In this episode of the "I Should Have Learned that Sooner" podcast, I sit down with author and People Operations Consultant, Isidora Torres, to talk the importance of reframing one's life and taking a different angle when faced with challenges.. Isidora shares her insights on rethinking work culture, employee engagement, and how the introduction of hybrid work culture impacts mental health.
We also discuss the idea of living life in radical amazement, taking nothing for granted and finding amazement in everything around us. Isidora also shares her journey of evolving and changing over time, from publishing a book to pursuing a master's degree to become a therapist.
The conversation also delves into the topic of affording one's lifestyle and how making a high income doesn't necessarily mean you can afford the lifestyle you desire. Isidora's personal experiences and insights provide valuable lessons for anyone looking to reframe their life and achieve personal and professional growth.
Connect with Isidora and learn more about her journey on Twitter at @isidoramae and on Instagram at @isidoramaetorres.
For transcriptions of this episode and more, visit https://learnedsooner.com.
Follow Tim Winfred on Twitter and Instagram at @contimporary (it's like "contemporary" but more fun)
00:00 Our goal shall be to live life in radical amazement. To get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal. Everything is incredible. Never treat life casually.
00:12 To be spiritual is to be amazed.
Hello. Hello. Hello. Welcome to the I Should Have Learned that Sooner Podcast. I'm your host, Tim Winfred. Together, let's take a dive into amazing stories of personal growth as my guests share their answer to the question, "What is something you know now that you wish you had learned sooner?"
00:36 From overcoming impostor syndrome, investing, money lessons, and more. Join me and my guests as they share their stories of challenges they faced head on and how they came out on top. In today's episode, I sit down with a friend I've known for about half my life.
00:54 Isadora Torres and I went to college together. We were in the journalism and mass communications department studying advertising. We talk about the importance of reframing in your life, taking your mindset and sort of looking at it, at a different angle. From changing careers or having plans that never go to plan.
01:17 This episode is really fun because Isidora is someone I've known and seen her evolve and change over time, and she's changed her career and she's published a book, and we dig into all of those things. And it's just so exciting to see how far we've both come in this time that we've known each other.
01:38 And one of the going in -- down the money route. One of the things that really inspired me in this conversation was the idea of being able to afford your lifestyle. You know, you can make $500,000 a year and still not be able to afford your lifestyle.
01:57 So I don't want to give away too many spoilers, so let's jump right in and enjoy today's conversation. Here we go.
Hi, Isidora. Thank you so much for joining me.
-Hi, Tim. Thanks for having me.
-We've known each other for half of our lives, basically.
02:14 At this point, it seems like we were in college together so long ago.
-It still baffles me that it's basically more than ten years now, which is like, again, I was just like, wow, way to age myself within the first five minutes.
02:30 I love that for us.
-Well, time flies when you're having fun. It just means that you've had a really fun life.
-I mean, it's definitely been something, but yeah. I'm so happy to catch up with you, and I follow you on Twitter.
02:43 And so I definitely am attuned or abreast to kind of like how you're living life, and I think it's so awesome and so cool, and I'm such a fan. I feel the exact same way, and that's actually a perfect segue for people who are listening, who are unfamiliar with you.
02:59 Can you give us a little introduction?
-Yeah. So hi, everyone. I'm Isidora Torres. I'm author of Working with Feelings: Caring for Your Employees Through Cultural Humility and Emotional Fluency. I am currently based in Brooklyn, but I was born and raised in California.
03:16 And so Tim and I know each other because we went to San Jose State University. As far as how I make my money, I am a People Operations Consultant, and I'm currently in school pursuing my masters to become a therapist.
03:28 And yeah. And I think just as far as kind of like the stuff that I love doing is I love rethinking work culture and how we approach that, especially with the introduction of hybrid work culture and how it impacts our mental health and just really understanding the pathways in which we essentially relate to each other at work.
03:47 So, yeah, that's been kind of mean a nutshell, and I think kind of I think is a good foundation to stuff that I'm into, wanting to learn. And I think at least from that, I feel like it's been a compounded outcome of all the stuff I've done in the last decade or so.
04:01 Yeah, I was actually really surprised, not necessarily surprised in the like, I would have never expected it, but I surprised and excited for you. Whenever you released the book, can you talk a little bit about what inspired that and the process of releasing that?
04:17 Yeah, so, context: my publisher is a small independent publisher, so they recently just launched, so very new. They're not the top five, but with that being said, there's a lot of advantages with working with a much smaller publication.
04:30 And in this case, my publisher was actually a former manager of mine, so we knew each other in terms of contracts of work. And she actually approached me about the book, and she was like, hey, I know you really care about employee engagement.
04:42 I think there's something there we can talk about. And I think there's a book missing, and particularly in the business world. And so I would love for you to consider writing a book. At the time, I said, "absolutely not."
04:54 I was consulting 40 hours a week. I was back in school, and so I had, like, just no -- I could have wrapped my head around also then writing a book, that just wasn't a thing for me. But I guess she knew me well enough to know that she could convince me by saying that I could write the book in sprints.
05:11 I was like, okay, if I can time box my writing, then I think I could do it. And so all that being said, I wrote the book in like three to four months. So a very fast process. What really helped, though, is that I kind of knew the book that I wanted to write.
05:24 I read a ton of business books, and so I have a general sense of what's out there. And the one thing I knew for sure was that a lot of business books don't feature voices like you and me. And by that also meaning, like, people who aren't executives or CEOs who can look at things from 10,000ft in the air, I'm talking about the daily
05:46 things like how we function. I think there is rarely a book that covers it from that perspective. And so knowing those two pieces, right, understanding the type of voices I wanted to feature and the perspective, it really made the writing process a lot easier in that regard.
06:01 And I also had a really wonderful editor who was really very specific about teaching me and allowing me to really push my voice in my writing, which was really great to have. The thing is, when you talk about work, it's something we talk about all the time, but it's just not maybe in the context that we think it is.
06:19 And so it's always really interesting just to hear different types of stories, different ways people engage. The first half of the book is really focused on how did we kind of get here? So really understanding the foundation of work culture, the fact that it is deeply rooted in white culture.
06:33 And so what does that mean and how does that impact the rest of us? And we talk about dominant culture. It's like very heterosexual, very homogeneous. What does that mean? And then the second half is really asking the question of how can we create a more compassionate work culture?
06:46 What are incremental shifts we can think about to really get there? And the thing about me is that I'm a complete pragmatic person. So I'm not like, if you read this book, everything's going to change, because that's not it at all.
06:57 But I do think we have to start asking ourselves the broader questions of, like, if we want to move forward and talk about organizational transformation or whatever the buzzword is. What does that actually look like?
07:07 What does that mean? Other than just saying, like, we are invested in DEI or we are invested in employee culture? Yeah. So that's kind of in a nutshell. As far as the process itself, wrote it in three or four months.
07:18 Editing was about a month or two. And because, again, it's an independent publisher, the actual publishing process getting the books out the door when was maybe less than a year? And so if I started writing the book in January, the book was out by December, which is extraordinary fast for the publishing industry.
07:36 Yeah, definitely. I'm still mind blown at how fast you wrote it. How many pages is it?
-So the book is small. It's 176, but the book is small, so it's pretty thick.
-In terms of 176 pages pumped out in three to four months is still no small feat.
07:54 I mean, I don't know necessarily one type of person that works well under pressure in that regard, but I think for me, I was able just to, again, was able to bracket up my time, so it was a lot easier for me to wrap my head around that.
08:04 Otherwise yeah, I think I would have freaked out having to write anything in three or four months. It takes me like, an hour to write certain emails and I'm like, I have no idea how I want to phrase this.
08:15 You didn't even have chat GPT available then to help you with. Yeah, I've used that a couple of times. Like, here's an idea that I'm thinking of. Can you give me some--? And it pumps it out a little bit, and then you just finesse it.
08:28 Yeah. My trick for that was usually -- I have dogs, and so in our morning walks, if I had a thought, I would just start recording myself. And I found voice notes to be super helpful because to your point, sometimes it's just fragments and I just have to mull on it a little bit longer.
08:44 So that was really helpful, especially when it came to broader concepts of, like, how do I want to talk about it? How do I simplify this very abstract concept into something digestible and make sure it makes sense through the stories that I tell/my own perspective.
08:57 Awesome. Well, it sounds like in addition to the book, you told me before we started recording that you're also freelancing and working for yourself nowadays. So I imagine all of the lessons that you've picked up from that and from transitioning from a full time job to that to writing a book, and now you're also going back to school. All of that stuff has to have a lot of lessons in it that you've learned over the years.
09:24 So I want to jump... With that transition right into the first question of the episode. And that is our primary question, which is what is something you know now that you wish you had learned sooner?
-So I've been thinking a lot about this question just because it's such a great question.
09:40 Fundamentally, the one thing that I wish I knew sooner was that you can always change your mind. And I think I learned that later in life because I always thought, like, well, you have to have a plan, or this has to happen, or you can't --
09:53 Like, for some reason I had whether that's through society or culture, had put a line in the sand of, like, these are the things you can do and only the ways you can do it. And weirdly enough, this is a bit of a tangent, but how this came to be in my life and how this became such a guiding principle was because I'm in my thirties, I am currently single, but I really do want to be a mother.
10:18 And I feel like conditionally, I've always thought for some reason I was like, well I have to have a partner to do this, do that, right? And weirdly enough, I was talking to a family member of mine and I was just telling her that, "yeah, I want to have kids soon, but obviously it depends on if I have a partner, blah blah blah."
10:35 And she's like, "why does that depend on you having a partner?" And I don't know, it just kind of really dawned on me that you're right, it does. It doesn't have to be that way. And so it's always realizing that you can change your mind and that you have other options.
10:50 Maybe other opportunities you can consider.
-Yeah, reframing -- taking... I heard this really awesome story and I can't remember where. If anybody remembers, feel free to hit me up and let me know and I'll add it to the podcast description.
11:04 But this father, he has a daughter and he's used to carrying the groceries in the house. For whatever reason, one day he asked his young daughter for help. She was like four years old and right, this tiny little girl, instead of trying to carry all of these bags, she went and grabbed a blanket.
11:25 And lifted all of the bags and put them on the blanket and then drag the bag er... dragged the blanket to the kitchen. Right. Yeah. My arms get so sore from carrying bags whenever you buy a lot, and it's that type of reframing.
11:39 It's like, if I just come up with one more idea, if I force myself, I can easily come up with a... ten things I would love to accomplish in my life sort of thing. But once you push that and you're like, okay, come up with 200 things that you would love to do in your life once you get past those obvious answers right.
12:01 Which is what I see in that, like, the reframing to be like: well, it's not just this one way of doing it.
-Yeah. And that realization, for as obvious as it is, really has changed the course of my last few years of life.
12:17 Because then it became about, well, I was in advertising for the last ten years. What next? I didn't think this was a career for me anymore. So what did that mean? And yeah, I think overall, weirdly enough, I kind of in so much uncertainty, I feel like I have less pressure on myself than I have in the last ten years of my life.
12:38 Because I know that, I think it's fair to say, anything that I probably have planned hasn't gone the way that I thought it's gone. So just knowing that as a piece of evidence, I'm like, okay, it will be fine.
12:50 If not, I think to your point, we'll figure it out. There's always some other way.
-Yeah. And it's definitely what you said about plans, never go to plan. I always say to people, I feel like I might have said this in a previous episode episode already, but it's so true.
13:06 Which is, I don't know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow, sort of thing. And people are always asking me, I just bought a house, and I have certain plans for it. People are asking me, "oh, what are you going to --
13:19 Do in a year or so?" And I'm like, I say that because it's true. If you had asked me one year ago if I was going to be living in the Denver area, have bought a house, have brought my podcast back for a second season, whatever it was, all of those things I would have not had in my plan.
13:38 So to be here now doing it, it's like you can always change your mind. Yeah.
-And always change your mind. Doesn't even have to be necessarily from wrong to right. It's expanding or changing to your point, reframing or building on something else.
13:54 And I think that to me has just been really powerful. Yeah. And to your point either, if you had asked me a year ago did I think I was going to be writing a book or any of that, absolutely not in my plan whatsoever.
14:05 Did not even think it was even there. So I think... I always say sometimes the universe meets you halfway.
-Yeah. There's so much to it as well. And this season of this podcast is about the financials. And so I'm curious how much of the decisions you made in the past with continuing in your career field, staying in your job, not publishing a book, whatever it might be, how much of that was influenced by the need to have money or the need for that financial security?
14:38 I think it's always -- financial security is always going to be kind of a looming thought in my head. I grew up fairly middle class, was raised in East Side San Jose, which was like, I think the highest peak of salaries were like at $35,000.
14:53 So incredibly low. And so for me, I've always knew that it was always going to be like a thing looming over my head. But I don't know, somewhere down the line I think I considered it, but I wasn't afraid of it.
15:03 I guess? I always have figured, well, if all goes wrong, I will figure it out. And I think I trusted myself enough to know that I wouldn't play. I guess I just trusted myself that I couldn't let myself fail.
15:15 I couldn't let myself fall, so to speak. There have been times where I've been laid off and didn't have a job obviously at that moment and figuring out okay, what do I do next? And there have been plenty of those moments.
15:26 Even with this. Going into freelance wasn't by choice. Freelance happened because my entire company essentially let go of everyone. And so again, that wasn't neither planned nor expected. Like I thought I was going to be there for years and that was not the case.
15:46 I think it's been interesting to rethink money as a freelancer now because of the fact. Theoretically, you think you make more because you're not getting taxed out, but actually you're probably making kind of less unless you really charge at an exponential rate.
15:59 So I tell everyone if you think about your rate, you should think about your desired annual salary and then multiply by 30% to cover all the actual benefits.
-Yeah. But even then when I look at just doing my taxes as of late, technically I think I made less money freelancing because of out of pocket stuff like that.
16:19 Things that you don't necessarily think about on a one-to-one when you have a full time job that covers a lot of that. So I felt definitely the burn of that for sure.
-Yeah. The only difference, or not the only, but one of the main differences though is it allows whenever you're working a W-2 job, a salary job in particular, like most post college careers are, you don't get more for doing more most of the time.
16:51 Some companies do have bonus incentives that affect the whole depending on how well the whole company does. But whenever you are freelancing and doing it yourself, if you want to take a month off, you can take a month off, and you can actually front load that work and spend
17:09 March or April doing a lot more and be free in the next month sort of thing. And you can increase your income there so it all balances out. Or you can work 50, 60, 80, 100 hours a week if you really feel like it and go crazy and double your income in a year and then not work the next year if you choose to, or something like that.
17:33 There's a lot more freedom to it, but it also comes with a lot more risk. Right?
-Exactly. I mean, you have to always think about what's your next gig. If it's contract, if it's ongoing. And to your point of pricing out, it's like today's yesterday's price isn't today's price.
17:51 And so you have to consider those big considerations and also for what you do. What is the budget allocation for that? That's been an interesting challenge for me this past year as far as people operations.
18:03 I think there is a desire and need for it, but it is hard to think about it from an allocation standpoint when you think about resourcing, because a lot of -- especially early stage companies, they kind of put that until they reach maybe ten employees or so.
18:15 Right? It's not necessarily thought about in the beginning of starting a company, but even then it's just also there's budgeting to consider and so it's interesting to kind of find the pockets of where I fit in through that lens.
18:26 And right now I've been fortunate enough that I have been having consistent work through clients. But to your point of how I balance out my work because they have school, I guess theoretically I made less because I am technically working less, even though I am charging way more.
18:41 But I say way less in terms of like I'm still able to afford my lifestyle. It's just a different like if I work the if I was -- yeah, basically, just to your point of balances itself out, where I work technically less.
18:54 And theoretically, I guess I kind of make less, but it pays out for everything fine. Because of the fact that I have to now allocate X amount of hours towards school. And with school, I'll also be interning.
19:06 So I will be seeing clients and again, that then is redistribution of hours/rate. So I don't mind the flexibility right now but there have been times, especially with everything that's happening with the market, it's like, "oh man, I kind of wish I had a bit more stability."
19:21 That always is in the back of my mind that's never not been a thought of mine.
-Yeah, you're able to being a freelancer in a way you're able to be in control of your income a lot more because if you need to make more money again going back to maybe you don't have to work more hours.
19:41 Instead, like you said, your rates, you're in control of your rates. Companies that weather recessions the best are companies that are able to control their prices. Companies that can increase prices based off of the market in order to make their profits... to increase or maintain their profits through a recession and freelancing...
20:03 It sounds like it's been giving you that opportunity to -- you mentioned being able to afford your lifestyle, which I think is super crucial because if you are making $5,000 a month and your lifestyle costs you $5,000 a month, you're not able to save, but it's able to allow you to do something like go back to school and whatnot.
20:27 But also at the same time if you needed to start saving you could say hey, client A, client B and C, I need to increase my rate by $10 an hour. And then suddenly you're up to $5500 or $6000 a month and you have that wiggle room to be able to control that and be like I need to start saving.
20:47 A strategy that I had heard for freelancers is the idea of putting a timeline on how often you increase your rates because often it can feel like you're working with people who become your friends or people you are close with and over time your value to them increases because it would be a lot more expensive to bring on a new freelancer and get them up to speed.
21:12 So if you're charging, I don't know, $100 an hour, let's say just for even numbers, every six months or every twelve months, whatever your timeline is for each of your clients, increase your fee by 5%.
21:25 And so, I mean, if inflation right now, it was announced recently in February that it was 6%, so maybe you want to maintain with the year over year inflation whenever you raise it, something like that.
21:37 So there's a lot of strategies that I think can go into being a freelancer and just improving your financials overall. So it's awesome to hear your examples. Thank you for sharing them.
-Yeah, of course.
21:51 I think every freelancer should always raise their rates at a certain point, whether that's at a quarterly or to your point, yearly. Because of the fact that you also have to reevaluate their business needs and whether or not you can accommodate it/you're accounted for.
22:05 And yeah, I mean, to your point, it's really expensive to hire a new person. I think even when you think about full time, I think it costs about $200,000 a year. When a company loses a person, they have to onboard that's taking to recruiting fees, hours, eating up, all that stuff.
22:20 Yeah, the downtime for the people who have to conduct the interviews. It's crazy to think about how many companies this is a bit of a tangent, but it's crazy how many companies allot budget for external new hires as opposed to budget to increase the salary of people that they already have on board.
22:41 And I see like the double-edged sword, right? Because if you give a raise to someone or a promotion to someone internally. That signals to other people within the company that there's opportunities for raises and promotions.
22:58 And so it could turn into a bit of a snowball effect in some way. However, the other strategy I've heard, which I really, really love, is one this is if you're not leveling people at your company and you're bringing someone on, but whenever you bring someone on externally, let's say the market is commanding, again for even numbers, that you pay that person $100,000.
23:20 Maybe a year ago or six months ago, that same role was $95,000. And so the person you hired six months ago is making 95,000. But the person, in order to afford the market rate now you have to pay $100,000.
23:35 Whenever you hire that person, they give an industry standard raise to that person who was hired six months ago and say, "listen, in order to retain you, we're going to give you this $5,000 more. Because we understand that's what the market is asking that we pay."
23:51 If you know the company, if you know companies who do that, please let me know, because that is not the case for most of the companies I know. I mean, I agree with you 100%. I think that's how it should be.
24:01 When we talk about employee retention, we talk about the longevity, all those things. And yeah, I think they should, but they don't. One thing that I'm probably -- former employers probably hate me for this, but every time I leave anywhere, I tell everyone who's within the context of similar to what I do or similar skill sets about how much I make, because I do want them to get more money, especially if they're going to take on some of my work.
24:25 I am a big proponent of that. I mean, I know salary transparency has its ups and downs, like double-edged sword and all those things, but I remember one company, I was making significantly more than other account managers that were on my level, and I thought that was super unfair because we're doing the same amount of work.
24:42 I just happen to be, to your point, an external hire. So hence, I was able to ask for the money that I wanted. But because these are folks that have been growing with the company, they didn't. And I was like, this is how much I make.
24:53 Tell them that you want that, because they have to reevaluate anyways my role. So ask for my money. If not, ask for more than what I was making.
-So, yeah, I'm sort of of the mindset that I don't think it should be whenever you're leaving.
25:08 I did that in 2015. I was in a job that -- it was a terrible company. Whenever I left that company, I had that same conversation, and I found out that someone that I was working with who had less experience than me but had been able to somehow negotiate, and they were even hired before me, and we were at the same levels.
25:29 All of that. I think we were getting hourly. I don't want to go down that rabbit hole of that company, but their rate was higher than mine, and it just kind of insulted me because I already -- in the offer phase.
25:42 I turned down their offer. I was like, nope. And then they came back and gave me what I had asked for. But it reflected in the company, first of all, that they were that way. But since then, I've been transparent about it because I think it's important to know we will never, ever have the same path into where we are.
26:02 And no two people, even if they're in the same exact job role, will have the same experiences and knowledge. But I think it's important to know what your knowledge is worth and what someone else's knowledge is worth and be able to compare that.
26:17 Because if it's just vastly different. If someone's getting paid $100,000 more than you, I'm exaggerating here. I'm sure there are examples of this out there, but if someone's getting paid 100,000 more than you for the exact same years of experience, whatever it might be, I think it's good to know because it's like, one what did they do to negotiate that differently?
26:40 What are their skills that set them apart even though they're technically at the same level or in the same role as you? There's all these variables that go into it. But it's like, first of all, I love leveling because of this.
26:54 It's like everybody at a certain level gets paid. It's transparent that way. It just makes you wonder what did I do wrong that I'm getting paid less? Or what did they do better that they're getting paid so much more?
27:08 And I think really what it takes out as well is unconscious bias whenever people are held back financially, as we know, the gender pay gap is so big. Oddly enough, that role I was talking about, a female was getting paid more than me, so hoorah!
27:26 But yeah, it just brings to light a lot of little things that should be brought to light, I think, having those conversations.
-Yeah, I worked at a company where we tried to do it where it was levels and we tried to outline compensation balance.
27:42 So, to your point, folks knew the high and the low part and incrementally why someone was on the higher end of that because of X amount of skills that they met based on said description. And I think it was going well, but I think it's a lot harder to scale that too.
27:57 So I'm curious to know if there's a really great example of leveling, because I think that's yeah, because to your point, I think I'm more familiar with the more extravagant gaps in everything. And for whatever reason, this person A is making significantly more than person B and so they have same level of experience, but they're just a better negotiator.
28:16 I don't know, but I think there's a lot of work that's being done around kind of understanding the nuances in that. And I also think just overall having the fluency to negotiate better is helping just access to more information and folks like you who are sharing things a lot sooner and a lot more openly and freely, that makes a difference.
28:35 Again, it's just access to this information. And I think folks are... Are starting to get more comfortable with that, right? Because I think for so long, money, it's so taboo. So you don't talk about how much you make and some people to this day aren't comfortable with that.
28:46 But you do what you can or with the resources that you have and you figure it out.
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To go back to your answer to the question of what's something you wish you knew sooner is whenever leveling has a -- whenever you go into a job and you know, like, okay, we're hiring for let's say they have
29:49 five levels, and you're interviewing for the third level role. And it has a set salary that everybody who's set at that level three gets. You know, you don't need to negotiate at the end of the interview.
30:02 It's a set level. Maybe there's extra benefits or whatever that are negotiable, but that is a company wide agreement. You can't negotiate that. So imagine the benefit of that is you can change your mind a lot sooner
30:17 is what I'm getting at. Instead of start the role and maybe you're making $100k and you get in the role and have that conversation with someone who's at the same level as you. But it's not those balance levels.
30:29 Maybe they're making $120k and you're like, well that doesn't make sense. I already left my previous role. Whatever it is, I can't change my mind now, or I can't go back and change my mind about what I'm asking.
30:42 So I think it takes any way that in life, really, especially whenever you're working for someone else, that an employer can make things transparent and clear up exactly all the finances. I think there's a lot we're coming, and I think -- what I love about out, this podcast and something you brought up is the idea of bringing ideas from people who are not looking at it from that 10,000 foot.
31:08 So I would love to -- if you're listening to this and you know someone who is the opposite of us and wants to come in and chat about levels, I would get Isadora back, and we can all have this conversation, three of us.
31:19 So hit me up.
-All right, well, I'd like to jump into the second question. We're a little more than halfway through, I believe, of our time. So the second question is, is there something, a book, a quote, a song, a job, a conversation that's really impacted your life?
31:38 I by no means live by affirmations or that's just not what I do. But there was one quote that's actually stuck with me through years now, and it has a lot to do with actually, neurology and how we process certain things.
31:56 So that's a tidbit for that. But how I don't know if there's not safe for work, but is there any no, don't talk about that.
-Go for it.
-Okay, so in the midst of the at the start of the pandemic, like, everyone, I was obviously locked in, didn't do much.
32:14 And so that's when I just started to get really ---- on shrooms- all the time for no reason, but other than just because there was nothing else to do. And I'm sue this has to do with the fact that I was probably really ---- on shroom, but a friend had sent me this quote, and it's just kind of always stayed with me.
32:34 So he said, thinking this might resonate with you right now. Recently, a friend sent me some of the teaching from an Ashkenazi intellectual tradition. This is from the theologian, Abraham Heschel Here are the few that stuck with me.
32:44 And this is the one that stuck with me. Our goal shall be to live life in radical amazement, to get up in the morning, look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal, everything's incredible.
32:54 Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
-Never treat life casually. And that's the part that stood out to me the most. I mean, it was a lot can you say it one more time? Yeah, maybe a little slower.
33:06 I just want to take I'm a visual learner, so I want to hear fully.
-Our goal shall be to live life in radical amazement, to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
33:17 Everything is phenomenal. Everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
-I love that. What does it mean to you?
-So the piece that really stuck out to me was "to be spiritual is to be amazed."
33:33 And again, maybe it was because I was really into spirituality. But truly, there's a lot of science around how awe plays a role in how we live our lives. When you think about awe and amazement, grand gestures of life, right?
33:48 Can it just be like you pet your dog and they smile that you really funny and you're like, this is funny. I think you kind of have to remember those little tiny moments because that makes huge impact.
33:58 This is a little bit of a tangent, but it goes into what I'm trying to say about details and small things is that there are a pair of psychologists, Julie and John Gottman. They are well known for couples therapy and developing a lot of mythology.
34:12 And what they've come to realize or what they've learned is that most couples who stay together, they stay together because essentially love is in the details. The small things matter turning inwards.
34:22 So taking that same approach, I think, to our own lives, right? It's like "the small things matter, turn inward to those feelings" is something that I've been taking a lot to heart lately. Because yeah, everything could be really miserable, and everything could be really shitty.
34:33 And it is. There's no denying that. Right? But how do you build that resilience? How do you tell yourself to continue on? Because not everyone has that capacity to do that. So yeah, again, I am not a big affirmation person, and this is the last person who I thought I would be like, oh, Ashanazi.
34:50 Intellectual. Yeah, sure. That's not where I would think a lot of my inspiration for life would come from, but it landed where it landed, and it's been something that I treasure a lot and I think a lot about.
35:04 And it sounds like it came at a time whenever you really needed it as well.
-Probably 100%. I was alone in my apartment, so I guess if there was no better time than that time and you were.
-Alone in New York City, which is like, I know there's a lot of people in New York City, but I've been there.
35:22 I mean, last time I saw you, I think we had -- this is very millennial, and I wanted to bring this up. We had avocado toast. My first time ever having avocado toast.
-Really? Oh, my God.
-In New York. And, yeah, New York is the type of place, like, you can be surrounded by a million people and feel so alone or multimillions of people, I guess.
35:41 But a couple of things that I wanted to address about that quote and what you've said is the first is there's kind of a stigma, I want to say, in our generation, like the 30 somethings, 40 somethings even, about religion and spirituality.
35:59 I think spirituality in its own way is making a comeback because a lot of people are taking the like, oh, the universe. The universe is their religion now. The universe guided you into my life, whatever it might be.
36:14 But there is so much to learn from spirituality and religion. If you don't look at it from the mindset of this is a -- I guess from us being from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Right?
36:29 Most religions have not had very good public relations. Right? The things that get talked about and highlighted are always the bad things, primarily. But there's so much good to it. And if you dig down into the core, the fundamentals of it, the messaging is really beautiful in a lot of it.
36:47 So taking what you said, there's a quote or there's a book that I read called The Science of Enlightenment, and it takes the mental -- it does mental studies on Buddhists and people who've achieved enlightenment or are on the road to enlightenment and just looked at their brains and how it worked differently.
37:05 And one of the things that really stood out to me, and it's super close to the idea of your inspirational quote, is if you look at the world as something new all the time, it just seems so much more beautiful.
37:22 If you slow down. In Buddhism, right, mindfulness is a huge part of it. If you slow down and really look as you're walking somewhere at all the fine details, one: time slows down, you could be walking at the same pace, but you're observing a little bit more.
37:37 I think you start to see and gain that beauty of the world again, even in something that's maybe ugly or something that's not attractive, because you see the details and you just try to look at it as, like, new.
37:51 Finding the newness literally fires your brain in a different way. Whenever you think of how many times you've done the... eaten a new food, right? That new food amazing. The first time, like, oh, this is so great.
38:04 It's my new favorite thing. And then maybe you've had it 100 times, it still tastes the same. But because to your brain, it's not new anymore and you aren't seeing it from that lens, it takes a lot of that awe out of it.
38:19 Yeah. I mean, you're spot on as far as, like, the newness element, right? Because essentially we are changing the neuroplasticity of the neurons in our brains and how they essentially wire. Right? So if you're so used to saying like this is what I know to be true, to actually change a core belief takes a lot.
38:36 And I think the thing about religion and I love that you are distinguishing religion and spirituality because to me it is very different. Like religion is organized in that capacity. But I think the thing that they share is this idea that you can believe in something and having hope, studies have shown obviously having hope or the idea of hope really does actually can save lives.
38:58 It truly, actually saves lives. And so yeah, I think being able to have hope, but you have to also train yourself to have hope. I think that all, in part, plays a role into the newness and being able to rewire.
39:10 I know I talked about streams earlier, but the whole reason why there's been so much work now with psychedelics in general, especially in the mental health space, is the fact that the example that Michael Poland uses that your brain is basically a snowslope.
39:25 And there are already pathways based on the places that people have used their slides. And so basically when you do psychedelics or this is a very extreme version of awe, a new set of snow gets to fall on that slope and then you could start to create new paths down.
39:43 And so it's just been one way to look at like okay, if I know these things to be true, but I know that there's evidence for other things, can I rewire my brain to think about it in that way? And there's a lot of studies going on around that, but I think to me that's really helpful.
39:57 And yeah, I'm not religious by any means and so for that piece to stick with me was also really interesting. But I think because it was in a moment in time where I feel like a lot of us were hopeless and so to think about finding hope through the lens of -- to be spiritual is to be amazed and knowing that being amazed is my lens through life that to me made a world of a difference.
40:19 Yeah, there's so much about mental health that I think is almost shamed for the fact that it's not a visible thing, right? We're taught whenever we're young children to -- whenever we're young we are these creative... and we play games and we make up imaginary worlds, imaginary friends.
40:44 We can turn a stick into a whole day of play and be just so thrilled by a stick. And then as you grow older, the world sort of takes that out of you and it's like you need to grow up, you need to pay bills and eventually you lose that childlike awe of the world, first of all.
41:05 But it's also shamed in a way like anxiety. People don't talk about anxiety. And things like marijuana will help calm people with anxiety. And things like shrooms bring people into a mindset that is just like "I can be free to feel and experience this and just have so much joy that you normally don't give yourself permission to because you're shaming yourself or the world around you is shaming it."
41:40 Which is why whenever you are like, am I allowed to talk about this? I don't want to make anything taboo because it's just the reality. Like money in my life was so taboo up to the point where I said F it, let me talk about my finances very publicly.
41:59 And as soon as I started doing that, people were like, me too. Oh my God, thank you for talking about this and mental health is the same way. Religion and spirituality and finding hope or happiness, any of those things that if we don't talk about it, it's still there.
42:20 Right? Just because you don't talk about it and I'm not going to go down to much of the politics stuff that's happening in the world right now. But you can't erase trans people. You can't erase people just by creating laws or things.
42:34 All it does is incite hate. And anyways, I'm going to stop there and let you respond, because there's a lot going with that.
-Yeah. So the thing that kind of brought up what it brought up for me and just hearing you talk was... there was this I don't know.
42:52 I'm sure Mr. Rogers actually said it, but I'm thinking about the movie. Have you seen the movie with Tom Hanks? I have not. But I've heard really good things. Okay, so spoil it for anyone's going to watch it.
43:02 There's the person who ends up passing, and Mr. Rogers is telling the son, you should talk about it. And he was like, well, why do I want to talk about it and write about my father's death? And he was like, Because to talk about it makes it manageable.
43:15 Oh, right. I love that.
-And in particular was about death. Right? It's less intense and less scary. If you talk about it, it's manageable because then now you are hearing it. So you also do some coaching with level professionals, and it's interesting because a lot of it is around confidence, and a lot of it is about self esteem, and some of it is because they haven't even heard themselves say it out loud.
43:42 And so it's been a practice to be like, "hey, if you want to say some feedback, say it. Let's try it. Try it out with me. Just say the words that you want to say. Is it as harsh as you thought it was?
43:54 Do you think you're shrouding it in compliments versus actually being direct?" I think you just kind of have a lot of -- there's a lot of power in hearing yourself say words out loud.
-Yeah, saying I was gay for the first time out loud.
44:06 I had written notes to people before. Texting was affordable for everybody in high school, passing notes to someone to say it. And the first time I said it, it just welled up so much emotion, and it's just amazing how, like,
44:24 how holding something back for fear of different and then eventually you release it. There's so much I feel like there's chemicals in your brain that get released. The world feels lighter in so many different ways and there's so many aspects to it.
44:40 Like, coming out is one example. And there are reasons, maybe security, et cetera, that you wouldn't want to necessarily say that to everybody. But as soon as you bring it to life and you share it with somebody else, you realize, 1, you're not alone.
45:00 The first time I ever wrote a note to someone and told her that, "hey, I'm gay," she responded and was like, "hey, I think I'm bisexual" sort of thing. And it was just like, "whoa, here we are." I didn't expect that, first of all.
45:14 But it reduces your feeling of lonesomeness and it allows people to also feel like, "hey, I'm not alone as well." And then it just carries on from there. And I think Radical Candor is a book. Right? And part of that is people love you more.
45:32 I think, whenever you show your faults and you show like, they know that, hey, this person, they're a real person. They're not -- Just one of the things that I love about you is even whenever you're having a bad day, you're like, F it.
45:47 I'm going to tweet about it and tell people because it's just my reality. Maybe not everybody's having a bad day themselves, but it's like, I'm just going to put this out there and let other people know.
45:57 Like, if you're having a bad day too, I'm right there with you, girl. We only have little bit of time left. So I do want to get to the third question. I know you're going to school, and if this question maybe leads into that, I'd be happy to hear about that.
46:14 But I'm curious, what is something you're working on learning now?
-So it is school. I also wanted to point out it was so fun. You talked about radical candor. That was my backup after this quote.
46:26 I love Kim Scott. She actually gave a quote about the book because I, to your point, took a risk, took a chance, and DM'd her on Twitter. And I was like, hey, Kim, huge fan of Radical Candor. It informed a lot of my views and work.
46:38 I have a manuscript, and if you're open to it, I'd love to send it to you.
-Assume -- I honestly did not think she was going to respond. I thought it was just like a shot in the dark. Let's just see.
46:48 And she responded, and she was like, "yeah, please send it to me." And so I sent it to her. She read it, and she was like, "I love it." And now I have a quote that I can use from her. And it's like such a full circle moment for me, and it blows my mind that it still blows my mind.
47:03 There's nothing that I'm like, wow. Yeah, I can't get over that. But so funny that you mentioned that. So to your point of learning. Yeah. So one of the things that I've been gnawing on is I actually went to a writer's workshop in January, and the question they asked us was, like, where is your creativity right now?
47:19 And I thought that was such a fascinating question because I never really thought about my creativity in that way, first off. And then when I did respond, I said, my creativity right now is relational.
47:29 I'm so used to thinking about creativity being an output, as in a book or a conversation. I don't know. Again, changing minds. But when I said that and it wasn't like something I've been thinking about at that, it just came out.
47:46 I think my creativity right now is relational, and it ties back to school because of the fact that it is about relationships. And so for me, what I think I've been learning a lot about is think relationships in context to me.
47:58 And then also, I am challenging myself when I think about or talk about things with people, especially in dating. Because whenever it comes to dating, it brings up everything that you're, like, didn't even want to talk about that.
48:14 But I guess here we are, right? It forces me or forcing myself to consider, is that something that's conditioned to me? Is that something I inherently believed in, or is that something that I'm willing to change my mind on?
48:26 So clear example was around the idea of monogamy. I was like, did I actually really believe that? I think a part of it was definitely conditioned. Right? And that's not the world we live in right now, which is great.
48:39 There's a lot more options, a lot more way of thinking about how we relate to each other romantically and reframing it. Right, exactly. And so, again, I think I just had to ask myself the questions. And also part of the whole romance part is knowing about my parents' stuff.
48:57 Most people come from a very dysfunctional family with a very dysfunctional set of parents, and whether that's, like, I use my education as a way to get them to tell me stuff, I was like, you guys, I can't finish my assignment if you don't tell me all the messed up shit that you had to do.
49:16 Why am I like this? Let me use my academia to have as an excuse to have a really uncomfortable conversation, because otherwise I don't know about you. But, yeah, my parents are very tight lipped about their past.
49:32 They don't openly reflect, and in part, it's because they don't have emotional fluency, but also because they weren't taught that. And so I used this assignment that I had to do to talk about them. I was like, what were some of the sticking points in your childhood?
49:45 Like, why do you think you're the way you are? How would you talk about your parenting? Do you think you did a good job? So, yeah, I think for me, it's been a lot of my learning is around relationships and relating, I guess, which is very, I know, repetitive, but yeah.
50:01 I mean, it's true for our parents generation, and it's also often true for, you know, different ethnic backgrounds. I feel like I have, like, a Hispanic and euro white European family. And I think the Hispanic side of my family is a little bit more less likely to talk about emotions and feelings.
50:29 And I always think about the fact that whenever I was coming out to go back to that, I was able -- the Internet has existed, but nowhere near what it is nowadays. But I was able to Google questions that I had and talk to somebody without actually talking to somebody, because I was able to find that relationship with someone who had gone through it or get advice through a blog post that someone had posted that came up whenever I asked a question.
50:59 And I think about how our parents like, I'm really close to my mother and have a bit of an interesting relationship with my father is, I think, the best word that I'll use for it, because my mom's probably listening to this.
51:13 But yeah, I have an interesting relationship there. And I think about how oftentimes when we're younger, we learn a lot from our parents, and our parents are the people who teach us. But as we get older and sort of forge our own way in this world, I'm starting to teach my mom things, which is so mind blowing to me.
51:31 And going back and like you, having conversations about things and knowing how to ask it for the first time and her actually be willing to share it. It's like, wow. If I had been able to do this whenever I was younger, maybe I wouldn't have framed the world in a certain way where I needed to do X.
51:50 Or I couldn't change my mind because it felt like once I told my family something or my friend something, like I was a hypocrite if I changed my mind. There's so much about relationships and how complex they are.
52:04 Even a friend that you've had for over a decade. You and I, our world changes so much in the time that. But we're still able to sit down and have this beautiful conversation. So. Yeah, I love that. What is one thing that in those learnings that has really stood out and give you, to tie it back to something we talked about and, has given you a sense of awe that everything?
52:31 Lives on a continuum, that it's all flexible, nothing stays the same. You change your mind. So to your point with your mom and being able to teach her something, I also have a very interesting relationship with my mother.
52:46 It's gotten better. But what cracks me up is that we were talking the other day and she said something to the effect of, like, I was in a very toxic relationship. Those are not words I would ever think my mom even knew/casually talked to me about.
53:00 It was just like, mind blown. And again, it was a continuum to get for her to get there. Right. She was on one end of the spectrum talking about, "I'm in a loving marriage. Don't tell me otherwise. You can't tell me nothing."
53:12 To, like, "oh, maybe this might not have been the right marriage for me, or this is not the right relationship or whatever." And that shifts. Right. And I think we forget that. Right? I think we are so used to thinking that we are steadfast in certain ways and thinking but I think the reality is that it all depends and that it lives on a continuum.
53:33 One of the most annoying obvious things that came out of my first class at Northwestern was that they're like, if there's one thing you can take away from this course, is that it depends.
-It depends? I love that!
-No. Absolutely not.
53:48 And they're like, you're going to get that response more often than you like. And I was like, no.
-Yes. You're working towards psychology as a master. And I feel like that's really a world of it depends because, yes, it's a science.
54:04 But my mind, I could love something today. And tomorrow be like, what the heck was I thinking yesterday? Sort of thing. Relationships are exactly that. You can be in absolute love one day with someone or vice versa.
54:25 You could have an epiphany about someone you hate one day and the next day... Yeah, it's all on a spectrum, a continuum. The mind is just phenomenal in that way.
-Well, I think we're at time, but before we cut off, I want to give you a chance, if anybody is interested in following up with you, wants to learn about your book or any future projects you're working on, how can they keep up with you?
54:51 Yeah, I'm on Twitter @IsidoraMaeTorres. I-S-I-D-O-R-A. Actually, no, I'm lying. I'm sorry. My Twitter handle @IsadoraMae, and then my Instagram handle is @IsadoraMaeTorres. I have to use many Filipinos have a particular two part name because I'm Filipino, and so there's other Isadora Torreses in the world so that M-A-E makes a difference.
55:15 And if you try to search for me and as far as the book, you can buy it online Prayabooks.com. I'm sure they'll be included in the description.
-Yeah, we'll put all this yeah. So you can buy the book there.
55:28 And we just signed a really amazing distribution deal. So books will be in bookstores soon, hopefully by the end of this year. Which is exciting.
-Awesome. I haven't read it myself, but now after this conversation and knowing that it's been endorsed by the author of Radical Candor, I will do my due diligence to add it to my list of many books that I need to get it checked off so I have this beautiful people can't see.
55:57 But if you listen to episode one, you know that I took this idea of the important versus not important and urgent and not urgent matrix. And so I will add that right onto there, and hopefully it falls into the urgent and important someday.
56:15 I totally get that. I wrote the book, too. Through every section. There's a Too Long Didn't Read read part for that particular reason, because I was like, Listen, I get it, y'all. I 100% get it.
-Yeah. It's like, there's so many things we're all working on, and to wrap up, one of the things that I really dislike that people do is like, "oh, man, have you seen this movie or the show or heard this song?"
56:40 And whenever you say no, if they're like, oh, my God, you haven't. It's like, we are in such a creative, beautiful renaissance of a time where there is so much to hear. And thank you to everybody who's listening to this podcast and just get through and to accomplish in life.
56:58 And it's like to add one thing that even takes an hour a day. It's like, thank you to everybody who's listening. I guess that's the point.
-Yeah. I watch Golden Girls every day because my brain can't literally take in new information.
57:12 I know the episodes. I know the lines, but because my brain truly can't -- shout out to the girls.
-I feel asleep last night to season one, episode two. Yeah, I'm right there with you. All right.
-But this is amazing. Thank you so much for having me.
57:30 I'm really fortunate and grateful that you remembered who I am. We're still in touch and all those things, because this is amazing. I'm so thankful that you've asked me.
-I'm so thankful that you joined me.
57:43 And it's always great to catch up and just hear about these beautiful things that people have learned, and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts today.
-Thank you so much. I'll talk to you soon.
57:55 Yeah. Thank you.
What do I do next? How many times have you asked that question to yourself and not had an answer? Or maybe you had an answer, but you weren't sure that it was the right answer. After speaking with Isidora, it's such a great reminder to remember that you can always, always change your mind.
58:20 I have a saying: people ask me all the time, what am I planning to do next? Am I going to buy another property? Am I going to travel the world? Am I going to start a business? Am I going to get a new job?
58:34 Am I going to change careers? I like to say I don't know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow, let alone what I'm doing in six months. So I have no clue where I'm going to be or what my mindset is. I can tell them what my mindset is today and where I'm thinking I want to be in six months, a year, five years, whatever it is.
58:55 But I like to keep in mind that sometimes your life pivots, you take a different route and you discover a different path that you were never even thinking of, and it just can change your whole world.
59:11 So I loved Isidora's lesson, and I've started reading her book. I did pick it up after this conversation, and it's such a beautiful book. It's Working with Feelings by Iaidora Torres. It's honest. It's brutally honest.
59:28 It's the type of thing where you feel like you're sitting down, talking to a friend, and having a conversation about something that you don't usually get to talk about, especially not outside of the workplace.
59:40 So check out Isadora's book. And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review on Apple podcasts. If you're looking for freelance services, check out Fiverr.learnsooner.com. That's F-I-V-E-R-R.learnsooner.com.
59:58 And you can find anything from graphic designers, web developers, even. This podcast is edited by someone that I found on Fiverr. Hi Rashidas. If you're listening to this, alright. Until next time. I'm Tim Winfred.
01:00:12 Thank you so much. Take care.
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