Scott Schimmel 0:21
Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of The YouSchool podcast today I am here with a really good friends for many years Nicole Pearson and there's a couple of reasons why I wanted you to, to be on the show, Nicole. One is your path and and the career trajectory that you've taken. And it's quite interesting. And then secondly, to talk about what you do. And it's rare to have somebody that can really work out of a value of a personal value that can influence and impact lots of people. So welcome to the show. And Nicole, maybe just a little, little bio about you if you're willing to share who you are. Where the heck in the world you are.
Unknown Speaker 1:01
Yeah, absolutely. I'm so excited to be here. Thanks for having me. So I'm here in San Diego, California. And I am married my, actually my 20th anniversary is coming up this month. Wow. 20 years, we have a 15 year old son, and, and a new dog. So we're a happy family of four. I love all things nature, outside surfing, hiking, we mountain biking, we get to do all those fun things as a family. And I really love serving. And I'm sure we're going to talk about that today. That's one of my passions as well. So that's that's me in a nutshell.
Scott Schimmel 1:46
Yeah. Tell me a little bit. I actually don't know. I'm sure when we first met, I asked but I forget sorry. College and then early part of your career. What did that look like?
Unknown Speaker 1:56
Yep. So I went to Arizona State, go Sun Devils. So no, I graduated with a career in communication. And I actually did not have any idea what I was going to do with that. I kind of went to school and thought, Well, I'm really good at writing papers. So I guess I'll write papers. And so I got my degree in this literally the study of human communication. And I remember leaving late, you know, graduating, I graduated in three and a half years, I don't know why I was in such a hurry to get out of college. And I was like, well, now what, I didn't do any internships really, I was involved with a lot of clubs at ASU. But kind of like the one thing I knew is I wanted to do something that would make a difference. I wanted to do something meaningful. And I remember having this conversation with my dad that I will like, never forget. And he was trying to steer me into a career in sales, and in sales his whole life and thought that I wouldn't be a great salesperson. And I remember saying to him, Dad, I have to do something meaningful. I if I'm gonna work hard in this life, it has to be for something that matters and makes a difference. I'm not going to be selling widgets. I just I can't. And so I got connected with a man who became my mentor for several years. And he told me, you should start off with nonprofit, this is the perfect place for you. And so he got me connected with a nonprofit, the Multiple Sclerosis Society. And I actually started my career working as an event coordinator. For them, I knew nothing about a mess, when I started, that very quickly got tied to the to the cause, like really tied to the cause, just getting to know the people and realizing the impact of my work. And so I actually worked there for 12 years, my first like career out of college, I did nonprofit work in a variety of different kinds of roles in there, but always kind of bringing in money to fund the great work that we were doing at the MS Society. And so it was a little bit challenging, because as you might imagine the salary of a nonprofit worker. It wasn't great, especially when I started, you know, 20 some years ago. But I don't ever regret having spent those that time there and getting to feel really passionate about the work I was doing, but also learning a lot of really great skills that I think gave me a fantastic foundation for kind of well doing what I am now for sure.
Scott Schimmel 4:41
Right. Sure. Yeah. Well, I think I actually think that's fascinating. So I ended up working for a nonprofit to and if if you had a conversation with me when I was whatever 16, 17 thinking about college, I don't even think I had a concept that that was a thing. I mean, it wouldn't have been, you know, a foreign thought but I just thought that was In a part of the world that I grew up in, and there's this exercise, there's a guy named Chris Lord that we've done some work with that has this thing called a prioritization exercise. And it's a way to help you think and reflect on what's most important to you about your career. And, and this idea of loving what you do, compared to the money that you make, you know, it depends on how you prioritize those might shift the path that you take. And so you got to do this thing that you loved. And the the byproduct of it was it gave you this skill set that carried you into a different career.
Nicole Pearson 5:36
That's right. That's right.
Scott Schimmel 5:38
What are you doing now?
Nicole Pearson 5:41
Yeah, so for the past, gosh, all six years, I've worked for this organization called Thrivent. And it's actually a not for profit, which is different than a nonprofit. So a not for profit is actually very profitable. As you might imagine, we have this really unique IRS status, where we are tax exempt. And so all of the money that we would pay to the government in taxes, we get to give back into the communities. And so if you think about it, kind of just very high level, whereas I used to be on the side of the house where I was asking for money and fundraising. Now, I'm kind of on the other side of the house, where I have a lot of money that I get to help direct and give away and make an impact in the community that way. And so my role, it's called engagement leader, and basically what I get to do, it's kind of like two paths. So one path is, I work out in the community. And I connect with churches, and a lot of faith based nonprofits. And actually some not faith based nonprofits now that I think about it, and we talked about what Thrive it can do to help them resource both their clients and their staff with financial resources. So if you think about kind of all the things that people need, right, they need food on their back, they need clothes, on their food, food in their belly clothes on their back. But they also they need financial education, right, that's like an important part of I think, well being is having that piece kind of in the right place, as well. And so I get to resource these organizations with thriving, free financial education resources. That's one side of the house. The other side of the house is I get to work with our clients. So we also sometimes called a members, it's kind of interchangeable. But basically our clients are people that work with Thrivent, which is a financial services organization, right. So they work with us, they allow us to manage their finances, maybe they have like life insurance with us or something like that. But they are with us, because our mission is very different than other financial organizations mission. So we have a very clear goal that we want to help people find financial clarity, so that they can live generously, and live lives of meaning and gratitude. And so I actually get to work with our members, and help create opportunities for them to live generously, both locally within their communities, as a group, a group of members, but then also thrive. It has a bunch of like generosity, programs that are basically catalysts to get our members to do generous things in their community. And so I educate our members about those generosity programs, in hopes that it will inspire them to get out and like, be part of the army of good right out there doing great things in their community. So it's so amazing. And in fact, I was on a call this morning, and one of our VPS, like, the whole organization, again, we're a fortune 500 company was talking about the fact that we're this super duper profitable organization and how blessed we are to be as profitable as we are, and she goes, but we don't really care about what's in the bank account, because we all know that we do this because we see money as a tool, and not a goal, right? So our tool money is our tool as an organization to go out and do good, which is like pretty amazing that I get the backing of this massive company to go do really cool things that impact the community here in San Diego.
Scott Schimmel 9:55
It's amazing and I didn't know some of the stuff you just shared. So now I'm coming for your job. That sounds awesome. Move over.
Unknown Speaker 10:06
I know. Yeah, I wish I could I wish I could have more of me here. Because there's so many good causes that I want to support. And I want to help our members support them. And I'm, you know, I'm me. So I can only do so much.
Scott Schimmel 10:22
How do you as a mom of a 15 year old? How? How does How do you think he understands what you do? And how do you share about what you do? Because it sounds a little a little too good to be true in some ways.
Unknown Speaker 10:34
So it's funny because I work mostly from home when I'm not out in the community. And during the pandemic, especially like he had a chance to listen to me having conversations with people on the phone and stuff. And I think in a way, because it is so complex, like a lot of adults don't quite understand how as we're such an A unicorn of an organization, I think in a way, he still thinks that I work for a nonprofit, because he's always seen me out in the community giving my job, it's okay. But it requires me to be working nights and weekends. Because sometimes that's when we gather members up together. So he knows that I'm going to work and I'll be like, I'm going to a church, or I'm going to this nonprofits sometimes I actually take him along with me. He's he's actually a Thrivent member. And so at age 15. And so he comes the other probably was, I think it was actually last month, we went down to an organization that Thrivent supports, called the Third Avenue charitable organization. And we serve breakfast together to the homeless community. And he knows that that's part of my work. And so I he gets pieces of it, but I still don't think like he under he doesn't understand the bread.
Scott Schimmel 11:48
Yeah, I remember I worked with college kids for a long time. And I would frequently get into conversations around their future, obviously. And there was this one kid, particularly I just said, Hey, besides what you want to do professionally, what kind of person do you want to be? And it started him down this path of thinking about his dad and his grandfather, and particularly that that term generosity came out. They were he just said they were. They are extremely generous people. And so when he thought about who he wanted to turn into Sunday, he said, generous. And so I then I asked naturally. So what are you doing today to be generous? And his he had a very clear response. It was like, well, nothing because I'm a college student. I don't have anything. And I'm just curious how you would respond to that. So I think, as we're trying to talk to young people, they're in a lot of ways, their their viewpoint is pretty limited, obviously. But especially around that area, like if you don't feel like you have resources or have a source of income. It's hard to imagine the other side of that when you do. So how do you, you know, maybe some tips on how do you cultivate generosity at a young age and imagine yourself doing that throughout your career. So it's not just something you do when you're older, and you finally made it.
Unknown Speaker 13:07
Scott, we're gonna and the good stuff. I love talking about that. Okay, so there is this misconception that generosity revolves around money, and giving money to other people, in generous because I give money and thrive into so interested in this topic that we actually commissioned this research organization called Barna to do a study on generosity. And what they discovered is that people express generosity in five different ways. There's these kinds of five buckets of generosity. And so one of them obviously, is financial giving, that's certainly an expression of generosity. Another one is gifts. That can be gifts you purchase that can be gifts you make, but anything that you're giving to somebody, that's not money. Yeah. Another one is service and volunteering. So that's where that's like what my son and I did last month is we went we spent an hour of our time feeding the homeless. Now these last two, I think a lot of people don't think about. So one of them is emotional, relational support. So if you call me Scott, and you are having a horrible day, you said, Nicole, I just need to vent. I need your advice on some things, but I've had a really rough day. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, Scott, like I'm here for you. Lay it on me. That's me being generous to you, allowing you to just get emotional support from me, right? A lot of people don't think that. And then the last one, I think is even the most difficult sometimes to wrap your head around, but it's this idea of hospitality. being hospitable is an act of generosity. That could be inviting somebody into your home for a cup of coffee, you know, I'll be providing a big fancy lavish meal. However you, you know, couches. So when somebody says to me, why don't have money to be generous, I'm a college student, you know, I could probably sit and talk with someone say, tell me what you did this week. Tell me the interactions that you had. Who did you talk to? You know, did you help anybody with their homework this week? No, those are expressions of generosity. You know, my son's 15. He loves working on bikes, people come to our house almost every day, and he fixes their bike for free. That's an expression of generosity. He's giving his time to help somebody and he's not getting anything in return. Right. So I would just encourage them to broaden their ideas around what an expression of generosity looks like. And I think they'd be surprised to know that they either are more generous than they think they are, or they, or they can be more generous than they can be.
Scott Schimmel 16:08
That's awesome. I'm so glad you said that. I just reminded me of maybe 10 years ago, this, my wife and this... close to us neighbors, who are this older couple, extremely generous in all those ways. And the guy stopped by your house with a wad of cash around Christmas time. I think it was $750, or $1000... it was a lot of cash. And I was you know, I saw it, I was like, Oh my gosh, what a I mean, what, what, for what you know, and I thought it was for me. And instead he explained that it wasn't for me, it was for us to give away because he knew where we were at financially, we weren't at this place to have like, a lot of finances. And it became this like, almost felt like a treasure hunt to us for what are we going to do with this cash. And, and that's something that we've we've done over the years too with our kids now towards, especially around the holidays, just give them money to then go and look for ways to be generous. And what a cool way to kind of facilitate this, like the I guess the almost the neuroscience, the happy chemicals that you'll get, and try to see that and see that idea that this is the kind of thing that can happen to you. Should you choose this not not just if someone else chooses it for you. But I'm glad you also brought up that idea of volunteering. I know my high school and some high schools do this to you have to add like volunteer service hours. But I'll be totally honest. And don't tell my high school don't call the registrar. I faked all those 80 hours. Like I mean, I did some time, but it was neighbors who were like, hey, yeah, if you helped me move a couch, I'll sign off that it was 10 hours or something. So I totally missed that and missed all the opportunities that it could have been for me. But but it's it's the same kind of thought of with my teenagers. I hope my kids become people that do that, that naturally volunteer. But why would they unless they do it over time? Why would they just magically when they're adults decide to do it, if I don't show them how to do it and why it's important and the discipline of it and doing it when you don't feel like it. So that that's a that's a really practical thing. I think most families can can wrap their minds around, or if you're a teacher listening to this, there's a lot of different ways to engage community service learning into even even math classes. There's teachers that have learned how to do that in so many different ways. So it's almost like the training wheels towards generosity, like I'm gonna put you on the bike, teach you how to do it, and then let you go. And hopefully, hopefully, it works for you. Yeah, I'm curious.
Unknown Speaker 18:47
Can I just add one other thing? When it comes to like you're mentioning how, you know, in high school, you didn't want to spend the time, right, yeah, doing service activities. I think one of the ways that you can make it, as you're putting on the training wheels, make it a little less, a little more appealing for those kids, is to do it with a friend group. It's not like necessarily the kid going alone to volunteer somewhere or with family, although doing as a family is great as well. But I remember one of the very first times that we ever took Trent volunteering with us, we did it with three other families that had three other boys. And we all went together. And we did it was a different organization downtown where we did a feeding and the kids got to work like the kids had jobs like the volunteers, coordinators there they were like, you're 10 years old, but you have a very specific job. And so all of the boys felt like oh, yes, like, just be here. Like I got to play my part and chat wars hairnets friends like how are you doing? Are you doing your job? You know how to check it up. And so by the time we finished that I will never forget Got it because it was in Christmas time. And he goes, Mom and Dad, when's the next time we can do that? It was so great. Wow. And so this is the thing. There. I truly believe in this kind of tagline that there is joy and generosity. There just is there's this amazing like good feeling this warm feeling that you get and so we can help kids experience that young. Yeah, I find even as an adult, you want to keep experiencing that joy, generosity, like you feel purposeful.
Scott Schimmel 20:29
Yeah. There's, there's even research studies, I've read them about how commitment to community service for teenagers will help them make better choices with substances like they're much less likely to make dumb choices and harmful choices for themselves. I mean, go figure. Yeah, if if 16 year old Nicole can meet Nicole today? In what ways would she be surprised? And what ways would it make total sense? What you're doing?
Unknown Speaker 20:58
Yeah, I actually don't think a 16 year old Nicole would be very surprised, because I kind of unlike you, Scott, I actually joined a service organization club in my school.
Scott Schimmel 21:12
Oh, good for you. Good for you.
Unknown Speaker 21:18
It was important to me early on, right? Like, nobody had to tell me to go get my hours. I was purposely getting my hours. Yeah. And to your point, like, I didn't do that a lot with my family growing up. Like, I don't know why that was kind of ingrained in me. Since I was young that I wanted to serve other people I really don't know. I think perhaps maybe I'd been a recipient of generosity. I think sometimes when we are recipients of generosity, it inspires us to be more generous to other people. So I think potentially, that could have been the case. But anyways, I was in this club. And so to see me in my role now today, I think that 16 year old Nicole would be like, Yeah, like that makes perfect sense.
Scott Schimmel 22:06
That's awesome. Yeah. Good. I hope my kids are like you. And don't have to find this later in life like me. Well, a quick plug Nicole, if you're listening, watching Nicole and I put a course together Jusco course sponsored and powered by thrive in. And it's called your story. It's really to help kids imagine the path that their life story might take. And it's it's unique, not just because it has some guided self reflection, but also because there's eight thriving clients that are on video sharing about their path in life similar to what Nicole just shared in this episode. And so it gives it a kid a chance to be exposed to a bunch of different people in what they've done and why they've done it and the path that they've taken. And, and research has shown that if kids have more exposure to more mentors, it's going to give them just a greater sense of confidence and clarity to make their choices. So we'll include the link in the bio, and thanks to Unicode thanks to thrive in for that partnership. Thanks for being on the show to such a good friend and so fun to kind of conspire together for good. And here's the more coming into 2023. Let's keep doing it.
Unknown Speaker 23:15
Yeah, absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks again for having me.
Scott Schimmel 23:21
Hey, thanks for joining in on The YouSchool podcast, we'd love to share with you the resources available on our website at the uscho.com not just articles, ebooks, worksheets and other podcasts episodes, but specifically, you should know about a free course we have available called The Real Me course. It's digital, it's interactive, and it'll guide you to get clear about who you are in a great story you can tell with your life. So go register for a free account and get started on The Real Me course today at theyouschool.com That's the you school dot com