starting out dating, whether teens or in your 20s with someone you meet 30s, right, you everyone can be dating and then looking for marriage at any age, but then looking at looking for a career or whether to stay in a career retiring, right, like once you retire. And then now as you get older, and even for me thinking about the older people in my family and their care, right? Like these are all we're constantly needing to make these decisions that involve money, but that are bigger than money that impact our quality of our life and our loved ones. So it's so important to really talk more about this stuff.
Abby Davisson 37:05
Yeah, I would say, to talk about it before you have to I mean, my experience was my rest class had a session on eldercare and I took notes, but I kind of you know, my parents were in their 60s and healthy at the time. And I just thought, Oh, I'm not going to worry about this for decades. And then as it turns out, my mother had an accident on what was supposed to be her last day of work before retirement, and ended up in the hospital with brain swelling and bleeding and in into intensive care. And I had to face these questions much earlier than I was anticipating. And that's, you know, just the way life goes. But I actually got out my notes from the eldercare class that Mayra had taught. And now many of those, that information is in the chapter in our book about it. But I wish that we had talked about it when it was just a theoretical conversation before it was actually really pressing. And we had to make these decisions under circumstances where we weren't as clear headed, as we might have been otherwise, right where we were grieving, the sudden change. So now I do very much, practice that and try to have conversations, you know, my mom has passed away, but my dad is still living in an independent living arm of his residents. And I really am trying to have conversations with him in the way that we advocate in the book, which is to tread lightly. Right? These are very difficult conversations. He's a very independent person. And so I'm trying to navigate them as gently and as deftly, as I can, while still, you know, encouraging us to have some of those difficult conversations based on the experience we had with my mother.
Jamila Souffrant 38:44
You talked earlier too, about being a change agent. So a lot of the decisions we're making, you know, it's we're making it because we're trying to better our lives or we're moving forward in our own personal life with our partner or kids. But like you said, a lot of this is impacted by our society, by standards, by things that seem outside of our control. And like it's a bigger thing than we can help solve for everyone. So a lot of times we focus on just ourselves. So how can we be change agents or help contribute to change for in a bigger conversation that will help our kids maybe one day or our kids kids?
Myra Strober 39:19
Well, my colleague Deb Myerson, has termed people tempered radicals. So these are people who want to make change from within, as opposed to demonstrating or you know, throwing rocks or doing anything from without, and people want to stay within the company or the country or whatever, and make change from within. And so you can be a change agent at your workplace. You can be a change agent, a tempered radical in your community. You can be a change agent or try I'm making change in Americans, America's Congress, you can be a change agent for many different kinds of things. Both Abby and I have experience making change at all workplaces. And no matter what kind of change you want to make, you need allies. Trying to do this alone is just an impossibility. Even if you have a lot of money, it's an impossibility. But gathering allies, and working within the system to explain why the change is necessary and admirable, can often yield very important results. And we have some great examples in the book of people who have made change at their workplace.
Jamila Souffrant 40:47
Abby, I know that for you what before you left the gap, you talked about starting an organization? Can you talk a little bit about what prompted you to do that? And you said in the beginning, you knew that you didn't want to stay necessarily, in corporate America, you had this entrepreneurial spirit. So, you know, for some people like the checkout, you know, the term quiet quitting was all about when it was so popular that people just instead of leaving their jobs, like they're just kind of resigning back and not doing as much and not stepping up. And not to say that you you know, didn't like your job enough to do the work. But it seems like instead of just saying, Well, this is the way things are some people or most people do you decided to like do something about it. So what prompted you to to create the organization? What gave you the energy to do it when you potentially thought you would not be there in 10, or 15 or 20 years if you had an exit plan?
Abby Davisson 41:38
Yeah, it's such a good question. And I have always been a big fan of if you don't like your job, try to change your job description, rather than, you know, change your job itself. And so I was actually happy in my work. But as I went through the stages of parenthood within my company, I was hired, actually, when I was 38 weeks pregnant. And so I joined when I had a four month old at home, I knew that there were other working parents, because the quiet rooms we used to call where where women could go pump milk, were always booked, they were always busy, there are people coming to and from. And the company had actually recently invested in paid leave, reinvested and was extending it to people who worked in stores, and not just in the corporate headquarters. But there was no formal community for those people to come back to after they had had children. And the statistic that I love to quote is that there were two babies born a day to someone who worked for the company. So there were a tremendous number. But we had to, we didn't have an intentional community. And I had known from taking my class, the power of having conversations about these personal topics, alongside the professional ones. And I had worked for managers who were better able to support me because they saw the whole me and not just kind of my my kind of worker bee self. And I wanted to encourage those conversations in the workplace. And I, I went to HR and I said, I would love to create a pilot of this class that I took actually in graduate school, for people who are coming back after having children or thinking about having children. And they said, Well, that's a great idea. But we don't actually have data on that. Unless you are on our health plan, and you have dependents who are enrolled, we don't know who is a parent, and who has caregiving responsibilities. And I thought that was so fascinating, because we knew so much about our customers, right? We knew like, who was shopping at Old Navy, and how many kids they had. And you know, all of the things about our customers, families, we did not know that about our own employees, because we hadn't tracked it. And so forming the Employee Resource Group for working parents was actually a way of trying to get that data to help the company to have more informed conversations with the people who were caregiving in their own employee ranks, asking them what benefits were important to them. And and as Mayra mentioned, I knew I couldn't do that alone. And so I started to build allies, I joined forces with a working dad and the legal team, we made the business case about why this was so important. Look, did benchmarking with other companies and stood up the group and that was actually the year before the pandemic, and thank goodness that it existed, you know, at the time when so many of us really were struggling to be responsible employees with all of the other responsibilities we had going on. And so even though I didn't have aspirations to stay at the company forever, I knew that this community would be important and would outlast me, and that was that was really important part of being a change maker. It's not about you. It's about how do you leave whatever institution better off as a result of that? Change. And that is something that I have a lot of pride about.
Jamila Souffrant 45:05
Yeah, I mean, it's powerful, I definitely changed the lives of the people in the current situation where you were in and, and, and hopefully made their lives better and gave them a bit more resources. You know, I do want to talk a little bit about your relationship, Abby and Myra just because I find it so inspiring and fascinating that you met so long ago, and you were just like a mere student in Mara's class at first and how you develop this, what looks like a very strong working relationship, but then like personal to be, you know, personal relationship. And I think that community and social capital and how we rely on each other and how we connect, you know, money is important and all that, but it's really like the people in our lives. And like you said, you didn't intend to write a book with my rabbit, like you couldn't probably never imagine when you first like walked in her class, that you'd be here, like doing a podcast right with her about your book that you wrote together. But I just think that a lot of us, maybe it comes natural maybe to engage in conversations. You know, I know that I've had people in my life that, you know, I admired I respected it. And maybe the people feel like that about me now, as someone a little bit older, or someone they look up to, but you've been able to continue this relationship and grow it over time. Are there any, like any advice that you can give us into how we can cultivate and nurture relationships we see that could blossom into something, you know, like you guys have not that we have to write a book with someone else, but just that connectedness and mutual respect? How do we how do we do that with people in our lives?
Myra Strober 46:42
I think that we haven't talked much about finding a life partner. But one of the pieces that's clearly important, is some sort of an attraction to the person. And I think that's true in non sexual relationships. Also, I think, if you think back through your life about your best friend, there was some kind of attraction may be really early on in life. And so I think what I would say is, when you find that attraction, nourish it, and keep it up, and so now, Abby, and I long after she stopped taking my class, continued to talk with one another, I invited her and her husband to come and speak in class, she would email me or call me periodically to ask question, and so we nurtured the relationship.
Abby Davisson 47:47
Well, no, I mean, I say we have the benefit of all the, you know, closeness of family, but with none of the baggage, because, you know, I don't have to say, oh, but when I was a teenager, You never let me do this, or, you know, it's like, we have almost 40 years between us. I mean, certainly, and my risk kids are actually older than I am. But what I knew very early on, is that Mayra just has so much wisdom. And I wanted to be able to absorb and benefit from that wisdom. And she was so generous with it, right? If I never got the sense that she didn't have time to take a phone call, or, you know, and she has PhD students who she advised who she's still in touch with. I mean, there are just so many people in my life who are lucky as I am to call her a mentor and a friend. And so I think that if you find someone like that, you do want to nurture it, and invest in it, and be open to where it can take you. I mean, that was just the beauty of going down actually remember so vividly the day that I had lunch with my art because I had just started this employee resource group, I had to write an essay about why I did it. And I talked about her class. And so afterwards, I sent her an email and I said, you know, I don't think I ever told you this, but your class was the inspiration for why I wanted to start this group. And I'd love to reconnect. It had been a couple years since she retired. So we hadn't been speaking in the class. And she said, well come and have lunch. And it was just delightful. And you know, I ended took the afternoon off, like, you know, I had a busy, we were all still back in the office that time, right. And so I had a busy day, but I said, I want to take take PTO and go drive down and have lunch with her. And I think if both people are willing to make those investments, it goes a long way. And you don't ever know where they'll lead and that was I'm so grateful and I feel so fortunate that we got to collaborate in this way and are continuing to collaborate.
Jamila Souffrant 49:47
That's beautiful. And you know, as you when you talk about attraction, Myra, you know, I love just the fact that like as humans because like so much of what we do, especially now with more technology is It's like separated or in and that helps, it's helpful because we can now still communicate with someone who's across, you know, city state costs or countries, right? So technology is helpful. But there's this, like you said that attraction can happen. It doesn't have to be just romantic, right? You'd be attracted to someone's intellect, and their energy and the way they treat people and their wisdom. So I just feel like, like, recognizing that that's still there, and that we're still human. And, like, that's what makes us human, is to see that within each other and cultivate that and, and take time to invest in that not just like, you know, money, it's not just, we invest money. But I think it's important to realize that we have to invest time and energy into the people and relationships that we want to cultivate and grow. So thank you so much, Abby and Myra, for this wonderful conversation. Where can people find more about you both, and then your book, your amazing book.
Abby Davisson 50:53
So our book website is money, love book.com. That's where you can find out where else you can connect with us, and where you can buy the book. And we also have a fun quiz on what kind of money and love decision making style you have and how you can make decisions, taking that style into account. So that's the best place to find us.
Jamila Souffrant 51:15
Awesome. Thank you so much again.
Myra Strober 51:17
Abby Davisson 51:20
Thank you, this was a great conversation.
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