Find out from success coach and best-selling author Jen Sincero how to get your mind in the right place to start making money and achieving your potential
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New York Times best-selling author and success coach Jen Sincero shares her secrets to making money from her newest book, “You are a Badass at Making Money.” After her breakthrough book, “You are a Badass,” Sincero realized the biggest issue most people wrote to her about concerned finances. Having pulled herself out of debt and paycheck-to-paycheck living, Sincero decided to combine her coaching expertise with her own personal experience to help others climb out of the mental rut that keeps them struggling financially. Whether you’re in a job and want to make more money, are an entrepreneur or still looking for a paycheck, Sincero’s no-nonsense advice will help you take the steps you need to overcome your own fear of success and start living up to your full potential.
Transcript: [Duration 00:27:51]
Jenny Hoff: Jen, thanks so much for joining us today.
Jen Sincero: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited.
Hoff: I love in your book how you document your own journey from living in a garage apartment, and eating dollar tacos, to making seven figures. And while luck may play a partial role, there was a lot of risk involved. And you really talk about risk in your book a lot. Can you start off telling us how you went from, \u2018I wish I had enough experience to do this dream job.’ Or \u2018I wish I could afford my friend’s house’ to having the guts to actually make it happen?
Sincero: I just think that I just got really so sick of my situation of feeling like I knew I could be doing better, but I just wasn’t. I was constantly freaking out about money, and I finally just made the decision. It really was the decision to get my act together, to focus on making money, and to do whatever it took.
Hoff: And so what did you start off doing? You started your own company. Can you tell us a little bit about that journey? How you went from what you were doing before to what you did to start your company, and how did that really catapult your career?
Sincero: Sure. I was a writer. So I had a couple books published, but wasn’t making mad money on any of them. I was also freelance writing, and I spent most of my time scrambling for work that really didn’t pay very much. And I was exhausted all the time and working my butt off and still broke as a joke. So I first realized that I had to change some things up. Change the way I was doing things. So sort of a long story, but basically the first really big leap I made was in hiring a coach who specialized in helping women get their finances together and get their careers together. She really helped me look at what I had under my belt, which was a lot of writing experience. And helped me set up an online business coaching writers to write and sell their book proposal. But the big risk with that for me – there were a couple. First one was hiring her was taking a financial risk, and putting the cost for her services on a credit card, which freaked me out because I hated being in debt. I was already in huge debt. But if I waited until I made the money, I would still be living in the garage. So the first one was a huge financial debt. And the second one was taking a risk that I knew what the hell I was doing. I never ran an online business before. I never coached writers before even though I had been a professional writer for – I don’t know – 20 years. It was owning my skills and being visible and saying I knew what I was doing was also terrifying.
Hoff: I love that because a lot of times I think we put our self-worth at where our salary is. So when we’re not making a lot of money, we tell ourselves we don’t have a lot of skills. We don’t really deserve a lot of money. Clearly no one’s going to pay a lot of money to do something, and yet you went from really just struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck to believing in yourself and putting in this huge investment. In your book you talk about how much you spent on this life coach or this career coach. But you also really stressed that while debt isn’t always horrible if you plan to really make a change with it, you need to have the right mindset. And it needs to be a bit of your last resort, that you’ve really tapped out every other option. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Sincero: I think debt is such the big bad wolf in our culture. And I by no means recommend anybody going into debt. It definitely isn’t optimal. However, as I said, I waited until I had all the money. What was I making? I don’t know, 25, 30 grand a year. There’s no way that I could have afforded that coach. So I recommend going into debt when you’ve got the right mindset. And my mindset was I am officially unavailable to be in financial struggle anymore. I am going to focus on making money, learn everything about making money, and take all the risks I need to take in order to do that. So my mindset was super-solid around, \u2018This debt is very temporary. This debt has a purpose. It’s leading me toward getting out of debt.’ It wasn’t like I went and bought $7,000 worth of shoes. You know? I was really focused.
Hoff: So it’s like burning the bridges a little bit. You said, \u2018OK, I’m not going back. There’s no route back.’
Hoff: So why did you choose as a follow-up to your best-selling book, You Are a Badass, to write about being a badass with money? Why did you feel like that was an important second topic to approach?
Sincero: Because if there is one thing I can talk about is not having money, and also the mindset around it. Those are the biggest stumbling blocks that are keeping you from making money. I was living in a converted garage in my 40s. I spent a lifetime subscribing to all of these limiting beliefs and stumbling blocks. So it was a such a natural second book for me to write to really help people hone in on what’s holding them back, and to help them figure out how to release that and move forward to making the money they desire to make.
Hoff: So you saw the value of the experience that you had? It didn’t have to be a formal training in financial advice. It was you saw that you had this experience and this knowledge that you could share with other people because you knew that they were probably going through something similar.
Sincero: Sure. Totally. It was partially my personal journey, and it was the whole reason I got into self-help in the first place, my issues around money. But I am also a life coach and a success coach. And I have been for over 10 years. So the book has a lot of my personal experience as well as all the stuff I’ve been teaching. And most of my clients comes for money issues. So yeah, I’ve been working with a lot of people on that as well.
Hoff: OK, so what you really see are money issues. That’s interesting because it’s something that people think, \u2018Oh, it’s probably a relationship or whatever.’ But a lot of it is driven by your financial situation. So I want to get into the book a little bit. I’ve interviewed a lot of people who say, it’s not about how much you earn, it’s about how much you save, which of course has validity. Overspending can get even very extremely wealthy people into debt. But you made the point about how we sometimes spend so much time trying to save a dime here and there, that we miss opportunities to actually just make more money more than we’ll ever say clipping coupons. Can you go into that a little bit?
Sincero: What you focus on, you create more of. So if you are constantly focusing on money you don’t have, and how you can cut that, your mindset is all about not enough. Right? So when you take that scary leap and stretch yourself – it really is about changing your mindset. When you take that leap and make the decision that you’re unavailable to be scrappy anymore. And you’re like, \u2018All right, so this is a reality. This is my monthly nut.’ I think it’s very important to be based in reality about the money you need each month. Instead of looking at how you can cut back, look at how you can expand. We call it taking a stand for the end. \u2018I need this money to live, and I want to go on a vacation, and I need a car.’ So instead of closing down, and shutting yourself off from making money, open yourself up to it and be like, \u2018I believe in an abundant universe. I believe I am a powerful person. I’m going to make this money. Other people have done it before me, and I’m going to do it too.’
Hoff: There’s a great example in the book of a man who was making about $20,000 a year. Not because he wasn’t capable of making more, but that he just really never expected he could. He grew up poor. He had a deadbeat dad. It had become an identity that he was comfortable with until he wasn’t anymore. He figured out what skills he needed to make a lot more money. And I think within a year he was making six figures. So what was the important change in his story to go from living paycheck to paycheck to feeling wealthy?
Sincero: Exactly what you just said. It was an identity he was comfortable with. And we don’t realize how powerful that is, and how that is really ruling so much of how we live our lives. When you decide to change who you are, lots of things change, and especially your relationships with the people around you. And just your relationship to your own identity. You’re basically killing off your old self. When you go from broke to rich, you really are. I mean, you’re still the same person, but you’re killing off your old identity, and that freaks people out. So we don’t even realize that we’re letting that stop us. And this man, once he realized how attached he was to this old identity. How he was accepted by his friends. He wasn’t doing better than his parents, so they didn’t have to feel bad about themselves. He wasn’t going to be judged for thinking he was better than other people. That’s the stuff that was holding him back. And that’s the stuff he faced head on in order to make that big leap.
Hoff: So if somebody were to come to your coaching business, and they’re essentially in that situation, they’re saying, \u2018OK, I make X amount of money. It’s OK. I’m able to pay my bills on time. I’m not able to do much else. And I am a little bit scared that if I were to lose my job, I would find myself in trouble quickly.’ What would your first steps be with them to get them on the track to thinking about more, to being creative about how they can make more, to actually making more?
Sincero: First, we’d look at their belief systems around money. And their beliefs about what’s available to them and all the stuff we just talked about, and then rewrite a new story for that. And then look to opportunities that are already there that they cannot see because they’re so attached to those beliefs. So for me, there’s an example when I started making my big transformation, for the longest time I didn’t believe that I could afford a life coach or a financial coach because it was so much more money than I had at the time. So I immediately blocked that out, and was just like, \u2018Next.’ But when you open your mind up, and stretch and say \u2018I am available to take big scary risks. The money is there for me. I’m going to do whatever it takes.’ All of the opportunities that are already standing right in front of you, but just happen to be way outside your comfort zone, they become possibilities as opposed to impossibilities. So that’s where we look first is at what is around you that you have been pretending is impossible, but you’re just really scared of?
Hoff: One of the examples you give – I’m going to give a metaphor for it where it’s a lot of people imagine money as a pie. And you get your slice of the pie. And if you want more of it, you’re taking it from somebody else. But that’s not really how it is. It’s an expanding thing. It’s an abundant thing. You making more money doesn’t mean that somebody’s going to make less because of that. You say that there’s a lot of guilt around money. There’s a lot of shaming people who have money and talking badly. It’s OK to talk badly about people who have money. Talk about that. Where we get into this mentality where suddenly you become the target if you actually have money.
Sincero: Yeah, we really, really built up this image of rich people as not noble and doing horrible things. “Money comes first, and then other people and the environment. Who cares? In order to get rich, you have to compromise your values. You can’t do things you enjoy. You’re stealing from other people.” We’ve really done a number on ourselves. And if that’s really what you believe, you’re not going to let yourself make money because you don’t want to be a bad person. And the thing is a lot these beliefs are very subconscious. Our culture is masterful at these insidious beliefs. And our parents, just through little things they say that their parents told them, passed it down to us, and we walk around believing that if we do become rich, we will be a bad person who’s exhausted, and never have fun and whatever else our other beliefs are. This society has created this. We tend to focus on the rich people who are doing bad, evil things. Meanwhile, there are countless wealthy people who do wonderful things with their money.
Hoff: Right, and you even talk about it in the book. If you do want to do wonderful things for people, money’s a good place to start because that is what gives you the ability to help other people. Let’s talk a little bit about conviction. There’s a chapter in the book where you really talk about having to be dedicated to a decision that you make, and stick with it, and see it through, rather than trying to do a million things at once, and hoping one will turn out successful. Talk about kind of, now I’m in this mindset where I want to make money. I believe I can make money. Money is not a bad thing, and I know it’s out there. To making that decision on how I’m going to make that money.
Sincero: Right. Well one of the the biggest problems that people have is when you decide to make the money. You’re rolling up your sleeves. You’re all excited. You open yourself up to ideas, and those people are pretty creative, which is a lovely thing. But if you try and do a million things at once, you will not do any of them well. You fragment your focus, and your time, and your energy. And especially if you’re trying to get a new business off the ground or go for a very specific job, you need all of your energy focused on that one thing. Because what happens is if you have a bunch of Plan B’s waiting in the next room, the second it gets hard, or expensive, or scary, you’re going to talk yourself out of it and be like \u2018You know what? Actually this isn’t what I want to do. I’m going to go do this other thing.’ So the focus is critical because once you burn the bridges, you’re going to make it happen no matter what. And that really is the leap that takes you from your current reality to the next reality is going for it on that level.
Hoff: Right. Again, in your situation, you had put up a ton of money on this career coach, and you weren’t going to let that go to waste. You wanted to make that money back many times over. Let’s talk about our underlying beliefs. We’ve touched on it already. But how they really affect our ability to make money. And you mentioned in your book thoughts, beliefs and language, and how they all affect us in ways that we probably don’t even imagine. And we don’t think that they really do. But we use them every day in our lives, and it affects kind of how our actions are afterward. Can you talk about that?
Sincero: The subconscious beliefs that are running our lives, those are the sneakiest ones. Because those are the ones we don’t even realize we have. Right? So most people are like, \u2018Sure, I’d love to make tons of money. That would be awesome.’ But deep down, if you really, truly believe that rich people are evil and that you’ll be judged for making money, then you’ll do a lot of things. You’ll keep trying to make money in a lot of ways, but your heart is not in it. And so you’ll keep holding yourself back unbeknownst to your own self. So it’s a really, really powerful thing. And our words and our thoughts completely reinforce these beliefs. And if you’re broke, and you start paying attention to your language around money, it is such an eye opener. I know from myself. That blew my tiny mind. I have an exercise where I have you write a letter to money as if it was a human being. The push, pull in most of those letters is fascinating. I’ve had all my clients do it to where they write, \u2018I love you. I wish I had more of you, but you make me feel icky, and I’m embarrassed to admit I like you. I don’t trust you.’ So once you really realize what’s going on, it’s not so surprising to you anymore why you don’t have much money.
Hoff: Right. So why is that that it really affects us so much? How we think, and how we talk about money.
Sincero: Well, think of that if you told a kid that they were stupid their whole lives. We believe what we hear, and it literally creates a rut – a subconscious rut. Kids whose parents told them they were stupid their whole lives, they really believe they’re stupid. No matter what evidence they have otherwise. It’s this deep-seated belief. It’s like muscle memory for a lot of us. And a lot of this muscle memory happens when we’re kids. We take on a lot of subconscious beliefs as children before our analytical brains are fully formed. And we end up running our lives on these beliefs that sort of got trapped in our subconscious before we were able to wake up and be like, \u2018Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense. I’m really smart. Look at what I just did.’ It’s like a dog if a dog gets attacked by other dogs. You get a dog from a shelter that’s been attacked, they’re freaking out. You have to train them. We claim to be, quote unquote, realities of the way life is and operate from those until we become aware of them, and then challenge them.
Hoff: And you mentioned, like you just said, a lot of our beliefs stem from childhood. And in the book you even talk about that. How we hear about money. Are our parents fighting about money? Are people fighting about money? Suddenly, money becomes something that’s unsettling inside of us. And a topic that you almost don’t want to confront, or think about, or talk about because it brings up a lot of bad memories. So what exercises do you use with you clients to get out of that mindset? Because it’s one thing to say, \u2018OK, I need to snap out of it. That’s not the reality.’ And then there’s another thing to actually getting there. It’s like quitting smoking. Right? You can say, \u2018I want to quit smoking for 20 years.’ But what will push you over the line to get to that new mindset to be able to see money as a possibility and something you need?
Sincero: Specifics. Getting really specific about why you want it in the first place. Most people know they want more money, and they are just very vague about it. When you become very specific about what it’s for, that’s when you get emotional around it. Because money in itself doesn’t mean anything. A million bucks sounds great, but whatever. But if there’s a charity that has huge meaning, and you’re thinking about how wonderful it would be to give them a couple hundred thousand dollars. Or to send your kids to a great school that you’re really excited about. Or to take yourself on a vacation that you’ve always wanted to go on. That’s specific, and that’s emotional, and that’s what will propel you to make the changes you need to make and really focusing on that. That’s why vision boards are all the rage. And affirmations are just constantly repeating these specific things. And having a very clear idea about what the money is for is one of the best things you could do.
Hoff: OK, so be specific. Know what it is that you want. Even visualize it if you can on a vision board, or write it down. But know what it is you want and how much you’re going to need for that so that you can start working toward that goal. Be single minded when you do start a way to make money, and don’t distract yourself with a million other things. You also talk about that people have this belief that in order to make a lot more money, I need to be able to put a lot more hours into my job, or take a more grueling job. But that’s not necessarily the truth. As you point out, that if it were true, rich people wouldn’t be on their yachts all the time. So talk a little bit about where we need to be a little bit more efficient rather than just working longer hours.
Sincero: It’s very hard to get rich doing everything yourself. And I’m not saying that you don’t have to work your butt off when you start a new business or make this big change. Sometimes you do. But I’ll tell you from experience. I work way less now, and make a hell of a lot more than I ever did when I was working my tail off in the old days. It isn’t about making money, it’s about working hard, which is something most of us have been raised to believe. It’s really about being smart and leveraging your time, delegating. And that’s the huge, scary thing that so many people don’t want to do because they don’t want to spend the money and they don’t want to give up the control. So that’s another great example of getting outside your comfort zone, and taking risks, and learning from mentors. It all boils down to making it OK to focus on making money. Because a lot of people talk about how much they love their jobs. They’re starting a business because it’s important to them. And that’s so good. And that’s such a huge, important piece of the puzzle. But you have to be OK with saying, \u2018And I’m going to get rich doing it. And this is how I’m going to get rich.’ Because money is such a taboo topic, and we have so much weirdness around it, we won’t a lot of times let ourselves focus on the kind of money we desire to make, and then because of that don’t put the pieces in place to make the money. Because we think there’s something wrong with doing that.
Hoff: Yeah. Exactly. You also talk about faith in the book, and you have to have faith in your ability to make money. And that will influence your actions. However, how should faith work? I’m assuming it’s about using it to help you seek out opportunities or create your own, not rack up credit card debt on the belief that you’ll soon have enough to pay it all off.
Sincero: Yeah, faith really comes into play when you take those huge, scary risks. For example, I didn’t know that I was going to be a great writing coach. I just had to have faith that when I put the pedal to the metal, and I got clients signed up, and there I was being the expert. Even though I’d never done it before, I had faith that I would figure it out, and that I would rise to the occasion. When you go into a job interview that may be a little bit out of your reach, and it’s scary, and out of your comfort zone, you have to have faith that you’re going to knock it out of the park even if you’ve never done that job before. So faith is the thing that allows you to take the risk and to leap into the unknown. The critical risks, and leap into the unknown. But you must take it if you’re going to change your reality.
Hoff: Right. So a lot of it is really about getting your mind to the place where it needs to be. And it’s true. I’ve experienced it myself. But you can say they say a lot of times women earn less than men, and part of the reason is they don’t negotiate as well, or they are afraid to ask for money, or they wanted to be told, \u2018I’ll give you this much more money’ instead of demanding it. And so I guess a lot of that also has to do obviously with the mindset that you have whether you deserve it.
Sincero: With our deeply misogynistic society, yes. Absolutely. It’s a reality. We are not valued as much as men are in our culture. And we’ve taken it on whether or not we believe it in our conscious minds. It’s very imprinted. And that’s why I’m so excited about this new book just to really help untangle us from that and be like, \u2018Hell yes. I can do whatever I want.’
Hoff: Yeah. You got to go in, and you have to ask for it. No one’s going to offer you more money than you’re willing to take. So you also talk about how you just surround yourself with people who are supporting your goals. And this is important, I think, because we all want to be a part of our social circle. And nobody wants to be the target, or the outcast, or have people talking behind their back. And yet when you do try to rise above your circumstances, which means rising above the circumstances of those in your social circle, you can easily become a target. So how do you know who you can trust? What should you be looking out for? And what should you be doing while you’re trying to succeed, and while you’re trying to pinpoint who’s going to be supporting you versus kind of holding you back or putting you down for it?
Sincero: Look to people who are excited for you as opposed to worried for you. Right? You’ve got plenty of your own worry. You don’t need them. \u2018Oh, my God. Starting your own restaurant is so risky.’ You know it’s risky. Somebody who’s going to hook you up with a vendor or do a cartwheel every time you talk about your new restaurant. You have got to be so protective of your energy when you’re starting to take these big leaps because your doubt and worry is going to be all over you, and you do not need somebody else’s. One of the most common things that people write in and my clients talk about is when your spouse or your family members are not supportive of you changing. And this is the most common thing. They’re the ones who have the most to lose if you change. Right? They like you the way you are. So they’re really, quote unquote, worried about you, which they are. But they’re also worried about what they’re going to lose.
And also you’re showing them what’s possible for them, and they may not be so psyched about that. They may be clinging to their comfort zone and comfortable in their fear, and so when you blast out and do the impossible, it challenges them. And so it can be very challenging when people around you who you love aren’t supportive. And I always recommend, it doesn’t mean you have to end the relationship. Sometimes you do. But it does mean that you’re probably not wise to share all your hopes and dreams and ideas with them. Those people have true issues if they’re not going to be supportive. Those are not the people you should talk to about yourself. Find other people who are moving forward. Who are taking big risks themselves. Who are where you want to be, and share your hopes and dreams with them.
Hoff: That’s great. And in the book you talk about the different scenarios of increasing your income either as an entrepreneur – which we talked about a lot. Starting your own business or taking a big risk. But also as an employee of a company or somebody who is unemployed and needs to get a job. So what would your top tip be for each one of those situations: an entrepreneur, and employee, and an unemployed person for making more money?
Sincero: As an entrepreneur, look at the areas of your existing business that are making the most money right now. Where are you being the most effective? Is it in sales? Is it in doing the actual work? Are you selling products? Is there a certain product that’s really raking it in? Be very clear on where the most money is coming in, and capitalize on that, and figure out where you can really up your game in that area and/or leverage your time. That’s the other big one for entrepreneurs is how can you turn one-on-one stuff into group stuff or make live stuff and do a product? Leveraging that is crucial for entrepreneurs.
If you are at a company, and you want to increase your income, I’m a big believer in looking around and seeing what else in that company needs taking care of that’s not being taken care of? I love this idea because you’re not waiting around for somebody to be like, \u2018We think you’re great. Here’s some more money.’ It’s showing them that not only do you have great ideas, but you’re committed to them, increasing their income. You’re committed to the company. You’re a self-starter. You think outside the box. So I love the idea of people going out and seeing what the company needs, offering to do the work, and naming their price.
If you’re looking for a job, as far as the money goes, I think it’s really important to figure out exactly how much money you need. Especially if you’re just starting out. If you’re just getting out of college or you’re honing your skills, be available for stepping-stones. So many times in my life, I took jobs that weren’t the be all, end all of what I wanted. But they taught me so much, and they got me around the people I needed to be around in order to make the kind of money and have the kind of life I wanted. So I think it’s about really being available to opportunities that may not be what you’re dreaming of. You’re going, \u2018What is this opportunity?’ To be available and open to everything because you never know where it’s going to lead. And have a very clear idea of where you want to be and where you’re headed. But be playful with it and not rigid because the most amazing gifts comes in strange looking packages sometimes.
Hoff: All right, fantastic. And also what would you say are the three most important things mentally we should all be doing right now to get on the path of making more money?
Sincero: First one is to become aware of your beliefs, thoughts and words around money. To really listen to yourself speak and think. Second thing is to challenge those. Anything that’s negative in that department, really question it and be like, \u2018Is it true I can’t make money? Have I ever made money? Is it possible that somebody like me can be rich?’ Really challenge them and rewrite it. And the third thing is to scare the crap out of yourself on a regular basis. Instead of being like, \u2018There’s nothing I can do about it. The economy sucks.’ To be on the lookout for the idea or the opportunity that scares the hell out of you that’s in the direction of your dreams, and jump on it immediately before you have time for your rationalizations and excuses to come in and knock you off track.
Hoff: Wonderful. And finally, our podcast is called Charged Up. What gets you charged up about getting people to recognize their own potential and act on it?
Sincero: The world would be in a much better place when everybody is in love with their lives, and excited and feels powerful. That’s when you’re not so self-focused. That’s when you can be more altruistic, and share the love, and sort of lead an outstretched arm to help other people up.
Hoff: Jen, thank you for joining us today.
Sincero: Thank you so much. This is really great.
See related: Charged Up! podcast: Becoming financially literate