21 Dec 196 | Making Money Talk More Understandable with Farnoosh Torabi
Welcome to episode 196 of Profit Boss® Radio! Today, I’m sharing a timeless episode from the Profit Boss® archives with financial guru Farnoosh Torabi. In my humble opinion, there’s no one better to help us with our mindset and understanding of how we talk about money.
Farnoosh is the host of one of my favorite podcasts, So Money, and the author of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women and You’re So Money: Live Rich, Even When You’re Not. You may have seen her work in publications such as the Oprah Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Forbes, to name just a few.
If there’s anyone that embodies the “work smarter, not harder” mindset, it’s Farnoosh. Her insights on what it takes to make more money, avoid burnout while doing it, and the importance of having a side hustle has been incredibly beneficial for me in my career, and I know her expertise will add value for you too.
So, if you’re ready to earn more, live life on your terms, and negotiate your value while putting yourself in a better position for success, I know you’ll absolutely love this episode.
Here’s what you’ll find out in this week’s episode of Profit Boss® Radio:
- Farnoosh’s inherited Money Operating System, “You have to work hard for money” and how it has impacted her life.
- How Farnoosh works smarter, not harder and ways she avoids burnout.
- The core tenets of making more money–and the shift in belief that transformed Farnoosh’s mindset and earning power.
- Why starting a side hustle on a firm foundation is key to producing something very profitable.
- What Farnoosh learned by producing a show every single day–and what she did to hit over 100,000 downloads within two months.
- Tips on how to negotiate compensation contracts with major television networks.
- Why so much of the world of finance is so male-oriented–and what a future of financial products for women that aren’t dumbed-down could look like.
- What happens when a billionaire on her television show finally lets her guard down.
- What Farnoosh has learned from interviewing top performers, CEOs, and executives in a wide variety of fields.
The Money Blueprint℠ for Business Owners
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Resources and Related Profit Boss® Content
- So Money Podcast
- Farnoosh Torabi’s Amazon Author Page
- 6 Truths About Money Every Woman Should Know
- When She Makes More: The Truth About Navigating Love and Life for a New Generation of Women
- Podcasters’ Paradise
- Merrill Lynch
- Follow the Leader TV show
- John Paul Mitchell Systems
- Patron Tequila
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Hilary Hendershott: Joining us on Profit Boss Radio today, Farnoosh Torabi. Farnoosh is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. Farnoosh is the host of the award-winning podcast, So Money, which was named a top podcast to grow your business by Inc Magazine. She’s also the host of a primetime series on CNBC, and she writes monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine. Farnoosh’s latest book is entitled When She Makes More: The Truth About Love and Life for a New Generation of Women. Her work and advice has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Time, Marie Claire, Glamour, Redbook, and USA Today. She’s appeared on all the major news and talk shows, including Good Morning America, The View, and LIVE with Kelly and Michael. She graduated from Penn State University with a degree in finance and international business, and she also has a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
I loved talking with Farnoosh. I’ve been listening to the So Money podcast for quite a while now. Farnoosh is a big part of my inspiration to launch Profit Boss Radio. I love her style and just a few things that she and I talked about today that I know you’re going to love. First, she talks about how she inherited the money operating system. You have to work hard for money. How it’s served her and how now she works smart instead of hard so she doesn’t get burned out, although she still works hard. She gives you her tips for starting a side hustle with the right foundation to turn into something way profitable like hers did, how she negotiates compensation contracts with major television networks, what happens on her TV show when a billionaire finally lets her guard down and her plans for her personal finance column in Oprah’s magazine. It was a great conversation. I know you’re going to love this episode. Without further ado, here’s Farnoosh.
Hilary Hendershott: Farnoosh, welcome to Profit Boss Radio.
Farnoosh Torabi: Hilary, thank you for having me. It’s so fun to be here.
Hilary Hendershott: Oh, I’m so excited to talk with you. You’ve been such a role model and mentor. So, on your show, through your guests in your own advice, you’ve offered tips on every aspect of people’s financial lives. What is your favorite topic to talk about these days?
Farnoosh Torabi: Oh, gosh. I’m really excited these days to talk about earning more. I feel I’ve been in this space long enough to realize the underserved topics and whether it’s through writing, speaking. I just feel that we talk a lot about saving and getting out of debt and credit and even getting the job. But then once we have the job like how to actually earn as much as possible and even outside of the job how to really increase wealth through earning power. And for me, that was very much my own journey. I got into the world of journalism, making $18 an hour. I had a lot of debt and the best way for me at the time to figure out how to get out of that quickly was, oh yes, of course, paring down and getting rid of some expenses and being conservative but that only helps you to an extent. It was really bringing in the extra income, monetizing the skills that existed in my wheelhouse to bring in that fast revenue to just crush that debt within a year of your time. So, that’s what I’m passionate about. I think especially today, if you look at just the charts, income has been pretty stagnant for over a decade. Meanwhile, the cost of living has accelerated. And if you’re a woman, you know all too well the gender income gap is alive and well still to this day. So, the best way to defeat that, I think, is to find a side hustle.
Hilary Hendershott: Oh, great. And I mean, it’s interesting that you bring this topic up because I listened to your last Q&A episode and there was a woman who was making $40,000 a year working for her family business, and she was taking classes at the community college to avoid paying interest on her school loans. And I’m jumping up and down and, finally, you did mention at the end like instead of trading your hours for a few dollars, why don’t you put your resources into making more money?
Farnoosh Torabi: Right. She was running her family business. And if she has time to be taking a course to avoid the like hundred dollars that you spend, you definitely have the capacity, the time, the knowledge, the skills, the willpower to bring in extra money. It’s not that difficult if you really put your mind to it, especially in this day and age. And I did that over a decade ago. There wasn’t really a robust internet that there is today. There weren’t all these sites that were offering jobs, and there was Craigslist, which was like back then pretty scary, much scarier place to be listing anything. And so, I feel now there’s more opportunity to really monetize your skills. And yeah, for sure, if you have debt, if you want to be able to save more aggressively, if you’re playing catch up towards retirement, bring in some extra money. You should definitely ask for that raise, too, but that might not move the needle as much as you need.
Hilary Hendershott: I think we always teach what we most need to know. So, it’s interesting also I think probably some of this expansion, I call it raising the ceiling. This expansion of income is happening in your life, too. What do you think are the core? And we’ll talk more about that, obviously, but what do you think are the core tenets of making more money?
Farnoosh Torabi: I think, firstly, it’s understanding what you’re great at, not just good at but great at because you don’t want to just make okay money. You want to make great money. You want to be able to go out there and command like strong fees and be confident about that. So, a lot of times when you’re making that side revenue, it’s entrepreneurial and it’s turning one of your skills into a revenue stream. It’s, “I speak Spanish. I’m going to tutor.” “I know I’m a great writer, I’m going to freelance write.” “I’m great with people,” so perhaps you’re going to go and work as a caretaker part-time. Whatever it is, I think it’s first identifying what you’re really great at doing that you also happen to like doing because that’s what’s going to be sustainable. And what’s something that you’re going to be proud of that you’re going to be bold enough to go out there and ask for the big money. And then the second part of that is asking for the big money, being confident and doing that and knowing your worth, knowing your value, turning away opportunities sometimes that aren’t worth your time, waiting for the bigger opportunities to come by, and negotiating your worth in the marketplace.
One of the things I read recently that kind of was a mindset shift for me, I mean, I guess it made a whole lot of sense but it helps to think of it this way, the key to negotiating well and getting what you are worth and feeling good about the contract, the negotiation is to really think of it not as what am I going to get out of this relationship or this work relationship, it’s what does the other party really need? And how can I deliver that and make them happy while still being happy myself? And making it more about them and less about you I think is going to be an easier way to navigate negotiation. Not to say that you’re not going to get what you want, but it will be a better process and I think it’s going to set you apart from perhaps the other people that they’re talking to that, “Hey, this is Hillary. She really wants to work with me. She’s considerate. She understands my needs. She keeps coming back to me with an understanding of what I want and leads with that and is trying to find a way to make it work for the both of us.”
And I think it’s also realizing that whatever you decide to do, whether it’s freelance right on the side or tutor or start a shop on Etsy that you’re not just a cog in a wheel, that you’re actually a human being behind this brand, this product, this service that you are a brand that you have to think simultaneously about not just the output, but also the input like who are you and how are you different from the marketplace? Because the most beautiful thing that can happen from a side hustle and it happened to me is that it takes on a life of its own and it becomes a big part of your life. And it has the potential to build all this momentum and turn into a great thing and maybe even give you the license to leave that day job that it becomes this sustainable, profitable thing that now is very much who you are and is how you’re differentiating yourself and it can become your full-time job, your full-time entrepreneurial revenue stream. And that’s a great thing and that’s what everyone aspires to have.
Hilary Hendershott: Sure. And you recently interviewed your own parents on your podcast, and they shared a lot about their work ethic, strong, strong work ethic. Your father said, “A master’s degree wasn’t enough. I had to have a Ph.D.,” and I wonder, do you think you inherited that? I would even go so far as to call that a money script or a money operating system. I call them money operating systems. You have to work hard for the money. Do you feel like you inherited that? And if so, has it served you? Have you tried to transcend it a little bit?
Farnoosh Torabi: It definitely has served me. And I think I’m not the smartest gal in the room, I’m the hardest working and that’s okay by me. I’ve had people tell me that like, “Frankly, Farnoosh, you’re not a genius.” Thanks. Yes, I know. She’s still my friend. She said to me, “But you’re definitely the hardest working person I know, and that’s why you’re going to be successful.” And I’d rather be known for that, frankly, because for me, that’s a bigger badge of honor than saying like, “Oh, I’m just really brilliant.” But brilliance plus hard work, I want to be that person. I mean, not to say that I’ve given up on learning or trying to be strategic and trying to be smart. I think I am all those things but I think what differentiates me, just like it might be different for somebody else, is that I am known as the person who will work hard. And sometimes you don’t have to work so hard. You just have to work smart. So, spending more time figuring out your strategy before execution is where the hard work is invested best. And it’s not just like I’m going to work until I collapsed. That doesn’t serve anybody.
And it’s really about like right now, I’m thinking about developing a course. I’m front-loading a lot of the hours and the hard work and figuring out my strategy and knowing my market and before I even get to the course, like the actual scripting of the course. And that’s how I’m working hard but I feel like I’m also working smart. A lot of it does come from watching my parents’ life. It is our culture. And maybe I am addicted to achievement. Maybe I’m overcompensating. You know, I just did a podcast. I interviewed a woman on my show, and for me, it was like a therapy session because I think I realized partly at least why I work so hard and it’s not this feel-good reason. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am a daughter of immigrant parents coming to this country feeling very different, knowing that I was different, being a little bullied, and trying to find my way through the best way I knew how which was doing well in school, working hard, head down, getting my assignments done, going for that extra credit. That worked for me and that got me to places and that got me some street cred and that got many people going, “Oh, hey, you’re Farnoosh. Oh, nice to meet you. You’re that woman who like got that job or got into that school or did really well on that exam.” And that, for me, was like, suddenly I was accepted. Suddenly, I was like somebody that was worth talking to.
Psychologically, I think that stuck. And here I am, 30, 20 years later, working hard. I will be the first to tell you that I do get a high off of seeing my name in print or feeling like I accomplished something great. I think everyone does. It’s part of what keeps me motivated. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if I just lived in a cave by myself. I couldn’t, first of all. But let’s just be theoretical here. If there was nobody there to say congratulations, good job, or well done, that would be kind of a bummer.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. Have you ever thought that you work too hard or does your husband think you work too hard?
Farnoosh Torabi: Yes. My husband has definitely told me that. I don’t bite my nails. I don’t smoke. I drink sometimes. I don’t really have any vices except work, and my husband says I’m addicted to work.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah. So interesting. We all have our vices. We need to escape, right?
Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah. But because I love what I do. I don’t work begrudgingly. You know, I don’t sit in front of my laptop and grunt or loathe that it’s going to be Monday and it’s Sunday night. I don’t have the Sunday Blues. I really look forward to working. Not to say that I’m not challenged and I’m not uncertain, and I have some insecurities around whether I’m going to be able to do something well but I love those opportunities. I think that’s when I feel like I’m still growing. There’s still more for me to learn so I look forward to those opportunities.
Hilary Hendershott: Sure. And I want to go back to one thing you said about branding and your side hustle. But first, it turns out to be a great thing, for example, that you busted your butt to do a seven-day-a-week show. I know you cut the weekends fairly, well, not quickly but you end up cutting weekends. But to do a daily show was a huge effort for you, I’m sure. And now it’s really paying off because you said no just like you said to. You said no to the right things and yes to the right things. And now you’ve sort of, how do I say, harnessed that market? You’ve kind of capitalized on it.
Farnoosh Torabi: Well, yeah. Starting a daily podcast, when I decided to do a podcast, I had an idea, I had a title, and I signed up for a course to learn how to podcast. And I took John Lee Dumas’ Podcasters’ Paradise course.
Hilary Hendershott: Me, too.
Farnoosh Torabi: You did? Okay. I thought it was great. It helped me really understand the steps and I was really inspired by his format. He has a daily show and he credited that for helping him really get out there in a big way. And as we all are looking at maybe starting a podcast, we think how can we differentiate? And so, in some ways, I was immediately different. I was a woman. There were a lot of male-run podcasts that were in the finance space. I was going to talk more about not like investing but more about living a richer life through the way you think about money and the way you handle money and the way you earn it and donate it and all that. And it was a more philosophical conversation around money. Interviewing people that had nothing to do with money like Margaret Cho and people who don’t normally have financial conversations, I wanted to bring them on to have those conversations because I think money is a part of everyone’s life. But yeah, what else? What else could I do to really get out there in a big way, a splash? And I thought, “Okay, daily. I’ll be that crazy person who’s going to do it every day.”
And my motivation was really just to be able to be different and to be identified as that daily podcast. There aren’t many of us, you know, whether you’re in the money space or the comedy space or any space. Daily’s a lot of work and it provided me some instant recognition, maybe some credibility, noticeability. And also, as a podcaster, it was immersion like nothing else. You’re not just in it lightly. You’re in it to win it and you got to just keep up with this pace. It was a storm of interviews. And honestly, for me, it was great because while in the process, maybe I was like hurting but now looking back, it was a great way for me to just kind of fast forward the pace.
Hilary Hendershott: It really did. There were times you were recording shows, I think, from your in-laws, the spare bedroom or something.
Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah. Like all the time and I was like I’m podcasting in the shower or in bed, in the car, everywhere. I had to. I had to keep up with that pace. And it allowed me to develop a following very quickly. You know, the downloads within the first two months, I had 100,000 downloads. Like within six months, I had over like a million downloads. So, those are great milestones and really great feel-good milestones like you have instant gratification. You’re like, “Oh, this is paying off. You see it in the numbers.” And then I felt that it was time to monetize, and that was a great way to kind of introduce myself to sponsors, “I have this show. There’s a million people listening or have listened.” But then as I started to really reevaluate what was important and going forward what was needed to sustain the podcast and to really meet the needs of listeners and meet the needs of sponsors and meet my own needs, it made sense to slow down. There was no need to keep going at seven days per week. We’d already achieved the audience that we needed. We’re still growing and it allowed also from a business standpoint fewer inventory. Fewer shows means you can command sometimes a higher rate because there’s fewer days to choose from for sponsors. So, it all worked out and now we’re at three days per week.
Hilary Hendershott: Right. And one of those is a Q&A episode. And I’d love for people to be able to learn from you in terms of starting a side hustle that really does take off. And so, you’ve shared with us some of the things that you thought about to brand yourself to differentiate yourself. Was there more that went into that thinking? Did you have brand values in mind that you really wanted to communicate that ended up being really key to your success?
Farnoosh Torabi: Well, so the podcast is a more recent development, and I would say I’ve been establishing my “personal brand” since, gosh, maybe 2008, when my first book came out in the marketplace. I had a book before I had a blog. I never had really a blog. I just did it differently. I think back then it was more common to go from traditional media like I was working in television news magazine writing to then write a book. No one asked me like what my Twitter following was. That really wasn’t around. So, there were different metrics, and I regret that a little bit. I regret that I didn’t really focus on the online engagement component to all of this until much later. I was kind of writing the traditional media wagon. I was doing TV and print and then a book, and I thought that was all I needed. Meanwhile, I was leaving a big audience on the table. I was leaving a lot of money on the table and a lot of engagement was ignored through internet. It’s something that I’m trying to play a little bit to catch up and now the podcast is helping. Was I very strategic? No. Honestly, I feel as though I knew at the very minimum I didn’t want to be your parents’ financial advisor. I don’t want to be your grandmother’s accountant.
I wanted to be this very approachable, friendly, go-to girlfriend who was going to give you straight-up financial advice. And maybe that discussion was going to also parlay into talking about singlehood at the time and career and other things, travel. I feel like money is just a jumping-off point to talk about life and I wanted to be that go-to person. That’s always been at the core of it. I want to be inviting. I don’t want to be judgmental. I don’t want to be dismissive. I want to be very inviting, very much like you and I are having a conversation, not a lot of filter. I think that served me well. That is how I think people identify me and recognize me. You don’t have to have this big plan. Like, that’s it. I just wanted to be that person. You won’t find a suit in my closet. I don’t wear suits or jackets. I’m wearing yoga pants right now. That’s because I’m on a podcast without video. But mostly, I just try to keep it really real and down to earth, and I find that money can be very intimidating. So, for me to come out and be intimidating is not going to serve anybody. No purpose. So, I just have to be as raw and real as possible and bring myself into it as much as possible too. Like, I find that people love – the most successful emails that I write to my newsletter list are emails about my vulnerabilities and my failures and Farnoosh as a human being. People really connect to that. So, I use it as much as possible.
Hilary Hendershott: So, the brand then really was your personality, your natural personality, and you’ve kind of positioned yourself as the friend next door.
Farnoosh Torabi: Right. And honestly, Hilary, there were times where I was like, “Maybe I need to chop my hair off and dye it purple and be that person, that crazy person.”
Hilary Hendershott: Flashy.
Farnoosh Torabi: Because, you know, that sells to an extent. Maybe I have to be this like loudmouthed F-bomb-dropping crazy person. Yeah, because, you know, at least from a television, that sells on TV and then TV sells books and the rest is history. So, I had these moments of like maybe I’m not unique enough, maybe I’m not different enough. But there is something to be said for consistency and sticking to your truth and looking at your competition. Instead of saying, “Why I should do that?” to saying, “That’s interesting. That worked for them.” What’s working for them and how is that maybe translatable to you, but not in the sense of like duplication or going outside your comfort zone? People will not believe that and it won’t come off as authentic.
Hilary Hendershott: And I think all this translates to what you were saying before. So, for those of you who are listening to our conversation about the side hustle and you’re inspired about the Etsy shop or the tutoring, you can take what Farnoosh has said and learned and apply it to yourself in terms of creating who you are as a brand and a business. So, Farnoosh, what is your vision for So Money now?
Farnoosh Torabi: Well, that’s a good question. We just transitioned to three days per week. I would love to just keep it going. I don’t foresee it going any fewer days. But the show has really taken on different life forms and by that I mean, it was the foundation for which – well, let me put it this way. Doing this podcast, learning what I’ve learned and engaging with my audience in this capacity has then allowed me to go out there and really market myself better as a host of a TV show, on CNBC, as a writer for Oprah Magazine. When they asked me why I’d be good for the job, I said, “I host a podcast every single day. I talk to people all the time about money. If there is anyone who has any sense of what’s going on in this country when it comes to people’s feelings, emotions, and realities around money, I’m your gal.” And they’re like, “Okay. You have the job.” So, I feel like it’s allowed me to go out and be more of who I am in different ways. And as far as the podcast in and of itself, I think the brand, So Money, I think it could turn into a book. It might be a course. It could be a lot of things. I don’t know yet. I’m just trying to see where it evolves.
I love when things just sort of take on a life of their own. I can just sit back and be like, “Yep, that’s happening,” and I’m very happy about it. But maybe it’s this sort of thing that we take on the road. I would love to do that. I mean, that’s one thing that I’ve always pushed for. It takes a lot of money to do that, though, you know, taking your show on the road, doing live podcasting in cities and towns, doing town halls around them. I think that’ll be really exciting.
Hilary Hendershott: That sounds really adventurous and fun. What are your plans for the column?
Farnoosh Torabi: Oh, wow. So, thank you. I mean, there are so many ways we could do the column. I think my pitch to them was really that I want to approach this column in a much more empowered direction to show women how much potential they have. And it’s not just this conversation about getting out of debt and saving money and cutting coupons. It’s like how you can actually better manage your money through better managing your time, how you can give back more, how you can make more, how you can quit that day job. All these things that we think only we can see others do, you can do it too. The best piece of advice I ever got was not too long ago, which was that, you know, I, Farnoosh, have the capacity to be a seven-figure woman, an eight-figure woman. That making millions of dollars is not just something that we read about in books and to talk to other people who’ve done it. That could be your reality. And not to say that that’s the end-all like making all this money isn’t what we’re put on this planet to do. But when women actually make money and make more of it, the beautiful thing that happens with that is that the world becomes a better place. Women are more likely to give back. More women are likely to help others through their wealth. And so, why not?
So, maybe you don’t just keep all this money in the bank. You know, like actually showing women what they can do after they make all this money that they go out there and they command their worth in the marketplace, whether it’s on the job or as entrepreneurs. When you finally make that wealth and establish that wealth, the power that you have to not just help yourself, but your family, your community, the world. I think that when I heard that, I mean, that just makes me want to rush out and make my courses. I figured it out because I feel like this is the thing. You know, I feel like I got to a place in my career and in my financial life where things are great. The wheels are turning. We have our accounts. We have our retirement. Life is good. I mean, I’m not worried about money. So, I’m good. Doors closed. But then I start to realize that, no, because I know I have the ability to go out there and make more money because I have a uniqueness, because I have qualities, because I have skills, because I have skills that are in-demand, that I should go out there and try to monetize more because then I can actually help a lot of people in ways that I can’t right now.
I would love to be able to help my parents retire early. I would love to be able to start a foundation. I’d love to be able to, hey, you know what, travel more. That would be great too, something for me. And so, that has served as motivation for me. And then to be able to be a role model for other people in doing that, I think, is incredible. And for me, I mean, to be able to show other women how to do that, I think we could effectively change the world with this column. So, that’s how we’re going to change the world with this column.
Hilary Hendershott: Okay, I’m on board. And I think you’ll agree, you speak to so many women about money that you’ll know one of the most common mindsets, especially for women, is it’s not okay for me to really be truly wealthy, for me to make the money and keep it. One of the most common things women say when they’re asked the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery or got $100,000?” They say, “I would give it away.” And the kind of the thing you don’t think about is that that means you don’t have it. And when your cup isn’t full, you can’t provide for others on a consistent basis. And that’s what I hear you speaking to.
Farnoosh Torabi: It’s true. I think there needs to be a mindset shift. And look, I don’t blame women for feeling that way because for so long, we haven’t had the money. We’ve only recently started. In only modern century, we have women been like working, getting paid for their work. And it was only because of a necessity, because men were at war. And so, women were like, okay, we’ll run the factories. And then that turned into its own female-led workforce.
Hilary Hendershott: So, we have Rosie the Riveter to thank.
Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah. And so, we come to this whole money, wealth, power thing, we’re new to it. And it can feel uncomfortable. And by the way, we still live in a world where it feels like the financial world is male-dominated and that the messages that we hear are like, “Oh, it’s too complicated for you. You need help. It’s a man’s world.” And so, these are wrong messages that we hear that whether we believe them or not, they enter our minds. And I think, I’m really excited that there’s a lot of new platforms out there to help women give them the solutions and answers that they need in the way that women should be spoken to.
Sallie Krawcheck has a new product coming out called Ellevest, and Amanda Steinberg has a product out soon, I think it’s already out, called WorthFM, and these are answering a need in the marketplace, which is that women, we feel very underserved when it comes to financial services, not because there aren’t enough services out there, but because we just feel that the language, the protocols are very male-oriented. And it’s hard to say that it has to be dumbed down or handheld, but it understands what women need right now. Women want options, they want to use systems that they trust because we’re very busy if you haven’t noticed. We’re running companies, we’re running households, were running our lives. And money’s very important to us, but we don’t want to feel like we have to just give it to somebody else to manage and we don’t understand any of it or that we’re not doing anything with it. We want to feel that we have a partner in this that is affordable, that understands our needs. And if you look at the overall financial industry, the image from Merrill Lynch is a bull. Like, how masculine can that be? It’s like when we talk about money and we talk about investing, we use sports analogists. So, again, very male-dominated, and I feel like there has to be a seismic change in the language and in the delivery of financial information so that everybody feels included.
Hilary Hendershott: And to acknowledge that in my industry, and I know you’ve attended some financial planner conferences, but there’s this whole dialog about serving women. And frankly, the dialog about serving women on the part of financial advisors comes from this data we have that now says women are coming into possession of more wealth. So, it really didn’t start being about women at all, it started about capitalizing on a revenue opportunity. And I find the dialog to be so terribly patronizing. It’s not about dumbing it down, right? And they say things like, “Well, we need to be life planners.” Like I’m thinking, hello, I’ve been doing that for 15 years. Like, I rarely talk with my female clients about performance, performance, performance, or using that Wall Street speak, putting the bull on the table in front of them. And that the industry is really struggling because it’s not a lexicon that they’re accustomed to.
Farnoosh Torabi: Correct. Yeah, and so, the good news is that, like you said, women are inheriting at the forefront of so much wealth in this country. They manage so much of the finances within their households. We’re starting businesses at a very rapid pace, and there are more female-led small businesses right now starting up than there are males. And that’s exciting to see. So, we just need the support system, and it’s getting there. We’re getting there. I think it’s going to be great.
Hilary Hendershott: Very good. And in the same year, you get the call from Oprah. You also got a television show.
Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah. When it rains, it pours.
Hilary Hendershott: Yes, that’s what I think. That’s what I meant about raising your own ceiling. So, you are hosting the Follow the Leader television show.
Farnoosh Torabi: On CNBC Prime, yeah. I mean, people think like you just get a TV show. I mean, I’ve been working on this idea of a TV show, not this particular idea. But I’ve been just trying to meet with the right people and spread my ideas about what I would like to do on TV for over a decade now. I’ve been working with the same agent. We’ve had some opportunities. I’ve had some opportunities to do some TV shows in the past that, it didn’t all take. This show arrived, I was doing a little other mini show with CNBC and got to meet the right people, was in the right place at the right time.
And Follow the Leader was born out of that, and it aired. It started airing in April. We just wrapped recently on CNBC. And hopefully, we’ll get another season, I’m not sure. But it was an extremely rare experience to say that you get the chance to do a television show that airs. TV’s hard, it’s a really hard medium to strike and to have a successful show to capture a following. And it’s one of those things where it was a rare opportunity, I couldn’t pass it down. And I do credit my podcast for giving me the platform and the credibility to do something like that.
Hilary Hendershott: Right, of course, and what you do on the television show is you follow really successful entrepreneurs and people, but you follow them for days.
Farnoosh Torabi: That’s the conceit, yes, that we will be able to capture so many interesting things about them, why they’re successful, because we spend more than just a 30-minute interview time frame with them that we’re following them, shadowing them for at minimum 48 hours, and in some cases, flying from one place to the other, going to their meetings, going to their homes. I mean, I just had to be asking them questions all the time. I was like that person. So, thank you to everybody who let me follow them for all those hours and days. And I did get kick out of a couple of meetings, but we kept rolling because that’s what you do in primetime television.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, that’s what you do. So, what are some of the key things that you’ve learned? And what are some of the things that you didn’t expect to learn?
Farnoosh Torabi: Well, I don’t know about not expecting to learn, I think I just kept such an open mind throughout the whole experience. But one of the patterns I discovered, and we interviewed everybody from a billionaire like John Paul DeJoria, who co-founded Paul Mitchell Systems, the hair care system and Patron Tequila, did you know that, both of those products, to someone like both of which I’m a fan of, yes, the latter mostly. And then, we interviewed him. We interviewed Lyor Cohen, who is a music executive. We interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk, who is a social media digital marketing guru, founder of VaynerMedia; Tracy Anderson, fitness guru.
And what? Interestingly, at least half of these people all came from immigrant families. So, there you go, there’s that immigrant work mentality, work ethic that was prevalent. And then, they surround themselves with the smartest, brightest people. They’re not the smartest people in the room. I mean, they’re brilliant in their own ways, but they make sure to be surrounded by people who are as outspoken and passionate and cautious. And all of those things that you want in your teammates to be looking out for your best interest. They’re very critical about who they surround themselves with. They’re also quick to identify their weaknesses. They’re not going to pretend that they know everything.
Tracy Anderson is the visionary, and she is the fitness guru. She’s not a CEO. Okay, so she runs her company, she owns, she is the name of her company. She’s the Tracy Anderson method, but she is not the CEO. She has brought in Maria Baum, who does have the finance chops, who worked on Wall Street, who runs multiple businesses, who has the relationships in retail, in food, in all those ways that they want to expand the brand. So, that was not maybe something I expected to see, to answer your question, I mean, I thought, maybe you’re the co-founder of your company, you’re the visionary, you’re the founder, you want to be at the helm of all the decisions. But in some cases, it’s better to outsource that and say, “I don’t know everything. And I’m going to make sure, though, that I hire the best darn people.”
Hilary Hendershott: So, making sure you have a team around you, someone who’s an expert in doing all of those traditional roles – CEO, CFO, VP of sales, marketing, like that.
Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah, and they’re really great at saying no, all of them. They don’t do everything. They do not do everything. And perhaps, that’s a privilege of being wealthy and successful. At the end of the day, you, me, John Paul DeJoria, we only have 24 hours in a day. And how you spend that day at the end of the day can be the difference between being successful and not, feeling like you have a fulfilling life and not. And so, whatever they can do to better time manage their lives, to outsource things, to just flat out say no to meetings and opportunities, even opportunities that pay. At the end of the day, you just have to be really, really discriminatory about how you’re spending your hours and how you’re spreading yourself.
Hilary Hendershott: Budgeting your resources. I mean, if you think about it, when you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no implicitly to a bazillion others. So, okay, that’s a key lesson learned. And then what’s something that happens when they let their guard down that surprised you or that you took note of?
Farnoosh Torabi: Right. So, we were interviewing Katia Beauchamp. She’s the co-founder of Birchbox. Sure, many of your listeners are familiar with Birchbox, a very successful company that delivers for $10 a month. You can sign up and you get a box of beauty samples and haircare and all sorts of grooming items to sample. And then, ultimately, the hope is that you buy the full-size product from Birchbox.com. Katia, her company has gone through some recent growing pains. They had to lay off 15% of their staff. She suspended operations in Canada. Her co-founder and co-CEO left.
And so, we’re arriving at all of this. Once this has all happened, not too long ago, we’re now interviewing her, camera’s rolling. And I think that in the beginning, she was very careful about what she was saying and wanted to make sure that I think it didn’t appear that things were not that awesome. You just laid off 15% of your staff, you can’t tell me that morale is at its peak. And at one point, at the end of being with her, and this is always, it happens like towards the end, when the cameras aren’t rolling, we feel like they’re very comfortable.
She got some great news, which was that the company had exceeded their sales expectations for February, and it wasn’t even the end of the month yet. They still had like another couple of weeks left, so they were cruising, so excited. She went around the office. She’s high-fiving people. She’s like, starting to cry, actually. And I’m watching this. And the cameras, unfortunately, weren’t capturing all of it. And I’m watching this and I’m thinking, why is she crying? I mean, they’re happy tears, but there’s something else going on.
And I got her, I pulled her aside, I said, so, when you get great news like this, who’s the first person you call? Like, who do you share this with? Because I watched her going around the office, sharing the sales news with her team, and nobody was that excited about it as she was because they’re not the CEO, they’re not the co-founder. This is a big milestone for her coming out of a layoff to say that we exceeded sales expectations at this rate. And she said, “Honestly, there’s no one I can really, that really understands what this feels like.”
And it really spoke to the saying that it’s lonely at the top, but it was especially lonely for her, I think, because she had just said goodbye to her co-CEO and co-founder, and things were not that great between them, personally. And so, she got very emotional, and there were layers to that emotion that maybe were not visible to the viewer at home. But I got to see that, and it was very bittersweet. And it made me never want to be a CEO of a company at that level.
Hilary Hendershott: That must make you feel honored to get to witness that kind of realness.
Farnoosh Torabi: Very much. It’s such a privilege. I mean, unprecedented access like that, it was not easy casting the first season for obvious reasons.
Hilary Hendershott: Right.
Farnoosh Torabi: In some ways, it was. In some ways, it wasn’t.
Hilary Hendershott: It takes a particular kind of personality to say yes to that kind of interview.
Farnoosh Torabi: Right. And those who even said yes, but they had all these restrictions, we had to kindly bow out because we thought, well, that’s not really the show. If we wanted this just to be a puff piece and just looking at interviewing you in your office, and that’s it, I mean, there are a million shows like that.
Hilary Hendershott: Right. How do you go about successfully negotiating your contract on a major media television network like that, getting back to what you were saying about making more money? Where do you even start with something like that?
Farnoosh Torabi: Well, I have an agent and like I said, we’ve been working together for many, many years, although we talk almost daily. So, I’m very much involved in how we want to approach every contract negotiation, even though he’s ultimately the only one in the room, he is basically relaying my own thoughts. And we try to be on the same page about everything before going in. He doesn’t just assume I’m okay with making a certain rate. At this point, we have some historical reference to know what TV typically pays people in the reality realm. For a host of a show, I know what I’ve been paid in the past, and so, at this point, I want to be making more.
And really, when it’s the beginning of a relationship, and you hope there’ll be more to it, you don’t want to go in with ultimatums, you ultimately want it to work. So, you know that there’s going to be some give and take. And you have to ultimately know what are your deal-breakers. And I did have a deal-breaker. And fortunately, we never had to break the deal over it. But it was essentially that I wanted, and this is very important to me in all relationships, all contracts that I have is that that I feel that I have still some autonomy that if I’m going to do this show, I’m not going to not be able to do anything else on TV for the duration of this show and for the next five years, potentially, of this contract, right? I mean, my agent always says, like, you could then come and sue me for reckless representation if I ever made you sign something with that kind of a clause. And believe me, they try to sneak in some clauses like that. Not me, I’m not saying it happened with CNBC, but you’d be very careful in the fine print. The exclusivity is often where they get you.
So, it’s one thing to say, okay, I’ll not make as much money this go around, but will be worse is that you lock yourself into a contract making so-so money, and worse is they have you not being able to work essentially anywhere else and not make any other money. So, you’re basically, you making nothing. And on TV, if anyone tells you it’s like where all the money is, it’s not. Essentially, in the first season, nobody makes any money unless you’re a celebrity. It’s when you go to second season, third season, you renegotiate, you have leveraged, that’s when you start to make the bigger money. You never start making the six-figure per episode, like the Friends’ cast probably all started making, my guess is like $10,000 an episode, $20,000 an episode, maybe at the beginning until they got to their million. They had leveraged. They had ratings, so they had metrics to use.
It’s knowing your deal-breakers, knowing that you’re okay to walk away is always great ammunition to want it, but not want it that much is the key to winning a negotiation. As soon as they sense, like, oh, she– if you try to go as far as you can before revealing your deal-breaker because by then, everyone’s really invested. You spent time. The idea of stopping negotiations, going separate ways, trying to find someone else to do this, and you know you have to start at a certain time in order for this to air at a certain time, everyone’s going to try their best to make it work at that point. It’s knowing what you’re willing to walk away for and ultimately, too, knowing what would make the network happy. What is it? Whenever we go back with a no, we want to go back with a no, but. No, but we can offer you this. We understand this is really important to you. We’re going to be able to, let’s say, give you guys more travel time from Farnoosh, away from her family, that’s fine, but instead, we would like to have this.
So, it’s just understanding what would make the other party really happy but also knowing what you’re willing to walk away for, obviously too, not lowballing yourself. You have to have some self-respect. You don’t do anything for free. Actually, I had someone approach me the other day and said, “Hey,” it was a friend, “I’d love for you to speak at my organization.” And she said, “We had Gary Vaynerchuk as a keynote.” And I’m like, I know Gary Vaynerchuk makes $100,000 per speech or at least has been offered that. So, that was interesting intel. She probably didn’t know that I knew that. And I said, “Well, I really appreciate that you reached out to me. That sounds like a great organization. I want to help you out. But just to be completely transparent, I want to maintain some sense of work-life sanity right now, so I’m limiting my engagements to only paid engagements right now. And if you’d still like to have a conversation about this, I’m more than happy. Here are some dates.”
And I used to feel bad about telling people that I wanted to make money, believe it or not. Now I’m like, why? What? Hopefully, we’ve reached a point, and I have, I’ve gone there, so hopefully, everybody else has or will get there is that you can’t just be doing things for free or favors, that doesn’t pay the bills. And especially when you’re busy and you have a family and you’re not at the beginning of your career, you’re not just working for the experience, you’re working for to get paid, that’s totally okay.
Hilary Hendershott: And that monetization becomes part of your brand. And plus, being a personal finance role model, you kind of do have to fly the flag, don’t you?
Farnoosh Torabi: I remind myself of that. That makes me feel bad. It’s like, well, what do they expect from me? I mean, I have to speak up and I have to be a role model exactly. And I talk about this all day. So, if I don’t practice what I preach, that would be a fraud.
Hilary Hendershott: Okay, now to wrap up, I do have just a couple of questions for you. The first one comes from my Profit Boss audience. You shared that in your early 20s, you found yourself in credit card debt, but that you’ve changed those habits. So, specifically, what habits did you change to go from being excited about spending money to being excited about saving money?
Farnoosh Torabi: I would give you a one really big tip, which is that I started to plan my day out more carefully. I didn’t allow for room for spending error. In other words, I try to limit my time of just being bored or not knowing what to do because usually, that meant I would go online and shop, or I’d go out and buy coffee or like, go and spend money. And your environment really impacts, and what you’re doing really impacts your spending decisions sometimes, and your mood as well. So, making sure that I kept busy doing things that didn’t require money, and that didn’t mean that I can’t have fun, but it meant really looking for the experiences rather than the transactions, whether it was walking through the park with a friend, making sure that I would start new projects at work that were really exciting to me that I knew were going to be helping my career, then maybe that was an extra couple of hours at work, every day or every week, and I’d be able to avoid walking home and maybe stopping in for dinner somewhere or buying something online.
So, just like trying to lose weight, you have to change your habits and your routes. Sometimes, if you know you’re going to walk past that coffee shop on the way home from work or that bakery or whatever, or the movie theater or the clothing store, change your direction. So, I could change my direction a little bit, be more methodical about my day, and be more careful about how I was scheduling my day and who I was spending my time with. You have those friends you want to go out and drink and party with all the time, and they’re fun once in a while, but not every weekend. I would go home instead, spend more time with my family, take the greyhound, come back with a bag full of groceries from home, maybe I went grocery shopping in my parents’ pantry, brought some toilet paper up from Massachusetts, and that’s how it saved money and it was, hey, we’re being honest, you know.
Hilary Hendershott: I’m with you. Making it work. So, consciousness has its systems and really…
Farnoosh Torabi: Automation.
Hilary Hendershott: Yes.
Farnoosh Torabi: Just making sure that every bit that I could if my paycheck was either going to the 401(k), the savings account. I had an online savings account at the time, it did not have a debit card attached to it, no ATMs. You couldn’t go to an ATM and take money out of this account. So, it was very good as far as controlling impulse.
Hilary Hendershott: Great. My last question for you today is turning the tables on you just a little bit because you ask your guests to complete the statement, I’m so money because… So, a Profit Boss is someone who questions all taboos, defines her success in her own way, and owns her worth, and a Profit Boss is a wealth builder. So, can you tell us about one of your most momentous Profit Boss moments?
Farnoosh Torabi: I think one of my most momentous Profit Boss moments was deciding to start a podcast. I was skeptical of podcasts, I will admit. Prior to starting my own podcast, I had launched a book, had been invited to speak on a few podcasts, was skeptical of the reach and the turnover, and whether I was going to move the needle, and who am I really talking to? I’m like in this abyss of podcasting. What are podcasts? Well, keeping an open mind, educating myself, talking to people, learning the space, and being open to changing my mind, ultimately deciding to start the podcast has been so fruitful, not only for my own personal development and really understanding my space better than ever, this space of personal finance and what people need, but being able to then transition that into bigger platforms, using the podcast and what I’ve learned and the audience and the notoriety to then turning that into a column at Oprah Magazine and using that skill set to use on the set of Follow the Leader on CNBC, and the engagement that I have, not just with my audience, but with my guests, learning so much from them, not just about money, but about business and about time management and about family management has helped me personally develop.
So, it has been fruitful in so many ways, and I can’t even believe it because I pooh-poohed the podcasts for so long. I was like, “What the heck is a podcast? I’m going to get my own radio show on SiriusXM.” And then, meanwhile, I’m realizing like you can get more people listening to you on a podcast than someone who has a million options driving home from work on SiriusXM. By the way, getting that SiriusXM radio show, not so easy.
Hilary Hendershott: Right.
Farnoosh Torabi: That is not victorious as far as I’m concerned. It’s really about going direct to market using your own resources. Look, anyone can start a podcast. You just need a microphone and an internet connection and an idea and run with it.
Hilary Hendershott: Yeah, love it. Farnoosh, it’s been amazing to interview you. Thank you so much for your contribution to Profit Boss Radio. I appreciate your time today.
Farnoosh Torabi: Thank you so much, Hilary. Great work
Hendershott Wealth Management, LLC and Profit Boss® Radio do not make specific investment recommendations on Profit Boss® Radio or in any public media. Any specific mentions of funds or investments are strictly for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice or acted upon by individual investors. The opinions expressed in this episode are those of Hilary Hendershott, CFP®, MBA.