Posts tagged Communication
Many experiences in my career explain my evolution to becoming a “Money Wise Woman.” My tenure at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), my time at the financial helm of CARES, an agency that I helped grow from $500,000 to $3 million in three years, and the past 13 years I’ve advised, coached and counseled hundreds on their business and personal finances at Creating Answers.
But those experiences aren’t why I’m a Money Wise Woman. There was a point in my life that I awoke to the fact that I had placed myself in serious financial trouble, and that’s when I started telling the truth about it.
Even with all I knew, and no matter how hard I tried to get myself out of it, for whatever reason, I couldn’t. That’s when I started seeking more answers. And not just from fellow financial professionals, but from coaches, mentors and counselors. And that’s when I had my big “ah ha” moment, when I realized what keeps so many people stuck in their financial lives.
We don’t tell the truth. We don’t talk about money, so we have no opportunity to tell the truth about it. There are few places to go when you feel stuck with your money and don’t know what to do. When you’re a financial professional, it’s even scarier. I was stuck in denial, fear, shame and blame. Having the courage to start telling the truth made all the difference in the world.
For years, I had many clients who didn’t want to take the time to talk to me about their money. I was their accountant, and it just wasn’t a priority for them. Now it’s a cornerstone of my practice that every client talks to us about their finances every month. It makes a marked difference in their financial clarity, and their financial peace.
My advice to those of you who feel stuck in some area of your financial life: Talk to someone consistently and productively. Your bookkeeper, your accountant, a coach, a trusted mentor, a trusted colleague. Draw a circle of support around you, tell the truth, and create some accountability in your financial life. It will make all the difference.
I have a friend who is both a yoga instructor and a therapist. We were talking about a sibling of hers who has constantly had both money problems and all kinds of other problems in his life. In yoga, she tells me, there is a saying that “how you do yoga is how you do your life.” We mused over how that saying could just as easily relate to how you do your money. It was easily seen in the life of her sibling. I’ve turned it into a question that I’ve often asked people that seem to be “stuck” or “baffled” by there behavior around money.
If how you do yoga is how you do your life, then how does this statement relate to you: How I do money is how I do my life?
Having gotten many interesting responses, I was inspired to ask the question in the Financial Boot Camp. I got a unanimous response: “that’s a stupid question.” I smiled and suggested that they write about it anyway. After a number of weeks we came back to the question and unanimously, everyone had had an ‘ah ha’ moment when thinking through the question.
I’ve put it up on the wall in the office as the question of the month and clients, boot camp members, friends, really anyone that walks in is asked to write a response on the windows in the office. It’s fabulous! There’s graffiti all over the office. So…..how does the question relate to you?
Here are some answers created:
“When I avoid responsibility, I avoid being empowered.”
“When I relax and do what is next consistently with clarity, focus, ease and grace, it is there.”
“When my life teeters out of balance, so does my money.”
“When I allow someone else to become my priority, I become the option.”
“Be it, let it, it will be.”
“When I don’t pay attention to it, it bites me in the @#%.”
“Inconsistently, but with reverence.”
“When I have enough, I pay attention, when I don’t, I run away.”
“If I pay attention to that which I run from I will lose fear, gain experience and live more fully.
Lisa Nichols, in No Matter What, refers to the honesty muscle as a critical component of moving forward in our lives. To get to where we really want to be, we have to know where we are; we have to be honest with ourselves. When it comes to our finances, this can be extremely challenging on many levels. To know where we truly are means that we have to discuss money, a very private, personal, and sometimes painful subject. Where exactly do we do that?
A success of Financial Boot Camp is that it gives people a forum where they get to – and have to – talk about their own money. In the first few sessions, it’s a challenge to convince the group that its not only ok to talk about their own money, but also to ask each other direct questions. We’re raised in a society that frowns on open discussions about money, yet we’re expected to know how to manage it. In the Boot Camp group we’re working with now, honesty has appeared in a number of ways:
- Some have been honest with themselves and the group that they really don’t like how they are earning money;
- Some have been honest with themselves and the group that how they have invested money makes them unhappy and discontent; and
- Some have been honest about their lack of clarity with their monthly spending.
Some of the group, if they had listened to their own little voices, knew these things before Boot Camp. With some, you could see the light bulb of honesty and realization come on right before our very eyes. To get to where we really want to be, we have to know where we are; we have to be honest with ourselves, and sometimes others. Each one of the Boot Camp group has used that honesty to make movement in their lives, movement toward where they really want to be.
I was having a frank conversation with a prospect the other day. He loved our business model, especially the concept of having someone take more than an accountant or bookkeeper’s interest in his business. He loved that there would be another person looking at his financials, his marketing activities, and his human resource management. He loved that he would have someone available so that he could just pick up the phone and ask a financial question.
His biggest concern, though, was that we require monthly meetings. “What on earth would we talk about every month?” I hope I didn’t offend him when I laughed.
What was so funny? He just filed bankruptcy on his last rather large business. And not to be outdone, it was a rather spectacular bankruptcy. Of course, it’s not funny that he had to file bankruptcy. I’m certain that for most, bankruptcy is a devastating financial and emotional experience. But it is funny that he didn’t see the correlation between that business’ downward spiral and how it might have looked different if he had hired us four years ago.
Businesses are closing down for a lot of reasons right now. The economy is certainly one of them, but it’s the rare business that can say 100% of the reason lies with the economy. If you have had a financial person watching your back, they’ve steered you to put aside reserves, to lay off employees, to trim the fat, to raise your prices, to market more, not less, and most importantly, to not leverage your business to the point of no return.
If you’re talking to your accountant once a year, or once a quarter, that’s not enough. They are seeing what is happening to your business, but they probably aren’t helping you make better decisions. Ask them what it would look like if they talked to you more frequently.
Bankruptcy is expensive; monthly financial meetings, priceless.