“An idea is only crazy when your words aren’t in alignment with your work ethic, your actions, and your passions.”
Matthew Rivera ’20 found his passion and wants to share it with the world. He recently began producing weekly motivational videos, providing insights and instructions for beginning a journey towards maximizing your potential and making your dreams a reality. He lives by the slogan, “never stop dreaming.” I recently sat down with Matthew to hear how this all came about.
Matthew Rivera '20
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Co-President of the Men of Color Alliance (MOCA)
How’d you get into motivational speaking?
It started off with high school basketball. I always had a feeling that I was a leader, and high school basketball truly allowed me to have a platform to showcase my leadership skills. I didn’t play my freshman year because my high school was really far from my home at the time. My mom had just given birth to my little brother, Mason, so I really just wanted to use that time to just go home. However, in my sophomore year, she allowed me to try out, and I made the JV team. From day one, I just worked as hard as I could. I was the most vocal person on the team, and even though I didn’t get captain or co-captain, I continued to work as hard as I could.
Noticed for his work ethic and charisma, Matthew’s ability to uplift his teammates and push them eventually made it impossible for the varsity team to overlook him. But basketball was one stepping stone on the road to motivational speaking. Matt shared the other influential environments that laid the foundation for what he is pursuing today.
The next step? His first job—Chipotle.
I moved on to the next level of leadership when I started working for Chipotle. I really started to go all out with leadership when I decided to quit the basketball team and pursue Chipotle full time. What strengthened my leadership skills was trying to get people to understand how to get their jobs done, and figuring out how to instruct them in a way that wouldn’t make them angry or make them confused. Chipotle really taught me how to be able to run a group of people. It taught me how to be a part of an inclusive environment that fosters growth and love and leadership.
During his time at Trin, Matthew has become a well-known face in the community and the greater Hartford area. His sophomore year he became involved with the Dream Support Network, working their signature event Ice Cream For a Dream in the summer of 2018. The Dream Support Network is a Hartford-based organization seeking to inspire and support those chasing their dreams. The Ice Cream For a Dream event is designed to facilitate dreaming by providing ice cream to people who are willing to share their dreams with the Dream Team.
When I got involved with the Dream Support Network and Ice Cream for a Dream, I realized that motivational speaking is something that I’m kind of good at. You don’t know how many times I’ve been on the ice cream truck and people are like, “Oh yeah, I don’t have any dreams.” That just really bothers me, that a lot of people don’t understand what their dreams are.
It was during those conversations on the truck that Matthew realized the importance of inspiring others to dream.
Outside of work, on the side, I was just doing little, like motivational consultations with my friends, providing them with any motivation that they needed. A lot of people really started to feel like I could be a viable resource for motivational speaking. I’ve decided to pursue it as a career because my main goal for motivational speaking is to travel across the world giving individualized motivational consultations.
But Matthew isn’t looking for fame or money. CONVICTION, DUTY, and PURPOSE are the driving factors behind his passion.
I feel like it is super important for people to have someone to talk to and get motivation from. What I’ve noticed is that providing people motivation is just so great, because when it clicks for those people, you see them, and there’s just something different about them. They smile just a little bit brighter. Their energy’s a little bit more vibrant, and they just navigate the world in a different way.
As part of Matt’s conviction to lead, he knows the importance of performing at a high level to ensure that your team and others around you have the best platform to succeed. He recalls that it was while working at Chipotle that he truly learned how to lead.
I’m honestly very thankful for Chipotle because their system was just dope on so many different levels. At Chipotle, they stress a lot of terms or expectations that are equivalent to the kind of workers that they hire and the kind of worker that you should be.
While some of the terms eluded Matthew when we spoke, one term that stuck out to him was “top performers.”
Top performers are people who have the desire and ability to perform excellent work in order to achieve high standards.
My general manager did a great job keeping staff motivated and inspired us to reach that “restaurateur” status (which is like an exemplary restaurant). And I saw the mission. I saw his vision, and he inspired and motivated me to continue to give others the mission as well. I feel like it was so key in developing myself as a leader because there were plenty of times where I would run the entire shift.
Matthew’s notes that he remembers times when fellow co-workers would contact him in hopes that he would run the shift that day. Despite Matthew’s leadership skills, he was never promoted due to the fact that he would soon be going to college.
But did that deter him?
No, it didn’t. It didn’t deter me at all. Although I would have enjoyed having more pay, I still carried myself as a manager because it was just the leader that was inside of me. I didn’t care about who got the credit or who didn’t. I still took on a lot of managerial roles.
I used to arrive early for my shifts and prep the store so that way when my team came in, they wouldn’t have a stressful time. And that’s what it was. The team respected me so much, and they saw how much I cared for it.
That’s one of the most important leadership qualities I’ve ever been given—that I can just do something and not have to take credit for it.
I was able to get so much done without even having to take on that title of being a manager. It was just such an amazing experience for me.
That was one of the great takeaways from my sit down with Matthew. Your duty is to help facilitate the success of those around you.
Lead regardless of your title.
Before we ended the conversation I had one final question for Matthew. What does it mean it never stop dreaming?
Never stop dreaming is a mindset geared around dreams and dreaming. When you live your life this way you start to notice that you’re not just doing things because you have to, but rather you’re intentional about your actions. You’re focused on what you want to do and what you should be doing. Which person should you be networking with? Which interview should you be preparing for? What jobs should you be applying for? What people can I meet with to help me reach that dream?
Your mindset will allow you to come up with all these really great and amazing ideas, but it’s up to you to act on those amazing ideas and really put that work, time, and effort in.
An idea is only crazy when your words aren’t in alignment with your work ethic, your actions, and your passions.
People would understand what is needed in order for them to live out the life of their dreams if they allowed themselves to think about it. That’s why I truly live to embody the statement “never stop dreaming” because through God who strengthens me, this positive mindset that I’ve taken on, the wonderful mentors that I have, the wonderful network that I have, and the wonderful support system I have, I can do all and everything. I know that I won’t ever stop until I fulfill God’s purpose. I feel like God has a crazy plan for me and I’m rocking with it till the end. Never stop dreaming. Matt with a dream clock out.
Not only has Matthew been passionate about motivating others at Trin and our surrounding Hartford community, he is also a “student leader deeply committed to social change during his time at Trinity.”
Matthew Rivera ’20 Named Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow
Check out what else 👆🏾 the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research at Trinity College (CHER) has to say about Matthew in their recent blog post about Matthew being named a Campus Compact 2019-20 Newman Civic Fellow!
For more info about the Dream Support Network & Ice Cream for a Dream