Hey there! Thanks for popping into my 5 Freedoms Life. I'm your host, Suzanne Klein, an educator-turned-entrepreneur with a 5 Freedoms Life and teaching you how to have one, too!
I remember it like it was yesterday. When I owned and ran WriteSteps, the education software company I grew to seven figures, I started many days over the course of 10 years the same way—sobbing in the shower. Asking my higher power to be led through the next challenge to be solved. In that way, entrepreneurship is no different from teaching. For both, you need creativity, a lot of grit, some savviness, and good money prowess. That's especially important with teachers, because we don't make enough.
My next guest, who is also an educator turned entrepreneur and who just did a TED talk on this topic, will agree that those characteristics carry you further in creating a successful business than traditional schooling and a business degree. She's going to talk about the importance of shifting our money mindset, of leveraging the power of creativity to create a business and a life of freedom, and about the financial freedom she has now after leaving teaching. I want to say a big 5 Freedoms welcome to Jen Aly. Thank you for being with us.
Thank you. Good to be here. I'm excited to share my journey, and hopefully inspire others.
I want to jump right in to how you went from teaching all over the world—Maui, Tennessee, Honduras, just to name a few places—to now having a successful coaching and jewelry business. Can you shed some light on how it all happened?
Very briefly, I was burnt out on teaching. I was grading papers at a cafe beside a bead store—bead-shopping was my reward after grading hundreds of pages of papers. Making jewelry became a hobby. And when I moved to the mainland from Maui, I felt called to start a jewelry business. I just dove into it, went for it. A few years later I also resumed coaching.
I love that, you were rewarding yourself; I think it's important for teachers, or anyone, to practice self-care and take those little moments of reward. Thank you for sharing that story. You never know when the entrepreneurial bug will start biting you and get you going.
You’re a money coach for “creatives.” I'm starting to hear this word more—can you explain what that means?
I let people define that for themselves. A lot of my clients are creating something new; they're not doing franchises. They're creating something from scratch, a service or a product, something from their heart. They have a vision unique to them. It’s higher risk as well because it’s from their soul and heart.
My clients include writers, photographers, yoga teachers, fine artists, spa owners, and architects—a whole range of right-brained people. Your know that term, right-brained—the accountants out there don't need me. I help right-brained people embrace business; I'm kind of a bridge between those worlds.
That does help explain things, thank you. I'm wondering... You're a coach now. When you were a teacher, did you think about hiring a coach? Sometimes I think it doesn't even enter our realm. We think about coaches for athletics, but not necessarily for starting a business. When you got started after leaving the classroom, did you work with a coach?
I had a coach until 2003, when I began coaching myself. I’d already done coaching businesses a couple of times before the jewelry breakout. I got into coaching groups at first; I would join a group of people who were also growing businesses. That's one reason
I still offer group coaching; it's very community-focused and more affordable for a lot of people.
I always have mentors and coaches; if I don't, things don't happen as quickly. I've hired writing coaches, business coaches—a little bit of everything—for myself, because it really helps me stay on track, be accountable, and feel supported.
I was just going to mention accountability—that’s another helpful facet a coach can offer.
Before I shift our conversation, I want to remind our educators that Jen has a special gift for you at the end.
So, we all need and want...shoes! Right, ladies? Actually, I’m talking about what buys those shoes—money. Jen is the perfect person to talk about money, because you do a Money Mindset Makeover. What does that consist of?
We have so much cultural programming about money-about scarcity, how money is evil, even about the capacity to make money without a standard 9-5 job. People come into entrepreneurship with a lot of different mindsets; it's a matter of unpacking those, dumping them in the bin, and looking at money differently.
It's not about the money—it's about the value you're giving. Supporting people, leading with your vision, your creativity, and serving others. Because that's how you get money—by providing value. I offer six-week Money Boot Camps to help people unpack their old mindsets and retrain themselves.
There are a lot of issues around money, for sure. But money is just energy coming at us from what we give out into the world.
So, you earn money from speaking engagements and two businesses—more financial freedom than you had as a teacher. How has your life changed from then to now?
I love this question; I hadn't thought about it.
One of the things I love most about being self-employed is... When I was a teacher, my schedule was dictated by district vacations and the school schedule, that rhythm of school starting, summer's over, etc. And now it's my least favorite season, winter. Not surprising, as I've lived in Honduras, California, and Hawaii. But I love living in Asheville,
North Carolina. I spend part of each winter in warmer climates. I can create my life however I want—I’m not dictated by anyone else's schedule.
You have location freedom, too—you can work from anywhere you have a laptop and internet. You have financial freedom. You have time freedom—you can take vacations when you want. So that's amazing. And you have people freedom—you get to choose the people you work with. And you’re working in your purpose. You have a 5 Freedoms Life!
Before you talk about your free gift, I have one last question—the same question I ask all my guests.
Many teachers are afraid to take that leap; afraid what people will think, afraid the money won't come. Let's speak specifically to money. What kind of advice would you give an educator who isn’t happy, who has something working well in their classroom they’d like to take to market, but they're scared about making that leap because they're thinking about missing a steady paycheck? They'll have to figure out a pension and health care on their own. What advice can you give around the money?
The biggest thing for me... I'm not going to tell them to take a leap and hope it works out. I'm very practical when it comes to that. I'm about planning.
If you have a vision, if you feel called to do something, trust that and nurture it. But it doesn't mean you quit everything today and do only that. What of your vision can you nurture now? Today, this week... Do something every week. Learn new skills; learn about business. Be around others doing the thing you want to do. Take some simple, tangible action steps now to show your vision and your heart that you’re listening and ready to take action. And get some support to help you take those steps.
Teachers can do anything—if you can manage your classroom and put up with today’s education system, you can do anything. You’re organized, detail-oriented, and people-focused; you have so many assets. It's a matter of saying, “Hey, what am I missing to do this?” and go get it. Be a self-starter, leveraging all the gifts you have and following your vision in whatever way you can today.
I love what you're saying, because it totally mirrors what I'm telling educators: you can start while you're in the classroom. You can take those small steps, and I have action plans for them. It doesn't have to feel like you must quit right away. And learning piece-by-piece, and being able to pursue your passion—thank you, Jen, for that great advice.
We've come to the end of our time. I can't wait to hear about this freebie. I know it's going to be helpful. It's totally in line with what we've been talking about, Financial Freedom and money.
This is a good starter tool—it's called Your Money Manifesto. It’s a worksheet with 15 different affirmations that can guide you toward a new money mindset and a new entrepreneurial mindset. It's a priceless tool you can post on your wall to remind you of what you want to create.
Amazing. Thank you for sharing that with our viewers. I know that's going to be helpful.
Thank you so much for being with us. It’s been a real pleasure, and I’ve really enjoyed learning more about what you're doing. Your jewelry is beautiful, by the way, and I’d love to have you back on to talk about gemstones and the different purposes and energies they have.
I'm Suzanne Klein. Remember, you can rewrite your future. Until next time. Stay savvy, my friends.
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