Side Hustle City

Cultural Richness and Financial Acumen with Economist Paul Rivera

April 01, 2024 Adam Koehler & Kyle Stevie with Paul Rivera Season 6 Episode 21
Side Hustle City
Cultural Richness and Financial Acumen with Economist Paul Rivera
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When Paul Rivera joined us from the Dominican Republic, the conversation ignited with an energy as warm as his home country's sun. We traversed the paths of language mastery, unraveling the threads that bind romance languages and how this skill enhances the entrepreneurial spirit. Our exchanges with Paul, a seasoned economist with a PhD, delved into the heart of economics education—questioning traditional methods and advocating for an analytical mindset that's critical in today's ever-evolving economic landscape. Imagine the richness of a dialogue that spans the globe, from the bustling streets of his island nation to the inner workings of a language academy in Mexico—all through the lens of economic savvy and linguistic prowess.

As the chat progressed, resilience became the cornerstone of our journey, a testament to the untold strength found in education and wise investment strategies. Sharing personal battles and victories from the trenches of economic adversity, we unearthed the tools necessary to navigate and dismantle the walls of generational poverty. We painted a portrait of the American Dream reimagined, where understanding the rules of the economic game isn't just a skill, but a necessity for those carving their path in a new world, a lifeline for the first-generation American forging their legacy.

The final act of our symposium brought the unspoken rules of success to the forefront, with networking and self-advocacy under the spotlight. As a testament to overcoming barriers, I recounted my family's legacy—the lessons learned and the bonds forged through shared struggles and triumphs. Whether it's the transformative power of dance, the discipline of martial arts, or the journey through martial arts history and its influence on personal development, every story we shared served as a beacon, illuminating the path toward empowerment and the celebration of one's unique strengths. With Paul Rivera's insights enriching our narrative, this episode stands not just as a conversation, but as a mosaic of life's lessons and the joy found in the pursuit of passion and partnership.

Check out the book:
https://beactchange.com/creating-your-limitless-life-book/

Visit the website:
https://beactchange.com/

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started. All right? Welcome back everybody to the Side Hustle City podcast. Kyle Stevie in studio Kyle.

Speaker 2:

Estoy aquí.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay.

Speaker 3:

Sí, sí, he kind of knows Muy bien, me parece muy bien excelente.

Speaker 1:

Puedo hablar. He knows a little bit. He was in Mexico for a little while, so, as you can hear, guys, there's some Spanish being spoken here. Well, we're with Paul Rivera. Paul, thanks for joining the podcast.

Speaker 3:

It's my pleasure. I'm so glad to be here. Thanks, guys.

Speaker 1:

All the way from the DR right now. How's it looking down there?

Speaker 3:

It's gorgeous, as always. I got a view of the ocean over here. I'm on the 10th floor of the apartment it was. I think today was a little cool today was a little cool.

Speaker 1:

It was only about 87 today, oh, only 87, suffering in the 87. If I was in the 87 degree stuff right now, like coming from cincinnati and ohio, like if, if, well, sweaty mess, oh, we'd be sweaty met.

Speaker 2:

Because now our bodies are used to this, like 40, 50 degree weather, I feel like I feel like that's the only thing keeping me from a six-pack, those just being a sweaty mess for like four days. Just get it all out.

Speaker 1:

Well, kyle spent some time. He's bilingual, so he spent some time down in Mexico. And what were you working with? You were teaching kids stuff, right, you were running a school.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was my first business venture. I was like 22. I owned a language academy. It went about as well as a 22-year-old running a language academy in Mexico could go about as well as a 22 year old running a language Academy in.

Speaker 3:

Mexico.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing. Well, speaking of languages like I mean, you speak six languages, which is amazing and, uh, very rare, I would say, for for this part of the world.

Speaker 3:

Uh, it is pretty rare for this part of the world, I got to say, but when I, when I traveled to other parts, they're kind of like yeah, sure, that's, that's normal, you know.

Speaker 1:

Oh, you go to Europe and they're just like what do you mean? Six languages? That's it. Like what? Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 3:

And, and to be fair, you know, three of my languages are romance languages. Right, I speak. I speak Spanish, French and Portuguese, which are all. They're all sort of cousins. You know, you go to Europe and that has nothing to do with anything You're like, okay.

Speaker 3:

Wow, okay, wait, italian is not one of your languages, I can you know. We were in Italy last year. It's not a language that I actually speak. Speak but I was able to communicate really well with Italians and I can read it. I can, if I can listen to it on the radio, and I'm fine, but but you don't consider it one of your languages?

Speaker 2:

I don't, no. It seems like you could pick that up within like six months and just claim to have seven.

Speaker 1:

Come on, paul, what are you doing, man? I mean, guys Sluck it off, man. Sluck it off. Here I am One language and maybe like my hillbilly, uh, slang, and that's all I got man appalachian, I'm gonna count that I got.

Speaker 2:

I got hillbonics dude, there we go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're from this from this neighborhood called price hill, so I call my language hillbonics, so that's the only thing I speak. I speak, uh yeah, and I wish I could do be like you guys. I wish I was bilingual or I had six freaking languages under my belt here in cincinnati, I only speak english.

Speaker 2:

Well, oh, that's well we got that problem they're at half a language they got their own language.

Speaker 1:

It's something else you just haven't hasn't been categorized yet. It's like those animals in the in the amazon forest that we don't, we haven't found them yet, but we know they exist.

Speaker 2:

They're called dialects they're not even languages. They're called dialects.

Speaker 1:

Yeah that's, that's 100, true. Well, paul, you've had a awesome like the education. I mean, you got a phd in economics. Uh, this is one of the things too and I was reading through your profile One of the things I'm super interested in. I wish we could teach more people just how economics works, just basic understanding of how money works, how economics in general works, the world that we live in. I wish that was something that we could teach in schools.

Speaker 3:

You know, I don't see why we don't, except for the following thing I think and I say this having been an economics professor for about 15 years I think that economics is one of the most poorly taught disciplines in in the collegiate education system. And I'll tell you why. I love economics because I am, if anything I am a huge proponent for the idea of critical thinking. Like, I think critical thinking is something that is crucially important in our lives. I think it's something that's tremendously undervalued and underappreciated in our educational system, and to me, the beauty of economics is that it forces you to think about, you know, this idea of optimization like what's the goal we're trying to reach? How are we going to get there? What are the? What are the things that hold us back? What are the environmental things, the contextual things that are functioning around us that are impacting our ability to move towards our goals, and so it's a really nice setup for critical thinking. The problem is that once the problem is that somebody convinced economists that we should all be physicists, basically, and so economists want to perceive the world as though it was like an experiment that can be done in a vacuum. So there's so much value within the economics profession given to the sexiness of the mathematics that go into how we calculate these optimization things and less so an emphasis on the thought processes behind it and sort of the reasoning and the logic.

Speaker 3:

So I know that one of the reasons why I was definitely a frustrated economist was because I love people.

Speaker 3:

At the end of the day, I love people, you know, and I want to talk to people and and understand how it is that their incentives play out and how it is that they make their decisions and how it is that they apply economic reasoning to the decisions that they make. You know. So, um, I I always taught very much from what I would say is more of a social perspective or a cultural perspective, um, which which I think was really powerful, you know, because it allowed my students to see their the concepts we were trying to talk about in action, you know, in a context that made sense to them. And so, with with that in mind, you know, I can tell you that I have taught what normally would be really complex economic concepts to third graders and they understood it. So I would say that if you do it right and if you come at it with the right approach, there is absolutely no reason why that that discipline and the reasoning that goes with it could not be taught to to children much younger than you would think.

Speaker 2:

That's why I sucked at micro and macro. It wasn't me. I wanted to deal with people, I wanted the scenarios, I wanted the situations. My teacher sucked.

Speaker 1:

All it was was about you needed Paul to break it down Point at diminishing returns and bullshit like that. Yeah, yeah, well-.

Speaker 3:

I will tell you the following thing, and so when I was a professor, I would tell my students that what I want them to understand is is the concept and to reason through it, and so any good, any well-taught concept in economics. There's three ways to give an answer. One is with mathematics, one is in a graphical format and one is, uh, basically in a narrative format. And one is basically in a narrative format, and for me each, any of those three, is equally valid and valuable, like so you should be able to answer that question for me either in words, in equations or in a graphical format, you know, and so I would accept as a valid answer any of those perspectives if my students could run through the reasoning.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. Yeah, yeah, I was all about. I was. I was stuck with graphs.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, they're easy, like, if you're a visual person, the graphs are going to work, like it's. You show a pie chart and you're like look, here's this, here's that, here's this.

Speaker 2:

I mean, or something like, uh, for instance, right now, my teacher was the most visual person of all time. Cause, that's all we do. That's all we do is crafts yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean I like yesterday I made a tweet and I explained.

Speaker 2:

I said look, the wealth gap is getting wider because every time you explained it I didn't explain it like paul did, without emotion yeah, yeah, without emotion, I get fired up about this, paul.

Speaker 1:

I can't stand the fact that um well, especially in politics, you know, people promise things and they don't deliver.

Speaker 2:

Right, we need yeah, we need sound effects on this podcast. Just for when you go off to one of these like economic rants, we can play music in the background.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I mean, it was so much more like dun dun, dun dun.

Speaker 2:

That's what we need. I think it's something softer. Yeah, well, think about that Violin, violin. Yeah, there you just go, yeah, yeah, and it's just in the background just going crazy. And the more I, the more I speed up, the more it becomes like the devil went down to georgia or something like that. Or you could do drums like little, the like, uh, the patent when he's in front of the flag. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, with the oh when he walked out with the american flag in the background instrument or whatever.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, that's what actually. That was better one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there you go well, paul, like the whole is, is like I get frustrated because I'm like, look, you've got all these people and we have a twenty five, twenty four and a half, twenty five percent poverty rate in Cincinnati and you've got a 19 percent college readiness rate in our public schools out of 100. We have a 22 percent math readiness rate by the time these kids graduate college and 34 percent reading readiness rate, just since I public, since I public yep. So you know I.

Speaker 2:

I see it as pretty abysmal.

Speaker 1:

It's really, it's awful right yeah and, and so what happens?

Speaker 1:

when you're already you know you. You don't have the tools from school to perform. You live in a society that is pure capitalism, and I'm not against it I love capitalism, right. So not against capitalism at all. But what I want is to prepare people, because I think people get resentful, they hate capitalism, they blame it on capitalism, they blame it on America and all this other stuff, but really the problem is the root thing is they're unprepared. They're unprepared for things that come down the road, like a recession. They can't see the things that lead to this, and what happens every single time we go into a situation like this is people get poor.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean I will tell you that, well, there's, there's, there's so many layers of things to unpack there, but one of the things that I still do in our coaching now, whether I'm working with and I've had the joy, the luxury, the pleasure of working with people who were at national presidential level, down to dairy farmers and fishermen and everyone in between and students and my own children, and all of that, I will tell you that for me, one of the biggest things that I try to convey is and all of that, um, I will tell you that for me, one of the biggest things that I try to convey is this idea of resilience. So, you know, and and for me, education is one of the things that really brings up that, that fortitude for you, that the ability to one figure things out, like, for me, a good education is not that you necessarily learned a whole bunch of technical things, but that you've learned how to solve problems, that you've learned an approach to solving problems, how to figure things out, and it's an approach that should serve you, regardless of what situation you find yourself in. Right, it's not. It's not if I'm in this job, then I'm going to be okay. It's I know how to solve problems, and I know how to apply this in lots of different ways, you know so. So for me, that's a, that's a huge piece of my sort of perspective and how I, how I look at the world.

Speaker 3:

And I and I say that having worked in a lot for a long time in situations where the goal, the objective, really looked a lot more like attempting to be invulnerable, so trying to create situations where and and and I'm you know it's funny now because I'm an economist I think in graphs, right, so I see the graph and the concept of invulnerability is basically staying along a path, right, not deviating from a path, and that's great, that's a great thing. If you are, uh, in a vacuum, like a, like a physicist, right, there's. I've create, I've isolated you from reality and I'm going to create the situation where all you have to do is stay on your path. But guess what? We live in the world, yes, we live in the world where things change and things happen and shocks come around. And what are you going to do when you get knocked off of your path? Right, and that's what resilience is.

Speaker 3:

Resilience is how quickly do you pick yourself up and resume your growth path? Right, how quickly do you keep going in the direction that you wanted to be going in? So you know. So for me, everything comes down to building resilience, and so you talk about.

Speaker 3:

You talk about this incredible unpreparedness in education that we're seeing, and you know, I don't know where Cincinnati ranks in terms of you know other parts of the country, but having been in the education system for a while, I would I would say that the U? S as a nation is definitely below where it used to be and where it should, where it should be, not for the not be, not necessarily for making the US a great country, but for creating a good society. You know, a good society that understands how civics works and how government works and how we all relate to each other and how what you do affects me and how what I do affects you, and how we all sort of live together in a, in a good and productive and, you know, useful society. You know so, to me, all the, all those things are linked together. So I think, yeah, I appreciate you bringing it up.

Speaker 1:

But imagine what it would do to our economy if we could get that group of people and this is those are the people living in poverty 25%. There's still middle-class people struggling, especially in the situation we're in right now. Things are. They're going backwards right now. Right, they don't own assets.

Speaker 1:

Nobody teaches them, hey, you need to own assets. It helps you get over the hump, right. I own rental property. Kyle's got all kinds of stuff going on too. He's got investments. He's got a commercial building. I got a commercial building. Like, I'm pretty diversified when it comes to stuff, so I got a couple of different businesses. Like, nobody taught me that. Like, I grew up in poverty. I was in the Cincinnati public school system. I had to learn a lot of the stuff on my own, but it was that resilience, right, I was sick of being poor. I didn't want to be poor anymore. I had to figure this stuff out on my own. Luckily, they've got there's people like you now, right that that come on podcasts, that write books that explain things I mean you're first generation. Talk about like having to learn. I mean your family, you know, I'm not sure, where were you? Where did you guys come from? Where does your family come from?

Speaker 3:

So I was born in Los Angeles, but my mom is Mexican and my dad's from El Salvador.

Speaker 1:

El Salvador, like I mean now one of the safest countries in the world, uh, but, but you know, coming over, I mean starting from scratch, not understanding, like, how does America work, having to figure that out? Well, I think.

Speaker 2:

I think what happens is when you're trapped second, third, fourth generation, like poverty is that you're playing, it's like there's there's rules to a specific game of success, but you're not, you're not given the rules. So it's kind of like you're playing Australian rules football and you think people are playing rugby. So you're trying to get, trying to be like a rugby player, and then all of a sudden, people come in with helmets and shoulder pads it's actually American football is what you're supposed to be playing. And so you need to transition your equipment, your mindset, everything towards this.

Speaker 2:

This, this game, which is basically the U at the American economy, is like how are you successful? Well, the first thing you do is you keep grinding, like you never stop when things get hard, because this is what he's saying exactly, which is the way he's saying it. But you've got to get the, you got to know the rules of the game before you can get in, and there'll be like, like you just said, with that ill preparedprepared education to have, and it's not just like inner city, it's rural, it's everything. I will tell you.

Speaker 3:

A big part of my research agenda and the population that I work with is the Latino population in the United States, and they're exemplary of the kind of stats that you're talking about. So, like there's, there's a set. There's a 23% income gap on average between for Latinos, right? Which means, you know, for every dollar, a sort of average generic white person make, a Latino make 77 cents, but there is an 80% wealth gap, right?

Speaker 1:

And that's what you were saying. There's assets.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you have assets, you have a concept of diversifying your portfolio that insulates you against some of the buffeting, it brings you a kind of hopefully passive income that you're not having to actively manage too much and it gives you a cushion. You know. So if you think about, like when I look at the whole Latino population, that there there's a report that comes out every year for the last few years called the Latino GDP, and so, right, the last one that came out was around September of last year and it said that Latino GDP in the United States is about $3.2 trillion, which is a lot of money. Right, there's a lot of there's, but why? There's 64 million Latinos in the United States, you know, and they buy stuff. So it's a. It's a big economy in and of its own, but when you start looking at the wealth that's behind that it's, it's all basically added up from a consumption viewpoint and not from an investment viewpoint, right. So there's like, when, when, when I see the Latino communities out there, there's not that investment in sort of longer-term assets and there's not also that investment, that same level of investment in education, there's not the same level of investment in even even healthcare or mental healthcare and that sort of thing, and you start seeing those impacts as you go around and, as you mentioned, for kids like me I'm a first-gen kid, my household was completely Spanish-speaking, my parents came from other places and different culture and different language and the messaging that you get as a first gen kid is really so much about keep your head down, work hard, be a team player, and it's sort of this ideal of like an American dream, that in a land of equal opportunity, all you have to do is work hard and you're gonna be good.

Speaker 3:

And the truth is that, as you said, there are rules you don't know about. You know. Then you're not told the importance of networking oh my God, there's so much about who you know one percent and you're not told that it's okay to stand out. It's okay to you know that nobody's going to recognize you just because you're a hard worker. If you're a hard worker, you're going to stay a hard worker.

Speaker 3:

You want to be a leader? You have to. You have to put yourself out there and be a leader. You know so. It's. It's not things that you're taught as a, as a child of immigrants. It's not something that you're. That you're taught as a first gen kid. You know so it's it's. It's interesting now, in the position that I'm in and my situation in the world and in life, to reflect back on that. And I talk a lot to college kids and to a lot of these Latino groups in different areas and it's actually kind of heartbreaking for me to see that even you know I've I finished college 30 years ago and still I see these kids struggling with the same things.

Speaker 3:

You know, so like there's, there's been no movement that I can see in terms of bringing that up, you know, so that you know, for me that's part of the reason why I'm here, that's part of the reason why I do what I do now, because I'm trying to get that message out and and trying to show people that that look like me, that have the same upbringing as me, that have the same background as me, that you know, you don't, you don't have to be stuck in a in a crappy situation.

Speaker 1:

You, you have the capacity to to build beyond that you know there's so much negativity out there and that's why we started the podcast was we wanted to bring people like you on, people who came from maybe disadvantaged backgrounds that have overcome these odds, because for years I've been hearing oh, America sucks, America's the worst place on earth, capitalism's evil, all this other stuff, but it's like it goes against everything. You kind of like. I'm looking at your book, the limitless life, Like. When I see that I think positive message. Let's not, let's not focus on the negative stuff. Let's not focus on the disadvantages you have. Let's focus on the positive things. Let's focus on the advantages you do have. Let's focus on the skills and things that you're good at and figure out how to optimize those.

Speaker 3:

And and even, and even. In truth, a lot of it is that from the negativity you gain strength. If you came out on the other side of it, even the bad stuff, even the perceived disadvantages that you have, are something that you can turn into a positive, and I'll tell you one of them. So my dad was a mechanic I mean, he's not dead, my dad is a mechanic, but he's retired now and so I grew up with him under the hood of the car, you know, fixing anything with a motor on it, cause he's a genius with that. And my grandpa was a um, uh, a heavy appliance repairman. And so I grew up my my summers were spent with my grandpa and we would basically go up on the top of high rises and we would service the AC units that were up there and all these things it was. It was really cool.

Speaker 1:

I need that right now on my building, so I don't know if you're looking for a side hustle cause? Yeah, I need some help.

Speaker 2:

The idea that, just the idea that just made my stomach queasy yeah.

Speaker 1:

I mean.

Speaker 2:

I will tell you.

Speaker 3:

I don't know how I did it. I don't. I don't love heights and there were some messed up ladders that grandpa and I had to climb and carrying the equipment you know, like the, the sprayer that hoses down the unit and all this stuff and you did it because grandpa told you to do it.

Speaker 1:

What?

Speaker 2:

country were you in?

Speaker 1:

here we were in the U S yeah, los Angeles with his grandpa, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, my, yeah, my grandpa came, yeah, my. So their story is that, basically, on my mom's side, my grandparents, uh, emigrated to the US when my mom was about 15. Okay, and then my dad came to the US, when he my dad is four years older than my mom, and he came to the US when he was about 20 or so and then he was almost immediately drafted oh my gosh. And then he was almost immediately drafted oh my gosh. And my parents met, because my dad's brother and my mom's father worked together in the same factory at this place in Los Angeles, and so that's how the two sort of sides of the families met. So, yeah, wow, yeah, it's interesting. It's an interesting story that is that's really interesting.

Speaker 1:

So now you and your wife, yeah, are working together, which is even more awesome the fact that my favorite thing. Oh it's, it's got to be. I mean the, the fact that you guys can work together on something you're both passionate about help people. I mean that has to even make your marriage better.

Speaker 2:

That knows. That's how you know you're with your soulmate. It's the same way as, like I was telling a friend of mine because, cause he's been building a house forever, I'm like if you can make it through a house build and you guys still love each other, you know it's meant to. You know this is for life. That's a keeper for sure. That's. I think every family should have to do it. Do that before you get fully married is you guys should have to either run a bit of small business together or you should have to do a renovation. And if you guys can not break up during the course of that, when there's no like legal ramifications, then you know you've got to keep her. That's right.

Speaker 3:

That's right, that's legit, I'm I'm on board with that. But I mean, that's that's our situation. You know, she and I met she's, you know she's, she's from Nicaragua, she has a PhD from from UC Berkeley. And we met as we were applying for a fellowship in Washington that basically takes academics and puts them into government service for some period of time as a fellowship. So we met while we were interviewing and it and it's a it's a fellowship that that gets thousands of applications every year from faculty all all over the place and, um, at the end of the day, they take about somewhere between 90 and 110 people per year. So so it's, it's not obvious that you're, that you're going to get it, you know, and, and we got there and there were, once we finally got selected, um, out of the hundred or so that were in our, our cohort, we were the two of us were two out of six Latinos in the whole thing. So we kind of gravitated towards each other, you know, and that sort of thing.

Speaker 3:

But so we both went to work for for the International Development Agency, usaid USA Agency for International Development, yeah, and so we were posted abroad for a long time, serving in all kinds of different countries.

Speaker 3:

We served long tours, like in Nicaragua and in Jamaica and here in the Dominican Republic, but we also did much shorter term things in term things in, uh, kosovo, thailand, kazakhstan, morocco, ghana, zimbabwe, uh, south Africa and all over the place.

Speaker 3:

You know so, um, I'm a specialist in in strategic planning, so that's that's sort of my my niche in in that in the world. In that particular world, you know um, where basically each, basically each country is allotted by Congress a certain amount of funding for implementing different kinds of development projects in that country, and so then they need to have a strategic plan of what are they going to do with this, and it comes in sort of five-year chunks, so what are they going to do over the next five years? So it's a really, really cool process where you bring together not only people within the U? S government but also civil society in that country and, uh, the government host government there, whatever country it is, and because they all have their own concepts of how they want their country to come out, and so you know it's basically bringing all of that together into a coherent plan.

Speaker 2:

You kind of like read from a Shawshank redemption in that role You're like you got. You're the guy to get the government stuff they needed. That's right. Everybody needs, everybody needs somebody. I'm the guy. I'm the guy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah Well this is.

Speaker 1:

That was an awesome movie and I want to go to. What is it? Dewa Tanejo. I noticed that the price, the properties down there, property on the like a cliff is like a four bedroom super modern concrete. All that stuff two and a half million dollars. It was unbelievable.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but then you gotta, you gotta form a corporation and have a. I think you have to have a spot, a citizen sponsor of some sort, to get it, cause you're not allowed to buy a beach property or within 50 miles of the border 50 kilometers.

Speaker 3:

I'll figure it out, we'll figure things out, and then they out, and then they have a whole like a like a long-term lease situation too oh, like the freehold versus the.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, okay, yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I'm looking at your wife's stuff too. I see extreme couponer and I'm like I need some tips because with this inflation the way it is right now, the extreme couponer that's handy to have in the house. I see dance, I will.

Speaker 2:

I see, I will tell you that I was gonna say I see dance queen.

Speaker 1:

So how does a wrestler yeah, you're a wrestler dance queen are you able to dance? This guy's got everything okay, so, okay.

Speaker 3:

So. So, before you get too excited, I am a terrible dancer, okay, horrible dancer, but it has its. It has its own story, you know, because, um, like I, I think that there is a, a decent dancer inside of me, somehow that has not yet emerged, and it's it's kind of a traumatic story actually, because, bro, you're, in the DR right now.

Speaker 1:

Man Like this is bachata, like you need to get out.

Speaker 3:

No, no, no no, no, no, and my, my wife is an amazing dancer. Like she dances beautifully, it like comes out of her likeurally. She struggles with languages, so I'm the language guy but she's the dance girl. When I was a kid I have an aunt who's only 10 years older than me and so I remember when I was about five years old, we were, she was rehearsing for her quinceanera, right, her, her, her, you know, her, her big sort of party, and so I was her dance partner. I was like this five-year-old kid and I was her dance partner, right, and you know it was nine, it was the late 1970s, you know what I mean. So I remember that it was disco and all this stuff, right, and so she and I would dance together and we would have a great time.

Speaker 3:

And you know this was at my grandparents' house and I remember they had one of those huge old, um wooden consoles with the with the LP player on the inside and the speakers that would light up. You know it was the coolest thing. Okay, so we're there one day and I'm rehearsing with her and, uh, this friend of my grandpa's who I don't remember who it was anymore, he was. There was always somebody in my grandparents house because they were like the social hub of the neighborhood, right.

Speaker 3:

And this guy comes up to me and he kind of whispers in my ear and he says in Spanish, he used the female tense to tell me that I dance very pretty. Basically he called me a girl, right, and I, you know it's Latino culture, it's a very macho Macho, very macho, yes, and you know my whole family, they're all you know, blue collar or work with your hands, kind of thing, and I and I, I remember, I remember, like it was yesterday, looking over and seeing my dad, cause my dad saw, my dad heard, you know, and just the, the mortification on his face, you know, and and and I felt so much shame after that that I never, so basically I stopped, I stopped practicing with my aunt, for sure, I never. So basically I stopped, I stopped practicing with my aunt, for sure, and then I never danced again, no, like I never danced again, right, and so you obviously never drank alcohol either.

Speaker 1:

He might've dressed, he might've danced again, he just don't remember.

Speaker 3:

That I recall, until until one of, basically one of the first dates with my wife. You know, we went out and you know we, she, um, we were, we were in Washington DC and uh, we were, to be fair, a little tipsy. But uh, you know, we we stopped in in one of these uh parks in the middle of the city If you've been there, you know they have these parks all over downtown DC and, uh, it was, it was pretty late, it was February, it was freezing, um, and she pulled out her Blackberry and this is how long ago Blackberry and started playing some music and we started dancing together, like in the middle of the park, like the homeless guys watching us, and the whole thing it was. It was a really fascinating thing, you know, and it's one of those things you talk about knowing you know who's your person, who's your soulmate.

Speaker 3:

You know it's. It's the person who, who can, who sees your trauma and who works through it with you, doesn't shame you for it, you know, and and that the person who, that that you make each other better, you know. So it's one of the. It's a. It's a long long, it's a long road to get to that sometimes, but uh, it's. I always tell people that it's, it's worth it to to wait for that person you know 100 well, I never had anybody.

Speaker 2:

I never had anybody make fun of me for dancing like I never had anybody say that anything negatively like that about my dancing, until I went to mexico and I looked over at the table with all the mexican guys and they were laughing their asses off and I was like, oh, I'm really bad at this I suck so bad.

Speaker 1:

I was about to say how do you date in the Latin community If you can't dance? Like everybody I know is salsa. You know, like I said, dr, you got the bachata and all that. Like how do you, how do you uh?

Speaker 2:

how'd you pull that off for so long? All you gotta do is learn like three steps as a guy. The girl's got to do all the work.

Speaker 1:

You just got to do the two step. That's a fact.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, that's a fact, it's. It's, um, that the male portion unless you want to like become a dancer, you know what I mean. But the, the, the male portions of a lot of these dances are are really the whole point of it is really to show off the girl. You know that's the whole point. You're, you're there just to guide and spin her, but nobody's looking at you. You know what I mean.

Speaker 3:

It's it's like if you've ever watched the I think the extreme version of it is if you've ever watched, like flamenco dancers, half the time there's there's a guy there, half the time there's a guy there. Nobody sees the guy. It's the girl in the dress and you know, doing the whole thing and doing this, this amazing show, the guy's just there to kind of like angle her, push her in the right direction, but you know well and I.

Speaker 1:

I waited a long time to get married because I could dance, so I went to the club four days a week until I was like 36. And then I'm like I finally meet my wife and I settled down about 40, but her mom was a Rockette's dry humping yeah well, that's what I do. Is is like I'm. I'm from the hood, so you know how that goes.

Speaker 1:

So I'm, I do my dance yeah, it's not organized, definitely not the rockettes. So so my wife's mom was a rockette so she forced her into dancing and my wife is really good at steps, right, like doing organized like choreographed stuff. I am not, I cannot follow it, but she tells me when we go to miami I'm gonna have to learn the tango and all this other stuff and salsa. So I don't know how I'm gonna survive down there.

Speaker 2:

That's also the two steps, the three steps, so you're fine.

Speaker 1:

The tango, I mean where? You're gonna find a whole dance floor to be able to walk back I don't know she wants to do all this stuff, though she already knows how to do most of it. We had a cuban we had.

Speaker 2:

Where I was at, there was a lot of cubans because we were like real close to the caribbean. Oh my god, those dudes. Once I watched one of the guys and it looked like his spine was a rubber band I was like there's absolutely no way I'll ever come.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, like different, like the top half of their body and the bottom half of their body are moving in different directions, yeah, there ain't a chance in hell we're both german.

Speaker 1:

Be like this, Bro, we're both German. We're not meant for that stuff. We're supposed to be like lifting rocks and swords and stuff Like that's not.

Speaker 2:

When I saw he was a wrestler, I know that mentality because everything's just like so, like forceful and strong, and it totally is the opposite of what you need to be a dancer, where you need to go with the flow of the music.

Speaker 3:

And that's my upbringing. My upbringing was was wrestling and jujitsu.

Speaker 1:

This is what he said.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was just like can you see my eye from yesterday?

Speaker 1:

He's just rolling with a guy that just ends up with a lump under his eye yeah, brown belt from Mario Sperry in Miami.

Speaker 2:

He was just like I don't know he had, but I don't, I didn't know it until this morning. I was like damn it.

Speaker 3:

That's how it is. The next day you're like I don't know what I did to myself.

Speaker 2:

So you're a black belt in jujitsu, then Is that what that is? Who are you under?

Speaker 3:

So I trained under um. His name was Bill Randall, okay, um, it was. So it's, it's not. It's not like BJJ or anything like that. It was, it was.

Speaker 3:

It's Danzan Ryu, so it's basically from Japan on the way over into Hawaii. So it's really a Hawaiian version of of jujitsu which focuses so much on two things which I think are are missing in a lot of modern jujitsu, and one of it is sort of the spirituality for lack of a better term aspect. So, you know, I, I, I taught the kids classes for years, and even in the adult classes at some point, professor Randall would always say what is the best fight? The one that never starts Right.

Speaker 3:

So it was very much this understanding that that this was not. You're not here for aggression, you're here for you know something at the most defense, but something that shows you about how movement and force and direction and how you can use those things to your advantage. And the second thing is that this particular version of jujitsu focuses a lot on what's called small circle jujitsu. So it's um, it's not. Of course, you do a lot of the big moves and the throws, but a lot of it is focused on closer interactions and you know different kinds of wrist wrist locks, elbow locks and that sort of thing, to really just reposition the person into a place where you can then exert a kind of force on them okay, so you're.

Speaker 2:

so what he's? I'm going to fill adam in on this. What he's talking about is like straight from the samurai jujitsu, which is the original form of it. What it came from was when samurai can no longer use their long sword, they've been knocked off a horse, they're going into hand-to-hand combat. And they did what are you going to do? Sort of like kung fu in china with the, with the monks. So that's what he's learning.

Speaker 2:

Uh, during the uh, how's that era? After, after, after they got rid of the warlords and they tried to industrialize Japan, they're like you can't do jiu-jitsu, it's out. Everything's got to be westernized. Oh, that's wild.

Speaker 2:

So Kanjo made judo. He made it a sport. So judo broke off of jiu-jitsu. It did a lot of the throws from jiu-jitsu. And then judo has two parts. It has the stand-up, which is what you see in the Olympics. When you look at highlights of the Olympics, you always see these great hip tosses and cool foot sweeps and stuff like that. But there's another section of it that is ground-based, where you got like 30 seconds to work, or if you can hold your opponent down for 30 seconds, you win. So what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is is one of the emissaries from Japan came to Brazil and he taught the Gracie's and he taught Franco, who's not a Gracie, but that's who we go through. That's where we come from, the ground-based part of jujitsu, and that's where Brazilian jujitsu came from. That's one that's Gracie popularized, mma's popularized, but the original jujitsu, japanese jujitsu, is what he's talking about, which is the hand-to-hand with a lot of joint locks and joint manipulations. And if you had basically thinking along the concept of these guys have daggers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Basically thinking along the concept of these guys have daggers. Yeah, I got to disarm this person and I got to get them to the ground, but I got to use the least amount of energy as possible because we could be here for a long time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, right, so wow, kyle knows the history. Look at this, I'm impressed. Yeah, I'm impressed.

Speaker 3:

Look at him it's a, it's a great thing. I, I, I love it, Um, I think it's. I think it's great for kids. It's a, it's a really great uh pursuit for kids because of, because of the, the, the mentality that goes with it. You know, and I found it. I found it both humbling, um and um and uplifting at the same time. So I know that a lot of my, my personal approach to life really comes from from martial arts.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, wow. Well, it should have helped you with some dancing to get that confidence, you would think.

Speaker 3:

But but as he's, as he said, dancing, everything is it's the same, but it's like I have to learn to do it backwards, because, because you're, you're exerting your, your force, force and your energy in in a different direction than you've been taught to your entire life, you know. So it's it's, it's tough, it's like I'm getting there.

Speaker 2:

It's like you're listening to music with your bass up at 10, but you gotta have your bass down so you can hear more of the trouble.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, well, you're married to a dance queen and a scientist and a travel guru, extreme, extreme couponer, diplomat. Like look at this. I mean they're like this power couple.

Speaker 2:

They're like the Cosby's, Like they're both doctors. You're poor kids. Do you ever have those Theo moments where, like Dad, Mom's a doctor, You're a doctor?

Speaker 3:

Don't you just think sometimes it's just okay to be just a normal kid? I wish you just love me for how you, how I am. We go out of our way to make sure that they know that it's not because of their, their intellectual or, you know, academic accomplishments that we love them Right, that that our love is not conditional on that for them, that's all.

Speaker 2:

It's all sports based Exactly. We only love you if you win.

Speaker 1:

Oh no. So so what do you what? What's your next thing? I mean, you mentioned a little bit before the show you guys would love to do more public speaking. You travel around the world. You're in the Dominican Republic right now. You know you're both avid travelers. Sounds like she's a travel guru. What's your next thing? What do you guys want to do together? What's that next level? I mean, you've already obtained so much, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So you know, having having come from from this sort of international development background and the work there is so interesting for so many reasons, but one of them is because a lot of that work adds up to nothing and and, and here's what I mean, so a humanitarian assistance agencies all over the world and I'm talking, you know, the world bank, the imf, the us and then most of larger developed countries have their own right. Japan has their own and korea has their own, the eu has their own and each country within has their own. Their biggest struggle is the following While they are providing money for an intervention, for a project, you can see the impact of that project and as soon as the money runs out, the impact runs out and basically everything reverts to how it was before. So there's no lasting sustainable impact of the of those funds, right, which means that at the end of the day, you haven't really made any lasting transformational change, right, and that was really really frustrating, really frustrating.

Speaker 1:

That's the goal. That's why the money is there Like that's why the money is there.

Speaker 3:

You know, and and and that and that's also the language that comes around it. Right, when, when these agencies set up their objectives, their objectives never say we want to make change for the next five years. Their objectives are we want to initiate transformational change that will go on over time. Right, and that's the hardest that we found is that a root reason why that doesn't happen is because these interventions come without ever really truly involving the local communities that they're going to impact. So it's a very paternalistic approach that goes in. Right, that these are you, we know what you need, we have the money for what we know that you need, and so these communities are like sure, we'll take it and they do it, and then it's not really what they needed in the first place. You know I can, I can give you tons of examples along those lines. You know it's happened in every country. You know that you know, like here, here in the DR, one of the one of the big ones was that one of one of the larger agencies created these in these rural areas, these latrines, these beautiful like, sort of like zinc outhouse latrines, because one of the things that's still missing in this country. For as much as development has happened and as much wealth as there is here, water and sanitation is still a problem here. Right, oh yeah, but but Dominicans people themselves don't see that as the primary problem. So if you ask Dominican communities, water and sanitation is somewhere on the list, but it's not first or second or fifth, you know. Okay, so they go and they created these beautiful latrines.

Speaker 3:

Six months later we come back to see sort of what's been the impact of the latrines. You know what's what's happening, and there's no latrines. Latrines are gone. And we start asking around. We're like where, where the latrines? This? They were like millions of dollars put into these latrines. They're like, no, well, nobody asked us what we really needed was uh, zinc for our roofs of our houses. So we took apart the latrines. They're like, no, well, nobody asked us what we really needed was uh, zinc for our roofs of our houses. So we took apart the latrines and use them for the for our houses. And they said, and they were like plus, you know, we, we like to, we like to pee out in the open. So, and they were putting us in these little cages. Why would I want to pee in there, you know, and it smells bad in there, you know so why would I want to do that?

Speaker 1:

So it's this whole thing right.

Speaker 3:

There was no consultation, there was no integration of the local communities, which means that there was no listening, which is where I was going with this whole thing. So for me, one of the biggest problems is that there was no listening. There is no listening in these communities, in these projects. As I said, it's a very paternalistic I hesitate to say it but almost colonial kind of mentality that comes in with this Right. So what we started seeing is that we start putting together, you know, our life experiences. You know as as academics, as world travelers, as as children of immigrants, as people who've experienced these sorts of things, that when you're not listening, you're not getting to people's purpose, you're not getting to their core, you're not addressing what moves them and what matters to them. And then we start asking our colleagues well, why aren't you doing this? And they said, well, I don't know how to listen. And I don't know how to listen because no one's ever really asked me, no one's ever listened to me.

Speaker 3:

And so we sort of see this whole spiral. And so our company is called Be, act, change, because our idea is that we want you to be who you authentically are, act on it and do that, in order to change the world, so Be, act, change. And so that's where the birth of this company came from, and we started out really working initially with individual coaching clients and moving on to NGOs and corporate clients and working with corporate teams and working on things like change management and innovation and sustained change. And so, through this whole approach is how we've been able to see so much change, and that's always been our goal is to really bring something positive and innovative into the world.

Speaker 3:

And so, as we look forward, we're hoping to do, as you mentioned, a lot more of the public speaking type of things, to do a lot more corporate retreat kind of things where we know I bring teams together in sort of a disconnected format and work through a lot of these things as individuals and as teams work towards common mission, vision, purpose kind of thing, and then creating action plans. And so the big thing that I think that we do differently than a lot of these different, and so the big thing that I think that we do differently than a lot of these different, a lot of these other people who offer similar services is, one, working on the action plan that goes with it, and then two, as I mentioned before, resilience is really big for us, and so we work a lot on building resilience tools to keep progress going. Even when shocks come, when things get tough, when things want to knock you off your path, we work a lot on those resilience tools to bring you back up.

Speaker 1:

Kyle remind me, when I become president of the United States, he and his wife are going to be cabinet members, international. I don't know what the cabinet is going to be, but it's going to be something with international organization. Yeah, secretary of the interior, you're going to be that and you're going to control all of everything.

Speaker 3:

You know what? Let's let's make that day happen. Yeah, let's do it. Let's dochangecom. We have a pretty fun Instagram page which is beactchange. It's pretty active. We respond to anybody who's got something good and interesting to say on there, on the DMs, and you can always reach out to me directly too on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, I'm Dr Paul Rivera and same thing, I'm super responsive on all of those. I would also put in a plug for our book. If you haven't taken a look at it.

Speaker 3:

The book is called Creating your Limitless Life. My wife, esther, is the primary author on that, but it's done really well. It's a book that we. It's a labor of love. It's a lot of. It's half half sort of a self-help motivational kind of book and then half a really a life story kind of a book, which makes it a little bit different than most. And it's something that we thought would originally really only click with kids like us. You know, sort of like first gen immigrant type folks, and we've found the opposite to be true. Actually it's. We've we've had people super unexpected, you know, totally different age groups and ethnicities and religions and countries reach out to us and tell us how impacted they've been by the story. So it's been, it's been a great journey with the book, and we're we're actually have the second book, uh, already in the works, so that's going to be exciting too.

Speaker 1:

I love it man. Well, thanks for being on the show. We really appreciate it.

Speaker 3:

No, my pleasure. This has been excellent and I, I, I really love your show. I like all the guests that you guys have had on. It's always a really good conversation, so I appreciate the work that you guys are doing too. Yes, sir.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show.

Speaker 2:

Thank you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Economics and Multilingual Conversations
Building Resilience Through Education and Investment
(Cont.) Building Resilience Through Education and Investment
Overcoming Barriers and Building Success
Dancing Trauma and Finding Love
Dancing, Martial Arts and Cultural Differences
Martial Arts Evolution and Development
(Cont.) Martial Arts Evolution and Development