A fifth-grade girl I know, the daughter of a colleague and friend, is an aspiring entrepreneur. Her business is to complete odd jobs for neighbors on her street--picking up packages while the neighbors are away, watering their plants, and feeding their pets. She's diligent about recording chores and writing invoices, usually $2 per chore.
The girl was away this summer for a few days, so she asked another neighbor to fill in when a woman needed a package to be brought inside before she got home from work. The woman asked the boy how much she owed him for doing that chore, and the boy said, "Normally people pay me $20."
The woman responded, "Well, I'm not going to pay you twenty bucks, but here's five dollars."
There are two takeaways from this story:
- The boy took home 250 percent more than the girl's going rate.
- The kids are nine and ten years old.
Those takeaways were lightbulb moments for Mary Claire Allvine, Certified Financial Planner, author of The Family CFO: A Business Plan for Love and Money, and mother of that fifth grade girl.
They were also top of mind when Allvine and I met recently to discuss the post that went viral on Medium last month: "What Rich People Do that Poor People Don't." The post is about the mindset of wealth and the differences in that mindset between rich and poor. As Allvine suggested, and especially in light of the discrepancy she'd just witnessed between her daughter and their neighbor, the post can also be read through the lens of men and women.
What happens, Allvine wondered, when you swap out "rich" and replace it with "men"? Compare that to what happens when you swap out "rich" and replace it with "women."
Schafer's takeaways would look something like this:
Original: The rich are voracious readers.
Revised: Women are voracious readers.
Original: The rich are relentlessly resourceful.
Revised: Women are relentlessly resourceful.
Original: The rich don't save, they invest.
Revised: Women don't save, they invest.
Original: The rich believe in positive energy and people.
Revised: Women believe in positive energy and people.
Original: The rich live with big expectations, setting clear easily-definable goals.
Revised: Women live with big expectations, setting clear easily-definable goals.
Original: The rich learn from other people's mistakes.
Revised: Women learn from other people's mistakes.
At what point do the revised statements start sounding a little less convincing? That's the question on Allvine's mind for her clients and for female leaders and entrepreneurs.
Here are her five suggestions for women entrepreneurs to shift the mindset of wealth:
1. Invest, don't save.
The thing about saving, Allvine said, is that it can be very narrow. "I'm saving for a car," for example, or "I'm saving for retirement." Those things are lovely and important, but they're narrow.
Compare that to the springboard of investing, which is an opportunity for growth. In addition, there isn't necessarily a defined end to investing, the way there is with saving.
2. Read differently.
Allvine says there's power in novels, literature, and stories of other entrepreneurs as fertile ground for inspiration. Rather than reading financial news every day, Allvine advises, "read human things instead. Read broadly and voraciously and creatively."
Great ideas don't come from reading yesterday's business headlines. They come from human nature and learning to see the opportunities to do things differently.
3. Build on diligence.
Being diligent has long been seen as a strength of women's work ethic, and Allvine advises building on it, consistently and proactively. "The limitation on the wealthy perspective--the 'rich kid syndrome, or the 'trust fund syndrome'--is complacency," she points out. "You don't want to ever lose the edge that gets you up every morning, ready to do better than the next person."
4. Create goal setting partnerships.
First there's the goal itself. You want a process goal, Allvine advises, where there's continual improvement and one achievement is a stepping stone to another. The goal is not an end destination in itself.
Then there's the teamwork that's going to make the goal a reality. Partner with someone who holds you accountable and pushes you farther than you've ever gone. Fine the partners and the teammates who will be in the same mindset. (Also see "Money is the Last Intimacy," below.)
5. Start talking about money.
We'd sooner talk about who we slept with last night than the financial mistakes we've made in the past. It's time to let that go, Allvine advises.
"There's a real advantage in not keeping money private, but to make it part of the culture around you," she says. "Make it broad and integrated. Learn the language and get in the practice of talking about it. That way, you aren't playing alone. It keeps you from living narrowly."