Real Money, Real Experts

Going for Gold with Lauryn Williams

May 07, 2021 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 26
Real Money, Real Experts
Going for Gold with Lauryn Williams
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Real Money, Real Experts co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson talk with 2-time Olympic gold medalist Lauryn Williams. After her Olympic career in both track and field and bobsledding, Lauryn founded Worth Winning, offering virtual services to help young professionals navigate the world of finance.  

Now both a CFP® and AFC®, Lauryn takes us through her journey from track and field to the field of finance. Lauryn offers great insights on learning from your mistakes, becoming a business owner, and how to be your true authentic self no matter where life takes you. 



Show Notes:

00:52 Lauryn Introduction

01:32 Lauryn’s Journey to the Olympics

5:06 From Olympian to CFP® & AFC®

09:55 Developing her Private Practice Services 

13:17 Lessons of being a Small Business Owner

20:43 Lauryn’s Two Cents


Show Note Links:

Worth Winning Website: https://www.worth-winning.com/

 Lauryn’s speaking & book website: https://www.lauryn-williams.com/

Listen to Lauryn's Podcast, Worth Listening:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/worth-listening/id1330634046?ls=1&mt=2


Social Media for Worth Winning:

Instagram: @worthwinning

Facebook: @worthwinningfp

LinkedIn: @worth-winning

Twitter: @worth_winning


Social Media for Lauryn Williams:

Instagram: @lauryncwilliams

Facebook: @LaurynWilliamsOfficial

LinkedIn: @lauryn-williams

Twitter: @LaurynCwilliams



Intro:

Welcome to Real Money, Real Experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® or AFCPE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an Accredited Financial Counselor®, or AFC®, and the CEO of Chief Financial Mom. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that the personal finance professionals care about: helping clients, building community and your professional growth. Welcome everyone to the Real Money, Real Experts podcast. I'm Rebecca. This is Mary.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Thanks for taking the time to join us today.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Today on the show. We're so excited to talk with Lauryn Williams. Lauryn is a CFP®, and she's also a four time Olympian, three time Olympic medalist, and the first American woman to medal in both the summer and winter Olympic games. Her company, Worth Winning, offers virtual services to help young professionals get the answers to the financial questions that matter most to them. Lauryn is also an AFC® candidate. We are so excited to have you on today. Lauryn, thanks so much for joining us.

Lauryn Williams:

I am so glad to be here and I'm excited to say I am no longer a candidate. I am an AFC®.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Yay! That's so exciting.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Congratulations! So Lauryn, take us to the beginning and tell us your story.

Lauryn Williams:

Well, I would say the story all begins way back in 19. Oh , we probably don't have that much time. Right. But I was born in Detroit and I was raised between Detroit and Pittsburgh because my parents split up when I was three. So , I was really fortunate in that my parents kind of split me 50/50 without any court orders or bad breakups sort of things. So from kindergarten to sixth grade, I lived in Detroit and my mom will tell you the story that I got into track and field, because she took me to a store one day and I was , I went to the video store. This is back when blockbuster was a thing. I ran from one side of the street to the other, where she was and a track coach saw me. And that was kind of the beginning of my track and field career from her perspective. My dad, on the other hand, I lived with from sixth grade to 12th grade. And his story is that once he, one time he took me to the Carnegie Science Center and there was a Flo-Jo hologram and I raced the hologram all day long. And that was kind of when he realized that I had some promise in track and field and that he needed to kind of nurture that a little bit beyond just sending me out to run here and there, put a little more focus toward it.

Rebecca Wiggins:

As a kid. Were you always dreaming of getting to the Olympics or was that not really something you were focused on?

Lauryn Williams:

I was definitely not very Olympic focused. I was more competition focused. I love to run. I love to win. You know, I was big on like racing boys because, you know, the boys were always supposed to be faster. So I was just like, let me show you how fast I am.

Rebecca Wiggins:

I love it.

Lauryn Williams:

Yeah, big competitor. And I think that was the kind of thing that spearheaded, you know, me getting more and more serious about track and field, but ultimately the thing that led me to really starting to focus on it was the opportunity to get a free education. So I come from a family of five sisters, two brothers, so there was not a lot of money to go around. My dad had leukemia. So was unable to work for much of my childhood. And it was just like, well, we're not going to be able to pay for college in the traditional sense. So I need to focus on some sort of scholarships. And they, my parents were both very big on academics, so they weren't trying to get me to get athletic scholarships. But once I realized that that was another option, I said, well, let me get a little bit more serious about this track and field thing. Because up to that point, I'd been focusing on academics and trying to get academic scholarships. So I was glad to be eligible for both when college time came around and ultimately chose athletic scholarship to the University of Miami.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Awesome . And so tell me, I can totally see how you're a summer Olympian medal winner , what was the sport for winter? Tell us a little bit about your Olympic experience.

Lauryn Williams:

So it was kind of weird how I ended up in the winter games, but , after four games of track and field, I had to kind of decide what was next? What , what do I want to do? And I had started down the Certified Financial Planning® road, but hadn't fully committed to that. Wasn't really in the industry at that point to , to know that that's really what I wanted to do. And so, as I was exploring all the different options available to me, I ran into a girl at the airport who had recently tried bobsled herself and I'd read an article about her doing it. So I said, well, what was that like, how do you even find bobsled? And she said, Lauryn, it's the best sport ever because it's so family oriented and she's like, they give you everything you need. They'll teach you everything you need to know. You just need to be a powerful athlete, which you are, you should give it a try. And so I was so glad to have that kind of run in at the airport because six months later I was at the Olympic games.

Rebecca Wiggins:

That's amazing. I love that story. Okay. So tell me, were you always just interested in finance or did something along the way in your athletic career, bring you to the financial planning world or have the need to focus in that area?

Lauryn Williams:

Well, people always say that hindsight is 2020. And so now that I look back over my life, I see that, you know, the seeds were planted pretty early. And that I kind of already always had an interest in finance, but I also did not grow up wanting to be a financial planner or financial coach or, you know, I didn't, I didn't see clearly what the vision was for myself. So I loved math. I loved money. At the University of Miami. I chose finance as a major because that's what the advisor said. Like, Oh, you like math and money, maybe you should try finance. I said, okay. At 17 years old, that was all the better decision I could make. And then as I was competing as a professional athlete, I decided I needed to learn some additional information and I decided to get an MBA. And that was partly because I saw a lot of professional football players that I had gone to school with, you know, starting businesses and them not going well or starting non-profit organizations . So I was like, I need some additional education to be able to help people not lose their money. So that was kind of like step two on the path. And then my own personal story is that I had two financial advisors during the course of my career and I was not served well by either of them. And so I'm not one of those stories of an athlete, you know, gone broke by making it rain in the club or being scammed and you know, them stealing all my money. I think that's a lot of the, the stereotype or the narrative. But I am a case where someone didn't really know how to handle a young professional who didn't have financial literacy and only focused in one area. So at 20 years old, I didn't know very much about making a budget. I'd been living off a thousand bucks a month as a college student. And I went to earning six figures. So I needed some additional support to understand how to set goals, how to set money aside, you know, plan for retirement, which no 20 year old is thinking of and all these different things. And the gentleman that I ended up working with initially , was very investment focused. So we know in and of itself, investing is not a bad thing, but if you don't have basic literacy, you don't have a foundation and you're going to be prone to make a lot of mistakes and not really be able to maximize your investment strategy at all. So I fired him, hired another guy. I thought that was going to go better. It didn't. That guy actually ended up being a part of a, kind of what was a scandal where a bunch of NFL players invested their money in a casino and the casino never opened. So they all lost a hundred percent of their money. I was fortunate in that situation where I was not a millionaire, so I didn't get to invest in the casino, even though I was a client of that firm and I just kinda got fed up and I was like, you know, I gotta figure out something to organize my finances. I know I have a little bit of knowledge. I don't have enough. And so that's when the Google search led me to Certified Financial Planning®. And then eventually to the AFC® to be able to get more knowledge and really be able to understand like, you know, the basics of personal finance, which I think is really important.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So at what point did you decide you were going to actually make this your career and build a practice?

Lauryn Williams:

I started this journey kind of officially, I guess, in 2012. And I think even then it was still more , me wanting to learn information for myself. I did not realize that, you know, there was a whole profession of people who are coaching individuals. I didn't realize that this was something that people actually did for a living, because like I said, my experience up to that point had been , two gentlemen who sold investment products. So to understand that there was a whole other part of the industry took a little bit more time, but I started the journey in 2012. I got an internship shortly after I began my CFP® journey. And it was just night and day, the service that they were providing to other families, than what I was receiving from the professionals I had worked with previously. And I was like, okay, there's something different about this. Maybe I could, I could be a financial planner. And what kind of opened the door for me to trying to change and start my firm and do something which I believe is very different than how most professionals in the industry serve people was I realized that there was a gap. So the firm that I loved working at and had great integrity and a great team had a million dollar minimum. You needed a million dollars of assets before you could be a client there. And all I kept thinking was like, I was making six figures at 20. Like most of America would love that opportunity. You know, how can people not get help when I was, you know, very willing to pay for it and in desperate need of that help. So I wanted to focus on young professionals and everyone kept telling me, you can't do it Lauryn. People don't have money. They're poor. And I'm like, well, poor people want, want to get rich but they, they need help. They need education, they need literacy. And so that's where I just kinda got like on a, on a mission, if you will. Like, I just got very, very passionate about the idea that people of all income levels deserve to get service, they deserve to get education. They deserve to work with a professional , and to get unbiased advice.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Amen. I love it.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Lauryn, tell us more about your private practice. How do you work with clients? You said that you didn't want to have the high minimum, so tell us how it operates now.

Lauryn Williams:

Yeah. So I have kind of evolved over time. I think one of the hardest things that we encounter as people who are passionate about the profession is how to help as many people as possible, but also not sacrifice making a living for yourself and your family in that process. So there's been tons and tons of iterations, but what I've done now is create kind of three levels of service. So the lowest level of service is a course. And it's meant for people who are you know just getting started, trying to get out of debt, you know, trying to get some basic financial literacy. A lot of young professionals take that course, you know, fresh out of school. Or people that like I said, don't have maybe the highest earning potential, a re not high earners right now and are just getting started. It's a three-part course where we talk about money mindset first, then we k ind o f tackle your budget and your debt. And then the third part of it is kind of all those other aspects of financial planning. Which are insurance and retirement and investments and estate planning. And so the idea is that we give you kind of the baseline information that you need, but the thing that makes my course different, and I s aid, why I kind of landed on this as an option is that you still get three sessions with me. So a lot of the courses out there, people are trying to sell thousands of them for $39.99. And it's just not the most effective way because people don't actually implement on their own. My course, on the other hand, after y ou finished part one, we have a meeting, we talk about, you know, what information you l earned from that. So, I've automated some of those things that are pretty standard in the financial coaching world to, you know, to share with people, but you still get to come back and get that customized advice. That's, you know, how i s this relevant and relate to me? Same thing after part two, we have a meeting and then after part three, we have a meeting. So, and that's meant to kind of get people heading in the right direction, in a way that's affordable for them. B ut next level up from there would be kind of what I call the silver tier. And you can do a one-time full financial plan, or you can do just a one-time meeting. Sometimes people realize like I'm not g oing t o finish a course. I'm just not in a mental space right now. I'd rather, you just k ind o f like, give me the answers to the test if you will. And that o ne-time meeting works really well for people. We can build a budget in that, y ou k now, 90 minute meeting, we can talk about something like, you know, I've done one where people are interested in home buying and they're like, I just w ant t o make sure I'm making a good decision. So I want to talk about what I was thinking and whether it's the right thing or the wrong thing, or, you know, what other things am I not considering? And so i t's that idea where you kind of bounce ideas off o f professional to see if you're on the right track. And then we get some l ike meaningful action items out of that. And then the higher tier is, ongoing financial planning where the i dea i s that we're doing life together and that, you know, 30 years from now, I 'll still be your planner. You'll still be my client. And that's still, also based on income. So it is a baseline. Now it d oes have a $200 a month minimum, but it's much better than t he m illion dollars of assets, right. Which i s like a $ 10,000 minimum.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Few more zeros than before, few less zeros I should say. Well, I want to talk to you a minute as a business owner, because we have a lot of individuals listening to this that are business owners. And I love what you just said. It's been a process to get where you are. And I think a lot of people look at you and say, wow, look how awesome she set up her business and how well it's going. But I want you to go back in time a little bit and talk to me about that process that you went through to get where you are and what you've learned along the way as a business owner.

Lauryn Williams:

Oh boy. So many things. So if you are a business owner, new to all of this listening, do not give up. It is worth it. Yes, you will get kicked in the face a lot on the front end. I just hit the five-year mark last week actually. And I am just really starting to feel like, huh , okay. Maybe I'm not a side hustle. Maybe I'm not a s uper-duper scrappy entrepreneur. I might be what I a m a small business. You know, I say it with pride now, but yeah, there's so many different things that are g oing t o happen along the way. The thing I would say is one, keep your expenses low. You know, when we're joining financial coaching as a profession, we're telling people about that all the time, but this is something that most of us are doing because we're passionate about, and it's easy to let your expenses creep up or start investing in things that are not super profitable. And before, you know, it, you're spending more than you make, or you're barely turning a profit because, you know, you're like, Oh, I g ot t o do these Facebook ads. And I got to do this kind of marketing and got to go to this networking event. I h ave to be at this retreat. Definitely. One of the mistakes I made on the front end was just spreading myself a little bit too thin trying to get out there. There are a lot of free ways to get out there and I think you should take advantage of those first. You k now, and then the other thing I would say is be consistent. I heard it frequently, but I definitely did not take head initially. And it was like, I was throwing spaghetti at the wall trying to see what was going to stick. And you can't be a , let's say social media, as again, as an example, t hat's your marketing strategy. You can't be great at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. pick a lane and stick to that one thing, you know, if you want to focus on young professionals, you know, when someone 50 calls you or s omeone say 60 or 70 calls y ou, depends on what you, your definition o f a young professional is, you know, refer them, you know, there's a , there's that phase. Like I said, we're, we're a ttempted to take everybody who's breathing. There's that phase where w e g ot, like I said, spread all over social media, pick a thing. My thing is Instagram. I'm going to be here. My thing is young professionals. That's who I'm going to speak to that's who I'm going to tell her my audience t o, you know, my thing, you know, actually my real thing is, I mean, those are my things as well, but student loans. And so I do a lot of my messaging around student loans and the people that are struggling with those are the people that will reach out. Other area that I've started to lean into is lawyers. So starting to learn a lot more about, you know, what plagues a lawyer from a professional standpoint. And l ike I s aid, coincidentally, it was also student loans. People think that they earn a lot more than they do, and they also have this massive, y ou k now, burden of debt. So they're trying to like keep up with lifestyle, what people think they should be doing, but also pay down this debt and purchase a home and take care of family, et cetera. So find your lane and go passionately toward that. And don't be afraid t o, to say no to the things that don't actually improve your purpose and your mission and your vision.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Great advice. I think that's great advice for not just business owners, but even us as individuals and professionals to just whittle it down and make it the most important. Great.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So Lauryn, you've talked before about the biggest pitfall in quote , "winning" in our financial lives. Can you talk more about that? What you mean by that?

Lauryn Williams:

For me, I named my company Worth Winning because part of my journey was realizing that there are things beyond achievement that are worth winning. So, so much of what we're told as athletes is, you know, the next medal, the next championship, and, you know, the next big achievement is the only thing that matters. And we get so focused on that, that we even sometimes lose our identity and don't know who we are outside of being an athlete. So having experienced that and, you know, starting to realize, as I talked to some of my other friends that we're all experiencing that in some sort of way, I really wanted to be able to focus people on the idea that it's not about the actual achievement or the finish line, but it is about the journey. And it sounds very cliche, but I can tell you how hollow it felt to kind of stand on a podium. And then the next minute, you know, it was like, okay, what are we going to do next? It's lunch? You know, it's a moment in time. Because that's one of the things people ask all the time, like, what was it like to be on the podium? And you know, how was that moment? And what do you think when you just win a race like all these things, they are, you know, awesome in that moment, but what's followed by a moment? Another moment right after it. You still got to eat, you still got to sleep, you know, your life will go on after that particular thing. So I really spend a lot of time telling people not to focus so much on the achievement or the idea that you're going to get to this penultimate area of your life. And it's going to be like, Oh, this was so worth it. You know, I don't need anything else. And to really enjoy the journey along the way, the people that you're meeting along the way. And as it pertains to finances, you're going to have things that you're not going to do perfectly. I am a CFP®, AFC®, a CSLP®, got all these letters. My financial life is not perfect. I'm on a journey, just like everyone else. There are things that I do well, and there are things that sometimes I fall off the horse and I got to get back on. But to know that you're on a journey, as opposed to trying to, like, I gotta get to this thing by this date. It doesn't mean that you don't set goals, but it means that it's not ultimately about the goal. It's about, you know, being disciplined. It's about creating, you know , consistency in your life. It's about doing the things that you love. You know, I also give clients a lot, a lot of talks around spending, making sure that your spending aligns with your values. And so to kind of check in with yourself on a regular basis. What am I doing all this for? Does this align with my values? Is this in line with the mission that I'm trying to accomplish? If it's not cut it out, it's okay to say no to things that don't make a lot of sense for you. You can't be all things to all people and you really have to decide what you want for yourself.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

You do a great job of having a way about money to not make us feel shameful or judged by it. You talk a lot about, de-stigmatizing talking about money. Tell us more about how you're trying to change this culture around money.

Lauryn Williams:

Yeah, I'm doing as much talking about it as I possibly can. And so another piece of my story is that I had a lot of shame around money or I have, you know, I think I have less shame around money now, but I still have shame. And you know, it's like I said, a journey, it's a thing that you work through. The thing that you, you feel the , you feel better about the more you talk about it. You know, the whole point of shame is that it's kind of like a private secret sort of thing that you don't want to talk about. But if you really embrace, you know, hey, I don't want to be ashamed of this anymore. What does it look like? You find that, you know, you're not alone and that someone else is struggling with the same thing as well. And so much of what I've experienced in my, you know, immediate community and as a child growing up, and this is my life in general is that there's a lot of shame around money. You should be very, everybody has to pretend like they have it all together. You should be very ashamed of yourself. If you're doing it wrong, you shouldn't talk to anybody about it. And so you're suffering over here in silence, but the reality is everybody is going through something relatively similar. And if we were talking about it, you, one wouldn't feel as alone and you would feel more empowered to make changes in your life. And so I'm just trying to be a living example of daily, taking up the cross of embracing, you know, the things that I am not doing great at, talking to others about them so that I can do better at them. Because as soon as you speak it out of your mouth, it becomes real. And by making it real as a more tangible thing, you're more likely to do something differently.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So at the end of each interview, we like to get the guests two cents or your biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had just one piece of advice to offer other financial professionals, what would it be?

Lauryn Williams:

Ooh, two pieces. The first would be, don't be afraid to graduate a client if it is not the right client for you. It's okay. I have held on, you know, you can see someone's potential, but they're just not in a place to really do the work. And at first I thought that everybody reached out to me was reaching out because they wanted help. That was the whole main purpose. And so of course I had to help them and I had to find a new way to help them. I had to try it this way and try it that way. Sometimes you're not the person that's designated to help them. So don't be afraid to refer them out. And don't be afraid to tell someone the truth that, Hey, maybe you're not ready for this right now. You know, we've been doing this for eight months and you still haven't saved, you know, a single dollar, even though we've, you know , identified in month one, that you should be able to say $200 a month. Whatever the case may be. We have to be very real with our clients so that they can actually get the help that they need eventually. Because if no one ever tells them, they're not doing it, they may just be happy paying you to pretend like they're doing something. That's a block that some people have as well. It's like, well, I have a financial coach, so I'm good to go. But even if they're not implementing your thing . So don't be afraid to graduate or fire a client would be thing. Number one. The second thing I would say to someone listening is be yourself, be authentically you, and don't be afraid to do so. Like I said, I think there's a lot of pressure on us as financial professionals to seem like we have it all together. There is enough of that, that exists in this world already that I think you'd be really surprised by what it feels like to be more authentic with your clients, to share more about what your personal story and experiences and just to, you know, like I said, say what you really think and feel. You know, sometimes we do a lot of biting our tongue because we're like, I don't know how this is going to be received. You know, of course you can take some communication classes or something if you feel like you're really abrasive. But ultimately you need to make sure that you're being authentic and that you're sharing yourself with the people that you're interacting with, whether that'd be client, coworker, family member, et cetera.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Lauryn, you are just so refreshing. I love to hear your story. And I'm so grateful that you have joined us today on the show. Please tell our listeners where they can connect with you.

Lauryn Williams:

Yes. I'm pretty easy to find. My name is Lauryn, L-A-U-R-Y-N Williams. So you can Google that. Look on Instagram. I'm @LaurynCWilliams on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and then my company is called Worth Winning. And we are on all the social media platforms as well. Twitter is @worth_winning and Instagram is @worthwinning.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Thank you, Lauryn. This was great.

Lauryn Williams:

Thank you so much for having me. This was a blast.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Mary. I absolutely loved talking with Lauryn today. She's such a delight. I loved how she talked about enjoying the journey along the way, and that it's not about perfection. I think that's important for us as professionals and just humans, right? To remember that it's , this is all about learning and growing. She also talked about, you know, just making sure that we're aligned with our values as professionals and in our private practice and in life in general. And then I also loved her comment about how shame keeps us separated and alone, but so many people can relate to this. And so I love what she's doing in her practice as an AFC® and a CFP® to bridge that gap and really walk alongside people and bring them along on this journey.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Oh, Rebecca, I totally agree. I love how real she is. And I love that. She's not just willing to tell us on this podcast, but if you go to her website, she tells you, Hey, I have falls. I have taken several stumbles. And I love that she talks about a journey because all of us are experiencing our own individual journeys along the way. We've all messed up. We all continue to mess up. We'll mess up again. And again, and yet it's so inspiring to hear a four time Olympian say, she's not perfect,

Rebecca Wiggins:

Right.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Because we live in such an Instagram. You know, everyone else is doing it right. I'm the one doing it wrong. And yet she is so real. She said, she's felt shamed . She struggled. And yet what I love about her is she keeps getting up and running the race. And I have to kind of make that analogy between her Olympic and track and field past. That as an athlete, you have to get up, there is no perfection moment and you don't just wake up one day and become an athlete. It is constant work. It's constant effort, and it's constantly failing again and again and again. And yet, because of all that she has won , so, in so many ways, right? And I think that's a good message for each of us. Especially as business owners, I really loved her business insights of refer out. Not all clients are in the action stage of change and that's okay. You know, you don't have to be everyone's everything. She just has a way to say, Hey, you're gonna fall. It's okay. Keep running the race. Don't get off that. And that's a great message to all of us, no matter where we're at, don't give up on yourself, hang in there. We can all do it and we can do it together. You don't have to go this alone.

Rebecca Wiggins:

If you enjoyed the show today, please give us a rating and review and be sure to share it with a friend. Real Money Real Experts is available wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you want to share your expertise with us, consider submitting a proposal through our Invitation to Present for the virtual AFCPE symposium in November. The deadline to submit is June 4th! Learn more at our website afcpe.org.