Intergenerational Inspiration Q&A with Monica Eaton-Cardone, Co-Founder & COO of Chargebacks911
An acclaimed entrepreneur, speaker and author, Monica Eaton-Cardone is widely recognized as a thought leader in the FinTech industry and a champion of women in technology. Her company, Chargebacks911, is a global risk management, chargeback mitigation and fraud prevention company based in Tampa Bay. As she is an advocate for women in STEM and her nonprofit organization, Get Paid for Grades, invests in students to inspire a new generation of innovators, I looked forward to our conversation about her intergenerational inspiration.
1. Intergenerational relationships traditionally focus on people who are “skipped”, non-adjacent generations like grandparents and grandchildren. Have you had someone in your life from a different generation who greatly inspired you?
My grandmother, Eva Mae Becker. She was a concert ballerina until, due to a bad fall in her early thirties, she became paralyzed. Despite being told that she would never have children, she married a few years later and raised three kids. She survived breast cancer and her husband passing away at a young age, only to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Even though these heartbreaks all happened before she was 50, you would never know it! She not only raised a family and endured such trials and tribulations, she created a support group to help widows that is still going strong today. She taught herself to play the piano. She was a gifted artist. She wrote and mailed a dozen letters a day to people she thought needed encouragement and positive words. Taking lemons and making lemonade was in action continuously — my grandmother was one of the most tenacious people I have ever known. She inspired me to use my sense of humor to get through rough times. Her positivity is something I hope to pass on to my children and others I have an opportunity to influence.
2. What is something you enjoyed doing with the person? What did you learn from her?
She happened to be an incredible artist. I used to spend time drawing with her, and I still love to get lost in a drawing. Art is a great platform for learning and teaching. You must practice and fail until you get it right — and sometimes what you end up is even better than your original idea! But you must stick with it to get results. There are no boundaries to what you can create.
3. How has this relationship continued to impact you? Is there something you do or a motto you follow in your personal or professional life that came from that intergenerational connection?
I’m often asked for advice on how to be successful, and my answers are very closely aligned with what Grandma Becker taught me.
- Be professional (considerate, kind and respectful)
- Work hard (don’t stop until the job is done and be conscientious)
- Have thick skin (take criticism constructively, don’t harbour negative thoughts)
4. Is there someone in your life now from a younger generation in which you have a special reverse-mentoring relationship? What types of experiences do you share together?
There are opportunities to learn and be mentored by just about any age group. Last year I found out (on the day of) that my daughter, Alexandra, had signed up for a talent show where she planned to sing. We were getting ready for school and she was adamant about wearing her older sister’s boots (which were nowhere to be found). She finally found them after being scolded for making us late. When I asked her why she couldn’t have just worn her regular school shoes, she replied that “today is the talent show and this is part of my costume.” Ally is eight years old and she has never had singing lessons, let alone been on stage. I gently tried to convince her to reconsider and instead take time to prepare for an opportunity NEXT year.
She looked at me and said, “Mom, it’s okay if you don’t believe I can do it; I know I can and I’m going to win this!”
Apparently, she had been practicing for the last several weeks on her own and was very confident in her upcoming performance. Guess what? She won. The lesson? Sometimes the child teaches the parent!
5. How do you encourage intergenerational relationships in your family, business or community?
One of the best ways to encourage intergenerational relationships is through example. Giving people a chance to prove themselves is something I firmly believe in. Our oldest employee is in his mid-70s and can out-produce most who are one third his age. We have managers of teams who are in their early 20s whose expertise and maturity would fool any outsider (and does!)
6. Is there a book, movie or piece of art that has reminded you about the importance and power of intergenerational inspiration?
I love the image of all hands joined together around the globe. I also saw an image once of two people walking down a path, showing only the backs of their silhouettes — you could see it was a child and perhaps a grandparent — both equally enjoying their time! This was a great depiction of how different generations have much in common and can learn from each other.
7. How can our readers follow you and learn more about your work?
Monica — thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Your grandmother was truly an inspirational woman — one I wish I had met. I’m grateful for the impact she had on you and how her spirit lives on through you. The story about your daughter is priceless — and so clearly depicts how we are all learners and teachers — regardless of our age. Monica, thank you for being an age-friendly employer, hiring and supporting older workers and encouraging an age-integrated workplace.
I read a quote from you: “Don’t wait for a solution, create one. Don’t look for change, be that change.” At Bridges Together, we’re creating solutions to address age-segregation in our communities (personal, educational, professional, geographical and beyond). We try to model celebrating our common humanity and that each person as a gift to this world — a big change from the ageism so many people experience. Monica, thank you for creating solutions and being a change-agent for so much goodness in this world.