Podcasting to Empower Women: Greydaliz Rivera

By: Yadira Y. Caro

Greydaliz Rivera calls herself a “bicha cool” or its closest English translation, a “cool bitch.” Through her daily Spanish language podcast, she speaks and shares daily inspiration to other “bichas cool.” The name refers to a woman who does not care about being nice or expresses unpopular opinions. However, she does enjoy doing good through entrepreneurship.

Greydaliz first recorded her podcast in January 2018 from a closet in her apartment in Texas. Originally from Puerto Rico, she had moved to Texas with her daughter and then boyfriend to find a better future after Hurricane Maria hit the Island in 2017. A year and over 400 episodes later, she is back in Puerto Rico living in a house she built on her own. Surpassing her goal of a year of daily podcasting, she is now able to earn a living from her various passion projects including mentoring and coaching, podcast workshops, and now her own line of inspirational t-shirts.

Just as thousands of women in Puerto Rico and abroad, I also became an avid listener of these 10-15 minutes podcasts. The subjects include tips on becoming an entrepreneur, time management, tools you can use and other topics based on multiple books she has read throughout the year. She also shares her daily struggles of dealing with entrepreneurship and motherhood, relationships and self-care. In this interview, we talked about her experience of empowering women through podcasting.

How would you describe what you do?
I am a researcher and I want people to find what they are a capable of. I am mainly a podcaster now and I want to use my voice and my experience to be a model to other women. For me, the best way to help other people is just showing how you do it.

What made you decide to do a daily podcast?
I wanted to make content creation a habit. I know that if you want to learn something, you have to do it daily. I wanted to create content as a lifestyle, not just as a hobby I do once a month or whatever. I wanted to do it every day because for me that is the best way to learn something.

When I first listened to the first podcast that you did, I loved it because it was not a “perfect” podcast. You decided to just launch it and improve throughout the way. How do you feel the podcast has changed from that first episode?

A lot, I’m more fluid, more real, more spontaneous. Its now part of my day and I have changed a lot in the past year. I adapted the format to my new lifestyle, to my new routine, to my new needs. It has changed a lot but it feels more real, more connected, more me. It involves less planning and more about documenting (daily life).

How you pick the topics for your podcast? It must be a challenge doing it daily.
For me it is not that difficult because I read a lot. I have a big community now: a lot of women ask me many questions and I use those questions to make an episode. I get inspired with my experience as a mom and businesswoman. I mix everything: some days I want to talk about something and I just think of a perfect podcast with the perfect situation and I put it all together for an episode.

What has been one of the greatest challenges that you’ve had in the past year since you started this podcast?
I think the most difficult challenge that we have as humans to overcome is our mind. If you want to do exercise or have a healthy life, want to do a daily podcast or whatever is your goal, your mind is going to say ‘no, not today, maybe tomorrow, you are tired, why don’t you have a cookie.’ You have to control your mind. If you control your mind and you build a habit, you can do whatever you want.

You also have given workshops on how to podcast. What’s a key piece of advice you give to those people who are interested in making a podcast?
The first one is that you have to be comfortable with yourself. You have to be you. You have to take whatever you are, and be proud. You have to speak to the world like you are and then you will be able to be fluid, to express more comfortably. Like me, I don’t speak English! I am not thinking about the pronunciation or the verbs, I try to do it with intention. As a person, I do my best. People love that! Be real.

“You have to control your mind. If you control your mind and you build a habit, you can do whatever you want. “

Greydaliz Rivera

How would you describe what you’re doing in terms of mentoring and coaching?
For me mentoring is that you know some things, that you are ten steps ahead me and you have the good intention to help me and to help out other people. Ultimately is to have some knowledge and just want to share it with the world.

What kind of projects do you have coming up that you combine with your podcast?
I have my t-shirts and I want to do other products like boxes and bags. This is just the beginning because I am a very ambitious woman. I am also working with an application that is taking me longer than what I had planned, but it’s coming this year, and I’m preparing an online course on podcasting.

What are two or three key resources you recommend?
In the podcast area I am always listening to new programs. I just recommend you go to the search bar and put the topic that you are interested in. You are going to have many choices because every day there are more people in this podcasting world. In the book area, I just read three very good books: Profit First, This is Marketing from Seth Godin and The Power of Now.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me!

Recommended Books, Sites and Podcasts

By: Yadira Y. Caro

In 2018, Communicate Blog featured interviews of experts in diverse fields. In these interviews they clarified some misconceptions of their professions, gave us insights into what motivates them and shared very useful resources.

As you plan the year ahead, here is a list of some of these resources to help get you ahead on your career, or explore a new one.

On Knowledge Management

Stan Garfield’s interview is filled with great info about all aspects of this field, including relevant resources. Knowledge Management is not just about technology, but about community building and sharing.

On becoming a developer (or learning about it)

Listen to the Complete Developer Podcast and check out the interviews with their hosts Will Gant and BJ Burns.

On User Experience and User Interface

If you think you know what UI/UX is about, I recommend reading Think First by Joe Natoli and his interview for additional resources.

On Fashion

Fashion is not just about pretty clothes, it is about reflecting a culture and making a statement. Read Nasheli Juliana’s interview for more details and career inspiration.

On Leadership

If you want to know tips to redefine your career and get inspired, read Mariela Dabbah’s Find Your Inner Red Shoes and her interview for more info.

On Relationship Building

Developing relationships, knowing your audience and striving to find the facts are some of the insights shared by Howard Altman. These journalism lessons can be applied in any field.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me! 

A Developer’s Journey: BJ Burns

By: Yadira Y. Caro

If you are a developer, aspire to be one, or simply want to understand this field,  the Complete Developer Podcast is a must-listen. Topics of the show have ranged from coding best practices, optimizing algorithm, surviving boring meetings, improving your listening skills and how to talk with non-techies.

Hosts and friends BJ Burns and Will Gantt, began this show as an experiment after people around them, entertained by their banter when discussing development topics, prompted to do so. Will is the more experienced developer of the two, while BJ focuses on sharing “his journey as a journeyman developer,” as he states on the show.

A few years ago, BJ was on his way to finish medical school until a personal heartbreak changed this. With the help of Will and other developer friends, BJ’s career and life took a turn. In this interview, BJ explains his journey to become an Advanced Software Engineer for the State of Tennessee, and gives insights on the development of this successful podcast.

Note: See here Will Gant’s interview. 

Did you started college as Pre-med or Psychology?

I majored in Psychology; while I was getting my masters in Psychology, I was working at a psychiatric hospital and decided that instead of getting a PhD in Counseling, I wanted to get a medical degree to do Psychiatry. I was working at an addictions unit, helping people who struggle with addiction who also have mental health problems. What I wanted to do, at least at that time, was to get into that world and be a medical doctor that could help people with their addiction and their psychological issues.

How did it evolve eventually into going into computer science and development?

It actually started before all of that. When I was in high school, I took three years of programming classes. When I first started, QBasic and Turbo Pascal were the languages that were offered in school. In my senior year of high school, they decided to upgrade to more modern languages. I got Visual Basic and C++. I got the opportunity to do that, and I loved it. I thought that’s what I wanted to do for a living.

When I graduated, I was planning on going to college to be a software developer. My mom, who is a nurse, at the time was head of a foot and ankle clinic in town. One summer in high school, her secretary took time off to go have surgery. So I worked at the clinic with my mom at that time. All the doctors kept coming and showing me things and saying, “Hey, this is really interesting.” I got to sit in on surgeries and procedures. For a really nerdy kid, it was a dream come true because I got all these very intelligent doctors wanting to teach me and show me what they were doing. I just sort of fell in love with that. So when I went to college, I started off pre med. Then I took a psychology class and decided, “Hey, I like talking to people, so I want to go into this area of healthcare.” I pursued that all the way up to medical school.

What brought me back around to development was that in my third year of medical school while studying for board exams, my wife at the time decided she did not wanted to be my wife anymore. She had the divorce papers delivered to me while I was studying for board exams, and I did not pass for obvious emotional reasons. It was a bit of a surprise to me, and then I had to go in front of the promotion and matriculation committee. I explained to them everything that was going on, and why I didn’t pass my board exams. They basically told me to take some time, get through the emotional side of it, get through the divorce, and look at coming back to school later. I left med school then moved back to Tennessee.

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Medicine requires a lot of focus. You spend six to eight hours a day in a classroom, and then another six to eight hours after you get out of class studying. To go from that sort of lifestyle to have nothing to focus on; all of my focus went on to all the bad things going on in my life. I was getting very depressed and so my friends, who were developers, were like, “All right, we’re going help you, we’ll give you something to focus on”. So they started introducing me to different programming concepts. I think they started off with this online game where you wrote JavaScript to move the character around.

Within about two or three months, I had gone from that to looking at some different tutorials, taking some Udemy classes, and I was asking questions about expression trees and some pretty heavy topics. They were like, “Oh, we got you hooked now!” And so about six to eight months after I had first started learning or relearning development, I decided I didn’t want to go back to med school. I wanted to pursue this.

My best friend Will, who does the podcast with me, brought me on as an intern. He had his own company doing consulting, and he did it just so that he could show me things as he was doing them. I was working in sales at the time. So, I would work from about 7:30 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon. Then, I’d go over to his house from eight to six or seven and sit in his office. Over the course of the year, I started doing more and more things for him until I think about two or three months before I got my first full time job in development.

“Look at what you want to do and list it out if you want to work in a certain field. Find out what that field needs, and what you need to work in there.” – BJ Burns

What was your first job? Was it primarily developing websites?

My first job outside of the apprenticeship was as a contract developer for the State of Tennessee.

What’s your current job?

My contract was six months and it was a six month contract to hire. They decided to hire me on after six months, and actually just got promoted up two months ago to Advanced Software Developer.

Why did you start a podcast?

I’m a talker as you can tell. When you get him going, Will is a talker as well. He loves to talk about development. I also learn best through teaching. So, part of the reason we did it was to help me learn to be a better software developer. Part of it was to give me a little bit of credentials coming into the industry without a degree in software development.

What really put the nail in the head was when I was interning with Will. We had both taken the day off to go to an event at the Microsoft office here in Nashville. We’re sitting at a table with about five or six other developers, and I’ve been asking him some questions about some of the stuff they had presented to us. We were sort of bantering back and forth about it and we noticed that no one else at the table was talking. They were all just sitting listening to the two of us go back and forth. We kind of stopped and looked at them like, “You guys can jump in here too.” And they’re like, “Oh, no this is great. You guys should totally do a podcast or something. We just enjoy listening to the two of you go back and forth”. I think that was around April (2015). So, we started doing our research and looking into what does it take to create a podcast.  And then that July, we started building the website and recording episodes.

We wanted to have about three or four episodes ready to go when we launched because we didn’t want to be trying to learn how to do this while also trying to produce an episode every week. When we launched our first episodes in September, we had four episodes already recorded, and mostly edited. It used to take me a lot longer to do the editing back when I had no clue what I was doing. I think our first episode was about 30 minutes and it took me about 12 hours to edit because I was learning the technology.

How do you pick the topics?

What we were talking about at that lunch just kind of led into it. It was how to talk about technical subjects to non-technical people, such as managers, or Business Analysts. Then after that, we did a series on health, where we talked about physical health, mental health, financial health, and those sorts of things.

The first year we struggled. Each week, we’d try to come up with a topic, and we’d take turns writing them so one person doesn’t get burned out. We had a list just in a text file of topic ideas. If you couldn’t think of something to write about that week, you could go to that list and take something off of it. That kept growing especially after I started working. I would see things at work and think, “I want to learn more about this. Let me make an episode, and then I can kill two birds with one stone. I can learn about it, and we’ve got a podcast episode”. Now, I get the episode topics from everywhere.

We have a board with all of our episode ideas on it. We have 201 episode ideas that we haven’t even worked on yet. We break them down into three categories. There are technical episodes. There are business episodes, such as the signs your co-worker is quitting episode that just came out. Then, we have the life category. These are life skills, like we have one episode in the backlog called the real cost of interruptions. We try to keep that balance in what we’re doing.

Is there a specific key piece of advice that you will give to people who want to get into development?

It takes work. You have to put the effort in and stay focused. You get in, you’re learning, it’s exciting, and then you get to, I wouldn’t say the boring parts of the learning, but the more difficult things. You want to go learn this other really new thing over here and this other really new thing over there. Then you end up becoming what we call “Hello World” experts, where you know how to write very basic stuff in five or six different languages. But not one of them are employable skills yet.

My advice is to look at what you want to do and list it out if you want to work in a certain field. Find out what that field needs, and what you need to work in there. Nashville is very .Net heavy. So if you wanted to work in the Nashville, Tennessee area, I would suggest learning .Net. If you want to work in other areas of the world, there’re different things that are more popular there. So, look at what you want to do, and then focus on that. That’s what’s going to help you in the long run.

Do you have 2 or 3 recommendations for resources (book, podcasts, etc.) that have helped you in your career?

Coding Blocks Podcast is great. The guys that run it are friendly and knowledgeable. Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual by John Sonmez. I suggest the audiobook version.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me!