On this episode of THRIVE—sponsored by Workamajig—Kelly and Robina Bennion uncover why the conversation around money is so difficult for creative leaders and how to transform one’s relationship with self-worth.
EP 76: The Sustainable Money Mindset
Kelly: So welcome to this episode of Thrive, your agency resource. Today, I am actually here with Robina Bennion, a relationship coach for the soul, the self, and money. We are going to have an amazingly interesting conversation. Robina, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. I really appreciate it.
Robina: Thank you, Kelly. I am so excited to be here today.
Kelly: So today, we're talking about what we've determined we're calling the sustainable money mindset. And I'm kind of curious to know what that really means to you, and then how that sort of unfolded or manifested in your own life, bringing you to the career path that you've taken up to this point.
Robina: Sure. So to me a sustainable money mindset would be making choices with my money that I can maintain long term. Often the choices can be based on emotions or things that are happening unconsciously. And so I'm trying to be mindful of those choices and ensure that they're not coming from fear and I'm doing something that I feel like will benefit me in the short term. But really, if I look at it down the road, a couple of months, it really does not help me or my business. And for me personally, where I feel like I've implemented that in my life is when I left my career in public accounting. I'm a CPA. And I practiced for 23 years. I had gotten to a pretty high level in my career. So I was making a decent amount of money when I decided to transition out of that and that required me to make some big choices about my finances, and how was I going to structure things differently so that I could sustain my business in the long run.
Kelly: I'm curious to know, so it sounds like you were really successful with the CPA business. Did you choose to leave that because it just wasn't kind of feeding your soul anymore? It wasn't making you happy? Or what was the reason for that pivot?
Robina: Yeah, that's exactly what it was. I started working with a coach and I started answering questions that really I didn't even ponder which was, what do I want to do with my life?
Kelly: Oh I can relate.
Robina: Because I decided at 15 I was going to be a CPA. And that's what I did. And I just kept going forward and going on that path and doing everything that you're supposed to do within that career. I decided that when I was 15. I've changed a lot since then.
Kelly: I’m just laughing because literally we have the same exact track. I was like, I'm gonna be a graphic designer when I was 15 years old. And I was like, that's it.
Robina: Yes. It provided me a wonderful life but I got to a point where I wasn't happy. My career had kind of taken over. Whereas the majority of my career, I made it a part of my life, and then it became my life. So I was really unhappy with just who I was in general. And going down that path and asking the question of what I wanted, I realized, there's so much more that I feel I could be contributing to the world than just doing tax returns.
Kelly: Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah, we're definitely aligned. I think that this is such a resonant conversation for so many people who are listening, who are maybe owning creative or technology or media agencies, or other organizations. And I would bet a good number of the people listening are kind of nodding their head like, I've thought about that. But I've taken that thought, and I've really pushed it down because I don't want to look at that. Change is hard.
Robina: It is.
Kelly: Yeah. And I won't say that it was an easy process for me. It took me a long time to even decide to leave my career. I mean, 23 years is a big investment.
Robina: Yeah. I mean, that's almost basically your entire adult life.
Kelly: Right. So one of the things that I kind of picked up on from your website, which really, really struck me was woven into goals, dreams, and fears. There's always this underlying element of money. So the question there is, why is the conversation around money so difficult? I mean, it's difficult for maybe not every person, but it's difficult for a lot of people and specifically here we're talking about creative leaders, in whatever context you want to define that. But why is that conversation so hard?
Robina: I think I can only speak for myself personally. And I think part of it is that, again, there's these emotions that we don't even know that we have. There are beliefs and behaviors that we pick up early on. And then we kind of mimic them in our life in how we view money. Money isn't talked about. We talk about our relationships. We talk about our children, but we don't talk about money. And everybody has their own emotions woven into that, even how they set their goals and how they structure their business. Like you're saying, for creative people. I find when I work with creative people, they want to go into creative direction, but people would say, well, you can't make money out of that.
And there's this real love hate relationship with money and how it shows up in their business. And so I think there is this perception that when it comes to money, if you're not handling your money right, you're doing something wrong or people are just real private about it, like there's something to be ashamed of. And even for myself as a CPA, everyone would think, oh, you must have it all dialed in, you balance your books every month, and you're doing all of this. And so quietly, I was thinking, man, I must be doing something wrong because I had great spreadsheets. But my goals and my results, they didn't always line up. And that was the piece I felt I was missing like why are my goals and my results not lining up? And there was something happening at an underlying emotional level that was into all of that, that I wasn't aware of.
Kelly: Yeah. So I'm sort of talking specifically about that, a lot of the work that you do with clients is helping them create a guide to transform their relationship with money. So what does that often look like when you're working with someone?
Robina: Yes. So it's different for every client because every person is different, their history is different, and where they are currently is different. But I will take an example of one of the clients that I worked with when she came to me. She wanted help getting her finances kind of back in order. She had accumulated a little bit of debt and she tends to want to be debt free, and just wanted to help realign. But that was the same conversation that you and I were having, as she wasn't really happy in her career. And she wanted to make a transition in her career. It's all interwoven, because people are afraid to leave their jobs because of money, or they're not able to step up higher in their career or transition into a job that they're really qualified for, that they don't believe that they are.
So we started having conversations around all of that and what her end goal was, but it all started with going back to well, let's talk about your childhood and your life and events and look at what's happened and through that talk, through how those events have impacted the way that you're showing up today. And in that, when we first started talking, she didn't really share finances with her husband. They didn't talk about it. They maintained everything separately. So looking at where did that come from in her childhood? Why is she approaching her relationship with her husband that way around money? We just started uncovering all of that. And because we do that, I'm able to work with her, then when we get further down to create a guide for her, so that when something happens that can kind of rock the boat and get a little bit uncomfortable, it doesn't throw. It didn't throw her completely off track.
In fact, as we worked together for quite a while, towards the end, her husband got laid off from his job before all of this happens. So it allowed her to have a conversation with him. Even before then, they had started having conversations about money, they started putting things together jointly because she was able to identify where some of those fears were coming from and they weren't resting on him. They were resting in her, and then coming together working on their finances so that when they hit this rough patch, they're able to actually navigate it together. And she was able to do it with a lot less fear and a lot more comfort. But that's also in creating tools that were comfortable for her, because what works for me as a tool may not work for somebody else, and we have to take all of that into consideration. Otherwise, I'm setting them up for failure.
Kelly: Right. Yeah, it is about the holistic view. I know that we share a really, really similar approach and philosophy about how we can't look at these different things in our lives, whether it's money, or relationships or our businesses or whatever. We can't look at them as silos. Interwoven is a good word. Integration, but I think I guess just in our society, it's kind of like the things that are private, and more emotional, are over here in one bucket, and then who we show up at work with the perception that we convey to the external world has to be different.
Kelly: And I think that part of the world that we're living in now is that there is essentially a collapse of that happening in a really positive way that we can sort of let these guards down and start to really integrate these two, almost like different aspects of ourselves that we've created in terms of the differentiation but now they're coming back together. And I think it just makes for stronger relationships, like you say with yourself, and with money and with everyone else in your life so it's really good.
Robina: I was going to just touch that a little bit. And I agree, the one thing that I've been thinking about with everything that is going on, is there's not one person who isn't impacted. Whereas these last few years, I'm out in California, and we've had a lot of fires, but those fires impact a community. So while I may sympathize with where they are, I haven't been through it. So I don't necessarily know what it's like to lose your home whereas it's like we are collectively going through this. So it really opens the door to have a conversation with anybody, like how are you doing? How are you navigating this? How are you? How is your business? Like, I have business owners saying hey, can we talk this week? I'd love to know how other people are handling this, what's happening in business. And so, for me, personally, I'm enjoying that aspect of this. I can't say that I'm enjoying everything but at least that aspect makes my heart shine a little bit.
Kelly: Yeah, having the same experience. So kind of to bring it back a little bit to money and maybe business development. Having a business development strategy in order to increase our income and revenue on our companies, and to really develop that sustainable money mindset, that business development strategy is necessary. We can all agree on that. Some organizations don't have one. That's why they hire coaches and consultants and things like that. But having the strategy is not enough. So if an organizational leader, someone who is sort of sitting at the top of an organization has their own inherent self-worth or self-value issues, then any implementation of that strategy is really not going to be executed in the way that is going to set that organization up for success. So I want to talk a little bit about that because I think that’s something for whatever reason, we just have avoided. I don't know if it's just in the United States or if it's globally, but we avoid this conversation and I really, really want to talk about it.
Robina: Yeah, I agree with you but part of what I do is working with businesses and we have these plans in place, but we're not taking into account the emotional aspect of it. We're not looking at the whole picture and how it impacts the business. So what I do with business owners even, is like we break it down into compartments, and it's maybe you have your marketing piece and your sales piece. You have your administrative piece, you have your vision piece, and really how are you showing up in each of them. Because by looking at each of those components, you can see where maybe you're showing up the strongest and other areas where you're not. And with that awareness, then you can bring in somebody else from your team or if you need somebody from the outside and put them in place.
If they're stronger maybe in sales, for example, for creative people, I feel like for me, when I move into my creative space, it's a little bit more challenging for me to move into that marketing piece of it. Because I just don't feel as comfortable. So then it's, I might draw back from that. But having that awareness and knowing that whatever is happening in me, personally, is keeping me from pushing into that in the same way that I would another area of my business allows me to go out and get help from other people. But I think also it is just having an understanding, like, I'm just human, and it's natural, and that's going to happen in our business. But in order to move it forward, we have to also be willing to ask for help.
Kelly: Right. And one of the things that we chatted about a little bit earlier was this phrase that you've kind of coined like worthy is the new wealthy. I'm definitely stealing that. But I think it's great because I do think that this is where the conversation is going. I think we're going to be able to, and we've already started to see more emotional dialogue even in the context of business. And as we start to open up to other people, it gives us the permission to start opening up to ourselves. And if we realize that we have some issues around our relationship to money, and we've realized that that's rooted in self-worth, and we start to like really dig up all what's going on underneath the surface, if we can bring that up and start to really work through that, it really is worthy is the new wealthy. It says it all. So well done on that.
Robina: Thank you. I think it also helps when we start looking at that and I think identifying what it is that we're working against, but also understanding like this is something that came with us and we are truly worthy. And each person is, but it helps also to shift from that, like why is this happening to me? Like, how can I take this and turn it into something different? Like it changes the questions that we're asking. And I feel like when I just sit and say, well, why is this happening or why did that person do that, I'm almost just stagnant and dead in the water. I'm not making any forward motion in my business. But when I can move into like, okay, well, that happened, like I'm working with a company, and they're having to make some changes. And so I'm going to be one of those changes. And I could either be upset and say, well, why is this happening? Or I can just say, okay, well, how can I do something different in my business? Or how can I take this in and transform it into something new. That's the other thing that I'm looking at, like what new can I create in my business from this?
Kelly: Right. So as we are starting to wrap up a little bit here, how might you suggest that creative leaders start to take what we're talking about today, and sort of train for the marathon? Like this is a long term play. This is about change. It's about real change, very deep rooted like introspective change that's going to then extend itself to our relationship with money, how we run our businesses, all of that. How do we set people up for success for that long term play?
Robina: I think looking at it, just from what you're saying, like from a marathon perspective, is we have the tools; each person has those tools within them. They were running their business before we got to this point. Obviously, things are a little bit different in each person. It's different. But for me, personally, I went back to this plan that I created when things weren't kind of, going sideways so that I always had something to go back to. And it reminds me of doing marathon training. It's like I trained. I know what I need to do. I have the skills to do it. It is just like, don't be thinking about I want to get to the end faster. I want to make sure that I get to the end. So it's like creating a plan. I think of being, taking your time, don’t rush into stuff.
It's like I think of if you're in a storm, for example, and your boat is tossed around, your ship is tossed around, you don't just start setting sail in whatever direction. You stop when the water is calm. It's kind of like you get your bearing. You stop. You figure out what direction that you're going to want to go and then start charting the course to get there. So I do believe that's really important that as we come out of this and as every phase and whatever wave comes towards us, is even for myself personally is taking that moment to just get my bearings each time something happens so that I'm not making an emotional response. And I think another thing that I have found to be really important is having people that you can reach out to and connect with. If I share with people in advance like hey, this is kind of my plan if things go awry. Can you be there for me? Then we're supporting each other through that. And it's kind of like what I do is when I'm on a call with somebody, I can tell that everything is wrapped in emotion and they're not coming from that thinking part of their brain. It allows me to help guide them back on course, so that they're making choices from that thinking part versus from an emotional response.
Kelly: Right. Yeah, that's great advice. Well, Robina, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Really, really excited to have you on and really appreciate it.
Robina: Oh I appreciate it too. Thank you.