Zach has the honor of sitting down to chat with God-is Rivera, Twitter’s first ever global director of culture and community, about recognizing power in digital communities. She talks about how her passion for journalism and storytelling led her to her role at Twitter and shares the ways she sees people creating a sense of community on the platform today. She also comments on the trends she sees happening in digital community building over the next year or so. Check the links in the show notes to connect with God-is!
Find out how the CDC suggests you wash your hands by clicking here.
Help food banks respond to COVID-19. Learn more at FeedingAmerica.org.
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and okay, so look. We know Ms. Rona is out here. Not to minimize or, you know, de-emphasize the stark reality and grievous nature of this global pandemic, but we want to make sure that we’re keeping our spirits and attitudes high, and so we know that it’s wild out here. We know that folks whole lives are changing. We’re adjusting to different types of normal, re-identifying what normal means, and, you know, you can rest assured that in the midst of all of this stuff going on that Living Corporate is gonna be here, you know what I mean? So, you know, it’s interesting. I’ve had people, you know, send me messages and be like, you know, “This diversity and inclusion stuff, like, you shouldn’t expect that your podcast, this platform, y’all’s blog, the learning platform that y’all are trying to build and whatever, for that to really take precedent when we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” and what I’ve constantly had to remind people is that, look, folks on the margins will always be on the margins. Folks were on the margin before this pandemic, and they’re on the margins now, and so, like, Living Corporate and the work that we’re doing and the work that all equity, community, culture, belonging professionals are doing is all the more important now. And so it’s with that that I’m really excited about the guest that we have today, you know? I’m not even going to read this long ol’ bio. I’ma just get into it. We have God-is Rivera. God-is, welcome to the show.
God-is: Hey, guys. What’s up? Thanks for having me.
Zach: What’s up? How are you and your loved ones doing during this time?
God-is: You know, we are so blessed. I am in New York, in New York City, and my immediate family, my husband, my daughter, and my mom and aunt, who kind of–we all live in Westchester County–we’re okay. Everyone’s been healthy. I’ve got grandparents between Atlanta and South Carolina and, you know, thank God they have been adhering to staying at home. I had to do a little nudging in the beginning, but, you know, them old folks is trying to get to the buffet. [laughs]
Zach: We gotta have a conversation about that, right? [laughs] And it’s interesting because I’ve talked to other black folks, right, who have these parents who have lived through all types of stuff, so they’re not really concerned about some invisible illness, right? You know what I mean? They’ll just take some castor oil and they’ll be fine, you know?
God-is: Some tussin. [both laugh] For sure.
Zach: They’ve seen much worse. But you’re right though, it’s a blessing to have family members who will listen. I know my dad–you know, my dad, he and I are very similar, so I told him–and my dad is 55–so I was like, “Hey, Dad. You know, y’all staying inside, right?” He’s “Oh, son. No, no, no. You ain’t gotta worry about me. I’m right at the house.” I said, “Okay, good.” [laughs]
God-is: [laughs] That’s so crazy. My mom’s the same exact age as your dad, and, like, she was good. She was like, “Oh, I’ve been in the house.” Like, my mom works remote anyway, you know, normally, and so it was the grandparents I was kind of like, “Come on, now, y’all,” but they got it early and they’re okay.
Zach: Yeah, it’s definitely the grandparents. Okay, so now look, I have a lot of questions for you, but first I gotta get into your name. Can we talk about God-is?
God-is: [laughs] Yes, I can. You know, it’s really kind of a simple story. I know it’s a different name, but the story is kind of simple. So my mom, she was a teenage mom, you know, just trying to figure it out, from the Bronx, New York. Shout-out BX.
Zach: What’s up? Yerp.
God-is: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yerp. [both laugh] And, you know, she was trying to figure it out at the time, and she had this dream when she was about 7 months pregnant she told me, and it was just her great-grandmother who was speaking to her and kind of was like, “You have to name this child God-is,” and so–actually in the dream I think she said it was “God-is-love,” and she was like, “I don’t know. This is so different.” You know, my mom’s name is Melissa, so. And she just felt like it was such a strong feeling that she just–she was like, “I have to follow this,” so she went ahead and did it, and it’s so interesting that, you know, having this name for over 30 years, I could never imagine my name being anything else. I never was ridiculed for it. You know, I’ve had a lot of conversations and great conversation starters, but it is–I’ve always felt so comfortable in it, and I think for me it really reminds me every day to just continue to step into my power and the amazing kind of gift that I was given just through my namesake. So it’s not kind of a crazy story, but, you know, an interesting one I guess.
Zach: Nah, nah. It’s not crazy at all, but it is very interesting ’cause I saw it and, you know, it’s also really–so I’m from the South, right, so, like, my family is, like, very churched. So I was talking to my mom about–[both laugh]–I was talking to my mom about this interview that I was going to be doing. I said, “Look, I finally got this, like, global leader. She has this incredible, like, huge profile, and I’m just really excited to interview her,” and she was like, “What’s her name?” I said, “Her name is God-is.” She said, “God–Goddess?” I said, “No, no, not Goddess. No, God-is,” and she said, “God-is?” And so I’m like, “Momma, just hold on.” And so it’s funny, ’cause I was like, “I gotta make sure I ask. For the culture. I need to know.” Okay, so let’s talk about your journey getting to Twitter. Like, how did your passion for journalism and storytelling lead you here?
God-is: Hm. Okay. So that’s a great question. It’s really interesting to me when I think about, you know, being at Twitter now. My whole career was shaped by social media, and, you know, when I was trying to figure out, you know, Young God-is back in, you know, high school or, you know, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, this didn’t exist, you know? I think MySpace, it kind of sort of started when I got to school, and it was just one of those things that I knew that I wanted to be a journalist. I love writing, I love editorial writing, but what I wanted to do more than just, you know, kind of general journalism is I knew I wanted to work in black media. I wanted to work as a writer or an editor. I wanted to make sure that I was elevating stories and spreading awareness for the people that I felt, you know, had been silenced, which was my community, the black community, and then others. So I think just through that kind of passion I went into journalism, and I also am part of those millennials who’s like, “Shout-out to the second economic recession we’re coming up on!” [laughs] Because it was like, “Yo, I thought we had one in a lifetime, but oh, we doing two? Oh, okay.” So, you know, getting out of school for me was right around that time, and it was just like, “Yo, I’m just trying to make my mom proud and not be unemployed,” and I kind of found my way into marketing. Even though I wanted to do journalism and I continued to moonlight and really try to make that happen, I started to really become into marketing, and it was just like, “Let me just get a job.” But in doing that I think, you know, I realized that marketing also tells those stories, and there’s a chance to represent people and really elevate people who aren’t always seen, and that’s kind of what led me on that journey. And I will also say, you know, mid-2000s, 2006, 2007, when I started my career, it was always like–when it comes to social media it was like, “Who’s the 23-year-old in the office?” Like, “I don’t know about that Facebook,” you know what I mean? “I don’t know about that Twitter. I don’t know about that, you know? Just tell her to do it,” and that kind of attitude that of course over time become much more–brands and companies began to take it much more seriously, but that was kind of how I got my start, you know? I was a writer who could craft posts or ideas for these platforms, and I also knew how to actually post them, not like many other people in the office who were a little older than me. So that was kind of how I started my journey. So it was a little bit of serendipity, but also still me chasing this kind of passion to tell the story and represent for people who were not always able to do that.
Zach: You know, and I really want to understand, like, you know, your experience in social strategy, because you’re right. Like, there was a time when it was like, you know, we’d look at Facebook or we’d look at Twitter and we’d–like, we’d scoff at that. Like, I remember I had an internship where I created essentially, like, a social media–like, an ambassador program for this recruitment company, and everyone had a social media profile, and you were supposed to essentially, like, build your brand on social media, which would then drive, you know, business to the startup or whatever, right? But you’re essentially building presence on Twitter. And this was, like, in 2010–
God-is: Hm, those early days. [laughs]
Zach: Yeah, so people were like, “What is this?” They were like, “Oh, this is cute, but this doesn’t mean anything,” and so I’m curious as to, like, what did it look like to take your experience in the social strategy work and, like, help it inform what you do for Twitter today? Like, can we talk a little bit about that?
God-is: Yes. You know, I’m so grateful to the years that I spent really learning content strategy, learning social strategy, and I think it goes back to kind of that point about knowing that I wanted to kind of help elevate stories, and so what happened was that I really started to understand that there was a lot of power–you know how you think about in the court system it’s like the prosecutor has all the power, right? In advertising creators have a lot of that power, but the story is sold and the plan comes from strategy, and I really took a liking to that. I realized that, you know, for me, what thrills me about strategy was that I have a chance to really kind of help build that story. I have a chance to figure out “Who is the people that we want to see that story? Where does it show up? How does it show up, and who is in that?” So I think for me, like, I really started to understand that there was a power in that, and then at the same time other brands realized that there is a return in this medium that was kind of a throwaway, right? There is something coming from when we post and then people around the world are talking about this instantly. And I think it was kind of two things happening at once. You had also more access to, you know, phones and technology that could help people kind of see things in an instant and, you know, thinking about campaigns that you were gonna through display or print long ago and then posting something in 90 seconds, you have, you know, celebrities in the public answering you about your product. You know, that’s something that’s just invaluable. So I think that’s kind of what really started to help me understand that even more, and so I really became a planner, and I got to do it for, you know, both large and small brands, but what I think really kind of intrigued me the most is that what I realized about strategy is that there’s always a target, right? Who do you want to see this message? Who do we want to respond to this? And also who is in this message? How does it look? How does it show up? What experience is it detailing? And I think that that, as I worked more in advertising, that was very homogenous, you know? It was kind of the same target, the same people, over and over again, and so even me working in those positions, my own experience was left out, so I started to be really, really interested in, you know, “How are we gonna stop making this mistake? How can we stop ignoring communities that are actually shifting the culture but we’re not even including them in who we’re speaking to, nor their experience in what we’re putting out into the world?” So I knew that through strategic direction that I could try and maybe shed a light on that, and that’s really kind of where I focused. So just in thinking through audiences that matter, audiences that have been left out, as a true strategist I need that full story. I can’t actually do that job well only looking at one small piece of an audience or a compelling story, and so I use kind of just that literal sense, taking the emotion out, because I’m a black woman who wanted to see that experience and I wanted to see other people’s experiences as well, but you can’t deny that you need a holistic kind of view to do your job well if you’re speaking to the world and you’re saying that’s what you’re doing. So that kind of interest in better understanding communities and what matters to them and how they want to be seen is kind of how I started along this path of informing the work that I do today, which is really working to connect with marginalized communities and make sure that they’re amplified.
Zach: So, you know, that leads me really well into the next question. So, like, I want to talk a bit about position and power, right? You sit in a global role in one of the biggest brands on the planet.
God-is: Ooh, you’re making me sound cool. I like it.
Zach: I mean, your name is God-is. So how do you manage the responsibility that you have as a leader? Because I would imagine you have internal pressures to, like–like you said, there are things that you want to see realized and there are things that you want to achieve. There’s a legacy and part of a longer term roadway that you’re riding on, but then there’s also external pressures I would imagine because of the intersectionality of your own identity, right? Like, you think about who you represent and what people maybe project onto you. And it’s like, what does it look like to manage both sets of pressures while being one of the few in these spaces?
God-is: Wow. I really appreciate that question. It often doesn’t come in that way [laughs] that acknowledges some of those internal and external pressures, but I think what I love the most about that question is that–I just appreciate you using the word power. I think power is extremely important. I think that, you know, as they continue on in their career that, you know, positions can sometimes be a dime a dozen. They can come along and come and go, but they don’t always include power, and I think that power affords this kind of real chance to create something new, to affect change and really challenge systems that aren’t working and to actually be truly heard while you do it. So I very much am appreciative, but also just very thoughtful about how I utilize the power that I’m grateful that I’ve been able to have at Twitter. I really feel like a leader that is heard who’s able to challenge and create in a way that is something that’s supported, which I know is not always the case specifically for some of us that are kind of, like you said, one of the onlys. I’m not at Twitter, but, you know, in this industry, absolutely. So I think that that’s important, and I think about the word pressure too. I don’t know that I–it can get overwhelming, but I don’t know that I would call it pressure as much as I would call it maybe an expectation or a commitment. So I think sometimes I get overwhelmed because just I–there’s so much I want to do and get done, you know, for the communities I serve, but the way that I kind of balance myself and stay that way is that I just have to know that every single day I am working towards what I promised, right? Every day, and that my mission, my overall mission, my integrity, it stays intact every step of the way and that I know I’m not letting up any time soon, and I try and live that externally and internally so that I can say, “Look, I am continuing on this road. I know that it’s important to me. There has been nothing that has, you know, taken me off course,” whether it be your own ego or just kind of getting lazy. I know that I must continue on this mission, and so that’s kind of the responsibility that I feel being in these spaces, that I have to continue to do this work to make things better and that I have to hold the door open for other people to do this work with me as well.
Zach: You know, and let’s talk about the work, right? So you’re Twitter’s first ever global director of culture and community. Now, let me just tell you, when I heard the title I said, “Ayo.” [laughs]
God-is: [laughs] I was trying to do big things. I’m trying to do big things.
Zach: I said, “Yo, wait a second!” I was like… I mean, I don’t know. It just–that sounds like a big title with a big, big, big bag. I was like, “Man.” I mean, I was praising Him for you. I was over here [blessings come in sfx]. I was like–[both laughing]
God-is: I love it, I love it. I appreciate you. Thank you.
Zach: No, no, let’s talk about what this means and what your responsibility is and what your team’s responsibility is.
God-is: Yeah, you know, and I think–you know, I would have to say, like I said before, giving some credit to Twitter, well, the credit to Twitter, for noticing that this was something that was a gap for them and that they wanted to fill. I would like to just maybe talk a little bit about how I got this job at Twitter. It wasn’t the traditional kind of application way, I guess I’ll say, because I think that how I got the job also speaks to literally the work that I’m doing now. And so, just as we mentioned before, my work in social strategy, I had really started to try and find examples of how I could explain and display communities that were shifting culture, that were forming together across social platforms, and then how those kind of phenomenons could be completely missed, you know, at agencies or with huge brands and how these things were formulating and happening, but because there was almost this cultural blind spot, nobody even knew what was going on. And one of the communities that I was particularly fascinated by was Black Twitter. I think that to me it was just such an incredible just example of how a historically marginalized community kind of uses their own cultural and shared experience to come together through technology and then literally shift culture, shift the narrative in a way that’s very democratized, which is kind of what Twitter offers with this kind of space. And so I had started just a small presentation about that in the ad world, and it kind of made its rounds. I had done it at a couple conferences, and I had also made sure that I formed a pretty decent relationship with Twitter comms. I didn’t want to get no C&D. [laughs] Like, “Who this girl think she is out here [?] telling me how to–” You know, and I want to make sure that, you know, I didn’t know if they had something. I didn’t want to step on any toes. And we developed a very nice working relationship, and, you know, from there they had started thinking about their first kind of all hands on deck, all-employee conference, which is called OneTeam. The first one they did was in 2018. And they actually invited me to speak about Black Twitter and do my presentation at their conference, and I was like, “Wow, you want me to do it? Okay,” and so when I went I said–you know, I kind of was like, “Well, normally I do this presentation for the ad world, and at the end of my presentation I say, “And these are the people you need to be hiring. These are the people you need to be partnering with. Do not miss groups like this,”” and this is just one example of so many groups, you know, that we need to be making sure that we better pay attention to, but at Twitter, you know, I said, “Well, I want to kind of challenge them a little differently,” and my challenge at the end of that presentation was how was Twitter better connecting with the voices from these groups, you know? Do they have plans for a cultural department or something that focuses on these communities in this way? And lo and behold. [laughs] So after getting off stage I was just so, you know, again, just incredibly blessed to be approached by some of the leadership there–shout-out to Jack, Leslie Berland, Lara Cohen, Nola Weinstein, who really set things in motion for me to come to the company. They just felt like, “This clicks. You get it, you get us, and this is absolutely something that we need to focus on.” So again, I think just that acknowledgement of the importance of understanding these communities, the fact that it birthed literally this work and this role and this practice now, my team at Twitter, is just something I’m proud of and I think the community should be proud of as well, because I’m not talking about myself in my presentation. I’m talking about these collective voices who have literally shifted history and brought joy and accountability in ways that are just incredible. So I think that’s kind of part of the story I think is important to put in context. Not everyone knows that story. I think it’s important. But, you know, thinking through my own challenge now–I didn’t realize at the time I was challenging myself. [laughs] It was very meta if you think about it, but I came in to solve that problem and kind of figure out what that looks like, so my team specifically focuses on building kind of these real world relationships with the voices from these marginalized communities who are active and who love and are loud on Twitter. So I wanted a team, you know, who really could help to continue to recognize the incredible power of these voices. Like I talked about before, they drive conversation, and they really shape culture on Twitter. The other piece of that is that as we look at how they use the platform, how they use their service and what they speak about, we have consistent learnings and insights. So what my team does is really kind of help our partners across the business understand how these communities both embrace and experience our service, good, bad and ugly, and so by doing that what we really hope to do is build a bridge between the service of Twitter and the people that it serves, and that’s something that I think was really important to me, that we started to become this sort of connective tissue, and the goal in that is to really help empower Twitter to build the best product, but the best product that reflects the richness of the people who use it. [laughs] And so, you know, we can start to evolve how we amplify the conversations that are most important to these groups. So just really making sure that these people’s experience, their conversations, what’s happening, how they use it, use Twitter, that it’s on the map, that it’s a part of how we think about building our product, that it’s a part of how we think about our marketing. It’s embedded in every piece and fabric across our organization. I hope that makes sense. [laughs]
Zach: It does make sense. In fact, let me go ahead and just drop this real quick. [Flex bomb sfx] A quick Flex bomb. That’s how I felt as you were sharing–
God-is: [laughing, imitating air horns]
Zach: Oh, yeah. No, we got that–no, we got that too. [air horns sfx] For sure.
Zach: Ayyy. So–[both laugh] No, no, it makes a lot of sense, and I 100% agree with you that–first of all, like, I wish we could just take a step back, and what I love about the work that you’re doing and what you’re highlighting is the meta narrative of black influence, like, just in culture period, right? Like, before Twitter we was already, like, shaking the globe. Like, we’ve influenced art, fashion, language, dance. Everything.
God-is: Yep. We been ’bout that life.
Zach: About it, and so we just so happen to be on this–anything that we jump on, like, we make it better, you know what I mean?
God-is: Right, right.
Zach: And so when I think about, like, Black Twitter, and I think about, you know, you’re absolutely right that there’s something about this community that is able to hop on, like, a platform and then suddenly, like, change narratives or, like, shift attention, and Twitter is a phenomenal tool for that. I think it’s–like, it’s gonna go down… this is not an ad for Twitter. Like, it’s just the truth. Like, and you think about–[both laugh] But, like, when you look back… like, so my daughter is 5 weeks old.
God-is: Oh, congrats.
Zach: Thank you very much, yeah. She is adorable, and, like, as I’ve just kind of come to the reality of her being here, like, I think about the things that she’s gonna learn in school, and I think about, like, “She’s probably going to–” Like, when they study, like, technology that influenced generations or just different seasons of life or activism or whatever the case is, like, they’re going to look at–Twitter is gonna be one of the technologies that they talk about, because it is one of the first times that we’ve seen, like, large-scale democratization of access and data and information and conversation and just general communication, like, across–and, like, for free. Like, relatively for free, right? You have to have Wi-Fi and stuff, but there’s no direct cost to get on Twitter. Like, you just jump on it. And so I want to talk a little bit about how you see people today create a sense of community on Twitter. Like, what does that look like from your perspective?
God-is: Yeah, and that’s what’s just been so fascinating. I share that kind of sentiment with you, and sometimes it’s almost just incredible to think about, when we’re kind of heads down in the office working we’re like, “Oh, my God.” Like, you know, “This is gonna be in the history books.” Like, the work that we’re doing right now, just because of where we are and what we’re focused on, will be in history. I used to always say–I have an 8-year-old daughter. A little older than 5 weeks. But I always think about, “I just want to be in her history book for doing something that mattered,” you know? And I think that, you know, the work that we can do here, it can be that important and impactful, and it keeps me grounded and it keeps me humble and it keeps me fighting even on days that are frustrating. And so I think also the thing that I love to see is how people create community on Twitter. I love that you said that one of our tenets is always to keep the platform free so that there can be that access for people to have these kinds of conversations and this public discourse, and so we kind of see people create community on our platform–there are kind of a couple different lenses. So, you know, there’s obviously some interest-based communities where, you know, NBA Twitter is definitely out here. I mean, it’s a lot going on every Sunday now with this Jordan doc, and you kind of see that happen, but that’s a hugely active community, and that’s around a shared passion. An interest, right?
Zach: The Homecoming Twitter. Remember?
God-is: Yes! Yes. Beychella Twitter. [laughs] Yeah, so we see that. We even see things that people may not even realize. Like, Plant Twitter is huge. Like, people share all types of, you know, just tips and tricks and beautiful photos of plants and flowers and so forth in their homes and gardens, and then we see–you know, there’s obviously some professions that come. Academic Twitter is huge. I’ve learned a lot just about Education Twitter, Finance, and then there’s also locations of course, and then of course we get into kind of those affinities and the allyship and the movements, and those are the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, and we see a huge coalescence around those kind of moments. And then of course, you know, kind of where we get into my work is around those identity-based communities, and that’s when we think about Black Twitter, Native Twitter, you know, Differently-abled Twitter, you know, Latinx–
Zach: So educational.
God-is: Yeah, you know? And Latinx, LGBTQ+ Twitter, you know, there’s tons of intersections and sub-communities within there, and I think that is what’s so fascinating. You know, just thinking about even just those groups that I just named, they don’t have equal footing, you know? Even of each other, in society, to be able to tell their stories in their voices, but on Twitter, you know, that is democratized. It was somewhat of an equal playing field when it comes to people being able to share what matters to them or their experiences. So that’s kind of exactly where my team focuses. I focus the most on those–I am here to serve specifically those identity-based communities, and, you know, again, this is not something that–no one ticks a box obviously and says what they are or what community they ascribe to when they sign up for Twitter, but through inferences and understanding that there is an allyship or an affinity there or an identity through conversation is what’s really important to us, and so that’s why I dig into how these communities have kind of leveraged Twitter in unique ways, and what we’re seeing is kind of people who have shared experiences or shared kind of identities, we’re seeing them kind of just corral around subjects in different ways, and I think it’s great that we’re able to see even people shape when they’re challenging discourse, you know? Mainstream media may report on something–I don’t know, something as simple as, like, gentrification, right, where it’s an article and it’s about, “Oh, look at the new grocery store that’s in Brooklyn, and it’s great, right?” It is nice that there is a new grocery store in Brooklyn, but then we’re able to also see that that displaces people who lived there for 30 years. You know, is it construction in a playground area or something? And so I think it allows people to have this kind of 360 degree conversation that they’ve been craving but was only kind of relegated to the way that these groups could physically meet up in spaces, in physical spaces, and now we’re seeing that kind of much more decentralized.
Zach: God-is, it’s almost as if you talk to people all the time, ’cause you’re helping me–[both laughing] you’re helping me segue really well into my next question, because, and I talked about it at the top, I’m talking about it again. So the rona, or as some folks say “that rona,” is actively outside, and finding meaningful connection is more important now than ever. What are trends you see happening in digital community building over the next year or so?
God-is: Wow. You know, I mean, this is–I’m so tired of people saying “unprecedented.” Like, Lord, we need another word, right? Like, what is another word we could use? But I think, you know, it’s been so interesting. Again, as a strategist, the study of human behavior–and I often think about the work that I do is more of almost a digital anthropology, because you get to watch how behavior shifts around different ideas, different events, and of course different just huge, I guess, news stories or health crises that are affecting us like the rona. So I think one of the things that I’ve really seen is that I think that we’re gonna continue to see people really trying to create space and find opportunity for these really important inter-community discussions around mental wellbeing and wholeness. I’ve seen a lot of discussions between several communities about the idea that this is the first time many people have had in most working lives to slow down, and so they’re able to kind of foster these deeper connections through technology, you know? We’re looking at a lot of screens now, but we’re trying to make the most of it and really focus on that wellness, and so now that we have that chance to kind of slow down, it’s helping more of us stay balanced, more empathetic, more connected. I hope that we see kind of how important taking a moment is and that that continues. The other thing I think–oh, boy. Rona done–it done started a lot of stuff, right? [both laugh]
Zach: It has, or exposed a lot of things too.
God-is: Yeah. Oh, yeah, exposed. I think, in terms of technology too, I think that this will continue. I mean, we’ve already seen just the type of connective creativity that’s come out of people just being in the house, right? People just being relegated to having to shelter in place, and so I think that we’ll see more of this kind of agile, nimble creativity, and then also amplifying and uplifting those people who are leaning into that. So I think we were kind of in this space before where we were sort of fortunate. We never had to really think about being immediately without certain spoils of society, and now we kind of all know that that can shift drastically in a nanosecond and that it also can be out of our control too. So I think that, you know, industries, companies, brands, governments and individuals will really start to think about how they can better stay agile and quickly adapt for moments like this since it’s just in our psyche now and it’s not leaving. So I think thinking through what are the tools–you know, even myself, I’m sitting here right now, I’ve got my microphone, I’ve got my speakers. I ordered a new desk, you know what I mean? Like, [?]–and I’m fortunate to even be able to do that, but I think people are really thinking through however best in their capability, how can they be sure that they’re able to stay connected and be creative and pursue during times that are just uncertain.
Zach: You know, as we think about–to your point around, like, privilege, and I’m in the same position as well. Like, my job allows me to work remotely. I’m on paternity leave. When I come back, like, there’s gonna be, like, a phased return, and then–you know, like, I’m in a position where I’m being handled relatively gingerly because of just the benefits that my job provides, like, absent of this pandemic but that are particularly beneficial and helpful to me right now. I think about though the folks who don’t have the same amount of access I do, right, who look like us, and I’m curious about, you know, can we think about technology and marginalized communities having a more mutually beneficial relationship, and in what ways do you think that we can help drive more access and accessibility for these communities so that they can actually be on platforms where they can be heard?
God-is: Right. I mean, that’s–I think about it too, you know? I saw an article recently about some people having literally, like, class guilt, you know, almost, over this shelter-in-place, because it just affects so many of us differently. I myself as well can work remotely where so many people can’t, so many of the front line workers, essential workers, who have to go out and make sure that we can continue to live, even at the risk of their own health and the health of their families. I do think, you know, again, just going back to that love of strategy, like, the first thing I always do and I always say should be done is listening. I think that so many people jump into trying to figure out what to do before they actually listen to what people need, and that’s why I’m really proud of kind of the structure and program that we’ve built at Twitter, which is the Twitter Voices program, which my team created and runs, and that’s kind of just literally a program that allows to try and identify some of these powerful voices coming out of these communities and then set up a sustained kind of relationship with them. How do we check in on them? How do we even have, like, a quick meeting or a lunch? Now a virtual lunch. But creating that kind of ongoing dialogue between the people who need to be heard so that we’re aware of what can be done, and I think that’s really important to do, because I think that it’s important for us to listen to people who need to be heard, and then they can not only get the help that they [?] but also hold us accountable as well. But I think that what’s important is that we continue to give these people kind of a microphone and a podium, you know? We need to make sure that they’re not being ignored, especially during a time like now. You know, I think back, maybe the early ’90s–let’s just say this pandemic was 1992 or something. You know, the people who were most affected, the people who are not getting those loans or the PPE, the people who are being forced to go back to work or grapple with losing unemployment even if they feel it’s unsafe, we would have no mechanism to really hear them writ large, you know? We would have no mechanism to hear them, you know, their conversations and how they’re affected across the country, across the world, and so I think now it’s important for technology to make sure that we continue to provide that space, provide that microphone, provide that podium so that these people can be heard, and for people like myself who work in these groups, we need to continue to focus on continuing this momentum of amplifying those conversations, helping to spread awareness on why it’s important to listen to these groups, and that will enable us to build better products, you know, create better systems, and honestly overall a better society that should be inclusive to all, and it also allows us to tear down what’s not working, and I think that maybe if there is any small silver lining to what’s happening is we’re seeing so many systems just almost buckle because they were not built to truly serve everyone, and that’s something I think that, while that’s happening, we need to be sure that we’re in partnership, we’re listening to and we’re rallying behind the people that need us the most.
Zach: God-is, this has been an incredible conversation.
God-is: Aw, thanks. This is great.
Zach: No, this is super dope, and before we let you go, I just want to give you space. Where can people find you? Where can people connect with you at? And then any parting words or shout-outs?
God-is: Oh, wow. So thank you so much for having me. This was awesome. This was a nice just break from the rona, [laughs] to get to wrap with you, so thank you again. Everybody can find me on Twitter of course @GodisRivera, G-O-D-I-S-R-I-V-E-R-A. I am terrible at email, so I won’t even do that to y’all. [laughs] But if you hit on me Twitter I promise I’ll hit you back. Also don’t be afraid to slide in the DMs. And then lastly just–
Zach: She does respond too. Like, not to cut you off.
God-is: I do! See? [laughs]
Zach: So y’all, like, months ago I tried to get God-is on the pod, and I think she was actually pretty new to the role. I didn’t care, ’cause I was just like, “Yo, this is crazy!” So I slid in the DMs, and then she hit me back, and then, like, we weren’t able to make it work, and I was like, “Dang, okay,” and I felt like she curved me, and so I said, “Dang, okay,” so then I DM’d you and I said, “Hey, you know, I’m sad that we weren’t able to make it work, but hopefully we can stay in touch,” and she hit me back, y’all. She said, “Yep. ‘Sho will,” and I said, “Oh, my gosh. Okay,” and so then–and now here we are. So look, y’all. ‘Cause some of y’all are [churched?] or spiritual. This is not a message to y’all to keep on. [?] So this is not me encouraging you to pester people. This is just me saying that God-is responds to DMs. All right, my bad. Please continue.
God-is: No, I appreciate that. Thank you, because I know you probably cannot get me really any other way. Twitter is just where I’m at. This is even before I worked there, so it’s very true. And also I think, you know, just one more shout-out to my team at Twitter. I wouldn’t be able to delve into this work this way if it wasn’t for the support and the consistent support that I get there, from leadership all the way down to my team. Shout-out to Culture & Community. Love you guys. Nola, an incredible leader, Leslie Berland, Jack Dorsey. You know, it’s an incredible culture that allows us to be able to dig in and really do what we can to try and make a difference in the world, even if it means we make mistakes along the way. It’s a really great, supportive environment, and I’m grateful for it. And just also a shout-out to the home team at home. My husband Jay, my daughter Jordan, my mom, my aunt. That’s my home team that allows me to do this work the way that I do and try and serve as many people as I can. And I hope everybody out there stays safe. Thank you to all the front-line workers, the health care workers. Thank you guys so much for doing what you can for us. I hope to hold you guys down as much as you are holding us down.
Zach: Wow. [round of applause sfx] Y’all, this has been Living Corporate. Look, you know what we do, right? 200+ episodes in. We’re having conversations with executives, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, professors, activists, public servants, elected officials, all about what? Real talk in a corporate world. We center and amplify marginalized voices, underrepresented, underestimated, unaccounted voices in the workplace, and we do this for you every single week. Make sure you check us out. Just Google us, okay? We’re all over Barack Obama’s internet, right? You just Google Living Corporate, okay? So it’s Living Corporate. Not Corporate Living. Corporate Living is the inverse of what I said. So you want to do Living Corporate, and, you know, if you’re, like, old school and you gotta type it in the bar, you can do www.living-corporate–please say the dash–dot com. You can do livingcorporate.co, livingcorporate.org, livingcorporate.tv, livingcorporate.net, livingcorporate.us. We have all the livingcorporates, God-is, we just don’t have livingcorporate.com. Australia owns livingcorporate.com. It’s some–
God-is: Dang it. [laughs]
Zach: I know, right? But one day, one day the brand will be brolic enough that we will actually go and get livingcorporate.com. I’m just going to speak that.
God-is: Yes, manifest it.
Zach: I will manifest it, but today the vibrations and chakras are just not there. So look, y’all. Make sure you check us out. Shout-out to God-is. Shout-out to Twitter. Shout-out to your team. And then let’s make sure that y’all check out all the links in the show notes. Y’all check out God-is. Please do not bombard her with DMs, okay? I can’t imagine what her DMs look like, but she has offered. She has let you know that that’s the way to reach her, but I’m just asking as a courtesy. Just think about what it is that you have to say, maybe share it with–you know, maybe write it down, you know, then send it, you know? Just help her help you help us, you know what I mean? ‘Cause I can’t imagine the nonsense you get in there. Anyway, all right, y’all. ‘Til next time. This has been Zach. Peace.