Finding Your Life's Purpose (With Eastern Bank's Bob Rivers)

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This is a podcast episode titled, Finding Your Life's Purpose (With Eastern Bank's Bob Rivers). The summary for this episode is: <p>As a straight, white, male, Bob Rivers is far from an underrepresented individual. But that doesn't mean he's not aware of his privilege. Taking on the role of CEO at Eastern Bank 15 years ago, Bob has made it his life's purpose to ensure that the next generation of corporate America looks nothing like him. </p><p><br></p><p>In this episode of The American Dream, Elias highlights a <em>represented</em> individual making a difference. He and Bob talk through how Eastern Bank's board reached a 50% diversity metric, why that matters, and where Bob thinks the city of Boston still needs to improve in the race towards equality.</p><p><br></p><p>If there's one thing to take away from this episode, it's that having diverse companies is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.</p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every other Tuesday.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias and Bob on Twitter at @eliast, @rfrivers64, and @DriftPodcasts.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at</p>
How Bob makes a diverse board at Eastern Bank happen
03:07 MIN
One of the biggest mistakes Bostonians make
02:59 MIN
The way to make progress is through conversations
02:26 MIN

Elias Torres: Hola, I'm Elias Torres, co- founder and CTO of Drift. You are listening to the The American Dream podcast. Did you know that Drift is part of just 2% of VC- backed startups led by Latin American founders. Well, I'm on a mission to change that. On this show, you will hear from leaders who have achieved their own version of the American dream. We'll talk about what the process looked like to get there, the obstacles they faced along the way and the work we still have to do to build a new face of a diverse corporate America. Welcome. We have Bob Rivers with us at The American Dream podcast. Thank you so much for being here. Bob is the chairman and CEO Eastern Bank, right here in Massachusetts. And it is an honor for me to have you on the show. You're a really big deal, you're really important. And we did not meet, but I first saw you on a stage speaking about four years ago at an event called HUBweek, here in Boston, where it was a Latino centric event. And yet you were there, here participated in this panel. And I was like, who is this guy? It's like, yes, he's the CEO of a bank, big deal. But somebody came to me and says," Bob is the real deal. He is the true ally of the Latino community here in Boston." You should get to know him someday. And here I was on the to and the panel, and John Barros and others were there, and I'm thinking Bob is a white, straight male in a Latino event focused on furthering the Latino community and closing the gap on social inequity for us. Why do you do this? Why do you show up at places like this? Why are you fighting for us and how can other people get to know what you do for community? Thank you for being here.

Bob Rivers: Yeah. Well, thanks for that way too kind introduction, Elias. It's over the top for sure. But I appreciate the opportunity. It's great to see you. This is like a conversation we would have normally, right? I appreciate the question and it's one that I've got a lot over the years. And really actually where it begins is with the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. So my name is Robert Francis Rivers, and I found out in my teen years that my mom named me after RFK. And I'll tell you, it really comes back to my parents were Massachusetts Democrats, big Kennedy fans. My mom had just lost my older brother, John, at childbirth around the time Jackie Kennedy and John Kennedy lost a baby. John was my father's name, so named after John. And she was so taken with the way that RFK won for his brother after his assassination, that that's really where the name came from. Because it's not a family name. Francis is, Robert isn't. And I asked like," So where did it come from? I don't see it anywhere." That's where it came from. I read a lot about RFK as a result and have over the years. And I think what he represented in the last years of his life, particularly following his brother's assassination, the way he reached out to others that weren't his fortunate as him was again, really moving and influential and inspirational to me. And so I'd increasingly think about how would I put that into action. And then I had a real experience because again, if you're me, a white guy, didn't grow up with a whole lot of money. But I'd definitely be a straight white guy, I came to recognize pretty quickly that I was born on first base and had a lot of inherited advantages by virtue of gender, race and sexual orientation. My ex- wife at the time, she and I grew apart, our careers went different directions, and her next relationship was with another woman. And she now identifies as queer. And I saw her go through that process. Again, this is someone I was with for 14 years, dating and marriage, very close to, knew her family and watched her go through this process of really identifying with who she really is and sharing that with her friends and family. She's a Vassar College professor. So she's someone that has always been in a very progressive workplace. So the issues weren't at work, the issues were at home and her family was very much like mine. And so you really internalize that when you're that close to someone, their experience is similar to yours growing up, their family reacts probably much the way you think your own would and probably would if I had done the same. It was very hurtful. And to hear about, to watch if you will. And it really, at that point, took all the things I had sort of intellectualized from reading about RFK and really went to my heart and said, something's going to be done about this. This can't happen. And it happens to lots of other people, not just those in the LGBTQ + community. It happens to anyone who doesn't look like me. And so when I came to Eastern, it's really where I had my opportunity 16 years ago. I've been a long time banker, I've been in the business 40 years. And when I came to Eastern, really had an opportunity to think about how I could actualize it. And thankfully through Eastern's philanthropic platform and the culture of the place already had a basis to leverage. And so what I did when I first came to Boston is I started to reach out to communities that didn't look like I did. I didn't want to just go to the typical white guy, business leader events. I wanted to go to the events that people like me typically didn't go or weren't even aware of. And I got a lot of early guides from people, Colette Phillips, Yvonne Garcia and others, that really helped me just become more aware of who's in that community, build networks, develop friendships. And really, the pursuit there was really to have relationships that would teach me, that would correct me when I said things that weren't quite right, would help me change my thinking, better understand their experience, knowing that I never could fully because it's not my own and I don't live it. And that's really how it all got started. And really the pursuit there was one of actualizing all this stuff that had built up over many years in a way that I could synergize with my profession, our business here at Eastern, so that I could continue to sustain it as I do today.

Elias Torres: Wow. That was a really, really impactful story and one of I'm sure there's a lot. You could have chosen many paths. You could've been angry, you could've gone and say," I don't want to deal with this." But you chose the better, the right path of understanding and developing empathy. And I think what you're doing is incredible, which is what I think we're all seeking for some sort of happiness, maybe not success. Happiness usually comes first and you're blending your experiences. You're merging everything, combining everything into a single life and a purpose. What you learn from who you were to who you want to be. And you had empathy and the humility to be able to say," I want to just learn from others. I want to learn about their experiences." And that is so fulfilling, compared to just want to do better and more all the time and take advantage of your advantages. Instead you're saying, no, I want to just enjoy meeting and learning and helping others and creating a new thing where Eastern Bank, the foundation, you, your company, your career and the community could all benefit. Which is like a win- win situation and what people thought that way.

Bob Rivers: Right. It's really about having a purpose, what's your life's purpose? And my life's purpose, and I've been very financially fortunate, which is great, but it's never been my quest. It's never been my life's purpose was to make money. And I like the banking business a whole lot, but I like it a whole lot more if it's something that I can really leverage. And being at a community bank, having been at larger banks certainly makes it more meaningful. It keeps you closer to the ground and really knowing what's going on in different communities. And I do think you have to synergize these kinds of things. I talk to a lot of business leaders who are interested in doing these kinds of things, if you will, whether it be advocating for different communities or different issues. And I say, that's great, but you've got to synergize it with your business and your life in some way. Because if you don't, it's going to be off to the side and it's never going to get the attention that you want to give it and it'll be frustrating and you won't be all that effective at it. But if you can find a way that it synergizes with what you do every day, then you'll find the fuel to sustain it for a long period of time. And that's really how this happens to be constructed for me, allows me to be really in it, thinking about it, working with others on it, all the time.

Elias Torres: Absolutely. You had to go through some painful moments, but what you have right now is something that I want to showcase to people. I think what you said is extremely wise, and that I want people to hear and learn, especially those that have a tougher, that might not be on first base. I love that line. I'm trying to think of it as an immigrant, when I first came to this country. I don't think I even had a ticket to enter the stadium, you know what I mean? I was outside, cleaning the sidewalk. And to be able to be in there, I think it's special for everybody to hear. I say that the American dream, the definition is the ability for anyone, regardless of their race, their gender, their ethnicity, that through hard work and fairness, they can achieve their own version of their American dream. And what you just said is vital to that, which is, it's not just about money. It's not just about a position, it's not about a job. It's about being able to do things that inspire and give you a purpose, no matter what you do. I see that myself, like I'm in the tech world and I've been extremely fortunate, extremely blessed. But when I look around at my peers, it's like if there is no purpose, it's endless and it's meaningless. And my purpose as a Latino that people are teaching me in the community, including you, is what do I need to do? And that's why we do this podcast. In some ways, it kind of like what's the synergy between Drift and this podcast, but it's, to me, is what gives me the motivation to say I do this to help people in underrepresented communities learn about people like you so they can be inspired to achieve their own version of success.

Bob Rivers: That's what's really so striking about your story. As you well know, because you live this, there aren't many people that look like you and they seem to all basically kind of look like me in a lot of ways, probably younger. But in the tech sector is one of the least diverse industry sectors around. And that has to change it. Not only because it's the right thing to do. It's hard for the sector. The font of innovation is really the bringing together of different perspectives to develop a more robust collective thought process in a time where things are moving more quickly than ever, they're more uncertain than ever and the answers are more complex than ever. Boy, you better get enough people around the table at different thoughts, experiences, backgrounds, whatever it is because that's going to get you to the right answer, that's going to drive the best performance and where I see any organization where they don't have the diversity, that's the thing I talk about is this is the first and foremost, a matter of performance. It starts with the right thing to do. But at the end of the day, to sustain it with your company, it is critical. Otherwise, you are going to be, at best, irrelevant and at worst, out of business.

Elias Torres: The words that you're saying are so striking, but I don't think that people realize how striking they are. And I think in tech, we talk a big game about diversity because that's my echo chamber. I hear a lot of it, but we struggle a lot. Drift has good numbers if you benchmark them against company here and there, but it's not enough, not for what the impending situation that you're saying is going to happen when it comes to minorities and numbers and the world as a whole especially, we've gone remote. And so I think that you, your bank is not my industry. But you actually have done, and in no way I want to ask you your numbers and you're this, I know you're doing better than most. From the board and on down, we talked a little bit about this.

Bob Rivers: Yeah. We are. But I'll tell you, we are.

Elias Torres: You're a role model. What you're doing though? I say the same thing and I don't want to be claiming anything because I know I'm going to get squashed. But what I'm saying is, your industry, you are creating opportunities at all levels across your organization. You're making a big difference. And everybody talks about it and everybody's asking for advice. Maybe I want to zoom in on your board first and say I feel boards are the least diverse. We have boards are least diverse, C levels, C- suite levels are really not diverse. And then we have most of the diversity is at the lowest level. You have been able to do many, many changes across. Maybe speaking at the board level, what is this focus and desire of yours? How do you make it happen?

Bob Rivers: Yeah. Well, that's really where it began for me. And again, got a lot of help with that. I mentioned Colette Phillips early. I didn't even know her and I just reached out and said," Colette, you don't know me, but I've heard a lot about you and I need your help." And what I was trying to do is we've always had a pretty diverse board of directors, relative to others. But we have two other boards, our board of advisors, our board of ambassadors, which was almost entirely like 98% straight white guys, a function of history and other bank boards, and really wanted to diverse a that. So I needed to develop these talent networks. That was part of my early outreach. And the purpose was okay, I'm on this hunt to find people who will allow me to access their networks and help me understand who might be a good fit for us. And the reason I wanted to diversify the board first, in many ways, it's easier. What I mean by that is when you go to hire someone, that's a real commitment. They've got to give up another job to join your company. It's a big thing. You go ask someone to be on their board, much less, much less. They don't have to give up their day job for that, for example. And a lot of people want to be on boards. So I knew that would be an easier path. And I knew it was a great place to start because if I was going to better diversify the senior leadership of this company and the workforce generally, people would first evaluate Eastern and look up and they'd say," Okay, so who's running the place?" And if they looked up and saw a board that wasn't very diverse, it would undermine my credibility about how serious I was taking this. In addition, I knew if I brought in people from other communities on our board, the other thing I knew that I could do is access their networks for others, to join our company as well. That was really the intent that it started with. And we've made a lot of progress on that. Today, our collective boards are well north of 50% women and or people of color and or members of the LGBTQ + community. And as you say, it is higher than most for sure. But it is the low bar. And it's one until we achieve at least the representation of the communities that we serve in the greater Boston region, we're far from done. And I think that's one of the things that I worry a little bit about is we can never get too self- satisfied because when your comparator is not that great, but you happen to be exceeding it, you can start to get too lost in your own echo chamber and drink your own Kool Aid, or whatever metaphor you want to use. And then you don't push as hard and you stop. And so this is again, a continuous process here.

Elias Torres: I love what you said, and that brings a lot of potential dark issues that we have in our system, which is that was genius, that was smart,. It's like it's harder to go get a C- suite executive that is diverse or has as much experience as those people that went on first base from the get go. And then now in their careers, they could be on third base and so forth. And so it's easier to find those, and the network and everybody knows it. But the board was much easier. And that's something that we struggle. Everybody says, how come we didn't have representation on the boards? And you're putting it out in the open, that it should be the easiest place to do it. If we don't do it, it's because people don't want to create the opportunity and make the room.

Bob Rivers: No question about it. You got to be intentional. One of the things that we did is we just set up targets. At the time, we took out the census for the area and said blacks are X percent, Latinos are another percent, Asian Americans, just did the list. And said," Okay, so where are we?" And we had gaps all over the place. And said,"Well, that gives us directive. And as we go through our nomination process and our election process, it's very intentional." Now, certainly you always start with, we got to have people who are leaders, well networked, interested in the community, bring a skillset that's additive to our collective hold. And you always start with talent. But we always look for talent, solve for diversity in that way, and you got to be really intentional. The other ripple effect of it, which has been great of all of this is within the industry. And I've seen this time and time again. Our boards are big. We can only have 12 directors. They don't turn over all that often. We advisors and ambassadors, they're a much bigger group. Not everyone can be on the board of directors. There just isn't enough room. But if you put people on your board, all of a sudden companies that aren't looking as hard for diverse talent, or don't have the networks, all of a sudden, they start to look at your board. And so we've been fortunate. And I encourage this, for other banks and other companies to look at our board. And if you see someone, I am not at all offended if you want to ask them to join your board, because that's good for the general order. And I say this to both boards. And I said, before you take it, give me an opportunity, maybe we get something coming up in the board of directors. And we've done that too. But oftentimes, because the numbers, we're not able to, and that helps seed the industry and seed other industries. The other thing it helps is when I'm on the boards of other organizations that are trying to diversify their boards is I have a ready network of people. I was just on a call early this morning with another organization who does a really good job in diversity. But like all of us, have to continue to push, get better. And we're in this conversation, they're going through their goals. Because I'm on this Zoom call in this meeting and I'm just sending to the executive director, a constant stream of private chat messages about," Did you talk to this person? Did you talk to that person? How about this person?" And thankfully, shows how good this organization head is, had met with about to connect several of the people I sent through the chat, but not all. And so for me that feels good because it's like, okay, a lot of us can sit on boards and occupy space. This is a way that I can add value, and again, move the general order forward in a place that really is critical for Greater Boston. I mean let's face it, Greater Boston faces a lot of threats. The perception of being a racist community, which is real and backed up by fact is a real threat to Boston's future of success unless we as a business community and collectively everywhere, get together and really work hard to solve it.

Elias Torres: Tremendous. That was a really powerful statement. I think it's a real, real, real concern and is backed up. I think that your insight and the role modeling that you're doing wherever you participate, and maybe I want to volunteer to do things, but I think we need you play a key role in this community. Because if we fight for equality, we have to do it. There is no other way around it. And that's what we will do and we will continue doing. We're going to help each other to break the ceiling. But people like you play such a key role because you're on the other side and you're saying I'm here to help and I'm willing to take chances and show others, people like you, that is the smart thing to do, that is the right thing to do. And maybe even model to say, you go into a board and you're like," I'll be here for some time. But then you know what, I'm going to swap myself out." Because you have the privilege. Latinos do not get asked to be on boards. You're being asked to be on a board every day. And so you could go around and be like," I joined this and then I'm going to swap myself out with somebody in the community," and then go there and give a chance and stretch your hand and say," I'm going to create the bridge and the connection for people to get to know the community here in Boston and overcome this label of a really racist city." It's like it's palpable. I notice it. When I'm in Miami, when I'm in Tampa, Florida, I feel completely at home. I feel different. It's a different place. And Boston needs to evolve because the whole world is competing on the same stage.

Bob Rivers: Yeah. I think one of the biggest mistakes many in Boston make is to resist or get upset about being called a racist city. It's like with any problem, the first step is recognition of the problem, ownership of the problem. And again, I believe it's a racist city. Not necessarily because people say it is, although they do, not because people have experiences that air that out, but they sure do. The data tells me this. The data tells me. The leadership on board, the leadership in the business community and senior management tells me that. The statistics on income and wealth, the various disparities that have been laid bare in the pandemic, the list goes on and on. As long as those exist, any community that has those evident are systemically racist, maybe not overtly. I think too many people look at that term and say, think of the Ku Klux Klan, or some of these things that were incredibly overt, violent, awful years gone by that are certainly less, a lot less and almost nonexistent in that way today. But they manifested themselves in other ways, which are more subtle, yet nonetheless really hurtful. And so I just see it as, this is a place where I can play a role in this community to help advance it where I bring something to the party that maybe others don't bring as much. Thankfully, I'll tell you, a lot of white male business leaders that I know are increasingly interested in solving this problem. What I find among most people is not sure how.

Elias Torres: Exactly.

Bob Rivers: And I want to do something, but I don't know how, or I don't know anyone who can help me with it. And that's where I go back to networks I've been building for well over a decade here in this community. That's where this is essential. You and I were introduced by Vanessa inaudible Rosato, who also is on an nominating committee and someone who is one of the most respected leaders in Boston's business community period, regardless of community or race. And you get to know folks like that, develop relationships, ask them if they could access their networks and give you some advice, you're starting to make progress. Never do anything on your own, obviously in life. And in this one, as a straight white guy, there ain't no way you're ever going to solve this one on your own. You need help, you need people who have lived this life, have these experiences and these relationships that can help you move it forward.

Elias Torres: Wow, wow. You're incredibly bold and courageous. This is when people say are things getting better, I would say me talking to you right now tells me things are getting better, that we can have this conversation in the open. You said what you said. We're in a new world, we're in a new era and I'm really excited and hopeful for the future. I'll tell you something in return about Boston. It's like, I've been here 20 years and I'm going to say the opposite. I think everything that you said is true, 1000%. But to me, I'm an optimist and I think about the future. And I don't want to get focused on the past. We are this history. This is how things were, but if we change, I don't think they care about, but what I will reiterate is that besides all those things that you're saying, it is possible to succeed and to create an amazing life in this country and in this city. And so I think that I want to make sure that we also talk about that, that it's possible because of people like you and because of the system that we created in this country is way more open, despite inequalities and the racism that it would've been in my own country where I am the norm, to be able to break through social and economic classes and opportunities. So this system, the entrepreneurial spirit of this country and the city and the support of the businesses still creates opportunity. What we are trying to do is make it more distributed and more accessible to everyone despite of where they come from, and create. So you doing that, you saying that, I'll just back it up and say, Boston, it's amazing. It's possible. And we want to help you and not help others to do that. And I think people should hear it. There's so much actionable stuff that you said, like connecting with Vanessa using her network. This is a woman that has spent her life in the community, working in the trenches to create opportunity for the new generation, to be able to connect with her and find opportunities and get faster to first base.

Bob Rivers: Yeah. No question. I grew up here as well, and this is a great community, a great city. And what gets me excited is we can be so much better. This city has a long history of being a leader, being the first, being the most progressive. And that's a standard that we have to uphold, not only because that's our legacy, but that's our opportunity. That's our X factor. And we need to push that harder. And there's signs all around us. Our new mayor, Michelle Wu, is another sign of progress and hope and I couldn't be more excited. We'll have a new governor. Again, another opportunity at that leadership role to push us forward. And I think the more that we find these opportunities and lean into them, we're going to move this city forward in ways that we hope for, and we'll achieve. One of the things that is also a great thing about Boston, it's small. You've been in other places, I've been in other places. It's a place that if you grow up here, you think it's big. We consider ourselves the hub of the universe. But in reality, it's a very small town. And the benefit of that is your ability to develop a network, critical mass in a network, get to know people, come together and solve problems and actually make progress, that's another terrific opportunity for this town because it seems bigger than it really is, but that's its benefit because its impact on others and influence on other places and people can be very high. Yet, your ability to solve it is easier than a lot of bigger cities where it's really hard to break in and really get your arms around it. That's one of the other things I really love about Boston.

Elias Torres: Yeah. I think people are inherently good, we just need good role models. If you're in a tough city, I don't know, let's attack New York, where people are tough, they're going fast, they're minding their own business and they don't have time, compared to a place in the Midwest or Maine. I was talking to someone telling me that in Maine, the neighbors bring their packages in. And in New York City, they just steal them or something. You can move someone to a location. And if you have the right role models about how you treat one another in the real world, in the community that is so small, it can create a ripple effect where everybody's like, Vanessa helped me, I want to help somebody else. That person helps somebody else. Bob helped me, Bob connected with this person, encouraged that person. And we just keep passing that along, we can change our community because it's so small, so quickly. It's really, really a small town.

Bob Rivers: Yeah. And I think the other thing, we've got to be willing to be honest with one another. I mentioned to you earlier, we got to own this challenge, this reputation. Perception is reality and there's a lot of reality in it. But we've got to also be honest with each other. We're basically facilitating a narrative that isn't quite true, or amplifying a narrative that it isn't quite as having as much impact. Again, it goes back to that you're in the echo chamber, our own Kool Aid, we're great, we're making progress, we're better than others. And there's time and time again, particularly when it comes to DEI efforts of one sort or another where there's too much patting of ourselves on the back without being honest and certainly recognizing whatever progress has been made. But really being honest about the progress that hasn't been made. I can cite a whole bunch of examples. I'll pick on the Massport model. That's a great model. And Duane Jackson is the husband of our lead director at Eastern, Deborah Jackson. He's a great guy. And he was really the spirit behind driving that with Tom Glynn over at Massport at the time and others. And that manifests itself in a hotel project, where there was a lot of representation and participation from businesses of color. Great. But a model means others followed it. And so far, I don't see anyone following that really. And so that's the thing. Whenever I hear Massport model, I kind of like," Eh." It's a great thing, the Massport thing is a great thing, but it isn't a model until we institutionalize it in some way and it becomes replicated.

Elias Torres: Replicatable.

Bob Rivers: And I think that's what one of the many things I think around town sometimes that get overblown and people say, declare victory when in fact, the battle has only begun.

Elias Torres: Exactly. I want to wrap up on that note of we have to put the gloves down, we have to put the facade down and we have to be honest and transparent. Your conversation here has been nothing but honest and authentic. And if we have more of those conversations amongst ourselves and one another, it'll start sharing the right message and the right intention of what we truly would want underneath. By seeing it modeled, by seeing collaboration across ethnicities and everything, and people be like," Well, look how they work really well together. Look at the potential. Look at the new ideas. Look at the progress. Look at the ability to grow a business faster." Be able to hire, be able to find talent, being able to service the community, your customers, and so forth. The more people we share the true stories, the in- depth stories that are honest, that are authentic, that are what we are experiencing, the faster we'll be able to make progress.

Bob Rivers: I agree. And I think it does start with the conversations and it starts with the relationships and that fosters those conversations. The thing I always focus on is the actions and the outcome. I'm in too many rooms where everyone's in agreement that this, that, or the other thing could be better. And we all agree and then we walk away. And it's like, well, let's do something about it.

Elias Torres: Absolutely.

Bob Rivers: Like us. Not the" Gee, why don't they do something about it?" Whether it be the government or somebody else. What are we going to do? Knowing that we can't solve the whole darn thing, but maybe we can create a model that others could follow, or maybe we can at least make some ground. Each of us individually can do something and should. And I'm always struck by the fact that well- meaning people will sit around and nod their heads. And then we walk away from the conversation and nothing happens. It's really important that when we're in these conversations that we think about, okay, if this is a conversation I want to have and participate in and I care about, I've got to take responsibility so that in the future, these conversations aren't the same, that they're better and that we've established measures that hold ourselves accountable to making it better along the way.

Elias Torres: It's amazing. You sound like the CEO of a company, that you're a doer. And that's the way it has to be. I'm 100% with you. I call it extreme ownership. I call it GSD, got to get shit done, LGT, whatever it takes. There's nothing more in my personality, people say," What is your biggest strength?" I just cannot be inactive. I have to do something. Start somewhere, take the first step, don't just talk about it. I think it's a great message, you're a great role model. I've learned so much from you today and encourages me to share this with others so other people can hear you and be like," I want to talk to Bob. I want to be able to get help and get going if I'm doing this." Thank you so much for what you do.

Bob Rivers: Well, thanks for the opportunities. Again, it's great to see you, Elias. And again, you and I talk outside of these things.

Elias Torres: Yeah.

Bob Rivers: Let's come up with something we can do together, okay?

Elias Torres: Absolutely. And we got to get shit done. We got to get something.

Bob Rivers: Absolutely.

Elias Torres: Thanks for listening to The American Dream podcast. Make sure to hit subscribe so you never miss when new episode drops. If you like this episode, please leave a six star review wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you're interested in learning more about my American dream mission, subscribe to my newsletter, link in the show notes.


As a straight, white, male, Bob Rivers is far from an underrepresented individual. But that doesn't mean he's not aware of his privilege. Taking on the role of CEO at Eastern Bank 15 years ago, Bob has made it his life's purpose to ensure that the next generation of corporate America looks nothing like him.

In this episode of The American Dream, Elias highlights a represented individual making a difference. He and Bob talk through how Eastern Bank's board reached a 50% diversity metric, why that matters, and where Bob thinks the city of Boston still needs to improve in the race towards equality.

If there's one thing to take away from this episode, it's that having diverse companies is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.

Key Moments:

  • (2:00) Why a straight white male fights for Latino representation in the workplace
  • (6:00) Why and how Bob turned thought into action
  • (12:40) Why diversity in the tech sector needs to get better
  • (15:33) How Bob makes a diverse board at Eastern Bank happen
  • (24:42) One of the biggest mistakes Bostonians make
  • (30:19) The progress Boston has made towards embracing diversity, and where it still needs to improve
  • (36:24) The way to make progress is through conversations

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Today's Host

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Elias Torres

|Co-founder & CTO, Drift

Today's Guests

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Bob Rivers

|Chair & CEO, Eastern Bank