“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” — John D. Rockefeller
It’s much better to tell a story about money you’re happy with as opposed to what everyone else believes. Once you have enough for rice and beans, filtered water, taking care of your own expenses and eventually taking care of your family and a few other things, money is simply a story. That story is analogous to a scoreboard used in sports. So whether you’re in the top of the 1st inning, 7th inning stretch, or the bottom of the 9th, it merely tracks the moves you’ve made up until this point in life. You can tell yourself any story you want about money, and yet it’s better to tell yourself a story about money that you can happily live with.
Regardless of whether you like him or not, Kanye West once said, “Having money’s not everything, not having it is.” We’ve all experienced points in life where there simply wasn’t enough month left at the end of the money, right? I believe this is the root cause of our attitudes, mindsets and allocation (budgeting) of money. Those three ideas and concepts will be the topics of this weeks discussion.
Positive Money Attitude
“My philosophy is that if I have any money I invest it in new ventures and not have it sitting around.” — Richard Branson
What’s your first memory of money? My youngest memory with money is that we didn’t necessarily have a lot of it. When I reflect back, a lot of dinner talks with my mom and dad never discussed money or personal finances. Looking back on it, I wish there were a lot more talks because it would have elevated my overall understanding of money, banking and finances. It wasn’t until college, where I pursued degrees in economics and business, and after college working in financial services, where those discussions got serious and heightened.
Furthermore, thinking even deeper into that problem, how many economics or finance classes did we have growing up in high school? The last time I checked it was zero. Problem number one right there. I personally took two years of accounting my junior and senior years of high school but with all honestly (outside of getting A’s) that didn’t really do much for me. Yes it helped me understand GAAP, balance sheets, income statements, assets and liabilities but it wasn’t until I pursued higher education and had experiential learning to where I could apply all of these theories and concepts.
To dive deeper into not really having much money, I do understand that here in America I am doing better than a hell of a lot of other people throughout the globe. Our worst days here on Earth can always be someone’s best day so never take that for granted. 2.5 to 3 billion people still don’t have running water or electricity throughout the globe so let’s always keep that in the back of our minds. Let’s not compare our chapter 6 to someone’s chapter 1.
In retrospect, according to worldbank.org’s 2013 statistics, 767 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, down from 881 million in 2012 and 1.85 billion in 1990. With that being said, none of us have a reason to complain about our situations because we should be empathetic enough to understand it could be much worse. Realize that because of the internet we have so many opportunities to thrive in today’s economy. It’s simply a matter of using those tools now instead of being ignorant to them.
Nevertheless, our philosophies and attitudes towards money and finances is what will separate us from the rest of the pack. Not necessarily by loving money (that’s where you get in trouble) but my appreciating the options, resources and choices it gives you in life. The last thing you want out of life is to owe an institution, company or bank any amount of money. That’s being a slave to their word and choices. Please understand that if you owe anyone else money they can come and take away your possessions (house, car, etc.) within the blink of an eye.
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” — Carol Dweck
Growing up I relied on a lot of talents to get me through whatever particular situation I was going through in life. High school came easy to me and I applied myself when I needed to. Could I have done better if I studied more? Of course! Could I have read more books? Definitely! Could I have gotten a 3.6 or a 3.8 GPA instead of a 3.3 GPA if I took my classes and professors more seriously? Absolutely! Yet, looking back on a lot of that, I wasn’t really pushed or challenged by a lot of those teachers I had. It was really only a handful from what I could recall.
Washington & Jefferson College’s academic curriculum from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2015 is what pushed me. 1) I had to read way more books, 2) I had to study 10X more than I ever did in high school and 3) economic theory, business cases, marketing and statistics all challenged and expanded my mindset. I enjoyed 80–90% of what I read but in hindsight a lot of it was theory, not practical instruments I could apply in the marketplace or economy.
Three things opened my mindset and made me a much better person to succeed in business, life and my career at the current state of where I am. The first were two separate entrepreneurship classes (intro to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial marketing) I took with Dr. Tim Murphy I believe my sophomore and junior years at W&J. Unfortunately Dr. Murphy passed away a few years ago but his legacy and passion for teaching and innovation continue to live on. One thing he taught me was that it’s important to look at the glass as half full, not the other way around.
Secondly, in January of 2015 I was one of 30 participants in W&J’s Fullbridge Entrepreneurship program. Thanks to outside funding, donations and alumnus, this was a free course where the college brought in two former Harvard M.B.A’s (one previously worked at NASA and started her own hedge fund and the other was a Wall Street consultant and financier) to teach us entrepreneurship, business communication, valuation, research and data analytics, sales and marketing and how to properly present & pitch our ideas.
From 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, all of us grew our mindsets, skillsets, worked in teams and helped simulate what we’d experience in the real working world environment. Long story short, this course was completed for zero credits but opened my mind up to what it would take to grow a skillset and how to add value to others through products and services in our ever growing marketplace. Thank you to Ray Griffin and our other coach too!
Last but not least, my favorite part of developing a growth mindset really came down to books and what I was able to incorporate and read after filling my brain with enough economic theory to momentarily sedate Ben Bernanke for four years. Three books I read during and directly after graduating in May of 2015 had an incredible impact on me. 1) Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.
2) Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs.
And 3) Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary.
If you aren’t continuously growing your mindset I believe you’re dying so from the bottom of my heart I truly suggest everyone pick up something that remotely interests you in any area of your life you’re looking to improve. It’s wild how many solutions to our problems in life are on the next page of a book.
Budgeting Our Mula
“Success is never accidental.” — Peter Thiel
The discipline to budget everyday expenses, month to month expenses and yearly expenses is grossly underestimated. I love what Peter Thiel says in reference to success never being accidental! I believe some of our grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents, knowing what they know now, would have taken this topic more much seriously. From my experience in finance and advising families, I’m sure they’d agree with me that there is no need to wait to start saving money. If you’re planning to do something special with your life, which I’m confident most of us are, you should ask, “Why can’t I do this in 6 months to a year?”
For example, if you have a 10-year plan of how to create some sort of business or invest in the right business, map out a retirement savings budget, save money for the first ever down payment on a home, or save thousands of dollars for a new car, none of that is accidental. All of that is planned out, and when you do it the correct way, the dopamine rush in your brain is like none other. I suggest a simple notebook. I’ve discussed old school habits previously, and whatever tool you ultimately use, the notebook method or another way to easily and reliably track your expenses should be your first move….Only after that would I suggested Excel spreadsheets or using tools such as Mint.
Most people don’t plan to fail they simply fail to plan. It may sound boring and mundane but the more and more I practice, read and surround myself with successful public speakers, writers, entrepreneurs, businesswoman and leaders I come to understand they’re average people just like you and I. The only thing separating them from us is that they simply did what the individual who failed didn’t do or was unable to do. Repetition is the mother of learning and it’s going to take at least 10,000 hours in a specific field before mastery can be achieved. If you’re looking for a formula for greatness, the closest we’ll ever get, I think, is this: consistency driven by a deep love of the work!
My story will continue to change, evolve and grow the more that I do and I honestly hope that yours does too. My goal has and always will be to give all of you transparent advice because I believe its lacking in today’s generation. Financial literacy is lacking as well so to be able to discuss it here and one day to get inside of middle schools, high schools and colleges to speak about it is what gets me fired up! Money’s great but I want all of you to understand that it’s just the scoreboard. There’s much more to it so please recognize we’re all navigating some superstructure that we humans created. Clearly money’s one of those elements too.
My Very Best,