Sharing Hispanic Culture & Sustainability with Jessica Godinez

Sharing Hispanic Culture & Sustainability with Jessica Godinez

Hi everyone,


In this episode of the Well Aware Podcast – This Sustainable Life, I bring you Jessica Godinez, Conservation Program Manager of the Hispanic Access Foundation. 

The Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society. One day, every Latino in America will enjoy good physical health in a healthy, natural environment, high quality education, economic success, and civic engagement in their community with some of improving the future of America.

Between July 16th through to July 24th of this year, there was a nationwide celebration to support getting the Latino community outdoors and participate activities to protect our natural resources thusly named Latino Conservation Week. During this time, Latino communities, organizations, families, and individuals all participated in a variety of activities, both virtual and in person.

Whether it’s hikes, parks, cleanups, online expectations, round table discussions, Q and A, scavenger hunts, Film screens, everything. There was over 150 events that were being celebrated nationwide as I understand correctly. Our guest Jessica had a very particular quote to share about Latino Conservation Week:

“Latino communities are passionate about the outdoors and hold a strong belief that they have moral obligation to be good stewards. Latino Conservation Week helps break down barriers for Latino communities to access public lands and waters encourages new opportunities for engagement inspires next generation of environmental stewards.”

Jessica is a first generation Mexican American who is drawn to support immigrant communities in navigating the systems of a new country while striving for social equity. Her family currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, where her love for nature continued to grow as the gardens around her family home did. Prior to joining Hispanic access, Jessica had nourished love of the outdoors through a job at REI, an American retail outdoor creation services organization and at the same time, she was also working towards social equity by partnering with local nonprofits, serving the needs of immigrants.

On this podcast episode, Jessica and I talk about the hurdles of accessing nature for Latinos. We talk about the leadership and logistics needs surrounding this problem. Finally, Jessica commits to her efforts with gardening at home, so that in the future she may share her techniques with her local community.
Enjoy the show!
Sharing Hispanic Culture & Sustainability with Jessica Godinez

This Sustainable Life Episode 0: Becoming Well Aware About Sustainability

Hey there!

This blog post is co-created alongside my Well Aware podcast episode – this particular episode is meant to be a primer to my 2nd season of podcasting. This season, I’ve partnered alongside the This Sustainable Life community, or TSL. The goal of this podcast is to share my awareness around sustainability, and to inspire others to explore what sustainability and the environment means to them personally. From that, I, along with the rest of the TSL community, hope to support others on their journey towards living more sustainably.

With that, Well Aware and its prime focus around better management by awareness goes hand in hand, and so I’m honored to be able to connect these two worlds. And so, to that end, I’m delighted to take you on this journey with me. Below is this episode’s transcript if you prefer to read. If you’re pressed for time, here’s a brief summary:

  1. A major part of being well aware to me not only includes managing myself towards better productivity and overall wellness. My participation in the external environment plays an extremely important role in that.
  2. This podcast season has two sides to it. One side is for me to share about practices around managing my time and tasks with sustainability in mind. The other side surrounds inviting others in my immediate and not-so-immediate network to join me in having 30 minute conversations around what the environment means to them personally, how that makes them feel, and what they might want to do about that.
  3. My call to action for this post is to invite you to join me for said 30 minute conversation, as well as to follow me throughout this journey towards a Well Aware sustainable life.

As always, thank you for reading.


Conrad Ruiz

— Episode Transcript —

Hey everyone! This is a solo episode for those of you that don’t know.

I’m part of a community known as the, This Sustainable Life community. Also known as TSL.

This Sustainable Life was started by Joshua Spodek, who as a mentor, as a friend, Josh has been an incredibly inspiring individual in my world. I would say, as a result of his efforts, he’s made me incredibly aware of how I want to go about investing my time.

As someone who professionally focuses a lot on that, I am surprised by how open I can be about the thoughts and experiences that I can create as a result of being very conscious of where I choose to focus and where I choose to be aware.

And I think for our world today, one of the primary elements of awareness is around our environment, around the sustainability of our environment and specifically where we’re really falling off on that front.

I think we all know that things are not looking great from an environmental perspective, and that has hugely been based on the way we go about behaving.

I think Josh, I think other folks in the community, I think a lot of people around the world, they recognize where a lot of these behaviors are coming from, and I think where it is apt for us to point fingers at some of the major contributors to environmental pollution, to addiction, towards behaviors that the general populace then participates in, whether it’s social media consumption or just general consumption of things.

Of material goods. Things that don’t really have real value, but are nonetheless going to, as a result of their existence, and this whole design we have about how we basically sell our time in order to make money in order to buy things that don’t really matter. And then those things being stuff that costs energy which we specifically get from unclean sources in order to meet the demand in which we’re doing this.

I think we get that. I think we know the bigger picture of what’s going on here and it sucks.

We really are looking at an end game scenario, if you will, where so long as this continues things are going to be pretty dire as time continues to move forward.

And again, that is something that just from an awareness perspective, because it means so much to me that time is precious, that the awareness of time and how we invest in it and what consequences come from our choices around time… It would not make sense for me to ignore just focusing on surface level productivity and output for everyone that I work with. And especially for myself, it would be stupid to just focus on the ability to acquire money and not really think about the costs of lifestyles that aren’t considering the sustainability component for our planet.

My involvement in TSL and where I’m connected to it, I am working to both share with you about my sustainable life and my attempts toward it, I’m not going to say I’m perfect by any means, and working towards bringing on other people to have a conversation around what sustainability and what the environment means to them, and what it means to them personally, and how they want to go about participating in becoming more sustainable.

And that looks like a challenge when we get into a conversation. So to give you the tactical view of it, let’s say you and I sat down for 30 minutes, and we said, “okay what does the environment mean to you? I invite you at your option to do some kind of activity that’s supporting that feeling that you have around what environmental sustainability means to you.”

Where I’m going with that is the way that you’re going about living your life right now, If there’s something to be said about where you could consciously apply your awareness towards choosing certain types of activities or making certain types of choices around the way you currently live your life, and then just seeing how bringing sustainability into that foray starts to impact you in particular around how you feel.

I want to share with you what’s been my journey with sustainability so far, and I want to get to what I’m currently struggling with as I’ve recently I changed my life and have come to still be in a place where I’m trying to organize myself, but now that I’ve gotten most of the settling things out of the way – I recently moved to Austin, Texas from Wilmington, North Carolina. And that’s been a big change.

And that in particular has delayed, altered in many cases just almost stopped a lot of the sustainability practices that I was performing but, to give you some history to where I’ve come from, I’ve always lived rather frugally. I wouldn’t say I’ve always thought about my environmental footprint. I’d order things from Amazon. I would take my groceries in plastic bags. I wouldn’t necessarily separate compostable foods from just general trash… and although I was factually aware of everything that was going on wrong with our waste management with our unsustainable lifestyles – stopped there when it came to the whole premise of maybe I should just reduce, reuse, recycle better.

At this point through a lot of different kinds of conversations, through connecting with Josh, through connecting with others, through just working on this experience myself. I have come to the understanding around sustainability on a much more holistic level. It’s taken me towards understanding the premises of addictive behavior that I have, around not just necessarily consuming my time doing things that are ultimately wasteful at a very physical level. There’s almost a realization around the consumption of energy that’s negative towards the environment.

Fast food. Social media consumption that’s unregulated, unfettered and not really made purposeful. I think there is there’s something to be said about trying to obviously limit ones electricity usage, limiting one’s consumption of gas as a means of traveling, as a means of using any variety of tools and machinery. I’m not here to go so far as to say, you should keep your heat off when it’s cold. That’s not necessarily what I’m going for, I think there’s just a lot to be said about how we can go about living our lives with a neutral carbon footprint.

And yeah, I really aspire to hit that number of getting to zero, and here’s where I’m struggling right now. I feel I like let myself go. I used to be composting. We used to have a composter in the backyard. I used to be a lot more selective about my purchases of things that came with cardboard, plastic, you name it. In this past couple of weeks, not only have I let that go a little bit and purchased more items that came in plastic containers and just overall packaging.

I recently switched over to using InstaCart because I made this whole premise, like my time is more precious than driving to and from the grocery store. And also my motorcycle and the delivery bag that I have with it – as much as it’s more eco-friendly – it’s limited in my ability to carry goods and I definitely have found that for cost with respect to my time and what I’m able to create in terms of value when I work to the top dollar of my hour, then it just makes more sense economically, but we need to unpack that, right? Like what does that actually mean?

So right now I’m struggling to I guess be okay with the way I’m consuming plastic, the way I am consuming energy. And also the way I’m producing waste. From, whether it’s my eating efforts, the things that I purchase online and then have to throw away. And there are little issues right there that are just like stupid excuses, in my opinion, like for instance, when we moved to this new place that we’re renting out, we didn’t have a compost bin. We didn’t have a recycling bin. And so now we’re waiting on the city to give us those things, but I don’t even want to rely on that sort of greater system.

Because I know it’s not perfect. In fact, one of my expectations, one of my desires is actually to learn more about what’s the city of Austin’s approach to reuse, reduction and recycling on a grander scale. And there are a lot of folks that I’ve seen that one particular TikTok-er, for instance, she does a really phenomenal job of showcasing how she’s put together an entire recycling plant for glass. And I just think that is amazing. And brings me to the question. Are we doing that like really effectively here? Is there any way I can participate in that more?

Outside of the struggles of just getting into this new lifestyle of choices and seeing like how I can go about either being okay with and finding a different manner of offsetting my use of plastics currently. I think in a perfect world, we just, we get everything from the farm and don’t have to deal with any means of packaging or containerizing the foods that we need, because we can either grow it ourselves or just get it raw and do what we need to, to minimally cook and prepare, using cleaner energy sources. It would be lovely if this house was powered by solar.

There’s a lot to dream about. I want to be practical, and I want to share with you how I’m going about my time in regards to this project. And for those of you that don’t know, for those of you don’t follow the other types of creative works that I share about each week – I try to share a management newsletter each week where I show all the different sides of management, whether it’s food management, travel management, fashion management, on the personal side, and then how I tie those back into more professional manners, relationship management, time management, project management.

Anything that you can envision that requires time, task, and protocol. That’s what I do. From a professional standpoint for others, helping them get more operationally sound and organized and just cleaned up.

I want to share with you guys where my journey is with that. And so here’s my commitment to you: on one hand, I have challenges for myself around how I want to live more sustainably, around what I want to get accomplished each week with regards to just making as many of the better choices that I can around consuming less, and reaching more towards that neutral carbon footprint experience.

And I’ll share with you the nuance of what’s going on with my side of things, for instance, yes, I’m living in a rental place here, and for example, the backyard. I would love to clean up that backyard, put a compost bin behind there and maybe start growing some things, but I’m only gonna be here a year, should I take advantage of that? Like how should I go about thinking through these things and making decisions and does it make sense?

And of course the sort of grand question, is it worth my time? So I’m going to be sharing with you my own challenges and I’ll walk you through them. Step-by-step. What I do, what I think, how I go through it. And obviously I’ll condense it for you so you can just get the skinny of it, and see how you can apply that to your world.

That’s the commitment side of things on one end. On the other side. And this is where my open invitation to you comes in. I want to welcome you, if you’re listening to this, you’re more than likely a part of my network or someone who’s just a couple degrees off and, thank you for being here.

Now, if you come to listen to this episode so far, do you want to invest 30 minutes with me to having a conversation about what the environment means to you? Do you want to openly look into an optional challenge wherein we look at what sort of initiative you can take on for your pursuit of living more sustainably, and should you choose to accept that challenge, I would then want to invite you to, with however much time we respectively need to follow through on how the challenge went and what’s been going on and where you see the impact of our conversation initially. I want to invite you to share another 30 minutes with me, where we basically just follow up and see how things are going.

This is my journey through the This Sustainable Life community. This is my efforts to get more acclimated to the full awareness of living with environmental conscientiousness and to just making myself more happy as a result of living in this cleaner, more natural way.

I think if that alone, as a result of my efforts, inspires you to take on a similar justice and I’m able to help you from an efficiency standpoint in terms of getting there faster, easier, smarter then, that’s awesome to me.

I live for that, if I can manage it well, and I can show you how to manage it well, and then now you can manage it. I’m really happy then. Because now we both made our time so much more effective. So much more human.

Ultimately If you think this is a valuable type of conversation to listen in on and check in with, again, my endeavor is to run this podcast every week and to just explore with other people, how they want to manage their time around sustainability.

And like I said, I’ll be sharing within this, my own challenges, my own progress points, and see if there’s any way that I can inspire you and share with you ways that you can go about following along with me in this process.

To that end, thank you for bearing with me at this point. I would love to finish off by saying that there’s nothing more important to me than where my time choices are. And there’s something to be said about what I highlight professionally around the transparency of my success and my failure in management. But then with that, at the same time, this sort of personal-professional, this sort of holistic, maybe like Maslow’s hierarchy level six kind of deal here. I really want to highlight how.

Important it is to me to be thoughtful about the richness of success in living a life that’s not just money through productivity and adding value to the chain of the economy. But really also doing so with consideration to our planet, it’s future, the next generations, this current generation…

I want us to live well too, and not under such extreme conditions and potentially extreme sufferings. I really want to be as well aware about that as possible.

So yeah. Thanks so much for listening. Again, this is Conrad Ruiz. Welcome to this sustainable life, Well Aware edition. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Full transcripts in the blog post associated with this podcast episode.

If you want to join me for a 30 minute conversation. Please feel free to click on the link all the way at the bottom. And with that I bid you adieu. Thank you.

The Emotional Side of Time: A Reflection On Time as Money

Time is money. Does that mean we treat time in the same way as we do money? When get really emotional about it, how do we ultimately treat our time? In what ways does that parallel our financial management while under stress?

Before I share more on this, I want to start off by saying that I’m extremely grateful for the efforts Of Camille Diaz of Serenity Financial. Through her time and energy, this particular content came to be. For that, I would be honored to share more about her with you, to the endeavor that you support what she does. 

For your awareness, Camille is a connector, speaker, author, and financial professional who loves to empower people with knowledge and resources. Camille’s desire is to see others succeed in business and in life and to help inspired individuals design a path toward happiness, harmony, and financial security. 

Now then, let’s talk about the emotional side of time. Camille invited me to speak on this topic as a guest on her Money Heart Podcast. As a result, I got into sharing about how I’ve come to experience and namely wrestle with the emotional side of time. After all, time is money, and we feel like ought to make the most of every second we have. With that comes anxiety around our opportunity costs surrounding our choices on what to spend our time on. This brings us to one of the major themes of Camille’s podcast, wherein the conversation ultimately reflects on money. In this case, we get use “time is money” to dive into time management and our choices. As we dive into the conversation, however, we then conclude on what Camille calls this episode’s Money Mantra: Money is time. 

Check out the transcript below if you’d rather read over watching the video (Fun fact: I’m wearing a unicorn costume for this) or simply listen to this episode. With that, enjoy! On that note, again please feel free to check out Camille’s podcast for more episodes from her, as well as take a look at her website.

TRANSCRIPT (Note: This transcript reflects the Well Aware edit of the episode which you can listen to just below)

The Emotional Side of Time | MoneyHeart Podcast Well Aware Edit

by Camille Diaz & Conrad Ruiz | MoneyHeart

[00:00:00] Camille Diaz: Welcome. This is Money Heart, where we explore the emotional side of money. I’m Camille Diaz, and today we’re discussing the emotional side of time. My guest is Conrad Ruiz. He’s the founder of Well Aware and co-founder of Intro’d. Conrad studied biomedical engineering after he was made aware that he had only one kidney with multiple cysts. Rather than continue down his path of study, Conrad’s ultimate reflections on struggling with his and his father’s health led him to focus more on time and time management. Conrad, welcome to Money Heart 🙂

[00:00:44] Conrad Ruiz: Thank you, Camille. It’s a pleasure to be here!

[00:00:46] Camille Diaz: Yeah. So glad to have you on the show. And as we alluded to there in the title, we focus on the emotional side of money, but we decided to call this episode the emotional side of time. How did we get to that?

[00:00:58] Conrad Ruiz: I guess during our conversation earlier about, being a guest on the show you asked me a little bit more about, what kind of subject matter I would broach about when it comes to money and talking about the emotional side of money. And for me, when it comes to looking at money,

[00:01:14] Conrad Ruiz: I really look at time as a kind of an operator behind money and behind income, and it’s something that I think a lot of us, recognize as the other account in our lives. One that we certainly cannot deposit any more into than we currently have. And I dunno, I think it’s a very unique factor in our worlds.

[00:01:34] Conrad Ruiz: I think time is something that we sometimes treat almost as emotionally, if not more emotionally than money. And it can have a similar effect on clouding our judgments, our ability to do things and see things clearly. And I just thought it was worth having a similar conversation around the emotions of time.

[00:01:50] Camille Diaz: Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk about this concept of, the common phrase, “Time is money”.

[00:01:57] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. So I think “Time is money.” is something that we’ve said, especially in American culture where, we realize every hour on the clock is something that, if we’re not generating an income through, then we’re expensing.

[00:02:09] Conrad Ruiz: And we look at this infinite opportunity cost, if you will, of all the things that we could do with our hour and how we can go about generating the most income from that. And granted I’m doing this without putting any preface around ” what’s the service” or “what are you offering?”

[00:02:23] Conrad Ruiz: ” Is this passive income or active income?” And all these kind of things, there are so many different ways that I think people end up getting really emotional about like how they go about generating income. But I think the underlying premise of that is that

[00:02:33] Conrad Ruiz: We are all under this pressure, this societal pressure that our time is our money and we need to figure out a way to make the most of it, the most out of it. And so whether as a means to an end – frankly, not often, as an end in itself, we are often trading time for money.

[00:02:48] Conrad Ruiz: And I think we all know very well to each of our own extent what the consequences are.

[00:02:52] Camille Diaz: Yeah, let’s talk about that a little bit. So that concept of, cause you just said a whole bunch of things, passive income, active income. I loved, what you called it and I’ve already forgotten the word, like an infinite something currency…

[00:03:04] Conrad Ruiz: infinite opportunity costs.

[00:03:06] Camille Diaz: Infinite opportunity costs, yes.

[00:03:08] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. I could spend an hour reading a book – okay. There are infinite number of things like else I could’ve done that would have, “generated a certain return on my time or return on value”.

[00:03:17] Conrad Ruiz: Like we like to think of it as a return on interest. So, typically books and readings and studying as an activity of our time, it tends to be something that generates a much longer term effect. It’s something that we have to see paid forward much later in our time. Typically. There could be a situation where it’s I need to figure out how to solve this problem,

[00:03:34] Conrad Ruiz: and if I do, I’ll make a thousand dollars and the answer is in this book okay, cool, great! Your ROI is the second you finished figuring out the problem and solve it. That’s your ROI right there. But for the most part, a lot of activities tend to take a little bit longer and when we look at the infinite opportunity costs perspective… on the emotion side,

[00:03:51] Conrad Ruiz: a lot of people I think get caught up in saying “I just spent my hour doing this.” “Was that the most productive use of my time?” “Was that the best way I could spend my time?” “Did that generate the greatest ROI, if not now, in the future…” And especially when people are trying to rest. Or when they need to rest.

[00:04:03] Conrad Ruiz: And they’re trying not to rest, they’re trying to be more productive still. That’s usually where that infinite opportunity costs loop – the emotional side of that loop really starts to come into play and people will be like, “man, I really didn’t generate ROI in this past hour.”

[00:04:15] Conrad Ruiz: And I think that really sucks.

[00:04:17] Camille Diaz: So do you think, cause I would postulate that there are diminishing returns on something like,

[00:04:25] Camille Diaz: (Conrad nods)

[00:04:25] Camille Diaz: yes. Okay. On something like sleep. Cause I love that example of rest. If I stay up and work another hour, I can earn X more dollars by doing, whatever I’m billing my clients for or making another product or whatever it is…

[00:04:39] Conrad Ruiz: and in turn you may lose more hours later – you may be running into a sort of a time debt, if you will, that you’ll have to pay off later. We talk about that with sleep a lot. We talk about sleep debt a lot. Yeah.

[00:04:50] Camille Diaz: Yeah. Yeah, because that whole concept of, okay, so I’ve spent an hour now working longer, when my body was telling me I needed sleep. So I didn’t, but now the next morning I’m attempting to be productive, and the ON switch is nowhere to be found.

[00:05:07] Conrad Ruiz: You burnt the midnight oil, that oil was meant for the next day.

[00:05:11] Camille Diaz: Yes! I liked that way of thinking about it, cause I think we, we do think, “oh, burning the midnight oil.” We didn’t think. “Oh wait. That was tomorrow’s ration.”

[00:05:20] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. That was the morning gas.

[00:05:22] Camille Diaz: Yeah, that was the gas for the morning. And three cups of coffee will not make up for one cup of midnight oil.

[00:05:27] Conrad Ruiz: It will make you alive awake alert, but not enthusiastic.

[00:05:33] Camille Diaz: Like the song. Yes. Not enthusiastic at all. And in fact, I’ve see that happen pretty often I think – people will have that sort of drag on a Monday or a Friday or whatever day of the week where they’ve overextended themselves and then try to make up for it with something else, when what they’re really trying to make up for is misappropriated time, perhaps?

[00:05:58] Conrad Ruiz: I would say there’s a balance that’s hard to constantly keep on one side? So it’s really hard to consistently overwork… at some point your body and your brain just decide almost against you on a conscious level to be like, “Nope, sorry.”

[00:06:13] Conrad Ruiz: Usually what this ends up doing is this ends up reverting people to poor comfort habits and poor choices that are gonna end up costing them further down the line. One way of describing this, there’s a guy I really admire who speaks a lot about this philosophically. His name is Josh Terry and what he does is he talks about the sort of ups and downs of one’s progress.

[00:06:36] Conrad Ruiz: And the goal is obviously to go from the bottom left to the top [right], as much as you possibly can, or, sorry for the zoom folks here who – reverse camera screen – were gonna go that way. So what ends up happening is you go up and then you go down and up, down, up, down.

[00:06:47] Conrad Ruiz: And what sucks is in these sort of jagged experiences of really trying to push discipline, and then your body and brain are like “NO MORE.” Boom, you go right back down into chaos, because that’s what you’re craving. And then you try to go back up again and it sucks.

[00:07:03] Conrad Ruiz: Like it’s just a lot of demand upon you on both ends to go all the way up and then go ” Yes, I’m at the peak!” And then crashing all the way back down then coming back up… Josh, I love this. He says, “Hey, smooth it out.” Once you’re reaching that point of the peak of your discipline as you’ve been able to stand it, start to invite some chaos and lower things down, smooth out the peak of that ride and then come back down.

[00:07:23] Conrad Ruiz: But then as you reach the trough and things start to get really chaotic, we’re to bring things back into discipline. Again, it’s just a much smoother way of going about the experience of your time.

[00:07:31] Conrad Ruiz: And again, to the emotional side I think it just does a world of wonders to minimize the suffering that is going to end up being humanity anyway.

[00:07:38] Camille Diaz: So really recognizing when you were starting to get a little too far out of balance and saying, “okay, let me come back to the middle somewhere.” And then if you start to get too far out of balance the other way, going back, because I could see this easily happening, even with the sleep thing.

[00:07:56] Camille Diaz: It’s ” I’m not going to sleep for several days on end or not sleep enough.” Not not sleep at all, four or five hour range instead of seven, eight hour range. And then by the weekend, “Okay, now I’m just going to sleep for 12 hours, every night.” Or something like that.

[00:08:11] Conrad Ruiz: I recognize that a lot in folks who have really demanding weekday jobs, I’m not even going to call them nine to five. That’s not what they are. They’re seven to seven…

[00:08:22] Camille Diaz: like five to nine.

[00:08:23] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. And not PM to AM. If that was the real case, we’d be in a whole other world of problems, but yeah, I would say that design in particular it’s really destructive.

[00:08:33] Conrad Ruiz: It always lends itself at the end of time for most people to be like ” This sucks. I can’t keep doing this.” Or, people just end up shutting down and being less productive overall. I think in response to that right now, there’s been a big push towards creating, the three-day weekend or the four day work week.

[00:08:50] Conrad Ruiz: And also even within that minimizing the time within that work week to not be, an eight hour stretch, but rather, broken down in whatever way people makes it work. Remote work has allowed this to be more receptive and more opportunistic because at the end of the day.

[00:09:02] Conrad Ruiz: It’s just get the job done, and show up at meetings when people need to show up, and obviously. Don’t overdo meetings. But beyond those little tactical details, I think just working less and getting more stuff done. That’s what really matters.

[00:09:14] Conrad Ruiz: You can’t just put in more time, in a similar way, you can’t just put in more money to solve a problem.

[00:09:20] Camille Diaz: I like that you said you can’t just put in more time, you can’t just put in more money. I’ve feel like that’s something that even I have fallen into is if I just had a little bit more time to spend on this, I could make it work.

[00:09:33] Camille Diaz: Not always the case. Huh?

[00:09:35] Conrad Ruiz: Sometimes putting in less time is the solution, sometimes be more scrappy with how you invest into something from a money standpoint is the solution. Because you end up creating something that you wouldn’t otherwise do so because you created a different constraint.

[00:09:54] Camille Diaz: Yeah. I’m thinking about the last-minute final exam paper or project or presentation, ” We have to present this tomorrow at work! So I guess I’m going to get it done!”

[00:10:06] Conrad Ruiz: That one’s really interesting. And those kinds of deadlines, there’s some really cool stories out there about people who’ve been like, “I waited until the very last minute and I’ve never written something so spectacular…”

[00:10:15] Conrad Ruiz: I’ve also seen horror stories of that. That starts to get to the conversation around like flow. And there are some folks who, in that state of desperation and urgency, their skillset and their abilities and the amount of time that they truly had – it wasn’t so unreasonable that it was challenging, but it wasn’t outwardly over their limit of skill and talent. Like it wasn’t out of their range. And as a result, surprisingly, as much as it looked like they were doing these last minute, honestly they put in just the right amount of time with just the right amount of pressure, which happened to be a lot.

[00:10:47] Conrad Ruiz: And frankly, if you ask those people after, oh, so what happened after “oh, crashed and burned for a little while, like it just recovery mode.” And that was the other thing that I was going to say is the, in terms of planning for your time, Towards these kinds of moments where you’re not expecting to have a lot of sleep – all the parents out there – you’re expecting to have a really tough couple of days ahead…

[00:11:10] Conrad Ruiz: okay, plan for the week thereafter to be a lot more relaxed, right? Give yourself crests and troughs. Because if you just try to constantly hit crests, you’re going to end up crashing really hard. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of that.

[00:11:23] Camille Diaz: Yeah, it is. It really is. I love that you brought this up because this is something I’m putting into my next book of having these, I call them race blocks and then cruise blocks.

[00:11:33] Camille Diaz: So you have those times that you’re really going. And then you have those times that we’re just going to put it on like cruise control and not quit working, but not go full out as much as we can, stay up late, pressure ourselves type of thing. And then my third one of course is the rest block, which is like vacation.

[00:11:52] Camille Diaz: You’re just done. Totally off. So

[00:11:54] Conrad Ruiz: It’s not that you’re not being productive. In fact, those are incredibly productive states of mind. It may not make sense at the surface when you look at it, it may not look like drinking a Mai Tai at the beach is productive. But if you look at it from a broader standpoint of time and say “by investing in this rest, I’m able to show up for several months thereafter with incredible performance.”

[00:12:18] Conrad Ruiz: Okay, good. And that was well worth its time and money. But I think we get too caught up in the short-term.

[00:12:24] Camille Diaz: Yeah, I think there’s an excellent point too, is cause you said you called the rest an investment. So by investing in the rest time, by investing in the more relaxed time we basically put a down payment on the productive time being more productive.

[00:12:42] Conrad Ruiz: Yep. And it’s a deposit if you will, in some senses. Yeah. Either, either a refill or a deposit, or maybe some of both whatever floats your boat, whatever jives with you on the mindset side of it. I think we are, at some point we spent so much time trying to find the right words for it.

[00:12:56] Conrad Ruiz: Just experience it. You’ll feel it. You’ll know when you’re doing it.

[00:13:00] Camille Diaz: Which is really the critical thing of the whole idea of balancing time and what we’re doing and where we’re investing our time is to truly show up wherever it is we choose to be.

[00:13:11] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. Yeah. And I would say showing up at our best, showing up with reasonability. It’s one thing I remember. I really made a bad choice when I was in my junior year of college. And I was choosing between, I had lined up a research opportunity that was not going to pay me anything, but it was right next to home and it was super cool.

[00:13:31] Conrad Ruiz: I was going to figure out how to stabilize rat brains so that we could throw electrical conduits through them. It was wild. I had to choose between that and a $28 an hour internship an hour east painful traffic ride to and from home every day.

[00:13:48] Conrad Ruiz: I think I chose poorly for money over time in that very particular instance. And I think about it a lot. But one of the things I really hated was when I showed up to that internship, there’d be days where I was just so exhausted from having to wake up so early to do that morning drive…

[00:14:03] Conrad Ruiz: my roommates weren’t the best at that time either. They were having a lot of fun and that didn’t help me sleep. So I would show up and I would frankly fall asleep in meetings and people would be like, “what’s going on?” “What? I’m here.” “no, you’re not. You’re physically here, but you might as well be mentally somewhere else.”

[00:14:19] Conrad Ruiz: I think that’s another way to look at showing up. You have to be present.

[00:14:24] Conrad Ruiz: All the way present. Be here and make sure you’re doing the things that allow you to be here. Cause that’s what creates the most value for the time. No matter what the time is. Rest time, active time, productive time, exercise, nutrition.

[00:14:36] Conrad Ruiz: Be here.

[00:14:38] Camille Diaz: Yeah I’m thinking about that in terms of family time. People showing up and while “I left and I came to the baseball game” or ” I’m here at the movie” or “I’m at the dinner table”, but if you’re so wrapped up on all the other things, then you’re not really.

[00:15:00] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. Yeah, you didn’t really invest that time.

[00:15:03] Camille Diaz: Would have been better for you to just miss it and do whatever you were doing and then come back and really be there when you were done.

[00:15:11] Camille Diaz: How did you get into all of this time stuff? What made you go down this path of thought and study?

[00:15:17] Conrad Ruiz: So my sort of origin story, if you will, is I was born and raised by a guy who is now – by a guy – my old man.

[00:15:25] Conrad Ruiz: I was born and raised by a man who is now 95 years old. I’m 26. So to give context that he was around 70 years old when I was born and between me and my dad, there was always this expectation of, ” Hurry up kid. There’s not a lot of time. I wouldn’t say the pressure was insurmounting. It was just there, it was a very apparent thing.

[00:15:46] Conrad Ruiz: Like people would – the comments would be the thing that really would give me awareness around ” Hey, is that your grandpa? Is that your old man?” And I said “no, he’s my dad.”

[00:15:54] Conrad Ruiz: And growing up, recognizing his history and sort of our expectations about what it meant to be, an adult, what it meant to grow up and be mature.

[00:16:02] Conrad Ruiz: There was a lot of wisdom thrown in there. Getting that from someone who’s a lot older in life, there was a lot more to unpack and start off, and distill. So I took on a lot of that growing up. And at a certain point in my time, when I thought about what I wanted to do, based on that knowledge and awareness, I thought, okay whatever I need to do, it needs to be successful quickly because, I want to show my old man what I’ve been capable of and I want to make sure he was there to see it.

[00:16:28] Conrad Ruiz: Pass over to 17 years old. I ended up going to the hospital for appendicitis. It wasn’t really much of a big deal. I knew what was going on, but what I didn’t realize I was going to find myself in was I was getting an ultrasound to make sure that I had appendicitis and it turned out they couldn’t find one of my kidneys. And that was a weird scenario to be finding myself in. So after doing a little bit more digging into that, it turned out I only had one kidney. Turned that I have one kidney, and it had multiple cysts. It turns out that polycystic kidney disease is something that affects 1 in 10,000 people and it has a a high rate of creating problems for people, come their forties, fifties. That’s when the disease tends to progress a little bit further and the cysts start to grow in size and number. And you basically go from having a kidney, the size of a fist to that of a football.

[00:17:15] Conrad Ruiz: And obviously with that comes a lot of problems. The main one being you’d suddenly no longer have a functioning kidney. So the options from that point on are pretty gruesome: it’s dialysis, which is, I think a fate worse than death. Especially with the way that is being treated commercially in this country more than anything else.

[00:17:31] Conrad Ruiz: But the other side of the story is, you’ve got to find a replacement. And the challenge for me is I only have one kidney. So whoever’s going to replace me, has to figure out how to take their one kidney, which has probably had a partner all that time and suddenly work the function towards two kidneys, which is what my kidney has had the luxury of experiencing since day one.

[00:17:52] Conrad Ruiz: So needless to say, I was like, “man, I am really screwed.”

[00:17:55] Conrad Ruiz: and I was like, okay it’s one thing for me to try to meet my old man’s expectations in the lifetime of living to a hundred. Because if you look at him, I’m in it for the long haul, but then realizing, okay, now I only have half the amount of time I thought I had. That’s urgent.

[00:18:07] Conrad Ruiz: So I went to go study biomedical engineering. I was like, “I’m going to solve this problem. I am not going to die in 30 years.” And eventually I realized this is the big issue. There are so many complicated things to worry about. This whole in-depth field of study – nuts.

[00:18:23] Conrad Ruiz: And at the same time I was then thinking back like ” that was the second time bomb I had. The first one is still my old man he’s only with me for so long. Even if I get to the age of 40 and resolve my own problems, what about my time with him?

[00:18:37] Conrad Ruiz: So I started feeling myself being pulled in all these directions and I wanted to appease everything. I couldn’t, I wasn’t smart enough to just do it all. And I really beat myself up for it. I tried to be more productive, try to be more efficient, try to do more. I tried to shortcut success in whatever ways I could.

[00:18:52] Conrad Ruiz: I eventually turned that into, like an entrepreneurship ploy where I just took my biomedical engineering knowledge, as I understood it then, and said ” let me just do something that’s not going to take me 10 years to solve and so actually went it to cosmetics because that turnaround time for a commercial product was so much faster.

[00:19:08] Conrad Ruiz: And at that point, the real irony for that for me was I found myself in an industry that’s designed around vanity when the one thing that mattered to me more than anything else, was depth and philosophy. And it was at that point where I said, “stop. Stop everything that you’re doing and take a look and step back and collect what is really important.”

[00:19:28] Conrad Ruiz: And that’s when I stopped looking at me and started looking at everybody else. “So what is everyone doing with their time?” Because if I’m running around with my head cut off, certainly I must be the one who’s crazy.

[00:19:37] Conrad Ruiz: Everybody’s crazy. Everyone’s running around with their heads cut off.

[00:19:40] Conrad Ruiz: Everyone’s doing it different ways with different sacrifice, different means, but we are all sacrificing our time in the pursuit of some future time and some future expectation. And if anybody is like me they’re not doing a great justice of it. They’re not making a great trade.

[00:19:56] Conrad Ruiz: They’re really paying for that opportunity cost. So I stopped. I started looking at others. I eventually started dedicating my time to helping others just directly and saying, “don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. What do you need, what can I do for you? And what can I do to help you with your time?”

[00:20:12] Conrad Ruiz: And that became the spawn of what is now Well Aware. That’s how I got here. That’s how I got into time. Like as a, like an obsessive study.

[00:20:20] Camille Diaz: Yeah. Yeah. What a great gift you got handed there. I just thought “this is so cool!”

[00:20:27] Conrad Ruiz: You talked about this earlier, but the whole idea of the unicorn costumes to me, I feel very rare in my circumstance. That I have this situation befallen to me.

[00:20:37] Camille Diaz: And how cool that, I’m just thinking about that level of wisdom that was gifted to you by having such an older parent and thinking about myself, raising my kids. We had our kids fairly young and so they’re close to becoming adults now. And they’re teenagers. And I’m just thinking like how much smarter I am now versus when I had them. And it really, it’s been in the umpteen years, how much wiser, I guess I could say, would I be if I waited another 40 years, before having children, my gosh, I would be so much better as a parent so much better.

[00:21:18] Conrad Ruiz: Everyone gets drawn a different set of advantages. For a really long time I didn’t grow up with any extent of physical exercise or sport. It’s not like I was playing baseball with the old man, we had a very different type of baseball going on, very mental. So there’s sacrifices. There’s opportunity costs even in choosing to have kids late. And to take the benefits of your wisdom then, or your career progress then, and whatever you might be able to generate from there, it’s all choice.

[00:21:45] Conrad Ruiz: But I would say the fact that the old man pulled something like that at 70 is pretty remarkable in itself. The other side of the story is, being imprisoned by choice, and that goes back to the idea of the opportunity cost, where you have all these different options before you, but you have to choose something or you get to choose something that you think makes sense because just sitting there and consistently analyzing and thinking about it. I think this goes back to the emotional side of money and time. Deciding is an important factor.

[00:22:13] Conrad Ruiz: And sometimes the circumstances decide for you and okay, you have to deal with that. But otherwise, if you really want to live life, you have to decide.

[00:22:21] Camille Diaz: Yeah, waiting to decide usually doesn’t serve you

[00:22:27] Conrad Ruiz: there are circumstances where it does, but I think for a lot of the things that people wait upon, it has negative value.

[00:22:32] Conrad Ruiz: I think every financial advisor deserves this pat on the back when they say, “if you haven’t started investing already, you’re literally throwing money down the drain because you were waiting, but why are you waiting? There’s a lot of things that usually people have to process about that in order to get through that, and I think going back to the time scenario, there’s a lot of worry about “if I’m so busy focusing on processing my ability to handle my money, am I wasting time not making money?” I’m like, wow you’re going to have to work on that one.

[00:23:01] Camille Diaz: Yeah. Yeah. You get stuck in that sort of analysis loop and thinking about it and not knowing which way to go and then end up, especially when you’re talking about time, you spend all the time thinking about how you want to spend the time.

[00:23:15] Camille Diaz: It’s painful.

[00:23:17] Conrad Ruiz: Really painful! It seems insane but then you ask yourself if you logically understand that, why are you emotionally, so caught up?

[00:23:25] Conrad Ruiz: And what’s cool is once you become aware that you have an emotional issue, then it becomes “I’m not trying to solve the problem logically anymore. I have to solve the problem emotionally.”

[00:23:33] Conrad Ruiz: I think it’s very interesting that on this subject of emotions: we know the answer, but we don’t know how to effectively utilize the answer. We don’t know how to get ourselves to seek out the answer, even though we’d been told it over and over again, or we know it so well.

[00:23:48] Conrad Ruiz: I think that’s where we got to get from that point of awareness to what I like to call well awareness.

[00:23:55] Camille Diaz: It just occurred to me the whole concept of you can bank your money, but you can’t really bank your time.

[00:24:01] Camille Diaz: It goes and it’s gone and you can’t save it. You can’t add more. You don’t know how much you have…

[00:24:08] Camille Diaz: it’s a very strange making system. If you were to try to institutionalize it, you’d be like, there’s something really wrong about this place.

[00:24:16] Camille Diaz: Yeah. The ledger is there, but we can’t seem to really see it. There’s no reasonable Pro Forma for this.

[00:24:23] Camille Diaz: This is so cool. What kind of stuff are you excited about now? What are you working on next?

[00:24:27] Conrad Ruiz: So I’ve been consulting people on time management and one thing that I’ve been particularly enamored with during that process is I’ve had to do a lot of networking to find clients. I’ve gotten to do a lot of introductions and getting to connect people as a result. And one of the things I realized in space of networking and network marketing and talking to other people is, we’re all investing a rather large amount of time getting to know and build all these relationships.

[00:24:52] Conrad Ruiz: And what I find really unique is that in the span of spending all that time, we seem to be doing a certain disjustice. We’re not sharing the information around who we’re meeting with, to the people that we’ve gotten to meet with or coming to meet with in a way that I think makes the most sense. It’s one thing for me to sit down with you for an hour and say, Camille, here’s all the 300 people that I know really well.

[00:25:12] Conrad Ruiz: I would drive you nuts. It’d be another thing for me to say, “go on my LinkedIn and search filter based on what you’re looking for as of late.” there’s challenges with that as well. So the big thing that I’m working on is I’m building what I call a CRM for networking or an NRM, if you will, it’s called Intro’d.

[00:25:29] Conrad Ruiz: And it’s a side project that’s turned into its own business at this point. Something separate from Well Aware. I’ve got a co-founder. We’re doing a lot of really cool stuff. We love networking education because again, so much time is invested into that for a lot of people that we know and we really want to start getting people to try out our systems and really experience what we like to call the best practices workflow of networking, where if I wanna introduce you to someone, Camille, instead of just getting an instant introduction without any context – any details about who this person is, instead I send you a nice, very thoughtful, “Hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in this person. Here’s everything you need to know about them.” LinkedIn profile, intro, paragraph reason. I’m trying to connect you with them. And then you tell me if you’re interested and all you have to do is click on my email, there’s literally a hyperlink that’s provided in that email that says “Yes!” Or “No.”

[00:26:11] Conrad Ruiz: And if you click “Yes!” Great! If the other person clicks “Yes!” As well, you get connected. I don’t have to do any of the work from there. The system follows up in two weeks from there saying, “Hey, is this relationship still working out for you? What can we learn from this introduction?”

[00:26:22] Conrad Ruiz: if it was positive or negative, and if you said no, equally, so what was it about this introduction request that wasn’t a good fit for you?

[00:26:29] Conrad Ruiz: Let me go ahead and take that information and make better introductions in the future. And I think if we all did that, if we all treated our whole network activity as as a large dataset I think we’d get a lot quicker results about finding the people who we really need to talk to right here right now, and avoid wasting time communicating with folks who we simply cannot help at this point.

[00:26:49] Camille Diaz: This is a really cool idea. Cause you know, whenever you’re doing networking, people are always talking about your circle of influence and all of the people that you know, but when you go to a networking thing and you meet somebody, you really have no way of knowing who they know, unless you get on social media and backtrack to their connections or their friends or whoever, and like look at what that person is and zero people have time for that. Cause if you’re working, you’re like, if you’re doing your job, you don’t have time to be doing that. So you have to rely on the person that you meet to introduce you to someone that they know. And you have to find a way to ask a question to say, I need to meet a person who is blank.

[00:27:31] Camille Diaz: And then that has to trigger them to remember the person they know that does the thing, or that fits that qualification that you said. So that has to go into it. And it sounds like the idea behind your system is to remove that barrier of us having to rely on our memory to figure out who’s a good connection for who and or whom I guess is how is that?

[00:27:53] Camille Diaz: What did I say it right? Had a grammar moment there.

[00:27:56] Camille Diaz: I need my grammar book (lol)

[00:27:57] Camille Diaz: You need your grammar book. Okay. I’ll Google the grammar thing later. I’m going to get emails now. Somebody going to fix that. And they’re going to tell me because the people that know that, it’s important to them.

[00:28:06] Camille Diaz: So this is a really cool concept of if we’re in your system and I meet somebody new, it will let me know who is out there that might match with them and give them the opportunity to say yes or no. If they feel like that’s a good match, am I getting it right?

[00:28:25] Conrad Ruiz: Yes. And I would say on the topic of the system being the one that makes the suggestions based off of the feedback that everyone’s providing about. We’re still working on that.

[00:28:35] Conrad Ruiz: Beyond that while we’re getting to that point of saying ” Hey, Camille, I just met with these five people this week and based on what you’ve been looking for and been successful with in the past of your introductions, I think two of these people are gonna be a good fit for you.”

[00:28:48] Conrad Ruiz: And I didn’t make that suggestion. The system did because it was the one that recognized the opportunity and whether or not those folks ended up being successful or not that just becomes more data points. Yeah, that would be really cool.

[00:29:01] Conrad Ruiz: Cause you know, I’ve met hundreds of people and relying on my memory to remember that the person I met three years ago is the person that you need to meet today… That’s spotty. I’ve slept a lot of times since then. So three years is a lot of time for things to change. So keeping up with each person in and of itself is really tough.

[00:29:21] Conrad Ruiz: And I think digital networking has made us overzealous and given us way too many people to talk to. And so as a result, we’ve been having less information about even more people.

[00:29:30] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. More people less info. So this would be more info on as many people as you want that you don’t have to remember all the info at the same time.

[00:29:38] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah, that’s really cool. I think this is a really neat concept. I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. This has been so much fun.

[00:29:49] Conrad Ruiz: It was an absolute pleasure. I really appreciate this. I never get to wear this costume. For those who were just listening, we were both wearing unicorn costumes and this was Conrad’s suggestion.

[00:29:58] Conrad Ruiz: He’s – “I need to wear my unicorn costume.” And I was like “I haven’t been a unicorn yet! Let’s do it.” So jump on Instagram and then you can see us in our costumes. If you want to get in touch with Conrad, he loves communicating by email. So you can send an email to

[00:30:15] Conrad Ruiz: thank you as well to all of our listeners and viewers.

[00:30:18] Conrad Ruiz: I’m your host, Camille Diaz. I’m a business optimization coach, financial educator, author, and speaker. You can contact me and find out what I’m up to through my website.

[00:30:28] Conrad Ruiz: Follow me on social media at Cam Unfiltered. Be sure to follow Money Heart at Money Heart Show. And our website is

[00:30:36] Conrad Ruiz: Today’s money mantra provided by Conrad is “Money Is Time”. Thanks so much.

The Official Well Aware Networking Group List

The Official Well Aware Networking Group List

This is an updated list of every networking group I’ve attended, & how you can join them.


For those of you who are part of the Well Aware network and are subscribed to my networking newsletter, I wanted to make it easier for you to focus on the individuals I meet with each week. As a result, I organize my summaries of all the networking groups that I end up participating in weekly, here in this living blog post.

When it comes to attending networking groups, my overall sense on what matters is coming across to others as a valuable networker. That’s what gets you to better 1-on-1’s.

With that in mind, I endeavor to share with you what value I sense from each networking group I’ve come across. This list then should serve to help you match your time and network with the groups that you can potentially provide the most value for.

On that note, let’s dive in:

Bethesda Badasses


The Bethesdas Badasses is a networking chapter (sub-group if you will) of Success Champions Networking. Success Champions is a national networking group chain run by Donnie Boivin.

Primary Geography:

This group is primarily visited by business owners from Bethesda, Maryland.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

If you’re familiar with BNI, Bethesda Badasses runs similarly – it has officers, restricted seats (meaning no 2 members are in directly competing business), and an attendance policy…

Unlike BNI however, the meeting design isn’t as rigid. The group does a great job of looking after its culture. I’ve attended twice now and have nothing but good things to say!

Cadence & Cost:

This is a paid networking group that meets weekly on Tuesdays, 8AM EST for 1 hour. The first visit is free.

Here’s a link to learn more about Bethesda Badasses

Coffee Connect Networking Group Logo

Coffee Connect


Coffee Connect is a network that was started by Rodney Chronister of Primerica. Rodney wanted to build a community where people could gather to learn and connect. As simple as that sounds, Coffee Connect has sprawled into a sizable weekly group with both new and returning business folks!

Primary Geography:

This group is primarily filled with networkers from around Cincinnati, Ohio.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

Coffee Connect meetings are centered around 1 presenter from the network. Presenters do 10 minutes of education before attendees breakout into smaller rooms to network and discuss the content shared. This is done 3 times, making it the most presenter-friendly networking meeting for time given, that I’ve seen. At the end of each month, the agenda design changes, and a recap of the month’s education is performed with all 3 presenters taking up a 10 minute slice of the meeting’s hour. 

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets weekly on Tuesdays, 9AM EST for 1 hour.

Here’s a link to learn more about Coffee Connect.

1 Million Cups Logo

1 Million Cups – Wilmington, NC Community 


1 Million Cups is a nationwide event of individual networks that meet around local businesses who want to share what they do.

Primary Geography:

This 1 Million Cups group consists primarily of business owners, entrepreneurs, & university/public organization employees within Wilmington, North Carolina.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

Each week, 2 presenters are given 10 minutes each to share about their business endeavors and what they need help with. Presenters often use PowerPoint to help with their presentation. Audience members will ask questions which ultimately aim to help the presenter better clarify what they need help with. Once that is done, follow up is expected amongst those who want to further connect to presenters. Before the meeting adjourns, announcements are shared among the community. 

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets weekly on Wednesdays, 9AM EST for 1 hour.

Here’s a link to learn more about 1 Million Cups – Wilmington.

10/27/2021 Update: I’ve been attending the Wilmington 1MC network for some time now. It’s an amazing place for entrepreneurs to connect and pitch about their companies. I’ve gotten to pitch Well Aware and Intro’d, with positive follow up from community members. The community is wonderful – everyone is there to learn, support, advise, and connect the presenters who show up. If you’re not in Wilmington, but want to attend 1MC, you can always find a location near you. But also, the Wilmington community does not care at all where you’re connecting from! If you want to present, all you have to do is apply.

Unity Business Network Logo

Unity Business Network

The Unity Business Network is a new group for me (I’ve only attended it once), so it’s a little early for me to share a complete summary. With that said, I love how international the group is in terms of participants. 


UBN is run by a well organized group of business professionals from across the globe.

Primary Geography:

At first glance, there appears to be 3 core international representations. The first and largest is Central Europe – Croatia. The second is Canada. The third is East Coast USA.

Meeting Agenda & Design:

Meetings start off with an educational component, followed by breakout rooms for networking more individually. 

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets monthly at 10AM EST for 2 hours.

Here is a link to learn more about the Unity Business Network.

Best of The Best Meeting Screenshot

Best of The Best (BOTB) Networking Group


Best of the Best was originally started and grown by power networker Ben Hecht. Over time, Ben needed to hand off responsibility to others as his work demanded more of his time. Jeff Harris is now the official group administrator of BOTB.

Primary Geography:

BOTB is primarily comprised of business professionals from around all of New Jersey, and Philadelphia, PE.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

BOTB provides 2 presenters per meeting with 10 minutes of time to share about their business. This has more recently become the front end of the meeting. From there, breakout groups are created with 5 minute timers and around 3-4 participants. 

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets Tuesdays at 2:30PM EST for 1 hour.

To learn more about BOTB, reach out to Jeff Harris.

Chuck's Roundtable Group Photo

Chuck’s Roundtable


Sometime amidst the pandemic, Chuck Goldstone brought together a group of like-minded, focused, entrepreneurs, mentors, investors in a roundtable. Chuck wanted this roundtable to be built on connection and extending reach to new people and resources through others. The group would share ideas and insights share collective knowledge and encouragement. Lo and behold, a group forms.

Primary Geography:

Chuck’s roundtable seems to be primarily consisted of participants from around the Greater Boston area.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

The roundtable typically starts off with a once around of every one participating giving their 60 second intro pitch. From there, the conversation opens up to anyone and everyone. Literally anyone can raise their hand and start sharing about their successes, struggles, needs, and so on. The group then has the power to respond, follow up with questions… this group has by far the most lax design structure for the hour and a half that it runs for.

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets Wednesdays at 1PM GMT-5 for 1.5 hours.

Here is a link to learn more about Chuck’s Roundtable.

Well Aware Logo

Well Aware Network

ATTN: The Well Aware Network is currently in hiatus until our Intro’d product is ready for launch with groups. Until then, please stay tuned.


The Well Aware Network is a networking group focused on sharing awareness around its participants’ networks.

Our network’s ultimate mission is to utilize technology like Intro’d to make networking a more effective and efficient experience.

Primary Geography:

Our network has participants from across the country – no specific geography here. Think of us as a hub to access other networking groups.

Meeting Agenda/Design:

Our meetings operate on a roundtable welcome of participants to share about themselves, but also about the people and groups they’ve met with in the past week whom they feel comfortable sharing about. Our goal with that information is to help our newest connections get closer to their desired networks.

Cadence & Cost:

This is a free networking group that meets for 1 hour.

Here is a link to learn more about WAN.

If you’re searching for more networking groups, remember that this article will be updated over time with new groups. With that, if you’re a part of the Well Aware Network and want to help promote/support networking groups you know of, let me know and we can include them here on this list!

With that, I hope this article leaves you well on your way. – CR

Insights on Executive Assistance with Debbi Shaffer

Insights on Executive Assistance with Debbi Shaffer

Hey everyone,

Welcome to another episode of the Well Aware Podcast. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about executive assistance. This is part of a series on executive assistance which includes a host of episodes all guested with people who currently provide executive assistance, or have done so in the past.

With that, I hope you enjoy the episode.

Lessons on Executive Assistance w/ Debbi Shaffer

[00:00:01] Debbi Shaffer: Hi! 

[00:00:02] Conrad Ruiz: Hi! 

[00:00:04] Debbi Shaffer: How are you? 

[00:00:06] Conrad Ruiz: I’m doing well, 

[00:00:06] Debbi Shaffer: happy Friday! Long week. 

[00:00:09] Conrad Ruiz: I know. I’m really grateful for the time though. I would love to just jump right into it if that’s okay? 

[00:00:16] Debbi Shaffer: Sure.

[00:00:16] Conrad Ruiz: Okay. We’re a time management consulting and coaching company – we obsess over the reality behind how people expect their time to be. One of the things that we’re really excited to get into is we wanted to learn about what’s going on in the world of executives and also executive assistance. 

[00:00:33] What’s your insight into the world of executive time management and what do you want to share? 

[00:00:40] Debbi Shaffer: So I moved away from corporate America through COVID. I’ve been supporting CEOs and C-suite executives in corporate for 20+ years. And I moved down to Florida three years ago and had a series of executives that were not… delightful! I took the opportunity of COVID to move into virtual assistance so I’m actually supporting the former CFO of the state of Florida, who does a lot of board work, a CEO of a major pharma, an executive chairman, and a former executive chairman of American Express. 

[00:01:18] So my value is taking anything away from them that they don’t need to do.

[00:01:25] COVID has definitely been interesting. I think it’s actually made a lot of C-suite more productive because you’ve taken the travel component out – the hours and hours spent on flights and getting to airports. Everybody that I work with has become more efficient, but also burnt out because they’re cramming so much more in because you can jump from zoom to zoom.

[00:01:50] I think it’s been a win and a lose. I think that they’re not protecting their time as much, it’s just easy to say yes to a lot of virtual zooms. One of the places where I try to tell executive assistants to be really proactive is making sure the virtual info to connect is there and that it works. And if there’s a password they need to get into it… through COVID, there was a lot of fire drills with all of the people that I support. Like “it’s time for this meeting and I can’t get in. They’re asking for a password that I don’t have”, and you’re searching through their emails… 

[00:02:30] I would like all virtual event people plan to send an email four days in advance – they can send one again an hour in advance, but for the executive assistants who have to get this stuff on the calendar, everything should arrive by Monday for that week: passwords, connection, information…

[00:02:45] Yeah, it’s been an interesting year and a half because the four that I work with have zoom fatigue and virtual fatigue. But at the same time, they’re connecting with a lot more people and actually doing a lot more professional development too, because they have time to squeeze that in.

[00:03:02] So a blessing and a curse. 

[00:03:04] Conrad Ruiz: So we like to look at this context of balance under the law of diminishing returns. There’s only so much additional time you can spend on a zoom call before that is not creating as much value as doing some other activity.

[00:03:20] Where does that conversation happen? Where does that optimization occur? How do we recognize these opportunities?

[00:03:27] Debbi Shaffer: I try to time block on the calendar, like meeting prep time and if back when they were traveling, I would put “This 30 minutes is your drive to the airport. This is your time at the airport. This is your actual flight…” so now it’s “Here’s your 20 minutes before the meeting at three o’clock to read the stuff that they sent so that you’re prepared for the meeting and it’s productive. Some people like that and some people don’t. I have one executive that just keeps scheduling over all of that stuff. They’re like, “Oh, there’s this thing here, but I don’t need to do that. So we can do this other call here.” 

[00:04:03] Conrad Ruiz: Does that feedback – not to put any judgment – but does that feedback reign true? I see so much of the ideal expectations set when looking forward. And then when reality strikes, it’s yeah, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t teleport my mind from that activity to this one cause literally what the calendar suggests for in that zero minute transition.

[00:04:24] Debbi Shaffer: Yeah. I guess it really depends on the individual. I have one that’s really versed at moving and doesn’t need that. And then I have another one that if they don’t properly prep, they just get completely frustrated in the meeting and they’re like, “We need to reschedule this. I don’t have the prep time… I don’t know what we’re discussing so why are we discussing it?” 

[00:04:44] As an executive assistant, in an ideal world, no executive would ever touch their calendar themselves. They would let us do everything, that doesn’t exist anywhere. 

[00:04:54] I know one of the biggest complaints of all executive assistants I’ve ever spoken to is they can’t get time with their executive.

[00:05:01] And we say you control their calendar. How can you not get time? And they’re like I put myself on the calendar. And they push you for somebody” yeah, depends on the executive. 

[00:05:11] Like I said, I have one that can listen and read the document at the same time and she’s good. And I have another one who needs like complete quiet, who, who needs to focus on the document before they go into meeting…

[00:05:23] Conrad Ruiz: Where does the professional development on optimizing your executive assistant exist? What does that look like?

[00:05:31] Debbi Shaffer: We’re working on that on the executive assistant side! I’ve worked with office dynamics and Lucy Brazier, executive secretary magazine. And they’ve been trying for years to bring in Sherm and HR and executives into some of the training… It’s great to teach an EA how to work with an executive, but if an executive does not know how to work with an EA… 

[00:05:51] I think that one of the components that’s really hard for, and I’ve run up against this too. This is one of the reasons I left one of the jobs when I moved down here is I know it’s really hard to trust somebody right out of the gate… But if you’ve hired a high dollar professional EA who has a track record, but there are executives that have no trust in their EA. 

[00:06:14] So I prepare an executive dossier and all of my clients and all of the executives I’ve ever had. So like when I moved from a job, I turnover that binder that I have, it has every piece of information I’ve ever collected on that executive. Favorite cake to spouse’s birthday and kids’ birthdays and social security numbers, passport numbers, and frequent flyer numbers. And I’ll, I turn it over to the executive or to the next person taking the job because all of that is time and I realized how difficult it is to turn over your life to somebody.

[00:06:51] But they say that an EA salary should be based on if you can take 10% of the executive stuff off their plate, what is 10% of their salary so I try to think that you can take 20%.

[00:07:04] But yeah, so many executives don’t know how to use an EA. And so many executives don’t have trust in their EA, both from the data standpoint and the detail standpoint, it builds up over time, but my executives know that if they’ve seen me write it down, it’s going to get done. 

[00:07:27] They don’t come back: Did you do this, do this…? And communication is key cause you also have to let them know when things are done. But yeah, it’s an interesting dynamic. 

[00:07:38] We’ve been trying on the EA side for years to get more of HR and executives involved, both on what they want to see us trained on and how to use us.

[00:07:53] Lucy Brazier and F Lloyd have an organization called the World Administrator Summit that they’ve been working globally to try and do this. We’ve made progress and we’re starting to get more executives involved in it, but it’s still a long way to go. 

[00:08:10] Conrad Ruiz: Do you think it’s just, and this is what I’d recognize in a lot of my client experiences where the call to action to delegate better, smarter, faster, with all of its values, all of its rewards, for some reason, the executive is just not recognizing that value because it’s not immediate. It’s not like another meeting with another potential high value connection. It doesn’t seem to address enough of a short-term gain. Even though the long-term gain is clearly like it’s immeasurably valuable.

[00:08:44] So is it the pitch? Is it just the demonstration? What’s it going to take for that executive to go: “That’s going to be way more valuable for my next hour.” 

[00:08:54] Debbi Shaffer: It’s a lot, it’s a combination of all of it.

[00:08:56] And there’s some that will never get there. There’s just especially with advancing technology. A lot of them think “it’s just quicker for me to do it myself.” But it’s not really. Because yes, you can go ahead and book that flight and you think it’s done, but you didn’t put it on the calendar and you didn’t put all the details there.

[00:09:14] Conrad Ruiz: And you could have done something else!

[00:09:17] Debbi Shaffer: Yeah. So it only took you five minutes, but all the things that follow that five minutes to book: Getting it on the calendar or tracking the flights – make sure it’s on time. Making sure nothing gets booked in that time… 

[00:09:29] So some executives will never get there. They’ll never trust. They’ll always think that it’s better to do it themselves, but it is a pitch and it is then a proven track record of getting it done.

[00:09:41] When I worked at Jacobson I was working at board meetings, so I had all of the senior executives across all of the company. And so I’ve worked with my boss long enough that I could pretty much read his mind. And so he and the CEO walked over… my boss is going, “I need,” and he’s just making these hand gestures

[00:10:02] and I reached behind my desk and I reached for what I knew he needed. He wanted more note cards, and the CEO’s like “How? What was that?”

[00:10:12] When you worked with somebody for five years, it’s like a marriage, you finish each other’s sentences, 

[00:10:17] Conrad Ruiz: You know what to expect!

[00:10:19] Debbi Shaffer: Yeah. I knew, after taking notes, knowing what he wants and needs and what the people in the meetings with him want so it just builds and it becomes a track record. But it wouldn’t build if he didn’t let go of stuff little at a time.

[00:10:33] And I wish that we could get executives to let go of stuff a little at a time. And then on the other end of it, there’s other ones that are just “Here, take everything and run with zero direction. 

[00:10:46] You’re like, “Okay… I’m going to need a little direction!” 

[00:10:53] So the world is diverse. All the executives are diverse. Some of them I don’t know if you can ever get to go into training on how to effectively use this valuable tool at their disposal. 

[00:11:08] Conrad Ruiz: So we like to establish awareness as our key value. So we like to think that an executive not recognizing this opportunity is unaware of the situation. They’re leaving money on the table. They don’t recognize it. Make them aware of that situation, keenly, and then through that, you’re actually doing the things that you need to do to train with your executive assistant, to understand what they can resolve for you and meet those expectations.

[00:11:29] Highlighting from a data standpoint that this is the amount of time by the result of lack of trust, by the result of “I’m going to do it myself”, this is the amount of time they’re spending doing let’s call it $15 an hour work.

[00:11:40] They’re getting paid hundreds of dollars an hour to do all this high-level work. And here they are wasting their time playing with

[00:11:48] Debbi Shaffer: dinner reservations.

[00:11:49] Yeah. Simon Sinek says, if you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant. 

[00:11:55] Conrad Ruiz: That’s a fantastic way to put it. 

[00:11:58] Debbi Shaffer: You’re supposed to be at 10,000 feet you’re supposed to have the great thoughts. Why get lost in the minutia of this flight has been changed from 10:15 to 10:45 – we need to adjust the meetings and everything and the cars… 

[00:12:11] Why would you want to get lost now when you have somebody to handle that? 

[00:12:15] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. Yeah. And certainly part of it is control. Certainly part of it is just feeling like if you are capable of doing something, then you should do it. There’s some sort of a really paradoxical inadequacy mindset of if I’m not doing this, am I, is it because I’m inadequate? No, that’s nothing to do with your inadequacy. You’re more than capable. The problem is you’re too capable, if any. And that’s the reality of doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Play within your zone of genius. In line with that it feels a lot like hyping someone up, but in a way that’s pragmatic. 

[00:12:47] Debbi Shaffer: I have one executive who started off as an executive assistant. So sometimes it’s “I know that you can do this, but why?” 

[00:12:57] Give it back to me!

[00:13:03] But the problem also is, and to be honest, there are executive assistants out there who are not proactive burn me once and then I don’t trust anybody. So that’s also a problem in the industry. 

[00:13:16] There are ones who think that doing a personal task is beneath them.

[00:13:20] And so when they (executives) get an actual career EA, they don’t know what to do. 

[00:13:28] That’s why there’s like admin assistants versus executive assistants versus chief of staff. When you have an actual career executive assistant who is there to make you more productive, it’s a whole different game than an admin assistant who just calendars and does travel.

[00:13:46] My husband is an HR and he doesn’t even get it. He was writing something for the company and I said I used to do that for my boss.” And he’s “No, it was writing checks it was a check writing policy.” And I said, “No, my billion dollar global company, I had up to $50,000 authority as executive assistant, because I knew the business, I knew what he would approve. And if I was unsure, he knew I would go to him. And even my darling husband, who’s been with me my whole career, doesn’t get it.

[00:14:23] Yeah. So it’s hard if HR doesn’t understand what a true executive assistant is, then they’re not hiring the right person. And if the executive hasn’t worked with a true executive assistant, then they don’t understand the value in it. 

[00:14:41] Conrad Ruiz: Deb, do you have any big sort of last takeaway, any sort of great call to action you have for people like what’s the sort of call to awareness that you want to share? 

[00:14:49] Debbi Shaffer: To borrow from Simon Sinek, if you don’t have an assistant, if you’re not using your assistant, then you are an assistant.

[00:14:55] And that a true career executive assistant can be your most invaluable tool. They can be your right hand. They can be as productive for a CEO as a senior vice president, a CMO, a CHRO, we kind of fill all of those hats. We have our ear to the ground in the company, we can alert you of stuff ahead of time, but there has to be trust.

[00:15:22] You have to somehow learn how to utilize and trust your executive assistant and the time that it will give back to you, you’ll be amazed.

[00:15:35] Conrad Ruiz: Yeah. Thank you so much. 

[00:15:39] Debbi Shaffer: You’re welcome. Thank you for asking me. If you have any follow-up just let me know.

[00:15:49] Have you ever read the, just a short article you should look at Melba Duncan wrote in the Harvard Business Review the case for executive assistants.

[00:16:02] It’s an excellent article that would help you with the value of an EA. 

[00:16:08] Conrad Ruiz: Got it. 

[00:16:10] Debbi Shaffer: Yeah. Great article.

[00:16:16] Conrad Ruiz: Okay. Excellent. Thank you. Is there anything that you’re looking for right now? 

[00:16:22] Debbi Shaffer: Actually, so I got a full load of clients. It’s been an incredible year for me, starting my own business up. I’m actually turning clients away.

[00:16:31] Yeah it’s been incredible. I love all of the clients I’m working with, I appreciate that, but I would love to keep you in mind and if I ever don’t have a client and I need to fill a space, I’ll be sure to reach out. 

[00:16:46] Conrad Ruiz: Yay! Okay. 

[00:16:48] Debbi Shaffer: All right. Thank you. 

[00:16:50] Conrad Ruiz: Thank you, Debbi.

[00:16:50] Debbi Shaffer: Have a great weekend. 

[00:16:51] Conrad Ruiz: You too! Happy Friday! 

[00:16:53] Debbi Shaffer: You too. Bye.

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