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  • The Language of Wealth

    Since starting my practice, I've often said that I'm the first business owner in my family. I've been thinking a lot about that statement, and while it's true that I'm the first to have an LLC with an EIN all official-like, I actually come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My great-grandmother was a single mother with an elementary school education. She sold food plates, drinks, and hosted card games to help maintain a household for three generations of our family. My grandmother maintained other people's households, including childcare, and wrapped holiday presents for extra income. One of my aunts was The Candy Lady, with a thriving home-based business selling snacks and sodas. She was a savvy businesswoman who did not believe in the "friends and family discount". My other aunt cleaned houses for a bit but turned that into a niche ironing business where she became known for pressing clothes better than most dry cleaners. Unlike my other aunt, hers wasn't a highly profitable business because she did honor the "friends and family discount". Today, some might consider their businesses "side hustles" instead of entrepreneurial endeavors. The reality is that they require the same skills - market analysis, inventory management, self-promotion, etc. - as legally formed business enterprises. These women built these businesses purely by word of mouth in their communities and excelling in service delivery. Of course, I'm not promoting the idea that people shouldn't go through the process of forming businesses legally, though to be clear, I'm also not going to cast judgment on those who work under the table to survive. That said, I do find the language of wealth interesting. When and with whom terms like "entrepreneur" vs. "hustler"; "financial literacy" vs. "wealth management"; "money" vs. "capital"; "debt" vs. "leverage" are used and how they can drive perception based on one's identity and lived experience. The language of wealth is sometimes used as social currency, a short-hand to show belonging to an in-group or class. At times, it serves as a barrier or a way to gatekeep access to resources to perpetuate inequities. Many financial literacy initiatives are designed to address the latter but, unfortunately, too often only accomplish the former, focused on giving people definitions of financial tools beyond the scope of their resources. And by resources, I mean money. We, myself included, should be careful of minimizing people's financial acumen based on their financial statements and the language they use to describe their economic behavior. It takes skill and know-how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, just as it does to turn one dollar into two. We owe it to those who have done and are doing their best despite not knowing the language of wealth. Take it from me, a proud Black woman continuing the tradition of a long line of entrepreneurs.

  • Reflections on My Career Journey…So Far, So Good

    It’s been three months since I left a 30+ year career in corporate America to start my own gift planning consulting practice and join the Daylight Advisors team. Best. Decision. Ever. I still have occasional moments of “What have I done?!?”. I can also 100% confirm that imposter syndrome is REAL. But those moments of doubt are few and far between and are far outweighed by the satisfaction of doing what I love most - connecting and collaborating with people who share the same passion for community building, equity, and racial and social justice. In making this change, I have a more profound sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing ideas come to life, ideas that genuinely meet a definition of success shared by those who contributed to and are impacted by the results. I now fully embrace the support of my support system and ask for help when needed. (Pro tip: a support system is a network, but a network isn’t necessarily a support system.) I believe they’re not just paying me lip service when they say let me know if you need anything. As many Black women will tell you, and as studies have shown, that’s a gift when so often needing help, let alone asking for it, casts doubt on our expertise and ability. I’ve also unlocked the key to work/life balance: it’s a false dichotomy. It’s not a zero/sum or percentages game. I now wholeheartedly reject that framing while understanding the privilege that I have to do so. There’s only life. We should determine how we integrate and define work’s purpose and priority in our lives without being made to feel like there are only two choices and that one has to be short-changed in service to the other. And those of us who have that privilege should be committed to ensuring that self-determination for everyone. This year has been quite the rollercoaster in so many ways. And I am terrified of rollercoasters! But reflecting on this year, I’m glad I let go, threw my hands in the air, and screamed through all the twists and turns. To all my sisters already on or considering this journey - if you need a ride buddy to hold hands and scream with in 2024, just let me know.

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