“This is a political movement to value care but it's also a personal movement to start treating our homes as our most important organizations" - Eve Rodsky
In the final episode of season two host Portia Mount sits down with Eve Rodsky, New York Times best selling author of the book Fair Play. They talk about her early years as a child growing up on the Lower East Side in New York, the crucial life lessons she learned from her mother and how Eve’s early career planted the seeds for her success today. You will hear how she’s on a mission to change society one partnership at a time by unburdening women from unpaid labor. The future is female, let’s get started!
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Transcript - Eve Rodsky
Portia Mount 0:12
Eve Rodsky, welcome to the pod. So great to have you here.
Eve Rodsky 0:19
Oh my god, I'm just, we got to meet and I'm just I feel like you're already a friend Portia so I'm so excited to be here too.
Portia Mount 0:26
I feel the same because you and I were introduced by our mutual friend Blessing Adesiyan, thank you Blessing for introducing us. And it's probably one of the best parts of the pandemic, right? Not a lot of good things but being able to meet so many incredible women virtually I think has been at least one of the good things that's come out of this dark time.
Eve Rodsky 0:49
I feel the exact same way because I was saying to you, I think we would have met because you know, your intersection of professionalism and work and creativity, all these things that I would have wanted to know you anyway. But I do think I probably would have waited till I got, you know, to your town one day to have coffee. And I do think that I will say that, I will say to any listener here, do not wait, reach out to the person that you think you want to know on LinkedIn. More than likely, they will say they'll have a Zoom coffee with you. And then you end up with just this amazing network of women that that you know, we really all need. We all need professionally and spiritually to get through our days.
Portia Mount 1:34
Amen. Amen Eve. I think we need it so much. And, you know, I hope we're crawling out of this dark hole that we've been in, certainly in the United States, but I know we've got listeners in other parts of the world where, frankly, it's still on fire, right that with the pandemic, but I hope, I hope that these episodes give women a sense of optimism and a sense of hope to pursue whatever they want to do. And as you said, use that network. You know, but I want to go a little bit back to the beginning with you because I think everyone knows you from Fair Play, which I can't even think of a more relevant book right now...
Eve Rodsky 2:17
Portia Mount 2:19
Fair Play, like wow. Talk about I don't know if you time it girlfriend or not, but like talk about the zite, like getting in like before the zeitgeist and then writing that baby all the way through. I want to talk about anything, everything before Fair Play started, which is just around how you got started. And so maybe a strange question for you. But what was Eve like as a child?
Eve Rodsky 2:40
It'a great question. I love it so much and actually it informs so much of Fair Play because I think what my psychologist friends will say to me, when I interviewed so many of them for Fair Play was that ultimately research is mesearch. And a lot of the idea of course, I did not end up you know, Portia in my Hello Kitty journal in third grade, I was not writing you know, Dear Diary, I want to be a gender division of labor specialists when I grow up, but I was living in a single mother household on Avenue C and 14th street right by a power plant that I was not allowed to go near because girls had disappeared actually near that power plant. This was the 1980s in New York City, The Lower East Side. My mother had been left by my father when she was pregnant with my brother. And so she was that we lived in Virginia, and she was starting over in New York as a single mother with two kids and she always tells this funny story of my mother doesn't know how to pack she has just these like giant garbage bags that she doesn't believe in possessions a lot of ways and maybe that's why Portia I really do like to wear diamonds and get my eyelashes done. Even get lip injections sometimes because my mother was the opposite.
Portia Mount 4:09
Nothing wrong with that. I'm a Botox fan myself but ok.
Eve Rodsky 4:11
Absolutely, and we can be any type of feminist we want, as long as we're intersectional feminists, but I will say that for her she, she always has a story about this man was he tried to like run off with one of our garbage bags, but it literally had led in it because she doesn’t know how to pack. And so he's like this shit's too heavy. And then he just dropped it, like kept on going. And so she's like, you know, that was sort of her introduction to the Lower East Side, but that's where we grew up. And you know, my mother, she's interesting because she broke out of a very orthodox Jewish, Sephardic Jewish family to forge your own path where marrying older men and not having an education was the norm and she said, you know what, I'm gonna go for my PhD and I want to be a professor and I care about social justice. And that's where she was. So she ended up working as a professor at Hunter College School of Social Work. It's also famous because Audre Lorde came out of Hunter, it's an amazing place for activists and, and she's a professor of social change. She's a community organizer. And so that's the lens I saw, which was, my mother kept saying, you know, your family may be scared to visit us. But every community has its beauty and its power. And, and we live in this community, and we love our community. And if other people don't want to come into our community, that's okay. But this is where we live, and you should take pride in it. And so my mother always took pride in our community and the Lower East Side, and we did a lot of organizing down there political organizing growing up. And that’s how I grew up. I had to handle her eviction notices for her. But I saw firsthand how hard it was for one woman to try to fulfill her dreams when she had two kids in tow, and very little money.
Portia Mount 6:09
Eve Rodsky 6:11
I never get to tell that story. So I appreciate you asking that question Portia.
Portia Mount 6:15
Well, you know, so first of all, big up to your mom. Big up to single mothers who...
Eve Rodsky 6:22
Yeah, I'm crying for single mothers. It just sort of made me emotional.
Portia Mount 6:25
Honestly, I actually was feeling very emotional.
Eve Rodsky 6:27
Portia Mount 6:28
Because to grow up, you know, I think for anyone who understands orthodox communities, whether they're orthodox Jewish or orthodox Islam, the pressure on women around conformity is is not insignificant. So what an amazing hero to have as a role model. And honestly, it makes so much sense.
Eve Rodsky 6:55
Portia Mount 6:55
But big up to your, what is your mother's name?
Eve Rodsky 6:59
Her name is Terry Mizrahi. And, and I will say that, because I'm thinking about all the single mothers stories that I've heard this year, and just, you know, what an injustice that we've done and what Fair Play is ultimately about, even though it was a self help book to take agency in your own life. It's a political movement. It's a political movement to say, it is no longer acceptable to build society, on the backs of the unpaid labor of women. And if you're going to pay for it, the undervalued labor of women of color, that it is just in completely unacceptable to undervalue that domestic workers labor, and it's completely unacceptable to expect that women across the globe will shoulder $10.9 trillion of unpaid labor. It's just not acceptable anymore.
Portia Mount 7:46
You know, and I am so glad that you brought that up, because it really forms the heart of why, you know, your book, Fair Play, I think the the work that women are doing right now to surface, the fact that so much of our societies born on the backs of women and women of color. So thank you for sharing the story of Terry Mizrahi. By the way, I think it's really important that this, this is a really important piece, right, which is that we speak the names of the women and we tell the stories of the women who have come before us, and of the women who do the work. So, as I said, honor to your mother.
Eve Rodsky 8:32
Thank you for asking that question.
Portia Mount 8:34
So, it's a great sort of transition, because you studied anthropology and economics. And so I'm curious. So you grew up, Lower East Side. Clearly this is in your DNA, around community. And so what were you trying to do? So when you got to University of Michigan, as an undergrad studying economics and anthropology, what were you thinking at that time for yourself?
Eve Rodsky 9:05
It's so interesting, because I do feel like what I was thinking back then was that society was built on the backs of so many injustices.
Portia Mount 9:14
So you've been thinking about this for a while?
Eve Rodsky 9:16
Yeah, so yeah. And actually my, so I have a 500 page honors thesis that I ended up writing. And I decided to write my honors thesis in anthropology and not economics. And not that I didn't love my economics major it just was a highly sexist, very heterocis gender, white profession. And I knew I was going to use economics, but I wanted to really look at the law of economics and also how economics plays into our, into our lives. And so ironically, the commodification of hip hop culture, and the white appropriation of hip hop culture was what I wrote my honors thesis on.
Portia Mount 9:16
Eve Rodsky 9:17
Yeah, and it's so I couldn't...
I like love you, I find other reasons to love you more every time.
But like I really want to bust that shit out Portia from from like dust it off because I mean when you see what's happening now it literally the the things I wrote about in the 90s, which was the question of how can something that is based on Black urban reality, how can especially white young men, because I was coming up in the 90s, the birth of hip hop, well, not the birth of it but this first resurgence and honoring of hip hop was coming into the mainstream. How can white young men purport to be part of this culture? And so 500 pages, I studied three boys, young men at the time, who were white, who identified as white, and how they used language, the appropriation of African American vernacular English, clothes, in music, as and misogyny as sort of the elements that they were going to bring into their lives to sort of appropriate the lived experience of Black urban reality. So it was fascinating. And again, there's probably a place for, for that discussion again in 2021.
Portia Mount 11:22
Well, for sure. Because I think it's so relevant as we think about sort of the political, the social and political schisms that have always been there, but are now in stark relief right now.
Eve Rodsky 11:38
Yeah. And by the way, and how we teach our sons, right, how we teach our sons and daughters, you know, what, what do you what sign are you flashing in your Instagram posts? What do you, you know, your what are you saying, you know, do you know, where the, you know, that your language is coming from? And what's the history of what, you know, unpacking things for our kids. You know, you're, you're saying that Charli D’Amelio is the creator of that dance, but you actually know that that is sort of centuries of African dance behind that.
Portia Mount 12:11
Don't get me started on the TicToc creators, like I'm gonna get revved up.
Eve Rodsky 12:16
But I do think that as parents, and again, I will say, this is as a white parent, it is very important to have these conversations. And so as we know, you know, as people start to ban critical race theory, which is completely unconstitutional, by the way, and ironic for people who say they care about freedom, I just think it's very important that we think about how we have conversations. And Portia, you and I've had this talk before, right that that deep conversations, everything seems to happen without context. So that's why I love the way you interview, because you allow your guests and all with how you're writing you just allow for deeper, deeper context, and I appreciate it.
Portia Mount 13:01
Well, we need it right now. Because the instaculture soundbite life that we're living right now is actually killing us, I think. And so we have, I think we need to get back to maybe something closer to akin to what we saw in the 60s and the 70s with salons and people actually having meaningful conversations, like real conversations and then they do some shit.
Eve Rodsky 13:24
They do some shit collective salons. Yes. Go back to what it was. And they do some shit together. Yes.
Portia Mount 13:32
Some shit together. So okay, so you leave U Michigan, and then you go to Harvard for law school. What was the thought there in terms of going? Because you're not practicing law? You're obviously not practicing law. But clearly it informs how you're thinking today?
Eve Rodsky 13:50
Absolutely. Everything I think about is behavior design, right. Because the law to me is the ultimate way to design behaviors as a society. And that's why I was attracted to it. You don't want people to vote, guess what you pass laws, telling them that they, they poll watchers are allowed and you can’t give out water bottles, and you're going to close the laws that the polls can’t stay open past 1pm when you know most people vote after work, right? I mean, I think behavior design as to laws, behavior, design, design is not how people think about it, but it's how I've always thought about it. And it's because my mother, as we said, she's a community activist. She's a community organizer. So for her this idea of how you design your community, how you intentionally live in your community, was always something I thought about. And so I thought a lot about in my first torts class, Portia that, you know, we, we sue people when they don't stop at a stop sign. So you know, they hit me why oh, I get it because there's an expectation we have designed behaviors to allow people to be safe at that stop sign. And often what I saw the other thing that inspired me about the law was that it does often precede cultural change. So there's a lot of times where Supreme Court decisions have preceded what society has been ready to do, and it has given it that kick in the ass to move forward. Again, whether it's back in the obviously in the 60s in the civil rights movement, or the gay rights, the gay marriage movement. So anyway, I was very inspired by that. And then, of course, the whole idea around how the law also sets up inequality was a big piece of it, and I will honor Professor Randall Kennedy was my professor, and he was my advisor. And he's a very interesting man. But we had a lot of important talks about law as a justice tool. And we spent a lot of time and again, so my honors thesis for law school was interminority conflict and sort of why is it that it's harder for a PI and Jews and Black Americans to come together to sort of throw over the invisible hand of white supremacy? And what is it about critical race theory that I love, this idea that white supremacy makes it easier for us to come at each other than actually to focus on the big problem, which is, you know, ultimately, white, heterocis gender Christian men. So that was somewhat of an ancillary topic, but to my honors thesis, but it was always in the same idea around racial and gender justice, that's sort of where I always had my eye.
Portia Mount 16:49
Well, you know, I think what's so amazing is the red thread that I'm seeing from you as a child and the exposure that your mother gave you to community organizing, you taking that into your formal education, and then the through line like it, honestly, and having now read Fair Play, there is clearly a red thread there isn't there?
Eve Rodsky 17:18
Well, I think it's so funny, because right, when you write a prescriptive self help book, you know, it's sort of very interesting world, because you're sort of sitting next to like, girl wash her face, or whatever, you know, I don't know what those books are called.
Portia Mount 17:29
We don't have time to talk about her.
Eve Rodsky 17:31
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you know, that's where I'm sort of sitting next to right and feeling like, Oh, my God, you know, what, who am I? What is my audience? And so, for me, it was an interesting dance with my editor to say that, you know, this is a political movement. But ultimately, I decided to write in self help, because I wanted to write to women. I wanted to write to women about the agency that we can take in our own lives. And I want to, you know, pause and say that that does not take away or saying that we have to fix ourselves. I'm not here to say that we can do this alone. Fair Play is a political movement, as we said earlier, to value care. But that does not mean that we have to stand back and say that, just because I'm a product of this fucked up system, that I can't also take agency in my own life. And for me, demanding, demanding certain things in my own life and unlearning a lot of the conditioning that was was happening to me was fascinating, because Portia, as you see, I thought of myself as really somebody who understood gender justice, racial justice, in a way, obviously, you know, from an academic perspective, but somebody who invested the time to learn. And still, still in my own household when my children came along, I had no idea that I had the permission to be unavailable. I had no idea that I could use my voice to ask my husband to take our kids to school, even though he made more money than me. I had no permission to use my voice. And I'm someone who's a Harvard trained mediator, I literally use my voice for a living. And so I think what I thought was, if I grew up with all of this privilege to have an understanding of gender justice and the different waves of feminism and, and on top of it, have the lens of a single mother who did it all and I didn't want to recreate that. And on top of that, I'm literally trained to use my voice. And I still ended up in these dynamics where I was losing myself and losing my identity. And I had no time and I felt like I was throwing up.
Portia Mount 19:46
Speak on it, speak on it.
Eve Rodsky 19:46
Yes, and sick and sick and resentful of my own marriage. I figured you know what, this may be happening to other women. And I wanted to write to them.
Portia Mount 19:58
Yeah. I actually want to unpacked that just for a second because like, first of all, I just got chills. My eyes were filling with tears. My praise hands were pumping, because one I think you're describing what's real for professional women, so many women. D o you remember the moment that you came up with Fair Play? Like, was there like you're sitting around doodling? I don't know, like, what was the moment where you're like, you know what, holy shit, I have a book here like, I'm ready, I'm ready to do this?
Eve Rodsky 20:34
Well, absolutely. And I, you know, I talk about it in the beginning of the book that literally this came from a breakdown on the side of the road. I mean, you know, you can't make this shit up Portia. But my husband Seth had sent me a text while I was texting and driving already bad. That said...
Portia Mount 20:50
Don't do that at home guys.
Eve Rodsky 20:50
I'm surprised. Don't do that at home. I was already texting and driving and he sends me this text that says, I'm surprised you didn't get blueberries. I don't get to unpack this. But since you're allowing me to go deeper, I'll unpack the scene. Because I just had my second son Ben, I still had an open c-section scar that was probably oozing and bleeding. I had a breast pump in a diaper bag on the passenger seat in my car. I had gifts for a newborn baby to return in the backseat of my car as well as a three year old toddler, Zach, at a toddler transition program. But you know, in America because we don't value childcare, and that's being sarcastic. Those toddler programs are seven minutes. And they cost your entire salary. And so I was racing to get him. I had already dropped out of the traditional workforce two years prior. And now I say forced out because language matters. But I was blaming myself still that I wanted, quote unquote, more flexibility. So I started my own law firm. I had a client contract in my lab, Portia, I had a pen in between my legs because I still mark things up in an analog way and...
Portia Mount 21:24
So you were a fucking hot mess?
Eve Rodsky 22:24
I was a fucking hot mess. And not only that, but every time I would hit the stop signs, the pen would stab me in the vagina. It would just sort of hit me and just stabbed me in the vagina. So that was, that's my analogy for the gender division of labor people. It is being stabbed in the vagina with a pen. And that was it. That was the day I was like, I can't deal with this. Fuck you Seth for thinking that I'm the fulfiller of your smoothie needs. I pulled over Portia, I started to cry and cry. And I thought to myself, this is so cliche that my marriage is ending over off-season blueberries like I knew Portia if my marriage is going to end. It would be because I was having an affair with an NFL player. Like that is my marriage ending story.
Portia Mount 23:14
You had, so you had the scenario under which your marriage would end?
Eve Rodsky 23:18
Yes. Yes, I did. It was going to end with an NFL player affair. Instead, it is ending over the most cliched fight over who's buying the damn blueberries. And I was over it. I was done. And I said to myself, I have to figure out how I got here. How the hell did I get here, where I do not have the career marriage combo that I thought I was going to have. I did not have the fairness I had before kids where we would each take turns doing dishes or ordering food. How the hell did I turn into the default? I call it in Fair Play the shefaults even though this does affect people with different pronouns as well. But this is a woman's story. So I called the shefault for literally every single household and domestic task for my family. It just shouldn't have happened to me Portia. Like I said, I had all those reasons. I'm a Harvard trained mediator. I'm someone who knows about gender justice. I lived in a single mom household. So that was it. That was the day I said I'm not living like this anymore. And my most empowered friends were divorced.
Portia Mount 24:33
I have to thank you for just putting that out there Eve. Because someone's going to be listening to this and be like, holy shit. Like, that's me. Frankly, I see a lot of myself in that story.
Eve Rodsky 24:55
Who knew Portia you make me cry the whole time? I haven't cried like this for a long time.
Portia Mount 24:59
Tears are allowed. I think one thing I’m struck by, because when you talk about, it's like when we talk about domestic violence of which this is not to, it's just that you know, like, I never thought I was gonna be that woman, right? I know women who like, really put together educated, who ended up in abusive relationships and said, I never thought that was going to be me. And you know, when I hear you talk about how you assumed what is honestly a centuries, ingrained, gendered tradition. So I studied anthropology as well as a master's degree in it. We know culture is powerful, inculturation is powerful, and it is hard to buck against that, no matter how educated you are. And so, I guess, I guess what I wonder, Eve, you had that side of the road moment. Did you go to therapy? Did you call Seth? Did you go back home and say, Okay, listen, like, I got to do something different. How did you find a way to climb out of the hole? To pull yourself together enough to say, you know what, I have a testimony here, I'm going to share this with others, I'm going to help others. I'm going to take what I know and help others like, was there a process there?
Eve Rodsky 26:28
We did go to therapy...
Portia Mount 26:30
You went as a couple?
Eve Rodsky 26:31
Yes. And I always will recommend that, of course. But what I was recognizing was that there was something missing in that experience with the therapists, which was, it was I just, I did want to unpack, you know, our relationship and how we communicated. But on the other hand, I was almost like, this is a societal problem, right? This is a problem that Seth is, is devaluing my time. And I think that I had to recognize that couples therapy alone without this, this really unpacking unless a couples therapist is also, you know, gender division of labor specialists, and has, you know, the learnings of what culture has done to women. There, it's a very hard perspective. And what I realized is I needed to do something else. And so what I did was, I started, I think, with what all probably desperate women do, and that is to make a list. And it became this cathartic experience, Portia that, again, I don't get to unpack as much, because you know, I sort of use it for humor. But I ended up with a 98 tab Excel spreadsheet that had 2000 items of invisible work on it. I named the spreadsheet my other child of mine, the shit I do spreadsheet, and the shit I do spreadsheet was amazing. Because what it did was in 2011 and beyond, 2011 we have to picture we didn't even have iPads, then I think they were just released that year, right? We were there wasn't communities, I couldn't do a Zoom to find you, Portia and say, Oh, my God, we're, we're suffering of the same, you know, private lives or public issues. But I don't know that because I'm in my private life. I didn't have the community that I had now. So what I did was I just, you know, I use Facebook, I call up women I didn't even know and I said, you know, what is it that takes more than two minutes of your time, because I had been researching this issue after the blueberries day and I found out, turns out Portia that shefaults has a name. And we've been talking about it since Virginia Woolf said women couldn't be Shakespeare because they didn't have a room of their own, mentally or physically. And that was, you know, the second shift, mental load, invisible wor. Invisible work 1986 it was coined by a sociologist named Arlene Kaplan Daniels. And that became my most favorite term because I figured, well, if we just make the invisible visible, everything can change. That was my naive my naive thought and that's why I thought the visibility of the shit I do spreadsheet would be enough. And so when I tell you that I had again women I didn't even know say to me Eve I got your spreadsheet and you forgot Elf on the Shelf. And I would say Portia...
Portia Mount 29:40
I do not fucking do Elf on the Shelf.
Eve Rodsky 29:42
Exactly. And this is the comprehensive list. It doesn't mean that you had to do everything just like the Fair Play system now. It gives you all the things you could do does not mean you should be doing them. But it gives you a chance to talk about everything. If you want to or take things out of your deck. Because ultimately, Fair Play was built out of the shit I do spreadsheets. But the shit I do spreadsheet was so granular that I would have women say things to me like you forgot Elf on the Shelf. And I would say, I love you, but you don't know how to use Excel. So all you need to do is you need to scroll to the right go to tab 72. If you go to tab 72, you will see magical beings, all you have to do is scroll down to item 11 because that's a magical, Elf on the Shelf is sitting above Santa, and below Lucky Leprechaun. Like that's how, that's how granular the spreadsheet was. And then I sent it to Seth, as you said, you know, I sent it to Seth. I brought it to our couple therapy. I remember our therapist was named Derek and I said, just take a tab, pick a frickin tab of Excel sheet. Just take one take one you know, and it became it wasn't helpful. Because Seth Seth, when he received the spreadsheet, he didn't even give me words and I sent it to him as a 19 million megabytes spreadsheet, email attachment and I just got that emoji, you know, that sad See No Evil monkey emoji. Not even the three monkey trio Portia, just that one fucking sad See No Evil emoji.
Portia Mount 31:18
I am both laughing and, and also, like, I am angry filled with anguish and devastation at the same time.
Eve Rodsky 31:27
It was nine months, nine months. And I thought that the unveiling tada! But remember, right I use all of the communication skills I know as a mediator. And that's again being sarcastic. I did nothing. I just sent him a spreadsheet and said Can't wait to discuss. So you can imagine.
Portia Mount 31:42
But did you, did you sign off best Eve?
Eve Rodsky 31:45
Best Eve, love Eve. And so you know what I didn't get the response I thought I would get but you know what, that's what Fair Play became. So Portia. So that's the unpacking of the things I was doing till I finally came to the realization that not only do this alone, not work but I could resign myself to doing it all and lose myself in the process or lose my marriage in the process and become empowered. Like I said, like my most empowered friends are women who had shared custody because they had, they told me they had unencumbered time, which was something I desperately wanted. Or I could get my ass in gear and become my own client. See, I'm a philanthropic advisor now. After all of my career, what I ended up doing was working in philanthropy, to work with family foundations and family businesses to sort of unleash their capital in the world with some grace and humor and generosity. So aka, all you have to know about me is I work for families that look like the HBO show Succession. And you should feel bad for me.
Portia Mount 32:55
Do you still do that work now?
Eve Rodsky 32:55
I do. I do. I still have four clients, I used to have 11. But the four I've kept are really clients that I love from the bottom of my heart because their funding is so aligned with my personal values. And after the Trump election, that was very important to me. That was very important to me. I also wanted to make more space for Fair Play. So I had to take my client situations down. So those four families are left with great philanthropy and great values. But what I recognized by building systems for the most difficult family structures was that I could do this, I could build a system for my home Portia. I could use the learnings of 10 years of organizational management by start asking the most important question I've asked in 10 years, which is how would the world look differently if we treated our homes as our most important organizations? That was the question I asked. And what I knew is it wouldn't look the way it does where people are telling me they're waiting to take a dog out there waiting to decide who to take the dog out when it's about to take a piss on the rug. They're setting the table when they're already hungry and cranky. Even my Marion's Mahjong group has more clearly defined expectations in the home, you don't bring snacks twice to her group, you're out. But the home is a complete and total shit show where we are drowning in decision fatigue. We are not customizing our defaults. We don't use any conversation or efficiency tools. And so that's when I thought, Okay, this is a political movement to value care but it's also a personal movement to start treating our homes as our most important organizations.
Portia Mount 34:42
Again, I'm just struck by the through line of your beginnings to where you are, I want to ask you a little bit more about your philanthropic advisory. So you are an entrepreneur, you're an author, you're a keynote speaker, and you're a leader of a movement, talk to me Eve around how you. Talk to me about how you, how you manage all of that and what are you doing to actually manage that on a day to day basis?
Eve Rodsky 35:26
That's a great question. And you can see, I have lots of post-its on the wall. So that helps me. I'm a lover of post-it. But I think, first of all, it's the, it was two things. One, it's that I started to become very comfortable living in my own, my own intrinsic values.
Portia Mount 35:47
So talk about what those values are?
Eve Rodsky 35:50
Yes. So what I mean by that is, you know, so you want to hear the injustice that happened to me, the injustice that happened to me was, because I didn't have a dime, or pot to piss in when I got out of law school. And I remember thinking, Oh, my God, how all these other people have like money for a bar trip, and all this other stuff. But I was, you know, at that point from college and law school, over $300,000 in debt, I, all this power and love of justice, and equity and unpacking the systems that are we take for granted. And I like to say this is fucking evitable. This is evitable to its core, if you understand how systems work, how patriarchy works, how capitalism works, how racism works, how caste works as Isabel Wilkerson will call it. But all of that just got thrown by the wayside because I went to a law firm. And I just became a cog in a wheel and I became an M&A mergers and acquisitions associate. That was it. Because I had to pay my bills. And what I realize is, I think so many of us, we get deferred from our dreams, because we have this horrible injustice of putting us in debt, to have to get educated in this country. And so I remember I came out my, I had 9-10 percent interest from the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority. MEFA shame on you. Because we can't even imagine what those interest rates are like. But when you're acquiring 7,8,9,10% debt, and you're watching it accrue, you start to feel like okay, well, all of my dreams have to be on the backburner so that I could just crawl out of this hole of debt. And so that was it Portia, that I thought my life was going to be a mergers and acquisitions lawyer. The rigor I got from that was amazing. But the other beautiful thing was, of course, I couldn't allow my dreams to be completely deferred. So what I was allowed to do was take out a lot of pro bono work for Sullivan and Cromwell. I became a mentor, I became a leader with two partners of Sullivan and Cromwell and Goldman Sachs sponsored events on what was happening to Black boys in America. So I did get to use that platform in a way that was probably not the way they thought I would come in, I was sort of just this, like...
Portia Mount 38:37
They had no idea did they?
Eve Rodsky 38:38
This blond looking white girl, you know, they're like, what is happening here?
Portia Mount 38:42
They didn't see you coming. I bet they didn’t see you coming.
Eve Rodsky 38:45
No, they did not. And then when I finally decided I couldn't do this anymore. And that was around the John Kerry election. They gave me a leave of absence sabbatical to work on the Kerry campaign. And I did just, you know, total volunteer, you know, sitting in the office doing whatever they needed to. I think I was a scheduler for Carole King. But also what we ended up doing was we were as lawyers, we were sent out to watch the polls with an NAACP and it was my first real understanding of voter suppression. I was in an Ohio precinct where we had a 99% African American precinct. We knew that from the data, and that precinct voted in the morning. We also knew that from the data because a lot of these Ohioans had two jobs and they voted in the morning and this disgusting piece of shit Secretary of State lost the voting machines for our precinct. And I remember the injustice. And they these kept saying, well, they'll be here by 11. So you think and I was like, What do you mean, they'll be here by 11 This precinct votes in the morning. And we had lines from 6am that were down the block, and I was begging people to stay. And we're having them fill out provisional ballots. And that's when I said to myself, I can't be an M&A attorney, I can't do this, you know, I need to work. I need to put my money where my mouth is. And so I took my couple $100,000 salary, and I went for $42,000 a year to work for an organization called Advocates for Children, where my job was to represent primarily Black boys in suspension hearings and kindergarten. And that was it. It was, it was kindergarteners getting suspended. And, and then watching what happens to them. And and and how vile schools are when they want to push out kids who can't learn in the traditional ways that they want them to learn. So we sued school districts, for kids who were in welfare, child welfare, who couldn't learn, sued school districts for suspending primarily African American boys. And then that's where my life as sort of a justice advocate began. And then I was ultimately hired by my funder, one of our funders at JP Morgan to say you can run a portfolio of grantmaking. And you can also work with donors to make a difference. And that was sort of how I ended up in philanthropic advising, where my legal background plus sort of the justice background got to work with living and dead donors, the dead donors that the bank had, and a living donors who are clients to say, how can you deploy capital in a way that doesn't, does no harm? Why are you giving it to your alma mater? Let's think about how would it look like if you actually gave to poverty? And so that became my life. And that's still my day job. But the family dynamics around it are really hard. And that's why I say the HBO show Succession. Because the systems I had to build, the mediation I had training, I had to take the continuing legal education became very powerful and ultimately led to Fair Play, which is a system based on values, based on mediation, based on communication lessons that I had in a decade of this work as a philanthropic advisor.
Portia Mount 42:42
Eve thank you for unpacking that, because again, I think the origins of your story, and the origins of Fair Play came to be. I really want listeners to hear how you've nurtured this idea for a really long time and again, you know, always with these stories I’m hopeful that someone out there will hear this and think you know what, I have a Fair Play in me. Or I have a White Feminists, or We Should All Be Millionaires, my new favorite book right now. I want people to hear these stories. So thank you for sharing that.
Eve Rodsky 43:22
And childcare and housework should not stop you from doing it. And that's what I think is so important, right? You can do this at any age. And you know what, guilt and shame there's no place for it in your life anymore. I'm here to tell you that. It may have been good for you when you're a kid. For me, guilt and shame was there for me, because maybe I had to be guilty if I didn't do my homework, because my education did get me to where I am today. And also $300,000 in debt. But it was very important. And so what I will say is that childcare and housework should not be able to defer your dreams. Like I said, we are a political movement. And we are, as we said, we started this honoring Terry Mizrahi. I will fight for single mothers to the day I die to say that you are living in a culture that does not give a shit about you. And that is completely unfair. And you deserve, you deserve a social safety net so that you can have childcare and housework and also live your dreams. That is the world we want to live in and fight for. So let's do that. As you said, let's do some shit together Portia.
Portia Mount 44:30
Yes. Let's do some shit together. So what's, so a question for you then, what surprised you about the response to Fair Play? And you've also got another book on deck too?
Eve Rodsky 44:41
Yes, yes, yes. About the intersection of creativity and identity and women and how important the permission to be unavailable is from our roles. That was a much more fun book to write Portia, because I got to talk to like a confectionary roboticist, a woman who bakes cakes that move. And I got to talk to a woman who left Nordstroms as a shoe seller to launch an amazing, very important chocolate chip bakery that I frequented during the pandemic. And it's probably why I don't fit into any of my clothes. I got to talk to the man that discovered the Titanic. But really it was looking at curiosity. The through line of this second book is, I found three things and I love iterations that sort of were the through lines to creative people. And that was curiosity, connection, sharing with the world the same way you're doing Portia, and completion. And so I'm here to tell you I call it unicorn space, that your unicorn space, at least I'm going to tell it to you is this podcast or has to be, at least because...
Portia Mount 45:48
You know what it is, it is.
Eve Rodsky 45:49
I love it. I love listening to you, I think you're sharing yourself with the world. It is an active pursuit. And so the more we have women doing podcasts, like what you're doing, sharing themselves with the world in vulnerable ways, the better for all women. And so that's what the second book is about. But I would say that the reaction to Fair Play, I think the thing that surprised me the most was men. I have some beautiful partnerships now with a call to men and Promundo and this idea that... I've so many men say to me that I want to take my kids to the pediatricians office. I believe an hour holding my child's hand at the pediatricians is as important as an hour in the boardroom. But I don't want to be penalized like you are, I don't want to be penalized like women are and get the 10% of my wages lopped off because I show that I'm a caregiver. And so it was, I think it was really interesting to think about adulting as not being gendered. And helping men along and their attitudes around housework and childcare and the permission to be a father.
Portia Mount 47:03
So looking back now, from the time you came up with Fair Play as an idea to where it is now. Is there anything you would have changed about it in terms of the content? Or? Or maybe that you're even planning for future additions? Because I'm sure it's going to be translated will see lots and lots of updates to Fair Play. But what would you, knowing what you know now, especially coming through the pandemic, what would you change?
Eve Rodsky 47:33
It's a great question. I think, for me, the hardest thing in the gender division of labor world that I struggle with, is being able to center all family structures while highlighting the injustice of the heterocisgender marriage. So I wish I did a better job. And I think a lot of this was cut out in the editing because it was already 369 pages. And it was, you know, the idea that once I chose a self help book, a political manifesto was not the book that I was writing. And so I had to choose, according to the world, the way it sort of sits right now. So I wish I had pushed back on that a little bit more. Because the political movement is such a big part of it. But I see the biggest thing is saying that I have a lot of him and her pronouns in it, we changed up in the next edition, that it can be partners, because 33% of the families that use Fair Play 33% are LGBTQIA families. And so I think I had to say him and her because I was so fucking pissed at white, heterocisgender men. They make up 70% of the R 1% in this country, they are the men who make our decisions for us in government and in business. And so I was speaking to them, get off your ass, order your own clothes, don't tell me your wife has to order your underwear and that's why there's holes in it. Don't blame her for not reminding you to come to graduation of your child. And so I think my female anger towards white heterocisgender men was why it was so pronouned and gendered. So I think that's what I always struggle with. It's to say I’m really here to celebrate all family structures. And that is something I cared about. But the original edition of Fair Play was very much a him and her book because it was speaking very much to heterocisgender dynamics.
Portia Mount 49:46
So if we're at this point where I really am regretting that you and I don't have two additional hours. Honestly as we're talking, I have so many threads that I want to pull on. But at one of my favorite parts of these conversations, which is the lightning round. I also just want to say, you know, again, I'm so appreciative. One of the things I think that social media has done a disservice for us on, is we see really successful, powerful women. And that's all we see. And we don’t see the work that like, you've literally been doing the work for, you've been on your grind, so to speak for a really long time. And I want women, especially younger women out there, to see that kind of work that you put in. Oftentimes, it's not recognized, there's no book deal in front of it, there's no mega salary, there’s nobody there helping you. You just, there's just like a belief, a dream and some hustle. I hope that women who are listening to this are saying, I'm going to do this, I got my own, I'm gonna find my own unicorn space. There is a Fair Play in me and go and do it. This is really what's going to change our world as women stepping forward in however way they want to do it. But just getting out there. So thank you for being vulnerable with me. So do you have a favorite motto or saying that you'd like to live by?
Eve Rodsky 51:33
Well, it's funny. So the one I like to live by that centers all my work is what we said earlier that an hour holding a child's hand in the pediatricians office is just as valuable to society as an hour in the boardroom. That is how I center my work, but I will say that I also collect quotes from women that I love. And Tiffany Dufu has this beautiful quote that I guess she got from her father that I've been living by recently, which is if you want to do something you've never done before, you have to change the things you're doing now that you've never done before. So it's basically this idea that if you want to go out there and do something new, you also have to start changing the things you're doing in your life now. And I think that that's, you know, it is scary to say, well, I want to do something I've never done before. But I don't want to change anything that I'm doing today. It doesn't work that way.
Portia Mount 52:46
Well, right. And it's because it's really about getting out of your comfort zone and being willing to be fearful, being willing to be uncomfortable, being willing to fail, and to pick yourself up and start over again, if it doesn't work, right?
Eve Rodsky 53:02
Absolutely. And then as you become more public, right, you have to be willing to be misunderstood. And you have to be willing for people to criticize what you're going to say. And you have to be willing to take feedback. And so those were really hard things because as women, we're used to being perfectionist. And so hearing criticism, hearing hard things is not that's not easy. So I think it's also important to recognize that being vulnerable is not always easy, because we live in a very in a very internet heavy world. So...
Portia Mount 53:42
You gotta you gotta you gotta you gotta have a thick skin especially if you are a public figure. What advice would you give to 20 year old Eve?
Eve Rodsky 53:53
I guess what I would say to her is the long term planning is important. So I'd heard so much of oh you'll just figure it out. You know, life's not a linear journey. And I believe that but I also believe as somebody who believes in systems, and somebody who believes in agency, that intention is important. Intention is really important. And so if I knew that, and I had been even more intentional about the gender division of labor, if I was more, I knew that I could be more intentional about the first job I took and not have to just like plop myself into M&A as we talked about, that would have benefited me and maybe gotten me to where I wanted to go earlier. But I will also say that we all as women, the other piece of advice I want to tell us is that the academic world, you know the success we have in school looks nothing like the real world.
Portia Mount 54:56
Eve Rodsky 54:57
And I think that's really important because it's not you. It is not you. And that surprise you're going to get when you're marginalized. And again, my friend Minda Harts, she has a beautiful book called The Memo. And I would say, you know, that's important for all women to read. And it's, you know, but she's obviously writing to Black women. But it's this idea that, you know, the marginalization you feel, the mansplaining, the people stealing your ideas, all that stuff is happening in the workplace right now. And it's going to happen, probably even more in the hybrid world where women with caregiving responsibilities are taking flexibility. And there's all these men with FaceTime in front of our employers. So what I would just say to you is recognize that it's not a fair level playing field when you get into the real world. And that's okay. Because as long as you know it, then you won't be so shocked by it as I was.
Portia Mount 55:51
Is there a book you find yourself recommending? Or gifting?
Eve Rodsky 55:56
So The Memo I just said is one that I love.
Portia Mount 55:59
Brilliant. And we'll link to it.
Eve Rodsky 56:00
Yeah. Yeah. It's a really important book. Another one is Michelle King's The Fix. Because she also talks about, it's not up to us to fix women, it's up to us to fix workplaces. So I would say, The Memo and The Fix together, they both start with the, which I like also. They're wonderful books. And then I want to just recommend a fun book. But one of the women I'm most inspired by creatively that I got to meet for writing Find Your Unicorn Space, the second book. Was a woman named Justina Blakeney, and she talks about creativity as a remix. And I love that reframe because for me, Portia, I never would have thought that the rigor from my M&A experience to be able to publicly speak in suspension hearings within helped me be a publicly public speaker later on in life. And how understanding, you know, the appropriation of hip hop culture in my 90s would help me then educate my boys in the, in 2021. You just don't know what your experience is going to lead to, but nothing goes to waste. Nothing goes to waste.
Portia Mount 57:19
Amen. Amen. So just a couple more questions for you Eve. Is there a new habit or belief you've adapted that's made a positive impact on your life?
Eve Rodsky 57:32
Spending less time with my children and my husband.
Portia Mount 57:37
You said the quiet part out loud!
Eve Rodsky 57:40
Absolutely. It has been the best thing that ever happened to my kids and my husband and me. We have now implemented I take the kids on Saturday. And he takes the kids on Sunday or vice versa. And we get this beautiful, uninterrupted five or six hours that we get to look forward to. Yes, of course, I'm talking of privilege, I have a partner and we said we were centering single mothers so I understand not everybody can't do that. But for me, that experience of spending less time together has made our time together so much more powerful.
Portia Mount 58:15
I love that you say that because it's one of the things that I really started focusing on at the beginning of the year when I went into therapy which was like I realized I was so crunchy around the edges because I was never alone. And that even as a quite extroverted person I needed long stretches of alone time so I could just..
Eve Rodsky 58:38
Portia Mount 58:39
Fill, fill my cup back up because otherwise...
Eve Rodsky 58:41
Portia let's do that. Let's go on a silent retreat together.
Portia Mount 58:46
That is like my idea of heaven.
Eve Rodsky 58:48
That’s like my dream. Like to be with you but don't have to talk.
Portia Mount 58:51
That I love but we don't have to talk to each other.
Eve Rodsky 58:54
I know. Let's do that. I'm serious. I'm gonna follow up with you in episode two of the podcast will be filmed on our silent retreat. After we break our silence.
Portia Mount 59:05
We're doing this.
Eve Rodsky 59:06
And I'm really and that's one other thing I will give advice. I'm actually as we said I am a doer so I will follow up on that. I don't believe in unfulfilled dreams.
Portia Mount 59:16
I am 100% serious you will and I'm 100% serious about doing this because my best thinking has come up when I've just had a chance to be quiet you know. So anything else you want to share with our listeners or a final thought you want them to walk away with today?
Eve Rodsky 1:00:05
Like I said earlier, you know, this idea of unicorn space. The fact that I am here to tell you that your podcast is probably the most important thing for other women that you do. Because we get to live through your experience and through your lens of how you communicate and talk to other women. And so many of the things that we do, there are things that are most important, our value the least monetarily. And I say that because that was a big problem for how the gender division of labor started in my house. I believe my work was less valuable than Seth's because I was paid less for it. But I'm here to tell you, if you think about my work as an M&A attorney or my work, representing kids in suspension hearings, where I was paid six figures less, that work is more valuable. So I'm here to say, especially as women who are paid less than men, our work is equally valuable, our time is equally valuable than our male counterparts. And I want us all to remember, not only is our time diamonds, but we deserve as much time choice over how we use our day as those male counterparts. So make that your lens. Pushback when people give you non-promotable tasks or office housework. And hear us, me and Portia in your ear, and recognize that also, some of the most valuable things you're gonna do in your life are things that society will tell you are not valuable. Akka for me writing this book on Sundays when I quote unquote, should have been spending time with my family. Writing Fair Play was extremely valuable. I had no book deal for it. I was doing it on unpaid time they're supposed to be spending with my family. But it ended up being something I invested in. Do that. Write the, create the podcast, write the book. Use your voice because we need it. We need it now.
Portia Mount 1:02:05
Eve, thank you so much. Can't wait for our silent retreat.
Eve Rodsky 1:02:11
Yeah, I can't wait. I can't wait. Portia, thank you.