Episode #333 – Permission to be Unavailable with Eve Rodsky: Groundbreaking Insights into the Spheres of Work, Home, and Personal Creativity

March 12, 2024

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Get ready to learn the game-changing strategies of “Fair Play” with special guest Eve Rodsky. 

Discover how to communicate effectively, set unapologetic boundaries, and carve out much-deserved personal space for creativity and growth. Don’t miss this empowering episode where we’re rewriting the narrative of domestic equality and sharing the blueprint for balancing work, home and vibrant personal fulfillment right alongside your partner. 

Eve reveals the secrets to redistributing household tasks and ending the cycle of imbalance that so many women face daily. She introduces her system – the Fair Play cards – your ticket to a partnership that respects the value of your time and contributions. She also stresses the importance of finding your own “unicorn space” that nurtures your creativity.

Show Highlights:

  • What could happen if we treated homes as organizations? 02:15
  • Are you aware of the unpaid labor burden on women globally? 08:52
  • Three amazing techniques to revolutionize your life. 13:02
  • What is the only method of ending bias at your home? 18:28
  • Discover how society’s conditioning impacts women. 23:34 
  • How emotions and influences shape system design. 27:08
  • The power of working on your belief system  35:25
  • How to take control of your time. 40:43
  • The transformative role of understanding your inner values. 49:09
  • The significance of valuing one’s own time and interests. 55:50

Find Eve online at https://fairplaylife.com  or https://everodsky.com  and on instagram at @fairplaylife or @everodsky.

Get a digital PDF of the Fair Play cards by signing up for the Fair Play newsletter on the website!

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Cherylanne Skolnicki (intro):

This is episode 333 of the Brilliant Balance Podcast, “Permission to be Unavailable” with Eve Rodsky. Today, we’re delivering groundbreaking insights into the spheres of work, home, and personal creativity. So if you have not yet crossed paths with her work, Eve Rodsky is truly a powerhouse in the gender equality space. She is the author of “Fair Play” and the driving force behind the documentary of the same name. Because it was important in her own life, she was determined to create a system to truly move the needle on the inequality that nearly everyone is facing at home with domestic work. Eve eventually partnered with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine platform to broaden the awareness of her message and later released her second book called “Finding Your Unicorn Space,” which is all about the transformative power of creativity as we endeavor to pursue our very best lives. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Eve by a friend and former colleague who collaborated with Eve when Procter and Gamble sponsored her Fair Play work, and we had an initial conversation earlier this year. I am so delighted that today she is joining us for this special session of the podcast.

You’re going to learn that Eve transformed her own, what she calls, “blueberries” breakdown into a real catalyst for social change and she applied her Harvard-trained background in organizational management to ask the simple yet profound question: What would happen if we treated our homes as our most important organizations? That really became the basis for this movement, which started right in her own household with her husband and her children, and then evolved into something that is helping thousands and thousands of women around the world. She cites research in this interview from 17 countries to inspire a new narrative around the equality of time and the individual right to personal time choice. That can influence sustainable and lasting change, not only on an individual level but on a policy level. Eve is really an exceptionally strong presence in this space. She has such a passionate point of view that she brings to this interview and to her work day in and day out. I was really grateful to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with her for this interview. It runs a little longer than our traditional format, and I absolutely think it’s worth every second of the listen. I also want to just caution you in case you have little ones in the car. Eve uses some strong language in this, which I’m not going to edit out because I think it is part and parcel of her personality and I want her to be authentically herself. But if you do have little ears around, this may not be the episode for them. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Eve Rodsky.


So Eve, welcome to Brilliant Balance. 

Eve Rodsky:
Yeah, it’s so good to finally be here. I know. We’ve had a few little logistics kerfuffles. with this, but I am delighted that we are actually getting to do it today.

You look beautiful. It’s just a delight to have you. Yeah. So I always love to start with, tell us and the listeners what you have been up to today before this interview, what’s been on your schedule?

Well, actually, today, it’s a funny time you’re asking me. I got a text from my mother who said that my brother’s disability is having some hiccups. And so we were actually on the phone, my brother is disabled, he gets a social security disability. And so we were on the phone dealing with a couple of insurance providers. So I think it just shows you that a lot of us are in care situations that we wouldn’t even know about.

It could look very simple on the surface where you think of your colleague or your friend and just. has to take care of their kids. But you may not know that they have a disabled brother or you may not know that they have a parent who’s ailing.

And so I think, you know, to give all of us grace that probably everybody you know is in some sort of caregiving situation at the moment. 

Could not agree more. And that I think particularly for someone like you who a lot of people candidly will have on a pedestal coming into the interview today,

I think it’s so powerful that you would like a vulnerable level set. Like we’re literally all in the same situation. Various times, various days, managing the same kinds of things personally. 

You can’t even imagine the emails I was getting this morning. If you’re dealing with a state government or a federal government in helping to pay for that care, it’s even more confusing. One of my early jobs was as a chief operating officer of a nonprofit called Advocates for Children and we sued a board of educations in New York state and the state for their lack of fulfillment of something called an IEP, which is a child special needs plan. And so if anybody out there has had to deal with reimbursements for genetic testing for babies, IVF, IEPs, ICU, it is not easy out there. 

It’s not. And so many of those things are what make life feel particularly heavy for women, especially, and especially in this life chapter, where we are caregivers on so many different fronts. So I appreciate you saying that. You know, your work today overall really sits at the upper center of a movement and we talked about this a little bit in our initial meeting. I’m curious how you would describe that movement that you’re really working within the middle of. 

What’s interesting about Fair Play is that everything about research is “me-search”. And so this actually started the origin story of Fair Play is, as I write about it in the book is a text that said, “I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries.” Blueberries. So the reason why I bring that up is because I think it’s important to see how it evolved to a movement. In the beginning in 2012, when I got that text, actually the end of 2011, I had a complete personal breakdown. I didn’t understand that it was connected to anything outside of my immediate family, except for the fact that I was desperate to see a couple of therapists who told me to use I statements. and I statements were like you’re supposed to say I feel and then said I was like I fucking hate you, Seth. That’s where I was in 2011 Trying to solve this through couples therapy feeling like I was the Default or as I call Fair Play the she falls for literally every single thing that my my household needed And then if I broke I broke on the side of the road You can all help me picture the scene I had a newborn baby in the house. I was racing to get my son Zach from a toddler transition program, which in America lasts like three minutes. Seth sends me this text. “I’m surprised you didn’t get blueberries.” I had a breast pump and a diaper bag in the passenger seat of my car. I had a gift for a newborn baby to return in the back seat of my car. And so amidst all this chaos, I get this text that I pull over, which we don’t do lightly in LA. because of nothing. I just started to cry.

I started to cry thinking, how did I get here? And what I didn’t know at the time, which is why Fair Play has become a movement, is that there’s not one country where women don’t shoulder two -thirds or more of what it takes to run a home and family. There’s not one. Not even these Nordic countries that people talk about, like Sweden. Sweden and Norway. It is women shouldering the unpaid labor of society. And I did not know I was a statistic at that time that I was also shouldering two thirds or more of what it took to run my home and family. And we know it’s a gender issue. Again, why it’s a movement and not a monetary issue, because we now have a lot of data that shows as women make more money and gain more power in a heterocyst gender relationship – if you’re married to a man, or even if you had been married to a man or your work assumes that you’ll have caregiving responsibilities, it affects you. And it affects you because women actually shoulder more unpaid labor when they make more money. So that’s why it’s a movement. Because unfortunately, as much as we’ll talk and I can give you a system, um, really this is an individual and systemic and corporate. There has to be changes at every single run including individual households, our corporations, our communities, including our schools for why they call women first (I called 50 of them to ask) all the way up to our state laws and ultimately our federal laws which are things like paid leave and childcare.

All from a text about blueberries. So I, I want you to leave that story for people to read in the book in its entirety. But I think what it represented for you was the, the pivot point to start asking why, why is it that all of these things are falling on my shoulders? And what I love about what you just shared is I thought it was just me. And then I learned, no, actually, this is, no matter how far out I look, this is the universal condition. And so while I can change some things for me, I maybe also ought to throw my shoulder to the wheel of this more systemic change.

That’s a beautiful way to say it. Exactly. 

What I also love about this is with kind of N of one in your own household, you developed a system that was a little bit playful, a little bit of gamification of the problem here, and then you codified that into something that you could share. So for people who have been living under a rock, can you tell them what the fair play system is?

Yeah. So when I was having this blueberries breakdown, the only narrative I could really find, this was in 2011, because this is before, if you could imagine, before Instagram and TikTok, this was early social media. I think there was Facebook. But really, the only narrative was what to expect when you’re expecting. which did not tell me anything I was to expect when I was expecting. It basically said my child was like a jelly bean size. And then the other narrative was sort of like the Eat, Pray, Love narrative out in the world that somehow you can start over, just, you know, abandon and leave. That’s a privileged narrative. And that wasn’t in my wheelhouse ’cause I had two young children and I am a product of a single mother.

So I know it’s very, very hard. especially if you’ve taken a step back, like I had even in the three years that I’d had my two kids, I had actually at that point quit my job. I say I was forced out. I’d started my own law firm, but I had been forced out of the corporate workforce because I was asking for some flexibility. The good news, I think the pandemic is pushing that narrative way forward more quickly than I thought would ever happen.

When you’re in that situation, you’re so far from understanding what you can do that the only other thing I thought was, could I get my ass in gear and become my own client? And so for those out there who don’t know my background, I’m a lawyer. I came into law because I believe that lawyers are the only ones who actually really design societies. Because if you want people to stop at a stop sign, right? You can ask them to but really they’re not going to stop until you pass a law. Yes, you want to not vote in Georgia You make it harder for them through laws to not want people not to have reproductive rights You see what happens you use the court system. So I know from being a lawyer that we can do a lot of work through three amazing tactics, as I call them, boundaries, systems, and communication. There’s a lot to be done in systems, but also we need boundaries and communication, because those are the things that together lead to systemic behavior change. So that’s what I was looking at. So I wrote Boundary Systems Communication on a whiteboard, knowing that, again, as a day job, I work for families that look like the HBO show Succession. What I do for those families is I develop these organizational systems based on illegal governance laws and parameters that allow these families to function within new realms of structured decision -making that alleviate the assumptions.

So then I wrote on the board, “Boundary Systems Communication,” ’cause I knew that that’s what you need to run a successful organization. And my hypothesis was, is the home an organization? Could I apply some of these rules, or all these rules that I’ve been teaching for 10 years, to my own home? And that was the beginning of the Fair Play System. It’s a system to get you to the table, which is the boundary piece we can talk about. The system itself is not rocket science, we can talk about that, and it also has a lot of important communication principles.

So it’s a Boundary Systems Communication Formula for your life that I believe is a secret formula for success, understanding that it’s still polluted air, and we’re going to be fighting for the bigger systemic changes as well. 

But a level of controlling what you can control. So the things you can control are the boundaries, the application of a system and the communication in your own household, if you can’t control everything going on more broadly.

And it turns out, in fact, your home is an organization and you can apply some of the same principles that work there. So this whole system hinges on cards that really break down the tasks to be done inside of a household. An entire deck that can then be redistributed more equally between you and your partner or whoever is going to participate in this vast array of things.

And what I saw in that system that I found just sort of intrinsically fascinating was it makes visible the invisible. There’s so much of this. that is just happening in the background. I am confident my parents never had a conversation about the division of labor between the two of them. And early in our marriage, my husband and I would not have been able to list out all of the work that was happening. There were sort of patterns of distribution of that work that were just being done because it’s the way our parents did it or because that’s what they fell into without a conversation. And I think the way the cards enable a conversation, whether you literally use them or whether it is your spark to have the conversation, I think really is transformative because it makes that invisible work visible.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So let’s talk about the system, because if you’re somebody who has a partner who is, you feel like is willing and able to jump in a non -Seth, not like my partner who wasn’t, then you go straight, boundary systems communication, you go straight to systems. And that’s where I went first because that was what I knew I can control. And then we’ll talk about why people don’t come to the table next. But if you’re, if you have somebody who is open and you feel like you’re home as one man said to me, he’s a systems or analyst which makes me laugh but his home is one where they wait to decide who’s taking the dog out every night right when the dog is about to take a piss on the rug.

Even my Aunt Marion’s Majan group has more clearly defined expectations in the home – you don’t bring a snack twice to the group, then you’re out. So if you’re in that situation you go straight to the system that’s where I went because I knew that was easy, and I had beta testers who were willing to be there to try the system who were very open and willing. These are mostly people in 2012 who hadn’t had children yet. Because the more you have children, the more entrenched these patterns get, and then you end up in these really resentful, hard situations, hard to extricate, aka the blueberries breakdown, where it’s sort of like, I can either leave this marriage or the system. system something has to give. So let’s hope, you know, again, a lot of us are not in that, but a lot of us are. And it works for those people too. But it just takes longer, and this will become more of a triggering conversation, the same way it was when I came to this work.

But for those who were willing to just jump in, the system is not rocket science. Basically, what it is is you have 100 cards. Again, just like any organizational system. And what this card deck does is it allows women, again, who are married to men, to realize that they actually don’t have a magical vagina, as one friend said to me, that whispers in their ear what their husband’s mother wants for Christmas. It doesn’t work that way, right? So what this does, as you said earlier, beautifully, is that it moves from, it works with you directly. The only way to end bias is to move from assumptions about who holds these cards to structured decision -making tools.

That’s it, and we know that’s how you end bias. Read Jess Nordell’s book. It’s a beautiful book about how you end bias. One of the examples is Johns Hopkins University. Black mothers were dying at an extraordinary rate from blood clots.

The doctors and nurses were not giving blood clot medicine to black mothers based on assumption, right? Structural racism. Once you had a checklist of who gets that medicine, black women stopped dying. So we know that structured decision-making is a way to end bias. So I know that and it’s now 10 years later, we know that. We have hundreds of thousands, probably millions actually, of people playing this game. And again, like you said, whether it’s literal, not literal. But once they understand this is about structure decision -making and this kicks it off,

You’re in a different, a whole different ball game. So really what the game is, is a metaphor to say no one should hold all of this. So if your job is more flexible, I don’t care if your partner makes more money than you. We’ll talk about why that stops women from coming to the table and men too, assumptions. But this has to be divided. There are 60 cards if you don’t have children. You add 40 cards when you have children. And nobody talks about that. You’re about to double your work basically. And every one of these cards has an expense. And so we’re not talking about the expense to each of these 40 extra cards. Right. What this does is you look at the cards. So when I had these first cards, I had them in a prototype, which started with a should I do spreadsheet, it started, everything starts as a spreadsheet. But this is the hardest part, I couldn’t get accurate data. Because I would ask women married to men who handle tying shoes. riding bikes? Oh, we both do. Who handles birthday celebrations? We both do. – We both do. – We both do.

So it was really hard to get data. So I’m gonna tell you the one question I asked that got me the most important data that will explain the system in less than a minute. The question I asked in 17 countries that transformed my life and allowed me to create the Fair Play System was asking “How does mustard get in your refrigerator?” It was finally a question that would get at the actual root cause of what the problem was. 

Now, before she tells you, I want you to guess in your mind. Why is this question the litmus test? At Procter & Gamble we used to call this the “Golden Question.” Why is this the litmus test question? And if you are a mom, you know, you know why. – Okay, Eve, tell them. 

Well, it ended the “both” trap, where it could actually collect data because we know that men actually overreport by two thirds what they do and women significantly under report what they do. So this got to the end of the both trap, which was able instead to find out that if you look at project management, there’s usually a conception of planning and execution phase. And so I was listening to that. And what I found out was that women, even in the Nordic countries, even where they say they’re doing it better, they’re actually not. Women are the ones noticing that their second son, Johnny, needs yellow mustard to choke his protein down. Otherwise, he’s going to eat spaghetti for the rest of his life. You want a bit of a chicken nugget or a fish stick or whatever, yellow mustard, you know. So conception is the ideation of what type of mustard needs to be in the house. That’s phase one. 

Then I asked about stakeholder buy -in for what you need for the grocery list. So if you think about stakeholder buy -in, that’s a planning tool. Women were the ones handling stakeholder buy -in and they were the ones, moderating. monitoring the mustard for when it ran low. Yes. So that was what we found out was the planning phase. And then the reason why they were both saying they were involved in groceries, right, was because these men were going to the store with a list. Yes. They’re bringing spicy Dijon home every fucking time. And then women were saying to me, they can’t trust their husband with their living will, which is another card, estate planning, because the dude can’t even come home with the right type of mustard. 

I mean, y ‘all, just think about how true that is in your household, right? And here’s how it played out in my household when we crossed phase two as the list became more detailed. And then I was like, I don’t wanna send you to the store because the amount of time it takes me to make a list that you can get versus the list I can get that can just say mustard is not the same list, right? 

So yeah, this is it. The reasoning. – And so you start to say, right? In the time it takes me to tell someone I can do it by myself, right? So we’re gonna talk about why that’s conditioning, actually that society needs you to start to say to yourself and that’s why people can’t come to the table or are so afraid to come to the table, why is it so triggering to come to the table? So we’ll talk about that. But ultimately the conception, planning and execution and then I wrote it down. Around the same time,there was a sociologist who also, right after Fair Play, came out with a good study in 2020 that also showed that she found that. And we’re in the middle of some really great, quantitative research now that shows that this is the way, I mean, obviously we know it because I’ve been doing this work, but it’s always good to have it in peer review journals. Women shoulder, the conception and planning, men’s step in the execution in 17 countries. 

So what I realized was, oh my God, if Seth can shoulder the conception and planning and execution of just one card of the hundred, my life’s gonna change. I’m not saying you have to stop there. I think a lot of people are critical of Fair Play because I don’t say 50 /50. I don’t say men need to take 50 cards. I say that perceived fairness between both parties is the tool that sociologists use and I’m okay with that. And for me in the beginning of 2012, one card was fair. I was willing to hold the 99 other cards if Seth took over extracurricular sports as our kids aged into sports.

Because what I realized was that if he was the one conceiving of what sports they should play volleyball, baseball, soccer, whatever it was. They were serving our kids’ friends’ parents to see what sports our kids’ friends were playing. And then he was planning, through finding the birth certificate, logging onto a 1980s portal, uploading that birth certificate, ordering equipment on Amazon or borrowing it from a friend, bringing that equipment to the field, and also being on an 85 -person text chain about practices, coaches, gifts, when you’re gonna bring snack for the team, and also getting them to the fields. 

So that was six hours of my week back. So in 2012, six hours of my week back was a huge, huge win for me. And that’s how Seth and I started. We started with him taking over just one card. That may sound sad to a lot of you that it took that long for me to ask for such little change, but that’s how I started. triggering this was in my marriage. And we can explain why now for the people who can’t come to the table. But I do want to sit with that, the piece of the boundary systems communication sandwich, the system is actually not rocket science. If you don’t believe me, I’m sure that as an executive at Procter & Gamble, if you hired me and I came for 30 days to your office every day and said, Hey, what should I be doing today? I’m just going to wait here until you tell me what to do.” I know I would be on a PIP, a performance improvement plan. So why is it that we bring directly responsible individual energy, vibes to everything we do, ownership, vibes to everything? We give context and not control in every other area. That’s called psychological safety. where we don’t want to control an employee, we want to give them context for them to flourish. But we don’t do that at home. So that’s, I want to just marinate, that’s the system. But it’s not so easy as I learned.

No, because there’s so much outside influence. And what are our peers doing? And what did our families do? And what does a good mother do? There’s just so many emotions layered into this whole system. So where you and I might be similarly wired in that we look at things very pragmatically. My just instinctive wiring is maybe a little less emotional, a little more pragmatic.

And I think that’s helpful when we need people designing systems who are able to kind of put a few of the emotions aside and really look at logically, how would I design this? 

When we start to introduce the emotion, I think this is when people fall apart a little bit. in terms of the implementation. So you started to go here when you look at the challenges in applying this. How much does emotion play a role? Our own as well as those of the people we’re trying to get into the system? 

I think I was naive in 2012. Again, this all gets back to probably the first question you asked, which was for the second question about how this became a movement. I was really naive I thought that I could just hand this out. And it didn’t look like this. I have my first iteration of the card deck that I just did with a friend who was a graphic designer. I could just hand this to people. And then they would be like, oh my God, the invisible is not visible, you did it for us. Not only do you have all the cards, but if you go on Fair Play Life, you can find the conception, planning and execution for everyone. single card. So you don’t have to tell anybody, you can just say, you hold this card, go on this website and you’ll see every single thing you need to do.

And then people would be living the way that they did in the workplace. That’s how naive I was. 

So then what happens? How did I find out that I was being naive? Well, I found out I was being naive because when I handed out these system cards that I needed beta testers, I would say over 80% of the couples had not opened it because they said that they had tried to discuss domestic life before and it was too triggering. And if they went to the table again, it would not work well. So what did I do after that? Well, I started to survey people and ultimately I surveyed over a thousand people on social media, asking what your most important practice is. So some people didn’t understand the question, which is fine, but for those who answered I heard religion and like some sort of meditation practice or exercise. Not one of a thousand people said communication was their most important practice. And that’s when I realized that we have a problem. That people understand that to stay physically fit you have to actually come to the table everyday. But that people thought that communicating about domestic life, it’s literally like you go to the doctor and you say, yeah, I’m fit. I exercised once in 2005. So that’s the problem. When you realize people don’t understand communication as a practice, and if they’ve never practiced it before, I would ask people, do you check in with your partner when emotion is low and cognition is high? No, what are you talking about? Is communication relational for you? Or is it transactional? What the hell do you mean by that, Eve? Well, are you thinking about Cherylanne: I’m going to come into my relationship with Cherylanne saying, I want to get better at communicating with Cherylanne, or is my communication with Cherylanne things like– Get something done. Get something done. I have to tell her when the project is due. I have to tell her that something is– There’s a hiccup at– work, or I have to tell her that we’re out of yellow mustard. So people were viewing communication as extremely transactional.

They weren’t looking at it as a practice, a relational practice. And so I couldn’t believe that of all the therapists, I’m the lawyer, and I have to teach people through a mediation lens, which is so the way it’s like communication one on one, that people have to continue to come back to the table when emotion is low. cognition is high. We know that in work, when you give people your reviews, you hear nothing. You learn nothing. If they’re learning to practice communication with you on a weekly basis, where their emotion is low and their cognition is high, you will hear the truth, which is what you need at work. You need people to tell you the truth. And so I was just so surprised. 

And then COVID hits, which makes it even harder to get more data. data. The data I got was all over the place, but one of the most interesting groups was a 27,000 member Facebook group called the reasons I hate my husband and kids during COVID. And one woman writes a post in this group out of the UK that says, “If my husband dies during COVID, “it will be because of me, not the disease.” So I reach out to her on DM and I say, “Hey, I’m a researcher,” you know, and I… have a book, “I had a book that was just released this year. “I would love to know how you communicate with your partner about domestic life.” Since she just posted this murder text or her purpose. And she wrote back, “I don’t communicate with my partner about domestic life. This has become my safe space.” So I think we need to just all reflect on the fact that publicly threatening to murder her partner in front of 27,000 strangers felt safer to her than bringing this conversation to the table. 

I mean, think about that. I think the women who are in their coaching community at Brilliant Balance will know that I say that everything you want is on the other side of a courageous conversation. And I believe that with my whole heart, I think it’s another articulation of what you’re saying, which is if we can just stay in it repeatedly, and I love the ad of like starting when emotion is low and cognition is high, right? Just you’re in your right mind to have the conversation. And I heard, buried in your comment, like frequency, it’s the power of the weekly one -on -one at work. Frequency, just kind of no matter what, we’re gonna continue to talk so that when there is something that actually has conflict in it, we have our bearings under us. 

We’re pursuing this, right? I don’t have to see. We need to talk. We have our Friday check -in. 

If the only conversations are happening when there’s a problem or when I’m mad because you didn’t get the right mustard or whatever it is, we’re not going to get very far. And then I think that just people just slam on the brakes. The conversations stop happening. We go to our corners and there’s no progress. So the progress comes on the other side of these courageous conversations, and they have to happen routinely. They have to be so routine in a relationship, any relationship that we care about that we know we’re going to get to the other side of, right?

There’s always going to be another side. 

And I love that. It’s so beautiful what you’re saying. And I think, so this is your great interviewer because you sort of backed us in the last. piece of the secret formula. So if you understand the system and you understand the lack of communication, a lot of people said to me it would be a lot easier to have a courageous conversation if I knew what I was asking for. So I could give them the system and say you’re asking for someone to take over ownership of the cards. However, there was a bigger thing. So part of this courageous conversation has to start with ourselves. I’ve never seen people be able to go into a courageous conversation with their partner without having a courageous conversation with themselves. So what do I mean by that? Systems communication is only as good as the boundaries we hold. So what’s the first courageous conversation that I had to have with myself? Well, I had to understand why I couldn’t even ask Seth for that one card, right? This is before once I had had the should I do spreadsheet and I turned into a system and knew it would work. Why wasn’t I going to the table? But what I realized was now that I knew what I wanted to ask for, I had to work through my own uncourageous beliefs for why I was taking on more domestic work. And so instead, I had to understand why I was taking on more domestic why I was taking on more domestic work and I had to understand why I was taking on more domestic work and I had to understand why I was taking on more domestic work and I had to understand actually spent another, about nine months to a year before I went to the table with Seth, to find out if other people were also having uncourageous conversations with them, limiting conversations with themselves, based on the fact that we live in a capitalist patriarchy. And it turns out that they were.

So what they were saying to themselves, and I’m gonna give you the context. context. The context is, it is hard, and I’m giving you permission to understand that it is hard to have a courageous conversation about this. It is hard to even come to the table with a logical system, even for a systems analyst, even for coaches who know their role and do ownership all the time, even for military men who ultimately became huge supporters of Fair Play, but in the beginning it was so triggering for women. Because as a society, we have chosen to view women’s time through a different lens in men’s time. The analogy I give is that men’s time is diamonds.

Women’s time is sand. We, as a society, do everything we can to protect men’s time to guard it. And we tell women since birth that their time is infinite, that they can find time, that it’s sand. So again, I’ll explain how it hurts us because we start to internalize that, but just so you can see it around us, like for example, when women enter male professions or there’s occupational segregation like teachers or nail aestheticians, we see that those salaries, salaries automatically come down. So as a society, we’re saying we’re paying you less, which shows us that we’re paying you less, our time is less valuable. If you enter health systems, if you go into a health system like I love to do, there are still all over America, brochures that tell women that breastfeeding is free when it’s an 1 ,800 hour a year job. It’s only free if our time is worthless, right? So this is what starts happening. What starts happening, though, is because we think our time is less valuable. Who wants to live in a society like that? It’s so painful. So we don’t break cycles, and generation after generation of women start to tell themselves that they take pride in unpaid labor. So I’ll show you how it works. My toxic time message, there’s four, we’ll start with mine, which is I’m a better multi -tasker. I’m somehow wired differently to see the cut on my son’s hand that no one else saw that was getting infected.

I’m wired differently to hear the baby cry. I’m wired differently to see things on the shelf that are empty, the mustard. So those are the things that I’m wired differently for. I’m a better multitasker. If you go to science, sadly, I had to do that in 2012. There’s no gender difference in the way we multitask. This is completely conditioning. There’s nothing biological about this at all. In fact, one neuroscientist said to me, “Imagine Eve, men can convince you women that they’re better at wiping asses and doing dishes.” Then all of a sudden I don’t have to do it and I get my time back, tenure, I get a golf game. It Was very painful for me to hear. 

So that was number one. Number two was my husband makes more money than me. My job is more flexible. That doesn’t work because men always make more money because of the pay gap. It also doesn’t work because we found a study that showed when women were doctors, they said their job was more flexible and their husbands were lawyers. You switched it, women were lawyers, their husbands were doctors. So doesn’t work the multitasking doesn’t work, the flexibility or money arguments don’t work. In the time it takes me to tell him or her what to do. I should do it myself. Cherylanne one from earlier. It doesn’t work because that is devaluing our future time. Of course it makes sense. Right. Imagine somebody wiping asses and doing dishes because later on then you don’t have to do it.

And finally, this idea that we’re both colorectal surgeons. My partner had better focus on one task at a time and I can find the time. So what I realized all of these messages had in common took me about nine months, like I said, to a year to figure this out. Was that they were all designed for women to breach their boundaries, to basically allow their time choice to be hijacked. 

That’s why this is a movement. It’s a clear question. It does not come easy because we have, this is why we need you. This is why you have this amazing cohort of women. I couldn’t get people to the table because I couldn’t get them out of these limiting beliefs, this conversation to themselves, that I’m a better multitasker, that I’m wired differently for care, that I can find time. I can’t tell them ’cause in the time it takes me, it’ll take too long. On and on and on, we become complicit in our own impression without people like you. Cherylanne to help you knock down those beliefs.

We rewrite some of them in ways that you have more control, more agency, more intentionality about where your time goes and doesn’t go. Like I think, I think I shared this with you when we talked the first time, I really am dancing with the word expectations and where those came from. I think it’s another articulation of the same story, like we’ve internalized this set of expectations, and then it comes to a place where we’re like, but it can’t make a different choice. Right. But we can. And again, it is a choice. Someone’s choice may well be, “I want to run all the extracurricular sports in our household.” And I don’t hear you saying, the point is there’s 100 cards, you decide. And also perception of fairness, that someone could say it’s 99 -1 and someone else can say it’s 50 -50. So there’s no narrative here on you’re not supposed to be doing these things. It’s just an acknowledgment. 

Right. Nothing prescriptive. There’s nothing prescriptive about fair play. 

And you’re not uniquely qualified for any one of those particular tasks in the 100. That’s right.

And by the way, I want to let you know that in the process of working with over a thousand therapists who give me feedback and data and also sociologists, we decided to double weigh the cards. So the sociologists I was working with in the beginning of this process didn’t like that all the cards had the same weight. And so what ended up happening was we took ones that we know from a brain perspective, especially there’s nobody better at doing. these cards.

And we ask people to start with those cards. So we call them the daily grinds. So nobody is inherently better at washing dishes or taking out the garbage. Nobody is better at helping a child with middle of the night comfort. You can think they want you, but if you’re in a system with another partner, that person that’s in the middle of the night, oxytocin, they can also be there for your child. So if you go through and you can look online, because all these are free resources too, you’ll see that the ones that we’re really pushing you to talk about are the ones with the daily grind, the coffee cup, because those are the ones that statistically take up most time. And they have to keep being done, unfortunately, like laundry over and over again. And it’s not ones that typically men take. 

Men typically take the task like bill planning, like bills and for example, maybe even garbage because they can do it at their own leisure time back to men controlling their own time. And I wanna just say one more thing about what you said earlier about community expectations. We ended up calling 50 schools for fair play with my data analyst and we asked those schools why they call women first. And again, what was fascinating was that it exactly confirmed our thesis about women’s time being infinite. The schools didn’t say that women were on some call list first. They didn’t go to that bullshit. They said women find the time to pick up. 

I was just so sure you were going to say that it’s because they answered. And it is, it’s because they find the time to answer. Well, again, that’s where we recondition back. You imagine your school calling and not picking up. I mean, I really can’t. But that is fascinating that they know. They know the school administrators know that the job is to get someone to pick up. So I’m gonna call the person who is more likely to pick up. That’s amazing. 

Well, we are going to run out of time to talk as much about your second book as I would love to. So I may have to talk to you again one day, but I want to just briefly connect the dots between your two books. Fair Play is such a transformative system that I am so glad we got to spend our time really talking about it. One of the things that in your second book, Finding Your Unicorn Space, the idea that I saw as the threat, and I want to validate this with you, is that that when we do get more equitable distribution of these have to do, things that have to be done at home, it creates space for us to truly pursue our own potential, creatively and otherwise. 

Yes, that’s it. 

I mean, to me, that is the whole point of what I’m trying to do. That’s why I think this is a movement, is if we don’t deal with step one, which is how is all of this stuff that has to be done, all the “adulting tasks,” how are they going to get done? We won’t have the time and space to pursue things that are fulfilling and /or allow us to make our highest contribution. Can you explain that? 

If you don’t deal with limiting conversations to yourself early, as I said, then unfortunately, what happens is your time choice is hijacked, and really what happens is the way we started to break down how women were spending their time was in three categories. And this is how we got, I love my magical questions like mustard, but we started to ask women, “I need you to tell me the last time, the most important thing you did that day, when was the last thing, the most important thing you did that day was outside of your roles as a partner, a parent, or a professional?” professional?” And we were getting 10 years, five years. People arguing that the thing they did as a professional was actually that’s something that they loved. It was highly alarming. And then what we also realized was that people playing fair play were actually using unicorn space first.

They didn’t understand why they needed extra time, but when they found a unicorn space, oh my God, I decided I wanted to do that. write poetry. I want to write my memoir. I have things that I’m interested in outside of being a parent, partner and professional. I went back on, I went, my child three, I finally went back skiing. I’m fucking going to mammoth every other weekend. So I need somebody to take over domestic labor. And I’m not going to do a vagina replacing a vagina lining up 20, you know, women plus my mother-in-law. Like I need my partner to be able to step in so I can go do X, Y, Z. So if you’re afraid of this conversation, which I get it because I was. In fact, sometimes finding that unicorn space with your amazing Cherylanne here is a beautiful entry point because for me, the only way that I actually really got, so Seth and I were about 99 to one for, well, thank God there’s some wildcards in here. So I’d say we were like 84 to one, because a lot not, you’re hoping that you’re not playing with a full deck. I pray for you, no one ever has to play with a full deck because some of the wild cards are really traumatic. Not everyone has. Yeah. Right. So for me, it was, I really had seen the Fair Play system, ironically helping a lot of people and I started to want to write it up and I needed time. for research. And so I really could only work with this. I found a data analyst out of USC, and he could work with me on Sundays. And so he’d order, he loves vegan food, so he’d order like half a gratitude instead of my table, and I needed the kids to be out of the house on Sundays. Since Seth started to take them out of the house, and slowly, I started to demand more. So that’s what’s so great about this idea of unicorn space. 

It creates traction. where you have a reason to execute the system.

I thought we could end on a game. Maybe if we could pull someone up. Or Cherylanne, I’ll have you be my player. And then– but I’d love for everybody to play along. I’m going to open the chat now, so I can see. So oh, you are chatting. Hi, Brittany. Thank you, Krista. Yep. Yes, martyrdom. We’re– We’re absolutely socialized to be martyrs. That’s, I like to call, I think martyrdom is hard to, again, be pragmatic about. So that’s why I call it time tax. For socialize to hold the time tax for our family and to be taxed, which means that our time is hijacked. So that, but that’s similar, same as martyrdom. So this is, we have eight minutes. So this is, I want us all to play.

So I think it’s important. Even if you’re not even close to having any of these conversations, one of the things that was hardest to get women outside of their roles as parent, partner, and professionals was to know that the science supports this, it’s not just me saying this, that we are more likely to step up for our boundaries if we understand our deeply held values. And I’m sure you will do a lot with your clients this way, but in your cohort but this is a fun way to back into some other values. The problem is when I asked women their values straight on, they mapped into parent, partner, professional. They mapped into being a good friend, being a good mother. It was their roles. So I needed to really understand women’s values outside of those roles. To get there, I did it by doing this exercise. So we’re going to do that and we’ll show you how it works. Okay. There are 50 choices of Unicorn Space that were actually reported by women out in the world. And what I want you to do is I want you to pick one.

So, Cherylanne, you’re gonna pick one. And it’s not gonna be something you did as a kid. It’s not gonna be something you wanna be an expert at, just one card that is for today, sparking your interest. Every time I do this exercise, I pick a different card. It’s not gonna be something you’re trying to be an expert in, okay? All right, I’m gonna read them all, everybody follow along. Okay, pottery, video games, games, like puzzles, escape room, health and wellness. And that doesn’t mean a SoulCycle class. That would mean leading a health and wellness class, but outside of your work. Event planning, not a child’s bar mitzvah, like actually hosting spawns for book clubs and stuff like that. Language and anthropology. anthropology, finding, collecting and foraging, that could be antiques or mushrooms, whatever, fashion, design, styling, modeling, writing, design, research and learning, math and sciences, beauty, and that’s not styling yourself, that’s like doing the makeup tutorials on TikTok, arrows and axes. Don’t even ask about that one, building and DIY, cooking, not for your family, like actually, you know, in like Napa, restoration and renovation, teaching, baking, coding and engineering, racing, circus, theater and production, spiritual wellness, no sports, sports with balls, triathlon, running and races, memories and archiving, again, not your kids stuff, but like really those scrapbooking people, sports with wheels, rhetoric, that’s like speech and bait and running for office. office. Martial arts, dance, animals, performing, travel and culture, outdoors. Water sports, storytelling, genealogy and lineage. Other worldly pursuits, that was mine recently, tarot, astrology and magic. Arts and crafts, stitching and needles. Metallurgy, that’s like jewelry making, music, playing, composing, DJing, woodworking, photography, gardening and farming and /or florals. One, just one. I need to know one. 

I mean, I wrote down like 20 when you were talking, I would say restoration and renovation is the one I’ll pick up. 

All right, great. Okay. So first, the only two questions you’re going to ask is why, why did you pick that card right now? 

Because I did it with my parents a lot when I was growing up, and I have a lot of really great memories associated with it.

Okay, so give me an example. 

So we, I mean, we doubled the size of the house I lived in when I was, in the years that I was growing up there through a series of DIY projects. So it was like a huge part of, yeah. Like, and I learned a lot about it, but I think I’ve forgotten a lot of it. That is like, I feel like it’s gonna be a lost art. Because my dad’s the one who has all this real skill.  And, And he still has the skill and I’m still seeing him all the time, but it’s not something I’m actively doing, like with him. 

Well, first of all, how cool is that? So I’m first gonna, I love that. And I love that there’s a component here of like revisiting a unicorn space with a beloved family member where there’s gonna be maybe something you could do together, which is amazing. And I love that your dad’s alive and still able to do this and pass this on. There’s a general component here that I love. So first of all, that’s really beautiful. So you’re already segwayed in because again, you’re an expert in how to communicate. Tell that that you are already connecting it to your values and to your, and so that’s really the piece now. I want to isolate five values. And if you can think back to that project with your father, or when you saw the furniture move into the room that you built, I want to think about the values. So first, I’m going to say this generational connection is one value that I heard from you and some sort of also like passing on skills, but sort of this idea of honing a skill set that may be lost. But can you throw out maybe three or four? four extra values? 

I mean, I think one of them is is beauty like the fact that you think they were making we were making spaces More beautiful like I think the aesthetic nature of it is one I think there’s something about craftsmanship and like knowing how something is made versus just liking the finished product like being able To sort of see underneath it. I actually think there’s a math component. I sound like such a nerd but like the mathematical application of it, like there is a way that these things get designed and made something new out of something old, like finding the, you know, kind of value in the broken places and turning it into something. 

I love that enough. Those are all beautiful. So there’s somewhere, okay, so let’s just go. So these are things I just wrote them down for you as like my little gift to you. So I have a generational connection. Like some sort of excellent skill building, beauty, craftsmanship, math, design, and as we said, sort of creating value. And so I actually think there are a lot of these values you probably do practice through your work. However, I want you to be able to check in with yourself weekly with your group, hopefully people did this with us. And basically, instead of saying that I get to talk to my dad about a DIY project, which I want you to do, I really want you to do this. I want to see what you do, I want you to share this, I want you to share this. I want you to share this. I want you to share this. I want you to share this. I think it would be unbelievable and helpful and beautiful, especially for all the generations to see. But I think asking yourself each week, did I get a chance to feel a generational connection? Like with other people than just my children, did I get a chance to feel that I was practicing my skill building this week? Did I get a chance to feel beauty this week? Did I get a chance to feel part of craftsmanship this week? Did I get a chance to practice math this week? Did I get a chance to create value this week? So actually, with creating value, you’ll probably be able to answer yes. But I think in terms of practicing math and this idea of new types of skill building and beauty,

I would like you to focus on those values and see what happens when you ask yourself each week. It doesn’t have to be through DIY, but I want you to figure out a way each week to either practice one or three of those values. Skill building outside of work skills, beauty and math. 

So fun. I mean, it kind of makes my brain explode a little bit on what it could be. And I hope that’s what it’s doing for people listening is like, if you go through your own, which card was sparking for you as Eve read them? And how does that connect to, as you just watched her pull out of me? We didn’t plan this in advance. So that was surely spontaneous. But if you, if you pull out some of those things, I think what’s exploding for me are yeah, like more of those values, whatever the mechanism is to deliver them is fascinating. Yeah, fascinating. It’s really fun 

Because then you can start to ask for what you need in a way that’s a little bit more, instead of saying, I’m thinking of creating a new DIY project with my dad, you get to say, you know what? I haven’t made a lot of time for generational connection, guys, I haven’t really made a lot of time for skill building outside of work or to practice beauty. And so there’s something I wanna do that does that. And I’m gonna be practicing math too. And so there’s something really beautiful about the power of asking it through the values lens. 

So wonderful. So wonderful. As soon as you said that I was thinking about some of the traditional things that my mom still bakes and makes and how those same things that you mentioned, I’m like, why is that something that’s so important to me to carry on? And it’s those exact same values. Like, are you doing something beautiful? Well, are you doing something beautiful? And two generations. I’m like, as soon as you look through the lens of those values, it’s like, oh, that’s why they’re, they look. like not the same thing, but they are. 

Math, are you kidding? My first practice I ever did was with baking, right? Exactly. So you, all of a sudden you have exactly, you know why, like, and maybe it, for now, it’s not the DIY project with your dad. Maybe it’s actually the generational connection is just having him write down in a book, like we would do a recipe book, some of his best practical tips for, for renovation for you and your family to have, or maybe it’s the fact that you’re gonna take a wedding cake decorating class to make something extremely beautiful for somebody. But those three values can go in so many different directions.

And you can feel the energetic lift that it brings. And I think that’s what I loved about this work, that you tied the connection from, “Look, we have to know why, if we’re gonna do something hard and let go of things that we’ve been socially conditioned to do.” and we’re going to ask other people to get in the boat and take on some of those things through this difficult conversation, something on the other side of that has to make it worth it. Right. And I think for a lot of us, I hope having some of these ideas of what you could be doing with that time that’s deeply meaningful to you and fulfilling is the big why.

You mentioned something in one of your interviews that women have a hard time giving themselves. permission to be unavailable. And it feels like it’s kind of the epicenter of this, that if we can give ourselves permission to be unavailable for some of these required tasks, we get to be available for some of the things that we want the most. And that would be brilliant. Yes.

It would be really nice. And it would be really nice. And I think that that, you know, it’s a good place to end, but to say that, you know, this conversations, they don’t come with the trigger warning, but in a lot of times they do because really the antidote, the only antidote I could tell you that is really the antidote to burnout. I wish it was that walk around the block that a lot of people were suggesting. I wish it was a 10 minute a day breathing practice, but really it’s not. The only antidote I’ve been able to find in science, which is what the whole second book was about, especially for women, is being consistently interested in our own lives. Yes. And that’s a harder sell. I can’t sell that in a tonic or in an eye cream. To tell people that that’s it, you know, we are just available because we deserve to be consistently interested in our own lives. 

Amazing. Eve, tell the listeners where they can find your work online. You mentioned the Fair Play cards and other things. Which URL would you like them to go to? 

You can always sign up for our newsletter. We have a lot of cool stuff that comes through all of the breaking science around these issues. That’s at www.fairplaylife.com. And then you can find me on Instagram at fairplaylife or at everodski on the website www.fairplaylife.com. It’s all the cards.

If you’re interested in just looking at them, playing with them, even using them with your kids But click on holidays and ask your kids how many tasks that you think they can name They require the conception planning execution of a holiday or even lawn and plants ask them what it takes to keep them alive, right? You can click on each card and you’ll turn around and you’ll get to see all the conception, planning, execution for each of the cards and that’s sometimes really fun. I love to do it with my sons, 

This is the new way we get to have people play house, right? Here’s your cards, go play house with all the tasks. 

Amazing. I cannot thank you enough. Thank you for being here with us. It was a delight to have you. I’m sorry I didn’t get to engage as much with the chat, but thank you so much for your comments. I’ll read them right now as we get off, but I really appreciate it being here.

Thank you. All right. Bye, everyone. 

CS (Summary):
I hope that you are walking away from today’s episode with an insight or two or twenty that you can apply. I was completely surprised by my own little coaching session that happened at the end of this episode and really inspired by it as well, which I hope was evident in the authenticity of that moment between me and Eve and the dialogue that ensued. I love it when I get to kind of switch seats and be in the recipient’s chair of a coaching insight, and that was definitely one that I’m going to be carrying with me into my personal life. So I’m going to encourage you to check out fairplaylife.com. I think most of our conversation today centered on Eve’s first book, and so FairPlayLife.com, is the home base for finding the card system that she described today. Her books, you can order the cards, you can look at the digital version of the cards which is free at that site. You also can check out EveRodsky.com and take a look at the other book, “Finding Your Unicorn Space,” which is available there as well. So I’m going to encourage you to take a look at those couple of links and definitely, whether you use the cards to do it or not, I think the dialogue that you can initiate by leveraging what you’re taking away from this episode could really be a game changer in your own household, and I hope that you take the first steps toward a courageous conversation, can create a more equitable distribution of the work in your household because you deserve it. That is all for today, my friends. Until next time, let’s be brilliant.

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