No man is an Island and you can’t make it to the end without building relationships. Carolyn Rivera, the host of The Carolyn Rivera Show, shares her thoughts about connecting and building relationships with people. When you want to be successful, you’ve got to fill in those gaps because everyone is going to have different skill sets that they would be bringing to the table. Carolyn highlights the significance of connecting with people regardless of where you are because from the jungle to the boardroom, those same skills are there.

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Connecting and Building Relationships with Carolyn Rivera


I have Carolyn Rivera. Some of you may recognize her because this is Mama C from Survivor. We met at an event and our tablemates geeked out because they were like, “No way.” We were talking Survivor this and that. I felt a little out of my element because I haven’t watched a lot of it. They’re so into the culture, but you have a lot of fans.

Survivor has been on for several years. It’s the longest running reality TV show of all time. There are still about ten million people that religiously watch every single week and I’m one of them. I’ve watched every single episode since the year 2000. We geek out like that.

You have parlayed that into a great radio show, which is podcast as well and it’s the Carolyn Rivera Show. That’s why we’re talking because I wanted to highlight great women out there who are podcasting and getting the messages out. You also have written some books and Plant Your Flag is your latest book. Everyone’s got to check it out. I love that idea because you tied in that idea of that’s what their Survivor program is about. You’re eventually going to plant your flag. You tie those two things together in a great way and into the Seven Secrets For Winning. We’ll talk a little bit about that. Welcome to International Women’s Day and thank you for being an amazing woman putting your message out.

I want to thank you for doing this and even thinking about innovation and thinking about bringing women together because it’s interesting. I went to a luncheon on International Women’s Day for women. Before 2019, I didn’t even know International Women’s Day existed, which is a scary thought. The fact that we’re finally bringing women together and we’re empowering each other to work together and help each other is just fabulous. I love it.

To tie in the Survivor thing, it’s a little cutthroat. It’s each person for themselves, but at the end of the day, you do actually have to learn to work together and you have to work with people and for people. There is that dance and organization that you have to build for yourself and how you interact with the world or you don’t win.

Building Relationships: Change should be a part of your everyday vocabulary because you never know what’s waiting for you.


You can’t make it to the end without building relationships. You can’t win the game ever, even if you make it to the end without building relationships. It’s all about, “Are you connecting with people? Do people feel they like you? Do you have things in common? Are you sharing your feelings with them?” It’s critical. I talk about from the jungle to the boardroom because those same skills are there.

It was just occurring to me as you were talking about that because, in a way when you’re on a show like Survivor, many people may not realize it and then consciously understand that that’s what you’re doing, but you have to get the audience behind you. You have to get your fans behind you and you have to build that. It’s a remote thing because you’re filming this and we do the same thing because we record sometimes alone and you’re there with the mic and there’s no one else. That’s why I like these Zooms because at least I’m not alone, they are a lot easier to do. You do that, but you have to be consciously thinking about breaking that barrier to the audience or you will not build that relationship. It won’t happen. Talk a little bit about how you do that.

It’s inherent in who you are. Do you care about people? Every person comes to the table with something valuable, a set of skills. Most people look to interact with those people that are exactly themselves because you’re talking to someone. You’re like, “I love them because they’re just like me.” Realistically, when you want to be successful, what you need to do is fill in those gaps because everyone is going to have different skill sets that they’re going to bring to the table. As you begin to interact and you find out what that sweet spot is for that individual, you can see that you can be that much more successful. You can almost do anything at that point because you’ve covered all the boundaries. It’s trying to figure out what everyone has as their own value that they bring to the table.

I feel blessed because in my life, both my parents, my mom and my dad instilled in me a great love of being curious. We’re out there exploring. My mom is a fine artist and she’s always learning new techniques and building relationships in the art community. My dad is a big reader and he believes in being curious and diverse thinking and with diverse thinking comes diverse relationship building, meeting new people and trying new things. That part in and of itself actually makes you exactly what you’re saying, interested in others. When you’re more interested in that, it’s easy to do what you need to do.

Most people don’t like change. That’s the biggest issue. We got sucked into our day-to-day lives and it goes by, but you’re not living life. You’re just getting through the day. The key is, “How do you live each day? What experience can you give yourself that’s new and different? How do you begin to test your mind so that you can begin to look for ways to learn new things?” I think once you begin to make that shift in your mindset, then new experiences are what you crave. Survivor to me was an experience of a lifetime and change was part of everyday vocabulary because you never know what Jeff Probst or CBS has waiting for you, but you can do that same thing in your everyday life and begin to learn and grow every day.

If you have a curious, innovative mindset, it helps you to want to take on new experiences and figure out what's out there. Click To Tweet

This is how your show goes. What you’re reading here is the brilliance of how her show is and what she shares and she’s sharing thoughts about how she’s developing leaders in the world. This is the thing when we’re developing a leadership style and we’re developing that, we’re also developing people. We’re developing the ability to handle change because business isn’t static. You’ve got a lot on your plate that translates from how you live your life to actually how you help people grow.

That’s the key because it’s so rewarding when you see somebody and you know that it finally clicked. You’re talking, you’re training or you’re coaching. You’re actually just working with people whether it’s in a classroom of 50 people or in a one-on-one environment. When you see that light switch go on, that’s the joy that it brings me every single day because that’s what I’m all about. That’s how I focus my life and my podcast and the radio show, my training. All of those things all link together to build others.

The theme is #BalanceforBetter and I added #LifeInHarmony because some of us don’t like the term balance. We’ve discovered that over the course of the day that other people think like I do that it’s not my favorite word. You’re a mom. You’ve got lots going on in your life. How do you deal with all of the things that are going on and be successful?

You’ve got to make the time. That’s a big challenge because the only thing that you can’t buy more of is time. You’ve got your own set day and sometimes we get so frustrated. We’re always doing for other people. As mothers, that’s inherent in who we are. I don’t even know if you can change that because that’s the way most people are wired. It doesn’t matter what time it is or when, but I definitely find the time to do things that are going to enrich my mind as well. I think that because you’re giving off yourself to everyone all day long, you’ve got to give yourself a little bit of time, whether it’s going to the gym and working out, whether it’s reading a book on leadership, whether you’re listening to your podcast, which I have done and it is absolutely fabulous. Those are ways in which you continue to learn and grow. It’s not balance, it’s just making time for yourself to grow, making time for yourself to have those experiences.

One of the things that you mentioned in the book and it’s a part of your website and part of what you do and talk about all the time is that adversity is inevitable. It’s going to happen. You’ve gone through manufactured adversity. They’re throwing stuff at you purposefully for entertainment value. You’re a glutton for punishment doing that, but that is so true. A life without adversity just doesn’t exist. You’re dead. It’s gone. It’s over. It’s impossible. Talk a little bit about how people approach that and how you personally approach that.

Building Relationships: When you have that mindset of believing, committing, and achieving, then anything is possible.


There are challenges, there are obstacles that we face every single day and decision points. It could be minuscule decisions, very small obstacles or big obstacles that can change your life. It’s the mindset that you have on how you’re going to handle those obstacles. What are you going to do? There’s probably not one person that can say that they’ve never faced an obstacle. Many of us can tell the stories of how we’ve either let this take over us and we wallow in our sadness. We don’t get out of bed. We’ll sit there and just whine about, “Life sucks. Everyone’s against me,” or you can shift the mindset and say, “I’m going to learn from this experience. Maybe I did make a mistake, maybe I caused the entire issue.” You can learn from it.

Every single time you learn something new, you’re growing because you know what it feels to fail and you don’t want to be there again. You do everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t happen. What is your mindset? How are you taking on that challenge? I always talk about this pole in Survivor. I had to hang on to a pole for an hour and there were one-inch grooves on the pole. I was the oldest one on the island. I was competing against people 30 years younger than me. I was holding onto this pole and it was down to two of us. It started with twelve and we were down to two. It was me and this fabulous guy who’s 27 years old. You want to hate him, but you can’t because he’s fabulous and he’s gorgeous and he’s just the nicest guy ever and we’re competing for the win. I took my mind off of the pole for one second and I fell and I lost the challenge. I was so upset with myself, but I turned around and I won the next two challenges in a row because I shifted gears. I knew exactly why and how I lost my focus and I didn’t let it happen again. I think we all have that opportunity to shift our minds and take control of any obstacle that we face.

Somebody asked me, “How do you deal with these so-called impossible challenges or big barriers in front of you?” I said, “I don’t believe in impossible.” I think just living in that place where nothing’s impossible. You’ve met my husband, Tom. He’s an inventor at heart. That’s always who he’s been and through art school as we grew and we started our businesses and became inventors together, it showed me there was nothing that couldn’t be innovative around, nothing that couldn’t change. When you do that, you live in a world of possibility. It makes you not allowed to look at it as a barrier because it’s something to innovate around, something to change.

When you think of it as endless possibilities are out there, you just have to find the right one to get you through that obstacle and then keep moving forward.

That’s a lot of trust in yourself, which you do talk on your show quite a bit about. It’s trusting yourself and trusting your ability. In that example, you trusted that you could have that extended focus and you wouldn’t do it again. You trust in yourself to do that. I think that that makes a big difference for people.

If you lift up an individual, think about how much farther you can get. Click To Tweet

I always talk about three things that you have to do. One is belief. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in your vision. You have to believe in the people around you. Believing is critical. That’s the thought process. The second thing is all about commitment. Believe and commit. If you don’t commit to it, then your vision is just a dream. You’re never going to get there. You can’t give up because it’s hard, because there’s an obstacle in front. Work around it. Figure out the possibilities. The third one is achieve. Believe, commit, achieve. When you have that mindset that anything’s possible, then anything is possible.

How do you push yourself out of that comfort zone? When we were talking about that world, that’s where we get into and we don’t like change. What are some ways that you do every day that you’re always pushing yourself?

I think that you have to be curious. You have to want to look for ways in which to continue to challenge yourself. If you sit through everything you know, life to me can seem pretty monotonous and it could get boring. A lot of people, they like their career and they get stuck in their own little world and they’re comfortable there. Then they’re offered this opportunity to maybe take on a new role, but they’ve never done it before and they’re thinking, “Should I?” It doesn’t take me more than one second to say yes. In fact, when I was asked to do a radio show, I was interviewed on somebody else’s show. Somebody heard and they contacted me. They were like, “Do you want to host your own radio show?” I don’t know anything about radio shows or hosting or setting up a mic or anything like that. What am I going to talk about? How do I build the show? Of course, I said yes. I’m sure that the first show is probably not as good as the show that I’m doing now, but you learn and grow. If you have a curious, innovative mindset, it helps you to want to take on new experiences and figure out what’s out there.

Often we’re like, “I don’t know, should I do this?” We get caught up in that back talk to ourselves. We get out of that. Talk a little bit about the people you help because I want to make sure the right people are reaching out to you. Everyone should listen to the show because it’s fabulous and it’s got lots of things for you and any level. You like to work with specific people who are on the leadership path.

Most of my clients are mid-sized companies that are looking for ways in which to provide development opportunities for their people. In those instances, I’ll go in. I’ll do a needs analysis and I’ll figure out where their gaps are, how can they differentiate themselves from their own competition and create training programs or I’ll do a one-on-one. I know that coaching is a word that some people like and some people don’t. It depends. I do also want to work with people one-on-one if they need more support in that realm. Associations that are looking for a speaker to find ways, to motivate or inspire or teach their people how to believe, commit, achieve and how to be comfortable with challenges. What does change look like and how do you get through it? I think that’s who I work with most.

Building Relationships: The youth of today are our future leaders so let’s make them the best we can.


It wouldn’t be International Women’s Day if we didn’t talk about some women. I’m pleased to have so many amazing women on our platform and that’s why you’re featured here. I am so excited that we got to sit next to each other at an event and now are working together. A lot of that happens. We see a lot of that on your Survivor shows and things like that. Women are not nice to each other sometimes. What is with that? I don’t understand that. I didn’t grow up with that. That is not who I am but I see it so often. How do we stop that?

It’s funny that you bring that up because that is one of my biggest pet peeves and one of the things that I talk about on my show all the time. It’s the fact that I’ve been in the corporate world in learning and development working for large companies for 30 years until I started my own company. I faced women not supporting women and it literally drives me insane. I don’t understand why women think that in order for you to be successful, you have to step on the woman in front of you. What they’re missing out on is if you actually lift up that individual, think about how much further you can get.

Even on the show Survivor, there are maybe been 3 or 4 out of 38 seasons where women alliances take it to the end. It literally drives me insane. My thought process is if you can help another woman do whatever you can do to help them succeed, it’s going to come back to you. If it doesn’t, who cares? You could be happy with just seeing how successful they’ve been able to become because you are able to help them. I think if we all join forces, do the Kumbaya together, let’s make it happen. I’m with you on it and I will help to bring that message.

I think that if we lead by example, that’s the best way we can do that. I’m not going to get transactional value out of it. It doesn’t matter. If it changes the world for my daughters, that matters to me. Even if it takes a lifetime for that change to occur, I’m in it to do that because I want the change to happen. I’m grateful to my dad who actually did that as well as he was reminding me just as you picked up one of my girls. He spoke to his good friend, Brenda Green, and his friend worked with him and the company and established at a big engineering and construction company, established a women’s mentorship and project management track so that women could get that. I didn’t know it at all until my dad retired and all these women were at this event telling me how amazing my dad is. What I realized is he always said he was doing it for me. He was doing it for his daughters. I live in that same space. If we can do it for our daughters, for that next generation of women, let’s help someone now because that makes that difference.

I’ve got two daughters of my own, so I’m with you on that. The more we can help every one of them succeed is better. It’s the youth now that we have to focus on because they’re what’s going to be tomorrow.

Endless possibilities are out there. You just have to find the right one, get through the obstacles and keep moving forward. Click To Tweet

They’re our future leaders.

They’re our future leaders so let’s make them the best we can.

Thank you so much for joining me on International Women’s Day. I’m so glad to have you as my friend and my partner and one of our clients. I absolutely love what you’re putting out in the world. Thank you for that.

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve learned a lot from you in the short time that we’ve been together and I appreciate everything that you’ve done and all the things that you’re still creating. Thanks again.

Thank you, Carolyn. I appreciate you.

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About Carolyn Rivera

Carolyn J Rivera is a speaker, author, radio host, leadership expert/coach, trainer, and reality television star.  Carolyn’s spent over 30 years in the corporate world coaching leaders and delivering leadership training for thousands of people in over 16 countries around the globe.  Her personal areas of expertise include leadership development, change management, talent management, performance management, and executive coaching.  Carolyn focuses on building tomorrow’s leaders.  She delivers customized Keynote Speeches, Training Programs, and Workshops that show people how to achieve results far beyond their initial expectations. People walk away with a personal success plan.

Carolyn led the second largest university in the country, building and enhancing leadership and relationship building skills.  She is recognized as a woman with a passion that achieves results no matter what it takes.  Carolyn focuses her message on building the influence skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing environment.  She thrives when helping others succeed.

Carolyn auditioned for four years before she was selected as a contestant on the CBS hit reality show of all time “Survivor”. She was tireless in her ambition and motivation, which was ultimately recognized when she finished as runner up.  Carolyn was sought after to launch her own radio show in 2018.  Carolyn’s testimonials speak for themselves as she is one of the top speakers/trainers in the leadership space.


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