Photography by Andre de Plessel
How do you get there from here? Pursuing your passion isn’t just about starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur, it is really about engaging in an activity that taps into a state of flow, bliss and sense of purpose. We feel the most energized when we are doing what we love. Not all of us are going to start a business, but we still need to have the time, money and wherewithal to pursue our passions. Don’t panic or get overwhelmed, because I’ve got you covered with a practical guide for your passioneer journey. I am so excited to do a special Q&A with Galia Gichon, founder of Down to Earth Finance. This is the perfect name for a company who helps women manage their finances and manifest their dreams. Because in an ironic way, to fly high, you first have to be grounded and ‘down to earth’! Let’s give this blog post context by starting with part of a wise quote from Henry David Thoreau. ‘ If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
About Galia Gichon:
Galia is an independent personal financial expert with more than 19 years in financial services, including nearly 10 years on Wall Street and an MBA in finance. She founded, Down to Earth Finance,
which offers individual sessions and seminars without selling any investments. She is the author of ‘My Money Matters’ a boxed set with money affirmations, instant money tips and workbooks. Galia has been widely quoted as an expert on money and women, including mentions in The New York Times, TODAY Show, Newsweek, Real Simple, NBC Weekend Today Show, Essence and more.
She is a frequent speaker at Barnard College and Freelancers Union. Before starting her own company, Galia was a securities research analyst at Bear Stearns and Nomura Securities, and also worked for Institutional Investor. She is actively involved in Angel Investing for women-owned companies and was part of Pipeline Fellowship. Visit her at www.downtoearthfinance.com and sign up for her newsletter.
Lauroly Opening - Welcome Galia! So happy you could join us for a chat about investing in our Passions. In full disclosure you were a guest panelist for an event I produced a couple of years ago in Princeton called ‘The A+ Life” which focused on lifestyle design. The Passioneer department at World Wise Beauty continues this exploration with a specific focus on pursuing our passions. I am so happy to talk with you again!
You are a financial educator and expert and have worked with so many women who decided to give up careers and pursue their passions. I have some obvious questions about the pitfalls some may encounter but let’s start with the faulty thinking that prevents us from even pursuing our passions in the first place. For example, maybe you don’t have to quit your day job to invest in your passion. How does one begin a Passioneer’s journey?
Galia Gichon, Founder of Down to Earth Finance
Good to connect again Laura! I always like to start with complete clarity about finances. I make sure my clients know exactly where they are with their money. Once they are completely clear about their current financial state, they can then have much more clarity about where to go. I define financial clarity as the 30-second snapshot:
OWN: What do they own exactly in their investments, statements and assets?
OWE: What exactly do they owe in all debts, mortgage and loans?
SPEND: What is their total number they are spending per month and then per year?
EARN: How much have they earned YTD and last year?
Lauroly Q- This can be daunting for some but it is so important if you want to make any dream a reality. What are the top pitfalls ( in thinking or actions) to avoid when getting started?
Galia Gichon: Most of my entrepreneur clients do not have their financials put together. They need to have a profit loss statement, projections with appropriate growth numbers, balance sheet and statement of cash flow. They should also be clear about their personal versus business expenses and project out for at least 12 months- 5 years. But as you mentioned Laura, clarity and financial planning is vital to any dream pursuit. Even a trip to Italy where you will learn the art of Italian cooking!
Lauroly Q - Many creative individuals often shy away from practical strategy plans. What can you share that would help demystify financial planning when pursuing our passions?
If at first you are struggling, get help. Hire a financial coach, a bookkeeper, an accountant, or independent financial planner. You will soon see that it is much easier than you think and you just need to start flexing your money muscle so it becomes part of your regular routine. Some helpful tips to start:
1- Start using a budget tracking app such as mint.com or ynab.
2- Make your savings automatic, even if only $50 a month
3- Regardless of your income or business, make sure you are saving to retirement accounts regularly.
4- Start talking about money with your friends- in a positive manner.
5- Use cash only to start becoming more conscious of your spending.
Lauroly Closing - Thank you so much Galia for your wisdom and expertise. You were one of the first real “financial coaches’ out there and I know your personal passion is to educate. I encourage my readers to sign up for your newsletter at downtoearthfinance.com and attend Galia’s workshops when you get the opportunity. There is a great course Galia taught a few months ago that you can purchase via Creative Live “Personal Finance for Artists and Freelancers” http://www.creativelive.com/courses/personal-finance-artists-freelancers-galia-gichon. I am sure it will be helpful to many who are pursuing independent ventures.
I will leave you all with the other part of Thoreau’s famous quote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and live the life you imagined”. Step by step is ok…