See It to Be It : Job Seeker in Puerto Rico (w/ Gissel Gonzalez)

Amy C. Waninger welcomes Gissel Gonzalez to the show this week on See It to Be It. This episode’s a bit different than the others – Gissel is a prospective job seeker! Check the links in the show notes to connect with her.

You can connect with Gissel on LinkedIn.

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Voice-over (00:00): Living Corporate is brought to you by the Liberated Love Notes podcast, part of the Living Corporate Network. The Liberated Love Notes podcast is a starting point, integrating self and community affirmations into your daily practices. The Liberated Love Notes podcasts center the experience of black folks, existing in white systems, and speaks to overcoming imposter syndrome, disrupting injected, and internalized forms of oppression, embodying an abundance mindset, and building a healthy, racial identity. Check out Liberated Love Notes podcast, where ever you listen to podcasts. Hosted by Brittany Janay Harris.

(00:49): [musical interlude]

Amy C. Waninger (00:49): Hey everybody, this is See It To Be It the Wednesday podcast from Living Corporate. Living Corporate is a digital media network that centers and amplifies black and brown people at work. My name is Amy C. Waninger and I’m the host of See It To Be It. When I was growing up in rural Southern Indiana, I didn’t know people who went to college or who worked in professional roles. I didn’t know what those jobs look like or how to break into them. Honestly, I didn’t even know what they were, but this show isn’t about me. It’s about my guests. Every week I bring you career stories from everyday role models in jobs, you may not know exist. More importantly, the folks I interview share their perspectives as black and brown professionals in jobs and environments, where they may be the only.

Amy (01:34): My guest today is [inaudible 00:01:35] Gissel González. And we’re going to do something a little bit different today. [Inaudible 00:01:40] Gissel is actually a job seeker who recently relocated to Puerto Rico, her home. And she’s looking for work and we’re going to get into her background and what she’s looking for in hopes that one of our listeners can help her. But before we get to the interview, we’re going to tap in with Tristan for some career advice.a

Tristan (02:06): What’s going on. Y’all it’s Tristan of Layfield Résumé Consulting, and I’ve teamed up with Living Corporate to bring you all a weekly career tip. Today, we’re going to talk about time management. There are so many things we aren’t taught in school that are necessary to be a functioning part of society. Including things like career readiness and personal finance, but there’s one essential skill that is necessary or everything else might crumble, and it’s time management. While there’s no one correct way to manage your time. I figured I’d talked to you about a few things that I’ve tried or currently use to see if you could adopt some of them, in hopes that they help.

(02:38): The one thing that has always worked for me is a handy-dandy to do list. Many people make to do lists, but quite a few of them do it wrong. They’d jam their lists with tons of things, knowing that they won’t get to them all. And then wonder why they don’t feel accomplished at the end of the day. Always be smart about your to-do list. I keep a large list of all the things I have to, or want to do. Then I use that to make my daily to-do list the night before, prioritizing items as needed. This helps me know what I’ll be focused on on the next day. I also ensure that I look at my calendar to determine how many tasks, or how much I can take on. I don’t overdo it because stuffing your to-do list with things you know you’re not going to do, defeat the purpose.

(03:16): Now, the way I’ve created my to-do list has varied over the years, I used to use my Notes app. Then I’d try, what’s called bullet journaling. Next, I moved to Trello, and now I use the Google Task app. It’s clean, it’s simple. And I can see my to-do list on my phone, and on both my Gmail and Google calendar. This makes my list readily available, no matter what device I’m on. So, really, the message here is don’t be afraid to go out and find the tools to help you do what you need to do. And for those of you who are more analog in a digital world, get that handy pen and paper out and make your list. Don’t try to fit into the mold of what others are doing, especially if you know it doesn’t work for you.

(03:53): Lastly, if you’re having some issues managing your time, there’s a couple of things I suggest first consider doing an activity log or journal. This is where you keep a record of all the things you do throughout the day, and how long you do them for. Not only does it include work tasks, but it also includes things like eating, social media, or even watching TV. This provides an accurate picture of what you do during your day, and how you invest your time. Your activity log will help you understand whether or not you’re doing your most important work during the right time of the day. And it also helps you clearly see how much time you’re spending on things that aren’t getting you towards your goals.

(04:29): So there are some of my time management hacks. Hopefully, they help you get more organized and productive. If you try any of them, please be sure to reach out and let me know how it works for you. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Résumé Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at Layfield Résumé or connect with me, Tristan Layfield on LinkedIn.

Voice-over (04:54): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Leadership Range, a podcast within the Living Corporate network. Hosted by globally certified and Fortune 500 executive coach and leadership development expert, Neil Edwards. The Leadership Range is focused on having real, raw, soulful and accountable conversations about inclusive leadership, allyship, professional development. Every week is a new episode, with new learning and new actions to take on, to grow inclusively. Make sure you check out the Leadership Range everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Amy (05:21): Welcome back to See It To Be It. I have a kind of a different episode today. I have to tell you I was having this conversation with Gissel. And I say, you know what? We should turn this into a podcast episode. And so,, usually on See It To Be It we talk about what people are doing in their jobs. But today we’re going to talk to Gissel Gonzáles. And she recently returned to her homeland of Puerto Rico, and she is looking for a job. And I said, well, let’s put it on the podcast and see if there’s somebody out there listening, that can connect you to someone who is hiring in the area that you want to be in. So, I’m not going to give a whole lot more background. I’m going to let Gissel tell her own story. So, Gissel welcome to the show.

Gissel González (06:05): Well, thank you, Amy. I greatly appreciate this opportunity. And hello to your listeners.

Amy (06:11): So just so you know, a little bit about the show, because I gave you no prep at the beginning. So typically, I talk to black and brown professionals about their career journey. So that others, so young people who maybe have never seen role models in those roles, or maybe don’t even know those roles exist. Can find people that look like them that are doing that kind of work that interests them. So they can maybe aspire to those roles or find out how to break into an industry. And so, what we’re going to do today is going to be a little bit different. We’re going to help you break into an industry.

Gissel (06:44): Well, that’s awesome. I’m grateful for the opportunity. So let’s go.

Amy (06:48): I’m excited to kind of flip this a little bit. So let’s start with, what has your career journey looked like thus far? Because you’ve got a lot of experience in a lot of different places. So can you stitch that story together for us?

Gissel (07:02): Absolutely. So the story really starts out with wanting to assist vulnerable populations. There are certain things that happen when you are a woman of color. And you definitely want to create change. So that was the basis of my career. And then what I did was, I volunteered in Montana to assist with homeless shelters. And then transferred directly to Portland, Oregon that was creating a new way of housing the homeless. I came in and I decided with, of course, the backing of the CEO to create community. To really give the power back to the people, because there’s no way somebody can say, oh, I understand what you’re going through and here’s the answers. No, I really firmly believed in that creating community within the shelter. And then also, having them have input on how we were going to create the shelter of community, things of that nature.

Gissel (08:14): Although it was a non-profit, they were very, very, I want to say resilient. And they addressed helping legislation and going down and talking about housing situations and actually helping to change, it’s called, The Eviction Notices. To change from 30 to 90 days, so that they could assist and keep housing because of course, inflation is rising and prices were going up. And once that happened, I went and transitioned to the family shelter and it was the first no turn away family shelter in the United States. And so, I assisted them with transitioning to living out of hotels and things of that nature rather than, because they were families and they needed their own space. And then from there, I went to Denver where I program managed three women’s emergency shelters. And once again, created community, and help them gain a voice, of how do I overcome this barrier in my life.

(09:23): And it was very successful. We were able to house 180 women, I believe in a matter of seven months. It was really about giving back to my community, and also, to understand that some changes needed to be made in the administration. We needed to give power to the people. And so, I decided to get my Master’s and I moved back to Puerto Rico, because the Stafford Grant is about to be released. And there were a lot of businesses that have suffered, the impacts of COVID, Hurricane Maria, and the lack of funding. So I thought it would be best to once again, be able to integrate for-profit and non-profit business and assist in integrity. Just aligning everybody so that way the Puerto Rican population can really excel, and show they already have resilience. But they really want to have other alternatives for when these natural disasters occur. So that’s why I’m here.

Amy (10:33): Excellent. So let’s break that down a little bit. So you mentioned the Stafford Grant. Can you tell us what that is?

Gissel (10:38): Well, the Stafford Grant is a grant that really assists in disasters. So President Nixon signed it, I believe in 1972. And then President Clinton changed it to the Stafford. Because it was, I believe the Congressmen’s f[inaudible 00:10:55] last name, Stafford, who introduced it, and it was signed. So what happens is, it gives the power for a president to release funding. And you have specific grant guidelines, that really can assist in giving power back to the people. And it also can assist with other common barriers that they’re not able to overcome. Which is financial. So that’s the basis of the Stafford.

Amy (11:30): Now Hurricane Maria happened in 2017. It’s been four years.

Gissel (11:34): Yes.

Amy (11:34): And I know when we first got on the call, you said my internet is still a little spotty. It’s still spotty in Puerto Rico. And I know some places are still dealing with rolling power outages and things like that. What has taken so long for help to arrive? Because I remember when New Orleans was hit with the hurricane, the response was probably not as swift or as as effective as it needed to be, but it was certainly quicker than this.

Gissel (12:05): Yes. Well, unfortunately it’s equity and inclusion that’s really lacking here in Puerto Rico and how they distribute funds. The infrastructure in Puerto Rico has been suffering for quite some time. And so, having a hurricane hit so drastically, and just destroy the infrastructure is very difficult. And it was very difficult to get funding from the previous administration. And this administration is now stating that, Hey, this is a property that we have American citizens on. This is an island with American citizens and that we need to assist and help. They started with electricity, because we need the power. In some cities in the middle and little towns in the middle of Puerto Rico still don’t have power or still don’t have running water. And we’re watching Puerto Ricans just abandoned their homes. So it really is about creating equity and inclusion, and really helping and guiding the Puerto Rican population for what they want. So that’s what’s happened and this is what’s happening, that change is occurring. And hopefully it’s a change for the best. The island really needs it. They really need to be able to say, I am American and I am Puerto Rican and I too get help. If you cross one of the main bridges to East Levin, it’s such a beautiful sight to see Puerto Rican flags and American flags, every other one. There is great part pride in being American here. And so, it is time. For them to get the help.

Amy (13:51): Now, you were born and raised there. Correct? And you’re coming back after a stent in the mainland U.S.?

Gissel (13:57): Yes. Well, let me correct you. Sorry, I misled you. I was born in New York, in Brooklyn as the youngest of six. My siblings are way older than me, and my mom always had property in Puerto Rico. So when I was just at the age of seven, we moved to Puerto Rico. My parents were older and wanted to retire, so I was raised here on the island. And I always tell everybody [speaking in Spanish], which means I am Puerto Rican, I’m [speaking in Spanish] both in my heart, my soul, and in my blood. My ancestors areTaino Indian, which is really awesome. And I just fell in love with the island. I knew it was my culture. And I went to the States, got myself an education, did the kids thing. They’re all adults and all out on their own. And well, everybody knew I wanted to retire here. So I saw this as a great opportunity to come home, and help, and help vulnerable populations that I’m a part of.

Amy (15:07): So what kind of organizations help with this kind of work? When we were talking before you mentioned about, there were some management consulting firms, and for-profits corporations, there are non-profits, there are governmental agencies. Can you give us a feel of what the landscape looks like in the rebuild effort down there?

Gissel (15:26): So great. So the government landscape is trying to change. We unfortunately, had a lot of mismanagement of funds from the government. And so, there’s some cleaning up being done, which is amazing. And we’re all happy to see that. And then, I’m sorry, I forgot the rest of that because I’m so comfortable with [over talk 1548].

Amy (15:49): So, how did the government, not-for-profit, and for-profit sectors work together for the rebuild?

Gissel (15:53): The non-for-profits, they have been here. They have been working with FEMA for a long time, and unfortunately, FEMA has some barriers that the non-profits need to address, and they are constantly working together, but because there is such a need on the island, there is for-profit business that will be coming to audit and assist with the grant. I think it’s important. I think it’s a great strategic and innovative change to what can assist the island. So that’s where we’re at. So the grant, is it really going to be released and who receives the grant until September? But we’re all very hopeful and to have the for-business community to come in. They’ve always been here, but to really dive into these issues, is a great way to create equity and inclusion on the island. So I’m looking forward to that as well.

Amy (17:02): And so really, my understanding then of what’s happening is that t the for-profit businesses are coming in to basically oversee how the funds are being used. So that further mismanagement of funds will not be an issue. And the grant money will actually be used to help rebuild, build infrastructure, assist people in need, that sort of thing. Is that correct?

Gissel (17:23): That is correct. I mean, the for-profit business has always been here. But now we’re having large companies, large corporations come in and say, Hey, we want to assist as well. Which is absolutely amazing. So yes, you are correct in what you stated.

Amy (17:39): Okay. Very good. So walk me through, you’ve got background in managing programs, managing projects, management consultant experience. You’ve worked in non-for-profits, you mentioned helping people who were experiencing homelessness. You’re bilingual, you’re fluent in reading, writing in both English and Spanish. You’ve got some HR background. What is it? If you could pick all of the ways in the world that you could contribute to this solution, what would you most like to do?

Gissel (18:12): I would most like to, in the beginning, I think I have three stages. Because, I’m not going to set myself up with just one goal. I have the top for you. The working threes. So, my top one is to really contribute and work with tourists related businesses. They already have resilience. People on the island of Puerto Rico are resilient, but I want to assist them in becoming more innovative. How can they create? Give some thinking outside the box. And of course, my degree, that was what I’m focusing on. The second is a force to create a position where it would be created to create integrity, like I [inaudible 00:19:04], within the profit and non-profit world, and that’s definitely consulting. And have that opportunity to say, Hey, you’ve got a really great idea, and how can we implement this?

(19:17): How can we move forward to be able to assist the Puerto Rican population? So consulting is definitely something that I’m interested in. And well, of course, most of all and hopefully in the future, I am looking to connect with a non-profit here. So the requirements for certain grants right now that are being utilized, is that you know, you connect with a non-profit, you have an accountant, and this is just the basis it’s very, more detailed, but I don’t want to go into that. And then, you actually work with counties, towns to have them become innovative, or just explain. Because they probably are already innovative, and maybe didn’t have the funds to be able to implement that. So those are my top three, while I’m here in Puerto Rico.

Amy (20:16): That’s excellent. Now, is your plan to stay there long-term?

Gissel (20:20): Yes.

Amy (20:20): Is this, you’re going to buy the place that you’re going to stay for the rest of your life down there now? Or are you in to help and then you’re planning to move around and use your talents in other places as well, in the future?

Gissel (20:35): Well, yes, I’d love that question. No, I plan on staying here in Puerto Rico. Can I go back state side and assist and, understanding and have these businesses and non-profits that want to come down to Puerto Rico, and give them the understanding of the culture in Puerto Rico? I would love that, but I’m here to stay. I have the ability to move to separate towns, and different towns to assist. And home is where I’m going to retire, so I’m looking forward to that.

Amy (21:06): That’s wonderful Gissel. So I guess this is just a plea, if you’re listening to this recording, and you’re listening to this podcast, we’re recording this on July 14th. It’ll be the July 21st show. And if you’re in Puerto Rico, if you have a network that extends into Puerto Rico, and particularly into the rebuild efforts. Reach out to Gissel, and see if there’s maybe a match you can make for her. What’s the best place for people to reach you? Is it LinkedIn?

Gissel (21:39): It would be LinkedIn. And that is, Gissel González. And I’ll spell that for everybody. That’s G as in girl, I, double S like in Sam, E, L. And the spelling of my last name is González, and that’s G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z.

Amy (21:57): Excellent. And we’ll put a link in the show notes to your LinkedIn profile as well.

Gissel (22:01): That’s great. My work in progress. And then there’s also an email address on LinkedIn if they need to contact me. And thank you.

Amy (22:09): That’s fantastic. Gissel, I wish you every success in making the connections you need to make so that you can be part of this rebuild effort. I know that it’s been a long, hard struggle for the folks down there, and there’s so much work to be done. And I really hope that we’re able to find a way for your extensive talents to be put to greatest use down there.

Gissel (22:35): Thank you so much. And thanks for this opportunity to your listeners. Remember that Puerto Rico is here. We need your help. Come visit, be a tourist. It’s a beautiful island. And the other thing I really want to say is, I didn’t give the intricate details of the grant, and the funding, and how that all works. I just gave this surface, and I’m sure I can use a little bit of correction. But I’m also very humble to be able to learn from every type and walk of business and especially from the people of Puerto Rico. So thank you for the opportunity.

Amy (23:14): Thank you so much.

Voice-over (23:23): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Break Room. Have you ever felt burnt out, depressed, or otherwise exhausted by being one of the onlys at work? You know what I’m talking about. Hosted by black psychologist, psychiatrist and PhDs, The Break Room is a live, weekly web show in the Living Corporate network. That discusses mental health, wellness, and healing for black folks at work. Name another weekly show explicitly focused on mental health, wellness, and healing for black folks at work? I’ll wait. This is why you’ve got to check out The Break Room. Airing every Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on

Amy (25:19): I really hope you enjoyed hearing about Gissel, and her story and about what’s going on in Puerto Rico. What I loved about this interview is the opportunity to do something a little bit different. Rather than having a guest who can help our listeners, I’m hoping that I had a guest that our listeners can help. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to Living Corporate, and share us with your friends and colleagues. And Hey, you can really help us out by leaving us a six star review, wherever you get your podcasts. Maybe you’re thinking Amy, there are only five stars. Okay, well, give us all those stars, but then go the next step by leaving a couple of sentences in your own words, telling us what you enjoyed about the show or the episode.

(26:01): Don’t forget to visit to learn more about our other podcasts, videos, web shows, and more. See It To Be It is brought to you in part by, Lead At Any Level, a certified woman, and LGBTQ owned business dedicated to helping organizations win the competition for talent and customers for the long-term. Lead At Any Level, leaders can be anywhere, and should be everywhere. Learn more at That’s it for this episode of See It To Be It. This is Amy C. Waninger, and I’ll see you next week.

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