Let’s go behind-the-scenes with California’s Gubernatorial Candidate, Amanda Renteria.
One evening prior to 2018 election day, I discovered an intriguing YouTube video from an unlikely candidate for the Governorship of the great nation of California. A couple weeks later, after a long-shot email solicitation to her campaign office, I find myself chilling in the Silicon Valley home of the remarkable Amanda Renteria. We hit it off immediately, discussing Mexico’s chances in the World Cup (not great, as it turned out when they got stuck with Brazil in the first knockout round), and then onto more important matters such as the importance of giving the people a real voice in the political process.
Through hard work and determination, this child of a former immigrant farm worker in California’s central valley found her way to Stanford University, then Harvard Business School, then into a fast rising political career where she became the first Latina Chief of Staff in the history of the US Senate, then National Political Director for the Clinton Presidential Campaign, then taking a crisp 7th place in the California governor’s race against the behemoth candidates of big politics.
In her spare time, Amanda became a two-sport varsity athlete at Stanford (walking on, literally with the wrong shoes, to the defending NCAA champion women’s basketball team! Then earning a scholarship in another sport!), ran the State of California Department of Justice (they wanted her so badly they said she could telecommute to oversee her 1,000 member staff!). She also did some time at Goldman Sachs to pay off student loans, taught high school back in her hometown, and is raising a couple little children. Uh, how about you? Whatcha been up to the past couple decades since college? WOW! Yes indeed, you might call Amanda a true peak performer, o en Español: chingóna.
This is a great conversation that will inspire and awaken you to the power of dreams, resolve, fearlessness, hard work and all that cool stuff we talk about but rarely get to experience personified.
Brad Kearns: Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.
Amanda Renteria: “And so, I really do, I have a special place in my heart for folks who are trying to make the big leaps because it is difficult, it is lonely, and you’re not sure you’re going to make it.”
“The best thing you can do in politics is be there because you learn it in a different way than just watching it or reading the policy about it, but walking in other people’s shoes.”
Brad Kearns: Hi, listeners. I’m very excited and honored to bring you this incredible opportunity I had to interview in person the amazing Amanda Renteria. She ran for the governorship of the Great State of California in the 2018 election. After this fast-rising political career, an incredible backstory that we get into from start to finish. Oh my gosh, it was just an enlightening, incredibly inspiring interview and connection with this lady.
We were talking, getting all warmed up before I hit record. I promised you on this show that we’d record the stuff that we talk about off the button, but here’s my first meeting with her. We connected immediately, she welcomed me into her home without that crazy pre-screening that most politicians do. And here we are, sitting down, looking at the Mexico flag and rooting for the team and talking about their chances at the World Cup.
You are not going to believe this story. It’s the American dream times 10. She’s the daughter of former migrant farm workers in the Central Valley of California. She found her way to Stanford University and later Harvard Business School, just rising up the ranks and knocking off these goals. Some of this stuff is almost too good to be true or too hard to believe, where she’s at Stanford and decides to go try out for the defending national champion basketball team, and later the softball team.
So, that little aside into her athletic career, which I wasn’t really aware of. I knew about all the political stuff. I tried to do some preparatory research, but I’m like, “Come on, are you kidding me?” You’re not going to believe this story. And it’s so wonderful and inspiring. She was the first Latina Chief of Staff in the history of the United States Senate. And she has all these other interesting fuss.
But definitely a down to earth lady with her heart in the right place. She’s raising little kids now, getting them into immersion Spanish School to honor her heritage and have a great experience for the kids here in California. Taking a little breather on what’s next for Amanda, because she’s jumped around, done little gigs like running the State of California’s Department of Justice and a thousand plus employees and $800 million budget.
So, let’s hear what Amanda has to say about her journey and some really beautiful insights about the importance of representing all the people in politics and democracy, and all these wonderful common-sense things that we’ve seemed to have forgotten today in this age of craziness and conflict and controversy. A great interview with Amanda. I hope you enjoy it.
Okay. Amanda Renteria. Other people say Renteria.
Amanda Renteria: Renteria or my grandma used to say, “Amanda kemanda.”
Brad Kearns: Amanda kemanda. What do you want? Or what are you sending?
Amanda Renteria: Amanda who demands.
Brad Kearns: Oh, kemanda, demands, right, right. So, for those of you who didn’t see her politics video, that was her opening line. I thought it was funny. You got me watching the whole video and here’s this lady running for governor coming out of a humble Central Valley farm town beginning, heading off to Stanford, which is an improbable journey. Then off to Harvard Business School, and then going right into this career in public service. And boy, I just said, “You know what, I want to get her on the podcast,” tell your story.”
We got warmed up already before I hit record, and I promised my listeners we’d talk about the stuff that goes on when we’re not recording. So, I’m like, “Let’s go. Let’s do it.” So, the first topic of course essential to discuss, Mexico’s chances in the 2018 World Cup. We saw this incredible start, and then they lost to Sweden, the day we’re recording this, but what are we thinking? Can they go all the way? Can they go past round five for the first time since ever, ever?
Amanda Renteria: I think they can, yes. It depends on what team shows up, right? I mean, the team that showed up this morning looked so different than that team in Germany. And certainly, expectations are high. But I mean these guys are professionals. They know how to work under pressure and work on expectations. But, you know, I think it was an okay one because it was a rude awakening. You got to be there every single game. I mean, this is the World Cup. And so, I felt good about it actually.
I think they also saw something a little bit different in the other team. I mean, Sweden looked great. They put it together. They looked very different than in some of their other games that I’ve had a chance to watch. So, we’ll see. But I like Mexico’s chances. I mean, I think Ochoa is solid and-
Brad Kearns: Oh, he’s the best. Yeah, that’s the goalie.
Amanda Renteria: … and that’ll make a huge difference.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, yeah. My son’s like a soccer fanatic, which is so interesting. He was a basketball player all the way along, but him and all his buddies, including these football stars from high school, they’re obsessed with soccer, and it’s the best show. And like we sit back now with all these traditions in America, like the NFL, which is a stupid sport. I don’t know how long we’re going to tolerate these guys getting pounded and having a lifetime of suffering just to perform for us – it’s like gladiator age. And then you have baseball, which is so boring. There’s no way it’s going to survive. It is not going to survive. And then you have the soccer team-
Amanda Renteria: No, no. I played softball in college. And what I will say is more interesting than baseball right?
Brad Kearns: Softball’s way more exciting.
Amanda Renteria: I just want to plant that seed a lit bit. That is more exciting than baseball.
Brad Kearns: I don’t know why it’s different. It’s just fast action. Those pitchers, you know. But he was talking about the significance of the World Cup and how this myopic view in America where we think that Superbowl is the big deal. And this thing is so much grander on scale and the pressure on those players. Ochoa is literally, the entire nation is counting on this guy. And there’s nothing to compare, because even with the Superbowl, we got people and our fans in the different cities and they want to see Tom Brady win or they want to see their team win. And half the country doesn’t care. It has great ratings – a hundred and something million watch. And these countries, there’s not a lot of other things going on on the sports world except for their team. So, I can’t even imagine the pressure of these guys. And probably you see some tension out there and tightness accordingly.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, I think it’s just wonderful to have the world watching incredibly talented people play a sport, right? And every country gets really into it. And I think this is new for us as Americans still. But I love that it’s existed. I’ve always loved it. I love the culture of it and how excited people get. But yeah, it’s a big stage and everybody’s watching, and there’s becoming more and more soccer, I think fans here in America. Certainly, my kids watch it in a different way than I did when I was younger, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s more international. It’s bringing our world together.
Brad Kearns: It’s simple, it’s easy to play. You don’t need to get a set of golf clubs and a membership somewhere – you kick the ball around. Here’s to the future of soccer. Did you say you were a college athlete?
Amanda Renteria: I was. I played basketball and softball at Stanford.
Brad Kearns: You played basketball and softball?
Amanda Renteria: I did. Strangely, I didn’t actually intend to really play sports when I got to college, when I got to Stanford, because I knew how difficult it was going to be just to make it through academically coming from the school and the place that I came from. So, when I went in to talk to my academic advisor, I happened to mention, “How am I going to pay for this thing?” Right? I was so fearful that my parents at any moment would have me go back, because it was a big stretch for them, right? A Mexican immigrant father, mom was in the schools, pretty conservative Mexican parents. And the idea of me going four hours away was quite scary. Especially, because my dad like had this rule that if we went to prom, he had to talk to our dates for at least a half an hour.
Brad Kearns: Oh, so this is a cultural thing. I mean [Spanish 00:08:35] she lived at home with her sister, getting her four-year degree, and she could have gone to UCLA or wherever she wanted. So, the stretch was like sort of this emotional cultural thing too, where you’re living in extended generation families and all these kind of things.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. And so, it was incredibly far away.
Brad Kearns: But are you saying there was a financial stretch too, because I thought that these days … tell me the difference between when you went and now. Because I thought there’s big differences going on.
Amanda Renteria: Huge differences. Schools are making really great strides on helping kids through. It wasn’t quite like that when I went. It was $22,000 a year, which was the biggest number I’d ever heard of. And for me, I also just didn’t understand that when you graduate, you have loans. I was so blessed that my parents did let me go, and then I was so fearful at any moment they would make me come back. And when I heard that I was going to have to have loans or that I was going to get the tuition and I was going to end up graduating with loans, I thought if my parents find out about this, then I’m going to have to somehow go back.
Brad Kearns: Here’s their daughter at Stanford about to get in big trouble because she pulled some loans, oh my goodness.
Amanda Renteria: Right, but it was more naïve, right? I didn’t know. And so, when I asked my academic advisor, “Well, how can I pay for this whole thing?” And she sort of looked at me a little bit like, “Don’t worry about it, you’re going to be fine, you’re going to have a Stanford degree.” I was like, “You don’t understand, in order to get the Stanford degree, I have to figure this out.” And sort of as she’s talking to me, she says, “You know, no one really gets out of college without loans, I mean, except for athletes.” And I said, “Great, I’m an athlete.”
Brad Kearns: Where do I go? I have a good handle. Send me to the number one basketball program in the nation.
Amanda Renteria: Not only that, not only were they number one but they-
Brad Kearns: What are you? About six-one, Amanda?
Amanda Renteria: I think so, in my head. No, I’m about five-five on a good day.
Brad Kearns: Okay. So, she’s at Stanford, not Eastern Baptist College of Minnesota. I like your style, you’re dreaming it up. The thoughts are processing as she talked about the athletes.
Amanda Renteria: Or you don’t know any better, right? So, I thought I can work on and figure out a way to earn this. And so, I show up on the day where trials are supposed to be and I show up and nobody is in basketball gear, right? They’re in like their running shoes. I have my high tops on, I’m ready to go, and the coach comes out and says, “Great, I’ll meet you at the track.” And at that point, I sort of kind of look around and realized, “All right, everyone’s in running shoes now. I get it, we’re going to the track. We’re not playing ball.”
Well, as it turns out, you go through conditioning prior to being able to touch a ball. You can touch a ball on October 31st by NCA law. But that means, I have to actually make it through a conditioning program in order to even make the team. So, for me, I’ll never forget the moment where we’re doing these sprints, right? These dashes in order to see how fast we are. And like all the shoes line up, right? And I look down and I kind of laugh now, but not all of them look the same, right? One is not like the others.
So, there I am doing my first day of the sprints-
Brad Kearns: A true baller.
Amanda Renteria: … in like my basketball shoes while everyone else has their running shoes on. But I made it. I made the team, and then I ended up-
Brad Kearns: What year was this?
Amanda Renteria: By the way, I was walking onto the defending National Championship Basketball Team. That’s right.
Brad Kearns: That was unbelievable. So, they needed a scrappy five-five guard to blend the roster out?
Amanda Renteria: Well, I’m not sure they needed it. Perhaps, they just saw a hustle and a desire to really just work hard. And so, Tara was wonderful. I ended up making that team.
Brad Kearns: That’s VanDerveer, she’s the legendary coach.
Amanda Renteria: She’s fantastic.
Brad Kearns: Do you know what I have to say about her? I sent her an email and she answered me in a very long and thoughtful manner. I thought that my chances were … just like my chances with you, is sit down with a California gubernatorial candidate. So, I’ll never forget it, you know. Yeah.
Amanda Renteria: She was great. So, from there I ended up – I was still playing in the summer travel team for softball and during the summer between my freshman and my sophomore year, the Stanford coach actually tried to recruit me, and my coach said, “She’s actually at Stanford.” And so, I played, my sophomore year I played softball as well. And then by my junior year, I earned the scholarship, but I had to move over to softball. And so, I ended up getting that athletic scholarship. I still had some loans from my first year, but I somehow figured out a way and my parents didn’t make me come back.
So, in the end, I ended up being a two-sport athlete there and loved it. And I can’t imagine not having played college sports. So, as it turns out, I’m really glad the path happened the way it did.
Brad Kearns: So back to high school, you’re in a small town, Woodlake?
Amanda Renteria: Woodlake.
Brad Kearns: Yes, heard of it. Excuse me, that’s the name of the Boulevard in Los Angeles near where I grew up. Never heard of it, sorry. But it’s south of Fresno; farming community-
Amanda Renteria: That’s right.
Brad Kearns: … rural. So, I can’t imagine you were exposed to anything near the level of competition that you faced at Stanford. This travel team, was that kind of a larger Fresno area where you were playing against some other good teams or what did you do?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, actually it was fantastic. We were called the Visalia Spirits – a fantastic young scrappy team and-
Brad Kearns: This is basketball or softball?
Amanda Renteria: This is softball. And we were in the National Fast Pitch League and we ended up … strangely, the Central Valley team ended up getting, I think it was fourth or sixth – I can’t remember, in the National Fast Pitch World Series in Colorado. So, to some degree, I had some exposure to this, but that too, that story too was quite unusual because it was a bunch of young, middle of nowhere, skinny kids who weren’t supposed to beat the big teams in LA or Arizona. But we did, we ended up ranking pretty high at the National World Series.
So, perhaps that was the planted seed that if you just put yourself out there and work really hard, it works out.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, I’m still not getting the basketball part though. How you’re sitting in an academic counselor’s office, and where was that? Were you a superstar in high school?
Amanda Renteria: I was pretty good in high school. I was the central section athlete of the year-
Brad Kearns: In basketball?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah. I was in MVP and all three sports – volleyball, basketball, softball. But it was a small school, right? And we were in a small division, and I swam as well. So, yeah, again, when you grow up in middle of rural America, you don’t really necessarily see the competition outside, you don’t know you can’t do these things. So, to some degree, I guess I just believed I could if I tried hard enough, and it worked out.
Brad Kearns: So, what about the academic side? Because you’re still, like you’ve mentioned briefly, and I want to know how this works too, where the concentration of academic talent or academic rigor is at the elite private schools around in the urban areas. And I know that colleges, especially Stanford can do whatever they want. They don’t have a scale to go by. I imagine they’re trying for diversity and incredible stories like you, but it’s likely that you didn’t have the same rigor of AP and the stuff that some of these young students are being exposed to that are going off to the elite schools.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, and that’s a really quick lesson you learn the minute you walk into your first class. For me, it was my calc class where I walked in and (we still had a chalkboard) I looked at the board and I was like, “All right, so I know Spanish, I know English but I don’t know that.” And after class, I went up to the professor and I said, “I’m not exactly sure what you were teaching and I must be in the wrong class. Can you tell me where your intro class is?” And confidently I said, “Can you tell me where your intro class is?” And he looks at me and he says, “This is our intro class.” That’s where it all comes crashing down, right?
So, that day, he put me in touch with the TA, and so the TA gave me an entirely new book. And so, every single time I went to class – before class, I would go to the TA. I would take a different, basically, work out of a different book. Go to class, after class, go back to the TA, work out of that different book until we caught up.
But I won’t forget sort of the walk from the TA’s office, with the big extra book in my backpack on the way to the dorm room, and realizing, “I can’t tell my parents this, right? I don’t want my roommate to know this,” and how incredibly lonely you feel at those moments. But when you come from the place that I come from and you recognize that I had approved something, not just for me, but for everyone back where I grew up, that I can’t mess this one up. That’s really quite inspiring, because it almost feels like you have a whole community helping you through. But there’s no doubt that that leap and it really is a leap, that first year was so incredibly tough.
So, when people talk about it, “I had such a great time and college is wonderful,” I can’t quite say that.
Brad Kearns: Did you rush? “Yeah, I rushed from the tutor to the regular class. In fact, I did, every day.”
Amanda Renteria: And that was hard. And so, I really do, I have a special place in my heart for folks who are trying to make the big leaps because it is difficult, it is lonely, and you’re not sure you’re going to make it.
Brad Kearns: That’s our pull quote by the way, for our audio engineer, Brian. That’s beautiful. You know, there’s a special place for those people. And I imagine someone in admissions saw that potential in you and saw that diamond in the rough, what have you, just due to your location. And were there a lot of people in that boat? I mean were the athletes apparently not quite up to academic standard or was it … I mean you said you felt lonely and isolated, but you’re saying everyone was dropping into that class and had better calculus training than you had?
Amanda Renteria: And some of this might just be that you’re in your own space, right? So, it could be. And I did peer counseling my junior year at Stanford to try and help other kids who might have or other students who might feel the way I did when I first arrived. I don’t know, right? I only imagine that everyone else was doing so much better, right? I mean, I’m certain that not everyone else had an extra book. That was the sort of validating point. But certainly, places like Stanford, certainly trying to be an athlete actually, and you see this with quite a few athletes that go into college out of high school. And I’ve since had a lot of mentees who have tried to make that jump too, from high school sports to college sports.
That too, was a difficult road when you’re at the top of your game and then you realize, “Oh, I’m not even at the bottom.” I had to like dig out of the hole. I mean, those transitions are real. And I’m just lucky that I went through it, and part of my goal in whatever I do is to try and make that path a little bit easier for that next person, right?
Brad Kearns: Now, let me ask you (don’t answer if you’re uncomfortable), but did you get exposed to that other side of that coin that we hear so much about today? Where we have this elite place where we have people who have had great privilege and perhaps some helicoptering going on and perhaps some mindset forming that they’re special and better than the – that run of the mill in a world like that?
Amanda Renteria: I have to be honest, I didn’t see that. Again, I was just trying to survive. So, to some degree, you’re just digging out of the hole as much as you can. Obviously, when it came to the discussion of graduation and I remember this is where some of those discussions bubbled up, which was people were deciding what are we going to do when we graduate? And for me, the message was so clear, I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted to do, right? I had to figure out a way to make money to pay off those loans from my first and second year. And so, I couldn’t just be a teacher that might not be able to have the salary to actually pay debt.
I wanted to make enough money so I can figure it out and become an adult. I think that part was a little bit real and where all of a sudden, I realized that some people didn’t have those same questions, right? That truly this “you can be anything when you graduate” idea.
Brad Kearns: I’m going to go watch the World Cup, man. It’s going to be awesome this summer, yeah.
Amanda Renteria: Right, that just wasn’t part of my conversation. And that’s where it came real for me, between me and my classmates, where it’s like some of us could really do whatever we wanted afterwards and some of us couldn’t. But heck, I was so blessed that I made it through, graduated with honors. But I was just thrilled to have graduated that. In some ways, I didn’t even pay attention much to that. It’s only in retrospect as I look back on it that I recognize that there were different paths for some of us.
Brad Kearns: So, when you’re, let’s say, going back home and visiting or engaging with family and friends, did they understand the significance or did you feel differently now that you’d been exposed to this new world where there really is never going back to your childhood and that perspective where you’re in that bubble? Now, you’ve broken out of the bubble, now you’re returning. You went back to go teach in your hometown, right?
Amanda Renteria: I did, I did. I went right back into the same classrooms.
Brad Kearns: How about that listeners? Come one.
Amanda Renteria: I know, it was fantastic. So, throughout the course of my life, I’ve generally gone back home whether it’s to refill, refuel or just touch down again and remember where I came from. But I’ve actually gone back a couple of times. One was to go back and teach in my own high school. When I ran for Congress, I went back. And in the governorship, a lot of my stories were about where I grew up. Whether it was talking to farm worker women or clean air and clean water in some of the places that are having the toughest time. Or whether it was talking to volunteer teachers who were actually trying to help incarcerated youth, to make sure that they can re-enter again. I think that’s a key part of why I’m so motivated and inspired to keep going and doing whatever I do to try and help, is because I’m never that far from where I grew up.
And I have to say, every single time I go back, I think I’ve become a better person for it. I learned a little bit more of the different worlds I’ve been in. When I ran for Congress, and recognizing that Washington, DC and policymakers are so far from folks at the door is an important understanding if you’re going to stay in public service. And that our role in public service is to make sure that we are actually on the front lines and connecting with the people that we’re actually trying to build policy for.
So, I take and learn so much more every single time I go back.
Brad Kearns: It’s kind of weird how that’s setup because the congressman is heading off to DC and mixing with other congressmen. When I lived in Placer County, we had John T. Doolittle who had the highest ratings as the worst environmental … He had all kinds of records that he set, but he was in Congress for 22 years in his district. And so, he was so entrenched in DC that it’s hard to imagine. I don’t even know how much time they spend back in district. But you have that natural disconnect where I don’t know, you’re counting on someone to tell you what it’s like back in your hometown or your district.
Amanda Renteria: Oh, that’s right. And your district changes too, right? I mean, demographics change. I mean, we just saw this last night in the New York race where Crowley lost to a young 28-year-old hustler, right? Going door to door. The demographics change, the electorate changes and the issues on the ground, most importantly, the issues on the ground change. And that’s the piece to me that was so prevalent, which is people didn’t know who or what policies were affecting them. But that also means that politicians didn’t quite know what wasn’t really affecting folks on the ground either, if that conversation was never happening.
So, for me, I will continue to recognize that I grew up in this place that raised me to believe I can do anything and be anything. But it also raised somebody that’s supposed to not forget where they came from, right?
Brad Kearns: Okay, so then it brings up a question like, here, you did this. You had that support from your hometown, your family. Why don’t we see this pattern more commonly? Why don’t we see four kids from Woodlake every year going into Ivy League or what have you?
Amanda Renteria: Well, it’s interesting.
Brad Kearns: Times a million, obviously.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. Because when I ran, it had been 16 years at that point that anyone had made that leap from Woodlake to Stanford. And I happened to be speaking at a fundraiser, small community kind of fundraiser and a young junior – Latina, young junior heard me speak, heard me talk about the fact that you can make it, actually you can see it, right? Can see someone who’s done it and she applied and got in. And the reason I mention that is because you got to see it to believe it. You got to know it exists. You got to know someone like you can do it.
Brad Kearns: And have a visceral experience with that person rather than a magazine article.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. And to see that you’re not that different, right?
Brad Kearns: I mean, the YouTube video was great. Your YouTube candidate video, but to have you come back and engage with the girl in person, that’s got to be a lifelong, lasting impression.
I read an article that said kids, if they’re exposed to a college campus and you actually walk around on the campus, they can see themselves there. But it’s really hard to see themselves there without that physical experience. So, I remember reading the article and I took my son and like we visited like 27 college campus. And then he decided he wanted to go to UCLA when he was 11-years-old, and he got into high school and he applied to one school only. He just said the other 27 never mattered to him. It was just the exposure and that part of … So, congratulations to that girl.
But generally what did you have that really had going for you? Was it innate? Were you born to be this person, that kind of thing?
Amanda Renteria: No, and in fact, I probably link it back to really that decision to first leave. And I had a lot of people that said, “Maybe it’s a little bit too hard for you or maybe you should go to a local college,” and then go, “Right.”
Brad Kearns: Is like high school counselors or?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, counselors. And I mean, well meaning, right? I mean, totally well meaning. But I had one teacher who pulled me aside and said, “You know, this isn’t about you, but it’s about this community,” and that somebody like them can succeed at a place like that.
Brad Kearns: What’s the teacher’s name?
Amanda Renteria: Dr. Shaw.
Brad Kearns: All right Dr. Shaw.
Amanda Renteria: He was my economics teacher. And for me, hearing that was real, right? Hearing that meant something. And that’s really been the motivation that continues to carry me to say, “Why do you do these things?” And I do believe that someone’s got to step up and be that, right?
Brad Kearns: Why not you?
Amanda Renteria: Someone’s got to try to do that. And you know what? It’s pretty powerful when you know you have an entire community behind you. And so, one of the things I often say to young folks is we’ve got to quit being blessed to be somewhere and recognize that it’s our responsibility to go. If we can just do that, and I think at 17 for one reason or another, at 17, I put that backpack on and sort of felt like this is what I’m supposed to do. Never have I quite taken it off. But I believe more kids should have it, right? I do.
While I want my kids to have fun and enjoy it, they also have responsibilities in life. They have been blessed to have the life that they have. And they better go and make sure that they’re sticking up for kids when they’re being bullied, right? And I think that lesson can’t start soon enough.
Brad Kearns: Especially, nowadays, when we have the job hopping and all these things that are so foreign concept to us or the era of entitlement seems to be a real deal. Where there’s so much privilege around or there’s ways that the parents are cushioning all the blows so that they don’t have to experience any failure or struggle. And then what do we end up with? Is someone who does not have anything that you just described.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. And I think there’s something – I mean, my four-year-old at one point, we’re in line at the store and my two-year-old all the time’s like crying and wanting to move faster in the line because we have his candy or whatever in the basket or the shopping cart. And my four-year-old or five-year-old at the time, turns around and goes, “Delayed gratification, gee.” That’s a word that my husband and I sort of joke around with, that we taught them “delayed gratification” as early as we possibly could, right?
So, at least we can put a name on what it is. Like, “Yes, you feel that you want it, but that delayed gratification is something that we all have to practice, including me.” Sometimes, it’s not going to happen in a year or two years. Sometimes, we do have to wait for policy two, three years down the road. But man, we can’t stop trying and we can’t quiet that energy. But at least, we know it and we can name it, and it’s okay that we feel it.
So, that’s been a big key lesson for my husband and I, is that we really try and teach our kids now delayed gratification, and we’re hopeful that that’ll at least impart some lessons about who we are as people.
Brad Kearns: You know that famous marshmallow experiment?
Amanda Renteria: Of course.
Brad Kearns: I read it last night for the first time, it’s incredible. But they put a kid in a room, they put one marshmallow and they say, “If you can wait until I come back, you get two.” Right? That was the baseline for the thing. But then the follow-up was the study is showing that the kids who could make it had vastly over the rest of their lifetime or whatever the course of the study, better grades, better self-esteem, all these different things. Just from being able to delay gratification, which today is harder than ever, right?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah. And really, it’s about coming up with strategies that you do in order to delay that, right? And then feeling really proud when you finally make it, right? Which is why-
Brad Kearns: Don’t forget that part, huh?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, it feels great because you earned it, right? I don’t believe you can feign or fake or teach that sense of earning without earning it.
Brad Kearns: Wow, you could talk all you want. Especially, as a parent. Yeah, nothing’s going to stick.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah. And you know, I can see it in my kids when I sort of just gave it to them versus, “No, you’re going to have to earn it.” You can see their sense of responsibility of that win, right? And hopefully, we do that a lot more.
Brad Kearns: Let’s hope so. Okay. Let’s keep going with this journey. So, you went back and taught for a little bit, and then you found your way to Harvard, eventually?
Amanda Renteria: I did. And Harvard was interesting, right? I learned a whole new world.
Brad Kearns: So, once again, you’re applying out of this Woodlake, California nine, three, whatever, zero, nine, here comes up. Dear Harvard – oh my goodness. And this is for business school?
Amanda Renteria: It was, it was for business school.
Brad Kearns: What were you thinking at that time, since you were in a classroom teaching kids? A big leap.
Amanda Renteria: Well, again, a little bit interesting because I was-
Brad Kearns: The Amanda leap is coming.
Amanda Renteria: I was living at home when I applied and my parents – kind of goes back to the world of your parents. So, I was at home and I was applying to Harvard Business School, and my dad actually was a little upset because, “Why would you go and incur more debt? You’ve already graduated from Stanford. Why do you need this other thing?”
Brad Kearns: So, is this lack of understanding of the meal ticket part of the equation or was it just sort of his viewpoint of being more conservative with your future or something?
Amanda Renteria: No, it’s not knowing, it’s not knowing how important the Masters is. It’s not knowing (I would even say this as a woman and a woman of color) having an MBA mattered, right? It was really important to validate your skills and for credibility, you need to have these things that people understand, right? Well, my dad didn’t, the rest of the world did.
Brad Kearns: Did you try to explain that to him?
Amanda Renteria: I did, I did. But to some degree, I guess I learned my own instincts of, “All right, that worked out okay at Stanford, this might just work out okay at Harvard.” And so, of course, they’re incredibly proud and I’m sure those conversations … I mean, he was right about, I could have done a lot with my Stanford degree, no doubt. So, you kind of take it all in and you decide, and credit to my parents who really did say, “Okay, if that’s the road you want to go, great, how can I help you?” Right? “How can we make sure that you’re going to be successful in doing that?”
Brad Kearns: Let’s see, tuition this time around is blank, blank, blank. Yeah, tough one. No sports either. You can’t be on the Harvard Business Basketball team.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. It’s why I still have student loans as does my husband from Harvard Business School, because graduate school is expensive. But it’s one of those things that was incredibly important to do, right? I mean, for me, I learned an entirely new world going to business school. Obviously, I met my husband there, the son of a factory worker. And so, all of that was important.
It was also understanding leadership at that kind of level and of course, we met some incredible friends and people, but it did really expand me in a much more international way as well, right? Stanford really introduced me to the country. I would say Harvard introduced me to the world, particularly because it was my time in life. But you also go to school and have classmates who are from all around the world.
Brad Kearns: A high percentage of the student body in that graduate program is international?
Amanda Renteria: More than in my classes here, right? So, you’re in school with your class of 900 students and you go to class for an entire year with 90 of them. And you do hear about the different perspectives of where people live.
I think the other piece is you are going to school with sons and daughters of ambassadors. So, that kind of language becomes comfortable, right? When people say, “When I graduated from Stanford,” and somebody said, “Well, I was applying for a job at one of the financial institutions.” And they said, “But Amanda, what are you going to talk to your clients about if you don’t come from that world?” And I remember being so offended by it.
But what I will say is when I went to Harvard, I realized that it was a language that I was learning. It’s not just about what I was learning in the classroom, but it was a language of different countries, and the history of different countries and the families. And it is a different language. I mean, I’m still offended by the financial services conversation.
Brad Kearns: It’s going out the way of like, “If you get a tattoo, you’ll never get a job.” And now, it’s like, if you don’t have any tattoos, people are going to think you’re weird today. It’s the opposite. So, enough of that stuff, geez.
Amanda Renteria: But you know what, I will say this, I love as I enter new arenas. When I went to Goldman, I asked all the execs, what are the books -?
Brad Kearns: Okay, so you graduated and went to Goldman? And what kind of job-
Amanda Renteria: When I was at Stanford? I worked at in financial institution right out of Stanford. When I said some kids got to do whatever they wanted, other kids had to figure out how to pay loans – when I went there, the first thing I did was ask executives, “What books did you read?” And partly, it was because I wanted to be able to have conversations with people, recognizing that the things I might know or talk about, they probably didn’t watch: El Gordo y la Flaca, right? When growing up. They probably didn’t watch or they weren’t on a Mexican dancing stage when they were young, right? I recognize there are conversations that I was going to have to learn how to have.
Brad Kearns: El Gordo y la Flaca [Spanish 00:38:02]?
Amanda Renteria: Skinny.
Brad Kearns: Flaquitos, okay.
Amanda Renteria: But there’s a show, there’s a variety show, a very popular variety show.
Brad Kearns: Really, is it still going?
Amanda Renteria: Of course, yeah.
Brad Kearns: Check that thing out, man.
Amanda Renteria: Hillary Clinton was on it during the presidential campaign actually.
Brad Kearns: She was?
Amanda Renteria: Yes.
Brad Kearns: Did you pull some strings to make that happen?
Amanda Renteria: I was incredibly scared to put her on there because it’s a variety show, right? And on a presidential campaign, everything is perfectly timed, right? And you know exactly what’s going to happen before anything happens. Well, now, I’m on the leading Spanish speaking variety show, it’s live and I’m not sure everything’s going to go as expected, right? Especially, because they’re supposed to have surprises within the variety show.
So, you can imagine I’m sweating while she’s on the variety show, but I mean that’s what it’s all about, right? Is introducing cultures to different things and seeing people be human and connect in a real way. And so, I think it was one of her best appearances.
Brad Kearns: Highlight of the campaign. Then you decided like the politics public surface was calling you? Now, we’re working our way through the story here and you drop the Hillary Clinton thing-
Amanda Renteria: Sorry about that.
Brad Kearns: We skip ahead and what was your role?
Amanda Renteria: National Political Director.
Brad Kearns: National Political Director for presidential campaign?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah.
Brad Kearns: That seems like a pretty plum … How did you get that? It’s huge.
Amanda Renteria: By luck. I mean, I’d worked in the Senate for nine years. I was the first Latina Chief of Staff in the United States Senate.
Brad Kearns: That’s for Feinstein or?
Amanda Renteria: That was for Debbie Stabenow, Michigan.
Brad Kearns: Okay. So, you’re allowed to go work for someone … You don’t have to be from Michigan, you can just get that gig and-
Amanda Renteria: So, it’s interesting. I was working for Feinstein and Michigan was in a tough time when I moved over. We could see that the auto industry was beginning to weaken and economically the Midwest was really, you know, to some degree still is, but it wasn’t quite as bad back then because their main industry was beginning to weaken. And there weren’t a lot of MBAs running around in democratic side, particularly Harvard MBAs running around at that time.
So, Senator Stabenow was looking for somebody who can lead the economic portfolio. She was on the banking committee and really had a lot more of that kind of portfolio. And so, I heard about it and I put my name in for that, and it was pretty exciting to really be at a place where we were trying to figure out how do you maintain an auto industry in this country.
So, I moved over because I thought I could make a difference and I could help, and that my skills matched the need for her at the time. And man, I enjoyed working for her. She is an incredible woman and I believe that when you have more people like Senator Stabenow, middleclass woman, didn’t grow up in a political family – when her voice is at the table, it makes a difference for what kind of policy we have in our country.
She made me believe that I wanted to help her have a bigger voice, as much of a voice as possible because it made me believe in our public institutions even more.
Brad Kearns: Wow. So, when you were in that role, now, there’s an opportunity to go on a presidential campaign?
Amanda Renteria: So, I got to know a lot of people in that role. I was on a lot of the chiefs’, sorts of the chiefs’ lists, but also just the events that they had. So, I suppose I made a little bit of a reputation. Yeah, I got to know quite a few folks. And so, after my election didn’t work out, Hillary called and said or the team called and said, “Would you be interested in this national political role?”
For me, I got to really know-
Brad Kearns: What? They just saw you on Gordo y la Flaca?
Amanda Renteria: No, I mean when I ran for Congress, I got to know a lot of the house members as well. I got to know the DCCC, a lot of Democratic Party leaders a little bit more.
Brad Kearns: Did you serve on the congress. You ran and then-?
Amanda Renteria: So, after being Chief of Staff, I moved back home and I ran for Congress. In running for Congress, you get to know a lot more of the members here and there. I know that’s background noise. That’s Diana.
Brad Kearns: Oh, hi Diana.
Amanda Renteria: Diana helps us, she picks up our kids and she’s actually from the Central Valley too. Anyway, so, I got to know quite a few folks and when you run, you get to know the members a lot more. I think some of it is, there weren’t a lot of Senate-side people kind of taking the path that I had, which is being both on the policy side and on the politics side. And our race got a lot of attention during that period of time. And so, I got to know – Vice President Biden came to my district, Secretary Vilsack came to my district. I spoke at one of the Obama events and a Hillary event as well when I ran.
Brad Kearns: Killed it, I guess.
Amanda Renteria: I think I did okay.
Brad Kearns: Guess so.
Amanda Renteria: But when she asked me, I wasn’t exactly sure I was going to go. I mean, right? We were living in rural America. I was back where my family … I wanted to build something in the Central Valley. But the idea of being able to elect the first female president and trying to help that effort was really important.
Brad Kearns: Okay. So, you’re making a name for yourself as they say in politics and then you got plucked by the campaign, but you were a little reluctant.
Amanda Renteria: I was, and I think I’ve always kind of gone scalability local, right? And I’ve kind of bounced back and forth and I wasn’t sure I was ready to do it. But the part for me that was real is running. You see your polling numbers, right? And it was Amanda versus David, that’s all people knew and all of a sudden, I was behind. And it really bugged me that just by being female, somehow, I was working out of a hole in the Central Valley.
So, I kind of went on this mission when I was running to try and figure it out, right? I loved conversation at the doors. I loved getting to know the “why” and particularly when people would say either they’re not voting or not voting for me, I really kind of wanted to know why. And I’ll never forget a conversation I had with what was my base voter, older Latino woman who said, “You know, Mia, you’re great, but I’m going to vote for him.” Right? And I said, “Por qué,” right? And we had this conversation, “Por qué, por qué en?” And she says, “Because Mia, you’re just like us and don’t you think we need somebody like them-”
Brad Kearns: So, says his fire-
Amanda Renteria: … to be in that role?” Right? And what struck me is that, what was hard is that when she looked in the mirror, she didn’t think, right? That what was looking back at her could make that difference. And what it left me with is that we’ve got to change the image of leadership, and that’s what I wanted to do in staying in the Valley. And I knew it was going to take a really long time to start to make leadership look a little different, right? Because I would have been the first woman. I would have also been the first person of color north of LA to win a seat to Congress. First Latina, north of LA, not person of color, Latino-north of LA. And I thought it’s going to take some time, but we’ve got to start changing this image of leadership.
The reason why I joined the Hillary campaign is because I knew in one cycle we could change the image of leadership, and we did. I mean, the good news is we did. I did a speech in Mexico City at International Women’s Day and I said, “I don’t want anyone for a second to believe something wasn’t accomplished because for the first time ever, people believe a woman can be commander in chief. For the first time ever, a woman got more votes, 3 million more votes than a man. For the first time ever, we’ve seen what a female leadership can look like and I think that is huge, is enormous.”
Obviously, it led to the largest at that point when I gave the speech, the largest march led by women, right? Those are the things that we have now crossed today, and I’m still incredibly proud to have been part of that because that is seeding a future that I was hoping we would see by changing the image of leadership.
Brad Kearns: In a short time, like you said. It’s here, it’s not going away.
Amanda Renteria: It’s here. You see it more and more, right? You see the marches, you see women running. You see people unexpectedly doing things they never imagined they’d do. But they’re doing it in their everyday lives now, right? They’re doing it in work, calling out sexual misconduct, calling out some of the things that have held people like them back. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Brad Kearns: Are we ready for the next female candidate to step up and it’s kind of be gender indifferent to the actual message and the quality of the candidate? Because like you described that initial handicap out of the gate, is that gone? Are we still going to have to work through some of that?
Amanda Renteria: I don’t think one election cycle also gets you there, right? It has to be repeated wins. We have to see more of this, what’s called the Year of the Woman. We have to see more of that happen at all levels, right? It has to be so set that we’re not calling it the Year of the Woman. And I think we’ve seeded it, that it’s not going away, but we can’t let it reverse.
Brad Kearns: How did the campaign go?
Amanda Renteria: You’re talking about my governor’s campaign?
Brad Kearns: No, no, Hillary’s campaign.
Amanda Renteria: You’re talking about Hillary’s campaign?
Brad Kearns: Yeah.
Amanda Renteria: The campaign was hard.
Brad Kearns: I can imagine it’s physically, brutally hard to go at that pace.
Amanda Renteria: Oh, I had no idea. Oftentimes, I would wake up and not know what time it was or where I was.
Brad Kearns: You must be a rockstar.
Amanda Renteria: It was difficult, right? The thing that kept me in many ways grounded, is I counted my days as when I was going to be able to see my kids again, right? When I would touch back home. I learned that two weeks is too much. And so, I had to make sure that whatever trip I was on or how we cobbled together the trip, that I would be home so I could at least see them before I crossed the two-week march.
Brad Kearns: You were able to do that? You somehow managed that by just pop at an extra flight in, and then catching up to the bus at the next-?
Amanda Renteria: That’s right.
Brad Kearns: That sounds brutal.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, I mean, it’s amazing what flights you can do and it’s amazing how fast you can get through an airport when you’re on that final day before you’re going to see your husband and kids.
But I think what was really interesting about the campaign for me is when I ran, I got to see this disconnection as I mentioned before, right? That people at the doors were so different than the political power or the leaders in our world. And I thought that was just something in rural America where I grew up.
Over the course of 2016, I realized that it wasn’t just in Woodlake, California or in Tulare County, but that disconnection seemed to be occurring all across the country. That disconnection coupled with, we’re in a little bit of a generational shift right now too. And the confluence of all of that coming together made it hard, because we were really trying to bridge this world of millennials coming to their own voice, and a disconnection with rural America, but really, really with just people at the door.
I often talk about 2016 being the year where politics went direct to consumer or direct to electorate for the first time. Before, it would be, you’d have to get that endorsement from that big organization or that big organization and then you’d win an election. But 2016 was direct to consumer, right? With a very disruptive technology where you could do that, right? Twitter was used in an entirely different way, online was used in an entirely different way. Where you can not only go direct to consumer, but you can actually segment as well.
So, in retrospect, in some ways, it’s almost even more tiring thinking about all the different things that were happening and then layer on what we don’t know about yet, what we don’t know about what was happening in the foreign intelligence world or by foreign agents.
So, it was hard. It was hard. I was really proud to have been part of the Flint National Awareness when I went there. It hadn’t been on our radar yet. And so, when I met with the mayor and sat down with her and learned that the best thing you can do in politics is be there, because you learn it in a different way than just watching it or reading the policy about it, but walking in other people’s shoes, sitting there and realizing I just took a shower and I’m not sure what I showered in. And to imagine that I leave the next day, but all these other kids and all these other families stay there, and can’t leave – I don’t think the weight of that can be learned at an arm’s distance. I think you need to be there
Brad Kearns: I’m feeling a little itchy just from the story. But I agree, there’s nothing like it.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right.
Brad Kearns: And unfortunately, like when I consider this concept, when it comes to health, the people in the ketogenic diet space, a lot of them are coming there from a cancer diagnosis or severe health problems that couldn’t be cured by mainstream medicine. And it’s too bad that has to be their path. But it’s like, it’s hard for us to wake up. We’re busy, we got stuff to do every day and we’re not broken up by the problems in Flint until they’re brought to our attention or we feel it in some way.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. And so, you’re sitting there and the waitress gives you a glass of water. Right? And then you wonder if it’s okay, right?
Brad Kearns: Not a great feeling.
Amanda Renteria: No, and I think that’s where we need public servants, politicians to be a lot more. And given everything happening at the border right now, I think that the fact that people are going there to see it, to see the faces, that matters because you can’t govern a world you don’t know and never seen.
Brad Kearns: What was your quote on that? That you’ve transcended politics or something, what’s going on? I mean, we have the constant conflict between liberal, conservative, whatever, but now have we gone something that’s above and beyond for maybe the first time in a long time with racism and human rights and things like that, that are coming into daily view?
Amanda Renteria: I do think that right now in this transition that we’re in generationally, in this highly polarized political arena we’re in right now, I do think we’re going to get back to the specific issues again, where we can build coalitions around really important pieces, right? That just the very basic level, mothers, fathers should not be separated from their kids, right? Just at the very basic level when kids are in school, they should be safe. Right? And I think, my hope is, because I’m an internal optimist – my hope is that we will be stronger in those values than in our party and I think that’s an important piece to get us on the right track. And I see it going there, or at least my silver lining, what I try to see or seek is those moments where you can see that’s happening.
I hope what we do is we don’t think about it, “Oh, I’m crossing over a political line for today.” But I hope we think about it as, “No, I’m actually joining a common value,” and let’s move from there.
Brad Kearns: Very well said. I like that, yeah. I just heard Deepak Chopra talk about the things on his mind and he’s very troubled by the collective dysfunction of society and these other things. And he actually put a time clock on it. He said if we continue down our current path, he gives us like 30 years until we become extinct through all the mistakes we’re making. But then the next breath he said, as the collective consciousness grows, as we realize we’re kind of screwed with this climate change thing and so forth and whatever else is going on that’s really hitting the consciousness, he says that collective consciousness will grow and we’ll turn everything around, we’ll right things. So, that’s the optimist part.
Amanda Renteria: It is, it is.
Brad Kearns: 30 years is the pessimist part. It might be a realist part, but we don’t want to go there without the other side of it. Like, okay, let’s wake up.
Amanda Renteria: It’s fascinating, because, I have, in my political career, I was able to go to other countries on behalf of the United States Senate, right? And you’d imagine that when you’re talking to world leaders, you’d wonder what their questions are. And they always revolved around one thing. It wasn’t about our movies, it wasn’t about our innovative products. It was how did our democracy, how did our public institutions survive moments of controversy. That’s what they wanted to know. How did our public institutions survive moments of controversy?
That to me is a little bit scary right now, right? Because we’re testing it, we’re testing the justice system. It’s why after the election, I was so honored to be Chief of Operations at the California Department of Justice, because I do believe that our public institutions must sustain as they always have. And so, while we’re getting our act together as a conscious, as he would have said, what are our public institutions and how are they surviving? Because that is what makes us different than countries around the world that have fallen.
Brad Kearns: So, these little gigs are coming. You must have a good agent or someone’s looking out for you. All of a sudden, you’re running this huge DOJ in California, and then tell me how that went and then when this pot started boiling about the gubernatorial race.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah. So, I’ve always loved public service. So, it was a real honor to work with so many incredible people at the California Department of Justice. My job was to really help the Attorney General set it up for what we knew in the short term was going to be an onslaught of really attacking our underlying laws and values here in California. And so, in the short term, how do we reorganize to really be ready for that.
Then second, how do we put in place a operations that is ready for the next generation, right? That’s ready for the next 10 years. Everything from – before I got there, you had to send in your resume. Pretty tough to get young people to come to DOJ if you got to send in the resume, right? And we were on Facebook and LinkedIn and some of these other like social platforms that really are hitting our younger generation.
So, we changed some of those things, right? In order to make sure that we were setting ourselves up for the future. Watching though the gubernatorial race, and recognizing that some major conversations were being left out was hard for me to watch from the side-lines. The Me Too movement, the women’s movement wasn’t really being discussed. A new generation and what are we doing to inspire an entire new generation. The fact that we were-
Brad Kearns: What were they going for instead? The usual-
Amanda Renteria: The fights were over who use their political power to get more money at the time, right? As opposed to really trying to steer public service in a new direction, which is what I believe we need right now. And I felt like I couldn’t just sit on the side-lines and watch that. I wanted to do everything I could to … I often say there’s nothing worse than being ignored, right? Nothing worse than being ignored. And the idea that this women’s movement was completely ignored, the idea that we’re in the most progressive state, or call ourselves the most progressive state in the union, and the Central Valley was largely not discussed.
The fact that we have some of the poorest areas and underserved areas in this state and in this country, was largely left out. You can’t sit back if you can do something about it. And so, I felt it was important to pull the conversation to make sure that we were truly empowering people to be a part of that conversation, to be a part of the dialogue, and move policy into that. Because if we’re not talking about it, we’re not governing for it either.
Brad Kearns: So, I think some people looking from the outside might not understand that point where you don’t have a good chance of winning the election when you jump in, but you’re having a chance to have a profound influence on the conversation and where the leading candidates are going to have to listen if you’re out there calling attention. I never thought about that myself, that the Me Too stuff was just ignored, yeah. There’s too many other things to talk about.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. And I mean, here’s a moment, right? Here’s a moment.
Brad Kearns: Probably, a good time.
Amanda Renteria: But when I jumped in, there was still a huge undecided population, right? So, it wasn’t that it was an impossible path. It wasn’t an impossible path. What it would require though is a chance on the debate stage, right?
Brad Kearns: Mm-hmm. And you get that chance by putting up some good poll numbers or how do you get that spot on the debate stage?
Amanda Renteria: by having a lot of money. So, as one of the producers said, “Well, I mean if you came from a different family, you know …”
Brad Kearns: Oh, I mean literally-
Amanda Renteria: Or name ID. it’s a little bit of name ID.
Brad Kearns: Oh mercy.
Amanda Renteria: I think it’s do you have enough money to be a player within the gubernatorial race? Right? And one way you show that is by having a ton of money, right? And saying, “Well, I’m going to put all this on air.” And so, that’s how we’ll get there. It’s not about qualifications. It’s not about could you govern? What have you done to be able to prove you can govern?
Brad Kearns: What if you have like variety show, style, talents. You can do the Mexican dancing? You trained your children very well.
Amanda Renteria: That’d be fantastic, that’d be fun.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, I mean, it’s about time for a change in these boring debates-
Amanda Renteria: I agree.
Brad Kearns: … these talking points and the-
Amanda Renteria: I agree. When I ran for Congress, I wanted to have a-
Brad Kearns: Let’s go, let’s have a dance-off.
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, I was willing to do some basketball. I mean, I’ve got a lot of right here. I can do some basketball, I can throw a football, I can do some Mexican dancing. The only thing I can’t quite do is sing. I’m a horrible singer. My kids are all right. They’ve skipped the generation.
But that’s the part that I needed some break and obviously, didn’t get that. But nonetheless, at the very least, what I knew I would do is pull a conversation that wasn’t being had, and wasn’t going to be had because nobody wanted to talk about that stuff. But I think at this moment we are in, being on the right side of history is making sure that we are talking about empowerment at all levels and not ignoring those kinds of things. Not ignoring a Me Too movement when there was a march, just five days before a debate and nobody asked a question about it.
Brad Kearns: How many people debated?
Amanda Renteria: Five, sometimes four, sometimes five. Again, this is the top two primary as well. So, if people just get exposure, it changes the numbers period. And we’ve seen that over the course … I’ve read, watch, saw the data over the course of other elections, major country elections. Getting on that debate stage does matter particularly in primaries. So, yeah.
Brad Kearns: I’m shocked to hear that there’s not some poll number that you can just get up to a certain ranking and get a spot.
Amanda Renteria: There is, but then they have to do it, right? Your name has to be included in it and right now, we’re in a shifting of the polls where-
Brad Kearns: Oh, your name has to be included in a preliminary poll.
Amanda Renteria: That’s right. So, they have to actually ask you about it, right? So, polling is going through its own – I mean, as everyone has probably seen and noticed, polling is going through its own understanding of how do they actually measure today. Again, some of the most recent … we’re seeing that some of the most recent elections in Virginia and etcetera, people won that weren’t expecting. New York last night, people won that weren’t expected to.
Unfortunately, the way the system and the establishment of it, status quo of it works is one feeds the other, right? So, the folks who were doing the debate say, “Well you’re not in a poll.” And for some of them, it was just being in a poll, it wasn’t a number. You’re not in a poll. And then the pollsters would say, “Well, you’re not on the debate stage.” So, you’re sort of stuck. I think there’s probably some truth to some folks who said you should have jumped in earlier. That might be true. That might be true, that we could have moved things had I had a little bit more time.
Brad Kearns: Would have been cool to do like a YouTube video of you answering every question of the debate and like patching together the actual debate and then just cutting in like one of those bloopers on YouTube. It’d be pretty powerful because like, now, you can actually do stuff like that and it’s sort of funny. But it’s like, what else can you do if you’re on the side-lines, except be out in the parking lot, wow. That’s a tough grind though.
Okay. So, you didn’t get in the debate but you did a full-on campaign, how did it go?
Amanda Renteria: I feel fantastic about what we were able to do and the folks that we were able to inspire and the stories we were able to tell. And my hope is that we have seeded all kinds of future folks who believe they can be at the highest tables in our political leadership discussion, that their issues matter. That they saw they can do it. That leadership doesn’t look like … that leadership (I should say it this way) can look a lot of different ways, and that you can run campaigns a lot of different ways and make an impact. And that’s my hope, is that people see that. But I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know what’s next.
Brad Kearns: What are you doing now? Catching your breath here in Silicon Valley? You’re back within a stone’s throw of your old school there?
Amanda Renteria: I am. I get to see my kids. And being real, right? I’m in a relationship where my husband and I both have our own careers and to some degree, he wasn’t able to take his work trips as much as I was. And we’ve talked a lot about this. It’s time for him to do all the conferences and everything that he needs to do because I can be a little bit more reliable at home and as we call it, first parent.
I never really took time to think about after my campaign when I got a call from Hilary or after the Hillary campaign and the Attorney General called.
Brad Kearns: Did you really get a call? Like that’s how this – she just called you one day?
Amanda Renteria: From the campaign. I got a call from the campaign. You have to recruit, right? So, the campaign called.
Brad Kearns: And did you have to go interview or there was like a song and dance here to make sure it was a good fit?
Amanda Renteria: Yeah, no, I interviewed on the phone and then I sat down with her as well. And incredibly, it’s funny, when I sat down with her, we talked a lot about how to make sure-
Brad Kearns: Basketball at Stanford.
Amanda Renteria: No, we talked a lot about my kids, and how to make sure that I raise good kids. We were talking a lot about that. Which says a lot about her because that is top of mind, right? When you think about moving your entire family to and being on a campaign, etcetera. She had the foresight to recognize that that piece was really important for me.
But whatever I do, I still want to keep pushing this need to have good people in public service. This need to really be at leadership tables and make sure to be representing others and the perspectives that you bring to that table, not just being thankful to be at it. So, we’ll see what’s next.
Brad Kearns: Amanda Renteria, thank you so much. Very interesting. We will see what’s next. Let’s keep an eye on her. Thanks for staying with us here.
Amanda Renteria: Thanks for being on. I love this kind of stuff that.
Brad Kearns: [Spanish 01:08:15]
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Hey, its Brad to talk about my Buffalo fueled lifestyle. Yes, it is incredible food. 100% grass-fed and finished. Check out wildideabuffalo.com. They have a wonderful website, acquainting you with the benefits of eating a sustainably raised animal from start to finish.
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When you taste this, when you take one bite of a Buffalo steak or a Buffalo burger, cook it plain if you want. To do a proper test, just take it with nothing. No seasoning, no spices, no sauces. Take one bite and you tell me if I’m wrong.
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