How I arrived at the person I am today, is the result of taking the best from what I learned growing up and using my innate qualities to achieve what I wanted in life. All of which was enabled by mentors.
I grew up on a dairy farm in the mid-west, where daily chores were distributed among everyone in the family regardless of gender. However, the same cannot be said for the way allowances were allotted. This was my first exposure to the double standard that still exists today when it comes to compensation. I worked alongside my four brothers and a younger sister but only the boys received an allowance. My father believed I would just spend it carelessly and didn’t need to learn how to handle finances, my future husband would take care of that. This philosophy infuriated me then and still does today. It did however, serve as a catalyst for me to become the first one in my family to attend college. I dreamed of being an English teacher and poet. I attended the Undergraduate University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop which has produced many well-known writers over the years. College was a turning point for me. For the first time in my life, I was defined not by my gender but rather by my own thoughts and ideas.
While in college I was encouraged to pursue my dreams by several mentors which cemented my passion for learning. After graduating I achieved my goal of becoming an English and creative writing teacher. I moved to Montana to work. Met and married my husband and then travelled to Europe to teach at the International School of Brussels. I taught English and creative writing and he taught chemistry. Teaching, travelling and being independent fed my appetite for learning and appreciation of other cultures. Upon our return to the U.S. we moved to Seattle. Unfortunately, Seattle was in the midst of a teachers strike and I ended up doing temporary accounting work for a local entrepreneur and financier, Paul Schuler.
Paul saw in me the business acumen I never realized I had. He taught me to trust my instincts and to always be willing to take a calculated risk. He encouraged me to further my education and I earned my MBA. Paul’s untimely death, three years later created the next life shift for me. I was co-executrix of his estate and through that process met many attorneys, accountants, investors and other financial professionals. I realized I liked being in the midst of it all, coordinating, coaching and problem solving. I had heard about a field called financial planning but there were few women on that career path in the mid-eighties. Being one of the few was my incentive to make financial planning my next adventure. I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. After getting certified, I gathered all my experience, a pad of paper, a pen and opened my own consulting business. A calculated risk.
Over the span of my 30+ year career, I have been fortunate to have cultivated many long term investment and financial planning clients. I was a pioneer in developing a niche in the divorce planning area, gave lectures and wrote 2 books on the subject. The Fair Share Divorce for Women books were my way of helping women overcome the lack of financial training they either didn’t have or gave up during their marriage. I have benefited from the wisdom and helping hand of several mentors in my life. And feel deeply that the best way to expand the number and roles of women in the financial planning industry, is to foster the sense of community through mentoring programs like WLA. Succeeding in this business takes patience, time and mentors to show you the way.