Monica Rivera is the founder and host of YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!, a podcast about reconnecting with yourself. She encourages her listeners to explore the interests, ideas and dreams that they may have been putting off or lost touch with over the years. Monica’s podcast invites people to allow themselves to try new things — like a hobby, a fitness goal, a career move or an item on their bucket list. While in corporate America, Monica thought about starting a podcast for years before finally getting up the courage to do it. Her decision paid off — and now Monica uses her show as a platform to encourage others to take that leap of faith.
Name: Monica Rivera
Company: YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!
Job Title: Founder
Based in: New York City
Originally from: Bronx, NY
Superpower: Problem Solver Extraordinaire
A woman in history you admire & why:
Oprah Winfrey; I know this is cliche, but growing up in the Bronx, I didn’t have many role models. Oprah showed me a world and shared a perspective that didn’t exist in the South Bronx. She proved that I could be more than my environment and overcome a tough childhood. She made me believe that I could redefine my narrative.
Quote/piece of advice that you live by:
“Your playing small does not serve the world.”
What inspired you to start your current venture?
I LOVE answering this question! For over 15 years, I worked in corporate America. Five years ago, I moved from being content to just plain uncomfortable. My career felt like I was wearing clothes that no longer fit.
I had been thinking about starting a podcast, so I bought a microphone. It sat on my desk for four-and-a-half years because I kept talking myself out of using it. I worked in a corporate job, I kept telling myself, who would want to hear what I have to say?
Finally, in June 2017, I stopped postponing my dream of starting a podcast and went for it. I recorded and released my first show within a week. My first podcast was awful, but it was the leap I needed to take in order to stop delaying the future I wanted for myself.
What is your company doing to make history today?
I created YOU WANNA DO WHAT?! as a podcast specifically for people who are working full-time and need a nudge to try new things and follow their dreams. We often lose touch with ourselves as the years go by, and I’m all about bringing that back! Since beginning my podcast, I have been invited to speak at events across the country.
What is one thing your company has accomplished that you are most proud of?
My independent podcast has listeners in over 70 countries. It’s astonishing to know that I am heard by so many people!
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
Since starting a podcast, I have been working on developing my community. I want to focus on accountability. My aim is to create a space where people feel safe bragging about their accomplishments and candidly sharing their struggles in the midst of a community that will provide them with encouragement and support.
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
Podcasting is becoming a crowded space and big business has noticed! There are many well-funded, corporate-backed podcasts out there, so reaching new listeners as an independent one-woman team can be tough.
What is a trend in your industry that you foresee becoming popular in the future?
Now is seems that everyone is starting a podcast. It may seem easy, but podcasting is a lot of hard work, time and commitment.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job?
People have lots of opinions and they aren’t afraid to share them! People have made many suggestions to me — e.g., changes in content, increasing or decreasing show length, different paths for monetization, etc. Feedback is helpful, but it can also lead to me second-guessing my personal roadmap or it can cause what I refer to as ‘paralysis by analysis’.
What were you doing before your current role?
I spent over 15 years working for blue chip companies in various marketing roles.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be people in your industry with greater reach, higher accolades, more followers, etc. Focus on creating something you feel passionate about, because ultimately that will sustain you when the hard days hit.
Are there any great resources you have discovered that you would like to share?
Smarterqueue is my go-to for auto-scheduling select social media posts.
Fun fact about yourself:
I have seen Jay-Z in concert 14 times!