On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, Founder and CEO of KBK Wealth Connection. Kathleen is an expert in financial success, psychology, behavioral finance, and gender-savvy communication. She is the author of five books, including her latest, Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly About Finances, and Live a Richer Life. She also hosts a popular podcast of the same name, the Breaking Money Silence Podcast.
Kathleen says, “My background is both in finance as well as psychology, so it’s a perfect blend between those two worlds. Somebody might use financial psychology and really start to examine how they think and feel about money, how they think and feel about negotiating money, asking for money, or managing their finances. Often what we find is that it isn’t the technical side of finance that trips somebody up, it’s how they’re thinking about it, or their money personality, or these unconscious thoughts that they have. So, financial psychology and the work that I do through Breaking Money Silence is really all about that.”
We chat about Kathleen’s journey, particularly her work as a financial psychology expert, as well as:
- The taboo against talking about money
- Why women are more reticent to talk about money and aspire to wealth
- The gender difference with regards to entrepreneurs and risk
- Why being profit-motivated should be encouraged
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
- Kathleen’s Site
- Discover how to be financially confident, talk more openly about money, and be more profitable in your business by signing up for the Breaking Money Silence® Learning Lab. Just click here and use the discount code Negotiate10 to receive 10% off any of the negotiating courses.
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm to live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick and I’m here today with Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, founder and CEO of KBK Wealth Connection.
Kathleen is a sought-after expert in financial psychology, behavioral finance and gender-savvy communication. She’s the author of five books including her latest which is Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly About Finances and Live a Richer Life. And she also hosts the popular podcast of the same name, Breaking Money Silence Podcast. So, welcome Kathleen. I am so happy and delighted that you are here today.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: I am excited to be here as well. So thank you for inviting me.
Davina: Great, great. All right, So I have just scraped the surface of your bio, I’m sure. So let us get to know a little bit more about you. Why don’t you tell us kind of your journey to doing what it is you do today. And I’m particularly interested in what it means to be a financial psychologist.
Kathleen’s Journey to Becoming a Financial Psychologist
Kathleen: Yes. So let me start with the first part. I’m a financial psychology expert and if anybody asks why I’m not a psychologist, it’s because I decided not to get my PhD and to get out there and do business after my master’s. So financial psychology, the way I view it, is really the blend between two worlds. It’s the blend between, obviously the financial sector but also the blend with the business sector. And so my background is both in finance as well as like, as in psychology, and so it’s a perfect blend between those two worlds.
And so somebody might use financial psychology and really start to examine how they think and feel about money, how they think and feel about negotiating money, asking for money, you know, managing their finances. And often what we find is that it isn’t, you know, the technical side of finance that trips somebody up, it’s how they’re thinking about it, or their money personality, or these unconscious thoughts that they have. So, financial psychology and the work that I do through Breaking Money Silence is really all about that. And so believe it or not, it’s fun. But
Davina: It actually sounds fun.
Kathleen: Yeah, it’s actually fun to break that taboo and help women really become financially competent.
Davina: Right, right. So how did you wind up making the decision? You work, I know, a lot with financial advisors and helping them to help their clients more effectively by understanding the underlying psychology of around money, the stories we tell ourselves around money and how that affects our investing behavior and saving behavior and spending behaviors and all that, right? So you really help guide them to help guide their clients. How did you come to the decision to do this work? I mean, that’s not something you just check off in college like, Oh, look, there’s, you know, financial psychology. I’m going to do that.
Kathleen: Yeah, hopefully in the future, there will be but certainly, in my generation, that was not the case. There was no guidance counselor telling me this was even an option. So it was a very, very crooked line. I mean, I think what ended up happening for me, is, you know, I really started out doing what I thought I should do in quotes and what I should do.
And I wasn’t interested in it a bit. I was, I should be in finance, I should work in a bank, I should work for the government. I worked as an FDIC bank examiner. I basically should do something that is stable and lucrative and, you know, can put me ahead in this world. And all of those thoughts were probably somewhat unconscious, you know, in my 20s. So I made a choice, like a lot of us do at a very young age, to enter a profession and the profession I chose was financial services and banking. And so I really loved banks.
And but I didn’t love auditing banks. I didn’t, I was good at the numbers, but it didn’t fulfill me in any way. So over, by the time we hit the late 20s, yeah, my late 20s, early 30s, I decided to have my midlife crisis early. So I had it early and started to look at what could I do that’s more fulfilling in my life and that I’m going to feel more passionate about? I mean, I was very successful at what I did, but I wasn’t very fulfilled. And so I started to explore psychology. I had always been interested in psychology. And so over time, I decided to at night get a master’s degree in psychology.
And so what ended up happening from there is not your typical career path. At one point, I just decided, forget this finance world. I don’t care about it. It’s boring. I mean, I had all sorts of negative thoughts. And I’m going to just really help people and become a counselor, become a therapist. So I completely pivoted and I don’t regret that I did. But for 15 years, I worked as a mental health professional empowering women around their self-esteem, their body image, food and weight issues. And while I loved the work and I was very fulfilled, I was very underpaid.
So then I decided, like, probably a lot of women who listen in here, I decided, oh, well, what can I do that both brings in a decent income and also allows me to be fulfilled? And so that’s when I quit. created my company KBK Wealth Connection, which is a perfect blend for me between financially educating people and empowering people. And also helping people understand and become more self-aware as to how they think about and how they act in the world really impacts their success, and even more importantly, how comfortable they are in their own skin.
Davina: Right. I love that. And what I love about your story is that you created your own career niche. I mean, you really kind of invented something with it, you know? I’m someone who’s had two careers. I had marketing and then I became an attorney. And what I do now is a combination of those. And it took a thought process to sit down and think, Okay, how can I combine these in a way that’s meaningful and fulfilling for me and it also brings, you know, high value to the world, into the workplace?
So I love that journey, you know, that you’ve shared with us. So let’s talk about Breaking Money Silence. I have your book and it was so, I really enjoyed reading it because like you, I’m fascinated with money stories and how challenging it is for us to talk about money with our spouses, our parents, our children. It is kind of the, one of the last sort of taboo subjects.
And I remember very well, one of the messages I got in the workplace. I was young, I was probably 19 years old, and I worked for a kind of a hardware store, and it’s no longer in existence, but it was a chain and I got a raise. The assistant manager, manager gave me a raise and then, one of the other people on the job asked me how much I made.
And I told him how much I made. And he got really mad and he went and he busted the manager about it. And manager came in says, Now I’m gonna have to give him your raise. And yeah, and so I think about, I had always been told by my parents don’t share, don’t talk about money, don’t share how much money you make, all of these kinds of things. And so I think the, you know, I’m not alone in that. I think other people have a lot of stories around that. And I wonder why it is that people find it so hard to talk about money. What do you say that?
Breaking the Taboo
Kathleen: Yeah, no, it’s interesting. And thank you for sharing some insights into kind of your, some of your money thoughts. You know, money silence, you know, is what I call the taboo against talking about money, and it involves more than just the dollars and cents. It also involves how we feel about money, what our thoughts are, our beliefs and our emotions related to money. And I think what’s really challenging is not only in the United States, but almost in every country in the world, there is a belief that it’s rude or unnecessary to talk about money and that actually leads us to live in secrecy.
Like you said, we’re supposed to keep our salaries to ourselves. You know, oh, maybe we shouldn’t share our spending with our partners. Certainly shouldn’t, you know, tell our siblings what we earn. So there’s all sorts of money secrecy that happens. And as a result of the money secrecy, it keeps getting passed down generation to generation. So I’m of the belief that initially not talking about money, and we’re going way back centuries back, initially not talking about the gold that was in your basement with your kids, right?
The king and queen would be like there’s tons of gold in the basement. Don’t tell the kids because if the kids talk about it, we’re going to be pillaged. So it actually made sense to keep your wealth secret. You flash forward, you know, so many generations, and we still believe, at least half of Americans believe it’s more taboo to talk about personal finance and talk about religion or politics or sex.
And 61% of women actually believe that they’d rather talk about their own death than talk about money. And so it’s a really outdated taboo that’s hurting us. And so what I do is I not only work with financial advisors to help them be in a position to teach their clients these skills, I also have a passion and work a lot with women entrepreneurs and service professionals around, you know, what are the things that are tripping you up?
And how is that impacting not only your personal life, but your profitability in your firm? And so I really think if each day every one of us, and, Davina, for you, it’s having me on here and you doing the work that you do. If each and every one of us can kind of chip away at this taboo, it eventually will be gone. But we really have to have some uncomfortable conversations and learn these skills in order to do that.
Davina: Right, right. You know, it’s been interesting with women law firm owners, I’ve had many conversations, obviously, in meeting prospective clients and talking with my clients. And I ask them about their numbers. It’s one of the first questions I ask about the numbers in their business, how much revenue are you bring in?
How much, what’s your personal income? You know, these kinds of questions. And it’s always really interesting to me how many don’t know. They don’t know offhand. They can’t tell me what they made last year. They can’t, and oftentimes it gets, you know, sort of put off on Well, my bookkeeper, you know? But no matter how far we are in to the new year, it’s still I don’t know what I made last year and it’s the bookkeeper’s fault, you know?
And then there’s the kind of an interesting dichotomy, and that is on social media and in social groups, it’s been fascinating to me because I have seen money discussions where women say, this is the amount of money that I make. This is the, this is how much I’m making in my business. And there’ll be whole threads on it. But I think that the ones who are doing it are also making so much that they are comfortable saying I’m making it. And all the ones who aren’t making as much aren’t admitting it.
Kathleen: You know, I think your experience of interviewing someone, you know, as a coach or a consultant and asking for those numbers, you know, we often do defer to somebody else. So part of it could be, you know, a woman entrepreneur or lawyer is, you know, not looking at the numbers. It also could be that they don’t want to tell you the numbers for whatever reason and so they, you know, put off the blame to somebody else.
And so I think, again, it’s that secrecy and that Oh, am I suppose to know those numbers? Should I share those numbers? So I can really see it in a variety of different ways. And I think the interesting part when you talk about the dichotomy of things, and I haven’t really thought about the social aspect exactly like you have, but when I think about it, it’s either I’m shameful because I don’t make too much or I do money wrong, you know, I not that interested and that’s a problem.
Or it’s, you know, the flip side, and this is my own stuff, but it’s not super attractive to be like, I make a ton of money and I can teach you to get rich quick. And it’s like, no, that’s not the essence of money either. I mean, that’s fine if that’s your value system, but really, we need to have a much more neutral compassionate conversation around why is it hard to talk about money? How is that negatively impacting you and your business and your family?
And then what are the steps, if you want to, to take to really break your money silence. And that’s where I work with people. And to really look at, what is your perspective? What are the strengths? What are the challenges? And then what are the ways in which you can get out of your own way so to speak? Because it usually isn’t, especially, you know, especially with lawyers. Smart group of people. It isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s much more of an emotional and psychological exercise.
Davina: Mm-hmm. It’s interesting when you said, Oh, this might be my stuff of, and not talking about money in that way. It’s interesting because I grew up in the deep south and I was a teenager in the 70s and into the 80s. And if we were taught it was, it’s insanely for women to talk about money and my family, if you talk about money, or if you have expensive luxury things or whatever, then you’re bragging, you’re showing off.
Kathleen: Same message in my family, by the way.
Davina: Right? And so that, and that’s kind of why I do the work I do it and talk so openly about money is because I’m just, you know, determined to break that. I’m like, you know, what is wrong with wanting to have a million-dollar business? Because what we see in the law is we see big law firms are all the big, they call it big law and I’m sure you have the same thing in the financial world. You know, like the big financial companies, right? In big law, a career in big law. If you want that you’re trying to move up in it, women, particularly women of color, have a lot of difficulty moving up in a big law firm and being a partner in a big law firm.
So many of what we’re, so much what we’re seeing now is we’re seeing women lawyers graduating and starting their own businesses because we now have the tools to be able to do that more easily than we used to even, you know, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or whatever. But here’s the interesting thing to me is we see, all those big law firms were started at some point by two guys who just decided they wanted to go open a law firm and become partners and grow a big firm.
And what I’m finding with a lot of women law firm owners when they start out and they’re growing, they have a hard time saying I want to create a million-dollar-plus revenue-generating law firm, because it’s a big law firm and somehow that seems, that’s not an aspiration or a goal. So it’s leaving me wondering what is it about women that makes them a little more reticent to not only talk about money but then to aspire to wealth and to openly say, I aspire to wealth and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Kathleen: Great question. I do think that there’s a little bit of a gender difference. I also would suspect there might be a little bit of a generation difference, as well. You are right. If you think about any male-dominated profession, there are, it’s hard for women to get ahead. Certainly, if you’re a woman of color, it’s extra hard to get ahead, and that’s wrong. So what you’re talking about is being an entrepreneur and really thinking about your growth strategy.
And so I think what ends up happening, there’s two things, two reactions I have. The first is I think we need to get to a place where it’s okay if you’re an entrepreneur and you decide you want to have a serious business, but you don’t want to build an empire. I think that’s okay. I think a lot of women fall into that camp. And that’s different than having a hobby, I hardly work, I’m under earning. That I think we need to look at because that’s money avoidance typically.
But really, you can say, I want to have a certain type of shop and I want to have it because I want to have a lifestyle. I want to have certain balance. You also, and this is to address your question, you know, can look at and say, No, I want to build a million-dollar revenue-producing business and, you know, I really want to go big. And I think what ends up happening for a lot of women is that there’s such a mixed message for women to say that. So we get judged, as you know, in a completely different way than a male entrepreneur.
In fact, there’s been research done when women go to banks to actually ask for business loans, they are, their loans are not funded. Well, male loans are funded at 100% women would be 33% lower. So and part of the reason women-owned businesses in law, you know, law firms is in that don’t get funded as readily is because there’s assumptions made about women entrepreneurs. One, they’re not that serious. Two, they’re not that profit-motivated. And three, they often and this is not a myth, but often women go into their banker sooner. So a banker sees a female entrepreneur and he or she says, Well, they’re not ready.
They don’t have the numbers in order for me to give them a loan or to help them grow. Whereas a male entrepreneur typically comes in later when his numbers are there. So it is a gender difference in the types of support that we want, how soon we want to get a banker involved in what’s going on in our lives. And it’s also, I think, a double whammy. You know, I’ve been told in my career before, that I’m too profit-motivated. Or, you know, and when I think about that, I think well my husband has never been told he’s too profit-motivated.
Davina: Yeah, like, isn’t that the whole point of a business is to be profit-motivated? If you are growing a business and you’re not profit-motivated, then you’re letting down some shareholders whether the only shareholder is you or not, right?
Kathleen: I agree with you. And, you know, it’s different than the get rich quick schemes that I talked about earlier. I think, you know, having a goal and reaching a goal and owning that I want to be financially successful or I am financially successful. I think that is so important for women. If not only for yourself, also for the women coming up behind you and around you and the male allies that we have.
But I think the get rich quick scheme, no matter what the gender is, often feels like it oversimplifies things. That if you do ABC, you’re going to be wealthy. Well, we all know that wealth isn’t just doing three steps or there isn’t a quick way to do it. In fact, what I love about the name of your podcast is I think it’s similar and I’ll ask you, if, you know, your definition of wealthy is probably similar to mine. Yes, financial resources are in there but it’s a bunch of other stuff and
Davina: It’s an enriched life. Yeah, for sure. And I actually created like 10 aspirations for Wealthy Woman Lawyer and a lot of them are not so much around the amount of dollars you have in your bank account, but the richness and, you know, how fulfilling your life is getting what you want out of life and being very clear on that. Let’s talk about women and risk because I think that figures into women borrowing money for their business.
Oftentimes when you read books from male authors who have gotten wealthy, a lot of times they do it with other people’s money. And it’s a secret that a lot of people will tell you in the business world is that you use other people’s money to make money. And oftentimes I see with women, you know, I work with women law firm owners, but I have worked with other women entrepreneurs as well. I find that we tend to be bootstrappers. We tend to be, you know, I’ve got to earn it and I’m reluctant to borrow to invest in the business other than my education.
You know, education, will spend a fortune on but borrowing money for growth in business is something that the minute you say that they’re like, Oh, I don’t believe in borrowing money. But then if you look at their personal lives, they’ll have a lot of debt for, you know, that they accumulated from spending on things that we’re not an investment in the business. So have you found that to be, when you look at gender differences between men and women entrepreneurs, what kind of things do you see with regard to this?
Boost Financial Confidence
Kathleen: Well, I think it’s an interesting question, right? Because there is some truth, I think, to every stereotype and the stereotype is women entrepreneurs are risk-averse. And yeah, we fall into that. I’m somebody who, you know, with my own personal money mindset, I’m willing to take on debt and support and use other people’s money, but it’s certainly not my initial go-to.
So that’s my disclosure. But when you look at the research that has been done around women entrepreneurs and risk, what we find is that men and women typically define risk differently. So male business owners will say, risk is really about the financial route, you know, the financial return on investment. So it’s Is it worth taking this risk in order to get this amount of money back? Whereas women tend to look at it much more holistically.
So they look at am I educated enough financially to be able to take this risk? Is my life outside of work, whether that’s a family, partners, friends, you know, whatever that is, that looks like for a woman, you know, is that in a place where it supports me taking this risk now? And then do I have the knowledge to take the risk? So, you know, so basically, men tend to take risks and their financial risks. Women tend to take risk too, but it’s a very calculated risk.
And what is interesting is that actually, it can get in the way, but it actually is a superpower because when you look at women who invest in the stock market versus men who invest in the stock market, over the long term, women actually do a little bit better because once we make our calculated decision and calculate the risk and make the call, we stay in the market, we stay loyal, or we get the loan and we pay it off. And so there’s a way in which we need to boost financial confidence and make it okay for women to say, okay, it’s okay if I look at risk differently than my male counterpart.
It’s okay if I look at all these different things and then maybe I need to have a little bit more education. So I understand that in order to build my business, I need to do more than just work hard because, you know, you can work hard, you can work 60, 70 hours a week and be an under earner if you don’t learn how to manage your finances, if you don’t learn to utilize, you know, all the resources out there or at a simple level, just negotiate, you know, what your fees are going to be and ask for what you’re worth.
Davina: Yeah, and let’s talk about that because that, you know, women are, it’s a common thought that men make, well research shows women make 79 cents or 81 cents depending on what you’re looking at on the dollar for every, you know, dollar a male earns in a similar position. And one of the, you know, statements a lot of people make is that women don’t negotiate for more money.
Of course, you don’t blame, let’s blame the women on this or, you know, blame it on them, not on the fact that an employer just doesn’t pay them fairly. But are, you know, our men are better negotiators than women? Is that what the problem is? I mean, we somehow oftentimes as women we’ll defer to husbands, spouses. And I remember when, I don’t know where I got this notion from, but when I got married, I’ve been married twice and there’s always this sort of an expectation that the other person knows more about money than I do, you know?
And, of course, you know, looking at both my ex-husband and my husband, you know, why would I think that? Why would I think that they were, you know, somehow financially literate? I know, particularly with my first husband, he grew up, you know, poor and never had the education for that, you know? And I’m like, wow, you know, how did I get that story in my head? And it wasn’t a conscious thought. It was just that Well, I have a husband, you know, he will help make these financial decisions and it’s not on me. And I don’t think, Well, I know I’m not alone in that because I have a lot of discussions with women.
It’s shifted a little bit because a lot of the women that I talk to now are the primary breadwinners in their families and then the younger generation, your primary breadwinners. But still, there does, there’s still a lot of asking the husband for permission before they invest in their business. And they don’t call it permission, but that’s what they do. They say they’re very empowered and very strong but then when it comes to making a financial decision, I need to talk with my husband about this. What is that about? Are men really more financially literate?
Kathleen: No, absolutely not. I, you know, if I had more time in this, don’t stay tuned, because I’m probably not going to do this but I’ve written a book called How to Give Financial Advice to Women and I would love to write a book about how to give financial advice to men. It is absolutely a myth that women aren’t interested in finance. It’s a myth that women aren’t good at negotiation. It’s a myth that men somehow are interested and are really great at it.
It doesn’t really go down gender lines, but I do think what you’re talking about when it comes to the wage gap and when it comes to checking in with partners, there’s a couple nuanced things that I think is important for your listeners to know. One is when we look at wage gap, and I do this too, we often quote the 79 cents figure. And I think it’s really important just to highlight that 79 cents is for white women, that if you’re a woman of color, it goes down about 50 56%, something like that. So the gap can be wider depending on your particular circumstance.
And certainly, that isn’t fair. And I do think negotiating, it’s something that I’m very passionate about. I think there’s a psychology to negotiation in addition to the skills and, you know, I’m launching a new Breaking Money Silence learning lab that is very specifically positioned to teach women service professionals how to negotiate better. And so when it comes to the question, are women better negotiators than men, what we’ve seen in recent years is that women negotiate just as often as men, but they’re perceived differently, right?
So they’re perceived as opposed to being assertive and Oh, what a great business person as aggressive or profit motivated, which is seen as a negative for a woman. And so that’s one thing. I think the other thing is that women tend to make financial decisions in a different way and they process information in a different way. Now, granted, this is a generalization, but often women want to bounce things off someone, have a lot of conversations about it before making a decision. Where if you look traditionally, men didn’t typically do that.
So for some of these women, they could be checking in with their husbands for permission. And, you know, I certainly don’t do that in my relationship but I also do check in with my husband to talk it through. So it could be talking it through, it could be asking for permission, but no matter how you slice and dice it the gender wage gap and these myths around women and money and men and money all come down to the fact that historically, we have seen men as the wealth creators and women as, you know, not wanting to worry our pretty little head about it.
And even though we’re in 2020, that is woven into the fabric of our society and it seems like even though it’s okay to be a female breadwinner, in fact, almost half of American women are for their family, that still, we have these antiquated beliefs that reside in our unconscious mind that impact how we behave around money, how we behave, whether we behave confidently, whether we negotiate.
And so that’s where the work needs to be done. And, you know, the only caveat I want to say is even though I’m, you know, I’m married to a husband, we work as a team and some people may be in very traditional marriages, I would say this is more of a modern marriage. That’s okay if you’re in a traditional marriage, and that’s what you believe. And I also think that there was a big detriment if you don’t learn to take care of yourself financially because, you know, someday no matter what type of relationship you’re in, your partner may no longer be there to do the money for you.
Davina: Right, right. And that’s, you know, the age I am now I’m in my mid-50s, and you start really thinking about life differently, you know, when you’ve got aging parents and, fortunately, I still have both of my parents, but they’re in their 80s. And I, you know, I’ve had my current husband very, we have a lot of reversed roles and mixed up roles in our marriage and it works for us. When I say mixed up, I mean from traditional roles.
Kathleen: Oh, yeah. I don’t cook dinner. I do not cook dinner. I’m not good at it. I don’t do it.
Davina: I wasn’t good at taking care of me. And I’m very fortunate about, we don’t have kids. We have two English Bulldogs we dote on and so we just sort of take care of each other in different ways. And that, I really, you know, I feel blessed. It’s wonderful to have that experience. The other thing when we were talking about women and money were, you know, the other thing that’s a big factor, and there’s a biological component, and there’s a cultural component, and that’s children. And I think that makes, there is something there.
I remember when my husband and I first got married, he said, I wasn’t really happy in my career, and he said, you know, go and do whatever it is you want to do because he was making plenty of money. And that was quite a luxury. I grew up in a family where that was, and I’ve been working since I was 16, and I didn’t know what to do. And I felt a tremendous amount of guilt around it. But I know that a lot of women when they leave the workforce because they have children and maybe they don’t go right back into the workforce because they’ve made the decision as a family for mom to stay home and take care of the kids.
There can be a lot of guilt around that, our feelings around that, emotions of whatever kind or entitlement for some people. But that is an interruption in earning. And so women may feel like Well, my husband is the earner. And so he gets to make the financial decisions because I remember at that time when I was newly married to my husband and I went back to school and I had these feelings of, well, he’s making the money so he gets to decide.
An Antiquated Power Dynamic
Kathleen: Yeah. I think there’s a power dynamic, certainly, with whoever’s the primary earner or the only earner. And I think, you know, one of the things that’s wrong with our society is that yes, the only person that can have a baby is a woman, not a man. That’s not the part that’s wrong, I guess. But that we are penalized for that.
And so if we lived in a system where they supported mothers and we’re able to offer paid maternity leave and, you know, paternity benefits and things like that, then I think that some of this issue would go away, that we shouldn’t be penalized because we want to have a family. Certainly, a man isn’t penalized for that. And, you know, I would argue that when you look at some of the research or talk to some of the younger dads, when I say younger, you know, 40, and under, they feel a sense of guilt of not being home with their kids.
And so, I think one of the things that we need to be talking about is how do we, once again, close that wage gap? How do we, you know, make systematic changes to make it so it’s easier for families to have families and still make a living. And then I think the piece that’s under our control that I want to get back to is really this negotiation and how do you negotiate for what you’re worth, because that’s the piece that I think is in your immediate control, that you don’t have to be a victim.
You can learn the skills, you can get better and you can, you know, become financially confident enough to engage in money conversations and actually turn down work that’s not going to be financially fulfilling. Which, you know, as an entrepreneur, people think, Oh my god, you walk away from work? And I’m like, Well, sometimes you have to in order to grow your business. You have to say, Nope, that’s no longer going to work for me.
Davina: Well, yeah, and you have to have a real clear belief in your value and what that value is, and, you know, and feel confident about the value of what you’re offering so that when someone doesn’t respect that value or agree with that value, maybe, you know, and that’s okay. They don’t agree with your value, but then they can move on and hire someone else and it’s okay because you’ll find the right people who will value what you do.
Kathleen: And I do think that both you and I are pretty experienced in our businesses. And so I do remember, I don’t know if you, but I remember, you know, when I started out in business, I started my company. It’s funny because, at the time, I had no awareness. I started my company and the first year, I had my company KBK Wealth Connection, you know, speaking, consulting, training, and trying to figure it all out. And I won an award called the Volunteer of the Year Award for an organization that’s near and dear to my heart. So it was an honor.
But as I stepped up to the podium to give my little short thank you speech, I realized that the person on either side of me at the stage were good friends of mine but they were being paid to be there. And I looked out in the audience and I realized most of my friends and fellow people in this organization are being paid to be here and I’m a Volunteer of the Year person and I’m an entrepreneur. So I went home and I calculated how many hours I was volunteering versus how many hours I was actually, potentially, you know, available to be paid. 20 hours a week volunteering.
I was never gonna run a profitable business. And so for me, that was an aha. And then I thought, and then I had to think about and this is where, you know, you work with a coach or you do, you know, some in-depth looking at your money scripts, but I had to look at so what is that about for me. And then I realized, if you’re a Volunteer of the Year, you get lots of, you know, emotional kudos and you never have to talk about money. You never have to set your fee, you never asked your fee. You never have to say, you know, collect your fees.
Davina: And you don’t have to do sales. No sales.
Kathleen: Right. I was really, I was brilliant. Like I’m really great at marketing, right? And back then I was great at marketing but it’s in some ways, unconsciously, a very brilliant way to get out of it. But in order to become a success and to beyond this podcast with you right now, you know, flash forward, it’s been, what, 15 years, I’ve had my business and I’m happy to say it’s very financially lucrative and fulfilling. I had to get over that.
And that’s what I really feel passionate about is helping women get over whatever it is for them. It may not be volunteering. There’s a lot of ways in which we avoid money conversations. And we really need to take adult responsibility. And I’m still in process, you know, it’s not like I’m done. It’s just really looking at when do these thoughts and beliefs come up? And how do we, you know, work with them in order to continue to grow and develop a profitable practice?
Davina: Right, right. And I think you great, you actually bring up a great point with volunteering. And it’s a real issue in the law because we’re taught in law school that we’re one of three learned professions, and so medicine, law and theology, so we don’t sully ourselves with the mundane like making money, right? Because, you know, we’re in this learned profession and then we get out and the Bar Association, you know, asked us to report every year. You have a requirement, at least in Florida, and I’m sure other bar associations, you have a requirement to report how many pro bono volunteer hours
Kathleen: Oh, really?
Davina: Oh, yes. Yes, yes. We’re, you’re not required, now, here’s the tricky thing, you’re not going to be required to give volunteer hours but you’d have a reporting requirement. Why do you have a reporting requirement? Because it’s going to guilt you into doing it because you don’t want to put down zeros every year and look like some sort of selfish, you know, and it’s the access to justice argument that there’s a responsibility. It’s incumbent upon lawyers to provide access to justice for people who can’t afford it. And so they encourage that by giving this reporting requirement.
You Can Give Back More When You Earn More
Kathleen: What you’re actually talking about though, it is important, and I’m glad you brought it up. I didn’t know doubt about the law profession. But, you know, having been in a series of different, you know, been in healthcare, I’ve been in business, I’ve been in finance, I’ve been in a couple of different places and the culture around money and volunteering and giving back and earning really varies profession to profession.
And so certainly, you know, if you look at the counseling profession, something like 70% of counselors that were surveyed are actually money avoidant. It’s a negative thing even more so for a counselor to be profit-motivated because they’re helping people.
And so, you know, for lawyers, like you said, it’s giving back and making sure that justice is affordable for everybody. And so my argument for that or my case for that, what works for me and my clients is, I say, Listen, if you can create a profitable practice, then you can figure out how to actually give back more, either of your time or to fund a foundation or something than you could by giving it away.
And so it’s looking at it with a little bit of a different lens allows us to say yeah, it’s okay to ask to get paid what we’re worth. It’s okay to continue to work to be profitable. I’m not saying volunteering is bad by no stretch am I, but if you’re using it like I did to avoid talking about money, then it’s best to pull back. I mean, I went cold turkey because I’m a black and white kind of gal so it was like I, it’s all or nothing.
Davina: I did the same thing. My first year opening my law practice, my marketing go-to was to join every organization out there because I had been in marketing for years. I knew about rubber chicken dinners, right? But I very quickly became fresh meat for the, all the other, you know, wise lawyers and judges out there. He said, Let’s make her the program chair. Let’s make her the vice president, right? So I get sucked into a lot of that volunteering.
And finally, one of my mentors said to me, you know, you’ve realized that so and so who’s the president of the organization, who is a man, secretary who does all this stuff for him. You’re trying to do all of this stuff and be a baby lawyer and run a brand new practice. And another mentor of mine told me, and this was a man, he said, just pay the 450. Just write a check for 450 for your, you know, your volunteer hours or whatever, just give the check, the donation and get on with your life and have a business. And I thought it was very interesting a way of saying that.
And for me, what I have learned through the years and what I’ve said to my clients, is imagine the impact you can create. This is very much what you were saying about with the foundation. You could have a much bigger impact in the world if you laser focus right now on growing your business and creating a profitable, sustainable revenue-generating business, high revenue-generating business, you can have a greater impact because, you know, look at the Gates.
Think about the impact that the Gates, Bill and Melinda Gates have had in the world with their vaccination program. And they did that, of course, they made a ton of money, but then they’ve created the foundation and they have really narrowed the focus over time of that foundation, narrow, narrow, narrow, until they became laser-focused on a niche. And they’ve had an impact as a result of doing that. Now, I’m not saying we’re Bill and Melinda Gates, but, you know, imagine how many more people you can impact. Plus, there are a lot
Kathleen: Yeah, no, I absolutely agree with you. And I think it comes down to, you know, looking at behaviors like, you know, so you can strategically volunteer because sometimes that makes sense, right? But looking at volunteering, the other one that I see a lot of people doing is bartering or not delegating because they don’t want to invest in their business. I think there’s a lot of ways in which
Davina: Scope creep.
Kathleen: Oh, yeah.
Davina: Are you familiar with that term?
Kathleen: Yes, I am. I work a lot as a consultant. So I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Davina: Yeah. So that is, you’re volunteering when you’re allowing scope creep, you know? You don’t think you’re volunteering So you sit down and look at how much money you lost on something because you allowed scope creep, you know?
Kathleen: Well, and I think that’s where, you know, often we talk about, and I’m not saying that men aren’t emotional, but we talk about women and being in touch with our emotions, being able to talk about them or, and so when you have a gut reaction, like when I stood up on that stage and the podium and was, my head was saying, Wow, what an honor.
And my gut was saying, Wow, there’s something really wrong here. Or it’s scope creep happening, which, you know, I know what that’s like. And it’s like, you know, your gut starts, you start to get angry or you starting to get frustrated. And so if we start to pay attention to some of those emotional signals and just pause and go What is this feeling telling me? What is it that I may need to be paying attention to in my business?
And then, you know, if indeed it’s something to pay attention to, how do I change it? Is it that I need to, you know, hire a money coach? Is it that I need to take a program from the Breaking Money Silence learning lab? Do I need to contact Davina to really get started with her? Like, it really depends, but it’s really allowing yourself to trust your gut and those signals which, you know, that’s a whole nother conversation. But in our society, we’re told not to do that, especially if we’re a business person, we’re supposed to just be rational.
Davina: Right, right. Exactly. And we know that’s not really what’s happening even when we try to say we’re being rational. But I do think the whole volunteering thing wraps in with women and sort of this nurturing expectation and culture of we are, we’re meant to take care of everyone. We’re meant to take care of the children. We’re meant to take care of aging parents. We’re meant to take care of our community.
We’re meant to, you know, so we’re meant to take care of people in our church, whatever, you know? We have more of that, there is more of that expectation in our culture for women. And a lot of us are sort of brought up that way, that this is your job. And at one point not too long ago in your lifetime, in my lifetime, probably, you know, there were women who want, you know, there are women who got college degrees, and they were looking for a husband to marry.
So they, and then their work was the volunteer work. That’s the work they did outside the home was the volunteer work and that’s how you were elevated in society, you know, was by what you did philanthropically, you know? So there, our culture is, our inherited culture is still fresh, even though it’s changing. I mean, it wasn’t till 1974 that women were able to have their own bank account, you know?
Kathleen: I know. It’s crazy when you think about it. I think that, you know, one of the things that I’m very optimistic. I mean, I think this conversation has been great. It’s very eye-opening. But I also want listeners to know that the next generation really wants to talk about money. Not saying that they do an excellent job yet because we don’t have the skills.
They aren’t passed down, you know, the taboo isn’t broken. But a survey was taken that said, you know, do you agree with this statement? And the statement is something like society would be healthier if we talked more about personal finance. And 71% of millennials, and that includes men and women said yes. And so what I’m finding is that gender roles are broadening out, right?
In terms of your gender identity, what your role is in your marriage and I think millennials and Gen Z’s have a great opportunity to continue to move forward in terms of equality and all, you know, race, gender, sexual orientation, you name it. And I think that that’s exciting. And so for people who are listening, I think it’s really starting with what’s the, what’s one small step, one small thing that I do around money that makes me uncomfortable, or I feel like kind of my gut says something’s off and then starting to address that.
Could be negotiation, could be not, you know, could be volunteering too much. It could be not investing or delegating. It could be, you know, thinking you can’t start a business because somehow you’re not smart enough. I mean, it comes in so many different ways. But if you think of that one small thing and then you start to think about how to address it, it’s less overwhelming then, you know, the broader social cultural issues which we have to work on. But I’m of the belief that if we chip away at it one by one by one, we’ll eventually get there.
Davina: We’ve made progress. I mean, we’ve made progress. At least now we can have our own bank accounts and we can have, we can borrow money. And I know a lot of women law firm owners have borrowed money recently because of, you know, what’s gone on with the and the availability of resources. And I’m, and I would also just say, if you’re smart enough to, you know, become an attorney and start your own business, you are perfectly competent, capable and smart enough to learn money jargon and learn investing and learn how to grow your money and have your money work for you. I mean, right?
Kathleen: Yeah, but you don’t have to, I mean, I think one of the things that keeps people from going to financial advisors or figuring out how to get some support around the financial aspects of their business tends to be not only am I not smart enough, but, you know, I have to have it all figured out before I go in. Where if you work with the right financial professional or the right coach or the right banker, they’re going to be a person who’s going to meet you where you’re at and, you know, you don’t have to become an expert.
Like, the analogy that a friend of mine always uses that you may have heard is that, you know, a fixture, your sink breaks, you don’t feel like oh, I have to become a plumber. You hire a plumber and you investigate and say, Is this a worthy person coming in with the skills? And then you work with them to fix the sink. Well, it’s the same thing with your finances. Yes, you need to know stuff.
You need to educate yourself. But it’s also really helpful. I mean, I have a whole financial team on my business and my personal side, to be able to have people who are experts. And you just need to know enough to make sure they’re credible, to ask the right questions, and to feel like you have a connection so they’re safe enough where they can educate you. And there’s a lot of great financial services professionals out there who can do that.
Davina: I know we need to end but I wanted to just follow up on that I ask you very quickly, what with a plumber if he messes up, you’re saying that’s alright. It’s not a lifelong, you know, cost to you, right? You can find another plumber. Whereas if you hire the wrong financial advisor, then it can feel like and could, in reality, screw you up, you know, for a long period of time or for life for some people. So what kinds of questions do we need to be asking?
Where do we need to look for good financial advisors, particularly? And I’d really love to give my listeners some ideas on how to find the right women financial advisors because I know so many women would love the opportunity to work with other women for their financial advice.
Kathleen: Yeah, no, absolutely. Those are great questions. You know, first of all, I’m very involved with the movement around, similar to you, as you women lawyers is bringing women financial advisors up. I coach a lot of them because they’re entrepreneurs. And, you know, I think that probably the best place for a listener to go would be to go to the Certified Financial Planning website. I’ll have to look it up exactly, but I think it’s just cfp.org. And you actually can do a search for advisors. You can probably search according to geographic area and look on the list to see how many, you know, any women in your area.
I think that’s one thing. And the reason I say a certified financial professional is that person that has taken an oath to be a fiduciary, many of them practice in a very holistic way. So it isn’t like the broker on Wall Street that’s just out to make a lot of money off you. It’s somebody really cares and wants to look at your holistic financial life. I think also you’re going to want to, and I believe they have some questions, or I can certainly send you some questions for the readers. But you want to think about, you want to interview a couple of people. You want to think about and get referrals from other people knowing that that means that they might be good for them.
It doesn’t mean that they’re a fit for you, but at least you’re trying to find somebody who’s not a crook or crooked or unethical. You want somebody as a fiduciary, and you want someone who clicks. Like, I’ll give you an example from my own life. It’s not a financial advisor, but I interviewed about five or six CPAs before I hired my CPA because I really felt like I needed somebody who was going to be a good fit for me. And so take the time. It is, like you said, it’s not a plumber. Although I’ve been ripped off by contractors, so that can be really hurtful as well.
But it’s not a plumber, It is a responsibility. Treat it like how you would do an investigation on finding a good doctor for a kid or your elderly parents and do your due diligence, ask the right questions. And most importantly, if your gut says this isn’t the right person or you just feel uncomfortable, or they’re pushy and pushing you into work with them, run out the door and find somebody else. There are some wonderful people out there that I call my friends that are really doing wonderful work.
Davina: Right. And I would say one of the most important questions for women law firm owners listening to this podcast is that they ask if they work with entrepreneurs or business owners before, because it’s a very different, it’s been one of my frustrations with financial advisors is that it’s a very different experience to work with someone who is used to work with entrepreneurs who may not have a steady paycheck coming in.
As opposed to someone who works with a company who may have benefits and a check, you know, the considerations are a lot different. And there are vehicles that we can use, you know, that we may be able to use to build wealth that are better suited for us.
Kathleen: Well, and it’s interesting that you say that, and I know we’re gonna have to end soon, but one of the things that I ask people or encourage people to ask a financial advisor is who is your ideal client? And who is your ideal client? Who is your typical client? And then you can get a sense of how often does this person work with somebody that’s like me and how interested are they and working with somebody like me? Because you’re right. There is a whole, and some specialize, by the way, so you can look for people who specialize in female breadwinners, women entrepreneurs, things like that. They do exist and it really does make a big difference.
Davina: Great, great. Well, I’d like, you and I probably could sit here talk for another hour at least. So we will wrap it up. And I would recommend everybody go out and grab a copy of Kathleen’s book, Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk Openly About Finances and Live a Richer Life. Because it is, it’ll give you some ideas.
And she has something in here called the Kingsbury Rules, which give you some groundwork for, give you some rules and guidance for having difficult money conversations with your spouse, your parents, other people, your kids, other people you might want to have money conversations with. And I’ll leave it there. That’ll be a surprise for anybody who gets the book. They can catch your rules. And thanks so much for being here. Tell us how we can find out more about you and your other books and your podcasts and all the things.
Kathleen: It’s very simple. All they need to do is go to breakingmoneysilence.com. You’ll find information about the book. And thank you, Davina, for reading it and recommending it. You’ll also find out and can subscribe to my podcast and my new blog called Confessions: The Truth About Being a Woman Entrepreneur.
The last thing I wanted to say and I want to offer this to your listeners is we are launching a Breaking Money Silence learning lab and I would love to offer anyone who listens a code so they can get a discount on any of the products that we have in that learning lab because I think it would be a great potential follow up to this conversation for some listeners.
Davina: Wonderful. Wonderful.
Kathleen: Yeah, so I’ll get that information to you so you can put it in the show notes.
Davina: Great. That would be great. I appreciate that and I know that they will too. So thanks again for being here. And maybe you and I will have to do this again soon to do part deux of this conversation.
Kathleen: Well, thank you so much for breaking money silence with me. It’s really been enjoyable.