We all have questions about money. And Carmen Rita Wong had the answers for us on this week’s episode. She’s a storyteller, investor, author, and personal finance expert, and she has advised women around the country on how to take control over their finances. And in a total full circle moment, Carmen was also Carly’s first boss.
Carly: Knowing you personally… how I would describe you is like you're very much a survivor. And so I really want to hear: how do you kind of reflect on that inner strength?
Danielle: And do you think about that [inner strength] in terms of just having a lot of perspective? Or is that a skill that you have practiced and reminded yourself of?
Carmen: When you come from a family where [there’s] no safety net, you have to succeed where people don't want you to succeed, don't think you can succeed, and don't give you any benefit of the doubt, you develop an incredible ability to see what's really happening and figure out what you need to do to get around it, above it, sideways.
I mean, people say, "Oh, this door closed. This door closed." And I'd be like, "Well, I'll take a chainsaw and make a door."
… I could lose everything tomorrow. I'll just go back to waiting tables. If you have a perspective that's not so scared of loss aversion... I will be very happy to figure it out and take the risks that I need to take, and I've taken so many risks. But it's always with that mentality of, "What's the worst that can happen?"
Carmen: I just saw that inequality in general boiled down a lot to not just about earning money, but how women are taught to not have anything to do with it… And what I saw was that that should not be gender-based. That power dynamic should not exist.
So in order for us to have independence, to have equity, it's not so much just about earning money; it's about knowing where the money is going and being a part of it.
Carly: From your vantage point, what is the biggest mistake you see women making with money?
Carmen: Not thinking it's a power in their life. Not owning it. Not owning that power, right?
...Why don't we feel like even if we earn the money, why don't we feel like it's ours? But I don't want to put it actually so much on women, because I have to tell you that the real reality of it is - and it's kind of like how we're seeing right now with Black Lives Matter - there is a system in place that keeps us down. Women, all women, and of course particularly Black women and women of color.
But there is a system in place that says we don't belong on the trading floor. We don't belong on an E-Trade account, or we don't belong in taking care of money. There's a really insidious system. And one of the things, Carly, is that working in that field for so long, and part of the reason why I just couldn't stand it to a certain point is, is that I saw all the systems that were in place, that were keeping women and Black women and people of color out of the money world, and I was tired.
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