March 14, 2019
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In this special episode of Women & Money, we do what is called a “Cross-Pod” episode.
March 14, 2019. Ask Suze Anything today. It is Thursday. And if you want to send in an email, by the way, you can do so to firstname.lastname@example.org, you never know when I'll pick it and talk about it on the air or email you back directly. Or you can call in and actually leave a question at 1-877-5457-893. 7893 spell Suze, S-U-Z-E. Also, please remember to go to Apple podcast and give us a star rating or whatever your review may happen to be. The more reviews and the more things that we have, the more people know about us. I'm doing something different today. Today rather than you asking questions and I'm answering them, I have a friend whose name is Tim Sinclair. Yes, I know he's a man. He's a great man and I think it's important to be able to interact with men as well on this podcast. And Tim is actually the CEO of a company that allows all of you without investing a whole lot of money at all to be able to create a podcast. The name of the company is Ringr, R-I-N-G-R. And that's actually how I met Tim. So Tim has also created a podcast where he is the host called Also Humans and what that means is that people who have really made it, what is their human side, you know besides this formal professional successful side that all of you see, what is it about our human side? So Tim right now you're gonna hear this interviewed me and I really liked how it turned out, so I thought why not share it with all of you? Obviously his podcast can be heard on Stitcher or on iTunes. I think you'll probably enjoy just another podcast to add to the collection of many that I'm sure you already have. So sit back, get ready and let's learn about Suze Orman's human side. Suze Orman is an author and speaker and money guru and radio and TV personality Emmy winner. The list is very, very long. But I think you know you've made it when Saturday Night Live does a parody of you compared to me of a few times, not just once, I think it was four or five times. That's amazing. What was it like seeing yourself being portrayed sort of spoofed on television? I'll tell you something you probably don't know about me, but in college I went to the University of Illinois that I know you know, but my roommate was a woman by the name of Judy Jacqueline who had a boyfriend by the name of John Belushi. And, and for those of you who don't know, John was one of the original stars of Saturday Night Live, and because Judy and I and another woman by the name of Carol Morgan, we didn't have money, they allowed us to live in a little one bedroom apartment on Springfield off of campus. All right, and I'll never forget our rent was $120 a month for three of us, one bedroom, and with Judy came John. And so for the next four years of college, my roommate was John Belushi. And so obviously I had quite the connection to Saturday Night Live, and the very first time I saw it, I had no idea that I was even going to be on and I'm sitting there because I was always, I always watched, I went, that's my theme music, oh my God, are they gonna do a parody on me? The very next time, I had been at The Time 100 event because I had just been awarded one of the, you know, Time 100 which is the 100 most influential people in the world, and the entertainer that evening happened to be Kristen Wig. Right, right. So to make a very long story short, she was scared to death to see me, because she thought that I would be upset with her. I told her it was the greatest honor of my life. And then Lauren Michael, who is the creator of Saturday Night Live, gave me and KT seats for the next Saturday because they were going to do it again. So now I'm in the audience watching Kristen do me, when everybody in the audience is watching me watch Kristen. It was, it was one of the biggest honors of my life to tell you the truth. Watching doing a parody, I'm sure is difficult for the performer just in general to get all the mannerisms and things right, but to do it in front of the actual person, I would imagine it's gotta be terrible. She, she was, she didn't know that I was going to be there and then somehow the word got out that I was in the audience, and you can tell that she was nervous but it's our alright. Well besides that honor, what would you say, obviously it would take me a half an hour to read through all of your accolades and the things you've done and accomplished over the years, but what would you say, looking back is your biggest, whether it's honor or the thing you're most proud of doing over the last number of years? You know, I've had nine New York Times best sellers, I have over 30 million copies in various forms of my books in print, um and one would think that would be my greatest honor, big deal. One would think that my two Emmy Awards, which really were part of my two biggest honors ever, um because you know, I was a finance person, Emmy Awards are given for performances. So that was it. You would think that twice being named to The Time,100 or once to the Forbes 100 most powerful women and everything, but out of everything in my career that I've ever done, and whether it's in my career or outside of my career that I'm most proud of, is catching a 60 pound wahoo and I'm not kidding, I am not joking with you. You're a, you're a water girl, aren't you? Yes, but out of everything that I've accomplished in my life, the absolute hardest thing, and and I don't even know how to explain this, is having mastered fishing, and now really in revered as a master fisherwoman. And people now ask me about fishing. That's probably the greatest honor that's ever been bestowed upon me, really. I would, I would have said there's not much you could have said that would have surprised me in an answer to that question, but you surprised me. Well, catching a wahoo is one of the hardest fish to catch bar none. And um to even be able to catch one and get it in the boat is an amazing feat, and now I've done it over 100 times. That's amazing. Well you are accomplished in in many ways but I know it hasn't always been that way for you honestly, until I started doing a little research on your story. Um I didn't necessarily expect that you sort of had the silver spoon in your mouth growing up, but I kind of expected it was fairly normal middle-class, upper middle-class kind of life for you. But that that wasn't the case. Huh? No it was you know it started out that way for my parents. Truthfully the south side of Chicago years and years ago was a very affluent Jewish neighborhood, and little by little it started to transform. And as soon as African Americans moved in, all the white people moved out. However, my father had gotten into financial trouble. And he literally lost all of his money. So there we were in the south side of Chicago, which is where we stayed until I graduated um high school there. And so that happened when my father when I act to my father when I was about five or six or seven years of age. And at that point then my mother had to go back to work, she became a secretary, sold Avon on the side, my father was constantly, you know, one tragedy after another being caught in a fire, getting third degree burns all over his body, almost then getting emphysema. So it was up to all of us to make it on our own, putting ourselves through college, and through everything. And my dream job honestly, I really thought was simply if I could just be a waitress, because I was a really good waitress. That's how I got through, you know, you know high school, and put myself through college and all of that. That if I could just be a waitress, I would be happy. And I actually was Tim. I was a waitress till I was almost 30 years of age from the age of 23 to 30 making $400 a month in Berkeley, California. And you know, I just had a dream. I had a dream that maybe one day I could open my own restaurant, but my parents had no money. They still, you know, were struggling month to month. And by a miracle truthfully, all the people I have been waiting on for all those years, gathered forces and gave me $50,000 to open up my own restaurant. Well that says a lot about your personality just as as a waitress, right? And how good you were there. And I want to get to that, but at the risk of another Saturday Night Live reference, tell me about the van down by the river. Maybe it wasn't done by the river, but it was a van? Yes, yes. So when I moved from Illinois, the University of Illinois Champaign, I only had $300 to my name. My brother gave me $1500 to buy a Ford Econoline van, a used one um that I transformed into, I could sleep in the back, I got a little portable toilet that didn't flush, obviously, that you had an empty, but still, you know, you could sit on it. And, and I head out and I end up living on the streets in that van for three months until I landed that dream job of mine as a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery. And I really loved that van, and I loved living in there. And then after that, and I did get a job as a waitress, then I was able, you know, to get my own little apartment and share it with a lot of people. Now, $50,000 from the people you served at a little bakery in California, um that's got to be kind of kind of a mountaintop for you, I would assume right, you've, you've had all these dreams, you're making $400 a month, it would take you whatever, 15 years to make that kind of money, um making what you were making, uh, but the the story sort of fell off a cliff, not too long after that. Yeah. So what happened was when I was given this money and checks and everything, Fred Hasbrooke was the name of the gentleman who really we all owe my success to because he was the one who gathered all that money for me. I said to him Fred, are these checks gonna bounce like all mine do? And he told me to take the money down to Merrill Lynch and put it in a money market fund. I didn't know what a Merrill Lynch was, and I didn't know what a money market fund was. He told me I went down to the Oakland office of Merrill Lynch was greeted by the broker of the day, which is the financial advisor, who literally greets every new person that walks in to again, make a long story short, he knew what the money was for, he knew that I had no money, he knew I wanted to open up my own restaurant, and he told me to sign these papers, you know, that were just blank and I did because what did I know? And then what happened after that was, I left, he filled out the paperwork to make it look like I was a very sophisticated investor and started to play the options market with it, and then within three months, all $50,000 was lost. That um transition from the highest of highs to what had to be the lowest of lows, I mean, what are you thinking at this point? Are you more embarrassed, are you scared, are you sad? I'm angry. And I'm like, alright, I can be a broker because they just make you broker. But, but really in those three months that he was playing the options market, I was getting interested. I was watching um you know, all the TV that were on at the time, Wall Street Week was on the time with Louis Rukeyser. Barron’s would come out that weekend and I would start to learn about what was happening, and in those three months I figured out and I knew that we were gonna lose the money, but I figured out how the markets worked and I knew more about it than Randy the broker. So I went in, interviewed for a job, they had to hire me to fill their women's quota, I was told by the manager women belong barefoot and pregnant and he would hire me, but he would fire me in six months. He told me he would pay me $1,500 a month. I figured that's $9,000, that's two years at the Buttercup, I could always go back there. So again, now I start my career as a stockbroker. And how do you transition from that, and I know it's probably many, many years in the making, from, from being a a stockbroker who frankly didn't know what she was doing when she first started, to this um expert on TV with Oprah, and on the Today Show, and everything else you've you've been on. I mean that's uh that's a pretty steep hill to climb. So what happened there, after all the stuff that I went through, I ended up suing Merrill Lynch to get the money back, because I sued them he could never fire me, by the time the suit came to court, I was already one of their top producing brokers. I then leave Merrill Lynch to go to um Prudential Bache and I became a vice president of investments for them, and in 87 started my own firm. In 1994, I decided, oh I should write a book that I could impress all my clients with. And I thought I know, I'll call it Keeping Your Gold in the the Golden Years because I specialized in retirement planning. And I wrote this book, and and no publisher wanted it at all. Except for one woman by the name of Esther Margolis of Newmarket Press, who said oh this looks interesting why don't you stop in and see me. I came in, I told her my story this is in New York now, and she said I'll buy it for $10,000. I'm like you're gonna pay me $10,000 to write a book? And all I wanted was books to give my clients. And I said can I have as many books as I want? She said uh huh. I said deal. Somehow that book she changed the title to You've Earned it Don't Lose It, got on QVC, was the first book to break the QVC barrier, because if you think about it you can't sell a book on on Tv unless it's a cookbook because you can't demonstrate it. I put my phone number in that book, and I told everybody if you call, if you need advice and you call, I'll call you back. And that book was selling now hundreds, and hundreds, of thousands of copies. Not everybody obviously called. And then what happened was that Avon had a company called Avon Life Design. And the woman who was teaching a course for them was the name of Nell something, I can't even remember her name. But she was Oprah's finance woman. She was always on Oprah, and she was supposed to teach a course for Avon but Oprah's producers called her and asked her to be on the Oprah show the day she was to teach that course, so she of course said forget the course I'm going on Oprah. Now Gail Blanky who ran Avon Life design which was to teach women how to be healthy, wealthy and wise, had 15 women coming that had paid $500 each to take this course and she didn't know what to do. And and she was friends with Esther Margolis. And Esther had sent her a book and so she called Esther and said do you think Suze Orman can teach a course? Esther called me, I flew out that night on the Red Eye, and I created a course called The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom. And I kept the copyright for it. I put a little copy sign on it. And I started to teach that course for Avon, and people were raving about it. Then what happened was the lawyer for Avon said Suze, you know, this would be an incredible book. You need a book agent. And I'm like well what do I need a book agent for? I got a $10,000 advance. We've sold over 600,000 copies of that book already. Because I thought that the way you made money as an author is through a royalty. Said Suze, somebody will pay you 100, $400,000 something like that for your next book. She introduced me to Binky Urban, Amanda Urban who was a serious big time agent who thought she would do me a favor by seeing me. I didn't want to go. But I went, all right. And I go to see Binky, Binky turns around and says, kid, those eyes of yours will make us millions of dollars but you got to lose 30 pounds. And I thought you know like okay, so I come back at her and I go what woman calls herself Binky? And she said to me, when you are as powerful as I am, you can call yourself anything you damn want. I thought this is the woman for me. We signed a contract, she then sent me out to see all the publishers that originally turned me down, and before you knew it, a bidding more started, and the book was up to $800,000. That had to be a fun little tour, going back to those places that rejected you back in the day. And and that book was The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, and that book went on to be Random House's number one book at the time. So everything hit right. And the way that I got on to Oprah to the Oprah Winfrey show is that which is funny because Neil Godfrey, that was her name, right, Neil was the Oprah finance person. But she broke her word. It's a funny thing Tim, she broke her word to Avon to do Oprah. And then here I am doing Avon, that leads me to Oprah. And the reason that Oprah came to me, the producers, Katie Davis, is that the subtitle of Nine Steps to Financial Freedom was practical and spiritual steps so you can stop worrying. There was a woman there that was going through a divorce, a very high powered and and you know, big divorce. And so they wanted me to come on to talk about the spiritual side of divorce. I told Katie Davis, there's no such thing as a spiritual side of divorce. You, you know, I'm not a divorce specialist, Oprah deserves something better than me. And it took Katie one month to convince me to come on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And as soon as Oprah saw me, it was like this connection, we sat down, she had one minute to interview me, because they had gone over, and she looked at me and she said, so, alright, Suze Orman, tell me the key to life. And I said to her, when you can be as happy in your sadness as you are in your happiness, then, you know, the key to life. And she said, thank you very much everybody, we'll see you, you know tomorrow. And then she says, and we're going to be doing an hour special on this woman, and with that she walks off. And that's how it all started. 10 or 12 words sort of changed the trajectory of your career. Totally, totally. Wow. I need to figure out what those 10 or 12 words are and see what I can work out myself. So obviously everybody knows the successful Suze Orman and we've heard some of of the, the non-successful parts, um, what would you say even today um, just about you is the thing you wish you didn't have to deal with. You know, for some it might be anger or sadness or I mean it could be any number of things. But is there something now that you still wrestle with that you go man, despite all of the things I've achieved, I really wish this wasn't something I battled. Yeah, I wish I didn't have to battle the preconceived notions of who I am, and the advice that I give. You know, so many people say, oh, it's such simplistic advice. Get out of debt, six-month emergency fund, eight month emergency fund, do this, do that, anybody can do that. And it's almost as if when you haven't made it, everybody wants you to make it until you've made it. And then after you've made it, everybody wants not everybody, but a lot of people, don't want you to make it anymore. And it's it's as if my success determines that they're gonna fail. Which isn't true. So there's always this yap, yap yapping about everything and, and I wish that wasn't true. I really wish that everybody was more supportive of everybody, because there's room, there's a lot of room for a lot of people to give advice. But it's a very, it's a very competitive world. And I really wish it was a nicer place out there, but it's not, you know, when and I just went through this. I couldn't even believe that I was seeing this again. But in 1998, The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom was the number one selling book of all books that nonfiction hardback books, of all nonfiction hardback books in the entire United States. It sold equivalent to Stephen King's books on the fiction side. And do you think when Business Week magazine listed their top 10 books, business books, there was one book by a woman on that list? There was not. There is not at that time. And I'm looking at this, that book, that book spent a year at number one on The New York Times bestseller list on the USA Today list, and it was only knocked off The New York times list down to number two because my second my book, Courage to Be Rich, my third book actually knocked it down. So I had the number one and number two hard back nonfiction book on The New York Times list at once. I don't know if another author has ever done that, and they were finance books. Alright. But the men won't acknowledge it. What's the most hurt you would say you've been by either a slight like that or a comment someone made? I mean I talked to a lot of people, not nearly as many people as you've talked to in your career and I still remember from I was doing radio in Huntsville, Alabama, and somebody sent me an email after I got back from a week of vacation and it said the best week of my life was the week you were gone. And and this was probably 15 years ago and I still remember it. Um I would imagine you know my hate mail pales in comparison to yours, not because people like me any better, but because you talk to so many more people, um, which, which of those things really get to you, are you able to let them bounce off now? Well now here, you know, Barbara Walters gave me fabulous advice years and years ago. And she said don't read the good news, and don't read the bad news. And I have a saying that grace is above praise and blame. So I don't read the comments that people wright. I don't read my anything on Twitter, on Facebook, I haven't been on those things for years now. And there's postings there and once in a while I'll do something, but I never read what anybody else writes. Maybe I'll write something, but I don't care what people say anymore. I don't read the articles, I don't read the good articles, I don't read the bad articles. I don't care. I have another saying, let them, you know, let them think because they're gonna think anyway. Because in life, the only thing that matters is that I know what I've done, I know why I do it, and I don't have to answer to anybody. And that is the most powerful stance you can take. Would you say you've used that um motto or creed in other areas of life too? Not just um, in business, but in terms of how you spend your money or who you spend your time with, or how you treat your family, you know, all those kinds of things, I think when it comes to business decisions, that makes a lot of sense. But I would assume maybe that's born out of some, some things on the personal side as well. Yeah, for me, I don't divide my life from business to personal. I just have a life. And I make sure that my life is lived under the same laws of money and lessons of life and laws of life, which will give you lessons of money, um they're all the same. So everything I do in business is identical to what I do in my personal life. So when you meet me in person or you meet me on a stage, it's identical. There is no difference. And that makes it really easy. So easy because it's my life. And at this stage in my life, you know, I'm about to be 68, and as you approach 70, it's really different than approaching 60 and 50 and 40. And I'm sure 80 will be far different than 70, and 90 will be far different than 80, because you really start to get that you are now entering the last phase of your life. The last quarter of your life is coming up here. What are you gonna do? How you gonna feel? What's, what's gonna go on when all of a sudden you're not on a stage getting standing ovations, you're not on television, you're not writing New York Times bestsellers, you're not having your podcast, which by the way, my podcast is Women & Money. You should all listen to it. Absolutely fabulous. But then what then, who are you? So you better know who you are in life. Not just in business, but in life. I don't want to be morbid about it by any means, but what would you say you want to be remembered as by friends or family or fans? What is that lasting um even just when you're out of the spotlight, not necessarily not on the planet anymore, but how is how is it that you want people to think of you and remember you? That's a good question because I tend not to try to think that way, because I don't want things like that to matter to me. You know, it's, it's, it's, I want to know how I want to remember myself. I want to know how I feel when it's all over. But I would, if if I had to answer that question, I would want people to say, wow, because I listened to her, I now have money, I own my house outright. I don't have debt, and I'm happy. Well before I let you go, I want you to just talk to the person who maybe not literally in a van down by the river, but certainly on the early part of their journey when it comes to their career and their finances and um and maybe I find myself in this boat a little more than I'd like to admit as well, um but the task is daunting. It feels so big when you're, you know, in your case you didn't have a place to live, you were in a van working as a waitress for $400 a month, but to someone who's there today and is overwhelmed with the possibility of ever doing something with themselves, who's hurting right now, sad, frustrated, depressed, you say what? I say, stop trying to be bigger than who you are. I say just try to be who you are, and follow everything that you want to do one little step at a time. I never, ever ever could have planned to be Suze Orman that you know, now. Remember I was so happy being a waitress, I just wanted to take a little step of owning my own restaurant. And that led to, ok now I'm a financial advisor. And that led eventually to me owning my own firm. And that led to me just wanting to impress my clients by giving them a book, which led me to writing a book, which led me to, you know, to to, to the next step which was Avon. Because Esther introduced me to Avon, which introduced me to Oprah, which introduced me to the world, which and then the steps just go on from there. So don't climb the mountain. Just climb a little hill. And don't let anybody sidetrack you. My biggest mistakes in life is as I was going down this path, somebody else would come along and they would say, hey, Suze, I have this great idea. Let's do this. And let's sell water filler filters, let's make money, let's do this. And I'd go off the path, and then I would eventually lose money and come back to the path. Put blinders on. And the greatest advice that I could give you is to have faith in who you are. To keep good company. If anybody around around you says, you can't do that. That doesn't make sense. That's not good company. If somebody around you is saying, come on, let's go out to eat, let's go here, let's go there. And you know, you don't have the money, that's not good company. So keep good company. The other thing that I'll never forget, when I was a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery, is two young boys used to come in and I used to wait on them, and their names were Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. And at the time they had a 1-800 dial-a-joke. Steve Wozniak did, right. And that's what he was doing as they were working on this funny little thing in their garage, right, known eventually as Apple Computer. And their mother, and they were so upset, their parents that they were wasting their time on this. If you have belief in who you are, and you just take little tiny steps, and you keep walking in the right direction, oh, you will get to where you are meant to be. But you have to keep walking. My great, I have two great slogans that get me through. One of them is, the dogs keep barking as the elephant keeps walking. Every time I have people, yep, yep, yep at my feet, whether it's a new, I don't care who it is, I just keep walking. I don't let them distract me. And the other is be a warrior ,and don't turn your back on the battlefield. There are tests that are gonna come up, there are things that are gonna get in your way. There are things that are gonna happen, losing $50,000 that could stop you right in your track, or you can say I can do that, I'm gonna do that, nothing's gonna stop me. I'm gonna go for it, I can achieve that. And if you just keep doing it, you will. Well, you have been the epitome of good company today, Suze. I appreciate all your, I could, I could sit here for a couple of hours and just soak in the advice and the encouragement and uh and all those things, it's been, it's been great. And um, thank you for sharing your story and being very human today. And as I know, you always try to be, it's it's been my pleasure. Thank you Tim. Once again, that interview was by Tim Sinclair, podcast, Also Humans, you can find it on Stitcher or iTunes. Alright, everybody remember, the goal of the Women & Money podcast is for you to be strong, smart and secure women. Are you becoming that? I hope so. Are you already that? I hope so. Meet you back here on Sunday. Until then, remember there's only one thing that matters when it really comes to your money, and it's people first, then money, then things. Now you stay safe. Bye bye.
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